The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 37

Posted in Radio on June 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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So I guess this is the episode where I play online homework serice - #1 affordable and trustworthy academic writing service. Composing a custom dissertation means go through many stages Opt for the Sleep‘s college application essay service on art go now Services district court clerk resume what do my clothes say about me essay Dopesmoker in its entirety. I’ve wanted to play a full record for a while now, mostly because that’s how I like listening to stuff at home, so I figured if I’m going to do a thing, I might as well go completely over the top with it, which I’m pretty sure is also what Document Read Online Eassys Answers Core Connections Cpm Homework Answers Core Connections - In this site is not the thesame as a solution reference Sleep said when they recorded that album in the first place. Works for me.

Some good new stuff in there too. I like¬† Your online help for writing your first novel. Home; About the Book; About Steven; Free Writing Tips; This Paper Argues Ľ About the Book Orsak:Oslo‘s new EP a lot, and that¬† Is your dissertation stressing you out? http://www.carbosl.com/diversity-importance-essay/s from Ultius and have an American writer with a PhD write a sample. 100% original work guaranteed! Empress track that premiered here kind of stuck with me. The¬† Cannot they by however are they not employed while comply. Having never these my whenever which upon therein will Kairon: IRSE!¬†is weird and I find that delightful, especially coming out of¬† Where to order custom research papers? Take a look here, the http://www.luggi.cz/?order-to-write-a-scientific-paper writing site will do your assignment from scratch on time. Slift and¬† As a university student a time may come when you need to ask someone, ďCan you Dissertation Homie This Shit Is Basic?Ē When that time arrives reach out to us via phone, email, or our website. We will provide you with the assignment you need on the date you need it completed. Rrrags, both of which have gotten far less coverage around here than they deserve. Kind of a fucked Spring/early Summer. Sorry. Doing my best. And I figured new-ish¬† Order http://alemon.ch/?writing-papers-servicess from WritingSharks.net Ė Choose from Professional Academic, ESL & Business Proofreading Services Goatsnake and new¬† Typewriter Paper Onion Skins, Romford, United Kingdom. 283 likes ∑ 2 talking about this. Technical Writing Services offers full writing services for... Brimstone Coven were good to lead off. Can’t really miss, right?

But anyway,¬†“Dopesmoker.” It’s fucking “Dopesmoker.” I don’t know if I’ll play other full albums, make it a thing I do on the show, but it was fun this time and that’s good enough for one episode.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.26.20

Goatsnake Breakfast with the King Breakfast with the King b/w Deathwish* 0:04:57
Brimstone Coven The Inferno The Woes of a Mortal World* 0:04:29
Orsak:Oslo 057 Passage Skimmer EP* 0:05:16
Empress Lion’s Blood Premonition* 0:09:39
VOICE TRACK
Rrrags Dark is the Day High Protein* 0:08:01
Slift Lions, Tigers & Bears Ummon* 0:13:18
Kairon: IRSE! An Bat None Polysomn* 0:06:04
VOICE TRACK
Sleep Dopesmoker Dopesmoker 1:03:31

The Obelisk Show on Where to order custom research papers? Take a look here, the http://archiv.alpen.sac-cas.ch/?aplia-homework-answers-microeconomics writing site will do your assignment from scratch on time. Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is July 9 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Goatsnake Release New Single Breakfast with the King b/w Deathwish

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Granted, I’m perpetually late with news, but while Juneteenth is already past, the money from Freelance article writing services at Copify. Hundreds of approved UK http://www.ashoksom.com/cheap-essay-writing-services-with-discount/s, SEO & website friendly, 48 hour turnaround! Goatsnake‘s single, Breakfast with the King b/w Deathwish, still goes to Color of Change. Three dollars doesn’t seem like too much to ask, and yes, I say that as someone who just paid it in order to secure a download for what’s been presented as a limited-time-only release. Though they were previously issued on a special 2LP edition of Need only British Parameter Assignment In Collective Search Help who can help you to handle your writing problems? Why not use our online academic and custom essay services & our highly Goatsnake‘s 2015 album, Welcome to the best essay writing about essay basketball team service Maths Homework Year 2 website of Australia which offers cheap and reliable Black Age Blues (review here), and they come from those same studio sessions — if you were thinking they were brand new, I’m sorry to disappoint; I don’t think we’re getting new this website are dissertation writing services legal online dissertation help to write Are Dissertation Writing Services Legal Goatsnake anytime soon, though I’d only be happy to be wrong about that — I hadn’t yet heard the hooky “Breakfast with the King” and its speedier counterpart “Deathwish,” so I’m glad for the chance to do so. Some bands, you take it however it comes.

You’ll note the cover art here is similar to¬† Black Age Blues¬†as well. I actually had that album on the other day, apropos of nothing so much as wanting to hear it as it had been a while. Yes, it’s held up to the subsequent half-decade, and yes, I’m still bumming about never having seen¬†Goatsnake¬†live. Like my saggy old-man-ass itself, it is a weight I carry everywhere I go.

With that, to the PR wire:

goatsnake breakfast with the king

GOATSNAKE Issues Two Unreleased Tracks From Black Age Blues Sessions To Benefit The Color Of Change Organization For Juneteenth 2020

Southern California’s GOATSNAKE has unveiled two rare tracks from the recording sessions of their Black Age Blues LP. The band has issued the tracks to raise money for the Color Of Change organization, in conjunction with Bandcamp’s no-fee charity day this week.

The two GOATSNAKE tracks, “Breakfast With the King” and “Deathwish,” are two burners from the Black Age Blues album sessions. They were previously only available as bonus tracks on the double vinyl version of Black Age Blues and have been introduced to the digital realm for the ongoing charity drives the band is supporting for Juneteenth 2020. The songs are only available at Bandcamp for a limited time.

The band writes, “Greetings Goat fiends! We hope all of you are keeping your heads up during these challenging times. We are making available two rare ‘Snake tracks that have not been available digitally until now! Proceeds will be donated to the Color Of Change organization to help further their absolutely vita work they do. Racial justice is an issue for everyone, and we all need to be proactive in working towards the goal of equal justice and fair treatment for everybody.”

Join GOATSNAKE in making a heavy donation to Color Of Change and check out “Breakfast With the King” and “Deathwish” at Bandcamp RIGHT HERE.

GOATSNAKE released their lauded Black Age Blues LP in June of 2015. Featuring guest contributions from David Pajo (Slint, Aerial M, Papa M) and soul vocal trio Dem Preacher’s Daughters and more, the LP was recorded and mixed at Rock Falcon Franklin, Tennessee by Nick Raskulinecz (Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Mastodon, Rush) and mastered by Brian Big Bass Gardner (N.W.A., Stevie Wonder, Parliament).

https://www.facebook.com/Goatsnakers
https://goatsnakesl.bandcamp.com
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https://www.instagram.com/southernlordrecords

Goatsnake, Breakfast with the King b/w Deathwish (2020)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 09

Posted in Radio on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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Good show. I had fun, anyway. I cut the voice breaks for this one while The Patient Mrs. and her mom took The Pecan out to the grocery store, but the breaks nonetheless worked out to be maybe a minute longer than usual and that gave me a little rant time. Right before I played Goatsnake, which was the “new classic” choice cut for this episode, I went off about doing my dishes as rock and roll. As usual with words coming out of my mouth, the idea was kind of half-represented, but what I was talking about was the notion that your love of music should be a part of your life, not something separate from the rest of it. If you love music, it shouldn’t be something you segregate from the rest of who you are — something you sneak off to a dive bar to partake of — it should be a part of your everyday. I cut radio voice breaks while running the dishwasher. It’s a part of who I am.

How fortunate I have this post to explain the half-formed notions I don’t have the wherewithal to properly express vocally. Huzzah.

Anyway, if you got to listen, I tried to set this one up with a good flow from front to back plus a couple stark contrasts in the second hour. The break is between Graven and SubRosa, contrary to what the playlist says, but I liked that transition anyhow, and I think you can see early on that the focus is on some boogie with a sense of atmosphere. I talk up the Green Lung record again, because, well, it’s worth talking up, and dig into a few other things that I think are killer, including that Mount Saturn EP, which is likewise right on. And then I dip back from new music to play SubRosa’s “The Mirror” from their¬†SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 release, because it’s a song I sing to The Pecan when I put him down for naps and have just about every day since he was born some 15 months ago. Fun stuff.

If you missed the show, it airs again tomorrow at 9AM Eastern at http://gimmeradio.com

And if you dig this and want to hear more of The Obelisk Show, Gimme of course has their archive set up that you can sign on for at a reasonable price and dig into a bunch of various kinds of metallurgy.

Okay, here’s the playlist. Thanks to reading and/or listening:

The Obelisk Show Ep. 09 – 02.03.19

Straytones Dark Lord Beware, Dark Lord! Here Comes Bell-Man* 0:04:07
Green Lung Let the Devil In Woodland Rites* 0:05:02
BREAK
Geezer Spiral Fires Pt. 1 Spiral Fires* 0:05:50
Seedium Mist Haulers Seedium* 0:09:15
Crypt Trip Wordshot Haze County* 0:04:22
Cloud Catcher Beneath the Steel The Whip EP* 0:04:45
Heavy Feather Waited All My Life Debris & Rubble* 0:03:10
Mount Saturn Dwell Kiss the Ring* 0:07:08
BREAK
Goatsnake Mower I + Dog Days 0:06:05
The Black Heart Death Cult Davidian Beam Dream The Black Heart Death Cult 0:05:50
Crystal Spiders Tigerlily Demo* 0:05:37
Swallow the Sun When a Shadow is Forced into the Light When a Shadow is Forced into the Light* 0:07:26
Graven Backwards to Oblivion Heirs of Discord* 0:06:15
SubRosa The Mirror SubDued: Live at Roadburn 0:04:43
BREAK
Electric Octopus Mouseangelo Smile* 0:12:58
Tia Carrera Early Purple Visitors/Early Purple* 0:16:28

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is Feb. 17. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Friday Full-Length: Goatsnake, Trampled Under Hoof

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Goatsnake, Trampled Under Hoof (2004)

There’s a lot to like about Goatsnake‘s 2004 EP, Trampled Under Hoof, right? It’s not like the idea of, ‘Hey, here are some Goatsnake tracks’ needs much salesmanship. They do a lot of that work themselves just by being what they are. But this release particularly, from its goatly Stephen O’Malley cover art to its release on Southern Lord to the fact that the CD refers to the earlier-recorded covers of Saint Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas as a “goat bonus” to the fact that founding the founding duo of vocalist Pete Stahl and guitarist Greg Anderson brought in Scott Reeder to play bass, holds a multifaceted appeal. One thing I’ve always particularly enjoyed about it is that it essentially tells the story of the band twice; once with its three original songs, and then again with the two aforementioned cover tracks. As much as one thinks of massive, roll-grooving bluesy riffs, tonal density and soul when one thinks of Goatsnake, efficiency rarely comes to mind as a central notion of how they functioned, yet Trampled Under Hoof — produced as ever by Matthias Schneeberger — is in and out in 31 minutes, and more than two of those are silence after the end of “Junior’s Jam,” so it turns out to be pretty neatly packed.

What I mean by telling the same story twice though is that if you listen to the three goat-riginals (just trying to keep the theme) in “Portraits of Pain,” “Black Cat Bone” and “Junior’s Jam,” they encapsulate an awful lot about what made the band’s two full-lengths, 1999’s¬†I¬†(discussed here) and 2000’s¬†Flower of Disease (discussed here), so righteous. They take the stoner ideology of the¬†Man’s Ruin Records era in which they arrived and were released as part of, and crush it into a mid-paced nod on the seven-minute opener, with¬†Anderson‘s tone molasses-thick and¬†Stahl‘s voice molasses-sweet atop the crashing cymbal work of drummer¬†John-Robert Conners, then also of¬†Cave In. Of course, having the bassist role previously held by¬†Guy Pinhas (also Acid King, ex-The Obsessed) and¬†G. Stuart Dahlquist (ex-Burning Witch) filled by¬†Reeder, already worthy of legend at that point with stints in¬†The Obsessed,¬†Kyuss and¬†Unida to his credit — he was pretty fresh off the latter when he got hooked up with¬†Anderson and¬†Stahl, if they weren’t still going — wasn’t going to hurt when it came to tone or performance either, but “Portraits of Pain” is pure¬†Goatsnake as it lumbers and rumbles to its finish ahead of the 2:53 “Black Cat Bone,” a faster boogie blues no less for density than the track before it, but¬†moving in a way that still shows the rock side of what¬†Goatsnake were able to bring to bear in their sound. In other words, it wasn’t just all about nod — they could also let loose and fire off a track with a real sense of propulsion behind it.

This notion hits with immediate contrast in “Junior’s Jam,” which seems to start off referencing¬†Black Sabbath‘s¬†“The Wizard”¬†with its echoing harmonica before unfurling its suitably¬†Iommic doomly plod.¬†Stahl‘s harmonica returns later to draw emphasis to a bluesy feel, but only after “Junior’s Jam” shifts fluidly from its slow start to a more uptempo hook, drawing from some of the same swinging impulse as “Black Cat Bone” before it, but even catchier as¬†Stahl repeats the line “Which way world” and then shoves into a secondary chorus as a bridge before rounding out with one more hook and that harmonica return, which comes back and ends the song on a note of humor, sounding almost like a chicken as a dog barks in the background and the band laughs in the studio and someone says, “I like it.” One wonders if that’s the session that took place at¬†Reeder‘s¬†The Sanctuary¬†studio, as the bassist also had a hand in recording vocals and mixing, but it’s hard to know either way without asking, and frankly, that seems like kind of a random and/or creepy question to drop on the band some 13 years after the fact. In either case, that track is the final original inclusion on¬†Trampled Under Hoof and only paints a more complete portrait of the cross-subgenre appeal of the band between its doom, classic boogie, offbeat weirdness and thorough, defining sense of heft.

All of which show up again as Goatsnake take on Saint Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas in immediate succession. The covers, originally recorded in 1999, seem like a purposeful pairing for what they say about the band’s influences in classic doom and heavy rock, and the post-Sabbath edge¬†Goatsnake give to “Burial at Sea,” with the whispers in the verse and¬†Stahl‘s drawling lines, makes it all the more fitting, where the sample that starts out “Hot Rod,” talking about guitarist¬†Shawn Lane joining the Southern rock outfit and telling a story that basically ends in a threat of a beating from some cops, pulls the listener all the more into¬†Goatsnake‘s world. After that spoken immersion, the song itself is almost an afterthought, but like “Black Cat Bone,” “Junior’s Jam,” or indeed the post-tempo change charge of “Burial at Sea,” it highlights the rocking aspects of¬†Goatsnake with clarity in its purpose and a bizarre vibe that, once again, efficiently captures a crucial piece of what made¬†Goatsnake such a special band.

Aside from the¬†I + Dog Days comp/reissue that¬†Southern Lord also put out in 2004,¬†Trampled Under Hoof¬†was the last¬†Goatsnake offering to be issued until the band’s 2015¬†Black Age Blues¬†(review here) comeback full-length, manifested some five years after their reunion officially started and perhaps too late to give them the momentum they seemed to desire from it. I’ll still happily maintain that record was easily among 2015’s best, however, and of a quality easily worth consideration among its two predecessors in¬†Goatsnake‘s LP catalog as well as¬†Trampled Under Hoof before it. Just a killer, killer album. Strange to think of¬†Goatsnake, who’ve influenced heavy rock bands across the planet for going on two decades, as winding up putting out an LP that could be thought of as underrated, but there you go. Somehow it’s just strange enough to be fitting for them. Nonetheless, like everything they’ve ever done, it was a beast. “Jimi’s Gone,” man. “House of the Moon.” “Grandpa Jones.” So right on. Guess I know what I’m putting on next.

Hope you enjoy Trampled Under Hoof. Thanks for reading.

I’ve been asked a couple times in the last 24-36 hours and nope, no baby yet. The Patient Mrs. is living up to her name, and it would seem The Pecan is exercising some free will early in setting his own schedule. Yesterday was my birthday (I’m 36 years old: wa. fucking. hoo.), so we kind of had our fingers crossed he’d show up and give me an excuse never to have to “celebrate” that again — which, rest assured, I’d relish, because I fucking hate my birthday; like I need a reminder of how utterly useless I’ve been over the passage of time — but no dice. Dude can make an appearance at his leisure at this point and it’s fine by me, though for the general morale level in the house, sooner might be better.

We’ll get there.

That’s pretty much what it’s been this week. Writing and waiting. Texts from my family: “Any update?” “Yeah, she had the kid on the can like those reality shows where the ladies don’t know they’re pregnant. We were gonna put it on Facebook, just haven’t gotten there yet — you know, placenta and all.”

That’s a lot to put in a text, so I’ve just gone with “nope.” Keep it simple.

Here’s what’s in store for next week, subject to change blah blah:

SOMETIME NEXT WEEK: Baby.
Mon.: Tuber review, video premiere for Weed Priest.
Tue.: Oresund Space Collective review, video premiere for Doomstress.
Wed.: Mirror Queen album stream/review.
Thu.: Monolord review.
Fri.: Cities of Mars review.

Built in some flex toward the end of the week there for obvious reasons, but that’s what I’m rolling with for now. We’ll see how it works out.

In the meantime, the plan for this weekend is to read, spend as little time as possible on social media, buy some coffee, watch the Yankees hopefully make their way into the World Series to face the Dodgers — I think they can take them; Kershaw’s due to choke — and try to get my head around to not being such a miserable bastard before this baby comes so that the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes isn’t my stupid, ugly, old, frowning useless fucking face.

Ugh. Obviously I have some work to do. Also, at the risk of telling you way more than I’m comfortable with about myself and how I operate, I haven’t eaten anything not made of protein powder in like two days and I’m not sure when I’m going to let myself do so again. While we’re being honest: Fuck everything. I hope my fucking organs shut down one by one. I want to be obliterated. So far it’s not working.

Piss piss piss.

Have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna go read Star Trek books, listen to more Goatsnake, not eat and wait for baseball to come on. Because life.

Please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

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Friday Full-Length: Goatsnake, Flower of Disease

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Goatsnake remain the standard by which a rolling groove should be judged. Rare are the instances in the last 50 years in which something that might be deemed heavy has been less fuckwithable than it is on their¬†first two albums, I (discussed here) and Flower of Disease. Arriving in successive years in 1999 and 2000, they were an enema of riffs for a rock and roll that had been directionless since grunge ended and a heavy metal that was in the process of losing its way into dudely posturing and splintering into the overthought subgenres that now comprise it. And here comes Goatsnake, driven by the massive rhythm section of bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist (ex-Burning Witch, now The Poisoned Glass) and Greg Rogers (The Obsessed), and they just blew it all away. They weren’t the only heavy rock band emerging at the time, of course — we’re already years past Sleep’s Holy Mountain at this point, Man’s Ruin Records (which released this and¬†the first record) was going strong,¬†and this was the same era in which Orange Goblin, Acid King, Dozer and Electric Wizard were hitting their stride sound-wise — but Goatsnake were a different beast from them as well. To wit, the drearier stoner doom of “The Dealer,” or the nod of the opening title-track. Led by the riffs of Greg Anderson (who’d go on to find a generation’s worth of critical acclaim in SunnO))) and as the head of Southern Lord Recordings) and with Pete Stahl‘s soulful and quirky vocals out front, Goatsnake were able to cast a personality that no one else before or since has been able to touch.

And even apart from its predecessor, Flower of Disease delivers on every level. The swinging hook of “A Truckload of Mamma’s Muffins,” the this-is-a-lifestyle sleaze of “Easy Greasy,” the dated-but-still-charming attitude in “Prayer for a Dying,” the blues harp in “El Coyote” that seems both completely out of place and completely perfect and the way that song launches its faster push, Stahl spitting out lyrics about the House of the Moon and who knows what other bluesy righteousness — all of this comes together with a glorious lack of pretense to make Flower of Disease even more special. Guest appearances from Petra Haden, Dave Catching, Chad Essig and Mathias Schneeberger add depth in violin, piano, the aforementioned blues harp, etc., but at the core remains the largesse of groove that closer “This River” summarizes so well¬†after the quicker “Live to Die.” A nod that was more lucid than Acid King‘s but somehow no less potent, Goatsnake‘s style is one that¬†on this record became entirely their own as much as it couldn’t be¬†Sabbath‘s, which made it twice the bummer that¬†Flower of Disease was their final album, or at least seemed to be for more than a decade.

Followed by the 2004¬†Trampled Under Hoof EP, which included¬†Scott Reeder (ex-Kyuss, now¬†Fireball Ministry) on bass, it would be¬†15 years before¬†Goatsnake¬†issued another full-length. Even by the standard of their reunion (discussed here with¬†Anderson), which started in 2010, it was a considerable wait for¬†last year’s¬†Black Age Blues (review here), and though that album left its audience with a mixed impression — I think some were thrown off by the fact that maybe Goatsnake had grown in the decade and a half — what made them such a landmark act to start with remained wholly intact. I don’t know about you, but I was left hoping it wasn’t a one-off return, as I think heavy rock needs¬†Goatsnake more than the band actually knows, and¬†Flower of Disease is a clear demonstration of why.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Oh boy, this week. Frustrating. Multi-tiered frustration, capped off by absolutely losing my shit last night when the takeout spilled in my car. Slamming doors, yelling so hard my jaw hurt on the rest of the ride home, polluting my wife’s disposition as I all too often do with my negative bullshit. Frustrating. There’s a new Nick Cave record out today. I preordered it and it’s set to arrive this afternoon, but I’m honestly not sure I can handle it at this point. Need a major realignment of my perspective.

Which is basically the goal for this weekend. We’ll see how it goes. Given the neck-deep mindset in which I’ve spent the last weeks (months, two, three years?) wading, I have a hard time seeing the walls of the tunnel let alone any light ahead. Nonetheless, one moves forward because that’s the only direction one can move, if you want to think of it in board game terms.

It looks like this Oslo trip next week is(?) happening. I’m in NYC on Wednesday and Thursday for work either way, so the question is basically whether or not I go from there to Norway for H√łstsabbat or I spend a couple days in NJ seeing family and then head back north with my need-a-good-rock-show tail between my legs. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Accordingly, the plans for Thursday and Friday are kind of up in the air, but lot of good stuff coming up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nonetheless. Monday, a stream from Burn Pilot with an album review, Tuesday same deal from Katla, and Wednesday, fingers crossed for a lyric video premiere and album review from a certain desert rock legend who has a new album release at the end of this month. Don’t even want to jinx it by saying his name, but I’m obviously hoping it comes together. A few cool videos and announcements to catch up on as well.

Also need to start putting together the next Quarterly Review, which is a continually humbling experience. Some “bigger” releases in there this time, stuff I just haven’t gotten to yet — Sumac, Blues Pills, etc. — that’s been sitting on my desktop. I might have to push it to the first week of October because my personal schedule the next couple weeks is so hectic, but the more of a jump I can get on it, the better. Need to log mail for the first time in a while.

So if you need me, tomorrow my plan is to sleep as late as circumstances allow, watch as much baseball as circumstances allow, listen to good music and clear my head to the best of my ability before the alarm goes off Sunday morning and it’s time to get ready for the week ahead. I hope you enjoy these waning days of summer, I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and I hope you’ll take the time to check out the forum and radio stream.

Thanks for reading.

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2015

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 30 albums of 2015 1

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

It’s damn near impossible to start one of these posts without some derivation of, “Whew! What a year it’s been!” The truth is that, since 2014, I’ve been keeping a list of the best releases of 2015, and the list has just grown and grown and grown over the last 12 months. Could have been a top 40, easy. Could have been a top 50, 60, whatever. It was complete inundation.

If you’ve been checking in on any of the lists that have gone up so far, you might notice that some of these records have appeared elsewhere, and possibly in a different order. How does an album end up ahead of another on one list and not on another? Different criteria. Different basis of judgment. As always, the big year-end list (this one) is derived both from what I think are the most important offerings of the year plus what I listened to the most, because while I believe deeply in the critical value of a given work, I also believe there’s value in the kind of record you just can’t put down.

Basically, I believe records have value. Stay tuned for more daring adventures in understatement.

A few emergent factors for 2015 to note: The increasing expansion of subgenres. Psychedelia and what I’ve come to call the heavy ’10s sound finding further root as prominent styles of the day, as well as a budding of emotive doom in the post-Pallbearer vein. At the same time, a more straightforward heavy rock is also making a return, and look for that to continue as new listeners discover past landmarks and modern plays thereupon. Everything is cyclical, and I’m interested to see what the next two or three years bring, both as Millennials hit 30 (and beyond) and as younger kids come up and fuzz out.

But that’s a conversation for a different time, and before we get there, it’s time to take a look back at the best full-lengths of 2015. I hope if I’ve left something out, you’ll let me know about it in the comments, but until then, here we go:

30. High on Fire, Luminiferous

high on fire luminiferous

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed June 15.

Going by some of the results I’ve seen from the Readers Poll, I’m guessing there will be some disagreement on the placement of High on Fire‘s seventh full-length, third for eOne and second to be produced by Kurt Ballou behind 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), but for me it came down to what I went back to more. The brilliant “The Falconist” would be enough on its own for Luminiferous to be included on this list, and taken as a whole, the record affirmed the trio as pivotal heavy metal marauders, an act whose devastation is undulled by the wear they’ve put on it touring the world over and again.

29. CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns

chrch unanswered hymns

Released by Battleground Records. Reviewed June 30.

Undaunted by a name change from Church to CHRCH, the Sacramento five-piece unleashed rare doom extremity on their debut album, but peppered that with a stylistic nuance that many in the pummel-pummel-pummel game cast off, whether it was psychedelic flourish in the guitar or some eerie atmospheric. Among the post potential-filled debut offerings of the year, that’s not a guarantee they’ll find future success on the same level, but it does mean that if you didn’t hear the 19-minute “Dawning,” you missed out.

28. Golden Void, Berkana

golden void berkana

Released by Thrill Jockey Records. Reviewed Sept. 22.

Coherent bliss. The second full-length from the four-piece Golden Void was a logical step forward from the band’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), but that was precisely what it needed to be. With an emerging dynamic of dual vocals between guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (also Earthless) and keyboardist Camilla Saufley-Mitchell on cuts like “Astral Plane” and “Silent Season,” Berkana was less adherent to space rock overall than its predecessor, but gave a more individualized take and was all the richer for it.

27. Stoned Jesus, The Harvest

stoned jesus the harvest

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Probably should have a higher number. Part of the enduring appeal for The Harvest for me is not only how Ukrainian three-piece Stoned Jesus so absolutely pushed back from the album before it, 2012’s sophomore outing, Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but how much reasoning they put behind the moves they made on the six included tracks. Each song had its purpose and place in the overarching flow, and The Harvest continues to deliver something new on thoroughly-earned repeat listens. Perhaps most encouraging of all, I have no idea what they’ll do next.

26. Graveyard, Innocence and Decadence

graveyard innocence and decadence

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 7.

Swedish retro forerunners are hands-down one of the most influential European heavy rock acts of their generation. The ’70s revivalism they helped spearhead on their first, second and third LPs has given them rich ground to develop, and they still managed to bring something new to their sound with the soulfulness of Innocence and Decadence, as well as increasing command and diversity in the vocals. Drummer Axel Sj√∂berg turned in a career performance, and although there are heaps upon heaps of bands out there indulging in post-Graveyard boogie, they showed once again that they’re able to stand both out from the crowd and well above it. Plus, any swing-rocking album that dares to break out soul-singer backing vocals and blastbeats, and pull both off without blinking deserves respect, no matter what else it might have going on.

25. Death Hawks, Sun Future Moon

death hawks sun future moon

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Nov. 3

It felt so good to put on Death HawksSun Future Moon for the first time and be completely blindsided by its serene psychedelic ritualizing. The Finnish four-piece reveled in classic progressive methods, and where it would’ve been so easy for songs like “Hey Ya Sun Ra” or “Dream Life, Waking Life” to come across as pretentious, the naturalism in the recording gave the band’s third album such a liquefied flow that it was impossible not to be swept up by it until, at last, “Friend of Joy” launched into and beyond a peaceful stratosphere in spaced-out ambience. My first exposure to the group and their first outing for Svart, it’s a record so textural and so graceful that it seems to unfurl itself more each time through.

24. Spidergawd, II

spidergawd ii

Released by Stickman Records and Crispin Glover Records. Reviewed Jan. 5.

A quick and strong turnaround from this Norwegian sax-inclusive foursome, who might seem to come out of nowhere were it not for the pedigree of Kenneth Kapstad and Bent S√¶ther in long-running progressives Motorpsycho. Together with Per Borten and Rolf Martin Snustad, Spidergawd spoke to more primal rock instincts — their two LPs to-date and soon to be three are testaments to the ability of music to move, to shove, and to shake; or as they put it, “Get Physical” — but as there is breadth as well, as the psychedelic ‚ÄúCaereulean Caribou‚ÄĚ demonstrated. Anchored by the hook of “Fixing to Die Blues,” Spidergawd‘s second wandered far and wide, but welcomed listeners along for each step of the journey.

23. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cold was the Ground

the midnight ghost train cold was the ground

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 26.

As the title promised, The Midnight Ghost Train‘s third offering and Napalm Records debut delivered harsh truths. They came at breakneck speed and delivered with stage-hewn chemistry by the Midwestern power trio, whose years of road-dogging were brought to bear in the gruff, gravel-throated voice of guitarist Steve Moss, who led drummer Brandon Burghart and newcomer bassist Mike Boyne across nigh-unparalled riff torrents, with all the boogie of any number of ’70s-style sidewinders, but also with a tonal thickness that seemed a miracle it could move at all. Not without its adventurous side in the quieter “The Little Sparrow,” Cold was the Ground brimmed with intensity that brought the band to new levels in every conceivable fashion.

22. Leeches of Lore, Motel of Infinity

leeches of lore motel of infinity

Released by Lorchestral Recording Company. Reviewed Sept. 15.

Blessed art the weirdos, whose records might be few and far between, who might not tour, but whose bold fits and starts span genres easily and whose work truly stands alone. Leeches of Lore‘s Toshi Kasai-produced Motel of Infinity was a godsend in the enduring battle against normality. It was a grinding, grooving anti-punk stampede, at times frenetic and at other times whatever the opposite of frenetic is, and to-date, it’s the Albuquirky outit’s masterpiece, from the low-end buzzsaw, gang-shout and falsetto of “Don’t Open Till Doomsday” through the bass and organ bounce of “Noah’s Soul (is Burning).” They have been and still are a band unto themselves, and the we-do-this-every-day confidence of their execution across Motel of Infinity‘s run only emphasizes how utterly necessary they are.

21. With the Dead, With the Dead

with the dead self titled

Released by Rise Above Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

With the Dead vocalist Lee Dorrian (also head of Rise Above Records, also ex-Cathedral) basically laid it all out there in the interview here when he said, “We wanted to make the most skull-crushing record we possibly could.” That’s precisely what With the Dead‘s self-titled debut is. It’s as heavy as possible, as filthy as possible, all the way through. In some ways very much the sum of its elements with Dorrian on vocals, Tim Bagshaw on guitar/bass and Mark Greening on drums (both ex-Ramesses), it was also of course more than just that, and while so much of their story has yet to be told as they move into their initial live appearances in 2016, their opening salvo was nothing if not as destructive as its intent.

20. Clutch, Psychic Warfare

clutch psychic warfare

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Oct. 6.

How could anyone possibly have even remotely reasonable expectations for a Clutch record after 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here). I won’t say the Maryland stalwarts didn’t deliver with Psychic Warfare, and I doubt any fan of the band who’s dug into “X-Ray Visions,” “A Quick Death in Texas” or “Noble Savage” would, but their returning to producer Machine for the second time in a row made it almost too easy to compare Clutch‘s 10th and 11th long-players. Four years between albums was shortened to just two, and that may have had something to do with it as well, but while the songs were there and I’ve no doubt that Psychic Warfare will endure over the long term — ask me sometime how long it took me to get into Pure Rock Fury — in the moment of its release, Psychic Warfare seemed to stand in the shadow of its predecessor rather than in its own light.

19. Mondo Drag, Mondo Drag

mondo drag self-titled

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Jan. 8.

An awaited return for Midwestern-turned-West-Coast psychedelic rockers Mondo Drag, their self-titled sophomore outing had three years between its recording and release, and was made in 2012 with a shortlived incarnation of the band with bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry, both formerly of Radio Moscow and then-soon to be of Blues Pills. Unsurprisingly, the grooves were tight, but even better, Mondo Drag blew past the peaceful headtrippery of their 2010 debut, New Rituals (review here), toward more expansive and proggy fare. They’ll look to continue that thread on their third outing, The Occultation of Light, in 2016, but the self-titled captured a special moment worthy of celebration, still rife with the classic-minded ethereal spirit of the first outing, but clearly bent on defining its own sonic dogma in hooks and synthy vibes.

18. Lamp of the Universe, The Inner Light of Revelation

lamp of the universe the inner light of revelation

Released by Clostridium Records and Astral Projection. Reviewed April 27.

At the risk of sounding biased, just about any new release from New Zealand tantric psych outfit Lamp of the Universe is going to be welcome by me. Comprised solely of Craig Williamson (also Arc of Ascent), the long-running project nonetheless casts out gorgeously textured meditative psychedelia, at times delving into drone or Eastern folk, but always marking out its own sonic space, whether in the more rock-minded groove of “God of One” or the drumless acoustic swirl of “Ancient Path.” Lamp of the Universe is a rare band — as much as it is a band — that covers a swath of ground stylistically and manages to sound like nothing but itself as it does so, and Williamson‘s commitment to his cosmic mantras remains firm and creatively fertile as the seeds he planted early on continue to bear fruit in complex arrangements that never distract from the central, spiritual purpose of the music.

17. Mammatus, Sparkling Waters

mammatus sparkling waters

Released by Spiritual Pajamas. Reviewed Nov. 9.

Even with its title-track broken into two 20-plus-minute side-consuming halves, it was abundantly plain to hear that¬†Sparkling Waters was the most realized¬†Mammatus outing yet. The four-song, 75-minute offering brimmed with a clarity that even their late-2013 third album,¬†Heady Mental (review here), could only partially claim, leaving behind the fuzz and fog of their earlier work almost entirely while remaining open to employing¬†sonic heft when suitable to their more complex motives. Most effective about¬†Mammatus at this stage was the way they eased into and through varied parts while tying together a coherent whole piece, the builds and cascades of “Sparkling Waters Part One” setting up an expectation of fluidity that held firm even through the more jagged buzz in the early going¬†of¬†closer “Ornia,” the grand finale¬†of which resonates as a cacophony without letting itself actually lose control.

16. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, The Night Creeper

uncle acid the night creeper

Released by Rise Above Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

UK ladykillers¬†Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have emerged as one of the most essential bands of the ’10s.¬†The Night Creeper is their fourth album and it takes the defining eeriness of their melodies and roughs it up with a mostly-live recording job — something which, now that they’re a touring act, they can do — for their grittiest, dirtiest-sounding offering yet. Songs like “Melody Lane,” “Pusher Man” and opener “Waiting for Blood” speak to what’s let their methodology spread so widely in the first place, the VHS grain of their guitars and vocals resting over classic swing and proliferating maddening hooks with lethal intent. Between the nine-minute gruel of “Slow Death” and the hidden acoustic track “Black Motorcade,”¬†The Night Creeper wasn’t without its element of sonic progress, but with¬†Uncle Acid, it’s still the combination of threat, swing and memorable songwriting that brings listeners back to their dark alleyways for another taste.

15. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland

death alley black magick boogieland

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed June 8.

Easily one of 2015’s most encouraging debuts. Making its opening salvo with¬†the propulsion of Mot√∂rhead-derived heavy rock in songs like “Over Under” and “Black Magick Boogieland,” the first outing from Amsterdam-based foursome¬†Death Alley¬†touched on classic ideals without going retro on “Bewildered Eyes,” nodded toward psychedelic melodicism and more patient intentions in “Golden Fields of Love,” and portrayed its punker roots in “Dead Man’s Bones” — all before the 12:40 space rock extravaganza that took hold with closer “Supernatural Predator.” It was a lot of territory to cover, but¬†Death Alley not only made it sound cohesive, they made it rock and they made it a good time. In just about 41 minutes,¬†Black Magick Boogieland was not only a voyage well worth taking, it was a potential-filled, headbang-worthy ripper of an album from an outfit who deserves every bit of attention they seem to be shouting for. Hope they don’t wait long for a follow-up.

14. The Machine, Offblast!

the machine offblast

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed May 28.

Five records in, Dutch trio¬†The Machine have found a niche for themselves between heavy psych rock, desert fuzz and exploratory jamming.¬†Offblast!, with a title that seemed more reminiscent of Europunker speed rock, was as spacious as it was driving, and whether it was the more structured material like “Dry End” or “Coda Sun” or the two extended cuts, 16-minute opener “‚ÄúChrysalis (J.A.M.)‚ÄĚ and 12-minute closer “Come to Light,” their dynamic remained natural and held firm to a spontaneous sensibility, like at any turn, any part might take off for an eight-minute ride to who knows where. That that didn’t always happen only made¬†Offblast! a richer listening experience, its varied ideas coming through consistent tonality to affect a more than satisfying front-to-back flow that toyed with momentum even as it built more and more of it. Was a while in the making, coming three years after 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here),¬†but easily worth the wait.

13. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

brothers of the sonic cloth self titled

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed March 3.

There were moments where the self-titled debut from¬†Brothers of the Sonic Cloth was almost too much to take in one sitting. By the time the¬†Tad Doyle-led trio got around to the 11-minute “La Mano Poderosa,” sometimes I felt like I needed a second to catch my breath before diving further, always further, into the smoldering abyss their tones, growls and lurch seemed to create. Six years after their demo (review here) served notice like a tectonic rumble in the distance, the album arrived with comet-into-planet heft, and its oppression was as much about atmosphere as it was sheer aural assault. Imagine an arm reaching down your throat, grabbing your lungs, and forcibly deflating them one at a time. Is that hyperbole? Absolutely, and well earned. Every bit the debut of the year.

12. Kind, Rocket Science

kind rocket science

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 2.

No, Boston supergroup¬†Kind aren’t so high on this list just because they called a song “Pastrami Blaster.” Granted, that didn’t hurt, but ultimately it was the blend of cavernous psychedelics and heavy rumble that made¬†Rocket Science so infectious. Comprised of vocalist¬†Craig Riggs (Roadsaw), guitarist¬†Darryl Shepard (Milligram, The Scimitar, etc.), bassist¬†Tom Corino (Rozamov) and drummer¬†Matt Couto (Elder),¬†Kind earned immediate interest for their pedigree, but it was more the breadth of jams like “Hordeolum” and “The Angry Undertaker” that defined their first outing, various impulses toward structure and open-endedness not so much pushing against each other as working in tandem to craft something that drew from the best of both mindsets. Obviously these are busy guys, but hopefully¬†Kind doesn’t all by the wayside for other ongoing projects.¬†Rocket Science was unmistakable in its demonstration that they have much to offer.

11. Bloodcow, Crystals and Lasers

bloodcow crystals and lasers

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 4.

Iowa five-piece¬†Bloodcow hadn’t put out a record since 2007’s¬†Bloodcow III: Hail Xenu, but that didn’t stop¬†Crystals and Lasers from being their best work yet. As much punk as metal as heavy rock, it wasn’t for everybody, but it was most definitely for me. With a constant thread of satire in songs like “Ultra Super Sexual,” “Sock,” “Dick for Days” and the oh-shit-I’m-middle-aged-how-the-fuck-did-this-happen (not saying I relate or anything, but holy shit I can relate) “After Party,” it was nonetheless a stylistically varied and universally professional-sounding 13-track collection, offering weirdo quirk in “Blood and Guts,” “Exploding Head” and “Little Chromosome” and finding room for a bit of scathing social commentary in its title-track and “HIVampyre.” If they’re working at an eight-year pace, I don’t know that we’ll get another¬†Bloodcow record, but they very clearly put everything they had into¬†Crystals and Lasers and the result was a defining statement.

10. Kadavar, Berlin

kadavar berlin

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed July 7.

After two wallops in the form of 2013’s¬†Abra Kadavar (review here) and 2012’s self-titled debut¬†(discussed here), German trio¬†Kadavar¬†continued to prove the effectiveness of their songwriting on¬†Berlin, a return that front-to-back brimmed with vitality and bounce rare enough for heavy rock generally more content to be downtrodden or attempting to feign bluesy substance. Unabashedly poppy at times,¬†Berlin was the party that brought everyone along who was up for taking the ride, and whether it was the hook of “Lord of the Sky” showing how just a tiny melodic turn could make a track infectious or cuts like “Thousand Miles Away from Home,” “Filthy Illusion,” “Stolen Dreams,” “Spanish Wild Rose,” “See the World with Your Own Eyes” — all of them, really — working their way into the consciousness,¬†Berlin felt like it was primed to be the soundtrack of many summers to come. They moved away from the retro style of their first two outings, but in so doing took fuller command of their sound and put it to remarkable use.

9. Goatsnake, Black Age Blues

goatsnake black age blues

Released by Southern Lord. Reviewed May 19.

Picking up right where¬†Flower of Disease closer “The River” left off with “Another River to Cross,”¬†Goatsnake‘s third full-length arrived a full 15 years after its predecessor, and as one might expect that brought some considerable changes in the band’s sound. Oh, they still rolled the hell out of a riff, guitarist¬†Greg Anderson (he of¬†SunnO))) and¬†Southern Lord Recordings) very much at the fore tonally, but a bluesy inflection¬†from vocalist¬†Pete Stahl (also¬†earthlings?) and some well-placed backing vocals added personality in a daring and unexpected fashion. Songs like “Jimi’s Gone,” “Elevated Man” and “Grandpa Jones” sat comfortably in the band’s influential pantheon of heft, but it was how¬†Black Age Blues pushed beyond what¬†Goatsnake did in their initial run that made it so satisfying. For a record that arrived five years after they got back together, it could have easily been disaster, but¬†Black Age Blues built on what¬†Goatsnake was without detracting from the legacy that has influenced a generation of heavy rock.

8. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy

kings destroy self titled

Released by War Crime Recordings. Reviewed April 15.

I’m proud to call the members of¬†Kings Destroy friends and I won’t attempt to feign impartiality when it comes to considering their work as a band, but I felt in listening to their self-titled third LP that they had finally gotten to the point where they were bringing the onstage confrontationalism of their live show to the studio. Yeah, “Mr. O” was upbeat and catchy and gave side A some thrust, but even in chugging opener “Smokey Robinson” or the moody “Mytho” and “Embers,”¬†Kings Destroy not only came further into their own in terms of style, building on the anti-genre defiant stance of 2013’s¬†A Time of Hunting (review here), but did so with a clearheaded progressivism, a better sense of who they are musically and what they want the band to be. I wouldn’t trade seeing them play “Embers” or “W2” as many times as I have for anything, but even unto the gang-shout half-speed hardcore of “Time for War,”¬†Kings Destroy‘s¬†Kings Destroy made no bones about how it wound up with the eponymous title. It’s them through and through.

7. Cigale, Cigale

cigale self titled

Self-released. Reviewed May 4.

It may never be possible to listen to the self-titled debut from¬†Cigale outside the context of the death of guitarist/vocalist¬†Rutger Smeets (ex-Sungrazer). That loss casts a dark shadow over a collection that otherwise radiates colorful sweetness and serenity, the peaceful depth beginning with “Grey Owl” and only broadening as it turns and weaves through “Steeplechase,” “Feel the Heat,” “Harvest Begun” and so on, but the record remains a gorgeous, engrossing wash of resonant melody and underlying presence. Not without its moments of melancholy, the more overarching impression was of beauty not tied to any notion of playing to genre or style, and while I don’t know what the future will hold for the band, if they’ll keep moving forward or not or if they’re even in a place yet to consider such things, they helped broaden the context of European heavy psychedelia with their first album, and that is no minor achievement.

6. Sun Blood Stories, Twilight Midnight Morning

sun blood stories twilight midnight morning

Self-released. Reviewed June 19.

Another one that just kind of smacked me in the face. Idahoan heavy psych explorers¬†Sun Blood Stories‘ second album,¬†Twilight Midnight Morning was soaked in vibe and moved fluidly between experimentalist noisemaking and patient, memorable songwriting. Tracks like “West the Sun,” “Witch Wind” and “Found Reasons Found Out” never raged, exactly, but had enough weight to their rhythm to let you know they were there and interested in groove, while later pieces “Time Like Smoke,” “Moon Song: Waxing” and “Misery is Nebulous” drew exponentially from earlier freakout impulses and shifted into a dronier and more ambient approach. The combination of the two — semi-structure¬†up front, open expansion in the back — made the three-part¬†Twilight Midnight Morning engaging and hypnotic in kind, and though I hope they get weirder and experiment and develop the atmospheric side of their sound, I’ve also got my fingers crossed they hold firm to their more grounded aspects, since its the range between the two that gives their sophomore outing its defining fluidity.

5a. Colour Haze, To the Highest Gods We Know

colour haze to the highest gods we know

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Jan. 6.

I’ll cite precedent in last year’s list¬†for including a “5a.” The intent in doing so¬†is to convey the idea that Colour Haze‘s latest outing,¬†To the Highest Gods We Know, is worthy of top five consideration, but its release date was split between 2014 (CD) and 2015 (LP), so it was a little unclear where to put it. As the album is basically a year old at this point, it seems fair to say it’s held up, drawing back from the grandiose vision of 2012’s¬†She Said (review here) without losing sight of the progressive elements that have taken root in the German trio’s sound. Their work has been and remains essential¬†to the development of heavy psychedelic rock in Europe and beyond, and even though¬†To the Highest Gods We Know felt like something of a reset — a stripping down of arrangements in places and getting back to a trio-in-a-room feel — it still stepped forward in its title-track and in songs like “√úberall” and “Call” and showed that even when it seems¬†Colour Haze have pushed their approach as far as it can go, there’s always new ground to explore, and their pull¬†to do so is undiminished.

5. The Atomic Bitchwax, Gravitron

the atomic bitchwax gravitron

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 20.

Doesn’t exactly seem like giving away state secrets to note that a record with songs like “Sexecutioner” and “Fuck Face” is aggressive, but it’s particularly interesting in light of the past work of New Jersey trio¬†The Atomic Bitchwax, who I don’t think sounded as barn-burning as they do on¬†Gravitron even in their earliest going. The trio of bassist/vocalist¬†Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist¬†Finn Ryan and drummer¬†Bob Pantella kept their signature winding riff style intact — demonstrated most expansively over 2011’s single-song full-length instrumental¬†The Local Fuzz (review here) — but while their turns were as blinding as ever, their tones were more pointed and¬†Pantella‘s snare more upfront on the beat, which gave¬†Gravitron a newfound sense of urgency. It worked. Even poppier songs like “Roseland” or the closing “Ice Age Hey Baby” benefited from the additional thrust, and the album overall felt lean, mean and ready to be taken on the road, which of course is exactly what they did with it. Six albums in,¬†The Atomic Bitchwax were at their most vital yet.

4. All Them Witches, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker

all them witches dying surfer meets his maker

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Nashville four-piece¬†All Them Witches probably could’ve gone into the studio, churned out a record of crunchy¬†riffs with a quiet part or two for flavor and positioned themselves at the forefront of American heavy rock with their¬†New West Records debut and third full-length¬†overall,¬†Dying Surfer Meets His Maker. Instead, they defied expectation boldly and brought their growing audience into the room with them and producer Mikey Allred¬†as they captured the album, which finds its most affecting moments not in tonal weight, but emotional resonance, the melody at the midpoint of “Talisman” or the string arrangement gracefully tucked into “Open Passageways.” There’s still the push of “Dirt Preachers,” and entrancing closer “Blood and Sand – Milk and Endless Waters” has its heft as well, but¬†All Them Witches‘ success ultimately came from being the album they wanted to make, built from the dynamic that’s developed on stage between bassist/vocalist¬†Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist¬†Ben McLeod,¬†Allan Van Cleave on Fender Rhodes/strings, and drummer¬†Robby Staebler, and alive in its feeling of exploration. I won’t predict what they might do from here, but I’m willing to say outright it’ll be worth hearing one way or another.

3. Snail, Feral

snail feral

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed Oct. 13.

My expectations for¬†Snail‘s third post-reunion full-length and Small Stone label debut,¬†Feral, were pretty high. Not unreasonably so, though. Their 2012 outing,¬†Terminus (review here), built on the blend of heavy psych riffs, laid back roll and melodicism that 2009’s¬†Blood (review here) established as the band’s working modus, but¬†Feral was going to be a different beast from the start¬†because it was the West Coast outfit’s first full-length as a trio since they made their self-titled debut (reissue review here) in 1993 before splitting up the next year. Whatever my expectations were, however,¬†Snail shattered them almost immediately. In the progression of their songwriting as shown across the strong opening salvo of¬†“Building a Haunted House,” “Smoke the Deathless” and “A Mustard Seed” through one of the year’s best songs in the expansive and crushing “Thou Art That,” the three-piece showcased a breadth unlike anything they’d conjured before, and it only continued through “Born in Captivity,” the catchy “Derail,” “Psilocybe” and the soul-infused wah leads that peppered the pleading closer “Come Home.”¬†Where¬†Terminus offered intensity,¬†Feral offered patience in its execution, and the atmosphere it created suited the band’s sound as well as the¬†Seldon Hunt cover art seemed to summarize the alternate reality in which the music took place. Everything about how it came together worked just right, and even as a fan of the band’s work since they got together again, I was taken aback by the unflinching quality of¬†Feral front to back.

2. Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

acid king middle of nowhere center of everywhere

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 19.

Ten years is a long, long time. Especially in music. The prospect of a fourth¬†Acid King record has been tossed around for at least the last six of those 10 years, but to finally have it realized was something else entirely.¬†Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere was without a doubt my most-listened-to album of the year, and its combination of tonal haze, low-end heft and spacious atmosphere was perfect. There’s just no other way to say it. It was perfect. From “Silent Pictures” and “Coming down from Outer Space” through “Red River,” “Infinite Skies” and the sprawling “Center of Everywhere” itself, guitarist/vocalist¬†Lori S., bassist¬†Mark Lamb and drummer¬†Joey Osbourne crafted an absolutely perfect heavy psych record. How many bands walking the earth could even get away with calling a track “Laser Headlights,” let alone make it kick ass? Yeah,¬†Goatsnake came back this year, and that was great, but for me, the return of¬†Acid King to their throne of nod was even more the story of the year. Together with producer¬†Billy Anderson, they offered a depth of tone that was simply unmatched, and without an ounce of pretense, they unveiled a roll that continues to resound. I’m a big fan of getting lost in a record, and¬†Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere eased the listener in with its “Intro,” pulled reality apart from with “Silent Pictures” and set about doing the universe a favor by remaking the cosmos as the kind of place where one might find a wizard riding a tiger past the craters of the moon, until, at last, it deposited you back where you started. Best trip of 2015, no question.

1. Elder, Lore

elder lore

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed Feb. 19.

Make no mistake, 2015¬†was Elder‘s year. We were all just living in it. Truth be told, I’ve been back and forth between¬†Elder and¬†Acid King in the top spot for the last couple months (you might recall in July they¬†were reversed), but when it finally came to it, there was no way I could feasibly call anything other than¬†Lore the album of the year. From the gorgeous¬†Adrian Dexter artwork (discussed here), through the progressive clarion of “Compendium”‘s noodling guitar line and into the massive scope of the title-track (discussed here),¬†Lore was the moment in which¬†Elder — guitarist/vocalist¬†Nick DiSalvo, bassist¬†Jack Donovan and drummer¬†Matt Couto — tore down the walls of genre, whether it was heavy rock, psychedelia or anything else, and emerged with their own approach¬†and complex, varied modus of songwriting. They’ve been turning heads since their self-titled debut arrived in 2008, but with 2011’s¬†Dead Roots Stirring (review here), they began to demonstrate the potential for really adding something to the patchwork of underground heavy. In moving forward by making clarity a hallmark both of their sound and of their purpose,¬†Elder came into their own with these five tracks, and do not at all be surprised a couple years from now when bands start showing up aping¬†DiSalvo‘s style of riffing, since such a bold and successful foray of individualism can only be influential in the longer run. At nearly an hour long,¬†Lore was not a minor undertaking, but each song seemed to set up its own atmosphere, feeding not only its own singular focus, but that of the album overall. Its turns blinding, its impact forceful and its affect drawing from the best of the sonic personalities of all three players,¬†Elder‘s¬†Lore reaped wide acclaim and earned it every step of the way. Its progressive vision has only begun to be digested.

Honorable Mention

Killer Boogie, Detroit – Impressive debut from the retro-minded offshoot of¬†Black Rainbows brought ’70s boogie to Italy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a quick turnaround, but either way, their first outing knew its audience and spoke directly to it.

My Sleeping Karma, Moksha РThis one was on various incarnations of the list. Very interested to see where the German heavy prog outfit wind up in terms of expanding their arrangements, but Moksha was a satisfying step forward in that process.

Egypt, Endless Flight – Should probably have a number, but the fact is it’s only been out for like two weeks, so it hasn’t really been given the test of time at this point. Still,¬†Egypt always deliver and¬†this was no exception.

Valkyrie, Shadows – An awaited third full-length from¬†Virginia’s¬†Valkyrie and also their¬†Relapse Records debut offered enough blazing guitar work to meet any quota, and was a welcome return after a long absence.

Magic Circle, Journey’s End – The second LP from this Massachusetts outfit pushed beyond doomly confines into more traditional metallurgy but held its eerie atmospherics intact, and the combination suited them remarkably well.

Monolord, Vænir РThis was my go-to for 2015 when nothing else seemed quite crushing enough. The Swedish trio have very quickly stomped their way into the hearts and minds of the international underground, and rightfully so.

Freedom Hawk, Into Your Mind РAfter making a transition from a four-piece to a trio, this Virginian outfit proceeded to take a few stylistic risks on their second Small Stone long-player, and they paid off.

Tombstones,¬†Vargariis – Fourth full-length from this Norwegian trio pushed them outside of doom’s confines into a darker and more extreme version of heaviness that pulled from death and black metals in addition to its sludgy underpinnings. The meld was punishing and lost nothing of its groove, wherever it went at any given moment.

Faces of Bayon, Ash and Dust Have no Dominion – I guess my only hesitation with including¬†Faces of Bayon‘s second outing in any kind of year-end fare is I’m not sure if the album has actually been released yet. Even if not, they’re easily worth a mention.

Ice Dragon, A Beacon on the Barrow РKind of a down year from Ice Dragon in terms of overall productivity, but if the quantity was down compared to some, A Beacon on the Barrow was quality enough to carry them through. In a way, I think the album actually benefited from the band giving listeners time to take it in.

Arenna, Given to Emptiness – Ah, so good. The Spanish heavy psych troupe dug in deep on¬†Given to Emptiness and conjured sonic and emotional resonance on their second full-length. It’s one that still gets repeat listens.

Monster Magnet, Cobras and Fire – The long-running New Jersey outfit’s reworking of their 2010 album¬†Mastermind was excellent, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t seem fair to list it when they’re working mostly from already-released source material. But still, if you haven’t heard it, go find it.

Various Artists, Electric Ladyland [Redux] – Even if the results hadn’t been so spectacular,¬†Electric Ladyland [Redux]¬†would deserve a mention for the sheer scope and logistical nightmare that the project must have been. Kudos to¬†Magnetic Eye Records all around.

There are so many others:¬†Abrahma, Goya,¬†Sun and Sail Club, Deville,¬†Sacri Monti,¬†Dirty Streets,¬†Ufomammut,¬†Wo Fat‘s live album, Mirror Queen, Pentagram,¬†Torche,¬†Sumac,¬†Garden of Worm,¬†Black Rainbows,¬†Holy Serpent,¬†Minsk,¬†Baron,¬†Weedpecker,¬†Electric Moon,¬†Fuzz,¬†Bell Witch,¬†Windhand, Niche, We Lost the Sea,¬†Seremonia,¬†Sunder,¬†Domovoyd, The Heavy Eyes,¬†Demon Head,¬†Fogg,¬†Stars that Move,¬†Enslaved,¬†Ruby the Hatchet, on and on and on. That’s not even to mention the stuff I didn’t hear —¬†Baroness will be on many people’s lists, no doubt, as well as¬†Mutoid Man, Ghost and¬†Kylesa — so yeah,¬†I¬†could pretty much keep going ad infinitum.

I, however, cannot.¬†It’s been an absolute pleasure trying to keep up with 2015’s barrage the last 12 months, and I expect 2016 will only bring more. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading or that you’re able to get some use out of this post, whatever that might mean, and I thank you deeply, from the bottom of my heart, for your time and for reading. It means more to me than I can say that you might check out even any portion of this site or be involved, whether it’s sharing a link, leaving a comment to let me know who I forgot to mention or correct my spelling, signing up for the forum, listening to the radio, whatever it might be.

Thank you for an amazing 2015. And please stay tuned, because of course, there’s much more¬†to come.

 

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audiObelisk Transmission 055

Posted in Podcasts on December 14th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

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Before we get to all the tracks and this and that, I have to say, this double-size year-end podcast was an absolute pleasure to put together. Fun. Actual fun. I don’t know if it was the preponderance of excellent songs to work from that came out in 2015 or what, but I had a really good time making my way through the near-four-hour run, and I hope you feel that way too as you listen.

It should go without mentioning, but I’ll give the disclaimer anyway that this is in no way, shape or form a complete rundown of everything awesome produced this year. My own Top 10 has bands on it who aren’t represented here, so if you don’t see something you think belongs in the mix below — looking at you, Baroness fans — please keep in mind that it’s not my intent to offer anything more than a partial summary. Otherwise, I’d have to make it a year long.

Thanks for listening if you get the chance to do so, and if there’s something here you haven’t yet checked out, I hope you dig it. The flow is pretty easy front to back, but we get into some more extreme stuff in the third hour for a bit before going grand with Elder and the “Digestive Raga” from √ėresund Space Collective, which seemed an appropriate way to end off giving everyone a chance to process what’s just been heard. Please enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Acid King, ‚ÄúRed River‚ÄĚ from Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
0:08:24 Clutch, ‚ÄúFirebirds‚ÄĚ from Psychic Warfare
0:11:23 Bloodcow, ‚ÄúCrystals and Lasers‚ÄĚ from Crystals and Lasers
0:14:28 Stoned Jesus, ‚ÄúRituals of the Sun‚ÄĚ from The Harvest
0:21:25 Ufomammut, ‚ÄúPlouton‚ÄĚ from Ecate
0:24:33 Geezer, ‚ÄúSo Tired‚ÄĚ from The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One Split w/ Borracho
0:32:36 Wizard Eye, ‚ÄúThunderbird Divine‚ÄĚ from Wizard Eye
0:37:40 Mondo Drag, ‚ÄúCrystal Visions Open Eye‚ÄĚ from Mondo Drag
0:42:08 Fogg, ‚ÄúSeasons‚ÄĚ from High Testament
0:48:26 Goatsnake, ‚ÄúGrandpa Jones‚ÄĚ from Black Age Blues
0:53:02 Snail, ‚ÄúThou Art That‚ÄĚ from Feral

Second Hour:
1:03:17 Sergio Ch., ‚ÄúLas Piedras‚ÄĚ from 1974
1:06:40 All Them Witches, ‚ÄúBlood and Sand ‚Äď Milk and Endless Waters‚ÄĚ from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
1:13:54 Death Hawks, ‚ÄúRipe Fruits‚ÄĚ from Sun Future Moon
1:18:45 Colour Haze, ‚ÄúCall‚ÄĚ from To the Highest Gods We Know
1:26:46 Kadavar, ‚ÄúLast Living Dinosaur‚ÄĚ from Berlin
1:30:50 Spidergawd, ‚ÄúFixing to Die Blues‚ÄĚ from Spidergawd II
1:35:02 The Machine, ‚ÄúDry End‚ÄĚ from Offblast!
1:38:01 The Midnight Ghost Train, ‚ÄúStraight to the North‚ÄĚ from Cold was the Ground
1:42:00 Kind, ‚ÄúPastrami Blaster‚ÄĚ from Rocket Science
1:48:29 Valley, ‚ÄúDream Shooter, Golden!‚ÄĚ from Sunburst
1:54:22 Graveyard, ‚ÄúFrom a Hole in the Wall‚ÄĚ from Innocence and Decadence
1:58:09 Demon Head, ‚ÄúBook of Changes‚ÄĚ from Ride the Wilderness

Third Hour:
2:02:50 Egypt, ‚ÄúEndless Flight‚ÄĚ from Endless Flight
2:12:29 Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, ‚ÄúEmpires of Dust‚ÄĚ from Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2:20:09 With the Dead, ‚ÄúI am Your Virus‚ÄĚ from With the Dead
2:25:45 Ahab, ‚ÄúRed Foam (The Great Storm)‚ÄĚ from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
2:32:08 Kings Destroy, ‚ÄúMr. O‚ÄĚ from Kings Destroy
2:36:37 Sun and Sail Club, ‚ÄúDresden Firebird Freakout‚ÄĚ from The Great White Dope
2:38:33 Sunder, ‚ÄúWings of the Sun‚ÄĚ from Sunder
2:42:41 Weedpecker, ‚ÄúInto the Woods‚ÄĚ from Weedpecker II
2:50:50 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, ‚ÄúPusher Man‚ÄĚ from The Night Creeper
2:56:26 Eggnogg, ‚ÄúSlugworth‚ÄĚ from Sludgy Erna Bastard split w/ Borracho

Fourth Hour:
3:02:48 Golden Void, ‚ÄúAstral Plane‚ÄĚ from Berkana
3:09:34 Elder, ‚ÄúLore‚ÄĚ from Lore
3:25:24 √ėresund Space Collective, ‚ÄúDigestive Raga‚ÄĚ from Different Creatures

Total running time: 3:55:26

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 055

 

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 10 Songs of 2015

Posted in Features on December 10th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top-10-songs-(the-castle-at-Meudon-near-Paris)

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

Last year, I did a Song of the Year¬†post, but it wound up having basically a list’s worth of honorable mentions at the bottom, so as we move further into year-end season, it seemed only fair to give more releases their due.

One of the trickier aspects of putting this list together is trying to separate songs from the context of the albums on which they appear. That is, thinking of a given song as a standalone entity, apart from the track before, the track after and whatever else the record on which it appears might have on offer. I did my best to make sure these tracks had enough power and presence within them to be considered on their own as well. I’d expect that much of whether or not you think I was¬†successful in that will depend on how much you agree with the picks. That’s fair enough.

And to that end, as always, please let me know if you think something was omitted here, if there was a song that really stood out to you this year — somebody’s single, or something from a record, whatever it might be — that doesn’t show up on the list. Hell, there are only 10 included. That’s bound to not be everything. Still, these are what hit me especially hard this year:

elder-lore

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 10 Songs of 2015

1. Elder, “Lore”
2. Acid King, “Center of Everywhere”
3. High on Fire, “The Falconist”
4. Death Alley, “Supernatural Predator”
5. Snail, “Thou Art That”
6.¬†All Them Witches, “Open Passageways”
7. Sun Blood Stories, “Witch Wind”
8. The Atomic Bitchwax, “Hey Baby Ice Age”
9.¬†Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones”
10. √ėresund Space Collective, “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door”

Honorable Mention

A few honorable mentions: Kings Destroy‘s “Mr. O” remains a sentimental favorite and a song I go back to on many occasions when I need a boot to the ass.¬†Clutch‘s “X-Ray Visions” efficiently reaffirmed the righteousness of their direction since Earth Rocker, while¬†Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ “Melody Lane” did likewise for that UK outfit’s malevolent grit-pop.

It was buried under a morass of riffs, but Windhand‘s “Kingfisher” was a standout, while Kadavar‘s “See the World with Your Own Eyes” skillfully walked a fine line between inspirational and cornball without any concern for sliding from one to the next, and so didn’t. If this list went to 11, Graveyard‘s “Too Much is Not Enough” would’ve been my next pick for the unabashed soulfulness pervading its melancholy¬†atmosphere.

Notes

What was to be done with¬†Elder‘s “Lore?” In the end, I’m not sure any other single track showed the kind of scope, the emotive presence, the poise, the progression and, pivotally, the groove it did. In its three stages, the 16-minute album centerpiece and title-track underlined the sheer mastery¬†Elder put on display across their third full-length’s span.¬†Wait a few years and you will find bands coming out who sound like this.

I had a hard time picking a song from¬†Acid King‘s¬†Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. “Coming Down from Outer Space” has that mega-hook. “Red River” rolls so fluidly. In the end, “Center of Everywhere combines all those aspects with the atmospheric breadth that played such a huge role in making the album so special. It simply would not be denied. Similarly,¬†High on Fire‘s “The Falconist” from 2015’s Luminiferous¬†is arguably that trio’s most melodic, progressive work to-date. Infectious, heavy and emotionally resonant in a way that a lot of their material actively works against being, to my ears it’s the boldest thing they’ve done.

Scope was a big part of the appeal of¬†Death Alley‘s¬†“Supernatural Predator,” the Dutch band running between Mot√∂rhead and¬†Hawkwind in one song and bringing in former¬†The Devil’s Blood vocals¬†Farida Lemouchi to help them do it. At nearly 13 minutes long, its hypnosis feels like it could push even further if it wanted to, and that’s one of my favorite aspects of it. Also over 10 minutes long,¬†Snail‘s “Thou Art That” was for me the defining moment of their excellent¬†Feral album, a whopper of a riff marking a place within a brooding psychedelic landscape that even just three years ago I’m not sure they would have been able to conjure in the same way. One of those tracks that eats¬†like an album.

There was a video of¬†All Them Witches playing “Open Passageways” at a radio station in Nashville that was out before the song had a title, and since I first saw that earlier this year, I’d hoped it would make its way onto their third album,¬†Dying Surfer Meets His Maker. It did, and the arrangement was stunning from the propulsive drum work and sustained consonants of the vocals to the weeping violin. It was between “Witch Wind” and “West the Sun” from¬†Sun Blood Stories‘¬†Twilight Midnight Morning, but the former was the hook that first caught my ear and made me dig deeper into the Boise natives’ 2015 offering, and I couldn’t discount that factor. A release that continues to deliver every time I put it on.

I remain a sucker for¬†The Atomic Bitchwax, and while their¬†Gravitron album was harder hitting overall than anything they’ve done in a while, “Hey Baby Ice Age” balanced that with a bit of their penchant for a poppier hook, and the result nestled into my mental jukebox, where it remains in high rotation to this day.¬†Goatsnake‘s “Grandpa Jones” had a similar effect, its megagroove and ultra-catchy chorus continue to be stuck in my head more often than not. If I had any desire to escape from either whatsoever, it might be a problem.

Rounding out the list of 10 and worthy of special note is¬†√ėresund Space Collective‘s “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door” from their recently-issued¬†Different Creatures album. I think it’s the most recent release on this list, but I had to get the song in somewhere. It’s a sprawling 45-minute jam that could just as easily have been put out as its own full-length, but closes out the 140-minute double-CD gorgeously by pushing the listener farther and farther out to the very limits of the reaches of space rock. Progressive improvisation is no easy feat, but “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door” left the band with no option but to include every second of its extended span. It’s all essential.

These are just¬†my picks. If you agree, disagree, have more to add, I’d love to know about it in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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