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

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


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

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

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

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Cometh the Storm

high on fire cometh the storm

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

High on Fire on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Spaceslug, Out of Water

spaceslug out of water

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

Spaceslug on Facebook

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Lie Heavy, Burn to the Moon

lie heavy burn to the moon

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

Lie Heavy on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Burning Realm, Face the Fire

Burning Realm Face the Fire

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

Burning Realm on Facebook

Burning Realm on Bandcamp

Kalac, Odyss​é​e


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

Kalac on Facebook

Crême Brûlée Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

Weird Beard Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

Alkuräjähdys, Ehdot.

Alkurajahdys ehdot

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

Alkuräjähdys on Instagram

Alkuräjähdys on Bandcamp

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Tarot Pt. 1

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister tarot pt. 1

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

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store

Amigo, Good Time Island

Amigo Good Time Island

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

Amigo on Facebook

Roosevelt Row Records store

The Hazytones, Wild Fever

The Hazytones Wild Fever

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

The Hazytones on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

All Are to Return, III

All Are To Return III

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

All Are to Return on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records store

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Quarterly Review: David Eugene Edwards, Beastwars, Sun Dial, Fuzzy Grass, Morne, Appalooza, Space Shepherds, Rey Mosca, Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Dune Pilot

Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Well, this is it. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do Monday and Tuesday, or just Monday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or the whole week next week or what. I don’t know. But while I figure it out — and not having this planned is kind of a novelty for me; something against my nature that I’m kind of forcing I think just to make myself uncomfortable — there are 10 more records to dig through today and it’s been a killer week. Yeah, that’s the other thing. Maybe it’s better to quit while I’m ahead.

I’ll kick it back and forth while writing today and getting the last of what I’d originally slated covered, then see how much I still have waiting to be covered. You can’t ever get everything. I keep learning that every year. But if I don’t do it Monday and Tuesday, it’ll either be last week of December or maybe second week of January, so it’s not long until the next one. Never is, I guess.

If this is it for now or not, thanks for reading. I hope you found music that has touched your life and/or made your day better.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

David Eugene Edwards, Hyacinth

David Eugene Edwards Hyacinth

There are not a ton of surprises to behold in what’s positioned as a first solo studio offering from David Eugene Edwards, whose pedigree would be impressive enough if it only included either 16 Horsepower or Wovenhand but of course is singular in including both. But you don’t need surprises. Titled Hyacinth and issued through Sargent House, the voice, the presence, the sense of intimacy and grandiosity both accounted for as Edwards taps acoustic simplicity in “Bright Boy,” though even that is accompanied by the programmed electronics that provides backing through much of the included 11 tracks. Atop and within these expanses, Edwards broods poetic and explores atmospheres that are heavy in a different way from what Wovenhand has become, chasing tone or intensity. On Hyacinth, it’s more about the impact of the slow-rolling beat in “Celeste” and the blend of organic/inorganic than just how loud a part is or isn’t. Whether a solo career under his name will take the place of Wovenhand or coincide, I don’t know.

David Eugene Edwards on Instagram

Sargent House website

Beastwars, Tyranny of Distance

beastwars tyranny of distance

Whatever led Beastwars to decide it was time to do a covers EP, fine. No, really, it’s fine. It’s fine that it’s 32 minutes long. It’s fine that I’ve never heard The Gordons, or Julia Deans, or Superette, or The 3Ds or any of the other New Zealand-based artists the Wellington bashers are covering. It’s fine. It’s fine that it sounds different than 2019’s IV (review here). It should. It’s been nearly five years and Beastwars didn’t write these eight songs, though it seems safe to assume they did a fair bit of rearranging since it all sounds so much like Beastwars. But the reason it’s all fine is that when it’s over, whether I know the original version of “Waves” or the blues-turns-crushing “High and Lonely” originally by Nadia Reid, or not, when it’s all over, I’ve got over half an hour more recorded Beastwars music than I had before Tyranny of Distance showed up, and if you don’t consider that a win, you probably already stopped reading. That’s fine too. A sidestep for them in not being an epic landmark LP, and a chance for new ideas to flourish.

Beastwars on Facebook

Beastwars BigCartel store

Sun Dial, Messages From the Mothership

sun dial messages from the mothership

Because Messages From the Mothership stacks its longer songs (six-seven minutes) in the back half of its tracklisting, one might be tempted to say Sun Dial push further out as they go, but the truth is that ’60s pop-inflected three-minute opener “Echoes All Around” is pretty out there, and the penultimate “Saucer Noise” — the longest inclusion at 7:47 — is no less melodically present than the more structure-forward leadoff. The difference, principally, is a long stretch of keyboard, but that’s well within the UK outfit’s vintage-synth wheelhouse, and anyway, “Demagnitized” is essentially seven minutes of wobbly drone at the end of the record, so they get weirder, as prefaced in the early going by, well, the early going itself, but also “New Day,” which is more exploratory than the radio-friendly-but-won’t-be-on-the-radio harmonies of “Living for Today” and the duly shimmering strum of “Burning Bright.” This is familiar terrain for Sun Dial, but they approach it with a perspective that’s fresh and, in the title-track, a little bit funky to boot.

Sun Dial on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Echodelick Records website

Fuzzy Grass, The Revenge of the Blue Nut

Fuzzy Grass The Revenge of the Blue Nut

With rampant heavy blues and a Mk II Deep Purple boogie bent, Toulouse, France’s Fuzzy Grass present The Revenge of the Blue Nut, and there’s a story there but to be honest I’m not sure I want to know. The heavy ’70s persist as an influence — no surprise for a group who named their 2018 debut 1971 — and pieces like “I’m Alright” and “The Dreamer” feel at least in part informed by Graveyard‘s slow-soul-to-boogie-blowout methodology. Raw fuzz rolls out in 11-minute capper “Moonlight Shades” with a swinging nod that’s a highlight even after “Why You Stop Me” just before, and grows noisy, expansive, eventually furious as it approaches the end, coherent in the verse and cacophonous in just about everything else. But the rawness bolsters the character of the album in ways beyond enhancing the vintage-ist impression, and Fuzzy Grass unite decades of influences with vibrant shred and groove that’s welcoming even at its bluest.

Fuzzy Grass on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

Morne, Engraved with Pain

Morne Engraved With Pain

If you go by the current of sizzling electronic pops deeper in the mix, even the outwardly quiet intro to Morne‘s Engraved with Pain is intense. The Boston-based crush-metallers have examined the world around them thoroughly ahead of this fifth full-length, and their disappointment is brutally brought to realization across four songs — “Engraved with Pain” (10:42), “Memories Like Stone” (10:48), “Wretched Empire” (7:45) and “Fire and Dust” (11:40) — written and executed with a dark mastery that goes beyond the weight of the guitar and bass and drums and gutturally shouted vocals to the aura around the music itself. Engraved with Pain makes the air around it feel heavier, basking in an individualized vision of metal that’s part Ministry, part Gojira, lots of Celtic Frost, progressive and bleak in kind — the kind of superlative and consuming listening experience that makes you wonder why you ever listen to anything else except that you’re also exhausted from it because Morne just gave you an existential flaying the likes of which you’ve not had in some time. Artistry. Don’t be shocked when it’s on my ‘best of the year’ list in a couple weeks. I might just go to a store and buy the CD.

Morne on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website

Appalooza, The Shining Son

appalooza the shining son

Don’t tell the swingin’-dick Western swag of “Wounded,” but Appalooza are a metal band. To wit, The Shining Son, their very-dudely follow-up to 2021’s The Holy of Holies (review here) and second outing for Ripple Music. Opener “Pelican” has more in common with Sepultura than Kyuss, or Pelican for that matter. “Unbreakable” and “Wasted Land” both boast screams worthy of Devin Townsend, while the acoustic/electric urgency in “Wasted Land” and the tumultuous scope of the seven-plus-minute track recall some of Primordial‘s battle-aftermath mourning. “Groundhog Days” has an airy melody and is more decisively heavy rock, and the hypnotic post-doom apparent-murder-balladry of “Killing Maria” answers that at the album’s close, and “Framed” hits heavy blues à la a missed outfit like Dwellers, but even in “Sunburn” there’s an immediacy to the rhythm between the guitar and percussion, and though they’re not necessarily always aggressive in their delivery, nor do they want to be. Metal they are, if only under the surface, and that, coupled with the care they put into their songwriting, makes The Shining Son stand out all the more in an ever-crowded Euro underground.

Appalooza on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Space Shepherds, Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

Space Shepherds Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

An invitation to chill the beans delivered to your ears courtesy of Irish cosmic jammers Space Shepherds as two longform jams. “Wading Through the Infinite Sea” nestles into a funky groove and spends who-even-cares-how-much-time of its total 27 minutes vibing out with noodling guitar and a steady, languid, periodically funk-leaning flow. I don’t know if it was made up on the spot, but it sure sounds like it was, and though the drums get a little restless as keys and guitar keep dreaming, the elements gradually align and push toward and through denser clouds of dust and gas on their way to being suns, a returning lick at the end looking slightly in the direction of Elder but after nearly half an hour it belongs to no one so much as Space Shepherds themselves. ‘Side B,’ as it were, is “Void Hurler” (18:41), which is more active early around circles being drawn on the snare, and it has a crescendo and a synthy finish, but is ultimately more about the exploration and little moments along the way like the drums decided to add a bit of push to what might’ve otherwise been the comedown, or the fuzz buzzing amid the drone circa 10 minutes in. You can sit and listen and follow each waveform on its journey or you can relax and let the whole thing carry you. No wrong answer for jams this engaging.

Space Shepherds on Facebook

Space Shepherds on Bandcamp

Rey Mosca, Volumen! Sesion AMB

rey mosca volumen sesiones amb

Young Chilean four-piece Rey Mosca — the lineup of Josué Campos, Valentín Pérez, Damián Arros and Rafael Álvarez — hold a spaciousness in reserve for the midsection of teh seven-minute “Sol del Tiempo,” which is the third of the three songs included in their live-recorded Volumen! Sesion AMB EP. A ready hint is dropped of a switch in methodology since both “Psychodoom” and ” Perdiendo el Control” are under two minutes long. Crust around the edge of the riff greets the listener with “Psychodoom,” which spends about a third of its 90 seconds on its intro and so is barely started by the time it’s over. Awesome. “Perdiendo el Control” is quicker into its verse and quicker generally and gets brasher in its second half with some hardcore shout-alongs, but it too is there and gone, where “Sol del Tiempo” is more patient from the outset, flirting with ’90s noise crunch in its finish but finding a path through a developing interpretation of psychedelic doom en route. I don’t know if “Sol del Tiempo” would fit on a 7″, but it might be worth a shot as Rey Mosca serve notice of their potential hopefully to flourish.


Rey Mosca on Bandcamp

Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Vestigial Spectra

Fawn Limbs & Nadja Vestigial Spectra

Principally engaged in the consumption and expulsion of expectations, Fawn Limbs and Nadja — experimentalists from Finland and Germany-via-Canada, respectively — drone as one might think in opener “Isomerich,” and in the subsequent “Black Body Radiation” and “Cascading Entropy,” they give Primitive Man, The Body or any other extremely violent, doom-derived bludgeoners you want to name a run for their money in terms of sheer noisy assault. Somebody’s been reading about exoplanets, as the drone/harsh noise pairing “Redshifted” and “Blueshifted” (look it up, it’s super cool) reset the aural trebuchet for its next launch, the latter growing caustic on the way, ahead of “Distilled in Observance” renewing the punishment in earnest. And it is earnest. They mean every second of it as Fawn Limbs and Nadja grind souls to powder with all-or-nothing fury, dropping overwhelming drive to round out “Distilled in Observance” before the 11-minute “Metastable Ion Decay” bursts out from the chest of its intro drone to devour everybody on the ship except Sigourney Weaver. I’m not lying to you — this is ferocious. You might think you’re up for it. One sure way to find out, but you should know you’re being tested.

Fawn Limbs on Facebook

Nadja on Facebook

Sludgelord Records on Facebook

Dune Pilot, Magnetic

dune pilot magnetic

Do they pilot, a-pilot, do they the dune? Probably. Regardless, German heavy rockers Dune Pilot offer their third full-length and first for Argonauta Records in the 11-song Magnetic, taking cues from modern fuzz in the vein of Truckfighters for “Visions” after the opening title-track sets the mood and establishes the mostly-dry sound of the vocals as they cut through the guitar and bass tones. A push of voice becomes a defining feature of Magnetic, which isn’t such a departure from 2018’s Lucy, though the rush of “Next to the Liquor Store” and the breadth in the fuzz of “Highest Bid” and the largesse of the nod in “Let You Down” assure that Dune Pilot don’t come close to wearing down their welcome in the 46 minutes, cuts like the bluesy “So Mad” and the big-chorus ideology of “Heap of Shards” coexisting drawn together by the vitality of the performances behind them as well as the surety of their craft. It is heavy rock that feels specifically geared toward the lovers thereof.

Dune Pilot on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

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Quarterly Review: Melody Fields, La Chinga, Massive Hassle, Sherpa, Acid Throne, The Holy Nothing, Runway, Wet Cactus, MC MYASNOI, Cinder Well

Posted in Reviews on November 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Day three of the Quarterly Review is always a good time. Passing the halfway point for the week isn’t nothing, and I take comfort in knowing there’s another 25 to come after the first 25 are down. Sometimes it’s the little things.

But let’s not waste the few moments we have. I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Melody Fields, 1901

Melody Fields 1901

Though it starts out firmly entrenched in ’60s psychedelia in “Going Back,” Melody Fields1901 is less genre-adherent and/or retroist than one might expect. “Jesus” borrows from ’70s soul, but is languid in its rollout with horn-esque sounds for a Morricone-ish vibe, while “Rave On” makes a hook of its folkish and noodly bridge. Keyboards bring a krautrock spirit to “Mellanväsen,” which is fair as “Transatlantic” blisses out ’90s electro-rock, and “Home at Last” prog-shuffles in its own swirl — a masterclass in whatever kind of psych you want to call it — as “Indian MC” has an acoustic strum that reminds of some of Lamp of the Universe‘s recent urgings, and “Void” offers 53 seconds of drone before the stomp of the catchy “In Love” and the keyboard-dreamy “Mayday” ends side B with a departure to match “Transatlantic” capping side A. Unexpectedly, 1901, which is the Swedish outfit’s second LP behind their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), is one of two albums they have for Fall 2023, with 1991 a seeming companion piece. Here’s looking forward.

Melody Fields on Facebook

Melody Fields on Bandcamp

La Chinga, Primal Forces

la chinga primal forces

La Chinga don’t have time for bullshit. They’re going right to the source. Black Sabbath. Motörhead. Enough Judas Priest in “Electric Eliminator” for the whole class and a riffy swagger, loosely Southern in “Stars Fall From the Sky,” and elsewhere, that reminds of Dixie Witch or Halfway to Gone, and that aughts era of heavy generally. “Backs to the Wall” careens with such a love of ’80s metal it reminds of Bible of the Devil — while cuts like “Bolt of Lightning,” “Rings of Power” and smash-then-run opener “Light it Up” immediately positions the trio between ’70s heavy rock and the more aggressive fare it helped produce. Throughout, La Chinga are poised but not so much so as to take away from the energy of their songs, which are impeccably written, varied in energy, and drawn together through the vitality of their delivery. Here’s a kickass rock band, kicking ass. It might be a little too over-the-top for some listeners, but over-the-top is a target unto itself. La Chinga hit it like oldschool masters.

La Chinga on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Massive Hassle, Number One


Best known for their work together in Mammothwing and now also both members of Church of the Cosmic Skull as well, brothers Bill Fisher and Marty Fisher make a point of stripping back as much as possible with Massive Hassle, scaling down the complex arrangements of what’s now their main outfit but leaving room for harmonies, on-sleeve Thin Lizzy love and massive fuzz in cuts like “Lane,” “Drifter,” the speedier penultimate “Drink” and the slow-nod payoff of “Fibber,” which closes. That attitude — which one might see developing in response to years spend plugging away in a group with seven people and everyone wears matching suits — assures a song like “Kneel” fits, with its restless twists feeling born organically out of teenage frustrations, but many of Number One‘s strongest moments are in its quieter, bluesy explorations. The guitar holds a note, just long enough that it feels like it might miss the beat on the turnaround, then there’s the snare. With soul in the vocals to spare and a tension you go for every time, if Massive Hassle keep this up they’re going to have to be a real band, and ugh, what a pain in the ass that is.

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Sherpa, Land of Corals

sherpa land of corals

One of the best albums of 2023, and not near the bottom of the list. Italy’s Sherpa demonstrated their adventurous side with 2018’s Tigris & Euphrates (review here), but the six-song/39-minute Land of Corals is in a class of its own as regards their work. Breaking down genre barriers between industrial/dance, psychedelia, doom, and prog, Sherpa keep a special level of tonal heft in reserve that’s revealed near the end of opener “Silt” and is worthy — yes I mean this — of countrymen Ufomammut in its cosmic impact. “High Walls” is more of a techno throb with a languid melodic vocal, but the two-part, eight-minute “Priest of Corals” begins a thread of Ulverian atmospherics that continues not so much in the second half of the song itself, which brings back the heavy from “Silt” and rolls back and forth over the skull, but in the subsequent “Arousal,” which has an experimental edge in its later reaches and backs its beat with a resonant sprawl of drone. This is so much setup for the apex in “Coward/Pilgrimage to the Sun,” which is the kind of wash that will make you wonder if we’re all just chemicals, and closer “Path/Mud/Barn,” which feels well within its rights to take its central piano line for a walk. I haven’t seen a ton of hype for it, which tracks, but this feels like a record that’s getting to know you while you’re getting to know it.

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Subsound Records store

Acid Throne, Kingdom’s Death

acid throne kingdom's death

A sludge metal of marked ferocity and brand-name largesse, Acid Throne‘s debut album, Kingdom’s Death sets out with destructive and atmospheric purpose alike, and while it’s vocals are largely grunts in “River (Bare My Bones)” and the straight-up deathly “Hallowed Ground,” if there’s primitivism at work in the 43-minute six-songer, it’s neither in the character of their tones or what they’re playing. Like a rockslide in a cavern, “Death is Not the End” is the beginning, with melodic flourish in the lead guitar as it passes the halfway point and enough crush generally to force your blood through your pores. It moves slower than “River (Bare My Bones),” but the Norwich, UK, trio are dug in regardless of tempo, with “King Slayer” unfolding like Entombed before revealing itself as more in line with a doomed take on Nile or Morbid Angel. Both it and “War Torn” grow huge by their finish, and the same is true of “Hallowed Ground,” though if you go from after the intro it also started out that way, and the 11-minute closer “Last Will & Testament” is engrossing enough that its last drones give seamlessly over to falling rain almost before you know it. There are days like this. Believe it.

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Acid Throne on Bandcamp

The Holy Nothing, Vol. 1: A Profound and Nameless Fear

the holy nothing vol 1 a profound and nameless fear

With an intensity thrust forth from decades of Midwestern post-hardcore disaffection, Indiana trio The Holy Nothing make their presence felt with Vol. 1: A Profound and Nameless Fear, a five-song/17-minute EP that’s weighted and barking in its onslaught and pivots almost frenetically from part to part, but that nonetheless has an overarching groove that’s pure Sabbath boogie in centerpiece “Unending Death,” and opener “Bathe Me” sets the pummeling course with noise rock and nu metal chicanery, while “Bliss Trench” raw-throats its punkish first half en route to a slowdown that knows it’s hot shit. Bass leads the way into “Mondegreen,” with a threatening chug and post-hardcore boogie, just an edge of grunge to its later hook to go with the last screams, and feedback as it inevitably would, leads the way into “Doom Church,” with a more melodic and spacious echoing vocal and a riff that seems to kind of eat the rest of the song surrounding. I’ll be curious how the quirk extrapolates over a full-length’s runtime, but they sound like they’re ready to get weird and they’re from Fort Wayne, which is where Charlton Heston was from in Planet of the Apes, and I’m sorry, but that’s just too on-the-nose to be a coincidence.

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Runway, Runway


Runway may be making their self-titled debut with this eight-song/31-minute blowout LP delivered through Cardinal Fuzz, Echodelick and We, Here & Now as a triumvirate of lysergic righteousness, but the band is made up of five former members of Saskatoon instrumentalists Shooting Guns so it’s not exactly their first time at the dance of wavy lines and chambered echo that make even the two-minute “No Witnesses” feel broad, and the crunch-fuzz of “Attempted Mordor,” the double-time hi-hat on “Franchy Cordero” that vibes with all the casual saunter of Endless Boogie but in a shorter package as the song’s only four minutes long. “Banderas” follows a chugging tack and doesn’t seem to release its tension even in the payoff, but “Crosshairs” is all freedom-rock, baby, with a riff like they put the good version of America in can, and the seven-minute capper “Mailman” reminds that our destination was the cosmos all along. Jam on, you glorious Canadian freaks. By this moniker or any other, your repetitive excavations are always welcome on these shores.

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Echodelick Records website

Cardinal Fuzz store


Wet Cactus, Magma Tres

wet cactus magma tres

Spanish heavy rockers Wet Cactus look to position themselves at the forefront of a regional blossoming with their third album, the 12-track Magma Tres. Issued through Electric Valley Records, the 45-minute long-player follows 2018’s Dust, Hunger and Gloom (review here) and sees the band tying together straightforward, desert-style heavy rock with a bit of grunge sway in “Profound Dream” before it twists around to heavy-footed QOTSA start-stops ahead of the fuzzy trash-boogie of “Mirage” and the duly headspinning guitar work of “My Gaze is Fixed Ahead.” The second half of the LP has interludes between sets of two tracks — the album begins with “I. The Long Escape…” as the first of them — but the careening “Self Bitten Snake” and the tense toms under the psych guitar before that big last hook in “Solar Prominence” want nothing for immediacy, and even “IV. …Of His Musical Ashes!,” which closes, becomes a charge with the band’s collective force behind it. There’s more to what they do than people know, but you could easily say the same thing about the entire Iberian Peninsula’s heavy underground.

Wet Cactus on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website

MC MYASNOI, Falling Lower Than You Expected

MC MYASNOI Falling Lower Than You Expected

All-caps Icelandic troupe MC MYASNOI telegraph their experimentalism early in the drone of “Liquid Lung [Nucomp]” and let some of the noise around the electronic nod in “Antenula [OEBT]” grow caustic in the first half before first bliss then horror build around a progression of drums, ending with sax and feedback and noise and where were the lines between them anyway. The delve into the unknown threads more feedback through “Slug Paradox,” which has a vocal line somewhere not terribly far off from shoegaze, but is itself nothing so pedestrian, while “Kuroki” sounds like it could’ve been recorded at rehearsal, possibly on the other side of the wall. The go-wherever-you-end-up penchant holds in “Bleach in Eye,” and when “Xcomputer must dieX” clicks on, it brings about the rumble MC MYASNOI seem to have been threatening all along without giving up the abidingly oddball stance, what with the keyboard and sax and noise, noise, noise, plus whispers at the end. I’m sure that in the vast multiverse there’s a plenet that’s ready for the kind of off-kilter-everythingism wrought by MC MYASNOI, but you can bet your ass this ain’t it. And if you’re too weird for earth, you’re alright by me.

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MC MYASNOI on Bandcamp

Cinder Well, Cadence

cinder well cadence

The 2020 album from transient folk singer-songwriter Cinder Well, No Summer (review here), landed with palpable empathy in a troubled July, and Cadence has a similar minimalist place to dwell in “Overgrown” or finale “I Will Close in the Moonlight,” but by and large the arrangements are more lush throughout the nine songs of Cadence. Naturally, Amelia Baker‘s voice remains a focal point for the material, but organ, viola and fiddle, drums and bass, etc., bring variety to the gentle delivery of “Gone the Holding,” the later reaches of “Crow” and allow for the build of elements in “A Scorched Lament” that make that song’s swaying crescendo such a high point. And having high points is somewhat striking, in context, but Cinder Well‘s range as shown throughout Cadence is beholden to no single emotional or even stylistic expression. If you’d read this and gripe that the record isn’t heavy — shit. Listen again.

Cinder Well on Facebook

Free Dirt Records on Bandcamp

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Oslo Tapes Premiere “Deja Neu” Video; Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind Out Dec. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

oslo tapes staring at the sun before goin' blind

Italian progressive atmospheric rock unit Oslo Tapes will release their new album, Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind, on Dec. 1. The record — which is the fourth since the mostly-solo-project of vocalist, multi-instrumentalist Marco Campitelli (who also handled some of the recording here) released its self-titled debut a decade ago — is being issued through a consortium of labels that includes Echodelick Records, Sound Effect Records and Grazil Records, covering North America, Europe and Australia, respectively.

The distributary triumvirate step in for Pelagic Records, which issued Oslo TapesØR (review here) in mid-2021. Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind — the title perhaps conveying some measure of pastoralism by knocking the ‘g’ off “going” — is comprised of eight tracks, like its predecessor, and sees Campitelli working in collaboration with producer Amaury Cambuzat, who also mixed, mastered and contributed to the writing and presumably arrangements of the material, which carries subtle currents of pop in its digestible blend of styles from prog and post-heavy rock in drifty opener “Gravity” and the later “Middle Ground,” which swells to a wash that would feel like a culmination were it not for the seven-minute closing title-track two songs later, to the Godflesh-‘n’-chill of side A’s “Ethereal Song,” the turn-of-the-century Reznorian drum and bass perfect-druggery of “Reject Yr Regret” or the periodic dance parties that seem to break out, in either of those two or elsewhere.

It’s a complex listen, provided you want it to be. For those who might dig into details, there’s full-dimensionality to what Campitelli and Amaury have brought here, unto the use of traditional verse and chorus structures to give that overarching complexity a Oslo Tapes 2still-accessible bent. But from the very first windchimes in “Gravity,” there’s intricacy corresponding to the abiding mood that gives the entire album its context.

And while one raises an eyebrow at the notion of congratulating a band that’s mostly one person on their record being cohesive — it better be; there’s no one else around to screw it up — and through the beat intensity of “Middle Ground” or the lower chug of maybe-keyboard under the higher frequency melodies of the suitably flowing penultimate cut “Somnambulist’s Daydream” or the actual-dream tonality of “Like a Metamorphosis” that led off side B, Oslo Tapes‘ sense of purpose never wanes. And for being so clearly exploratory in nature, Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind never loses either its fluidity or the solid ground on which it’s offered. The work of someone who knows the sound they want and seems to be in steady pursuit of new ideas and aspects to bring to it.

Shades of New Wave, dance, classic krautrock, psych, prog — a list that could go on depending on the listener — and yet there’s little to disconnect Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind from the central experience of its melody or the thoughtfulness of its composition and arrangements. In addition to some hard-lugging of wood and a solid argument for why you should try not to get tangled in your socks when hanging out the laundry (you’ll see it, don’t worry), the video’s meditative nature is fitting with the song’s likewise patient but not staid movement. I don’t know if I’d call it peaceful, exactly, but neither is it throwing elements at your ears just to see what sticks. Everything has a place.

Please enjoy:

Oslo Tapes, “Deja Neu” video premiere

Marco Campitelli on “Deja Neu”:

“Deja Neu” a track that falls between cinematic and ritual music, built upon ethno-kraut motifs embedded in hypnotic rhythmic figures, in a crescendo of psychedelic ornaments and intensity.

You can imagine to catch the sound between the mitte-europe and the oriental tunes….

On Friday, December 1st, Oslo Tapes returns with the highly anticipated fourth album, ‘Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind’ marking another step in Marco Campitelli’s personal initiatory journey through the realms of post/art/kraut/noise and introspection. The album will be released on vinyl by Echodelick Records (USA) and Sound Effect Records (Greece), while Grazil Records (Austria) will oversee the CD, cassette, and digital versions.

‘Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind’ is the follow-up to the successful third album, ‘ØR’, released in 2021 by the prestigious Pelagic Records, and it is imbued with emotional radiations that fuel disorientation and restlessness. Voices in contrast with metronomic rhythmic patterns, geometries distorted by fluid basslines, and melodic synths that compensate for the voids left by liquid and acidic guitars all contribute to creating a distinctly personal auditory mirage.

The album is produced by Amaury Cambuzat, a historic member of faUSt, and Ulan Bator, who co-authored the songs and arrangements with Campitelli. Using an unspecified number of magnetic tapes and analog machines, he forged the album’s sound through his thirty-year experience in the kraut/avant/rock domain.

Oslo Tapes says: ‹‹ ‘Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind’ is hypothetically a brief period traversed in eight tracks, from the ethereal opening of ‘Gravity’ to the hypnotic ‘Ethereal Song’, the avant-syncretism of ‘Deja Neu’, and the psychedelic and modern deep house vibes of ‘Reject Yr Regret’. It follows the harmonic framework of ‘Like a Metamorphosis’ in a fusion of psychedelic jazz, the post-minimalist fuzz-kraut of ‘Middle Ground’, the distorted and celestial ‘Somnambulist’s Daydream’, and the tribal-kaleidoscopic title track finale. ››

Recommended for fans of God Is An Astronaut, Neu!, Can, Porno For Pyros, Nine Inch Nails, and Angel Of Light. While the Oslo Tapes capsule is in orbit, on board are Mauro Spada on bass and Davide Di Virgilio on drums, Stefano Micolucci on bass and upright bass, Federico Sergente on percussion, Nicola Amici, also known as Kaouenn, on guitars, synths, and percussion. There are also exceptional guests such as Berlin’s Sicker Man from Trialogos on cello and Dahm Majuri Cipolla, the Japanese post-rock band MONO drummer. After being part of the same label as Marco Campitelli, they cultivated a collaboration driven by their shared passion for kraut rock.

A2.Ethereal Song
A3.Deja Neu
A4. Reject yr Regret
B1.Like a Metamorphosis
B2.Middle Ground
B3.Somnambulist’s Daydream
B4.Staring at the Sun Before Goin’ Blind

Produced, mixed & mastered by Amaury Cambuzat Recorded by Marco Campitelli (Marigold’s Flower Studio) & Amaury Cambuzat (Let Go Ego Sound Studio)
Written by Marco Campitelli & Amaury Cambuzat
Played by Oslo Tapes
PhotosSilvia Verna
ArtworkDruckwelle Design

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Grazil Records Linktr.ee

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Quarterly Review: Motorpsycho, Severed Satellites, Edena Gardens, Delco Detention, The Gray Goo, Shit Hexis, Oromet, Le Mur, 10-20 Project, Landing

Posted in Reviews on July 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


I’m drinking coffee out of a different mug today. It may not surprise you to learn that I’m particular about that kind of thing. I have two mugs — one from Baltimore, one from Salem, Mass. — that are the same. They are huge, blue and black, and they curve slightly inward at the top. They can hold half of a 10-cup pot of coffee. I use one of them per day for a pot in the morning.

Not today. The Pecan gifted me a Mr. Spock mug — he’s in his dress uniform, so it’s likely based on the TOS episode ‘Journey to Babel,’ where we meet his parents for the first (our time) time — and it’s smaller and lighter in the hand, will require an extra trip up to the kitchen to finish the pot, but I think she’ll be glad to see me use it, and maybe that’ll help her get a decent start to the day in a bit when she comes downstairs.

Today’s the last day for this week of QR, but we dive back in on Monday and Tuesday to close out. Hope you find something you dig, and if I don’t catch you at the closeout post for the week, have a great weekend.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Motorpsycho, Yay!


Long-running and prolific Norwegian prog rockers Motorpsycho have proven time and again their stylistic malleability across their north-of-100-strong catalog of releases, and comprised of 10 tracks running 42 minutes of acoustic-led-but-still-lushly-arranged, melodic and sometimes folkish craft. If you ever needed an argument that Motorpsycho could have been writing simplified, ultra-accessible, soundtrack-to-your-summer fare — and I’m not sure you have — Yay! provides that, with a classic feel in the harmonies of “Sentinels” and “Dank State,” though the lyrics in that last cut and in pieces like the leadoff “Cold & Bored,” the later isolated strummer “Real Again (Norway Shrugs and Stays at Home)” and in the lost-love-themed “Loch Meaninglessness and the Mull of Dull” have a cynical current to their framing contrasts that the outwardly pretty face lent to it by the Paul Simon-style lead vocals from Bent Sæther (also guitar, mandolin, omnichord here and more elsewhere). If the record is a gimme for an audience looking for a more earthbound Motorpsycho, then the arrival of the 7:46 “Hotel Daedalus” is where they give a nod to the heavier heads in their fanbase, with one of several guest spots from Reine Fiske (Dungen, Träden, etc.) and a shift in the balance between electric and acoustic guitar and synth at the foreground. Standout as that is, it’s also consistent with the spirit of Yay! more generally, which is built to be more complex in emotion than it presents on its face, and the work of masters, whether they’re writing longform prog epics or sweet closer “The Rapture,” which paints the change of seasons through an image of unmelted leftover snow “sulking in the shade.” One should expect no less than that kind of reach and attention to expression, and one should never engage Motorpsycho with expectations beyond that.

Motorpsycho on Facebook

Stickman Records store

Det Nordenfjeldske Grammofonselskab site


Severed Satellites, Aphelion

Severed Satellites Aphelion

“Apollo,” which was the first single released by Severed Satellites, opens the Baltimore instrumentalists’ first EP, Aphelion, as well, its uptempo blues-informed groove an enticing beginning before “Lost Transmissions” digs further into riffer nod. With five tracks running 27 minutes, Severed Satellites — guitarist Matt Naas, keyboardist Dave Drell, bassist Adam Heinzmann and drummer Chuck Dukehart, the latter two both of heavy rockers Foghound, among others — offer material that’s built out of jamming but that is not itself the jam. Songs, in other words. Recorded by Noel Mueller at Tiny Castle Studio, the EP proves solid through “Lost Transmissions” and the bassier “Hurtling Toward Oblivion” with its ending comedown leading into the coursing keyboard waveform at the start of “Breaking Free From Orbit,” which is the longest inclusion at 7:21 and uses most of that extra time in the intro, building afterward toward a ’70s strutting apex that puts energy ahead of largesse before the keys lead the way out in the two-minute outro “Reaching Aphelion.” Through the variety in the material, Severed Satellites showcase a persona that knows what it’s about and presents that fluidly to the listener with a minimum of indulgence. A rousing start.

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Severed Satellites on Bandcamp


Edena Gardens, Live Momentum

edena gardens live momentum

The collaboration between baritone/bass guitarist Martin Rude, drummer Jakob Skøtt, both also of Danish psych-jazz and psych-as-jazz explorers Causa Sui, and guitarist Nicklas Sørensen of molten-but-mellow jammers Papir, Edena Gardens issue their first and perhaps not last live album in Live Momentum, a three-song set taped at Jaiyede Jazz Festival — their first onstage appearance — in 2022 and pressed concurrent to the second Edena Gardens studio full-length, Agar (review here) while still not so far removed from their 2022 self-titled debut (review here). “Veil” from the sophomore LP opens, with a thicker guitar sound and more active delivery from the stage, a heavier presence in the guitar early on, hinting at Link Wray and sounding clear enough that the applause at the end is a surprise. Taken from the self-titled, “Now Here Nowhere” is more soothing and post-rocking in its languidity — also shorter at seven minutes — an active but not overbearing jazz fusion, while side B’s 17-minute “Live Momentum” would seem to be the occasion for the release. Exploratory at the start, it settles into a groove that’s outright bombastic in comparison to the other two tracks, brings down the jam and pushes it out, growing in volume again late for a slow, howling finish. What should be a no-brainer to those who’ve heard the band, Live Momentum portrays a side of Edena Gardens that their ‘proper’ albums — which is also where new listeners should begin — hasn’t yet shown, which is no doubt why it was issued to start with. Only fortunate.

Edena Gardens on Facebook

El Paraiso Records store


Delco Detention, Come and Get It!


Following up 2022’s What Lies Beneath (review here) and the intervening covers collection, Cover Ups, and the Crack the Lock EP, prolific Pennsylvania heavy rock outfit Delco Detention, led by the son/father duo of Tyler and Adam Pomerantz return with their Come and Get It! is suitably exclamatory fashion. The nine-track collection is headlined by a guest guitar spot from EarthlessIsaiah Mitchell on “Earthless Delco” near the album’s middle, but stop-bys from familiar parties like Kevin McNamara and Mike DiDonato of The Age of Truth and Jared Collins of Mississippi Bones, among others, assure diversity in the material around the foundation of groovy heavy rock. Clutch remain a strong influence — and the record finishes with a take on “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth” — but the fuzzy four minutes of the penultimate “Rock and Roll God” and the swing in opener “Domagoj Simek Told Me Quitters Never Smoke” continue to show the band’s growth in refining their songwriting process and aligning the right performers with the right songs, which they do.

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The Gray Goo, Circus Nightmare

the gray goo circus nightmare

The second full-length from Montana heavy-funk shenanigans purveyors The Gray Goo, Circus Nightmare, sounds like there’s a story to go along with every song, whether it’s the tale of “Nightstocker” no doubt based on a 24-hour grocery store, or the smoke-weed-now anthem “Pipe Hitter” that so purposefully and blatantly takes on Sleep‘s “Dragonaut,” or even the interlude “Cerulean” with its backward wisps of guitar leading into the dreamy-Ween-esque, Beatles-reference-dropping “Cosmic Sea,” or the Primus-informed absurdity of “Alligator Bundee,” which leads off, and the garage punk that caps in “Out of Sight (Out of Mind).” Equal parts brilliant and dopey, “BEP” is a brief delve into surf-toned weirdness while “Wizards of the Mountain” pays off the basement doom of “Pipe Hitter” just before with its raw-captured slowdown, organ included in its post-midpoint creep and “Cumbia de Montana” is perhaps more dub than South American-style mountain jamming — though there’s a flute — but if you want to draw a line and tell me where one ends and another starts, I won’t argue. Bottom line is that after an encouraging start in last year’s 1943 (review here), The Gray Goo are more sure of themselves and more sure of the planet’s ridiculousness. May they long remain so certain and productive. Heavy rock needs more oddballs.

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The Gray Goo on Bandcamp


Shit Hexis, Shit Hexis

shit hexis shit hexis

It’s like they packed it with extra nasty. The seven-song/27-minute Shit Hexis is the debut offering from Saarbrücken, Germany’s Shit Hexis, and it stabs, it scathes, it skin-peels and not in the refreshing way. Flaying extreme sludge riffs presented with the cavernous echo and murky purposes of black metal, it is a filthy sound but not completely un-cosmic as “Latrine Odins” feedsback and lumbers through its 92 seconds, or “Erde” drone-plods at terrifying proportion. On paper, Shit Hexis share a mindset with the likes of Come to Grief or even earlier Yatra in bringing together tonal weight with aesthetics born out of the more extreme ends of heavy metal, but their sharp angles, harsh tones and the echoing rasp of “Le Mort Saisit le Vif” are their own. Not that fucking matters, because when you’re this disaffected you probably don’t give a shit about originality either. But as their first release of any kind, even less than a half-hour of exposure seems likely to cause a reaction, and if you’re ever somewhere that you need people not to be, the misanthropic, loathing-born gurgling of “Mkwekm” should do the trick in clearing a room. This, of course, is as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Mo and drummer Pat designed it to be, and so, wretched as it is, their self-titled can only be called a success. But what a vision thereof.

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Bleeding Heart Nihilist Productions website


Oromet, Oromet

oromet oromet

That Sacramento, California, two-piece Oromet — guitarist/vocalist/layout specialist Dan Aguilar and drummer/bassist/synthesist/backing vocalist/engineer Patrick Hills — have a pedigree between them that shares time in Occlith accounts for some of the unity of intent on the grandly-unfolding death-doom outfit’s self-titled three-song Transylvanian Recordings debut full-length. Side A is dedicated solely to the opener/longest track (immediate points) “Familiar Spirits” (22:00), which quiets down near the finish to end in a contemplative/reflective drone, and earlier positions Oromet among the likes of Dream Undending or Bell Witch in an increasingly prevalent, yet-untagged mournful subset of death-doom. “Diluvium” (11:31) and “Alpenglow” (10:07) follow suit, the former basking in the beauty in its own darkness and sounding duly astounded as it pounds its way toward a sudden stop to let the residual frequencies swell before carrying into the latter, which is gloriously tortured for its first six minutes and comes apart slowly thereafter, having found a place to dwell in the melodic aftermath. Crushing spiritually even as it reaffirms the validity of that pain, it is an affecting listening experience that can be overwhelming at points, but its extremity never feels superfluous or disconnected from the sorrowful emotionality of the songs themselves.

Oromet on Instagram

Transylvanian Recordings on Bandcamp


Le Mur, Keep Your Fear Away From Me

Le Mur Keep Your Fear Away From Me

Each of the four tracks of Le Mur‘s fourth record, Keep Your Fear Away From Me, corresponds to a place in time and point of view. That is, we start in the past with 15-minute leadoff “…The Past Will Be Perfect…” — and please note that the band’s name is also stylized all-caps where album and song titles are all-lowercase — moving through “Today is the Day/The Beauty of Now” (9:27) in the present and “Another Life/Burning the Tree/I See You” (11:19) confirming the subjectivity of one’s experience of self and the world, and closer “…For the Puzzles of the Future.” (12:12) finishing the train of thought by looking at the present from a time to come. Samples peppered throughout add to the otherwise mostly instrumental proceedings, focused on flow and at least semi-improvised, and horns on the opener/longest cut (immediate points) sets a jazzy mindset that holds even as “Another Life/Burning the Tree/I See You” forays through its three-stage journey, starting with a shimmy before growing ever-so-slightly funky in the middle and finishing acoustic, while the (electric) guitar on “…For the Puzzles of the Future.” seems to have saved its letting loose for the final jam, emerging out of the keyboardy intro and sample to top a raucous, fun finish.

Le Mur on Facebook

Aumega Project website


10-20 Project, Snakes Go Dark to Soak in the Sun

10-20 project snakes go dark to soak in the sun

Pushing through sax-laced, dug-in space jamming, Tunisia’s 10-20 Project reportedly recorded Snakes Go Dark to Soak in the Sun during the pandemic lockdown, perhaps in a bid just to do anything during July 2020. Removed from that circumstance, the work of the core duo of guitarist Marwen Lazaar and bassist Dhia Eddine Mejrissi as well as a few friends — drummer Manef Zoghlemi, saxophonist Ghassen Abdelghani and Mohammed Barsaoui on didgeridoo — present a three-track suite that oozes between liquid and vaporous states of matter across “Chutney I” (25:06), “Chutney II” (14:32) and “Chutney III” (13:00), which may or may not have actually been carved out of the same extended jam. From the interweaving of the sax alongside the guitar in the mix of the opener through the hand-drumming in the middle cut and “Chutney III” picking up with an active rhythm after the two pieces prior took their time in building quietly, plus some odd vocalizations included for good measure, the 52-minute outing gets its character from the exploratory meld in their arrangements and the loose nature with which they seem to approach composition generally. It is not a challenge to be entranced by Snakes Go Dark to Soak in the Sun, as even 10-20 Project seem to have been during its making.

10-20 Project on Facebook

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Landing, Motionless I-VI

landing motionless i-vi

If one assumes that “Side A” (19:58) and “Side B” (20:01) of Landing‘s are the edited-down versions of what appeared as part of the Connecticut ambient psych troupe’s Bandcamp ‘Subscriber Series Collection 02’ as “Motionless I-III” (29:56) and “Motionless IV-VI” (27:18), then perhaps yes, the Sulatron Records-issued Motionless I-VI has been markedly altered to accommodate the LP format. The (relatively) concise presentation, however, does little to undercut either the floating cosmic acoustics and drones about halfway through the first side or the pastoral flight taken in “Side B” before the last drone seems to devour the concept with especially cinematic drama. Whereas when there are drums in “Side A” the mood is more krautrock or traditional space rock, the second stretch of Motionless I-VI is more radical in its changes while still being gentle in its corner turning from one to the next, as heard with the arrival of the electric guitar that fades in at around six and a half minutes and merrily chugs through the brightly-lit serenity of what might’ve at some point been “Motionless V” and here is soon engulfed in a gradual fade that brings forward the already-mentioned drone. There’s more going on under the surface than at it — and that dimension of mix is crucial to Landing‘s methodology — but Motionless I-VI urges the listener to appreciate each element in its place, and is best heard doing that.

Landing on Facebook

Sulatron Records store


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Review: Kombynat Robotron & DUNDDW, Split LP

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Kombynat Robotron DUNDDW Split LP

Two bands, two sides, three jams. Kombynat Robotron and DUNDDW, from Germany and the Netherlands, respectively, offer their 37-minute/three-song split LP through Spinda Records (SP), Sunhair Music (DE), Echodelick Records (US) and Weird Beard Records (UK), and not to dwell so much on numbers, but yes, that is more record labels involved than there are songs on the release. As regards a title, I don’t know if it’s official, but the cover says Split LP, and that’s good enough as far as I’m concerned, and it’s fitting enough since, yes, that’s what it is, and being instrumental, both bands seem content enough to leave words at a minimum.

Kiel-based four-piece Kombynat Robotron — also stylized with Cyrillic letters: КОМВУИАТ ЯОВОТЯОИ — have been on a heavy psychedelic spree since their first outings (note the plural) in 2018, and they take side A with “Gamma” (7:34) and “Delta” (7:31), while side B goes to Nijmegen trio DUNDDW, with members of Bismut and Mt. Echo. The latter are closer to their origin point, having issued their first full-length in late-2022’s Flux (review here), but in addition to a shared aversion toward singers at least in the context of their own projects, the two acts share the improvisational ethic, and as DUNDDW unfold “VIII” (21:59) across side B, the unifying goal of Split LP is palpable as one of exploration.

There’s a bit of freakout here and there in “Gamma” and in the earlier going of “VIII,” DUNDDW‘s Peter Dragt just kind of starts to go nuts on drums and that energy becomes a build by itself until after the halfway point when they bring it back down, but serenity abounds otherwise; both bands foster an active forward reach amid miraculously unpretentious cosmic drift, harnessing the creativity of a fleeting moment and capturing it as it happened.

The tagline for the split is ‘100% improvised psych-kraut music from Germany and The Netherlands,’ and that may or may not be true — not sure why anyone would lie about that, but it’s happened before — the sounds fostered speak to the intention anyhow. I’m not arguing, in other words. Kombynat Robotron fade in on a cymbal wash for “Gamma,” but soon the guitar establishes the sunshiny central figure of the piece and they’re underway in a somewhat surprisingly song-ish manner. Mellow grunge in space? Post-whatever whatever?

Such interstellar krautrock pastoralia is set to a steady roller of a groove, and fluidity holds as they turn about a minute in — there must have been a head signal there or some such — to a more upbeat section. Guitarists James Ihnen and Richard Schröder, bassist Claas Ogorek and drummer Thomas Handschick are locked in from the outset, and whether they had some idea of what they wanted to do, or “Gamma” is cut out of a longer jam or what, the conversation happening between the members of the band, instrumentally speaking, is sharp. If they’re keeping it loose in any way, it’s conceptually, but there’s a linear build happening in “Gamma” that peaks just after six minutes in, and from there they noodle out on a long fade, and that hints at the very least toward a sense of direction rather than just showing up, plugging in and hitting it.

Not a complaint. Their “Delta” begins more subdued but has the same shimmer in the lower-mixed guitar and shifts after laying down that initial fuzzy breadth to a not-quite-motorik bit of push, fostering classic space rock vibes in its build en route to bringing that same lead guitar forward in the still-shimmying crescendo. They sound like they could keep going into perpetuity, but balance and the limitations of physical media require otherwise, so Kombynat Robotron fade to let DUNDDW start “VIII” with bass and drums.


kombynat robotron

Is it the eighth recording the band has done? Possible. On Flux, the three-piece featured the 22-minute “VI” and had two parts of the at-least-four-part “VII,” so “VIII” would be next in that succession, and it’s not unreasonable to think that guitarist Gerben Elburg, bassist Huibert der Weduwen and drummer Peter Dragt either recorded “VIII” then or are simply following the Karma to Burn example of numerical (if Roman numerals) ordering their songs. Ups and downs to that approach, as with anything, but most importantly, the chemistry that DUNDDW so readily displayed on Flux is to be found on the Split LP as well, whether it’s the proggy bassline and jazz-style business of the drumming or the way the guitar seems to inhabit a space of its own, weaving along with the rhythm as it grows more intense early on but keeping an overarching calmness via its tonality.

Dragt is on the toms by the time they’re four minutes in, and part of the journey becomes the bumps and jabs of the bass and the steady punctuation of the snare and the guitar moves closer to a wash as they approach the six-minute mark. It’s like you can hear them digging in. Elburg doesn’t miss the opportunity to freak out, and soon enough, Dragt is following suit on cymbals, resolving in a gallop that der Weduwen seems only too happy to complement. They draw it back down somewhat after seven minutes, but they’re nowhere near finished as they push farther and farther into improvised space ambience.

The hi-hat is still tense keeping time for a while after everything else calms and the guitar goes to sparse melodic hum — by then it’s the snare shuffling underneath — but the movement is never completely gone, so as they grow subtly more energetic, it’s easy to follow along. At 14:45, they begin in earnest the build back to full-volume, and the swirl, the push and the wash all come together in righteous cacophony for a crescendo before the inevitable denouement.

DUNDDW end on a fade, but “VIII” is basically done anyhow, with some studio noise underscoring the in-the-room-as-it-happened feel of the Split LP as a whole. I don’t know whose idea it was to put these two acts together, but cheers. That Kombynat Robotron and DUNDDW could have so much in common on paper and still be so distinct in their respective takes results in a split that emphasizes how identifiable each of their styles is. Their unity of purpose is enhanced, not contrasted, by their similarities as well as the differences between them.

Kombynat Robotron & DUNDDW, Split LP (2023)

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Kombynat Robotron on Facebook

Kombynat Robotron on Instagram

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Volume Announce 20th Anniversary Reissue for Requesting Permission to Land

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 26th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

What does it tell you about an album when five record labels get behind the release? Well, first it tells you that globalization was a farce that requires multiple DIY distributors to cover different territories around the planet because instead of actually helping smooth processes like releasing albums in multiple territories, it made the same five old white men who were already rich that much richer over the course of the last 30 years, but more immediately, it perhaps tells us that it’s time to start thinking of Volume‘s 2002 debut/only-LP Requesting Permission to Land (not the original cover below) as a lost classic, and maybe that it’s time to revisit that pre-social media era of heavy rock and roll in a similar fashion to how about 10 years back it seemed like every other week there was another lost classic from the heavy ’70s coming out on labels like Akarma and Rockadrome. Feels early, but I bet if you were there in the 1970s it felt early a decade ago too.

There are, of course, a near-infinite amount of treasures to be unearthed, because while I’d call the heavy underground well populated today and bolstered by the (semi-)democratization of recording gear/software and streaming, but whatever comes of it in the next few years, Volume‘s Requesting Permission to Land is easily worth the revisit, calling to mind nostalgia for the MySpace era when, say, one might’ve sent Patrick Brink a message requesting a copy of the record to play on one’s college radio stoner rock show. I’d say those were the days, but they weren’t really. I could go on off-topic, but you don’t care. If you want to talk and be friends in real life, hit me up. Also, don’t tell anybody that 2023 is actually the 21st anniversary of the album. Doesn’t matter. Pressing delays, timing, whatever. It exists and it’s coming out. That’s good enough for me.

The relevant info from the PR wire:

volume requesting permission to land

VOLUME To Release 20th Anniversary Edition of Requesting Permission To Land

Heavy fuzzed out psychedelic rock from the desert of Twentynine Palms, CA, is the offering from VOLUME. Formed in 1993, VOLUME are back following a hiatus to finish what they started and celebrate a career milestone. The 20th Anniversary edition vinyl pressing of Requesting Permission To Land will be released on October 27th.

“I’m super stoked that ‘Requesting Permission To Land’ will finally be out on vinyl like it was always supposed to be. Get ready to get cosmically freaked out!” – Patrick Brink

From the riff-fueled percussive-frenzy sound of the EP’s opener “Habit” to the rhythmic and progressive conclusion “Headswim”, Requesting Permission To Land is a thrilling collection of heavy acid rock tracks. The EP features a number of talented musicians with drums recorded by Scott Reeder (FU MANCHU), and bass played by James Scoggins (FINAL CONFLICT). If you like straight up fuzzed out psychedelic rock, sit back and let VOLUME spin your head!


Patrick Brink began VOLUME back in 1993 with the desire to have a project with which he could take the lead and steer the musical reins down psychedelic rocking routes. Having performed with a number of acts including doing vocals for FU MANCHU in their early days, VOLUME offered Patrick a new creative outlet. Over their career the band has shared stages with QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, FU MANCHU, MASTADON and GOATSNAKE, and performed at festivals including Emmisions of the Monolith and Stoner Hands of Doom (SHoD). VOLUME draw musical influences from bands such as THE STOOGES, MC5 and BLACK FLAG to name a few, while also crafting their own distinctive heavy psychedelic identity.

Requesting Permission To Land will be released via Weird Beard (UK) We Here & Now (CA) Echodelick (US) Worst Bassist (EU) Ramble Records (AU)

1. Habit
2. Colossalfreak
3. Dont Look Around
4. Make Believe
5. Headswim







Volume, Requesting Permission to Land (2002)

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Full Album Premiere & Review: Loma Baja, Piscinas Verticales

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Loma Baja Piscinas Verticales

Madrid-based four-piece Loma Baja encompass a complex psychedelia throughout their debut album, Piscinas Verticales, which is set to release this week through the significant label consortium of Spinda Records, Lay Bare Recordings, Clostridium Records and Echodelick Records. To wit, amid the hypnotic post-psych rollout of opening track “V70,” guitars all bendy around the central march, vocals present and melodic but still obscure, some element of Pixies in there somewhere, an ambulance drives by periodically. It happens four or five times as the malleable mix demonstrates early the sort of experimental tinge to the band’s songcraft.

But as with much of what follows, the interplay of that drone (synth? sample?) and the guitar solo isn’t just about the group — guitarist/synthesist/vocalist/sampler Jorge García (Adrift, Gentemayor and formerly El Páramo), guitarist Victor Teixeira, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Pacomoto (G.A.S. Drummers) and drummer Raúl Lorenzo (who also works with Toundra) — being able to make a sound, but also what they do with that in terms of songwriting. Shades of shoegaze-era Sonic Youth are cast under the sample and before the emergent cymbal wash of “La Emboscada,” the bass thick underneath the various noises and guitar lines going in and out as the low end and drums guide the procession into a melodic bridge and back through where it came from, that original sample continuing, like a news reading or an airport announcement, vague for being in another language that maybe you know and maybe you don’t.

One in each channel, García and Teixeira seem to be having a conversation on guitar early in “Canción de Manuel” that reminds a bit of the most out-there Fatso Jetson ever gets, but is tinted atmospherically darker and is more progressive in its presentation, but it’s Lorenzo moving to toms that signals the shift into classic prog stateliness, like something out of a sci-fi soundtrack transposed onto a space rock arrangement, severe with the synth lines and thud after that transition, working into and through a build as the keyboard melody holds, vocals or a sample echoing over the final moments as you realize the payoff isn’t coming and the song stops, letting the longer “Crónica Negra” (7:08) take its time waking up with feedback as the end of side A, mirrored later by the 10-minute “Hierros Viejos” in a show of structure that’s further evidence for a masterplan at work behind the material as opposed to it being a hodgepodge of ideas rather than songs.

It is not that. The brooding unfurl of “Crónica Negra” is mellower and feels like it’s raining outside, but there’s threat of breakout in the lightly-slogging lead guitar, synth in the left channel winding through frequency manipulation before a quick stop brings the next stage, with the drums louder and more forward, the guitar and keys swelling to a wash of fuzz, voices singing out — maybe a sample, maybe Pacomoto and García; hopefully they wrote down somewhere what they did — and a convergence around a dramatic-feeling crescendo that drops at 6:22 to the bassline, guitar skronk and repeat swells either of synth or manipulated feedback, probably both.

It’s not gonna get less weird in the vertical pools. Side B, which features a corresponding four pieces, starts with “Invocación,” which meanders before landing after about a minute in a Melvinsian repetitive nod that’s rich in tone and all the more righteous when the left-side guitar spaces out and the drums open up in the second half. All of a sudden, Loma Baja are instrumental heavy post-rock — except there might be vocals; ha — but dug into a purposeful melodic riff like those in the second halves of “La Emboscada” or “Canción de Manuel,” toying with cinematic grandiosity but never losing their ultimate direction, ending again with a return to the central march.

Loma Baja

What was the album’s lead single, “Boda Final / Velorio” is more indie rock at the start, and the as-yet-most-definitely-vocalized inclusion on the record — hence single — but holds to the intention toward breadth in the material that surrounds, the keys in the left channel and the lead guitar in the right again working to surround the listener as the vocals reinforce notions of otherplanetary classic prog before the jabbing kinda-waltz resumes, makes a riffy turn, then rights itself to finish, shifting immediately into the underlying buzz and quiet interplay of guitars in the intro of the penultimate “Hierros Viejos,” making the bed for a robot-voice verse that will stay for the song’s four-minute duration, threatening heft and volume while, like “Canción de Manuel” before it, making a point of defying expectation and giving over to the drone at the end, the ambient stage set for “AAAAA” to cap.

And “AAAAA” is itself the awaited riffout. At 10 minutes long, it is a substantial portion of Piscinas Verticales, and its echoing vocals remind a bit of Ufomammut‘s earlier kosmic heavy, but the line of guitar introduced at the outset holds through the volume surge and comes back that much stronger for it. It is a solid one, two, three, four, count, and made to be repetitive, but the progression morphs subtly as time goes on, the next verse leading to another chorus-ish push carrying through the midpoint before the keys take a solo and the guitars seem to melt to feedback. Vocals — not a focal point for most of the record — announce the arrival at the next stage of the march, the volume seeming to get deeper as well as louder and noisier.

By the time they’re in the seventh minute, “AAAAA” has been stripped to a wall of feedback and noise, rumble beneath and scorch above, and somewhere in there the drums turned backwards but are largely gone as Loma Baja let that moment evolve, play out, and die on its own terms. They make a point of noting that Piscinas Verticales was recorded live. Fair enough, but it must have been a hell of a mixing process, though one can’t argue with the results as each consecutive part, track, side, feels rife with purpose even when that purpose is counterintuitive to the expectation of heavy rock/psych/prog songwriting. Those, in fact, are some of the record’s highlight stretches — it’s not every band willing to challenge the listener on their first long-player.

To coincide with that challenge that the material offers, Loma Baja accomplish a feat of world-building across Piscinas Verticales such that the context of the songs becomes their own regardless of names dropped above or other influences at work. Pieces like “Crónica Negra,” “Boda Final / Velorio” and “Hierros Viejos” working toward divergent ends at different angles from the same foundation. In this way, Loma Baja convey breadth while keeping their tones and melodic reach consistent, so that the album comes through as a complete statement that deserves to be heard.

So here we are. I’m excited to host the premiere of Piscinas Verticales on the player below. You’ll find it followed by the album particulars courtesy of Spinda Records via the PR wire, the video for “Boda Final / Velorio” and the many links from which the album can be ordered.

Please enjoy:

Loma Baja, Piscinas Verticales album premiere

Produced by Rafa Camisón and Loma Baja. Recorded in a live session at Metropol Studios (Madrid, Spain) by Rafa Camisón, with the assistance of Arturo Rebollo, between 27th and 29th July 2022. Mixed by Rafa Camisón at Estudio Setentaynueve (Jerez, Spain). Mastered by Víctor García at Ultramarinos Mastering (Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain). Artwork by Bol Estudio (Jorge García). Idea album title by Diana Calabaza Cósmica.

The album is coming out on 26th May 2023 through the collaboration between indie labels Spinda Records (SP), Lay Bare Recordings (NL), Clostridium Records (GE) and Echodelick Records (US). Album pre-order available at label sites from 21st April.


1. V70
2. La Emboscada
3. Canción de Manuel
4. Crónica Negra
5. Invocación
6. Boda Final / Velorio
7. Hierros Viejos

Víctor Teixeira: guitars
Pacomoto: bass, keyboard, vocals
Jorge García: synths, samplers, guitars, vocals
Raúl Lorenzo: drums

Loma Baja, “Boda Final / Velorio” official video

Loma Baja on Instagram

Loma Baja on Bandcamp

Spinda Records on Facebook

Spinda Records on Instagram

Spinda Records on Bandcamp

Spinda Records website

Lay Bare Recordings website

Lay Bare Recordings on Facebook

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Lay Bare Recordings on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records on Facebook

Clostridium Records website

Echodelick Records on Facebook

Echodelick Records on Instagram

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

Echodelick Records website

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