The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 101

Posted in Radio on January 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

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This gets pretty heavy, pretty nasty. Then it kind of gets pretty. What happened was I knew I wanted to start with Basalt Shrine because that’s just too killer a beginning to pass up. But I was barely two days into the Quarterly Review and I knew I didn’t want to do a whole show based on that, so I just kind of went from Basalt Shrine forward on a line of extreme sludge of varying kinds, and that was fun for a while. When I started stumbling coming up with inclusions off the top of my head, I decided to switch gears.

That’s where you see the second voice break. I was going to put it at the top of the second hour but figured screw it. I wanted to play Indian and Wren and KVLL, so I did. And then I jump on, announce the change happening, and jump off. I didn’t even really end the show, just “here’s something else” and done. That was a little liberating, if I’m honest. I feel like I have to say hi, thanks, thanks to Gimme, explain what The Obelisk is to anyone who doesn’t know (which I assume is everyone), then thanks again and see you in two weeks. Felt good to skip even a little of that formality/formula.

I don’t think I’ll be rewriting how I do the show entirely, but I apparently needed something different, and that’s what I got.

Thanks for listening if you make it. Thanks for reading if you see this.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at:

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.06.23 (VT = voice track)

Basalt Shrine In the Dirt’s Embrace From Fiery Tongues
Bongzilla Free the Weed Weedsconsin
Come to Grief Death Can’t Come Soon Enough When the World Dies
Seum Snowbird Snowbird
Grales All Things are Temporary Remember the Earth but Never Come Back
Gg:ull Hoisting Ruined Sails Ex Est
Nomadic Rituals The Burden Tides
Belzebong Pot Fiend Light the Dankness
Wren Chromed Groundswells
Indian Directional From All Purity
KVLL Suffocation Suffocation
DUNDDW VII Part 4 Flux
Aktopasa Agarthi Journey to the Pink Planet
Mister Earthbound Wicked John Shadow Work
Amon Acid Death on the Altar Cosmogony

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Jan. 6 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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Quarterly Review: Buddha Sentenza, Magma Haze, Future Projektor, Grin, Teverts, Ggu:ll, Fulanno & The Crooked Whispers, Mister Earthbound, Castle Rat, Mountains

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-winter 2023

Here we are. Welcome to 2023 and to both the first Quarterly Review of this year and the kind of unofficial closeout of 2022. These probably won’t be the last writeups for releases from the year just finished — if past is prologue, I’ll remain months if not years behind in some cases; you do what you can — but from here on out it’s more about this year than last in the general balance of what’s covered. That’s the hope, anyway. Talk to me in April to see how it’s going.

I won’t delay further except to remind that we’ll do 10 reviews per day between now and next Friday for a total of 100 covered, and to say thanks if you keep up with it at all. I hope you find something that resonates with you, otherwise there’s not much point in the endeavor at all. So here we go.

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #1-10:

Buddha Sentenza, High Tech Low Life

Buddha Sentenza High Tech Low Life

With a foundation in instrumental meditative heavy psychedelia, Heidelberg, Germany’s Buddha Sentenza push outward along a number of different paths across their third album, High Tech Low Life, as in the second of five cuts, “Anabranch,” which builds on the mood-setting linear build and faster payoff of opener “Oars” and adds both acoustic guitar, metal-impact kick drum and thrash-born (but definitely still not entirely thrash) riffing, and later, heavier post-rock nod in the vein of Russian Circles, but topped with willfully grandiose keyboard. Kitchensinkenalia, then! “Ricochet” ups the light to a blinding degree by the time it’s two and a half minutes in, then punks up the bass before ending up in a chill sample-topped stretch of noodle-prog, “Afterglow” answers that with careening space metal, likewise progressive comedown, keyboard shred, some organ and hand-percussion behind Eastern-inflected guitar, and a satisfyingly sweeping apex, and 12-minute finale “Shapeshifters” starts with a classic drum-fueled buildup, takes a victory lap in heavy prog shove, spends a few minutes in dynamic volume trades, gets funky behind a another shreddy solo, peaks, sprints, crashes, and lumbers confidently to its finish, as if to underscore the point that whatever Buddha Sentenza want to make happen, they’re going to. So be it. High Tech Low Life may be their first record since Semaphora (review here) some seven years ago, but it feels no less masterful for the time between.

Buddha Sentenza on Facebook

Pink Tank Records store


Magma Haze, Magma Haze

Magma Haze front

Captured raw in self-produced fashion, the Sept. 2022 debut album from Magma Haze sees the four-piece embark on an atmospheric and bluesy take on heavy rock, weaving through grunge and loosely-psychedelic flourish as they begin to shape what will become the textures of their sound across six songs and 42 minutes that are patiently offered but still carry a newer band’s sense of urgency. Beginning with “Will the Wise,” the Bologna, Italy, outfit remind somewhat of Salt Lake City’s Dwellers with the vocals of Alessandro D’Arcangeli in throaty post-earlier-Alice in Chains style, but as they move through “Stonering” and the looser-swinging, drenched-in-wah “Chroma,” their blend becomes more apparent, the ‘stoner’ influence showing up in the general languidity of vibe that persists regardless of a given track’s tempo. To wit, “Volcanic Hill” with its bass-led sway at the start, or the wah behind the resultant shove, building up and breaking down again only to end on the run in a fadeout. The penultimate “Circles” grows more spacious in its back half with what might be organ but I’m pretty sure is still guitar behind purposefully drawn-out vocals, and closer “Moon” grows more distorted and encouragingly fuzzed in its midsection en route to a wisely understated payoff and resonant end. There’s potential here.

Magma Haze on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store


Future Projektor, The Kybalion

Future Projektor The Kybalion

Instrumental in its entirety and offered with a companion visual component on Blu-ray with different cover art, The Kybalion is the ambitious, 40-minute single-song debut long-player from Richmond, Virginia’s Future Projektor. With guitarist/vocalist Adam Kravitz and drummer Kevin White — both formerly of sludgesters Gritter; White is also ex-Throttlerod — and Sean Plunkett on bass, the band present an impressive breadth of scope and a sense of cared-for craft throughout their immersive course, and with guitar and sometimes keys from Kravitz leading the way as one movement flows into the next, the procession feels not only smooth, but genuinely progressive in its reach. It’s not that they’re putting on a showcase for technique, but the sense of “The Kybalion” as built up around its stated expressive themes — have fun going down a Wikipedia hole reading about hermeticism — is palpable and the piece grows more daring the deeper it goes, touching on cinematic around 27 minutes in but still keeping a percussive basis for when the heavier roll kicks in a short time later. Culminating in low distortion that shifts into keyboard revelation, The Kybalion is an adventure open to any number of narrative interpretations even beyond the band’s own, and that only makes it a more effective listen.

Future Projektor on Facebook

Future Projektor on Bandcamp


Grin, Phantom Knocks

grin Phantom Knocks

Berlin duo Grin — one of the several incarnations of DIY-prone power couple Jan (drums, guitar, vocals, production) and Sabine Oberg (bass) alongside EarthShip and Slowshine — grow ever more spacious and melodic on Oct. 2022’s Phantom Knocks, their third full-length released on their own imprint, The Lasting Dose Records. Comprised of eight songs running a tight and composed but purposefully ambient 33 minutes with Sabine‘s bass at the core of airy progressions like that of “Shiver” or the rolling, harsh-vocalized, puts-the-sludge-in-post-sludge “Apex,” Phantom Knocks follows the path laid out on 2019’s Translucent Blades (review here) and blends in more extreme ideas on “Aporia” and the airy pre-finisher “Servants,” but is neither beholden to its float nor its crush; both are tools used in service to the moment’s expression. Because of that, Grin move fluidly through the entirety of Phantom Knocks, intermittently growing monstrous to fill the spaces they’ve created, but mindful as well of keeping those spaces intact. Inarguably the work of a band with a firm sense of its own identity, it nonetheless seems to reach out and pull the listener into its depths.

Grin on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp


Teverts, The Lifeblood

Teverts The Lifeblood

Though clearly part of Teverts‘ focus on The Lifeblood is toward atmosphere and giving its audience a sense of mood that is maintained throughout its six tracks, a vigorousness reminiscent of later Dozer offsets the post-rocking elements from the Benevento, Italy, three-piece. They are not the first to bring together earthy bass with exploratory guitar overtop and a solid drum underpinning, but after the deceptively raucous one-two of the leadoff title-track and “Draining My Skin,” the more patient unfurling of instrumental side A finale “Under Antares Light” — which boasts a chugging march in its midsection and later reaches that is especially righteous — clues that the full-fuzz stoner rock starting side B with the desert-swinging-into-the-massive-slowdown “UVB-76” is only part of the appeal rather than the sum of it. “Road to Awareness” portrays a metallic current (post-metal, maybe?) in its shouty post-intro vocals and general largesse, but wraps with an engaging and relatively spontaneous-sounding lead before “Comin’ Home” answers back to “The Lifeblood” and that slowdown in “UVB-76” in summarizing the stage-style energy and the vast soundscape it has inhabited all the while. They end catchy, but the final crescendo is instrumental, a big end of the show complete with cymbal wash and drawn solo notes. Bravo.

Teverts on Facebook

Karma Conspiracy Records store


Ggu:ll, Ex Est

ggu ll ex est

An engrossing amalgam of lurching extreme doom and blackened metal, the second long-player, Ex Est, by Tilburg, Netherlands’ Ggu:ll is likewise bludgeoning, cruel and grim in its catharsis. The agonies on display seem to come to a sort of wailing head in “Stuip” later on, but that’s well after the ultra-depressive course has been set by “Falter” and “Enkel Achterland.” In terms of style, “Hoisting Ruined Sails” moves through slow death and post-sludge, but the tonal onslaught is only part of the weight on offer, and indeed, Ggu:ll bring dark grey and strobe-afflicted fog to the forward, downward march of “Falter” and the especially raw centerpiece “Samt-al-ras,” setting up a contrast with the speedier guitar in the beginning minutes of closer “Voertuig der Verlorenen” that feels intentional even as the latter decays into churning, harsh noise. There’s a spiritual aspect of the work, but the shadow that’s cast in Ex Est defines it, and the four-piece bring precious little hope amid the swirling and destructive antilife. Because this is so clearly their mission, Ex Est is a triumph almost in spite of itself, but it’s a triumph just the same, even at its moments of most vigorous, slow, skin-peeling crawl.

Ggu:ll on Facebook

Consouling Sounds store


Fulanno & The Crooked Whispers, Last Call From Hell

fulanno the crooked whispers last call from hell

While one wouldn’t necessarily call it balanced in runtime with Argentina’s Fulanno offering about 19 minutes of material with Los Angeles’ The Crooked Whispers answering with about 11, their Last Call From Hell split nonetheless presents a two-track sampler of both groups’ cultish doom wares. Fulanno lumber through “Erotic Pleasures in the Catacombs” and “The Cycle of Death” with dark-toned Sabbath-worship-plus-horror-obsession-stoned-fuckall, riding central riffs into a seemingly violent but nodding oblivion, while The Crooked Whispers plod sharply in the scream-topped six minutes of “Bloody Revenge,” giving a tempo kick later on, and follow a steadier dirge pace with “Dig Your Own Grave” while veering into a cleaner, nasal vocal style from Anthony Gaglia (also of LáGoon). Uniting the two bands disparate in geography and general intent is the dug-in vibe that draws out over both, their readiness to celebrate a death-stench vision of riff-led doom that, while, again, differently interpreted by each, sticks in the nose just the same. Nothing else smells like death. You know it immediately, and it’s all over Last Call From Hell.

Fulanno on Facebook

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions site


Mister Earthbound, Shadow Work

Mister Earthbound Shadow Work

Not all is as it seems as Mister Earthbound‘s debut album, Shadow Work, gets underway with the hooky “Not to Know” and a riff that reminds of nothing so much as Valley of the Sun, but the key there is in the swing, since that’s what will carry over from the lead track to the remaining six on the 36-minute LP, which turns quickly on the mellow guitar strum of “So Many Ways” to an approach that feels directly drawn from Hisingen Blues-era Graveyard. The wistful bursts of “Coffin Callin'” and the later garage-doomed “Wicked John” follow suit in mood, while “Hot Foot Powder” is more party than pout once it gets going, and the penultimate “Weighed” has more burl to its vocal drawl and an edge of Southern rock to its pre-payoff verses, while the subsequent closer “No Telling” feels like a take on Chris Goss fronting Queens of the Stone Age for “Mosquito Song” on Songs for the Deaf, and yes, that is a compliment. The jury may be out on Mister Earthbound‘s ultimate aesthetic — that is, where they’re headed, they might not be yet — but Shadow Work has songwriting enough at its root that I wouldn’t mind if that jury doesn’t come back. Time will tell, but “multifaceted” is a good place to start when you’ve got your ducks in a row behind you as Mister Earthbound seem to here.

Mister Earthbound on Facebook

Mister Earthbound on Bandcamp


Castle Rat, Feed the Dream

Castle Rat Feed the Dream

Surely retro sword-bearing theatrics are part of the appeal when it comes to Brooklyn’s potential-rife, signed-in-three-two-one-go doom rockers Castle Rat‘s live presentation, but as they make their studio debut with the four-and-a-half-minute single “Feed the Dream,” that’s not necessarily going to come across to all who take the track on. Fortunately for the band, then, the song is no less thought out. A mid-paced groove that puts the guitar out before the ensuing march and makes way purposefully for the vocals of Riley “The Rat Queen” Pinkerton — who also plays rhythm guitar, while Henry “The Count” Black plays lead, Ronnie “The Plague Doctor” Lanzilotta is on bass and Joshua “The Druid” Strmic drums — to arrive with due presence. With a capital-‘h’ Heavy groove underlying, they bask in classic metal vibes and display a rare willingness to pretend the ’90s never happened. This is to their credit. The sundry boroughs of New York City have had bands playing dress-up with various levels of goofball sex, violence and excess since before the days of Twisted Sister — to be fair, this is glam via anti-glam — but the point with Castle Rat isn’t so much that the idea is new but the interpretation of it is. On the level of the song itself, “Feed the Dream” sounds like a candle being lit. Get your fire emojis ready, if that’s still a thing.

Castle Rat on Instagram

Castle Rat on Bandcamp


Mountains, Tides End

Mountains Tides End

Immediate impact. MountainsTides End is the London trio’s second long-player behind 2017’s Dust in the Glare (discussed here), and though overall it makes a point of its range, the first impression in opener “Moonchild” is that the band are already on their way and it’s on the listener to keep up. Life and death pervade “Moonchild” and the more intense “Lepa Radić,” which follows, but it’s hard to listen to those two at the beginning, the breakout in “Birds on a Wire,” the heavy roll of “Hiraeth” and the rumble at the core of “Pilgrim” without waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Mountains to more completely unveil their metallic side. It’s there in the guitar solos, the drums, even as “Pilgrim” reminds of somewhat of Green Lung in its clarity of vision, but to their credit, the trio get through “Empire” and “Under the Eaves” and most of “Tides End” itself before the chug swallows them — and the album, it seems — whole. A curious blend of styles, wholly modern, Tides End feels more aggressive in its purposes than did the debut, but that doesn’t at all hurt it as the band journey to that massive finish.

Mountains on Facebook

Mountains on Bandcamp


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Desertfest Belgium 2022: Ghent Lineup Adds Coven, Steak, Tau & the Drones of Praise and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2022 dates banner

The lineup for Desertfest Belgium 2022 in Ghent on Oct. 30 is starting to get awfully full for a one day festival. And weird, which of course is a good thing. Desertfest‘s second Belgian edition welcomes cult legends Coven here, most notably — and it’s interesting to note that Jinx Dawson has a “fresh new band” behind her — as well as SteakTau and the Drones of PraiseCelesteGgu:ll and The Devil’s Trade, so yeah, you could say that the bill is starting to get a little out there. So much the better. You’ve got Elder and Pallbearer up at the top — though I wonder if either is headlining — and Monolord to keep things grounded. Might as well indulge a freaky side too.

If you go, I bet this’ll be a trip. Would love to hear about it sometime:



After last week’s name dropping avalanche for DF Antwerp, it was high time for us to deliver the goods for the Ghent edition, wouldn’t you agree? So here are some sweet additions to the 30/10 line-up.

COVEN is one of the most revered names in Occult Metal lore. After years of cult status, their legacy finally got the acknowledgement it deserves. Now backed with a fresh new band, legendary singer Jinx Dawson has taken Coven back on the road, and we’re excited to see them play Desertfest Ghent.

Also on the bill will be French post-metal sensation CELESTE, who certainly need no further introduction. Their extreme crushing power is known, loved and feared in equal measure. To further thicken the oppressive atmosphere at De Vooruit venue, we have engaged Dutch doomsters GGU:LL who will present their first new material in 6 years (out later this year on the Ghent label Consouling Sounds). And how about THE DEVIL’S TRADE, aka Hungarian singer-songwriter Dávid Makó and his very personal take on doom folk and Eastern European folklore?

We further welcome London-based rockers STEAK who have certainly turned heads with their adventurous new album ‘Acute Mania’. We’re very excited to see them bring this Floydian opus to our stage. And finally, Shaun Mulrooney’s musical spaceship TAU will be here, along with the mysterious DRONES OF PRAISE who will join him in his neo-folk psychedelic jam-outs.

You know where to find the tickets, and be aware you can get a reduced combi deal for the Antwerp & Ghent festivals combined. Day tickets for Antwerp have also been on sale since last week – so there’s plenty of opportunity to mix and match the festival days to your liking!

(valid 4 days: 14-16/10 – Antwerp & 30/10 – Ghent)

(valid 3 days: 14-16/10 – Antwerp)

(valid 1 day: 14, 15 or 16/10 – Antwerp)

(valid 1 day: 30/10 – Ghent)


Stay tuned for further updates very soon!

Tau and the Drones of Praise, “It is Right to Give Drones and Praise” official video

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Roadburn 2014: Mühr, Ortega, Death Alley and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

What I like about these latest adds to the Roadburn 2014 lineup is that since the fest is long since sold out (though if I’m not mistaken there are still tickets for the Afterburner available), it’s not like they were booked because they’ll be a big draw. Basically the only reason you’re going to see acts like Ggu:ll, Mühr, Ortega, Death Alley and Seirom on the bill is because the festival digs them and thinks you should too. To me, that’s the whole spirit of what Roadburn is about, and that’s ultimately what makes it so special.

So as more acts pour on, where to stick them all? Oh, no worries, we’ll just add another venue. Now also featuring the Cul de Sac, in the heart of Weirdo Canyon in Tilburg, Roadburn has even more room to stretch out and show off some of the best the Dutch heavy underground has to offer.

Thanks to the fest as well for using one of my quotes about Mühr. If you haven’t heard their Messiah album (review here), you should. Here’s the news:

Cul de Sac: Ggu:ll, Mühr, Ortega & Seirom To Play On Thursday, April 10th!

During last year’s Roadburn Festival, we experimented with using Cul de Sac, a music café located across from the 013 venue, as a fifth stage to host everything from electrifying solo performances to bands in sheer rock overdrive. The experiment was a success! In fact, Cul de Sac proved to be such a great addition to Roadburn that we have designated the friendly café as an official location for the entire 2014 festival alongside the 013 venue, Het Patronaat and V39.

We will kick off Roadburn Festival 2014 with our traditional Hardrock Hideout at Cul de Sac on Wednesday, April 9th (more about that later). On Thursday, April 10th, the café will showcase the ever-fertile metal / sludge / psychedelic breeding grounds of The Netherlands, giving Ggu:ll, Mühr, Seirom and Ortega the opportunity to connect with the international Roadburn community.

Seirom (aka Mories from Aderlating and Gnaw Their Tongues) will start things off. Prepare to be drawn into an alternate dimension as dazzlingly light and wildly uplifting as Gnaw Their Tongues is dark and chilling.

Seirom’s latest, 1973, is a blissful and revitalizing trip. Released by Aurora Borealis, it would be at home on 4AD, too.

Tilburg‘s very own Ggu:ll are in the process of building a reputation as a solid live act, delivering aggressive yet melodic hypnotic doom, underpinned by crushing riffs and the anguished screams of William van der Voort.

Amsterdam-based tonal weightlifters Mühr subscribe to a cosmic doom esthetic that is both hypnotic and pummeling. On their latest album, Messiah, Mühr proves that there is more to a post-metallic scope than tonal largesse and longwinded execution, and the band “succeed in reshaping genre expectation in their own image,” according to JJ Koczan from The Obelisk.

Hailing from Groningen, Ortega is a sludge / doom band that is making quite a name for itself in the wake of three strong releases (1634, A Flame Never Rises on Its Own and The Serpent Stirs) and plenty of gigs, including no less than two UK tours in 2013 alone.

The combination of dark metal with progressive, psychedelic guitar leads, heavy riffs, and front man Richard Postma’s tortured howls makes the band an obvious choice for this year’s Roadburn Festival. If you love YOB, be sure to check out Ortega!

Hardrock Hideout with Death Alley! Wednesday, April 9th at Cul de Sac, Tilburg (NL)

In keeping with tradition to grab a brew and honor the gods of high energy, hard rockin’ action we will kick off Roadburn 2014 at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands, the festival’s official fourth location, with our traditional Hardrock Hideout on Wednesday, April 9th. Doors open at 8pm and admission is FREE!

Fresh from the filthy sewers and dark basements of Amsterdam, Death Alley deliver heavy punked-out proto-metal in spades. The band, revolving around former The Devil’s Blood guitarist Oeds Beydals and ex-members of Gewapend Beton and Mühr, mainline such influences as The MC5, Blue Cheer, Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead and Black Sabbath, defining good ‘ol, rock ‘n roll played with metal finesse and a pitch black psychedelic soul cherry on top.

Indeed, Death Alley‘s gnarly shake appeal combines ingenious but blistering guitar parts with the intensity of drumming that justifies the present-day existence of John Bonham’s Vista-Lite drum kit.

Death Alley‘s debut 7?, ‘Over Under / Dead Man’s Bones’, recorded on 8 track by Orange Sunshine‘s legendary Guy Tavares and released through Van Records, could easily be mistaken for a long lost gem from the late 60s / early 70s, hailed by collectors as the holy grail of underground rock from back in the day.

Death Alley, “Over Under”

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