Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Spaceslug, Lie Heavy, Burning Realm, Kalac, Alkuräjähdys, Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Amigo, The Hazytones, All Are to Return

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Alright, back at it. Putting together yesterday over the weekend was more scattershot than I’d prefer, but one might say the same of parenting in general, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, as happens with Quarterly Reviews, we got there. That my wife gave me an extra 40 minutes to bang out the Wizzerd video premiere was appreciated. As always, she makes everything possible.

Compared to some QRs, there are a few ‘bigger’ releases here. You’ll note High on Fire leading off today. That trend will continue over this and next week with the likes of Pallbearer, Uncle Acid, Bongripper, Harvestman (Steve Von Till, ex-Neurosis), Inter Arma, Saturnalia Temple spread throughout. The Pelican two-songer and My Dying Bride back to back a week from today. That’ll be a fun one. As always, it’s about the time crunch for me for what goes in the Quarterly Review. Things I want to cover before it’s too late that I can fit here. Ain’t nobody holding their breath for my opinion on any of it, or on anything generally for that matter, but I’m not trying to slight well known bands by stuffing them into what when it started over a decade ago I thought would be a catchall for demos and EPs. Sometimes I like the challenge of a shorter word count, too.

And I remind myself here again nobody really cares. Fine, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Cometh the Storm

high on fire cometh the storm

What seems at first to be business as usual for High on Fire‘s fourth album produced by Kurt Ballou, fifth for MNRK Heavy (formerly E1), and ninth overall, gradually reveals itself to be the band’s tonally heaviest work in at least the last 15 years. What’s actually new is drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Melvins) making his first studio appearance alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (Sleep, Pike vs. the Automaton) and long-tenured bassist/backing vocalist Jeff Matz (also saz on the instrumental interlude-plus “Karanlik Yol”), and for sure Willis‘ thud in “Trismegistus,” galloping intensity in the thrashy and angular “The Beating” and declarative stomp beneath the big slowdown of 10-minute closer “Darker Fleece” is part of it, but from the way Pike and Matz bring “Cometh the Storm’ and “Sol’s Golden Curse” in the record’s middle to such cacophonous ends, the three-and-a-half-minute face-kick that is “Lightning Beard” and the suckerpunch that starts off with “Lambsbread,” to how even the more vocally melodic “Hunting Shadows” is carried on a wave of filthy, hard-landing distortion, their ferocity is reaffirmed in thicker grooves and unmitigated pummel. While in some ways this is what one would expect, it’s also everything for which one might hope from High on Fire a quarter-century on from their first demo. Triumph.

High on Fire on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Spaceslug, Out of Water

spaceslug out of water

A release concurrent to a remastered edition of their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here), only puts into emphasis how much Spaceslug have come into their own over eight productive years. Recorded by drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziółkowski (also Mountain of Misery), with guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka dug into familiar tonal textures throughout five tracks and a quick but inevitably full-length-flowing 32 minutes, Out of Water is both otherworldly and emotionally evocative in the rollout of “Arise the Sun” following the intertwined shouts of opener “Tears of Antimatter,” and in keeping with their progression, they nudge toward metallic aggression as a way to solidify their heavy psychedelic aspects. “Out of Water” is duly mournful to encapsulate such a tragic notion, and the nod of “Delusions” only grows more forcefully applied after the return from that song’s atmospheric break, and while they depart with “In Serenity” to what feels like the escapism of sunnier riffing, even that becomes more urgent toward the album’s finish. The reason it works is they’re bending genre to their songs, not the other way around, and as Spaceslug mature as a group, they’ve become one of Poland’s most essential heavy acts.

Spaceslug on Facebook

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Lie Heavy, Burn to the Moon

lie heavy burn to the moon

First issued on CD through JM Records in 2023, Lie Heavy‘s debut album, Burn to the Moon, sees broader release through Heavy Psych Sounds with revamped art to complement the Raleigh, North Carolina, four-piece’s tonal heft and classic reach in pieces like “In the Shadow” and “The Long March,” respectively. The band is fronted by Karl Agell (vocalist for C.O.C.‘s 1991 Blind album and now also in The Skull-offshoot Legions of Doom), and across the 12-song/51-minute run, and whether it’s the crunch of the ripper “When the Universe Cries” or the Clutch-style heavy funk of “Chunkadelic” pushing further from the start-stops of “In the Shadow” or the layered crescendo of “Unbeliever” a short time later, he and bassist/vocalist TR Gwynne, guitarist/vocalist Graham Fry and drummer/vocalist Jeff “JD” Dennis deliver sans-pretense riff-led fare. They’re not trying to fix what wasn’t broken in the ’90s, to be sure, but you can’t really call it a retread either as they swing through “Drag the World” and its capstone counterpart “End the World”; it all goes back to Black Sabbath anyway. The converted will get it no problem.

Lie Heavy on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Burning Realm, Face the Fire

Burning Realm Face the Fire

Dublin, Ireland, trio Burning Realm mark their first release with the four-song Face the Fire EP, taking the cosmic-tinged restlessness of Wild Rocket and setting it alongside more grounded riffing, hinting at thrash in the ping ride on “From Beyond” but careening in the modern mode either way. Lead cut “Homosapien” gives Hawkwindian vibes early — the trap, which is sounding like Slift, is largely avoided, though King Gizzard may still be relevant as an influence — but smoothly gives over to acoustics and vocal drone once its urgency has bene vaporized, and spacious as the vocal echo is, “Face the Fire” is classic stoner roll even into its speedier ending, the momentum of which is continued in closer “Warped One (Arise),” which is more charged on the whole in a way that feels linear and intended in relation to what’s put before it. A 16-minute self-released introduction to who Burning Realm are now, it holds promise for how they might develop stylistically and grow in terms of range. Whatever comes or doesn’t, it’s easy enough to dig as it is. If you were at a show and someone handed you the tape, you’d be stoked once you put it on in the car. Also it’s like 1995 in that scenario, apparently.

Burning Realm on Facebook

Burning Realm on Bandcamp

Kalac, Odyss​é​e


Offered through an international consortium of record labels that includes Crême Brûlée Records in the band’s native France, Echodelick in the US, Clostridium in Germany and Weird Beard in the UK, French heavy psych thrusters Kalac‘s inaugural full-length, Odyss​é​e — also stylized all-caps — doesn’t leave much to wonder why so many imprints might want some for the distro. With a focus on rhythmic movement in the we-gotta-get-to-space-like-five-minutes-ago modus of current-day heavy neo-space-rock, the mostly instrumental procession hypnotizes even as it peppers its expanses with verses here or there. That might be most effectively wrought in the payoff noiseblaster wash of “II,” which I’m just going to assume opens side B, but the boogie quotient is strong from “Arguenon” to “Beautiful Night,” and while might ring familiar to others operating in the aesthetic galaxial quadrant, the energy of Kalac‘s delivery and the not-haphazard-but-not-always-in-the-same-spot-either placement of the vocals are enough to distinguish them and make the six-tracker as exciting to hear as it sounds like it probably was to record.

Kalac on Facebook

Crême Brûlée Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

Weird Beard Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

Alkuräjähdys, Ehdot.

Alkurajahdys ehdot

The live-tracked fourth outing from Helsinki psych improvisationalists Alkuräjähdys, the lowercase-stylized ehdot. blends mechanical and electronic sounds with more organic psychedelic jamming, the synth and bassier punchthrough in the midsection of opening piece “.matriisi” indeed evocative of the dot-matrix printer to which its title is in reference, while “központ,” which follows, meanders into a broader swath of guitar-based noise atop a languidly graceful roll of drums. That let’s-try-it-slower ideology is manifest in the first half of the duly two-sided “a-b” as well, as the 12-minute finale begins by lurching through the denser distortion of a central riff en route to a skronk-jazz transition to a tighter midtempo groove that I’ll compare to Endless Boogie and very much intend that as a compliment. I don’t think they’re out to change the world so much as get in a room, hit it and see where the whole thing ends up, but those are noble creative aims in concept and practice, and between the two guitars, effects, synth and whathaveyou, there’s plenty of weird to go around.

Alkuräjähdys on Instagram

Alkuräjähdys on Bandcamp

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Tarot Pt. 1

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister tarot pt. 1

Already a significant undertaking as a 95-minute 2LP running 11 tracks themed — as the title(s) would hint — around tarot cards, the mostly serene sprawl of Magick Brother & Mystic Sister‘s Tarot Pt. 1 is still just the first of two companion albums to be issued as the follow-up to the Barcelona outfit’s 2020 self-titled debut (discussed here). Offered through respected Greek purveyor Sound Effect Records, Tarot Pt. 1 gives breadth beyond just the runtime in the sitar-laced psych-funk of “The Hierophant” (swap sitar for organ, synth and flute on “The Chariot”) and the classic-prog pastoralia of closer “The Wheel of Fortune,” and as with the plague-era debut, at the heart of the material is a soothing acid folk, and while the keys in the first half of “The Emperor” grow insistent and there’s some foreboding in the early Mellotron and key lines of “The Lovers,” Tarot Pt. 1 resonates comfort and care in its arrangements as well as ambition in its scope. Maybe another hour and a half on the way? Sign me up.

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store

Amigo, Good Time Island

Amigo Good Time Island

The eight-year distance from their 2016 debut long-player, Little Cliffs, seems to have smoothed out some (not all, which isn’t a complaint) of the rough edges in Amigo‘s sound, as the seemingly reinvigorated San Diego four-piece of lead guitarist/vocalist Jeff Podeszwik (King Chiefs), guitarist Anthony Mattos, bassist Sufi Karalen and drummer Anthony Alley offer five song across an accessible, straightforward 17 minutes united beneath the fair-enough title of Good Time Island. Without losing the weight of their tones, a Weezery pop sensibility comes through in “Dope Den” while “Frog Face” is even more specifically indebted to The Cars. Neither “Telescope Boy” nor “Banana Phone” lacks punch, but Amigo hold some in reserve for “Me and Soof,” which rounds out the proceedings, and they put it to solid use for an approach that’s ’90s-informed without that necessarily meaning stoner, grunge or alt, and envision a commercially relevant, songwriting-based heavy rock and roll for an alternate universe that, by all accounts here, sounds like a decent place to be.

Amigo on Facebook

Roosevelt Row Records store

The Hazytones, Wild Fever

The Hazytones Wild Fever

Culminating in the Sabbathian shuffle of “Eye for an Eye,” Wild Fever is the hook-drenched third full-length from Montreal fuzzbringers The Hazytones, and while they’ve still got the ‘tones’ part down pat, it’s easy to argue the eight included tracks are the least ‘hazy’ they’ve been to-date. Following on from the direction of 2018’s II: Monarchs of Oblivion (review here), the Esben Willems-mixed/Kent Stump-mastered 40-minute long-player isn’t shy about leaning into the grittier side of what they do as the opening title-track rolls out a chorus that reminds of C.O.C. circa In the Arms of God while retaining some of the melody between the vocals of Mick Martel (also guitar and keys) and Gabriel Prieur (also drums and bass), and with the correspondingly thick bass of Caleb Sanders for accompaniment and lead guitarist John Choffel‘s solo rising out of the murk on “Disease,” honing in on the brashness suits them well. Not where one might have expected them to end up six years later, but no less enjoyable for that, either.

The Hazytones on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

All Are to Return, III

All Are To Return III

God damn that’s harsh. Mostly anonymous industrialists — you get F and N for names and that’s it — All Are to Return are all the more punishing in the horrific recesses and engulfing blasts of static that populate III than they were in 2022’s II (review here), and the fact that the eight-songer is only 32 minutes long is about as close as they come to any concept of mercy for the psyche of their audience. Beyond that, “Moratorium,” “Colony Collapse,” the eats-you-dead “Archive of the Sky” and even the droning “Legacy” cast a willfully wretched extremity, and what might be a humanizing presence of vocals elsewhere is screams channeled through so much distortion as to be barely recognizable as coming from a human throat here. If the question being posed is, “how much can you take?,” the answer for most of those brave enough to even give III a shot will be, “markedly less than this.” A cry from the depths realizing a brutal vision.

All Are to Return on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records store

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Quarterly Review: Primordial, Patriarchs in Black, Blood Lightning, Haurun, Wicked Trip, Splinter, Terra Black, Musing, Spiral Shades, Bandshee

Posted in Reviews on November 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Day two and no looking back. Yesterday was Monday and it was pretty tripped out. There’s some psych stuff here too, but we start out by digging deep into metal-rooted doom and it doesn’t get any less dudely through the first three records, let’s put it that way. But there’s more here than one style, microgengre, or gender expression can contain, and I invite you as you make your way through to approach not from a place of redundant chestbeating, but of celebrating a moment captured. In the cases of some of these releases, it’s a pretty special moment we’re talking about.

Places to go, things to hear. We march.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Primordial, How it Ends

primordial how it ends

Excuse me, ma’am. Do you have 66 minutes to talk about the end of the world? No? Nobody does? Well that’s kind of sad.

At 28 years’ remove from their first record, 1995’s Imrama, and now on their 10th full-length, Dublin’s Primordial are duly mournful across the 10 songs of How it Ends, which boasts the staring-at-a-bloodied-hillside-full-of-bodies after-battle mourning and oppression-defying lyricism and a style rooted in black metal and grown beyond it informed by Irish folk progressions but open enough to make a highlight of the build in “Death Holy Death” here. A more aggressive lean shows itself in “All Against All” just prior while “Pilgrimage to the World’s End” is brought to a wash of an apex with a high reach from vocalist Alan “A.A. Nemtheanga” Averill, who should be counted among metal’s all-time frontmen, ahead of the tension chugging in the beginning of “Nothing New Under the Sun.” And you know, for the most part, there isn’t. Most of what Primordial do on How it Ends, they’ve done before, and their central innovation in bridging extreme metal with folk traditionalism, is long behind them. How it Ends seems to dwell in some parts and be roiling in its immediacy elsewhere, and its grandiosities inherently will put some off just as they will bring some on, but Primordial continue to find clever ways to develop around their core approach, and How it Ends — if it is the end or it isn’t, for them or the world — harnesses that while also serving as a reminder of how much they own their sound.

Primordial on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website

Patriarchs in Black, My Veneration

Patriarchs in Black My Veneration

With a partner in drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Danzig, etc.), guitarist/songwriter Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Vessel of Light, Cassius King, etc.) has found an outlet open to various ideas within the sphere of doom metal/rock in Patriarchs in Black, whose second LP, My Veneration, brings a cohort of guests on vocals and bass alongside the band’s core duo. Some, like Karl Agell (C.O.C. Blind) and bassist Dave Neabore (Dog Eat Dog), are returning parties from the project’s 2022 debut, Reach for the Scars, while Unida vocalist Mark Sunshine makes a highlight of “Show Them Your Power” early on. Sunshine appears on “Veneration” as well alongside DMC from Run DMC, which, if you’re going to do a rap-rock crossover, it probably makes sense to get a guy who was there the first time it happened. Elsewhere, “Non Defectum” toys with layering with Kelly Abe of Sicks Deep adding screams, and Paul Stanley impersonator Bob Jensen steps in for the KISS cover “I Stole Your Love” and the originals “Dead and Gone” and “Hallowed Be Her Name” so indeed, no shortage of variety. Tying it together? The riffs, of course. Lorenzo has shown an as-yet inexhaustible supply thereof. Here, they seem to power multiple bands all on one album.

Patriarchs in Black on Instagram

MDD Records website

Blood Lightning, Blood Lightning

Blood Lightning self titled

Just because it wasn’t a surprise doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best debut albums of 2023. Bringing together known parties from Boston’s heavy underground Jim Healey (We’re All Gonna Die, etc.), Doug Sherman (Gozu), Bob Maloney (Worshipper) and J.R. Roach (Sam Black Church), Blood Lightning want nothing for pedigree, and their Ripple-issued self-titled debut meets high expectations with vigor and thrash-born purpose. Sherman‘s style of riffing and Healey‘s soulful, belted-out vocals are both identifiable factors in cuts like “The Dying Starts” and the charging “Face Eater,” which works to find a bridge between heavy rock and classic, soaring metal. Their cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Disturbing the Priest,” included here as the last of the six songs on the 27-minute album, I seem to recall being at least part of the impetus for the band, but frankly, however they got there, I’m glad the project has been preserved. I don’t know if they will or won’t do anything else, but there’s potential in their metal/rock blend, which positions itself as oldschool but is more forward thinking than either genre can be on its own.

Blood Lightning on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Haurun, Wilting Within

haurun wilting within

Based in Oakland and making their debut with the significant endorsement of Small Stone Records and Kozmik Artifactz behind them, atmospheric post-heavy rock five-piece Haurun tap into ethereal ambience and weighted fuzz in such a way as to raise memories of the time Black Math Horseman got picked up by Tee Pee. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. With notions of Acid King in the nodding, undulating riffs of “Abyss” and the later reaches of “Lost and Found,” but two guitars are a distinguishing factor, and Haurun come across as primarily concerned with mood, although the post-grunge ’90s alt hooks of “Flying Low” and “Lunar” ahead of 11-minute closer “Soil,” which uses its longform breadth to cast as vivid a soundscape as possible. Fast, slow, minimalist or at a full wash of noise, Haurun‘s Wilting Within has its foundation in heavy rock groove and riffy repetition, but does something with that that goes beyond microniche confines. Very much looking forward to more from this band.

Haurun on Facebook

Small Stone Records website

Kozmik Artifactz website

Wicked Trip, Cabin Fever

wicked trip cabin fever

Its point of view long established by the time they get around to the filthy lurch of “Hesher” — track three of seven — Cabin Fever is the first full-length from cultish doomers Wicked Trip. The Tennessee outfit revel in Electric Wizard-style fuckall on “Cabin Fever” after the warning in the spoken “Intro,” and the 11-minute sample-topped “Night of Pan” is a psych-doom jam that’s hypnotic right unto its keyboard-drone finish giving over to the sampled smooth sounds of the ’70s at the start of “Black Valentine,” which feels all the more dirt-coated when it actually kicks in, though “Evils of the Night” is no less threatening of purpose in its garage-doom swing, crash-out and cacophonous payoff, and I’m pretty sure if you played “No Longer Human” at double the speed, well, it might be human again. All of these grim, bleak, scorching, nodding, gnashing pieces come together to craft Cabin Fever as one consuming, lo-fi entirety, raw both because the recording sounds harsh and because the band itself eschew any frills not in service to their disillusioned atmosphere.

Wicked Trip on Instagram

Wicked Trip on Bandcamp

Splinter, Role Models

Splinter Role Models

There’s an awful lot of sex going on in Splinter‘s Role Models, as the Amsterdam glam-minded heavy rockers follow their 2021 debut, Filthy Pleasures (review here), with cuts like “Soviet Schoolgirl,” “Bottom,” “Opposite Sex” and the poppy post-punk “Velvet Scam” early on. It’s not all sleaze — though even “The Carpet Makes Me Sad” is trying to get you in bed — and the piano and boozy harmonies of “Computer Screen” are a fun departure ahead of the also-acoustic finish in closer “It Should Have Been Over,” while “Every Circus Needs a Clown” feels hell-bent on remaking Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Medicine Man” and “Forbidden Kicks” find a place where garage rock meets heavier riffing, while “Children” gets its complaints registered efficiently in just over two boogie-push minutes. A touch of Sabbath here, some Queens of the Stone Age chic disco there, and Splinter are happy to find a place for themselves adjacent to both without aping either. One would not accuse them of subtlety as regards theme, but there’s something to be said for saying what you want up front.

Splinter on Facebook

Noisolution website

Terra Black, All Descend

Terra Black All Descend

Beginning with its longest component track (immediate points) in “Asteroid,” Terra Black‘s All Descend is a downward-directed slab of doomed nod, so doubled-down on its own slog that “Black Flames of Funeral Fire” doesn’t even start its first verse until the song is more than half over. Languid tempos play up the largesse of “Ashes and Dust,” and “Divinest Sin” borders on Eurometal, but if you need to know what’s in Terra Black‘s heart, look no further than the guitar, bass, drum and vocal lumber — all-lumber — of “Spawn of Lyssa” and find that it’s doom pumping blood around the band’s collective body. While avoiding sounding like Electric Wizard, the Gothenburg, Sweden, unit crawl through that penultimate duet track with all ready despondency, and resolve “Slumber Grove” with agonized final lub-dub heartbeats of kick drum and guitar drawl after a vivid and especially doomed wash drops out to vocals before rearing back and plodding forward once more, doomed, gorgeous, immersive, and so, so heavy. They’re not finished growing yet — nor should they be on this first album — but they’re on the path.

Terra Black on Facebook

Terra Black on Bandcamp

Musing, Somewhen

musing somewhen

Sometimes the name of a thing can tell you about the thing. So enters Musing, a contemplative solo outfit from Devin “Darty” Purdy, also known for his work in Calgary-based bands Gone Cosmic and Chron Goblin, with the eight-song/42-minute Somewhen and a flowing instrumental narrative that borders on heavy post-rock and psychedelia, but is clearheaded ultimately in its course and not slapdash enough to be purely experimental. That is, though intended to be instrumental works outside the norm of his songcraft, tracks like “Flight to Forever” and the delightfully bassy “Frontal Robotomy” are songs, have been carved out of inspired and improvised parts to be what they are. “Hurry Wait” revamps post-metal standalone guitar to be the basis of a fuzzy exploration, while “Reality Merchants” hones a sense of space that will be welcome in ears that embrace the likes of Yawning Sons or Big Scenic Nowhere. Somewhen has a story behind it — there’s narrative; blessings and peace upon it — but the actual music is open enough to translate to any number of personal interpretations. A ‘see where it takes you’ attitude is called for, then. Maybe on Purdy‘s part as well.

Musing on Facebook

Musing on Bandcamp

Spiral Shades, Revival

Spiral Shades Revival

A heavy and Sabbathian rock forms the underlying foundation of Spiral Shades‘ sound, and the returning two-piece of vocalist Khushal R. Bhadra and guitarist/bassist/drummer Filip Petersen have obviously spent the nine years since 2014’s debut, Hypnosis Sessions (review here), enrolled in post-doctoral Iommic studies. Revival, after so long, is not unwelcome in the least. Doom happens in its own time, and with seven songs and 38 minutes of new material, plus bonus tracks, they make up for lost time with classic groove and tone loyal to the blueprint once put forth while reserving a place for itself in itself. That is, there’s more to Spiral Shades and to Revival than Sabbath worship, even if that’s a lot of the point. I won’t take away from the metal-leaning chug of “Witchy Eyes” near the end of the album, but “Foggy Mist” reminds of The Obsessed‘s particular crunch and “Chapter Zero” rolls like Spirit Caravan, find a foothold between rock and doom, and it turns out riffs are welcome on both sides.

Spiral Shades on Facebook

Spiral Shades on Bandcamp

Bandshee, Bandshee III

Bandshee III

The closing “Sex on a Grave” reminds of the slurring bluesy lasciviousness of Nick Cave‘s Grinderman, and that should in part be taken as a compliment to the setup through “Black Cat” — which toys with 12-bar structure and is somewhere between urbane cool and cabaret nerdery — and the centerpiece “Bad Day,” which follows a classic downer chord progression through its apex with the rawness of Backwoods Payback at their most emotive and a greater melodic reach only after swaying through its willful bummer of an intro. Last-minute psych flourish in the guitar threatens to make “Bad Day” a party, but the Louisville outfit find their way around to their own kind of fun, which since the release is only three songs long just happens to be “Sex on a Grave.” Fair enough. Rife with attitude and an emergent dynamic that’s complementary to the persona of the vocals rather than trying to keep up with them, the counterintuitively-titled second short release (yes, I know the cover is a Zeppelin reference; settle down) from Bandshee lays out an individual approach to heavy songwriting and a swing that goes back further in time than most.

Bandshee on Facebook

Bandshee on Bandcamp

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Primordial to Release How it Ends on Sept. 29; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Primordial (Photo by Fergal Flannery)

Hard not to take long-running Irish metallers Primordial at their word when they say that the new album sounds like Primordial. That’s basically their specialty. Fronted by Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, who might seriously consider a foray into national politics if he hasn’t, the band will issue their 10th full-length — hot damn — which has been given the foreboding title How it Ends, on Sept. 29 through Metal Blade. This is the band’s first outing since 2018’s Exile Amongst the Ruins (review here), and while I get the distinct feeling they’re talking about bigger endings, they are giving away the ending of the record itself in having the closing track as the first single.

The song is called “Victory Has 1,000 Fathers, Defeat is an Orphan,” and the post-black metal style of Primordial, informed as ever by Celtic folk progressions and melodies, is rampant throughout its six-plus minutes, which are presented with an accompanying video, duly moody and cinematic. It’s the first clip I’ve seen in a while where a band wears armor and doesn’t immediately look ridiculous, so kudos to Primordial on that. Experts on tough balances, they are.

The PR wire has album details. Can’t wait. I want the 2CD digipak with the six bonus tracks:

primordial how it ends

PRIMORDIAL To Release How It Ends September 29th Via Metal Blade Records; New Video/Single Now Playing + Preorders Available

Long-running, Dublin, Ireland-based Pagan metallers PRIMORDIAL will release their tenth full-length, How It Ends, on September 29th via Metal Blade Records.

PRIMORDIAL has nothing to prove. Having lasted thirty-two years and now returning with their devastating new studio offering, the Irish band has made it clear they are a primal force who consistently lay it all on the line. The follow-up to 2018’s critically lauded Exile Amongst The Ruins, How It Ends sees them delivering more of their seminal blend of Celtic and black metal, with an extra added urgency, and staring down the apocalypse.

“The title is a question – is this how it ends? How it all goes down: culture, language, history, society – humanity – who knows?,” says vocalist A. A. Nemtheanga. “Regardless of who you are or were, you get one chance at all of this, and it’s asking is this the end of your town, state, nation? Myths, traditions, relationships, and I suppose it asks the question, who reacts, who rebels – how does it end now for them?”

Working alongside founding members Pól MacAmlaigh (bass) and Ciáran MacUilliam (guitar) and longtime drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, the band started writing in earnest in the Fall of 2022, having lit a fire under themselves to work hastily and productively. PRIMORDIAL never plans out a record beforehand, letting them come together naturally, though Nemtheanga knew he wanted something with a bigger, more open sound, and something more aggressive, which is exactly what they achieved. “How It Ends is a very angry, defiant, visceral, and rebellious album, and as we worked it all began to take more shape and form itself. It may be the note we go out on but it will be a note of resistance, in musical terms. I think it’s also more metal! And more epic!”

It only takes one listen for these claims to be proven true, whether it’s the surging, gruff, dark “Ploughs To Rust, Swords To Dust,” the moody, desperate “Pilgrimage To The World’s End,” or the sprawling “All Against All,” which is drenched in a sinister air and driven by pounding rhythms, wielding a towering climax. “It certainly sounds like PRIMORDIAL, there is no doubt about that, we have our own style and this is a new chapter of the same book. If we have done anything new it’s really to work with more conviction than ever, and trust more than ever our instincts.”

Drawing lyrical influence both from modern and historical ideas, Nemtheanga always gives the listener something to think about. How It Ends is no exception. “If, for example, To The Nameless Dead (2007) was about the movement of borders, building of nations and those sent to war who gave their lives forming them, then this is the album more about resisting those empires, the freedom fighters, the outlaws, the people who made suicidal stands for freedom of speech, or independence – or for the most important word in the English language: liberty. It’s not hard to see why the album is inspired by this considering where we are right now in the world.”

In advance of the record’s release, today the band unleashes first single and album closer, “Victory Has 1000 Fathers, Defeat Is An Orphan,“ and its accompanying video.

How It Ends was tracked at Hellfire Studios on the outskirts of Dublin, produced by the band, and engineered by previous collaborator Chris Fielding. The record will be released in the following formats:

(Worldwide) – Digital
(US) – Jewel Case CD
(Worldwide) 2xLP in Gatefold, with insert and downloadcard
(EU) – 2xDigipak CD (6-panel digi w/ 12-page booklet) w/ 6-bonus tracks
(EU) 2xLP Special Edition in Gatefold, with insert and downloadcard in slipcase with tote bag, slipmat, double-sided poster (ltd. to 1000 copies)

Find preorders at www.metalblade.com/primordial.

How It Ends Track Listing:
1. How It Ends
2. Ploughs To Rust, Swords To Dust
3. We Shall Not Serve
4. Traidisiúnta
5. Pilgrimage To The World’s End
6. Nothing New Under The Sun
7. Call To Cernunnos
8. All Against All
9. Death Holy Death
10. Victory Has 1000 Fathers, Defeat Is An Orphan

Coinciding with the release of How It Ends, PRIMORDIAL will serve as direct support to Paradise Lost on the Ultima Ratio Fest European Tour. Additional support will be provided by Omnium Gatherum and Harakiri For The Sky. Find tickets at THIS LOCATION.

PRIMORDIAL w/ Paradise Lost, Omnium Gatherum, Harakiri For The Sky:
9/28/2023 Substage – Karlsruhe, DE
9/29/2023 Komplex – Zurich, CZ
9/30/2023 Kaminwerk – Memmingen, DE
10/01/2023 Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, DE
10/02/2023 Löwensaal – Nuremberg,DE
10/04/2023 Trix – Antwerp, BE
10/05/2023 Garage – Saarbrücken, DE
10/06/2023 MeetFactory – Prague, CZ
10/07/2023 Vienna Metal Meeting – Vienna, AT
10/08/2023 Barba Negra – Budapest, HU
10/10/2023 A2 – Wroclaw, PL
10/11/2023 Capitol – Hanover, DE
10/12/2023 Kronensaal – Hamburg, DE
10/13/2023 Hellraiser – Leipzig, DE
10/14/2023 Turbinenhalle 2 – Oberhausen, DE
10/15/2023 Roanda – Utrecht, NL

A.A. Nemtheanga – vocals
Ciarán MacUilliam – guitar
Michael O’Floinn – guitar
Pól MacAmlaigh – bass
Simon O’Laoghaire – drums



Primordial, “Victory Has 1,000 Fathers, Defeat is an Orphan” official video

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Quarterly Review: Magnatar, Wild Rocket, Trace Amount, Lammping, Limousine Beach, 40 Watt Sun, Decasia, Giant Mammoth, Pyre Fyre, Kamru

Posted in Reviews on June 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Here begins day two of 10. I don’t know at what point it occurred to me to load up the Quarterly Review with killer stuff to make it, you know, more pleasant than having it only be records I feel like I should be writing about, but I’m intensely glad I did.

Seems like a no brainer, right? But the internet is dumb, and it’s so easy to get caught up in what you see on social media, who’s hyping what, and the whole thing is driven by this sad, cloying FOMO that I despise even as I participate. If you’re ever in a situation to let go of something so toxic, even just a little bit and even just in your own head — which is where it all exists anyhow — do it. And if you take nothing else from this 100-album Quarterly Review besides that advice, it won’t be a loss.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Magnatar, Crushed

magnatar crushed

Can’t say they don’t deliver. The eight-song/38-minute Crushed is the debut long-player from Manchester, New Hampshire’s Magnatar, and it plays to the more directly aggressive side of post-metallic riffing. There are telltale quiet stretches, to be sure, but the extremity of shouts and screams in opener “Dead Swan” and in the second half of “Crown of Thorns” — the way that intensity becomes part of the build of the song as a whole — is well beyond the usual throaty fare. There’s atmosphere to balance, but even the 1:26 “Old” bends into harsh static, and the subsequent “Personal Contamination Through Mutual Unconsciousness” bounces djent and post-hardcore impulses off each other before ending up in a mega-doom slog, the lyric “Eat shit and die” a particular standout. So it goes into “Dragged Across the Surface of the Sun,” which is more even, but on the side of being pissed off, and “Loving You Was Killing Me” with its vastly more open spaces, clean vocals and stretch of near-silence before a more intense solo-topped finish. That leaves “Crushed” and “Event Horizon” to round out, and the latter is so heavy it’s barely music and that’s obviously the idea.

Magnatar on Facebook

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp


Wild Rocket, Formless Abyss

wild rocket formless abyss

Three longform cosmic rock excursions comprise Wild Rocket‘s Formless Abyss — “Formless Abyss” (10:40), “Interplanetary Vibrations” (11:36) and “Future Echoes” (19:41) — so lock in your harness and be ready for when the g-forces hit. If the Dubliners have tarried in following-up 2017’s Disassociation Mechanics (review here), one can only cite the temporal screwing around taking place in “Interplanetary Vibrations” as a cause — it would be easy to lose a year or two in its depths — never mind “Future Echoes,” which meets the background-radiation drone of the two inclusions prior with a ritualized heft and slow-unfurling wash of distortion that is like a clarion to Sagan-headed weirdos. A dark-matter nebula. You think you’re freaked out now? Wild Rocket speak their own language of sound, in their own time, and Formless Abyss — while not entirely without structure — has breadth enough to make even the sunshine a distant memory.

Wild Rocket on Facebook

Riot Season Records website


Trace Amount, Anti Body Language

Trace Amount Anti Body Language

An awaited debut full-length from Brooklyn multimedia artist/producer Brandon Gallagher, Trace Amount‘s Anti Body Language sees release through Greg Puciato‘s Federal Prisoner imprint and collects a solid 35 minutes of noise-laced harsh industrial worldbreaking. Decay anthems. A methodical assault begins with “Anxious Awakenings” and moving through “Anti Body Language” and “Eventually it Will Kill Us All,” the feeling of Gallagher acknowledging the era in which the record arrives is palpable, but more palpable are the weighted beats, the guttural shouts and layers of disaffected moans. “Digitized Exile” plays out like the ugliest outtake from Pretty Hate Machine — a compliment — and after the suitably tense “No Reality,” the six-minute “Tone and Tenor” — with a guest appearance from Kanga — offers a fuller take on drone and industrial metal, filling some of the spaces purposefully left open elsewhere. That leaves the penultimate “Pixelated Premonitions” as the ultimate blowout and “Suspect” (with a guest spot from Statiqbloom; a longtime fixture of NY industrialism) to noise-wash it all away, like city acid rain melting the pavement. New York always smells like piss in summer.

Trace Amount on Instagram

Federal Prisoner store


Lammping, Desert on the Keel

Lammping Desert on the Keel

This band just keeps getting better, and yes, I mean that. Toronto’s Lammping begin an informal, casual-style series of singles with “Desert on the Keel,” the sub-four-minutes of which are dedicated to a surprisingly peaceful kind of heavy psychedelia. Multiple songwriters at work? Yes. Rhythm guitarist Matt Aldred comes to the fore here with vocals mellow to suit the languid style of the guitar, which with Jay Anderson‘s drums still giving a push beneath reminds of Quest for Fire‘s more active moments, but would still fit alongside the tidy hooks with which Lammping populate their records. Mikhail Galkin, principal songwriter for the band, donates a delightfully gonna-make-some-noise-here organ solo in the post-midsection jam before “Desert on the Keel” turns righteously back to the verse, Colm Hinds‘ bass McCartneying the bop for good measure, and in a package so welcome it can only be called a gift, Lammping demonstrate multiple new avenues of growth for their craft and project. I told you. They keep getting better. For more, dig into 2022’s Stars We Lost EP (review here). You won’t regret it.

Lammping on Instagram

Lammping on Bandcamp


Limousine Beach, Limousine Beach

Limousine Beach Limousine Beach

Immediate three-part harmonies in the chorus of opener “Stealin’ Wine” set the tone for Limousine Beach‘s self-titled debut, as the new band fronted by guitarist/vocalist David Wheeler (OutsideInside, Carousel) and bringing together a five-piece with members of Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Cruces and others melds ’70s-derived sounds with a modern production sheen, so that the Thin Lizzy-style twin leads of “Airboat” hit with suitable brightness and the arena-ready vibe in “Willodene” sets up the proto-metal of “Black Market Buss Pass” and the should-be-a-single-if-it-wasn’t “Hear You Calling.” Swagger is a staple of Wheeler‘s work, and though the longest song on Limousine Beach is still under four minutes, there’s plenty of room in tracks like “What if I’m Lying,” the AC/DC-esque “Evan Got a Job” and the sprint “Movin’ On” (premiered here) for such things, and the self-awareness in “We’re All Gonna Get Signed” adds to the charm. Closing out the 13 songs and 31 minutes, “Night is Falling” is dizzying, and leads to “Doo Doo,” the tight-twisting “Tiny Hunter” and the feedback and quick finish of “Outro,” which is nonetheless longer than the song before it. Go figure. Go rock. One of 2022’s best debut albums. Good luck keeping up.

Limousine Beach on Facebook

Tee Pee Records website


40 Watt Sun, Perfect Light

40 watt sun perfect light

Perfect Light is the closest Patrick Walker (also Warning) has yet come to a solo album with 40 Watt Sun, and any way one approaches it, is a marked departure from 2016’s Wider Than the Sky (review here, sharing a continued penchant for extended tracks but transposing the emotional weight that typifies Walker‘s songwriting and vocals onto pieces led by acoustic guitar and piano. Emma Ruth Rundle sits in on opener “Reveal,” which is one of the few drumless inclusions on the 67-minute outing, but primarily the record is a showcase for Walker‘s voice and fluid, ultra-subdued and mostly-unplugged guitar notes, which float across “Behind My Eyes” and the dare-some-distortion “Raise Me Up” later on, shades of the doom that was residing in the resolution that is, the latter unflinching in its longing purpose. Not a minor undertaking either on paper or in the listening experience, it is the boldest declaration of intent and progression in Walker’s storied career to-date, leaving heavy genre tropes behind in favor of something that seems even more individual.

40 Watt Sun on Facebook

Cappio Records website

Svart Records website


Decasia, An Endless Feast for Hyenas

Decasia An Endless Feast for Hyenas

Snagged by Heavy Psych Sounds in the early going of 2022, French rockers Decasia debut on the label with An Endless Feast for Hyenas, a 10-track follow-up to 2017’s The Lord is Gone EP (review here), making the most of the occasion of their first full-length to portray inventive vocal arrangements coinciding with classic-sounding fuzz in “Hrosshvelli’s Ode” and the spacier “Cloud Sultan” — think vocalized Earthless — the easy-rolling viber “Skeleton Void” and “Laniakea Falls.” “Ilion” holds up some scorch at the beginning, “Hyenas at the Gates” goes ambient at the end, and interludes “Altostratus” and “Soft Was the Night” assure a moment to breathe without loss of momentum, holding up proof of a thoughtful construction even as Decasia demonstrate a growth underway and a sonic persona long in development that holds no shortage of potential for continued progress. By no means is An Endless Feast for Hyenas the highest-profile release from this label this year, but think of it as an investment in things to come as well as delivery for right now.

Decasia on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp


Giant Mammoth, Holy Sounds

Giant Mammoth Holy Sounds

The abiding shove of “Circle” and the more swinging “Abracadabra” begin Giant Mammoth‘s second full-length, Holy Sounds, with a style that wonders what if Lowrider and Valley of the Sun got together in a spirit of mutual celebration and densely-packed fuzz. Longer pieces “The Colour is Blue” and “Burning Man” and the lightly-proggier finale “Teisko” space out more, and the two-minute “Dust” is abidingly mellow, but wherever the Tampere, Finland, three-piece go, they remain in part defined by the heft of “Abracadabra” and the opener before it, with “Unholy” serving as an anchor for side A after “Burning Man” and “Wasteland” bringing a careening return to earth between “The Colour is Blue” and the close-out in “Teisko.” Like the prior-noted influences, Giant Mammoth are a stronger act for the dynamics of their material and the manner in which the songs interact with each other as the eight-track/38-minute LP plays out across its two sides, the second able to be more expansive for the groundwork laid in the first. They’re young-ish and they sound it (that’s not a slag), and the transition from duo to three-piece made between their first record and this one suits them and bodes well in its fuller tonality.

Giant Mammoth on Facebook

Giant Mammoth on Bandcamp


Pyre Fyre, Rinky Dink City / Slow Cookin’

Pyre Fyre Rinky Dink City Slow Cookin

New Jersey trio Pyre Fyre may or may not be paying homage to their hometown of Bayonne with “Rinky Dink City,” but their punk-born fuzzy sludge rock reminds of none so much as New Orleans’ Suplecs circa 2000’s Wrestlin’ With My Ladyfriend, both the title-tracks dug into raw lower- and high-end buzztone shenanigans, big on groove and completely void of pretense. Able to have fun and still offer some substance behind the chicanery. I don’t know if you’d call it party rock — does anyone party on the East Coast or are we too sad because the weather sucks? probably, I’m just not invited — but if you were having a hangout and Pyre Fyre showed up with “Slow Cookin’,” for sure you’d let them have the two and a half minutes it takes them (less actually) to get their point across. In terms of style and songwriting, production and performance, this is a band that ask next to nothing of the listener in terms of investment are able to effect a mood in the positive without being either cloyingly poppish or leaving a saccharine aftertaste. I guess this is how the Garden State gets high. Fucking a.

Pyre Fyre on Instagram

Pyre Fyre on Bandcamp


Kamru, Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe

Kamru Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe

Issued on April 20, the cumbersomely-titled Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe is the debut outing from Denver-based two-piece Kamru, comprised of Jason Kleim and Ashwin Prasad. With six songs each hovering on either side of seven minutes long, the duo tap into a classic stoner-doom feel, and one could point to this or that riff and say The Sword or liken their tone worship and makeup to Telekinetic Yeti, but that’s missing the point. The point is in the atmosphere that is conjured by “Penumbral Litany” and the familiar proto-metallurgy of the subsequent “Hexxer,” prominent vocals echoing with a sense of command rare for a first offering of any kind, let alone a full-length. In the more willfully grueling “Cenotaph” there’s doomly reach, and as “Winter Rites” marches the album to its inevitable end — one imagines blood splattered on a fresh Rocky Mountain snowfall — the band’s take on established parameters of aesthetic sounds like it’s trying to do precisely what it wants. I’m saying watch out for it to get picked up for a vinyl release by some label or other if that hasn’t happened yet.

Kamru on Facebook

Kamru on Bandcamp


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Wild Rocket Releasing Formless Abyss March 4; Title-Track Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Dublin, Ireland, heavy psych/space rock warriors Wild Rocket have announced a March 4 release for Formless Abyss. Their third-full-length behind 2014’s Geomagnetic Hallucinations and 2017’s Disassociation Mechanics (review here), the three-song LP will be the nebulous band’s label debut through Riot Season Records, whose endorsement should tell you something about the quality of their work. If your interest is piqued by that alone, certainly the 10-minute opening title-track that’s streaming (nice) will raise an eyebrow as well, and if your eyebrow’s raised, you’re already three-quarters of the way to rock and rolling. I think the last step has something to do with quitting your dayjob.

So do that.

In fact, we’ll play a game. You start the Wild Rocket track at the bottom of this post, then see if you can compose and fire off an email, text, or phone call to your boss telling them you’re done before the song is over. If you make it in time, you win. If you don’t make it in time, you still win, because you quit your job. And that’s how you win.

Down with capitalism. Up with shorter pressing times:

wild rocket formless abyss

Wild Rocket – Formless Abyss

Preorders: https://riotseasonrecords.bandcamp.com/album/formless-abyss

When not enthralled to the cosmos, WILD ROCKET call Dublin, Ireland home. It is from this base that their new record FORMLESS ABYSS emanates. This, their third transmission as a musical unit, features three long form pieces of swirling intensity brought to you by Riot Season Records on limited edition “seaweed green” vinyl.

As a confluence of ideas and methods, WILD ROCKET endeavour to interpret the subtle signals of the universe – the interplanetary vibrations – and present them as brash manifestations of sound. Scientists and Shaman alike have endeavoured to interpret the universal whispers, to elucidate meaning from the measurable and the sensable. It is known that to measure and interpret is to alter and colour those signals and this is what drives the development of WILD ROCKET’s sound and interpretation.

FORMLESS ABYSS showcases the band’s unflinching pummelling style, drifting from repetitive blows to unhinged swirls of din yet always remaining innately infectious and perhaps surprisingly danceable. The record is presented as a continuous piece in three parts.

The title track A FORMLESS ABYSS appears here for the first time in recorded form – a behemoth of a tune which builds around a drone, joined by dual drums and minimal bass locked into a repetitive groove. A groove that is slowly expanded via multiple guitars and synthesis. Vocals eventually join at just the right moment imploring the listener to “leave your criticisms down” and realise “we’re all equal now” in the formless abyss or the place between worlds where our earthly preoccupation with human differences are meaningless. We’re all in it together, whether we realise it or not.

The second track INTERPLANETARY VIBRATIONS may seem familiar to some in a simpler form. The expanded lineup and extended development of the core theme brings a new interpretation and experience that is more than worthwhile. The track’s vocals juxtapose the hybrid Germanic language of English with the ancient native Irish language of Gaeilge. Both used to promote meaning and interpretation of the interplanetary vibrations felt by all. The track features large dynamic shifts and changes of pace as the message that “it’s time to leave” propagated by the Earth itself becomes more frantic and more desperate. The track culminates in a wash of smashed gongs and distorted guitars, leaving the listener to interpret the message for themselves. Should we leave, to protect ourselves or the Earth itself?

The final track FUTURE ECHOES is a doom/kraut juggernaut coming in at just under twenty minutes. Only one question is asked and none answered, are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of previous civilisations over and over, or can we find the cracks of light that echo through and show us a new way forward? We’re left in a swirling formless abyss to consider who we are and where we’re headed. Will we ever reach the cosmic truth? Or will we be continuously mocked by the cosmic trout?

WILD ROCKET have proven themselves on the live circuit, playing with such visionaries as Ufomammut, Slomatics, Earth, Boris, The Cosmic Dead and old school rock legends Girlschool. One of the heaviest bands to emerge from the melting pot of talent in the Irish music scene, WILD ROCKET’s reputation precedes them wherever they travel and audiences and venues alike are left to piece themselves together in the discombobulation.

The band play a home town release show on the 26th March at Bello Bar/Lower Deck (Dublin) with their friends Panik Attacks and more tba. More gigs in the works to be announced as and when.

1. Formless Abyss
2. Interplanetary Vibrations
3. The Future Echoes

The WILD ROCKET lineup has expanded and contracted around three core consciousnesses since Jon Kelly’s 2018 departure. Jon controlled the synthesisers on the first two records, Dissociation Mechanics in 2017 and Geomagnetic Hallucinations in 2014. The trajectory has been altered but the goal has remained unchanged.

The three core members of Cian “Moose” Megannety, John Breslin and Niall Ó Claonadh (on bass, drums and guitars respectively) are joined in this transmission by:

– George Brennan (Film Composer and member of Cholera House/BB84/ex Melodica Deathship etc.) on modular synthesis and gong.

– Colin Mifsud (Disguise/Cyborg AD/Wolfbait/Drainland and many more) on second drum kit.

– Tommy O’Sullivan (Deepinthewoods66/Estel/Blood Red Dolls) on guitar and all important duties of engineering, mixing and producing the record.

George has since become a full-time member of the Rocket crew, bringing the band back to a solid four piece. That said, membership will likely fluctuate as needed for certain live performances. History may repeat itself but the future remains untold.

Mastering was handled by Ivan Jackman (Girlband, Jape, Solarbears, Stano)


Wild Rocket, Formless Abyss (2022)

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Beneath the Sod Premiere “Begotten of Grot” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

beneath the sod

Dublin-based Beneath the Sod — the mostly-solo-project of Raymond Keenaghan, also of Gourd — will release its self-titled EP on Dec. 17 through Cursed Monk Records. It is a work of atmospheric extremity, comprised of six songs running 28 minutes that, from opener “Silence of Lead” to finale “Deafness of Lead,” grips the listener with a lurching, semi-industrial sonic brutality. “Drooping Spirit” stinks of hot death. “Silence of Lead” rages to a forward riff and a drum-machine march that’s like Godflesh from the dark universe, and the cave-echo vocals, samples and rumbling, post-Khanate barely-a-song-ism of the piano-for-emphasis “Begotten of Grot” (video premiering below) — the first of two tracks to feature guest vocals from Unyielding Love‘s Richard Carson, the other being “Deafness of Lead” — follows with a further plunge into some oily abyss that only gets heavier and more maddening as it consumes across its five minutes.

It’s not so much a video premiere as it is a psychological test. A moving Rorschachbeneath the sod beneath the sod of horrors across five minutes set to the audio from your deathly poetic nightmares. Though its underlying mechanized grit remains, highlighting (lowlighting?) the balance of rawness and concept that almost inherently coincides with something even partially industrial as Beneath the Sod is; that is to say, at some point during the process of making the thing, it’s likely Keenaghan looked at a waveform, and thought to himself that indeed this was the noise he wanted to make. That’s a jarring thought as “Expulsion of Revulsion” plays out its lumbering ugh-ness and “Rustling of the Spheres” kicks the tempo up but is almost so noisy in the process you’d hardly notice if not for the biting high frequency cut-through of the digitized cymbals. With “Deafness of Lead” — the EP running between silence and deafness, mind you — first calling back to (admittedly, a more active) Khanate before departing suddenly before two minutes in to a more disjointed version of the same progression on which it long-fades out, the proverbial last nail in the coffin proves no less rusty than any of the others.

It is well and truly fucked, on aesthetic terms, and “Begotten of Grot” should probably best be viewed in either a vomit-stank dungeon or a chic Dublin art gallery with the video projected on a white wall while viewers rest chins on their hands and discern whatever message from its raw scathe might be the most pretentious.

Not appropriate to say “enjoy” here, as I generally might, but if you can appreciate the expressive gruel of something so intended toward such punishment — and not everyone can, and that’s okay — well then, enjoy.

PR wire info follows the clip below:

Beneath the Sod, “Begotten of Grot” video premiere

Beneath the Sod is the one man project of Raymond Keenaghan, one half of Doom Noise merchants Gourd.

On December 17th we will be releasing Beneath The Sod’s new self-titled EP on CD and digital.

This will be Beneath The Sod’s third release after their debut album Circling the Drain (Fort Evil Fruit, 2017), and their split with Crypticum, Transmorphic Eye (Cursed Monk Records, 2018).

Featuring guest vocals from Richard Carson (Unyielding Love) on “Begotten of Grot” and “Deafness of Lead,” this latest offering from Beneath The Sod offers up an intense serving of Industrial Doom, a claustrophobic experience which sounds like the sonic equivalent of a panic attack. Quite frankly, we think it’s their best work to date.

Beneath the Sod scrape back the top soil to lay bare all that is repulsive and feculent beneath. Narcotic and eldritch, Beneath the Sod erodes the listener with a writhing tapestry of industrial doom, grinding noise and hallucinatory horror. Punishing and bewildering, with each release Beneath the Sod sinks deeper into their unique and singularly maddening mire.

Beneath the Sod, Beneath the Sod (2021)

Beneath the Sod on Facebook

Beneath the Sod on Soundcloud

Cursed Monk Records website

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

Cursed Monk Records on Facebook

Cursed Monk Records on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dread Sovereign, Space Smoke, If it Kills You, Clara Engel, Maya Mountains, Cave of Swimmers, Blind Monarch, Cancervo, Sahara

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Hello Day Two of the Quarterly Review. It started by oversleeping by about an hour, but so it goes. Yesterday went about as smoothly as I can ask a QR day to go, so I’m hoping that today follows suit despite the rough start. There’s nothing like building some momentum once you get going with these writeups. It’s about as close to ‘in the zone’ as I get. Trance of productivity.

As always, I hope you find something here you dig. Today’s round is good and all over the place, so maybe everyone’ll get lucky. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Vertigo

jess and the ancient ones vertigo

More than a decade on from their founding, Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones are an established brand when it comes to cult psych rock, and their fourth full-length, issued through Svart, is gleeful to the point of witch-cackling on “Talking Board” (think Ouija) and offers rousing classically-stylized hooks on fellow early cuts like opener “Burning of the Velvet Fires” and “World Paranormal” as well as side B’s “Born to Kill,” the Dr. Strangelove-sampling “Summer Tripping Man” and the organ-washed “What’s on Your Mind” ahead of an 11-minute prog rock grand finale in “Strange Earth Illusion” that feels very much like the impetus toward which the album has been driving all along. Relax, you’re in the hands of professional mystics, and their acid rock vibes are made all the more grand by Jess‘ soulful delivery atop the ever-clever arrangements of guitar, organ, bass, drums, samples, and so on. This kind of cultish lysergic fare has never been and never will be for everyone. Listening to Vertigo, you can only really wonder why that is.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Facebook

Svart Records website


Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Metallic overload! Irish assault supreme! All sentences end with exclamation points! A new Dread Sovereign record doesn’t come along every day, or year, but the Dublin trio certainly make it count when one does. Alchemical Warfare is the third LP from the Alan Averill-fronted outfit, and with Johnny “Con Ri” King (also Conan) on drums and guitarist Bones Huse (also Wizards of Firetop Mountain), the band tear through nine tracks and 51 minutes of doom-colored metallurgy, throwing unrepentant fists in the air under darkened, irony-free skies. By the time 10-minute post-intro opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” is over, if you’re not ready to quit your job and join the legion about to set march to “The Great Beast We Serve,” it’s no fault of the band’s. “Nature is the Devil’s Church” was the lead single and is a standout hook, but the grandiosity of “Ruin Upon the Temple Mount”‘s Candlemassy riffing is too good to be ignored, and they finish with a Bathory cover, because fucking a, that’s why.

Dread Sovereign on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website


Space Smoke, Aurora Dourada

Space Smoke Aurora Dourada

The debut EP from Brazilian instrumentalist trio Space Smoke runs all of 12 minutes, but that’s long enough for Aurora Dourada to give an impression of where the band are coming from. Three distinct tracks — “Magia Cerimonial,” “Interludio” and “Corpo Solar” — comprise the outing, and the middle one is indeed an interlude, so it’s really the opener and closer doing the heavy lifting. “Magia Cerimonia” starts off with a sense of foreboding but makes its way instead into hypnotic repetition, bordering on a meditative lumber that doesn’t stick around long enough to be redundant, and with the interlude as a breath between, the eight-minute “Corpo Solar” rounds out as the most substantial piece of the outing, drifting guitar over languid drums and bass, dreamy and sopping wet with reverb. They push it heavier than its quiet beginning, of course, but even the howling lead work near the finish maintains the inviting and immersive vibe with which they set out. Might be a blip of things to come, but it’s a blip worth checking out. Mini-trip.

Space Smoke on Instagram

Abraxas Events on Facebook


If it Kills You, Infinite Hum

if it kills you infinite hum

Infinite Hum is the striking debut LP from Bakersfield, California, post-hardcore heavy three/four-piece If it Kills You, who along with the periodic charred guest vocals on half the six tracks, bring together a quick assemblage for a 12″ that readily alternates between melodic sway and shoutier roll. They groove despite unpredictable turns, and their blend of hefted tones and punker-grown-up melodies makes a welcome impression on opener “We Don’t Belong Here” or “Moving Target.” Starts and stops and a bit of winding lead work give “Repeat Resolve” an edge of noise rock — more than an edge, actually; kind of like the flat side of a brick — but If it Kills You never push to one side or the other entirely, and as the screams return for later in “Repeat Resolve” and closer “Projections,” charged every time with and succeeding at pushing a crescendo over the top, the band manage to bring sincerity and structure together with what sounds like experienced hands. Don’t be fooled by “first album”; they know what they’re doing.

If it Kills You on Facebook

Killer Kern on Bandcamp


Clara Engel, A New Skin

Clara Engel A New Skin

I’m not sure if anyone still calls this kind of thing “neo-folk,” but I am sure I don’t care. The sense of atmosphere Clara Engel puts into her latest album, A New Skin, beginning with the shift between minimal guitar and keyboard on “Starry Eyed Goat,” uses negative space no less effectively than does the mostly-black cover art, and the eight-song/46-minute outing that ensues alternates between emotive and wondrously ambient, suited to the home recording done during (presumed) isolation in Fall 2020. Engel handles all instrumentation herself and remains indelibly human in her sometimes-layered vocal delivery all the while, speaking to a building-out process of the material, but one does not get the sense in listening to “Night Tide” and the sparse “Thieves” back-to-back that the foundation of all the songs is the same, which is all the more representative of an exploratory songwriting process. A New Skin as a whole feels likewise exploratory, a reflection inward as much as out.

Clara Engel on Facebook

Clara Engel on Bandcamp


Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Long-running Italian trio Maya Mountains issued Era through Go Down Records in 2020 as their first album in some six years, readily engaging with desert rock on cuts like “San Saguaro” and closer “El Toro,” working in a bit of post-Queens of the Stone Age riffy quirk to go along with less bouncing and chunkier fare on “Vibromatic” and “Baumgartner,” or “Extremely High,” which makes its speedier tempo feel organic ahead of the finish. All told, it’s 44 minutes of solid heavy rock, with variation between songs of what each is working toward doing that does nothing to pull away from the vibe as a whole, whether that’s in a more aggressive moment like “Vibromatic” or the spacier playfulness at the start of “Raul,” the band clearly unafraid of letting a little funk hold sway for a minute or two. Engaging without being revolutionary, Era knows its craft and audience alike, and offers one to the other without pretense or presumption. It’s rock for rockers, but what’s wrong with that?

Maya Mountains on Facebook

Go Down Records website


Cave of Swimmers, Aurora

cave of swimmers aurora

An awaited first long-player from Miami duo Cave of Swimmers — vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Guillermo Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Arturo Garcia — packages epic metal in tight-knit bursts of heavy rock tonality. Choruses in “The Sun” and “Double Rainbow” are grand affairs not because their tones are so huge, but because of the melodies that top them, and at the same time, with riffs at the forefront of the verses, the duo make progressive shifts sound classic in the vein of Iron Maiden or Dio with a still-prevailing fuzzy topcoat. Centerpiece “My Human” is a love song that slams, while “Looking Glass” leans deeper into prog metal but brings the listener along with a another sweeping hook, a pattern of tension and release that carries over to “Dirt” as well, which leaves “C.S” to close out with its “Sign of the Southern Cross” keyboard-and-harmonies intro en route to a poised but still thrashing finish. There’s life in heavy metal, and here it is.

Cave of Swimmers on Facebook

Broomtune Records website


Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured

blind monarch what is imposed must be endured

Straight out of Sheffield, UK, Blind Monarch first released their What is Imposed Must Be Endured four-song/56-minute full-length on Black Bow Records in 2020 and it’s been picked up for a 2LP vinyl pressing by Dry Cough Records. There’s something to be said for splitting up these tracks each onto its own side, making the whole release more manageable despite getting up to do a side or platter flip, but any way you go, “Suffering Breathes My Name” (13:45), “My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb” (10:47), “Blind Monarch” (14:10) and closer “Living Altar” (17:54) are geared toward sharp-toothed death-sludge consumption, extreme in thought and deed. Feedback is strewn about the place like so much flayed skin, and even in the quiet moments at the start and laced into “Living Altar,” the atmosphere remains oppressive. Yet, endure one must. Blind Monarch, even among the UK’s ultra-packed underground, are a standout in how maddeningly heavy they manage to be, and on their debut outing, no less. If you missed it last year, be ready to pay extra for shipping.

Blind Monarch on Facebook

Dry Cough Records website

Black Bow Records webstore


Cancervo, 1

cancervo 1

Each track on Italian instrumentalist trio Cancervo‘s debut album, titled simply 1, is intended to represent an area near their home in the mountainous region of Lombardy, Italy. Their tones are duly thick, their presentation patient and their cast is broad in terms of its landscape. From “Averara,” one might see kilometers, in other words. Whether or not you’re familiar with Cancervo‘s locale, their tonal warmth and heavy psychedelic expanse resonates immersively, letting each of the two sides develop on its own from the beginnings in “Cancervo” and “Darco,” both the longest cuts on their respective halves. The fuller fuzz of “SWLABR” and the punch of bass that accompanies the tom hits on closer “1987” are subtle shifts emblematic of Cancervo‘s creative progression getting underway, and the task to which they set themselves — portraying place in sound — is no less admirable than their accomplishment of same would see to be. I’ve never been there, so can’t confirm 100 percent if that’s what it sounds like, but in repeat listens, I’m happy to take the band’s word (or riffs) for it.

Cancervo on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website


Sahara, The Curse

sahara the curse

Its four cuts run 17 minutes with the last of them an instrumental title-track that’s under three, but I don’t care — the entire thing is so righteously raw and garage nasty that I’m on board with however much Argentina’s Sahara want to bring to The Curse. “Gallows Noose” sounds like it was taped, and then re-taped, and then re-taped again before finally being pressed (to tape), and there’s no mistaking that’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the band, who probably have phones that could make something with clearer audio, but the in-room demo feel of “Hell on Earth” and “Altar of Sacrifice,” the rootsy metal-of-doom feel of it hits on its own level. Sometimes you just want something that comes across barebones and mean, and that’s what The Curse does. Call it retro, call it unproduced, call it whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Sahara (bring looks that) kill it on that Sabbath-worshiping altar and sound dirt-coated all the while, making everything everything else in the universe seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Sahara on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions website


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Dread Sovereign Announce Alchemical Warfare out Jan. 15; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dread sovereign (Photo jj koczan)

New Dread Sovereign. No-brainer. Listened to it once; already stuck in my head. Can’t wait for the whole record.

It’s really as simple as that. The upcoming third album from Dublin-based Dread Sovereign, titled Alchemical Warfare, will arrive Jan. 15, 2021. That’s nearly four years after its 2017 predecessor, For Doom the Bell Tolls (review here), and prior to its slow-down-and-rip-yourself-apart finish, first single “Nature is the Devil’s Church” is actually speedy enough to warrant the Slayer pun in the album’s title. Bassist/vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill (also Primordial), guitarist Bones Huse (also Morass of Molasses) and drummer Johnny King (also Conan, among a slew of others) bring together classic, dark heavy metal swirlings and a worship-ready hook with “Nature is the Devil’s Church,” and if you weren’t already looking forward to this album just by knowing that it exists, the video for the single is at the bottom of the post here.

But like I said at the outset: No-brainer. Can’t wait.

From the PR wire:

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Dread Sovereign reveals details for new album, ‘Alchemical Warfare’; launches video for first single, “Nature Is The Devil’s Church”

On January 15th, Dread Sovereign will release their third full-length, Alchemical Warfare, via Metal Blade Records. For a first preview of the record, a video for the new single, “Nature Is The Devil’s Church”, can be viewed at: metalblade.com/dreadsovereign – where Alchemical Warfare can be pre-ordered in the following formats:

– digipak-CD
– 180g black vinyl (EU exclusive)
– slate blue / grey marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
– raisin rouge marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 150 copies)
– gold / black dust vinyl (Kings Road exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– white / black marbled vinyl (US exclusive)

Dread Sovereign was formed in Dublin, Ireland in 2013 by Primordial vocalist Nemtheanga to give praise to filthy cult old doom, black and heavy metal. Their first EP – 2013?s Pray to the Devil in Man – came out on Roadburn/Burning World Records to coincide with the band’s live debut. Soon after, two full-lengths were released by Van Records: All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom the Bell Tolls (2017). And now, in early 2021, the band will release their new album, Alchemical Warfare, through Metal Blade Records.

“Our motto when we started was ‘The World is Doomed’…and it seems life is imitating art…as we are looking like filthy prophets!” says vocalist/bassist Nemtheanga. “Several years in the making, the new Dread Sovereign is ready for the End of the World, which might be next year in case you didn’t know! A bit more reckless and up-tempo than the previous releases, yet the template remains doom, ‘Alchemical Warfare‘ just has a bit more Venom and Motorhead thrown into the mix. If it’s the end of days we might as well go out with middle fingers raised right?”

“Alchemical Warfare” track-listing
1. A Curse on Men
2. She Wolves of the Savage Season
3. The Great Beast We Serve
4. Nature Is the Devil’s Church
5. Her Master’s Voice
6. Viral Tomb
7. Devil’s Bane
8. Ruin Upon the Temple Mount
9. You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give a Fuck) *CD+digital bonus track only

Dread Sovereign line-up:
Nemtheanga – vocals/bass
Bones – guitars
Johnny King – drums


Dread Sovereign, “Nature is the Devil’s Church” official video

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