Daily Thompson Post “I’m Free Tonight” Video; Chuparosa Out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Dortmund heavy rockers Daily Thompson have posted a new video for “I’m Free Tonight,” the first single from their upcoming long-player, Chuparosa, which they traveled to the US Pacific Northwest to record this past December with Tony Reed of Mos Generator/Big Scenic Nowhere. As ever, they’re making it easy to get on board. The black and white performance clip gives the song a suitable late-night-MTV feel, footage of speeding through this or that desert included, and while I get more Fu Manchu than grunge out of the track at least for the first four of the total six minutes — whereas their Spring 2023 standalone single “Raindancer (From Outta Space)” seemed to go the full-Soundgarden — that’s definitely not something you’ll hear me whine about. That I haven’t heard the entire record yet, on the other hand…

You’ll note an actual Fu Manchu connection with “I’m Free Tonight” as well in the late-in-track guest appearance from guitarist Bob Balch — also bandmate to Reed in Big Scenic Nowhere — who seems only to happy to show up and lend some oomph to the back half, which brings a harder-landing bridge before turning back to the chorus as if to remind Daily Thompson are songwriters ahead of that culmination. I’ll say it again, they make it easy. Hook, groove, vibe. Whatever you’re chasing down, they’re here to help.

Right on:

daily thompson i'm free tonight

“Chuparosa”, the fourth DAILY THOMPSON album in four years on Noisolution, will be released on May 17th!!! The guys from Dortmund seem to have not only won our hearts and continue to go full throttle and grow with every release.

Listen to “I`m Free Tonight” here: https://noisolution.lnk.to/free

More information about the album, the tour, the next single and the strictly limited CLUB100 edition (which will once again be a very special goodie, Trust me!!!) coming soon.

“I’m Free Tonight” is the first herald of the upcoming album. But DAILY THOMPSON are not alone here, because Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Big Scenic Nowhere was in the studio and recorded the solo!!! The album was recorded and mastered in Port Orchard near Seattle by Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed. So it’s hardly surprising that “Chuparosa” smells of Seattle, of 90s alternative, grunge and lumberjack shirts.



Daily Thompson, “I’m Free Tonight” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Ben Plochowietz of Scorched Oak

Posted in Questionnaire on April 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Ben Plochowietz of Scorched Oak

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: Ben Plochowietz of Scorched Oak

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

I do music with two dear friends and have lots of fun giving people enjoying what we are doing a great time. It‘s entertainment, for me, for us and the fans. Also rehearsals are a great way to work off stress for me. Being at this point took me quite a while though. I’ve been in love with music for my whole life, especially rock and metal music but I wasn‘t interested in learning an instrument for a long time. I started as a death metal singer when I was 18. At the age of 21 or something like that I bought my first bass and I started playing guitar when I was 28 after a four year break from music. That‘s where it all started and shortly after that Scorched Oak was formed… so here we are :-)

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memory or experience is Bon Jovi I think. At least it was the first band I really liked and it was the first concert I attended in my life as a young boy at the age of ten.

Personally I think I’m quite lucky growing up in the 90s even though I was very young at this time. But I loved watching all the video clips on MTV from bands like Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and later stuff like Korn. I was the guy in school that you never saw without headphones and a couple of cds in his backpack.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I‘d say my best musical memory is writing, recording and publishing our first album Withering Earth. It‘s not just the first Scorched Oak record but also the first full length album I‘ve ever released. It was so much fun going through all the steps from writing to recording, talking to vinyl pressing plants and finally holding the finished product in your hands. Really intense journey so far.

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

A lot of things for me changed in 2015 when I was suffering from a disc prolapse in the cervical spine. Before this event I was like “you have to go to work and you have to earn a lot of money”.. but after experiencing how fast things can change because of your own health things were different. I couldn’t sleep longer than two hours and I was in constant pain 24 hours a day. It might sound a bit dramatic, but you never know how much time you have on this planet so you should make the best out of it and don’t overthink everything too much. I was lucky that everything turned out fine but who knows if it turns out so well a second time.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

It’s an endless journey. As well as people, their behavior, their point of view and beliefs change over time so does art. In music for example you want to experiment and try something new over time. We are writing our second album at the moment and sure we want to keep our style but we don’t want to copy ourselves over and over again. Who knows, maybe I prefer to play blues or classical music but that’s fine. It’s not good or bad, it’s just different.

How do you define success?

It’s quite hard for me to find success in anything. The moment I finish something I instantly start to think how I can do it better the next time… and most of the time I’m not proud or satisfied, I tend to find it just ok. It’s a really bad mindset which I try to give up…

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

I watched the documentary earthlings once.. and wow this was some really really horrible stuff I saw there. On one hand it was good to watch it but some of the images really got burnt in…

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

There are quite a lot of things. Speaking about music I would love to make an album with some 90s style rock like audioslave. Straight forward in your face with this particular 90s style and sound.

On the other hand I’m thinking about doing some solo stuff which I would want to be really dark folk / western style. You know like you have an acoustic guitar and the bass drum on one foot and on the other foot something like a tambourine.

There is so much stuff I’d love to do… just can’t bring up the time at the moment.

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

Art creates emotions. It can make people think, question things, question themselves, inspire, give joy or make you sad. This makes art so versatile and powerful.

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

Anticipation really isn’t my strongest trait but I love traveling, especially with my wife and we are planning to go to Japan for a couple of weeks soon. Traveling is definitely my most favorite thing that is not music related.


Scorched Oak, Withering Earth (2020)

Tags: , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Boris, Mother Bear, Sonja, Reverend Mother, Umbilicus, After Nations, Holy Dragon, Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships, Deer Creek, Riffcoven

Posted in Reviews on September 26th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Welcome back to the Fall 2022 Quarterly Review. It’s not quite the same as the Mountain of Madness, but there are definitely days where it feels like they’re pretty closely related. Just the same, we, you and I, persist through like digging a tunnel sans dynamite, and I hope you had a great and safe weekend (also sans dynamite) and that you find something in this batch of releases that you truly enjoy. Not really much point to the thing otherwise, I guess, though it does tend to clear some folders off the desktop. Like, 100 of them in this case. That in itself isn’t nothing.

Time’s a wastin’. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Boris, Heavy Rocks

Boris Heavy Rocks (2022)

One can’t help but wonder if Boris aren’t making some kind of comment on the franchise-ification of what sometimes feels like every damn thing by releasing a third Heavy Rocks album, as though perhaps it’s become their brand label for this particular kind of raucousness, much as their logo in capital letters or lowercase used to let you know what kind of noise you were getting. Either way, in 10 tracks and 41 minutes that mostly leave scorch marks when they’re done — they space out a bit on “Question 1” but elsewhere in the song pull from black metal and layer in lead guitar triumph — and along the way give plenty more thick toned, sometimes-sax-inclusive on-brand chicanery to dive into. “She is Burning,” “Cramper” and “My Name is Blank” are rippers before the willfully noisy relative slowdown “Blah Blah Blah,” and Japanese heavy institution are at their most Melvinsian with the experiment “Nosferatou,” ahead of the party metal “Ruins” and semi-industrial blowout “Ghostly Imagination,” the would-be-airy-were-it-not-crushing “Chained” and the concluding “(Not) Last Song,” which feeds the central query above in asking if there’s another sequel coming, piano, feedback, and finally, vocals ending what’s been colloquially dubbed Heavy Rocks (2022) with an end-credits scene like something truly Marvelized. Could be worse if that’s the way it’s going. People tend to treat each Boris album as a landmark. I’m not sure this one is, but sometimes that’s part of what happens with sequels too.

Boris on Facebook

Relapse Records store


Mother Bear, Zamonian Occultism

Mother Bear Zamonian Occultism

Along with the depth of tone and general breadth of the mix, one of the aspects most enjoyable about Mother Bear‘s debut album, Zamonian Occultism, is how it seems to refuse to commit to one side or the other. They call themselves doom and maybe they are in movements here like the title-track, but the mostly-instrumental six-track/41-minute long-player — which opens and closes with lyrics and has “Sultan Abu” in the middle for a kind of human-voice trailmarker along the way — draws more from heavy psychedelia and languid groove on “Anagrom Ataf,” and if “Blue Bears and Silver Spliffs” isn’t stoner riffed, nothing ever has been. At the same time, the penultimate title-track slows way down, pulls the curtains closed, and offers a more massive nod, and the 10-minute closer “The Wizaaard” (just when you thought there were no more ways to spell it) answers that sense of foreboding in its own declining groove and echo-laced verses, but puts the fuzz at the forefront of the mix, letting the listener decide ultimately where they’re at. Tell you where I am at least: On board. Guitarist/vocalist Jonas Wenz, bassist Kevin Krenczer and drummer Florian Grass lock in hypnotic groove early and use it to tie together almost everything they do here, and while they’re obviously schooled in the styles they’re touching on, they present with an individual intent and leave room to grow. Will look forward to more.

Mother Bear on Facebook

Mother Bear on Bandcamp


Sonja, Loud Arriver

sonja loud arriver

After being kicked out of black metallers Absu for coming out as trans, Melissa Moore founded Sonja in Philadelphia with Grzesiek Czapla on drums and Ben Brand on bass, digging into a ‘true metal’ aesthetic with ferocity enough that Loud Arriver is probably the best thing they could’ve called their first record. Issued through Cruz Del Sur — so you know their ’80s-ism is class — the 37-minute eight-tracker vibes nighttime and draws on Moore‘s experience thematically, or so the narrative has it (I haven’t seen a lyric sheet), with energetic shove in “Nylon Nights” and “Daughter of the Morning Star,” growing duly melancholy in “Wanting Me Dead” before finding its victorious moment in the closing title-track. Cuts like “Pink Fog,” “Fuck, Then Die” and opener “When the Candle Burns Low…” feel specifically born of a blend of 1979-ish NWOBHM, but there’s a current of rock and roll here as well in the penultimate “Moans From the Chapel,” a sub-three-minute shove that’s classic in theme as much as riff and the most concise but by no means the only epic here. Hard not to read in catharsis on the part of Moore given how the band reportedly came about, but Loud Arriver serves notice one way or the other of a significant presence in the underground’s new heavy metal surge. Sonja have no time to waste. There are asses to kick.

Sonja on Facebook

Cruz Del Sur Music store


Reverend Mother, Damned Blessing

Reverend Mother Damned Blessing

Seven-minute opener ends in a War of the Worlds-style radio announcement of an alien invasion underway after the initial fuzzed rollout of the song fades, and between that and the subsequent interlude “Funeral March,” Reverend Mother‘s intent on Damned Blessing seems to be to throw off expectation. The Brooklynite outfit led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jackie Green (also violin) find even footing on rockers like “Locomotive” or the driving-until-it-hits-that-slowdown-wall-and-hey-cool-layering “Reverend Mother,” and the strings on the instrumental “L.V.B.,” which boasts a cello guest spot by High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple, who also returns on the closing Britney Spears cover “Toxic,” a riffed-up bent that demonstrates once again the universal applicability of pop as Reverend Mother tuck it away after the eight-minute “The Masochist Tie,” a sneering roll and chugger that finds the trio of Green, bassist Matt Cincotta and drummer Gabe Katz wholly dug into heavy rock tropes while nonetheless sounding refreshing in their craft. That song and “Shame” before it encapsulate the veer-into-doom-ness of Reverend Mother‘s hard-deliver’d fuzz, but Damned Blessing comes across like the beginning of a new exploration of style as only a next-generation-up take can and heralds change to come. I would not expect their second record to sound the same, but it will be one to watch for. So is this.

Reverend Mother on Instagram

Seeing Red Records store


Umbilicus, Path of 1000 Suns

Umbilicus Path of 1000 Suns

The pedigree here is notable as Umbilicus features founding Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and guitarist/engineer Taylor Nordberg (also visuals), who’s played with Deicide, The Absence and a host of others, but with the soar-prone vocals of Brian Stephenson out front and the warm tonality of bassist Vernon Blake, Umbilicus‘ 10-song/45-minute first full-length, Path of 1000 Suns is a willful deep-dive into modernly-produced-and-presented ’70s-style heavy rock. Largely straightforward in structure, there’s room for proto-metallurgy on “Gates of Neptune” after the swinging “Umbilicus,” and the later melodic highlight “My Own Tide” throws a pure stoner riff into its second half, while the concluding “Gathering at the Kuiper Belt” hints at more progressive underpinnings, it still struts and the swing there is no less defining than in the solo section of “Stump Sponge” back on side A. Hooks abound, and I suppose in some of the drum fills, if you know what you’re listening for, you can hear shades of more extreme aural ideologies, but the prevailing spirit is born of an obvious love of classic heavy rock and roll, and Umbilicus play it with due heart and swagger. Not revolutionary, and actively not trying to be, but definitely the good time it promises.

Umbilicus on Facebook

Listenable Insanity Records on Facebook


After Nations, The Endless Mountain

After Nations The Endless Mountain

Not as frenetic as some out there of a similar technically-proficient ilk, Lawrence, Kansas, double-guitar instrumental four-piece After Nations feel as much jazz on “Féin” or “Cae” as they do progressive metal, djent, experimental, or any other tag with which one might want to saddle the resoundingly complex Buddhism-based concept album, The Endless Mountain — the Bandcamp page for which features something of a recommended reading list as well as background on the themes reportedly being explored in the material — which is fluid in composition and finds each of its seven more substantial inclusions accompanied by a transitional interlude that might be a drone, near-silence, a foreboding line of keys, whathaveyou. The later “Širdis” — penultimate to the suitably enlightened “Jūra,” if one doesn’t count the interlude between (not saying you shouldn’t) — is more of a direct linear build, but the 40-minute entirety of The Endless Mountain feels like a steep cerebral climb. Not everyone is going to be up for making it, frankly, but in “}}}” and its punctuationally-named companions there’s some respite from the head-spinning turns that surround, and that furthers both the dynamic at play overall and the accessibility of the songs. Whatever else it might be, it’s immaculately produced and every single second, from “Mons” and “Aon” to “))” and “(),” feels purposeful.

After Nations on Facebook

After Nations on Bandcamp


Holy Dragon, Mordjylland

Holy Dragon Mordjylland

With the over-the-top Danzig-ian vocals coming through high in the mix, the drums sounding intentionally blown out and the fuzz of bass and guitar arriving in tidal riffs, Denmark’s Holy Dragon for sure seem to be shooting for memorability on their second album, Mordjylland. “Hell and Gold” pulls back somewhat from the in-your-face immediacy of opener “Bong” — and yet it’s faster; go figure — and the especially brash “War” is likewise timely and dug in. Centerpiece “Nightwatch” feels especially yarling with its more open riff and far-back echoing drums — those drums are heavy in tone in a way most are not, and it is appreciated — and gives over to the Judas Priestly riff of “Dunder,” which sounds like it’s being swallowed by the bass even as the concluding solo slices through. They cap with “Egypt” in classic-metal, minor-key-sounds-Middle-Eastern fashion, but they’re never far from the burly heft with which they started, and even the mellower finish of “Travel to Kill” feels drawn from it. The album’s title is a play on ‘Nordjylland’ — the region of Denmark where they’re from — and if they’re saying it’s dead, then their efforts to shake it back to life are palpable in these seven songs, even if the end front-to-back result of the album is going to be hit or miss with most listeners. Still, they are markedly individual, and the fact that you could pick them out of the crowd of Europe’s e’er-packed heavy underground is admirable in itself.

Holy Dragon on Instagram

Holy Dragon on Bandcamp


Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships, Consensus Trance

Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships Consensus Trance

Lincoln, Nebraska, trio Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships are right there. Right on the edge. You can hear it in the way “Beg Your Pardon” unfolds its lumbering tonality, riff-riding vocals and fervency of groove at the outset of their second album, Consensus Trance. They’re figuring it out. And they’re working quickly. Their first record, 2021’s TTBS, and the subsequent Rosalee EP (review here) were strong signals of intention on the part of guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Warner, bassist Karlin Warner and drummer Justin Kamal, and there is realization to be had throughout Consensus Trance in the noisy lead of “Mystical Consumer,” the quiet instrumental “Distalgia for Infinity” and the mostly-huge-chugged 11-minute highlight “Weeping Beast” to which it leads. But they’re also still developing their craft, as opener “Beg Your Pardon” demonstrates amid one of the record’s most vibrant hooks, and exploring spaciousness like that in the back half of the penultimate “Silo,” and the sense that emerges from that kind of reach and the YOB-ish ending of capper “I.H.” is that there’s more story to be told as to what Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships have to offer in style and substance. So much the better since Consensus Trance has such superlative heft at its foundation.

Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships on Facebook

Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships on Bandcamp


Deer Creek, Menticide

Deer Creek Menticide

Kind of funny to think of Menticide as a debut LP from Deer Creek, who’ve been around for 20 years — one fondly recalls their mid-aughts splits with Church of Misery and Raw Radar War — but one might consider that emblematic of the punk underpinning the sludgy heavy roll of “(It Had Neither Fins Nor Wings) Nor Did it Writhe,” along with the attitude of fuckall that joins hands with resoundingly dense tonality to create the atmosphere of the five originals and the cover medley closer “The Working Man is a Dead Pig,” which draws on Rush, Bauhaus and Black Sabbath classics as a sort of partially explanatory appendix to the tracks preceding. Of those, the impression left is duly craterous, and Deer Creek, with Paul Vismara‘s mostly-clean vocals riding a succession of his own monolithic riffs, a bit of march thrown into “The Utter Absence of Hope” amid the breath of tone from his and Conan Hultgren‘s guitars and Stephanie Hopper‘s bass atop the drumming of Marc Brooks. One is somewhat curious as to what drives a band after two full-length-less decades to make a definitive first album — at least beyond “hey a lot of things have changed in the last couple years” anyhow — but the results here are inarguable in their weight and the spaces they create and fill, with disaffection and onward and outward-looking angst as much as volume. That is to say, as much as Menticide nods, it’s more unsettling the more attention you actually pay to what’s going on. But if you wanted to space out instead, I doubt they’d hold it any more against you than was going to happen anyway. Band who owes nothing to anyone overdelivers. There.

Deer Creek on Facebook

Deer Creek on Bandcamp


Riffcoven, Never Sleep at Night

Riffcoven Never Sleep at Night

Following the mid-’90s C.O.C. tone and semi-Electric Wizard shouts of “Black Lotus Trance,” “Detroit Demons” calls out Stooges references while burl-riffing around Pantera‘s “I’m Broken,” and “Loose” manifests sleaze to coincide with the exploitation of the Never Sleep at Night EP’s cover art. All of this results in zero-doubt assurance that the Brazilian trio have their bona fides in place when it comes to dudely riffs and an at least partially metal approach; stylistically-speaking, it’s like metal dudes got too drunk to remember what they were angry at and decided to have a party instead. I don’t have much encouraging to say at this juncture about the use of vintage porn as a likely cheap cover option, but no one seems to give a shit about moving past that kind of misogyny, and I guess as regards gender-based discrimination and playing to the male gaze and so on, it’s small stakes. I bet they get signed off the EP anyway, so what’s the point? The point I guess is that the broad universe of those who’d build altars to riffs, Riffcoven are at very least up front with what they’re about and who their target audience is.

Riffcoven on Facebook

Riffcoven on Bandcamp


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

Quarterly Review: Fu Manchu, Valborg, Sons of Arrakis, Voidward, Indus Valley Kings, Randy Holden, The Gray Goo, Acid Rooster, BongBongBeerWizards, Mosara

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Day two of the Fall 2022 Quarterly Review brings a fresh batch of 10 releases en route to the total 100 by next Friday. Some of this is brand new, some of it is older, some of it is doom, some is rock, some is BongBongBeerWizards, and so on. Sometimes these things get weird, and I guess that’s where it’s at for me these days, but you’re going to find plenty of ground to latch onto despite that. Wherever you end up, I hope you’re digging this so far half as much as I am. Much love as always as we dive back in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 2

Fu Manchu Fu 30 part 2

Like everyone’s everything in the era, Fu Manchu‘s 30th anniversary celebration didn’t go as planned, but with their Fu30 Pt. 2 three-songer, they give 2020’s Fu30 Pt. 1 EP (posted here) the sequel its title implied and present two originals and one cover in keeping with that prior release’s format. Tracked in 2021, “Strange Plan” and the start-stop-riffed “Low Road” are quintessential works of Fu fuzz, so SoCal they’re practically in Baja, and bolstered by the kinds of grooves that have held the band in good stead with listeners throughout these three-plus decades. “Strange Plan” is more aggressive in its shove, but perhaps not so confrontational as the cover of Surf Punks‘ 1980 B-side “My Wave,” a quaint bit of surferly gatekeeping with the lines, “Go back to the Valley/And don’t come back,” in its chorus. As they will with their covers, the four-piece from San Clemente bring the song into their own sound rather than chase down trying to sound like Reagan-era punk, and that too is a method well proven on the part of the band. If you ever believed heavy rock and roll could be classic, Fu Manchu are that, and for experienced heads who’ve heard them through the years as they’ve tried different production styles, Fu30 Pt. 2 finds an effective middle ground between impact and mellow groove.

Fu Manchu on Facebook

At the Dojo Records website


Valborg, Der Alte

Valborg Der Alte

Not so much a pendulum as a giant slaughterhouse blade swinging from one side to the other like some kind of horrific grandfather clock, Valborg pull out all the industrial/keyboard elements from their sound and strip down their songwriting about as far as it will go on Der Alte, the 13-track follow-up to 2019’s Zentrum (review here) and their eighth album overall since 2009. Accordingly, the bone-cruncher pummel in cuts like “Kommando aus der Zukunft” and the shout-punky centerpiece “Hektor” is furious and raw. I’m not going to say I hope they never bring back the other aspects of their sound, but it’s hard not to appreciate the directness of the approach on Der Alte, on which only the title-track crosses the four-minute mark in runtime (it has a 30 second intro; such self-indulgence!), and their sound is still resoundingly their own in tone and the throaty harsh vocals on “Saturn Eros Xenomorph” and “Hoehle Hoelle” and the rest across the album’s intense, largely-furious-but-still-not-lacking-atmosphere span. If it was another band, you might call it death metal. As it stands, Der Alte is just Valborg, distilled to their purest and meanest form.

Valborg on Facebook

Prophecy Productions webstore


Sons of Arrakis, Volume I

Sons of Arrakis Volume I

2022 is probably a good year to put out a record based around Frank Herbert’s Dune universe (the Duniverse?), what with the gargantuan feature film last year and another one coming at some point as blah blah franchise everything, but Montreal four-piece Sons of Arrakis have had at least some of the songs on Volume I in the works for the better part of four years, guitarists Frédéric Couture (also vocals) and Francis Duchesne (also keys) handling recording for the eight-song/30-minute outing with Vick Trigger on bass and Eliot Landry on drums locking in tight grooves pushing all that sci-fi and fuzz along at a pace that one only wishes the movie had shared. I’ve never read Dune, which is only relevant information here because Volume I doesn’t leave me feeling out of the loop as “Temple of the Desert” locks in quintessential stoner rock janga-janga shuffle and “Lonesome Preacher” culminates in twisty fuzz that should well please fans of Valley of the Sun before bleeding directly and smoothly into the melodic highlight “Abomination” in a way that, to me at least, bodes better for their longer term potential than whatever happenstance novelty of subject matter surrounds. There’s plenty of Dune out there if they want to stick to the theme, but songwriting like this could be about brushing your teeth and it’d still work.

Sons of Arrakis on Facebook

Sons of Arrakis on Instagram


Voidward, Voidward

voidward voidward

Voidward‘s self-titled full-length debut lands some nine years after the Durham, North Carolina, trio’s 2013 Knives EP, and accordingly features nearly a decade’s worth of difference in sound, casting off longer-form post-black metal duggery in favor of more riff-based explorations. Still at least partially metallic in its roots, as opener “Apologize” makes plain and the immediate nodder roll of “Wolves” backs up, the eight-song/47-minute outing is distinguished by the clean, floating vocal approach of guitarist Greg Sheriff, who almost reminds of Dave Heumann from Arbouretum, though no doubt other listeners will hear other influences, and yes that’s a compliment. Joined by bassist/backing vocalist Alec Ferrell — harmonies persist on “Wolves” and elsewhere — and drummer Noah Kessler, Sheriff brings just a hint of char to the tone of “Oblivion,” but the blend of classic heavy rock and metal throughout points Voidward to someplace semi-psychedelic but nonetheless richly ambient, and even the most straightforward inclusion, arguably “Chemicals” though closer “Cobalt” has plenty of punch as well, is rich in its execution. They even thrash a bit on “Horses,” so as long as it’s not another nine years before they do anything else, they sound like they can go wherever they want. Rare for a debut.

Voidward on Facebook

Clearly Records on Bandcamp


Indus Valley Kings, Origin

Indus Valley Kings Origin

The second long-player from Long Island, New York’s Indus Valley Kings, Origin brings together nine songs across an expansive 55 minutes, and sees the trio working from a relatively straightforward heavy rock foundation toward more complex purposes, whether that’s the spacious guitar stretch-out of “A Cold Wind” or the tell-tale chug in the second half of centerpiece “Dark Side of the Sun.” They effectively shift back and forth between lengthier guitar-led jams and more straight-up verses and choruses, but structure is never left too far behind to pick up again as need be, and the confidence behind their play comes through amid a relatively barebones production style, the rush of the penultimate “Drowned” providing a later surge in answer to the more breadth-minded unfurling of “Demon Beast” and the bluesy “Mohenjo Daro.” So maybe they’re not actually from the Indus Valley. Fine. I’ll take the Ripple-esque have-riffs-have-shred-ready-to-roll “Hell to Pay” wherever it’s coming from, and the swing of the earlier “…And the Dead Shall Rise” doesn’t so much dogwhistle its penchant for classic heavy as serve it to the listener on a platter. If we’re picking favorites, I might take “A Cold Wind,” but there’s plenty to dig on one way or the other, and Origin issues invitations early and often for listeners to get on board.

Indus Valley Kings on Facebook

Indus Valley Kings on Bandcamp


Randy Holden, Population III

randy holden population iii

Clearly whoever said there were no second chances in rock and roll just hadn’t lived long enough. After reissuing one-upon-a-time Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden‘s largely-lost classic Population II (discussed here) for its 50th anniversary in 2020, RidingEasy Records offers Holden‘s sequel in Population III. And is it the work for which Holden will be remembered? No. But it is six songs and 57 minutes of Holden‘s craft, guitar playing, vocals and groove, and, well, that feels like something worth treasuring. Holden was in his 60s when he and Randy Pratt (also of Cactus) began to put together Population III, and for the 21-minute “Land of the Sun” alone, the album’s release a decade later is more than welcome both from an archival standpoint and in the actual listening experience, and as “Swamp Stomp” reminds how much of the ‘Comedown Era’s birth of heavy rock was born of blues influence, “Money’s Talkin'” tears into its solo with a genuine sense of catharsis. Holden may never get his due among the various ‘guitar gods’ of lore, but if Population III exposes more ears to his work and legacy, so much the better.

Randy Holden on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


The Gray Goo, 1943

The Gray Goo 1943

Gleefully oddball Montana three-piece The Gray Goo remind my East Coast ears a bit of one-time Brooklynites Eggnogg for their ability to bring together funk and heavy/sometimes-psychedelic rock, but that’s not by any means the extent of what they offer with their debut album, 1943, which given the level of shenanigans in 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Bicycle Day” alone, I’m going to guess is named after the NES game. In any case, from “Bicycle Day” on down through the closing “Cop Punk,” the pandemic-born outfit find escape in right-right-right-on nods and bass tone, partially stonerized but casting off expectation with an aplomb that manifests in the maybe-throwing-an-elbow noise of “Problem Child,” and the somehow-sleek rehearsal-space funk of “Launch” and “The Comedown,” which arrives ahead of “Shakes and Spins” — a love song, of sorts, with fluid tempo changes and a Primus influence buried in there somewhere — and pulls itself out of the ultra-’90s jam just in time for a last plodding hook. Wrapping with the 1:31 noise interlude “Goo” and the aforementioned “Cop Punk,” which gets the prize lyrically even with the competition surrounding, 1943 is going right on my list of 2022’s best debut albums with a hope for more mischief to come.

The Gray Goo on Facebook

The Gray Goo on Bandcamp


Acid Rooster, Ad Astra

acid rooster ad astra

Oh, sweet serenity. Maybe if we all had been in that German garden on the day in summer 2020 when Acid Rooster reportedly performed the two extended jams that comprise Ad Astra — “Zu den Sternen” (22:28) and “Phasenschieber” (23:12) — at least some of us might’ve gotten the message and the assurance so desperately needed at the time that things were going to be okay. And that would’ve been nice even if not necessarily the truth. But as it stands, Ad Astra documents that secret outdoor showcase on the part of the band, unfolding with improvised grace across its longform pieces, hopeful in spirit and plenty loud by the time they get there but never fully departing from a hopeful sensibility, some vague notion of a better day to come. Even in the wholesale drone immersion of “Phasenschieber,” with the drums of “Zu den Sternen” seemingly disappeared into that lush ether, I want to close my eyes and be in that place and time, to have lived this moment. Impossible, right? Couldn’t have happened. And yet some were there, or so I’m told. The rest of us have the LP, and that’s not nothing considering how evocative this music is, but the sheer aural therapy of that moment must have been a powerful experience indeed. Hard not to feel lucky even getting a glimpse.

Acid Rooster on Facebook

Sunhair Music store

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store


BongBongBeerWizards, Ampire

BongBongBeerWizards Ampire

A sophomore full-length from the Dortmund trio of guitarist/synthesist Bong Travolta, bassist/vocalist Reib Asnah and (introducing) drummer/vocalist Chill Collins — collectively operating as BongBongBeerWizardsAmpire is a call to worship for Weed and Loud alike, made up of three tracks arranged longest to shortest (immediate points) and lit by sacred rumble of spacious stoner doom. Plod as god. Tonal tectonics. This is not about innovation, but celebrating noise and lumber for the catharsis they can be when so summoned. Willfully repetitive, primitive and uncooperative, there’s some debt of mindset to the likes of Poland’s Belzebong or the largesse of half-speed Slomatics/Conan/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, but again, if you come into the 23-minute leadoff “Choirs and Masses” expecting genre-shaping originality, you’ve already fucked up. Get crushed instead. Put it on loud and be consumed. It won’t work for everybody, but it’s not supposed to. But if you’re the sort of head crusty enough to appreciate the synth-laced hypnotic finish of “Unison” or the destructive mastery of “Slumber,” you’re gonna shit a brick when the riffs come around. They’re not the only church in town, but it’s just the right kind of fun for melting your brains with volume.

BongBongBeerWizards on Facebook

BongBongBeerWizards on Bandcamp


Mosara, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Mosara Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Any way you want to cut it with Mosara‘s second album, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets, the root word you’re looking for is “heavy.” You’d say, “Oh, well ‘Magissa’ has elements of early-to-mid-aughts sludge and doom at work with a raw presentation in its cymbal splash and shouted vocals.” Or you’d say, “‘The Permanence of Isolation’ arrives at a chugging resolution after a deceptively intricate intro,” or “the acoustic beginning of ‘Zion’s Eyes’ leads to a massive, engaging nod that shows thoughtfulness of construction in its later intertwining of lead guitar lines.” Or that the closing title-track flips the structure to end quiet after an especially tortured stretch of nonetheless-ambient sludge. All that’s true, but you know what it rounds out to when you take away the blah blah blah? It’s fucking heavy. Whatever angle you’re approaching from — mood, tone, songwriting, performance — it’s fucking heavy. Sometimes there’s just no other way, no better way, to say it. Mosara‘s 2021 self-titled debut (review here) was too. It’s just how it is. I bet their next one will be as well, or at very least I hope so. If you’re old enough to recall Twingiant, there’s members of that band here, but even if not, what you need to know is that Only the Dead Know Our Secrets is fucking heavy. So there.

Mosara on Facebook

Mosara on Bandcamp


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

Quarterly Review: SOM, Dr. Space, Beastwars, Deathbell, Malady, Wormsand, Thunderchief, Turkey Vulture, Stargo, Ascia

Posted in Reviews on January 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to Day Four of the Jan. 2022 Quarterly Review. Or maybe it’s the other half of the Dec. 2021 Quarterly Review. Or maybe I overthink these things. The latter feels most likely. Inanycase, welcome. If you’ve been keeping up with the records as they’ve been coming in 10-per-day batches over the course of this week, thanks. If not, well, if you’re interested, it’s not like the posts disappeared. Just keep scrolling, then I think click through. One of these days I’ll get an infinite scroll plug-in. Those are for the cool kids.

Also, ‘Infinite Scroll’ is, as of right now, the name of my ’90s-style pixel-art role playing game. Ask me about the plot when these reviews are done.

For now…

Quarterly Review #31-40:

SOM, The Shape of Everything

SOM The Shape Of Everything

Working from a foundation in heavy post-rock, Connecticut’s SOM soar and float like so many shoreline seagulls over the Long Island Sound on the eight-song/34-minute The Shape of Everything, which would call to mind the melancholy of Katatoniia were its sadness not even more shimmering. Early pieces “Moment” and “Animals” build a depth of modern progressive metal riffing beneath only the airiest of guitar leads, a wash of distortion meeting a wash of melody, and with guitarist/vocalist/producer Will Benoit helming, his voice rings through clear in melody and still somewhat ethereal, calling to mind a more organically-constructed Jesu in poppier as well as some heavier stretches. The penultimate “Heart Attack” tips into heavier fare with a steady bassline and bursts of crunching guitar, and the finale “Son of Winter” answers back with a (snow)blinding spaciousness and an entrancing last buildup. There’s enough room here to really get lost, and SOM are too mindful of their craft to let it happen.

SOM website

Pelagic Records webstore


Dr. Space, Muzik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn

Dr. Space Musik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn

Alright, I admit it. I went to “Icy Flatulence” first. Even before “Cyborgian Burger Hut” or “Euphoric Nostril.” Scott Heller, otherwise known as Dr. Space of Øresund Space Collective and any number of other outfits on a given day, is as-ever exploring on Muzik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn, and the results are hypnotic enough that they might leave you using the kind of spelling on the album’s title, but even in the relatively serene “Garden of Rainbow Unicorns” there’s a forward keyline — and actually, in that song, an undercurrent of horror soundtracking that makes me think the unicorn is about to eat me; could happen — and the extended pair of “T-E-T” and “Ribbons in Time” are marked by ’80s sci-fi beeps and boops and a kind of electronic shuffle, respectively, though the latter is probably as close as the 54-minute six-songer comes to soundscaping. Which is like landscaping only, in this case, happening in another galaxy somewhere. And there they call it jazz as they should and all is well. In all seriousness, I keep a running list in my brain of bands who should ask Dr. Space to guest on their records. Your band is probably on it. It’s pretty much everybody.

Dr. Space on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


Beastwars, Cold Wind / When I’m King

beastwars cold wind when im king

Here’s some context you probably don’t need: “Cold Wind” and “When I’m King” were written around the time of Wellington, New Zealand’s Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here). They may even have been recorded — I could’ve sworn “When I’m King” popped up somewhere at some point — but they’ve now been redone from the ground up and they’re pressed to a limited 7″ as part of the 10th anniversary celebration that also saw the self-titled get a new vinyl issue. Now, is it helpful knowing that? Yeah, sure. If I came at you instead and said, “Hey, new Beastwars!” though, it’d probably be more of a draw, and whatever gets Beastwars in as many ears as possible is what should invariably be done. “When I’m King” is a banger (bonus points for gang shouts), “Cold Wind” a little more seething, but both tracks harness that peculiarly sludged tonality that the band has owned for more than a decade now, and the guttural delivery of Matthew Hyde is only more resonant for the years between the writing and the execution of these songs. That execution is beheading by riffs, by the way.

Beastwars on Facebook

Beastwars on Bandcamp


Deathbell, A Nocturnal Crossing

deathbell a nocturnal crossing

A Nocturnal Crossing, the second album from Toulouse, France’s Deathbell and their first for Svart Records, can come at you from any number of angles seemingly at any point. Which thread are you following? Is it the soaring, classic-feeling occult rock melodies of Lauren Gaynor, or her organ work that, at the same time, adds gothic drama to so much of the material on the six-songer? Is it the lumbering groove of “Shifting Sands” and the doomed fuzz of “Devoured on the Peak” earlier, speaking to entirely different traditions? Or maybe the atmosphere in “Silent She Comes,” which is almost post-metallic in its shining lead guitar? Or perhaps, and hopefully I think, it’s all of these things as skillfully woven together as they are in these tracks. Opener “The Stronghold and the Archer” and the closing title-track mirror each other in their underlying metallic influence, but that too becomes one more texture at Deathbell‘s disposal, brought forward in such a way as to emphasize the unity of the whole work as much as the individual progressions.

Deathbell on Facebook

Svart Records website


Malady, Ainavihantaa

Malady Ainavihantaa

After debuting on Svart with 2018’s Toinen Toista (review here), sax-laced Helskini classic prog pastoralists Malady offer Ainavihantaa (‘all the time’) across a lush and welcoming six tracks and 37 minutes. The flow is immediate and paramount on opener “Alava Vaara” and through the flute/sax tradeoff in “Vapaa Ja Autio,” which follows, and though it’s heady fare, somehow the “Foxy-Lady”-if-KingCrimson-wrote-it strut-into-meander of “Sisävesien Rannat” skirts a line of indulgence without fully toppling over. Side B is jazzy and winding across “Dyadi” and “Haavan Väri” ahead of the title-track, but the human presence of vocals, even in a language I don’t speak, does wonders in keeping the proceedings grounded, right up to the Beatlesian finish of “Ainavihantaa” itself. This was on a lot of best-of-2021 lists and it’s not a challenge to see why.

Malady on Facebook

Svart Records website


Wormsand, Shapeless Mass

Wormsand Shapeless Mass

The Earth, ecologically devastated by industrialization and the wastefulness of humans — capitalism, in other words — becomes a wasteland. A few billionaires, who’ve been playing around with laughably-phallic rockets anyway, decide they’re going to escape out into space and leave the rest of the species, which they’ve destroyed, to suffer. It would be — and used to be — the stuff of decent science fiction were it not basically what homo sapiens are living through right now. A mass extinction owing to climate change the roots of which are in anthropocene action and inaction alike. French outfit Wormsand tell this utterly-plausible story in cascading doom riffs that reminds at once of Pallbearer and Forming the Void, keeping an edge of modern heavy prog to their plodding and accompanying with clean vocals and some more gutty shouts. As one might expect, things get pretty grim by the time they’re down to “Carrions,” “Collapsing” and “Shapeless Mass” near the album’s end, but the trio get big, big points for not trying to offer some placating “you can avoid this future” message of hope at the end, instead highlighting the final message, “The oracles warned us long ago/That a huge mass would swallow us all.” Ambitious in narrative concept, expertly conveyed.

Wormsand on Facebook

Stellar Frequencies on Bandcamp

Saka Čost on Bandcamp


Thunderchief, Synanthrope

Thunderchief Synanthrope

I hate to call out a falsehood, but Virginia duo Thunderchief‘s claim that, “No fucks were used, or given, on this recording,” just isn’t the case. I’m sorry. You don’t rip the fuck out of your throat like Rik Surly does on “Aiboh/Phobia” without a clear intent. That intent might be — and would seem to be — fuckall, but fuckall’s way different from ‘no fucks.’ If they didn’t give a fuck, Synanthrope could hardly come across as furious as it does in these seven tracks, totaling a consuming, gruff, sludged 39 minutes, marked out by centerpiece “King of the Pleistocene” fucking with your conception of desert rock, the second part of “Aiboh/Phobia” — the part named after a grind band, oddly enough — and “Toss Me a Crumb” fucking around with some grind, and closer “Paw” trodding out its feedback-laden course with Erik Larson‘s drums marching in crash with Surly‘s riffs. Hell, you got Mike Dean to record the thing. That’s giving a fuck all by itself. This kind of heavy and righteous, purposeful aural cruelty doesn’t happen by mistake. It’s too good to be fuckless. Sorry.

Thunderchief on Facebook

Thunderchief on Bandcamp


Turkey Vulture, Twist the Knife

turkey vulture twist the knife

No lyric sheet necessary to get that the longest song on Turkey Vulture‘s Twist the Knife EP, the three-minute “Livestock on Our Way to Slaughter,” is based lyrically on the ever-relevant film They Live. The married Connecticut duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jessie May and drummer Jim Clegg (also in charge of visuals), find thrashy release on the four-song release, which totals about eight minutes and in opener “Fiji,” “Where the Truth Dwells,” as well as “Livestock on Our Way to Slaughter,” they rip with surprising metallic thrust. The closing “She’s Married (But Not to Me)” is something of a further shift, and had me searching for an original version out there somewhere thinking it was a cover either of Buddy Holly or some wistful punk band, but no, seems to be an original. So be it. Clearly, at this point, May and Clegg are finding new modes of sonic catharsis that even a couple years ago they likely wouldn’t have dared. They’re a stronger band for their readiness to follow such whims.

Turkey Vulture on Facebook

Turkey Vultre on Bandcamp


Stargo, Dammbruch

Stargo Dammbruch

In Stargo‘s Dammbruch, I hear a signal back to European heavy rock’s prior instrumentalist generation, the Dortmunder three-piece not completely divorced from the riffy progressions that drove the warmth creating heavy psychedelia in the first place, even as the four-part, 14-minute title-track of the EP shifts between those impulses and more progressive, weighted, extreme or airy movements before its eerily peaceful conclusion. “Copter,” which could be titled after its wub-wub-wub effect early and the guitar chug that takes hold of it, and the closer “Bathysphere,” with its outward reach of guitar telegraphed in the first half but still resonant at the end, bring likeminded breadth in shorter bursts, but the abiding story of the EP is what the band — who made their full-length debut with 2020’s Parasight — might continue to offer as their style continues to develop. 35007, My Sleeping Karma, The Ocean, Pelican and Russian CirclesStargo‘s sound is a melting pot of ideas. They only need to keep exploring.

Stargo on Facebook

Stargo on Bandcamp


Ascia, Volume II

Ascia Volume II

Fabrizio Monni, also of Black Capricorn, issues a second EP from the solo-project Ascia following up on Sept. 2021’s Volume I (review here) with the marauding lumber of Dec. 2021’s Volume II, bringing his axe down across five tracks in a sub-20-minute run that’s been compiled onto a limited CD with the first release. Makes sense. The two outings share an affinity for the running megafuzz of earliest High on Fire and showcase the emerging personality of the new outfit in the melodies of “The Will of Gods” and the untempered doom of the later slowdown in “Thousands of Ghosts.” The instrumental “A Night with Shahrazad” closes, and feels a bit like a piece of a song — it crashes out just when you think the vocals might kick in — but if Monni‘s leaving his audience wanting more, well, he also seems quick enough to provide. “Eternal Glory” and “Ruins of War” will remind you what you liked about the first EP, and the rest will remind you why you’re looking forward to the next one. Mark it a win.

Ascia on Bandcamp

Black Capricorn on Facebook


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

Quarterly Review: Zack Oakley, Vøuhl, White Manna, Daily Thompson, Headless Monarch, Some Pills for Ayala, Il Mostro, Carmen Sea, Trip Hill, Yanomamo & Slomatics

Posted in Reviews on January 17th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Somehow it feels longer than it’s actually been. Yeah, a year’s changed over, but it’s really only been about a month since the last Quarterly Review installment, which I said at the time was only half of the full proceedings. I’ve started the count over at 1-50, but in my head, this is really a continuation of that five-day stretch more than something separate. It’s been booked out I think since before the last round of 50 was done, if that tells you anything. Should tell you 2021 was a busy year and 2022 looks like it’ll be more of the same in that regard. Also a few other regards, but let’s keep it optimistic, hmm?

We start today fresh with a wide swath of stuff for digging and, well, I hope you dig it. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Zack Oakley, Badlands

Zack Oakley Badlands

Apparently I’ve been spelling Zack Oakley‘s name wrong for the better part of a decade. Zack with a ‘k’ instead of an ‘h’ at the end. I feel like a jerk. By any spelling, dude both shreds and can write a song. Known for his work in Joy, Pharlee, Volcano, etc., he brings vibrant classic heavy to the fore on his solo debut, Badlands, sounding like a one-man San Diego scene on “I’m the One” only after declaring his own genre in opener “Freedom Rock.” “Mexico” vibes on harmonica-laced heavy blues and the acoustic-led “Looking High Searching Low” follows suit with slide, but there’s tinge of psych on the catchy “Desert Shack,” and “Fever” stomps out in pure Hendrix style without sounding ridiculous, which is not an achievement to be understated. Closing duo “Acid Rain” and “Badlands” meet at the place where the ’60s ended and the ’70s started, swaggering through time with more hooks and a sound that might be garage if your garage had a really nice studio in it. I’ll take more of this anytime Mr. Oakley wants to belt it out.

Zack Oakley website

Kommune Records on Bandcamp


Vøuhl, Vøuhl

Vøuhl Vøuhl

Issued by Shawn Pelata — also known as Pælãtä Shåvvn, with an apparent thing for accent marks — the self-titled debut from Vøuhl mixes industrial-style experimentalism, dark ambience and a strong cinematic current across a still-relatively-unassuming five-songs and 23 minutes, hitting a resonant minimalism at the ending of “Evvûl” while building to a fuller-sounding progression on the subsequent “Välle.” Drones, echoing, looped beats and thoughtfully executed synth let Pelata construct each atmosphere as an individual piece, but with the attention obviously paid to the presentation of the whole, there’s nothing that keeps one piece from tying into the next either, so whether one approaches Vøuhl‘s Vøuhl as an EP or a short album, the impression of a deep-running soundscape is made one way or the other. What seems to be speech samples in “Aurô” and noise-laced closer “ßlasste” — thoroughly manipulated — may hint at things to come, but I hope not entirely at the expense of the percussive urgency of opener “Dùste” here.

Vøuhl on Facebook

Stone Groove Records website


White Manna, First Welcome

White Manna First Welcome

At first you’re all like, “yeah this is right on I can handle it” and then all of a sudden White Manna are about four minutes into the freakery of “Light Cones” opening up their latest opus First Welcome and you’re starting to panic because you took too much and you’re couchlocked. The heretofore undervalued Calipsych weirdos are out-out-out on their new eight-songer, done in an LP-ready 39 minutes but drippy droppy through an interdimensional swap-meet of renegade noises and melted-down aesthetics. Maybe you heard 2020’s ARC (review here) and thereby got on board, or maybe you don’t know them at all. Doesn’t matter. The thing is they’re already in your brain and by the time you’re done with the triumph-boogie of “Lions of Fire” you realize you’re one with the vibrating universe and only then are you ready to meet the “Monogamous Cassanova” in krautrock purgatory before the swirling “Milk Symposium” spreads itself out like a blanket over the sun. Too trippy for everything, and so just. fucking. right. If you can hang with this, I wanna be friends.

White Manna on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

Centripetal Force Records website


Daily Thompson, God of Spinoza

God Of Spinoza by Daily Thompson

In 2022, German heavy rockers Daily Thompson mark a decade since their founding. God of Spinoza is their fifth full-length, and in songs like “Cantaloupe Melon,” “Golden Desert Child,” and “Muaratic Acid,” the reliability one has come to expect from them is only reinforced. Their sound hinges on psychedelia, but complements that with an abiding sense of grunge and a patience in songwriting. They’ve done heavy blues and straight-up rock in the past, so neither is out of the trio’s wheelhouse — the penultimate “Midnight Soldier” is a breakout here — but the title-track’s drawn-out “yeah”s and slacker-nod rhythm seem to draw more directly from the Alice in Chains school of making material sound slow without actually having it crawl or sacrifice accessibility. I’d give them points regardless for calling a song “I Saw Jesus in a Taco Bell,” but the closer is a genuine highlight on God of Spinoza turning a long stretch of disaffection to immersive fuzz with a deftness befitting a band on their fifth record who know precisely who they are. Like I said, reliable.

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website


Headless Monarch, Titan Slug

Headless Monarch Titan Slug

Founded by guitarist/bassist Collin Green, Headless Monarch released their first demo in 2013 and their most recent EP, Nothing on the Horizon, in 2016. Five years later, Green and drummer Brandon Zackey offer the late-2021 debut full-length, Titan Slug, working in collaboration for the first time with vocalist and producer Otu Suurmunne of Moonic Productions — who mostly goes by Otu — across a richly executed collection of six tracks, three new, three from prior outings. Not sure if Otu is a hired gun as a singer working alongside the other two, but there’s little arguing with the results they glean as a trio across a song like “Fever Dream” or “Sleeper Now Rise,” the latter taken from Headless Monarch‘s 2015 two-songer and positioned in a more aggressive stance overall. The newer songs come across as more fleshed out, but even “Eight Minutes of Light” from the first demo has atmospheric reach to go with its clarity of focus and noteworthy heft. One only hopes the collaboration continues and inspires further work along these lines.

Headless Monarch on Instagram

Headless Monarch on Bandcamp


Some Pills for Ayala, Space Octopus

Some Pills for Ayala Space Octopus

Technically speaking, you had me at Space Octopus. After releasing a self-titled EP under the somewhat-troubling moniker (one hopes it’s not too many) Some Pills for Ayala, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Néstor Ayala Cortés of At Devil Dirt returns with this two-songer, comprised of its 11-minute title-cut and the shorter “It’s Been a Long Trip.” The lead track is duly dream-drifty in its procession, a subtle build underway across its span but pushing more for hypnosis than impact and getting there to be sure, even as the second half grows thicker in tone. At 3:48, “It’s Been a Long Trip” comes across more as an experiment in technique captured and used as the foundation for Cortés‘ soft, wide echoing vocals. Lysergic and adventurous in kind, the 15-minute EP is nonetheless serene in its presence and soothing overall. Could be that Cortés might push deeper into folk as he goes forward, but the acidy foundation he’s working from will only add to that.

Some Pills for Ayala on Instagram

Some Pills for Ayala on Bandcamp


Il Mostro, Occult Practices

Il Mostro Occult Practices

It’s a quick in-out from Boston heavy punkers Il Mostro on the Occult Practices EP. Four songs, the last of which is a cover of T.S.O.L.‘s “Black Magic,” nothing over three minutes long, all fits neatly on a 7″. For what they’re doing, that makes sense, taking the high-velocity ethic of Motörhead or Peter Pan Speedrock (if you need a second plays-fast-punk-derived-and-rocks band) and delivering with an appropriately straightforward thrust. Opener “Firewitch” ends with giggling, and that’s fair enough to convey the overarching lack of pretense throughout, but they do well with the cover and have a righteous balance between control and chaos in the relatively-mid-paced “Trial” and the sprinter “Faith in Ghosts,” which follows. Is cult punk a thing? I guess you could ask the Misfits that question, but Il Mostro mostly avoid sounding like that Jersey band, and it’s easy enough to imagine them bashing walls at any number of Beantown havens or bathed under the telltale red lights of O’Brien’s as they tear into a set. So be it, punkers.

Il Mostro on Facebook

Il Mostro on Bandcamp


Carmen Sea, Hiss

Carmen Sea Hiss

Should it come as a surprise that an EP of violin-laced/led instrumentalist progressive post-rock, willfully working against genre convention in order to cross between metal, rock and more atmospheric fare includes an element of self-indulgence? Nope. How could it be otherwise? The five-track Hiss from Parisian four-piece Carmen Sea is a heady outing indeed, but at just 29 minutes, the band doesn’t actually lose themselves in what they’re doing, and the surprises they offer along the way like the electronic turns in “Black Echoes” or the quiet drone stretch in the first half of 11-minute closer “Glow in Space” — which gets plenty tense soon enough — provide welcome defiance of expectation. That is to say, whatever else they are, Carmen Sea are not predictable, and that serves them well here and will continue to. “Frames” begins jarring and strutting, but finds its strength in its more floating movement, though the later bridge of classical and weighted musics feels like the realization that might’ve led to creating the band in the first place. There’s potential in toying with that balance.

Carmen Sea on Facebook

Carmen Sea Distrokid


Trip Hill, Ain’t Trip Ceremony

Trip Hill Aint Trip Ceremony

Florence’s Fabrizio Cecchi has vibe to spare with his solo-project Trip Hill, and Denmark’s Bad Afro Records has stepped forward to issue the 2020 offering, Ain’t Trip Ceremony, toward broader consciousness. The eight-song/39-minute long-player is duly dug-in, and its psychedelic reach comes with a humility of craft that makes the songs likewise peaceful and exploratory and entrancing. Repetition is key for the latter, but Cecchi also manages to keep things moving across the album, with a fuzzy cut like “Spam Mind” seeming to build on top of loops and shifting into a not-overblown space rock, hardly mellow, but more acknowledging the vastness of the cosmos than one might expect. The more densely-fuzzed “Ralph’s Heart Attack” leads into the guitar-focused “Pan” ahead of the finale “What Happened to Will,” but that’s after “Tame Ùkhan” has gone a-wandering and decided to stay that way and the seven-minute “Trái tim Thán Yêu” has singlehandedly justified the vinyl release in its blend of percussive urgency and psychedelic shimmer. Go in with an open mind and you won’t go wrong.

Trip Hill on Facebook

Bad Afro Records on Bandcamp


Yanomamo & Slomatics, Split 7″

Yanomamo & Slomatics Split

Yanomamo begin their Iommium Records two-song split 7″ with Slomatics by harshly delivering a deceptively positive message: “If you’re going to seek revenge/Might as well dig two graves/He who holds resentment is already digging his own.” Fair enough. The Sydney, Australia, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, outfits offer about 10 and a half minutes of material between them, but complement each other well, with the thickness of the latter building off the raw presentation of the former, Yanomamo‘s guttural portrayal of bitterness offered in scream-topped sludge crash on “Dig Two Graves” that builds in momentum toward the end while Slomatics‘ “Griefhound” offers the futurist tonal density and expanse of vocal echo typifying their latter-day work and turns a quiet, chugging bridge into a consciousness-slamming payoff. Neither act is really out of their comfort zone, but established listeners will revel in the chance to hear them alongside each other, and if you hear complaints about either of these cuts, they won’t be from me.

Yanomamo on Facebook

Slomatics on Facebook

Iommium Records on Bandcamp


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

Quarterly Review: Dopelord, Scorched Oak, Kings of the Fucking Sea, Mantarraya, Häxmästaren, Shiva the Destructor, Amammoth, Nineteen Thirteen, Ikitan, Smote

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Third day, and you know what that means. Today we hit and pass the halfway mark of this Quarterly Review. I won’t say it hasn’t been work, but it seems like every time I do one of these lately I continue to be astounded by how much easier writing about good stuff makes it. I must’ve done a real clunker like two years ago or something. Can’t think of one, but wow, it’s way more fun when the tunes are killer.

To that end we start with Dopelord today, haha. Have fun digging through if you do.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Dopelord, Reality Dagger

Dopelord Reality Dagger

They put it in a 12″, and that’s cool, but in addition to the fact that it’s about 22 minutes long, something about Reality Dagger, the latest EP from Poland’s Dopelord, strikes me as being really 10″ worthy. I know 10″ is the bastard son of vinyl pressings — doesn’t fit with your LPs and doesn’t fit with your 7″s. They’re a nuisance. Do they get their own shelf? Mixed in throughout? Well, however you organize them, I think a limited 10″ of Reality Dagger would be perfect, because from the melodies strewn throughout “Dark Coils” and the wildly catchy “Your Blood” — maybe the most complex vocal arrangement I’ve yet heard from the band — to the ultra-sludge interplay with screams on the 10-minute closing title-track, it sounds to me like standing out from the crowd is exactly what Dopelord want to do. They want to be that band that doesn’t fit your preconceptions of stoner-doom, or sludge, or modern heavy largesse in the post-Monolord vein. Why not match that admirable drive in format? Oh hell, you know what? I’ll just by the CD and have done with it. One of the best EPs I’ve heard this year.

Dopelord on Facebook

Dopelord on Bandcamp


Scorched Oak, Withering Earth

Scorched Oak Withering Earth

Don’t be surprised when you see Kozmik Artifactz, Nasoni Records, or some other respected probably-European purveyor of heavy coming through with an announcement they’ve picked up Scorched Oak. The Dortmund, Germany, trio seem to have taken the last few years to figure out where they were headed — they pared down from a five-piece, for example — and their rolling tides of fuzz on late-2020’s debut LP Withering Earth bears the fruit of those efforts. Aesthetically and structurally sound, it’s able to touch on heavy blues, metal and drifting psychedelia all within the span of a seven-minute track like “Swamp,” and in its five-songs running shortest to longest, it effectively draws the listener deeper into the world the band are creating through dual vocals, patient craft and spacious production. If I was a label, I’d sign them for the bass tone on 14-minute closer “Desert” alone, never mind any of the other natural phenomena they portray throughout the record, which is perhaps grim in theme but nonetheless brimming with potential. Some cool riffs on this dying planet.

Scorched Oak on Facebook

Scorched Oak on Bandcamp


Kings of the Fucking Sea, In Concert

Kings of the Fucking Sea In Concert

A scorching set culled from two nights of performances in their native Nashville, what’s essentially serving as Kings of the Fucking Sea‘s debut long-player, In Concert, is a paean to raw psychedelic power trio worship. High order ripper groove pervades “Witch Mountain” and the wasn’t-yet-named “Hiding No More” — which was introduced tentatively as “Death Dealer,” which the following track is actually titled. Disorienting? Shit yeah it is. And shove all the poignancy of making a live album in Feb. 2020 ahead of the pandemic blah blah. That’s not what’s happening here. This is all about blow-the-door-so-we-can-escape psychedelic pull and thrust. One gets the sense that Kings of the Fucking Sea are more in control than they let on, but they play it fast and loose and slow and loose throughout In Concert and by the time the mellower jam in “I Walk Alone” opens up to the garage-style wash of crash cymbal ahead of closer “The Nile Song,” the swirling fuckall that ensues is rampant with noise-coated fire. A show that might make you look up from your phone. So cool it might be jazz. I gotta think about it.

Kings of the Fucking Sea on Facebook

Agitated Records on Bandcamp


Mantarraya, Mantarraya

mantarraya mantarraya

They bill themselves as ‘Mantarraya – power trío,’ and guitarist/vocalist Herman Robles Montero, drummer/maybe-harmonica-ist Kelvin Sifuentes Pérez and bassist/vocalist Enzo Silva Agurto certainly live up to that standard on their late-2020 self-titled debut full-length. The vibe is classic heavy ’70s through and through, and the Peruvian three-piece roll and boogie through the 11 assembled tracks with fervent bluesy swing on “En el Fondo” and no shortage of shuffle throughout the nine-minute “120 Años (Color),” which comes paired with the trippier “Almendrados” in what seems like a purposeful nod to the more out-there among the out there, bringing things back around to finish swinging and bouncing on the eponymous closer. I’ll take the classic boogie as it comes, and Mantarraya do it well, basking in a natural but not too purposefully so sense of underproduction while getting their point across in encouraging-first-record fashion. At over an hour long, it’s too much for a single LP, but plenty of time for them to get their bearings as they begin their creative journey.

Mantarraya on Facebook

Mantarraya on Bandcamp


Häxmästaren, Sol i Exil

Häxmästaren sol i exil

At the risk of repeating myself, someone’s gonna sign Häxmästaren. You can just tell. The Swedish five-piece’s second album, Sol i Exil (“sun in exile,” in English), is a mélange of heavy rock and classic doom influences, blurring the lines between microgenres en route to an individual approach that’s still accessible enough in a riffer like “Millennium Phenomenon” or “Dödskult Ritual” to be immediately familiar and telegraph to the converted where the band are coming from. Vocalist Niklas Ekwall — any relation to Magnus from The Quill? — mixes in some screams and growls to his melodic style, further broadening the palette and adding an edge of extremity to “Children of the Mountain,” while “Growing Horns” and the capper title-track vibe out with with a more classic feel, whatever gutturalisms happen along the way, the latter feeling like a bonus for being in Swedish. In the ever-fertile creative ground that is Gothenburg, it should be no surprise to find a band like this flourishing, but fortunately Sol i Exil doesn’t have to be a surprise to kick ass.

Häxmästaren on Facebook

Häxmästaren on Bandcamp


Shiva the Destructor, Find the Others


Launching with the nine-minute instrumental “Benares” is a telling way for Kyiv’s Shiva the Destructor to begin their debut LP, since it immediately sets listener immersion as their priority. The five-track/44-minute album isn’t short on it, either, and with the band’s progressive, meditative psychedelic style, each song unfolds in its own way and in its own time, drawn together through warmth of tone and periods of heft and spaciousness on “Hydronaut” and a bit of playful bounce on “Summer of Love” (someone in this band likes reggae) and a Middle Eastern turn on “Ishtar” before “Nirvana Beach” seems to use the lyrics to describe what’s happening in the music itself before cutting off suddenly at the end. Vocals stand alone or in harmony and the double-guitar four-piece bask in a sunshine-coated sound that’s inviting and hypnotic in kind, offering turns enough to keep their audience following along and undulations that are duly a clarion to the ‘others’ referenced in the title. It’s like a call to prayer for weirdo psych heads. I’ll take that and hope for more to come.

Shiva the Destructor on Facebook

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp


Amammoth, The Fire Above

amammoth the fire above

The first and only lyric in “Heal” — the opening track of Sydney, Australia, trio Amammoth‘s debut album, The Fire Above — is the word “marijuana.” It doesn’t get any less stoned from there. Riffs come in massive waves, and even as “The Sun” digs into a bit of sludge, the largesse and crash remains thoroughly weedian, with the lumbering “Shadows” closing out the first half of the LP with particularly Sleep-y nod. Rawer shouted vocals also recall earlier Sleep, but something in Amammoth‘s sound hints toward a more metallic background than just pure Sabbath worship, and “Rise” brings that forward even as it pushes into slow-wah psychedelics, letting “Blade Runner” mirror “The Sun” in its sludgy push before closer “Walk Towards What Blinds You (Blood Bong)” introduces some backing vocals that fit surprisingly well even they kind of feel like a goof on the part of the band. Amammoth, as a word, would seem to be something not-mammoth. In sound, Amammoth are the opposite.

Amammoth on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website


Nineteen Thirteen, MCMXIII

nineteen thirteen mcmxiii

With emotional stakes sufficiently high throughout, MCMXIII is urgent enough to be post-hardcore, but there’s an underpinning of progressive heavy rock even in the mellower stretch of the eight-minute “Dogfight” that complements the noisier and more angular aspects on display elsewhere. Opener “Post Blue Collar Blues” sets the plotline for the newcomer Dayton, Ohio, four-piece, with thoughtful lyrics and a cerebral-but-not-dead-of-spirit instrumental style made full and spacious through the production. Melodies flesh out in “Cripple John” and “Old Face on the Wall,” brooding and surging in children-of-the-’90s fashion, but I hear a bit of Wovenhand in that finale as well — though maybe the one doesn’t exclude the other — so clearly Nineteen Thirteen are just beginning this obviously-passion-fueled exploration of sound aesthetic with these songs, but the debut EP they comprise cuts a wide swath with marked confidence and deceptive memorability. A new turn on Rust Belt heavy.

Nineteen Thirteen on Facebook

Nineteen Thirteen on Bandcamp


Ikitan, Twenty-Twenty

ikitan twenty-twenty

Hey, you process trauma from living through the last year your way and Genova, Italy’s Ikitan will process it theirs. In their case, that means the writing, recording and self-release of their 20-minute single-song EP, Twenty-Twenty, a sprawling work of instrumentalist heavy post-rock rife with spacious, airy lead guitar and a solid rhythmic foundation. Movements occur in waves and layers, but there is a definite thread being woven throughout the outing from one part to the next, held together alternately by the bass or drums or even guitar, though it’s the latter that seems to be leading those changes as well. The shifts are fluid in any case, and Ikitan grow Twenty-Twenty‘s lone, titular piece to a satisfyingly heft as they move through, harnessing atmosphere as well as weight even before they lower volume for stretches in the second half. There’s a quick surge at the end, but “Twenty-Twenty” is more about journey than destination, and Ikitan make the voyage enticing.

Ikitan on Facebook

Ikitan on Bandcamp


Smote, Bodkin

smote bodkin

Loops, far-out spaces and a generally experimentalist feel ooze outward like Icelandic lava from Bodkin, the five-song debut LP from UK-based solo-outfit Smote. The gentleman behind the flow is Newcastle upon Tyne’s Daniel Foggin, and this is one of three releases he has out so far in 2021, along with a prior drone collaboration tape with Forest Mourning and a subsequent EP made of two tracks at around 15 minutes each. Clearly a project that can be done indoors during pandemic lockdown, Smote‘s material is wide-ranging just the same, bringing Eastern multi-instrumentalism and traditionalist UK psych together on “Fohrt” and “Moninna,” which would border on folk but for all that buzz in the background. The 11-minute “Motte” is a highlight of acid ritualizing, but the droning title-track that rounds out makes each crash count all the more for the spaces that separate them. I dig this a lot, between you and me. I get vibes like Lamp of the Universe here in terms of sonic ambition and resultant presence. That’s not a comparison I make lightly, and this is a project I will be following.

Smote on Bandcamp

Weird Beard Records store


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

Wheel Announce Preserved in Time Out April 9 on Cruz Del Sur

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


15 years on from their founding and eight years since their most recent long-player, Germany doomers Wheel are set to make a return next month with Preserved in Time. With the release, Cruz Del Sur continue their admirable allegiance to quality doomcraft and traditional metal, and the Dortmunders should find welcome among those who’ve opened their arms in recent years to the likes of Orodruin and Pale Divine, among other choice acquisitions the label has made inside and out of the genre.

Icarus, which was Wheel‘s 2013 album — you’ll note the new record closes with “Daedalus,” which is fair enough — came out through Eyes Like Snow, as did their 2010 self-titled debut, and though it’s been a while since anything’s come out under that particular banner, it remains a trove of well-curated acts for those who might seek to dig. If you find after listening to the new Wheel track “She Left in Silence” below that you’re game to dig further into their prior two LPs — the cover art here also calls back somewhat to the profile on the debut, so there’s definitely some self-directed conversation happening — they’re streaming on Bandcamp. It’s not going to make your day less doomed.

The ol’ PR wire puts it thusly:

wheel preserved in time

WHEEL – New Album “Preserved in Time” via Cruz Del Sur Music – Lyric Video available

Cruz Del Sur Music proudly announces “Preserved in Time”!

On their first studio album in eight years, Germany’s WHEEL deliver seven songs of brooding, emotional doom. It will be released on April 9th 2021.

A lyric video for the track “She Left In Silence” has just been revealed.

True, epic doom of the highest order in the vein of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and Trouble!

Preorders: https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/index.php

WHEEL was formed in 2006 in Dortmund, Germany. In 2009 a 2 Track Demo led to a deal with EYES LIKE SNOW. The debut was released 2010. The successor “Icarus” came out 2013. 2014 the band released a live tape from their performance at Hammer of Doom. 2021 the third Album “Preserved in Time” will be out on Cruz del Sur.

1. At Night They Came Upon Us
2. When The Shadow Takes You Over
3. After All
4. She Left In Silence
5. Aeon of Darkness
6. Hero of the Weak
7. Daedalus


Wheel, “She Left in Silence” official lyric video

Wheel, Preserved in Time (2021)

Tags: , , , , ,