The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2015

Posted in Features on December 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 short releases of 2015

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

What’s a short release? Anything that’s not a full-length. I’ve done this list in the past and given a small list — The Top 20 EPs, Splits, Demos and Singles, or whatever — but “Short Releases” seemed more concise, and believe it or not, that’s something I shoot for.

Essentially, what we’re taking a look at here is everything else a band might put out in a given year. No question that albums are where the greatest impact is made over the longer term, but from landmark 7″s to EPs that provide crucial experiments or serve notice of bands solidifying their sound or marking pivotal first impressions, the shorter offerings have tremendous value, and it’s worth considering them on their own merit, rather than in comparison to LPs directly.

I know for a fact that there are releases I’ve missed here. Particularly among the Bandcamp-only demos, there’s just so much out there that for any one person to keep up with all of it is even more impossible than it’s ever been before. Before you berate me immediately with, “Hey you forgot X Band!” and start throwing tomatoes at your computer or mobile device screen, please keep in mind The Obelisk is run by a single individual and there are only so many hours in the day. As always, I do the best I can.

Here we go:

foehammer foehammer

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2015

1. Foehammer, Foehammer EP
2. Mos Generator & Stubb, The Theory of Light and Matter Split
3. Sun Voyager, Lazy Daze EP
4. All Them Witches, A Sweet Release
5. Geezer & Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 Split
6. Fatso Jetson & Farflung, Split
7. Eggnogg & Borracho, Sludgy Erna Bastard Split 7″
8. Shroud Eater, Face the Master EP
9. Bedroom Rehab Corporation, Fortunate Some EP
10. Stars that Move, Demo Songs
11. Wight, Helicopter Mama 7″
12. Thera Roya, Unraveling EP
13. Shatner, EP
14. Cities of Mars, Cyclopean Ritual EP
15. Pyramidal & Domo, Jams from the Sun Split
16. Sandrider & Kinski, Split
17. Mount Hush, Low and Behold! EP
18. Godhunter & Amigo the Devil, The Outer Dark Split
19. Groan, Highrospliffics EP
20. Rozamov & Deathkings, Split

Honorable Mention

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Notes

It’s something of a break in routine for me to put any kind of debut in a top spot (other, of course, than on the list of debuts), but Foehammer simply would not be denied. The Virginia trio’s three-song EP release on Grimoire Records (LP on Australopithecus Records), it was a self-titled that seemed to be telling you the name of the band twice as if in a warning against forgetting it. And that warning was one to heed. Foehammer‘s first outing brought the Doom Capitol region to new heights of extremity, and while at over half-an-hour long it could’ve just as easily have been called a full-length, part of the overarching threat is what the band will bring to bear when they actually get around to their first LP.

A good number of splits included here, with Mos Generator and Stubb‘s The Theory of Light and Matter (HeviSike Records), Geezer and Borracho‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1 (launching a series for Ripple Music), Fatso Jetson and Farflung‘s joint release (on Heavy Psych Sounds) and Eggnogg and Borracho‘s Sludgy Erna Bastard (on Palaver Records) all cracking the top 10. No coincidence that Washington D.C. heavy riffers Borracho show up twice in that mix. As Pyramidal and Domo‘s blissful Jams from the Sun, Sandrider and Kinski‘s one-two, Godhunter and Amigo the Devil‘s Battleground Records collaboration and Rozamov and Deathkings‘ joint single feature between #11-20, a total of eight out of the full included 20 releases here are splits. Last year it was only five.

Whether that means the form is growing in an attempt to capture fickle social-media-age attention spans while cutting individual vinyl pressing costs, I couldn’t say — likely a combination of the two and more besides — but it’s noteworthy that a split is more than just a toss-off, between-albums castaway at this point, something for songs to later be included on rare-tracks comps. One could easily say the same of EPs as a whole. To that end, Sun Voyager‘s Lazy Daze was a brutal tease for the NY psychgaze outfit’s first album, hopefully out in 2016. And while All Them WitchesA Sweet Release was over 50 minutes long — longer, actually, than their Dying Surfer Meets His Maker LP, which was also issued this year — they considered it an EP/live collection, and that indeed proved how it worked best, immersive though its stretch remained.

Shroud Eater and Bedroom Rehab Corporation both turned in impressive outings that showed marked progression from their last time out, while Shatner‘s first batch of tracks tipped off a songwriting process well-honed and Stars that Move, Cities of Mars, Thera Roya and Mount Hush — I’d put Mount Desert in this category as well — had compelling outings that, like Foehammer at the top, showed much potential at work in formative sounds. Not to be forgotten, Wight‘s Helicopter Mama 7″ gave listeners a heads up on the funkified stylistic turn their upcoming full-length, Love is Not Only What You Know, will take even further, and UK stoner miscreants Groan proved once and for all that, along with logic and reason, a constantly changing lineup can’t hold back their good times.

Like I said — like I always say — if I left something out, let me know about it in the comments. Really let me have it. Call me a jerk. It’s cool. I can take it.

Please note: I can, in no way, take it.

Still, if I left something/someone out, I hope you’ll let me know. And please don’t forget that if you haven’t yet, you can still contribute your list of 2015 favorites to the year-end poll until Dec. 31. EPs, LPs, whatever, however many, it doesn’t matter. All entries are welcome there.

Thanks for reading.

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Groan Premiere “Witchfinder General Finder” from Highrospliffics EP

Posted in audiObelisk on March 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

groan

London heavy rock troublemakers Groan have always asked the hard questions. How black was our Sabbath? What happens when wizards sleep? Now they return with the answer to another query that has plagued doom since Vincent Price donned the mantle of Matthew Hopkins: Who do you call when you can’t find the Witchfinder General?

The answer was right there the whole time.

It won’t take more than one listen for the chorus of Groan‘s “Witchfinder General Finder” to get stuck in your head — if it even takes that — but don’t be surprised if you come back for another round anyway. The Superhot Records-affiliated unit, whose last release was 2013’s Ride the Snake EP (review here), will issue their new four-songer, Highrospliffics, next Monday, March 23, making it available as a free download via their Bandcamp. As a sampler of their chicanery-laced wares, “Witchfinder General Finder” underscores the point that’s been true of Groan since their 2010 debut, The Sleeping Wizard (review here), namely that it’s about the songwriting as much as the goofball ethic. The four cuts on Highrospliffics manage to be ridiculous and ridiculously catchy at the same time, the band’s remaining founders, bassist Leigh Jones and vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen, joined as ever by a lineup changed since their last outing, with drummer Zel Kaute returning and newcomer guitarist Lindsay Hamilton making a first appearance here.

And while Groan are probably due for a follow-up full-length to their second album, 2012’s metallized The Divine Right of Kings (review here) — to which the closer groan highrosplifficsof Highrospliffics, “Buried in Leather,” seems to hearken sonically and thematically — it’s hard to complain about any new installment offered. On Highrospliffics, “Witchfinder General Finder” is preceded by “Run out of Fucks,” a suitable starting point, six-minute, solo-ized doom groover with fervent stomp and, yes, a resonant hook, very much in the style that has become Groan‘s own over the last half-decade, making the over-the-top seem perfectly reasonable in some alternate universe of grandiose proclamations and accompanying soar-ready leads. “Witchfinder General Finder” itself is the most infectious of the included tracks, with an effective call and response in the chorus and an irresistible nod leading to its shredding solo, Hamilton making an immediately distinguished impression.

“March of the Druids” follows suit with its hook, but works in more of a build structure, pushing toward its final apex, raucous but not necessarily out of control. Both it and “Buried in Leather” are under four minutes long, working in a classic verse/chorus mode light on pretense and irony-free, but well aware of the laugh they’re having. Gang shouts back Mazzereth in “March of the Druids,” which is no less satisfying than “Witchfinder General Finder” tonally, and “Buried in Leather” kicks in with a rougher, sharper edge, its intro giving way to a motoring rush of a verse after about a minute as they thrust forward to the repeated final chorus, “When I die and they lay me to rest/Bury me in leather and a cut-off denim vest,” unabashed in its fist-pump righteousness and as inviting a heavy metal refrain for crowd participation as I’ve heard from Groan since “Gods of Fire” from The Divine Right of Kings. As ever, Groan are having a party. You can’t hope to stop it, you can’t hope to contain it. You might as well get on board.

The Highrospliffics EP was recorded by Slabdragger‘s Sam Thredder and is out on Monday. Check out “Witchfinder General Finder” on the player below, followed by the complex lineup history in all its twists and turns, and enjoy:

If you’re a stranger to the Spinal Tap-esque history of Groan, here it is: Groan were formed in 2010 and put a few demos online that rapidly caught the stoner/doom scene’s attention. They released their first album, The Sleeping Wizard, on Doomanoid Records that year. The band soon earned a reputation as an exciting, entertaining and completely ridiculous force live, with charismatic (and generally barefoot) lead singer Mazzereth acting as ringmaster general at gigs. Confused and amused fans soon grew to know this group as a party-doom band that is high and giggling, not a stoner rock band that is tuned-out and derivative.

In the nine months after the album was released, the band played live all over the country, smoked the GDP of a small African nation, wrote off a brand new Ferrari California, decorated their rehearsal room with gifts from hookers, and even split up and re-formed in a day. After a split EP with Finnish doomers Vinum Sabbatum in 2011, Groan‘s second album was released in 2012 by Dutch label Soulseller Records, The Divine Right of Kings, to great critical acclaim.

With new members Zel Kaute (Vodun, ex-Pettybone) and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) joining on drums and guitar respectively, the band took a heavy metal sidestep with their five track EP, Ride the Snake, in late 2013. With yet another new lineup in 2014, Groan went back into the studio with founder members Mazzereth (vocals) and Leigh Jones (bass) joined by long-time drummer Zel Kaute and new guitarist Lindsay Hamilton. Across their five releases, Groan have proven their ability to write songs that marry catchy hooks with heavy riffs and plan to dominate 2015 with the release of Highrospliffics and the destruction of many live music venues.

GROAN IS:
Mazzereth – Vocals
Leigh Jones – Bass
Lindsay Hamilton – Guitar
Zel Kaute – Drums

Groan on Thee Facebooks

Groan on Twitter

Groan’s Bandcamp

Superhot Records on Bandcamp

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Groan: Highrospliffics EP Coming March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

groan

What does a Witchfinder General Finder find? He finds Witchfinders General. Or maybe he finds the band Witchfinder General, I don’t know. I haven’t heard the song yet. Maybe London’s Groan — who’ll release their new EP, Highrospliffics, as a free download through Bandcamp on March 23 — are working on a “Whatever Happened to Celtic Frost?” kind of thing. Or maybe I’m overthinking it. I don’t know, but it’ll be fun to find out. With Groan, the safer bet is always that shenanigans will ensue.

Highrospliffics will be the first new Groan release since 2013’s Ride the Snake EP (review here) offered vibe by the slice. Details follow from the PR wire, including the tracklisting, which, if you were wondering what the hell I was talking about in the paragraph above, should have some answers:

groan-highrospliffics

GROAN: Cheeky English Doom ‘N’ Rollers Announce New EP, Highrospliffics, Out Via FREE Download March 23

The cheekiest of party-doom bands, London’s GROAN, have confirmed themselves as the number one party-stoner band in the UK and returned with a new EP, Highrospliffics (recorded by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger), which will be available via FREE digital download on March 23 via the group’s Bandcamp.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Run Out Of Fucks
2. Witchfinder General Finder
3. March Of The Druids
4. Buried In Leather

If you’re a stranger to the Spinal Tap-esque history of Groan, here it is: Groan were formed in 2010 and put a few demos online that rapidly caught the stoner/doom scene’s attention. They released their first album, The Sleeping Wizard, on Doomanoid Records that year. The band soon earned a reputation as an exciting, entertaining and completely ridiculous force live, with charismatic (and generally barefoot) lead singer Mazzereth acting as ringmaster general at gigs. Confused and amused fans soon grew to know this group as a party-doom band that is high and giggling, not a stoner rock band that is tuned-out and derivative.

In the nine months after the album was released, the band played live all over the country, smoked the GDP of a small African nation, wrote off a brand new Ferrari California, decorated their rehearsal room with gifts from hookers, and even split up and re-formed in a day. After a split EP with Finnish doomers Vinum Sabbatum in 2011, Groan‘s second album was released in 2012 by Dutch label Soulseller Records, The Divine Right of Kings, to great critical acclaim.

With new members Zel Kaute (Vodun, ex-Pettybone) and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) joining on drums and guitar respectively, the band took a heavy metal sidestep with their five track EP, Ride the Snake, in late 2013. With yet another new lineup in 2014, Groan went back into the studio with founder members Mazzereth (vocals) and Leigh Jones (bass) joined by long-time drummer Zel Kaute and new guitarist Lindsay Hamilton. Across their five releases, Groan have proven their ability to write songs that marry catchy hooks with heavy riffs and plan to dominate 2015 with the release of Highrospliffics and the destruction of many live music venues.

GROAN IS:
Mazzereth – Vocals
Leigh Jones – Bass
Lindsay Hamilton – Guitar
Zel Kaute – Drums

LINKS:
facebook.com/groanuk
twitter.com/GroanRock
groan.bandcamp.com
superhotrecords.bandcamp.com

Groan, “Slice of that Vibe” official video

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