Friday Full-Length: Rotor, 2

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

There are many who swear by the 2005 second album from Berlin-based mostly-instrumentalists  10 Page Essay - Find out all you need to know about custom writing Make a quick custom dissertation with our assistance and make your teachers Rotor, and one can hardly argue. The German outfit got their start in 1998 — you might also see their name stylized as As far as Writing A Project Report go, Written in one copy, a research paper for sale stands as a great value for money. However, RotoR — and released their 2001 self-titled debut LP through admission essays help dig this gun control essays how to write analysis paper Monster Zero Records, the same imprint that was home to concurrent offerings from the likes of  Our Pos 420 Week 4 Assignment Help service really believes in successful meeting the most strict deadlines our clients have every student day! Rely upon our talented team! Colour Haze Are you using a photo see it here? Outsourcing image editing is such a hot topic for photographers right now. Whether you already pay for Astroqueen and  Writing Content Services provides ace http://www.vsprint.com/?how-to-write-a-college-application-essay-that-stands-out for ebooks, product reviews, website content, press releases, newsletters, resume and blogs. Zerocharisma. By the time  Check on the service features and find out why you should ask us http://snar.fo/?custom-writing-service-uk and dont waste time looking for other custom writing 2 showed up four years later, the then-three-piece had found a home on  Choose RocketPaper to http://bcn.uprrp.edu/trash/?apa-paper-assistance online. A number of subjects, pro writers, and the best prices on the Internet. Meeting your requirements and deadlines. Elektrohasch Schallplatten, the label helmed by  Take My Online Class helps with online class, homework and assignment help for students. go site? If this is your question, we Colour Haze‘s  help me with my math homework cheap resume service college application writing job resume writing experts york Stefan Koglek, and they seemed at the same time to have found their niche in establishing a place for themselves between desert rock, classic progressive heavy, and an underlying touch of exploratory jamming. Their songs could crunch out along a riffy groove or dig into proggier vibes as they willed it, and though they released a split with  Sample Research Proposal For Masters - Allow the professionals to do your essays for you. Use this company to receive your valid custom writing delivered on time Stop Stonedudes and  Dissertation Formatting. Welcome to Dissertation Formatting. I provide a personalized dissertation and Research Papers On Plumbago Zeylanica for graduate students. Drive by Shooting the same year through How to choose the Essays Shakespeare Hamlet 123helpme, and which paper companies are good choices. The lost art of writing on paper. Nasoni Records that featured the track “V’Ger,” http://www.samavayo.com/essay-helpers-review/, Andrew Carnegie Essay Paper & essay writing service most popular puzzle games of all 07.07.2009 We are. 2 remains an essential piece of their ongoing catalog and a look at how German heavy rock developed coming out of the post- Non Plagiarised Essay Writers for all your academic needs. Looking for an essay service to help with all your college papers? You have come to the right Kyuss desert fixations of the late ’90s and ultimately found its own identity, which it did in no small part thanks to bands like  Rotor.

They’ve never been big on lineup details, but at one point or another, the band was Marco Baale, Milan Pfützenreuter and Tim Mentzel. Today, they list their membership as “4,” which I guess is fair enough; their album (review here) came out in 2010. In any case, compared to what they’d go on to do stylistically, perhaps the fare throughout is a bit less complex, certainly less mature, but the tradeoff there is the kind of vibe that can only come from a band excited to be discovering who they are as players and as a group. Comprised of eight songs and running 43 minutes, Rotor‘s is deceptive in both its immersion and its patience, and the band cleverly rotor 2engage their audience with fuzzy tones and a sense of songcraft that builds off the no-nonsense approach of Karma to Burn but is decidedly their own. They’re an instrumental band, have always been known for being an instrumental band, and have not veered from that course, so naturally the first song on has vocals. It’s one of two tracks to feature them, actually, with Samavayo‘s Behrang Alavi stepping in on lead cut “On the Run” and singing in Persian on the side B leadoff “Endlicht.”

This gives each half of the record not only a definitive starting point — i.e. “Endlicht” serving as a landmark to keep listeners from getting too lost in the proceedings as can sometimes happen in all-instrumental releases; sorry, the human brain is a simple thing and has evolved to hear words when they’re spoken — and seems to allow the band more space to play as they will in the subsequent three songs on each side. The energy of “On the Run” bleeds into the clever starts and stops and surges and pullbacks of “Auf Der Lauer,” which refuses for the better part of its five and a half minutes to resolve its mischievous bumps and bounces before finally doing so in a nodding roll and last crash, giving way to the interplay between jazz and thrust on “Supernovo” — a serene midsection offering a delightfully false sense of security — and side A closer “Nuhig Blut,” which begins with a warmth of tone to remind one that, indeed, Rotor were contemporaries of Colour Haze, and a winding progression of wah and rumbly bass that shoves forward at will into a roll that feels built off that in “Auf Der Lauer” but has even more nuance to offer as it goes, being part of the journey more than the destination as it is in the earlier cut.

As the side B launch and “On the Run” complement, “Endlicht” — the title translating to English as “Last Light” — features a return from Alavi and the aforementioned Persian lyrics. The guitar takes a Middle Eastern inflection to suit during the verses but opens to broader fuzz during the chorus, a flourish of psychedelia resulting that sets up some of the more ranging material still to come. “Endlicht” builds up, cuts out, builds again and recedes, in a quick barrage of changes, but the central energy remains, and turns over to the semi-acoustic, minute-long “Zeistau,” which I suppose is fair to call an interlude but rests well ahead of “Hellway”‘s more spacious course. It’s the penultimate piece, and its near-seven-minute runtime feels purposefully paired with the 7:31 closer “Kraftfeld” as the two seem to range more broadly from fuzz riffs to atmospherics. A more languid pace in the finale is welcome as well, as it shows Rotor working in a more patient sphere than they had up to that point with their songwriting. Following an improvised-feeling (if not actually improvised) midsection, there’s an uptick in tempo that drives into a quick, somewhat understated peak, and then finishes quietly enough to underscore the class of the performance on the whole.

Rotor‘s tenure on Elektrohasch resulted in two more studio albums, 2007’s and the already-noted 4, as well as the 2011 live record, Festsaal Kreuzberg (review here), that was captured in their hometown. The five-year break between 4 and 2015’s Fünf (review here) was the longest of the band’s career, and it marked the beginning of their alliance with Noisolution that continued with 2018’s Sechs (review here) — both albums showcasing the progressive leanings that were very much present in Rotor‘s earlier work, as shows across its span, but which were brought more into focus over time. With that album marking the 20th anniversary of the band, they set about stopping through various festivals and club shows to support, and of course had plans likewise for 2020 that includes Sonic Whip in the Netherlands, and Krach am Bach in Germany, both of which were called off. They’re set to appear at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark next week, however, which as of now is still happening and has posted significantly detailed rules for social distancing. Whatever it takes, I guess.

I can only imagine seeing this band live during this time and engaging the deeply creative spirit of their work in-person. No doubt one would end up swearing by as well as a representation of that time. As it stands these 15 years later, the prescience of Rotor is a prophecy self-fulfilled by the influence they’ve had on European heavy psych and instrumentalism — you can point to Truckfighters or Papir and I don’t think you’d be wrong in either case — and not only holds up as a document of its era, but of the ability of the band to cast vivid images in the theater of the mind.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

This week sucked. Oh, it sucked. It sucked, it sucked, it sucked. The Pecan had a cold and was miserable — he’s still stuffy but has been better the last couple days, if you count periodically having epic breakdowns like your favorite early ’00s metalcore band and hauling off and smacking you as “better,” which actually, yes, I do — and The Patient Mrs.’ new semester started, all online so far, though they’re apparently going to reassess that in a couple weeks? And the dog. Ugh, the dog. The dog is fucking wretched. We were actually doing fine for a bit yesterday and I brought her out of the kitchen to play fetch in the living room. First thing she did was piss on the floor. Pretty much ruined my whole fucking day. Was on par with taking The Pecan to the zoo on Tuesday and watching him bite another kid on the playground (through his mask, but it was still enough to make the other kid cry). Oh, it sucked. All of it. Just awful. It was a shitty, shitty fucking week and the sooner it’s forgotten the better. I hope that by the next time I write about Rotor and inevitably come back to look at this post, I can’t even remember what I’m talking about here. “When was that?” and so on.

And so the dog chews my foot. Stop. So the dog chews the 200-year-old rocking chair my mother gave us when we had The Pecan. Stop. The dog chews a rug. Fine. She has bones. She has a kong. She has rawhide. She is awful. Fucking awful. And every time I try to talk to The Patient Mrs. about it it becomes an argument like she’s on team dog and I get to be my father the asshole (still dead, not yet buried for some fucking reason) who hates everything. Meanwhile, the dog bites. She chews. She pisses on the floor. She has a bark like a dying seal that is like sandpaper on my brain. I grew up with dogs. I have loved dogs my whole life. This is the dog we got our son so they could grow up together and it’s been five weeks and they can’t even be in the same room. It’s not working. The little voice in my head is telling me, “Punch out, Maverick.” Try again later.

And there’s nothing worse than not being heard.

I should go. I can hear The Pecan in the other room talking about hitting his trains, which means he’s frustrated about something and that’s not gonna stop. Yeah, now he’s biting himself and hitting himself.

Apparently we’re closing on the sale of this house (to us, from my mother) today? Never believe anything in real estate until a week after it’s happened, so I guess I’ll check in next Friday about that.

Great and safe weekend. No Gimme show today. Next week. Don’t forget to hydrate. So important.

FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Colour Haze Post Full-Set Concert Video; Sept. Live Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

colour haze live somewhere

Dear Colour Haze: Any time you want to go ahead and put this set out as a live album, that’ll be just fine, thank you. Mix it down and make it all nice if you must, but I’d happily take it bootleg-style too. Whatever works. Thanks as always.

Okay, so, what do we learn here? Well, as the Munich-based godfathers of European heavy psychedelia play through a killer and apparently socially-distanced set of classics new and old — yes I mean that — and announce two limited-ticket shows for next month in Germany, they’re also standing on the precipice of beginning a series of catalog reissues through Ripple Music that will give some of their albums proper North American distribution for the first time. That would seem to be plenty. But what we learn here, in this video specifically, is that the band would seem to be back to its trio configuration: bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald (who got a haircut since last I saw the band) and guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek.

The lesson there is kind of the opposite of what we’ve been learning over the last couple years since the band brought in formerly-part-time organist/synthesist Jan Faszbender in as a full-fledged fourth member. That was seeing what new dynamic emerged as keys of various sorts fleshed out melodies of older songs. Now it’s seeing how they manage a return to their root elements. You’ll note that among the seven songs they play, none are from most recent LP, 2020’s We Are (review here), but instead they launch with the massive jams in “Skydancer” from 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) and “Überall” from the preceding 2014 album To the Highest Gods We Know (review here).

It gets dark magically before they launch into “Labyrinthe,” but the song is plenty warm enough for the assembled, particularly as it moves into “Transformation” from 2012’s She Said (review here) and “Love” from their 2004 self-titled (discussed here) and the title-track of 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) ahead of the finale “Get it On,” which dips even further back, to 2000’s CO2. The video is a single-camera shot, or at least one at a time, since it does move at least once when it gets dark — they play “Labyrinthe” and “Transformation” largely in silhouette, by lamplight — but the sound is fantastic, especially for the instruments, and their jams are perhaps even more hypnotic with the camera holding still as it does, much as one might be awestruck seeing them play live for the first time on a stack. It’s like being slackjawed in virtual reality.

I don’t know where the “show” was, or when, but I know that when Colour Haze did the Freak Valley-sponsored Freak TV stream in June, Faszbender was still with them, so that change would have to be pretty recent. Maybe it’s a permanent thing, or maybe he just had something else to do that day. No idea. But 80 minutes of live Colour Haze is I think probably the best thing that’s going to happen today, so here it is.

Enjoy:

Colour Haze, Live 2020 at sunset

One of the few shows this year.
Color Haze played live like the bands in the 70s.
In addition to the band’s well-known tube amplifiers, there also was an all-tube PA used here.

0:00 Skydancer
17:20 Ueberall
25:17 Labyrinthe
33:40 Transformation
49:09 Love
57:56 Tempel
1:07:42 Get it on

Colour Haze September shows:
26.09 Aschaffenburg DE Colos-Saal
27.09 Dortmund DE Junkyard (Open Air)

Manfred Merwald – Schlagzeug
Philipp Rasthofer – Bass
Stefan Koglek – Gitarre, Gesang
Mario Oberpucher – Live Sound
Martin Zimmermann – Kamera, Schnitt

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Josiah, Procession

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

It continues to be a matter of some debate as to whether rock and roll will save or damn your eternal soul. Well, your soul is a myth, and if rock and roll gets your blood moving during your limited, mostly futile existence, then fuck it, run with that. Once upon a United Kingdom there was a band called Josiah, and oh my, could they boogie. In the annals of pre-mobile/social media ubiquity, they were a well-kept secret of fuzz worshipers, riff heads and those frequenting the message boards of the day, but my oh my their grooves hold up. Procession (review here) was their final outing, arriving in 2010 through Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint, and it only underscored the point of how fierce they could be in their prime.

Fronted by guitarist Mat Bethancourt — who also did time with The Kings of Frog Island and Dexter Jones Circus Orchestra and was last heard from in Cherry Choke, running his own festival and doing artwork for various acts — and completed in their final incarnation by bassist Sie Beasley and drummer Keith Beacom, Josiah started around the turn of the century and were well ahead of the pack when it came to ’70s-style riffing, most especially in the UK, where doom and more straight-ahead stoner rock largely reigned supreme, Bill Steer‘s Firebird notwithstanding. Josiah‘s 2002 self-titled debut has been reissued a number of times at this point and it remains undervalued for what it accomplished in heavy boogie, and the organic tonality that came with Into the Outside in 2004 and 2007’s harder-driving No Time was not to be taken lightly or overlooked. Releasing through Elektrohasch and Molten Records, their profile was never as high as some of England’s forerunners in Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard or Cathedral, but even unto the post-breakup swansong that was Procession, the force of their delivery and groove was palpable, and whatever direction it was sending you, it sent you.

Of course, by 2010, the situation had changed, or at very least it was changing. The rise of Witchcraft and the first Graveyard record in Sweden has brought retroism to a broader audience, and Kadavar would soon rise up from Germany to continue the movement. Still though, Josiah were never a purely retro band, and Procession‘s early tracks remind of the niche they occupied between the classic and more modern josiah processionbranches of heavy rock. Certainly the swing and proto-punk rush of the opening title-track and “Broken Doll” after it have their foundations in a ’70s mindset, but “Thirteen Scene” was and is distinguished by its Queens of the Stone Age-style bounce, and even the strut of “Dying Day,” which follows, seems to modernize a one-guitar Thin Lizzy groove, all that swagger and attitude channeled into a nod-ready rhythm that is a timeless vision of cool refusing to be denied. That these first four tracks were recorded in 2006 is important. That puts them before or at least vaguely concurrent to No Time, but if they sat around after those sessions and were going to show up elsewhere and didn’t, then at least the band was able to put them to good use posthumously and remind their audience of what was.

“Dead Forever” serves as a transition point following “Dying Day” — two morose-sounding cuts, to be sure, but neither of which is particularly dark in terms of sound — and is a rawer take in the actual recording. It veers into some spaced-out guitar over the shove of its apex, and might represent the last of Josiah‘s studio work, given that it came after the final album-album. If that’s the case, it’s somewhat emblematic of the changing mindset on the part of Bethancourt, whose appreciation for garage rock came through not only in the third album from The Kings of Frog Island, which was his last with the band, but with the first Cherry Choke LP as well. “Dead Forever” harnesses some of that same style, but the personality of the rhythm section is still prevalent in what they’re doing, and so the five-and-a-half-minute cut keeps a more weighted edge. It makes for a fascinating blend, and if Josiah had wanted to, no doubt they could’ve put together a full-length of such material and continued to refine their niche and songwriting processes, but it wasn’t to be.

I don’t know what became of Beasley or Beacom, but from the first Cherry Choke album in 2009 through the most recent one in 2015, Bethancourt kept expanding that band’s sonic palette to suit shifting influences between garage rock, heavy psychedelia and classic-styled boogie. When last they were heard from on social media, they were working on material for a fourth record, though who knows what the status of that might be.

In the meantime, though, Procession rounds out Josiah‘s run with five corresponding live tracks that were taped in Sweden circa 2007. Among them are four songs from No Time in “Time to Kill,” “Looking at the Mountain,” “Silas Brainchild” and “I Can’t Seem to Find It,” which closes, as well as “Malpaso,” which comes from the first record and is perhaps truest to the original era of late-’90s/early-’00s stoner rock of anything Josiah have on offer here. That Procession is split between studio and live material doesn’t really matter to the overall listening experience — if anything, it brings into relief just how much in common they had between performing in one context and the other — and the front-to-back progression of Procession (yes, I’m a little ashamed of that phrasing) feels all the more appropriate as an encapsulation of who Josiah were for having both sides represented. I like the idea of a goodbye offering, and Procession is a particularly encompassing one that puts a stamp on Josiah‘s career and even a decade after the fact reminds of what they managed to accomplish during their time together.

And anytime Elektrohasch want to go ahead and do another pressing of JosiahInto the Outside or No Time, or hell, even this, I can’t imagine they’d run into much argument. Someday some Akarma-style label is going to come for all this stuff. I hope I’m around to dig it all over again when that happens.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I wrote the above yesterday so I’d have time this morning to work on the Mars Red Sky review that went up a bit ago. Nice to have that kind of flexibility, but I honestly don’t think it matters much to anyone other than me. Reviewing streams makes for interesting discussion in my mind, but to this point it’s a conversation I’m having with myself. Ups and downs to that, like anything. Humbling, usually.

Next week is full. There’s a lot of premieres. One for Temple Fang that’s been pushed back a couple times. A Psychlona video. A track from Morton Gaster Papadopoulos, who’ve been featured here before.

I’d find you the link to the last time I posted about that project with members of Stinking Lizaveta and Clutch and so on, but I’m writing in the car and as you might expect, running the wifi off my phone is for crap, especially as we’re driving through a rural area in New Jersey to go to Space Farms basically so my kid can throw corn out the window to animals as we drive past — “1-2-3-corn!” he yells while throwing. It’s usually a walk-around zoo, but they’ve made it a driving thing during the pandemic. This is the second time we’ve gone in the last week.

Because that’s real life. You do what you need to do.

Anyhow, that’s basically the weekend plans. Get through it. Went for a run this morning with the kid and he face-planted on the pavement, got a big scrape and knot on his forehead that’s gonna be there for at least the next week. We hold hands while we run, but frankly, we were both sweaty and he just slipped out of my grasp while falling. I had caught him like four other times, which is pretty standard, but yeah. The one time. He was up and finishing the run shortly after though. Dude is way tougher than my ass. I’d be in bed for the rest of the day. If not two days.

More real life.

Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. If you’re reading this, I hope you and yours are well; life, limb, livelihood.

FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , ,

Days of Rona: Luis Simões of Saturnia

Posted in Features on April 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

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

Luis Simões of Saturnia

Days of Rona: (Lisboa, Portugal)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

I was already editing and pre-mixing the new Saturnia album for a couple of months, so, as that is something I do on my own from home and there were no plans to play live at all, Saturnia’s daily routine hasn’t really changed radically.

There is a certain irony as this new record is an outdoors album, I recorded most of it in the countryside earlier on; actually some of it was recorded outside under the trees, but i’m now working in lockdown regime.

I’ve been in contact with André Silva (drums) and everyone else involved with Saturnia and so far everyone is okay.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Over here, in Portugal, the state of emergency has been officially declared; social isolation is the rule, you can go to the supermarket, bank, post office, pharmacy and walk the dog in the immediate area where you live in but you can’t move about in groups and if you are making a more serious movement you have to be ready to justify it.

The authorities aren’t being over aggressive with people but are acting firmly.

The paranoia meter is in the red, and although i haven’t seen them myself, there are places with drones warning people to stay home, a pure dystopian vibe that reminds me of Hawkwind’s Sonic attack, just disturbingly real.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

This is a nasty blow for everybody in general, obviously from the health perspective; this is the kind of history book stuff you heard of of the influenza pandemic in the WWI period, but now it is immediate reality; everything is closed so the economy is suffering on all levels.

Music is moving even more online but sadly, there isn’t any life-supporting revenue in online music, so this whole situation is very negative and it’s going to knock a lot of people’s lives down, for sure.

Music and art in general are frequently seen as a luxury item, although it’s what is keeping people sane at home…

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Basically that Saturnia carries on doing its thing with the present time limitations, and so should everybody.

I want to urge everyone to be extremely careful, follow sanitary safety procedures and act with common sense, respect and responsibility so that we can all be here next year to listen to Saturnia’s new album and all albums old and new.

https://www.facebook.com/saturniamusic/
http://www.saturniamusic.com/
https://www.elektrohasch.de/

Tags: , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Notes: Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan Längquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing Längquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had Längquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge à la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, Híbrido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the Sün, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • Besvärjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Colour Haze, We Are

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze we are

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Colour Haze’s new album, We Are. Digital release is this week through Elektrohasch, followed by CDs next week and LPs in January.]

It is no small thing for a band to change its construction after about 20 years of working with the same lineup, but as they cap their 25th anniversary celebration in 2019 with the release of the new album, We Are (formerly titled Life), that is precisely what Munich’s Colour Haze have done. The godfathers of European heavy psychedelia have operated since 1998 as the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, but with 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), they began to experiment more with adding flourish of organ and various synth from Jan Faszbender, and since then, Faszbender has become a part of a new four-piece incarnation of Colour Haze.

On the seven-track/45-minute We Are, which is released as ever through Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint and opens its first side at a rush with its quick-boogie title-track, they continue to experiment and drive themselves forward in that integration, with Faszbender moving between playing off the energy of Merwald‘s drumming, running along with Koglek‘s guitar in the graceful instrumental sweep in the second half of “Life,” and generally filling out the melodic and rhythmic foundations of the material while offering a few standout moments of his own, such as the organ laying the bed for the soaring vocals — and I mean “soaring”; there are some pointedly operatic guest vocals going on there too — of the album apex “Be with Me.” The change, in other words, suits Colour Haze. Their studio arrangements have been branching out since well before 2012’s She Said (review here) brought in strings and horns and 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) answered back and built on those impulses, but from where the branching out is happening has changed, and their sound is that much richer for having Faszbender in the lineup on a hopefully ongoing basis.

Of course, signature elements remain. Rasthofer‘s bass is still of singular tonal warmth and execution, and Merwald‘s drumming makes progressive and jazzy changes no less fluid than the bassist’s runs from one fret to the next. Koglek is still an explorer, and while longtime followers of Colour Haze will recognize snippets like a push-off from the central riff of “Aquamaria” from 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) in “I’m with You” on side B, there’s also the four-and-a-half-minute centerpiece “Material Drive” to contend with, led as it is by acoustic guitar with Koglek in the RichieHavens-at-Woodstock role as the rest of the band gradually joins in behind, Faszbender in particular making the song that much more of a high point of We Are with a two-handed approach of organ and synth running concurrently while the bass fills out the mix. And I don’t know if that’s flute — which has been used on Colour Haze records before — or flute Mellotron, but anytime they want to do a record of semi-acoustic acid folk protest songs, I’m ready for it.

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s not to take away from the running jam of closer “Freude III” or the earlier one-into-the-next-like-the-phrase-it-spells-out “We Are,” “The Real” and “Life” on side A or even the two-part side B complement in “I’m With You” / “Be With Me,” I’m just saying the arrangement of “Material Drive” works well. Really the same applies across the board on We Are, and the band are careful to acknowledge the role of the mix in their presentation of the material, balancing guitar and keys well even just as “The Real” takes off after the initial hooky shuffle of “We Are” itself starts the record at a rush, setting the tone in a way for what’s to come on an almost subconscious level for the listener. In some ways it’s less pointedly prog than was the prevailing spirit of In Her Garden, which ran 72 minutes and was a 2LP of marked immersiveness, but as the band’s 13th long-player, We Are confirms that even in their relatively new four-piece incarnation, Colour Haze‘s focus remains on an organic feel and delivering the most natural sound possible.

Some spoken lines from Koglek and his voice following note for note with his subsequent guitar lead are the only vocals on “The Real,” but as both that and the peaceful-build-int0-fervent-thrust of “Life” top eight and a half minutes, it’s early on that the band captures the listener’s attention and sets to unfolding the course of We Are as a whole, which of course side B expands beginning with “Material Drive” and moving through the layered vocals of “I’m With You” and more flute sounds on “Be With Me,” a whirlwind of guitar turns opening wide to the payoff of the album in the spirit of songs like She Said‘s “Transformation” circa four minutes in, just before the vocals begin their aforementioned flight. That would seem to leave “Freude III” (‘freude’ being ‘joy’ in English) as an afterthought, but it turns out instead to seem to be answering some of the progressions of In Her Garden while still holding to We Are‘s particular balance, an enticing cascade of nuance and natural impulses that plays out across the seven-minute instrumental finale in two distinct movements, the last of which ends — suitably enough — on a long fadeout of synth as if to underscore how far Colour Haze‘s journey has taken them not only since the riffier beginning of the record on “We Are,” but in general across their span of years and span of albums.

They are inherently in conversation with their past on We Are — the name of the record can certainly be taken as a declaration of self, despite how the songs portray it — as even those emergent titular phrases was an element put to use on 2008’s All (discussed here), and perhaps reflecting on a quarter-century of the band’s existence is a part of that either consciously or not, but they show as clearly as ever in this material that looking back by no means has to stop you from moving forward. I will gladly admit to being a fan of the band, so if you need to take this review with that in consideration, that’s fine. From where I sit, every time Colour Haze puts out a record — and again, this is their lucky 13th — it is nothing less than a gift, and We Are sneaks in under the wire as one of the best gifts 2019 has had to offer. For old fans, it offers something new in the shift of lineup and fleshing out of arrangements, and for newcomers, its refreshed sound should prove all the more welcoming. Quite simply, Colour Haze make the world a better place.

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Colour Haze Announce We Are Album Release Tour for Spring 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

We’re drawing inevitably closer to the release of Colour Haze‘s forthcoming album, which has been retitled as We Are (originally Life) (discussed here), and as a blanket nerd for the band, obviously I find this prospect exciting. Sound of Liberation, which has long handled the band’s booking, has announced a round of tour dates for Spring that will probably coincide at least loosely with the arrival of the vinyl edition of the record, since as discussed in the interview linked above, there’s always some kind of delay between pressing LPs and CDs.

But let’s be honest, whenever Colour Haze want to go on tour and for whatever occasion, whether it’s a new record or their 25th anniversary, as it was this year, it’s not like anyone’s going to argue against it. Quite the contrary. If you’ve seen Colour Haze, you don’t need me to tell you to go see them again, and if you’ve never seen Colour Haze, well, go see them and you won’t need me to tell you anymore. Also, if you’ve never seen them as a four-piece with Jan Faszbender on keys, you have all the more reason to be there, whether you have before or not, because it’s a noteworthy shift in dynamic and atmosphere in the band.

Ah screw it, just go.

Here’s where to be, as per Sound of Liberation on thee social medias:

colour haze life tour

Colour Haze – 2020 ‘We Are’ Album Release Tour

We are more than happy to unveil that the legendary Colour Haze are going to promote their upcoming album (keep your eyes peeled for news!) in spring 2020 – with shows in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Hungary & Austria!

SOUND OF LIBERATION & Elektrohasch proudly present the following tour dates:

Colour Haze – ALBUM RELEASE TOUR 2020
24.03.20 (DE) Dresden, Beatpol
25.03.20 (AT) Salzburg, Rockhouse
26.03.20 (HU) Budapest, A38
27.03.20 TBA
28.03.20 (AT) Wien, Arena
29.03.20 (DE) Passau, Zauberberg
30.03.20 (DE) Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
31.03.20 (BE) Gent, Voruuit
01.04.20 (NL) Nijmegen, Doornroosje
02.04.20 (DE) Hamburg, Markthalle
03.04.20 (DE) Dortmund, Piano
04.04.20 (DE) Ludwigsburg, Scala

Listen to Colour Haze here:
https://tinyurl.com/ColourHazeSpotify

Follow Colour Haze on instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/colourhazeband/

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, “Tempel” live at Høstsabbat 2019

Tags: , , , , , ,

Streaming Interview: Talking Life and More with Colour Haze

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on October 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple weeks back, I sat outside in the chilly Oslo air on the second night of Høstsabbat 2019 and had the chance to interview guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze. At the time, his band was loading in their gear ahead of their headlining set (review here), and there are a couple moments in the interview where you can hear him directing traffic in that regard. They had played Up in Smoke in Switzerland the night before and would still look forward to their annual slot at Keep it Low in their hometown of Munich, Germany later in the month, as they simultaneously continued the mixing process for their new album, Life, which is expected out before the end of the year on Koglek‘s own Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint.

Long a trio, Colour Haze is now the four-piece of Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald and key-specialist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, whose arrival as a fully-fledged member of the band follows years of collaboration on arrangements and album guest appearances. I was also lucky enough to see Colour Haze play in this configuration last Spring in London (review here), and for what Faszbender brings to the dynamic of the group as a whole and for the depth of melody added by the organ and synth, the effect is only to make a special sound that much richer.

Life arrives two-plus years after 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), to which Faszbender also contributed, and having been lucky enough to hear a few of the in-progress mixes for songs like the speedy/funky “We Are” and the 10-minute jammer “The Real,” I feel confident saying the new material pushes deeper into the chemistry between guitar, bass, drums and keys, and maintains Colour Haze‘s signature warmth and exploratory feel. Of course I’ll hope to have more to come on the record than that as we get closer to the release, but if you’re a Colour Haze fan — as I most certainly am — it seems unlikely you’ll emerge disappointed, at least based on what I’ve heard thus far.

And at the same time, Colour Haze has just issued the live album, Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007, capturing the first set from the famed Sardinian “unofficial festival”/gathering that the band played, during the era between 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) and 2008’s All (discussed here). I haven’t heard it yet, but Koglek talks a bit about the performances in the interview below as well as where they’re at with the new record (or were two weeks ago, anyhow), and the idea that they’re using the live album as a form to tell part of the story of the band — especially in light of their 25th anniversary, which they’ve been celebrating all year — seems all the more special as a notion to manifest.

I could go on with all kinds of fanboy hyperbole about how righteous Colour Haze are live and on record, or about the decades of formative influence they’ve had on heavy psychedelia in Europe and beyond, but frankly you probably already know it. And if not, you probably don’t need me to encourage you to get caught up (though I will, happily). The audio of the chat is raw, but there’s some cool stuff in there — my favorite part is when Koglek refers to 2012’s She Said (review here) as being “too perfect” — and some insight into the making of Life that clues you into how the band functions and thinks about what they do. I was happy Koglek was able to take the time, and thanks to you for checking it out if you do.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Pt. 3

Colour Haze live:
OCT 25 Grund 74 Bischofsgrün, Germany
OCT 26 Festsaal Kreuzberg Berlin, Germany

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Colour Haze at Sound of Liberation

Tags: , , , , , ,