Quarterly Review: Tortuga, Spidergawd, Morag Tong, Conny Ochs, Ritual King, Oldest Sea, Dim Electrics, Mountain of Misery, Aawks, Kaliyuga Express

Posted in Reviews on November 30th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Generally I think of Thursday as the penultimate day of a given Quarterly Review. This one I was thinking of adding more days to get more stuff in ahead of year-end coverage coming up in December. I don’t know what that would do to my weekend — actually, yes I do — but sometimes it’s worth it. I’m yet undecided. Will let you know tomorrow, or perhaps not. Dork of mystery, I am.

Today is PACKED with cool sounds. If you haven’t found something yet that’s really hit you, it might be your day.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Tortuga, Iterations

TORTUGA Iterations

From traditionalist proto-doom and keyboard-inflected prog to psychedelic jamming and the Mountain-style start-stop riff on “Lilith,” Poznań, Poland’s Tortuga follow 2020’s Deities (discussed here) with seven tracks and 45 minutes that come across as simple and barebones in the distortion of the guitar and the light reverb on the vocals, but the doom rock doesn’t carry from “Lilith” into “Laspes,” which has more of a ’60s psych crux, a mellow but not unjoyful meander in its first half turning to a massive lumber in the second, all the more elephantine with a solo overtop. They continue throughout to cross the lines between niches — “Quaus” has some dungeon growls, “Epitaph” slogs emotive like Pallbearer, etc. — and offer finely detailed performances in a sound malleable to suit the purposes of their songs. Polish heavy doesn’t screw around. Well, at least not any more than it wants to. Tortuga‘s creative reach becomes part of the character of the album.

Tortuga on Facebook

Napalm Records website

Spidergawd, VII

spidergawd vii

I’m sorry, I gotta ask: What’s the point of anything when Spidergawd can put out a record like VII and it’s business as usual? Like, the world doesn’t stop for a collective “holy shit” moment. Even in the heavy underground, never mind general population. These are the kinds of songs that could save lives if properly employed to do so, and for the Norwegian outfit, it’s just what they do. The careening hooks of “Sands of Time” and “The Tower” at the start, the melodies across the span. The energy. I guess this is dad rock? Shit man, I’m a dad. I’m not this cool. Spidergawd have seven records out and I feel like Metallica should’ve been opening for them at stadiums this past summer, but they remain criminally underrated and perhaps use that as flexibility around their pop-heavy foundation to explore new ideas. The last three songs on VII — “Afterburner,” “Your Heritage” and “…And Nothing But the Truth” — are among the strongest and broadest Spidergawd have ever done, and “Dinosaur” and the classic-metal ripper “Bored to Death” give them due preface. One of the best active heavy rock bands, living up to and surpassing their own high standards.

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website

Morag Tong, Grieve

Morag Tong Grieve

Rumbling low end and spacious guitar, slow flowing drums and contemplative vocals, and some charred sludge for good measure, mark out the procession of “At First Light” on Morag Tong‘s third album and first for Majestic Mountain Records, the four-song Grieve. Moving from that initial encapsulation through the raw-throat sludge thud of most of “Passages,” they crash out and give over to quiet guitar at about four minutes in and set up the transition to the low-end groove-cool of “A Stem’s Embrace,” a sleepy fluidity hitting its full voluminous crux after three minutes in, crushing from there en route to its noisy finish at just over nine minutes long. That would be the epic finisher of most records, but Morag Tong‘s grievances extend to the 20-minute “No Sun, No Moon,” which at 20 minutes is a full-length’s progression on its own. At very least the entirety of side B, but more than the actual runtime is the theoretical amount of space covered as the four-piece shift from ambient drone through huge plod and resolve the skyless closer with a crushing delve into post-sludge atmospherics. That’s as fitting an end as one could ask for an offering that so brazenly refuses to follow impulses other than its own.

Morag Tong on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

Conny Ochs, Wahn Und Sinn

Conny Ochs Wahn Und Sinn

The nine-song Wahn Und Sinn carries the distinction of being the first full-length from German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs — also known for his work in Ananda Mida and his collaboration with Wino — to be sung in his own language. As a non-German speaker, I won’t pretend that doesn’t change the listening experience, but that’s the idea. Words and melodies in different languages take on corresponding differences in character, and so in addition to appreciating the strings, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, and, in the case of “Welle,” a bit of static noise in a relatively brief electronic soundscape, hearing Ochs‘ delivery no less emotive for switching languages on the cinematic “Grimassen,” or the lounge drama of “Ding” earlier on, it’s a new side from a veteran figure whose “experimentalism” — and no, I’m not talking about singing in your own language as experimental, I’m talking about Trialogos there — is backburnered in favor of more traditional, still rampantly melancholy pop arrangements. It sounds like someone who’s decided they can do whatever the hell they feel like their songs should making that a reality. Only an asshole would hold not speaking the language against that.

Conny Ochs on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream website/a>

Ritual King, The Infinite Mirror

ritual king the infinite mirror

I’m going to write this review as though I’m speaking directly to Ritual King because, well, I am. Hey guys. Congrats on the record. I can hear a ton going on with it. Some of Elder‘s bright atmospherics and rhythmic twists, some more familiar stoner riffage repurposed to suit a song like “Worlds Divide” after “Flow State” calls Truckfighters to mind, the songs progressive and melodic. The way you keep that nod in reserve for “Landmass?” That’s what I’m talking about. Here’s some advice you didn’t ask for: Keep going. I’m sure you have big plans for next year, and that’s great, and one thing leads to the next. You’re gonna have people for the next however long telling you what you need to do. Do what feels right to you, and keep in mind the decisions that led you to where you are, because you’re right there, headed to the heart of this thing you’re discovering. Two records deep there’s still a lot of potential in your sound, but I think you know a track like “Tethered” is a victory on its own, and that as big as “The Infinite Mirror” gets at the end, the real chance it takes is in the earlier vocal melody. You’re a better band than people know. Just keep going. Thanks.

Ritual King on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Oldest Sea, A Birdsong, A Ghost

oldest sea a birdsong a ghost cropped

Inhabiting the sort of alternately engulfing and minimal spaces generally occupied by the likes of Bell Witch, New Jersey’s Oldest Sea make their full-length debut with A Birdsong, A Ghost and realize a bleakness of mood that is affecting even in its tempo, seeming to slow the world around it to its own crawl. The duo of Samantha Marandola and Andrew Marandola, who brought forth their Strange and Eternal EP (review here) in 2022, find emotive resonance in a death-doom build through the later reaches of “Untracing,” but the subsequent three-minute-piece-for-chorus-and-distorted-drone “Astronomical Twilight” and the similarly barely-there-until-it-very-much-is closer “Metamorphose” mark out either end of the extremes while “The Machines That Made Us Old” echoes Godflesh in its later riffing as Samantha‘s voice works through screams en route to a daringly hopeful drone. Volatile but controlled, it is a debut of note for its patience and vulnerability as well as its deep-impact crash and consuming tone.

Oldest Sea on Facebook

Darkest Records on Bandcamp

Dim Electrics, Dim Electrics

dim electrics dim electrics

Each track on Dim Electrics‘ self-titled five-songer LP becomes a place to rest for a while. No individual piece is lacking activity, but each cut has room for the listener to get inside and either follow the interweaving aural patterns or zone out as they will. Founded by Mahk Rumbae, the Vienna-based project is meditative in the sense of basking in repetition, but flashes like the organ in the middle of “Saint” or the shimmy that takes hold in 18-minute closer “Dream Reaction” assure it doesn’t reside in one place for too much actual realtime, of which it’s easy to lose track when so much krautgazey flow is at hand. Beginning with ambience, “Ways of Seeing” leads the listener deeper into the aural chasm it seems to have opened, and the swirling echoes around take on a life of their own in the ecosystem of some vision of space rock that’s also happening under the ground — past and future merging as in the mellotron techno of “Memory Cage” — which any fool can tell you is where the good mushrooms grow. Dug-in, immersive, engaging if you let it be; Dim Electrics feels somewhat insular in its mind-expansion, but there’s plenty to go around if you can put yourself in the direction it’s headed.

Dim Electrics on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Mountain of Misery, In Roundness

Mountain of Misery In Roundness

A newcomer project from Kamil Ziółkowski, also known for his contributions as part of Polish heavy forerunners Spaceslug, the tone-forward approach of Mountain of Misery might be said to be informed by Ziółkowski‘s other project in opener “Not Away” or the penultimate “Climb by the Sundown,” with their languid vocals and slow-rolling tsunami fuzz in the spirit of heavy psych purveyors Colour Haze and even more to the point Sungrazer, but the howling guitar in the crescendo of closer “The Misery” and the all-out assault of “Hang So Low” distinguish the band all around. “The Rain is My Love” sways in the album’s middle, but it’s in “Circle in Roundness” that the 36-minute LP has its most subdued stretch, letting the spaces filled with fuzz elsewhere remain open as the verse builds atop the for-now-drumless expanse. Whatever familiar aspects persist, Mountain of Misery is its own band, and In Roundness is the exciting beginning of a new creative evolution.

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Aawks, Luna

aawks luna

The featured new single, “The Figure,” finds Barrie, Ontario’s Aawks somewhere between Canadian tonal lords Sons of Otis and the dense heavy psych riffing and melodic vocals of an act like Snail, and if you think I’m about to complain about that, you’ve very clearly never been to this site before. So hi, and welcome. The four-song Luna EP is Aawks‘ second short release of 2023 behind a split with Aiwass (review here), and the trio take on Flock of Seagulls and Pink Floyd for covers of the new wave radio hit “I Ran” and the psychedelic ur-classic “Julia Dream” before a live track, “All is Fine,” rounds out. As someone who’s never seen the band live, the additional crunch falls organic, and brings into relief the diversity Aawks show in and between these four songs, each of which inhabits a place in the emerging whole of the band’s persona. I don’t know if we’ll get there, but sign me up for the Canadian heavy revolution if this is the form it’s going to take.

Aawks on Facebook

Black Throne Productions website

Kaliyuga Express, Warriors & Masters

Kaliyuga Express Warriors and Masters

The collaborative oeuvre of UK doomsperimental guitarist Mike Vest (Bong, Blown Out, Ozo, 11Paranoias, etc.) grows richer as he joins forces with Finnish trio Nolla to produce Kaliyuga ExpressWarriors & Masters, which results in three tracks across two sides of far-out cosmic fuzz, shades of classic kraut and space rocks are wrought with jammy intention; the goal seeming to be the going more than the being gone as Vest and company burn through “Nightmare Dimensions” and the shoegazing “Behind the Veil” — the presence of vocals throughout is a distinguishing feature — hums in high and low frequencies in a repetitive inhale of stellar gases on side A while the 18:58 side B showdown “Endless Black Space” misdirects with a minute of cosmic background noise before unfurling itself across an exoplanet’s vision of cool and returning, wait for it, back to the drone from whence it came. Did you know stars are recycled all the time? Did you know that if you drop acid and peel your face off there’s another face underneath? Your third eye is googly. You can hear voices in the drones. Let me know what they tell you.

Kaliyuga Express on Facebook

Riot Season Records store

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Spidergawd Launch Preorders for New LP VII Out Nov. 10; “Sands of Time” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Lots of Thin Lizzy, two Rush records, classic rock, heavy rock, grunge, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, big rock sounds like Boston, Dire Straits. More Thin Lizzy. Bruce Springsteen. Mob Rules. At the beginning of the video for “Sands of Time,” some of the members of Spidergawd are asked for the recipe that makes a record labeled ‘testpress’ that is presumably a copy of the band’s forthcoming album, VII, which is up for preorder now and out Nov. 10 on Crispin Glover Records and Stickman Records. It’s not an easy formula, but she ends up with a stack of records and there’s a twist ending that I won’t spoil for you.

I’m late on the news of the release and the video — it’s been a rough couple weeks; I do my best — but preorders I think are a recent advent, and that was what came through in the Stickman Records newsletter, which I know I’ve recommended before that you sign up because that label’s roster is absolutely vibrant and always has something cool going (Elder, King Buffalo, Temple Fang, Iron Jinn, Slomosa, Weedpecker, new offshoots like Weite or Full Earth, etc.) either in collaboration with anther label, as is the case here, or on their own. So yeah, here I am repeating myself: they don’t spam and it’s useful info. Plus, at least compared to my ass, you’d be ahead of the game. Some of this came from that, some came from Spidergawd‘s socials, and the video credits come from the video. All about sourcing lately, I guess.

Info, links, video — oh, and because it’s Spidergawd, there’s an entire slew of tour dates as well — follow here:

spidergawd vii

Spidergawd – VII On presale now – out November 10

Spidergawd have revealed their new full length coinciding with the band’s 10th anniversary. What’s changed over the years? As the band puts it themselves, “they have found THE recipe for what Spidergawd is all about.”

VII is an album full of tracks which are catchier, and indeed to a degree poppier, than ever before. Yet this element is matched by a significantly more “real” approach in production, which the band describes as “muddier, messier and bigger: everything that spidergawd vii tourtakes the listener closer to what’s going down on stage in a live Spidergawd performance.”

VII is available as a deluxe package including colored vinyl, a CD, a one-sided 7″ with etching and poster! We have two different color variants available.

1st edition 180gr LTD Hyacinth & Red/Black Vinyl w/ bonus one-sided etched 7″ + CD + Poster!

Follow links below(#128071#)

(#128293#)Norway / WW:
Hyacinth: https://bit.ly/SGVIIhyacinthVinyl
Red/Black: https://bit.ly/SGVIIredandblackVinyl

(#128293#)Germany / EU / WW:
Hyacinth & Red/Black: https://bit.ly/SGVIIStickmanVinylPresale

(#128293#)Pre-save on all streaming platforms:

(#128293#)Do check out our whole release tour & tickets here:

1. Sands Of Time
2. The Tower
3. Dinosaur
4. Bored To Death
5. Your Heritage
6. Afterburner
7. Anchor Song
8. …And Nothing But The Truth

Music video by Finn Walther Film
Camera: Bjørn Ante
Crispin Glover Record Shop
Behind the counter: Ida Vie & Torgeir Lund
Bulgarian Knutsen: Øystein Dolmen
Little girl: Elina
Music by Spidergawd
(Spidergawd VII Album release 10.november 2023 – Crispin Glover Records / Stickman Records)




Spidergawd, “Sands of Time” official video

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Full Album Premiere & Review: Black Moon Circle, Leave the Ghost Behind

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Black Moon Circle Leave the Ghost Behind

[Click play above to stream Black Moon Circle’s Leave the Ghost Behind in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow on vinyl through Crispin Glover Records and available to order from the band as well as from the label.]

The feeling of sprawl is almost immediate on Black Moon Circle‘s Leave the Ghost Behind. It’s been half a decade since the Norwegian trio last released a full-length, and 2018’s Psychedelic Spacelord (review here) served as the single-song culmination of a wildly productive few years for the band led by brothers Øyvin Engan (bass/vocals) and Vemond Engan (guitar/backing vocals). In 2019, they collected the three The Studio Jams LP releases — 2017’s The Studio Jams Vol. III: Flowing into the 3rd Dimension (review here), 2016’s The Studio Jams Vol. II (review here), 2015’s The Studio Jams Vol. I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky (discussed here) — and a bunch more into a 5CD box set, and they count Leave the Ghost Behind as their ’10th effort,’ which is fair enough, but in the lineage of albums, it follows Psychedelic Spacelord, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (review here), 2014’s Andromeda (review here) and self-titled debut EP (review here), and 2019’s collaboration with Øresund Space Collective, Freakout in the Fjord (review here), which likewise was more of a jam-based release.

Why does that matter? Because since their outset, there have always been two forces at work in Black Moon Circle between improvised space-jamming and more structured songwriting, and in Leave the Ghost Behind, the two ends come together in a way that feels new for the band. Coming together with the lineup of the Engans, drummer Tomas Järmyr (ex-Motorpsycho, Årabrot, etc.) and Portugal-based synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (also Øresund Space Collective), the now-four-piece are vibrant across the four sides of a massive 85-minute 2LP that smooths out all the back and forth with washes of guitar, of synth, of the wandering grooves in extended pieces like the 18:29 “Psychedelic Spacelord (Lighter Than Air)” — yes, a take on the title-track of the 2018 LP; just go with it — and closer “Radiant Sun,” which at 22:52 is a multi-tiered universe of heavy psychedelic exploration. But it’s opener “Snake Oil,” with that sprawl noted at the outset, that sets the scene for what follows. Its 11 minutes are hypnotic at the start, Sabbathian doom wrought across the first minute or so with synth laid over top before the bass leads the way into the nodding repetitive chug that serves as the bed for the verse.

That shift, nod to nod, is huge in setting the expectation for Black Moon Circle to go where they will, because that’s exactly what they proceed to do, both in that song and over the rest of the record. “Bubbles in the Air” is duly floating ’90s post-grunge psych, and the shortest cut at 5:17, a drumless dream, while “Serpent” gives the proggier side of King Buffalo a burst of cosmic radiation, with Heller‘s synth running alongside the steady line of guitar even before the jazzy build begins on the drums, the song emphasizing both the instrumental dynamic of the band and the gruff melody in Øyvin‘s vocals as set forth in “Snake Oil” before it.

After deep-diving into “Psychedelic Spacelord (Lighter Than Air)” and “Bubbles in the Air,” side C’s “Cohiba” (9:20) feels absolutely grounded at the start, but is dug into a particularly improv-sounding jam with the bass as the foundation by the time they’re halfway in, and after they bring it back down to just that same guitar line and synth, its final minute becomes a willful drone and feedback — maybe some seagull sounds or just bird-esque synth? — that fades out before “Magellanic Cloud” announces its presence with further sci-fi ambience and drone for about the first two of its 10 total minutes, from there following a psych-bluesy course, guitar leading, bass underscoring, drums meeting back at the start of the measure but doing their thing along the way, the trajectory plotted but the journey duly winding, vocals never left entirely behind even in its synth-laced crescendo starting at around its final 90 seconds and just long enough for that to feel classic in its payoff.

Black Moon Circle (Photo by Thor Egil Leirtrø)

“Magellanic Cloud” is a fitting analogue for what Leave the Ghost Behind as a whole accomplishes in bringing together the heretofore more divergent aspects of Black Moon Circle‘s aural persona. Certainly their willingness to experiment is nothing new, and that’s heard at the start, and they’ve had verses and choruses and jams a-plenty throughout the last nine years — if not so much the last four — but it’s the manner in which they’re assembled and the cohesion that emerges in the material as a result that is such a step forward, both in the songs themselves, whether it’s “Magellanic Cloud” or “Snake Oil” or “Psychedelic Spacelord (Lighter Than Air),” or “Serpent” and “Bubbles in the Air” and “Cohiba.” The balance has become a malleable thing.

And given the band’s ever-outward course, the finish that “Radiant Sun” provides is a letting-loose that draws from all sides, melts it all down with the scorch of its various solos, grows moss with its wash circa 14 minutes in, and from there becomes a cinematic weirdscape as Järmyr drops out on drums with a few crashes about a minute later, leaving amp noise, organ and synth to rule the day for a few minutes while sneaking back in on the ride cymbal after the vocals return at 19:10, beginning the transition to the largesse of the capstone movement, a cleareyed chorus taking hold after 21 minutes as a genuine surprise of airy heavy rock that earns the song’s title before giving over to the concluding noise; a snare snaps and then it’s drone to an ending that somehow feels quick after the long path walked to get there.

Leave the Ghost Behind is not at all a minor undertaking, and its exultation could be rooted in a call for self-actualizing post-trauma as much as letting go of one’s expectations for oneself — if those aren’t the same thing — but one way or the other, what Black Moon Circle leave behind is the sense of being one thing or the other between songwriters and a psychedelic jam band. These seven songs are substantial and drawn wide over the distances they conjure, but switched on in terms of more than just their effects pedals, and they represent a pivotal moment for the band in laying claim to the entirety of their process as one engrossing whole from which they can still expand.

I’m not saying they’ll never do a collection of jams again, or that they’ll never put out a record that’s eight songs and 38 minutes long, I’m saying the fun part is they can do either, both, or neither and that those who take them on won’t know what’s coming until they get there. If Leave the Ghost Behind represents a return to activity on the part of Black Moon Circle after a few years’ absence, or if it’s the culmination of work done throughout those few years — I honestly don’t know which, if it’s even one or the other — it’s a vital showcase of the promise laid out across their earlier run, approached with a vision and consciousness behind it that makes it all the more a triumph.

Black Moon Circle on Facebook

Black Moon Circle on Instagram

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Crispin Glover Records on Facebook

Crispin Glover Records on Instagram

Crispin Glover Records website

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Quarterly Review: Spidergawd, Eight Bells, Blue Rumble, The Mountain King, Sheev, Elk Witch, KYOTY, Red Eye, The Stoned Horses, Gnome

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Here we are in the Spring 2022 Quarterly Review. I have to hope and believe you know what this means by now. It’s been like eight years. To reiterate, 10 reviews a day for this week. I’ve also added next Monday to the mix because there’s just so, so, so much out there right now, so this Quarterly Review will total 60 albums covered. It could easily be more. And more. And more. You get the point.

So while we’re on the edge of this particular volcano, looking down into the molten center of the Quarterly Review itself, I’ll say thanks for reading if you do at any point, and I hope you find something to make doing so worth the effort.

Here we go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Spidergawd, VI

Spidergawd VI

Like clockwork, Spidergawd released V (review here), in 2019, and amid the chaos of 2020, they announced they’d have a new record out in 2021 — already the longest pause between LPs of their career — for which they’d be touring. The Norwegian outfit — who aren’t so much saviors of rock as a reminder of why it doesn’t need saving in the first place — at last offer the nine songs and 41 minute straight-ahead drive of VI with their usual aplomb, energizing a classic heavy rock sound and reveling in the glorious hooks of “Prototype Design” and “Running Man” at the outset, throwing shoulders with the sheer swag of “Black Moon Rising,” and keeping the rush going all the way until “Morning Star” hints toward some of their prior psych-prog impulses. They’ve stripped those back here, and on the strength of their songwriting and the shining lights that seem to accompany their performance even on a studio recording, they remain incomparable in working to the high standard of their own setting.

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website


Eight Bells, Legacy of Ruin

eight bells legacy of ruin

The first Eight Bells full-length for Prophecy Productions, Legacy of Ruin comes six years after their second LP, Landless (review here), and finds founding guitarist/vocalist Melynda Marie Jackson, bassist/guitarist/vocalist Matt Solis, drummer Brian Burke, a host of guests and producer Billy Anderson complicating perceptions of Pacific Northwestern US black metal. Across the six songs and in extended cuts like “The Well” and closer “Premonition,” Eight Bells remind of their readiness to put melodies where others fear tread, and to execute individualized cross-genre breadth that even in the shorter “Torpid Dreamer” remains extreme, whatever else one might call it in terms of style. “The Crone” and other moments remind of Enslaved, but seem to be writing a folklore all their own in that.

Eight Bells on Facebook

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp


Blue Rumble, Blue Rumble

Blue Rumble Blue Rumble

Swiss four-piece Blue Rumble bring organically-produced, not-quite-vintage-but-retro-informed heavy psych blues boogie on their self-titled debut full-length, impressing with the sharp edges around which the grooves curve, the channel-spanning, shred-ready solo of the guitars, and the organ that add so much to where vocals might otherwise be. The five-minute stretch alone of second cut “Cosmopolitan Landscape,” which follows the garage urgency of opener “God Knows I Shoulda Been Gone,” runs from a mellow-blues exploration into a psych hypnosis and at last into a classic-prog freakout before, miraculously, returning, and that is by no means the total scope of the album, whether it’s the winding progressions in “Cup o’ Rosie (Just Another Groovy Thing),” the laid back midsection of “Sunset Fire Opal” or the hey-is-that-flute on the shorter pastoral interlude “Linda,” as if naming the song before that “Think for Yourself” wasn’t enough of a Beatles invocation. The strut continues unabated in “The Snake” and the grittier “Hangman,” and closer “Occhio e Croce” (‘eye and cross,” in Italian) shimmers with Mellotron fluidity atop its central build, leaving the raw vitality of the drums to lead into a big rock finish well earned. Heads up, heavy rock and rollers. This is hot shit.

Blue Rumble on Instagram

Blue Rumble on Bandcamp


The Mountain King, WolloW

the mountain king wollow

It’s palindrome time on Mainz, Germany’s The Mountain King‘s WolloW. Once the solo-project of guitarist/vocalist/programmer Eric McQueen, the experimentalist band here includes guitarist Frank Grimbarth and guest bassist Jack Cradock — you can really hear that bass on “II In Grium Imus Noctem Aram et Consumimur Igni” (hope you practiced your conjugations) and through five songs, they cross genres from the atmospheric heavygaze-meets-Warning of “I Bongnob” through the blackened crunch of the above-noted second cut to a gloriously dreamy and still morose title-track, and the driving expanse of “V DNA Sand.” Then they do it backwards, as “V DNA Sand” seems to flip halfway through. But they’re also doing it backwards at the same time as forward, so as The Mountain King work back toward album finale “bongnoB I,” what was reversed and what wasn’t has switched and the listener isn’t really sure what’s up or down, where they are or why. This, of course, is exactly the point. Take that, form and structure! Open your mind and let doom in!

The Mountain King on Facebook

Cursed Monk Records website


Sheev, Mind Conductor

Sheev Mind Conductor

Berlin trio Sheev prove adept at skirting the line of outright aggression, and in fact crossing it, while maintaining control over their direction and execution. Mind Conductor is their debut album, and it works well to send signals of its complexity, samples and obscure sounds on “The Workshop” giving over the riffs of immediate impact on “Well Whined.” The channel-spanning guitar pulls on “Saltshifter,” the harmonies in the midsection of “All I Can,” the going-for-it-DannyCarey-style drums on the penultimate “Baby Huey” (and bonus points for that reference) — all of these and so much more in the nine-song/53-minute span come together fluidly to create a portrait of the band’s depth of approach and the obvious consideration they put into what they do. Closer “Snakegosh” may offer assurance they don’t take themselves too seriously, but even that song’s initial rolling progression can’t help but wind its way through later angularities. It will be interesting to hear the direction they ultimately take over the course of multiple albums, but don’t let that draw focus from what they accomplish on this first one.

Sheev on Facebook

Sheev on Bandcamp


Elk Witch, Beyond the Mountain

elk witch beyond the mountain

Dudes got riffs. From Medford, Oregon, Elk Witch draw more from the sphere of modern heavy rockers like earlier The Sword or Freedom Hawk than the uptempo post-Red Fang party jams for which much of the Pacific Northwest is known, but the groove is a good time just the same. The six tracks of Beyond the Mountain are born out of the trio’s 2021 debut EP — wait for it — The Mountain, but the four songs shared between the two offerings have been re-recorded here, repositioned and sandwiched between opener “Cape Foulweather” and closer “The Plight of Valus,” so the reworking feels consistent from front to back. And anyway, it’s only been a year, so ease up. Some light burl throughout, but the vocals on “Coyote and the Wind’s Daughters” remind me of Chritus in Goatess, so there’s some outright doom at work too, though “Greybeard Arsenal” might take the prize for its shimmering back-half slowdown either way, and “The Plight of Valus” starts out with a seeming wink at Kyuss‘ “El Rodeo,” so nothing is quite so simply traced. Raw, but they’ll continue to figure out where they’re headed, and the converted will nod knowingly. For what it’s worth, I dig it.

Elk Witch on Facebook

StoneFly Records store


KYOTY, Isolation

kyoty isolation

If “evocative” is what New Hampshire post-metallic mostly-instrumentalists KYOTY were going for with their third full-length, could they possibly have picked something better to call it than Isolation? It’d be a challenge. And with opener “Quarantine,” songs like “Ventilate,” “Languish,” “Faith,” and “Rift,” “Respite” and closer “A Fog, A Future Like a Place Imagined,” the richly progressive unit working as the two-piece of Nick Filth and Nathaniel Parker Raymond weave poetic aural tapestries crushing and spacious in kind with the existential dread and vague flashes of hope in pandemic reality of the 2020s thus far. Still, they work in impressionist fashion, so that the rumbling crackle of “Onus” and the near-industrial slog of “Respite” represent place and idea while also standing apart as a not-quite-objective observer, the lighter float of the guitar in “Faith” becoming a wash before its resonant drone draws it to a close. At 70 minutes, there’s a lot to say for a band who doesn’t have lyrics, but spoken lines further the sense of verse, and remind of the humanity behind the programming of “Holter” or the especially pummeling “Rift.” An album deep enough you could listen to it for years and hear something new.

KYOTY on Facebook

Deafening Assembly on Bandcamp


Red Eye, The Cycle

red eye the cycle

Andalusian storytellers Red Eye make it plain from the outset that their ambitions are significant, and the seven songs of their third full-length play out those ambitions across ultra-flowing shifts between serenity and heft, working as more than just volume trades and bringing an atmospheric sprawl that is intended to convey time as well as place. In 46 minutes, they do for doom and various other microgenres — post-metal, some more extreme moments in “Beorg” and the morse-code-inclusive closer “Æsce” — what earlier Opeth did for death metal, adding shifts into unbridled folk melody and sometimes minimalist reach. Clearly meant to be taken in its entirety, The Cycle functions beautifully across its stretch, and the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Antonio Campos (also lyrics), guitarist/vocalist Pablo Terol, bassist Antonio Muriel and drummer Ángel Arcas, bear weight of tone and history in kind, self-aware that the chants in “Tempel” brim with purpose, but expressive in the before and after such that they wherever they will and make it a joy to follow.

Red Eye on Facebook

Alone Records store


Stoned Horses, Stoned Horses

The Stoned Horses Self-titled

Originally recorded to come out in 2013, what would’ve been/is the Stoned Horses‘ self-titled debut full-length runs 12 tracks and swaps methodologies between instrumentalism and more verse/chorus-minded sludge rock. Riffs lead, in either case, and there’s a sense of worship that goes beyond Black Sabbath as the later “Scorpions Vitus” handily confirms. The semi-eponymous “A Stoned Horse” is memorable for its readiness to shout the hook at you repeatedly, and lest a band called Stoned Horses ever be accused of taking themselves too seriously, “My Horse is Faster Than Your Bike” is a sub-two-minute riffer that recalls late-’90s/early-’00s stoner rock fuckery, before everyone started getting progressive. Not short on charm, there’s plenty of substance behind it in “Le Calumet” like a northern Alabama Thunderpussy or the last cut, “The Legend of the Blue Pig,” which dares a bit more metal. Not groundbreaking, not trying to be, it’s a celebration of the tropes of genre given its own personality. I have nothing more to ask of it except what happened that it sat for nearly a decade without being released.

Stoned Horses on Facebook

From the Urn on Bandcamp


Gnome, King

Gnome King

Antwerpen’s Gnome make it a hell of a lot of fun to trace their path across King, their second full-length, bringing in The Vintage Caravan‘s Óskar Logi early for “Your Empire” and finding a line between energetic, on-the-beat delivery and outright aggression, letting “Ambrosius” set the tone for what follows as they careen though cuts like the instrumental “Antibeast,” the swinging and catchy “Wencelas” and the crunching “Bulls of Bravik.” How do they do it? With the magic of shenanigans! As King (which “Wencelas” was) plays out, the suitably hatted trio get up to high grade nonsense on “Kraken Wanker” before “Stinth Thy Clep” and the 11-minute we-can-do-whatever-we-want-so-let’s-do-that-yes closer “Platypus Platoon” buries its later march amid a stream of ideas that, frankly, kind of sounds like it could just keep going. They are adventurous throughout the eight songs and 42 minutes, but have a solid foundation nonetheless of tone and consciousness, which are what save King from being a mess. It’s a hard balance to strike that they make sound easy.

Gnome on Facebook

Polderrecords website


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Spidergawd Reschedule 2022 Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Not the first round of tour dates for 2022 I’ve seen rescheduled, but I’m pretty sure it is the first batch that have been pushed back all the way 2023, which is both a distant dystopian future and somehow less than a year away, though the tour dates will be about a year delayed.

You don’t need me to tell you this, but that sucks. Let’s take a minute now to consider that the very first tours to have been canceled or postponed due to covid-19 were, in fact, announced in late 2019 to take place in Spring 2020. That means that by the time Spidergawd maybe go on this tour supporting their now-new album, VI, it will have been going on three years since the first cancelations/postponements of gigs and approaching four since the first ones to be called off were announced.

That is fucking brutal.

I like this band. They don’t get enough love in the States, in part I think because they’ve never been here, but they’ve got six records to their name now and a few other odds and ends — no live album, which is kind of surprising — and they consistently deliver. I’ll review that new album one of these days, but the gist of it is this is a better band than most people know.

Here are the new dates:

Spidergawd dates rescheduled

This is announced with a very heavy heart, but we are forced to postpone the european tour yet again to 2023.

Tickets are still valid.
Here the new updated show dates:

28.02.2023 DE Hamburg Knust
01.03.2023 DE Rostock Mau Club
02.03.2023 NL Groningen Vera
03.03.2023 NL Utrecht De Helling (>new venue)
04.03.2023 DE Essen Turock
05.03.2023 DE Köln Gebäude 9
06.03.2023 DE Wiesbaden Schlachthof
08.03.2023 FR Paris Backstage
10.03.2023 ES Bilbao Stage Live
11.03.2023 ES Madrid Sala Caracol
12.03.2023 ES Barcelona Sala Bóveda
14.03.2023 FR Lyon Rock’n Eat
15.03.2023 CH Winterthur Gaswerk
16.03.2023 DE Stuttgart Im Wizemann (>new venue)
17.03.2023 DE Nürnberg Hirsch
18.03.2023 DE München Backstage
19.03.2023 AT Vienna Szene
21.03.2023 DE Leipzig Naumanns
22.03.2023 DE Berlin Frannz Club
23.03.2023 DE Kiel Pumpe
24.03.2023 DK Kolding Godset
25.03.2023 DK Copenhagen Stengade


Spidergawd, “Prototype Design” official video

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Spidergawd to Tour Next March for New Album VI

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan


Stoked on the idea of Spidergawd hitting the road? Yeah, well you probably should be, whether you live in the path of their newly-announced March 2021 European touring or not, because it means that there’s going to be a new Spidergawd album to coincide with said tour. Yes, friends of a heavy-rocking persuasion, I speak of Spidergawd VI, begat by 2019’s Spidergawd V (review here), which was begat by 2017’s Spidergawd IV (review here), which was begat by 2016’s Spidergawd III (review here), which was begat by 2015’s Spidergawd II (review here), which, indeed, was begat by Spidergawd (review here) in 2014.

No concrete release date yet for the VIth installment in Spidergawd‘s ongoing series of kick-you-in-the-ass-and-ask-nothing-in-return albums, but one assumes the issuance will spring forth at the behest of Crispin Glover Records and Stickman Records, much as has been the case in the past. As the Norwegian troupe have continued to amass a discography of high-grade/high-class outings, their progressive bent and forays into psychedelia have not gone unnoticed, and whether or not VI works forward the thread of either, the safest bet you can possibly make as regards anything Spidergawd is that it’s going to be awesome.

To wit, the band’s re-recorded 2019 version of “Sanctuary” from the second album. It’s awesome. That’s how they do.

When and if I hear more about the album, I’ll let you know. Hopefully it’s sooner than later, but you know how 2020 plans have gone.


spidergawd vi tour

SPIDERGAWD – March 2021


We are happy to announce the european tour for Spidergawd VI!

Hope to see all of you in march 2021!

03.03. Knust Hamburg
04.03. Vera Groningen
05.03. Essen turock – disco, live-club and lounge
06.03. Cologne, Gebäude 9
07.03. Nijmegen, Doornroosje
09.03. Schlachthof Wiesbaden
10.03. The Backstage Paris
11.03. Stuttgart, Universum
12.03. Winterthur, Gaswerk
13.03. Nuremburg, Der Hirsch
14.03. Backstage München
16.03. ((szene)) Wien
18.03. NAUMANNs Leipzig
19.03. Berlin, Frannz Club
20.03. Copenhagen, Spillestedet Stengade

Tickets: https://www.seaside-touring.com/tours/#spidergawd


Spidergawd, “Sanctuary (2019)”

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Black Moon Circle to Release The Studio Jams 1-3 5CD Box Set on June 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

black moon circle

Mostly-Norwegian kinda-trio/kinda-four-piece Black Moon Circle — who extend that willful nebulousness to their sound, rest assured — are currently in the midst of wrapping up a Spring tour with Øresund Space Collective, with whom they share synth wizard and regular fixture around these parts, Dr. Space. They’ve been through Germany and Denmark and Poland and Lithuania and have just a few more shows to go as they make their way to Finland (tonight and tomorrow) and Sweden to close out the run. Going by the pictures on social media, it looks like it’s been a good tour.

Though they reportedly have copies on the road, they’ll get back home to Trondheim just in time for the June 7 release of their new 5CD box set, The Studio Jams 1-3, which collects the three previously-vinyl-only jam releases they’ve done with two more discs’ worth of bonus material for a one-time blowout on CD. Sounds friggin’ awesome to me, and I already have and have reviewed all those records. It’s gotta be upwards of six hours of stuff, or at least five. That’s a killer way to spend your day, as far as I’m concerned.

Crispin Glover Records has the release. Here’s info:

black moon circle the studio jams 1-3

Black Moon Circle- The Studio Jams 1-3 Box Set

Crispin Glover Records
5 CD box set with booklet

From 2015-2017, the Trondheim based psychedelic Space Rock band, Black Moon Circle released 3 vinyl albums containing studio jams recorded from 2013-2016. These albums are now sold out.

This box set includes the albums specifically mastered for CD, including the original LP artwork in single CD sleeve format. This is the first time they appear on CD. As a bonus, 7 unreleased jams spread over 2 CDs from this same time period are included. One of these amazing jams features Snah, guitarist from Motorpsycho.

An 8 page booklet telling the history of the band so far, as well as details of all the albums, recordings, jams, and pictures are included as well. The box is limited to 500 copies.

Release date is June 7th.

Remaining live dates:
Fontaine Palace, Liep?ja, Latvia May 31st
Ääniwalli, Helsinki, Finland June 1st
Vastavirta, Tampere, FIN June 2nd
Melody Box, Stockholm, Sweden June 4th
Sonic Rock Solstice, UK June 23rd 2019

Black Moon Circle:
Bass, Vocals – Øyvin Egan
Drums – Per Andreas Gulbrandsen
Guitar – Vemund Egan


Black Moon Circle, “Plains” live rehearsal for Spring tour

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Review & Track Premiere: Spidergawd, V

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

spidergawd v

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Spidergawd’s ‘Knights of CGR.’ Their new album, Spidergawd V, is out Jan. 11 on Crispin Glover Records.]

Consistency of the kind Spidergawd have honed across their now-five albums never just happens. The Trondheim, Norway, outfit may have missed putting out a full-length in 2018, but mostly because they were busy touring, and otherwise, their discography has been built on a per-year basis, with Spidergawd IV (review here) in 2017, Spidergawd III (review here) in 2016, Spidergawd II (review here) in 2015 and Spidergawd (review here) in 2014. Released as ever through Crispin Glover RecordsSpidergawd V is the band’s second outing with Hallvard Gaardløs on bass alongside the remaining founding trio of guitarist/vocalist Per Borten, baritone saxophonist Rolf Martin Snustad and drummer Kenneth Kapstad, and from its blindingly colorful cover art — also a regular feature of their work, as provided by Emile Morel — to its driven classic heavy rock feel, it is immediately recognizable as Spidergawd songcraft.

Comprised of eight tracks for a crisply-produced 38-minute long-player, Spidergawd V is absolutely air tight. No fluff. No filler. No time for messing around. Every minute of every song has its purpose, whether it’s the wah in “Green Eyes” or the sax-led intro to album opener and longest track (immediate points) “All and Everything,” or the sax and guitar seeming to lockstep later in the penultimate “Whirlwind Rodeo” to touch on “Hole in the Sky”-style riffing en route to some of the NWOBHM-isms that showed up on the last record, and as a unit, they are given to the kind of road-born sharpness that only touring and experience can provide. And for all their consistency, for all their recognizable aspects, and for the sheer fact that they’ve put out five albums essentially with the same title and the same style of art based around similar elements with straightforward structures, Spidergawd never seem to be repeating themselves. Their songs vary in mission and vibe, and the spirit of Spidergawd V underscores the fact that while there’s definitely some carryover from one offering to the next, the band have never actually failed to grow between their releases.

And they’ve done it quickly. Granted, they very clearly knew the band they wanted to be when they made the 2014 self-titled. The years since have only made that more apparent, but as “All and Everything” careens through its propulsive hook on its way to the first of any number of classy-as-hell, festival-ready guitar solos to be found throughout the album, the sheer ease with which they deliver their material is staggering, and it only becomes more so as “Ritual Supernatural” touches on Thin Lizzy troublemaking and “Twentyfourseven” reimagines chugging KISS strut-and-chorus vibes with an edge of the ’80s metal that followed in its wake. With Borten‘s voice and the structure of the verses and choruses he’s singing as a grounding factor, Spidergawd are free to follow whatever whims they might want and still find themselves on solid footing. And over their amassed discography, they’ve done that, with flourishes of psychedelia and metal playing out alongside their core of heavy rock.


Following “Twentyfourseven,” “Green Eyes” fills out more of the metal side of their approach, with layers of acoustic and electric guitar working together in an arrangement that only makes one wonder how the hell the song isn’t about “the night,” though one way or the other it kind of is anyway. With Snustad‘s sax wailing away as Kapstad pushes “Green Eyes” to its apex, side A wraps with an adrenaline surge that resolves itself in half-shouted lyrics and a controlled-as-ever crashout. Even in their most unhinged moments, Spidergawd hold tight on the reins of their sound. That’s not to say there’s no danger in what they’re doing, just that the way through that terrain is no less efficient and no less guided by a sure hand. Same is true as “Knights of CGR” — note the name of the label if you’re wondering what the acronym might stand for — takes hold at the outset of side B and works its way more patiently into its first verse. There’s a subtle shift in vibe, a pullback from some of the all-go-go-go of the first half of the album, but Spidergawd are hardly taking it easy with the Dio Sabbath riff — or is it “Stand up and Shout?” — that carries them to the song’s conclusion.

But even that shift has its purpose in the scope of Spidergawd V, which started out side A with a figurative-deep-inhale intro before “All and Everything” kicked in. “Avatar,” which follows “Knights of CGR” is a straightforward classic swinger, a subtle highlight for its melody and the interplay between Borten‘s guitar and Gaardløs‘ bass, the pace somewhat drawn down, but still moving through smoothly on its well-charted path, with Snustad‘s sax topping a later crashing finish that prefaces the aforementioned “Hole in the Sky”-ness of “Whirlwind Rodeo” to come. There is more Thin Lizzy in there with the steady bassline beneath the winding lead lines in the guitar and the sax blowing steady overarching notes in the verse, but the break in the second half of the song is a departure and might account for some of the time difference between “Whirlwind Rodeo” at 5:10 and everything else, which is between four and five minutes long, the opener notwithstanding. Still, they make their way back to the verse and the chorus to finish and start the closer “Do I Need a Doctor” at an ultra-rush that turns to punctuating jabs of guitar and sax in the verse before finding its melodic and memorable personality in the hook an reviving the push.

Here too, Spidergawd have it all under control, and even though they hit the brakes for a dream-toned bridge in the back end, they pick the tempo up again to round out and once more reinforce the notion that’s been the case with the band all along: that it’s the songwriting. Of all the pieces of their approach that have crossed the line from one LP to the next, when it comes to Spidergawd, by far the most crucial has been their songwriting. And five records deep, the challenge isn’t so much whether Spidergawd are going to put out a killer collection of songs, but whether their audience is going to be caught up to the last one by the time they do. That may be less of a challenge with Spidergawd V having the extra year out from its predecessor, but frankly, it may not. Looking back over what they’ve done in the last half-decade, it may well be a much longer time before their work is giving its full level of appreciation. But as of now, they are relentless on all fronts, and if we’re lucky, they’ll continue to outpace the rest of the planet for a long time to come.

Spidergawd website

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records

Crispin Glover Records

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