Quarterly Review: Geezer, Spaceslug, Expo Seventy, Boss Keloid, Bong-Ra, Zebu, Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, LáGoon, Maha Sohona, The Bad Sugar Rush

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Oh my breaking heart as we move into day seven of the Summer 2021 Quarterly Review and I am reminded that the wages of hubris are feeling like a dumbass later. I was loading up my laptop on Saturday — so pleased with how ahead-of-the-game I was able to stay all last week — when the thing decided it was gonna give itself some time off one way or the other.

I dropped it for repair about 20 minutes before the guy I’ve come to trust was closing shop. He said he’d be in touch on Monday. Needless to say, I’m on my backup cheapie Chromebook, reviewing off Bandcamp streams, eagerly awaiting that call which I can only hope has come in by the time this is posted. I’ll keep you in the loop, of course, but putting together the reviews for yesterday? That was not pretty.

I expressly thank The Patient Mrs., through whom all things are possible.

Onward.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Geezer, Solstice

Geezer Solstice

Geezer‘s ambition could hardly be clearer in their 17-minute “Solstice” jam. It was the Solstice — Winter 2020, to be specific — and the Kingston, New York, trio jammed. Guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington (who doesn’t sing on the track) added some dreamy synth after the fact, and the affect is all the more hypnotic for it. Harrington, bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Steve Markota are no strangers to exploratory fare, as they showed on 2020’s righteous Groovy (review here), and as a Bandcamp Friday-era stopgap offering, “Solstice” brings a sampling of who they are in the rehearsal space, willing to be heavy, willing to not, ready to go where the music leads them. If Geezer wanted to do a whole full-length like this, I wouldn’t fight them, so you most definitely will not find me arguing against a digital single either. With jams this tasty, you take what you can get.

Geezer on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Spaceslug, The Event Horizon

spaceslug the event horizon

Issued less as a stopgap, which a digital-only single might normally be, than as a response to the band having lost gear in a practice space flood, the 8:52 single-song outing The Event Horizon was recorded at the same time as Spaceslug‘s late 2020 EP The Leftovers (review here) and in a way acts to bridge the melancholy beyond-genre push of that release with the more weighted, spacious roll that has typified the Polish outfit’s work to-date — their latest full-length was 2019’s Reign of the Orion (review here), and they recently finished a new one. So perhaps “The Event Horizon,” with its hypnotically languid rhythm and concluding drift, is a stopgap after all, but between helping the band recoup their losses and thinking of what might be coming next, it’s an exciting if not-unalloyed listening experience, and the three-piece move deeper into a signature sound even as they continue to bring the definition of what that means to new places.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Expo Seventy, Evolution

Expo Seventy Evolution

Creating sometimes-scorching, droning psychedelic soundtracks to all your favorite classic sci-fi films that never existed, Kansas City’s Expo Seventy offer a call to worship for freaks and converted heads on their new album, Evolution. Still headed by guitarist James Wright as on late-2016’s America Here and Now Sessions (review here), the band offer new glories celestial and terrestrial instrumental chemistry throughout the six tracks (seven on the CD) of Evolution, lumbering away on “Echoes of Ether” only after floating in brass-section antigrav conditions on “The Slow Death of Tomorrow.” Can you hang? You’ll know one way or the other as the culminating duo “Second Vision, First Sight” and “First Vision, Second Sight” are done with you, having altered dimensions so thoroughly that the ethereal will either come to feel like home or you will simply have melted. In any case, lash yourself to it. Own that shit.

Expo Seventy on Facebook

Essence Music on Bandcamp

 

Boss Keloid, Family the Smiling Thrush

boss kelod family the smiling thrush

Peak-era Faith No More reborn in progressive heavy fuzz? What stoner rock might’ve been if it went to college instead of spending all that time hanging around talking about old cars? I don’t know where UK four-piece Boss Keloid ultimately stand on their admirable fifth LP, Family the Smiling Thrush — the follow-up to 2018’s also-well-received Melted on the Inch (review here) — but they most certainly stand on their own. Across seven tracks, the band careen, crash, lumber, rush and ponder — lyrics no less worth a close read than any other component — and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Orang of Noyn” on, they make it abundantly clear that their style’s unpredictability is an asset, and that just because you might not know where they’re going next doesn’t mean they don’t. Melodic, complex and cerebral, there’s still a human presence here, a sense of a plan unfolding, that makes the album seem all the more masterful.

Boss Keloid on Facebook

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Bong-Ra, Antediluvian

BONG-RA Antediluvian

Though it’s ultimately less electric-kool-aid than endless-churning-abyss-with-psychdelic-saxophone-screaming-up-at-you-like-free-jazz-trapped-in-the-downward-tonal-spiral, Bong-Ra‘s four-tracker Antediluvian is duly experimentalist in being born out of the mind of Jason Köhnen, whose work on this project not only extends more than 20 years, but who has been a part of landmark Dutch outfits like Celestial Season, The Kilmanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, among scores of others. The procession on this full-length, originally released in 2018 through Svart Lava, is wild times indeed, but immersive despite feeling at times like a litmus for how much you can take, with Köhnen‘s bass/keys/etc. and Balazs Pandi‘s drums meeting with Colin Webster‘s saxophone and Chloe Herrington‘s bassoon, willfully plodding through long-ish form improv-seeming movements of atmospheric heft creation.

Jason Köhnen website

Tartarus Records store

 

Zebu, Reek of the Parvenu

zebu reek of the parvenu

A coherent and forceful debut full-length, Reek of the Parvenu quickly shows the metallic undercurrent from Athens-based four-piece Zebu on opener “The Setting Dust,” and pushes from there in groove metal fashion, taking some impulses from heavy rock but holding largely to a central aggressive stance and tension in the rhythm that is a backdrop even as the later “Nature of Failure” breaks from its chugging shove for a quieter stretch. That is to say, the next punch is always coming, and Zebu‘s blows are effectively delivered — looking at you, “Burden” — though some of the slower, sludgier cuts like “Our Shame” or the doomier finale “The City” bring a welcome atmosphere to go with the coinciding burl. I’m not sure if “People Under the Stairs” wants to kick my ass or crack a beer, but the songwriting is air tight and the thrashy threat only contributes to the immediacy of the release on the whole. They’re not screwing around.

Zebu on Facebook

Zebu on Bandcamp

 

Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, Polaris

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel Polaris

It’s been 11 years since France’s Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel debuted with Soundtrack From the Motion Picture (review here), an engaging, kind of silly play on stoner rock and B-movie tropes. Beneath that, however, it was also a concept album, and the band — who now seem to prefer LDDSM for a moniker — still work from that foundation on their fourth full-length, Polaris. The difference scope and sonic maturity. Rife with vocal harmonies and progressive flourish, the 10-track answer to 2016’s Human Collapse (review here) smoothly shifts between the patient and the urgent, the intimate and the grand — and that’s in the first two minutes of “Blue Giant” alone — finding their way into a proggy post-heavy rock that’s too clearheaded to be psychedelic, but that balances the crunch of “Horizon” with a sense of the otherworldly just the same.

Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

 

LáGoon, Skullactic Visions

LáGoon skullactic visions

With their fourth long-player, guitarist/vocalist Anthony Gaglia and drummer Brady Maurer of Portland, Oregon’s LáGoon welcome bassist Kenny Combs to the fold and dive as a trio — their first three-piece outing was last year’s Father of Death EP — headfirst into murky riffing and heady heavy rock, made all the more spacious through cavern echo and the garage doom vocals Gaglia brings on the title-track, as well as the synth that surfaces on the subsequent interlude “Buried” and elsewhere throughout. The earlier “Beyond the Trees” is particularly bleak and otherworldly, but I won’t take away from the further-down procession of “Hill Bomb” and “The Slow Down” into “Final Ride,” the last of which closes out with scummer doom that’s familiar but distinct enough to be their own. There are moments on Skullactic Visions where, for as much as they could sound like Electric Wizard given the ingredients, I’m all the gladder they don’t.

LaGoon on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Maha Sohona, Endless Searcher

Maha Sohona endless searcher

Maha Sohona‘s second album comes some seven years after their self-titled debut, but who cares about time when you’ve got your headphones on and you’re surrounded by the richness of tone on offer throughout Endless Searcher‘s five rolling tracks? Heavy and laid back, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johan Bernhardtson, bassist Thomas Hedlund and drummer David Lundsten finding some kinship with Polish three-piece Spaceslug in their post-Sungrazer blend of weight and flow, a jam like “Luftslot” nodding and conjuring depth even as it soars. Can’t argue with the quicker push of “A Black Star” or the purposefully straightforward “Scavengers” (where the title-line is delivered) but some of the mellow moments in opener “Leaves” and especially the building instrumental finisher “Orbit X” are even more satisfying for how effectively they move you place to place almost without your realizing it. I’ve got nothing for you if you can’t dig this vibe.

Maha Sohona on Facebook

Made of Stone Recordings on Bandcamp

 

The Bad Sugar Rush, Liar/Push Me

The Bad Sugar Rush Liar Push Me

Keen observers will recognize The Bad Sugar Rush vocalist René Hofmann from his work with Wight, but the work here alongside guitarist Josko Joke-Tovic, bassist Minyeong Fischer and drummer Peter Zettl is distinct from that other unit here, even as the Humble Pie-esque “Push Me” and semi-sleeze “Liar” both have some shade of funk to their procession. Both cuts circa four minutes makes for a suitable debut 7″ with respected purveyor H42 Records doing the honors, and the results are an encouragingly catchy display of what a first full-length might accomplish when and however such a thing emerges. There’s classic heavy rock as the foundation, but more than outright ’70s worship — though some of that too — it’s the organic feel of the songs that leaves an impression on the listener, though the background singers on “Push Me” don’t hurt in that regard, certainly. An auspicious and intriguind first showing.

The Bad Sugar Rush on Facebook

H42 Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Elara Sunstreak Band, Lost Breed, T.G. Olson, Acid Reich, White Powder, Hellish Form, Mosara, Tombstunner, Moanhand, Appalooza

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Second week, locked in and ready to roll. The message of today is that the Quarterly Review goes where it wants when it wants. If I’m steering this ship at all, it’s in only the most passive of ways. I hope you had a good weekend. I hope you spent it listening to killer music. I hope you managed to get all your reviews done. Ha.

So much good stuff to come this week. I’m looking forward to diving into it. And you know what? I did end up adding the extra day, so the Summer 2021 QR will go 11 days instead of 10, bringing it to 110 releases covered. Pretty sure that’s the longest I’ve ever gone.

Better get to it.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Elara Sunstreak Band, Vostok I

Elara Vostok 1

True, Elara Sunstreak Band‘s second album and first for Sulatron Records, dubbed Vostok 1, is not a minor ask at four songs and 72 minutes. But by the time you’re through the 19:44 opener/longest track (immediate points) “Nexus,” the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, drummer Martin Wieland and guitarist/sitarist/synthesist Felix Schmidt have set their course outward and they continue to surprise along the way, from the shimmering Elder-style progressive guitar work in the title-track to the guest vocals of Felix Seyboth nodding at Blind Melon in the crescendo of sitar-laced closer “Orange October.” Even “On a Drink With Jim” manages to thrill with its blend of the terrestrial with the spacious, let alone its Doors homage as hinted in its title. These nuances meld with an overarching hypnosis to create a satisfying depth of presentation on the part of Elara Sunstreak Band, and it becomes all the more a far out journey worth taking.

Elara Sunstreak Band on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Lost Breed, Speak No Evil

Lost Breed Speak No Evil

Classic doom metal from experienced practicioners of the art. Speak No Evil is kind of a curious release. Vinyl only as yet, and self-released by the band, it answers back to the group’s initial Hellhound Records run in the 1990s and also their 1989 Wino Daze demo that featured Scott “Wino” Weinrich on vocals around the same time he left Saint Vitus and restarted The Obsessed. Weinrich appears on vocals and lead guitar throughout the first half of Speak No Evil, fronting the catchy opener “My Way Out” as well as “Thrift Store Girl,” “Cradle to the Grave” and the double-kick-laced “Doom,” which is nothing if not aptly-titled, while guitarist Pat Lydon sings on “Snakebite,” the less outwardly political “Wake the Dead,” “Siren Song” and “Stalker,” the pairing of which feels intentional. One might think the two sides/two-frontmen thing would make the release uneven, or the fact that it was recorded across two coasts, but nah, it’s doom either way and these guys know what they’re doing. Don’t sweat it. Do hope it gets a wider release.

Lost Breed on Facebook

Pat Lydon on YouTube

 

T.G. Olson, T.G. Olson

T.G. Olson T.G. Olson

Though it’s been a minute as he’s reprioritized Across Tundras, embarked on other projects, relocated to Iowa, farmed, and so on, T.G. Olson has still put out enough records under his own name that to have one arrive as a self-titled is significant in itself. Sure enough and somewhat ironically for someone who’s done so much him-and-guitar work in the past, the nonetheless-unassuming 35-minute eight-tracker features more personnel and broader arrangements than one might expect. That’s hardly a detriment, as even the layers of voice on “Steal a Day” come through as benefitting from the attention to detail, and the harmonica-inclusive twang of “Scythe” has its blues all the more emphasized for the clarity of its strum, while closer “Downer Town” invites a singalong. Personnel varies throughout, but the contibutions of Abigail Lily O’Hara (vocals), Ben Schriever (guitar, bass) and Caleb R.K. Williams (synth, guitar, banjo) — all of whom feature in the latest incarnation of Across Tundras as well — aren’t to be understated, as identifiable as Olson‘s songcraft is at the core of this material.

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

 

Acid Reich, Mistress of the Perpetual Harvest

Acid Reich Mistress of the Perpetual Harvest

John McBain, Tim Cronin and Dave Wyndorf — in Dog of Mystery together at the time — would go on to form Monster Magnet a short time after, seemingly on a whim, Acid Reich‘s freakout Mistress of the Perpetual Harvest was put to tape in their rehearsal space as one of a number of “fake” weirdo projects. Listening to these five tracks, including likewise irreverent takes on “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Amazing Grace,” the feel here is like an acid psych treasure trove of Jersey Shore fuckery. Joining the trio were Ripping Corpse‘s Shaune Kelley and Joe Paone of hellSausage, and by their own admission, the audio’s a mess. It’s an archival tape dug up from 1989 — if you’re thinking you’re getting high fidelity, you’re missing at least one of the points of putting it out in the first place. Laced with acid culture samples that may or may not have been added after the fact, this is the first official release this material has ever gotten, and it’s nasty, raw, demo fare that, if it wasn’t so blown into the cosmos you’d call it punk rock. If that doesn’t sound right on to you, it’s probably your loss.

Guerssen Records on Bandcamp

Guerssen Records website

 

White Powder, Blue Dream

white powder blue dream

Based in Austin, Texas, and operatin as the four-piece of guitarist Jason Morales (also Tia Carrera), bassist Win Wallace, keyboardist Ezra Reynolds and drummer Jeff Swanson, White Powder recorded their whoa-this-shit-is-awesome mostly-instrumentalist debut LP, Blue Dream in 2014 and only now is it being at last pressed to vinyl. Given their chosen moniker, the 46-minute/nine-song session is perhaps surprisingly laid back, with the keys/synth and guitar coming together in mellow-prog style atop not-entirely-languid-but-not-overly-insistent grooves; all parties seeming geared toward immersion as much of self as for their listenership, be it in the piano of “Connemara” or the later fuzzer “Rula Jabreal,” where ripplng organ lines top the popping-snare rhythmic tension until the guitar pushes it over the edge of volume swell and wash. Some classic heavy for good measure in “Alice Walker,” but Blue Dream works best taken in its entirety, and listening to it that way, one only hopes they manage to do another in seven years or so. Or seven months. That’d work too. Extra points for the sleek-as-hell soul vocals in the Steely Dan cover “Dirty Work” on side B.

White Powder on Spotify

White Powder on Bandcamp

 

Hellish Form, Remains

Hellish Form Remains

Quarantine-era cross-country duo Hellish Form earn a Khanate comparison on their debut release, Remains, for their sheer unwillingness to pull back from the grueling, punishing tension they create in the slowly unfolding opener/longest track (immediate points) “Your Grave Becomes a Garden.” The dirge is so much forward that it makes the post-Bell Witch lead guitar mourning feel like an afterthought, and the screaming, echoing vocals shared between multi-instrumentalists Willow Ryan (Body Void) and Jacob Lee — who both recorded their parts at home — are a harsh reminder of the existential chaos serving as the background to these songs’ making. “Ache” is shorter and puts synth more forward, and “Shadows with Teeth” thicker and nastier if that’s possible, but through them and the 10-minute finale “Another World,” the feeling of dread, fear, and loss is palpable, and Remains is a fitting name for a record that feels so much like an aftermath.

Hellish Form on Facebook

Translation Loss Records website

 

Mosara, Mosara

Mosara Mosara

Mosara emerge from Phoenix, Arizona, with a sound that just as easily could’ve come down from the mountains as out of the desert, and that’s by no means a complaint. Big riffs promulgate their eight-song self-titled debut LP, and they bring forth aggro sludge undertones alongside lumbering rollout, rawly-captured in the recording but not lacking presence for that, as the mounted chug of “Cypher” demonstrates. Is it heavy enough to crash your hard drive? I’m not trying to lay blame on Mosara‘s riffs or anyone else’s, but apparently there’s only so much assault modern technology can take before falling victim. We’ll call that computer a sacrifice to the eight-minute “Earth God,” its crashing drums and deceptively spacious mix creating a cavernous largesse in spite of the barebones vibe that persists across the span, “Clay and Iron” and “Majestik XII” establishing the atmosphere early but not the full sonic reach of the band, whose plunge is made all the deeper by the High on Fire-style drive of “Oumuamua.” Doesn’t have to be a revolution to fuck you up.

Mosara on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Tombstunner, Call to the Void

Tombstunner Call to the Void

I don’t know if Grand Rapids, Michigan, yet has an officially designated “scourge,” but I’d be happy to see Tombstunner end up with the title. The band’s debut album, Call to the Void, reminds at once of fellow sneering Midwestern chicanery-bringers Bloodcow and also of early ’90s, Blind-era C.O.C., their tones refusing to give themselves over to one side or the other of the argument between metal and heavy rock. Marked out by considered and sometimes willfully clever lyrics, the record strikes with plenty of groove — plenty of “strike,” for that matter — and not an ounce of pretense on pieces like “ASH” or the later “Contempt’s Concrete,” which touches on harsher fare, but again, isn’t really keen to leave its rock foundation behind. They probably make the right choice in that. Eight-minute capper “The Last Ride” is catchy and weighted in kind, seeming to pack as much as possible into its finale as though to let there be no uncertainty the band has more to say. Fair enough. There’s growing to be done, but Call to the Void‘s untamed sensibility is ultimately a strength, not a weakness.

Tombstunner on Facebook

Tombstunner on Bandcamp

 

Moanhand, Present Serpent

moanhand present serpent

Sometimes there’s nothing like a good scream. Moscow-based Roman Filatov has one. The lone figure behind Moanhand can growl, and unlike many harsher metal vocalists, he can also sing, and does so readily across his band’s first album, Present Serpent, but god damn, that’s a good scream. Enviable. Comprised of six tracks, Present Serpent is as progressive as it is extreme, as doom as it is any number of other microgenres, and despite the formidable and varied nature of his performances throught — second track “The Charmthrower” has more scope than many bands do in an entire career arc — he does not fail to put songwriting first ahead of either technique or impact. Present Serpent will not hit a nerve with everyone, but the lumbering “Raw Blessings” and the atmosludge metal of finisher “The Boomering of Serpents,” calling back to opener “Serpent Soul (A Tale of Angels’ Slaughter)” in semi-blackened throb, just leaves me wondering why the hell not. On the level of Moanhand‘s forward potential alone — never mind any of the actual songs — it is a staggering debut.

Moanhand on Facebook

Moanhand on Bandcamp

 

Appalooza, The Holy of Holies

appalooza-the-holy-of-holies-cover

The percussion nuance and guitar lick nodding at Morricone in opener “Storm” amid all the post-Alice in Chains vocal arrangements should be a signal of the reach France’s Appalooza bring to their second LP and Ripple debut, The Holy of Holies. To wit, the subsequent “Snake Charmer” is off and careening almost immediately on its own path, and it’s commendable on the band’s part that where they go on the burlier “Reincarnation” and the more spacious “Nazareth” and the centerpiece “Conquest” — which starts out particularly hard-hitting and by the time it’s done is given over to standalone acoustic guitar without sounding disjointed in getting there — remains so seemingly even-handed in its delivery. Their material is considered, then. It proves no less so through the brash/tense “Azazael,” the desert-but-not “Distress” and “Thousand Years After,” which is a melodic highlight even among the many other surrounding. Tasked with summarizing, closer “Canis Majoris” answers “Conquest” with melancholy and heft, its ending satisfying in an emotional context in additing to being a well earned sonic payoff.

Appalooza on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

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Quarterly Review: Howling Giant, Rose City Band, The Tazers, Kavrila, Gateway, Bala, Tremor Ama, The Crooked Whispers, No Stone, Firefriend

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You know what? We’re through the first week of the Quarterly Review as of this post. Not too bad. I feel like it’s been smooth going so far to such a degree that I’m even thinking about adding an 11th day comprised purely of releases that came my way this week and will invariably come in next week too. Crazy, right? Bonus day QR. We’ll see if I get there, but I’m thinking about it. That alone should tell you something.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Day five commence.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

Let the story be that when the pandemic hit, Nashville’s Howling Giant took to the airwaves to provide comfort, character and a bit of ‘home’ — if one thinks of live performance as home — to their audience. With a steady schedule of various live streams on Twitch, some playing music, some playing D&D, the band engaged their listenership in a new and exciting way, finding a rare bright point in one of the darkest years of recent history. Alteration, a crisp four-song/20-minute EP, is born out of those streamed jams, with songs named by the band’s viewers/listeners — kudos to whoever came up with “Luring Alluring Rings” — and, being entirely instrumental from a band growing more and more focused on vocal arrangements, sound more like they’re on their way to being finished than are completely done. However, that’s also the point of the release, essentially to showcase unfinished works in progress that have emerged in a manner that nobody expected. It is another example from last year-plus that proves the persistence of creativity, and is all the more beautiful for that.

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

 

Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

Vaguely lysergic, twanging with a non-chestbeating or jingoistic ’70s American singer-songwriter feel, Rose City Band‘s Earth Trip brings sentiment without bitterness in its songs, engaging as the title hints with nature in songs like “Silver Roses,” “In the Rain,” “Lonely Planes,” “Ramblin’ with the Day,” “Rabbit” and “Dawn Patrol.” An outlet for Ripley Johnson, also of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, the “band” isn’t so much in Rose City Band, but there is some collaboration — pedal steel here and there, as on “Ramblin’ with the Day” — though it’s very much Johnson‘s own craft and performance at the core of this eight-song set. This is the third Rose City Band long-player in three years, but quickly as it may have come about, the tracks never feel rushed — hushed, if anything — and Johnson effectively casts himself in among the organic throughout the proceedings, making the listener feel nothing if not welcome to join the ramble.

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

Johannesburg, South Africa’s The Tazers are suited to a short-release format, as their Dream Machine EP shows, bringing together four tracks with psychedelic precociousness and garage rock attitude to spare, with just an edge of classic heavy to keep things grooving. Their latest work opens with its languid and lysergic title-track, which sets up the shove of “Go Away” and the shuffle in “Lonely Road” — both under three and a half minutes long, with nary a wasted second in them, despite sounding purposefully like tossoffs — and the latter skirts the line of coming undone, but doesn’t, of course, but in the meantime sets up the almost proto-New Wave in the early going on “Around Town,” only later to give way to the band’s most engaging melody and a deceptively patient, gentle finish, which considering some of the brashness in the earlier tracks is a surprise. A pleasant one, though, and not the first the three-piece have brought forth by the time they get to the end of Dream Machine‘s ultra-listenable 16-minute run.

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud

 

Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

Pressed in an ultra-limited edition of 34 tapes (the physical version also has a bonus track), Kavrila‘s Rituals III brings together about 16 minutes of heavy hardcore and post-hardcore, a thickened undertone giving something of a darker mood to the crunch of “Equality” as guitars are layered in subtly in a higher register, feeding into the urgency without competing with the drums or vocals. Opener “Sunday” works at more of a rush while “Longing” has more of a lurch at least to its outset before gradually elbowing its way into a more careening groove, but the bridge being built is between sludge and hardcore, and while the four-piece aren’t the first to build it, they do well here. If we’re picking highlights, closer “Elysium” has deft movement, intensity and atmosphere in kind, and still features a vocal rawness that pushes the emotional crux between the verses and choruses to make the transitions that much smoother. The ending fades out early behind those shouts, leaving the vocals stranded, calling out the song’s title into a stark emptiness.

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp

 

Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

Brutal rebirth. Robin Van Oyen is the lone figure behind Bruges, Belgium-based death-doom outfit Gateway, and Flesh Reborn is his first EP in three years. Marked out with guest guitar solos by M., the four-track/25-minute offering keeps its concentration on atmosphere as much as raw punishment, and while one would be correct to call it ‘extreme’ in its purpose and execution, its deathliest aspects aren’t just the growling vocals or periods of intense blast, but the wash of distortion that lays over the offering as a whole, from “Hel” through “Slumbering Crevasses,” the suitably twisting, later lurching “Rack Crawler” and the grandeur-in-filth 12-minute closing title-track, at which point the fullness of the consumption is revealed at last. Unbridled as it seems, this material is not without purpose and is not haphazard. It is the statement it intends to be, and its depths are shown to be significant as Van Oyen pulls you further down into them with each passing moment, finally leaving you there amid residual drone.

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website

 

Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

Admirably punk in its dexterity, Bala‘s debut album, Maleza, arrives as a nine-track pummelfest from the Spanish duo of guitarist/vocalist Anx and drummer/vocalist V., thickened with sludgy intent and aggression to spare. The starts and stops of opener “Agitar” provide a noise-rock-style opening that hints at the tonal push to come throughout “Hoy No” — the verse melody of which seems to reinvent The Bangles — while the subsequent “X” reaches into greater breadth, vocals layered effectively as a preface perhaps to the later grunge of “Riuais,” which arrives ahead of the swaggering riff and harsh sneer of “Bessie” the lumbering finale “Una Silva.” Whether brooding in “Quieres Entrar” or explosive in its shove in “Cien Obstaculos,” Maleza offers stage-style energy with clarity of vision and enough chaos to make the anger feel genuine. There’s apparently some hype behind Bala, and fair enough, but this is legitimately one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2021.

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website

 

Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

French prog-fuzz five-piece Tremor Ama make a coherent and engaging debut with Beneath, a first full-length following up a 2017 self-titled EP release. Spacious guitar leads the way through the three-minute intro “Ab Initio” and into the subsequent “Green Fire,” giving a patient launch to the outing, the ensuing four songs of which grow shorter as they go behind that nine-minute “Green Fire” stretch. There’s room for ambience and intensity both in centerpiece “Eclipse,” with vocals echoing out over the building second half, and both “Mirrors” and “Grey” offer their moments of surge as well, the latter tapping into a roll that should have fans of Forming the Void nodding both to the groove and in general approval. Effectively tipping the balance in their sound over the course of the album as a whole, Tremor Ama showcase an all-the-more thoughtful approach in this debut, and at 30 minutes, they still get out well ahead of feeling overly indulgent or losing sight of their overarching mission.

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp

 

The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

Delivered on multiple formats including as a 12″ vinyl through Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, the bleary cultistry of The Crooked Whispers‘ two-songer Dead Moon Night also finds the Los Angeles-based outfit recently picked up by Ripple Music. If it seems everybody wants a piece of The Crooked Whispers, that’s fair enough for the blend of murk, sludge and charred devil worship the foursome offer with “Hail Darkness” and the even more gruesome “Galaxy of Terror,” taking the garage-doom rawness of Uncle Acid and setting against a less Beatlesian backdrop, trading pop hooks for classic doom riffing on the second track, flourishing in its misery as it is. At just 11 minutes long — that’s less than a minute for each inch of the vinyl! — Dead Moon Night is a grim forecast of things to come for the band’s deathly revelry, already showcased too on last year’s debut, Satanic Whispers (review here).

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

Schooled, oldschool doom rock for denim-clad heads as foggy as the distortion they present, No Stone‘s debut album, Road into the Darkness, sounds like they already got there. The Rosario, Argentina, trio tap into some Uncle Acid-style garage doom vibes on “The Frayed Endings,” but the crash is harder, and the later 10-minute title-track delves deeper into psychedelia and grunge in kind, resulting in an overarching spirit that’s too weird to be anything but individual, however mmuch it might still firmly reside within the tenets of “cult.” If you were the type to chase down a patch, you might want to chase down a No Stone patch, as “Devil Behind” makes its barebones production feel like an aesthetic choice to offset the boogie to come in “Shadow No More,” and from post-intro opener “Bewitched” to the long fade of “The Sky is Burning,” No Stone balance atmosphere and songcraft in such a way as to herald future progress along this morose path. Maybe they are just getting on the road into the darkness, but they seem to be bringing that darkness with them on the way.

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp

 

Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

Dead Icons is the sixth full-length from Brazilian psychedelic outfit Firefriend, and throughout its 10 songs and 44 minutes, the band proffer marked shoegaze-style chill and a sense of space, fuzzy and molten in “Hexagonal Mess,” more desert-hued in “Spin,” jangly and out for a march on “Ongoing Crash.” “Home or Exile” takes on that question with due reach, and “Waves” caps with organ alongside the languid guitar, but moments like “Tomorrow” are singular and gorgeous, and though “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” and “666 Fifth Avenue” border on playful, there’s an overarching melancholy to the flow, as engaging as it is. In its longest pieces — “Tomorrow” (6:05) and “One Thousand Miles High” (5:08) — the “extra” time is well spent in extending the trio’s reach, and while it’s safe to assume that six self-recorded LPs later, Firefriend know what they want to do with their sound, that thing feels amorphous, fleeting, transient somehow here, like a moving target. That speaks to ongoing growth, and is just one of Dead Icons‘ many strengths.

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website

 

Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook

 

Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website

 

Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp

 

Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp

 

Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp

 

Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp

 

Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook

 

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Crown, Noêta, Polymerase, Lucid Sins, Hekate, Abel Blood, Suffer Yourself, Green Dragon, Age Total

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

This will be a two-week Quarterly Review. That means this Monday to Friday and next Monday to Friday, 10 releases per day, totaling 100 by the time it’s done.

Me? I’m taking it one week, one day, one album at a time. It’s the only way to go and not have it seem completely insurmountable. But we’ll get through it all. I started out with the usual five days, and then I went to seven, then eight, and at that point I felt like I had a pretty good idea where things were headed. The last two days I filled up just at the end of last week. Some of it is I think a result of quarantine productivity, but there’s a glut of relevant stuff out now and some of it I’m catching up on, true, but some of it isn’t out yet either, so it’s a balance as ever. I keep telling myself I’m done with 2020 releases, but there’s one in here today. You know how it goes.

And since you do, I won’t delay further. Thanks in advance for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Night Pillers

carlton melton night pillers

Rangey mellow psych collected together with the natural shimmer of a Phil Manley (Trans Am) recording and a John McBain master, the new mini-LP from Mendocino medicine makers Carlton Melton is a 31-minute, five-song meditative joy. To wit, “Safe Place?” Is. “Morning Warmth?” Is, even with the foreboding march of drums behind it. And “Striatum,” which closes with interplay of keys and fuzzy leads and effects, giving a culminating seven-minute wash that doesn’t feel like it’s pushing far out so much as already gone upon arrival, indeed seems like a reward for any head or brain that’s managed to make it so far. Opener “Resemblance” brings four minutes of gentle drone to set the mood ahead of “Morning Warmth” — it might be sunrise, if we’re thinking of it that way — and centerpiece “High Noon Thirty” bridges krauty electronic beats and organic ceremony that feels both familiar and like the band’s own. They may pill at night, but Carlton Melton have a hell of a day here.

Carlton Melton on Facebook

Agitated Records website

 

Crown, The End of All Things

Crown The End of All Things

Weaving in and around genres with fluidity that’s tied together through dark industrial foundations, Crown are as much black metal as they are post-heavy, cinematic or danceable. “Gallow” or the earlier “Neverland” call to mind mid-period, electronica-fascinated Katatonia, but “Extinction” pairs this with a more experimental feel, opening in its midsection to more unsettling spaces ahead of the dance-ready finish. There’s nothing cartoonish or vamp about The End of All Things, which is the French outfit’s fourth album in 10 years, and it’s as likely to embrace pop (closer “Utopia”) as extremity (“Firebearer” just before), grim atmospherics (“Nails”) or textured acoustics (“Fleuve”), feeling remarkably unconcerned with genre across its 45 entrancing minutes, and remarkably even in its approach for a sound that’s still so varied. It’s not an easy listen front to back, but the challenge feels intentional and is emotional as much as cerebral in the craft and performance.

Crown on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Noêta, Elm

Noêta elm

Swedish duo Noêta offer their second record for Prophecy Productions in Elm, comprising a deceptively efficient eight songs and 38 minutes that work in atmospheres of darker but not grim or cultish folk. Vocalist Êlea is very much a focal point in terms of performance, with Andris‘ instrumentals forming a backdrop that’s mournful on “Above and Below” while shimmering enough to bring affirmation to “As We Are Gone” a short while later ahead of the electrified layering in “Elm” and the particularly haunted-feeling closer “Elm II.” “As I Fall Silent” is a singularly spacious moment, but not the only one, as “Fade” complements with strings and outward-sounding guitar, and some of Elm‘s most affecting moments are its quietest stretches, as “Dawn Falls” proves at the outset and the whispers of “Elm” reaffirm on side B. Subdued but not lacking complexity, Noêta‘s songs make an instrument of mood itself and are pointedly graceful in doing so.

Noêta on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

 

Polymerase, Unostentatious

Polymerase Unostentatious

Unostentatious, which is presumably not to say “humble,” may or may not be Polymerase‘s debut release, but it follows on from several years of inactivity on the part of the Philippines-based mostly-instrumentalist heavy psych trio. The band present four duly engaging and somewhat raw feeling jams, with a jump in volume as “Lightbringer//Lightgiver” picks up from “A Night with a Succubus” and opener “The Traveler” and a final touch of thickened, fuzzy sludge in the rolling “Green is the Color of Evil,” which closes at a lurch that comes across at significant remove from the title-hinted brightness of the song just before it. Uneven? Maybe, but not egregiously so, and if Polymerase are looking to give listeners an impression of their having a multifaceted sound, they most assuredly do. My question is over what span of time these tracks were recorded and what the group will do in moving forward from them, but I take the fact that I’m curious to find out at all as a positive sign of having interest piqued. Will hope for more.

Polymerase on Facebook

Polymerase on Bandcamp

 

Lucid Sins, Cursed!

lucid sins cursed

Lucid indeed. The band’s self-applied genre tag of “adult AOR” is more efficient a descriptor of their sound than anything I might come up with. Glasgow’s Lucid Sins released their acclaimed debut, Occultation, in 2014, and Cursed! is the exclamatory seven-years-later follow-up, bringing together classic progressive rock and modern cult heavy sensibilities with a focus on songwriting that’s the undercurrent from “Joker’s Dance” onward and which, as deep as “The Serpentine Path” or the title-track or “The Forest” might go, is never forgotten. To wit, the penultimate “By Your Hand” is a proto-everything highlight, stomping compared to the organ-prog “Sun and the Moon” earlier, but ultimately just as melodic and of enviable tonal warmth. Seven years is a long time between records, and maybe this material just took that long to put together, I don’t know, but I had no idea “cult xylophone” was a possibility until “The Devil’s Sign” came along, and now I’m not sure how I ever lived without it.

Lucid Sins on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

 

Hekate, Sermons to the Black Owl

Hekate Sermons to the Black Owl

Australia’s history in heavy rock and roll is as long as that of heavy rock and roll itself and need not be recounted here, except to say that Hekate, from Canberra and Sydney, draw from multiple eras of it with their debut long-player, Sermons to the Black Owl, pushing ’70s boogie over the top with solos on “Carpathian Eagle” only after “Winter Void” and “Child of Black Magick” have seen the double-guitar-and-let’s-use-both four-piece update nascent doom vibes and “Burning Mask” has brought a more severe chug to the increasingly intense procession. A full production sound refuses to let the quick eight-tracker be anything other than modern, and though it’s only 28 minutes long, the aptly-titled “Acoustic Outro” feels earned atmospherically, even down to the early-feeling cold finish of “Cassowary Dreaming.” The balance may be then, then, then, and now, but the sense of shove that Hekate foster in their songs gives fresh urgency to the tenets of genre they seem to have adopted at will.

Hekate on Facebook

Black Farm Records store

 

Abel Blood, Keeping Pace with the Elephants

Abel Blood Keeping Pace with the Elephants

One does not evoke elephantine images on a heavy record, even on a debut release, if aural largesse isn’t a factor. New Hampshire trio Abel Blood — guitarist/vocalist Adam Joslyn, bassist Ben Cook, drummer Jim DeLuca — are raw in sound on their first EP, Keeping Pace with the Elephants, but the impact with which they land “The Day that Moby Died” at the outset is only encouraging, and to be sure, it’s not the thickest of their wares either. “Enemies” already pushes further, and as centerpiece “UnKnown Variant” would seem to date the effort in advance, it also serves the vital function of moving the EP in a different, more jangly, grungier direction, which is a valuable move with the title cut following behind, its massive cymbals and distorted wash building to a head in time for the nine-minute finale “Fire on the Hillside” to draw together both sides of the approach shown throughout into a parabolically structured jam the middle-placed surge of which passes quickly enough to leave the listener unsure whether it ever happened. They’re messing with you. Dig that.

Abel Blood on Facebook

Abel Blood on Bandcamp

 

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide

Suffer Yourself Rip Tide

Begun in 2011 by guitarist/vocalist Stanislav Govorukha and based in Sweden by way of Poland and the Ukraine, death-doom lurchbringers Suffer Yourself are not strangers to longer-form material, but to my knowledge, “Spit in the Chasm” — the opening and longest track (immediate points) on their third record, Rip Tide — is the first time they’ve crossed the 20-minute mark. Time well spent, and by that I mean “brutally spent,” whether its the speedier chug that emerges from the willful slog of the extended piece’s first half or the viciously progressive lead work that tops the precise, cold end of the song that brings final ambience. Side B offers two shorter pieces in “Désir de Trépas Maritime (Au Bord de la Mer Je Veux Mourir),” laced with suitably mournful strings and a fair enough maritime sense of gothic drama emphasized by later spoken word and piano, and the brief, mostly-drone “Submerging,” which one assumes is the end of that plotline playing out. The main consumption though is in “Spit in the Chasm,” and the dimensions of that fissure are significant, figuratively and literally.

Suffer Yourself on Facebook

Aesthetic Death website

 

Green Dragon, Dead of the Night

Green Dragon Dead of the Night

High order Sabbathian doom rock from my own beloved Garden State, there’s very little chance I’m not going to dig Green Dragon‘s Dead of the Night, and true to type, I do. Presented by the band on limited vinyl after digital release late in 2020, the four-song, 24-minute outing brings guitarist/vocalists Zach Kurland and Ryan Lipynsky (the latter also adding keys and known for his work in Unearthly Trance, etc.), bassist Jennifer Klein and drummer Herbert Wiley to a place so dug into its groove it almost feels inappropriate to think of it as a peak in terms of their work to-date. They go high by going low, then. Fair enough. “Altered States” opens with a rollout of fuzz that miraculously avoids the trap sounding like Electric Wizard, while “Burning Bridges” murks out, “The Sad King” pushes speed a bit will still holding firm to nod and echo alike, and “Book of Shadows” plunges into effects-drenched noise like it was one of the two waterslides at the Maplewood community pool in summertime.

Green Dragon on Facebook

Green Dragon on Bandcamp

 

ÂGE TOTAL, ÂGE TOTAL

ÂGE ? TOTAL

The kind of record that probably won’t be heard by enough people but will inspire visceral loyalty in many of those who encounter it, the self-titled debut from French collaborative outfit Age Total — bringing together members from Endless Floods out of Bordeaux and Rouen’s Greyfell — is a grand and engrossing work that pushes the outer limits of doom and post-metal. Bookending opener “Amure” (14:28) and closer “The Songbird” (16:45) around the experimentalist “Carré” (4:06) and rumbling melodic death-doom of “Metal,” the album harnesses grandiosity and nuance to spare, with each piece feeling independently conceived and enlightening to musician and audience alike. It sounds like the kind of material they didn’t know they were going to come up with until they actually got together — whatever the circumstances of “together” might’ve looked like at the time — and the bridges they build between progressive metal and sheer weight of intention are staggering. However much hype it does or doesn’t have behind it, Age Total‘s Age Total is one of 2021’s best debut albums.

Endless Floods on Facebook

Greyfell on Facebook

Soza Label on Bandcamp

 

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Hermit’s Weedsom Release New Album As Above, So Below

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

While I admit I wasn’t expecting a new Hermit’s Weedsom album to drop today — kudos to the Rennes, France-based duo on the oldschool-style Tuesday release day — neither am I sorry to see it. Or to hear it, for that matter. The instrumentalist two-piece impressed late last year with their have-apparently-intended-to-review-it-for-the-last-seven-months debut, He Who Sees in the Dark, and the new offering dives further into weedian nod and fervent push, a song like “Empress Crown” clocking in at just under nine minutes with a hard-hitting forward drive while the earlier “Emperor’s Fall” is pure nodding delight topped with spacious soloing.

They start at a rush with the drum fill at the head of opener “Wheel of Fortune” — and you’ll pardon me if the Karma to Burn comparison feels overly timely, it fits just the same — and hold that momentum all the while, twisting and turning as they go until just-over-nine-minute closer “Luna” rounds out with their most atmospheric stretch. Not a minor journey along the way and clearly not intended to be.

It’s streaming up on their Bandcamp — which I guess is ‘above’ since the player is also ‘below’ at the bottom of this post — and available in a digipak CD with the following nifty art:

hermits weedsom as above so below

As the Emerald Tablet says: “As Above, So Below”.

Guided by the arcane, Hermit’s Weedsom delivers a second stoner/doom prog-infused metal album.

“Follow the cards toward the absolute consciousness point”

The band says: “Hi everyone, 7 months after the release of our 1st album, we are back with a new one. Still instrumental, still self-produced. We put in this record and its 8 tracks, a mix of everything we like to listen to and we hope you will like it too. Take care of yourself! See you soon.”

Tracklisting:
1. Wheel of Fortune 07:31
2. End of Cycle 07:29
3. Broken Chariot 08:08
4. Emperor’s Fall 06:58
5. Hierophant’s Rule 07:40
6. Empress Crown 08:55
7. Eliphas Synthesis 08:30
8. Luna 09:02

Drums : Robin Leplumey
Guitar / Bass : Valentin Cabioch

https://www.facebook.com/HermitsWeedsom
https://www.instagram.com/hermitsweedsomband/
https://hermitsweedsom.bandcamp.com/

Hermit’s Weedsom, As Above, So Below (2021)

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Year of No Light to Release Consolamentum on Pelagic Records July 2

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

year of no light

Well that’s a pretty heavy 12-minute single you’ve got there, Year of No Light. The Bordeaux-based six-piece haven’t issued a full-length since they gave the Vampyr score a once-over in 2013, and to herald the coming of Consolamentum, the band have revealed “Réalgar,” a post-metallic instrumental soundscaper that’s suitably big on atmosphere and impact without losing itself entirely to either. The new album will be their first for Pelagic, and it comes as they mark their 20th anniversary as a band, also releasing a new limited box set that is nothing if not extensive. You know bands are giving it their all when they put the slipmat along with 12 platters in the hand-silkscreened wood box.

What’s really enticing about “Réalgar” — aside from that synth line running beneath the airy guitars — is how short it makes that 12 minutes seem. Didn’t we just set out on this journey, Year of No Light? And already we’re dissolving into gorgeous ambience? They do spend the last couple minutes in that swirl, but don’t be fooled by the lack of drums, there’s still plenty of substance to the proceedings.

Cool beans. (That’s probably something no one else will say about this track, so there. Thanks for reading.) You’ll find the details for the box and Consolamentum below, courtesy of the PR wire:

year of no light consolamentum

Year of No Light announce Consolamentum album and 20th anniversary box set

Bordeaux, FR post-metal sextet joins Pelagic Records w/ heaviest album to date

Bordeaux, France post-metal sextet Year of No Light announce their forthcoming fifth studio album Consolamentum today, sharing the first single “Réalgar” via all DSPs. Hear and share “Réalgar” via Bandcamp, Spotify and YouTube.

Consolamentum is the band’s first album on Pelagic Records. To celebrate joining the label and Year of No Lights’s 20th anniversary, they will release a limited edition deluxe wooden box set of the band’s entire discography, titled Mnemophobia on July 2nd. The handmade, hand-silkscreened wooden box features 12 vinyl LPs in 6 gatefold sleeves, exclusive colored vinyl variants, a slipmat, metal pin, patch and poster. For more information, see HERE: https://pelagic-records.com/product/year-of-no-light-mnemophobia-wooden-lp-boxset/

Year of No Light’s lengthy, sprawling compositions of towering walls of guitars and sombre synths irradiate a sense of dire solemnity and spiritual gravity, and couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for such grim medieval scenarios. But there is also the element of absolution, regeneration, elevation, transcendence in the face of death. Consolamentum is dense, rich and lush and yet somehow feels starved and deprived.

It comes as no surprise that ever since the beginning of their career, the band have had an obsession for the fall of man and salvation through darkness. The term “consolamentum” describes the sacrament, the initiation ritual of the Catharic Church, which thrived in Southern Europe in the 12th – 14th Century – a ritual that brought eternal austereness and immersion in the Holy Spirit.

“There’s a thread running through all of our albums”, says the band, collectively “an exploration of the sensitive world that obeys a certain telos, first fantasized (“Nord”) and reverberated (“Ausserwelt”), then declaimed as a warning (“Tocsin”). The deeper we dig, the more the motifs we have to unveil appear to us. Yes, it’s a bit gnostic. This album is invoked after the Tocsin, it’s the epiphany of the Fall.”

With debut album Nord (2006) and sophomore release Ausserwelt (2010), the band made themselves a name in the European avant-metal scene. Extensive tours of Europe, North America and Russia in 2013 and 2014, including two appearances at Roadburn festival, Hellfest and a spectacular performance in a 17th Century fortress in the Carpathian mountains introduced them to a broader and quickly growing international audience.

With their seminal 3rd album Tocsin, released in 2013, Year Of No Light reached the peak of their career thus far – a logical decision that Consolamentum was made with the same team again: recorded and mixed by Cyrille Gachet at Cryogene in Begles / Bordeaux, mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side.

“We wanted this album to sound as organic and analog as possible”, comments the band. “All tracks were recorded live. The goal was to have the most natural, warm and clean takes possible, to give volume to the dynamics of the songs. We aimed to have a production with a singular personality.”

For the adept listener, Consolamentum seems to be venturing deeper into the dark and claustrophobic spheres explored on Tocsin – but the band doesn’t conceive of the evolution of their music in a linear way, as it would be apparent from looking at their discography.

“It’s more a matter of sonic devotion. Music against modern times. Year Of No Light” is above all a praxis. We wanted intensity, trance, climax and threat, all of them embedded in a bipolar and mournful ethos.”

Consolamentum will be available on 2xLP, CD and digital on July 2nd, 2021 via Pelagic Records. Preorders are available HERE: https://pelagic-records.com/artist/year-of-no-light/

Tracklisting:
01. Objuration
02. Alétheia
03. Interdit aux Vivants, aux Morts et aux Chiens
04. Réalgar
05. Came

https://yearofnolight.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/yearofnolight
https://www.instagram.com/yearofnolightofficial
http://smarturl.it/yearofnolightDGTL
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

Year of No Light, Consolamentum (2021)

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Karkara Announce Fall Shows in France & UK; Live Session Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

KARKARA

French heavy psychedelic rockers Karkara released their second album, Nowhere Land (review here), last Fall through Stolen Body Records, and this Fall, they’ll take to the road to support it. At least a little bit, with a few shows in France and the UK slated for September and October. Hey, if that’s what touring needs to look like right now, I think it’s pretty obvious touring needs to happen one way or the other, so take what you can get.

The trio recently participated in a live studio session — two songs, 14 minutes; nice — whereby they rightly break out the didgeridoo and do it up right. We live in uncertain times, as you well know since you’re alive, but here’s hoping these shows happen, and all shows happen and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts and I don’t know about Nowhere Land but Toulouse sounds pretty nice to me.

Okay, here’s PR wire stuff:

karkara shows

Karkara Live Session & Tour Dates (Stolen Body Records)

A deafening echo that suddenly speaks out of the dust, conveying all the desolation of an endless landscape up to the sky.

A journey for those who like exotic rock to sound viscerally loud, raw and high gained. To blow up the speakers for good. Fuzzed guitar and Buzzing didgeridoo locked with a sped up drums and cranked bass sound that makes you feel like you are riding a spacecraft at full speed between the dunes.

Created in 2017 in Toulouse, France, the threesome takes its inspiration among different rock genres, from the sweet middle eastern psychedelic rock to the raw shattering sounds of garage fuzz and german krautrock.

Even going so far as to use their favorite atypical instrument – the didgeridoo – the three members of KARKARA, like desert wizards, take pleasure in pushing further the boundaries of the genre and take their audience into a mystical and indomitable world.

TRACKS PLAYED :
1 – Deliverance
2 – Space Caravan

Tour – September 9th – October 2nd
Cities :
GAP FR
ROUEN FR
BRIGHTON GB
CHELMSFORD GB
LONDON GB
BRISTOL GB
NEW CASTLE GB
GLASGOW GB
MANCHESTER GB
LEICESTER GB

LINE UP :
Karim Rihani – Guitar , Vocals , Didgeridoo
Hugo Olive – Bass
Maxime Marouani – Drums , Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/karkararock/
https://www.instagram.com/karkara_band/
https://karkara.bandcamp.com/
https://stolenbodyrecords.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/stolenbodyrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/stolenbodyrecords/
https://www.facebook.com/Ghost-Lizard-Diffusion-1003831926422650/

Karkara, Live at Espace d’Albret

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