Quarterly Review: Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space, Inter Arma, Sunnata, The Sonic Dawn, Rifflord, Mothman and the Thunderbirds, The Lunar Effect, Danava, Moonlit, Doom Lab

Posted in Reviews on May 24th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


This is it. This one’s for all the marbles. Well, actually there are no marbles involved, but if you remember way back like two weeks ago when this started out, I told you the tale of a hubristic 40-something dickweed blogger who thought he could review 100 albums in 10 days, and assuming I make it through the below without having an aneurysm — because, hey, you never know — today I get to live that particular fairy tale.

If you’ve kept up, and I hope you have, thanks. If not, click here to see all the posts in this Quarterly Review. Either way, I appreciate your time.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space, Enters Your Somas

Lamp of the universe meets dr space Enter Your Somas

Who’s ready to get blasted out the airlock? New Zealand solo-outfit Lamp of the Universe, aka multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson (also Dead Shrine, ex-Datura, etc.), and Portugal-residing synth master Dr. Space, aka Scott Heller of Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, and so on, come together to remind us all we’re nothing more than semi-sentient cosmic dust. Enters Your Somas is comprised of two extended pieces, “Enters Your Somas” (18:39) and “Infiltrates Your Mind” (19:07), and both resonate space/soul frequencies while each finds its own path. The title-track is more languid on average, where “Infiltrates Your Mind” reroutes auxiliary power to the percussive thrusters in its first half before drifting into drone communion and hearing a voice — vague, but definitely human speech — before surging back to its course via Williamson‘s drums, which play a large role in giving the material its shape. But with synthy sweeps from Heller, Mellotron and guitar coming and going, and a steady groove across both inclusions, Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space offer galactic adventure limited only by where your imagination puts you while you listen.

Lamp of the Universe on Facebook

Dr. Space on Facebook

Sound Effect Records website

Inter Arma, New Heaven

inter arma new heaven

Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma had no small task before them in following 2019’s Sulphur English (review here), but from the tech-death boops and bops and twists of New Heaven‘s leadoff title-track through the gothic textures of “Gardens in the Dark,” self-aware without satire, slow-flowing and dramatic, this fifth full-length finds them continuing to expand their creative reach, and at this point, whatever genre you might want to cast them in, they stand out. To wit, the blackdeath onslaught of “Violet Seizures” that’s also space rock, backed in that by the subsequent “Desolation’s Harp” with its classically grandiose solo, or the post-doom lumber of “Concrete Cliffs” that calls out its expanse after the seven-minute drum-playthrough-fodder extremity of “The Children the Bombs Overlooked,” or the mournful march of “Endless Grey” and the acoustic-led Nick Cavey epilogue “Forest Service Road Blues.” Few bands embrace a full spectrum of metallic sounds without coming across as either disjointed or like they’re just mashing styles together for the hell of it. Inter Arma bleed purpose in every turn, and as they inch closer to their 20th year as a band, they are masters unto themselves of this form they’ve created.

Inter Arma on Facebook

Relapse Records website

Sunnata, Chasing Shadows

sunnata chasing shadows

The opening “Chimera” puts Chasing Shadows quickly into a ritualized mindset, all the more as Warsaw meditative doomers Sunnata lace it and a decent portion of their 11-track/62-minute fifth album with an arrangement of vocals from guitarists Szymon Ewertowski and Adrian Gadomski and bassist/synthesist Michal Dobrzanski as drummer/percussionist Robert Ruszczyk punctuates on snare as they head toward a culmination. Individual pieces have their own purposes, whether it’s the momentary float of “Torn” or the post-Alice in Chains harmonies offset by Twin Peaks-y creep in “Saviours Raft,” or the way “Hunger” gradually moves from light to dark with rolling immersion, or the dancier feel with which “Like Cogs in a Wheel” gives an instrumental finish. It’s not a minor undertaking and it’s not meant to be one, but mood and atmosphere do a lot of work in uniting the songs, and the low-in-the-mouth vocal melodies become a part of that as the record unfolds. Their range has never felt broader, but there’s a plot being followed as well, an idea behind each turn in “Wishbone” and the sprawl is justified by the dug-in worldmaking taking place across the whole-LP progression, darkly psychedelic and engrossing as it is.

Sunnata on Facebook

Sunnata on Bandcamp

The Sonic Dawn, Phantom

The Sonic Dawn Phantom

Among the most vital classic elements of The Sonic Dawn‘s style is their ability to take spacious ideas and encapsulate them with a pop efficiency that doesn’t feel dumbed down. That is to say, they’re not capitulating to fickle attention spans with short songs so much as they’re able to get in, say what they want to say with a given track, and get out. Phantom is their fifth album, and while the title may allude to a certain ghostliness coinciding with the melancholy vibe overarching through the bulk of its component material, the Copenhagen-based trio are mature enough at this stage to know what they’re about. And while Phantom has its urgent stretches in the early going of “Iron Bird” or the rousing “Think it Over,” the handclap-laced “Pan AM,” and the solo-topped apex of “Micro Cosmos in a Drop,” most of what they’re about here harnesses a mellower atmosphere. It doesn’t need to hurry, baby. Isn’t there enough rush in life with all these “21st Century Blues?” With no lack of movement throughout, some of The Sonic Dawn‘s finest stretches here are in low-key interpretations of funk (“Dreams of Change,” “Think it Over,” “Transatlantique,” etc.) or prog-boogie (“Scorpio,” “Nothing Can Live Here” before the noisier crescendo) drawn together by organ, subdued, thoughtful vocal melodies and craft to suit the organic production. This isn’t the first The Sonic Dawn LP to benefit from the band knowing who they are as a group, but golly it sure is stronger for that.

The Sonic Dawn on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Rifflord, 39 Serpent Power

RIFFLORD 39 Serpent Power

It’s not until the hook of second cut “Ohm Ripper” hits that Rifflord let go of the tension built up through the opening semi-title-track “Serpent Power,” which in its thickened thrashy charge feels like a specific callout to High on Fire but as I understand it is just about doing hard drugs. Fair enough. The South Dakota-based five-piece of bassist/vocalist Wyatt Bronc Bartlett, guitarists Samuel Hayes and Dustin Vano, keyboardist Tory Jean Stoddard and drummer Douglas Jennings Barrett will echo that intensity later in “Church Keys” and “Tumbleweed,” but that’s still only one place the 38-minute eight-track LP goes, and whether it’s the vocals calling out through the largesse and breadth of “Blessed Life” or the ensuing crush that follows in “LM308,” the addled Alice in Chains swagger in the lumber of “Grim Creeper” or the righteously catchy bombast of “Hoof,” they reach further than they ever have in terms of sound and remain coherent despite the inherently chaotic nature of their purported theme, the sheer heft of the tonality wielded and the fact that 39 Serpent Power has apparently been waiting some number of years to see release. Worth the wait? Shit, I’m surprised the album didn’t put itself out, it sounds so ready to go.

Rifflord on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Mothman and the Thunderbirds, Portal Hopper

Mothman and the Thunderbirds Portal Hopper

At the core of Mothman and the Thunderbirds is multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Alex Parkinson, and on the band’s second album, Portal Hopper, he’s not completely on his own — Egor Lappo programmed the drums, mixed, and plays a guitar solo on “Fractals,” Joe Sobieski guests on vocals for a couple tracks, Sam Parkinson donates a pair of solos to the cause — but it’s still very much his telling of the charmingly meandering sci-fi/fantasy plot taking place across the 12 included progressive metal mini-epics, which he presents with an energy and clarity of purpose that for sure graduated from Devin Townsend‘s school of making a song with 40 layers sound immediate but pulls as well from psychedelia and pop-punk vocals for an all the more emphatic scope. This backdrop lets “Fractals” get funky or “Escape From Flatwoods” hold its metallic chicanery with its soaring melody while “Squonk Kingdom” is duly over-the-top in its second-half chase soon enough fleshed out by “So Long (Portal Hopper)” ahead of the lightly-plucked finale “Attic.” The specificity of influence throughout Portal Hopper can be striking as clean/harsh vocals blend, etc., but given the narrative and the relative brevity of the songs complementing the whims explored within them, there’s no lack of character in the album’s oft-careening 38-minute course.

Mothman and the Thunderbirds on Instagram

Mothman and the Thunderbirds on Bandcamp

The Lunar Effect, Sounds of Green and Blue

The Lunar Effect Sounds of Green & Blue

Given its pro-shop nature in production and performance, the ability of The Lunar Effect to grasp a heavy blues sound as part of what they do while avoiding either the trap of hyper-dudely navelgazing or cultural appropriation — no minor feat — and the fluidity of one piece into the next across the 40-minute LP’s two sides, I’m a little surprised not to have been sick of the band’s second album, Sounds of Green and Blue before I put it on. Maybe since it’s on Svart everyone just assumed it’s Finnish experimentalist drone? Maybe everybody’s burnt out on a seemingly endless stream of bands from London’s underground? I don’t know, but by the time The Lunar Effect make their way to the piano-laden centerpiece “Middle of the End” — expanding on the unhurried mood of “In Grey,” preceding the heavy blues return of “Pulling Daisies” at the start of side B that mirrors album opener “Ocean Queen” and explodes into a roll that feels like it was made to be the best thing you play at your DJ night — that confusion is a defining aspect of the listening experience. “Fear Before the Fall” picks on Beethoven, for crying out loud. High class and low groove. Believe me, I know there’s a lot of good stuff out already in 2024, but what the hell more could you want? Where is everybody?

The Lunar Effect on Facebook

Svart Records website

Danava, Live

danava live

Even if I were generally inclined to do so — read: I’m not — it would be hard to begrudge Portland heavy rock institution Danava wanting to do a live record after their 2023’s Nothing But Nothing (review here) found them in such raucous form. But the aptly-titled Live is more than just a post-studio-LP check-in to remind you they kick ass on stage, as side A’s space, classic, boogie, heavy rocking “Introduction/Spinning Temple” and “Maudie Shook” were recorded in 2008, while the four cuts on side B — “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun,” “Nothing but Nothing,” “Longdance,” “Let the Good Times Kill” and “Last Goodbye” — came from the European tour undertaken in Fall 2023 to support Nothing But Nothing. Is the underlying message that Danava are still rad 15 years later? Maybe. That certainly comes through by the time the solo in “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” hits, but that also feels like reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just about representing different sides of who Danava are, and if so, fine. Then or now, psych or proto-thrashing, they lay waste.

Danava on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Moonlit, Be Not Afraid

moonlit be not afraid

A free three-songer from Varese, Italy’s Moonlit, Be Not Afraid welcomes the listener to “Death to the World” with (presumably sampled) chanting before unfurling a loose, somewhat morose-feeling nighttime-desert psych sway before “Fort Rachiffe” howls tonally across its own four minutes in more heavy post-rock style, still languid in tempo but encompassing in its wash and the amp-hum-and-percussion blend on the shorter “Le Conseguenze Della Libertà” (1:57) gives yet another look, albeit briefly. In about 11 minutes, Moonlit — whose last studio offering was 2021’s So Bless Us Now (review here) — never quite occupy the same space twice, and despite the compact presentation, the range from mid-period-QOTSA-gone-shoegaze (plus chanting! don’t forget the chanting!) to the hypnotic Isis-doing-space-push that follows with the closer as a but-wait-there’s-more/not-just-an-afterthought epilogue is palpable. I don’t know when or how Be Not Afraid was recorded, whether it’s portentous of anything other than itself or what, but there’s a lot happening under its surface, and while you can’t beat the price, don’t be surprised if you end up throwing a couple bucks Moonlit‘s way anyhow.

Moonlit on Instagram

Moonlit on Bandcamp

Doom Lab, Northern Lights

Doom Lab Northern Lights

Much of Northern Lights is instrumental, but whether or not Leo Scheben is barking out the endtimes storyline of “Darkhammer” — stylized all-caps in the tracklisting — or “Night Terrors,” or just digging into a 24-second progression of lo-fi riffing of “Paranoid Isolation” and the Casio-type beats that back his guitar there and across the project’s 16-track latest offering, the reminder Doom Lab give is that the need to create takes many forms. From the winding scales of “Locrian’s Run” to “Twisted Logic” with its plotted solo lines, pieces are often just that — pieces of what might otherwise be a fleshed-out song — and Doom Lab‘s experimentalism feels paramount in terms of aural priorities. Impulse in excelsis. It might be for the best that the back-to-back pair “Nice ‘n’ Curvy” and “Let ’em Bounce” are both instrumental, but as madcap as Scheben is, he’s able to bring Northern Lights to a close with resonant homage in its title-track, and cuts like “Too Much Sauce on New Year’s Eve” and “Dark Matter” are emblematic of his open-minded approach overall, working in different styles sometimes united most by their rawness and uncompromising persona. This is number 100 of 100 records covered in this Quarterly Review, and nothing included up to now sounds like Doom Lab. A total win for radical individualism.

Doom Lab on YouTube

Doom Lab on Bandcamp

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Danava to Release Live LP June 21; “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Two sides, two shows, one from 2008 and one from late last year. To my knowledge, Live will be the first captured-on-stage offering from long-running Portland trad-metal rockers Danava, as well as their first collaboration with Heavy Psych Sounds — their 2023 LP, Nothing But Nothing (review here), came out through Tee Pee — and considering how much touring they’ve done since their mid-aughts outset, they’re well due. Seems pretty clear the intent in dividing Live between ‘then’ and ‘now-ish’ is to give their latest work and current lineup some deserved documentation — i.e., the album ruled — while the A side offers longtime followers a chance to remember where they came from. What’re you gonna do, argue? It’s Danava. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably already ordered. If not, not. They’ll keep going regardless.

But if you’re here, before you move onto the next thing, click off, get distracted, whatever, take a listen to “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” below. It’s the first single from Live and the song that starts the 2023 gig. Before the song starts, you’ll hear the crowd being welcomed and, just before the music kicks in, “We’ve been ready.” I think once you hear what follows, you’ll agree, even if you’ve never listened to Danava before today. That’s why you put out a live record.

From the PR wire:

danava live

DANAVA to release “Live” album on June 21st via Heavy Psych Sounds; first track and preorders available now!

Pacific Northwest’s proto-heavy revelers DANAVA announce the release of their “Live” album this June 21st through European powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds and present a thunderous first excerpt with “Shoot Straight With A Crooked Gun”.

Capturing the frenzy of their European tours in 2008 and 2023, this new album from the revered proto-heavy merchants is a must-have for fans old and new! Featuring a live recording from Whelan’s in Dublin and 007 Strahov in Prague, the tracklist is a testament to DANAVA’s prowess on stage. From the hypnotic rhythms of ‘Introduction/Spinning Temple Shifting’ to the raw energy of ‘Let The Good Times Kill,’ each song is a journey through the band’s dynamic universe!

With two decades of relentless dedication, the Portland-based rock’n’roll overlords have endeavored to unleash their authentic and electrifying fusion of hard rock and heavy metal upon a world burdened by strife and turmoil. Their mission is to harness music’s power as a beacon of hope, uniting lives and imaginations as one collective force. Join them on this journey toward a vibrant existence amidst the chaos we never chose to inhabit. Together, we rise. Together, we create. Don’t miss the chance to embark on this exhilarating ride as DANAVA ushers in a new era of fluidity before we vanish into the ether!

Described as a concoction reminiscent of Rainbow, Dio, Thin Lizzy, early Maiden and Judas Priest, DANAVA’s sonic brew promises a bold assertion of dominance in the current rock and roll landscape. As acclaimed musician Mike Scheidt of YOB puts it, Danava has always exemplified excellence in their craft, and this latest release is no exception.

DANAVA – New album “Live”
Out June 21st on Heavy Psych Sounds – PREORDER: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/danava-live

Side A – Recorded at Whelan’s, in Dublin (4/13/08)
1. Introduction/Spinning Temple Shifting 11:59
2. Maudie Shook 8:41
Side B – Recorded at 007 Strahov, in Prague (11/11/23)
1. Shoot Straight With A Crooked Gun 5:57
2. Nothing But Nothing 4:14
3. Longdance 7:55
4. Let The Good Times Kill 3:31

Gregory Meleney – vocals/guitar
Levi Campbell – vocals
Kerby Strom – guitar
Dominic Casciato – bass
Matt Oliver – drums



Danava, “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” from Live

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Review & Track Premiere: Danava, Nothing But Nothing

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

danava nothing but nothing

[Click play above to stream premiere of the title-track from Danava’s Nothing But Nothing. Album is out April 28 on Tee Pee Records, with preorders here.]

Now we know what the fire emoji was made for. Some bands burn churches, Danava burn barns to a point of near-exclusivity (they’ve also been through a number of rhythm guitarists). The Portland, Oregon, troupe led by guitarist/vocalist Greg Meleney have been at it to one degree or other for 20 years as of 2023, and in that time have moved from hipster metal upstart invaders — yes, they were on that compilation in ’06, alongside Kemado denizens like The Sword and Saviours who had headbangers clutching purist pearls in the mid-aughts — to being elder statesmen of the Pacific Northwest underground and a band who’ve helped teach an entire generation how to throw down, influential in sound and work ethic.

That’s not nothing, but Nothing But Nothing is the first Danava record in 12 years, and arrives through Tee Pee Records with suitable anticipation; a studio return for an act who’ve spent plenty of the decade-plus since 2011’s third album, Hemisphere of Shadows, on tour, and which encapsulates and pushes deeper into the classic metallurgy Meleney and company have fostered since their 2006 self-titled so brazenly engaged thrash with vintage-style production and heavy rock tonality.

Comprising eight songs that run — emphasis on ‘run’ there as regards meter and general urgency; 12 years later they’ve got no time to waste — an LP-friendly 42 minutes, Danava‘s fourth full-length leans with ferocity into the band’s established metallic modus, Meleney (who also co-produced with Evan Mersky at Red Lantern in Portland) and follow-guitarist Kerby Strom igniting fretboards with overarching fleetness of finger, shredding with righteous glee across hot-shit singles like the leadoff title-track (premiering above), “Let the Good Times Kill,” “At Midnight You Die,” which was issued as a standalone in 2016 (review here), and the subsequent side B rippers “Strange Killer” and “Nuthin But Nuthin,” the latter a fitting companion to the opener that’s nonetheless a completely different song, positioned with just the maybe-Slovak-language blues rocker “Čas” behind it to close out.

The threat is made plain with the art by Richard Clifton-Dey (Blue Öyster Cult, many pulp book covers) out front as much as the lyrics to “At Midnight You Die” or “Strange Killer,” and with bassist Dominic Casciato and drummer Matthew Oliver — who is all over that bell of the ride cymbal in the hooky “Strange Killer” — in the propulsive rhythm section, Danava have never sounded so outwardly sharp. Where Hemisphere of Shadows basked in a rawer style in terms of the recording, Nothing But Nothing feels daring in its cleanliness and hard-edged presentation, letting the careening riffs that start on second-one of “Nothing But Nothing” and define much of the work here speak for themselves with resounding lucidity. One wouldn’t call it polished in a pop sense, but on the scale of Danava‘s own discography, it’s a definite and willful-feeling shift in intention and a choice that serves the songs well, the frenzied opener scorching the ground with still-accessible intensity en route to “Let the Good Times Kill,” the chorus of which reminds of Belladonna-era Anthrax in its head-down charge and no-room-for-bullshit mindset.

Force and momentum, gravity, thrust and g-o-spells-go, Danava use speed to knock their listeners off-balance at that outset, and in cuts like the duly-screaming instrumental “Season of Vengeance” and in the culminating solo of keyboard-laced side A closer “Enchanted Villain” that’s backed by a last chorus to complete its 6:58 stretch as the longest track here — a lead line bookends that reminds of whatever it is that opens Ross the Boss‘ show on Gimme Metal, but is roughed up and more for speed than grandiosity — they are outright dizzying in a way that can’t help but surge adrenaline.


“Enchanted Villain” lands that blow feeling like an arrival after the sprint that is “Season of Vengeance” — marked by the kind of turns that make most guitarists very, very angry in the studio — and its synthy middle underscores the ’80s metal vibe, rising out of harmonized guitars in the hook with a “Heaven and Hell”-ish chug behind and no time to waste, successfully conveying its titular enchantment before bringing the chug back to the forefront and making its way into its next solo and ending at about five and a half minutes in.

Of course, Nothing But Nothing isn’t all speed-metal haranguing, rampant memorable hooks and murderous-but-not-really lyrical themes, even if it’s mostly that. The finale “Čas” has already been noted as a departure linguistically, and its correspondingly quiet guitar intro, subdued verse and actually-midtempo roll — even Meleney‘s solo seems to try to restrain itself — are no less distinguished from the bulk of what precedes. Easing the transition there is “Nuthin But Nuthin,” which reimagines Judas Priest and Mk II Deep Purple as the same band; organ, brooding verse, gang-shout fist-pumper hook that delivers the title-line in a way that “Nothing But Nothing” shied away from in launching the album, brazen in its groove and aware of that which it speaks in terms of the influences it’s working from. And at the start of side B, “At Midnight You Die” is plenty fast but more NWOBHM than thrash, while “Strange Killer” lets up on the throttle some and is less jaw-clenched in its verse and own departure into fanfare, a choral part taking hold at 3:47 into the total 6:45 that’s there and gone in the spirit of that keyboard part in “Enchanted Villain” while making an impression of its own.

Branching out on side B is well in the wheelhouse for classic metal and heavy rock, but Danava are firm in their purposes throughout Nothing But Nothing, and whatever pace they’re keeping or elements are at play in the individual tracks, the progression across the album is natural and undeniable in the momentum they’re able to build going into the sweep that starts “Nuthin But Nuthin” and the moody finish that “Čas” — the title of which is ‘time’ in English according to a major tech company’s translation matrix — provides, rounding out a show-’em-how-it’s-done blueprint for bringing together different aspects of both styles from various eras preceding. An excellent and welcome return from an act who’ve earned their place as veterans.

If in hearing it one finds the spinning-in-circles madness of “Nothing But Nothing” or “Season of Vengeance,” the quicker parts of “Enchanted Villain,” etc., to be overwhelming, that would seem to be a big part of the point. It’s worth keeping in mind that wherever they go and however close they come to lightspeed in getting there, they’ve never out of control, not at all reckless, sloppy or haphazard, and if it’s landmarks you need to help keep up, they abound in choruses and riffs alike. Simply put, Danava — with Meleney as the founding principal — are masters of the form, and Nothing But Nothing is very much a thing in demonstrating that as furiously as it does. You might be sucking wind by the time they’re done, but that doesn’t mean you won’t also be ready to go around again.

Danava on Instagram

Danava website

Tee Pee Records on Facebook

Tee Pee Records on Instagram

Tee Pee Records website

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SonicBlast 2023 Adds 16 More Bands to Lineup

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

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

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

Here’s the latest from social media:

SonicBlast Fest 2023 new announce

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

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

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

Full festival tickets are already on sale at BOL (https://garboyl.bol.pt/Comprar/Bilhetes/114471-sonicblast_fest_2023-garboyl_lives/Sessoes) and at masqueticket.com

Artwork by Branca Studio


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Danava to Release Nothing But Nothing April 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Man, that new Danava single is some hot shit. Three and a half minutes. A burner. Hevvy fuggin metuhl.

I kind of feel like the new Danava record and tour is this winter’s funniest worst kept secret. The tour dates have been shared around for a while, and word of the album title, Nothing But Nothing, goes back to the end of 2021. But the PR wire has made it all official — April 28 release, preorders up from Tee Pee — with the tracklisting and the tour dates and so on, and brought the single along for the ride, and yeah, that song just kicks ass. There’s a lot of classic metal happening right now, but the way Danava do it, right on the line between rock groove and more aggressive intent, is a distinguishing factor if their reputation and past work isn’t. I’ve been lucky enough to see them a couple times, and would be happy to do so again one of these years. Aside from being a band somebody decided a while back was important, they’re destroyers on stage.

The PR wire takes it:

danava nothing but nothing

DANAVA: Hard Rockin’, Cosmic Metallers Return with Tour, Album and Single After Decade on the Road

New LP Nothing But Nothing is released 28th April on Tee Pee Records

Pre-Order: https://teepeerecords.com/products/danava-nothing-but-nothing-lp-clear-vinyl

Rising from the depths of hell with fury, wrath, and rage, Danava – Portland’s hard rock anti-heroes – return with the release Nothing But Nothing, their first album in over a decade and a devastating collection of songs to soundtrack the inevitable decline of western civilisation.

Scheduled for release this April on Tee Pee Records, Danava, who formed in 2003, will mark their twentieth year of collective existence while seeking to deliver a sound that incorporates hard rock, heavy metal and a fire forged in the spirit of Iommi and Schenker.

Ever since the release of their debut album in 2006 the band has adopted a scorched earth approach that has blazed brightly through psychedelic metal solos, glam-rock flair, fret-board wizardry, 70s prog and a white line fever reminiscent of Lemmy at his most lethal.

With our world going to hell in a handcart make no mistake, we need Danava now more than ever. Fortunately for us, this March and April the band is taking to the road for a US tour (see dates below) ahead of the official release of Nothing But Nothing on Tee Pee Records on 28th April 2023.

14th March – Brick by Brick – San Diego, CA
15th March – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
16th March – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
18th March – Dante’s – Portland, OR
19th March – Substation – Seattle, WA
21st March – Aces High Saloon – Salt Lake City, UT
22nd March – Denver HQ – Denver, CO
24th March – White Oak – Houston, TX
26th March – The Goat – New Orleans, LA
28th March – Boggs Social & Supply – Atlanta, GA
29th March – New Brookland Tavern – West Columbia, SC
30th March – Richmond Music Hall – Richmond, VA
31st March – First Unitarian Church (Basement) – Philadelphia, PA
1st April – Brooklyn Made – Brooklyn, NY
2nd April – The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
5th April – Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA
6th April – Small’s – Hamtramck, MI
8th April – Reggie’s/Music Joint – Chicago, IL


1. Nothing But Nothing
2. Let the Good Times Kill
3. Season of Vengeance
4. Enchanted Villain
5. At Midnight You Die
6. Strange Killer
7. Nuthin But Nuthin
8. Čas



Danava, “Let the Good Times Kill”

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California Announces Day Splits

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

You don’t need much more here than the list of bands, which is its own excuse for being. Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds returns to the States at the end of next month with Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Los Angeles and San Francisco. With the day-splits announced, you get a little more sense of how the two nights in two cities will function (it’s not an insignificant drive from one to the other, mind you) and share bands, but any way you go, you don’t lose, whether you’re looking at Dead Meadow and Weedeater headlining, the appearances of long-running acts like 16 and Danava and Nebula, or relative newcomers in Kadabra or Mountain Tamer and others from the label’s ever-expanding roster of talent.

It’s a fucking solid two day lineup. Doesn’t look completely overwhelming. Looks like a party, which is exactly what I expect it will be for those fortunate enough to be in attendance. Maybe that’s you. If so, cheers. I hear Bongzilla like it if you bring them weed.

From the PR wire:




HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS in cooperation with SUBLIMINAL SF and SOS BOOKING present:

28 & 29 May
(Memorial Day weekend)

LOS ANGELES @ 1720 Club





SAN FRANCISCO @ Openair at Thee Parkside






Dead Meadow, Levitation Sessions (2021)

Weedeater, Goliathan (2015)

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Danava to Record New LP Nothing But Nothing and EP This Winter

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Danava at Desertfest NY 2019 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been a solid decade since Portland’s we-get-to-say-we-were-here-first heavy rock traditionalists Danava released their last full-length, Hemisphere of Shadows, but as they look to follow-up their 2016 single, “At Midnight You Die” (review here), the band announce their new record, Nothing But Nothing, will be the manner in which they do so. That’s sure to elicit shrieks of joy from the Pacific Northwest and any number of other places that have people with ears, and it leads to the inevitable question of when or whether the band will get back on the road. They’ve invariably played whichever is your favorite festival, and they’ve done no shortage of tour-time over their near-20 years, so what the hell. Could happen, right?

I’ve been wondering when Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are going to announce their own album and tour, both of which were originally booked for 2020. Danava have been out with them any number of times across the US, so a re-pairing doesn’t seem completely out of line. I guess we’ll find out eventually.

No release date or anything — the album isn’t recorded yet — but they’ll apparently do a new EP too. No argument.

They delivered word via Instagram:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Danava (@danavaband)

How are ya, Planet Earth?! (WARNING: LONG BUT WORTH IT) we hope you’re all as well as can be in this greatest month of the year. Every year, bout this time, we do a Halloween themed shirt. This year we jus couldn’t deliver… because we’re busy as hell and headed for the studio to record our new album, “NOTHING BUT NOTHING” this Winter. Along with that, we have an EP planned, as well as an archival live album from a Dublin show we did with our old pals Witchcraft back in 2008. We’re excited to bring some new noise to yas, man! Been awhile… SPREAD THE GODDAMN WORD like we did in the days when music changed lives, damnit!! OH! Before we cut the line, we wanted to to tell you Portland family and friends that ONE a WEEK from today, @winkvintage is hosting @allgoodsigns and @shagmetohell for a rippin pop upper! You see this here mirror? There are only two in existence forever. One belongs to yours truly and the other will be for sale at the pop up next week. October 17. 11am-3pm! For the rest of yas? We have a shiiiitoad of this kind of stuff comin but FIRST? The new album. Until then…


Danava, “At Midnight You Die”

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest California Lineups Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy psych sounds logo

With a poster that would seem to honor the Frank Kozik heavy rock works of yore — and by “yore,” I mean about 20-25 years ago — Heavy Psych Sounds Fest will return to California for the second time in 2020, bringing the mightiest Golden State trio Earthless as headliners for stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, while none other than desert ultra-pioneers Yawning Man will headline a second night in SF with a totally different lineup at a totally different venue. So it works out to be two nights in San Fran, one night in L.A., and the first San Fran show and the L.A. show are the same four bands — Earthless, DanavaHigh Reeper and Crypt Trip. Meanwhile, as that bill heads south along the coast to L.A., moving into SF is the five-pack of Yawning ManBrant Bjork — who’ll do a solo acoustic show! — Hot LunchTurn Me on Dead Man and recent Heavy Psych Sounds label signees Disastroid.

Not frickin’ shabby, as the kids might (not) say.

You had to know Heavy Psych Sounds Fest would be back in Cali in 2020 after the successful West Coast stint earlier this year, so now where know where and when and with whom it’s happening. Ticket presales are on as of today, so do it up.

Here’s the info:

heavy psych sounds fest california 2020 poster

Earthless, Brant Bjork, Yawning Man and More to Team Up for Heavy Psych Sounds U.S. Festival Dates

Influential Italian Rock ‘N’ Roll Record Label Continues to Expand Its Sphere into North America; Spring 2020 Showcases in Los Angeles and San Francisco Announced

Respected underground rock record label Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce details of its 2020 U.S. ‘Heavy Psych Sounds Fest’ live events. Set for March 27 in San Francisco and March 28 in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, the special shows will spotlight an exclusive selection of Heavy Psych Sounds’ blue-chip roster, including live sets from acts such as ex-Kyuss musician Brant Bjork, Yawning Man, High Reeper and Crypt Trip, as well as special guests Earthless, Danava and more.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. Earlier this year, the label launched the U.S. festival series with shows in Austin, Dallas, LA and San Francisco; the events met to shining acclaim.

“We are so delighted to announce the second edition of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests set for this coming spring in California,” says Heavy Psych Sounds label owner Gabriele Fiore. “We are excited to get so many cool bands on board as these line-ups look incredibly rad. Heavy Psych Sounds Records is so proud to have a growing roster of both trendsetting and up-and-coming U.S. based bands and these special shows will prove exactly why.”


Friday 27 March
San Francisco – Rickshaw Stop

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/83735662621

Saturday 28 March
San Francisco – Bottom of the Hill
BRANT BJORK solo acoustic show

TICKETS PRESALE: http://www.bottomofthehill.com/stubmatic/event20200328.html

Saturday 28 March
Los Angeles – The House of Machines

TICKETS PRESALE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-psych-sounds-fest-california-at-the-house-of-machines-tickets-84274821259


Yawning Man, Macedonian Lines (2019)

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