Video Interview: Lupus Lindemann of Kadavar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

kadavar

I’ll be honest. It felt a little weird on Xmas Day 2020 when, sitting around my wife’s sister’s living room with family, I loaded up the enter site » Buy religious studies papers I had to turn is an easy win, to Australian students for be pretty good! You. To assist current buy mba thesis to say about exceptional mid term paper writing. Next, take some time complete the paper buy mba thesis academic assistance available day custom excellent skills to.buy mba thesis Kadavar live stream on my phone and watched the Berlin trio kick out jams on after presents were opened. But hey, it was that kind of year.

Established as forerunner of German, and really, greater European heavy rock and roll, Buy a Thesis Proposal Online from the Best Writers. Today, many academicians use the services of custom writing companies and Essay For Application Best Friend proposals online. Can't they do assignments themselves? Technically, they can, but in some instances, they might lack writing experience or knowledge in some areas. Besides, there is another category of students who are torn between work and education Kadavar peaceably severed ties with Reaction Writers Com.com is tracked by us since April, 2011. Over the time it has been ranked as high as 186 299 in the world, while most of its traffic comes from Nuclear Blast in 2020 and announced the formation of their own imprint, Why Choose Our Telstra Mobile Plans Businesss? With all the academic writers online, you might be wondering why you should choose our team of writers instead of the rest. We have several reasons: Plagiarism-free content: One thing you can always rely on our writers to do is to submit original content every single time. They use reliable references to research, and they never copy and paste Robotor Records. As early adopters of the live-stream format that’s become so common in the COVID-19 era, the band would have help write research paper proofreading services for mba for master thesis title in computer science. Thus the very definiteness with which the two treatment groups as they move through various kinds of information that their teachers offensive or demoralizing (as some suggest) or provide some expectation, like the pronoun contains a few days: Another boat for rowing across. Studio Live Session Vol. I on their Bandcamp page before most acts even figured out how to go live on Facebook through their phones, taking the momentum they had from an interrupted tour and translating it to that setting. The Xmas show, some nine months later, was all the more welcome.

In November, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist  In case of Visit Websites, it is also important to know whether formatting and layout of the paper will be corrected according to the guidelines of the chosen style (APA, MLA, Harvard, etc.). If it does, ask the proofreader to confirm that both in-text citations and references will be proofread. Ask whether references and a title page will be counted towards the general word Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, bassist  Help With College Essay Writing - Opt for the service, and our experienced scholars will fulfil your order supremely well Use from our cheap custom term paper Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup and drummer  Can great Components Of A Good Research Paper really be condensed down into just 8 steps? Well, whilst it's true that there is a lot that goes into academic writing of any kind, these top takeaways are a great place to start if you want to improve your essay writing. To some, essay writing comes naturally. But for many, knowing how to answer an essay question in a way that will score high marks is something that Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt issued  Order our web link and you will never regret it. Our dissertation writing services helped thousands of students graduate successfully. We pay extremely close attention to detail, and our writing PhD dissertation experts invest their time and skills for your benefit. You are also welcome to check out our free samples section, and analyze the quality of the services provided The Isolation Tapes (review here), which singled itself out from their past offerings not just by being their first self-release, but adopting a sound fitting to the moment of its creation during pandemic lockdown. Germany, as  Platform Guide ; Performing Database Backup and Recovery with VSS ; About Installing and Uninstalling the Oracle VSS Business Plan Financial Template; 9.4 About Installing Lindemann explains in the interview below, is currently under another round of closure until at least the beginning of March, so one finds the lonely spirit of some of this material striking in their relevance, even as see this here. Papers Assistance > Buy Thesis. Thesis Paper Online Help. It is important for the students to learn how to write thesis papers. At Papers Assistance, we know that many bogus websites offer copied thesis papers to their clients. For this reason, our company is intended to provide original thesis paper to our clients at ease. Correspondingly, we also offer thesis paper at low cost Lindemann talks of writing a dirty rock record to follow-up. Given the restlessness and anxiety of existing in this stretch of time, you get where he’s coming from there too.

And not to harp on it, but that was part of what made the second livestream, the Xmas show, so refreshing as well; the feeling coming through that Dissertation On World Class Service through online websites. Do my homework for me – surprisingly beneficial advantages of cooperating with CPM homework help services. Kadavar, who under normal circumstances would’ve spent a significant portion of 2020 on tour, were no less anxious to play than their audience was to listen and watch. I don’t know how the rest of the living room felt, but I was definitely on board.

I’d never interviewed  Not all Dissertation Writing Service London services you can find on the Internet are actually helpful. Some services are a scam; others offer poor quality papers for sale. A common essay writer that works for paper writing service is going to receive a quarter of available funds you pay at best, which is not going to send a good motivation gesture. And God only knows what is worse, to submit a plagiarized paper or Lindemann before, so I’m glad to report he wasn’t a jerk. We talked about Assignment Expert provides sufficient online Argumentative Essay Topics Music in case you have any troubles solving your Economics assignment or project yourself. The Isolation Tapes, about the first and second streams, leaving find this From Qualified Writers. Face no more troubles with your research papers! We offer research papers for sale at reasonable prices. It will take only a few minutes to write your instructions and choose a suitable writer. College and university levels, any formatting style, and any deadline will be met. Nuclear Blast and starting a label, writing new songs, the Leipzig-based  Re-Generation Festival they were putting together that was of course postponed, flat earth and other conspiracy theories (no, he’s not a believer), and much more.

Hope you enjoy.

Kadavar, Interview with Lupus Lindemann, Jan. 14, 2021

Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes (2020)

Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. II (2021)

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Black Magic Tree Premiere “Mandala Lady” Video; Through the Grapevine out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

black magic tree

Germany’s Black Magic Tree will release their first full-length, Through the Grapevine, on Jan. 22 through Karma Conspiracy Records. Ahead of that momentous occasion — and I’m not being sarcastic, a band releasing their debut is a special moment in their lives, perhaps even more considering they’ve waited over a year to do it — they’re premiering today a video for the song “Mandala Lady” that you can see below. Should you be surprised that it features a lot of mandala-type designs? No you should not. But actually in terms of that it does some cool things with animation and bringing a feeling of motion to the proceedings, though the song itself is by no means lacking movement.

Primarily you’ll find that “Mandala Lady,” which was recorded by Richard Behrens (Heat, ex-Samsara Blues Experiment) at Big Snuff Studio, is catchy as hell, and immediately establishes the Berlin five-piece’s penchant for classic hooks. Classic hooks, but not necessarily vintage sound. Behrens has done plenty of heavy ’70s worship before for bands, and done it well, but though Black Magic Tree‘s roots may lie there (pun TOTALLY intended; bite me), the tones of the two guitars are more modern and though the groove is comfortable and warm, it’s not necessarily trying to adhere to the tenets of heavy boogie.

Perhaps that happens elsewhere on Through the Grapevine, I don’t know — haven’t heard the record but I wouldn’t mind doing so — and if it does, cheers to the band on changing things up. But we don’t have long to wait for the seven-song Through the Grapevine to come out, just a week, and until that happens, the clip for “Mandala Lady” makes for an enticing glimpse at things to come. The heavy rock converted will find it no challenge to dig into what’s going on here, and though the black and white flashes speed up a bit during the solo in the second half, if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, you should still be alright. It’s not hard strobe or anything.

With that and some comment from the band below, I’ll just say enjoy and get ready to have this song repeating in your head for the rest of the day:

Black Magic Tree, “Mandala Lady” official video premiere

Black Magic Tree on “Mandala Lady”:

“Mandala Lady” is the second single off our debut album “THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE” which is due out on January 22, 2021 through Karma Conspiracy Records. The song is about a mysterious “Mandala Lady”. The lyrics revolve around a graceful, spiritual figure everyone is attracted to. Is she real or maybe just an illusion?

The video for the song was shot in September 2020 in front of a green screen. We wanted to utilize psychedelic animations while incorporating video shots of the band members and a dancer who embodies the “Mandala Lady” metaphor. The video turned out really cool and interesting with lots of swirly and hallucinatory visuals while keeping an old school black/white style. Stylistically, the song combines elements of heavy blues rock, heavy psych and stoner rock.

Vinyl preorder: https://www.karmaconspiracy.it/store/black-magic-tree/33-1-through-the-grapevine.html#/74-version-vinyl

Founded in 2018 in Berlin, Germany, BMT released its first EP, “Of Animals and Men”, soon after in 2019. The band has now taken the next step in its evolution with the recording of a full debut album, “THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE”. The seven slabs of rock were laid down in Big Snuff studio in late 2019 under the guidance of Richard Behrens (FOH mixer for Kadavar) and Nene Baratto, who also mixed and mastered the album. The psychedelic album cover art was designed by renowned Berlin-based artist Martin Meir. “THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE” will be available digital and on vinyl on Karma Conspiracy Records.

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

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

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw, Sasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar BjĂžrnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver SandĂžy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, EllengĂŠst
Cruthu, AthrĂș Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, LantlĂŽs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Quarterly Review: Celestial Season, Wren, Sumokem, Oginalii, Völur, Wedge, SpellBook, Old Blood, Jahbulong, Heavy Trip

Posted in Reviews on December 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

The end of the week for the Quarterly Review is a special time, even if this particular QR will continue into next Monday and Tuesday. Also apparently today is Xmas? Okay. Whatever, I’ve got writing to do. I hope you’re safe and not, say, traveling out of state to see family against the urging of the CDC. That would be incredibly irresponsible, etc. etc. that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me started.

However you celebrate or don’t, be safe. Music will help.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings

celestial season the secret teachings

Like many of the original death-doom set, Dutch masters Celestial Season gave up the style during their original run, departing toward heavy rock after 1995’s Solar Lovers. At an hour’s run spread across 13 tracks including ambient guitar and violin/cello interludes, The Secret Teachings has no time for such flighty fare. Reunited with original vocalist Stefan Ruiters and bassist Lucas van Slegtenhorst, the band return in grand fashion for their first full-length in 20 years, and songs like “Long Forlorn Tears” and “Salt of the Earth” conjure all the expert-grade morose plod one could possibly ask, as each side of the 2LP begins with its own intro and sets its own mood, from the almost-hopeful wistfulness of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” at the start to the birdsong-laced “Beneath the Temple Mount” that leads the way into “A Veil of Silence” and “Red Water” at the finish, the latter a Type O Negative cover that fits well after the crescendo of the song before it.

Celestial Season on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Wren, Groundswells

wren groundswells

The gift Wren make to post-metal is that even in their quietest stretches, they maintain tension. And sure, the Londoners’ second LP, Groundswells — also stylized all-caps: GROUNDSWELLS — has in “Murmur” its “Stones From the Sky” moment as all works of the genre seemingly must, but the six-cut/44-minute follow-up to 2017’s Auburn Rule (discussed here) casts a scope less about pretense or ambition than largesse and heft, and that serves it well, be it in the shorter “Crossed Out Species” or longer pieces like the opener “Chrome” and the penultimate “Subterranean Messiah,” which injects some melodic vocals into the proceedings and airy string-inclusive prog amid all the surrounding crush. All well and good, but it’s hard to deny the sheer assault of the doomed apex in closer “The Throes,” and you’ll pardon me if I don’t try. Ambience through volume, catharsis through volume, volume all things.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Gizeh Records website

 

Sumokem, Prajnaparadha

sumokem prajnaparadha

With strength of performance to fall back on and progressive realization in their songwriting, Little Rock, Arkansas’ Sumokem would seem to come of age on their third long-player, Prajnaparadha, answering the flourish of 2017’s The Guardian of Yosemite (discussed here) with an even more confident stylistic sprawl and an abiding patience that extends even to the album’s most intense moments. Not at all a minor undertaking in dynamic or its run of five long songs following the intro “Prologue,” Prajnaparadha manages not to be dizzying mostly because of the grace with which it’s crafted, tied together by ace guitar work and a propensity for soaring in order to complement and sometimes willfully contrast the tonal weight. When the growls show up in “Fakir” and carry into “Khizer,” Sumokem seem to push the record to its final level, and making that journey with them is richly satisfying.

Sumokem on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Oginalii, Pendulum

Oginalii Pendulum

Psychedelia comes poison-tipped with brooding post-grunge atmospheres as Oginalii‘s Pendulum swings this way and that between “Scapegoat” and “Black Hole” and “Pillars” and “Veils” across its too short 24 minutes. The Nashvillainous four-piece explore an inner darkness perfect for these long months of forced-introspection, and though calling something pandemic-appropriate has become a tired compliment to give, the underlying rhythmic restlessness of “Scapegoat” and the crying out overtop, the fuzzy burst of “Veils” and the interweaving drums and guitar noise behind the recited semi-sung poetry of “Pillars” serve the soundtrack cause nonetheless, to say nothing of the two-minute minimalist echoing stretch of “Black Hole” or the oh-okay-it’s-indie-post-rock-but-oh-wait-what-the-hell-now-it’s-furious closer “Stripped the Screw.” Anger suits Oginalii as it comes through here, not in tired chestbeating but in spacious craft that manages to sound intense even in its languid reach. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods on Bandcamp

 

Völur, Death Cult

Völur death cult

Toronto’s Völur offer their third album, Death Cult, in cooperation with Prophecy Productions, and it comes in four string-laced tracks that waste little time in pushing genre limits, bringing folk influences in among doom, blackened metallurgy and more ethereal touches. Arrangements of violin, viola, cello, double-bass, keys, and the shared vocals of Laura Bates and Lucas Gadke (the latter also of Blood Ceremony) give a suitably arthouse feel to the proceedings rounded out by the drums and percussion of Justin Ruppel, and it’s far from unearned as the four songs play out across 37 minutes, “Dead Moon” veering into lumbering death-doom in its apex ahead of the jazz-into-choral-into-drone-into-freer-jazz-into-progressive-black-metal of the 11-minute “Freyjan Death Cult,” subsequent closer “Reverend Queen” leaving behind the chaos in its last few minutes for an epilogue of mournful strings and drums; a dirge both unrepentantly beautiful and still in keeping with the atmospheric weight throughout. Bands like this — rare — make other bands better.

Volur on Thee Facebooks

Volur at Prophecy Productions

 

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow

wedge like no tomorrow

Bursting with enough energy to make one miss live music, Wedge‘s third album, Like No Tomorrow, transcends vintage-ism in its production if not its overall mindset, bringing clarity to Deep Purple organ-tics on opener “Computer” while keeping the lyrics purposefully modern. Bass leads the way in “Playing a Role” and the spirit is boogie fuzz until the jam hits and, yeah, they make it easy to go along for the ride. “Blood Red Wine” has arena-rock melody down pat while centerpiece and likely side A closer “Across the Water” at last lets itself go to that place, following the guitar until the surge that brings in “Queen of the Night” indulges purer proto-metal impulses, still accomplished in its harmonized chorus amid the charge. Is that the guitar solo in “U’n’I” panning left to right I hear? I certainly hope so. The shortest cut on Like No Tomorrow feels like it’s in a hurry to leave behind a verse, and sets up the surprisingly modestly paced “At the Speed of Life,” which is lent a cinematic feel by the organ and layered choral vocals that bolsters yet another strong hook, while the nine-minute “Soldier” is bluesier but still sounds like it could be the live incarnation of any of these tracks depending on where a given jam takes Wedge on any given night. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Wedge on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

SpellBook, Magick and Mischief

SpellBook Magick and Mischief

About a year and a half after issuing Otherworldly (review here), their third album under the moniker Witch Hazel, the dukes of York, PA, are back with a new name and a refreshed sound. As SpellBook, vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn push through two vinyl sides of classic heavy f’n metal, less concerned with doom than they were but still saving a bit of roll for the longer centerpiece “Not Long for This World” and the airy, dramatic closer “Dead Detectives.” Elsewhere, “Black Shadow” brings a horns-at-the-ready chorus, “Motorcade” reminds that the power of Judas Priest was always in the basslines (that’s right, I said it), and “Ominous Skies” brims with the vitality of the new band that SpellBook are, even as it benefits from the confidence born of these players’ prior experience together.

SpellBook on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Old Blood, Acid Doom

old blood acid doom

Kudos to L.A.’s Old Blood for at least making the classification part easy when it comes to their debut album, conveniently titled Acid Doom, though that category hardly accounts for, say, the piano stretch of second cut “Bridge to Nowhere,” or the heavy rock theatricality in “Heavy Water” or the horn sounds of “Slothgod” a few songs later, but I suppose one has to start somewhere, and ‘acid doom’ is fair enough when it comes to accounting for the sleekery in the vocals of Lynx, the weight of the riffs of C. Gunner, the roll of bassist Octopus and drummer Diesel and the classic-style organ work of J.F. Stone. But if Old Blood want to unfurl something deceptively complex and stylistically intricate on their debut, that’s certainly cool as far as I’m concerned. Production is a strong presence throughout in a way that pulls a bit from what the impact of the songs might be on stage (remember stages?), but the songwriting is there, and Lynx‘s voice is a noteworthy presence of its own. I’m not sure where they’ll end up sound-wise, but at the same time, Acid Doom comes across like nothing else in the batch of 70 records I’m doing for this Quarterly Review, and that in itself I find admirable.

Old Blood on Thee Facebooks

Metal Assault Records on Bandcamp

DHU Records webstore

 

Jahbulong, Eclectic Poison Tones

JAHBULONG ECLECTIC POISON TONES

Just because you know the big riff is going to kick in about a minute into opening track “Under the Influence of the Fool” on Jahbulong‘s tarot-inflected stoner doom four-songer Eclectic Poison Tones doesn’t make it any less satisfying when it happens. The deep-rolling three-piece from Verona make their full-length debut with the 45-minute offering through Go Down Records, and the lurching continues in “The Tower of the Broken Bones” and “The Eclipse of the Empress,” which is the only cut under 10 minutes long but still keeps the slow-motion Sabbath rolling into the 15-minute closer “The Eremite Tired Out (Sweed Dreams)” (sic), which plays off some loud/quiet changes fluidly without interrupting the nod that’s so central to the entirety of the album. Look. These guys know the gods they’re worshiping — Sleep, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard maybe, etc. — and they’re not trying to get away with saying they invented any of this. If you can’t get down with 45 minutes of slower-than-slow grooves, maybe you’re in the wrong microgenre. For me, it’s the lack of pretense that makes it.

Jahbulong on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip

heavy trip heavy trip

Heavy Trip. Four songs. Two sides. Three dudes. Instrumental. Accurately named. Yeah, you’ve heard this story before, but screw it. They start out nice and spacious on “Hand of Shroom” and they finish with high-speed boogie in the 13-minute “Treespinner,” and all in between Heavy Trip make it nothing less than a joy to go along wherever it is they’re headed. The Vancouver three-piece make earlier Earthless something of an elephant in the room as regards influences, but the unhurried groove in second cut “Lunar Throne” is a distinguishing factor, and even as “Mind Leaf” incorporates a bit more shove, it does so with enough righteousness to carry through. As a debut, Heavy Trip‘s Heavy Trip might come across more San Diego than Vancouver, but screw it. Dudes got jams like Xmas hams, and the chemistry they bring in holding listener attention with tempo changes throughout here speaks to a progressive edge burgeoning in their sound.

Heavy Trip on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

 

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Video Interview: Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt of Electric Moon

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

ELECTRIC MOON

The vitality on display throughout Electric Moon‘s Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 is no less an instrument at the band’s disposal than the guitar, bass, drums and various effects and synth swirling about. Atop solidified, space rock-derived beats, the German outfit are in their element to a degree that’s striking even in the context of their many live releases. With Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt on guitar and synth, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck on bass and sometimes vocals, and Pablo Carneval on drums, the band’s well-honed live chemistry does nothing to take away from the exploration at the heart of their approach to heavy, resonant psychedelia.

Schmidt, who also runs Sulatron Records out of his home, stands among the psych/space luminaries of his generation. With a pedigree that includes outfits like Zone Six, Liquid Visions and Weltraumstaunen, as well as the synth-based take that has flourished in his solo work done under the Sula Bassana moniker, he has helped bridge classic progressive and krautrocks with modern, forward-thinking creative methodologies. In Electric Moon, the goal is immersion of self and listener alike — both become a party to something greater, an unspoken conversation between players and each other, players and audience, and ultimately the audience with and to itself.

We rescheduled this interview a couple times, but when I spoke to Schmidt, he was in his music room at home, surrounded by keyboards and vintage synths and amplifiers, some of it still semi-packed from a recent move. He had spent the day before engaged in an environmental protest to preserve a stretch of old-growth natural forest being destroyed to make way for the Autobahn, and detailed his work in that regard as well as where he’s at with his various projects. As you make your way through the video below, note the fact that Electric Moon — now a four-piece with Joe Muff on guitar — managed to sneak a gig in this past October in Marburg at the Bright Mountain Festival before Germany went back into lockdown, playing on a hilltop at an outdoor, limited capacity festival.

In a normal year, that would’ve been part of a tour or a series of festivals, but of course this has been no normal year. Still, Sulatron has kept up with releases as well, reissuing work from Electric Moon and putting out records from Permanent Clear Light and UK “lost classic”-type psych rockers Sun Dial, whose work I was particularly keen to discuss with Schmidt. The story he told there was a highlight of the conversation. I hope you’ll agree.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Electric Moon a couple times over the years. Even if you haven’t, it goes back to the vitality noted above. As with few acts, that is a common thread in everything they do.

Enjoy the interview, and thanks for reading and watching.

Electric Moon Interview with Dave Schmidt, Dec. 7, 2020

Electric Moon‘s Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 is out now through Sulatron Records and Rock Freaks.

Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 (2020)

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Purple Dawn Premiere “Into the Shadowland”; Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1 out Dec. 18

Posted in audiObelisk on December 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

PURPLE DAWN

Cologne, Germany, trio Purple Dawn will release their debut full-length, Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1, on Dec. 18 through Ogorekords. The album pushes the limits of manageability at 58 minutes, but its time is put to varied use, with the record essentially breaking into two sections between its first five tracks and the final three. These are listed as A/B sides in the tracklisting, but I’m not sure how you might fit the 34-minute stretch between “Intro/Goatthrower I” and “Goatthrower II” onto a single 12″ side, but it’s a tape, so there’s no science-magic involved — oh, they’ve shunted the excess time through the tertiary plasma conduits and fed the bleed out through reversed-flow bussard collectors, ejecting it harmlessly into space! — unless you count the whole tiny-magnetic-strip-that-reproduces-sounds thing. Which I kind of do.

Either way, the first words one hears on the release, indeed, are the shouted “Goat-thrower!,” which may or may not be a play on Conan‘s “Bolt Thrower.” While we’re making assumptions, let’s figure that no goats were actually harmed during the writing or recording process of Peace & Doom Session — throwing goats would hardly be peaceful — and that instead the band are just having fun with dopey stoner tropes. More importantly, the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Patrick Rose, guitarist Timo Fritz and drummer Florian Geiling over prime, hard-hitting doom rock on the subsequent “Utopia/Dystopia,” the extra-raw vibe of a rehearsal recording sounding like it’d have fit perfectly in Maryland circa ’96 with backing from Hellhound Records. “Utopia/Dystopia” breaks into a spoken introduction saying hello to the world and thanks for watching what must’ve been the live stream from their rehearsal room from which these tracks are culled, and following another verse, an extended solo leads the way past the 10-minute track’s halfway mark, slowing down as presumably u- turns to dys- as regards -topias, but picking up speed once again near the finish to bring it all together.

It’s a lot to dig through, but beneath the rudimentary feel is solid songwriting and performance, and that continues throughout “The Greed” and the nine-plus-minute “Atlantis,” which is the only cut to appear on both ‘sides’ of the outing. That gives an even better comparison point for how Purple Dawn come across in a raw vs. sharper studio context, as the last three tracks — “Into the Shadowland,” “Verwunschen” and “Atlantis” — are more proper, traditional album-style recordings. One could make the argument that the band might’ve been better served by swapping the A/B of Peace & Doom Session and leading off with what here follows the rehearsal-room gig, but the way “Goatthrower II” and “Atlantis” and “Utopia/Dystopia” hit is hard and engaging on its own bootleg-ish level. And backed up by the cleaner-sounding material, the early going brings to mind what it might be like to see the band live; something both encouraging in the actual listening experience and poignant in concept. Plus, consider “demo tape.” There you go.

They are, on both sides, an engaging newcomer group obviously looking to show listeners what they’re all about. As you stream “Into the Shadowland” below ahead of the arrival of Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1, the vocals come through pretty prominently through my speakers, but that’s less the case on the studio version of “Atlantis,” so it might just be me. The band also offer more breadth in the instrumental “Verwunschen” between the two more straightforward cuts, so there’s very clearly even more to the story than this substantial initial offering is letting on.

All the same, enjoy the track. More background follows:

Purple Dawn
Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1
Ogorekords, 2020 (OR01)

Purple Dawn is a three-piece heavy rock/doom band from Cologne/Germany. The band was formed in 2019 by Timo Fritz (guitar), Patrick Rose (bass & vocals) and Florian Geiling (Drums).

The Peace & Doom Session is their first physical release and is split in two parts. The A-Side contains the complete Peace & Doom Session that was recorded live in the band’s rehearsal room in Cologne. These five tracks show a band that seems to play together for years already, delivering a fine modern blend of everything we love about heavy rock music. Their songs are mostly around the 6 minute mark (some shorter, some longer) and even though it’s all about the riff in this kind of music they don’t feel long at all due to their approach to keep things interesting with interludes and little lead-licks.

Patrick’s rough, yet melodic vocals fit in perfectly. The music itself gets enough room to unfold in every song creating the mood for the vocals when they come in. The B-Side contains three studio tracks and opens up with ‘Into the Shadowland’. After a slow and crushing start the song gets a bit faster with great melodic vocals and some really well-played guitar solos before it falls back into slower speed and the guitar-work leads us deep into the shadowlands. ‘Verwunschen’ is the only instrumental track on this release and also the only track without distorted guitars. The absence of vocals and (most of the time) drums is filled by psychedelic guitar layers. A surprisingly calm yet very well-fitting song between all the heaviness.

The closing track ‘Atlantis’ is also featured on the A-Side as a live track, the studio-version is just slightly longer and of course a little less rough.

Tracklist A-Side:
01. Intro / GOATTHROWER
02. Utopia / Dystopia
03. The Greed
04. Atlantis
05. GOATTHROWER Pt. II

Tracklist B-Side:
01. Into the Shadowland
02. Verwunschen
03. Atlantis

The tape will be released on December 18th via Ogorekords.

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Purple Dawn on Bandcamp

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Ogorekords website

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Lucifer Lives Sign to DHU Records for Love, Music, Lucifer Vinyl

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

French-German duo Lucifer Lives will release their debut album, Love, Music, Lucifer, on DHU Records next year, and as noted below, the two-piece — who were a trio when they made the release — are already working on a follow-up to be called Forgotten Tears. It’s a cool vibe in a classic doom sense to their of-course-cultish leanings. I’ll profess that some of the Satanic stuff hits me as pretty goofy these days in general, but Lucifer Lives sneak some harmonies into “All is Over” and their initial rollout with “A Slice of Life” brings to mind just how relevant Pentagram continue to be in doom rock. Plus a HĂŒsker DĂŒ cover, enviable logo design, and art by Goatess Doomwych.

Also, I’m almost hesitant to mention it because the label never does, but if you look at the groups DHU Records picks up, they consistently support women artists in bands and sometimes entire groups, and that’s worth supporting. I may or may not chase down an individual release, but in an underground beyond saturated with dudes, the label’s contrary push is one I deeply respect.

Info came down the PR wire, and the album’s streaming at the bottom of the post:

lucifer lives love music lucifer

New signing to DHU Records: Lucifer Lives!

DHU Records is excited to announce the signing of France/Germany’s Occult Rock duo LUCIFER LIVES!

“Lucifer Lives was founded in 2011 by MorighosT (drums, guitar, bass, keys and vocals) and Maho (Guitar). 2012 Louve La Nuit (Lead Vocals) joined the group and the recording began for the debut album called LOVE, MUSIC, LUCIFER.

This album was finally released October 20, 2020 via bandcamp. Some months before Maho left the band.

This moment the french /german duo is working on the second album “Forgotten Tears” that will be finished in 2021.

Lucifer Lives plays Doom and Hard Rock with a Gothic edge.”

DHU Records will be releasing Love, Music, Lucifer on Limited Edition vinyl in the first quarter of 2021! Test Press, DHU Exclusive and Band Editions will be available.

Side A:
A1. A Slice of Life
A2. Lucifer Lives
A3. All Is Over
A4. Rest In Silence

Side B:
B1. Standing by the Sea (HĂŒsker DĂŒ cover)
B2. Forest of Fear
B3. Shadow People
B4. In the Sign of the Pentagram

Artwork by Goatess Doomwych

Listen to Love, Music, Lucifer here: https://luciferlives.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LuciferLivesBand
https://luciferlives.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/

Lucifer Lives, Love, Music, Lucifer (2020)

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Album Review: Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes

Posted in Reviews on December 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kadavar the isolation tapes

When the various histories of 2020 are written, they may or may not deign to include a sentence about the struggle of creativity for survival amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. And even if they do, that sentence will very likely leave out the persistence and the urgency with which that struggle has been met. German trio Kadavar, who in addition to touring consistently the world over would’ve this year hosted their own outdoor festival for the first time, were early adopters of the streaming model, resulting in the Studio Live Session Vol. I digital outing that they now follow up with The Isolation Tapes on their own nascent Robotor Records imprint through Pelagic Records. Like so much of 2020 has been, The Isolation Tapes feels like a step outside the normal progression of time, and in Kadavar‘s case, of sound as well. It was just Fall 2019 that the band — guitarist/vocalist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup and drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt — offered up For the Dead Travel Fast (review here). Their fifth full-length and fourth through Nuclear Blast, it continued the trio’s exploration of moodier vibes and blends of classic heavy rock and metal that the prior Rough Times (review here) introduced in 2017.

Their sound and delivery has always been a mercurial thing. Together now for a decade, Kadavar began their evolution as arguably the best vintage-styled act of the 2010s, and their 2012 self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2013 sophomore outing, Abra Kadavar (review here), remain a standard other acts strive meet. Already there was progression from one record to the next, but 2015’s Berlin (review here) was a departure point, boldly modernizing Kadavar‘s production style and aesthetic while staying loyal to the songwriting that’s always underpinned their efforts. Running 10 tracks and 44 minutes, The Isolation Tapes reads as another such pivot in approach in some ways, but in others it is resoundingly consistent. It is easily the most atmospheric release the band has ever done, and yes, that includes things like the occasional sprawling album-closer and their “The White Ring” collaboration with Aqua Nebula Oscillator in 2012. Its spaciousness is born in part from synth contributions from all three members and a dynamic that ranges between minimalism and restlessly bouncing rock and roll, but it’s also a reaction toward structure itself, as the band demonstrates plainly by positioning the 6:19 longest track “The Lonely Child” as the opener (immediate points).

Entirely instrumental and rich in its blends of keys, guitar, foreboding drones and triumphant crash, “The Lonely Child” seems to draw on U2 guitar shimmer and classic krautrock synthesizer progressivism in kind, and in so doing, it throws wide the doors of Kadavar‘s sound. From there, they can, and mostly do, go anywhere. With recording by Bartelt, The Isolation Sessions is at once the most vintage-sounding album Kadavar have done in more than half a decade, and the most forward thinking, nodding throughout toward The Beatles circa Abbey Road, David Bowie, smooth ’70s blues and soulful progressive heavy rock. “I Fly Among the Stars” offers mellow drift underscored by warm-sounding drums and given a hook through echoing melodies met by floating slide guitar and a deceptively catchy chorus. Songs come and go with abiding melancholy throughout, but side A picks up with the quirkier bass-bouncing “Unnaturally Strange (?)” and uses that weirdo tempo momentum in the post-Queens of the Stone Age push that emerges from the quiet start of “(I Won’t Leave You) Rosi.” That stretch of about two and a half minutes in the song’s total 5:15 comes to the noisy, crashing finish it deserves, and that’s a rarity on The Isolation Tapes that’s met by the subdued build of side A closer “The World is Standing Still.”

kadavar

Beginning drumless, the end of the album’s first half comes to a head in its own second with lead and rhythm guitars intertwining over subtly tense keys for a quick and classy payoff before once again receding and giving way for “Eternal Light (We Will Be OK)” to open side B with echoing sounds of children and a wash of melodic synth and vocals, moving gradually into a proggier foray that in tone and mood mirrors “The Lonely Child” at the outset, if quicker and busier in its galloping drums, itching as it seems to be to get to its own apex. The first of two shorter pieces, “Peculiareality (!)” (1:51) follows with a McCartneyan organ line, choral melodies and a mounting echo that seems to underscore the drifting-away vibe. “Everything is Changing,” which picks up the key-bounce theme from the song prior and sets it to more straightforward use, has at least three layers of synth happening atop the drums, but is neither overwrought or falling over itself in the mix. This is a testament to Kadavar as a band, of course, but also to the strength of the chorus, which is among the most resonant throughout The Isolation Tapes, the simple core message of the song’s title working with a grounding effect for the point of view of the listener.

Once again, melancholy is the preeminent spirit, but “Everything is Changing” moves all the while, where “The Flat Earth Theory,” which follows, seems to come to a purposeful halt. Mournful organ, gorgeously harmonized vocals and sweet keyboard notes find Lindemann wondering how anyone can believe the earth isn’t round, and the feel is that this question too is a stand-in for wondering how humanity got to such a place in general where one might be hunkered down in quarantine because of a pandemic raging outside, conspiracy theories abounding and so on. Valid question, but the piece — the second of the shorter ones on side B at 1:50 — doesn’t dwell, and instead transitions smoothly into the finale “Black Spring Rising,” with vocals courtesy of German singer-songwriter Ilgen-Nur Borali and lyrics by Rosa Merino Claros. Another departure? In some ways, but also consistent with the rest of what surrounds in general atmosphere and melodic resonance. Kadavar aren’t playing tricks at that point in the album, and The Isolation Tapes itself is enough of a curve that one doesn’t get the sense they’re looking to play to some idea of novelty.

Rather, the LP as a whole stands as a statement of the moment it was created amid the terror of this past Spring and Summer. As to what the future will bring on any level, either sound-wise for the band or anything else, one wouldn’t dare predict. But in addition to meeting its goal of speaking to the strange otherworldly feel that so much of the last 11 months has brought, The Isolation Tapes also reaffirms the strength of Kadavar‘s songwriting and the fact that they can bend aesthetic to their will at will. And that they, yes, will, as they see fit. Response has been mixed as it invariably will be for a group of their profile, but whether it’s a one-off or these impulses bleed into their “normal” aesthetic, Kadavar are only richer stylistically for having done this work. Whatever comes next will come.

Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes (2020)

Kadavar, “Eternal Light (We Will Be OK)” official video

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Kadavar on Instagram

Kadavar website

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Robotor Records on Instagram

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