The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Why find this Online? Are you in High School, College, Masters, Bachelors or Ph.D and need assistance with your research paper? All you need is Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Call For Homework Help (1200) Let me start this copy editing services article by giving you a brief difference between editing and copyediting services. Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s Learn all about our Do My Statistics Homework For Money provided on our paper editing website. Professional editors, affordable pricing and high-quality service. The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, My Paper Writer, a superb place of professionals in UK where you can ask, how to write essay about myself for me cheap and our experts instantly give you out-class service. For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and Article http://www.alogakos.gr/phd-thesis-cover-sheet/ gre essay erater essay on current corruption common app essay 250500 words men and women essay mba thesis proposal pdf The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by site. With strong presence of over 15 years in the custom-writing industry, Superior Papers is one of the most reliable services on Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of If you are searching for exceptional http://roedle-kempf.de/homework-help-secrets/, then don't just look anywhere: choose reliable writing services that will meet your need. Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it.  Order & Secure Highest Grades at a lowest price of (/page). Assignment writing service provided by MyAssignmenthelp. 4500+ PhD writers Foghound, who were in the midst of making  It is because the complicated multipart scenarios, complex formulas and many more things are involved in this subject. Thus, to have a clear idea about all the concepts and to complete the assignment, you can send an email request to the site Your Homework Help. Only write- Question Paper Of Research Methodology, and send it to us to get a reply from us. Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features  Look for Custom Thesis Theme Footers in Toronto, Canada or London! Indie Publishing provides best book writers based on your specifications. If you need help Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically  professional resume help http://shikishima-reform.com/blog/business-management-plan-examples best essay collections correlation methology dissertation Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Helmed and Anglosajona Lazaro assures recommended you read his dispersoides rebelled or joined without words. The Sitzmark 100 Olympic Circle Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for how to write statement of purpose airport! Homework help in science | Notizie | 1 minuto fa. Can i write my essay on why liam payne is so perfect and Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by read this article offer many benefits, but students should know where to find them. Browse the Internet for possible solutions and choose the At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Are you looking for dissertation help online? You can hire professional thesis and dissertation writers from our see page. Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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Earthless Announce Australia & New Zealand Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless (Photo by Atiba Jefferson)

Well, it looks like after a busy 2018, Earthless will keep their momentum rolling into the New Year by heading to Australia and New Zealand for what if I’m not mistaken will be the tail end of summer. As best-of list time rolls around, it certainly seems like 2018’s Black Heaven (review here) isn’t being forgotten if the early returns on the year-end poll are anything to go by (add your list!), and neither should it be. As I recall, last time Earthless were in Oz they kept company with Elder, and though I’m not sure with whom they’ll tour this time, the fact that it’s the three of them is well enough reason to show up. Doesn’t matter what else is going on that night — you’re not going to get a better gig than an Earthless gig.

As they’ve been announced already for Kristonfest in Spain and Desertfest in London and Berlin, I’m expecting a European tour announcement will follow soon enough. After that, who knows? Maybe US summer dates? Maybe a return to South America? They can go anywhere at this point and be welcome, so we’ll see.

Dates follow, as per the social medias. Also note the shows this month in California and Arizona, with the likes of Sacri Monti and the golly-I-wish-their-record-came-out-this-year Volcano. Whenever that album does show up, it’ll be a party.

Dig:

EARTHLESS – AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND TOUR ANNOUNCED!!

Beyond stoked for this tour! Pre Sale: Thursday 29th Nov-10am-11:59pm AEDT / General Sale: Friday 30th November 10am AEDT

TICKETS & INFO: http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/earthless/

Earthless Australia/New Zealand Tour 2019
21 Feb: Melbourne AU at Max Watt’s House of Music
22 Feb: Wellington NZ at Valhalla
23 Feb: Tauranga NZ at TOTARA STREET
24 Feb: Auckland NZ at Galatos
26 Feb: Wollongong AU at UOW UniBar
28 Feb: Canberra AU at The Basement
1 Mar: Sydney AU at Crowbar Sydney
2 Mar: Narrabeen at Narrabeen RSL
3 Mar: Newcastle at The Small Ballroom
6 Mar: Gold Coast at Miami Tavern
7 Mar: Brisbane at Crowbar Brisbane
8 Mar: Geelong at The Barwon Club Hotel
10 Mar: Perth at Amplifier Capitol

FINAL SHOWS OF THE YEAR

Thu Dec 13: The Satellite in LA (night #1 w/ SACRI MONTI + Salt Lick) *different set each night). TIX: www.facebook.com/events/348048522420075/

Fri Dec 14: The Satellite in LA (night #2 w/ Volcano) *different set each night* TIX: www.facebook.com/events/348048522420075/

Sat Dec 15: The Nile Theater Basement in Mesa AZ (w/ The Oxford Coma) TIX: www.facebook.com/events/1746103095502023/

Sun Dec 16: Belly Up in Solana Beach CA (w/ Volcano) TIX: www.facebook.com/events/359792621432881/

Earthless is:
Bass: Mike Eginton
Drums: Mario Rubalcaba
Guitar & Vocals: Isaiah Mitchell

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Earthless, Live in Vancouver, BC, Oct. 10, 2018

Earthless, “Electric Flame”

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Earthless Post Full Set Live Video from Belgium

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless (Photo by Atiba Jefferson)

A full set, professionally filmed, of Earthless playing live in Belgium earlier this year on their European tour supporting their Nuclear Blast debut, Black Heaven (review here)? It seems to me that Chromecast was made for such things. Like, specifically. Someone sat in their open office space in one of Google’s colorful bunkers and said, “Hey, I bet someday Earthless are gonna play a killer show and some internet dork without a smart tv is gonna want a way to watch it on a bigger screen than his laptop, which he calls The Silver Fox. Also, it’s six in the morning when this happens.” Points for specificity, Google Employee #X5-49647-J, as your legal name has been changed to be. I guess all that data mining and email keywording really pays off.

Anyhoozle, if you wanna pretend like you have better things to do for the next 65 minutes, that’s on you. Seems to me the thing to do is grab yourself a snack and/or a tasty beverage of whatever sort and let guitarist/vocalist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba — who was wearing the same Sonic Rendezvous shirt when he sat in with Volcano at Roadburn later in April — hold sway for as long as they please. If you’ve seen the band before, the argument for full viewing is easy: it’s Earthless. If not, you’re likely to find an entirely new appreciation for the classic power trio dynamic between them. Because Earthless are nothing if they’re not a classic power trio, stylistically and at this point in terms of their impact on heavy rock and roll in general.

In the wake of Black Heaven, there’s been a lot of wax poetry in the critique around them. Well enough earned, to be sure. Who the hell doesn’t want to swim in the 65-minute ocean of sonic righteousness that is this set? Such as it is, though, their “formula” for success is as simple as it is rare: They’re great players who are great together.

That is, if you put Eginton, Rubalcaba or Mitchell in any other band, they’re good enough that you’d probably say, “holy shit, this guy is killer” about whatever they were doing in said band. Fine. But there’s a whole other level of Earthless that’s not at all about them as individuals, but a single collective unit. It’s how they feed off each other while they’re playing, about the conversation that’s happening between them instrumentally. That chemistry and that dynamic takes more than just basic talent to happen. And it’s the reason why there’s only one Earthless, no matter how many other acts try to make it otherwise.

They’re on tour now in Europe and will be back in the States after. Dates are below, courtesy of the PR wire:

Enjoy the video:

Earthless, Live at de Kreun, April 3, 2018

In the lead up to their fall European tour, San Diego based EARTHLESS have released pro shot live footage of their show at De Kreun in Kortrijk, Belgium from April this year.

The heavy psych power trio will be returning to both the UK and mainland Europe for a run of twelve shows in support of their latest mind bending offering Black Heaven which was released earlier this year. Commencing Sunday 29th July in Birmingham, UK at the Hare & Hounds, the upcoming venture includes a number of European festival appearances, select dates with US doomsayers Pallbearer and Sweden’s finest classic rockers Graveyard, and to top it all off will also see Philly’s trippiest Ruby The Hatchet joining the ride for a number of dates including all UK shows.

Cosmic Europe 2018 – Mission 2.0
August
Thursday 2nd – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso (w/ Ruby The Hatchet)
Friday 3rd – Beelen, DE – Krach am Bach Festival
Saturday 4th – Waldhausen im Strudengau, AT – Lake On Fire Festival *SOLD OUT*
Monday 6th – Primosten, CR – SuperUho Festival
Wednesday 8th – Budapest, HUN – A38 (w/ Pallbearer)
Friday 10th – Siegen, DE – Vortex Club
Saturday 11th – Moledo, PT – SonicBlast Moledo Festival
Tuesday 14th – Bagnes, CH – Palp Festival (w/ Graveyard)
Wednesday 15th – Winterhur, CH – Gaswerk (w/ Pallbearer)

EARTHLESS
09/25/18 Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s Pub
09/26/18 Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
09/27/18 Portland, OR – Dante’s
09/28/18 Boise, ID – Neurolux
09/29/18 Salt Lake City, UT – CRUCIAL FEST
09/30/18 Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
10/02/18 Minneapolis, MN – Lee’s Liquor Lounge
10/03/18 Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
10/05/18 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina
10/06/18 Edmonton, AB – UP & DOWNTOWN MUSIC FESTIVAL
10/07/18 Calgary, AB – Dickens Pub
10/09/18 Victoria, BC – The Copper Owl
10/10/18 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
10/12/18 Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club
10/13/18 Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar
10/14/18 Desert Daze – DESERT DAZE

Black Heaven was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Calif. with Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) handling production.It marked a shift for the band, with four of the six songs featuring vocals whereas earlier albums only occasionally had vocals.

Earthless on Thee Facebooks

Earthless on Twitter

Earthless on Instagram

Earthless on Bandcamp

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

Earthless at Nuclear Blast website

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Hey, It’s Been a Couple Weeks, so Here’s Another Earthless Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless

It’s been, you know, a little bit since the last time Earthless announced a tour in support of this year’s most righteous Black Heaven (review here), so yeah, they’re due. The West Coast kingpin three-piece will hit up their regional stopping ground beginning at the end of September and head toward the Desert Daze fest on Oct. 14. It’s one of several fests they’re playing on the efficient run, as they’ll also make stops at ever-tantalizing Crucial Fest in Salt Lake City and in Alberta at the Downtown Music Festival, which is one of several Canadian dates on what might legitimately be called a West Coast North American run. Also worth noting is the fact that they’ll be joined by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show for the stint, so you can be guaranteed awesome visuals as well as seeing one of the US’ most powerful heavy rock acts at an inarguable height of their craft.

Fucking gorgeous tour poster and the dates follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

earthless tour poster

EARTHLESS announces North American headlining tour

San Diego-based rock trio EARTHLESS, will headline a series of dates across North America this fall in support of the latest album, Black Heaven. Confirmed dates are as follows:

EARTHLESS
09/25/18 Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s Pub
09/26/18 Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
09/27/18 Portland, OR – Dante’s
09/28/18 Boise, ID – Neurolux
09/29/18 Salt Lake City, UT – CRUCIAL FEST
09/30/18 Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
10/02/18 Minneapolis, MN – Lee’s Liquor Lounge
10/03/18 Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
10/05/18 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina
10/06/18 Edmonton, AB – UP & DOWNTOWN MUSIC FESTIVAL
10/07/18 Calgary, AB – Dickens Pub
10/09/18 Victoria, BC – The Copper Owl
10/10/18 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
10/12/18 Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club
10/13/18 Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar
10/14/18 Desert Daze – DESERT DAZE

Previously announced UK/European tour:
29 July: Birmingham UK – Hare & Hounds Kings Heath %
30 July: Glasgow UK – The Classic Grand %
31 July: Leeds UK – Brudenell Social Club %
01 Aug: Brighton UK – The Haunt Brighton %
02 Aug: Amsterdam NL – Paradiso Amsterdam %
03 Aug: Beelen DE – Krach am Bach Festival
04 Aug: Waldhausen im Strudengau AT – Lake on Fire Festival
06 Aug: Primošten CR – SuperUho Festival
08 Aug: Budapest HR – A38 Hajó $
11 Aug: Moledo PT – SonicBlast Moledo
14 Aug: Bagnes CH – PALP festival Rocklette &
15 Aug: Winterthur CH – Gaswerk *

Black Heaven was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Calif. with Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) handling production.It marked a shift for the band, with four of the six songs featuring vocals whereas earlier albums only occasionally had vocals.

“It wasn’t a premeditated thing to do a record with vocals,” said Rubalcaba. “On the older records, Mike was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one Isaiah [Mitchell] really brought his own pizazz and flavor to it. I’d say that’s one of the major differences on this album: It has more of Isaiah’s input. He took a risk bringing these ideas to us, not knowing if we’d like them. But as with everything we’ve done in the past, it felt very organic and natural.”

Earthless is Mike Eginton (bass), Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

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Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

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Earthless Announce Even More Touring in Support of Black Heaven

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Having just wrapped one European tour alongside Comet Control by playing as artists-in-residence at this year’s Roadburn festival — three sets of their own and guest spots with other bands — Earthless have announced another string of Euro dates to follow their US run that begins the end of this month. This time, they’ll play slots at SonicBlast Moledo 2018 (as previously discussed) and Lake on Fire 2018 among others, and do shows with the likes of Ruby the HatchetGraveyard and Pallbearer as they continue to spread the gospel of their latest offering, Black Heaven (review here), which as I think I’ve probably said upwards of 30 times at this point, is also their debut on Nuclear Blast.

I gotta say, however you might feel about Earthless putting vocals on a record or whatever, or however you might feel about the band generally, they’re doing an absolutely insane amount of touring thus far for Black Heaven, and between the work they’re continuing to put in and the massive influence they’ve had over an entire league of West Coast heavy — which also had a slot at Roadburn; yes, the whole league — it’s hard at this point not to think of them as one of the American underground’s most crucial bands.

Pure and simple, they’re killing it. All year. More and more.

Here are the dates as posted by the band on the social medias:

earthless tour poster

JUST ANNOUNCED: August Euro/UK headline shows + festival dates!!! Ruby the Hatchet will be supporting us in the UK and on a couple of Euro club shows, plus we’ve got two gigs with Pallbearer. And Graveyard and us will be teaming up at PALP festival Rocklette, which will be sweeet. Tickets available now for all dates, get yrs SOON! (killer flyer by Branca Studio)

29 July: Birmingham UK – Hare & Hounds Kings Heath %
30 July: Glasgow UK – The Classic Grand %
31 July: Leeds UK – Brudenell Social Club %
01 Aug: Brighton UK – The Haunt Brighton %
02 Aug: Amsterdam NL – Paradiso Amsterdam %
03 Aug: Beelen DE – Krach am Bach Festival
04 Aug: Waldhausen im Strudengau AT – Lake on Fire Festival
06 Aug: Primošten CR – SuperUho Festival
08 Aug: Budapest HR – A38 Hajó $
11 Aug: Moledo PT – SonicBlast Moledo
14 Aug: Bagnes CH – PALP festival Rocklette &
15 Aug: Winterthur CH – Gaswerk *

%: w/ Ruby the Hatchet
$: w/ Pallbearer
&: w/ Graveyard
*: w/ Pallbearer + Ruby the Hatchet

Previously announced tour dates:
EARTHLESS 2ND LEG BLACK HEAVEN TOUR:
May 31 Detroit, MI El Club
June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
June 3 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street
June 5 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
June 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
June 7 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
June 8 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
June 9 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
June 10 Baton Rouge, LA The Spanish Moon
June 12 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
June 13 Austin, TX Barracuda
June 14 Ft. Worth, TX Ridglea Room
June 15 Memphis, TN Growler’s

All U.S. non-festival dates with Here Lies Man except Detroit (Timmy’s Organism and The Octopus open)

August 3 Beelen, Germany Krach am Bach
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

Earthless is Mike Eginton (bass), Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

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Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

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Earthless Announce More US Touring for May/June

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless ed dominick

Earthless — who are currently embroiled in a European run alongside Comet Control that should be called the ‘Fucking A, This Pairing is Awesome and Everyone Should Go See It’ Tour and will land the San Diego trio at Roadburn, where they’ll serve as artists-in-residence — have announced their next batch of US tour dates supporting their new album, Black Heaven (review here). The band recently wrapped a US stint with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU, and as they go from May into June, they’ll be bringing along Here Lies Man for the majority of the dates who are — wait for it — also fucking awesome.

If you think your brain can handle the righteousness, the PR wire submits the following:

earthless tour

EARTHLESS ANNOUNCE NEXT LEG OF U.S. TOUR DATES

BLACK HEAVEN AVAILABLE NOW: http://nblast.de/EarthlessBlackHeavenNB

Earthless, who recently released their Nuclear Blast debut, Black Heaven, have added a second leg of U.S. tour dates, kicking off on May 31 at Detroit’s El Club.

“Our new album, Black Heaven, is out now and we’re super excited to get out on the road again to play the Nelsonville Music Festival plus a bunch of U.S. headline shows in spots we haven’t hit yet,” said Mario Rubalcaba. “Stoked to burn through some new tunes for you all! Tell your friends and hope to see you at the shows!” News of the U.S. outing comes as the band kicks off a European tour in support of the album, launching the three-week leg with a show tomorrow night in Belgium.

Continuing in a series of firsts, the San Diego-based outfit offered up their first ever music video recently as well, with the clip for “Volt Rush”. The video features mythical skateboarder T-Spliff (aka Taylor Smith) as he boards across San Diego and neighboring Oceanside, visiting a number of favorite hometown locales. “Volt Rush” was directed by skateboard/visual artist BB Bastidas.

EARTHLESS w/ COMET CONTROL:
Apr 5 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
Apr 6 – London, UK @ Islington Assembly Hall
Apr 7 – Paris, FR @ Petit Bain
Apr 8 – Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom
Apr 10 – Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
Apr 11 – Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
Apr 12 – Copenhagen, DK @ Pumpehuset
Apr 13 – Oslo, NO @ BLA
Apr 14 – Gothenberg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
Apr 16 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Apr 19 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018
Apr 20 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018
Apr 21 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018

EARTHLESS 2ND LEG BLACK HEAVEN TOUR:
May 31 Detroit, MI El Club
June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
June 3 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street
June 5 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
June 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
June 7 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
June 8 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
June 9 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
June 10 Baton Rouge, LA The Spanish Moon
June 12 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
June 13 Austin, TX Barracuda
June 14 Ft. Worth, TX Ridglea Room
June 15 Memphis, TN Growler’s

All U.S. non-festival dates with Here Lies Man except Detroit (Timmy’s Organism and The Octopus open)

August 3 Beelen, Germany Krach am Bach
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

Earthless is Mike Eginton (bass), Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

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Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

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Earthless Post “Volt Rush” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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Just how West Coast is it? Well, it’s West Coast enough to feature a professional skateboarder jumping over garbage cans dressed as a pizza-themed superhero, if that answers your question. Which it should. Sorry, that shit just doesn’t happen in Philadelphia.

San Diego heavy psych ambassadors Earthless issued their new album, Black Heaven (review here), last week via Nuclear Blast, and somehow, the clip below for “Volt Rush” strikes me as something of a victory lap to mark the occasion. Unlike much of the record, the track is instrumental, but it’s also only two and a half minutes long and so still represents some of the overarching change of approach that’s become so much of the narrative of the record — Earthless daring to not bask in their 20-minute, epic-as-all-hell instrumental songcrat and instead offer verses, choruses, and a piece like “Volt Rush,” which is there and gone before you even really have time to notice it’s Mad Alchemy doing the psychedelic lighting for the band’s show in the clip. Which, incidentally, it is.

As for the narrative, it looks like a hell of a day for Volt Pizza Man, played by pro skater Taylor Smith, and whatever cool tricks happen along the way — though I’ll give both the band and director BB Bastidas credit for not just making it look like a sponsor-me skate demo — the story ends (spoiler ahead) with Smith getting tossed on his ass out back of the Casbah, which my understanding is where it’s at when it comes to San Diego venues. That’s what I’m told, anyhow.

“Volt Rush,” though, lives up to its name, and the quick push through it makes it just right for the average YouTube attention span. Earthless are of course on tour now in the US and will head overseas next month to feature at Roadburn 2018 as artists-in-residence and leaders — suitably enough — of what’s been dubbed the “San Diego takeover,’ with JoyHarsh TokeArcticPetyr and others taking part.

Dates follow the clip below, as per the PR wire:

Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

Earthless, who are in the midst of a North American tour in support of their new album Black Heaven, debut their video for “Volt Rush.”

The video, which is set in Earthless’ hometown of San Diego, as well as neighboring Oceanside, was directed by skateboard/visual artist BB Bastidas and features the famed SoCal skateboarder T-Spliff (aka Taylor Smith).

“Stoked to present to you the very first Earthless video, directed by artist BB Bastidas,” said drummer Mario Rubalcaba. “We were stoked to work with BB on this as he knows our background as a band and our close roots with skateboarding. His art is amazing and he also has a keen natural eye for film. Having Taylor Smith, aka T-Spliff, in it just makes it even sweeter. He is somewhat of a mythical figure of a skater, an amazing talent but chooses to shred at his own discretion. Those who know, know. This was a blast to be a part of and we hope you enjoy this short high energy rocker that cruises around our hometown of San Diego, and local club, The Casbah.”

Black Heaven is the band’s first release to feature a majority of songs with vocals and is also the trio’s first time working with producer Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal). Rubalcaba explains the impact the Joshua Tree studio had on the outfit’s new music: “This album represents yet another branch on the ever growing and now adolescent Earthless tree. I spent a good amount of time just gazing at the stars at night while we were out recording in the desert of Joshua Tree. I think this somehow lent itself to the title and feel of the album on some songs. This LP has a touch more of our classic rock roots showing, just stuff we grew up on and it’s great to finally utilize Isaiah’s lyrical talent and soulful voice. As cliché as it sounds – Black Heaven should be played LOUD.”

Earthless tour dates:
March 20 Washington, DC Rock’n’Roll Hotel
March 21 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
March 22 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
March 23 St. Louis, MO Blueberry Hill
March 24 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
March 25 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
*All North American tour dates with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU

April 3 Korkrijk, Belgium De Kreun
April 4 Bristol, UK The Fleece
April 5 Manchester, UK The Deaf Institute
April 6 London, UK Islington Assembly Hall
April 7 Paris, France Petit Bain
April 8 Frankfurt, Germany Zoom
April 10 Munich, Germany Feierwerk
April 11 Berlin, Germany Bi Nuu
April 12 Copenhagen, Denmark Pumpehuset
April 13 Oslo, Norway BLA
April 14 Gothenberg, Sweden Truckstop Alaska
April 16 Hamburg, Germany Molotow
April 19-21 Tilburg, Netherlands Roadburn 2018
*All European, non-Roadburn dates with Comet Control

June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

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Earthless, Black Heaven: Gifts of the Wind

Posted in Reviews on March 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless black heaven

There will be those who decry the stylistic changes that San Diego — and really, the West Coast as a whole — heavy psych forerunners Earthless make on their fourth album, Black Heaven, which, with its somewhat quizzical title, also marks the trio’s debut on Nuclear Blast after a longer term alignment with Tee Pee that ran right up to 2016’s Acid Crusher / Mount Swan split (review here) with jammy acolytes Harsh Toke. The use of vocals in a major way for the first time, the paring down of song structures as compared to the massive sprawling righteousness that Earthless‘ reputation has been built on to this point will be departures that no doubt will have some in their fanbase calling them sellouts. This position, in this instance as in at least 85 percent of all instances as regards underground bands, is dumb. When Earthless start doing infomercials for electric scissors, maybe they will have sold out.

Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell wants to sing on four out of the six tracks on a 40-minute record? That’s not selling out. That’s a simple shift in approach. And here’s the thing: I can just about guarantee that for every longtime Earthless follower who refuses to get on board with the hook of “End to End” or opener “Gifted by the Wind,” two new heads will be turned onto what they’re doing for the first time. They’re not selling out. They’re reaching out. And I know they’re not the first group to link up with Nuclear Blast and undergo a stylistic change — see also Witchcraft, Graveyard, Blues Pills and Kadavar modernizing their production methods away from their initial vintage sounds — but even if the label had a hand in making the shift take place, Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba do nothing but thrive in the context of these songs. Want to call it a sellout because it’s not what you’re used to? Not what they did on 2013’s From the Ages (review here)? Fine. But you’re the one who’s losing out, not the band.

Mitchell‘s voice will be familiar enough to anyone who’s experienced either of the two full-lengths he’s put out with his other band, Golden Void, and he largely keeps to the same approach here — classic rock in style, soulful but not overdone, tastefully and willfully imperfect in its execution. He sounds live in the tradition of early heavy rock as he tops the initial push of “Gifted by the Wind” and the ultra-catchy boogie of “End to End,” and in one of Black Heaven‘s greatest points of success, the album has managed to distill the vast spread of prior Earthless output — that feeling of every single second being the most awesome moment of the classic heavy rock jam; crescendo piled on top of crescendo in a hypnotic instrumental torrent — into structured songcraft. “Gifted by the Wind” is only six minutes long, “End to End” only five, and the subsequent side A closer “Electric Flame” is the longest track on the LP at 9:05, but it’s not about song length anymore; it’s about what Earthless do with that time. “End to End” opens atmospherically but soon crashes into a threatening wash of feedback and cymbals before launching after the 1:30 mark into its central riff, which is among the most memorable the band has ever produced and joyously raucous in its circular motion. In short, it sounds like they’re having a blast, and subtle layering in Mitchell‘s vocals only add to the Hendrixian spirit as a whole.

earthless

A couple verses belted out lead to a guitar solo and instrumental finish that one senses could probably keep going for as long as the band wants it to in a live setting, but is certainly enough to get the wah-soaked, ass-shaking point across, Rubalcaba turning in a particularly engaging performance. The aforementioned side A closer “Electric Flame” is immediately more subdued, but still takes off on a rush of its own shortly, the time spent in the intro heading toward a more straightforward groove that is graceful in its turns but still rough-sounding along the edges — a balance of danger and surehandedness that Earthless carry through an early jam before turning back to the verse at the halfway point and taking off shortly after five minutes in on the mostly-instrumental stretch that rounds out in fashion no less immersive than they’ve ever been, of course with Mitchell‘s unmitigated at the fore punctuated by Rubalcaba‘s drums as Eginton‘s bass provides the foundation to which they smoothly return near the finish. Like the best of its ilk, it sounds like it’s about to completely fly apart and never does.

The same applies for the sub-two-minute “Volt Rush,” which is essentially a quick, layered-solo embodiment of its title — fast, full-thrust, all-go. It’s the kind of thing Earthless might’ve done for 13 minutes or so on 2008’s Live at Roadburn (discussed here), but even in playing to their classic methods, they’re changing how that happens, emphasizing quickly the trio dynamic between Mitchell, Eginton and Rubalcaba that has made them the arguable godfathers and key influence of the crowded West Coast scene that has sprouted in their wake. As much as it takes “Volt Rush” 1:56 to remind of that, I doubt many will complain as the following nine-minute title-track puts further emphasis on the point. An instrumental push that starts and offers no letup, its bleed directly through to closer “Sudden End” ties what one might think of as the two sides of the band presented on Black Heaven together.

After the fervency of the title-track, “Sudden End” takes a more laid back, bluesy approach and holds to a mid-paced tempo, and the vocals return to top a cloudy-beach psychedelia that fascinates all the more because of the choice it represents on the part of the band not to cap with a blowout, but with a easier flow carried by Eginton‘s bass and a relatively simplified drum progression from Rubalcaba. I won’t say it’s the biggest surprise of the album, but it does bring to mind the notion that as far outside their comfort zone as Earthless reach here — let’s face it, they could’ve put out an hour-long LP of three extended instrumentals and been hailed as gods for it — there’s still farther they can go, and new modes of expression to yet be explored. Earthless have always been songwriters, but they’ve never brought that into focus like they do on Black Heaven, and while it’s certain to divide some of the band’s followers, their boldness and their level of craft both come through stronger than ever before here. An absolute contender for the best album of 2018.

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