Young Acid Premiere Murder at Maple Mountain in Full; Album Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Young Acid Murder at Maple Mountain

Sweden’s Young Acid release their debut album, Murder at Maple Mountain, this week through Majestic Mountain Records. And while there’s a reference to “Wasted Again” perhaps winkingly worked into “Bigger Little Man” and songs like “Fightmaker Street” and “The Kids of Rumble Village” realize the declaration of purpose one finds in the blue text’s self-applied tag “punk rock band” below, that’s a fraction of what’s going on across the energetically heavy rocking 10-songer’s deceptively varied 34 minutes themed around the work of Swedish children’s book author Astrid Lindgren (The Tomten, Pippi Longstocking, what’s translated to English as The Children of Noisy Village, and so on). By which I mean, if you read that and think to yourself, “ugh stoner punk nah I’m good,” you’re going to miss it.

I don’t know when or how the assemblage came together, but Young Acid boasts the lineup of vocalist Arvid Hällagård (GreenleafSleep Moscow, etc.), guitarists Alex Stjernfeldt (Grand Cadaver, Skrckvldet) and Andreas Baier (Besvärjelsen, Vorder, etc.), bassist Martin Wegeland (Domkraft) and drummer Svante Karlsson (The Moth Gatherer), and between the mostly divergent arcs these players have respectively walked in different bands and styles, it’s only fair Murder at Maple Mountain should be and do more than one thing sonically. But for a world gone mad, there is something escapist in Young Acid‘s sometimes-careening course; a drive toward simplicity that comes through in the straightforward structure of opening track “Into the Depths” and the also-sub-three-minute “Fightmaker Street,” but even there, the melody is more rich than raw as Hällagård lands in a falsetto and the guitars correspondingly layer flourish on fuzz. Maybe it’s just that the songs are short and catchy?

Because they are that. The longest of the bunch is closer “2002” at 4:10, which arrives with a quiet intro of guitar with a line of piano accompanying and, like a lot of Murder at Maple Mountain, is quick into its verse. Slow and spacious, with dramatic chug and heavy post-rock atmospherics on guitar coming together to bolster the emotive vocal and the roll of drums in the brief but resonant finish. Side A’s nodding capper, the 3:43 “Woodshed Blues,” picks up from the shuffle-into-the-crescendo “PV 444” with a surprisingly massive groove, full in tone and the embellishments of lead guitar in and around the verses, with a smooth transition to the chorus to echo the momentum of the preceding four tracks even as it finds its own way. “Woodshed Blues” doesn’t hold to its tempo pullback in the way of “2002,” but it’s not supposed to.

A janglier strum launches “The Crust” at the start of side B, but if it was marketed as desert rock à la earlier Queens of the Stone Age, one wouldn’t argue the point as it twists through the push of its hook, vital but poised. “The Kids of Rumble Village” and “Shortcomings and Longstockings” follow in succession, the former with a bridge that could just as easily be black metal if you key in on the sharper guitar but that’s still fueled by the punkier edge around which Young Acid‘s focus centers, if not exclusively — if you told me it was one of the earlier songs that came together for the record, I’d believe it — and the latter emphasizing the you-can’t-tell-us-what-to-do attitude of the song before it with its own fuzz-drenched urging, which is given further kick from the snare count-in of the penultimate “Run Boy Run” (premiered here).

young acid

And even that, driving as it is in the spirit of “Fightmaker Street”‘s Stooges-y leanings fleshed out with echoing slide guitar and Hällagård‘s e’er bluesy croon, is more than the sum of its parts in terms of aesthetic, putting expanse on top of a sure, dead-ahead rhythmic underpinning before “2002” leans more into melancholy sway for the goodbye. Between the complexity with which Murder at Maple Mountain unfolds, its thematic nuance, its melody, its breadth of tone from Wegeland‘s anchoring low end to the highest reaches in Baier and Sternfeldt‘s guitars, its cohesion of songwriting despite the range and being nobody’s “main band” at this point as well as the first Young Acid release, and its cast of characters in a five-piece who’ve all adopted the first-name Mio for the project, it’s easy to see where perhaps a simple idea was gradually built into something that reaches further in concept and execution.

In ways both toxic and stupid, the broader cultural expectation of learning — at least in the US — is that at some point you give up picture books for chapter books. The books that helped you learn how to feel empathy, that introduced you to character, to stories, to the beauty and rhythm of language are suddenly off limits for not being grownup enough. I won’t decry the value of novels and other words-only collections as either instructive works or art, but this is ridiculous and it divorces the human brain from engaging with art on a personal level in a way that people spend the rest of their lives trying to correct either through their own creative work — and perhaps that’s the case here to some extent; seeking refuge in reengaging with Lindgren — or not, to their own maybe-unrealized detriment.

One doubts Young Acid set out with the direct intent of celebrating kids books as a primary motivator, but among its other accomplishments in craft and sound, Murder at Maple Mountain reminds that our ability to imagine worlds didn’t just happen out of nowhere, and that some of the most meaningful statements are made with plain language, whether it’s “I love you,” or “there’s a bee on your shirt.” Given that everybody in the band belongs to at least one concurrent outfit, it’s difficult to guess how often a Young Acid record might show up if another one ever does, but for the unexpected intricacy and magnitude of the work they do here, it seems only fair to say Murder at Maple Mountain lives up to the scope of its foundations.

The album streams in its entirety below, followed by the tracklisting and more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Youth Acid, a punk rock band based in Vimmerby, brings together members from various underground institutions to form a garage rock alliance. With raw guitar riffs, intense energy, and a rebellious spirit, they pack a punch.

1. Into The Depths
2. Bitter Little Man
3. Fightmaker Street
4. PV 444
5. Woodshed Blues
6. The Crust
7. The Kids Of Rumble Village
8. Shortcomings And Longstockings
9. Run Boy Run
10. 2002

Recorded at Welfare Sound, CrookedTeeth and Midlake Production
Mixed by Per Stålberg & Kalle Lilja at Welfare Sound
Mastered by Johan Reivén (Audiolord)

Young Acid is:
Mio Hällagård – Vocals (Greenleaf)
Mio Stjernfeldt – Guitar (Grand Cadaver, Novarupta)
Mio Wegeland – Bass (Domkraft)
Mio Baier – Guitar (Besvärjelsen, Vordor)
Mio Karlsson – Drums (The Moth Gatherer)

Young Acid on Facebook

Young Acid on Instagram

Young Acid on Bandcamp

Young Acid on Spotify

Majestic Mountain Records on Instagram

Majestic Mountain Records on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

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Greenleaf and Slomosa Announce Fall Co-Headlining Tour with Psychlona Supporting

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

greenleaf (Photo by Edko Fuzz)

slomosa (Photo by Kamil Parzychowski)

A couple raw stats here to start. Greenleaf‘s ninth LP, The Head and the Habit, is out June 21 on Magnetic Eye. Slomosa‘s second album, the title of which I don’t think is public yet, is scheduled to arrive later this year (presumably before this tour) through Stickman Records. And Psychlona, who also signed to Magnetic Eye at the end of 2023, reportedly just finished tracking their own upcoming album this past week.

Three killer bands touring with new music, is the upshot. It’s emblematic of the continued ascent of Norwegian four-piece Slomosa to the forefront of the European heavy underground that they’re co-headlining with a band who’ve been around for about 25 years, but as the single “Cabin Fever” (video premiered here) makes plain, their intent is to continue the significant momentum behind them at this point, and no doubt this Fall tour — hitting Into the Void in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, Up in Smoke in Switzerland, and Keep it Low in Germany on the Sound of Liberation October festival circuit — will help them do that.

For Greenleaf, the tour announcement comes coupled with the unveiling of “Avalanche,” the duly-tumbling-of-groove second single from The Head and the Habit, which seems nestled into its hook for the duration until… well, I won’t spoil it. But if you think maybe they named the song after the riff, I’ll agree that it’s a definite possibility. At very least, they’d have been well justified in doing so.

Who’s first on the poster depends on whose poster you’re seeing — note the two below — but ‘Habit of the Tundra’ starts Sept. 30 either way. The below is from multiple PR wire sources, so maybe reads a bit choppy, but if you find the dates and the music, you’ll get the idea anyhow. Have at it:

Swedish heavy rockers GREENLEAF reveal a sparkling lyric video for the groovy ten-ton track ‘Avalanche’ as the next single from their forthcoming full-length “The Head & The Habit”, which is scheduled for release on June 21, 2024 via Magnetic Eye Records! In support of “The Head & The Habit”, GREENLEAF have just announced European live dates of the “Habit of the Tundra Tour” with Norwegian desert rockers SLOMOSA and support from PSYCHLONA for autumn 2024.

Following first, previously-released new singles, “Cabin Fever” as well as “Rice”, taken off their forthcoming studio album, Norwegian desert rock upstarters SLOMOSA have confirmed a European Tour with Swedish heavy groove rockers GREENLEAF, who are currently gearing up for the release of their new album “The Head & The Habit” (June 21st via Magnetic Eye Records)! Make sure to catch this killer tour package live at the dates below:

30 SEP 2024 Leipzig (DE) Werk2
01 OCT 2024 Berlin (DE) Lido
02 OCT 2024 (DE) Hamburg (DE) Gruenspan
03 OCT 2024 Köln (DE) Club Volta
04 OCT 2024 Bielefeld (DE) Forum
05 OCT 2024 Leeuwarden (NL) Into the Void
06 OCT 2024 Pratteln (CH) Up in Smoke
07 OCT 2024 Innsbruck (AT) PMK
09 OCT 2024 Wien (AT) Arena
10 OCT 2024 Zagreb (HR) Vintage Industrial Bar
11 OCT 2024 Graz (AT) PPC
12 OCT 2024 München (DE) Keep It Low

Arvid Hällagård – vocals
Tommi Holappa – guitars
Sebastian Olsson – drums
Hans Fröhlich – bass

Benjamin Berdous – Vocals/guitar
Marie Moe – Vocals/bass
Tor Erik Bye – Guitar
Jard Hole – Drums

Greenleaf, “Avalanche” official video

Slomosa, “Cabin Fever” official video

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Greenleaf to Release The Head and the Habit June 26; New Video Posted

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

Greenleaf (photo by Mats Ek)

Well, the album was the missing piece to Greenleaf spending much of the rest of 2024 on tour supporting a new album, so this little bit of paperwork takes care of that. The announcement just came through and brings the first single “Breathe, Breathe Out” from the record in question, titled The Head and the Habit and due June 26 through Magnetic Eye Records, which I haven’t even had time yet to hear owing to the domestic whathaveyou of a given morning. I’ll get there as soon as possible, to be sure. [EDIT: Got there. The video is charming and the song feels right on. Duh, I’m stoked for the record.]

Expect summer and autumn tours around the fest appearances listed below, more to come on the album, and, well, probably a lot of me nerding out about Greenleaf coinciding with all of it. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band a couple times in the last few years, and in addition to being gentlemen of the highest order, they’re brilliant on stage. Catch them if you can.

More later. This now:

Greenleaf the head and the Habit

GREENLEAF release first video single ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ and details of new album “The Head & The Habit”!

Swedish heavy rockers GREENLEAF release the tongue-in-cheek video clip and super catchy tune ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ as the first driving single taken from their forthcoming full-length “The Head & The Habit”, which is slated for release on June 26, 2024 via Magnetic Eye Records!

The album pre-sale has just started at

The video ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ combines the struggles of great parenting with social commentary on the generational gap and film directing.

“The first single ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ conveys a message of self-reflection and resilience”, explains vocalist Arvid Hällagård. “The repetition of the chorus emphasizes the importance of taking a moment to relax and let go of negative emotions. The overall theme encourages embracing one’s current state, appreciating what you have, and navigating through life with a sense of control and acceptance. I’ve had to teach these things to myself during the last couple of years. This is also the overall theme of the album, the head and its habits.”

With their ninth full-length “The Head & The Habit”, GREENLEAF have reached the pinnacle of a long evolution. The musical handwriting and well-honed mastery of guitarist Tommi Holappa, who has been a pioneer and pillar of the European stoner rock scene for more than 25 years, shines clearly through. This is perfectly complemented by the soulfulness, intuitive sense of melody, and depth of character that the vocals of classically-trained singer Arvid Hällagård brings to the sound of GREENLEAF.

Apart from world-class vocal lines and massive riffs with electric fuzz-power, GREENLEAF have put extra thought into the themes of “The Head & The Habit”, which lift its lyrics far above much of the often cliché-ridden genre. As the album title implies, the new songs resemble symbolic short stories that revolve around emotional struggles and even mental illness. Written by the vocalist, the lyrics reflect real life experience as Hällagård works with people who suffer from problems with drug abuse and psychological health.

1. Breathe, Breathe Out
2. Avalanche
3. Different Horses
4. A Wolfe in My Mind
5. That Obsidian Grin
6. The Sirens Sound
7. Oh Dandelion
8. The Tricking Tree
9. An Alabastrine Smile

2 APR 2024 Barcelona (ES) BCN @ Sala Upload
3 APR 2024 Bilbao (ES) Bullitt Groove Club
04 APR 2024 Avilés (ES) Factoria Sound
05 APR 2024 Porto (PT) Hard Club
06 APR 2024 Madrid (ES) Wurlitzer Ballroom
05 JUN 2024 London (UK) Stoomfest
12 June 2024 Erfurt (DE) Stoned from the Underground
31 AUG 2024 Aarschot (BE) Down the Hill
12 OCT 2024 München (DE) Keep It Low

Recording with Karl Daniel Lidén at Studio Gröndahl, Stockholm (SE)
Additional vocals recorded by Arvid Hällagård at Studio Baking Cabin
Mix by Karl Daniel Lidén in Tri-lamb Studios, Stockholm (SE)
Mastering by Karl Daniel Lidén in Tri-lamb Studios, Stockholm (SE)

Artwork by Arvid Hällagård
Layout by Arvid Hällagård & Lili Krischke

Arvid Hällagård – vocals
Tommi Holappa – guitars
Sebastian Olsson – drums
Hans Fröhlich – bass

Greenleaf, “Breathe, Breathe Out” official video

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Up in Smoke 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

With Pentagram at the top of its thus-far bill playing what will reportedly be their final Swiss show ever on a retirement tour that will also stop through Desertfest Berlin 2024 this Spring, the Sound of Liberation-associated Up in Smoke Festival has made the first lineup announcement for its 10th anniversary edition. Set for Oct. 4-6, it is at the spearhead of what will almost certainly be a busy month on the European underground touring circuit. And as one expects news to follow shortly from other October festivals throughout Western Europe — Keep it Low in Munich, Desertfest Belgium in Antwerp, Høstsabbat in Norway that I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a couple times, and so on — knowing that the likes of TruckfightersMonolord, LowriderGreenleaf and Slomosa will be out on the road, at least the latter two of them behind new records, warms the heart in February’s drear. Will I be there? Probably not, barring a miracle or some kind of grant that doesn’t exist, but someone will be, and that’s rad enough of a thought to get me through the end of this sentence, so I’ll take it.

Wonder if we’ll see new stuff from Gnome this year, and I think Messa were beginning the process this winter of their next LP. October is far enough away that just about anything can happen between now and then, and I guess that’s part of the fun in posting these things in the first place. Thanks for talking that one through with me.

And while we’re here, happy 10th anniversary to Up in Smoke, and many happy returns.

Here’s the latest:

Up in Smoke 2024 first announce


Hey Smokers,

Today, we are thrilled to announce the first bunch of amazing bands for the 10th-anniversary of our beloved Up In Smoke Festival!🖤

None other than Bobby Liebling and his crew in Pentagram will be joining us to celebrate their last show in Switzerland ever! 🔥

So great to see our Scandinavian friends Truckfighters, Monolord, Slomosa, Greenleaf and Lowrider joining the madness with exclusive Switzerland shows.

In addition to this, we are introducing the dark, haunting sounds of the female-fronted doom outfits Messa and Wolvennest, along with the experimental rockers Djinn, Belgium’s one and only Gnome, and the UK riffmasters Psychlona.

Up in Smoke takes place near Basel and Switzerland offers some excellent bands as well! Check out Tar Pond, Preamp Disaster, Norna, No Mute and Glue.🇨🇭

Make no mistake, this was just the beginning!👀

Up in Smoke 2024 will be a massive heavy rockin’ birthday bash and the stoner party of the year!🪩

Line Up:

Pentagram *last Swiss show ever*
Tar Pond
Preamp Disaster
No Mute
& many more

(link in bio)



Up In Smoke Festival
10th Anniversary
🗓️04. – 06. October 2024
📍Z7 Konzertfabrik
Pratteln, Switzerland

Your UIS-Crew

Lowrider, Live at Hellfest 2022

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Young Acid Premiere “Run, Boy, Run” Visualizer; Debut LP Murder at Maple Mountain Coming Soon

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

young acid

Boasting familiar faces from the likes of GreenleafDomkraft, BesvärjelsenThe Moth Gatherer and Grand Cadaver, obviously the newcomer five-piece’s lineup will be a draw, and Young Acid meet pedigree-born anticipation with an absolute blast of electric heavy punk on their debut album, Murder at Maple Mountain, which arrives in the coming thaw courtesy of Majestic Mountain Records. Oh, and also all the lyrics are about Astrid Lindgren, who wrote Pippi Longstocking (also The Tomten, which I love but my daughter hates I think because it makes her feel feelings, and a ton of others) and is rightly revered for that. As a believer generally in the power of books written to and for children to help shape minds and frame perspectives on the world, from Lindgren to Mo Willems and the not-racist Dr. Seuss books and Curious Frickin’ George, if I’m honest, most of my favorite books ever are probably picture books from when I was a kid. I even wrote a couple over the years.

So the concept, right on. I’m down. But what’s going to hit you most on first impression with “Run, Boy, Run” more than the theme of the lyrics, which requires a deeper dive generally, is the energy with which guitarists Alex Stjernfeldt and Andreas Baier, bassist Martin Wegeland, drummer Svante Karlsson and vocalist Arvid Hällagård — who all don the first name Mio in honor of Lindgren’s 1954 novel, Mio, My Son, as you can see in the lineup listing in blue text below — hurl forth this lusty, fuzzy, sometimes bluesy, inevitably-heavy-grooving-regardless-of-tempo, we-gotta-make-our-own-good-times blowout vibe. There is no pretense here toward being anything other than what the album is even as closer “2002” dares to cross the four-minute mark and turn all that punker restlessness into voluminous, shimmering, gorgeous expanse. At 34 minutes, they could hardly make it easier to get on board if they came to your house and handed you a copy of the LP.

I might be streaming the full album before the release — definite maybe at this point — but will hope to have more on it either way before it’s out. Until then, “Run, Boy, Run” premieres below, followed by more from the PR wire:

Young Acid, “Run, Boy, Run” visualizer premiere

Introducing Young Acid, the new kickass garagerock powerhouse! Young Acid is a new super group with members from Greenleaf, Grand Cadaver, Besvärjelsen, The Moth Gatherer and Domkraft! With blistering guitar riffs, raw energy, and rebellious lyrics celebrating the legacy of Astrid Lindgren, this fierce fivesome is here to ignite the stage!

What happens when you combine members from Greenleaf, Domkraft, Grand Cadaver, Besvärjelsen and The Moth Gatherer? Well… disappointment happens. Disappointed in the sense that it does not sound the way you think!

Young Acid plays Punk infused Rock with great storytelling influenced by a famous Swedish author. But is it any good? Of course it is! At least if you ask some members of the band.

Young Acid was formed around the motto: Nobody can ruin our day, ‘cause we’re probably going to ruin it ourselves!

The polarising debut album will be out early 2024 via Majestic Mountain Records!

‘Run Boy Run’ is the second singel from the upcoming debut album ‘Murder at Maple Mountain” to be released on Majestic Mountain Records in Spring 2024!

Recorded at Welfare Sound, CrookedTeeth and Midlake Production
Mixed by Per Stålberg & Kalle Lilja at Welfare Sound
Mastered by Johan Reivén (Audiolord)

Young Acid is:
Mio Hällagård – Vocals (Greenleaf)
Mio Stjernfeldt – Guitar (Grand Cadaver, Novarupta)
Mio Wegeland – Bass (Domkraft)
Mio Baier – Guitar (Besvärjelsen, Vordor)
Mio Karlsson – Drums (The Moth Gatherer)

Young Acid, Murder at Maple Mountain (2024)

Young Acid on Facebook

Young Acid on Instagram

Young Acid on Spotify

Majestic Mountain Records on Instagram

Majestic Mountain Records on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

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Keep it Low 2024 Puts Tickets on Sale; Announces Fu Manchu, Truckfighters, Monolord, Greenleaf & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

If you’re the type who likes to take care of things early, well, you’re apparently in good company with the Munich-based Keep it Low Festival. The two-dayer fest, which is one of many under the umbrella of Sound of Liberation booking, is held annually in October, and that’s when it’s set to take place in 2024 as well, at Backstage in Munich on Oct. 11-12. Tickets, however, are on sale almost 10 full months early.

Why? I’m not sure, but I have a definite answer in “why the hell not?,” and I find that when I try to answer that question, I come up blank. So yeah, it seems like that’s really early, but on the other hand, why not put tickets for next year on sale while people are at the fest this year? It’s different, I don’t know if it’s been done before, but doesn’t that just make it a new idea, and is that something so terrible to be chasing down in a climate where live music is trying to draw people out of the entertainment hotbeds we’ve built in our homes?

I’ve gotten sidetracked from this lineup announcement, which came out the other day from Sound of Liberation and hints toward Fall 2024 European tours for at least Fu Manchu, Monolord, Truckfighters, Greenleaf, Messa and Psychlona, but I like to keep an eye for how things evolve from year to year and for all I know, Keep it Low has been doing this every year for the last decade (happy 10th anniversary, by the way) and I’m just picking up on it now because, well, I’m kinda slow sometimes, but it stood out to me as something you might not see all the time. And maybe you like to make early travel arrangements. I know I do.

From social media:

keep it low 2024 first announcement


Hey Keepers,

we are super excited to present you the first bands for next year’s edition of the Keep It Low festival!🔥

Please welcome:


🎫Weekend tickets are available in our shop.

Keep It Low Festival
10th anniversary
🗓️11 & 12 October 2024
📍Backstage Munich

Artwork by Sebastian Jerke

Your Keep It Low Crew

Greenleaf, Live at Desertfest Berlin 2023

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Germany Adds Greenleaf and Iron Jinn

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The set-up-in-two-cities-and-trade-lineups formula employed by Heavy Psych Sounds across two-dayer fests in San Francisco and Joshua Tree, in Berlin and Dresden, coming soon to New York and Baltimore, works. Granted, that any single night among the four bills is righteous on its own might have something to do with it, but that’s obviously not a detriment. Dresden gets Greenleaf, both cities get Iron Jinn as of this update. It’s not the hugest fest add post ever, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to post again about how great Greenleaf were at SonicBlast (review here), and to post the ‘2 Meter Session’ for which Iron Jinn recently collaborated with Alain Johannes, with whom they also did shows this past weekend in the Netherlands.

So yeah, it’s just two acts, but it’s two good ‘uns. Lineups and links follow as per the PR wire:

heavy psych sounds berlin dresden 2023

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST Berlin & Dresden confirm Greenleaf and Iron Jinn for upcoming fall edition; tickets available now!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records announce two more bands to play HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST Berlin & Dresden this October 27-28th, with Greenleaf co-headlining the Dresden edition and Iron Jinn joining both lineups.

Europe’s cornerstone stoner, doom and psych rock label Heavy Psych Sounds is happy to celebrate the third edition of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Berlin & Dresden this fall! Taking place simultaneously in both cities over the October 27-28th weekend, the festival will host some of the label’s flagship acts such as Nebula, Duel or Acid Mammoth, alongside pillar bands of the international heavy scene such as Greenleaf, Dopelord or Danava. A celebration of all things fuzz and groovy with thirteen bands across three venues and many goodies to enjoy!


Buy tickets:
Official event:

Friday 27 October @ LIDO:
Unida / Nebula / Dopelord / Giöbia / Hippie Death Cult / Margarita Witch Cult

Saturday 28 October @ URBAN SPREE:
Duel / Acid Mammoth / The Lords of Altamont / Danava / Blackwater Holylight / Iron Jinn


Buy tickets:
Official event:

Friday 27 October @ Chemiefabrik:
Greenleaf / Duel / Acid Mammoth / Danava / Blackwater Holylight / The Lords of Altamont / Iron Jinn

Saturday 28 October @ Chemiefabrik:
Unida / Nebula / Dopelord / Margarita Witch Cult / Giöbia / Hippie Death Cult

Founded and curated by European music label Heavy Psych Sounds Records, HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST has become a trademark event among heavy and fuzz rock lovers by taking over major European cities from London to Rome, Bruxelles and Paris since its inception in 2015.

Greenleaf, Live at Desertfest Berlin 2023

Alain Johannes & Iron Jinn, ‘2 Meter Sessions’ 2023

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Dispatch from SonicBlast 2023: Day Two

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

SonicBlast Fest 2023 day 2

08.11.23 – Fri. – Press trailer

Before show

Hot one in Âncora today. I walked over via the beach, crossing from one boardwalk to the other on the sand instead of going by the river as I did yesterday. No regrets. Waves crashing in, a humid haze in the air reminding of home, summer, that feeling where you want to swim instead of walk. Swimming sounds pretty good, actually. I may have to settle for soaking myself in one of the sinks I’ve been using to refill my water bottle.

Rolled in like I knew where I was going. Day one down, I’m an expert now. Ha. I ran into the Temple Fang dudes and Jack from Elder, saw Weedpecker setting up to open the day on the third stage, said a quick hi to Ricardo. It’s that kind of thing. See people, say hi, and then I usually feel that pull to go sit by myself somewhere and write. The press shack is air conditioned. It is a mercy. Actually cooler here than in New Jersey, where I live, but I’ve got more resources at home to stay cool, and I’m not running back and forth all day taking pictures and writing. Not usually, anyhow. Sometimes we all have those days.

Got to bed a little after three, woke up at 9AM, showered first, coffee second. Sorted pictures to go with the review of day one, which considering how much I saw took some time, quick check-in with the family — everybody’s fine; they said don’t come home (no, not really) — and had an hour left over to sneak in a nap before getting heading over here from the crash spot.

By the course of my history with festivals today will be the hardest day. Tired from a late night last night with the prospect of another full day tomorrow, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I’m doing a lot of slow breathing. Too bad I haven’t run into anyone running an impromptu yoga class. Maybe I’ll start one later if I have 10 minutes to spare and am feeling like making a spectacle of myself, which is how you know it won’t happen.

A lot of water, coffee until I get the jitters, which I’m approaching with the usual lack of caution like I’m trying to burn a hole in my stomach, and food somehow some way. The latter is my only real goal today beyond survival. And a big part of that, I suppose. It’s gonna be a good one. You can see the lineup above. I don’t need to tell you.

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up or what — that review of day one was a beast; I don’t imagine anyone reading it front to back, and if they do, I’m sorry about the typos; more to come! — but what a time this is, and what a place. Maybe I’ll be invited back and maybe not — not sure what I add except jamming the backstage espresso maker — but if this is actually a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’m lucky it’s my life it’s happening in.

Conan, Clutch and Stoned Jesus over the P.A. Thinking of you, Igor, and the war on the other side of this continent. Stay safe.

Here’s the day:


Weedpecker (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Clearly SonicBlast knows how to pick its leadoff acts. The fest is three-for-three with Plastic Woods, Desert’Smoke and now Weedpecker coming all the way from Poland. Stratospheric in lush and proggy three-part harmonies at the start, a calming entry to the day that will unfold in its wake, and solidified from there around a few more terrestrial riffs and big finishes. Immediate vibe, well received. The growth this band has undertaken throughout the last 10-plus years shouldn’t be discounted, and if I was going to see them at any point, I’m glad to do so after their late-late 2021 album, IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts (review here), which as you might expect is the pinnacle of their evolution to-date. But the thing about the trajectory they’ve had that I want necessarily expecting was how fluidly their heavier rock stuff fit with the ’70s melodies and the echo in the guitar that it’s hard to imagine can’t be heard in Spain from here. Not a band I expected to see, but they packed the third stage like it was much later in the day and closed with “Nothingness” from their second LP, II (review here) with one more engaging mellow-heavy flow that I watched from a little spot on a bench in the shade. That was pretty much perfect.


Monarch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Heavy, progressive, and not laid back but not forced in its push, Monarch were more rooted in original-era heavy than Weedpecker just prior, but on a different wavelength. Big early ’70s vibes, but modernized, and they’ve been through a few lineup changes, but if there were hiccups, I didn’t hear them, and I watched the full set while writing, which I also take as a sign of genuinely enjoying a thing as well as appreciating where it’s coming from. I’d love a new record from these guys, after 2019’s Beyond the Blue Sky (review here) — issued through no less than Causa Sui’s label, El Paraiso Records — and I have to feel like if Mondo Drag can do it, so can they. Keyboards complementing a bassline that had the earplugs vibrating in my head, they were remarkably well suited to the atmosphere here, with the beach over that way, sometimes languid but not lazy, melodic and drifty but filled out with a heft and the keyboards that make them even more their own thing. SoCal and Portugal seem to mesh well. Sun and breeze, beach and the ocean. Complementary West Coast vibes. Hey man, it doesn’t even snow anymore where I live. I can get down.


Naxatras (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Speaking of bands I never thought I’d see who’ve made strikingly proggy turns, here come Naxatras heralding 2022’s modus redirect, IV (review here). The Greek outfit made an impact in Europe almost from their very beginning, or so it seemed to me across an ocean, and the chemistry of their jammier early work provides an easy explanation why. They mixed instrumentals and vocalized pieces, and were serene in a manner that was their own, creating the space while also inhabiting it. Like I said, this is my first time watching them play, so I can’t speak to how the presence of the keyboard on stage has affected their live show one way or the other, but they were hypnotic, and I found myself standing out front in the crowd for a few minutes, near the sound booth, just kind of drinking it in, because that’s what Naxatras’ music does to me. Those times when you feel like your blood is moving too fast — that’s what they’re there for, to put you back in a place that feels less combustible. It wasn’t a surprise that their sound was so gracefully enveloping, but it was a pleasure to experience in-person, and their subdued space ambience and subtle push of bass were more than I might reasonably have asked for. Bonus extra trippy, lightly funked, smoothly grooved.

Temple Fang

Temple Fang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You never quite know what’s coming with Temple Fang, and they seem to like it that way. They’ve replaced their drummer I think since I saw them at Freak Valley last year (review here), and the single-song set they played there was put together as a last-minute change from their original plan that worked so well they ended up releasing it as a live record (review here). The kind of band who don’t think twice about playing a full show comprised solely of new material, and a treasure for that as well as for the soul they bring to their expansive heavy psychedelia. They opened with “Gemini” and set themselves on a course of ultra-patient ebbs and flows, proffering the kind of cosmic rock that reminds you that the universe is so big human brains lack the capacity to fathom it. Guitarist/vocalist Jevin de Groot and bassist/vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer have a creative partnership that goes back more than a decade, and Temple Fang is more its own thing with time. I couldn’t find a shady spot anywhere, so meandered a bit, digging the jam as it unfolded. Whatever these guys do next — live-recorded studio LP with a solidified lineup? — just count me in already. Their songs build worlds. Vast, heavy, soulful, spontaneous, immersive, always with the chance of a freakout looming. They’ve got a thing, to be sure, but the thing is everything.


Greenleaf (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Fuuuuuuuuck. Greeeeeeeeenleaf. They light fires, fortunately not literally, with the sheer physicality of their delivery. And I’m dying to hear what they do after 2021’s Echoes From a Mass (review here), since the longer they proceed with the current lineup of founding guitarist Tommi Holappa (also Dozer), vocalist Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Frölich (“everybody say hi to Hans, it’s his first time here”) and drummer Sebastian Olsson becomes more established with each passing LP and subsequent touring cycle, the latest album rife with emotive heavy blues that was neither culturally appropriated from Black American culture nor masculine caricature. As someone who’s heard a decent amount of heavy blues, this is a feat to be appreciated. They played “Bury Me My Son,” which made me feel ways, and hard-boogied from there into the stomp of “Good Ol’ Goat” followed by “Needle in My Eye,” also from the latest record and one I had kind of forgotten about. “Bound to Be Machines” from 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here), ignited a sing-along, and they jammed on it a bit, emphasizing how very badly they need to put out a live record. I stood up front for their whole set, planted my feet and ignored my aging back (I tried to write ‘aching’ there, but my phone autocorrected, and really, that’s more honest, so I’m leaving it) as they built up the start of “Tides” — Arvid noting that he’s an astronaut in the video; dude’s between-song banter was on point in a sarcasm that might’ve been too dry for some of the crowd but was twice as hilarious for that — playing that song through like the condensed epic it is and then pushing right into the finale, which was “Let it Out” from 2018’s Hear the Rivers (review here). I’d been trying not to get my hopes up for a new song in the set. That didn’t happen, but if you think I’m sad about it, you severely underestimate how much of a dork I am for this band. Hands in the air, the day’s first crowd surfer that I saw — hold onto that phone, guy — and the convincing shove from the band that made it all happen. Great fucking band.

Mondo Generator

Mondo Generator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I haven’t heard their new record yet — it’s out in Oct. 13 and called We Stand Against You — but they played some stuff from it, and it sure does have that brain-collapsing punk-born intensity one should expect from the Nick Oliveri-fronted three-piece, with Mike Pygmie on guitar and Mike Amster (who wore a Saint Vitus Bar shirt) drumming. I saw them last summer, so knew to expect selections from the Oliveri back catalog — “13th Floor” by Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss’ “Green Machine,” and so on — and there’s little debating he’s contributed to, not just played on, some of the most crucial heavy albums of all-time. More than two, which is not something a lot of people can say. I paused to grab a quick bite to eat — meat and cheese as I’m in survival mode and they didn’t have any spinach or other salad stuff that I saw — and to do battle once more with one of the backstage coffee makers, which I’ve now jammed twice. Because incompetence. So Oliveri, Pygmie and Amster are on stage tearing whatever track from the new record a second (or first, as it were) asshole, and I’m trying to pick which button to push and trying not to be in the way, not really successful at either. By the time that coffee was gone, I realized just how much my ears were ringing despite the plugs, so clearly SonicBlast meets whatever ‘loud enough’ quota you’ve got. “Allen’s Wrench” led into Queens’ “Millionaire,” and that was it. Where the hell would you go after that anyway?


Bombino (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Led by the group’s namesake, Nigerian guitarist and songwriter Omara “Bombino” Moctar, they might not have been the first Tuareg jammers on the SonicBlast bill this year, but they were perhaps even more danceable, and the crowd was ready for it. Onstage as a three-piece, guitar, bass, drums, they took that nothing-too-fancy approach and unfurled sweet desert grooves without a care in the world for what heavy means or to whom. But coming through the SonicBlast P.A., the bass couldn’t help but add weight, smooth as those lines were, and when Moctar took a solo, well, you knew it. He’s had Hendrix comparisons, which is a very nice thing to say about somebody who plays guitar, and I guess in some of the held-out solo notes and brash sweeps it’s there, but the namedrop isn’t really adequate to describe what Bombino does or how it relates to the musical and political history of Niger and the rock and roll therefrom, never mind the West African roots of rock music more broadly, or reggae, jazz, blues, etc. Bombino put out a record earlier this year called Nomad that was produced by Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys, so I guess that’s something. He could shred or bounce or vibe out make the guitar run in dizzying circles, sometimes in succession, and was clearly a master of his craft. There was one sing-along early in the set that didn’t take I think mostly because of the language barrier, but they did try it twice, and they got a better result the second time, as well as again later on. I think maybe I missed it happening, but when they were done it was nighttime.


Scowl (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A few firsts here. First Negative Approach hat I’ve seen. First cover of “99 Red Ballons.” First bit of onstage skanking. Second blacklight-responsive hair, as it happens. Scowl, from Santa Cruz, California, did OFF! proud in terms of hardcore punk, but would occasionally break into cleaner, more rock-based parts too, making them unpredictable as well as sonically volatile. I won’t pretend to be familiar, but they’ve got one record that came out before the end of the world and they accomplished the energy-change that the punkier side of SonicBlast has pulled off a couple times in the last two days, and vocalist Kat Moss shouted out Bombino from stage, which was cool, but from the noise assault before they even started, it was clear that Scowl’s would be an entirely different kind of dance party. A very fast, very angry, stomping and gnashing song was dedicated to those who feel like they don’t fit in, so while I didn’t come into their set knowing much about them, I got to learn a bit, including that stuff about their album, the singer’s name, and that they seem like nice kids who mean well. Go get ’em, you wholesome hardcore slaughterers.

Thurston Moore Group

Thurston Moore Group (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I saw Sonic Youth I’m pretty sure on the Sonic Nurse tour, and duh, they were Sonic Youth. And when it comes to Thurston Moore solo, I still have my Psychic Hearts CD from 1995 or whenever it was, and so yeah, I’m down for Thurston Moore Group’s lightly noisy, floating cosmic shoegaze exploding into blastbeats from its otherwise peaceful beginnings in “Hashish” from his 2020 album By the Fire and the subsequent “Hypno Brain.” I’m not sure what else one might expect. Between the two guitars, bass and keys, that assault was significant, but “Siren,” the 12-minute By the Fire track from whence that blast comes, has a sweet comedown on the other side of that, a subdued indie sway no more afraid to be pretty than caustic. Feedback and noise rang out as it started misting, and Moore and company dropped hints of space rock and psych fuzz along with all that ready scorch, and it seemed like by that point the band was warmed up, drumstick at the ready for guitar manipulation shenanigans that helped make Moore the kind of figure who might headline a festival like this, creating a kind of wave of noise and riding its crest to see where they might end up. The answer there os more noise, and that’s just fine. They were in and out of it for the duration, and the mist held too, never really becoming rain, thankfully, but ambient droplets on the breeze were refreshing as evening became night and the Thurston Moore Group wrapped with one more dive into noise and feedback, no less at home there than the verse they left behind. Fun moment: when I was getting food in back, I went to sit down at a table outside the trailer where you get the food and when I asked, “mind if I sit here?,” I looked up and sure enough, Thurston Moore Group band meal. I can’t confirm or deny, but the words “ah shit you’re Thurston Moore” may have left my mouth.

Frankie and the Witch Fingers

Frankie and the Witch Fingers (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Okay, so it turns out that the bassist of L.A.’s Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Nikki Pickle, was sitting in last night with Death Valley Girls, whose singer was stuck in California, and of whom she is a former member. Learning new things every day here. With guitarist/vocalists — Josh Menashe and Dylan Sizemore — flanking either side of the stage and an urgency born of mathier punk but which is most definitely not that thing, Frankie and the Witch Fingers translated some of the intensity of the hardcore acts who’ve played this far into a heavy rock context. They had some keyboard going, the occasional slowdown into a funkier groove, and they were loved by the SonicBlast crowd (it’s not their first time here), but by and large their trade was forward thrust, and while it may have appeared otherwise, they weren’t screwing around. I’ve had no fewer than eight espressos today. The one I had after dinner could’ve been nine. At their fastest, in the frenetic first part of their set, I felt like maybe that wasn’t enough. So I grabbed another and went back out front. By then the mist was becoming genuine rain. Less convenient. Frankie and the Witch Fingers shuffled back into speedier fare and I started thinking about my camera getting wet, or my phone, even, which I’ve been writing on all weekend. Might end up leaving earlier than planned, which, since it’s 12:30, is still not actually all that early, at least for me. Portugal goes late. Rock and roll. I still got to see Frankie and the Witch Fingers close with a cover of “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which was fun and made sense in a mathematically extracted way.


Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This is the first time I’m seeing them since they put out Innate Passage (review here) late last year, so it was a particular joy when they followed “Compendium” from 2015’s Lore (review here) with “Merged in Dreams/Ne Plus Ultra” from the new album. The space in front of both stages was full, and even though it was raining, it didn’t look like folks were in a hurry to seek shelter. Thousands of people. Jack doing backing vocals with Nick on the new stuff, Mike swapping guitar for keys, then back, that kind of groove that so much of progressive heavy has tried to emulate in the last 10 years or so but that no one’s gotten quite right or at least not at the level Elder to it. Maybe the rain lightened up. Maybe it didn’t, but standing there watching perhaps the foremost heavy band of their generation still exploring after 15 years and continuing to outdo themselves; it wasn’t the kind of thing you easily walk away from. Or walk away at all. They are exceptional. Another level. And then another. And another. And everything they do has heart, sincerity and a sense of evolution from where they’ve been in the past. It was humbling to witness. This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen them play for, and there’s not a doubt in my mind they can still push further, grow broader in sound, keep chasing whatever ideal version of their approach they’re after. At least I hope they do. I don’t have enough hyperbole for it. Closing out as they will with “Gemini,” it’s like they were up there inventing colors.

After show/next morning

I had already apologized to one of the dudes from Acid Mammoth for not seeing his set, and I’ll extend those apologies to Black Bombaim, who at least I’ve seen before. I guess next time I’m buying a camera bag it’ll be made of rubber? I don’t know. I felt bad leaving, but it was coming on 2AM and I had no trouble hearing Black Bombaim jam from my room, so at least there was that. Sounded cool from a distance.

For what I expected to be a rough day — the middle of three days is always a little adrenaline comedown as compared to the first or last — it wasn’t. I put my head down, worked, and pushed ahead, which is what you do. I was haggard by the end, but a video chat with The Patient Mrs., some sleep, a shower, some more coffee and almond butter for breakfast and I feel like a new person… who’s spent 24 of the last 48 hours having his ears blown out by the coast in Portugal. Sometimes it’s weird to realize these things.

One more day to go, and it’s a big one, as I might be prone to say about Jupiter or this or that blue supergiant star (the scale of those being completely different, both are nonetheless unfathomably huge). I’ll be ready. Thank you for reading.

Click ‘read more’ for pics, and thanks again.

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