Quarterly Review: Bongripper, Destroyer of Light, Castle Rat, Temple of the Fuzz Witch, State of Non Return, Thief, Ravens, Spacedrifter, Collyn McCoy, Misleading

Posted in Reviews on May 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan


I wouldn’t say we’re in the home stretch yet, but this 100-release Quarterly Review is more than three-quarters done after today, so I guess it’s debatable. In any case, we proceed. I hope you’ve enjoyed what’s been on offer so far. Yesterday was a little manic, but I got there. Today, tomorrow, I expect much the same. The order of things, as that one Jem’Hadar liked to say.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Bongripper, Empty


Eight albums and the emergence of a microgenre cast partly in their image later, it would take a lot for Chicago ultra-crush instrumentalists Bongripper to surprise their listenership, at least as regards their basic approach. If you think that’s a bad thing, fine, but I’d put the 66 minutes of Empty forward to argue otherwise. Six years after 2018’s two-song LP Terminal (review here) — with a live record and single between — the four new songs of Empty dare to sneakily convey a hopeful message in the concave tracklisting: “Nothing” (20:40), “Remains’ (12:04), “Forever” (12:43), “Empty” (21:24). That message might be what’s expressed in the echoing post-metallic lead guitar on the finale and the organ on the prior “Forever,” or, frankly, it might not. Because in the great, lumbering, riffy morass that is their sound, there’s room for multiple interpretations as well as largesse enough to accommodate the odd skyscraper, so take it as you will. Just because you might go into it with some idea of what’s coming doesn’t mean you won’t get flattened.

Bongripper on Facebook

Bongripper BigCartel store

Destroyer of Light, Degradation Years

destroyer of light degradation years

My general policy as regards “last” records is to never say never until everybody’s holograms have been deleted, but the seven songs and 39 minutes of Degradation Years represent an ending for Destroyer of Light just the same, and the Austin-based troupe end as they began, which is by not being the band people expected them to be. Their previous long-player, 2022’s Panic (review here), dug into atmospheric doom in engrossing fashion, and Degradation Years presents not-at-all-their-first pivot, with post-punk atmospherics and ’90s-alt melodies on “Waiting for the End” and heavy drift on “Perception of Time.” “Failure” is duly sad, where the shorter, riffier “Blind Faith” shreds and careens heading into its verse, and the nine-minute “Where I Cannot Follow” gives Pallbearer‘s emotive crux a look on the way to its airy tremolo finish. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca has a couple other nascent projects going, guitarist Keegan Kjeldsen and drummer Kelly Turner are in Slumbering Sun, and Mike Swarbrick who plays bass here is in Cortége, but Destroyer of Light always stood on their own, and they never stopped growing across their 12-year run. Job well done.

Destroyer of Light on Facebook

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

Castle Rat, Into the Realm

castle rat into the realm

If you take away the on-stage theatricality, the medieval/horror fetish play, and all the hype, what you’re left with on Castle Rat‘s first album, Into the Realm is a solid collection of raw, classic-styled doom rock able to account for the Doors-y guitar in the quiet strum of the gets-heavy-later “Cry for Me” as well as the shrieks of “Fresh Fur” and opener “Dagger Dragger,” the nod and chug of “Nightblood” and the proto-metal of “Feed the Dream” via three interludes spaced out across its brief 32-minute stretch. Of course, taking away the drama, the sex, and aesthetic cultistry is missing part of the point of the band in the first place, but what I’m saying is that Into the Realm has more going for it than the fact that the band are young and good looking, willing to writhe, and thus marketable. They could haunt Brooklyn basements for the next 15-20 years or go tour with Ghost tomorrow, I honestly have no clue about their ambitions or goals in that regard, but their songs present a strong stylistic vision in accord with their overarching persona, resonating with a fresh generational take and potential progression. That’s enough on its own to make Into the Realm one of the year’s most notable debuts.

Castle Rat on Instagram

King Volume Records store

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Apotheosis

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Apotheosis

With their third full-length and first for Ripple Music, Detroit trio Temple of the Fuzz Witch — guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner (also synth), bassist Joe Peet and drummer Taylor Christian — follow their 2020 offering, Red Tide (review here), with a somewhat revamped imagining of who they are. Apotheosis — as high as you can get — introduces layers of harsh vocals and charred vibes amid the consuming lumber of its tonality, still cultish in atmosphere but heavier in its ritualizing and darker. The screams work, and songs like “Nephilim” benefit from Bruner‘s ability to shift from clean to harsh vocals there and across the nine-songer’s 39 minutes, and while there’s plenty of slog, a faster song like “Bow Down” stands out all the more from the grim, somehow-purple mist in which even the spacious midsection of “Raze” seems to reside. The bottom line is if you think you knew who they were or you judged them as a bong-metal tossoff because of their silly name, you’re already missing out. If you’re cool with that, fair enough. It’s not my job to sell you records anyway.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Facebook

Ripple Music website

State of Non Return, White Ink

State of Non Return White Ink

Among the final releases for Trepanation Recordings, White Ink is the years-in-the-making first LP from Bologna, Italy’s State of Non Return — and if you’re hearing a dogwhistle in their moniker for meditative fare because that’s also the name of an Om song, you’re neither entirely correct or incorrect. From the succession of the three circa-nine-minutes-each cuts “Catharsis,” “Vertigo” and “White Ink,” the trio harness a thoughtful take on brooding desert nod, with “Vertigo” boasting some more aggro-tinged shouts ahead of the chug in its middle building on the spoken word of the opener, and the intro to the title-track building into a roll of tempered distortion that offers due payoff in its sharp-edged leads and hypnotic repetitions, to the 15-minute finale “Pendulum” that offers due back and forth between minimal spaces and full-on voluminosity before taking off on an extended linear build to end, the focus is more on atmosphere than spiritual contemplation, and State of Non Return find individualism in moody contemplation and the tension-release of their heaviest moments. Some bands grow into their own sound over time. State of Non Return, who got together in 2016, seem to have spent at least some of that span of years since doing the legwork ahead of this release.

State of Non Return on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp

Thief, Bleed, Memory

thief bleed memory

Writing and recording as a solo artist under the banner of Thief — there’s a band for stage purposes — Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dylan Neal (also Botanist) pulls back from the ’90s-attitudinal industrial and nü-metal flirtations of 2021’s The 16 Deaths of My Master (review here) and reroutes the purpose toward more emotive atmospheric ends. Sure, “Dead Coyote Dreams” still sneaks out of its house to smoke cigarettes at night, and that’s cool forever and you know it, but with an urgent beat behind it, “Cinderland” opens to a wash that is encompassing in ways Thief had little interest in being three years ago, despite working with largely similar elements blending electronica, synth, and organic instrumentation. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — holds that Neal‘s father’s onset of dementia inspired the turn, and that’s certainly reason enough if you need a reason, but if there’s processing taking place over the 12 inclusions and 44 minutes that Bleed, Memory spans, along with its allusions to James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, etc., that does not at all make the work feel anymore lost than it’s intended to be in the post-techno of “Paramnesia” or the wub-and-shimmer of “To Whom it May Concern” that rounds out. I’ll allow that being of a certain age might make it more relatable.

Thief on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Ravens, Ravens

ravens ravens

New Jersey’s Ravens mark their first public offering with this seven-song self-titled debut, spacious in its vocal echo and ostensibly led by riffs though that doesn’t necessarily mean the guitar is foremost in the mix throughout. The guitar/drum duo of Zack Kurland (Green Dragon, ex-Sweet Diesel, etc.) and drummer Chris Daly (Texas is the ReasonResurrection, etc.) emerges out of the trio Altered States with grounded rhythmic purpose beneath the atmospheric tones and vocal melodies, touching on pop in “Get On, Get On” while “New Speedway Boogie” struts with thicker tone and a less shoegazing intent than the likes of “To Whom You Were Born,” the languid “Miscommunication” and “Revolution 0,” though that two-minute piece ends with a Misfits-y vocal, so nothing is so black and white stylistically — a notion underscored as closer “Amen” builds from its All Them Witches-swaying meanderings to a full, driving wah-scorched wash to end off. Where they might be headed next, I have no idea, but if you can get on board with this one, the songs refuse to be sublimated to fit genre, and there are fewer more encouraging starts than that.

Ravens on Instagram

Ravens on Bandcamp

Spacedrifter, When the Colors Fade

Spacedrifter When the Colors Fade

Each of the 10 songs on Spacedrifter‘s first full-length, When the Colors Fade, works from its own intention, whether it’s the frenetic MondoGenerator thrust of “(Radio Edit)” or the touch of boogie in opener “Dwell,” but grunge and desert rock are at the root of much the proceedings, as the earliest-QOTSA fuzz of “Buried in Stone” will attest. But the scope of the whole is richer in hearing than on paper, and shifts like the layered vocal melodies in “Have a Girl” or the loose bluesy swing of the penultimate “NFOB,” the band’s willingness to let a part breathe without dwelling too long on any single idea, results in a balance that speaks to the open sensibilities of turn-of-the-century era European heavy without being a retread of those bands either. Comprised of bassist/vocalist/producer Olle Söderberg, drummer/vocalist Isac Löfgren guitarist/vocalist Adam Hante and guitarist John Söderberg, Spacedrifter‘s songwriting feels and organic in its scope and how it communes with the time before the “rules” of various microgenres were set, and is low-key refreshing not like an album you’re gonna hear a ton of hyperbole about, but one that’s going to stay with you longer than its 39 minutes, especially after you let it sink in over a couple listens. So yeah, I’m saying don’t be surprised when it’s on my year-end debuts list, blah blah whatever, but also watch out for how their sound develops from here.

Spacedrifter on Facebook

Spacedrifter on Bandcamp

Collyn McCoy, Night of the Bastard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Collyn McCoy Night of the Bastard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Assembled across varied movements of synthesizer ranging from half-a-minute to a bit under four minutes long, the score for the indie horror film Night of the Bastard finds L.A.’s Collyn McCoy (also of Circle of Sighs, bassist for Unida, etc.) performing under his experimental-and-then-some electronic alias Nyte Vypr, and if that doesn’t telegraph weirdness to come, well, you can just take my word for it that it should. I can’t claim to have seen the movie, which is reportedly available hither and yon in the clusterfuck that is the modern streamscape, but ’80s horror plays a big role in pieces like “Shards and Splinters” and the opening “Night of the Bastard” itself, while “If We Only Had Car Keys” and “Get Out” feel even more specifically John Carpenter in their beat and keyboard handclaps. Closer “The Sorceress” is pointedly terrifying, but “Turtle Feed” follows a drone and piano line to more peaceful ends that come across as far, far away from the foreboding soundscape of “Go Fuck Yourself.” Remember that part where I said it was going to get weird? It does, and it’s clearly supposed to, so mark it another win for McCoy‘s divergent CV.

Collyn McCoy website

Collyn McCoy on Bandcamp

Misleading, Face the Psych

Misleading Face the Psych

I hate to be that guy, but while Face the Psych is the third long-player from Portugal’s Misleading, it’s my first time hearing them, so I can’t help but feel like it’s worth noting that, in fact, they’re not that misleading at all. They tell you to face the psych and then, across seven cosmos-burning tracks and 54 minutes in an alternate dimension, you face it. Spoiler: it’s fucking rad. While largely avoiding the trap of oh-so-happening-right-now space metal, Misleading are perfectly willing to let themselves be carried where the flow of “Tutte le Nove Vite” takes them — church organ righteousness, bassy shuffle, jams that run in gravitational circles, and so on — and to shove and be shoved by the insistence of “Cheating Death” a short while later. The centerpiece “Spazio Nascoto” thickens up stonerized swing after a long intro of synth drone, and 12-minute capper “Egregore” feels like the entire song, not just the guitar and bass, has been put through the wah pedal. As likely to make you punchdrunk as entranced, willfully unhinged, and raw despite filling all the reaches of its mix and then some, it’s not so much misleading as leading-astray as you suddenly realize an hour later you’ve quit your job and dropped out of life, ne’er to be seen, heard from or hounded by debt collectors again. Congrats on that, by the way.

Misleading on Facebook

Misleading on Bandcamp

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

Destroyer of Light Post “Cruel World”; Final Album Degradation Years Out April 5; Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Texas’ Destroyer of Light are ending their run with their upcoming sixth album, Degradation Years, which they’re introducing with the lead single “Cruel World,” an immediate showcase of the progression that’s made them so underrated for more than the last decade. I could go on and on about that, but maybe it’s moot as they unveil what will (allegedly) be the last Destroyer of Light US tour and present the melancholy post-’90s Ozzy melody of “Cruel World” (yes, that’s a compliment) and its melancholy-but-accessible roll.

Guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca notes below in laying band to rest that he and the other members have started taking on different projects — Slumbering Sun‘s debut got some hype last year, Suspiriorum have a debut EP out, and Temple of Love just posted a new single at the end of January — so it’s not at all the last they’ll be heard from, and who knows where their respective paths may lead over the next few years or more. But no one who knows what they’re talking about is ever going to tell you Destroyer of Light didn’t put in their time, and right up to 2022’s Panic (review here), they never compromised on their progression and desire to explore ideas beyond doom’s borders, and they never put out the same record twice. I fully anticipate that will prove the case on Degradation Years as well, and “Cruel World” offers a strong case in that regard.

Good band. Even if they won’t be around anymore as Destroyer of Light, I’m glad they’ve got one more record coming and are getting to finish on their own terms. That is something not everyone gets to do but they have more than earned.

From the PR wire:

destroyer of light degradation years

Destroyer of Light to Release New Album, ‘Degradation Years’, April 5

Austin Doomwave Band Ascends to New Heights; U.S. Headlining Tour Dates Announced

Hear New Track “Cruel World”

Destroyer of Light creates heavy, heaving doom metal with entrancing guitar harmonies and haunting, ethereal vocals rife with soul, and grit. The Austin-based band, which formed in 2012, will release its new LP, ‘Degradation Years’, on April 5. ‘Degradation Years’, Destroyer of Light’s sixth full-length LP, showcases the unit delivering massive, loud music that is also and beautiful, moving, crushing, and kinetic. The record was recorded at Austin’s Orb Recording Studios (Grimes, The 1975) and mastered by James Plotkin (Voivod, Botch, Thou).

‘Degradation Years’ is the follow-up to Destroyer of Light’s 2022 LP, ‘PANIC’. ‘Degradation Years’ is advanced by the new single, “Cruel World’, which DoL vocalist/guitarist Steve Colca describes as “a tribute to longtime Soundgarden singer, Chris Cornell,” and “an emotional song for me to write as I’m a huge Chris Cornell and Soundgarden fan. His death had an affect on me as his lyrics always spoke to my sadness and depression.” Stream Destroyer of Light’s “Cruel World” now at this location.

‘Degradation Years’ track listing:

1.) Cruel World
2.) Waiting for the End
3.) Perception of Time
4.) Failure
5.) Man with No Name
6.) Blind Faith
7.) Where I Cannot Follow

Pre-order ‘Degradation Years’ at this location:

‘Degradation Years’ is an evolution into newer territories for Destroyer of Light while retaining the band’s core elements,” Colca continues. “I grew up listening to a lot of 90s alternative music and those influences show up more in my songwriting here, and we just decided be care free with the direction. You’ll also hear a lot more vocal harmonies, catchy choruses, and some callouts to some of my favorite vocalists. The album cover was inspired by Placebo’s ‘Without You I’m Nothing’; I wanted to lay it out there for people to see and digest what they feel it represents. ‘Where am I?’ ‘What am I feeling?’ ‘What am I writing down?’ The back cover and the band photo are a nod to Soundgarden’s ‘Down on the Upside’. What I love about this is it looks like the band isn’t getting along, they are distant from each other. Almost like it’s hinting that this was the end.”

“Which leads to the next news that Destroyer of Light is going on indefinite hiatus,” he continues. “When we found out that Mike was moving to Atlanta, Penny, Keegan, and I decided to talk about our future. Both Keegan and I felt that our songwriting was heading into different directions and we’ve done all we could with Destroyer of Light. Plus, all three of us have other projects that we want to focus more attention on. I have Temple of Love, and they have Slumbering Sun. Also, I am in Tits Out!, Suspiriorum, and Penny is in The Flood. We have one final album to deliver to you, and we felt like this was the way for us to end it proper. So, we give you ‘Degradaton Years’, one final tour, and a local Austin show to close everything out. We appreciate all the support over the last 12 years, it means a lot.”

Destroyer of Light will kick off a U.S. tour in support of ‘Degradation Years’ on April 10 in El Paso, TX. The 17-city run will wrap on April 28. A full listing of DoL tour dates is as follows:

Destroyer of Light tour dates:

April 10 El Paso, TX @ Rosewood
April 11 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
April 12 Las Vegas, NV @ The Usual Place
April 13 Oceanside, CA @ The Pourhouse
April 14 Palmdale, CA @ Transplant Brewing
April 15 San Francisco, CA @ Knockout
April 17 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
April 18 Seattle, WA @ Substation
April 19 Boise, ID @ Realms
April 20 Salt Lake City @ Aces High
April 21 Denver, CO @ Black Buzzard
April 23 Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
April 24 TBA
April 25 Tulsa, OK @ Whittier Bar
April 26 Somewhere, AR @ TBA
April 27 Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern
April 28 – Arlington, TX @ Growl

Alongside Steve Colca, Destroyer of Light features Keegan Kjeldsen (guitars), Mike Swarbrick (bass), and Kelly Turner (drums).



Destroyer of Light, “Cruel World”

Destroyer of Light, Panic (2022)

Tags: , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Keegan Kjeldsen of Slumbering Sun and Destroyer of Light

Posted in Questionnaire on February 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Keegan Kjeldsen of Slumbering Sun and Destroyer of Light

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: Keegan Kjeldsen of Slumbering Sun and Destroyer of Light

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

I think of art as the transformation of our incommunicable emotional states into a form that emotionally moves others. I had the dream of being a touring musician for a long time, and first realized this goal in 2012 with my other band, Destroyer of Light. I’ve kept up touring since then in spite of the mental and emotional (and financial) toll it has taken because traveling around performing live music is perhaps the best feeling I have experienced on this earth.

Describe your first musical memory.

My dad is also a musician, and when I was a very small child, he helped me compose my then-magnum-opus, entitled, “You Can Drink Hot Cocoa”. We sang and played it together, him on guitar, and me adding the percussive elements.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Seeing Sunn O))) perform live forever changed my life and my perception of what music can be or do to an audience. It transcended the purely auditory; it was like an interruption in normal reality, as though the outside world was dissolved and some metaphysical truth were being revealed.

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

The few times in my life that I’ve managed to perform in front of a thousand people challenged my deep-seated cynicism and self-doubt. I usually expect that every effort will end in disappointment. I suppose this is another reason why I love playing music, because it has expanded my horizons of what is possible.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully it follows with someone’s personal and psychological development. I am not the same person I was in 2012, or 2015, or 2018, so why would I write the same music? The underlying emotional reality being conveyed is differently so one’s art should manifest in a different way as they grow as a person.

How do you define success?

The ability to feed myself and pay the rent with my art would be nice. This is the success that most of us are looking for, but admittedly that few of us get – so you have to be at peace with never succeeding in this way. Which, I suppose in a Daoist way or something like that, is its own form of success. Whatever it is, over the years I’ve come to appreciate this other form of success more: how the unique experiences and memories, friendships, great performances, and adventures out on the road are themselves the reward for following one’s dreams.

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

A lot of gore got shared around on the early internet and it probably scarred me as a child.

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

I’ve always dreamed of having a series of videos that create a storyline to accompany a concept album with related lyrics, one for every song, so that it’s a film alongside the album. Hopefully a double LP that can play for an hour and a half. The only problem with this is that it’s prohibitively expensive.

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

Art is our greatest weapon in humanity’s ongoing war against reality.

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

Christmas with my family, up in the forests of Colorado. We’re doing a reunion this year, so the whole extended family should be there. Usually it snows, and there’s nothing like being at the foot of the Rockies, sitting around the fireplace with your loved ones, on a snowy night.




Slumbering Sun, The Ever-Living Fire (2023)

Destroyer of Light, Panic (2022)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Destroyer of Light Announce East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light photo by diaz

Touring on the heels of their finest work to-date — that being late 2022’s Panic (review here) — is a decent position for Austin’s Destroyer of Light to be in, and the band who’ve been together for more than a decade now seem to be making the most of it. They’ll do a full run of the East Coast and then some just as Spring begins to show up, and look to personify the doomed spirit of their most recent work while kicking ass as they do on stage. Doable? For them, almost certainly.

They go in the company of fellow Lone Star staters Temptress, and while I’m not sure who else will be on these bills, filing out local opener slots, etc., the one-two is a punch worth taking even before you get to a complete lineup for a given night. I’ll admit, I’ve had a hard time getting back to show-going mode as regards clubs post-pandemic, but if you can make it happen, these are artists for whom your direct support matters. To that end, I’ll remind you that today’s Bandcamp Friday as well, though if your email inbox and notification flood is anything like mine, you don’t need that reminder. There it is anyway.

Dates follow, as per social media:
destroyer of light tour

Hey East Coast friends, remember that tour we had to cancel back in 2020? Well, we are coming back and this time bringing our Texas friends with us, Temptress. Hope to see ya out there. Poster art by Daniel Marschner.

3/22 – Houston, TX – Black Magic Social Club
3/23 – Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
3/24 – Birmingham, AL- The Nick
3/25 – Atlanta, GA – Boggs
3/26 – Tampa, FL – Brass Mug
3/28 – Miami, FL – Gramps
3/29 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub
3/30 – Savannah, GA @ El Rocko
3/31 – Asheville, NC – Fleetwoods
4/1 – Richmond, VA @ Wonderland
4/2 – Baltimore, MD – The Crown
4/3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
4/5 – Pittsburgh, PA – Black Forge Coffee
4/6 – Columbus, OH – Spacebar
4/7 – Detroit, MI – The Sanctuary
4/8 – Kalamazoo, MI – Papa Pete’s
4/9 – Chicago, IL @ WC Social Club
4/11 – Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle
4/12 – Louisville, KY @ Planet of the Tapes
4/13 – Nashville, TN @ Cobra Lounge
4/14 – Memphis, TN @ Growlers
4/15 – Fayetteville, AR @ Smoke & Barrel
4/16 – Tulsa, OK @ Whittier Bar

Destroyer of Light:
Steve Colca – Vocals/Guitars
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitars
Nick Coffman – Bass
Kelly Turner – Drums



Destroyer of Light, Panic (2022)

Tags: , , , , ,

Album Review: Destroyer of Light, Panic

Posted in Reviews on December 9th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light panic

Now a decade removed from their debut album, Austin, Texas’ Destroyer of Light remain persistent outliers in doom, and that seems to suit them just fine. Panic, recorded by Matt Meli — with whom they’ve worked since that self-titled first record — and topped off with Samantha Muljat cover art that hints toward the sonic depths contained in the songs, their fourth full-length is aptly-titled Panic, self-released, and continues the progression that’s been a linear thread through their work all along.

As they’ve matured, Destroyer of Light — the returning four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca (also synth), guitarist Keegan Kjeldsen (also piano, harsh vocals, acoustic guitar), bassist Nick Coffman and drummer KellyPenny” Turner — have unfurled an increasingly melodic approach, and if their intent in Panic is to encapsulate some measure of the pandemic-born anxiety of the last several years since the release of 2019’s third record, Mors Aeterna (review here), then the tension of not only the title but songs like “Contagion,” the highlight centerpiece “Before You Die” and the concluding “Nightmares Come True” do so with a surety born of a group who know their craft. This comes through regardless of the turns any of the individual seven inclusions is making at a given stretch, as the band draw together varied material that hits all its marks stylistically while maintaining an overarching flow that feels like classic doom despite a more modern style. That is to say, at a tightly-packed 38 minutes, Panic is more methodical, more thought-out and more carefully put together than the title might lead one to believe.

Alongside the opening distorted strums of “Darkshimmer” at the album’s outset is, almost inevitably, an echoing air raid siren. It almost gets buried by the ensuing things-are-about-to-get-lurchy feedback, but it’s there, and by the time what becomes the central riff of the song starts just before a minute into its total 7:14 — opener and longest track (immediate points) — the atmosphere is set. Tonal largesse, rolling groove, a layer of lead guitar all seem to welcome the listener into the unfolding terrain as the chug of the verse emerges, and “Darkshimmer” becomes the first installment of a side-A-spanning trilogy marked by Kjeldsen joining Colca on vocals, adding deathly growls and rasp to the clean-sung verses and hooks. This takes place on “Darkshimmer” and “Contagion,” with side A rounded out by “The Midnight Sun,” and that feels as purposeful as it obviously is.

“Darkshimmer” teases a false ending before picking up in its last minute, and beginning with piano playing its chorus progression, “Contagion” — which Colca maintains was written before covid and follows not the only sci-fi narrative lyrically — is a standout hook for Panic as a whole; Colca‘s self-harmonies among the band’s catchiest. That it too gives over to a more brutal approach, specifically toward the end, brings a cast of sludge to the proceedings, and that fits Destroyer of Light well. I’m not sure I’d give up the penchant for melody that’s taken hold in their sound gradually over the last 10 years and especially over the last six or so, but in adding to the existential weight that carries across Panic, those flashes of brutality only give more breadth to this material and thus only make it stronger, allowing for the fluid transition to cleans-only as “The Midnight Sun” arrives with a sample and lays out a speedier push at first and an especially spacious solo later on — the plodding bass and drums in that back half deserve specific mention; you feel that slog — emblematic of the focus on side B to come.

desstroyer of light

Both halves of Panic — the first with three songs, the second with four shorter on average — organize themselves going from their longest to shortest tracks. That’s a two-second difference as the aforementioned “Before You Die” (5:24) gives over to “Cold Air I” (5:22), but true nonetheless. More crucial perhaps is the abiding mournfulness of the guitar that begins “Before You Die” and the lumbering that ensues, vocals soaring upward from the deeper places in the mix, an emotive doom metal that has become Destroyer of Light‘s own over time blossoming in misery. “Cold Air I” rolls out in more active fashion but holds firm to the heft, and expands the arrangement of backing vocals in the chorus, an example of the band trying new ideas and a theme that will continue into the acoustic-led “Cold Air II.”

Certainly they’ve had quieter stretches on records before — 2017’s Chamber of Horrors (review here) had atmospheric intros to its two sides, etc. — but “Cold Air II” is distinguished in its form and embraces the pairing of acoustics and synth in a way that feels legitimately new from them. What’s more, there are vocals, and amid the vague impressions from “Planet Caravan” as they explore that contemplative guitar line before the keyboard sweeps in to lead the way instrumentally through the last two-plus minutes, there’s a sense of completion that is resonant and no less immersive than was the rawer heaviness of “Darkshimmer” or “Contagion.” At four and a half minutes and directly fed into by the ending of “Cold Air I,” as one might expect, “Cold Air II” lays claim to new ground with an unquestionable confidence.

It’s not the first flash of Candlemassian vibe on Panic, but “Nightmares Come True” feels particularly drawn from that classic, epic doom mindset. No complaints. It’s a deceptively quick undulating riff in the verse, opening in the chorus, and it re-grounds the album at the finish after “Cold Air II,” summarizing the reach of side B with a return of the thud and straightforward take that marked side A. That’s a lot to ask of a four-minute song, but Destroyer of Light cap by emphasizing urgency, and so recapture some of that initial tension. They remain pervasively grim in perspective, and familiar comparisons to the likes of Pallbearer persist — because, well, when you’re this sad and this heavy, someone’s gonna make that connection — but this comes even as they offer some of their most gleaming melodicism, and as they have all along, they refuse to stagnate creatively, each of Panic‘s well-defined halves marked by elements that increase their range on the whole. One would expect or hope for nothing so much as for them to continue to flourish as they do here.

Destroyer of Light, Panic (2022)

Destroyer of Light on Facebook

Destroyer of Light on Instagram

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

Heavy Friends Records on Facebook

Heavy Friends Records on Instagram

Heavy Friends Records store

Tags: , , , , ,

Destroyer of Light Announce Tour Dates; Panic Due Nov. 11

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Destroyer of Light

When Destroyer of Light are done — and hopefully that’s not for a long time and many more riffs from now — there’s gonna be a whole lot of people who will be sorry they never got to see them in-person, and there’s going to be a whole lot of people who will be really glad they did. Now, I’ve been on both ends of that equation, and I firmly believe the former is a bummer and the latter is the stuff of glorious revelry, but you can go ahead and figure out which said of this particular fence you want to be on. Me, I’m glad as hell to have seen this band. I wouldn’t mind doing so again at some point.

The band’s new album, Panic, will be released on Nov. 11, and they’ve got the single “Contagion” streaming now, putting the sorrowful chug of Pallbearer to their own apocalyptic and atmospheric use. It hasn’t been that long in actual-time since their Spring 2019 LP, Mors Aeterna (review here), even if it seems like it, but it seems their sound is particularly suited to uncertain times, and one need not look far to apply the metaphor to “Contagion,” even as guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca informs it was written before covid happened.

They’ll be out doing shows when the album is issued, playing in Dallas that night. I would expect more dates to follow as well, but here’s these in the meantime, from social media with a quote from Colca about “Contagion” hoisted off the PR wire:

Destroyer of Light tour

To celebrate the release of Panic in November, we have some shows lined up. Mark it in your calendar and come hang with us. Artwork by Samantha Muljat.

Nov. 3rd – Lafayette LA @ Freetown Boom Boom Room
Nov. 4th – Bryan TX @ The 101
Nov. 5th – Austin TX @ Kickbutt Coffee

Nov. 9th – Tulsa OK @ Whittier Bar
Nov. 10th – Fayetteville AR @ Nomad’s
Nov. 11th – Dallas TX @ Cheapsteaks
Nov. 12th – San Antonio TX @ Faust

“Thematically, the ‘PANIC’ album deals with natural disasters and people losing their minds as a result,” Steve Colca tells us. “They become selfish in panicked situations. This song, ‘Contagion,’ is about a virus that is causing people to go crazy and turn on each other. End-of-the-world type paranoia and chaos-type mania. Ironically, I wrote this song — the music and lyrics — prior to the pandemic. There’s some moments of calm in the song, but ultimately it becomes heavingly heavy.”

Destroyer of Light on ‘Panic’:
Steve Colca – vocals, guitars, and synth
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitars, Acoustic, Piano, Backing screams and vocals on Darkshimmer, Contagion, and The Midnight Sun.

Destroyer of Light:
Steve Colca – Vocals/Guitars
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitars
Nick Coffman – Bass
Kelly Turner – Drums



Destroyer of Light, Panic (2022)

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Steve Colca of Destroyer of Light

Posted in Questionnaire on September 2nd, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Steve Colca of Destroyer of Light

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: Steve Colca of Destroyer of Light

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

I write and play guitar and do vocals in various projects including Destroyer of Light and Temple of Love, as well play guitar in Lady Strange (High n’ Dry Def Leppard only). Ever since I started my first band at 15, music has been a passion for me. I played rhythm guitar in my first few bands from 15-23, and then I started a 3 piece sludge band that I originally wanted a separate vocalist for, but then I said screw it, and started throat scream/singing in a Matt Pike/Scott Kelly mix from 23-29. From 26-29, I fronted a melodic death metal band as well with growls and high pitch screams.

When I moved to Texas and started Destroyer of Light in 2012, I wanted a frontwoman and to combine melodic doom vocals and death metal growls, but once I again, I said screw it and decided to do it on my own. Becoming a vocalist has been an incredible journey for the last 16 years, and I am glad that I took on the challenge. With the new Destroyer of Light stuff, I feel like I have gotten to the point I’ve wanted to since I first started the band. With the guitar and singing, it is continuous learning curve and growth, and that’s why I love and still do it at 39 years old and have no intention to slow down.

Describe your first musical memory.

Two of the greatest memories from my first band were Brent Oberlin from Thought Industry booking our band at Harvey’s in Kalamazoo, MI, and he actually took somewhat of a “liking” to us, and helped us with shows from time to time. Also, the first time that I got to play Club Soda in Kalamazoo, which was a legendary club for all of us. As a teenage kid, that was a big deal.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

So many to choose from. We’ve gotten to share the stage with some legends that I grew up listening to that I never thought I would. One recent memory is our first post pandemic local show on the Mohawk outdoor stage on 4th of July weekend. A bunch of local homies: Abject Terror, Greenbeard, and Eagle Claw. It was a packed crowd and the energy was electric. You could just feel the happiness of everyone being at a live show again from the bands to the crowd. That’ll be one for the books.

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

A few times. However, I would say that 2016 was a weird year. I contemplated quitting Destroyer of Light. Music wasn’t fun for me and started losing my passion for it, which music has always been my cathartic release. I’ve battled depression and anxiety from my teenage years to adulthood, and music has always been my constant. There’s been times I’ve strayed from it and I go down a dark path. With that said though, as a result, we wrote, recorded, and released the Hopeless EP, which is a very honest record about depression and sadness. Every time I listen to it, it’s pretty powerful… and glad that I stuck around because I feel we are writing our best stuff now.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

It leads to personal and musical growth. The last few years, I’ve been expanding my musical influences in all my songwriting. If you keep doing the same thing, it gets boring and repetitive. So, you have to mix it up. Sometimes play with new musicians, start new projects, and if your main band stays together long enough, expand and explore with your sound. During the pandemic, Destroyer of Light wrote and recorded two new records and we kind of let loose. You got new wave, ’90s grunge, melodic doom, heavy rock…

These records were really fun to write because we just let it flow. Can’t wait for people to hear it.

How do you define success?

Success comes in many forms. I’m 39 years old, I still get to play guitar through loud amps, play shows with other awesome bands, and go on tour. I get to create and record music in some cool places with my musical friends and go through that process. I will also say this too, when a fan comes up to me and tells me that our music has gotten them through some dark times, or our music uplifts them when they are in a dark place, that means something to me because I’ve been there and that is why I write music and play because other bands’ music did that for me. So, that is success to me.

Would I like to play big arenas, play in front of sold out crowds, make big money, and drive in a limousine with a pool drinking gin? Hell yes I would, but you know, I don’t need that to feel successful in the arts, that’s just an extra bonus if that ever happens.

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

Most gas station bathrooms in small town USA

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

During the pandemic, I wrote a song that was in the vein of Sade. I would love to do something in the style of Sade or Steely Dan. One of these days, I will release a smooth jazz/funk album. That day will come if I live long enough.

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

Art should be defined on what you create and do in its purest form. The way you express yourself through your art and letting yourself be honest and open with the people experiencing your art, I find that to be the most important.

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

MLB Baseball playoffs, NFL football season, and Halloween. Best time of year.



Destroyer of Light, Generational Warfare EP (2020)

Tags: , , , , ,

RippleFest Texas 2022 Lineup Finalized

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Back for its second year and with a fourth day in tow, Ripplefest Texas 2022 confirms its full lineup, a total beast of legends and newcomers. Really, I don’t even know what to say here except that if you’re lucky enough to go, it’s probably the kind of thing you’re going to remember for a long gosh-darn time, and it’s the kind of lineup that serves as lording-over fodder on the part of those who were there to those who weren’t. Well, at least it would if the heavy underground weren’t too cool to each other for that kind of gatekeeping nonsense. In any case, this looks like a massive undertaking to put on, and the roster of assembled acts gets a hearty ‘fucking a’ from my corner of the universe.

Tickets for all four days will run you $150, but I feel like the festival earns that on both quality and quantity of product.

Here’s the announcement, info and links:

ripplefest texas 2022 final poster

RIPPLE FEST TEXAS – The Far Out Lounge – July 21-24

4-day passes available now!

RippleFest Texas 2022 is back and the lineup is as big and hot as Texas itself! 4 days of blistering hot music at Austin’s premier music venue The Far Out Lounge. There will be everything from crushing heavy riffs, to acoustic and banjo picking, to improvisation jam sessions and puppet shows! So many legends and great music that this will be a 4 day weekend you will not want to miss!


Eagles of Death Metal, The Sword, Crowbar, Mothership, Big Business, The Obsessed, Stöner, Spirit Adrift, The Heavy Eyes, Sasquatch, REZN, Fatso Jetson, Heavy Temple, J.D. Pinkus, Lord Buffalo, Lo-Pan, Wino, El Perro, Void Vator, Hippie Death Cult, Howling Giant, Doctor Smoke, Nick Oliveri, High Desert Queen, Destroyer of Light, Ape Machine, High Priestess, Dryheat, Rubber Snake Charmers, Sun Crow, Holy Death Trio, Bone Church, Horseburner, Spirit Mother, Thunder Horse, Mother Iron Horse, The Age of Truth, Salem’s Bend, Las Cruces, All Souls, Kind, Fostermother, The Absurd, Godeye, Ole English, Mr. Plow, Snake Mountain Revival, Blue Heron, Grail, Formula 400, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Eagle Claw, Bridge Farmers.

The Far Out Lounge is located at 8504 South Congress. Winner of Best New Venue at the Austin Music Awards 2020.



Lo-Pan, Live at the Grog Shop, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb 18, 2022

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