Swan Valley Heights Premiere “My First Knife Fight” Video; Touring in Oct. with Truckfighters

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SWAN VALLEY HEIGHTS (Photo by Agathe Riener)

We’re coming up quick on the Sept. 6 release date for Swan Valley Heights‘ new album, The Heavy Seed (review here), on Fuzzorama Records, which the Munich-based trio will celebrate in October with a tour alongside Truckfighters — also Fuzzorama honchos — that includes stops at Night of Fuzz, Festsaal KreuzbergKeep it Low and Desertfest Belgium, as well as a swath of club shows. The Heavy Seed is Swan Valley Heights‘ second LP behind a 2016 self-titled (review here), and their first for the new label, and with it, the band capture a warm-toned fuzz and jammy, heavy psychedelic drift that reminds of the potential that once seemed so prevalent in an act like Sungrazer from the Netherlands, perhaps taking a more active role in their own progressivism. Opening with the 13-minute title-track and closing with the 10-minute “Teeth & Waves,” the five-song/41-minute collection is bookended by sprawl that only adds flourish to the nuance of performance in “Vaporizer Woman,” the alternately spaced and heavy rolling centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” — bit of funk there in the second half — and the three-minute “My First Knife Fight,” the shortest track on the release by more than half and something of an aberration in terms of general approach.

Gone is the patient unfolding of “The Heavy Seed” or even the back and forth loud/quiet swaps of “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine.” Each song on the album seems to establish its own take around the central unifying tonal and melodic factors in the band’s sound, but no question “My First Knife Fight” is a standout. It doesn’t quite manifest the sense of aggression or violent threat in the title — though even that feels tongue-in-cheek — but it’s a rocker for sure, with searing lead guitar over top and a forward thrust of low end and drums that establishes its own edge distinct from its surroundings. Then there’s the ending: a sudden dropoff as though the riff blinks out of existence and — poof! — it’s done. That’s not the only cold finish on The Heavy Seed, but it is perhaps the starkest, especially as it seems to come what would otherwise be about halfway through any of the other tracks. Further, as Swan Valley Heights weave between instrumental and vocalized material, the overarching flow they conjure isn’t to be understated, and neither is the willful-seeming cut thereof in “My First Knife Fight.” At no point are they lacking groove, but what the penultimate track shows clearest is that with their sophomore full-length, Swan Valley Heights are ready to manipulate that to suit a variety of purposes in their creation.

So much the better when it comes to the album overall. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, watch out when taking on the colors-do-interpretive-dance clip below for “My First Knife Fight,” but again, the song itself is pretty short, so whether you just put it on and check out the track or stare at the screen and get hypnotized by the washes of I’m-not-quite-sure-what that appear there, I think you’ll be fine. You know what you’re up for.

Either way, please enjoy:

Swan Valley Heights, “My First Knife Fight” official video premiere

Taken from the album ‘the Heavy Seed’ out Sept 6th 2019.
Order your physical copy from www.fuzzoramastore.com

The band is touring as support to Truckfighters in Europe October 2019. Get your ticket: www.truckfighters.com/dates-2

OCT 4 NIGHT OF FUZZ, Linz, Austria
OCT 5 NIGHT OF FUZZ, Wien, Austria
OCT 6 Beatpol, Dresden, Germany
OCT 8 Hydrozagadka, Warszawa, Poland
OCT 9 Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany
OCT 10 Knust, Hamburg, Germany
OCT 11 Universum, Stuttgart, Germany
OCT 12 Keep it Low festival, München, Germany
OCT 13 Helios 37, Köln, Germany
OCT 14 The Garage, London, United Kingdom
OCT 16 Petit Bain, Paris, France
OCT 17 Le Ferrailleur, Nantes, France
Oct 18 Desertfest Belgium, Antwerpen, Belgium

Video credits:
8mm and Acid Operator: Tiago Margaça
tiagomargaca.com
Editor: Alexander Häring
Dark Fox Production
dark-fox-production.com

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed (2019)

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Swan Valley Heights on Instagram

Swan Valley Heights on Bandcamp

Fuzzorama Records website

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt (2004)

You might be forgiven if you’ve never heard Germany’s Weltraumstaunen. The band formed in 1998 around Growing Seeds members Andi and Silke Heinrich and Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, then of Liquid Visions, Zone Six and probably 10 or 20 others, and released a self-titled album in 1999. It would be five years, the dissolution of Growing Seeds — in which Schmidt had also taken up the drummer role — and the end of the marriage between Andi and Silke before Weltraumstaunen would issue a second record, Weltraumwelt, as the two-piece of Andi Heinrich and Dave Schmidt. The album is part of the mighty earlier-years catalog of Nasoni Records, along with acts like Vibravoid, Zendik Farm Orgaztra, Liquid Visions, and many others (the label began in 1996), and was made by exchanging recordings via tape — not files, tapes; remember this would’ve been nascent times for broadband speeds — between Berlin and Bayreuth, further south.

That distance, and the fact that the distance mattered, becomes crucial to understanding Weltraumwelt‘s aesthetic and just exactly how Weltraumstaunen wound up where they got in terms of sound. The second album was somewhat more adventurous than the first — though nothing against that record either — and found its strongest moments in a forward-looking kraut and space rock; the swirling effects, hard-strummed funky wah and a steady groove on the title-track indicative of the far-outness to which Weltraumstaunen was aligned, but really just the barest indication of some of the more experimental side of the nine-track/48-minute collection, which showed itself perhaps most of all in the 14-minute anything-goes sprawl of “Farfisadelic.” With steady pulsations of synth emerging amid flourish of backwards guitar and other atmospherics, that cut was by far the deepest journey into cosmic vacuum that the two-piece made, and its anti-apex resolution in an almost-standalone line of piano and effects drift proved clearly that Weltraumstaunen weren’t simply about a linear build or about capturing the rush of space rock. Their five-year mission was more varied in its course, with opener “Black Dove Part I” and closer “Black Dove Part II” dug into a vision of heavy psychedelia that by now feels prescient of what a German band like Samsara Blues Experiment would go on to do in their beginning stages, or even Schmidt‘s own Electric Moon, jam-based as that would be.

Not only that, but the moody prog of “Doors” and the acoustic/electric swirl of centerpiece “Wizard vs. Time” brought a classic feel to the proceedings and offered a grounding effect compared not just to “Farfisadelic” still to come, weltraumstaunen weltraumweltbut to the minimalist drone of “Introfernale” which followed or the earlier bass throb in the freaked out noisemaker “Hoffmans Mahl (The Dwarves of Yore)” and the resoundingly ambient “Floating in Space,” the latter of which gave its earthy, folkish strum a chance to really bring the album to earth at its midpoint, which “Wizard vs. Time” ultimately succeeded in doing, in sound if not theme. They didn’t rush back to ground by any means, rolling through “Introfernale,” “Weltraumwelt” and “Farfisadelic” before finding their way into “Black Dove Part II,” and in the interplay between vocalized and instrumental songs, the openness of the structures and the overall diversity of mood between their tracks, Weltraumstaunen were able to accomplish the rare feat of uniting their material through its very differences, setting the expectation early between “Black Dove Part I” and “Doors” that the band could and would follow their whims wherever they might go. They went, of course, to space. And floated there.

But the connections to classic prog, whether in “Black Dove Part I” or “Wizard vs. Time” and “Doors” — the latter also dipping into a kind of ethereal grunge — were key underpinnings to the more try-it-and-see aspects of Weltraumwelt, and where so many bands seem to commit themselves either to a planned songwriting modus or to outright improvisation, Weltraumstaunen refused to choose one over the other. No doubt the distance between Heinrich and Schmidt helped that too — because it’s hard to jam through the mail — but even through trying and subsequently fleshing out initial ideas, their songs were able to take various shapes brought together by a single creative persona, not just a work of genre, but a work that toiled at the edges thereof and seemed more interested in pushing the limits forward than residing comfortably within them.

But again, maybe you’ve heard it and maybe you haven’t. I know I’ve name-dropped Weltraumstaunen a couple times over the years in talking about other things Schmidt has done — and he’s done plenty — but I’ve never actually written about the band, and though I’ve periodically looked for it in YouTube, it wasn’t until a couple months ago that Weltraumwelt actually showed up, so the opportunity hasn’t really been there before now. It’s another album that turns 15 this year, which is kind of staggering to think about, but it came into my life in a box of vinyl from Nasoni that I got when I was doing college radio, and it’s one to which I’ve returned every now and again ever since, as it captured a genuinely open creativity that it’s hard not to find inspiring, its exchange of ideas and will toward seeing them realized, whatever shape they might take, indicative of the passion behind the collaboration in the first place. It might take you a listen or two to get it, but it’s worth that, at least.

Of course, Schmidt, working as Sula Bassana, has gone on to become a principal figure in Germany’s psychedelic underground, whether it’s running his own Sulatron Records imprint or expanding the space rock universe with Electric MoonKrautzone, the revitalized Zone Six and so on. Less clear on what became of Heinrich after Weltraumwelt, which was the last of Weltraumstaunen‘s releases. By the time 2004 came around, Growing Seeds had been done already — though their 1997 album, Miraculous Journey, is worth seeking out if you can find it — and given the creativity on display throughout Weltraumwelt, it’s somewhat surprising not to have heard from him more in the years since. Crazier things have happened than a band like this reemerging from such parts unknown, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, a reissue through Sulatron would most certainly be welcome, and hopefully capture and inspire a new generation of listeners as well.

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

New episode of the Gimme Radio show today at 1PM Eastern. You already saw the playlist. Listen here: http://gimmeradio.com, or on their app.

I like the app, but web works too.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I’m not there, obviously. We’re still doing stuff with the move to NJ from Massachusetts, so yeah, I just couldn’t really get out this time. Next year I’ll do it up properly. But if you’re there, enjoy it. Sick lineup, insane venue, scorching desert heat: the true Psycho experience. Nothing quite like it.

I’m expecting The Pecan up any minute now, so I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet-ish. At the end (maybe the middle?) of next week we’re back in MA to pick up the last of our stuff. One more truck. One more truck. One more truck. That’ll be CDs and whatnot from our storage unit, stuff from The Patient Mrs.’ office at work, and maybe a shitty table to which I have sentimental attachment from the condo. Right now we’re slated to close on the sale on the 23rd. Keep your fingers crossed for us until then. At that point, we live in NJ. That’s home.

There’s a lot on already for next week, which is nice since the earlier part of this week was a little dead. I’d do notes, but frankly I don’t feel like cutting and pasting and rearranging it, so yeah. Zed review, Swan Valley Heights premiere, Stew premiere, Grand Royale video premiere, Von Detta track premiere, on and on. And that’s just Monday and Tuesday. The rest, who the hell knows.

This move has been stressful because it’s been so drawn out, over months rather than days or weeks. We’re up to our eyeballs in boxes and there are more to come, but it’ll be good longer-term. I’m happy The Pecan will grow up here. People look different, sound different, from each other. People speak different languages. It’s like civilization or something. Plus bagels and pizza. So yeah, civilization.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum, radio stream and merch at Dropout.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , ,

Kadavar Take to the West in “The Devil’s Master” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kadavar the devils master

With a release date set for Oct. 11, Kadavar‘s For the Dead Travel Fast is well on its way to being the Berlin trio’s most complex and atmospheric outing to-date, and yet, at the same time, it’s also kind of a return to the vintage production style of their first two records. No question that Kadavar modernized their initial retro sound over their last couple full-lengths — 2017’s Rough Times (review here) most of all — but as their new video for “The Devil’s Master” shows, they’ve not only grown bolder as songwriters, but they’re willing to once again more fully embrace a sonic naturalism in doing so. It is, as the entirety of the album proves, a winning combination.

“The Devil’s Master,” which combines in the video below with the album-intro “The End,” brings a desert-garage-goth vibe to go with its Spaghetti Western visual thematic — an immediate departure from some of the catchy and uptempo beginnings of LPs past, but immersive just the same, and rich in tone and the vocal melodies of guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, who plays one of the three main characters of the cinematic clip, with bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup and drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt filling the other roles, Bouteloup perhaps having the best part, and as usual, the best hat.

I’ll have a full review of For the Dead Travel Fast at some point in the next couple months — hell, with the delayed release, I might even get it posted before it’s out! — but suffice it to say that while “The Devil’s Master” doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of the album, it does capture something essential about its spirit, and that Kadavar have never pushed this kind of engagement with their audience so much to the forefront of their approach before. They succeed with the mastery one has come to expect from them.

Preorder info, tour dates — they’re at Psycho Las Vegas this week — and more background follow the video below, all courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Kadavar, “The Devil’s Master” official video

Kadavar Release Epic Western Music Video For First Single Off For The Dead Travel Fast

Album Now Available For Pre- Order Here: nblast.de/Kadavar-FTDTF

Berlin, Germany-based rock overlords KADAVAR have released the official music video for the song “The Devil’s Master”, the opening track of the band’s highly anticipated new album, For The Dead Travel Fast. The epic western movie styled music video was shot in Fuerteventura and stars actress Lucie Aron as well as the band’s members Lupus, Tiger and Dragon.

Commented the band:

Lupus: “Fuerteventura was the perfect set for the idea to shoot a small Spaghetti Western. In the story, everyone is fighting everyone: there are cutthroats who don‘t trust each other trying to survive in the desert. They are hunted by their enemy, a violent priest who enslaves a young lady, who both of the cowboys admire. In the end, there won‘t be any winners…”

Tiger: “The song is about the worst ideas of the people, the attraction of horror and the seductive scent of the disreputable. Just as it is all too human to feel at the mercy of his fears, so comprehensible it seems to give way to the fascination of evil in the face of death.”

For The Dead Travel Fast will be released on October 11 (initially September 20), 2019 via Nuclear Blast and is now available for pre-order.

The album will be released in various formats:

Limited Box-Set including limited tri-colored vinyl, limited tri-colored bonus vinyl including 4 previously unreleased tracks, CD/Blu-Ray Digi (including the KADAVAR & THE COSMIC RIDERS OF THE BLACK SUN live show, Berlin 2019), Poster, signed photo card, patch, sticker.
CD/Blu-Ray Digi (including the KADAVAR & THE COSMIC RIDERS OF THE BLACK SUN live show, Berlin 2019)
Vinyl (black, beige, bi-colored, cornetto)

Pre-order »For The Dead Travel Fast« and/or accompanying merchandise here!

Recently the band had announced their European headlining tour in support of the album.

KADAVAR – FOR THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
Special Guests: HÄLLAS & PABST
06.11. SE Copenhagen Pumpehuset
07.11. NO Oslo Bla
08.11. SE Göteborg Brewhouse
09.11. SE Stockholm Debaser
10.11. DE Hannover Capitol
12.11. FR Lyon Le CCO
13.11. FR Nantes Le Stéréolux
14.11. FR Paris L’Alhambra
15.11. FR Bordeaux BT 59
16.11. ES Madrid Mon
17.11. ES Barcelona Razzmatazz 2
19.11. FR Strasbourg La Laiterie
20.11. DE Wiesbaden Schlachthof
21.11. DE Nu?rnberg Hirsch
22.11. DE Mu?nchen Backstage Werk
23.11. AT Wien Arena
24.11. DE Dresden Beatpol
25.11. BE Brussels Orangiere at Botanique
27.11. DE Stuttgart LKA Longhorn
28.11. DE Köln Essigfabrik
29.11. DE Hamburg Große Freiheit
30.11. DE Berlin Columbiahalle

KADAVAR’s latest album, Rough Times, was released in late 2017 to global critical acclaim, including live hits like “Die Baby Die,” “Tribulation Nation” and “Into The Wormhole”.

KADAVAR live:
16.08. F St. Nolff – Motocultor Festival
17-18.08. USA Las Vegas, NV – Psycho Las Vegas

Kadavar on Thee Facebooks

Kadavar on Instagram

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

Tags: , , , , ,

Cranial Announce Alternate Endings out Sept. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cranial (Photo by Dominik Morber)

With CD and LP due out through Moment of Collapse Records and cassettes through Sludgelord Records and Hand of Death Records, there’s plenty of backing for Cranial‘s new album, Alternate Endings, which is bound to immediately draw some comparisons to the Hydra Head-style pastiche of post-metal, if only for its cover art. The band have a new trailer posted now that captures some of the ambient sensibility that Alternate Endings will have on offer, but if one goes back and listens to their 2017 outing for Moment of CollapseDark Tower / Bright Lights, there’s plenty of churn and crush to go along with that atmospheric reach. I’d expect no less of the upcoming full-length, though it’s always possible they’ve gone all-out drone as well. Something in the tension of that YouTube clip makes me think there’s a payoff lurking there though. Or maybe it’s the song title “Burning Bridges.”

Either way, one imagines harsh things await in the darkness, and that’s just fine. The PR wire brought the info and the aforementioned trailer:

cranial alternate endings

Sludgy post metal heavyweights CRANIAL reveal album details!

“Alternate Endings” coming September 27th on Moment of Collapse Records

Sludge metal heavyweights CRANIAL return with their sophomore album to be released September 27th by capable Moment of Collapse Records! Risen from the ashes of almighty OMEGA MASSIF, CRANIAL took the best ingredients, created their own sound and developed it even further. Powerful and earth shattering, apocalyptic and destructive, melodies as uplifting as they are depressive – once again the band pushed themselves forward and re?ned their songwriting. Working together with Ghost City Recordings and no one else than Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna) they found the perfect team for setting up their most crushing sound to date!

“Alternate Endings is our most personally output so far. It is about loss, fear and desperation but also about rise and hope. Within these four songs we captured and encapsulated these strong feelings. Working with Ghost City Recordings and Magnus Lindberg was the perfect match for the new album. They helped us with our vision.” the band comments.

Seeing the light of day September 27th on LP, CD via Moment of Collapse Records and tapes on Sludgelord and Hand of Death Records – a glimpse of what to expect can already be heard and seen in a first teaser at THIS LOCATION!

Alternate Endings tracklisting:
1. Faint Voice
2. Unceasing Lack
3. Burning Bridges
4. Holistic Figure

CRANIAL is:
Michael Melchers (guitar)
Julian Weidhaus (bass, vocals)
Cornelius Merlin (drums)
Sebastian Kröckel (guitar)

www.facebook.com/cranialband
www.facebook.com/momentofcollapse
www.momentofcollapse.com

Cranial, Alternate Endings album trailer

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nap to Release Ausgeklingt Oct. 4; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

nap

Okay, so before you go ahead and dig into the album announcement for Nap‘s second record, Ausgeklingt, below, you should understand that it’s been run through a social media translation algorithm, so even the most basic level of idiomatic expression is more or less lost, and it should be read really for confirmation of the most basic details — title, release date, etc. — rather than the description of what the record’s like, where Facebook clearly muddled the verbiage. Sadly, I don’t speak German, so I couldn’t do my own translation, but the news is that Nap are following up their 2016 debut album, Villa (review here), and that they have a song from the new outing streaming now that you can hear at the bottom of this post. That’s pretty neat as far as I’m concerned. As for the rest, with the word matrices and AI grammar and all that, it’s secondary at best.

I’ll hope to have more to come on Ausgeklingt as we get closer to the release date — I’ll be working on spelling it as well — but in the meantime, here’s the art and announcement:

nap Ausgeklingt

Finally! The Oldenburger Trio Nap is ready for their second release: the new album will be named Ausgeklingt (“for sounds”) and will be released on October 04th.

If nap has managed to create a great successor album that doesn’t stand up to the predecessor in anything, but still puts a shot on it. Extensive psychedelic jams meet heavy doom riffs, catchy hooks, and isolated surf sounds. Rounded off by almost ghost-looking vocals. A diverse and varied album that you can fall into and which breastfeeding the heavy needs as well as those after quiet-dreamy parts.

A true trip through darker and lighter corners of space… and we are happy that we will be able to take you with you soon!

So eyes and ears up. More news and tour dates coming soon…

Until then, you can listen to the pre-track “VoiGo” Also nice, right?

The Limited first edition comes in colorful vinyl, including poster and download code or as CD.

https://www.facebook.com/napband/
https://napofficial.bandcamp.com/
http://www.noisolution.de/
https://www.facebook.com/noisolution
https://www.instagram.com/noisolution/

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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

Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser on Bandcamp

 

Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

Giant Dwarf on Thee Facebooks

Giant Dwarf on Bandcamp

 

Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

Wizzerd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

Ian Blurton on Thee Facebooks

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

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

Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

Spillage on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore

 

Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

Mt. Echo on Thee Facebooks

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

 

Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp

 

Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

 

Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

Luna Sol on Thee Facebooks

Slush Fund Recordings webstore

 

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