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

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

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

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

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

Either way, off we go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Adrift/Tending the Embers

pelican adrift tending the embers

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

Pelican website

Pelican on Bandcamp

My Dying Bride, A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride A Mortal Binding

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

My Dying Bride website

Nuclear Blast webstore

Masonic Wave, Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave Masonic Wave

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

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Bismarck, Vourukasha

BISMARCK VOURUKASHA

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

Bismarck on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website

Sun Moon Holy Cult, Sun Moon Holy Cult

Sun Moon Holy Cult Sun Moon Holy Cult

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

Sun Moon Holy Cult on Instagram

Captured Records website

SloomWeep Productions on Bandcamp

Daily Thompson, Chuparosa

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

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

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website

Mooch, Visions

mooch visions

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

Mooch on Facebook

Mooch on Bandcamp

The Pleasure Dome, Liminal Space

The Pleasure Dome Liminal Space EP

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

The Pleasure Dome on Facebook

Hound Gawd! Records website

Slump, Dust

Slump Dust EP

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

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Green Hog Band, Fuzz Realm

Green Hog Band Fuzz Realm

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

Green Hog Band on Facebook

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

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Hollow Leg Premiere Dust EP in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Hollow Leg Dust

Floridian sludge metal mainstays Hollow Leg are set to self-release their new EP, Dust, this Friday, May 3, and with just 21 minutes at their disposal, there’s a palpable no-time-to-waste vibe as the four-piece dig into “Poison Bite” (video premiere here) in a tight encapsulation of the willful stylistic growth the band have undertaken since 2019’s Civilizations (review here), their most recent LP. Like a lot of what Hollow Leg have done since the tail end of the MySpace era, “Poison Bite” is a ripper.

It’s got a massive, rolling grove led by Brent Lynch‘s guitar, with due weight pushed through Tom Crowther‘s bass and the nod punctuated by John Stewart‘s drumming, and with vocalist Scott Angelacos finding a Matt Pike-y delivery somewhere between a shout and cleaner singing, with effects-laced backing in the chorus presumably from Lynch, as well as the condensed runtime, it also defies expectation in how it digs in. For a sound that remains plenty filthy, one hesitates to use words like “refined,” but on their own terms, Hollow Leg very much are that on Dust.

“Poison Bite” begins a salvo of three sub-four-minute cuts, with “Sick Days” adding a thrashier shove to its abiding nastiness, bringing the not-screamed backing vocals in the chorus closer to the front of the mix alongside Angelacos‘ harsh-throated gnashing, and EP centerpiece “Funeral Storms” hints toward patience as it moves toward its later solo and in its relatively restrained earlier verses. These aren’t the first short songs Hollow Leg have offered, by any means, but they’re presented with a maturity and confidence coinciding with an evolutionary drive that can’t be faked.

That is, they’ve always grown from one release to the next, and they still are, but that growth feels more directed toward specific ideas on Dust than it has in the past, and that’s part of how they’re developing at this point. While “Another Day Dying” feels sharp in its early riffing, the back end with sitar-sounding effects and a muddied-up kind of psychedelic flourish is a purposeful contrast and expansion of scope, and yeah, the brooding, mostly-clean-sung Southern heavy swamp atmosphere of closer “Holy Water” hits into heavier riffing at around two and a half minutes in, but it still carries the initial mood forward, pairing its partial departure with a consistency unto itself that underscores the crafted feel of the EP as a whole.

The notion of Dust as another step in Hollow Leg‘s ongoing progression undercuts some of how than manifests throughout the five songs included, but while they remain in no small part defined by the crash-and-bash aspects of their approach, it’s worth considering just how much they’ve found their place in sludge over their years, and how their balance between extremity and accessibility plays out in this material. Its malleable nature alone, the band’s emergent considerations of ambience alongside their entrenched rawness, would be enough even if the songs themselves didn’t remain so intentionally kickass as they do.

But among the messages Dust most clearly sends is that Hollow Leg aren’t done exploring this path they’re on, and one hopes that, whatever form their next round of discoveries might take upon release, they find ways to continue forward in melding influences from within and beyond their genre. Keep getting weirder, dudes. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Enjoy the full EP stream below, followed by some perspective from the band courtesy of the PR wire and that “Poison Bite” video, links and the rest:

In the band’s own words: “We’re always writing and playing and working on new music is just what we do, always trying to build on our sound and make the next piece a more clearly defined vision than the last. We have such a wide range of musical and artistic influences that it’s challenging to wrangle them, but we try our best to work within the ‘Hollow Leg’ mainframe and pump out something different than what we’ve done before, but also something that’s still obviously Hollow Leg. Hollow Leg is about freedom though. That’s been the mantra since the first record and we’ve always stuck to that! It’s about pushing ourselves and finding ways to simultaneously party with Metallica, Steely Dan, EyeHateGod, Wu Tang Clan, Stevie Wonder, and Pink Floyd and it somehow makes sense to us!”

Tracklisting:
1. Poison Bite (3:34)
2. Sick Days (3:59)
3. Funeral Storms (3:47)
4. Another Day Dying (4:51)
5. Holy Water (5:46)

Hollow Leg is:
Scott Angelacos – vocals
Brent Lynch – guitar/backing vocals
Tom Crowther – bass
John Stewart – drums

Hollow Leg, “Poison Bite” official video

Hollow Leg on Instagram

Hollow Leg on Facebook

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Hollow Leg’s Linktr.ee

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Hollow Leg Premiere “Poison Bite” Video; Dust EP Out May 3

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

HOLLOW LEG

Hollow Leg hit me up a couple months back and asked if I could write them an intro to the press kit going out to media for their new EP, Dust. That release is coming up May 3 and where I’ve struggled in the task is getting over the initial question of why the hell do I need to introduce Hollow Leg in the first place? Rooted in Jacksonville and based in Orlando, Florida, they’ve been at it for 16 years and have produced four full-lengths in that time, the latest of them being Civilizations (review here) in 2019, each of which has brought a new stage of an ongoing progression around a defined sound of hard-landing tonal weight, undulating sludge grooves led by Brent Lynch‘s riffs backed by Tom Crowther‘s bass and John Stewart‘s drums, and more than an edge of metal in the vocals of Scott Angelacos that cut through the distortion and establish their own aggressive stance.

Do I have to tell you any of this? I don’t think so. If you’ve ever heard them, their consistency of volume hardly seems to be trying to keep their sound a secret. They’ve never been overly hyped, and while they’ve toured their share in the last decade-and-a-half-plus, including along the Eastern Seaboard in 2023 around a third appearance at Maryland Doom Fest, their sound isn’t friendly and I think they’ve been both taken for granted and underappreciated. Civilizations marked a noted progression in their sound — every one of their releases has been a step forward from the one before it — and Dust continues the thread in an emergent lean toward melodic vocals, reminding on the advance single “Poison Bite” that Angelacos was among the small number of singers enlisted to pay homage to Earthride‘s Dave Sherman at that same Maryland Doom Fest last year, and a tunnel-bore nod stately enough to conjure High on Fire‘s slowdown moments, bolstered by a production that allows it all to coexist fluidly for its 3:34.

That’s right. Frickin’ three and a half minutes. Not a major ask. And for a band who’ve plugged away in the heavy underground long enough to be called legit veterans of it and perhaps afforded some semblance of the respect they’ve earned, it feels like even less of a favor. Hollow Leg do more to represent themselves with the feedback, thuds, crash and burst into the verse of “Poison Bite” than I could ever hope to by telling you you should already know them like some jerkwad gatekeeper. So maybe that’s been my problem all along. This shit speaks for itself, and it’s not about some social-media-FOMO urgency of ‘get the new thing while it’s new and move on a week later.’ It’s about the heart so clearly driving the band and the creative pursuit that’ll go as long as it’s gonna go regardless of scene or trend, fire, flood, plague or hyperbole. That’s who Hollow Leg are, if you needed the introduction.

Dust arrives May 3. It’s on the calendar to stream here in full on May 1, so keep an eye out. It’s a two-parter and as of last week, the band was back in the studio to work on the follow-up installment. More on that when we get there.

Here’s the video for “Poison Bite” to tide you over until then, followed by info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Hollow Leg, “Poison Bite” video premiere

Hollow Leg are here for the long haul. The sludge and doom veterans have been crushing skulls and blowing eardrums since 2010, and continue their scorched-earth quest to evolve and eviscerate in 2024.

hollow leg dustLegends of the scene, the quartet are four LPs and an EP strong, with their latest album “Civilizations” released in 2019 on Argonauta Records to critical acclaim. Criss-crossing the US to spread their heavy gospel of groove, they brutalized the stage of Psycho Las Vegas in 2017, and are three-time champions of the revered Maryland Doom Fest.

This year, Hollow Leg take another earth-shaking step in their sonic journey with new EP “Dust” out May 3, part one of a two-part EP series.

Coalescing their wide range of musical influences while still maintaining the unmistakable Hollow Leg sound, the band invite you to raise hell and headbang along to the EP’s battering ram of a single “Poison Bite” and its accompanying music video.

Relentless is the name of the game. From the opening sledgehammer of the kickdrum, “Poison Bite” takes no prisoners. The mid-tempo groove is locked-in and rock steady, inevitable in its forward momentum and ceaseless, grinding pummel. True to form, Scott Angelacos’ growling vocals roar over the noise, spitting fire and brimstone. Hollow Leg is back, and it hurts so good.

In the band’s own words: “We’re always writing and playing and working on new music is just what we do, always trying to build on our sound and make the next piece a more clearly defined vision than the last. We have such a wide range of musical and artistic influences that it’s challenging to wrangle them, but we try our best to work within the ‘Hollow Leg’ mainframe and pump out something different than what we’ve done before, but also something that’s still obviously Hollow Leg. Hollow Leg is about freedom though. That’s been the mantra since the first record and we’ve always stuck to that! It’s about pushing ourselves and finding ways to simultaneously party with Metallica, Steely Dan, EyeHateGod, Wu Tang Clan, Stevie Wonder, and Pink Floyd and it somehow makes sense to us!”

Hollow Leg is:
Scott Angelacos – vocals
Brent Lynch – guitar/backing vocals
Tom Crowther – bass
John Stewart – drums

Hollow Leg on Instagram

Hollow Leg on Facebook

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Hollow Leg’s Linktr.ee

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Big Kizz, Mt. Mountain, Mage, Hypertonus, Lee Van Cleef

Posted in Radio on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

We’re only slightly overdue for a batch of adds to The Obelisk Radio. I need to start setting a reminder or something. By the time this post goes up, my hope is that we’ll actually be off the backup server and back on the full or at least mostly-full playlist. It’s been a long road, as the terrible opening theme to Star Trek: Enterprise once said, but I think Slevin has it ready to roll, and there’s still some rebuilding to do, but I think it can be an ongoing thing working on the new hard drive. We’ve worn the crap out of that backup playlist. It would be nice to not have to use it for a while. Fingers crossed, anyhow.

Whichever server these files wind up on, they’ll be joining some playlist as soon as humanly possible. Let’s do the rundown in the meantime.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for May 22, 2017:

Big Kizz, Eye on You

big kizz eye on you

Some who take on the debut single from Swedish trio Big Kizz will find the band reminiscent of some of the rawer moments of long-running Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose, but for many, an additional draw to the three-track/eight-minute offering (delivered via Tee Pee Records) will be the lineup, which features bassist John Hoyles (Spiders, ex-Witchcraft), guitarist/vocalist Pontus Westerman (also of Lady Banana), and perhaps most notably, drummer Axel Sjöberg in his first recorded appearance after splitting with Graveyard. Turns out he’s still a fantastic drummer. His play in leadoff cut “Eye on You” and the push he brings to “Baby Boy” and the closing Roky Erickson cover “White Faces” will surely lead some to relate Big Kizz to Sjöberg‘s former outfit, if only in their earliest going (which was also on Tee Pee, remember), but the truth is the trio show themselves to be on a different trip throughout Eye on You, as they bring the aforementioned garage stylization forward amid classic boogie and, particularly in “Baby Boy,” nod toward mid-’60s psychedelia in a quick but fluid bridge. The Roky Erickson cover could hardly be more fitting, handclaps and all, but it’s the sense of movement in the two originals that shows the most potential here as Big Kizz seem to set their eyes on establishing their dynamic and building from there. Will be interested to hear what they do with the context of a full-length and if some of the psych in “Eye on You” and “Baby Boy” is relegated to flourish or if it comes to the fore as they develop, but they’re off to a rousing start.

Big Kizz on Thee Facebooks

Big Kizz at Tee Pee Records

 

Mt. Mountain Dust

mt. mountain dust

Devotees and pilgrims of longform psychedelia will no doubt and should rejoice at Dust (on Cardinal Fuzz), the maybe-second long-player from Perth, Australia, five-piece Mt. Mountain, which from its 17-minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points) unfolds a ritual of superior immersion and conscious trance inducement. Over the course of four songs/37 minutes total, Mt. Mountain unfold a sprawl reportedly intended to capture the atmosphere of the Australian Outback — and maybe they get there, I don’t know; I’ve never been — but either way, the balance of repetition and depth in “Floating Eyes” and the shimmer of the nine-minute “Kokoti” speak to a varied ecosystem that, indeed, one might get lost in, never to return. Mellotron, organ, djembe and percussion play a central role in the overarching sense of mind-expansion along with the guitar, bass, vocals, drums, etc., but it’s the combination of elements, the variety between tracks — they’re jam-based, but distinct songs, to be sure — that really stands Dust apart from much of drift-minded modern heavy psych. One advises patience with the drones of the opener and the cautious first steps that the fading in percussion seems to be taking, as the rewards are considerable when it comes to the front-to-back experience Mt. Mountain offer, which is stark, striking, marked by underlying threat and casts a feeling of the infinite that no doubt was the very intent behind its making.

Mt. Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Mage, Green

mage green

Self-released in a six-panel digipak with decidedly grim artwork courtesy of Dominic SohorGreen is the third full-length from Leicestershire, UK, heavy rockers Mage. Last heard from with 2014’s Last Orders (review here), they retain the blend of heavy rock groove and metallic aggression that’s become their signature sound, and continue the march forward in finding a space between post-Down/Orange Goblin dude-rockery and doomlier fare. Vocalist Tom blends harsh growls and a cleaner approach on opener “Nowhere to Nothing” and the later “Primitive Drive” while mostly avoiding sounding like Phil Anselmo, and as guitarist Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy dig into the slower roll of “Eclipse King,” Mage seem to hit the mark they’re shooting for in terms of style and songcraft. The centerpiece title-track has a little more head-bob to its central progression — and then there’s that wah; always fun — but they’re right to mess around with the proportion of stylistic elements throughout to add variety, and the 10-minute closer “Vultures Mass” does well in taking the punch of “Nowhere to Nothing” and “Heroic Elegy” at the album’s start and pushing it outward into a satisfying apex. Straightforward in its intent, given a sense of mass via a recording job at Skyhammer Studios and executed with a clean conscience, Green is the work of a band who know what they want from their sound and know how to make it happen, which, thankfully, they do in these tracks.

Mage on Thee Facebooks

Mage on Bandcamp

 

Hypertonus, Tidal Wave

hypertonus tidal wave

Tidal Wave is the self-issued debut full-length from German instrumentalist three-piece Hypertonus, and it lands some six years after the band first got together, preceded by a semi-eponymous 2013 EP, HPRTNS. If the more-than-half-a-decade stretch seems like a while for a group to get to their first long-player, it might be, but one suspects the Bremen-based troupe comprised of guitarist Patrick Büch, bassist Arne Staats and drummer Hannes Christen spent a significant amount of that time in the jam room developing their sound, because what they cast over this nine-track/45-minute outing is a keen progressivism and chemistry that feels not at all happenstance. With shifts into and out of technically-minded parts that seem to be driven by Staats‘ bass, Hypertonus reportedly tracked Tidal Wave live, and I have no reason not to believe it, particularly given the eight-minute closer “Phantasmagoria (Improvisation Jam),” which departs from the quick psych-meditation of “Aeropause” and the almost jazzy rhythms and post-rock guitar of “Expect the Sky Below” to bring the band’s style even more to life for the listener to take on. It’s a heady release, and some of the changes come across as willfully choppy — playing with expectation in a “now we’re over here!” kind of way — but there’s a marked sense of accomplishment throughout that’s nothing if not well earned.

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Hypertonus on Bandcamp

 

Lee Van Cleef, Holy Smoke

lee van cleef holy smoke

Pressed to gorgeous-sounding vinyl by White Dwarf Records last November, the five-track instrumental Holy Smoke is the debut LP from Naples, Italy, jammers Lee Van Cleef, and aside from its righteously striking cover art, one finds primary impressions in the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Pietro Trinità La Tegola, the molten lysergism in Marco Adamo‘s guitar and the grounding-but-not-too-grounding effectiveness of drummer Guido Minervini in anchoring a jam like the 13-minute “Banshee,” which takes the best lessons of groups like Germany’s Electric Moon and Portugal’s Black Bombaim and brings them to methodical, engagingly rumbling fruition. Nod persists through the more uptempo, Tee Pee Records-style centerpiece “Hell Malo,” but the three-piece seem even more comfortable dug into the post-Sleep riffing of the subsequent “Mah?na,” finishing that track with a standout wash of a guitar lead ahead of the brighter-feeling closer “Towelie,” which underscores an otherworldly vibe that turns out to have been in Holy Smoke all along. Lee Van Cleef have already followed Holy Smoke up with a single titled “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” (discussed here) — it’s worth noting that this album starts with “Heckle Yuppies,” so they’re not fans of them either — and one can’t imagine it will be long before they answer back with another full-length offering. The question is how they’ll ultimately distinguish themselves from the crowded European jam-based heavy psych underground, but there’s nothing in these tracks to give the impression they can’t or won’t do so as they continue to grow.

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Mt. Mountain to Release Dust April 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mt mountain

As it turns out, the 17-minute opening title-track (which you can stream at the bottom of this post) is also the longest cut on Mt. Mountain‘s Dust. Immediate points for that. In true psycheprolifidelic form, the four-song outing is the latest in a bundle the Perth, Australia-based five-piece have issued over the last half-decade — they had the full-length Cosmos Terros out last year, preceded by three shorter offerings going back to 2013, if their Bandcamp discography is anything to go by — but as it’s my first exposure to the band, I’m finding it easy to get stoked for the coming April 24 release date. “Dust,” as well as “Floating Eyes,” “Kokoti” and “Outro,” which follow, cover a formidable swath of ground and prove fluid and immersive in kind, jam-based, but with a sense of underlying purpose as well. It’s just about where my brain is at these days, if you want to know. So yeah, definitely a welcome arrival.

Preorders are up for swirl and black LPs, and in the UK/EU, it’ll be out via respected purveyor Cardinal Fuzz, as the PR wire informs:

mt mountain dust

Mt Mountain – Dust

‘Dust’ Out April 24 Via: Cardinal Fuzz (UK)

Pre-sales for the limited edition black/copper swirl (pictured here) & standard black 12″ LP’s both available here: https://mtmountain.bandcamp.com/

**UK/EU pre-orders available here: http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/product/mt-mountain-dust-gold-black-swirl-vinyl-cardinal-fuzz-pre-order

Cardinal Fuzz are proud to announce the release of the epic “Dust” via Perth quintet Mt. Mountain. Since forming in 2012 Mt. Mountain are already lauded and revered in Australia where they have built a reputation as one of the most compelling live bands, a distinction that has seen them share stages with myriad Australian and international heavyweights including Sleep, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Thee Oh Sees, Endless Boogie, Tortoise, Bardo Pond and Boris. On “Dust” Mt Mountain have laid down 4 tracks that capture the atmosphere of the red/orange landscapes that consume the Australian Outback.

Opening with the mini slow burn epic “Dust” which builds with an incessant drone and flute to form a ghostly menacing and meditative rhythmic and repetitive throb that builds and builds before the release comes and the bands shatters into a heady and thunderous elliptical crunch. Over the entire LP Mt Mountain capture, a dreamlike mood of shimmering dust filled landscapes where slow strummed guitars and single note organ lines ebb and flow and bring to mind Dylan Carson’s ‘Earth’ as played by mushroom ingesting elf’s. ‘Dust’ is psych rock meditation music and It is utterly entrancing.

Mt. Mountain is:
Stephen Bailey: Organ, Whistle, Guitar, Vocals
Derrick Treatch: Guitar, Mellotron, Vocals
Brendan Shanley: Bass
Glenn Palmer: Guitar
Thomas Cahill: Drums, Djembe, Percussion

https://www.facebook.com/mtmountainperth/
https://mtmountain.bandcamp.com/
http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/
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Friday Full-Length: Dust, Dust

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Dust, Dust (1971)

When Dust‘s 1971 self-titled debut was reissued on Sony Legacy in 2013 along with 1972’s Hard Attack, I was fortunate enough to interview original drummer Marc Bell, who of course later went on to become Marky Ramone of The Ramones, about the process of revisiting those two albums from early in his career. One of the things I asked him about the process of overseeing those remasters was whether it was strange to go back to hearing that material after so long and being so known for other work. Here’s what he had to say:

It wasn’t strange; it was more of a grateful opportunity to be able to do this because we were still in high school when we did these two albums. We were on a label called Buddha/Kama Sutra, which catered to bubblegum bands. So we really weren’t on the right label that could really push the genre of music, which was heavy metal. Looking back and knowing what we were facing and now, it was a little strange in a way. Because if we did a third album on a legitimate label that knew how to handle this kind of music, I think we would have went over the top with Dust. But in the studio we were remastering it a few months ago, we were thinking of the great memories we had.

Doing shows with Alice Cooper, John Mayall, Uriah Heep then coming back to the high school — Erasmus, where I went. Seeing the album in the windows in the record store. It was really amazing for an 18-year-old teenager to see this. Then everyone wanted to be my friend in high school. Even the people that hated me. It was strange but it brings back funny and youthful memories of how well we played as a unit, three people at that time. — Marky Ramone

He was pretty on-message the entire interview, by which I mean he had the story of the band and albums down and stuck to it for the duration of our talk — something with which, I should mention, I have no problem; as long as it’s cordial, I consider it a sign of professionalism for someone to know what they want to say going into a phoner — and he was vigilant in calling Dust a heavy metal band, and one of the first in America. Ever since, that’s kind of stuck in my head as the standout point. I don’t usually think of proto-metal as metal, or heavy rock as metal, and with its liberal use of slide guitar on opener “Stone Woman” and the classically swinging rhythm of “From a Dry Camel,” I’m still not sure I’d call the self-titled debut or its follow-up metal proper. For sure it was pushing in that direction, but it would still be five years before Judas Priest offered up the visionary Sad Wings of Destiny, and to call Dust‘s Dust metal diminishes the scope of the boom of heavy rock in which it arrived. Consider, for example, that Dust formed in 1969, the same year as fellow New Yorkers Cactus, though that band’s first record landed a year earlier in 1970. Dust were a standout for sure, but they didn’t exist in a vacuum, and to call them metal takes away from the progressive elements of “Often Shadows Felt” or “Goin’ Easy,” however much Bell, guitarist/vocalist Richie Wise and bassist Kenny Aaronson might push Mountain further on “Love Me Hard” or scorch in Motörheady fashion on closer “Loose Goose.”

In whatever genre you want to tag it, Dust‘s self-titled debut remains a classic of the original heavy rock era. The band would make arguably their greatest achievement on “Suicide” from Hard Attack, but their first outing is one not to be missed — frankly, I was surprised to find I hadn’t closed out a week with it before — and I hope as always that you enjoy.

Did you read that Buried Treasure post earlier this week? The one all about driving to Maryland and back? I still feel like I’m recovering from that trip, and as such, no Connecticut this weekend. Staying home. I’ll be back down that way in a couple weeks — both CT and MD, actually — so I honestly think the quiet time will do me some good. Plus I just finished my second week at the new job at Hasbro, and that’s been a pretty big change. Lots to get used to there, many different processes to figure out still. Everyone I talk to there says it takes time, and nothing I’ve seen leads me to think they’re wrong. It’s been good so far though. They dig their board games, and it’s awesome to be in surroundings where people is into what they’re doing.

I’ve been getting up at 5AM — yesterday was earlier, actually, but the alarm was set for five — in order to write reviews and then filling in news posts and such during the day, things like the Brant Bjork announcement yesterday going up as quickly as possible, and doing some writing at night as well, so the balance still needs to be worked out, but I’ll get there. That takes time too. For now, getting up early hasn’t been so bad, even if it’s meant I’m in bed by like 10PM each night. Worth it to get stuff done.

Speaking of, there’s a lot on the docket next week. Monday and Tuesday a couple new album announcements booked for stuff on Small Stone, and also look for reviews and streams from HyponicMos Generator16Naevus and The Company Corvette — that’s one a day for the whole week — as well as new videos from SeaMonkey3 and Hey Zeus, as well as all the news that’s fit to cut and paste and whatever else I can come across. Should be plenty to keep me busy on those mornings.

It’s not really applicable here — though I could make arguments either way — but if you think it’s something you might also be into, I’ve been very much enjoying Monolith of Phobos by The Claypool Lennon Delirium, which I picked up this week. It’s Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon, and the two play all the instruments and share vocal and keyboard duties and some of it has a really dead-on psychedelic vibe. I don’t think I’ll review it, but it’s worth checking out if you have a spare couple minutes to track it down on YouTube or something.

Alright, gotta run, but I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you might be up to. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Buried Treasure: Hurricane Irene and the Red Lion Haul

Posted in Buried Treasure on August 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Every now and then, I do a Craigslist search for the word “stoner,” just to see what comes up. Early this past week was one such occasion, and what I found was a listing from a guy outside of York, Pennsylvania, who was selling off what he touted as a massive CD collection, with lots of varied kinds of metal, stoner/desert rock and ’70s heavy bands. Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

York is more than three hours from where I live in New Jersey, so going during the week was out because of work. And I wouldn’t want to go on Sunday, because six hours in a car is no way to lead into a Monday morning, so I called the guy and said I was interested in taking a look at what he had for sale and asked him if Saturday was cool. He said it was.

Only hitch in that plan was that Hurricane Irene was expected to rail the Northeast on Saturday, making its way up the coast, bringing floods, high winds, downed trees, lightning and other things not conducive to driving at all, let alone 170 miles. You know, now that I put the number to it, the whole proposition seems unreasonable.

Not unreasonable enough, it turns out. Relatively early Saturday morning, The Patient Mrs. and I loaded into the car and made our way south and west to Red Lion, a small-ish town outside of York. I had heard and read and looked at all the maps and the progression of the storm and everything seemed to point to our being able to get to Pennsylvania and back before the worst hit. I’ve already driven in some pretty atrocious weather this year. What was the worst this hurricane could do?

It was raining when I got out there, and hard. The picture above of dark clouds and rolling hillsides I took after dropping The Patient Mrs. at a local Panera so she could continue the work on her laptop she’d been doing the whole drive and headed to the guy’s apartment to spend some time perusing his collection. Not too much time, though, because the wind was picking up.

When he met me outside, Frank, the man in his late-50s/early-60s whose collection I was there to see, asked if I had any weapons on me. I did not, and I judged by the awesomeness of his moustache that he didn’t either, so we made our way inside so I could see his wares. His chihuahua growling at me the entire time, I made my way slowly and, at first, haphazardly through the rows and stacks of alphabetized discs, periodically looking outside to check the conditions, which seemed to ebb and flow as different arms of the storm passed through.

The collection itself was as advertised in both quality and quantity. There had to be 5,000-plus discs spread across the racks. They were stacked two rows deep on bookshelves and piled — organized; nothing was without purpose — in corners. I’d been hoping to find a copy of Keg Full of Dynamite by Pentagram, or some old Sabbath bootlegs, but no such luck. Nonetheless, our man Frank was clearly someone who had just been collecting CDs since the inception of the format, and I was able to find (literally) a stack of releases that saved me months of eBaying.

He charged $10 a piece for each of the three Pagan Altar full-lengths, for Speed, Glue & Shinki‘s 1971 outing, Eve, for the long out of print first edition of Spiritual Beggars‘ debut, for records by Dust, Abramis Brama, Elonkorjuu, Terra Firma, Desert Saints, Privilege, Generous Maria, Toad and Riff Cannon, for the first issue of Josiah‘s self-titled, and, in a departure from the others that even Frank noted, The Arcanum by German folk metallers Suidakra.

A word about that record: I first heard it via downloaded mp3s in 2000, when it was released. The whole folk metal thing was still at least half a decade off, and I was into it because it was a more extreme version of melodeath. But I had little interest in owning physical media at the time (I burned discs and kept them in a binder), and it later turned out that the label screwed over the band, kept the rights, and the album went out of print. It’s something I’ll probably listen to once — haven’t yet — and stick on my shelf to gather dust, because it’s just not where my tastes lie at this point, but it’s something I genuinely never thought I’d find. I never thought I’d find that record. And then, $10 to Frank and it was mine.

The only thing he didn’t charge me $10 for, in fact, was the digipak special edition of Hammer of the North, by Grand Magus. It was $20, but the album has yet to have a CD release in the US, and I figured he had probably paid even more for the import than I was, so it was worth the price nonetheless.

As he totaled up my selections from the sundry shelves and stacks of his library, I began to put myself in his place, and wonder what it would take for me to allow someone into my home to peruse, pick out, scrutinize and ultimately walk away with pieces of my collection. I had more selections than I took home with me. Albums by Fuzzy Duck, Bloodrock (it was Bloodrock 2), Lucifer’s Friend and the recently-burned-for-me Tin House he said I simply couldn’t have, as they were too dear to him to part with. He explained that all the metal stuff, all the more modern rock stuff, that could all go, but the ’70s heavy bands were what he grew up with, and he was sorry.

His failing health turned out to be the reason he was selling. He needed the money more than he needed the discs, so out they were going. I expressed my sympathies, forked over $190 of the total $200 I’d brought with me, and left knowing I could have spent hours more finding treasure among those racks, of which I’ve dreamed not once, but twice in the now-four nights since.

Using my manliest navigational sensibilities, I suggested cutting north early before heading east to get ahead of the storm, and The Patient Mrs., now retrieved from the aforementioned Panera, was in agreement. It rained most of our way back, heavy at times, but we still got in well under the wire for the most damaging winds, floods, etc. Still funny to see how few people were on the road by the time we landed back in Jersey, though. Cracked open a couple beers, admired the stack of recent acquisitions (at least I did), and waited for the world to end — which, despite the local highway collapse, flooding, downed power lines and the rest, it did not do.

I’ll admit it wasn’t the safest idea I’ve ever had to drive for such a long time with the threat of a hurricane looming. All the same, I regret nothing for what I was able to pick up in Red Lion, and I know I’ll always look at those albums in the picture above and remember the day I went and found them with the wind howling outside and the torrents of rain blocking visibility on the ride home. It was stupid, yeah, but it was also precisely my favorite kind of adventure.

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Frydee Dust

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 5th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

We cap this week with a track off the first Dust album. I don’t actually own this record, just the second one, but I figured screw it, we’ll go with the first anyway because it’ll make me look cooler. Total poseur. This band’s probably most known for having the man who would become pasta sauce magnate Marky Ramone (his name was Marc Bell at the time) on drums, but they rocked, and “Stone Woman,” now that I’ve listened to it, holds up plenty.

Couple things I want to mention here. I actually wrote them on a post-it note so I wouldn’t forget. First and foremost is that I only have ONE copy left of the Blackwolfgoat album. Just one, and then they’re gone. If you want it, here’s the link to buy. No more after that. If you buy it and they’re already gone, obviously a full refund will be issued.

Also, something I’ve been meaning to note and have forgotten the last couple weeks, is I’ve started to use the news forum for posting press releases and stuff that I don’t have time to put on the blog. If you look, there’s a pretty good amount of news in there from me, and I’m going to keep doing that, so if you want to keep in in mind as a place to look for info, it’ll be there.

Other people, labels and bands post there too. I love that. I’ve found out a lot of cool news that way, and I hope everyone keeps up with it. A lot of the releases that come down the PR wire are going to head there as well. The hope is it turns into a decent way for people to stay informed. Utility and whatnot.

And while we’re noting things I’ve been meaning to get to for weeks, there will be a new podcast this weekend. I was thinking of doing a Pacific Northwest theme to echo the New England one, but I still have to put together a list of bands, so it might be that, or it might be something else. We’ll see how it comes together over the next two days.

Next weekend is SHoD, which the unfortunate news broke today that The Gates of Slumber will not be playing. I’m headed down to Maryland for it, and I know I’ll get some kind of coverage going, though exactly what that will entail I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ll have my camera and my laptop, and I’ll inevitably end up doing something. Can’t seem to keep my hands off a keyboard for more than five minutes these days anyhow.

Speaking of that, next week I’m doubling up on interviews. I’ll have feature Q&As with Swedish rockers The Quill and Los Angeles newschool heavy-types Moab, as well as reviews of Lamprey, Sky Picnic and 40 Watt Sun, the twice-promised track from Grifter‘s new album, and more harrowing tales of securing physical media in the age of “dude, just download it.” Much love and no regrets.

Hope you all have a fantastic and safe weekend. See you on the forum and back here Monday.

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