DVNE to Release Etemen Ænka March 19; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

DVNE have set March 19 as the release date for their new album, Etemen Ænka, which is to serve as their debut on Metal Blade Records. The arrival of the record would seem to have been a while in the making — the band had inked a deal with RidingEasy in 2019, shortly before they made a return appearance at Psycho Las Vegas, there they’d made their US live debut the prior year (review here) — but certainly the fact that it’s on Metal Blade that the full-length arrives is notable in itself. It’s not every day a band like this puts out a record on a label like this.

And when it comes to “a band like this,” DVNE stand largely apart despite pulling together familiar stylistic elements of progressive and post-metal. In their new single, “Sì-XIV,” their penchant for atmospherics does little to undercut the impact of harder-hitting stretches. This is actually the second audio to make its way to the public behind the issued-on-its-own Omega Severer (review here), which will also appear on Etemen Ænka when it arrives in March.

The PR wire has art and info to spare:

dvne Etemen Ænka

Dvne reveals details for new album, ‘Etemen Ænka’; launches video for new single, “Sì-XIV”

On March 19th, Dvne will release their sophomore album, Etemen Ænka, via Metal Blade Records. For a first preview of the record, a video for the new single “Si?-XIV” can be viewed at: metalblade.com/dvne – where Etemen Ænka can also be pre-ordered in the following formats:

– digisleeve-CD
– 180g black vinyl (EU exclusive)
– raisin rouge marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 400 copies)
– grey / yellow-green marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
– gold / black dust vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
– clear / black dust vinyl (Kings Road exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– dark goldenrod marbled vinyl (US exclusive)
– clear ash gray marbled vinyl (US exclusive)

Dvne comments: “With the context of covid and the strong travel restrictions we’ve had in the UK and Europe, shooting ‘SI-XIV’ was a real challenge, but we’re glad we could make it happen.
The video was split between two shoots: we worked once again with our close friends Just-Aurèle Meissonnier, Louis Macéra, Gilles Garniers and Michel Jocaille for the creature part of the shoot (shot in Paris); the rest of the video footage was shot in Edinburgh by Calum McMillan and our light tech Sam Jones.

We’ve always loved prosthetic effects and wanted to use our own creations in the video, but the overall aesthetic takes no small amount of inspiration from some of our favourite 70/80s sci-fi horror films. We had this concept of a weird humanoid-type creature facing the overwhelming harshness and the hopeless nature of its existence.

The video symbolically follows the narrative theme of the track within the new album, with the creature attempting to escape its nature through metamorphosis throughout the video. It was an incredibly fun few days setting up and shooting all the creature parts in Paris.”

Dvne are a band of great contrasts, weaving titanic heaviness and intricate gentleness together, complex lyrical ideas with engaging storylines, and this has only been expanded upon and concentrated on second album Etemen Ænka. “It’s an album that has a narrative musically, and we hope that will encourage the listener to explore the universe we’ve created around it,” states guitarist/vocalist Victor Vicart. “It is a very dense and layered album which will reward multiple listens, and while this is becoming a recurring aspect of our music, we feel that we went further with it this time. It’s also a very polarizing album, emotionally speaking. The heavy sections are, well, very heavy, while the clean sections are much more intricate and delicate – and in a way wouldn’t be out of place in a Studio Ghibli anime soundtrack.” Exploring everything in greater depth in every way, it is a profound step forward from 2017’s Asheran, starting an exciting new chapter in the existence of one of the most thrilling and imaginative metal bands active today. “We knew we wanted to include keys and synths in the equation. We wanted to be able to add new textures and new sounds that weren’t on our previous releases, and we felt that this was something that will give us more options creatively. Looking back, that was a great decision because we’ve used synths for everything, with ambient sounds, heavy subs and actual leads, which really added a new dynamic to this album. We’ve also kept this balance between down-tuned heavy riffs and clean movements, which were already present in ‘Asheran’, but we really wanted to make sure we could capture more details and subtleties once recorded,” explains Vicart. Synths are in fact so present, and at times so unapologetically 80s, that they sound like the soundtrack to a classic sci-fi, which may well surprise fans, the band confident in every step they took musically.

Etemen Ænka is also Dvne’s second collaboration with producer Graeme Young in Edinburgh’s Chamber Studio, having developed a great working relationship with him on Asheran – “he acts like an extra member of the band and really pushes us to do better takes.” This made for a smooth and productive recording process, the challenging part coming before they entered the studio. “The composition was challenging because we second guess every riff that gets written. We want to keep things fresh, and we want to keep the energy high too, so the initial creative stage can become intense. Then, because our tracks are pretty big and dense with ideas and movements, we didn’t finalize each track structure until we started laying down the drums. But I think it’s what made the whole recording process so much fun too, because it allowed us to really think about the different options available without committing to a final structure too early in the process.” The record also features guest vocals courtesy of Lissa Robertson, who sings on “Omega Severer” and “Asphodel” and contributes spoken word on “Weighing Of The Heart” – her voice adding yet another depth to the heavily layered collection.

Tracklisting:
1. Enûma Eliš
2. Towers
3. Court of the Matriarch
4. Weighing of the Heart
5. Omega Severer
6. Adræden
7. Sì-XIV
8. Mleccha
9. Asphodel
10. Satuya

https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
https://twitter.com/SongsOfArrakis
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/metalbladerecords
https://www.instagram.com/metalbladerecords/
https://www.metalblade.com/

DVNE, “Sì-XIV” official video

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Quarterly Review: Boris, DVNE, Hydra, Jason Simon, Cherry Choke, Pariiah, Saavik, Mountain Tamer, Centre El Muusa, Population II

Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Kind of a spur of the moment thing, this Quarterly Review. I’ve been adding releases all the while, of course, but my thought was to do this after my year-end list went up, and I realized, hey, if I’ve got like 70 records I haven’t reviewed yet, maybe there’s some of that stuff worth considering. So here we are. I’ve pushed back my best-of-2020 stuff and basically swapped it with the Quarterly Review. Does it matter to you? I seriously, seriously doubt it, but I believe in transparency and that’s what’s up. Thought I’d let you know. And yeah, this is going to go into next week, take us through the X-mas holiday this Friday, so whatever. You celebrate your way and I’ll celebrate mine. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Boris, No

boris no

As a general project, reviewing Boris is damn near pointless. One might as well review the moon: “uh, it’s big and out there most of the time?” The only reason to do it is either to exercise one’s own need to hyperbolize or help the band sell records. Well, Boris doesn’t need my push and I don’t need to tell them how great they are. No is 40 minutes of the widely and wildly lauded Japanese heavy rock(s) experimentalists trying to riff away existing in 2020, delving high speed into hardcore here and there and playing off that with grueling sludge, punk, garage-metal and the penultimate “Loveless,” which is kind of Boris being their own genre. Much respect to the band, and I suppose one might critique Boris for, what?, being so Boris-y?, but there really isn’t a ton that hasn’t been said about them because such a ton has. I’m not trying to disparage their work at all — No is just what you’d expect as regards defying expectation — but after 20-plus years, there’s only so many ways one wants to call a band genius.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris on Bandcamp

 

DVNE, Omega Severer

DVNE Omega Severer

Kind of a soft-opening for Edinburgh’s DVNE as an act on Metal Blade Records, unless of course one counts the two songs on the Omega Severer EP itself, which are post-metallic beasts of the sort that would and should make The Ocean blush. Progressive, heavy, and remarkably ‘next-wave’ feeling, DVNE‘s awaited follow-up to 2017’s Asheran may only be about 17 and a half minutes long, but it bodes remarkably well as the band master a torrent of intensity on the 10-minute opening title-cut and answer that with the immediately galloping “Of Blade and Carapace,” smashing battle-axe riffing and progressive shimmer against each other and finding it to be an alchemy of their own. Album? One suspects not until they can tour for it, but if Omega Severer is DVNE serving notice, consider the message received loud, clear, dynamic, crushing, spacious, and so on. Already veterans of Psycho Las Vegas, they sound like a band bent on capturing a broader audience in the metallic sphere.

DVNE on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Hydra, From Light to the Abyss

hydra from light to the abyss

There’s no questioning where Hydra‘s heart is at on their debut full-length, From Light to the Abyss. It belongs to the devil and it belongs to Black Sabbath. The Polish four-piece riff hard and straightforward throughout most of the five-track offering (released by Piranha Music), and samples set the kind of atmosphere that should be familiar enough to the converted — “No One Loves Like Satan” reminds of Uncle Acid in its initial channel-changing and swaggering riff alike — but doomly centerpiece “Creatures of the Woods” and the layered vocal melodies late in closer “Magical Mind” perhaps offer a glimpse at the direction the band could take from here. What matters though is where Hydra are at today, and that’s bringing riffs and nod to the converted among the masses, and From Light to the Abyss offers no pretense otherwise. It is doom rock for doom rockers, grooves to be grooved to. They’re not void of ambition by any means — their songwriting makes that clear — but their traditionalism is sleeve-worn, which if you’re going to have it, is right where it should be.

Hydra on Thee Facebooks

Piranha Music on Bandcamp

 

Jason Simon, A Venerable Wreck

jason simon a venerable wreck

Dead Meadow guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon follows 2016’s Familiar Haunts (review here) with the genre-spanning A Venerable Wreck, finding folk roots in obscure beats and backwards this-and-that, country in fuzz, ramble in space, and no shortage of experimentalism besides. A Venerable Wreck consists of 12 songs and though there are times where it can feel disjointed, that becomes part of the ride. It’s not all supposed to make sense. Yet what happens by the time you get around to “No Entrance No Exit” is that Simon (and a host of cohorts) has set his own context broad enough so that the drone reach of “Hollow Lands” and sleek, organ-laced indie of closer “Without Reason or Right” can coexist without any real interruption of flow between them. The question with A Venerable Wreck isn’t so much whether the substance is there, it’s whether the listener is open to it. Welcome to psychedelic America. Please inject this snake venom and turn in your keys when you leave.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

BYM Records website

 

Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse

Cherry Choke-Raising Salzburg Rockhouse-Cover

You won’t hear me take away from the opening psych-scorch hook of “Mindbreaker” or the fuzzed-on, boogie-down, -up, and -sideways of “Black Annis” which follows, but there’s something extra fun about hearing Frog Island’s Cherry Choke jam out a 13-minute, drum-solo-inclusive version of “6ix and 7even” that makes Raising Salzburg Rockhouse even more of a reminder of how underrated both they are as a band and Mat Bethancourt is as a player. Look no further than “Domino” if you want absolute proof. The whole band rips it up at the Austrian gig, which was recorded in 2015 as they supported their third and still-most-recent full-length, Raising the Waters (review here), but Bethancourt puts on a Hendrixian clinic in the nine-minute cut from 2011’s A Night in the Arms of Venus (review here), which is actually less of a clinic than it is pure distorted swagger followed by a mellow “cheers, thanks” before diving into “Used to Call You Friend.” A 38-minute set would be perfect for an vinyl release, and anytime Cherry Choke want to get around to putting together a fourth studio album, well, that’ll be just fine too.

Cherry Choke on Thee Facebooks

Cherry Choke on Bandcamp

 

Pariiah, Swallowed by Fog

Pariiah swallowed by fog

It’s a special breed of aggro that emerges as a result of living in the most densely populated state in the union, and New Jersey’s Pariiah have it to spare. Bringing together sludge tonality with elder-style New York hardcore lumbering riffs on their Trip Machine Laboratories tape, Swallowed by Fog, they exude a thickened brand of pissed off that’s outright going to be too confrontation for many who take it on. But if you want a middle finger to the face, this is what it sounds like, and the six songs (compiled into four on the digital version of the release) come and go entirely without pretense and leave little behind except bruises and the promise of more to come. They’re a new band, started in this most wretched of years, but there’s no learning curve whatsoever among the members of Devoid of Faith, The Nolan Gate, Kill Your Idols, Changeörder and others. I’d go to Maplewood to see these cats. I’m just saying. Maybe even Elizabeth.

Pariiah on Bandcamp

Trip Machine Laboratories website

 

Saavik, Saavik

saavik saavik

So you’ve got both members of Holly Hunt in a four-piece sludging out with spacey synth and the band is named after a Star Trek character? Not to get too personal, but that’s going to pique my interest one way or the other. Saavik — and they clearly prefer the Kirstie Alley version, rather than Robin Curtis, going by drummer Beatriz Monteavaro‘s artwork — are damn near playing space rock by the end of “He’s Dead Jim,” the opener of their self-titled debut EP, but even that’s affected by a significant tonal weight in Didi Aragon‘s bass and the guitar of Gavin Perry, however much Ryan Rivas‘ synth and effects-laced vocals might seem to float overhead, but “Meld” rolls along at a steadier nod, and “Horizon” puts the synth more in the lead without becoming any less heavy for doing so. Likewise, “Red Sun” calls to mind Godflesh in its proto-machine metal stomp, but there’s more concern in Saavik‘s sound with expanse than just pure crush, and that shows up in fascinating ways in these songs.

Saavik on Thee Facebooks

Other Electricities on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual

mountain tamer psychosis ritual

There’s been a dark vibe all along nestled into Mountain Tamer‘s sound, and that’s certainly the case on Psychosis Ritual, with which the Los Angeles-based trio make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s their third full-length overall behind 2018’s Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here) and 2016’s self-titled debut (review here), and it finds their untamed-feeling psychedelia rife with that same threat of violence, not necessarily thematically as much as sonically, like the songs themselves are the weapon about to be turned on the listener. Maybe the buzz of “Warlock” or the fuckall echo of the prior-issued single “Death in the Woods” (posted here) aren’t out there trying to be “Hammer Smashed Face” or anything, but neither is this the hey-bruh-good-times heavy jams for which Southern California is known these days. Consider the severity of “Turoc Maximus Antonis” or the finally-released screams in closer “Black Noise,” which bookends Psychosis Ritual with the title-track and seems at last to be the point where whatever grim vibe these guys are riding finally consumes them. Mountain Tamer continue to be unexpected and righteous in kind.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Centre El Muusa, Centre El Muusa

centre el muusa centre el muusa

Hypnotic Estonian psychedelic krautrock instrumentals not your thing? Well that sounds like a personal problem Centre El Muusa are ready to solve. The evolved-from-duo four-piece get spaced out amid the semi-motorik repetitions of their self-titled debut (on Sulatron), and that seems to suit them quite well, thanksabunch. Drone trips and essential swirl brim with solar-powered pulsations and you can set your deflectors on maximum and route all the secondaries to reinforce if you want, there’s still a decent chance 9:53 opener an longest track “Turkeyfish” (immediate points, double for the appropriately absurd title) is going to sweep you off what you used to call your feet when that organ line hits at about six minutes in. That’s to say nothing of the cosmic collision later in “Burning Lawa” or the just-waiting-for-a-Carl-Sagan-voiceover “Mia” that follows. Even the 3:46 “Ain’t Got Enough Mojo” lives long enough to prove itself wrong. Interstellar tape transmissions fostered by obvious weirdos in the great out-there in “Szolnok,” named for a city in Hungary that, among other things, hosts the goulash festival. Right fucking on.

Centre El Muusa on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Population II, À La Ô Terre

Population II a La o Terre

The first Population II album, a 2017 self-titled, was comprised of two tracks, each long enough to consume a 12″ side. Somehow it’s fitting with the Montreal-based singing-drummer trio’s aesthetic that their second long-player, À la Ô Terre, would take a completely different tack, employing shorter freakouts like “L’Offrande” and “La Nuit” and the garage-rocking “La Danse” and what-if-JeffersonAirplane-but-on-Canadian-mushrooms “À la Porte de Demain” and still-more-drifting finisher “Je Laisse le Soleil Briller” amid the more stretched out “Attaction,” the space-buzzer “Ce n’est Réve” while cutting a middle ground in the greaked-out (I was gonna type “freaked out” and hit a typo and I’m keeping it) “Il eut un Silence dans le Ciel,” which also betrays the jazzy underpinnings that somehow make all of À la Ô Terre come across as progressive instead of haphazard. From the start to the close, you don’t know what’s coming next, and just because that’s by design doesn’t make it less effective. If anything, it makes Population II all the more impressive.

Population II on Thee Facebooks

Castle Face Records website

 

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King Witch Post “Return to Dust” Video; Live Shows Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

King Witch (photo by Alan Swan)

Shovels in the woods — never a good sign. I’ll take it though when it comes as part of a new King Witch video. As one has noted several times over at this point, 2020 feels particularly rough for good records that can’t get their due owing to a lack of live performances, and hell’s bells, that couldn’t possibly be truer of King Witch‘s second LP, Body of Light (review here). The thing happened to come out through Listenable Records on April 24, which was one of the busiest release dates of the year, and it ruled, but in addition to plenty of high-profile competition for the hard-earned cash and attention of the heavy underground listenership, it also happened to be in the middle of a friggin’ plague lockdown.

Let’s understate it for a change and call those circumstances “less than optimal.” So much metallic triumph throughout Body of Light and all anyone’s thinking about is how much groceries they need to buy in one trip so they can not leave the house for the next two weeks solid. Being in such a position has led bands to try all kinds of digitalia in order to self-promote. Streams, mostly, but also live and archival releases, all sorts of whatnot. Even just increased posting on social media, whatever shape that might take. Gotta work those algorithms. In the case of powerhouse vocalist Laura Donnelly, she went out to said woods with said shovel and a camera and made a video for the eight-minute epic-because-KingWitch-only-do-epic “Return to Dust” off of Body of Light, and you know what? It worked. Frankly, I’m just happy to have an excuse to put the record on again as a part of my day.

Live shows? Well, of course the list below should be taken with the now-usual caveats that everything depends on outbreaks and what public regulations are for the dates in question. As an American though, it’s hard to remember that everyone else on the planet seems to be handling the ol’ firelung so much better than my own country. I don’t know Scotland’s numbers, but I do know that if I were lucky enough to be in Edinburgh on Dec. 5, I’d get my ass to that show and hope for more in February.

Video and dates follow, as well as some comment from Donnelly via the PR wire.

Enjoy:

King Witch, “Return to Dust” official video

Critically acclaimed by the international press for their new album ‘Body of Light ‘ , King witch unveil today their new brand video ” Return to dust “

Laura Donnelly explains the making of this supernatural video: “I created the video during lockdown in our local forest and at home. I hope it conveys a sense of fragility whilst engulfed in heavy riffage. I think the colour and mood suits the song very well – helping to give a supernatural vibe. My neighbours however will totally think I’m a complete weirdo after hearing me almost drown in my bath several times and being caught in the woods digging a hole and burying myself. When Jamie first let me listen to the original ideas for ‘Return to Dust; I was immediately dropped into a Clint Eastwood/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. The song however quickly changes to become something a lot darker. I had not long read the graphic novel Preacher and really liked the idea of mixing the supernatural with dusty desert tales. “Return to Dust” is basically about someone dying and crossing over to the other side. They are confused and frightened but the reality of the situation soon becomes clear, there is nothing to mourn. They know what they must do – return to dust.”

KING WITCH ’s ‘Body of Light’ was Recorded at Deep Storm Productions, produced and Mixed by Kevin Hare and Jamie Gilchrist and mastered by Tom Dring.

King Witch live:
5th DEC 2020 – EDINBURGH – LA BELLE ANGELE
4th FEB 2021 – EDINBURGH – THE HIVE
5th FEB 2021 – GLASGOW – IVORY BLACKS
6th FEB 2021- IPSWITCH – MUSIC ROOMS
7th FEB 2021 – BRADFORD – THE UNDERGROUND
12th FEB 2021 – SWANSEA – HANGER 18
13th FEB 2021 – LONDON – THE DEVONSHIRE ARMS
14th FEB 2021 – OXFORD – THE WHEATSHEAF

MORE TO BE CONFIRMED …

King Witch are :
Laura Donnelly – Vocals
Jamie Gilchrist – Guitar
Rory Lee – Bass
Lyle Brown – Drums

King Witch on Thee Facebooks

King Witch on Instagram

King Witch on Bandcamp

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Katatonia, Marmalade Knives, King Witch, Glass Parallels, Thems That Wait, Sojourner, Udyat, Bismarck, Gral Brothers, Astral Glide

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Welcome to the penultimate day of the Summer 2020 Quarterly Review. I can only speak for myself, but I know it’s been a crazy couple months on this end, and I imagine whatever end you’re on — unless and probably even if you have a lot of money — it’s been the same there as well. Yet, it was no problem compiling 50 records to review this week, so if there’s a lesson to be taken from it all, it would seem to be that art persists. We may still be painting on cave walls when it comes to the arc of human evolution, but at least that’s something.

Have a great day and listen to great music.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Katatonia, City Burials

katatonia city burials

Like their contemporaries in My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, the latter-day period of work from Sweden’s Katatonia veers back toward some measure of direct heaviness, as City Burials showcases in cuts like “Rein,” “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood,” but more than either of those others mentioned, the Stockholm outfit refuse to forsake the melody and progressivism they’ve undertaken with their sound in the name of doing so. By the time they get to “Untrodden” at the end of the album’s 50-minute/11-song run, they’ve run a gamut from dark electronica to progressive-styled doom and back again, and with the founding duo of guitarist Anders Nyström and vocalist Jonas Renkse at the helm of the songwriting, they are definitive in their approach and richly emotive; a melancholy that is as identifiable in their songs as it is in the bands working under their influence. Their first work in four years, City Burials is an assurance that Katatonia are in firm ownership and command of all aspects of their sound. As they approach their 30th year, they continue to move forward. That’s a special band.

Katatonia on Thee Facebooks

Peaceville Records website

 

Marmalade Knives, Amnesia

marmalade knives amnesia

Boasting production, mixing and percussion from The Golden GrassAdam Kriney, Marmalade Knives‘ debut album, Amnesia, is a delight of freaky-but-not-overblown heavy psychedelia. Oh, it’s headed far, far out, but as the opening narration and the later drones of second cut “Rivuleting” make plain, they might push, but they’re not trying to shove, if you know what I mean. The buzz in “Best-Laid Plans” doesn’t undercut the warmth of the improvised-seeming solo, and likewise, “Rebel Coryell” is a mellow drifter that caps side A with a graceful sense of wandering the soundscape of its own making. The vibe gets spacey on “Xayante,” and “Ez-Ra” touches on a funkier swing before seeming to evolve into light as one does, and the 10-minute “Astrology Domine” caps with noise and a jammed out feel that underscores the outbound mood of the proceedings as a whole. Some of the pieces feel like snippets cut from longer jams, and they may or may not be just that, but though it was recorded in three separate locations, Amnesia draws together well and flows easily, inviting the listener to do the same.

Marmalade Knives on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records webstore

 

King Witch, Body of Light

king witch body of light

Edinburgh’s King Witch toe the line between classic metal and doom, but whatever you want to call them, just make sure you don’t leave out the word “epic.” The sweeping solo and soaring vocals on the opening title-track set the stage on their second LP, the hour-long Body of Light, and as much mastery as the band showed on their 2018 debut, Under the Mountain (review here), vocalist Laura Donnelly, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Rory Lee and drummer Lyle Brown lay righteous waste to lofty expectations and bask in grandiosity on “Of Rock and Stone” and the linear-moving “Solstice I – She Burns,” the payoff of which is a high point of the album in its layered shred. Pieces like “Witches Mark” and “Order From Chaos” act as confirmation of their Euro-fest-ready fist-pumpery, and closer “Beyond the Black Gate” brings some atmosphere before its own headbang-worthy crescendo. Body of Light is a reminder of why you wanted to be metal in the first place.

King Witch on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records on Bandcamp

 

Glass Parallels, Aisle of Light

Glass Parallels Aisle of Light

Eminently listenable and repeat-worthy, Glass Parallels‘ debut LP, Aisle of Light, nonetheless maintains an experimentalist flair. The solo-project of Justin Pinkerton (Golden Void, Futuropaco), covers a swath of ground from acid folk to psych-funk to soul vibes, at times bordering on shoegaze but seeming to find more expressive energy in centerpiece “Asphyxiate” and the airy capper “Blood and Battlegrounds” than any sonic portrayal of apathy would warrant. United by keys, pervasive guitar weirdness and Pinkerton‘s at-times-falsetto vocals, usually coated in reverb as they are, Aisle of Light brings deceptive depth for being a one-man production. Its production is spacious but still raw enough to give the drums an earthy sound as they anchor the synth-laden “March and April,” which is probably fortunate since otherwise the song would be liable to float off and not return. One way or another, the songs stand out too much to really be hypnotic, but they’re certainly fun to follow.

Glass Parallels on Thee Facebooks

Glass Parallels on Bandcamp

 

Thems That Wait, Stonework

thems that wait stonework

Stonework is the self-aware debut full-length from Portland, Maine, trio Thems That Wait, and it shoulders itself between clenched-teeth metallic aggression and heavier fuzz rock. They’re not the first to tread such ground and they know it, but “Sidekick” effectively captures Scissorfight-style groove, and “Kick Out” is brash enough in its 1:56 to cover an entire record’s worth of burl. Interludes “Digout” and “Vastcular” provide a moment to catch your breath, which is appreciated, but when what they come back with is the sure-fisted “Paragon” or a song like “Shitrograde,” it really is just a moment. They close with “Xmortis,” which seems to reference Evil Dead II in its lyrics, which is as good as anything else, but from “Sleepie Hollow” onward, guitarist/vocalist Craig Garland, bassist Mat Patterson and drummer Branden Clements find their place in the dudely swing-and-strike of riffs, crash and snarl, and they do so with a purely Northeastern attitude. This is the kind of show you might get kicked at.

Thems That Wait on Thee Facebooks

Thems That Wait on Bandcamp

 

Sojourner, Premonitions

sojourner premonitions

Complexity extends to all levels of Sojourner‘s third album and Napalm Records debut, Premonitions, in that not only does the band present eight tracks and 56 minutes of progressive and sprawling progressive black metal, varied in craft and given a folkish undercurrent by Chloe Bray‘s vocals and tin whistle, but also the sheer fact that the five-piece outfit made the album in at least five different countries. Recording remotely in Sweden, New Zealand, Scotland and Italy, they mixed/mastered in Norway, and though one cringes at the thought of the logistical nightmare that might’ve presented, Sojourner‘s resultant material is lush and encompassing, a tapestry of blackened sounds peppered with clean and harsh singing — Emilio Crespo handles the screams — keyboards, and intricate rhythms behind sprawling progressions of guitar. At the center of the record, “Talas” and “Fatal Frame” (the shortest song and the longest) make an especially effective pair one into the other, varied in their method but brought together by viciously heavy apexes. The greatest weight, though, might be reserved for closer “The Event Horizon,” which plods where it might otherwise charge and brings a due sense of largesse to the finale.

Sojourner on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Udyat, Oro

udyat oro

The order of the day is sprawl on Udyat‘s recorded-live sophomore LP, Oro, as the Argentinian outfit cast a wide berth over heavy rock and terrestrial psych, the 13-minute “Sangre de Oro” following shorter opener “Los Picos de Luz Eterna” (practically an intro at a bit over six minutes) with a gritty flourish to contrast the tonal warmth that returns with the melodic trance-induction at the start of “Los últimos.” That song — the centerpiece of the five-track outing — tops 15 minutes and makes its way into a swell of fuzz with according patience, proceeding through a second stage of lumbering plod before a stretch of noise wash leads pack to the stomp. The subsequent “Después de los Pasos, el Camino Muere” is more ferocious by its end and works in some similar ground, and closer “Nacimiento” seems to loose itself in a faster midsection before returning to its midtempo roll. Oro borders on cosmic doom with its psychedelic underpinnings and quiet stretches, but its movement feels ultimately more like walking than floating, if that makes any sense.

Udyat on Thee Facebooks

Udyat on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Oneiromancer

Bismarck Oneiromancer

To anyone who might suggest that extreme metal cannot also be forward-thinking, Bismarck submit the thoughtful bludgeon of Oneiromancer, a five-song/35-minute aesthetic blend that draws from doom, death, hardcore and sundry other metals, while keeping its identity in check through taut rhythm and atmospheric departures. Following the chants of opening intro “Tahaghghogh Resalat,” the Chris Fielding-produced follow-up to Bismarck‘s 2018 debut, Urkraft (review here), showcases an approach likewise pummeling and dynamic, weighted in ambience and thud alike. “Oneiromancer” itself starts with blastbeats and a plundering intensity before breaking into a more open midsection, but “The Seer” is absolutely massive. Despite being shorter than either the title-track or “Hara,” both of which top nine minutes, and closer “Khthon” underscores the blood-boiling tension cast throughout with one last consuming plod. Fucking raging. Fucking awesome. Pure sonic catharsis. Salvation through obliteration. If these are dreams being divined as the title hints, the mind is a limitless and terrifying place. Which, yes.

Bismarck on Thee Facebooks

Bismarck on Bandcamp

 

The Gral Brothers, Caravan East

gral brothers caravan east

I won’t say it’s seamless or intended to be, but as Albuquerque, New Mexico, two-piece The Gral Brothers make their initial move on Caravan East between cinematic Americana and industrial brood, samples of dialogue on “Cactus Man” and violin in the seven-minute soundscaper “In Die Pizzeria” seem to draw together both a wistfulness and a paranoia of the landlocked. Too odd to fall in line with the Morricone-worship of Cali’s Spindrift, “Crowbar” brings Spaghetti West and desert dub together with a confidence that makes it seem like a given pairing despite the outwardly eerie vibes and highly individualized take, and “Santa Sleeves” is beautiful to its last, even if the lone bell jingle is a bit much, while “Silva Lanes” pushes even further than did “Circuit City” into mechanized experimental noisemaking. They end with the birdsong-inclusive “Ode to Marge,” leaving one to wonder whether it’s sentiment or cynicism being expressed. Either way, it’s being expressed in a way not quite like anything else, which is an accomplishment all on its own.

The Gral Brothers on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Astral Glide, Flamingo Graphics

astral glide flamingo graphics

When you’re at the show and the set ends, Flamingo Graphics is the CD you go buy at the merch table. It’s as simple as that. Recorded this past March over the course of two days, the debut album from Floridian foursome Astral Glide is raw to the point of being barebones, bootleg room-mic style, but the songwriting and straightforward purposes of the group shine through. They’re able to shift structures and mood enough to keep things from being too staid, but they’re never far off from the next heavy landing, as “Devastation” and the closer “Forever” show in their respective payoffs, that latter going all out with a scream at the end, answering back to the several others that show up periodically. While their greatest strength is in the mid-paced shove of rockers like “Space Machine” and “Scarlett” and the speedier “Workhorse,” there are hints of broader intentions on Flamingo Graphics, though they too are raw at this point. Very much a debut, but still one you pick up when the band finishes playing. You might not even wait until the end of the show. Meet them back at the table, and so on.

Astral Glide on Thee Facebooks

Astral Glide on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Rona: Adam Holt of Hair of the Dog

Posted in Features on May 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

hair of the dog adam holt

Days of Rona: Adam Holt of Hair of the Dog (Edinburgh, Scotland)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

I’ve welcomed my first child, River Holt, into the world – an official Corona-Baby! So my whole life has been flipped upside down in more way than one. As a band, Hair of the Dog, we’ve just been keeping in touch with weekly FaceTime drinking sessions – talking about music we’ve been listening to and ideas for new music. As an individual, I’ve been busy feeding and changing nappies haha. I have been working on some new stuff though, that might end up as a HOTD side-project. ;)

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Scotland has been typically Scottish about the whole thing, we drink even more and we turn to humour! Our government is an absolute shitshow run by a pair of clown shoes, so this is our way of coping with it all. There are many here who don’t view our government as “their” government.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

I’ve seen a lot of good from the music community, a lot of folk trying to make the best of the situation and support those affected. But it’s hard not to feel discouraged – it’s going to be a long time until there is any resemblance of “normal” again, and how that will look is a grey area in itself. It may be the kid’s arrival occupying me more than usual, but I’ve not touched a guitar in weeks – I have no motivation at all at present, but that’s ok. I potter about in my studio on some of the other musical ventures I had in the works and have mentioned above.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

Well, having become a Dad and having been in a hospital during the epicentre of the pandemic here, I deeply admire those working in the NHS here in the UK – those people are the true hero’s at the moment and everything else just seems a bit trivial in comparison. I’m just enjoying getting to know my son and caring for him – much of what I wrote about for It’s Just a Ride.

https://hairofthedog.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hairofthedoguk/
https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=ocBdl3CSRvA
https://www.instagram.com/hairofthedog_uk/

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Six Dumb Questions & Video Premiere: Hair of the Dog Talk About It’s Just a Ride

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

hair of the dog

Hair of the Dog are rockers, so perhaps unsurprisingly, their new song rocks. Their fourth album — which was given the working title of Vol. IV but has in the end been dubbed It’s Just a Ride — is due in the coming months for release through Kozmik Artifactz as the follow-up to 2017’s This World Turns (review here), and the progression the Edinburgh-based three-piece have undertaken in the last couple years is evident in the fuzzy riffs and melodies of the title-track, which balance an insistent rhythm off the vocal float from guitarist Adam Holt. That dynamic would seem to be particularly captured in the six-plus minutes of “It’s Just a Ride” as Adam and drummer Jon Holt continue to bring the sonic dynamic they’ve forged since they were children to fruition in songs only further fleshed out with the right-on bass work of Iain Thomson. I haven’t heard the entirety of It’s Just a Ride as yet, so can’t speak to how the song that shares its name might interact with the material around it, but if the underlying message of the title is maybe to take it easy and not worry about shit you can’t control, well, I’m more than willing to roll with that.

In the video, we see Hair of the Dog, well, rocking. They rock while rocking out, they rock while buttering bread, they rock in the studio with Graeme Young while making the album, the jam room, and while traveling in various vehicles, from tour vans tohair of the dog its just a ride trains and planes. They rock having beers in airports, looking like they’re not sure where they’re headed next, and, presumably, waiting to get on stage and rock. Their shot-on-phone chronicles make welcome fodder alongside their actually performing the song in the rehearsal space, and their travels supporting This World Turns are represented — including some perhaps ill-advised drinking from the fountains of Tilburg, the Netherlands, during their stop at Roadburn Festival — and while if I’m not mistaken some of this footage has been seen before, the new context is obviously an appeal unto itself. That is to say, you’re getting a new song here, so quit complaining. It’s just a ride anyhow, or so said famous Cynical Anti-Establishment White Guy™ Bill Hicks, which I didn’t actually know until I read Adam Holt‘s answers to the interview questions below. See? This is how you learn things. You ask.

That important life-lesson aside, you should know that It’s Just a Ride has indeed been on a voyage headed toward its release for more than a year. While I’m not entirely certain what’s been behind the delay beyond the busy schedule of Kozmik Artifactz and perhaps that of the band as well, one knows from past experience that well-made heavy rock never gets stale, and as it happens, Hair of the Dog specialize in precisely that. I’ll post the exact release date when I have it, but given their scheduling of shows in March and over the early part of the summer, the target would seem to be somewhere in Springtime. Perfect.

Please enjoy the following video premiere and Six Dumb Questions:

Hair of the Dog, “It’s Just a Ride” official video premiere

Six Dumb Questions with Adam Holt of Hair of the Dog

Alright, let’s dive in. The album’s done, in the can. What can you tell me about it? What’s the plan for release? How do the songs compare to This World Turns? Is there anything you’re trying to do differently this time out, or is it just a matter of continuing on the path?

We wanted to take a stripped back DIY approach with It’s Just a Ride. Our debut record, which ultimately lead to us being signed to Kozmik Artifactz and started this incredible ride, was much in that same vein. With this new record, the only help we had was with the recording, for which we headed back to Graeme Young of Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh. The production, mixing, artwork, promo photos and the video were all done by the three of us. This allowed us to ensure the final record was 100 percent our vision.

The other main difference with It’s Just a Ride, was that we wanted to include more of our less obvious influences into the mix. As children we would jam songs by Zeppelin, Hendrix and other bands of that era, these influences are quite apparent in our previous records. However, that was during the late ’90s/early ’00s and we were also big fans of bands such as Rage Against The Machine, The Deftones and Pantera. So the idea for this record was to bring more of the latter influences forward in the sound and keep just the vocals harking back to our more classic rock based influences.

The record was supposed to come out late 2019, but with pressing plant complications regarding the vinyl, we were forced to push this back to early 2020. However, this will work out well as we have been booked for several prominent UK festivals such as Hammerfest, Riffolution and Stonebaked Festival, which will give us a chance to air this new material.

Tell me about “It’s Just a Ride.” It’s the first audio you’re unveiling from the record, so how does it speak to what the rest does in music and theme? What are we seeing in the video?

The record is [also] called It’s Just a Ride which I’m sure many will know is a Bill Hicks quote. This is a mantra of sort that we as a band try to live our lives. With This World Turns the theme was more of a personal reflection of our own lives at that point and how no matter what we’re faced with “life goes on.” This time around, with the world around us in much more dark and uncertain times, I think it’s important that we all stop now and again to remind ourselves that “This is just a ride” – when all is said and done, did you make your ride count?

The video itself is just a homage of our ride as a band, the footage used is various clips from our time as a band from recording records and hanging out, to travelling to places such as Roadburn and other places we’ve played. It’s quite a personal video in that way, like a home-movie that we’ll be able to look back on and show our own children.

How was recording this time out? Did you go into it with any specific sound in mind, or was it just a matter of getting the songs to tape?

As previously touched upon, we went back into Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh with Graeme Young who has recorded all of our records. Graeme is one of Scotland’s top recording engineers, so we knew we’d get a solid recording as a foundation to work on. As always, we record all the music live in the one room, as we would when jamming in our practice space. From there, we took the recordings to my own home studio, where we were able to experiment and indulge without the restrictions of time and budget.

How prepared are you guys when you go in to record? Are the songs absolutely final, or is there some room for improv and rounding things out during the recording process?

We’re always 100 percent ready to record, studios cost a lot of money, so you can’t be wasting time when you are an underground band with limited budget. The songs structures are all final when it comes to hitting record, so the way to think of it is that we lay the foundations down in those first takes. Then we listen back and that’s usually when the music starts to speak to you, you start to hear little counter melodies and harmonies that weren’t there originally – so you start to decorate, shape and bring the whole thing together.

As mentioned, we took the recordings to my own home studio to mix, so we had a lot more time with this record to really go to town with layering the guitars and vocal tracks; as well as adding in different instruments and sounds – one track on the record has a cello solo!

I should also mention that never have lyrics when we come to record. This comes much later in the process for me. Once the mixes are done, I’ll take them into my car when I drive or on my phone to listen to as I walk my dogs, and again I’ll start to hear the melodies and words that the music is brings out of me.

When were the new songs actually written? You toured in Europe for This World Turns. Did that have any effect on the band going into making It’s Just a Ride?

I think we had the beginnings of a few songs as we were waiting for This World Turns to even come out! Once a record is sent off to the label we usually start writing again. We’ve been playing together now for over 15 years, so we’re very in tune with one another, writing new music has never been a problem – even a fun jam during a soundcheck can end up as something we’ll work into a song.

Something we did differently this time though was to go back to our original practice space – which was a summerhouse at Iain’s parents house up in the highlands of Scotland. That was Summer 2018, we took a long weekend off and travelled up. It was a great experience that transported us back to our youth. We just stayed up all night, drinking, jamming and having a laugh; and by the Sunday we had the material for the new record. We documented the whole process in our video diary’s which can be found on our YouTube channel.

When you tour and play with other bands I think it only motivates you more to get back home and start working on some new material. You subconsciously pick up little nuances from other sounds that you liked and those all become part of your make up as a band. With regards to It’s Just a Ride, what we took away from the This World Turns cycle, was simply that we wanted to make things a bit heavier!

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We’ll be playing a string of UK dates in promotion of the record, starting with Hammerfest 2020 in March, then Riffolution Festival and Stonedbaked Festival – we look forward to playing these new songs to our UK fans, with potential European dates to be added.

Hair of the Dog on Bandcamp

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Hair of the Dog on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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King Witch Set April 24 Release Date for Second LP Body of Light

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

King Witch (photo by Alan Swan)

A little bummed to see that the news of King Witch‘s impending second album doesn’t arrive with any unveiled audio, but then, I would be. Their first one, 2018’s Under the Mountain (review here), did nothing to shy away from its affinity for metallic glories, and I’ve no reason to expect the luster has dulled in the time since. Plus, calling out a Rainbow influence — specifically Rainbow, separate from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or anything else Ritchie Blackmore or Ronnie James Dio have ever been or were involved in — is among the quickest ways to my heart. Straight to it, you might say.

So here we are:

king witch body of light

KING WITCH ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM ‘BODY OF LIGHT’!

Formed in late 2015 in a dark cavern beneath the streets of old Edinburgh, Bristling with dark majesty, KING WITCH draw comparisons ranging from Black Sabbath and Candlemass to Mastodon and High On Fire. The band quickly earned themselves a reputation as a formidable live act and have toured the UK and Europe in support of their first full length debut album “Under The Mountain” which was released on Listenable in 2018 .

KING WITCH ’s highly anticipated second album “Body of Light” further focuses their ability to fuse dense riffage with haunting yet powerful vocal lines and melodies. “Body of Light’ wider dynamic range takes the listener on an electrifying journey from dark, brooding passages through to full-tilt Heavy Metal glory !.

The band comments : « Musically, inspiration came from the same directions as always – the classic doom of Trouble and Candlemass alongside the ever-present influence of Sabbath, Purple and Rainbow. “

Laura Donnelly (vocals) has delivered an amazing artwork once again as she develops : « The cover art depicts a woman floating in space with her skeleton/soul leaving her body. Our title track “Body of Light” is about Astral Projection and having the ability to straddle between different worlds. I felt the concept represented the album well in different ways by illustrating themes such as the occult, myth and legend, the human condition, escapism and, primarily, the question of what lies beyond. »

KING WITCH ’s ‘Body of Light’ was Recorded at Deep Storm Productions, produced and Mixed by Kevin Hare and Jamie Gilchrist and mastered by Tom Dring.

It is scheduled for an April 24 release date.

Tracklisting
1. Body Of Light 05:49
2. Of Rock And Stone 08:26
3. Call Of The Hunter 06:31
4. Return To Dust 08:22
5. Order From Chaos 05:37
6. Solstice I – She Burns 10:16
7. Witches Mark 03:43
8. Solstice II 01:29
9. Beyond the Black Gate 09:55

King Witch are :
Laura Donnelly – Vocals
Jamie Gilchrist – Guitar
Rory Lee – Bass
Lyle Brown – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/kingwitch
http://www.instagram.com/kingwitchband
https://kingwitchband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

King Witch, “Carnal Sacrifice” official video

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DVNE Sign to RidingEasy Records; New Album Due Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

RidingEasy Records would likely have been on hand last August when Edinburgh’s DVNE made their debut US appearance on the main stage at Psycho Las Vegas (review here), and having seen that performance, it leaves little to wonder why the label might have snagged them for the release of the follow-up to 2017’s widely-lauded Asheran. I seem to recall hearing at some point that Psycho was managing the band as well, so the West Coast connection there and the fact that they’re playing the festival again this year kind of brings it all together. They’ll hit the studio sometime in the next couple months to record an album, and whether it makes it out before the end of 2019 or not, I have little doubt its arrival will be hotly anticipated.

They’re something of a standout in terms of style for RidingEasy as well, which I imagine will only help them as they go forward with the backing from the label. US tour next year? Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ask following the album’s release.

The PR wire makes the signing official:

dvne

DVNE sign to RidingEasy Records, play Psycho Las Vegas

Edinburgh, Scotland band to release new album in 2019

Edinburgh, Scotland quintet DVNE have signed to L.A. purveyors of heavy, RidingEasy Records for worldwide release of future recordings.

The band also returns to the US this summer to perform at the hugely popular Psycho Las Vegas festival on August 17th.

DVNE (pronounced dune) is a 5 piece progressive rock/metal band from Edinburgh Scotland. Founded in 2013, the band was then called Dune in reference to Frank Herbert sci-fi masterpiece of the same name.

The band consists of Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, keys), Dudley Tait (drums), Daniel Barter (guitar, vocals), Jack Kavanagh (bass) and Richard Matheson (keys).

To date, the band has released one studio album and two EPs. They emerged within the UK scene with their first EP Progenitor (2013), shortly followed by a second EP, Aurora Majesty (2014). At their releases, both EPs received very favourable receptions. Dvne quickly began to make a name for themselves in the UK and around Europe, with various tours over these territories and support shows of households names such as Eyehategod, Crowbar, Dragged Into Sunlight to name a few. The band’s sound at the time was already crossing over various music style including post-metal, progressive rock and sludge metal, but it is with their first full-length album Asheran that the band established further their unique blend of heavy music.

Released in August 2017, on double-disc vinyl, CD and digital, Asheran was overwhelmingly praised by the press. Since Asheran’s release, Dvne has toured all over the UK, Europe and North America and appeared at prestigious festivals such as Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest London and Inferno Festival Norway to name a few.

Not content to repeat their previous releases and always looking to push their sound forward DVNE are about to enter Chamber Studio in Edinburgh this summer to record their 2nd full-length concept album, planned for release on RidingEasy in late 2019.

DVNE LIVE:
08/17 Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/
ridingeasyrecs.com

DVNE, Asheran (2017)

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