Delving Finish Recording Second LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Delving, the exploratory progressive side-project of Elder guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, has finished the recording process for a full-length follow-up to 2021’s Hirschbrunnen (review here), slated to release this summer, presumably through Stickman Records. Home base for the yet-untitled offering was Berlin’s widely-utilized-for-good-reason Big Snuff Studio, with Richard Behrens (he’s the reason) at the helm in a returning role as producer, and joining DiSalvo for the venture are multi-instrumentalist Fabien de Menou (who steers his own course into mellow fluidity as the ostensibly-one-man weirdo psych unit Perilymph), and Elder bandmate/low-key-secret-weapon Michael Risberg, who also contributed to the debut three years ago.

They’ll let it rest for a bit, mix, master, then do the whole thing. I read ‘penciled’ below as regards the release date to mean ‘here’s hoping,’ and fair enough. For what it’s worth, Delving are already confirmed to appear at Krach am Bach (also in Germany) the first weekend of August — most likely along with others by now — and if the tour noted in DiSalvo‘s done-tracking announcement below is around that, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that’s loosely around when the album would show up as well. But they gotta mix, master and press it first. So, you know, here’s hoping.

From social media:

delving nick at big snuff studio cropped (Photo by Leon de Backer)

Recording of album II is finished after 9 days of tracking with my stalwart partner in sound Richard Behrens at Big Snuff Studio! I can say with confidence that this is probably the most ‘out there’ record I’ve written: ambitious, perhaps confusingly fluent in genres, densely layered and quite loooong. I guess that’s what happens when you write music in the in-between times over a few years.

I had some great help from Fabien de Menou (from Perilymph) who handled basically all of the keyboard parts on this record as well as Michael Risberg who lent some awesome spacey touches. Thank you guys for your help in pulling this off! Special thanks of course to Richard as well for your patience and assistance in giving flight to ideas.

We’ll return in a few weeks to start picking through the weeds and mixing this thing; a release date is already penciled for late summer and we’ll have some tour dates to announce as well. Looking forward to sharing some new music with the world, as always!

Photo by Leon De Backer

Delving, Hirschbrunnen (2021)

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Daily Thompson Post “I’m Free Tonight” Video; Chuparosa Out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Dortmund heavy rockers Daily Thompson have posted a new video for “I’m Free Tonight,” the first single from their upcoming long-player, Chuparosa, which they traveled to the US Pacific Northwest to record this past December with Tony Reed of Mos Generator/Big Scenic Nowhere. As ever, they’re making it easy to get on board. The black and white performance clip gives the song a suitable late-night-MTV feel, footage of speeding through this or that desert included, and while I get more Fu Manchu than grunge out of the track at least for the first four of the total six minutes — whereas their Spring 2023 standalone single “Raindancer (From Outta Space)” seemed to go the full-Soundgarden — that’s definitely not something you’ll hear me whine about. That I haven’t heard the entire record yet, on the other hand…

You’ll note an actual Fu Manchu connection with “I’m Free Tonight” as well in the late-in-track guest appearance from guitarist Bob Balch — also bandmate to Reed in Big Scenic Nowhere — who seems only to happy to show up and lend some oomph to the back half, which brings a harder-landing bridge before turning back to the chorus as if to remind Daily Thompson are songwriters ahead of that culmination. I’ll say it again, they make it easy. Hook, groove, vibe. Whatever you’re chasing down, they’re here to help.

Right on:

daily thompson i'm free tonight

“Chuparosa”, the fourth DAILY THOMPSON album in four years on Noisolution, will be released on May 17th!!! The guys from Dortmund seem to have not only won our hearts and continue to go full throttle and grow with every release.

Listen to “I`m Free Tonight” here:

More information about the album, the tour, the next single and the strictly limited CLUB100 edition (which will once again be a very special goodie, Trust me!!!) coming soon.

“I’m Free Tonight” is the first herald of the upcoming album. But DAILY THOMPSON are not alone here, because Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Big Scenic Nowhere was in the studio and recorded the solo!!! The album was recorded and mastered in Port Orchard near Seattle by Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed. So it’s hardly surprising that “Chuparosa” smells of Seattle, of 90s alternative, grunge and lumberjack shirts.

Daily Thompson, “I’m Free Tonight” official video

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Insect Ark Announce June 7 Release for Raw Blood Singing LP; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Insect Ark (Photo by Lupus Lindemann)

Shit yeah, new Insect Ark. Admittedly, such a level of insight is hardly befitting for the band founded and spearheaded by the experimentalist craft of Dana Schechter that has come to incorporate no less than Tim Wyskida of Khanate on drums, but I’m just telling you how I honestly feel. And as the former’s vocals guide through the dark reaches of advance-track “Youth Body Swayed” with the punctuating roll of the latter cast amid spaces alternately open and full, the June 7 release of Raw Blood Singing can hardly get here fast enough. This will be the first Insect Ark LP with the Schechter/Wyskida lineup, first for Debemur Morti after releasing 2020’s The Vanishing (review here) on Profound Lore, and I haven’t heard it yet so I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know anything about it.

Accordingly, “shit yeah” is where I land on the subject. Truth be told, I had a whole paragraph here going on about the air eating itself and the world being made across the seven minutes of “Youth Body Swayed,” but it just felt fucking dumb and off-base for where the song actually goes. Maybe by the time the record arrives I’ll have half a coherent thought to share, but, you know, don’t hold your breath.

The PR wire as life preserver:

insect ark raw blood singing


Album preorder:

Insect Ark, featuring Dana Schechter (Swans) and Tim Wyskida (Khanate), release their new album, Raw Blood Singing, on June 7 via Debemur Morti Productions.

The pair, who deconstructed and re-imagined Insect Ark in the lead-up to the new album, released a preview of Raw Blood Singing this morning, with the arrival of “Youth Body Swayed.” A notable shift for the band is the decision to add Schechter’s vocals to their music, with previous Insect Ark releases having been instrumental.

“Embracing evolution and fearless exploration are the core instincts of Insect Ark,” Schechter shares. “Writing the album ignited an awakening. It was in this inspired environment that I tried singing again, after a 10-year break. Encouraged by Tim, and after recording vocals on Swans ‘The Beggar’ – to my surprise, it felt great to sing again. I felt like I was creeping out of a deep cave after hibernation, blinking awkwardly into the bright and uncomfortable light of springtime.”

Wyskida explains how he came to join Schechter, permanently, in Insect Ark: “Shortly after Dana asked me to play shows with Insect Ark in 2022, she asked if I’d like to play on the new album. I expected to mostly replicate pre-existing ideas. We started digging in and it turned into a full on collaboration, with most of the original ideas and arrangements being completely reworked. We spent the better part of a year working on the music, daily. To my ear, the result is incredibly potent.”

Over the eight-songs, Insect Ark weaves a lush, bleak, vast and expansive landscape as they move from whispers of synth to a monstrous wall-of-sound via Schechter’s blistering lap steel playing, diabolical bass-work and the mammoth, searing power of Wyskida’s drums.

Raw Blood Singing is available for pre-order (, with the collection available on multiple limited-edition vinyl variants, as well as CD and digitally.

Raw Blood Singing track list:
1. Birth of a Black Diamond
2. The Frozen Lake
3. Youth Body Swayed
4. Cleaven Hearted
5. The Hands
6. Psychological Jackal
7. Inverted Whirlpool
8. Ascension

Insect Ark, Raw Blood Singing (2024)

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Colour Haze Celebrate 30 Years with In Her Garden Remix and More

Posted in Features on March 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The studio adventures of German heavy psychedelia progenitors Colour Haze are manifold and occasionally more than their share of tragic, but as the band celebrate their 30th anniversary throughout 2024, they’re an essential part of the story. Guitarist and vocalist Stefan Koglek, who is the remaining founding member, has been a part of studio builds and teardowns, recorded in basements and bunkers, and been driven enough toward the band determining their own destiny to end up creating the space itself in which he’d long wished to create. You might recall that around the time of 2012’s She Said (review here), Koglek talked about some of the years’ worth of challenges behind that record alone. As it turns out, that circumstance — while particularly gruesome — was not necessarily an isolated incident.

In addition to a CD sale through his mostly-dormant imprint Elektrohasch Schallplatten and sundry live dates — including SonicBlast Fest in Portugal and Bear Stone in Croatia — that will culminate in an anniversary festival of their own at Feierwerk in Munich this Dec. 28 (further details TBA), Koglek has begun overseeing revisits to past Colour Haze albums at a home studio that, at least for now, he’s willing to call ‘done.’ One might think of the 2021 remix of 2003’s Los Sounds de Krauts (reissue review here) as a precursor to this undertaking, but in terms of the place where the work happens, the already-streaming upcoming 2LP remix and remaster of 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) presents an evolved ideology in its approach to volume, and takes ownership of the material in a way that lets it realize new ideas without actually being all that different.

I’ll just say flat out that if you cherish the original as I do — I hope always to remember dancing with my then-baby daughter to the la-la-las later in “Lotus” — there’s nothing on the 2024 In Her Garden that wants to take that away from you. If the notion of an artist going back over prior output makes you nervous, I understand that. I’m pretty sure there are still folks pissed off Star Wars did a second trilogy at the turn of the century, and I’m not out here to try and belittle or discount anyone’s point of view. Particularly for records toward which one might feel a deep connection, that change can be scary. With the original In Her Garden, Colour Haze united the expanse of the aforementioned She Said with the intentional pushback, go-to-ground organic performance-capture of 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), found peace and a place in-between those sides that was memorable unto itself in the listening experience, and cast sun-coated evocations which have continued to resonate in the now-seven years since it came out. Their two-to-date LPs since, 2019/2020’s We Are (review here) and 2022’s Sacred (review here), would not have taken shape as they did without In Her Garden‘s progressive foundation.

Below, you’ll find Koglek detailing the process of going back into the recordings of In Her Garden with a perspective less about volume and more about dynamic. Some pieces have been (partially) rearranged, as with the vocals on “Black Lilly” after the intro “Into Her Garden,” or Jan Faszbender‘s solo in “Lavatera,” but the overarching impression of the music remains serene in its varied movements, and the songs come across with more space, more live energy, and as you can hear in the 11-minute “Islands” and across the span, an underlying tonal crunch that proves well worth highlighting. He calls its sound as “brighter” and “more ‘open,'” and these are assessments with which I can only agree as he, then-bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald, as well as Faszbender and a host of guest contributors including Mario Oberpucher — who’d take over for Rasthofer on bass in 2021 — present this fresh and refreshing take on the original.

This isn’t an interview, and it’s not an in-studio, but Koglek goes deep in terms of laying out the ideas behind 2024’s In Her Garden and what actually went into making a record that was already so teeming with vitality feel even more alive. Keep your eyes on their website, as they’ll reportedly roll out more background on other albums as the occasion arises. I did some light editing on the text below, but in parallel to the record’s new mix itself, no actual meaning has been changed.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy:

colour haze in her garden

Revisiting ‘In Her Garden’ with Stefan Koglek

…In the summer of 2015, my new control room was ready to work. Now I had a luxurious home studio. While I couldn’t foresee the dynamics starting from the choice of a 2” tape machine as a basic recorder, I have to admit I got intrigued by the reemergence of analogue audio gear. A fascinating world I dived into with passion. Would you stick with drawing watercolor on paper just for economic reasons if it’s your dream to make big oil paintings on canvas?

I think the experiences of your life are more precious than any money you could probably save. I wanted to have gear that I really liked, not just what was doing the job. Even if it was just for the reason that you couldn’t blame the gear for making a poor-sounding record.

I was reasonable enough not to buy overpriced classics, instead choosing esoteric stuff with good value for the money. And with an analogue studio you need a lot of stuff.

Also in my new home studio, I was still missing some tools, equalizer channels, etc., to really do everything necessary or that I wanted. It was still not grown up. And though the room was good now, the monitoring still was far from perfect. Though I wasn’t too happy with the performance of my monitor speakers in the room, my attempts to change this didn’t get much going. But it was much better than before, so I tried to get used to it. I couldn’t improve the situation for another five years.

In 2016, we had enough music for a new album but the garage below my control room still wasn’t converted into the recording space it was initially intended to be.

For the ‘In Her Garden’ recordings, we booked a great sounding, huge 1960s studio room in Munich, which was now mainly used as a rehearsal for a symphonic orchestra. We would have brought all our own recording gear. One week before our sessions, the booking was cancelled by the studio owner.

Though I thought it was clear from the beginning we would rent the empty room during the orchestra’s holiday in a lockout deal, he was shocked to find out we wouldn’t just work from nine to five like the orchestra musicians. First he wanted to double the already whopping 800 Euro per-day price for an empty room, then he cancelled the whole deal.

There we stood, holiday already taken. We tried to find a different studio but in the end had to go down again in our rehearsal room. A new place that was formerly a beer cellar for Oktoberfest. It was four floors below ground, 40 sqm, concrete, low ceiling. The lift had just enough room to squeeze in the Telefunken.

We tried to swiftly treat the room acoustically with what was around, and just as everything was set up and ready for soundcheck, the tape machine stopped working. It turned out that a huge surge hit the poor electric system of the building while we were setting up mics (maybe from a crane being shut off from the build of the nearby Oktoberfest).

The Logic-platines of the tape machine were destroyed – and so was the lift. The latter never got repaired again, and in the end we had to carry the 250 kg Telefunken in pieces up four floors on small stairs. We spent the week that was meant for recording on fixing the recorder. But we got ‘In Her Garden’ in the end, despite the difficult circumstance. And the recordings sounded better than what we got from the previous place.

The Remixes:

In 2020, I had to change to a different press for LPs. For some years, the company I was working with since founding Elektrohasch had trouble with quality and when they raised prices three times within two weeks in the 2020 vinyl rush, it was time to go.

The pressing-tools were mine, since I always had my vinyls cut at a different cutting studio. I expected they could simply be sent to the new factory and I could work there. But surprise: most tools arrived damaged at Optimal Media. A part of the stock of work we’d built up over 20 years was gone overnight. I had to deliver new cuts. That meant I had to deliver the master recordings again.

Sometimes this was impossible.

For ‘Los Sounds de Krauts,’ the original digital masters were in poor 16bit 44.1 kHz on CD-R – you wouldn’t use a 15-year-old CD-R as a master! I also thought the mixes could be improved with hindsight and better gear. At least for that I had the original (digital) multitrack recordings, but it took two years to get all the digital files running again. Mind that – just 15 years and your digital memory might be lost already or only retrieved with great effort or cost, even within the very same system: ProTools on a Mac. Meanwhile, I just put the tapes from ‘To The Highest Gods We Know’ on the machine and simply work with them.

Other records are still in stock, some won’t be reprinted anyway.

But when possible I will take the opportunity to remix the rest of our catalogue step by step. Because the sound could be better. It is a lot of work (and actually not paid) but it’s simply a thing I want to do.

With the home studio, I have the possibility and occasion to work on them again. And there are reasons why I think I can get to better results now:

– Over the years, I’ve learned more about mixing. I have a better idea what I’m hearing and how to achieve things.

– My studio finally has proper monitoring. For the first time since ‘All,’ I can really hear what is going on.

– The studio is complete. I do not miss another Equalizer-Channel if I need one. I’m happy with it, got used to what I have and don’t want different or new stuff. I have a tendency to collect things, but thankfully this always ends at some point. I can complete a collection.

– I have no pressure. I can work relaxed at home on the recordings whenever I’m up to it.

– Foremost, it is now finally fun to work in that place.

‘In Her Garden’ is the first record I mixed and mastered with this new situation. The actual changes in the mixing are not that big – it is still the same recordings and the same person working with the same setup on them. But little changes make quite some difference for my ears:

– First of all I learned to take much more care with levels. In the individual tracks, differences in gain settings are subtle to hear, but the dedicated control over all levels throughout the signal chain leads to a less “choked,” more open-sounding result. Though my console has headroom forever I had to learn how different it sounds depending on how you drive it.

– Where for quite some time I kept the ideal of mixing very “dry” without any additional reverberation on the basic tracks, I’m a bit less dogmatic about such things now and I learned to utilize reverberation better.

– I learned how to take greater care of mixing keyboards and vocals…

– Another benefit for the remix was I didn’t feel the pressure to present a new album and also had more distance to the music and therefore maybe a clearer view – remixing ‘In Her Garden’ was pretty relaxed and happened over the course of seven months.

For my ears all this results in a more “open,” pleasant and relaxed sound. The record is more dynamic and sounds brighter and fuller, even though the equalizer settings actually haven’t changed much. It’s just a bit more on-spot here and there, so the individual signals integrate better.

What was changed on the material? Not much, just in:

– “Black Lilly”: I was never satisfied with how the vocals worked. I had this melody, an idea of the vocal line, but had trouble performing it. That’s part of why we don’t play this song live; I simply can’t sing it well enough in the original key. But the basic track was the best I could achieve. I mixed it much better now so it is not rolling up my toenails anymore. And I added a new lower background voice to help the basic track. I actually like the vocals in this song pretty much now.

– “Lavatera“ – for ‘In Her Garden,’ I had originally hired Jan as a session musician, which led to expanding Colour Haze to a quartet later. The original organ tracks were a swift improvisation. As “Lavatera” was part of the live set for a couple of years, Jan developed a synthesizer solo that fit the song better. I wanted to integrate this solo also, to create a bridge within the record to Jan being a member of the band now.

Another difference is the mastering.

I’m first generation home-computer, and with all the changes since the ‘80s, I’ve experienced digital memory as shortlived and ever-changing. If you’re reading this and you record anything, ever, mind the trouble we had recreating the ‘Los Sounds de Krauts’ data. From an artistic point of view, a physical copy is still the form that should present the results of our efforts.

We got accustomed to so many things, and until ‘In Her Garden’, I had the idea that the digital master was better with a certain amount of loudness. This by far was not as gruesome as during the early 2000s, but as close as possible to the technical limits of digital audio.

Well, one could imagine it simply is not good to drive anything as far as possible to the technical limits. And though mastering engineers might tell you otherwise, my notion is that limiters (tools that cut off signal peaks so the program can be shifted closer to the limit) never do nice things to audio. They limit.

For [remixing] ‘In Her Garden,’ I forgot all considerations of making it loud. It doesn’t matter for the actual result on vinyl anyway. For or me it sounds less “choked” than everything we did before. Only time will tell if this is a better way.

The recording and mix are analogue. I mixdown to 1/4” stereo tape. From there, mastering is basically the translation to digital, but the tools for it are still analogue – a Hi-End valve equalizer to shape the frequency and a Hi-End valve compressor for some dynamic shaping, to “open up” the dynamics rather than to “squeeze” them together. From there it is converted to digital.

This time I didn’t try anymore to get as loud as possible into the digital domain. I accepted the sonically ideal point of the electronics of my mastering converter (if you need to know, I use a Forssell Mada 2a). And the result after mastering 13 songs every now and then over the course of six weeks with all the songs fitting together in loudness and appearance tells me I’m not totally wrong.

For the vinyl cut I changed from DMM to “half-speed lacquer cut”. The digital files are only half as loud now, but I think it sounds better. You have the volume control – use it! :)

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2024 remix/remaster)

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Facebook

Colour Haze on Instagram

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten on Facebook

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Carpet Premiere New Album Collision in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Carpet Collison

[Click play above to stream Carpet’s Collision in its entirety. It’s out this Friday, March 22. At 21:30 CET today, which is 4:30PM Eastern and 1:30PM Pacific, the band will host a listening party on Bandcamp. The invite is here.]

While celebrating the 15th anniversary of their debut album, 2009’s The Eye is the Heart Mirror, Bavarian heavy progressive rockers Carpet move inexorably forward with their fifth long-player, Collision. Releasing through the duly eclectic Kapitän Platte, the seven-song/47-minute offering builds on the songwriting accomplishments of 2018’s About Rooms and Elephants (review here), harnessing an expansive but generous and welcoming sound that is thoughtful in its whole-record flow while showcasing a varied, mature character. They’re veterans of Elektrohasch Schallplatten, having released 2018’s About Rooms and Elephants (review here), 2017’s Secret Box (review here) and 2013’s Elysian Pleasures (review here) via Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze‘s now-dormant label, and heavy psychedelia is an aspect of what they do, but as the eight-minute “The Moonlight Rush” unfolds its immediately-multifaceted take, shifting from a riff-led verse through an atmospheric midsection that’s certainly not any less jazzy for the sway of Martin Lehmann‘s trumpet, into its louder payoff and through to a slowdown finish, Carpet are clear-eyed and purposeful in guiding the listener across what might otherwise be a tumultuous course. Here, one might think of it as an energetic stroll.

As the opener, “The Moonlight Rush” presents a crucial summary of some of the places Collision will go. Is it about impact, in raw sonic terms? Not as much as texture, so if one imagines the title referring to running ideas into each other and taking what works from that in terms of the material itself, that seems like a fair interpretation if not necessarily what the band meant in the choice (and it may or may not be, I don’t know). Founding guitarist/vocalist Maximilian Stephan — who released that first 2009 Carpet album as mostly a solo endeavor with some drums by Jakob Mader, who’s been on board since — is distinguished and suited to the instrumental flow in his melodic vocal approach, and while each song has its own intent as well as its own place in the entirety of the release, Stephan‘s vocals and the backing contributions of recording and mixing engineer Maximilian Wörle (presumably) in the chorus harmonies of “The Moonlight Rush,” the repeated line, “Can I just put my foot down,” in “Dead Fingers,” amid the rush of “Passage” later, and so on, are thoughtful in their arrangements and effects treatments, giving a unifying presence and drawing the material together without actually doing the same thing all the time.

Heads more attuned to the realms of desert and heavy rock will hear some Josh Homme in the sinewy semi-falsetto of “Ghosts” and centerpiece “P is for Parrot,” but it’s similarity not impersonation, and considering that the context surrounding in the latter cut is a start-stop crunch take on the angularity of King Crimson until it weaves through pastoral psych highlighting the keys from Sigmund Perner (he’s credited with Fender Rhodes and Roland Juno; I’m pretty sure I’m talking about the Juno in “P is for Parrot”) before bassist Hubert Steiner and Mader bring the group back to its initial shove, more urgently for the payoff finish, well, Carpet end up sounding more like Carpet than whatever other name one might drop. This individuality is something that’s manifest gradually over the course of the band’s time, and as much as one would call them ambitious in terms of growth — that is, actively pursuing a vision of their sound — if they’re chasing anybody, it’s themselves. The linear, almost narrative manner in which Collision unfurls highlights a dynamic that has become essential to who they are.


With malleable balance in Wörle‘s mix and breadth in Dimi Conidas‘ master, Carpet gracefully follow the plan that “The Moonlight Rush” sets out. By the time they get to nine-and-a-half-minute bookending closer “Cosmic Shape Shifter,” with its riffier, nodding resolution arriving with a swing and strut that even Uncle Acid fans should be able to appreciate, their path has veered into and through the more straight-ahead structures of “Dead Fingers,” its tolling bell in the intro serving as a memento mori complementary to the lyrics and a chorus that’s likewise catchy and sad and an emergent push in the bass as the trumpet sounds and the bell returns and the almost drawling lyrical repetitions noted above, and “Ghosts,” which in the early going of its 5:41 reimagines the beginning of Black Sabbath‘s “Children of the Grave” as shimmering bright and holds that energy for the sweep of its hook offset by a more subdued verse, en route to “P is for Parrot,” which feels like as far as they’ll go into their interpretation of ’70s groove until the boogie-in-earnest of “Passage” kicks in as the apex in that regard. The pivot from airy wash and strum at the end of “Passage” into the tropical jazzscape of the penultimate “Lost at Sea” isn’t to be discounted, and neither is the lush melodic prog that accompanies that rhythmic motion, but again, Carpet own the procession and it’s barely a hiccup one to the next in the mind of the listener despite the amount of ground actually covered.

This is the result of Carpet having already cast such a reach across the span of Collision, and “Cosmic Shape Shifter” answers with a victory lap of affirmation for what the album has presented leading to it, while underscoring the band’s overarching intent in how it digs into both its atmospheric stretch — there’s the Rhodes — and the subsequent, very much held-in-reserve groove that caps. This duality is essential to understanding who Carpet are as a band and the work their material does, but it’s no less crucial to point out that it’s only in that ending where they really seem to pair the opposite ends of that scope together — and it still works, encapsulating the poise with which “Ghosts” and “P is for Parrot” and “Passage” move into “Lost at Sea,” or how “The Moonlight Rush” and “Dead Fingers” act as complements at the outset within its own movements. Mature and considered as it feels, Collision still has outreach in its energy, and its execution leaves a warm, safe space for the listener to inhabit as the choruses ingrain themselves in the memory before departing on dreamy flights. And if you’ve ever believed progressive rock to be staid or emotionally void, Carpet provide ready counterpoint.

Carpet, “Ghosts” official video

Carpet on Facebook

Carpet on Instagram

Carpet on Twitter

Carpet on Bandcamp

Carpet website

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Daily Thompson Post Cover and Release Date for Chuparosa LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Not a ton of info here, but I don’t suppose there actually needs to be. You might recall this past December when German good-time-grunge heavy rockers Daily Thompson traveled to the far end of the US to record their sixth full-length, the title of which has been announced as Chuparosa, in Washington State with Tony Reed of Mos Generator producing. Noisolution will have the album out May 17, and that’s about the long and short of it.

Last heard from with later-2022’s Live at Freak Valley, the trio’s most recent studio offering was 2021’s God of Spinoza (review here), for which they’ve barely let up in terms of supporting it live. 2022 and 2023 were threads of successive tours, and even unto last Fall as they prepared to head abroad to record, they still found time to hit the UK for a string of shows and do club dates and festivals in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. To say they’ve put in their work would be underselling it.

There’s no audio from Chuparosa yet — the album taking its title from the shrub native to the Sonoran Desert — but most likely there will be before May 17, along with preorders and sundry other details/whatnot about it. The band posted the following on social media the other day, including the cover art with its photo by Jonas Wenz, who seems to have traveled with them at least in part to document the experience of making the record.

Here’s what they had to say, plus links and audio for further digging:

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

New record alert! Happy to present planet earth the cover of our new album „CHUPAROSA“

Out May 17th! 🌺🌲engineered and mastered by Tony Reed / HeavyHead Recording Company , cover photo by Jonas Wenz and layout by Florian Grass

Daily Thompson, Live at Freak Valley 2022 (2022)

Daily Thompson, God of Spinoza (2021)

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, The Quill, Nebula Drag, LLNN & Sugar Horse, Fuzzter, Cold in Berlin, The Mountain King, Witchorious, Skull Servant, Lord Velvet

Posted in Reviews on February 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Day four of five puts the end of this Quarterly Review in sight, as will inevitably happen. We passed the halfway point yesterday and by the time today’s done it’s the home stretch. I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been a lot — and in terms of the general work level of the day, today’s my busiest day; I’ve got Hungarian class later and homework to do for that, and two announcements to write in addition to this, one for today one for tomorrow, and I need to set up the back end of another announcement for Friday if I can. The good news is that my daughter seems to be over the explosive-vomit-time stomach bug that had her out of school on Monday. The better news is I’ve yet to get that.

But if I’m scatterbrained generally and sort of flailing, well, as I was recently told after I did a video interview and followed up with the artist to apologize for my terribleness at it, at least it’s honest. I am who I am, and I think that there are places where people go and things people do that sometimes I have a hard time with. Like leaving the house. And parenting. And interviewing bands, I guess. Needing to plow through 10 reviews today and tomorrow should be a good exercise in focusing energy, even if that isn’t necessarily getting the homework done faster. And yeah, it’s weird to be in your 40s and think about homework. Everything’s weird in your 40s.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Monkey3, Welcome to the Machine

monkey3 welcome to the machine

What are Monkey3 circa 2024 if not a name you can trust? The Swiss instrumental four-piece are now more than 20 years removed from their 2003 self-titled debut, and Welcome to the Machine — their seventh album and fourth release on Napalm Records (three studio, one live) — brings five new songs across 46 minutes of stately progressive heavy craft, with the lead cut “Ignition” working into an early gallop before cutting to ambience presumably as a manifestation of hitting escape velocity and leaving the planetary atmosphere, and trading from there between longer (10-plus-minute) and shorter (six- and seven-minute) pieces that are able to hit with a surprising impact when they so choose. Second track “Collision” comes to crush in a way that even 2019’s Sphere (review here) didn’t, and to go with its methodical groove, heavy post-rock airiness and layered-in acoustic guitar, “Kali Yuga” (10:01) is tethered by a thud of drums that feels no less the point of the thing than the mood-aura in the largesse that surrounds. Putting “Rackman” (7:13, with hints of voice or keyboard that sounds like it), which ends furiously, and notably cinematic closer “Collapse” (12:51) together on side B is a distinct immersion, and the latter places Monkey3 in a prog-metal context that defies stylistic expectation even as it lives up to the promise of the band’s oeuvre. Seven records and more than two decades on, and Monkey3 are still evolving. This is a special band, and in a Europe currently awash in heavy instrumentalism of varying degrees of psychedelia, it’s hard to think of Monkey3 as anything other than aesthetic pioneers.

Monkey3 on Facebook

Napalm Records website

The Quill, Wheel of Illusion

the quill wheel of illusion

With its Sabbath-born chug and bluesy initial groove opening to NWOBHM grandeur at the solo, the opening title-track is quick to reassure that Sweden’s The Quill are themselves on Wheel of Illusion, even if the corresponding classic metal elements there a standout from the more traditional rock of “Elephant Head” with its tambourine, or the doomier roll in “Sweet Mass Confusion,” also pointedly Sabbathian and thus well within the wheelhouse of guitarist Christian Carlsson, vocalist Magnus Ekwall, bassist Roger Nilsson and drummer Jolle Atlagic. While most of Wheel of Illusion is charged in its delivery, the still-upbeat “Rainmaker” feels like a shift in atmosphere after the leadoff and “We Burn,” and atmospherics come more into focus as the drums thud and the strings echo out in layers as “Hawks and Hounds” builds to its ending. While “The Last Thing” works keyboard into its all-go transition into nodding capper “Wild Mustang,” it’s the way the closer seems to encapsulate the album as a whole and the perspective brought to heavy rock’s founding tenets that make The Quill such reliable purveyors, and Wheel of Illusion comes across like special attention was given to the arrangements and the tightness of the songwriting. If you can’t appreciate kickass rock and roll, keep moving. Otherwise, whether it’s your first time hearing The Quill or you go back through all 10 of their albums, they make it a pleasure to get on board.

The Quill on Facebook

Metalville Records website

Nebula Drag, Western Death

Nebula Drag Western Death

Equal parts brash and disillusioned, Nebula Drag‘s Dec. 2023 LP, Western Death, is a ripper whether you’re dug into side ‘Western’ or side ‘Death.’ The first half of the psych-leaning-but-more-about-chemistry-than-effects San Diego trio’s third album offers the kind of declarative statement one might hope, with particular scorch in the guitar of Corey Quintana, sway and ride in Stephen Varns‘ drums and Garrett Gallagher‘s Sabbathian penchant for working around the riffs. The choruses of “Sleazy Tapestry,” “Kneecap,” “Side by Side,” “Tell No One” and the closing title-track speak directly to the listener, with the last of them resolved, “Look inside/See the signs/Take what you can,” and “Side by Side” a call to group action, “We don’t care how it gets done/Helpless is the one,” but there’s storytelling here too as “Tell No One” turns the sold-your-soul-to-play-music trope and turns it on its head by (in the narrative, anyhow) keeping the secret. Pairing these ideas with Nebula Drag‘s raw-but-not-sloppy heavy grunge, able to grunge-crunch on “Tell No One” even as the vocals take on more melodic breadth, and willing to let it burn as “Western Death” departs its deceptively angular riffing to cap the 34-minute LP with the noisy finish it has by then well earned.

Nebula Drag on Facebook

Desert Records store

LLNN & Sugar Horse, The Horror bw Sleep Paralysis Demon

LLNN Sugar Horse The Horror Sleep Paralysis Demon

Brought together for a round of tour dates that took place earlier this month, Pelagic Records labelmates LLNN (from Copenhagen) and Sugar Horse (from Bristol, UK) each get one track on a 7″ side for a showcase. Both use it toward obliterating ends. LLNN, who are one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever seen live and I’m incredibly grateful for having seen them live, dig into neo-industrial churn on “The Horror,” with stabbing synth later in the procession that underscores the point and less reliance on tonal onslaught than the foreboding violence of the atmosphere they create. In response, Sugar Horse manage to hold back their screams and lurching full-bore bludgeonry for nearly the first minute of “Sleep Paralysis Demon” and even after digging into it dare a return to cleaner singing, admirable in their restraint and more effectively tense for it when they push into caustic sludge churn and extremity, space in the guitar keeping it firmly in the post-metal sphere even as they aim their intent at rawer flesh. All told, the platter is nine of probably and hopefully-for-your-sake the most brutal minutes you might experience today, and thus can only be said to accomplish what it set out to do as the end product sounds like two studios would’ve needed rebuilding afterward.

LLNN on Facebook

Sugar Horse on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Fuzzter, Pandemonium

fuzzter pandemonium

Fuzzter aren’t necessarily noisy in terms of playing noise rock on Pandemonium, but from the first cymbal crashes after the Oppenheimer sample at the start of “Extinción,” the Peruvian outfit engage an uptempo heavy psych thrust that, though directed, retains a chaotic aspect through the band’s willingness to be sound if not actually be reckless, to gang shout before the guitars drift off in “Thanatos,” to be unafraid of being eaten by their own swirl in “Caja de Pandora” or to chug with a thrashy intensity at the start of closer “Tercer Ojo,” doom out massive in the song’s middle, and float through jazzy minimalism at the finish. But even in that, there are flashes, bursts that emphasize the unpredictability of the songs, which is an asset throughout what’s listed as the Lima trio’s third EP but clocks in at 36 minutes with the instrumental “Purgatorio,” which starts off like it might be an interlude but grows more furious as its five minutes play out, tucked into its center. If it’s a short release, it is substantial. If it’s an album, it’s substantial despite a not unreasonable runtime. Ultimately, whatever they call it is secondary to the space-metal reach and the momentum fostered across its span, which just might carry you with it whether or not you thought you were ready to go.

Fuzzter on Facebook

Fuzzter on Instagram

Cold in Berlin, The Body is the Wound

cold in berlin the body is the wound

The listed representation of dreams in “Dream One” adds to the concrete severity of Cold in Berlin‘s dark, keyboard-laced post-metallic sound, but London-based four-piece temper that impact with the post-punk ambience around the shove of the later “Found Out” on their The Body is the Wound 19-minute four-songer, and build on the goth-ish sway even as “Spotlight” fosters a heavier, more doomed mindset behind vocalist Maya, whose verses in “When Did You See Her Last” are complemented by dramatic lines of keyboard and who can’t help but soar even as the overarching direction is down, down, down into either the subconscious referenced in “Dream One” or some other abyss probably of the listener’s own making. Five years and one actual-plague after their fourth full-length, 2019’s Rituals of Surrender, bordering on 15 since the band got their start, they cast resonance in mood as well as impact (the latter bolstered by Wayne Adams‘ production), and are dynamic in style as well as volume, with each piece on The Body is the Wound working toward its own ends while the EP’s entirety flows with the strength of its performances. They’re in multiple worlds, and it works.

Cold in Berlin on Facebook

Cold in Berlin website

The Mountain King, Apostasyn

the mountain king apostasyn

With the expansive songwriting of multi-instrumentalist/sometimes-vocalist Eric McQueen at its core, The Mountain King issue Apostasyn as possibly their 10th full-length in 10 years and harness a majestic, progressive doom metal that doesn’t skimp either on the doom or the metal, whether that takes the form of the Type O Negative-style keys in “The White Noise From God’s Radio” or the tremolo guitar in the apex of closer “Axolotl Messiah.” The title-track is a standout for more than just being 15 minutes long, with its death-doom crux and shifts between minimal and maximal volumes, and the opening “Dødo” just before fosters immersion after its maybe-banging-on-stuff-maybe-it’s-programmed intro, with a hard chug answered in melody by guest singer Julia Gusso, who joins McQueen and the returning Frank Grimbarth (also guitar) on vocals, while Robert Bished adds synth to McQueen‘s own. Through the personnel changes and in each piece’s individual procession, The Mountain King are patient, waiting in the dark for you to join them. They’ll probably just keep basking in all that misery until you get there, no worries. Oh, and I’ll note that the download version of Apostasyn comes with instrumental versions of the four tracks, in case you’d really like to lose yourself in ruminating.

The Mountain King on Facebook

The Mountain King on Bandcamp

Witchorious, Witchorious


The self-titled debut from Parisian doomers Witchorious is distinguished by its moments of sludgier aggression — the burly barks in “Monster” at the outset, and so on — but the chorus of “Catharsis” that rises from the march of the verse offers a more melodic vision, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Antoine Auclair, bassist/vocalist Lucie Gaget and drummer Paul Gaget, continue to play to multiple sides of a modern metal and doom blend, while “The Witch” adds vastness and roll to its creeper-riff foundation. The guitar-piece “Amnesia” serves as an interlude ahead of “Watch Me Die” as Witchorious dig into the second half of the album, and as hard has that song comes to hit — plenty — the character of the band is correspondingly deepened by the breadth of “To the Grave,” which follows before the bonus track “Why” nod-dirges the album’s last hook. There’s clarity in the craft throughout, and Witchorious seem aware of themselves in stylistic terms if not necessarily writing to style, and noteworthy as it is for being their first record, I look forward to hearing how they refine and sharpen the methods laid out in these songs. The already-apparent command with which they direct the course here isn’t to be ignored.

Witchorious on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Skull Servant, Traditional Black Magicks II

skull servant traditional black magicks ii

Though their penchant for cult positioning and exploitation-horror imagery might lead expectations elsewhere, North Carolinian trio Skull Servant present a raw, sludge-rocking take on their second LP, Traditional Black Magicks II, with bassist Noah Terrell and guitarist Calvin Bauer reportedly swapping vocal duties per song across the five tracks while drummer Ryland Dreibelbis gives fluidity to the current of distortion threaded into “Absinthe Dreams,” which is instrumental on the album but newly released as a standalone single with vocals. I don’t know if the wrong version got uploaded or what — Bauer ends up credited with vocals that aren’t there — but fair enough. A meaner, punkier stonerism shows itself as “Poison the Unwell” hints at facets of post-hardcore and “Pergamos,” the two shortest pieces placed in front of the strutting “Lucifer’s Reefer” and between that cut and the Goatsnake-via-Sabbath riffing of “Satan’s Broomstick.” So it could be that Skull Servant, who released the six-song outing on Halloween 2023, are still sorting through where they want to be sound-wise, or it could be they don’t give a fuck about genre convention and are gonna do whatever they please going forward. I won’t predict and I’m not sure either answer is wrong.

Skull Servant on Facebook

Skull Servant on Bandcamp

Lord Velvet, Astral Lady

lord velvet astral lady

Notice of arrival is served as Lord Velvet dig into classic vibes and modern heft on their late 2023 debut EP, Astral Lady, to such a degree that I actually just checked their social media to see if they’d been signed yet before I started writing about them. Could happen, and probably will if they want it to, considering the weight of low end and the flowing, it’s-a-vibe-man vibe, plus shred, in “Lament of Io” and the way they make that lumber boogie through (most of) “Snakebite Fever.” Appearing in succession, “Night Terrors” and “From the Deep” channel stoned Iommic revelry amid their dynamic-in-tempo doomed intent, and while “Black Beam of Gemini” rounds out with a shove, Lord Velvet retain the tonal presence on the other end of that quick, quiet break, ready to go when needed for the crescendo. They’re not reinventing stoner rock and probably shouldn’t be trying to on this first EP, but they feel like they’re engaging with some of the newer styles being proffered by Magnetic Eye or sometimes Ripple Music, and if they end up there or elsewhere before they get around to making a full-length, don’t be surprised. If they plan to tour, so much the better for everybody.

Lord Velvet on Facebook

Lord Velvet website

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Quarterly Review: Deadpeach, SÂVER, Ruben Romano, Kosmodrom, The Endless, Our Maddest Edges, Saint Omen, Samsara Joyride, That Ship Has Sailed, Spiral Guru

Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. If you’ve been here before — and I do this at least four times a year, so maybe you have and maybe you haven’t — I’m glad you’re back, and if not, I’m glad you’re here at all. These things are always an undertaking, and in a vacuum, I’m pretty sure busting out 10 shorter reviews per day would be a reasonably efficient process. I don’t live in a vacuum. I live vacuuming.

Metaphorically, at least. Looking around the room, it’s pretty obvious ‘vacuum life’ is intermittent.

Today we hit the halfway mark of this standard-operating-procedure QR, and we’ll get to 30 of the 50 releases to be covered by the time Friday is done or die trying, as that’s also the general policy. As always, I hope you find something in this batch of 10 that you dig. Doesn’t have to be any more of a thing than that. Doesn’t need to change your life, just maybe take the moment you’re in and make it a little better.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Deadpeach, The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

Deadpeach The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

A new full-length from Italian cosmic fuzz rockers Deadpeach doesn’t come along every day. Though the four-piece here comprised of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni Giovannini, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mrsteveman and drummer Federico Tebaldi trace their beginnings back to 1993, the seven-song/37-minute exploration The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race is just their fourth full-length in that span of 31 years, following behind 2013’s Aurum (review here), though they haven’t been completely absent in that time, with the 2019 unplugged offering Waiting for Federico session (review here), 2022’s Live at Sidro Club, etc. But whether it’s the howling-into-the-void guitar over the methodical toms in the experimental-vibing closer “Loop (Set the Control to Mother Earth),” the mellower intro of “Madras” that leads both to chunky-style chug and the parade of classic-heavy buzz that is “Motor Peach,” what most comes through is the freedom of the band to do what they want in the psychedelic sphere. “Man on the Hill (The Fisherman and the Farmer)” tells its tale with blues rock swing while the subsequent “Cerchio” resolves Beatlesian with bouncy string and horn sounds and is its own realization at the center of the procession before the languid roll of “Monday” (so it goes) picks up its tempo later on. A mostly lo-fi recording still creates an atmosphere, and Deadpeach represent who they are in the weirdo space grunge of “Rust,” toying with influences from a desert that’s surely somewhere on another planet before “Loop (Set the Controls for Mother Earth)” turns repetition into mantra. They might be underrated forever, but Deadpeach only phase into our dimension intermittently and it’s worth appreciating them while they’re here.

Deadpeach on Facebook

Deadpeach website

SÂVER, From Ember and Rust

SAVER From Ember and Rust

In or out of post-metal and the aggressive end of atmospheric sludge, there are few bands currently active who deliver with the visceral force of Oslo’s SÂVER. From Ember and Rust is the second LP from the three-piece of Ole Ulvik Rokseth (guitar), Markus Støle (drums) and Ole Christian Helstad (bass/vocals), and while it signals growth in the synthy meditation worked into “I, Evaporate” after the lead-with-nod opener “Formless,” and the intentionally overwhelming djent chug that pays off the penultimate “The Object,” it is the consuming nature of the 43-minute entirety that is most striking, dynamic in its sprawl and thoughtful in arrangement both within and between its songs — the way the drone starts “Eliminate Distance” and returns to lull the listener momentarily out of consciousness before the bassy start of centerpiece “Ember and Rust” prompts a return ahead of its daring and successful clean vocal foray. That’s a departure, contextually speaking, but noteworthy even as “Primal One” lumbersmashes anything resembling hope to teeny tiny bits, leaving room in its seven minutes to catchy its breath amid grooving proggy chug and bringing back the melodic singing. As much as they revel in the caustic, there’s serenity in the catharsis of “All in Disarray” at the album’s conclusion, and as much as SÂVER are destructive, they’re cognizant of the world they’re building as part of that.

SÂVER on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Ruben Romano The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Departing from the heavy psychedelic blues rock proffered by his main outfit The Freeks, multi-instrumentalist and elsewhere-vocalist Ruben Romano — who also drummed for Fu Manchu and Nebula in their initial incarnations — digs into Western aural themes on his cumbersomely-titled solo debut, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile. To be clear, there is no movie called Twenty Graves Per Mile (yet), and the twice-over-imaginary nature of the concept lets Romano meander a bit in pieces like “Sweet Dream Cowboy” and “Ode to Fallen Oxen,” the latter of which tops its rambling groove with a line of delay twang, while “Chuck Wagon Sorrow” shimmers with outward simplicity with a sneaky depth to its mix (to wit, the space in “Not Any More”). At 10 songs and 27 minutes, the collection isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘feature length,’ but as it hearkens back to the outset with “Load the Wagon (Reprise)” bookending the opener, it is likewise cohesive in style and creative in arrangement, with Romano bringing in various shakers, mouth harp, effects and so on to create his ‘soundtrack’ with a classic Western feel and the inevitable lysergic current. Not as indie or desert chic as Spindrift, who work from a similar idea, but organic and just-came-in-covered-with-dust folkish just the same. If the movie existed, I’d be interested to know which of these tracks would play in the saloon.

Ruben Romano on Facebook

Ruben Romano on Bandcamp

Kosmodrom, Welcome to Reality

Kosmodrom Welcome to Reality

With the seven-minute “Earth Blues” left off the vinyl for want of room, German heavy psychedelic instrumentalists Kosmodrom put a color filter on existence with Welcome to Reality as much as on the cover, shimmering in “Dazed in Space” with a King Buffalo‘ed resonance such that the later, crunchier fuzz roll of “Evil Knievel” feels like a departure. While the three-piece are no doubt rooted in jams, Welcome to Reality presents finished works, following a clear plot in the 10-minute “Quintfrequenz” and the gradual build across the first couple minutes of “Landstreicher” — an intent that comes more into focus a short while later on “Novembersong” — before “Earth Blues” brings a big, pointed slowdown. They cap with “OM,” which probably isn’t named after the band but can be said to give hints in their direction if you want to count its use of ride cymbal at the core of its own build, and which in its last 40 seconds still manages to find another level of heft apparently kept in reserve all along. Well played. As their first LP since 2018, Welcome to Reality feels a bit like it’s reintroducing the band, and in listening, seems most of all to encourage the listener to look at the world around them in a different, maybe more hopeful way.

Kosmodrom on Facebook

Kosmodrom on Bandcamp

The Endless, The Endless

the endless the endless

Heads experienced in post-metal will be able to pick out elements like the Russian Circles gallop in The Endless‘ “Riven” or the Isis-style break the Edmonton-based instrumental unit veers into on “Shadows/Wolves” at the center of their self-titled debut, but as “The Hadeon Eon” — the title of which references the planet’s earliest and most volatile geological era — subtly invites the listener to consider, this is the band’s first recorded output. Formed in 2019, derailed and reconstructed post-pandemic, the four-piece of guitarists Teddy Palmer and Eddy Keyes, bassist James Palmer and drummer Jarred Muir are coherent in their stylistic intent, but not so committed to genre tenets as to forego the sweeter pleasure of the standalone guitar at the start of the nine-minute “Reflection,” soon enough subsumed though it is by the spacious lurch that follows. There and throughout, the band follow a course somewhere between post-metal and atmospheric sludge, and the punch of low end in “Future Archives,” the volume trades between loud and quiet stretches bring a sense of the ephemeral as well as the ethereal, adding character without sacrificing impact in the contrast. Their lack of pretense will be an asset as they continue to develop.

The Endless on Facebook

The Endless on Bandcamp

Our Maddest Edges, Peculiar Spells

Our Maddest Edges Peculiar Spells

Kudos if you can keep up with the shifts wrought from track to track on Our Maddest Edges‘ apparent first long-player, Peculiar Spells, as the Baltimorean solo-project spearheaded by Jeff Conner sets out on a journey of genuine eclecticism, bringing The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age stylistically together and also featuring one of the several included duets on “Swirl Cone,” some grunge strum in “Hella Fucky” after the remake-your-life spoken/ambient intro “Thoughts Can Change,” a choral burst at the beginning of the spoken-word-over-jazz “Slugs,” which of course seems to be about screwing, as well as the string-laced acoustic-led sentimentality on “Red Giant,” the Casio beat behind the bright guitar plucks of “Frozen Season,” the full-tone riffs around which “I Ain’t Done” and “St. Lascivious” are built, and the sax included with the boogie of “The Totalitarian Tiptoe,” just for a few examples of the places its 12 component tracks go in their readily-consumable 37-minute runtime. Along with Conner are a reported 17 guests appearing throughout, among them Stefanie Zaenker (ex-Caustic Casanova). Info is sparse on the band and Conner‘s work more broadly, but his history in the punkish Eat Your Neighbors accounts for some of the post-hardcore at root here, and his own vocals (as opposed to those of the seven other singers appearing) seem to come from somewhere similar. Relatively quick listen, but not a minor undertaking.

Jeff Conner on Bandcamp

Saint Omen, Death Unto My Enemy

saint omen death unto my enemy

Rolling out with the ambient intro before beginning its semi-Electric Wizardly slog in “Taken by the Black,” Death Unto My Enemy is the 2023 debut from New York City’s Saint Omen. Issued by Forbidden Place Records, its gritty nod holds together even as “Evolution of the Demon” threatens to fall apart, samples filling out the spaces not occupied by vocals, communicating themes dark, violent, and occult in pieces like the catchy-despite-its-harsher-vocal “Destroyer” or the dark swirl of “Sinners Crawl.” Feeling darker as it moves through its 10 songs, it saves a particular grim experimentalism for closer “Descent,” but by the time Death Unto My Enemy gets there, surely your mind and soul have already been poisoned and reaped, respectively, by “The Seventh Gate,” “The Black Mass” and the penultimate title-track, that deeper down is the only place left to go. So that’s where you go; a humming abyss of anti-noise. Manhattan has never been a epicenter of cultish doom, but Saint Omen‘s abiding death worship and bleakness — looking at you, “Sleepness” — shift between dramaturge and dug-in lumber, and the balance is only intriguing for the rawness with which it is delivered, harsher in its purpose than sound, but still plenty harsh in sound.

Saint Omen on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records store

Samsara Joyride, The Subtle and the Dense

samsara joyride the subtle and the dense

The psychedelic aspects of Samsara Joyride‘s The Subtle and the Dense feel somewhat compartmentalized, but that’s not necessarily a detriment to the songs, as the solo that tops the drearily moderated tempo of “Too Many Preachers” or the pastoral tones that accompany the bluesier spirit of “Who Tells the Story” emphasize. The Austrian outfit’s second full-length, The Subtle and the Dense seems aware of its varied persona, but whether it’s the swaggering stops of “No One is Free” calling to mind Child or the sax and guest vocals that mark such a turn with “Safe and Sound” at the end, Samsara Joyride are firm in their belief that because something is bluesy or classic doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple. From the layer of acoustic guitar worked into opener “I Won’t Sign Pt. 1” — their first album also had a two-parter, the second one follows directly here as track two — to the gang chorus worked in amid the atmospheric reach of “Sliver,” Samsara Joyride communicate a progressive take on traditionalist aesthetics, managing as few in this end of the heavy music realm ever do to avoid burly masculine caricature in the process. For that alone, easily worth the time to listen.

Samsara Joyride on Facebook

Samsara Joyride on Bandcamp

That Ship Has Sailed, Kingdom of Nothing

that ship has sailed kingdom of nothing

Like a check-in from some alternate-universe version of Fu Manchu who stuck closer to their beginnings in punk and hardcore, Californian heavy noise rockers That Ship Has Sailed tap volatility and riffy groove alike through the five songs of their Kingdom of Nothing EP, with an admirable lack of bullshit included within that net-zero assessment amid the physical push of riffs like “One-Legged Dog” or “Iron Eagle II” when the drums go to half-time behind the guitar and bass. It’s not all turn-of-the-century disaffection and ‘members of’ taglines though as “Iron Eagle II” sludges through its finish and “I Am, Yeah” becomes an inadvertent anthem for those who’ve never quite been able to keep their shit together, “Sweet Journey” becomes a melodic highlight while fostering the heaviest crash, and “Ready to Go” hits like a prequel to Nebula‘s trip down the stoner rock highway. Catchy in spite of its outward fuckall (or at least fuckmost), Kingdom of Nothing is more relatable than friendly or accessible, which feels about right. It’s cool guys. I never got my shit together either.

That Ship Has Sailed on Instagram

That Ship Has Sailed on Bandcamp

Spiral Guru, Silenced Voices

Spiral Guru Silenced Voices

The fourth EP in the 10-year history of Brazi’s Spiral Guru, who also released their Void long-player in 2019 and the “The Fantastic Hollow Man” single in 2021, Silenced Voices is distinguished immediately by the vocal command and range of Andrea Ruocco, and I’d suspect that if you’re already familiar with the band, you probably know that. Ruocco‘s voice, in its almost operatic use of breath to reach higher notes, carries some element of melodic metal’s grandeur, but Samuel Pedrosa‘s fuzz riffing and the fluid roll of bassist José Ribeiro and drummer Alexandre H.G. Garcia on the title-track avoid that trap readily, ending up somewhere between blues, psych, and ’70s swing on “Caves and Graves” but kept modern in the atmosphere fostered by Pedrosa‘s lead guitar. Another high-quality South American band ignored by the gringo-dude-dominant underground of Europe and the US? Probably, but I’m guilty too a decade after Spiral Guru‘s start, so all I can say is I’m doing my best out here. This band should probably be on Nuclear Blast by now. Stick around for “The Cabin Man” and you’d best be ready to dance.

Spiral Guru on Facebook

Spiral Guru on Bandcamp

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