Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Spaceslug, Lie Heavy, Burning Realm, Kalac, Alkuräjähdys, Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Amigo, The Hazytones, All Are to Return

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Alright, back at it. Putting together yesterday over the weekend was more scattershot than I’d prefer, but one might say the same of parenting in general, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, as happens with Quarterly Reviews, we got there. That my wife gave me an extra 40 minutes to bang out the Wizzerd video premiere was appreciated. As always, she makes everything possible.

Compared to some QRs, there are a few ‘bigger’ releases here. You’ll note High on Fire leading off today. That trend will continue over this and next week with the likes of Pallbearer, Uncle Acid, Bongripper, Harvestman (Steve Von Till, ex-Neurosis), Inter Arma, Saturnalia Temple spread throughout. The Pelican two-songer and My Dying Bride back to back a week from today. That’ll be a fun one. As always, it’s about the time crunch for me for what goes in the Quarterly Review. Things I want to cover before it’s too late that I can fit here. Ain’t nobody holding their breath for my opinion on any of it, or on anything generally for that matter, but I’m not trying to slight well known bands by stuffing them into what when it started over a decade ago I thought would be a catchall for demos and EPs. Sometimes I like the challenge of a shorter word count, too.

And I remind myself here again nobody really cares. Fine, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Cometh the Storm

high on fire cometh the storm

What seems at first to be business as usual for High on Fire‘s fourth album produced by Kurt Ballou, fifth for MNRK Heavy (formerly E1), and ninth overall, gradually reveals itself to be the band’s tonally heaviest work in at least the last 15 years. What’s actually new is drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Melvins) making his first studio appearance alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (Sleep, Pike vs. the Automaton) and long-tenured bassist/backing vocalist Jeff Matz (also saz on the instrumental interlude-plus “Karanlik Yol”), and for sure Willis‘ thud in “Trismegistus,” galloping intensity in the thrashy and angular “The Beating” and declarative stomp beneath the big slowdown of 10-minute closer “Darker Fleece” is part of it, but from the way Pike and Matz bring “Cometh the Storm’ and “Sol’s Golden Curse” in the record’s middle to such cacophonous ends, the three-and-a-half-minute face-kick that is “Lightning Beard” and the suckerpunch that starts off with “Lambsbread,” to how even the more vocally melodic “Hunting Shadows” is carried on a wave of filthy, hard-landing distortion, their ferocity is reaffirmed in thicker grooves and unmitigated pummel. While in some ways this is what one would expect, it’s also everything for which one might hope from High on Fire a quarter-century on from their first demo. Triumph.

High on Fire on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Spaceslug, Out of Water

spaceslug out of water

A release concurrent to a remastered edition of their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here), only puts into emphasis how much Spaceslug have come into their own over eight productive years. Recorded by drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziółkowski (also Mountain of Misery), with guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka dug into familiar tonal textures throughout five tracks and a quick but inevitably full-length-flowing 32 minutes, Out of Water is both otherworldly and emotionally evocative in the rollout of “Arise the Sun” following the intertwined shouts of opener “Tears of Antimatter,” and in keeping with their progression, they nudge toward metallic aggression as a way to solidify their heavy psychedelic aspects. “Out of Water” is duly mournful to encapsulate such a tragic notion, and the nod of “Delusions” only grows more forcefully applied after the return from that song’s atmospheric break, and while they depart with “In Serenity” to what feels like the escapism of sunnier riffing, even that becomes more urgent toward the album’s finish. The reason it works is they’re bending genre to their songs, not the other way around, and as Spaceslug mature as a group, they’ve become one of Poland’s most essential heavy acts.

Spaceslug on Facebook

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Lie Heavy, Burn to the Moon

lie heavy burn to the moon

First issued on CD through JM Records in 2023, Lie Heavy‘s debut album, Burn to the Moon, sees broader release through Heavy Psych Sounds with revamped art to complement the Raleigh, North Carolina, four-piece’s tonal heft and classic reach in pieces like “In the Shadow” and “The Long March,” respectively. The band is fronted by Karl Agell (vocalist for C.O.C.‘s 1991 Blind album and now also in The Skull-offshoot Legions of Doom), and across the 12-song/51-minute run, and whether it’s the crunch of the ripper “When the Universe Cries” or the Clutch-style heavy funk of “Chunkadelic” pushing further from the start-stops of “In the Shadow” or the layered crescendo of “Unbeliever” a short time later, he and bassist/vocalist TR Gwynne, guitarist/vocalist Graham Fry and drummer/vocalist Jeff “JD” Dennis deliver sans-pretense riff-led fare. They’re not trying to fix what wasn’t broken in the ’90s, to be sure, but you can’t really call it a retread either as they swing through “Drag the World” and its capstone counterpart “End the World”; it all goes back to Black Sabbath anyway. The converted will get it no problem.

Lie Heavy on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Burning Realm, Face the Fire

Burning Realm Face the Fire

Dublin, Ireland, trio Burning Realm mark their first release with the four-song Face the Fire EP, taking the cosmic-tinged restlessness of Wild Rocket and setting it alongside more grounded riffing, hinting at thrash in the ping ride on “From Beyond” but careening in the modern mode either way. Lead cut “Homosapien” gives Hawkwindian vibes early — the trap, which is sounding like Slift, is largely avoided, though King Gizzard may still be relevant as an influence — but smoothly gives over to acoustics and vocal drone once its urgency has bene vaporized, and spacious as the vocal echo is, “Face the Fire” is classic stoner roll even into its speedier ending, the momentum of which is continued in closer “Warped One (Arise),” which is more charged on the whole in a way that feels linear and intended in relation to what’s put before it. A 16-minute self-released introduction to who Burning Realm are now, it holds promise for how they might develop stylistically and grow in terms of range. Whatever comes or doesn’t, it’s easy enough to dig as it is. If you were at a show and someone handed you the tape, you’d be stoked once you put it on in the car. Also it’s like 1995 in that scenario, apparently.

Burning Realm on Facebook

Burning Realm on Bandcamp

Kalac, Odyss​é​e


Offered through an international consortium of record labels that includes Crême Brûlée Records in the band’s native France, Echodelick in the US, Clostridium in Germany and Weird Beard in the UK, French heavy psych thrusters Kalac‘s inaugural full-length, Odyss​é​e — also stylized all-caps — doesn’t leave much to wonder why so many imprints might want some for the distro. With a focus on rhythmic movement in the we-gotta-get-to-space-like-five-minutes-ago modus of current-day heavy neo-space-rock, the mostly instrumental procession hypnotizes even as it peppers its expanses with verses here or there. That might be most effectively wrought in the payoff noiseblaster wash of “II,” which I’m just going to assume opens side B, but the boogie quotient is strong from “Arguenon” to “Beautiful Night,” and while might ring familiar to others operating in the aesthetic galaxial quadrant, the energy of Kalac‘s delivery and the not-haphazard-but-not-always-in-the-same-spot-either placement of the vocals are enough to distinguish them and make the six-tracker as exciting to hear as it sounds like it probably was to record.

Kalac on Facebook

Crême Brûlée Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

Weird Beard Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

Alkuräjähdys, Ehdot.

Alkurajahdys ehdot

The live-tracked fourth outing from Helsinki psych improvisationalists Alkuräjähdys, the lowercase-stylized ehdot. blends mechanical and electronic sounds with more organic psychedelic jamming, the synth and bassier punchthrough in the midsection of opening piece “.matriisi” indeed evocative of the dot-matrix printer to which its title is in reference, while “központ,” which follows, meanders into a broader swath of guitar-based noise atop a languidly graceful roll of drums. That let’s-try-it-slower ideology is manifest in the first half of the duly two-sided “a-b” as well, as the 12-minute finale begins by lurching through the denser distortion of a central riff en route to a skronk-jazz transition to a tighter midtempo groove that I’ll compare to Endless Boogie and very much intend that as a compliment. I don’t think they’re out to change the world so much as get in a room, hit it and see where the whole thing ends up, but those are noble creative aims in concept and practice, and between the two guitars, effects, synth and whathaveyou, there’s plenty of weird to go around.

Alkuräjähdys on Instagram

Alkuräjähdys on Bandcamp

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Tarot Pt. 1

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister tarot pt. 1

Already a significant undertaking as a 95-minute 2LP running 11 tracks themed — as the title(s) would hint — around tarot cards, the mostly serene sprawl of Magick Brother & Mystic Sister‘s Tarot Pt. 1 is still just the first of two companion albums to be issued as the follow-up to the Barcelona outfit’s 2020 self-titled debut (discussed here). Offered through respected Greek purveyor Sound Effect Records, Tarot Pt. 1 gives breadth beyond just the runtime in the sitar-laced psych-funk of “The Hierophant” (swap sitar for organ, synth and flute on “The Chariot”) and the classic-prog pastoralia of closer “The Wheel of Fortune,” and as with the plague-era debut, at the heart of the material is a soothing acid folk, and while the keys in the first half of “The Emperor” grow insistent and there’s some foreboding in the early Mellotron and key lines of “The Lovers,” Tarot Pt. 1 resonates comfort and care in its arrangements as well as ambition in its scope. Maybe another hour and a half on the way? Sign me up.

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store

Amigo, Good Time Island

Amigo Good Time Island

The eight-year distance from their 2016 debut long-player, Little Cliffs, seems to have smoothed out some (not all, which isn’t a complaint) of the rough edges in Amigo‘s sound, as the seemingly reinvigorated San Diego four-piece of lead guitarist/vocalist Jeff Podeszwik (King Chiefs), guitarist Anthony Mattos, bassist Sufi Karalen and drummer Anthony Alley offer five song across an accessible, straightforward 17 minutes united beneath the fair-enough title of Good Time Island. Without losing the weight of their tones, a Weezery pop sensibility comes through in “Dope Den” while “Frog Face” is even more specifically indebted to The Cars. Neither “Telescope Boy” nor “Banana Phone” lacks punch, but Amigo hold some in reserve for “Me and Soof,” which rounds out the proceedings, and they put it to solid use for an approach that’s ’90s-informed without that necessarily meaning stoner, grunge or alt, and envision a commercially relevant, songwriting-based heavy rock and roll for an alternate universe that, by all accounts here, sounds like a decent place to be.

Amigo on Facebook

Roosevelt Row Records store

The Hazytones, Wild Fever

The Hazytones Wild Fever

Culminating in the Sabbathian shuffle of “Eye for an Eye,” Wild Fever is the hook-drenched third full-length from Montreal fuzzbringers The Hazytones, and while they’ve still got the ‘tones’ part down pat, it’s easy to argue the eight included tracks are the least ‘hazy’ they’ve been to-date. Following on from the direction of 2018’s II: Monarchs of Oblivion (review here), the Esben Willems-mixed/Kent Stump-mastered 40-minute long-player isn’t shy about leaning into the grittier side of what they do as the opening title-track rolls out a chorus that reminds of C.O.C. circa In the Arms of God while retaining some of the melody between the vocals of Mick Martel (also guitar and keys) and Gabriel Prieur (also drums and bass), and with the correspondingly thick bass of Caleb Sanders for accompaniment and lead guitarist John Choffel‘s solo rising out of the murk on “Disease,” honing in on the brashness suits them well. Not where one might have expected them to end up six years later, but no less enjoyable for that, either.

The Hazytones on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

All Are to Return, III

All Are To Return III

God damn that’s harsh. Mostly anonymous industrialists — you get F and N for names and that’s it — All Are to Return are all the more punishing in the horrific recesses and engulfing blasts of static that populate III than they were in 2022’s II (review here), and the fact that the eight-songer is only 32 minutes long is about as close as they come to any concept of mercy for the psyche of their audience. Beyond that, “Moratorium,” “Colony Collapse,” the eats-you-dead “Archive of the Sky” and even the droning “Legacy” cast a willfully wretched extremity, and what might be a humanizing presence of vocals elsewhere is screams channeled through so much distortion as to be barely recognizable as coming from a human throat here. If the question being posed is, “how much can you take?,” the answer for most of those brave enough to even give III a shot will be, “markedly less than this.” A cry from the depths realizing a brutal vision.

All Are to Return on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records store

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High on Fire Announce Spring US Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Please, try to contain your shock at High on Fire announcing a tour to support their upcoming ninth LP, Cometh the Storm, which is set to arrive April 19 through MNRK Heavy. Perhaps you thought that, following years of road-dogging and a Grammy win, the heretofore-unstoppable trio led by Matt Pike with the now-long-tenured Jeff Matz (Zeke, Camarosmith) on bass (also various Turkish folk instruments) and, for the first time on record, Coady Willis (Big BusinessMelvins) on drums would… what? Stop? Rest on laurels and wait for the world to come to them to buy the t-shirt?

Not likely for a band who count ‘charge’ so prevalent among their defining elements. These shows — a manageable-seeming two weeks spent mostly on the Eastern Seaboard that wrap by hitting Dark Lord Day in Chicago — are the beginning of the cycle, not the sum total. If the plan is to carve up the North American part of the tour into runs like this, one might look forward to corresponding West Coast dates, but already the band are confirmed for Bear Stone Festival in Croatia and SonicBlast Fest in Portugal this summer, so at least one European stint is in the offing as well. That’s who High on Fire are at this point. Put out the record and get to work.

I guess there was a Dudes Having Opinions On The Internet™ kerfuffle about the AI video they did for “Burning Down” from Cometh the Storm. Would it be too honest if I said I didn’t care? There’s one with studio footage too that’s below. If the other one made you mad, I might ask you to wonder how many times in human history those who’ve decried new art forms as they’ve come up have been proven right by that same history. I could go on. Here I am, choosing not to.

Dates and such from the PR wire:

high on fire tour

High on Fire Announces U.S. Headlining Tour Dates

Grammy-Winning Group Releases First New LP in Five Years, ‘Cometh the Storm’, April 19

Iconic U.S. rock band, High on Fire, will release its new LP, ‘Cometh the Storm’, on April 19 via MNRK Heavy. The GRAMMY Award-winning group, celebrating its 25th anniversary, recorded ‘Cometh the Storm’ at GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts with producer Kurt Ballou. The 11-song effort — the band’s ninth studio album — marks the release of the first new High on Fire music since 2018’s ‘Electric Messiah’ and the first to feature drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Murder City Devils), alongside bassist Jeff Matz, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike. ‘Cometh the Storm’ boasts runic art and design by longtime High on Fire collaborator Arik Moonhawk Roper. Pre-order/save High on Fire’s ‘Cometh the Storm’ at this location: https://highonfire.ffm.to/comeththestorm

Today, High on Fire announces U.S. headlining tour dates in support of ‘Cometh the Storm’. The spring slate will launch on May 4 in Orlando, FL and feature support from Venezuelan post rock outfit, Zeta, and Massachusetts crossover crew High Command. The just-announced tour dates are as follows:

High on Fire ‘Cometh the Storm’ spring U.S. tour
(w/ Zeta, High Command)

May 4 Orlando, FL Conduit
May 5 Columbia, SC The Senate
May 7 Greensboro, NC Hanger 1819
May 8 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
May 10 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
May 11 New Haven, CT Toad’s Place
May 12 Jersey City, NJ White Eagle Hall
May 13 Cambridge, MA The Middle East
May 15 Albany, NY Empire Live
May 16 Cleveland Heights, OH Grog Shop
May 17 Detroit, MI The Magic Stick
May 18 Chicago, IL 3 Floyd’s Brewing (Dark Lord Day feat. High on Fire, Abbath, Fugitive, 1349, Spiritworld)

“High on Fire legion! We are stoked to take the stage in a city near you as we bring ‘Cometh the Storm’ to life,” offers the group. “Looking forward to a triumphant run of shows and reuniting with friends. See you soon!”

High on Fire are:
Matt Pike – Guitar/vocals
Jeff Matz – Bass/backing vocals/saz
Coady Willis – Drums



High on Fire, Cometh the Storm (2024)

High on Fire, “Burning Down” official video

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SonicBlast Fest 2024 Adds High on Fire, Slift and More to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Last year, at what was my first time attending SonicBlast Fest in Âncora, Portugal, where it’s been held the last several years since moving from Moledo, I had a great, great time. Really. When I think every single day in multiple contexts about how I never seem to let myself enjoy anything — a perspective to which this blog stands as ready testament against, what with all the salivating and hyperbole — my time at SonicBlast is among the first counterpoints that comes to mind. I met new friends, I met old friends, I hung out with Dr. Space for like three days, and that dude’s the best. I stood on stage and watched Dozer, singing along and rocking out alongside friendly, welcoming faces. A rare moment overcoming insecurity. The place, the weather, the beach, the people are beautiful. And the music is very loud. For the rest of my life, I get to say I saw Ruff Majik supporting Elektrik Ram. For this I am deeply lucky.

The shape of my 2024 is such that when SonicBlast happens this year –Aug. 8-10, with the pre-show Aug. 7 set to feature Saint Karloff from Norway among others still TBA — I’ll be traveling with family elsewhere. That’s kind of a result of there only being so much summer between school years and my wife’s teaching semesters, so I’m rolling with it. I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to assume I’d be invited back to SonicBlast anyhow, but if the weekend comes and you don’t see me covering the likes of High on FireMargarita Witch Cult (who I think I might need to see), The ObsessedTonsSlift, and so on, it’s not because I didn’t have a good time there last year or wouldn’t be interested in watching Brant BjorkGraveyardColour Haze and/or 1000mods (who ruled at Desertfest NYC and are maybe recording?), Truckfighters and probably four or five surprisingly hardcore-influenced acts on that huge stage, when in fact I very much would. Last year’s edition was unrealistically good. The photo pit was big enough to dance in. They even had chairs. I’d be back there in a second if I could. Maybe 2025 if I’m lucky and the world doesn’t end (again).

Poster by Branca — to whom I wasn’t brave enough to say hi last year, sorry — and the announcement from the festival’s socials follow in blue, as well as links and the High on Fire single in case you don’t want to just scroll down the site to find it in its own post:

SonicBlast Fest 2024

We’re so proud to announce 13 more bands that’ll burn down SonicBlast Fest’s 12th edition!

Welcome the great @highonfireband, who will release the first single from their upcoming album today, @gayesuakyol @sliftrock @thenightbeats @theobsessedofficial @coffin_aus @jjuujjuu @margaritawitchcult @skemer_official @tonsofweed666 @cobrafuma and @silvershark_boogie 🔥🔥🔥

We’re also so glad to announce the first name to our warm-up party, at the 7th august, @saintkarloff ⚡️

Unfortunately Sunami won’t be able to make it to SonicBlast Fest 2024.

*** more to be announced soon ***

🔥 Full festival tickets are already on sale at BOL (Fnac, Worten, Ctt…), at https://garboyl.bol.pt/ and at https://www.masqueticket.com/entradas/sonicblast-fest-2024

Check all the news at www.sonicblastfestival.com
Artwork by @branca_studio


High on Fire, “Burning Down”

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High on Fire to Release Cometh the Storm April 19; “Burning Down” Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

High on Fire weren’t trying to keep it secret when they were in the studio last year with Kurt Ballou — who’s now done four records with them — to follow-up 2018’s Electric Messiah (review here), and today they unveil the first song and album details ahead of an April 19 release through MNRK Heavy (formerly E1), their label home for the last 14 years. And while in many cases a given band’s ninth LP and fourth with the same producer might seem like ‘business as usual,’ the trio of Matt Pike, Jeff Matz and Coady Willis represent a new incarnation of High on Fire, as Cometh the Storm marks Willis‘ studio debut after a couple years of on-stage destruction for the back catalog.

No question this will be one of the biggest underground heavy releases of the year — can you still be underground if you won a Grammy? we’ll find out I guess — as anything High on Fire put out is going to draw attention and they’re big enough that that means both internet salivating and the inevitable naysay component, not much of which matters, as High on Fire will persist regardless. They’ve already announced summer plans for Europe and in addition to what’s on the poster below, they’re newly confirmed for Dark Lord Day this May in Indiana, as well as SonicBlast Fest 2024 in Portugal and Bear Stone in Croatia this August, so expect more to come.

In the meantime, the song. “Burning Down” finds High on Fire very much in their element with an intense chug and overlaid groove. Throaty conjurations from Pike, a satisfying roll to its verse, and whatever-your-quota’s worth of crash and bash, tucked into a convenient six-minute package. I’m not in the business of telling anyone how to live their life, but it seems to me that if you’re listening to music today, this might be what you want to hear. While I doubt it’s representative of the scope of the whole album, it does reassure you they didn’t somehow break their sound after 25-plus years bashing away at it.

PR just came through:

high on fire cometh the storm

High on Fire to Release New LP, ‘Cometh the Storm’, April 19

Grammy-Winning Group Drops Video for Gargantuan New Track “Burning Down”

Iconic U.S. rock band, High on Fire, will release its new LP, ‘Cometh the Storm’, on April 19 via MNRK Heavy. The GRAMMY Award-winning group, celebrating its 25th anniversary, recorded ‘Cometh the Storm’ at GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts with producer Kurt Ballou. The 11-song effort — the band’s ninth studio album — marks the release of the first new High on Fire music since 2018’s ‘Electric Messiah’ and the first to feature drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Murder City Devils), alongside bassist Jeff Matz, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike. Pre-order/save High on Fire’s ‘Cometh the Storm’ at this location: https://highonfire.bandcamp.com/album/cometh-the-storm

‘Cometh the Storm’ is advanced by the lead track, “Burning Down”, and a haunting, fever dream video, directed by Lars Kristoffer Hormander. Experience High on Fire’s “Burning Down” at this location.

“Burning Down” kicks off with a classic Pike riff,” says Jeff Matz. “I think this song harkens back to the early High On Fire sound, but infused with fresh, new elements. It has a killer groove that you can really sink into. The body of the song took shape in our PNW rehearsal space, and we came up with the bridge/solo section and finalized the arrangement while we were at GodCity. Kurt Ballou’s input as a producer was also hugely helpful. His keen ears and fresh perspective were invaluable in making this album.”

“I think this band’s always had a really good drive,” states Matt Pike. “It’s a different entity. It’s its own thing. Which, I think, makes all of us very proud to be a part of it. It’s not an average band.”

“Being a fan of each other’s bands for a long time, it feels like all bets are off and anything goes which is a liberating feeling,” shares Willis. “That feeling of making something out of all of these imperfect parts and it becomes this magical, weird, new idea that none of us ever anticipated. Against all odds. That’s the joy of it.”

“It’s interesting, whenever there’s a lineup change in a band,” offers producer Kurt Ballou. “It can take a little while to rebuild. But it’s also an opportunity to reinvigorate the band and I think that’s what’s happened here.”

1. Lambsbread
2. Burning Down
3. Trismegistus
4. Cometh the Storm
5. Karanlık Yol (instrumental)
6. Sol’s Golden Curse
7. The Beating
8. Tough Guy
9. Lighting Beard
10. Hunting Shadows
11. Darker Fleece

High on Fire are:
Matt Pike – Guitar/vocals
Jeff Matz – Bass/backing vocals/saz
Coady Willis – Drums



High on Fire, “Burning Down” official video

High on Fire, “Burning Down”

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Bear Stone Festival 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

bear stone festival 2024 banner

There’s more here than I knew was coming, which is cool. High on Fire are the first announced headliner for Bear Stone Festival 2024, to be held next July across four days and three stages. Big, in other words. Or getting bigger, anyhow. I’d imagine that some of the acts listed here who are Croatian-native — Jantar, Tight Grips, Rens Argoa, A Gram Trip, Vukojarac, etc. — will feature on the newly-added third stage, and since I’ll be in attendance for this one (I don’t have the flight/lodging booked yet, but I’ve been invited and said yes and it’s okay with my wife, so I’m going) I look forward to finding out more about the country’s hometeam underground. Having the likes of Colour Haze, GnomePigsx7Mother Vulture and more to fill out the bill is huge, and if it seems like a lot, it’s half the fest. They say there’s one more announcement coming.

What they don’t say is when, but when I hear something I’ll let you know, and while I’ve got your attention, I’d like to thank Bear Stone for the invitation to attend their incredible-looking festival. I have high hopes for both the experience and the music, and I expect both to be exceeded. If you’d like to know more about the bands, there’s a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post. Bear Stone made you a mixtape.

Here’s info from the PR wire:

Bear stone festival 2024 poster

First Lineup Announcement For Bear Stone Festival 2024

Here it is, the first half of Bear Stone Festival 2024 lineup. As we have previously announced, Bear Stone Festival 2024 will have 28 bands spread throughout 3 stages over 4 days of the festival.

We would also like to announce that Early Bear festival tickets are now on sale! At the end of this email you will find the button that will lead you to the Entrio ticketing site.

Check out our poster below to discover the first 14 bands of Bear Stone Festival 2024.


Prepare for an electrifying experience as the legendary High On Fire take hold of Bear Stone Festival’s main stage! Marvel at the unforgettable sonic journey filled with their signature blend of heavy riffs and powerful vocals.

Witness their seismic performance and join us in an epic night of Metal mastery!


Following their sensational Bear Stone Festival Warm-Up club show in Zagreb, we are thrilled to announce that the mesmerising Colour Haze will be gracing our festival stage for the very first time!

Get ready for an unparalleled fusion of Psychedelic Rock and intricate melodies that will transport you to new sonic dimensions. Don’t miss this chance to experience the captivating artistry of Colour Haze in the vibrant atmosphere of Bear Stone Festival.


Allow yourself to be ensnared by the mighty presence of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs as they summon the very essence of Doom Metal overlaid with their distinctive blend of Psychedelic Rock and Heavy Metal. Let the walls of sound crafted in the fumes of Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Sleep wash over you, as they embody heaviness itself.

Witness their unparalleled display of distortion, unveiling the exhilarating saga that is Land of Sleeper and encapsulate the heart and soul of the genre in an electrifying performance!


After their electrifying performance at Bear Stone Festival Year Zero edition in 2022, Bristol’s very own Mother Vulture are back by popular demand! Gaze at their adrenaline-fueled spectacle as they once again shock us with their unique energy and raw Rock prowess.

Get ready to be blown away by the powerhouse performance of Mother Vulture at Bear Stone Festival 2024.


Do you feel like your life is missing more songs about gnomes that are oppressed by their evil king? Belgian band Gnome will take care of that and more with an enchanting performance soaked in their signature blend of Progressive and Stoner Rock, accompanied by their already legendary gnome attire.


Immerse yourself in the raw, intense sounds of Croatian band Nemeček as they mesmerize Bear Stone Festival with their powerful blend of folk-inspired music marked by its fierce and darkly evocative tones.


Baron Crâne are a Paris-based instrumental trio known for their dynamic fusion of psychedelic, progressive, and experimental sounds that shape an immersive musical journey filled with powerful riffs and a blend of diverse influences.


Channeling an explosive blend of Clutch’s fervour, Black Sabbath’s heaviness, and Corrosion of Conformity’s raw energy, Italian heavy rockers Slowtorch deliver an incendiary onslaught of relentless, riff-driven soundscapes, marked by their fiery intensity and hard-hitting musical prowess.


Jantar are a Post-Metal/Prog Rock band from Zagreb, formed after the dissolution of Pink Fairy Armadillo. They are set on delivering a sound that delves deep into irregular rhythms, dissonant tones, and overlapping layers of analog synths.


Wonder at the genre-defying musical experience with the instrumental trio Rens Argoa, whose passion for rhythmic riffs and melodies has inspired them to blend together elements of Jazz, orchestral music, Prog Rock, and Punk all across their four albums.


Join us in welcoming the dynamic Rock’n’Roll/Psychedelic/Heavy-Blues band Quiet Confusion from Verona, Italy, best known for their electric performances and distinctive 70’s-style Stoner Rock vibes showcased in their latest album “Magella”.


Tight Grips are an explosive and experimental Croatian Rock trio with an evolving sound which infuses mono-synth, Blues, and Grunge elements. They captivate audiences across festivals and regional tours and are currently gearing up for the release of their highly anticipated third album “Jewels”, set for release in autumn 2023.


Vukojarac, the dark embodiment of chaos and despair, emanates an otherworldly power that beckons followers into an abyss of maniacal madness. It is driven by its unstoppable desire to spread The Riff and plunge humanity into the void.


Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, this four-piece band fuels their sound with fuzz-driven intensity, intertwining mantric Doom riffs, Sludge vocals, and intermittent Stoner melodies. They are carving out their unique path across the trifecta of these genres, best exemplified in their debut album “Long Overdue” released in May 2023.

You can listen to our favourite songs from all these bands by clicking on the button below!


Bear Stone Festival 2024 Spotify Playlist

Bear Stone Festival 2023 Aftermovie

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High on Fire Finish Work on New Album; Announce Tour Dates w/ Pallbearer

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

high on fire (photo by James Rexroad)

Marking the 25th anniversary of the band earlier this year with a reissue of their first album, High on Fire have finished their ninth, which will be released early next year on MNRK Heavy. The new record, which will be their first with drummer Coady Willis (Big BusinessMelvins), continues the band’s collaboration with producer Kurt Ballou, who has helmed everything they’ve put out since 2012’s rampaging De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) and who most assuredly had a hand in their winning a Grammy a couple years ago.

To complement a slot at this year’s Levitation Fest in Austin, the trio led by Matt Pike will do a quick West Coast jaunt alongside Pallbearer, and you likely don’t need me to tell you that’s a heavy show. They’ve also got two album-teaser videos out now for the coming record that you can see under the PR wire info that follows here:


High on Fire Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Grammy-Winning Rock Band Celebrating 25th Anniversary!

Multiple Studio Teasers Advancing New LP Released

Iconic U.S. rock band, High on Fire, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023 and today the GRAMMY Award-winning group, featuring bassist Jeff Matz, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, and new drummer Coady Willis (Melvins, Big Business, Murder City Devils) announces U.S. tour dates centered around its showcasing appearance at Austin’s Levitation Festival. The weeklong run will launch on October 26 in Dallas, Texas and hit multiple cities in Colorado and California before wrapping on November 4. Support on the High on Fire tour will be provided by Pallbearer.

High on Fire tour dates:

October 26 Dallas, TX @ The Factory
October 27 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s (Levitation Fest with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats)
October 29 Fort Collins, CO @ Washington’s
October 30 Denver, CO @ The Summit
October 31 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
November 2 Garden Grove, CA @ Garden Amp
November 3 Fresno, CA @ Fulton 55
November 4 Berkeley, CA @ UC Theatre

“Who is ready to rip it up?!”, said the band in a statement. “High on Fire is primed and ready to rock and continue celebrating our 25th Anniversary with family, friends, and fans. See you at the shows!”

High on Fire has completed work on its new, untitled ninth studio album and successor to 2018’s ‘Electric Messiah’. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts with longtime producer Kurt Ballou, the new album is the first to feature drummer Willis, who joined High on Fire in 2021. An early 2024 release date is expected via MNRK Heavy. See below for sneak peek looks at the band creating the new LP.



High on Fire, Studio Update 1

High on Fire, Studio Update 2

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High on Fire to Reissue The Art of Self-Defense for Band’s 25th Anniversary; New LP in 2024

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

As Matt Pike opines in the behind-the-scenes clip at the bottom of this post — which looks like it could be a snippet taken from a feature-length documentary that would’ve been well earned on the band’s part even before they snagged a Grammy — laughing, he says, “It’s definitely a specific kind of person who’s going to listen to a High on Fire record.” And so it is. The band hasn’t been without controversy in terms of Pike‘s reading habits, but when you’ve been a specific kind of crazy for a long time and then all of a sudden a whole bunch of new people start paying attention, that kind of thing is going to get noticed in a different light. Matt Pike talkin’ crazy shit? Points for consistency. Have you ever read the lyrics?

Anyhoozle, cool that the band are reissuing The Art of Self-Defense, but the big question being answered here as I see it is the status of their next record, which is done. Hooray for that, and I mean it. Not only are they due, but that their next LP will arrive in reasonable time for them to take it out and say, ‘We’ve been a band for 25 years and we still destroy everybody,’ will no doubt be a good bit of fun for them and anyone else lucky enough to be in the path of their aural battery. A quarter-century of High on Fire isn’t nothing, and I look forward to hearing Coady Willis drumming on a record after seeing him with the band live twice last year. New material, so much the better.

The PR wire has info on that reissue, confirmation of a 2024 release for the next LP, and a reminder that it was Frank Kozik who put out their first release. Behold:

high on fire (Photo by Jason Zucco)

High on Fire Announces 25th Anniversary Celebration, ‘The Art of Self Defense’ Deluxe Reissue

Grammy-Winning Rock Band Completes Work on New LP!

Iconic U.S. rock band, High on Fire, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023 and announces plans to honor a quarter-century of creation with a special slate of rejoiceful revelry. The GRAMMY Award-winning group, featuring bassist Jeff Matz, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, and new drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Melvins, Murder City Devils) will bookend the jubilee with a reissue of its long-out-of-print debut, ‘The Art of Self Defense’, and the release of its as-yet-untitled new album, set to drop in early 2024. In between, fans can expect a slew of live performances spotlighting specific eras from the trailblazing band’s historic career.

On August 4, MNRK Heavy will reissue High on Fire’s debut album, ‘The Art of Self Defense’. Originally released in 2000 on the late Frank Kozik’s now defunct Man’s Ruin Records, ‘The Art of Self Defense’ introduced the world to the towering trio and modded the template for what constituted modern-day heavy music. The celebratory reissue is completely remixed by original producer, Billy Anderson, remastered by Justin Weis, and boasts a new alternative cover, expanded gatefold artwork, and the band’s self-titled demo as bonus tracks. ‘The Art of Self Defense’ deluxe reissue, which will be available on LP in a smorgasbord of colored vinyl variants, is available for pre-order at this location.

In additional news, High on Fire has completed work on its new, untitled ninth studio album and successor to 2018’s ‘Electric Messiah’, which netted the group its first GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance. Recorded in Salem, Massachusetts with longtime producer Kurt Ballou, the album is the first to feature drummer Willis, who joined High on Fire in 2021. Additional details will be announced as available.

“High on Fire wishes to thank everyone that has supported our efforts over the last 25 years, including the labels, road crews, friends, and families, but most importantly the FANS,” says the band collectively. “We are looking forward to celebrating this milestone with everyone and sharing new music soon.”



High on Fire, in-studio new LP teaser

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 107

Posted in Radio on March 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

So I kinda wanted to hear some old shit alongside all the new shit, which I guess I feel okay about. I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like every second of every show has to be super-recent as much as possible to get word out about new bands again as much as possible — and again again as much as possible to the extent of whatever the audience for this show is; I honestly have no idea — but that’s not even close to being true in reality. I could play Death, no one would give a shit.

I should play Death. Next show if I remember, which I’m saying up front is like 70/30 no.

Anyway, so old High on Fire into new Dozer and Altered States’ recent “The Crossing” crossing with The Hidden Hand’s “The Crossing” from their brilliant 2004 opus, and JAAW feeding into Celtic Frost feeding into Vape Warlök. Fucking a. This show’s pretty good. I hope I don’t ruin it by, you know, talking.

A few albums here I’m looking forward to knowing better. Swanmay for sure, JAAW absolutely, and I might even say that of Dozer, perhaps into perpetuity or at very least until long after I’ve reviewed it and hailed it as one of the best albums of the year — which I don’t even feel shy in saying because it’s a fucking given — and Bongzilla, because they’re Bongzilla and I’m glad they’re putting out records. They’re a needed reminder of how even the heaviest things can be made to float.

Thanks if you listen to this show. If not, it happens, but thanks for reading anyhow. If you stumbled here and have no idea what I’m talking about, you might still consider checking out a band or two from the playlist and find something to make your day better.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.31.23 (VT = voice track)

High on Fire 10,000 Years The Art of Self-Defense (2001)
Dozer Dust for Blood Drifting in the Endless Void
Devoidov Stab Stab
MiR Altar of Liar Season Unknown
Mars Red Sky & Queen of the Meadow Maps of Inferno Mars Red Sky & Queen of the Meadow
Black Rainbows Superhero Dopeproof Superskull
Lammping Better Know Better Better Know Better
Oceanlord 2340 Kingdom Cold
Arriver Azimuth Azimuth
Altered States The Crossing Survival
The Hidden Hand The Crossing Mother Teacher Destroyer (2004)
Iress Ricochet Solace
Grin Nothingness Black Nothingness
Bongzilla Hippie Stick Dab City
MWWB Logic Bomb The Harvest (2022)
Swanmay Stone Cold Frantic Feel
JAAW Rot Supercluster
Celtic Frost A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh Monotheist (2005)
Vape Warlök Inhale Death Inhale Death (2022)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 14 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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