Quarterly Review: Atomikylä, Sunnata, White Dynomite, Horehound, Sulfur Giant, New Planet Trampoline, Hypnos, Honky, Cheap Wine, Gurt & Trippy Wicked

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Atomikylä, Keräily

atomikyla Keraily

From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.

Atomikylä on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.

Sunnata on Thee Facebooks

Sunnata on Bandcamp

White Dynomite, Action O’Clock

white dynomite action oclock

I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Horehound, Horehound

horehound horehound

Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

Horehound on Bandcamp

Sulfur Giant, Beyond the Hollow Mountain

sulfur giant beyond the hollow mountain

Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.

Sulfur Giant on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions

new planet trampoline dark rides and grim visions

Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”

New Planet Trampoline on Thee Facebooks

New Planet Trampoline on Bandcamp

Hypnos, Cold Winds

hypnos cold winds

With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

Hypnos at Crusher Records

Honky, Corduroy

honky corduroy

Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.

Honky website

Housecore Records website

Cheap Wine, Sad Queen

cheap wine sad queen

Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.

Cheap Wine on Thee Facebooks

Celebration Days Records website

Gurt & Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy

gurt trippy wicked guppy

The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.

Gurt on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

When Planets Collide website

HeviSike Records

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hypnos Post New Video for “I’m on the Run”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hypnos

According to the latest stats from the UN, there is absolutely no shortage of boogie rock in Sweden. Their cup shuffleth over. And yet a band like Hypnos can come out of Gothenburg, tear ass along a song like “I’m on the Run” and make their presence felt through what continues to be an increasingly crowded field of acts. Fortunately Europe has 150 festivals every summer to house all of this creativity — Hypnos will play Stoned from the Underground, likely among others — but while Sweden’s mustache economy may be at its highest level in decades, there’s no question that Hypnos, who formed in 2013 and will offer up their second full-length, Cold Winds, on April 29 via Crusher Records, are out to leave a mark.

The immediate temptation is to cue up the Graveyard comparison, which is kind of the low-hanging fruit for anything vaguely Swedish and New Millennium Analog, and I guess that’s fair game, but the alternate-universe-radio friendliness of earlier Kadavar seem closer to the kind of bounce in “I’m on the Run,” to which Hypnos bring an added element of their own via Thin Lizzy-style guitar work in the chorus. Just earlier this month, the five-piece said goodbye to guitarist Fredrik Bäckström, so it remains to be seen what the future of those twin antics might be, but the course for Cold Winds, which will arrive preceded by a single for “I’m on the Run” which is available now through a range of digital outlets, seems set in the track’s hook, vintage vibe and tight swing. Plus momentum, because you know, it would be kind of a waste to call the song “I’m on the Run” if it was standing still the entire time.

I wish I knew the origin of the screen at the start of the clip, which just feels like an inside joke from late night Swedish television probably of the late ’70s/early ’80s, but even without that wisdom, if you’d like to dig into the video, it’s below, followed by more background on the band from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Hypnos, “I’m on the Run” official video

The single “I’m On The Run” is taken from the upcoming album “Cold Winds”. Single out February 19th and album out April 29th, 2016. Single available from iTunes, Spotify, Amazon: https://crusherrecords.lnk.to/imontherunID

Hypnos was formed in late autumn 2013 and it only took a handful of shows of intense energy backed by a solid repertoire to get Crusher Records immediate attention. Shortly a deal was struck! Hypnos wasted no time and in February 2014 the band entered Kungsten Studios to start recording their debut album.

NEW ALBUM COLD WINDS, set to be released April 29th via Crusher Records!!

MEMBERS
Philip Lindgren – vocals
Oskar Karlsson – guitar
Fredrik Bäckström – guitar
Anton Frick Kallmin – bass
Lasse Ekelöf – drums

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

“I’m on the Run” single portal

Crusher Records

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunder, Sunder: Lucid Dreams (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

sunder sunder

[Note: Press play above to hear Sunder’s Sunder in full. It’s out tomorrow, Oct. 30, on Tee Pee and Crusher Records. Preorders are available from Tee Pee, at iTunes or on Amazon.]

Don’t call it a reboot. More like a do-over, maybe. The story goes like this: Early in 2014, a band from Lyon, France, called The Socks released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone Records. Good album. Very much in the post-Kadavar/Graveyard retro-boogie vein, but ably executed, particularly for a young band on their first LP. About a year and a half later, that same band — identical lineup: guitarist/vocalist Julien Méret, drummer Jessy Ensenat, bassist Vincent Melay and organist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud — reemerge as Sunder, and take a second shot at a self-titled debut, this time through Tee Pee and Crusher Records.

Near as I can tell, the major jump is in Baud swapping out a guitar for keys, but one of the most striking aspects of Sunder‘s first album is that it really is far enough away from what these guys were doing as The Socks to justify being a different band. Songs like the fortified opening salvo of “Deadly Flower,” “Daughter of the Snows” and “Cursed Wolf” — which were also included on Sunder‘s demo (review here) earlier this year — give the listener an immediately fuller sense of breadth, incorporating elements culled from earlier psychedelic and garage rock, less directly indebted to one band or another than to an aesthetic itself that, while undeniably drawn from these decades-old tenets, sounds refreshing for the nuance and melody with which Sunder carry it. If this is a do-over, they’re doing it right.

As with their prior incarnation, Sunder‘s debut arrives with remarkably little pretense. Its nine tracks comprise a thoroughly manageable 33:43, and from the beginning organ line and fuzz of “Deadly Flower” (video premiere here), the foursome maintain an efficient balance of resonant hooks, open vibe and pervasive groove. Nothing’s overcooked, but the material feels thought through and vocal arrangements tap Beatles-style harmonies without falling into a post-Uncle Acid trap, and while “Daughter of the Snows” has some of that Graveyardian swing, Sunder bring more than enough of their own personality to make the shuffle fit with the surrounding material, “Cursed Wolf” playing back and forth on the throttle early before shifting into a sun-caked midsection fuzz jam that seems like it’s going to be a departure point for a build but winds up trailing back to the verse and chorus to close — just a little break from reality, then. A welcome one at that.

sunder

“Wings of the Sun” is complementary in its trippy spirit and vocal harmonies, natural sounding but still leaving space for Ensenat‘s drums to thud out an easily-followed beat or for Baud‘s organ to bolster the overarching lysergic nostalgia, which presents a mood much more 1966 than 1971, leaning well over the cusp of the psychedelic era as though — not to harp on it — trying to capture a moment between Rubber Soul and Revolver, plus the organ and minus the cynicism that would later inform what became heavy rock. Sunder‘s Sunder has several legitimately gorgeous stretches, and “Wings of the Sun” is one of them.

Centerpiece “Bleeding Trees” follows and is perhaps even more of an accomplishment, since not only does it bask in the same warmth as the song before it, but it pushes that warmth to a weightier purpose. A darker turn in the verse, shoutier in its bridge, more direct in its choral fullness, “Bleeding Trees” brings out Mellotron backing for a high-point guitar solo and is still done in under four minutes, setting a quick return to the sun with “Eye Catcher,” an A-side in the making that freaks out on fuzz in its first half and goes buzzsaw in its second, all while keeping a fast pace and holding firm to the energy Sunder have shown throughout.

Méret presides over the subsequent “Thunder and Storm” with crisp frontman presence, though the backing he receives from the layered keys and Ensenat‘s what-did-the-drum-do-to-deserve-such-a-beating snare is not to be understated. These quick bursts in “Eye Catcher” and “Thunder and Storm” help propel Sunder‘s second half, but also add to the complexity of the first, expanding the album’s opening progression by showing the band aren’t necessarily beholden to one tack or another. The dynamic is emphasized in the slowdown of  the love-lorn “Don’t Leave it Behind,” an open crash, choice key line and balance in the high and low end showing just how deep in the mix Sunder can do while Méret — if I’m not mistaken — turns the vocals backwards from within the swirl. Closing out, the swaggering roll of “Lucid Dreams” is as close as they come to the five-minute mark at 4:51 and a legitimately earned victory lap through another memorable chorus.

It’s no small thing for a band to stop what they’re doing, look around them, decide they want to be somewhere else sonically, and then actually make that change happen. Not only to do it, but to do it without changing a lineup. Sunder‘s first LP is a standout release for the context in which it arrives, but it’s the songwriting and the potential the band shows in their arrangements that make it one of 2015’s strongest debuts, as brazen as it is completely realized. One hopes in listening to it that MéretBaudMelay and Ensenat have found the place they’ll call home in terms of style, because what they’re doing across these tracks suits them well and seems to be ripe for any number of avenues for future progression.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Sunder at Tee Pee Records

Sunder at Crusher Records

Preorder at Amazon

Preorder on iTunes

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Horsehunter, Church, Corpse Light, Sunder, T-Tops, The Space Merchants, Etiolated, Blown Out, Les Discrets, Beast Modulus

Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh

horsehunter caged in flesh

Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.

Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Church, Unanswered Hymns

church unanswered hymns

A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.

Church on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes

Battleground Records

Corpse Light, Without Form

corpse light without form

Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.

Corpse Light on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Sunder, Demo

sunder demo

Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

T-Tops, T-Tops

t-tops t-tops

Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.

T-Tops on Thee Facebooks

T-Tops on Bandcamp

The Space Merchants, The Space Merchants

the space merchants the space merchants

Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani MonteleoneCarter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.

The Space Merchants on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb on Bandcamp

Etiolated, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies

etoliated grey limbs grey skies

The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.

Etiolated on Thee Facebooks

Armus Productions on Bandcamp

Blown Out, Planetary Engineering

blown out planetary engineering

It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.

Blown Out on Thee Facebooks

Oaken Palace Records on Bandcamp

Les Discrets, Live at Roadburn

les discrets live at roadburn

I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions

Beast Modulus, Beast Modulus

beast-modulus-beast-modulus

Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.

Beast Modulus on Thee Facebooks

Beast Modulus on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunder Premiere Video for “Deadly Flower”; Sign to Tee Pee Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

sunder

French four-piece Sunder have announced a newly-inked deal with Tee Pee Records and Crusher Records covering multiple continents for the release of their impending debut full-length. Well, kind of a debut full-length. The Lyon outfit released a self-titled debut (review here) early in 2014 under the moniker The Socks via Small Stone. Apparently the year subsequent has brought a few changes with it, among them the name. As Sunder, the band will release their first album this Fall, and as the new demo “Deadly Flower” shows, it’s a new beginning on multiple levels.

The Socks were indebted heavily to the swing and swagger of ’70s-style blues rock that has gained a foothold throughout Europe in the wake of Graveyard and Kadavar. With the classic Mellotron of “Deadly Flower” and the organic vocal, guitar, bass and drum sounds that accompany, Sunder still have some of that going on, but the new track finds guitarist/vocalist Julien Méret, drummer Jessy Ensenat, bassist Vincent Melay and sunder logokey-specialist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud digging deeper into the roots of psychedelic rock — more ’67 than ’72, if that makes any sense. Of course, it’s one track, and it’s a demo, so how indicative of the overall direction of the album it may or may not be remains to be seen over the next couple months, but it’s an immersive starting point, Sunder clearly benefiting from the lessons from their time as The Socks as they move forward in this new stage of their career.

To mark the occasion of their Tee Pee signing, I’m happy to be able to host the premiere of the “Deadly Flower” video. The clip itself is basically their logo with some tripped-out vocals, but I think you’ll find the jam worth losing yourself in anyway as an introduction to where they’re at now. More to come as we get closer to the album’s completion and subsequent release.

Official announcement follows the video below. Hope you enjoy:

Sunder, “Deadly Flower”

SUNDER Signs to Tee Pee Records

Forceful French Four-Piece (formerly The Socks) Fortifying First Full Length LP

French heavy psychedelic rock band SUNDER has signed to Tee Pee Records. Formerly known as The Socks, the group is known for its edgy, electric sound that draws from the heavier side of 1960’s / 70’s rock and swings with acid grooves. The group’s as-yet untitled debut will see a fall, 2015 release in North / South America and Australia via Tee Pee and in Europe and Japan via Crusher Records.

“It’s with great pleasure and pride to be part of two of the most amazing heavy/psych labels in the world,” said the band in a statement. “The Socks were of Lyon, France. Sunder is of the world and it is with the sounds of Sunder that the shores of the world will be plundered.”

In celebration, the band has released a tripped visual video for its new track, “Deadly Flower”.

SUNDER features Julien Méret (guitar / vocals) Jessy Ensenat (drums), Vincent Melay (bass) and Nicolas Baud (Farfisa, Mellotron, backing vocals).

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Vidunder Post Video for “Into Her Grave” — Debut LP Now Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an interesting turn here as regards Swedish retro trio Vidunder, whose self-titled debut was released this week on Crusher Records, since the heavy classic rockers not only take influence from the usual heavy ’70s suspects — your earliest Pentagram, Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Budgie — but also from the league of European bands who’ve already come up under that influence. Most particularly in Vidunder‘s case, it’s Graveyard and Kadavar.

They’re not the first act to come along with a flair for the modern end of the retro aesthetic, but it’s fascinating to see that happening across the last year or so as more bands crop up in this vein. Invariably, this will lead to the continued evolution of the sound — I think last year’s Legend already proves Witchcraft were bored of ’70s vintage-isms — as the forebears of the style search out new modes of expression, while newcomers like Vidunder here help affirm the notion of classic heavy as a modern subgenre and not just a couple acts who have a thing for bellbottoms.

Whether or not that’s how it plays out, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ll take some catchy Graveyard-style rock in the interim, and Vidunder certainly have that going on. It’s going to be a sad day when disco comes to Örebro:

Vidunder, “Into Her Grave” from Vidunder (2013)

Vidunder on Thee Facebooks

Crusher Records

Tags: , , , , ,