Quarterly Review: Paradise Lost, Alastor, Zahn, Greynbownes, Treebeard, Estrada Orchestra, Vestamaran, Low Flying Hawks, La Maquinaria del Sueño, Ananda Mida

Posted in Reviews on July 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

The days grow long, but the Quarterly Review presses onward. I didn’t know when I put this thing together that in addition to having had oral surgery on Monday — rod in for a dental implant, needs a crown after it heals but so far no infection; penciling it as a win — this second week of 10 reviews per day would bring my laptop breaking and a toddler too sick to go to camp for three hours in the morning. If you’re a fan of understatement, I’ll tell you last week was easier to make happen.

Nevertheless, we persist, you and I. I don’t know if, when I get my computer back, it will even have all of these records on the desktop or if the hard-drive-bed-shitting that seems to have taken place will erase that along with such inconsequentials as years of writing and photos of The Pecan dating back to his birth, but hey, that desktop space was getting cleared one way or the other. You know what? I don’t want to think about it.

Quarterly Review #81-90:

Paradise Lost, At the Mill

Paradise Lost At the Mill

If Paradise Lost are trying to hold onto some sense of momentum, who can blame them? How many acts who’ve been around for 33 years continue to foster the kind of quality the Yorkshire outfit brought to 2020’s studio outing, Obsidian (review here)? Like, four? Maybe? So if they want to put out two live records in the span of three months — At the Mill follows March’s Gothic: Live at Roadburn 2016, also on Nuclear Blast — one isn’t inclined to hold a grudge, and even less so given the 16-song setlist they offer up in what was the captured audio from a livestream last Fall, spanning the bulk of their career and including requisite highlights from ’90s-era landmarks Gothic and Icon as well as Obsidian features “Fall From Grace,” “Ghosts” and “Darker Thoughts,” which opened the studio LP but makes a rousing finisher for At the Mill.

Paradise Lost on Facebook

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Alastor, Onwards and Downwards

alastor onwards and downwards

The second long-player from Sweden’s Alastor is a surprising but welcome sonic turn, pulling back from the grimness of 2018’s Slave to the Grave (review here) in favor of an approach still murky and thick in its bottom end, but sharper in its songwriting focus and bolder melodically right from the outset on “The Killer in My Skull.” They depart from the central roll for an acoustic stretch in “Pipsvängen” after “Nightmare Trip” opens side B and just before the nine-minute title-track lumbers out its descent into the deranged, but even there the four-piece hold the line of obvious attention to songcraft, instrumental and vocal phrasing, and presentation of their sound. Likewise, the spacious nod on “Lost and Never Found” caps with a shorter and likewise undeniable groove, more Sabbath than the Queens of the Stone Age rush of “Death Cult” earlier, but with zero dip in quality. This takes them to a different level in my mind.

Alastor on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

Zahn, Zahn

Zahn Zahn

Its noise-rock angularity and tonal bite isn’t going to be for everyone, but there’s something about Zahn‘s unwillingness to cooperate, their unwillingness to sit still, that makes their self-titled debut a joy of a run. Based in Berlin and comprised of Felix Gebhard (Einstürzende Neubauten keyboards) as well as drummer Nic Stockmann and bassist Chris Breuer (both of HEADS.), the eight-tracker shimmers on “Tseudo,” punkjazzes on lead cut “Zerrung,” goes full krautrock drone to end side A on “Gyhum” and still has more weirdness to offer on the two-minute sunshine burst of “Schranck,” “Lochsonne Schwarz,” “Aykroyd” and finale “Staub,” all of which tie together in one way or another around a concept of using space-in-mix and aural crush while staying loway to the central pattern of the drums. “Aykroyd” is brazen in showing the teeth of its guitar work, and that’s a pretty solid encapsulation of Zahn‘s attitude across the board. They’re going for it. You can take the ride if you want, but they’re going either way.

Zahn on Facebook

Crazysane Records website

 

Greynbownes, Bones and Flowers

Greynbownes bones and flowers

Bones and Flowers is a welcome return from Czech Republic-based heavy rockers Greynbownes, who made their debut with 2018’s Grey Rainbow From Bones (review here), and sees the trio foster a progressive heavy flourish prone to Doors-y explosive vocal brooding tempered with Elder-style patience in the guitar lines and rhythmic fluidity while there continues to be both an underlying aggressive crunch and a sense of Truckfighters-ish energy in “Dream Seller,” some blues there and in “Dog’s Eyes” and opener “Wolves” besides, and a willful exploratory push on “Burned by the Sun and Swallowed by the Sea,” which serves as a worthy centerpiece ahead of the rush that comprises much of “Long Way Down.” Further growth is evident in the spaciousness of “Flowers,” and “Star” feels like it’s ending the record with due ceremony in its largesse and character in its presentation.

Greynbownes on Facebook

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

Treebeard, Nostalgia

Treebeard Nostalgia

One can’t argue with Melbourne heavy post-rockers Treebeard‘s impulse to take the material from their prior two EPs, 2018’s Of Hamelin and 2019’s Pastoral, and put it together as a single full-length, but Nostalgia goes further in that they actually re-recorded, and in the case of a track like “The Ratchatcher,” partially reworked the songs. That makes the resultant eight-song offering all the more cohesive and, in relation to the prior versions, emphasizes the growth the band has undertaken in the last few years, keeping elements of weight and atmosphere but delivering their material with a sense of purpose, whether a give stretch of “8×0” is loud or quiet. Nostalgia effectively pulls the listener into its world, duly wistful on “Pollen” or “Dear Magdalena,” with samples adding to the breadth and helping to convey the sense of contemplation and melodic character. Above all things, resonance. Emotional and sonic.

Treebeard on Facebook

Treebeard on Bandcamp

 

Estrada Orchestra, Playground

Estrada Orchestra Playground

Estonian five-piece Estrada Orchestra recorded Playground on Nov. 21, 2020, and while I’m not 100 percent sure of the circumstances in which such a recording took place, it seems entirely possible given the breadth of their textures and the lonely ambience that unfurls across the 22-minute A-side “Playground Part 1” and the gradual manner in which it makes its way toward psychedelic kraut-drone-jazz there and in the more “active” “Playground Part 2 & 3” — the last part chills out again, and one speaks on very relative terms there — it’s entirely possible no one else was around. Either way, headphone-ready atmosphere persists across the Sulatron-issued LP, a lushness waiting to be closely considered and engaged that works outside of common structures despite having an underlying current of forward motion. Estrada Orchestra, who’ve been in operation for the better part of a decade and for whom Playground is their fifth full-length, are clearly just working in their own dimension of time. It suits them.

Estrada Orchestra on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Vestamaran, Bungalow Rex

Vestamaran Bungalow Rex

Even in the sometimes blinding sunshine of Vestamaran‘s debut album, Bungalow Rex, there is room for shades of folk and classic progressive rock throughout the summery 10-tracker, which makes easygoing vibes sound easy in a way that’s actually really difficult to pull off without sounding forced. And much to Vestamaran‘s credit, they don’t. Their songs are structured, composed, engaging and sometimes catchy, but decidedly unhurried, unflinchingly melodic and for all their piano and subtle rhythmic intricacy, mostly pretense-free. Even the snare sound on “Grustak” feels warm. Cuts like “Risky Pigeon” and “Cutest Offender” are playful, and “Solitude” and closer “Only for You” perhaps a bit moodier, but Vestamaran are never much removed from that central warmth of their delivery, and the abiding spirit of Bungalow Rex is sweet and affecting. This is a record that probably won’t get much hype but will sit with dedicated audience for more than just a passing listen. A record that earns loyalty. I look forward to more.

Vestamaran on Facebook

Apollon Records website

 

Low Flying Hawks, Fuyu

low flying hawks fuyu

Three records in, to call what Low Flying Hawks do “heavygaze” feels cheap. Such a tag neither encompasses the post-rock elements in the lush space of “Monster,” the cinematic flourish of “Darklands,” nor the black-metal-meets-desert-crunch-riffing-in-space at the end of “Caustic Wing” or the meditative, post-Om cavern-delia in the first half of closer “Nightrider,” never mind the synthy, screamy turn of Fuyu‘s title-track at the halfway point. Three records in, the band refuse to let either themselves or their listenership get too comfortable, either in heavy groove or march or atmosphere, and three records in, they’re willfully toying with style and bending the aspects of genre to their will. There are stretches of Fuyu that, in keeping with the rest of what the band do, border on overthought, but the further they go into their own progressive nuance, the more they seem to discover they want to do. Fuyu reportedly wraps a trilogy, but if what they do next comes out sounding wildly different, you’d have to give them points for consistency.

Low Flying Hawks on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store

 

La Maquinaria del Sueño, Rituales de los Alucinados

la maquinaria del sueno rituales de los alucinados

Cult poetry on “Enterrado en la Oscuridad,” garage rock boogie “Ayahuasca” and classic, almost-surf shuffle are the first impressions Mexico City’s La Maquinaria del Sueño make on their debut full-length, Rituales de los Alucinados, and the three-piece only benefit from the push-pull in different directions as the seven-song LP plays out, jamming into the semi-ethereal on “Maldad Eléctrica” only to tip hat to ’60s weirdo jangle on “Mujer Cabeza de Cuervo.” Guitars scorch throughout atop swinging grooves in power trio fashion, and despite the differences in tone between them, “Enterré mis Dientes en el Desierto” and “Ángel de Fuego” both manage to make their way into a right on haze of heavy fuzz ahead of the motoring finisher “La Ninfa del Agua,” which underscores the live feel of the entire procession with its big crashout ending and overarching vitality. Listening to the chemistry between these players, it’s not a surprise they’ve been a band for the better part of a decade, and man, they make their riffs dance. Not revolutionary, but cool enough not to care.

La Maquinaria del Sueño on Facebook

LSDR Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Karnak

Ananda Mida Karnak

A three-tracker EP issued through drummer Max Ear‘s (also of OJM) own Go Down Records, Karnak features an instrumental take on a previously-vocalized cut — “Anulios,” from 2018’s Anodnatius (review here) — an eight-minute live jam with Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man sitting in on guitar, and a live version of the Conny Ochs-fronted “The Pilot,” which opened 2019’s Cathodnatius, the cover of which continues to haunt one’s dreams, and which finds the German singer-songwriter channeling his inner David Byrne in fascinating ways. An odds-and-ends release, maybe, but each of these songs is worth the minimal price of admission on its own, never mind topped as they are together with the much-less-horrifying art. If this is a reminder to listen to Anada Mida, it’s a happy one.

Ananda Mida on Facebook

Go Down Records website

 

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Paradise Lost Release Gothic Live at Roadburn 2016

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

paradise lost

I was fortunate enough to be in the crowd when Paradise Lost celebrated the 25th anniversary of Gothic by playing the album in its entirety at Roadburn 2016. To say the very least of it, it was a show worth remembering. The set, captured like so much of Roadburn by Marcel van de Vondervoort, was released this past Friday because blah blah Bandcamp Friday, but I don’t care what day it is, this is worth your time.

Paradise Lost released their Obsidian (review here) LP last year, continuing a decade-plus run of strong studio work, and joined the masses of bands doing livestreams last Fall to support it. An imperfect solution for an imperfect world, but better than nothing, maybe.

Lot of live albums out there right now? There sure are. This one has the decided advantage though of being Paradise Lost playing Gothic. So there.

Here’s the info that came in on Friday:

paradise lost gothic live at roadburn 2016

Paradise Lost to release ‘Gothic live at Roadburn 2016’ album

Following on from their new album ‘Obsidian’ in May last year and December’s ‘Draconian Times’ 20th anniversary reissue, British gothic metal legends Paradise Lost will release ‘Gothic Live At Roadburn 2016’ digitally and exclusively via Bandcamp this Friday.

The now legendary festival based in Tilburg, Netherlands saw Paradise Lost play their 1991 album in full for the very first time on a line-up alongside the likes of Converge, Cult of Luna and Neurosis in 2016.

Reflecting on the performance vocalist Nick Holmes comments,

‘I remember when we got asked to play Roadburn, I knew of the festival but I’d never actually been. The people that run it have an incredible knowledge and passion for music, so it was a great honour to be asked.

We played Gothic in full for the first time ever, perhaps slightly apprehensive how it would go down live as it’s not really a ‘festival’ set. However I was pleasantly surprised with the audience’s reaction and it was a really enjoyable experience.

The back drop was an animation that had been hand drawn by Costin, and it really helped I think with the overall performance.’

‘Gothic Live at Roadburn 2016’ is released tomorrow as part of Bandcamp Friday, which sees them waive their revenue share to help support the many artists who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic. The album download will also include access to the full stage animations that featured in the original Roadburn performance.

http://www.paradiselost.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/officialparadiselost/
https://paradiselostofficial.bandcamp.com
www.nuclearblast.de/paradiselost
https://twitter.com/officialpl
https://www.youtube.com/user/paradiselostuk

Paradise Lost, “Shattered” Live at Roadburn 2016

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Paradise Lost Live Stream Airs Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

UK gothic death-doom forebears Paradise Lost are hosting a special streaming event later today in support of their new album, Obsidian (review here). I can’t help but wonder if the band knew then what they know now about how this year would play out of they’d have released it at all, but it’s out there now, and it’s good enough that it’s damn near a tragedy they’re not able to tour it on some 18-month cycle across various continents. But like everyone, they’re working with what they’ve got.

Some day, live music will return. Will it be the same? I doubt it. But as streams have become a go-to gap-filler for so many bands, I don’t think streaming is going away. What I’d love is for pay-per-view videos like this to become part of the pastiche of record promotion. A thing bands do, to do along with live shows, recording, touring, interviews, etc. One way or the other, there’s a lot that needs to shake out culturally before we get there.

And while I’m thinking of it, fuck Boris Johnson too.

The stream info from the PR wire:

paradise lost

Remember remember the 5th of November with PARADISE LOST!

Following on from the release of their new album ‘Obsidian’ in May, British gothic metal legends PARADISE LOST have announced a special live streaming performance and alternative to Bonfire Night on November 5th.

Vocalist Nick Holmes comments,
“Greetings, I hope everyone is well! Just a quick few words to thank everyone for the ongoing great response to our latest album, ‘Obsidian’, and to announce that as there are still no stages for us to play on, we have decided to perform live from our rehearsal studio at ‘The Mill’ In Bradford, West Yorkshire. The stream is due to be aired on 5th November at 20:00 GMT via Stageit.com. We sincerely hope you can all join us in a brief respite from these dark days! Thank you, Nick”

This one time live event will feature a regular set from the band alongside a VIP option, which includes three extra songs plus a pre-recorded interview with the band. The regular set will include the world premiere of 2 new songs from Obsidian, and the VIP set will feature 3. Besides the live stream experience at 12:00 PM PT/3:00PM ET, the band ‘replays’ the performance for their fans in the US at 6:00 PM PT/9:00 PM ET. You can either purchase for the European viewing, the US viewing or buy a ticket to both.

Tickets are on sale now via StageIT on October 20th via Stageit.com

https://www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/officialparadiselost/
http://www.paradiselost.co.uk/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa
https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html
https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/

Paradise Lost, Obsidian (2020)

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Quarterly Review: Paradise Lost, Vinnum Sabbathi, Nighthawk, Familiars, Mountain Witch, Disastroid, Stonegrass, Jointhugger, Little Albert, Parahelio

Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Last day, you know the drill. It’s been a pleasure, honestly. If every Quarterly Review could feature the quality of material this one has, I’d probably only spend a fraction of the amount of time I do fretting over it. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and enjoyed the music as much as I have. If you haven’t found something here to sit with and dig into yet, well, today’s 10 more chances to do just that. Maybe something will stick at last.

See you in September.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Paradise Lost, Obsidian

paradise lost obsidian

It is impossible to listen to Obsidian and consider Paradise Lost as anything other than masters of the form. Of course, that they were one of the original pioneers of gothic death-doom helps, but even in the decade-plus since they began to shift back toward a more metallic approach, they have established a standard that is entirely their own. Obsidian collects nine tracks across a palatable 45 minutes, and if the hook of “Fall From Grace” is fan-service on the part of the band, then it is no less righteous for that. In atmosphere and aggression, cuts like “The Devil Embraced” and the galloping “Ghosts” deliver on high expectations coming off 2017’s Medusa (review here), even as side B’s “Ending Days” and “Hope Dies Young” branch into a more melodic focus, not departing from the weight of impact presented earlier, but clearly adjusting the approach, leading to an all the more deathly return on “Ravenghast,” which closes out. Their doom remains second to none; their model remains one to follow.

Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories

Vinnum Sabbathi Of Dimensions and Theories

The narrative thread carried through the six tracks of Vinnum Sabbathi‘s Of Dimensions and Theories is a futuristic sci-fi tale about humanity’s first foray into deep space amid a chaos of environmental collapse and nuclear threat. The real story, however, is the sense of progression the instrumentalist Mexico City outfit bring in following up their debut LP, 2017’s Gravity Works (review here). Tying thematically to the latest Cegvera album — the two bands share personnel — pieces at the outset like “In Search of M-Theory” and “Quantum Determinism” maintain the exploratory vibe of the band’s jammier works in their “HEX” series, but through spoken samples give a human presence and plotline to the alternately atmospheric and lumbering tones. As the record progresses through the airier “An Appraisal” and the feedback-drenched “Beyond Perturbative States,” their dynamic finds realization in “A Superstring Revolution I” and the drum-led “A Superstring Revolution II.” I don’t know about humanity’s prospects as a whole, but Vinnum Sabbathi‘s remain bright.

Vinnum Sabbathi on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

Nighthawk, The Sea Legs EP

Nighthawk The Sea Legs EP

Composed as a solo outing prior to the founding of Heavy Temple, the Nighthawk solo endeavor (presumably she wasn’t a High Priestess yet), The Sea Legs EP, is plenty self-aware in its title, but for being a raw execution of material written performed entirely on her own, its four tracks also have a pretty significant scope, from the post-QOTSA heavy pop of “Goddamn” leading off through the quick spacegaze of “I’m From Tennessee Woman, All We Do is Honky Tonk,” into the deceptively spacious “I Can Haz” with its far-back toms, dreamy vocal melody and vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding guitar, and ending with the if-Ween‘s-country-album-had-been-weirder finish of “Stay Gold.” Nighthawk has issued a follow-up to The Sea Legs EP in the full-length Goblin/John Carpenter-style synth of The Dimensionaut, but given the range and balance she shows just in this brief 12 minutes, one hopes that indeed her songwriting explorations continue to prove so multifaceted.

Nighthawk on Bandcamp

Heavy Temple on Thee Facebooks

 

Familiars, All in Good Time

familiars all in good time

Contending for one of the year’s best debut albums, FamiliarsAll in Good Time offers eight songs across 43 minutes that blend organic-feeling grit with more ethereal, landscape-evocative psychedelics. The Ontario three-piece have a few singles to their credit, but the lushness of “Rocky Roost” and the emergent heft of “Barn Burning,” the fleshy boogie of “The Dirty Dog Saloon” and the breadth of “Avro Arrow” speak not just to Familiars‘ ability to capture a largesse that draws their songs together, or the nuance that lets them brings subtle touches of Americana (Canadiana?) early on and echoing desert roll to the fuzzy “The Common Loon,” but also to the songwriting that makes these songs stand out so much as they do and the sense of purpose Familiars bring to All in Good Time as their first long-player. That turns out to be one of the most encouraging aspects of the release, but in that regard there’s plenty of competition from elements like tone, rhythm, melody, craft, performance — so yes, basically all of it.

Familiars on Thee Facebooks

Familiars on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Witch, Extinct Cults

Mountain Witch Extinct Cults

Mountain Witch‘s fourth album, Extinct Cults, brings the Hamburg-based duo of guitarist René Sitte and drummer/vocalist René Roggmann back after a four-year absence with a collection that straddles the various lines between classic heavy rock, proto-metal, ’70s heavy prog and modern cultism. Their loyalties aren’t necessarily all to the 1968-’74 period, as the chug and gruff vocals of “Back From the Grave” show, but the post Technical Ecstasy sway of the title-track is a fascinating and rarely-captured specificity, and the vocal melodies expressed in layers across the record do much to add personality and depth to the arrangements while the surrounding recording remains essentially raw. No doubt vinyl-minded, Extinct Cults is relatively brief at six songs and 33 minutes, but the Priestly chug of “Man is Wolf to Man” and the engrossing garage doom of closer “The Devil Probably” offer plenty of fodder for those who’d dig in to dig into. It is a sound familiar and individual at once, old and new, and it revels in making cohesion out of such contrasts.

Mountain Witch on Thee Facebooks

This Charming Man Records website

 

Disastroid, Mortal Fools

disastroid mortal fools

You might find San Francisco trio Disastroid hanging out at the corner of noise and heavy rock, looking disreputable. Their first record for Heavy Psych Sounds is Mortal Fools, and to go with its essential-bloody-essential bass tone and melodic semi-shouted vocals, it brings hints of angularity rounded out by tonal thickness and a smoothness between transitions that extends to the flow from one song to the next. While for sure a collection of individual pieces, Mortal Fools does move through its 43 minutes with remarkable ease, the sure hand of the three-piece guides you through the otherwise willfully tumultuous course, brash in the guitar and bass and drums but immersive in the overarching groove. They seem to save a particular melodic highlight for the verses of closer “Space Rodent,” but really, whether it’s the lumbering “Hopeless” or the sharper-toothed push of “Bilge,” the highlight is what Disastroid accomplish over the course of the record as a whole. Plus that friggin’ bass sound.

Disastroid on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Stonegrass, Stonegrass

stonegrass self titled

I don’t know when this was first released, but the 2020 edition seems to be a remaster, and whenever it first came out, I’m pleased to have the chance to check it out now. Toronto duo Stonegrass brings together Matthew “Doc” Dunn and Jay Anderson, both of a markedly psyched-out pedigree, to dig into experimentalist acid-psych that pushes boundaries stylistic and national, tapping Afrobeat vibes with closer “Drive On” and the earlier 13-minute go-go-go jam “Tea” while “The Highway” feels like a lost psychedelic disco-funk 45, “The Cape” drones like it’s waiting for someone to start reading poetry over-top, and mellow hand-percussion and Turkish psych on centerpiece “Frozen Dunes.” The whole thing, which runs a manageable 39 minutes, is as cool as the day is long, and comes across like a gift to those of expanded mind or who are willing to join those ranks. I don’t know if it’s new or old. I don’t know if it’s a one-off or an ongoing project. I barely know if it’s actually out. But hot damn it’s rad, and if you can catch it, you should.

Cosmic Range Records on YouTube

Cosmic Range Records on Bandcamp

 

Jointhugger, I Am No One

jointhugger i am no one

Norwegian half-instrumental trio Jointhugger have already captured the attention of both Interstellar Smoke Records and Ozium Records with their four-song debut long-player, I Am No One, and as the follow-up to their 2019 Daemo, it leaves little question why. The more volume, the merrier, when it comes to the rolling, nodding, undulations of riff the band conjure, as each member seems geared toward bringing as much weight to bear as much as possible. I’m serious. Even the hi-hat is heavy, never mind the guitar or bass or the cave-echoing vocals of the title-track. “Domen” slips into some shuffle — if you can call something that dense-sounding a shuffle — and underscores its solo with an entire bog’s worth of low end, and though closer “Nightfright” is the only inclusion that actually tops 10 minutes, it communicates an intensity of crush that is nothing if not consistent with what’s come before. There are flashes of letup here and there, but it’s impact at the core of Jointhugger‘s approach, and they offer plenty of it. Don’t be surprised when the CD and LP sell through, and don’t be surprised if they get re-pressed later.

Jointhugger on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records webstore

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

 

Little Albert, Swamp King

Little Albert Swamp King

Stepping out both in terms of style and substance from his position as guitarist in atmospheric doomers Messa, Little Albert — aka Alberto Piccolo — pronounces himself “swamp king” in the opening lines of his debut solo release of the same name, and the mellow ambiance and psychedelic flourish of tone in “Bridge of Sighs” and “Mean Old Woman” and the aptly-titled “Blues Asteroid” offer an individualized blend of psychedelic blues that seems to delight in tipping the balance back and forth from one to the other while likewise taking the songs through full band arrangements and more intimate wanderings. Some of the songs have a tendency to roll outward and not return, as does “Mary Claire” or “Mean Old Woman,” but “Outside Woman Blues” and the closer “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” hold tighter to the ground than some of what surrounds, so again, there’s a balance. Plus, as mellow as Swamp King is in its overarching affect, it’s neither difficult nor anything but a pleasure to follow along where Piccolo leads. If that’s off the psych-blues deep end, so be it. Only issue I take with him being king of the swamp is that the album’s domain hardly seems so limited.

Little Albert on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

Parahelio, Surge Evelia, Surge

Parahelio Surge Evelia Surge

Beautiful, patient and pastoral psychedelia fleshes out across the three tracks of Parahelio‘s debut full-length, Surge Evelia, Surge. Issued on vinyl through Necio Records, the three-song offering reportedly pays homage to a mining town in the band’s native Peru, but it does so with a breadth that seems to cover so much between heavy post-rock and psych that it’s difficult not to imagine places decidedly more ethereal. Beginning with its title-track (12:33) and moving into the swells and recessions of “Gestos y Distancia,” the album builds to an encompassing payoff for side A before unveiling “Ha’Adam,” a 23-minute side-consuming rollout that encompasses not only soundscaping, but a richly human feel in its later take, solidifying around a drum march and a heavy build of guitar that shouldn’t sound strange to fans of Pelican or Russian Circles yet manages somehow to transcend the hypnotic in favor of the dynamic, the immersive, and again, the beautiful. What follows is desolation and aftermath, and that’s how the record ends, but even there, the textures and the spirit of the release remain central. I always do myself a favor with the last release of any Quarterly Review, and this is no exception.

Parahelio on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

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Paradise Lost Post “Fall From Grace” Video; Obsidian Preorders Start

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost

I’m curious how closely the promotional plan from Nuclear Blast for Paradise Lost‘s new album, Obsidian — which is out May 15 — will follow the pattern of the latest record from My Dying Bride that came out earlier this month. There are, of course, additional factors at play now that weren’t at the beginning of the year as they were rolling out the first of that band’s singles — blah blah blah pandemic — but starting with a narrative-style video and the launch of preorders is on point so far, and likewise the choice of a powerful lead single. In this instance, that’s “Fall From Grace,” for which the video is streamable below, followed, as happens, by the preorder link.

Granted it’s cliché as heckdarnshoot to compare these two acts either sonically or in terms of their respective career trajectories, but now that they’re once again labelmates — Paradise Lost signed to Nuclear Blast for their 2017 album, Medusa (review here), following a long stint on Century Media — it’s hard to avoid since at least one assumes it’s the same teams working behind the scenes on promoting them. My emails come from the same parties, anyhow. Paradise Lost are nothing not a proven commodity, as even the reception to their last offering proved, so maybe that’s me being interested in how the industry works these days — if what comes next is a lyric video, it’ll be on target — but as we’ve all learned to one degree or another in the last month-plus, plans can change in ways not previously anticipated. Still, even on a label with the reach of Nuclear BlastObsidian will obviously be a priority.

If the cinematic feel of “Fall From Grace” is anything to go by, that’s how it’s being treated. More to come, I’m sure.

Enjoy:

Paradise Lost, “Fall From Grace” official video

PARADISE LOST RELEASE NEW SINGLE & VIDEO FOR “FALL FROM GRACE” + START PRE-ORDER FOR “OBSIDIAN” (MAY 15TH)

The book has been closed but the story is not over: PARADISE LOST sharpen their pens and add another chapter to their dark, glooming history of death doom and gothic metal. In difficult times, the British legend from Halifax is the drug that numbs the pain , the lover that takes away the sorrows, the story that craves to be told.

“Obsidian”, the new album from PARADISE LOST, will be released on May,15th.

You can order “Obsidian” now in various formats here:
https://nblast.de/ParadiseLostObsidian

Nick Holmes states: “As a global crisis, it goes without saying Covid 19 has affected everyone and everything, including every aspect of the music industry. As a result, our record label Nuclear Blast offered us the chance to postpone the launch of our latest album ‘Obsidian’ to a less volatile time later in the year.

Taking this into consideration, and the fact the live music circuit is currently in lockdown, we think it’s unnecessary to postpone the release as we think our fans wouldn’t want to wait. Music can be enjoyed in practically any environment, so therefore we are going ahead with the same release date 15.5.20, and we sincerely hope our new album helps to lift your spirits, and is a beacon of light in the dark during these uncertain times! Thanks for your continuous support through the years and see you on the road!”

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Paradise Lost Set May 15 Release for Obsidian

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost

So the new Paradise Lost album is called Obsidian. Think it’s dark? Might be. To go with the announcement of the record’s May 15 arrival — certainly welcome news as far as I’m concerned, and I’d imagine you probably feel much the same if you heard 2017’s Medusa (review here) or, say, any number of the other offerings they’ve put out over the last three-plus decades — they’re sharing a teaser for the opening track, “Darker Thoughts.” But here’s the thing. It’s 12 seconds long.

Come on, guys. That’s not a teaser. That’s a teaser for a teaser. “Look out for the teaser coming soon! Here’s a taste!”

12 seconds. What do we get? Some strings and the lyric, “This one-way street you’re on is gonna get you killed.” That’s not nothing. It’s a darker thought than many, but it doesn’t tell you much about the record. In the PR wire info, they call it “more eclectic,” which might hint that it’s pulling away from some of the more direct heaviness of their highly successful last couple outings — and I guess this 12 seconds would support that to some degree — but who the hell knows at this point? Two months ahead of the release, that’s what we’ve got.

Here’s art and details:

paradise lost obsidian

PARADISE LOST ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, “OBSIDIAN,” OUT ON MAY 15TH

Obsidian… dark, reflective and black: it’s a pretty decent description of the music that PARADISE LOST have been making over the last 32 years, even though this most resilient of British metal bands have stoically refused to be pinned down to one easily defined formula. Powered by a lust for creativity and a stout devotion to haunting heaviness, PARADISE LOST have defied the odds by coming back stronger than ever over the past decade.

“Obsidian”, the new album of Gothic legend PARADISE LOST will be released on May 15th.

Singer Nick Holmes comments about the new album: “One of the most eclectic albums we have done in some time, we have miserable songs, sad songs ,slow songs and faster songs. Did I mention miserable?”

The sixteenth PARADISE LOST studio album, “Obsidian“ eschews its immediate predecessors’ gruesome, myopic approach in favour of a richer and more dynamic deluge of black shades. From the deceptive elegance and dual atmospheres of opener ‘Darker Thoughts‘ through to the crushing, baroque doom of war-torn closer ‘Ravenghast‘, “Obsidian“ reveals a band in masterful control of a broad array of vital ideas. Most noticeably, the record boasts several songs that draw heavily from the much-loved, Kohl-encrusted days of ‘80s gothic rock: in particular, newly-minted PARADISE LOST anthems‚ ‘Ghosts‘ is a guaranteed dancefloor-filler at any discerning goth nightclub.

PARADISE LOST – “Obsidian”
Tracklist

1. Darker Thoughts
2. Fall From Grace
3. Ghosts
4. The Devil Embraced
5. Forsaken
6. Serenity
7. Ending Days
8. Hope Dies Young
9. Ravenghast

Formed in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in 1988, PARADISE LOST were unlikely candidates for metal glory when they slithered from the shadows and infiltrated the UK underground. But not content with spawning an entire subgenre with early death/doom masterpiece „Gothic“ nor with conquering the metal mainstream with the balls-out power of 1995’s„Draconian Times“, they have subsequently traversed multiple genre boundaries with skill and grace, evolving through the pitch-black alt-rock mastery of ‘90s classics “One Second“ and “Host“ to the muscular but ornate grandeur of 2009’s “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us“ and “Tragic Idol“ (2012), with the nonchalant finesse of grand masters.

The band’s last two albums – “The Plague Within“ (2015) and “Medusa“ (2017) – saw a much celebrated return to brutal, old school thinking, via two crushing monoliths to slow-motion death and spiritual defeat. Consistently hailed as one of metal’s most charismatic live bands, PARADISE LOST arrive in this new decade as veterans, legends and revered figureheads for several generations of gloomy metalheads. In keeping with their unerring refusal to deliver the expected, 2020 brings one of the band’s most diverse and devastating creations to date.

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Paradise Lost, “Darker Thoughts” teaser

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Elektric Mistress Stream Self-Titled EP in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk on July 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

elektric mistress

This Friday, July 19, marks the release of the self-titled debut EP from Nova Scotia five-piece Elektric Mistress. The outing is a 16-minute three-songer, about half of which is dedicated to the eight-minute opener “Turn to Grey,” with its mellow, bluesy procession, lyrical introspection about aging — the early line, “Trees are dying and the leaves are on their own,” feels particularly layered with meaning in a about-more-than-just-hair kind of way — steady organ and basslines, flowing guitar and duly moving drums. Soon enough they’ll get down to drinking in the tropics with frontman Steve Poole calling out drink orders in “Cuba Time” while the band behind — guitarist Kyle Cantfell, bassist Kieran Richardson, drummer Victor Canales and keyboardist Riley MacDonald — execute more of a classic shuffle, but the impression of the opener remains crucial, not just because it’s longer, but because it sets such a fine balance between its atmospheric and rocking elements. Make no mistake, Elektric Mistress are a heavy rock and roll band and they’ve got the ‘k’ in “electric” to prove it, which isn’t to mention the EP’s eyeroll-worthy naked-chick-in-a-feather-headdress-holding-a-bong artwork (well enough drawn, but really?), but part of the value of putting the longest song first is that it immediately changes the context in which “Cuba Time” and closer “Meeting of the Minds” appear. That works well in Elektric Mistress‘ favor on this first offering.

The closer, a couple The Doors references later, is about playing a show, the tension and anticipation before and the satisfaction of hitting a stage. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and the middle-range tempo and general activity level draws a line between “Turn to Grey” — which does pick up in the middle and get loud, but still does so as part of a larger purpose of mood — and “Cuba Time,” which has more libidinous ends, with the mojitos and the “señoritas” and all. Still, Elektric Mistress — and if they really want to throw people for a loop their next time out, they should call whatever they release next Electrik Mistress, just to be subtle and screw with anyone only paying casual attention — gives three distinct looks at the band’s approach and for a first release and even more so for a first EP, there’s nothing else one could reasonably ask of it than that. There are some production/mix kinks to work out, but hell if I know any big-time New Scotland heavy rock engineers to suggest, and I make it a policy not to rag on self-releasing bands getting their start whether that’s a “debut EP” or a “demo” as it used to be called, so particularly as everything comes through clear and seems to convey their purpose well, I’m not inclined to quibble. And as regards their purpose, these guys aren’t changing the world, and I don’t think they’re trying to, but they’ve got their hearts in the right place as regards rock and an obvious focus on traditional songwriting that makes the most of their choruses.

You can stream the EP in its entirety on the player below. Official release date, once again, is tomorrow, and they’ll have it up on Bandcamp and all the rest.

Please enjoy:

Elektric Mistress, Elektric Mistress EP full stream premiere

Elektric Mistress on self-titled EP:

“Our self-titled EP is the band’s first studio recording. Influenced by the members’ psychedelic and stoner rock roots, each track has a unique sound and showcases their varied influences and songwriting abilities. With riffing low guitar/bass chug fused with B3/Rhodes/Synth sounds, the EP recaptures the retro rock sound of the 70s with a modern tinge, and stands as a tribute to the bands’ early influences.”

The first studio release from Elektric Mistress!

ELEKTRIC MISTRESS is face punching psychedelic rock firmly rooted in what has come before. Channeling the energy of inspirations such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd the stoner rock quintet is all about the groove.

Each track on the EP has a unique sound and showcases their varied influences and songwriting abilities with riffing low guitar/bass chug fused with B3/Rhodes/Synth sounds, the EP tries to recapture the retro rock sound of the 70s with a modern tinge and stands as a tribute to the band’s early influences.

Elektric Mistress are:
Steve Poole: Vocals
Kyle Cantfell: Guitars
Riley MacDonald: Keys
Kieran Richardson: Bass
Victor Canales: Drums

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Paradise Lost, Medusa: Deathly Passages

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost medusa

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of England’s Paradise Lost, who in that time have crafted a storied, varied and massively influential career in doom. Whether as part of the original ‘Peaceville three’ alongside UK countrymen My Dying Bride and Anathema in the ’90s as they helped shape the decade’s course with records like 1991’s Gothic, which followed their 1990 debut, Lost Paradise, or 1992’s Shades of God, 1993’s Icon and 1995’s Draconian Times or the veering away from what had been the innovative downtrodden aggression of death-doom and gothic-doom in their sound — if not the dramatic sensibility — that came later in 1997’s One Second, 1999’s Host, 2001’s Believe in Nothing and 2002’s Symbol of Life, their evolution has divided fans and critics as only a band truly committed to following their own path can. With the release of their self-titled in 2005, Paradise Lost began to reemphasize the lead guitar of Gregor Mackintosh in their sound, and gradually since, the five-piece have pushed back into heavier and darker territory.

It’s been a decade-long process, with 2007’s In Requiem, 2009’s Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here), 2012’s Tragic Idol and 2015’s The Plague Within (review here), and with 2017’s Medusa — also their first offering through Nuclear Blast after releasing the prior four LPs and other numerous collections through Century Media — that progression toward darkened heft would seem to have hit a new zenith. From the Branca Studio artwork through the ultra-thick chug from Mackintosh and rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, the thudding drums of newcomer Waltteri Väyrynen (ex-Moonsorrow, among others), the heft of Stephen Edmonson‘s bass and the shifts between cleaner singing and harsh growls from vocalist Nick HolmesMedusa is Paradise Lost unabashed in their approach to doom — a sound they’ve made their own over time and one that tracks like the deeply metallic “From the Gallows” and the slogging “No Passage for the Dead” show they’re willing to reshape to their purposes on any given track.

Vital in their delivery and given added impact through the biting production of Jaime Gómez Arellano at Orgone Studios in London (see also: CathedralWith the DeadSólstafir and many others), Paradise Lost can come across as absolutely vicious throughout Medusa‘s eight tracks and 42 minutes, so that by the time they get around to the last push and rasps of closer “Until the Grave,” the organ introduction of 8:31 opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) “Fearless Sky” is a distant, mournful memory. Yet their work here is informed by an accessibility of structure as well. “Fearless Sky” is clearly intended to send a message to their audience with its overbearing crash, grueling tempo, drawn-out leads and Holmes‘ initial growls, but it also shifts into a melodic hook in its midsection — the crafters of Gothic playing very much to the gothic metal they helped craft — and once established, that dynamic becomes essential to the atmosphere and, in the end, the success of Medusa.

paradise lost

With Paradise Lost circa 2017, it’s not just about drawing solely on their early albums, or their middle period, or even the last decade’s clear-headed pummel — it’s about taking all of that and creating something with it that continues to move their progression forward. Second track “Gods of Ancient” follows the willful body-drag of “Fearless Sky” with an extremity of darkness worth of the band’s legacy that picks up its pace in the second half around a particularly punishing riff, setting up a thrust further into darkness on the shorter “From the Gallows,” which offsets a chugging verse with transitional lead lines and a more open-feeling chorus. This opening salvo consumes most of side A along with whatever else happens to step in front of it, and as “The Longest Winter” offers a breather in its atmospheric, birdsong-laden introduction, it also marks a turn toward cleaner-singing from Holmes that was foreshadowed in “Fearless Sky” but that, brought more forward and only offset by a couple guttural complementary lines, emphasize just how deeply bleak Paradise Lost get over the first three tracks. I’m not sure I’d call it a moment of hope in terms of ambience — it’s still plenty dark, plenty gray — but it’s nonetheless a departure from the rest of side A before it.

So does that mean the final four cuts on Medusa find Paradise Lost further expanding the context of the album overall? Somewhat, but they also reaffirm the emotional and tonal mire of the first half. The title-track, at 6:20, mirrors “Fearless Sky” in being the longest piece on its side (secondary points), and it begins with a quiet piano line that will reemerge throughout the entirety of the song as a focal point, a theme around which the weighted guitars and bass churn, vocals going from clean to rough in a flipped-script manner that was initiated by “The Longest Winter” before reverting to the deathly on the very-much-guitar-led “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” — the latter arguably the most metallic of Medusa‘s tracks in quickness of pace and the straightforward swapping of growled verses and a harmonized chorus, Mackintosh‘s leads still a hallmark of Paradise Lost‘s sound as ever in the efficient, tightly-executed 3:51 that seems to answer “From the Gallows” in ferocity of purpose while surpassing it in catchiness level.

One might expect, given the traditional shape of the tracklist and the way Medusa unfolds across its span, that “Until the Grave” would task itself with summarizing the entirety of what comes before it, but it instead draws on the bitter mournfulness of “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” and pushes them outward with keyboard flourish and steady rhythmic roll. It is a grim and thoroughly doomed finale, but I suppose in that it does actually do a fair bit of summary for what Medusa has on offer — a lack of pretense in its intention and a sharp-edged lucidity underlying the murk created throughout. A mission statement unto itself, “Until the Grave” ends simply, perhaps even in understated fashion, and leaves the listener wanting more, which for a band about to hit their 30th year and releasing their 15th full-length is no minor accomplishment in itself. Nonetheless, that Paradise Lost have never settled in terms of aesthetic, songwriting or performance has become a key facet of their longevity, and monstrous as it is, it’s only right that Medusa should stand as another richly satisfying next-step in their seemingly perpetual growth.

Paradise Lost, “Blood and Chaos” official video

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