Quarterly Review: Pelican, My Dying Bride, Masonic Wave, Bismarck, Sun Moon Holy Cult, Daily Thompson, Mooch, The Pleasure Dome, Slump, Green Hog Band

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Welcome back to the Quarterly Review. Good weekend? Restful? Did you get out and see some stuff? Did you loaf and hang out on the couch? There are advantages to either, to be sure. Friday night I watched my daughter (and a literal 40 other performers, no fewer than four of whom sang and/or danced to the same Taylor Swift song) do stand-up comedy telling math jokes at her elementary school variety show. She’s in kindergarten, she likes math, and she killed. Nice little moment for her, if one that came as part of a long evening generally.

The idea this week is the same as last week: 50 releases covered across five days. Put the two weeks together and the Spring 2024 Quarterly Review — which I’m pretty sure is what I called the one in March as well; who cares? — runs 100 strong. I’ll be traveling, some with family, some on my own, for a bit in the coming months, so this is a little bit my way of clearing my slate before that all happens, but it’s always satisfying to dig into so much and get a feel for what different acts are doing, try and convey some of that as directly as I can. If you’re reading, thanks. If this is the first you’re seeing of it and you want to see more, you can either scroll down or click here.

Either way, off we go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Adrift/Tending the Embers

pelican adrift tending the embers

Chicago (mostly-)instrumentalist stalwarts Pelican haven’t necessarily been silent since 2019’s Nighttime Stories (review here), with a digital live release in Spring 2020, catalog reissues on Thrill Jockey, a couple in-the-know covers posted and shows hither and yon, but the stated reason for the two-songer EP Adrift/Tending the Embers is to raise funds ahead of recording what will be their seventh album in a career now spanning more than 20 years. In addition to that being a cause worth supporting — they’re on the second pressing; 200 blue tapes — the two new original tracks “Adrift” (5:48) and “Tending the Embers” (4:26) reintroduce guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec as a studio presence alongside guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg. Recorded by the esteemed Sanford Parker, neither cut ranges too far conceptually from the band’s central modus bringing together heavy groove with lighter/brighter reach of guitar, but come across like a tight, more concise encapsulation of earlier accomplishments. There’s a certain amount of comfort in that as they surf the crunching, somehow-noise-rock-inspired riff of “Adrift,” sounding refreshed in their purpose in a way that one hopes they can carry into making the intended LP.

Pelican website

Pelican on Bandcamp

My Dying Bride, A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride A Mortal Binding

Something of a harsher take on A Mortal Binding, which is the 15th full-length from UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride, as well as their second for Nuclear Blast behind 2020’s lush The Ghost of Orion (review here. The seven-song/55-minute offering from the masters of misery derives its character in no small part from the front-mixed vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who from opener “Her Dominion” onward, switches between his morose semi-spoken approach, woeful as ever, and dry-throated harsher barks. And that the leadoff is all-screams feels like a purposeful choice as that rasp returns in the second half of “The 2nd of Three Bells,” the 11-minute “The Apocalyptist,” “A Starving Heart” and the ending section of closer “Crushed Embers.” I don’t know when the last time a My Dying Bride LP sounded so roiling, but it’s been a minute. The duly morose riffing of founding guitarist Andrew Craighan unites this outwardly nastier aspect with the more melodic “Thornwyck Hymn,” “Unthroned Creed” and the rest that isn’t throatripper-topped, but with returning producer Mark Mynett, the band has clearly honed in on a more stripped-down, still-room-for-violin approach, and it works in just about everything but the drums, which sound triggered/programmed in the way of modern metal. It remains easy to get caught in the band’s wretched sweep, and I’ll note that it’s a rare act who can surprise you 15 records later.

My Dying Bride website

Nuclear Blast webstore

Masonic Wave, Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave‘s self-titled debut is the first public offering from the Chicago-based five-piece with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Led Zeppelin II, etc.) on vocals, and though “Justify the Cling” has a kind of darker intensity in its brooding first-half ambience, what that build and much besides throughout the eight-song offering leads to is a weighted take on post-hardcore that earlier pieces “Bully” and “Tent City” present in duly confrontational style before “Idle Hands” (the longest inclusion at just under eight minutes) digs into a similar explore-till-we-find-the-payoff ideology and “Julia” gnashes through noise-rock teethkicking. Some of the edge-of-the-next-outburst restlessness cast by Lamont, guitarists Scott Spidale and Sean Hulet, bassist Fritz Doreza and drummer Clayton DeMuth reminds of Chat Pile‘s arthouse disillusion, but “Nuzzle Up” has a cyclical crunch given breadth through the vocal melody and the sax amid the multiple angles and sharp corners of the penultimate “Mountains of Labor” are a clue to further weirdness to come before “Bamboozler” closes with heads-down urgency before subtly branching into a more spacious if still pointedly unrelaxed culmination. No clue where it might all be headed, but that’s part of the appeal as Masonic Wave‘s Sanford Parker-produced 39 minutes play out, the songs engaging almost in spite of themselves.

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Bismarck, Vourukasha


There are shades of latter-day Conan (whose producer/former bassist Chris Fielding mixed here) in the vocal trades and mega-toned gallop of opening track “Sky Father,” which Bismarck expand upon with the more pointedly post-metallic “Echoes,” shifting from the lurching ultracrush into a mellower midsection before the blastbeaten crescendo gives over to rumble and the hand-percussion-backed whispers of the intro to “Kigal.” Their first for Dark Essence, the six-song/35-minute Vourukasha follows 2020’s Oneiromancer (review here) and feels poised in its various transitions between consuming aural heft and leaving that same space in the mix open for comparatively minimal exploration. “Kigal” takes on a Middle Eastern lean and stays unshouted/growled for its five-plus minutes — a choice that both works and feels purposeful — but the foreboding drone of interlude “The Tree of All Seeds” comes to a noisy head as if to warn of the drop about to take place in the title-track, which flows through its initial movement with an emergent float of guitar that leads into its own ambient middle ahead of an engrossing, duly massive slowdown/payoff worthy of as much volume as it can be given. Wrapping with the nine-minute “Ocean Dweller,” they summarize what precedes on Vourukasha while shifting the structure as an extended, vocal-inclusive-at-the-front soundscape bookends around one more huge, slow-marching, consciousness-flattening procession. Extremity refined.

Bismarck on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website

Sun Moon Holy Cult, Sun Moon Holy Cult

Sun Moon Holy Cult Sun Moon Holy Cult

That fact that Sun Moon Holy Cult exist on paper as a band based in Tokyo playing a Sabbath-boogie-worshiping, riff-led take on heavy rock with a song like “I Cut Your Throat” leading off their self-titled debut makes a Church of Misery comparison somewhat inevitable, but the psych jamming around the wah-bass shuffle of “Out of the Dark,” longer-form structures, the vocal melodies and the Sleep-style march of “Savoordoom” that grows trippier as it delves further into its 13 minutes distinguish the newcomer four-piece of vocalist Hakuka, guitarist Ryu, bassist Ame and drummer Bato across the four-song LP’s 40 minutes. Issued through Captured Records and SloomWeep Productions, Sun Moon Holy Cult brings due bombast amid the roll of “Mystic River” as well, hitting its marks stylistically while showcasing the promise of a band with a clear idea of what they want their songs to do and perhaps how they want to grow over time. If this is to be the foundation of that growth, watch out.

Sun Moon Holy Cult on Instagram

Captured Records website

SloomWeep Productions on Bandcamp

Daily Thompson, Chuparosa

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

Dortmund, Germany’s Daily Thompson made their way to Port Orchard, Washington, to record Chuparosa with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed at the helm, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist/vocalist Mercedes Lalakakis and drummer/vocalist Thorsten Stratmann bring a duly West Coast spirit to “I’m Free Tonight” and the grunge-informed roll of “Diamond Waves” and the verses of “Raindancer.” The former launches the 36-minute outing with a pointedly Fu Manchuian vibe, but the start-stops, fluid roll and interplay of vocals from Zaremba and Lalakakis lets “Pizza Boy” move in its own direction, and the brooding acoustic start of “Diamond Waves” and more languid wash of riff in the chorus look elsewhere in ’90s alternativism for their basis. The penultimate “Ghost Bird” brings in cigar-box guitar and dares some twang amid all the fuzz, but as “Raindancer” has already branched out with its quieter bassy midsection build and final desert-hued thrust, the album can accommodate such a shift without any trouble. The title-track trades between wistful grunge verses and a fuller-nodding hook, from which the three-piece take off for the bridge, thankfully returning to the chorus in Chuparosa‘s big finish. The manner in which the whole thing brims with purpose makes it seem like Daily Thompson knew exactly what they were going for in terms of sound, so I guess you could say it was probably worth the trip.

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website

Mooch, Visions

mooch visions

Kicking off with the markedly Graveyardian “Hangtime,” Mooch ultimately aren’t content to dwell solely in a heavy-blues-boogie sphere on Visions, their third LP and quick follow-up to 2023’s Hounds. Bluesy as the vibe is from which the Montreal trio set out, the subsequent “Morning Prayer” meanders through wah-strum open spaces early onto to delve into jangly classic-prog strum later, while “Intention” backs its drawling vocal melody with nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and hand percussion. Divergence continues to be the order of the day throughout the 41-minute eight-songer, with “New Door” shifting from its sleepy initial movement into an even quieter stretch of Doors-meets-Stones-y melody before the bass leads into its livelier solo section with just a tinge of Latin rhythm and “Together” giving more push behind a feel harkening back to the opener but that grows quiet and melodically expansive in its second half. This sets up the moodier vibe of “Vision” and gives the roll of “You Wouldn’t Know” an effective backdrop for its acoustic/electric blend and harmonized vocals, delivered patiently enough to let the lap steel slide into the arrangement easily before the brighter-toned “Reflections” caps with a tinge of modern heavy post-rock. What’s tying it together? Something intangible. Momentum. Flow. Maybe just the confidence to do it? I don’t know, but as subdued as they get, they never lose their momentum, and as much movement as their is, they never seem to lose their balance. Visions might not reveal its full scope the first time through, but subsequent listens bring due reward.

Mooch on Facebook

Mooch on Bandcamp

The Pleasure Dome, Liminal Space

The Pleasure Dome Liminal Space EP

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that guitarist/vocalist Bobby Spender recruited bassist Loz Fancourt and drummer Harry Flowers after The Pleasure Dome‘s prior rhythm section left, ahead of putting together the varied 16 minutes of the Liminal Space EP. For what it’s worth, the revamped Bristol, UK, trio don’t sound any more haphazard than they want to in the loose-swinging sections of “Shoulder to Cry On” that offset the fuller shove of the chorus, or the punk-rooted alt-rock brashness of “The Duke Part II (Friends & Enemies),” and the blastbeat-inclusive tension of “Your Fucking Smile” that precedes the folk-blues finger-plucking of “Sugar.” Disjointed? Kind of, but that also feels like the point. Closer “Suicide” works around acoustic guitar and feels sincere in the lines, “Suicide, suicide/I’ve been there before/I’ve been there before/On your own/So hold on,” and the profession of love that resolves it, and while that’s at some remove from the bitter spirit of the first two post-intro tracks, Liminal Space makes its own kind of sense with the sans-effects voice of Spender at its core.

The Pleasure Dome on Facebook

Hound Gawd! Records website

Slump, Dust

Slump Dust EP

A solid four-songer from Birmingham’s Slump, who are fronted by guitarist Matt Noble (also Alunah), with drummer David Kabbouri Lara and bassist Ben Myles backing the riff-led material with punch in “Buried” after the careening hook of “Dust” opens with classic scorch in its solo and before the slower and more sludged “Kneel” gets down to its own screamier business and “Vultures” rounds out with a midtempo stomp early but nods to what seems like it’s going to be a more morose finish until the drum solo takes off toward the big-crash finish. As was the case on Slump‘s 2023 split with At War With the Sun, the feel across Dust is that of a nascent band — Slump got together in 2018, but this is their most substantial standalone release to-date — figuring out what they want to do. The ideas are there, and the volatility at which “Kneel” hints will hopefully continue to serve them well as they explore spaces between metal and heavy rock, classic and modern styles. A progression underway toward any number of potential avenues.

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Green Hog Band, Fuzz Realm

Green Hog Band Fuzz Realm

What dwells in Green Hog Band‘s Fuzz Realm? If you said “fuzz,” go ahead and get yourself a cookie (the judges also would’ve accepted “riffs” and “heavy vibes, dude”), but for those unfamiliar with the New Yorker trio’s methodology, there’s more to it than tone as guitarist/producer Mike Vivisector, bassist/vocalist Ivan Antipov and drummer Ronan Berry continue to carve out their niche of lo-fi stoner buzz marked by harsh, gurgly vocals in the vein of Attila Csihar, various samples, organ sounds and dug-in fuckall. “Escape on the Wheels” swings and chugs instrumentally, and “In the Mist of the Bong” has lyrics in English, so there’s no lack of variety despite the overarching pervasiveness of misanthropy. That mood is further cast in the closing salvo of the low-slung “Morning Dew” and left-open “Phantom,” both of which are instrumental save for some spoken lines in the latter, as the prevailing sense is that they were going to maybe put some verses on there but decided screw it and went back to their cave (presumably somewhere in Queens) instead, because up yours anyhow. 46 minutes of crust-stoned “up yours anyhow,” then.

Green Hog Band on Facebook

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

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Bismarck Sign to Dark Essence Records; Vourukasha Due Early 2024

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

You can see below that Norwegian post-metallic crushers Bismarck actually go as far as to apologize for the delay in getting their new record, titled Vourukasha, into audience earholes. Fair enough, but hey, look, sometimes you’ve got a lot going on, or there’s a global pandemic that fucks everyone’s everything for like two full years and then there’s scheduling delays and life and it’s only been since 2020, dudes. It’s not like they released Oneiromancer (review here) in 1999 and we’ve been waiting for a follow-up ever since. But I bet if you’re in the band it feels like it at this point, and that’s what that’s about. A band sitting on their collective ass trying to get this thing out. It can be consuming, frustrating beyond compare. You have this thing, all you want to do is share it. Hurry up and wait. Maybe for a year or two.

Bismarck had previously been inked with Majestic Mountain, and scheduling is the likely demon that undid that deal, but the band will move forward with Dark Essence Records (DwaalTaakeMadder MortemSuperlynx, etc.) and Vourukasha is due to arrive early next year, as the label confirmed on its site:


Dark Essence Records welcomes doom metallers Bismarck to its roster.

Dark Essence Records have announced that Norwegian Doom Metallers BISMARCK will be joining the label, bringing with them a well-deserved reputation for being one of the heaviest bands from Norway, one that has been stirring things up in the Norwegian underground scene ever since the 2018 release of the acclaimed debut album “Urkraft”.

BISMARCK’s trademark sound is an uncompromising mix of sludgy riffs and psychedelic nuances, inspired by a wide array of genres and styles. The end result is an amp melting form of stoner doom, combined with atmospheric post-rock, and with a hint of Middle Eastern folk music and the Norwegian black metal they grew up listening to.

With music that alternates between intense, fuzzed-out heaviness, and clean, atmospheric drones, and with a lyrical content that explores western esotericism, altered states of consciousness and a mystical apocalypse, BISMARCK are now ready for their latest full-length album to be unleashed upon the world.

A follow up to 2020’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Oneiromancer”, the band’s third studio outing, which we can reveal will be named “Vourukasha” is scheduled for release in early 2024.

Commenting on the fact that they will be joining one of Norway’s best known labels, BISMARCK had this to say:

We’re stoked to sign with Dark Essence Records! They have been, and still are, a crucial part of the heavy music scene both nationally and internationally!

This is an important signing for us, and we’re looking forward to working with professional and dedicated people. Furthermore, they are people whom we consider our friends so we’re excited for the next chapter of our journey!

We would, though, just like to apologise to our fans for the long wait you’ve had for new material. We know it seems like you’ve been hanging on forever, but the album is finally on the way! We don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but you will not be disappointed. Let’s just say that it has all you would expect from BISMARCK – and then some.

BISMARCK’s lineup is comprised of Torstein Tveiten on Vocals, Leif Herland on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Eirik Goksøyr on Guitar, Tomas Osland on Bass and Tore Lyngstad on Drums.

The band has been confirmed to appear at Oslo’s Desertfest in May 2024.



Bismarck, Oneironmancer (2020)

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Quarterly Review: The John Denver Airport Conspiracy, Clara Engel, Cormano, Black Lung, Slowenya, Superlynx, Øresund Space Collective, Zone Six, The Cimmerian, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Today’s Friday, and in most but a decreasing number of circumstances, that means a Quarterly Review is over. Not this one. Remember, doublewide means it goes to 100 albums. The really crazy part? It could go longer. I could add another day. It could go to 11! Have I done that before?

Probably. That Spinal Tap reference is too obvious for me to have never made it. In any case, I’ve got something booked for Monday after next already, so I won’t be adding another day, but I could just on the releases that came in over the last couple days. Onto the list for next time. Late September/early October, I think.

If you’re hurting for Quarterly Review in the meantime? Yeah, stick around. There’s a whole other week coming up. That’s what I’ve been saying. Have a great weekend and we’ll pick back up on Monday with another 10 records.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

The John Denver Airport Conspiracy, Something’s Gotta Give

John Denver Airport Conspiracy Something's Gotta Give

Hail Toronto psych. The John Denver Airport Conspiracy released Something’s Gotta Give as a 16-tracker name-your-price Bandcamp download nearly a year ago, and vinyl delays give squares like yours truly who missed it at the time another opportunity to get on board. The 14-song LP edition runs 42 minutes, and it’s time well spent in being out of its own time, a pedal steel Americana-fying the ’60s drift of “Comin’ Through” while “Jeff Bezos Actually Works for Me” pairs garage strum-and-strut with a cavernous echo for an effect like shoegaze that looked up. “2000 November” and closer “The Lab” dares proto-punk shimmy and “Green Chair” has that B3 organ sound and lazy jangle that one can’t help but associate with 1967, “Ya, I Wonder” perhaps a few years before that, but “The Big Greaser” works in less directly temporal spaces, and the whole album is united by an overarching mellow spirit, not totally in a fog because actually the structures on some of these songs are pretty tight — as they were in the 1960s — but they’ve definitely and purposefully kept a few screws loose. Their sound may solidify over time and it may not, but as a debut album, Something’s Gotta Give is deceptively rich in its purpose and engaging in its craft and style alike. I wish I’d heard it earlier, I’m glad to have heard it now.

The John Denver Airport Conspiracy on Instagram

Cardinal Fuzz Records webstore

Little Cloud Records website


Clara Engel, Their Invisible Hands

Clara Engel Their Invisible Hands

Clara Engel‘s experimentalist folk songwriting moves into and across and over and through various traditions and methods, but their voice is as resonant, human and unifying as ever, and that’s true from “O Human Child” through the softly echoing guitar pieces “Golden Egg” and “High Alien Priest,” the more ethereal “Glass Mountain,” and so on, while excursions like “I Drink the Rain,” “Cryptid Bop” and “Dead Tree March” earlier add not only instrumental flourish but an avant garde sensibility consistent with Engel‘s past work, even if as songs they remain resoundingly cohesive. That is to say, while founded on experimentalist principles, they are built into songs rather than presented in their rawest form. The inclusion of organ in finale “The Devils are Snoring” is striking and complements the minimalist vocals and backing drone, but by then Engel has long established their ability to put the listener where they wants, with the image of “Rowing Home Through a Sea of Golden Leaves” duly poetic to suit the music as demonstration. Gorgeous, impassioned, hurt but striving and ever moving forward creatively. Engel‘s work remains a treasure for those with ears to hear it. “I Drink the Rain” is an album unto itself.

Clara Engel on Facebook

Clara Engel on Bandcamp


Cormano, Weird Tales

Cormano Weird Tales

Though the initial push of doomer riffing and melodic vocals in the post-intro title-track “Weird Tales” reminds a bit of Apostle of Solitude, the hooky brand of heavy wrought by Chilean three-piece Cormano — vocalist/guitarist Aaron Saavedra, bassist/backing vocalist Claudio Bobadilla, drummer/backing vocalist Rodrigo Jiménez — on their debut full-length is more about rock than such morose proceedings, and in fact it’s the prior intro “La Marcha del Desierto” that makes that plain. They’ll delve into psychedelic airiness in “El Caleuche” — the bassline underneath a highlight on its own — and if you read “Bury Me With My Money” as a capitalist critique, it’s almost fun instead of tragic, but their swing in “Urknall” and the roll of “Rise From Your Grave” (second Altered Beast reference of this Quarterly Review; pure coincidence) act as precursor to the thickened unfurling of “Futuere” and “A Boy and His Dog,” a closing pair that reinforce Cormano‘s ultimate direction as anything but settled, the latter featuring a pointedly heavy crash before a surprisingly gentle finish. Will be curious to see where their impulses lead them, but Weird Tales is that much stronger for the variety currently in their influences.

Cormano on Facebook

Cormano on Bandcamp


Black Lung, Dark Waves

Black Lung Dark Waves

Like the rest of reality, Baltimorean heavy psychedelic blues rockers Black Lung have undergone a few significant changes in the last three years. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier (also Mellotron) and drummer/synthesist Elias Schutzman (also Revvnant, ex-The Flying Eyes) bid farewell to fellow founding member Adam Bufano (guitar, also ex-The Flying Eyes) and brought in Dave Fullerton to fill the role, while also, for the first time, adding a bassist in Charles Braese. Thus, their first record for Heavy Psych Sounds, the J. Robbins-produced/Kurt Ballou-mixed Dark Waves is a notable departure in form from 2019’s Ancients (review here), even if the band’s core methodology and aesthetic are the same. The sound is fuller, richer, and more able to hold the various Mellotrons and other flourishes, as well as the cello in “Hollow Dreams” and guest vocals on “Death Grip” and guest keys on “The Cog” and “The Path.” Taking inspiration from modern global uncertainties sociopolitical, medical and otherwise, the band put you in a mind of living through the current moment, thankfully without inducing the level of anxiety that seems to define it. Small favors amid big riffs. With shades of All Them Witches and further psychedelic exploring transposed onto their already-a-given level of songwriting, Black Lung sound like they’re making a second debut.

Black Lung on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Slowenya, Meadow

Slowenya Meadow

Make a big space and fill it with righteousness. Finland’s Slowenya are born out of an experimentalist hotbed in Turku, and the three-piece do justice to an expectation of far-out tendencies across the nonetheless-concise 31 minutes and six songs of Meadow, their second long-player in as many years. There’s an undercurrent of metal as “Synchronized” holds forth with a resilient, earthy chug, but the melodicism that typifies the vocals running alongside is lighter, born of a proggy mindset and able to keep any overarching aggression in check. With synths, samples, and ambient sounds filling out the mix — not that the massive tonality of the guitar and bass itself doesn’t do the job — a breadth is cast from “Intro” onward through “Nákàn” and the gone-full-YOB swell of “Irrevocable,” which is yet another of the tracks on Meadow one might hear and expect to be 20 minutes long and instead is under seven. The penultimate “Transients” pushes deeper into drone, and “Resonate and Relate” (7:53) caps Slowenya‘s impressive second LP with a due blend of melodic wash and lurching rhythmic physicality, the screams into a sudden stop effectively carrying the threat of more to come. You want to hear this.

Slowenya linktr.ee

Karhuvaltio Records on Facebook


Superlynx, Solstice EP

Superlynx Solstice

As their growing fanbase immediately set about waiting for their third full-length after 2021’s Electric Temple, Norwegian heavy-broodgaze trio Superlynx issued at the very end of the year the Solstice EP, combining covers from Saint Vitus, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nat King Cole (because obviously he’d be third on that list) and Nirvana with two originals in “Reorbit” and “Cosmic Wave.” As bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen has already put out a solo release in 2022, drummer Ole Teigen has a blues band on the side among other projects, and one assumes guitarist Daniel Bakken is up to something else as well, Solstice serves as a welcome holdover of momentum after the album. It’s worth the price of admission (eight Euro) for the take on Nirvana‘s “Something in the Way” alone, but the so-slow-it-sounds-like-it’s-about-to-fall-apart “Reorbit” and the leadoff adaptation of “Born Too Late” enforces that song’s message with a modernized and made-even-more slogging sense of defeat. Maybe we were all born too late. Maybe that’s humanity’s fucking problem. Anyway, after you get this, get Isaksen‘s solo record as Pia Isa. You won’t regret that either, especially with the subdued vibe in some of the material on this one.

Superlynx on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website


Øresund Space Collective, Oily Echoes of the Soul

oresund space collective oily echoes of the soul

The always-hit-record ethic of multinational conglomerate jammers Øresund Space Collective pays dividends once again as Oily Echoes of the Soul emerges publicly — it was previously released in a different form to Bandcamp subscribers — as carved from a session all the way back in 2010. At the time I’m pretty certain all members of the band actually lived in Denmark, but sitarist K.G. Westman, who appeared here while still a member of Siena Root, is from Sweden, so whatever. Ultimately the affair is less about where they’re from than where you’re going while hearing it, which is off to a laid-back, anything goes psychedelic improvisation, beginning with the funky and suitably explorational, half-hour-long opener “Bump and Grind ØSC Style” before moving into the sitar-led “Peace of Mynd” (13:27) and the 24-minute title-track’s organic surges and recessions of volume; proggy, ’70s, and unforced as they are. Before twang-happy and much shorter closer “Shit Kickin'” (4:10), the 15-minute “Deep Breath for the EARTH” offers affirmation of the project’s reliably expansive sound. I’ve made no secret that I listen to this band in no small part for the emotionally and/or existentially soothing facets of their sound. Those are on ready display here, and I’ll be returning to this 12-year-old session accordingly.

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


Zone Six, Beautiful EP


Recorded in Dec. 1997 at Zone Six‘s practice space, the two-song Beautiful EP portrays a much different band than Zone Six ultimately became, with Australian-born vocalist Jodi Barry and then-Liquid Visions members Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (bass, effects), Hans-Peter Ringholz (guitar, noise) and drummer/recording specialist Claus Bühler as well as keyboardist/etc.-ist Rusty and bringing two longform, molten works of pioneering-at-the-time heavy psychedelia. I mean, we’re talking 20 years ahead of their time, at least, here. It’s still forward-thinking. The guitars and breathy vocals in “Something’s Missing” are a joy and “Beautiful” plays off drone-style atmospherics with intermittently jazzy verses and a more active rhythm, winding guitar and pervasively spaced mindbending. Imagining what could’ve been if this record had been finished, one could repaint the scope of 2010s-era European heavy psychedelia as a whole, but on their own, the two extended inclusions on the 23-minute EP are a gorgeous glimpse at this fleeting moment in time. It is what it says it is.




The Cimmerian, Thrice Majestic

The Cimmerian Thrice Majestic

Thrice Majestic and four-times barbarous comes this debut EP release from Los Angeles’ The Cimmerian, a new trio featuring Massachusetts expat David Gein (ex-bass, The Scimitar, etc.) on guitar, and the brand of heavy that ensues readily crosses the line between metal and doom, as the galloping “Emerald Scripture” reinforces directly after the eight-minute highlight and longest groover “Silver and Gold.” Drummer David Morales isn’t shy with the double-kick and neither should he be, and bassist/vocalist Nicolas Rocha has a bark that reminds of Entombed‘s L.G. Petrov, and that is not a compliment I’m ever going to hand out lightly. Lead cut “Howls of Lust and Fury” promises High on Fire-ist thrash in its opening, but The Cimmerian‘s form of pummel goes beyond any single point of inspiration, even on this presumably formative suckerpunch of an EP, which balances intensity and nod in the finishing move “Neck Breaker,” a last growl perhaps the most brutal of all. Fucking a. More of this.

The Cimmerian on Facebook

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Ultracombo, Season II

Ultracombo Season II

You could probably sit and parse out where Ultracombo are coming from — geographically, it’s Vincenza, Italy — in terms of sound on the sequentially titled follow-up to 2019’s Season I (review here), but to do so denies the double-guitar five-piece credit for the obvious efforts they’ve put into making this material their own. Those efforts pay off in the listening experience of the five-tracker, which runs 25 minutes and so offers plenty enough to make an impression. Witness the slowdown in centerpiece “Umanotest” or the keyboard-or-keyboard-esque lead in the back half of the prior “Follia,” the added jammy feel in “Specchio,” the this-is-the-difference-the-right-drummer-makes “12345” or the return of the synth and an added bit of playfulness before the big ending in — what else? — “La Fine.” That this EP manages to careen and pull such hairpin turns of rhythm is a triumph unto itself. That it manages to do so without sounding like Queens of the Stone Age feels like a fucking miracle. “Dear Ultracombo, Hope you’re well. Time to make an album. Put in an interlude or two depending on space. Sincerely, some dude on the internet.”

Ultracombo on Facebook

Ultracombo on Instagram


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Pia Isaksen of Superlynx & Pia Isa

Posted in Questionnaire on June 1st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Pia isa

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Pia Isaksen of Superlynx & Pia Isa

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I create and play music with my band Superlynx and solo project PIA ISA. I am trying create and do things I love and that I find meaningful. I discovered that music was my thing when I was a kid and started playing piano when I was eight. A year later I started inventing little melodies and songs myself and it felt like a very exciting and almost magic thing. I started playing guitar when I was 13 and listened to a lot of music. The town I grew up in, called Moss, had a great music scene at the time and so many bands, so there were people to play with and places to practice. I moved to Oslo in my early twenties and played in a couple of bands there which later led on to forming Superlynx in 2013. Then I started my solo project last year after having thought about it for years and finally found time for it.

Describe your first musical memory.

The first memory that comes to mind is sitting on the floor in the living room as a maybe three or four year old with my mom, singing songs together from a children’s songbook. I was very excited about singing and learning songs. I also remember the first time I felt moved by music and tears suddenly came rolling just because it was so beautiful. I think I was around eight and a Grieg record was playing in the house.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

This is a tough question and it seems impossible to choose one. There are so many special moments to look back on, from gigs I have played – especially with Superlynx – to being in the audience at amazing gigs, to moments of connecting musically with other people and memorable creative times. One gig that comes to mind was in Berlin in July 2019 when Superlynx supported Weedeater in a packed venue in 40 ° C and everyone up front was dancing during our set. The heat was a challenge but there was such a special lovely energy in the room and we had so much fun that hot summer night with new and old friends. Playing live the very night Oslo opened again after covid lockdown last year was also something to remember. And finally making my solo album and then having someone whose music I have been a fan of for a long time, Gary Arce from Yawning Man, etc., play on it also stands out. Seeing Sleep in Oslo in 2012 with a group of friends was also very special. One of them, a very good friend of mine, passed away shortly after and I am grateful we got to make this last great memory. Sorry, this question brings up many things. I will stop here.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I always assume that people are kind and honest. That has led to disappointment more than once and I think I have become a little less naive as I have gotten older.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To different things for different people. I guess also to more insight and to a broader “toolbox” for your ideas and what you want to express.

How do you define success?

Doing what you love, what is important to you and what makes you happy. When it comes to music I think it is something like creative fulfillment and when the music, words, performance, mood and sound just feel right all together. The feeling of having created a work you can fully stand behind and feel happy with. And if someone else connects to it and gets some meaning, comfort, good times, a needed escape or maybe even help dealing with things through it that is a wonderful thing. Like so much music has done for me. It wouldn’t hurt to sell a lot of records and tour the world but being able to do what you love and having good people around is pretty successful I would say.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

On a selfish level a lot of things. Violence, sexism, racism, sickness, injustice, the climate crisis etc. It would have been easier to not have seen or experienced any of it. But in the bigger picture I don’t think it is a very good solution to look away from the truth and pretend these problems don’t exist.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

More music of course, and I would also like to do some more collaborations. It would also be exciting to do some music for moving images or a film some time. And I wish to do more graphic art of my own that I have many ideas for and that I hope will be possible to realize sometime in the future.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Connection, catharsis, escape, deeper understanding of life, transcendence, hope. To express and communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings from our very inner core in a way that nothing else can, on more and on deeper levels. To help understand ourselves, each other and the world better and it definitely connects us and makes life more interesting.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I am looking so much forward to summer which is finally beginning to kick in here, and to daily swims in the ocean when the sea gets warm enough. It is getting there. To me this is one of the very best things in life.





Pia Isa, Distorted Chants (2022)

Superlynx, Electric Temple (2021)

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Superlynx Premiere Video for Title-Track of New Album Electric Temple

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Oslo, Norway’s Superlynx will issue their third album, Electric Temple, through Dark Essence Records on April 16. The title-track is the first single and is premiering in the video below ahead of a Feb. 4 standalone release. It arrives early on the record, with just opener/longest track (immediate points) “Rising Flame” in front of it, and reinforces the commitment to atmosphere and mood that song puts forth, as well as the accompanying threat of push, the morose, airy vocals of bassist Pia Isaksen and the Earth-style guitar lumber of Daniel Bakken largely holding firm as Ole Teigen‘s drumming take off into a second half freakout. Compared to that, “Electric Temple” comes across as more straightforward — do I need to say “ritualistic?” — with repetitions of its title line and a linear build of tension that plays out in post-psych fashion, the payoff that arrives swirling but still primarily dark in tone.

“Apocalypse,” shorter at just 2:37, quickly proves this brooding nod isn’t all Superlynx have to offer this time around, switching between tempos from its beginning drone and melodic ambience to a march into blastbeats before a proggy mesh of drums and guitar raises the stakes further only to recede and bookend with the initial quiet verse. Blink and you’ll miss it, but “Apocalypse” is one of several shorter pieces peppered throughout — along with the instrumental “Sonic Sacrament” that one assumes closes side A, and the penultimate “Siren Sing,” which brings Teigen to the fore on vocals — and it and its compatriots do much to enrich Electric Temple‘s overall impression. Sandwiched between “Apocalypse” and “Sonic Sacrament,” “Moonbather” feels like a culmination for superlynx electric templethe first half of the album, with Isaksen and Teigen singing together almost like a cultish chant by its end.

The second half of the 10-track/43-minute outing starts with “Returning Light,” which in the span of four minutes shifts from relative minimalism to an engrossing progression that shifts smoothly into the guitar and bass intro to “Laws of Nature,” the underlying rumble gradually coming forward as the drums hold back, a tension Superlynx have toyed with before, but one that continues to work in their favor. A particularly soulful guitar solo brings “Laws of Nature” to its apex, and struck piano notes in “Then You Move” show that the context for the record has not yet finished expanding. Teigen takes lead vocals with Isaksen holding off until the second half, and the between the keys and his delivery, and subsequently hers, there’s a particularly goth vibe to “Then You Move,” the late solo and understated, long-fade finish making “Siren Sing” a complement to the song before it.

I’m not sure if it’s strings or chamber-feedback or keys or what’s droning out behind Teigen in “Siren Sing,” but the room it adds to the atmosphere works well, and the silence that moves into the renewed march of closer “May” — almost bluesy as it is — feels like it’s being given its due for it. A spoken verse from Teigen sets up an arrival from Isaksen as the track unfurls a patient forward progression, rising to a head and receding softer to finish, it’s a reminder of how much of what makes Electric Temple work, from the initial, ambience-setting rollout of “Rising Flame” and “Electric Temple” onward, is about the mood, patience and the combination of space and depth in the procession of songs. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of heft to go around, as you’ll hear in the video premiere below, but Electric Temple is as much about the creation of the reaches in which that happens as it is about the happening itself.

Enjoy the video:

Superlynx, “Electric Temple” official video

Video by Joan Pope / Temple ov Saturn.

Band footage and photo by Carl Eek Torgersen.

From the upcoming album Electric Temple.

Preorder: https://superlynx.bandcamp.com/album/electric-temple

Superlynx is:
Pia Isaksen – Bass/Vocals
Daniel Bakken – Guitar
Ole Teigen – Drums/Vocals

Superlynx on Facebook

Superlynx on Instagram

Superlynx on Bandcamp

Dark Essence Records on Facebook

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Dark Essence Records website

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Dwaal Sign to Napalm Events for European Booking

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Theirs is one of 2020’s most punishing debut albums to-date, and it seems only like Dwaal are interested in bringing their Gospel of the Vile (review here) to the masses. After issuing the album — which you can stream below — at the end of last month through Dark Essence Records, it seems the band were happened upon by a representative of Napalm Records‘ booking wing, and snapped up accordingly on the merit of a live performance. I guess that’s pretty much the ideal, so kudos to the band. It seems safe to assume you can expect to see them on the road with some Napalm Records bands in Europe any day now, provided, you know, government lockdowns and all that kind of stuff.

But hey, if you’re looking for a soundtrack to the plague-ocalypse, these six very-calm-looking Norwegians would like to have a word:


NAPALM EVENTS Signs Norwegian Sludge/Doom Band DWAAL!

NAPALM EVENTS is very proud to add Sludge/Doom/Post-Metal steamroller DWAAL from Oslo, Norway, to the Napalm Events artist roster! NAPALM EVENTS’ booking agent Thorsten Harm witnessed their powerful live performance at by:Larm Festival in Oslo two weeks ago and was hooked immediately!

Thorsten Harm comments:

“More or less I joined their show incidentally – and I wasn’t prepared for them at all, DWAAL hit me hard! Their slow and heavy wall of sound and the outstanding vocals of their singer Bjørnar on top of it literally blew me away, totally unexpected. This metal outfit is super talented and delivers a unique blend of heavy, atmospheric Sludge/Doom/Post-Metal with a terrific Black Metal topping, big time!”

DWAAL released their killer debut album Gospel of the Vile through Dark Essence Records on 28th February 2020.

DWAAL is looking forward what’s ahead of them and comments:

“After years looming in the shadows of the local underground scene, DWAAL is getting ready to move out of the basement and experience the world. We’ve just released our debut album Gospel of the Vile, an effort that has taken a very long time to complete. The reviews have been amazing, even humbling to read. Now we’re stepping up our live activity, and we’re extremely delighted to announce our commitment to NAPALM EVENTS and our shared future. Hope to see as many of you as possible in as many locations as possible, in the not too distant future!”

DWAAL are:
Bjørnar Kristiansen – vocals
Rikke Karlsen – guitar
Eigil Dragvik – guitar
Stian Hammer – bass
Siri Vestby – synth
Anders Johnsen – drums


Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile (2020)

Dwaal, “Like Rats” official video

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Dwaal Premiere “Like Rats” Video; Gospel of the Vile Due March 6

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


Oslo-based six-piece post-doom outfit Dwaal will issue their debut full-length, Gospel of the Vile, on March 6 through Dark Essence Records, and it is a record that immediately repositions the listener to suit its own purposes. With a strong tonal wash, overlaid vocal and synthesizer melody, “Ascent” unfolds basically as an intro for the first six minutes of the album. The track is perhaps wrongly titled for not being called “Immersion,” but it’s hard to hold that against it, particularly when it’s intended as a bookend with 16-minute closer “Descent.” What it doesn’t do, however, is prepare the listener for some of the shifts presented in “Like Rats” and the four cuts that follow, mostly notably the massive nod that ensues and the undercurrent of classic emotive death-doom that permeates. Guttural growls and lyrical introspection take hold across the second track and with an ultra-slow progression, Dwaal find a niche between styles, thoughtful on multiple levels of its execution and nigh on lush at times in how it’s produced, but still with a feeling of raw humanity coming through in those vocals and the sheer lumber of the rhythm.

Tonal largesse and rhythmic lurch are essential throughout Gospel of the Vile, but as Dwaal — who appeared at Høstsabbat in 2018 (review here) and released their debut EP, Darben, in 2017 — roll out these massive, crawling grooves, the emotional crux in the guitar and vocals is no less crucial, and neither is the sense of atmosphere. With an especially memorable guitar figure that emerges just before two minutes into its total 13:50, the title-track brings these different sides together well in such a way as to build off what seemed to be separate in “Ascent” and “Like Rats” between the ambience on one side and the extremity on another. The band flourish over their longer-form presentation, with the growls returning to highlight severity in transition from more standard shouting, and after a contemplative stretch, “Gospel of the Vile” offers some of the most humongous plod on the record that shares its name, finishing with fading amp noise into the Amenra-style tension at the start of “Obsidian Heart Burns,” which builds up over the first two minutes or so into a gruesome unfurling, willfully harsh and biting even as it maintains a deceptive patience.

dwaal gospel of the vile

That patience pays off in the midsection of the song, which layers airy guitar overtop all the crushing tone and churn, and, as the title line is delivered, sets up a righteous explosion back into the max-weight impact. Brutal. The penultimate “The Whispering One” is the shortest inclusion besides “Ascent” at just under seven minutes, but uses that time to unleash a distinctively dramatic vision of doom, a wash that isn’t at all chaotic or fast but permeated by some high-pitched frequency in its second half — is that synth? effects noise? — that adds an almost subliminal feeling of alarm or panic. It starts at 4:33. Keep an ear out. I’m not even sure if it’s supposed to be there or if it’s some glitch in the stream I was given, but it’s curious either way. It does not stop “The Whispering One” from easing smoothly into the quiet opening of “Descent,” which again, at 16:26, is something of an album unto itself, or at very least a summary and expansion on what the rest of Gospel of the Vile has to offer. The floating guitar lines, the deathly growling, throaty shouts and emotional crux both quiet and extreme come through even before the piece is halfway through, and just before eight minutes in, cleaner vocals return in fitting answer to those at the record’s outset.

They’re swallowed up soon enough by the encompassing darkness, but even as the last five minutes of “Descent” play out in slow-stomp and a subtly-constructed payoff wash of noise, the message remains that Dwaal have yet perhaps to reveal the full breadth of their sound. Obviously conscious of the presentation of their craft, I’d expect purposeful growth their next time out — that is, they sound like a band who will want to move forward from release to release, and Gospel of the Vile would essentially be the starting point of that, the prior EP notwithstanding — but the impact and ambience they bring to this six-songer isn’t to be undervalued in its own right. Still, as they move forward and refine their sound and lyrical perspective, one hopes the heft and rawness can be maintained within their subsequent work, whatever form it might take, since they do so much to make this debut hit as hard as it does.

If you’re sensitive to flashing lights and general visual chaos, watch out for the “Like Rats” video below — you might want to avert your eyes or just listen to the song and look at something else — but otherwise, dig in and enjoy. Album is out March 6.

PR wire-type info follows:

Dwaal, “Like Rats” official video premiere

From the upcoming album “Gospel Of The Vile”, to be released on Dark Essence Records on March 6th 2020

Single and album covers both made by Anders Johnsen. Video by Eigil Dragvik. Band photos by Endre Lohne.

“Like Rats” is the second single from the upcoming album Gospel Of The Vile.

Gospel of the Vile is the first full length album from this six-headed monster from Oslo, Norway, following their self-released EP Darben (2017). The music is definitely rooted in Doom Metal, bearing also clear inspiration from Post-rock, traditional Metal and the ambience of Black Metal – Resulting in a massive sound, with moments of both brutality and beauty.

The concept of the album is depicting humanity’s embracing of its inner darkness and the decline into a more primal state, with songs like “Gospel of the Vile” and “Obsidian Heart Burns” at the center of the lyrical universe. Gospel of the Vile is an album that challenges you to endure its every movement.

Dwaal is:
Bjørnar Kristiansen – Vocals
Eigil Dragvik – Guitar & Backing vocals
Rikke Karlsen – Guitar
Stian Hammer – Bass
Siri Vestby – Synth
Anders Johnsen – Drums

Dwaal on Thee Facebooks

Dwaal on Instagram

Dwaal on Bandcamp

Dwaal website

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Dark Essence Records on Instagram

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Dark Essence Records website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Superlynx, New Moon

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Superlynx New Moon

[Click play above to stream Superlynx’s New Moon in its entirety. Album is out March 15 on Dark Essence Records.]

Atmosphere plays a huge role in what Superlynx do almost immediately on their second album, New Moon. The guitar work of Daniel Bakken works its way into Eastern-style scales in opener “Hex,” giving a meditative feel by which much of New Moon is likewise defined, patient songwriting and pacing finding bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen, drummer/vocalist Ole Teigen (Midnattsvrede, ex-keyboard in Dødheimsgard) moving through the 10-track/46-minute runtime with a steadily increasing breadth and a tidal sense of heft, swaying back and forth as Isaksen delivers the lyrics slowly in a way that reminds alternatingly of some of Kylesa‘s later work, as on the title-track, or even Acid King in “Cold Black Sea,” but is ultimately far more ethereal in scope. “Becoming the Sea,” the payoff of “Indian Summer” and the faster-paced later cut “Scarecrow” hint at some root in extreme metal, but the brunt of New Moon is in its melodicism and its methodical, nod-setting tempos.

Released through Dark Essence Records, it is the follow-up to the Oslo-based trio’s 2016 debut, LVX, and while that album wanted nothing for tone, the fullness of the distortion Isaksen and Bakken bring to these tracks only helps further their ambient impression. They give the offering a richness that helps Superlynx in their apparent purpose of affecting the mood of their audience, which they prove more than capable of doing as New Moon dreamily plods out in cuts like the early going of “Indian Summer” and “These Children that Come at Us with Knives,” the latter of which calls to mind some of Earth‘s rolling drone but still maintains the depth of mix and character that Superlynx seem to bring to each of the tracks. Tempo shifts and turns of melodic phrasing stave off redundancy as the songs make their way past like clouds overhead on an open road — slowly, and with the feeling that they’re working on a different scale of size and time — but New Moon does seem to have a kind of unipolarity in how it functions.

That’s contrasted in the penultimate “The Groove,” on which Teigen and Isaksen share vocals in a marked departure from what surrounds while Bakken‘s guitar noodles out in the verses like The Doors on a desert trip before  solidifying for the chorus, but otherwise feels intentional, as though Superlynx are working to create a world for their material to inhabit, and to bring the listener to that place of their making. This, like the ribbon of color on the covers of their two full-lengths, is an ongoing theme in their work, but the second outing, frankly, is better at it than the first, and it would seem that part of why is down to the patience in their craft and their willingness even when the songs move — which, yes, some do, like “Indian Summer” or “Scarecrow” or even the theatrical closer “The Thickest Night” — to hold to the central contemplative atmosphere that arrives with “Hex” and provides the foundation on which the subsequent songs are built.

superlynx (Photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen)

It’s not so much about the material sounding the same as it is about individual pieces functioning toward a greater whole. The outlier, then, is “The Groove,” which precedes “The Thickest Night.” With both tracks, it’s more about their position than anything else, but I guess after the outwardly doomed catchiness of “Scarecrow” and the open feeling “Cold Black Sea” — the bassline of which seems to be in conversation with the guitar of “Breath” earlier; both touching on a rhythm that I can’t quite separate from “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” in my head — Superlynx have set themselves up for something of a departure. But the change in bringing Teigen‘s vocals in alongside those of Isaksen, which are so much a part of the overarching vibe of the record — and this is a record that is very much about its overarching vibe — feels drastic, and it’s a change without precedent on New Moon, i.e., it only happens once and it’s tucked away near the end.

Entirely possible that’s the point, of course, and Superlynx want to jar their listener ahead of finishing out with “The Thickest Night,” but if New Moon is stating its purpose in its title-track, then so much of what the band are doing is based around slow groove and a moody spirit, and after so much consistency one song into the next, it’s a move that leads one to wonder what brought them to that point, even working as well as it does. Perhaps that’s their way of exploring newer modes of expression, and if so, one can’t argue with the result, even if its arrival is a surprise. As they finish with “The Thickest Night,” the vocals seem to step forward in the mix as the guitars relinquish some of that space to swells of keyboard/synth, and a more psychedelic vibe takes hold, Isaksen‘s voice playing out in effects-laced layers over a slow march outward that builds subtly to a wash before capping with a sudden feeling of letting go.

Way back at the start of the album, in “Hex,” there’s a turn that happens at 1:46 into the total 4:43. To that point, Superlynx have built up the track (and album) from silence to a wash of distortion, and then, with just the quickest of drum fills, all three members of the band unite around a crunching, forward-directed riff that’s more aggressive in nature. In concert with the other hints of metal showcased around New Moon, it’s hard to tell if it’s a hint at past or future for them, but it’s an important component of what they do in any case, and as much as their sophomore LP is defined by its melodies and its steady, willful pacing, that undercurrent is there. But so is psychedelia, and so is doom, and so is heavy rock, so as Superlynx work to establish their sound here, it indeed is very much their own, and the stylistic elements they draw from and claim could well be the groundwork of even more worldbuilding to come.

Superlynx, “Hex” official video

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