Up in Smoke 2024 Adds Monster Magnet, Daevar, Valley of the Sun, Samavayo & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The 2024 Up in Smoke Festival came out swinging big in its first announcement last month, with names like Greenleaf, Monolord, Lowrider, Truckfighters, Messa and Gnome among others, and the second announcement below makes a fitting follow-up with the promise of a doesn’t-happen-all-the-time-see-them-when-you-can stopover from Monster Magnet, as well as up and coming atmospheric doomers Daevar, the e’er-a-riot Valley of the Sun, the reunited Scorpion Child and veteran heavy rockers Samavayo set to play. It’s the 10th anniversary for the Swiss festival held each Fall in Pratteln as part of what’s become an international family of festivals backed or semi-backed by Sound of Liberation — see also Keep it Low, Desertfest Belgium, etc. — and they’re only right to do it up accordingly.

From Pentagram to Slomosa, the span of generations and sounds here is broader than the monikers alone can convey, but the celebratory feel of how the lineup is taking shape remains strong. There’s a lot to like about it, in other words, and while I’ve never been lucky enough to attend, I do know enough to know that running a successful fest for a decade — never mind surviving the odd bit of pandemic interruption of same — is no minor feat. Congratulations to Up in Smoke on the anniversary, and I look forward to when the rest of the bill is announced, say, mid-April?

From the PR wire:

up in smoke 2024 second poster square

UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL confirms MONSTER MAGNET & many more new band names for its 2024 edition!

UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL has announced new names for their upcoming, 10th anniversary edition, and confirms spacelords MONSTER MAGNET, high-voltage desert rockers VALLEY OF THE SUN, Berlin’s finest SAMAVAYO, stoner doomsters DAEVAR, US rock act SCORPION CHILD & many more!

They will join the already eclectic line-up featuring mighty PENTAGRAM, who will play their last Swiss show ever(!), TRUCKFIGHTERS, MONOLORD, GREENLEAF, LOWRIDER, SLOMOSA and more high class live acts. Further band names will be revealed soon.

UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL will take place between October 4 – 6, 2024 at Konzertfabrik Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, Hard tickets are available via https://sol-records.com/products/up-in-smoke-2024-festival-hardticket, to grab your online ticket, visit: https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte



Daevar, “Amber Eyes” official video

Valley of the Sun, The Chariot (2022)

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Stoned From the Underground 2024 Announces Daevar, The Pighounds, Einseinseins & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The cultish etherealities of Daevar‘s doom, transcendentally murky in the spirit of Windhand but with an energy to its roll that the band owned vibrantly on 2023’s debut, Delirious Rites (review here) — which paired the Cologne-based outfit with producer Jan Oberg, also of Grin et al — will be on display at the 2024 edition of the legendary German fest Stoned From the UndergroundDaevar, as well as The PighoundsEinseinseinsTommy and the TeleboysHeckspoiler and Rýr — sorry, I couldn’t find a band called ‘ut,’ though they may well exist — feature in the second round of lineup adds from the event, which got its start in 2001 and is among Europe’s most consistent and influential heavy underground festivals.

You can see below the lineup these acts are joining. Did you hear that new Skraeckoedlan single yet? Their new album will be out by the time July gets here, and the same could be true for High Desert Queen, or even Greenleaf, who were in the studio last month. There are a lot of possibilities here and more bands still to be added. Some of these are appearing elsewhere — Daevar will also be at Desertfest Berlin and Freak Valley — as the ecosystem of Sound of Liberation and other bookers does its best to assure that everyone is/can be everywhere all the time, but Stoned From the Underground remains a pilgrimage I feel like I need to make at some point. It’s like metallers going to Wacken, only as I understand it with about 100,000 fewer people and thus infinitely more pleasant.

Here’s word from the fest:

stoned from the underground banner

As promised, here are more bands for 2024 Stoned from the Underground – Festival

Look forward to The Pighounds , Daevar, Einseinseins , HECKSPOILER , ut , Tommy and the Teleboys and rýr

Tickets are available at: www.events.design-erfurt.de/produkt/sftu2024

Previously announced: Greenleaf, Hippie Death Cult, Earth Tongue, Psychlona, ​​Earthbong, SKRAECKOEDLAN, High Desert Queen, Glasgow Coma Scale, ZERRE, Lucifer Star Machine

Stoned From The Underground 2024 will take place from July 11th. take place until July 13th, 2024 ! Cheers!

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/312293734774337


Daevar, Delirious Rites (2023)

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Desertfest Berlin 2024 Makes Second Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Am I taking this entire Desertfest Berlin 2024 announcement as an excuse to put on Ruff Majik‘s Elektrik Ram yet again even though I was playing it approximately 40 hours ago while writing the best-of-2023 post? You bet your ass I am. 40 hours is about as long as I’ve made it all year. Less if you count hearing the songs in your head when the music isn’t actually on.

Elsewhere here, check out Masters of Reality confirmed for both flagship Desertfests. Another record might be too weird for planet earth, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. And I’ll note that this is the first I’m hearing of a farewell tour from Pentagram to take place in 2024/2025, but apparently that’s going to be a thing. Call it a low-level surprise? Nobody’s gonna say Bobby Liebling didn’t put in his time, even if you only count since the band got going again in 2009, never mind the better part of four decades prior.

I’ll be expecting tour announcements from Mondo Generator and Ruff Majik — maybe they’ll be out together; that would kind of rule as a pairing — Daevar, Pentagram, Arthur Brown, etc., and will post accordingly when I see what I see.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2024 second announce

DESERTFEST BERLIN confirms PENTAGRAM, MASTERS OF REALITY, MONDO GENERATOR & many more new band names for 2024!

Desertfest Berlin has announced new names for their eclectic 2024-edition, and confirms iconic PENTAGRAM (last Berlin show ever!), MASTERS OF REALITY, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN, MONDO GENERATOR, RUFF MAJIK, DAEVAR, APTERA, ZAHN, ZERRE and EINSEINSEINS! Get ready for THE riff party of the year – aside a wild and high-class blend of finest psychedelia, stoner rock, doom, desert punk blues, sludge and all that is metal, this is also going to be your last chance to see PENTAGRAM live in Berlin on their final Farewell Tour in 2024/2025!

Desertfest Berlin will take place between May 24 – 26, 2024 at Columbiahalle and Columbia Theater. Tickets, that would also make some perfect Xmas gift, are on sale at: www.desertfest-tickets.de


TICKETS ON SALE NOW: www.desertfest.de


Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Freak Valley Festival 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I have every intention of being at Freak Valley Festival 2024 when it takes place next May into June, and given the first 11 acts to be announced for its lineup, I’m already glad for that. Yes, no doubt Monolord will crush and I just saw 1000mods like a week ago so I know they’re killing it, but the chance to see the likes of Daevar or Fuzzy GrassSpeckMouthFull Earth (begat by Kanaan) and Slomosa, the young Norwegian outfit at the potential spearhead of a new generation of Euro heavy rock — the kind of band who’ll be headlining in a few years if they keep putting the work in like they are and the songs hold up. Already there’s stuff I never thought I’d see, stuff I’ve seen and know will be awesome, and stuff I haven’t seen that I want to see. Call that a win for a first announcement.

I wrote a decent portion of the below, but some was added, so I’m not gonna take full credit or anything like that. Nonetheless, as posted on socials:

freak valley 2024 first announcement

Freak Valley Festival 2024 Lineup Announcement!

Ladies and gentlemen, freaks of all ages, get ready to rock your world at Freak Valley Festival 2024! We’re thrilled to unveil the first part of an incredible lineup featuring some of the most electrifying bands from around the globe.
Freak Valley 2024 is set for May 30 – June 1.

You’ve already seen that Early Freak Tickets are on sale for Sept. 30 at Vortex Surfer in Siegen, and Regular Tickets again Oct. 2. Online sales start Oct. 3 and tickets hit local shops on Oct. 4.
But enough about that!!

You’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting, and the first band we’re ready to unveil for Freak Valley Festival 2024 is MONOLORD.

The Swedish kingpins of plus-sized riffs were last with us in 2019. Will they be back with a new album next summer? It’s cool to hope so, but either way, you can’t go wrong when Monolord come to crush, which they always do.

They’ll be joined by Greek heavy rock kingpins 1000MODS, Norwegian upstarts SLOMOSA — whose second record will be out by June — and ALEX HENRY FOSTER who you might remember was supposed to play in 2023, as well as DŸSE, SPECK, DAEVAR and FUZZY GRASS from France.

Newcomer Kanaan-offshoot FULL EARTH will join us from from Norway and long-running Chilean sludge outfit DEMONAUTA will grace our stage for the first time.

Rounding out this first announcement closer to home, we’ll bring Köln heavy prog stalwarts MOUTH on board, heralding this year’s ‘Getaway’ LP, which is must-hear if you haven’t!

(#128266#) Here’s the star-studded lineup:

Monolord – 1000mods – Dÿse – Slomosa – Alex Henry Foster – Mouth – Speck – Demonauta- Full Earth- Fuzzy Grass – Daevar

All killers, no fillers. That’s how we do it, freaks. Get your tickets now because they’ll be gone before you know it.

Prepare for an unforgettable weekend filled with mind-blowing performances, heavy riffs, and an atmosphere that’ll keep you rocking all night long. Freak Valley Festival 2024 is set to be an absolute musical extravaganza!


Monolord, It’s All the Same (2023)

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Ripplefest Germany 2023: Lineups Announced for Berlin and Köln

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

Life takes you strange places. I’m reporting live from a bench at what I grew up calling Hershey Park — it’s now known as “Hersheypark,” if current signage is to be believed — in not-much-else-here Hershey, Pennsylvania. My wife and kid are and have been for long enough for me to set up the entire back end of this post, maybe 25 minutes or so, waiting on line for a rollercoaster called The Comet. Park opened at 11 and is slammed.

We’re here, my little family unit, because it’s the end of summer. The Patient Mrs. starts a new semester teaching this week, The Pecan goes to school for full-day kindergarten Sept. 5, so this is pretty much it for summer. Why we’re here instead of something not two and a half hours from where we live is because about 25 minutes from here, at 2PM, we’re meeting with a dog breeder to see about maybe buying a three-month-old puppy. It’s a shichon, small, doesn’t shed much or make a lot of noise. A non-dog, by some standards. Fine. If it doesn’t immediately bite my kid, we’ll probably get it. This has emotional baggage for me — shocking, I know — but it’s time to get this kid a dog, so even if it’s not this one, we’ll keep looking.

What does any of this have to do with Ripplefest Germany 2023 announcing lineups for Cologne — Köln in German — and Berlin?

Just about nothing, actually, but it’s why I’m distracted from giving you the usual spiel: “here’s a cool fest I’ll never get to see but maybe you will and we can both daydream so here you go,” so at least that’s a connection. And please don’t take my inability to focus as somehow detracting from the work Max Röbel has done in assembling lineups both representative and forward thinking from Ripple and -adjacent acts. If you need more proof of his noble mission to shake heavy rock genre norms, go check out the new Plainride. Also, good for Crystal Spiders doing a bit of travel.

These reportedly are not the only acts that will be announced for these events, but it’s a start. Here’s what the PR wire has to say about it:


RIPPLEFEST GERMANY announces first names for 2023 edition in Berlin and Cologne this fall; tickets on sale now!

The international RIPPLEFEST festival series, organized by renowned California independent label Ripple Music, returns to Germany this fall with two unmissable events! Ripplefest Berlin and Ripplefest Cologne promise a musical experience of the highest caliber for fans of Stoner, Doom, and Heavy Psychedelic Rock.

Ripple Music, a label known for its specialization in heavy rock sounds, aims to promote emerging talents from the international heavy rock underground and bring together fans and bands from all over the globe. Dubbing their own festival series “Ripplefest”, the record label has been organizing showcase events for years, in cities such as Austin, San Francisco, London, Nantes, Stockholm, Cologne and Berlin.

The organizer of both Ripplefests is Max Röbel, frontman of Cologne’s heavy rock band Plainride and Head of A&R Europe for Ripple Music. About curating the festival, he says: “Creating a platform for music beyond the mainstream and being able to showcase it with such international lineups is a matter dear to my heart. These festivals are meant to be both a meeting place and a stepping stone for our acts, which is why I am particularly excited that with Kabbalah, Crystal Spiders, and Daevar, we once more have three bands with exceptionally strong frontwomen, on this year’s lineup.”

November 25th at Roadrunner’s Paradise
Buy tickets (20€): https://ripplefest.de/berlin.html
Facebook event: https://facebook.com/events/s/ripplefest-berlin-2023/987568972444269/

❱ CANNABINEROS (DE) Stoner rock
❱ KABBALAH (SP) Occult rock
❱ APPALOOZA (FR) Heavy tribal rock

December 2nd at Club Volta
Buy tickets (20€): https://ripplefest.de/berlin.html
Facebook event: https://facebook.com/events/s/ripplefest-cologne-2023/1301970177360757/

❱ MOTHER’S CAKE (DE) Stoner rock
❱ KABBALAH (SP) Occult rock
❱ FIRE DOWN BELOW (BE) Stoner rock
❱ APPALOOZA (FR) Heavy tribal rock
❱ CANNABINEROS (DE) Stoner rock
❱ DAEVAR (DE) Stoner doom


Mother’s Cake, Studio Live Session (2022)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 102

Posted in Radio on January 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

If you missed the entire Quarterly Review, first of all, that’s okay. You’re not obligated. I only bring it up because it’s from that glut of 100 records that this playlist (and part of the last one) derives. It’s a good show, with a couple decent twists. I almost played the 18-minute Smoke song. Thought about it, but it gets a little droney and I worry about stuff like that getting lost in people’s audio feeds. You know, if they’ve got the thing streaming in the background or some such. I’m not fooling myself into thinking that, however many people are listening, they’re all paying the strictest attention to every minute of every song.

So it’s the seven-minute Smoke song, and the 14-minute Carrier Wave one. It was pretty easy to go and pick through the QR for stuff, to be honest. And there was enough that, even having done some last time, I might still be able to get more from it that would work for the show. That’s pretty killer, because unless I’m giving myself an excuse to get to know it, I don’t play stuff on here if I don’t think it’s at least worth hearing. In the meantime, this playlist rules. I can’t wait to hear what engineer Dean Rispler (he’s also in Mighty High and 70 or 80 other bands) does with the transition from Gaupa to Onségen Ensemble.

Thanks for listening if you listen. Thanks for reading either way.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.20.23 (VT = voice track)

Oktas Collateral Damage The Finite and the Infinite
Gaupa RA Myriad
Onségen Ensemble Naked Sky Realms
Simple Forms Reaching for the Shadow Simple Forms
Farflung Dludgemasterpoede Like Drones in Honey
Smoke The Son of Man Groupthink
Chrome Ghost Where Black Dogs Dream House of Falling Ash
Onhou Null Monument
Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol Jesus Was an Alien Doom Wop
Alconaut Slugs Slugs
Daevar Leila Delirious Rites
Astrosaur The Deluge Portals
Grin Aporia Phantom Knocks
Mister Earthbound Not to Know Shadow Work
Carrier Wave Cosmic Man Carrier Wave

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Feb. 3 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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Quarterly Review: Astrosaur, Kvasir, Bloodshot, Tons, Mothman & The Thunderbirds vs. World Eaters, Deer Lord, IO Audio Recordings, Bong Voyage, Sun Years, Daevar

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-winter 2023

There was some pretty good stuff this week, I gotta say. Feels self-congratulatory to be like, ‘hey good job slating reviews, me!’ but there it is. I don’t regret hearing anything I have thus far into the Winter 2023 Quarterly Review, and sometimes that’s not the case by the time we get to Friday.

Of course, there’s another week to go here as well. We’ll pick it back up on Monday with another 10 records and proceed from there. If you’ve been following along, I hope you’ve found something you dig as well.

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #41-50:

Astrosaur, Portals


This is what happens when you have virtuoso players writing songs rather than paeans to their own virtuosity. Led by founding guitarist Eirik Kråkenes, with drummer Jonathan Eikum (also Taiga Woods) and bassist Steinar Glas (also Einar Stray Orchestra), Astrosaur are blindingly progressive on their third full-length, Portals (on Pelagic), operating with post-metallic atmospheres as a backdrop for stunning instrumental turns, builds and crashes, willful repetition and the defiant denial of same. There’s more scope in the intro “Opening” than on some entire albums, and what “Black Hole Earth” begins from there is a dizzying array of sometimes cosmic sometimes earthborn riffing, twisting bass and mindfully restless drums. “The Deluge” hitting into that chase after four minutes in, that seemingly chaotic swirling noise suddenly stopping “Reptile Empire” and the false start to the 23-minute epic “Eternal Return” — these details and many besides give the overarching weight of Portals at its heaviest a corresponding depth, and when coupled with the guitar’s ability to coast overhead, they are genuinely three-dimension in their sound. You’d be right to want to hear Portals for “Eternal Return” alone, but there’s so much more to it than that.

Astrosaur on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp


Kvasir, Sagittarius A* Star

Kvasir Sagittarius A Star

Kvasir‘s Sagittarius A* Star is named for the black hole at the center of the galaxy, and the 21-minute single-song EP is the follow-up to their 2021 debut album, 4 (review here), a dug-in proto-metallic exploration composed in movements that flow together as a whole organic work. The Portland-based four-piece of guitarists Christopher Lee (also vocals) and Gabriel Langston, bassist Greg Traw and Jay Erbe work on either side between traditional metal and heavy rock riffing, inhabiting both here as “Sagittarius A* Star” launches into its initial verses over the first four minutes, a solo emerging after 5:30 to set the pattern that will hold for the remaining three-fourths of the song. A slowdown takes hold about a minute later and grooves until at about nine minutes in when the bass comes forward and things get funkier. The vocals return at about 11:30 to complement a galloping riff that’s fleshed out until just after the 14-minute mark, when a jazzier instrumental movement begins and the band makes it known they’re going out and not coming back, the swaying finish with more insistent guitar, first interjecting then satisfyingly joining that sway, capping with a (still plotted) jammier feel. If that’s the Milky Way succumbing to ultragravity and being torn apart molecule by molecule en route to physics-defying oblivion, then fair enough. Worse ways to go, certainly.

Kvasir on Facebook

Kvasir on Bandcamp


Bloodshot, Sins of the Father

Bloodshot Sins of the Father

Though the leadoff Sins of the Father gets reminds of circa-’90s noise metal like Nailbomb, Marylander four-piece Bloodshot lean more into a hardcore-informed take on heavy rock with their aggressively-purposed debut album. Comprised of vocalist Jared Winegardner, guitarist Tom Stacey, bassist Joe Ruthvin (ex-Earthride) and drummer JB Matson (ex-War Injun, organizer of Maryland Doom Fest, etc.), the band push to one side or the other throughout, as on the more rocking “Zero Humility” and the subsequent metallic barker “Uncivil War,” the mid-period Megadeth-style riffer “Beaten Into Rebellion,” the brooding-into-chugging closing title-track and “Fyre,” which I’m pretty sure just wants to kick my ass. The 10-track entirety of the album, in fact, seems to hold to that same mentality, and there’s a sense of trying to recapture something that’s been lost that feels inherently conservative in its theme — “Faded Natives,” “Visions of Yesterday,” the speedier “Worn and Torn,” and so on — but gruff though it is, Sins of the Father offers a pissed-off-for-reasons take on heavy that’s likewise intense and methodical. That is to say, they know what they’re doing as they punch you in the throat.

Bloodshot on Facebook

Half Beast Records on Bandcamp

Nervous Breakdown Records store


Tons, Hashension

Tons Hashension

A second release through Heavy Psych Sounds and Tons‘ third full-length overall, Hashension wears its love of all things cannabian on its crusty stoner sludge sleeve throughout its six-track/39-minute run, begun with the riffnotic “Dope Dealer Scum” before “A Hash Day’s Night” introduces the throatripper vocals and backing growls and a more heads-down, speedier tempo that hits into a mosh of a slowdown. “Slowly We Pot” — a play on Obituary‘s Slowly We Rot — to go along with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd (and Gummo) titular references — follows in a spirit as angry as one imagines Bongzilla might be if someone un-freed their weed. Yes, “Hempathy for the Devil” and “Ummagummo” precede the sample-topped slamming march of “Hashended,” and lo, the well-baked extreme sludge they’ve wrought rumbles and thuds its way out, not so much gnashing in the way of “A Hash Day’s Night” or the roll after the midpoint in “Ummagummo” — though the lyrics there seem to be pure weed-worship — but lumbering in such a way as to ensure the point gets across anyhow. I’m not going to tell you you should be stoned listening to it, because I don’t know, maybe you’re driving or something, but I doubt Tons would argue if you brought some edibles to the gig. Enough to share, perhaps.

Tons on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds store


Mothman & the Thunderbirds vs. World Eaters, Split

Mothman and the Thunderbirds vs World Eaters Split

In the battle of Philly solo-project Mothman and the Thunderbirds vs. Ontario-based duo World Eaters, the numbers may be on the side of the latter, but each act offers something of its own on their shared 18-minute EP. Presenting two tracks from each band, the outing puts Mothman and the Thunderbirds‘ “Rusty Shackleton” and “Nephilim” up front, the latter particularly reinforcing the Devin Townsend influence on the part of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Alex Parkinson, while “Flash of Green” and “The Siege” from World Eaters — drummer Winter Stomp and guitarist/bassist/vocalist/synthesist David Gupta — present an atmospheric death metal, more than raw bludgeoning, but definitely that as well. As a sampler platter for both bands, there’s more time to get to know World Eaters since their songs are markedly longer, but the contrast from one to the other and the progression into the mire of “The Siege” gives the split an overlaid personality, almost a narrative, and the melodies in Parkinson‘s two cuts have a lingering presence over the masterful decay that follows in World Eater‘s material. One way or the other, these are both relatively upstart projects and their will toward progression is clear, as pummeling as its form may be. Right on.

Mothman & The Thunderbirds on Bandcamp

World Eaters on Bandcamp


Deer Lord, Dark Matter Pt. 1

Deer Lord Dark Matter Pt 1

Preceded by the two-song single Witches Brew/Psychedelic Roadkill, the six-song/24-minute Dark Matter Pt. 1 is short but feels nonetheless like a debut album from Sonoma County, California (try the cabernet), three-piece Deer Lord, who present adventures like getting stoned with witches on a mountaintop, riding free with an out-on-bail “Hippie Girl” in the backseat of presumably some kind of roadster, going down the proverbial highway and, at last, welcoming you to “Planet Earth” after calling out and casting off any and all “Ego” along the way. It is a modern take on stonerized heavy, starting off with “Witches Brew” as the opener/longest track (immediate points) with a languid flow and psychedelic underpinnings that flesh out even amid the apex soloing of “Planet Earth” or the fervent push of the earlier “Ride Away,” that tempo hitting a wall with the intro of “Ego” (don’t worry, it takes off) so as to support the argument in favor of Dark Matter Pt. 1 as an admittedly brief full-length, the component tracks working off each other to enhance the entirety. The elements beneath are familiar enough, but Deer Lord put an encouraging spin of their own on it, and especially as their debut, it’s hard to imagine some label or other won’t get on board, if not for pressing this, then maybe Pt. 2 to come. Perhaps both?

Deer Lord on Facebook

Deer Lord on Bandcamp


IO Audio Recordings, Awaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK

IO Audio Recordings Awaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK

Compiling two 2022 EPs into a single LP and releasing through a microcosm of underground imprints in various terrestrial locales, IO Audio RecordingsAwaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK is my first exposure to the Orange, CA, out-there-in-space unit, and from the blower kosmiche rocking “Awaiting the Elliptical Drift” to the sitar meditation “Luminous Suspension,” and the hazy wash of “Sunrise and Overdrive” (that’s side A) to the experimentalist consumption of “VVK” and “Gramanita” rounding out with its heartbeat rhythm giving over to a hardly-flatlined drone after shuffling cool and bassy and fuzzy with jangly jam strum overtop, I tell you in all sincerity it won’t be my last. There’s a broad cross-section stylistically, which suits a compilation mindset, but I get the feeling that if you called it an album instead, the situation would be much the same thanks to an underlying conceptualism and the adventuring purpose beneath the open-structured fluidity. That’s just fine, as IO Audio Recordings‘ sundry transformations only enhance the anything-that-works-goes and shelf-your-expectations listening experience. Not that there’s no tension in their groovy approach, but the abiding sensibility advises an open mind and maybe a couple deep breaths in and out before you take it on. But then definitely take it on. If you need me, I’ll be spending money I don’t have on Bandcamp.

Weird Beard Records store

Fuzzed Up and Astromoon Records on Bandcamp

We Here & Now on Bandcamp

Ramble Records on Bandcamp

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp


Bong Voyage, Feverlung

Bong Voyage Feverlung

While “bong” in a band name usually connotes dense sludge in my head, Oslo four-piece Bong Voyage defy that stereotype with their Dec. 2022-released second single, “Feverlung” — the first single was October’s “Buzzed Aldrin” — and no, the song isn’t about the pandemic, it’s about getting high. The six-minute rocker hoists jammy flourish mostly in its second half, in a break that, in turn, shifts into uptempo semi-space rock post-Slift pulsations atop a progression that, while I’ll readily admit it sounds little like the song on the whole still puts me in mind of Kyuss‘ “Odyssey” in its vocal patterning and melody. That ending is a step outward from the solidified early verses, which are more straight ahead heavy rock in the vein of Freedom Hawk or a less-directly-Ozzy take on Sheavy, and while one listening for them to bring it back around to the initial riff will find that they don’t, the band’s time isn’t necessarily misspent in terms of serving the song by letting it push beyond exospheric traps. They won’t catch me by surprise next time aesthetically, and it wouldn’t be a shock to find Bong Voyage in among the subset of up and coming heavy rockers that’s put Norway on the underground radar so much these last couple years. Either way, I’ll look forward to more here.

Bong Voyage on Facebook

Bong Voyage on Bandcamp


Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo)

IMGSun years demo

In its early going, Sun Years‘ “Codex” stagger-sludges like Eyehategod with guitarist Dalton Huskin‘s shouty echoing vocals on top, but as it moves into its second half, there’s a pickup in tempo and a bit of swirling lead guitar emerges in the 4:37 song’s closing stretch as Asechiah Bogdan (ex-Windhand, ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) makes his presence felt. Alongside bassist Buddy Bryant and drummer Erik Larson (once-and-again guitarist for Alabama Thunderpussy, drummer of Avail, Omen Stones, ex-Backwoods Payback, the list goes on), Bogdan and Huskin explore mellower and more melodic reaches the subsequent “Teeth Like Stars,” still holding some of their demo’s lead track’s urgency as a weighted riff takes hold in trade with the relatively subdued verse. That’s a back and forth they’ll do again, moving the second time from the more weighted progression into a solo and build into a return of the harsher vocals, some double-kick drumming and a last shove that lasts until everything drops out except one guitar and that riffs for a few seconds before being cut off mid-measure. Well, that’s a band with more dynamic in their first two tracks than some have in their entire careers, so I guess it’s safe to say it’ll be worth following the Richmond, Virginia, foursome to see where they end up next time out.

Sun Years on Bandcamp

Minimum Wage Recording on Facebook


Daevar, Delirious Rites

Daevar Delirious Rites Cover

Recorded by Jan Oberg (Grin, Slowshine, EarthShip) at Hidden Planet Studio in Berlin, Daevar‘s five-track/32-minute 2023 debut album, Delirious Rites, arrives likewise through Oberg‘s imprint The Lasting Dose Records and finds the man himself sitting in for guest vocals on the 10-minute “Leviathan” alongside the band’s own bassist/vocalist Pardis Latif, who leads the band from the depths of the rhythm section’s lurch on the gradually unfolding Windhand-vibing leadoff “Slowshine,” the particularly Monolordian “Bloody Fingers” with Caspar Orfgen‘s guitar howling over a marching riff, and “Leila” where Moritz Ermen Bausch‘s drums offer a welcoming grounding to Electric Wizardly nod and swirl. Thus, by the time his spot in the aforementioned “Leviathan” rolls (and I do mean rolls) around, just ahead of closer “Yellow Queen,” the layers of growling and screaming he adds to the procession are a standout shift well placed to play off the atmosphere established by the previous tracks. Shortest at 5:10, “Yellow Queen” lumbers through more ethereal doom and hints at a psychedelic current that might continue to develop in a midsection drifting break that builds back into the catchy plod from whence it came. Not necessarily innovative at this point — they’re a new band — but they seem to know what they want in terms of sound and style, and that only ever bodes well.

Daevar on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp


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