Friday Full-Length: The Awesome Machine, The Soul of a Thousand Years

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Released in 2003, The Soul of a Thousand Years was the final of five albums from Swedish heavy rockers The Awesome Machine. It’s probably not their best-known work, which might be their 1998 self-titled debut or 2000’s …It’s Ugly or Nothing, but for a decade from 1996 to 2006, they developed a take on meaty fuzz riffs and particularly Swedish burl that no one else ever managed to do in the same way during their era. After their 1999 second album, Doom, Disco, Dope, Death and Love, which was self-released, their last three LPs — the aforementioned …It’s Ugly or Nothing, 2002’s Under the Influence (also a gem) and The Soul of a Thousand Years — were all issued through People Like You Records. Now a subsidiary of Century Media — and it may have been then as well for all I know — the German imprint centers mostly on psychobilly and garage rock, very post-Hellacopters stuff, and acts like The Bones and so on. Their website doesn’t even mention any of these releases, so apart from the secondary market, they’ve been unavailable for however long.

The lineup on The Soul of a Thousand Years was vocalist Lasse Olausson, bassist Anders Wenander, guitarist Christian Smedström and drummer Tobbe Bövik, and the record is rife with hidden guest appearances from around the Gothenburg metal set of the time, but the impact is much more about the songs themselves. They open spacious on “Eating Me Slowly,” with big drums behind bigger guitars and vocals that soar largely because of the gutted-out power pushing them forward — Olausson reportedly blew out his voice during the recording in such a way as to have done permanent damage, removing his ability to tour and factoring into his leaving the band; listening to the record now, I believe it — but even in that track there’s an immediacy to the chorus that finds ready answer throughout the 12-song span.

With quiet stretches in the eventually-bursts-in-volumeThe Awesome Machine Soul of a Thousand Years moody highlight “Scars” and the later more gradual build of “Not My War” (the vocal layering there is subtle but worth specifically appreciating) that prove no less memorable than anything that surrounds them, cuts like “Forgotten Words,” “Hunt You Down,” “My Friend,” “Black Hearted Son” and “Bring Out the Dead” are ragers worthy of anything from the era you’d want to set them up against. “My Friend” careens and stomps with an intensity that’s raw despite sounding so full — oh, that bass is a delight; see also “Deadly Caress” and, well, just about everywhere — and all the while, the four-piece let loose killer hooks regardless of tempo or other aesthetic intent. For instance, they necessarily tell you that in “Hunt You Down,” with its great, lumbering swing, that it’s King Kong doing the hunting, but you get the idea anyway, and the song still gets stuck in your head. It is a multiple-tiered win.

And a multiple-tiered album. At 12 songs and 50 minutes, you would be within rights to call it a relic of the CD era, but one could hardly accuse The Awesome Machine of filler. The tracks vary widely. “Hunt You Down” moves into “Scars” moves into “My Friend” moves into the drum-centered, keyboard-inclusive interlude “Ghosts of Patroklos,” which is one of several short instrumental breaks where the forward shove of The Soul of a Thousand Years lets up. After “Black Hearted Son” delivers one of the collection’s most engaging heavy rock onslaughts and the subsequent “Deadly Caress” rolls out its own slower, creepier, still-chorus-minded and still-definitely-weighted fare, the analog pops and manipulated, sounds-like-an-old-78RPM guitar of “Tom’s Serenade” (Tom who? I don’t know) step back before the final movement of “Bring Out the Dead,” “Not My War” and the broader-echoing, intentionally-melodic closing title-track — the lyrics of which are largely kept to repetitions of the title-line — brings the album to a jammy, surprisingly fuzzed finish, consistent in its roll but purposefully left more open in its structure. If it’s a bid to emphasize how far The Awesome Machine have pulled their audience since the outset pair of “Eating Me Slowly” and “Forgotten Words,” the message of a journey undertaken is well received.

For a band to have established their sound five records into their career isn’t a huge surprise. The Awesome Machine knew their game and obviously knew how to put a full-length together from a procession of tracks. Frankly, they proved that before The Soul of a Thousand Years even came along. What their final album managed to do, however, was push the aggressive tendencies of Under the Influence into a more coherent form around tight-crafted, distinct songs. If you think about the progression of fellow Swedes Dozer and the shift they were undertaking at the time toward harder-hitting material, The Awesome Machine weren’t so far apart in ideology, but their melodies, the spaces they cover across their last offering and the identity that emerges therefrom is theirs in its entirety. This record, whatever identifiable genre roots and stylistic familiarities it might present, stands on its own in the strength of its writing, performance and overarching production.

After Olausson left, The Awesome Machine continued on by bringing in vocalist John Hermansen, who also made a debut in 2004 with Mother Misery. There are live videos available, but to my limited knowledge, apart from the two-song single “Demon King” released as a 7″ in 2005, there were no other proper recordings of that lineup.

I might be proved wrong, as The Awesome Machine just recently announced a deal with Ozium Records on their Facebook to issue a collection of rare tracks from throughout their career in limited numbers this Fall. No tracklist or specifics on that yet, but that there’s continued interest in the band some 15 years after their breakup should tell you something about the quality of the work they did together.

This was a record that, when I was a beardless lad discovering my way from more aggro metals into heavy rock groove, helped me understand that transition and how something could be heavy in a different way. Accordingly, it continues to hold a special place, and I’ll tell you honestly that putting it on even after a number of years of not hearing it, the songs came right back like old friends.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

The Patient Mrs. is away for a few days, visiting old friends of her own. High school friends, in fact. We met in high school, so I know them as well, but the number of people I keep in touch with from that time in my life is about two-point-five — including my wife — and I’m pleased with that, generally speaking. But she’s well earned a couple days’ respite after having her work/life balance upended for the last year and a half. Let her go get drunk and have ladychat. It will be rough on Sunday when she comes home and invariably does the I-didn’t-do-any-work-for-three-days-so-I’m-totally-overwhelmed-and-also-really-exhausted-because-three-days-of-hardcore-social-interaction-is-draining, but worth it in the longer term. Not an undertaking I expect she’ll regret. She’s back on Sunday.

I meanwhile have been working on putting together a couple interviews. I’ll say outright that it fucking sucks to write about a band for 17 years and not be cool enough to get the guitar player to do a Zoom chat. That is humbling in a way that the music industry has always been humbling. Not that I’m owed anything, not that I’m entitled to anyone’s time or anyone’s entitled to mine, but yeah, oof. In the meantime though, I talked to Amber Burns from Witchkiss yesterday afternoon about her new band Guhts, and in about 25 minutes I’m on with Pat Harrington from Geezer with a plan just basically to catch up. Also there was the Hippie Death Cult interview that went up today, so I’m trying to keep up with that after being kind of derailed for the Quarterly Review a few weeks back. Making up for lost time and whatnot.

And of course I’m on full-go Pecan duty for a couple days. Dude has camp for a couple hours in the morning, so that’s good. Yesterday he had speech in the afternoon and took a nap — thereby facilitating the Guhts int — and today we’re going to go to the Turtle Back Zoo and bum around and ride the train, ponies, carousel, etc., for a while before probably going to Costco and back here for dinner. We’ll see. I’m not in a terrible rush or particularly worried about it. The truth is he’s a pretty good kid, and a little more prone to cooperate when he’s not showing off for his mother. I have high expectations for him, but he consistently meets them in a way a three-year-old might. I expect the zoo will be crowded since the weather’s nice, but it’s all outside so I’m not concerned about plague exposure so much as sun exposure. Hats and suncreen for all. Maybe a mask for me. He’ll have snackies.

Tomorrow’s a loaf day, which means morning cartoons (Daniel Tiger, maybe some Peep), and then my family is going to come hang out, so that should be good. I’ll be up early working on stuff for Monday — gotta stay ahead while you can — so if you need me for anything, I’m around.

Whatever you’re up to, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun, hydrate, watch your head. All that stuff. Back for more shenanigans on Monday.


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Heavy Psych Sounds Announces Reissues for Solarius, B.U.S. the Unknown Secretary and Stonewall Noise Orchestra

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

A never-released 2006 EP from Solarius, who featured Graveyard’s Jonatan Ramm on guitar and vocals, a reissue of B.U.S. The Unknown Secretary‘s 2016 debut (review here), and another reissue, of Stonewall Noise Orchestra‘s 2005 debut album, Vol. 1. Heavy Psych Sounds is sending multiple signals here. First, that its reissue program, which has already fostered revisits to outings from Dozer, Nebula, Kylesa, Josiah, Sgt. Sunshine, and others, will continue to dig into the pre-social-media era of underground heavy and find treasure waiting to be unearthed. Stonewall Noise Orchestra alone proves that, and Solarius feels like a flex there too.

It may be that B.U.S. have been picked up by Heavy Psych Sounds for their next outing — they released an album in 2019 (review here) on RidingEasy that was killer and showed them as underrated — but either way, five years later, their first one is worth another look, and it demonstrates the ever-increasing reach of HPS to do what it wants and when. The Italian label is the go-to for heavy rock and roll and psych in Europe. Their reissues are a victory lap in that regard.

Do Norrsken‘s complete works next.

Info and preorder links follow, courtesy the PR wire:

HPS183 *** SOLARIUS – Universal Trial ***
– first press of the 2006’s unreleased EP feat. members of Graveyard –

We are extremly proud to start the presale of the SOLARIUS 2006’s unreleased EP UNIVERSAL TRIAL !!



Recorded back in 2006 and hidden up until now. Swedish retro rockers Solarius masterpiece “Universal Trial” is now brought to daylight with this release. 70’s groovy hard blues rock with a psychedelic twist and featuring Jonatan Ramm of Graveyard fame (before joining that band). Hard, groovy, soft and fuzzy sound that brings you back to the early 70’s.

The songs were recorded in Don Pierre Studios in Gothenburg produced by the legendary Don Alsterberg (Graveyard etc). The master tapes were forgotten but are now found and released on Heavy Psych Sounds Records. The recording is 100% analogue and recorded and mixed on tape. The songs gets its magic from a beautiful mix of groove, melodies, fuzzy hard rock and dreamful psych prog rock influences.


Universal Trial – 4.58
Sky Of Mine – 4.14
Into The Sun – 6.26
Mother Nature Mind – 5.25

Jonatan Ramm – Guitar and vocals
Mattias Ohde – Bass and vocals
Fredrik Aghem – Drums
Johan Grettve – Keys

B.U.S. The Unknown Secretary

HPS184 *** B.U.S. – The Unknown Secretary ***
– repress of the 2016’s debut album –

We are extremly proud to start the presale of the B.U.S. 2016’s debut album THE UNKNOWN SECRETARY repress !!



In the beginning, there was chaos…

A while later in the Heavens, where angels reigned, there was once held a great symposium, a glorious feast. Everyone was happy and having a great time, until Lucifer, fairest and mightiest of all the angels, brought in suspicious and strange substances, offering them freely with both hands for everyone to take. All were fooled by the Ancient Serpent, starting to misbehave and act in contradiction to the Heavenly Laws. The Almighty God, enraged upon learning about the mutiny, threw everyone down on earth to suffer eternally in hunger, ugliness and desperation. Vulnerable now to each and every temptation, they are ready to perpetuate Good and Evil, while building their new earthly Kingdom in any way they can.

Angelic chants, Demon’s screams, witches dancing and woeful mortal suffering are recounted in this album’s songs, embellished with mesmerising hymns and sharp riffs. Chaos is always close and all that remains is the human revolution against the forces of evil.

“The Unknown Secretary” comes to further unsettle the turbulent waves of music and burn its own mark in history.

Today, five years after its original release, Heavy Psych Sounds reissues this retro gem, serving it once again straight into your record case.



A1 Fallen – 3:33
A2 Masteroid – 4:45
A3 New Black Volume – 4:53
A4 Forever Grey – 3:28
A5 Don’t Fear Your Demon – 5:04
B1 Rockerbus – 7:38
B2 Withered Thorn – 4:49
B3 Over The Hills – 4:56
B4 Jimi – 5:20

B.U.S. is:
Bill Politis – Vocals & Guitars
Dimitris Papavasileiou – Bass Guitar
Aris Fasoulis – Drums
Fotis Kolokithas – Guitars

stonewall noise orchestra vol. 1

– repress of the legendary album in new coloured versions –

We are also stoked to start the presale of the STONEWALL NOISE ORCHESTRA legendary debut album VOL. 1 repress !!



VOL. 1 is the legendary debut album of the swedish stonerockers Stonewall Noise Orchestra, released via Daredevil Records in 2005 featuring ex members from Demon Cleaner and Greenleaf!! This is a Stoner Rock masterpiece picked with some Black Sabbath and Hawkwind fragments! If you like it slow, heavy and straight in your face you can’t miss this one.

After more then 15 years Heavy Psych Sounds decided to give a new life to this masterpiece and repress it in completely new coloured vinyl versions.



Superfortress – 5:05
An Epic Curse – 7:41 (CD BONUS TRACK)
Two Sides Of A Sin – 4:51
As My Sun Turns Black – 3_51
Freedoms Prize (Demon Cleaner cover) – 5:21
Going To Clarksdale – 4:33
Evolution? – 5:28
High Octane Fever – 5:14
Hill Street Madman – 3:49
Sweet Queen – 4:49

Lars-Inge – vocals
Snicken – guitar
Jansson – guitar
Jonas – bass
Mr. Pillow – drums

Solarius, “Universal Trial”

Stonewall Noise Orchestra, “Sweet Queen”

B.U.S., The Unknown Secretary (2016)

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Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website


Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp


Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website


Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook


Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website


Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp


Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp


Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp


Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp


Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook


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Häxmästaren to Release Sol i Exil LP on Majestic Mountain Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Called it. Sweden’s Häxmästaren posted the photo below — credit to Ida Ivarsson — on June 17 and said, “We have a lot of fun things coming up this summer” on Facebook and you know what my comment was? “This looks like a band that got signed.”

So yeah. Called it.

Kudos to the five-piece on their freshly-inked deal to release their second full-length, earlier 2021’s Sol i Exil (review here), through Majestic Mountain Records, which will have it out on vinyl next month already. Given pressing plant delays and all the rest, that tells me this has actually been in the works probably for a while and kept under wraps, which is fair enough, but only good news since the official LP version won’t lag too far behind the digital. Häxmästaren have decent momentum on their side for a band who didn’t just spend three months on tour, so all the better to keep things moving forward.

No preorder link yet, but info came down the PR wire:


Hear ye! Hear Ye! The Majestic Newswire is on fire and we bring to you an announcement of massively heavy proportions!

HÄXMÄSTAREN Gothenburg’s stoner/doom/sludge behemoths join Majestic Mountain Records for the full Majestic treatment on the vinyl release of their explosive sophomore album ‘Sol I Exil’! The test pressing has already been approved and the album will be available in August!

Häxmastaren had the following to say about joining the Majestic Mountain Crew:

“Häxmästaren is insanely proud and excited to be a part of the wondrous Majestic Mountain Family. With such an amazing roster, nothing short of magic is bound to happen! Follow the smoke to the riff filled lands!”

Häxmästaren set the month of March on fire with the digital release of Sol I Exil, an album that can only be described as a flaming sledgehammer of stoner doom and blackened sludge, banging hard with breakneck riffage, searing solos and a swinging groove that traverses the line between old school doom and a punishing death metal attack on the senses. An absolutely relentless release with surging energy and a heavy metal sensibility that always circles back to deep, sludgy doom roots and a plethora of vocal approaches ranging from guttural growls to the hallowed howls of the damned and we’re given the full dazzle with even a bit of their Swedish mother tongue on the title track and you’ll find no shortage of raucous, rumbling basslines, thunderous percussion, and ferocious guitars cleverly melodied into a fast and loose display of heavily brooding power.

Gaining rave reviews, Häxmästaren has been on Majestic’s radar for a long while now, and with this stellar release the move was made and the deal was struck to give Sol I Exil the full Majestic vinyl release treatment and we are thrilled to welcome Häxmästaren to the Majestic Mountain Crew!

Stay tuned for more information about this killer release!

Häxmästaren, Sol i Exil (2021)

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Monolord Announce European Touring with Blackwater Holylight

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

monolord (Photo by Sally Patti)

Aside from the fact that they’ve toured together before, both put out records through RidingEasy, and are awesome, something else Monolord and Blackwater Holylight have in common is that I’m eagerly anticipating new album announcements from both. The Swedish trio recently tracked their fifth record for release hopefully later this year on Relapse, while Blackwater Holylight‘s impending third LP — to be released again through RidingEasy — has as I understand it been in the can for a while now. One can’t begrudge either outfit some delay until touring can happen, but if this return-to-road-in-style 23-shows-in-24-nights run is anything to go by, I’d expect they’ll both have something to promote by the time they head out.

I’d love to see the Oberhausen show. That mix of inevitable stage-rust and catharsis happening at the same time. I feel like it might not be the best gig either band ever plays, but it’s bound to be a show that no one there ever forgets. And I feel like I’m pretty familiar with the European circuit at this point, but in cities like Aarau and Annecy are places less familiar, so good for the bands and Doomstar Bookings bringing good stuff to the masses in a variety of spots.

The venue in Manchester, UK, is different from what’s on the poster, but you’ll see that reflected in the dates typed out below, transcribed probably incorrectly by yours truly. Check with your local providers, folks.

From the social media:

monolord tour

Monolord & Blackwater Holylight Europe 2021 Tour

Here we go, finally! We’re stoked to announce that we’ll be on the European roads this fall with Blackwater Holylight.

Tickets are on sale Monday June 14. What show will you bring a friend to? We can’t wait to meet you in person.

Monolord w/ Blackwater Holylight
Europe 2021:
18/11 DE Oberhausen Kuttempel
19/11 NL Utrecht DB’s
20/11 NL Nijmegen Doornroosje
21/11 BE Antwerp Zappa
22/11 UK Bristol Exchange
23/11 UK Glasgow Stereo
24/11 UK London Underworld
25/11 UK Manchester Soup
26/11 FR Dunkerque 4 Ecluses
27/11 FR Paris Petit Bain
28/11 FR Toulouse Rex
30/11 SP Madrid Caracol
01/12 SP Barcelona Boveda
02/12 FR Annecy Brise Glace
03/12 CH Aarau Kiff
04/12 AT Vienna Arena
05/12 DE Dresden Chemiefabrik
06/12 DE Berlin Zukunft am Ostkreuz
07/12 DE Hamburg Bahnhof St. Pauli
08/12 DK Copenhagen Stengade
09/12 SE Gothenburg Pustervik
10/12 SE Stockholm Debaser Strand
11/12 SE Malmo Babel
12/12 NO Oslo Youngs

Monolord are:
Thomas V Jäger – Guitars & vocals
Esben Willems – Drums
Mika Häkki – Bass

Monolord, I’m Staying Home b/w Bastard Son (2021)

Monolord, Fifth Album Teaser

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Acid’s Trip Premiere Strings of Soul LP in Full; Out Tomorrow on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in audiObelisk on May 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Acid's Trip

Let us not go into that good Bandcamp Friday without a nod to Acid’s Trip. The Gothenburg, Sweden, four-piece release their first record, Strings of Soul, tomorrow through Heavy Psych Sounds, and you can stream it now a day in advance. This was put together last-minute, so forgive my brevity, but the opportunity came past to host the premiere of the album, and given the Blue Öyster Cultistry of the post-intro title-track the sheer rush of “No More Fucks,” the Skynyrdism so rampant throughout their leads, the we’re-not-trying-to-get-away-with-anything roadsong “The Kiss Riff,” the later weirdo Ghostiness of “Creature of the Lagoon,” with guitarists Acid and Mike sharing vocal duties atop the classic-style grooves of bassist Lucas and drummer Rockard, it wasn’t the kind of thing I was about to say no to.

There are copious nods to Southern rock between the cowbell and organ of “Just a Man” and the shuffling “If Only (I Were the Only),” and Acid’s Trip play off root ’70s influences in unabashed fashion — they’re not kidding when acids trip strings of soulthey call the song “Faster, Chopper, Boogie” — but the overarching sound of Strings of Soul isn’t retro. Rather, it shows how far Swedish homage-heavy has come in bridging the gaps between decades. They play hard and heavy at the same time, resulting in an energetic, willfully ass-kicking blend. It’s a party, it’s a show, it’s catchy, fun, classic and of its moment. And at its core is a band with a more than capable sense of delivery and a clarity of vision. They know what they want their songs to do. They want them to dance, to careen and twist along back roads at probably too-high speeds. They play to a classic rock and roll ideal, their melodies and rhythms upbeat in a pastoralism that reminds a bit of The Golden Grass, but whether it’s on “Get it Right” or not, they do exactly that.

Again, this was an opportunity that came my way in the last minute and I didn’t want to let slip, so if nothing else, take that as a sign of the quality of work Acid’s Trip — and producer Ola Ersfjord should get a mention here too — have put into their debut. Keep an eye out because the band are doing a virtual release party tomorrow at 7PM CET (that’s 1PM Eastern US) where they’ll be listening to the record and I think taking questions and generally hanging out with whoever’s hanging out. Check their Instagram for more info on that.

PR wire info follows the stream below.

Please enjoy:

Acid’s Trip, Strings of Soul official premiere

acids trip release party

Acid’s Trip has done it again – high energy rock’n’roll with string-bending licks, a touch of soul and a blazing organic beat. This best describes the Gothenburg-based quartet that has taken the timeless sound of past decades to a whole new level. The album “Strings of Soul” was recorded during the late summer of 2020 by the band themselves for that hard rock feel and the production was mixed and mastered by genius sound engineer Ola Ersfjord (Honeymoon Disease, Tribulation, Dead Lord etc.). The rock was played and the tambourine is still grooving!

With past releases like the 12” maxi vinyl ”Rock´n´Roll Speedball” the band has generated Shell Shock while delivering top speed live action on any occasion and the debut album “Strings of Soul” is no exception. 11 exploding tracks filled with emotion, rawness and melodies to bring you on a sonically unforgettable journey that really puts this album on the race track and up the charts!

The band has already worked up a well acclaimed live portfolio while touring the streets of Europe and this album has really captured the feels of being out on the road while leaving strings of soul for miles on end. This album is like an explosive mixture of Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Hellacopters that delivers instant hits like ”Get It Right”, ”No more fucks ” and dubbed favorite by fans ”Faster Chopper Boogie” that will hit you right in the face and straight in the heart.

Get ready to be blown away and down with vibes from the early 70s while blasting ”Strings of Soul” on full tilt boogie! Knuckleheads and motor fanatics, start your engines and may your soul rest in speed!

Acid – Guitar/Vocals
Mike – Guitar/Vocals
Rockard – Drums
Lucas – Bass

Acid’s Trip on Facebook

Acid’s Trip on Instagram

Acid’s Trip on YouTube

Acid’s Trip website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Friday Full-Length: Hills, Master Sleeps

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Much like the elusive Theory of Everything in physics, with Hills‘ universal psychedelic premise is underlined by almost unaccountable gravity. Released in 2011 through Intergalactic Tactics and Transubstans Records following a 2009 self-titled debut, Master Sleeps basks these 10 years later in its breadth of influence and establishes its aesthetic on a per-track basis, presenting two vinyl sides of resonant, spaced-out intergalactic fare with an awakened nature that’s nothing if not contradictory to the title. It’s a record about which much was said at the time by the in-the-know-telligencia, and that’s cool, because it’s cool, and, hey man, cool, but any and all past hype aside — it’s amazing how the years turn these things into wisps of recollection; the fervent talking-up of records fading to echoes even as attention spans are criticized for their shortness; hypocrites to a hyperlink, everyone — it’s a cool record and to deny it is to deny oneself the pleasure of a 35-minute, mostly instrumental outward journey of jams and in-on-it-early-next-gen heavy psych. Suffice it to say, if this shit was due in June instead of a decade gone, you’d still see as much desperate preening of feathers in order to curry its vaunted favor. And fair enough.

I have the CD, which was the Transubstans version, that I apparently picked up later in 2011, but I’ll be damned if Master Sleeps doesn’t hold up. It was ahead of the game on vinyl structuring, presaging the larger-platter-as-format-of-record (pun absolutely intended) explosion by a year or two, and each of its two sides brought three tracks in a nearly even break of structure to what seems to be utterly fluid throughout the listening experience, opener “Rise Again” and closer “Death Shall Come” creating a loop from one to the other that feels all the more geared to encourage multiple listens in a kind of sonic reincarnation. Accordingly, the more you hear Master Sleeps, the more you hear in it. First? Swirl. “Rise Again” fuzzes and unfolds a careening spaciousness that calls out early space rock and psych drift with shoegaze vocals buried in the mix à la The Heads where you wonder if anything’s really being said or you’re just imagining it and does it really matter anyway. I don’t know.

True to the band’s moniker, the air gets thinner the higher you climb, both into “Rise Again” and across side A and B as a whole, ascending from longer tracks to shorter toward the middle of the record — hills master sleepsthe two shortest cuts, “Claras Vaggvisa” and “The Vessel,” close side A and open side B, respectively — then longer again at the finish. In case, the sick hypnosis of “Rise Again” holds firm even as Hills wander elsewhere, “Bring Me Sand” tapping Mideast scales and rhythmic patterns in classic fashion, a marked turn from the preceding opener but that’s the point. There’s a heavier burst in the middle — watch out for it — but they’re never so volatile as to lose control, and the far-off-ness of “Claras Vaggvisa,” which an organ line as its most forward factor backed by some quieter but foreboding tom hits and vague, manipulated voice echoes, is intentionally drifting and atmospheric and, yes, weird. Delightfully, delightfully weird. Weird as means and end both, but golly that’s fun.

Even more when “The Vessel” kicks into action, bringing that organ up in volume and putting a reignited kosmiche thrust behind it, the drums still having a chance to swing as they nonetheless push forward amid the channel-shifting, amorphous-sounding guitars. Next time someone asks you what “molten” sounds like, it sounds like Hills playing “The Vessel” on Master Sleeps. There’s a sample there, who knows what, but the point is the jam, and the jam sounds like they took a regular song and melted it into so much lysergic goo. True, they find some shape in the second half, coalescing around a dreamy guitar figure to cap, but the breaking-down-of-elements had to come first. The finish in “The Vessel” makes a suitably right-on lead-in for the soft-boogie drum foundation of “Master Sleeps” itself. Guitars, bass, organ all follow the bounce those drums lay out, grooving casual-like through the initial section of the longest piece of the album that shares its name, and as they jam through, they seem to acknowledge the funk they’re making — a bit of cowbell here, a bit of wah there, some easy-soul vocals, all very deep in the procession, all very spacey, very improv-feeling. And yeah, this sounds like what’s next, still. A band and a record out of time, maybe, leaving everybody else to chase their warp trail around the other side of the planet where some trap or other is set but our sensors can’t get a reading, Cap’n.

That’s right. It’s the kind of record that might make you lapse into fan-fic. No regrets. There’s nothing missing from “Master Sleeps,” and for those Stateside, one might find its inherent swagger similar to the always-off-the-cuff musings of Endless Boogie, but there’s a personality at work here too, and the band are having fun exploring almost in spite of themselves. Thus the drones and chants of “Death Shall Come” arrive to put not just a memento mori on the party they just incited, but an end to the LP as a whole, a patient unfurling across the song’s first half leading to a surprise of a crash about three minutes in as guitars intertwine in loosely mystical fashion and the dirge truly comes together, hitting an apex still somewhat undersold but nothing less than it needs to be to highlight just how individual each part of Master Sleeps is and likewise just how intensely the pieces feed the whole.

Rocket Recordings picked up Master Sleeps in 2013 and likewise stood behind the band’s 2015 outing, Frid, and their 2017 Alive at Roadburn LP, captured the year before at the festival where I’d been lucky enough to see them (review here). The band aren’t so much active at this point, but Rocket has newly issued a debut outing from psych-jazz outfit Djinn, which boasts membership from Hills and sibling purveyors Goat. And that’s not nothing, as you can hear on Bandcamp.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Distractible, so the internet is probably the worst place for me to be. So it goes. Those eight-year-old SNL clips aren’t gonna watch themselves when I should be writing.

This week… was a thing that happened? I guess the highlight was when I talked to Genghis Tron and they weren’t jerks. I really like that record. Stick around in the interview long enough and you’ll hear me tell them it’s my album of the year so far, and it is. I know there’s a lot to come from some big names, but it’s a high standard just the same, and they’ve set it, and yeah, it’s just always a relief to talk to someone you haven’t interviewed before (actually I’m not 100 percent that I never interviewed them back in the day, but close enough) and they don’t ruin the record by being a dick. That hasn’t happened to me in a while, for which I’m thankful.

Next week I’m doing a cool thing. On Monday. I’m already kind of nervous about it. I’m also interviewing Tommi Holappa from Greenleaf in a couple hours — also quite cool — and I’m kinda nervous about that too, but I know damn well already he’s a good guy based on copious past experience, so no actual worries there other than the usual I’m-talking-to-a-human-being type. Need to send him the Zoom link. I’ll get there.

But the cool thing Monday. Can’t talk about it. Very cool though. Hoping to post about it Tuesday, but timing might be weird, so it may be Wednesday before I get there. So Monday looks like a Snail album review with a video premiere — hey that’s pretty cool too! — and then Tuesday will either be Cool Thing or the Greenleaf interview, and Wednesday is whichever of those two didn’t run on Tuesday. I’ve also got two premieres lined up for Thursday and one for Friday, so the week’s spoken for in its entirety, and that takes us through the end of April. Time both drags and flies. Nothing makes any sense.

Far out.

The Pecan starts tee-ball tomorrow for the first time. We bought him a glove last week, then this week we bought him a glove he can actually squeeze closed, though he hasn’t quite worked out the mechanism of doing so yet. That kid fucking hates me. Oof. Rough week. Everything’s a fight. Everything. The Patient Mrs. comes down the stairs and it’s like he flips a switch and is good to go. She goes back to work and he’s back to whining and bitching about fucking everything. All week. Dude does not believe in union breaks. I’m hoping it’s a phase but I’ve seen zero evidence to-date that it might be. To wit, I couldn’t stand my father pretty much from the outset and now he’s dead, so there you go. Find me a point to anything.

I’d like to record some vocals this weekend for nascent-project, but I’m not sure I’ll get the chance. The weekends lately are the worst. I end up with less time than the weekdays because there’s no preschool in the morning. What a wreck. Sundays are awful, and I still refuse to do anything on Saturday because god damn, give me a day, but then I spend half of Saturday thinking about all the crap I need to get through on Sunday and it’s just a waste anyway and then Sunday’s still a pain in the ass. I guess if you have two kids, or, god forbid, more, you just cancel the rest of your life and that’s what you do. One kid, there’s still some semblance of an existence beyond that kid, so you’re kind of struggling to keep yourself sane. Or you’re negligent as fuck, and certainly there’s an appeal to that as well.

I don’t know anything. I’d like to write a book of essays about it and call it Daddy Issues, but I’m sure that’s taken.

I’ll go shower. That will help.

Have a great and safe weekend. Hydrate, watch your head, all that fun stuff. Back Monday.

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Wolves in Haze to Release Chaos Reigns This Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

wolves in haze

Summer is going to be busy. Summer’s always busy — truth is every time is always busy except maybe the last couple weeks of December and the first two of January — but I have the feeling that the over the course of this month we’re going to see a lot of announcements for records due in August, September, even July, as the world collectively dares to peak out from under the Covid-19 pandemic. Between stuff that was delayed and/or pushed back to allow for a return to touring, pandemic-era projects, and those who pushed forward in spite of the reigning chaos, the field is already becoming increasingly crowded.

And hey, it just so happens Chaos Reigns is the title of the second LP by Wolves in Haze. How about that. The Gothenburg now-trio — last heard from with 2018’s single “All or Nothing” (premiered here) — have parted ways with bassist Vicke Crusner and handed those duties to drummer Kalle Lilja (also of Långfinger and Welfare Sounds Studio) at least for the time being, and signed with Majestic Mountain Records for the release, which will be in collaboration with Tvåtakt Records and out sometime this summer.

One assumes more details are forthcoming, but the basic signing announcement and some comment from the band follow here, as hoisted from social media:

wolves in haze majestic mountain records

Welcome Wolves In Haze to Majestic Mountain Records!

Gothenburg-based ‘Wolves in Haze’ will drop their new album ‘Chaos Reigns ‘ on digital, cd, and vinyl on Majestic Mountain Records later this summer. The vinyl release will be a collaboration with the kickass label Tvåtakt Records! If you’re the slightest familiar with them and their previous releases, you know that the album will be riff-filled!

“We are happy to announce that we now are a part of the Majestic Mountain Records family,” says the band. “The new album ‘Chaos Reigns’ will be out later this year in a co-release with the awesome Tvåtakt Records. Vinyl, compact disc and digital streaming stuff, yeah you know it’s gonna be amazing!”

Let there be riffs!

Give Wolves a follow!

Wolves in Haze are:
Olle Hansson – Guitar
Manne Olander – Vox & guitar
Kalle Lilja – Drums & bass

Wolves in Haze, “All or Nothing”

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