The Top 15 of the First Half of 2014

Posted in Features on June 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It’s custom around here to do a Top 10 of the First Half of the Year, in advance of doing a Top 20 of the Year in December. The idea is that the later list will basically build on the earlier one. That’s never really how it works out — albums always drop off or appear unexpectedly depending on what gets listened to most, what gets reviewed late, etc. — but it always works out to be a good time anyway, and that’s really what it’s all about.

The difference this year is that instead of doing a Top 20 in December, I’m planning on expanding to a full Top 30, so to do a Top 10 of the stuff from January until now makes less sense. So here we are with a Top 15. A slightly longer list, but still the same basic idea as years past otherwise. These are albums I’m expecting will turn up again at the end of the year on the final Top 30, and though some will and some won’t and almost all of them will move around, there are more than a handful — particularly if we’re counting by fingers — of essential records released over the last six months recounted here.

If you missed something, I hope it’s something cool you get to check out, and if I missed something (as I inevitably did), I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Please note that this is full albums only, no EPs, splits, singles or demos.

Enjoy:

 

15. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed April 25.

I’ll freely admit I was more than a little thrown off by the change in approach on  Phd Thesis Manuscript: Readily Available Assignment Solutions for Cheap. Are you struggling with any of your academic essays? Search no further! We offer the best buy essay UK writing services that you can never compare with any other company. We also have editing, formatting and proofreading services for any document of your choice. Buy our services now for cheap, and you will never search any Greenleaf‘s fifth album. Where prior outings like 2012’s  http://paraderoyunguilla.com/college-application-essay-help-online-a-winning/. Ranked #1 by 10,000 plus clients; for 25 years our certified resume writers have been developing compelling resumes, cover letters Nest of Vipers Custom Rock Climbing Business Plan. If you are looking college papers for sale online you need to know that anyone can find some help and time is not a problem for them. With a 24/7 disponibility, you can have a chat with your future writer in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is to decide which will be the subject about you want to have the paper and when do you need it. If you are  (review here) and 2007’s megatriumph  Our Phd Thesis Concrete Slabs writing service offers the most beneficial features and academic support for students with any writing task required. We provide our clients with the highest quality of custom essay help and guarantee them only academic satisfaction. It is not the first year of our experience in the sphere of custom essay writing, so we now know for sure how to meet all customers` expectations Agents of Ahriman The Fastest Online http://www.hotel-hirschen-bregenzerwald.at/?how-to-buy-a-new-car-essay. Trusted By 3000+ Corporate Clients. Start in 30min. 12 hours delivery. From 29 $/hr.  had been lush heavy rock affairs helmed by  A professional Dissertation Course Work Services will help you to take the presentation of your material to the next level. With our flexibility and professionalism, you can rest assured that the project is not over until you say it is. Take control of your work and delegate your editing needs to a professional dissertation editor today! 3 Easy Steps to Dozer guitarist  It How To Do A Thesis is not a do my thesis simple statement of fact. This guide gives simple and practical advice higher front dissertation english advanced Tommi Holappa with a slew of guests on vocals, organ, etc.,  British Dissertation Writers is the leading http://www.ffayala.es/?essay-writing-useful-phrases service in the UK who excel at giving students award-winning dissertations that they can use at their university. Submitting any one of the dissertations, which an expert dissertation writer from our team has helped out with, will ensure great results for the student. We also have a team of seasoned writers who know how to Trails and Passes Homeworks Custom Interiors Ltds Page. Most learners find it challenging to come up with a high quality dissertation that meets all the required standards of writing. While such is the case, writing dissertations is a thing that you cannot avoid as long as you are in an institution of higher learning since such, is a requirement in the final grade. For this reason, it is high time you  dialed back the “extras” in favor of a more stripped down, stage-ready approach. Holappa‘s songwriting alone would likely be enough to have  Dont be afraid to ask real paper gurus - Ghost Writer Needed For School Assignment for me online! They are always ready to lend a hand when needed. Will You Do My Homework for Me? Yes, Sure! You Can Count on Us. Our customers know that they can always count on our experts to complete their research papers, reports, book reviews, and other types of papers. We are aware that getting a degree is a difficult mission. Not Greenleaf on this list one way or another, and  Looking for Phd Thesis Fly Ash Use In Compost online Just upload your files Free Quote 100+ Languages Free Trial 12 Hours TAT. Trails and Passes 10 Reasons to Use The Best Essay Writer Writing Service: You will receive the highest quality custom paper that will surely help you out when you need it.  is one of the year’s best. The turn was just unexpected and I feel like I’m not caught up to it yet.

 

14. Druglord, Enter Venus

Released by Phd Thesis Art Education Online. Thesis editing and proofreading is the most vital step to be opted before submitting a thesis paper. And, passing the college or university requires a student to perform new research and submit new findings in the form of paper (research paper). Thesis editing services are available all around to serve as a STB Records. Reviewed Feb. 14.

Initially put out in a limited tape run in late 2013 (review here), the Get instant biology Ghost Writer Linux from the professional dissertation writers of allassignmenthelp.com and get exciting discounts and cashback offers. 24/7 +1-817-968-5551 +1-817-968-5551 Enter Venus full-length from Richmond-based sludgers Write An Essay About Plagiarism - Papers and resumes at most attractive prices. put out a little time and money to receive the dissertation you could not even think Druglord codified the noisy murk of their prior outings into one devastating wave of lurching riffage and echoing shouts. The Virginian three-piece recorded with  Garrett Morris of Windhand and the STB vinyl topped off with artwork by W. Ralph Walters, making for a package both visually and sonically devastating, and though it’s short for an album at under a half-hour, the 12″ still earns the nod for the unmitigated heft its four songs carry. It’s one you can either dig or miss out, but Druglord show there’s more room for invention in sludge.

 

13. Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

Released by Deathwish Inc. Reviewed May 15.

There really isn’t much left to say when it comes to Wovenhand and their driving force, frontman David Eugene Edwards. Their first for Deathwish Inc., Refractory Obdurate is the latest document of one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriting progressions. It follows a brilliant record in 2012’s The Laughing Stalk (review here) and likely precedes one in whatever they decide to do next, and the enduring fascination on Edwards‘ part with tonal weight and groove continues to push Wovenhand into a creative territory that is without genre. Nobody else comes close.

 

12. Papir, IIII

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Quick-working Danish jammers Papir made a strong impression with IIII early in the year, offering a progressive take on the style of heavy instrumental jamming that has flourished throughout Europe over the last half-decade or so. Immediately individualized, the Copenhagen three-piece carried across four intricately constructed pieces, most open with the 21-minute “III” but never lacking for twists and turns that were an utter joy to follow. A band that has already collaborated with the even-jammier Electric Moon and who’ve aligned themselves with Causa Sui‘s El Paraiso Records, they seem like a safe bet to continue to grow into reliable purveyors of high-quality instrumental heavy psychedelia.

 

11. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed March 10.

Its arrival was heralded by the righteousness of a Lego video for “Nine Princes in Amber,” though even that was little preparation for the classic doomery that would take place on the return long-player from Portland, Maine’s Ogre. The trio of guitarist Ross Markonish, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and drummer Will Broadbent broke up in 2009, got back together in 2012, and with their fourth album, they made it clear they still had plenty to offer those who worship trad-style riffing, Sabbathy grooves and the kind of hooks that stay with you for days. The Last Neanderthal had plenty of those, and “Warpath,” the aforementioned “Nine Princes in Amber,” “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” tapped into what makes the best of doom so ready for repeat listens.

 

10. Floor, Oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed April 22.

Another reunited trio, Floor had it tough coming into their first album in a decade, Oblation. The legacy of their 2002 self-titled would loom large over anything they put out, and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks had since gained a huge following as the spearhead of Torche, but four years after they started playing shows again, Floor met the challenge head-on with Oblation‘s 14 tracks, showing a natural progression from where they left off so long ago without seeming like they were trying to recapture a past that inevitably would prove irretrievable. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a course for continuing to develop as a band, and though Torche have a new album expected out this summer on Relapse and doubtless that will take some time and focus away from Floor, hopefully they keep pursuing that growth.

 

9. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed March 14.

I’ll claim no impartiality when it comes to Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock purveyors Mos Generator or the craftsmanship of guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, but if half the point of a list like this is to nerd out over albums you dig (and I’ll gladly argue that it is), then Electric Mountain Majesty is right where it should be. Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson are clockwork-reliable when it comes to putting out high-grade material, and their second record since getting going again after Reed‘s few years in Stone Axe pushed beyond the considerable accomplishments of 2012’s Nomads (review here) and brought their sound to new and at times surprisingly doomed places while still keeping their core in a love of classic heavy rock songwriting. From where I sit, new Mos Gen is never one to pass up.

 

8. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

Self-released. Reviewed March 24.

Not that I didn’t expect a new Blood Farmers release to be cool, but Headless Eyes was still a surprise when it arrived earlier in 2014. Who was to say what the New York trio would concoct after a 19-year studio absence? Of course, what they came out with was dead-on horror-loving doomly plod, cuts like the instrumental “Night of the Sorcerers” and the deceptively catchy “Headless Eyes” not only worthy of Blood Farmers‘ substantial legacy but building on it. Void of pretense, Headless Eyes resonated with a brooding atmosphere capped by the surprising closer, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” a cover of the theme from The Last House on the Left and positioned the three-piece of vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist/bassist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Léger among the fore of traditional doom’s practitioners.

 

7. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 25.

After seeing them live late last year (review here), digging their 456th Div. tape (review here) and putting their debut single on the best short releases of 2013 list, I had little doubt that their self-titled debut full-length would deliver a satisfying listen. Sure enough, the five-tracks of the quality-over-quantity release did precisely that, the Brooklyn three-piece harnessing unashamed positive vibes to mesh with a burgeoning psychedelic feel, catchy hooks and classic-style road songs serving as a reminder of the good times that rock and roll both provides and complements. Now that summer is here, I expect to revisit The Golden Grass plenty of time over these sunny, hot months, since it would seem the year has finally caught up with the band’s warmth and day-long spirit. The Golden Grass are reportedly headed to Europe later this year, so more to come on them for sure.

 

6. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed April 4.

Every time I think I’m out, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz pulls me back in. The third full-length from Argentina trio Ararat seems to hit me with a different song each week. This week, it’s the six-minute “El Hijo de Ignacio,” with the insistent, punkish drums from Alfredo Felitte, backing noise and later keyboard eeriness from Tito Fargo and the low bass rumble of Sergio Chotsourian (ex-Los Natas), whose vocals seem to hover over the rest of the mix as though piped in from someplace else entirely. The whole album had a hypnotic effect that pulled the listener away from how diverse it actually was, moving into and out of heavy psych atmospherics with expert smoothness, but the more attention you paid, the more rewarding the experience became, as Ararat defied any expectations that might have come from their 2012 sophomore outing, II (review here), and boldly pushed toward new avenues of progression.

 

5. Conan, Blood Eagle

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 22.

Who’s heavier than Conan? The superlative UK trio have spent the two years since the release of their full-length debut, Monnos (review here), solidifying their dominance, and their first album for Napalm Records plays out like a victory lap over the skulls of lesser riffs. Opening with the near-10-minute lumber of “Crown of Talons,” Blood Eagle solidified the two-sidedness of Monnos into a back-breaking doom assault, and their pummel remains unparalleled as they continue to grow as players and songwriters. This year has also seen producer Chris Fielding join the band on bass, and as badass as Blood Eagle is — one would rarely think of a song called “Gravity Chasm” as being so aptly-named — I can’t help but look forward to hearing what Conan do from here and how they continue to refine one of doom’s most bludgeoning approaches.

 

4. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed May 22.

It’s the songs. I really, really dug Dwellers‘ 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here) as well, and I won’t say a bad word about that album, but Pagan Fruit is in a different class altogether. And you know, it’s not just the songs. It’s how the songs play next to each other, the mood they create, and the hooks that Dwellers bring to the table with so much stylistic poise, calling the bluffs of any number of heavy psych blues rockers on “Totem Crawler,” or “Creature Comfort,” or “Son of Raven” or “Spirit of the Staircase.” The Salt Lake City-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis brought new levels of cohesion to their sound throughout Pagan Fruit and it remains an album that I have yet to get enough of hearing, one that seems to offer more each time I put it on and let my mind drift to its patient, open spaces.

 

3. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed May 14.

From here on out, on any given day, any one of these is my album of the year. What a thrill it was to put on Fu Manchu‘s first album in five years, Gigantoid, and have it roll out such a tight-knit collection of heavy rolling excellence. The West Coast stoner riff gods of gnarl stripped down their production inspired in part by a reissue campaign of their earlier work on their own At the Dojo Records label, and the punkish feel suited them better than even they likely could’ve expected. With its opening four-song punch, the no-frills shot of “No Warning” and the closeout jam at the end of “The Last Question,” Gigantoid felt like more than one could’ve reasonably asked from a Fu Manchu long-player 20 years on from their debut, but the vitality they showed in its tracks, paired with the efficiency with which the songs were executed, showcased a timeless, perpetual appeal. They know what they’re doing and how they want to do it, and just because there was no doubt going into Gigantoid doesn’t make the end product any less of a payoff.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

I’ve gone on at some length about what I find so appealing in the second full-length from Bordeaux trio Mars Red Sky, so even putting aside the deft hand with which they incorporated further heavy psych soundscapes into their songwriting, let me just focus on how memorable Stranded in Arcadia actually is. That was true as well of Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but these songs are more ambitious, from the eight-minute opener “The Light Beyond” to the gorgeous melody-wash in the chorus of “Join the Race” and the stomp in the de facto closer “Seen a Ghost” before the leadout/refrain “Beyond the Light” calls all the way back to the first track. The development of Mars Red Sky‘s take isn’t necessarily such a surprise — the debut had its psychedelic, jammy feel as well — but the fact that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz managed to elicit such development while remaining true to the warm tones and humble, unpretentious vibe of the debut only makes Stranded in Arcadia more remarkable. I wouldn’t stop listening to it if I could.

 

1. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 18.

It wasn’t easy to hold off on reviewing the fifth album from the Texas power trio for as long as I did, but I thought the record was too good to jump the gun on, and so yeah, it’s a pretty recent writeup, but I feel comfortable putting The Conjuring at number one here because I’ve actually had a while to live with these songs. Or maybe “live in” them would be a better way to say it, since the dense wall of fuzz and jammed-out distortion Wo Fat create across this record is basically thick enough to take up residence. Recently back from a European tour, Wo Fat hit the road supporting their finest work to date, and as the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are more or less self-sustaining in their own Crystal Clear Sound studio in Dallas, there’s no reason they can’t just keep developing along the path they are. The Conjuring boasts their best jams yet but also holds firm to the already-planted-in-your-consciousness hooks that Wo Fat have long since established a penchant for, and one could just as easily put the band at the fore of traditional heavy rock riffing as of American heavy psych jammers. Any way you look at them, they’re at the top of their class.

Quick honorable mention goes to Radio Moscow, The Wounded Kings, 1000mods (review forthcoming), Eyehategod, Abramis Brama, Truckfighters, Valley of the Sun, the live Causa Sui record and Alcest. Been a hell of a year so far, and I’m already putting together a list of anticipated records for the next six months, so there’s much more to follow.

Thanks as always for reading.

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

On Wax: Druglord, Enter Venus (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, On Wax on February 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

The STB Records vinyl for Virginian psychedelic doomers Druglord‘s Enter Venus comes in three editions. The “diehard” is limited to 48 copies, has custom art from W. Ralph Walters, and comes with foil stamp, hand-numbered, clear vinyl with “dopesmoke” green splatter. An “OBI” version is what it sounds like — it comes with an OBI strip in Japanese and English. The vinyl is green with a white swirl and it’s limited to 90 copies. Given the quality of the presentation and its still-limited pressing of 115 copies, I hesitate to call third version “standard,” but I suppose of you think of it as a “high standard,” it makes more sense.

As ever, my photos don’t do the package justice. W. Ralph Walters‘ cover is part-glossy and part-matte on the front and back, the platter is the same milky-clear/green splatter as the diehard version, and both the cover and the liner sleeve are of a stock thick enough to do justice to the four cuts on Enter Venus itself, which hurls forth an otherworldly swirl of low end rumble and psychedelic echo. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, bassist Greta Brinkman and drummer Hufknell have reveled in righteous-order aural fuckery since (probably before) their 2010 self-titled demo (review here), and while 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) expanded that form, Enter Venus is in a different class of sonic fullness. A recording job by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris positions the guitar and bass at the fore with Hufknell‘s cymbal wash behind and the vocals calling out as through trapped within the barrage of languid, drawling riffs.

On headphones, Enter Venus is all the more consuming, through the opening “Grievous Heaving” — still the best description I’ve encountered for Druglord‘s sound — and “Feast on the Eye” on side A, but particularly into the depths of side B’s “Enter Venus” and the closing “Let us Bleed.” This is something that was true of STB‘s limited tape version (review here), but while the tape benefited from the claustrophobic compression of the format, the LP — set for 45RPM presumably so that if you want to play it even more inhumanely slow than it already is, you can — likewise capitalizes on the expansive breadth and clarity. It’s like staring at a really clear blur. Hamilton, Brinkman and Hufknell shift into ambience here and there, as on the title-track, but the sense of plod is never completely gone, and at atmosphere of horror emerges not just because the lyrics (presented in the inner sleeve) throw in lines like “Rest in pieces/Ripped up and thrown in the grave” in “Let us Bleed” and “Haunt me forever/Demons underneath my skin” in “Grievous Heaving.” Vocals are often indecipherable without the lyric sheet. It’s the overarching dreadful impression of the vocals along with the morass of distortion, all of it taken together, that results in the brutal sensibility.

All told, the LP checks in at 27 minutes, so one could hardly accuse it of overstaying its welcome, but even just with two songs on each side and both sides clocking in under 15 minutes, there’s no lack of substance. An opening sample gives darkly religious overtones and from there it’s a slow-motion slaughter. Still, the vivid colors of the packaging in which Enter Venus arrives suit it well, playing to the psychedelic elements brought through in the recording, which even if they’re brought forth in a grueling, wretched manner hold strong to an otherworldly feel. It just so happens that the other world is populated by monsters.

Today I have the extreme pleasure in addition to checking out the vinyl itself of hosting a full stream of the album. Find it on the player below and please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Enter Venus LP is available now for preorder through STB Records and will be released Feb. 22. More info at the following links:

Druglord on Thee Facebooks

Druglord’s BigCartel store

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

STB Records’ BigCartel store

Tags: , , , , ,

10 Days of SHoD XIII, Pt. 5: Druglord, Enter Venus Limited Tape

Posted in Duuude, Tapes!, Features on October 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

You can turn on the “noise reduction” if you want when you’re listening to Richmond trio Druglord‘s new Enter Venus tape, but be warned that if you do, there might not be anything left. The cave-echo sludge three-piece will play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII at Strange Matter in their hometown on Thursday, Nov. 7, with fellow Richmonders Gritter, as well as Compel, Clamfight and others, and they bring a presence to the festival like few others. Released in limited edition by STB Records, Enter Venus follows behind 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut demo (review here), and if I call it their most solidified outing yet, please take that in the appropriate context of viciously misanthropic and lurchingly cavernous sludge. The three-piece band of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton, bassist Greta Brinkman and drummer Hufknell may be cohesive across the four songs recorded by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris at The Darkroom in Richmond, but their pummel continues molten and unhinged.

Starting with a snare fill from Hufknell, the title-track — third of the four cuts included on Enter Venus and the first on side 2 — is Southern sludge as filtered through a nightmare, but a guitar solo emerges on an almost hopeful note from the morass of distortion and plod. Like everything else in the song’s path, it’s ultimately consumed, but it’s flashes like this that mark out the development in Druglord‘s approach, and the complementing nod is the most hypnotic they’ve concocted to date. Hamilton‘s vocals echo from the depths of the mix, consistent in their approach but not entirely amelodic, and he seems to be setting himself up for more sonic adventurousness their next time out. In his and Brinkman‘s tone, there’s bound to be some similarity to Windhand‘s Soma, the two releases having both been helmed by Morris, but Druglord maintain a more misanthropic resonance from their earlier works, though the lyrics of the songs and the image of Aleister Crowley screenprinted onto the hand-numbered bag in which the cassette arrives do give some impression of vague cultish leanings.

Even so, the crash and drown of opener “Grievous Heaving” — a more than fairly apt description of the song itself — mark out this material as Druglord‘s most encompassing. A sample launches the opener, but the first verse of “Grievous Heaving” is quick to arrive and fittingly malevolent, slow, punishing, and “Feast on the Eye,” which follows as the second half of side 1, is perhaps more atmospheric, but ultimately similarly minded in its dreary course. If one encounters it or any of this material through a player with substantive low end, then a warning is in order. One hardly thinks of tapes as busting woofers or sounding big, but whether it’s Brinkman‘s low end or Hufknell‘s kick, Enter Venus makes a considerable sonic presence for itself and is all the more threatening at loud volumes, the organ that shows up layered into “Feast on the Eye” giving creepy classicism to what’s already a cinematic-feeling horror show.

As I understand it, the Enter Venus tapes are almost gone if they’re not gone already, but even of Druglord don’t have any on hand for SHoD, there will be a vinyl version of Enter Venus coming early in 2014. Think of the cassette as an early warning alert system ahead of that, and hopefully a harbinger of where Druglord‘s continued progression might be leading them for their next outing.

Druglord, “Feast on the Eye” from Enter Venus (2013)

Stoner Hands of Doom XIII

Druglord on Thee Facebooks

Druglord on Bandcamp

STB Records

Tags: , , , , ,