Stone Nomads to Release Beyond the Gates EP June 10; Announce Summer Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

A couple noteworthy collaborations here, with Kyle Thomas (Trouble, Exhorder, Alabama Thunderpussy) sitting in on vocals with Houston’s Stone Nomads for their cover of Trouble‘s foundational doom metal classic “The Tempter” and Esben Willems taking on drumming duties either on that song or the whole release, I’m not really sure, and I’d be remiss not to point out that the tour the trio will undertake in June alongside Red Beard Wall will be stopping through Maryland Doom Fest 2024 in Frederick, MD. Lots going on as the band make ready to release their Beyond the Gates four-songer through Gravitoyd Heavy Music — whose fest in Houston they’ll also play May 4 — but it was the stream of “The Tempter” and the darker, rougher edge they brought to the original that ultimately got me on board here, and you may find the same to be true, whatever other thrills are abounding as you listen.

The impending short release is a complement to 2023’s second full-length, …At the Gates of Solitude, which I flat out whiffed on after digging 2022’s debut, Fields of Doom (review here), but whether you heard that album or not, the charge they bring to “The Tempter” stands well on its own, and if you end up feeling like maybe you’ve got some homework to do in catching up with their doings, I promise you you’re not alone.

Time marches to the beat of the PR wire:

Stone Nomads Beyond the Gates

STONE NOMADS: New EP, Kyle Thomas Collab, Tour Announcement

Sludge-Doom power trio STONE NOMADS. The Texas outfit will release the EP “Beyond the Gates”, a follow-up and exclamation point to book-end last year’s full-length LP “…At the Gates of Solitude”. The release features 2 new songs, a remixed bonus track from the LP, and a new version of the classic “Trouble” doom track “The Tempter” featuring collaboration with metal vocalist extraordinaire Kyle Thomas (Exhorder, Trouble) along with the return lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jon Cosky, drummer Esben Willems (Monolord, Slower), and bassist/vocalist Jude Sisk. The EP was mastered by grammy award winning engineer Alan Douches (High On Fire, Cannibal Corpse) at the famed West West side in upstate NY.

“Beyond the Gates” will be released on Vinyl and digital on June 10th through Gravitoyd Heavy Music.

1. Witch
2. The Tempter (featuring Kyle Thomas)
3. Sorrow
4. Overlords (2024 re-mixed version – digital only)

STONE NOMADS is an American doom-sludge metal power trio based in Houston TX. The band, formed by Jon Cosky (Guitar/Vocals) and Jude Sisk (Bass/Vocals) in 2021, incorporates the sounds of early Doom Metal, modern Sludge Metal and all things heavy. Conceptually, the band explores the journey of life and death through the heavier and darker side of things, delivered via sludged-out, powerful riff-based sonics.

The band has released 2 full length LP’s (2022’s”Fields of Doom” and 2023’s “…At the Gates of Solitude”) and 1 EP (“Fiery Sabbath”) via Texas based label Gravitoyd Heavy Music. The band has enlisted drummer Ben Wozniak to take over percussion duties and is embarking on a US Tour to support the release of “Beyond the Gates” with festival appearances at both MARYLAND DOOM FEST and GRAVITOYD DOOM FEST.

stone nomads tourSTONE NOMADS 2024 US TOUR
5/4 – GRAVITOYD DOOM FEST (HOUSTON) @ Black Magic Social Club
5/24 – SAN ANTONIO, TX @ Venue tbd
5/25 – HOUSTON, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
6/18 – ASHEVILLE, NC @ Fleetwoods *
6/21 – WINSTON SALEM, NC @ Reboot Arcade (Fri)
6/22 – KNOXVILLE, TN @ Brickyard Bar * (Sat)
6/23 – CHATTANOOGA, TN @ The Dark Roast * (Sun)
6/24 – MEMPHIS, TN @ Venue tbd * (Mon)
6/25 – LITTLE ROCK, AR @ Venue tbd * (Tues)
6/29 – HOUSTON, TX @ The End (Sat)

Jon Cosky – Guitar/Vocals
Jude Sisk – Bass/Vocals
Ben Wozniak – Drums

Stone Nomads, “The Tempter” (feat. Kyle Thomas)

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Doomstress Announce Tour Dates to Maryland Doom Fest and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

This is part of why hosting festivals is a good idea — because bands need to get there. And no, it’s not declining cognition (this week), I do remember that it was only yesterday I posted the Red Mesa version of this tour announcement, but you know, Houston’s Doomstress have some dates that aren’t with Red Mesa on here — both play Maryland Doom Fest, which is the occasion for their being on the road, hence the point in the first sentence; fests make things happen in the ecosystem, not just in themselves — and Red Mesa had some dates that weren’t with Doomstress, and both acts have other stuff going on too. To wit, Doomstress are booked two days to record while they’re in Ohio. So I didn’t think anyone would complain about six shows, including MDDF, being listed twice. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t mentioning it right now, no one would even blink.

So yeah, maybe it’s business as usual, but right on to these bands getting out and even more right on to Doomstress doing some recording. I asked guitarist/vocalist Doomstress Alexis what they had planned for the studio — two days isn’t much if they’re making a whole album, but it’s not impossible to at least do live-recorded basic tracks to take home and work on; get those drums down in a big room and you can do anything; all depends on process — like five minutes ago, so no, I haven’t heard back yet, but when/if I do I’ll update the below with that info as well. Maybe it’s a secret. Those are fun too sometimes.

Poster and dates follow:

doomstress dates with red mesa

Doomstress & Red Mesa will be touring together in June to play Maryland Doom Fest.

Doomstress will also be spending 2 days recording some new material at Supernatural Sound while in Ohio.

Looking forward to getting back to it after a lengthy break from the road.

Doomstress live:
SUNDAY JUNE 18 ARLINGTON, TX DIVISION BREWING w/ Red Mesa, Stone Machine Electric, Pathos and Logos
MONDAY JUNE 19 MEMPHIS, TN THE HI TONE w/ Red Mesa, Deaf Revival

Doomstress is: Doomstress Alexis (bass&vox) Brandon Johnson & Matt Taylor (lead/rhythm gtrs).

Doomstress, Sleep Among the Dead (2019)

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Kadabra and WarLung Touring Europe Next Month/This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

A note to anyone who’s perhaps gone numb with the glut of tour announcements — not to mention Heavy Psych Sounds news — these last couple weeks as the year has begun to unfurl: This tour is happening sooner than most. A lot of what’s come down the PR wire of late has been stuff for Spring, or at least March. One struggles to keep up. This is for February, and it starts this week because — holy shit — so does February. There are still a couple dates TBA, which, hey, happens, and I’ve no doubt Kadabra and WarLung can happen into a gig somewhere between Germany and France over the course of those three days, but if you’ve got access to a show and can help, of course you’re encouraged to do so.

Kadabra will also play Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in California this March (WarLung played last year), and they head abroad supporting their a-little-under-the-radar-but-so-damn-good 2021 debut album, Ultra (review here), a follow-up to which would likely be impending sooner or later because if the band didn’t have any interest in continuing they probably wouldn’t bother going to Europe in the first place. WarLung in 2022 released Vulture’s Paradise (review here), their fourth album and a marked step forward in their blend of immersive breadth and structured, forward-delivered heavy. The two acts will complement each other well on stage. Safe travels to all.

From the PR wire:

Kadabra warlung tour Europe

Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is proud to announce *** KADABRA + WARLUNG European Tour ***

– a massive heavy fuzz experience –

03.02.2023 IT Torino-Blah Blah
04.02.2023 IT Trieste-Kulturni Doom Prosek
05.02.2023 IT Bologna-Freakout
06.02.2023 HR Pula-Monte Paradiso
07.02.2023 TBA
08.02.2023 SL Ilirska Bistrica-MKNŽ
09.02.2023 AT Wien-Arena Beisl
10.02.2023 AT Ebensee-Kino
11.02.2023 DE Jena-KuBa
12.02.2023 TBA
13.02.2023 TBA
14.02.2023 TBA
15.02.2023 FR La Clusaz-Namass Pamouss x Le Lion d’Or
16.02.2023 FR Montpellier-Secret Place
17.02.2023 IT Parma-Splinter Club
18.02.2023 TBA
19.02.2023 IT Pescara-Scumm

Garrett Zanol (Vocals/Guitar)
Ian Nelson (Bass)
Chase Howard (Drums)

George Baba: Guitar/Vocals
Philip Bennett: Guitar/Vocals
Chris Tamez: Bass
Ethan Tamez: Drums

Kadabra, Ultra (2021)

WarLung, Vulture’s Paradise (2022)

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Bobby Liebling and The Rivetheads: Pentagram Frontman Announces Texas Solo Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

After celebrating five decades of Pentagram with a short stint of shows earlier in 2022, the band’s founding frontman, Bobby Liebling, will head to Texas in January to join forces with members of Sanctus Bellum, Blues FuneralDoomstress — and a ton of other bands those dudes are in; Haserot in the case of bassist Ben Yaker and guitarist Maurice EggenschwilerJames Rivera’s Metalwave in the case of Eggenschwiler and fellow guitarist Jan KimmelThe Scourge in the case of drummer Alex Erhardt, etc. — under the banner of Bobby Liebling and The Rivetheads, playing rare Pentagram and Bedemon tunes and who even knows what else.

Liebling is an ever-divisive figure at this point, but someone without whose influence American doom wouldn’t be what it is. Interestingly he seems to have taken more of a reputation-tarnishing from punching his mom than the allegations of sexual harassment on tour, but any way you look at it, the story isn’t pretty. Nonetheless, dude’s lived at least eight lifetimes in his one, and with the likes of Fostermother, Stone Nomads, Mr. Plow and Bridge Farmers in opening slots for these two shows, it seems like good times will be had one way or the other. I’m not justifying anybody’s behavior or saying I support it in any way, but 50 years in doom later, Bobby Liebling is still relevant to the genre and there aren’t a lot of people you can say that about.

Announcement comes courtesy of the PR wire:

bobby liebling texas shows

Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling to Play Solo Shows Highlighting Rare Material

Pentagram frontman Bobby Liebling announces two solo shows in Texas this January. Playing under the name Bobby Liebling and the Rivetheads, the singer will play a set of deep cuts and rare gems from throughout his storied career, including songs from both the Pentagram and Bedemon catalogs. Most of these songs have rarely, if ever, been played live previously. Joining Liebling for these shows will be a Houston-based backing band featuring members of Doomstress, Sanctus Bellum, and Blues Funeral. These shows promise to be an event that fans in attendance will not soon forget.

Bobby Liebling and the Rivetheads

Fri. Jan 27, 2023 – Houston, TX, Black Magic Social Club
Feat. Fostermother, Mr. Plow, Stone Nomads
Event page:

Sat. Jan 28, 2023 – Austin, TX, The Lost Well
Feat. Bridgefarmers, 1 more TBA
Event page:

Bobby Liebling and The Rivetheads:
Bobby Liebling – Vocals
Jan Kimmel – Guitar
Maurice Eggenschwiler – Guitar
Ben Yaker – Bass
Alex Erhardt – Drums

Sanctus Bellum w/ Bobby Liebling, “The Bees” Live in Houston

Bobby Liebling & Dave Sherman Basement Chronicles, Nite Owl (2021)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Paul Chavez of Stockhausen & The Amplified Riot

Posted in Questionnaire on December 9th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

stockhausen and the amplified riot

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Paul Chavez of Stockhausen & The Amplified Riot

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

It’s entertainment, really. For me and for you. Whether it’s in private or I’m performing on stage – my goal is to entertain and provide for the soundtrack to a moment in your life.

Describe your first musical memory.

My most significant memory was seeing KISS in concert in 1979. After that experience, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer and a musician.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have a lot of fond music-related memories so it would be tough to pick one as the best. Touring and performing in Mexico was quite an experience, performing in a meth house (not on purpose!) was also a bizarre and interesting experience… but also, seeing the Grateful Dead in 1989 was like nothing else I had experienced before in terms of the audience and the band’s culture. Outside of contemporary music – I stumbled upon a Holi ceremony at a Hindu temple when I first moved to Houston and that first-hand experience opened by eyes to an amazing world of music, film, culture, and incredible food!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When I was in 9th grade, we moved to a small town in the rural southern United States and I was regularly bullied for being a Jew. It didn’t take long until I seriously doubted everything about my culture, religion, as well as whether there were any good people in the world. Thankfully, we moved away to Washington, D.C. right after the school year ended… but it would be years before I got back in touch with my culture.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully to something positive for the artist and for people who enjoy the art.

How do you define success?

With my band – I define success as: when a publication completely outside of my circle writes about me. For example: Vogue has nothing to do with music, but if they write about what I’m doing, then I know I’ve reached an entirely different level of success.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Can’t really think of anything. All experiences (good and bad) help shape who you are and your outlook.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Book publishing. My next endeavor will involve publishing books – chapbook style initially. I’ve been an avid book reader / collector for decades. I dipped my toe in the self-publishing world about 15 years ago with my book on spam poetry and I’ve produced zines on and off for years, but I want to move back in the direction of publishing books.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To evoke an emotion. If it doesn’t make you feel anything, then the art has failed you.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I love riding my bike and (lately) I have been plotting tours with extra time padded around gigs so I can get out and ride on the trails and paths wherever I am.

Stockhausen & the Amplified Riot, Era of the Inauthentic

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Quarterly Review: Hazemaze, Elephant Tree, Mirror Queen, Faetooth, Behold! The Monolith, The Swell Fellas, Stockhausen & the Amplified Riot, Nothing is Real, Red Lama, Echolot

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Guess this is it, huh? Always bittersweet, the end of a Quarterly Review. Bitter, because there’s still a ton of albums waiting on my desktop to be reviewed, and certainly more that have come along over the course of the last two weeks looking for coverage. Sweet because when I finish here I’ll have written about 100 albums, added a bunch of stuff to my year-end lists, and managed to keep the remaining vestiges of my sanity. If you’ve kept up, I hope you’ve enjoyed doing so. And if you haven’t, all 10 of the posts are here.

Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Hazemaze, Blinded by the Wicked

Hazemaze Blinded by the Wicked

This is one of 2022’s best records cast in dark-riffed, heavy garage-style doom rock. I admit I’m late to the party for Hazemaze‘s third album and Heavy Psych Sounds label debut, Blinded by the Wicked, but what a party it is. The Swedish three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ludvig Andersson, bassist Estefan Carrillo and drummer Nils Eineus position themselves as a lumbering forerunner of modern cultist heavy, presenting the post-“In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” lumber of “In the Night of the Light, for the Dark” and “Ethereal Disillusion” (bassline in the latter) with a clarity of purpose and sureness that builds even on what the trio accomplished with 2019’s Hymns for the Damned (review here), opening with the longest track (immediate points) “Malevolent Inveigler” and setting up a devil-as-metaphor-for-now lyrical bent alongside the roll of “In the Night of the Light, for the Dark” and the chugging-through-mud “Devil’s Spawn.” Separated by the “Planet Caravan”-y instrumental “Sectatores et Principes,” the final three tracks are relatively shorter than the first four, but there’s still space for a bass-backed organ solo in “Ceremonial Aspersion,” and the particularly Electric Wizardian “Divine Harlotry” leads effectively into the closer “Lucifierian Rite,” which caps with surprising bounce in its apex and underscores the level of songwriting throughout. Just a band nailing their sound, that’s all. Seems like maybe the kind of party you’d want to be on time for.

Hazemaze on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds store


Elephant Tree, Track by Track

Elephant Tree Track by Track

Released as a name-your-price benefit EP in July to help raise funds for the Ukrainian war effort, Track by Track is two songs London’s Elephant Tree recorded at the Netherlands’ Sonic Whip Festival in May of this year, “Sails” and “The Fall Chorus” — here just “Fall Chorus” — from 2020’s Habits (review here), on which the four-piece is joined by cellist Joe Butler and violinst Charlie Davis, fleshing out especially the quieter “Fall Chorus,” but definitely making their presence felt on “Sails” as well in accompanying what was one of Habits‘ strongest hooks. And the strings are all well and good, but the live harmonies on “Sails” between guitarist Jack Townley, bassist Peter Holland and guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery — arriving atop the e’er-reliable fluidity of Sam Hart‘s drumming — are perhaps even more of a highlight. Was the whole set recorded? If so, where’s that? “Fall Chorus” is more subdued and atmospheric, but likewise gorgeous, the cello and violin lending an almost Americana feel to the now-lush second-half bridge of the acoustic track. Special band, moment worth capturing, cause worth supporting. The classic no-brainer purchase.

Elephant Tree on Facebook

Elephant Tree on Bandcamp


Mirror Queen, Inviolate

Mirror Queen Inviolate

Between Telekinetic Yeti, Mythic Sunship and Limousine Beach (not to mention Comet Control last year), Tee Pee Records has continued to offer distinct and righteous incarnations of heavy rock, and Mirror Queen‘s classic-prog-influenced strutter riffs on Inviolate fit right in. The long-running project led by guitarist/vocalist Kenny Kreisor (also the head of Tee Pee) and drummer Jeremy O’Brien is bolstered through the lead guitar work of Morgan McDaniel (ex-The Golden Grass) and the smooth low end of bassist James Corallo, and five years after 2017’s Verdigris (review here), their flowing heavy progressive rock nudges into the occult on “The Devil Seeks Control” while maintaining its ’70s-rock-meets-’80s-metal gallop, and hard-boogies in the duly shredded “A Rider on the Rain,” where experiments both in vocal effects and Mellotron sounds work well next to proto-thrash urgency. Proggers like “Inside an Icy Light,” “Sea of Tranquility” and the penultimate “Coming Round with Second Sight” show the band in top form, comfortable in tempo but still exploring, and they finish with the title-track’s highlight chorus and a well-layered, deceptively immersive wash of melody. Can’t and wouldn’t ask for more than they give here; Inviolate is a tour de force for Mirror Queen, demonstrating plainly what NYC club shows have known since the days when Aytobach Kreisor roamed the earth two decades ago.

Mirror Queen on Facebook

Tee Pee Records store


Faetooth, Remnants of the Vessel

Faetooth Remnants of the Vessel

Los Angeles-based four-piece Faetooth — guitarist/vocalist Ashla Chavez Razzano, bassist/vocalist Jenna Garcia, guitarist/vocalist Ari May, drummer Rah Kanan — make their full-length debut through Dune Altar with the atmospheric sludge doom of Remnants of the Vessel, meeting post-apocalyptic vibes as intro “(i) Naissance” leads into initial single “Echolalia,” the more spaced-out “La Sorcie|Cre” (or something like that; I think my filename got messed up) and the yet-harsher doom of “She Cast a Shadow” before the feedback-soaked interlude “(ii) Limbo” unfurls its tortured course. Blending clean croons and more biting screams assures a lack of predictability as they roll through “Remains,” the black metal-style cave echo there adding to the extremity in a way that the subsequent “Discarnate” pushes even further ahead of the nodding, you’re-still-doomed heavy-gaze of “Strange Ways.” They save the epic for last, however, with “(iii) Moribund” a minute-long organ piece leading directly into “Saturn Devouring His Son,” a nine-and-a-half-minute willful lurch toward an apex that has the majesty of death-doom and a crux of melody that doesn’t just shout out Faetooth‘s forward potential but also points to what they’ve already accomplished on Remnants of the Vessel. If this band tours, look out.

Faetooth on Facebook

Dune Altar on Bandcamp


Behold! The Monolith, From the Fathomless Deep

behold the monolith from the fathomless deep

Ferocious and weighted in kind, Behold! The Monolith‘s fourth full-length and first for Ripple Music, From the Fathomless Deep finds the Los Angeles trio taking cues from progressive death metal and riff-based sludge in with a modern severity of purpose that is unmistakably heavy. Bookended by opener “Crown/The Immeasurable Void” (9:31) and closer “Stormbreaker Suite” (11:35), the six-track/45-minute offering — the band’s first since 2015’s Architects of the Void (review here) — brims with extremity and is no less intense in the crawling “Psychlopean Dread” than on the subsequent ripper “Spirit Taker” or its deathsludge-rocking companion “This Wailing Blade,” calling to mind some of what Yatra have been pushing on the opposite coast until the solo hits. The trades between onslaughts and acoustic parts are there but neither overdone nor overly telegraphed, and “The Seams of Pangea” (8:56) pairs evocative ambience with crushing volume and comes out sounding neither hackneyed nor overly poised. Extreme times call for extreme riffs? Maybe, but the bludgeoning on offer in From the Fathomless Deep speaks to a push into darkness that’s been going on over a longer term. Consuming.

Behold! The Monolith on Facebook

Ripple Music website


The Swell Fellas, Novaturia

The Swell Fellas Novaturia

The second album from Nashville’s The Swell Fellas — who I’m sure are great guys — the five-song/32-minute Novaturia encapsulates an otherworldly atmosphere laced with patient effects soundscapes, echo and moody presence, but is undeniably heavy, the opener “Something’s There…” drawing the listener deeper into “High Lightsolate,” the eight-plus minutes of which roll out with technical intricacy bent toward an outward impression of depth, a solo in the midsection carrying enough scorch for the LP as a whole but still just part of the song’s greater procession, which ends with percussive nuance and vocal melody before giving way to the acoustic interlude “Caesura,” a direct lead-in for the noisy arrival of the okay-now-we-riff “Wet Cement.” The single-ready penultimate cut is a purposeful banger, going big at its finish only after topping its immediate rhythmic momentum with ethereal vocals for a progressive effect, and as elliptically-bookending finisher “…Another Realm” nears 11 minutes, its course is its own in manifesting prior shadows of progressive and atmospheric heavy rock into concrete, crafted realizations. There’s even some more shred for good measure, brought to bear with due spaciousness through Mikey Allred‘s production. It’s a quick offering, but offers substance and reach beyond its actual runtime. They’re onto something, and I think they know it, too.

The Swell Fellas on Facebook

The Swell Fellas on Bandcamp


Stockhausen & the Amplified Riot, Era of the Inauthentic

stockhausen and the amplified riot era of the inauthentic

For years, it has seemed Houston-based guitarist/songwriter Paul Chavez (Funeral Horse, Cactus Flowers, Baby Birds, Art Institute) has searched for a project able to contain his weirdo impulses. Stockhausen & the Amplified Riot — begun with Era of the Inauthentic as a solo-project plus — is the latest incarnation of this effort, and its krautrock-meets-hooky-proto-punk vibe indeed wants nothing for weird. “Adolescent Lightning” and “Hunky Punk” are a catchy opening salvo, and “What if it Never Ends” provokes a smile by garage-rock riffing over a ’90s dance beat to a howling finish, while the 11-minute “Tilde Mae” turns early-aughts indie jangle into a maddeningly repetitive mindfuck for its first nine minutes, mercifully shifting into a less stomach-clenching groove for the remainder before closer “Intubation Blues” melds more dance beats with harmonica and last sweep. Will the band, such as it is, at last be a home for Chavez over the longer term, or is it merely another stop on the way? I don’t know. But there’s no one else doing what he does here, and since the goal seems to be individualism and experimentalism, both those ideals are upheld to an oddly charming degree. Approach without expectations.

Artificial Head Records on Facebook

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp


Nothing is Real, The End is Near

Nothing is Real The End is Near

Nothing is Real stand ready to turn mundane miseries into darkly ethereal noise, drawing from sludge and an indefinable litany of extreme metals. The End is Near is both the Los Angeles unit’s most cohesive work to-date and its most accomplished, building on the ambient mire of earlier offerings with a down-into-the-ground churn on lead single “THE (Pt. 2).” All of the songs, incidentally, comprise the title of the album, with four of “THE” followed by two “END” pieces, two “IS”es and three “NEAR”s to close. An maybe-unhealthy dose of sample-laced interlude-type works — each section has an intro, and so on — assure that Nothing is Real‘s penchant for atmospheric crush isn’t misplaced, and the band’s uptick in production value means that the vastness and blackened psychedelia of 10-minute centerpiece “END” shows the abyssal depths being plunged in their starkest light. Capping with “NEAR (Pt. 1),” jazzy metal into freneticism, back to jazzy metal, and “NEAR (Pt. 2),” epic shred emerging from hypnotic ambience, like Jeff Hanneman ripping open YOB, The End is Near resonates with a sickened intensity that, again, it shares in common with the band’s past work, but is operating at a new level of complexity across its intentionally unmanageable 63 minutes. Nothing is Real is on their own wavelength and it is a place of horror.

Nothing is Real on Facebook

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp


Red Lama, Memory Terrain

RED LAMA Memory Terrain Artwork LO Marius Havemann Kissov Linnet

Copenhagen heavy psych collective Red Lama — and I’m sorry, but if you’ve got more than five people in your band, you’re a collective — brim with pastoral escapism throughout Memory Terrain, their third album and the follow-up to 2018’s Motions (discussed here) and its companion EP, Dogma (review here). Progressive in texture but with an open sensibility at their core, pieces like the title-track unfold long-song breadth in accessible spans, the earlier “Airborne” moving from the jazzy beginning of “Gentleman” into a more tripped-out All Them Witches vein. Elsewhere, “Someone” explores krautrock intricacies before synthing toward its last lines, and “Paint a Picture” exudes pop urgency before washing it away on a repeating, sweeping tide. Range and dynamic aren’t new for Red Lama, but I’m hard-pressed to think of as dramatic a one-two turn as the psych-wash-into-electro-informed-dance-brood that takes place between “Shaking My Bones” and “Chaos is the Plan” — lest one neglect the urbane shuffle of “Justified” prior — though by that point Red Lama have made it apparent they’re ready to lead the listener wherever whims may dictate. That’s a significant amount of ground to cover, but they do it.

Red Lama on Facebook

Red Lama on Bandcamp


Echolot, Curatio

Echolot Curatio

Existing in multiple avenues of progressive heavy rock and extreme metal, Echolot‘s Curatio only has four tracks, but each of those tracks has more range than the career arcs of most bands. Beginning with two 10-minute tracks in “Burden of Sorrows” (video premiered here) and “Countess of Ice,” they set a pattern of moving between melancholic heavy prog and black metal, the latter piece clearer in telegraphing its intentions after the opener, and introducing its “heavy part” to come with clean vocals overtop in the middle of the song, dramatic and fiery as it is. “Resilience of Floating Forms” (a mere 8:55) begins quiet and works into a post-black metal wash of melody before the double-kick and screams take hold, announcing a coming attack that — wait for it — doesn’t actually come, the band instead moving into falsetto and a more weighted but still clean verse before peeling back the curtain on the death growls and throatrippers, cymbals threatening to engulf all but still letting everything else cut through. Also eight minutes, “Wildfire” closes by flipping the structure of the opening salvo, putting the nastiness at the fore while progging out later, in this case closing Curatio with a winding movement of keys and an overarching groove that is only punishing for the fact that it’s the end. If you ever read a Quarterly Review around here, you know I like to do myself favors on the last day in choosing what to cover. It is no coincidence that Curatio is included. Not every record could be #100 and still make you excited to hear it.

Echolot on Facebook

Sixteentimes Music store


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Quarterly Review: Spirit Adrift, Northless, Lightrain, 1965, Blacklab, Sun King Ba, Kenodromia, Mezzoa, Stone Nomads, Blind Mess

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Here we go again as we get closer to 100 records covered in this expanded Fall 2022 Quarterly Review. It’s been a pretty interesting ride so far, and as I’ve dug in I know for sure I’ve added a few names (and titles) to my year-end lists for albums, debuts, and so on. Today keeps the thread going with a good spread of styles and some very, very heavy stuff. If you haven’t found anything in the bunch yet — first I’d tell you to go back and check again, because, really? nothing in 60 records? — but after that, hey, maybe today’s your day.

Here’s hoping.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone

Spirit Adrift 20 Centuries Gone

The second short release in two years from trad metal forerunners Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone pairs two new originals in “Sorcerer’s Fate” and “Mass Formation Psychosis” — songs for our times written as fantasy narrative — with six covers, of Type O Negative‘s “Everything Dies,” Pantera‘s “Hollow,” Metallica‘s “Escape,” Thin Lizzy‘s “Waiting for an Alibi,” ZZ Top‘s “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings” and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Poison Whiskey.” The covers find them demonstrating a bit of malleability — founding guitarist/vocalist does well with Phil Lynott‘s and Peter Steele‘s inflections while still sounding like himself — and it’s always a novelty to hear a band purposefully showcase their influences like this, but “Sorcerer’s Fate” and “Mass Formation Psychosis” are the real draw. The former nods atop a Candlemassian chug and sweeping chorus before spending much of its second half instrumental, and “Mass Formation Psychosis” resolves in burly riffing, but only after a poised rollout of classic doom, slower, sleeker in its groove, with acoustic strum layered in amid the distortion and keyboard. Two quick reaffirmations of the band’s metallic flourishing and, indeed, a greater movement happening partially in their wake. And then the covers, which are admirably more than filler in terms of arrangement. Something of a holdover, maybe, but by no means lacking substance.

Spirit Adrift on Facebook

Century Media store


Northless, A Path Beyond Grief

northless a path beyond grief

Just because it’s so bludgeoning doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all it is. The melodic stretch of “Forbidden World of Light” and delve into progressive black metal after the nakedly Crowbarian sludge of “A Path Beyond Grief,” the clean vocal-topped atmospheric heft of “What Must Be Done” and the choral feel of centerpiece “Carried,” even the way “Of Shadow and Sanguine” seems to purposefully thrash (also some more black metal there) amid its bouts of deathcore and sludge lumbering — all of these come together to make Northless‘ fourth long-player, A Path Beyond Grief, an experience that’s still perhaps defined by its intensity and concrete tonality, its aggression, but that is not necessarily beholden to those. Even the quiet intro “Nihil Sanctum Vitae” — a seeming complement to the nine-minute bring-it-all-together closer “Nothing That Lives Will Last” — seems intended to tell the listener there’s more happening here than it might at first seem. As someone who still misses Swarm of the Lotus, some of the culmination in that finale is enough to move the blood in my wretched body, but while born in part of hardcore, Northless are deep into their own style throughout these seven songs, and the resultant smashy smashy is able to adjust its own elemental balance while remaining ferociously executed. Except, you know, when it’s not. Because it’s not just one thing.

Northless on Facebook

Translation Loss Records store


Lightrain, AER

lightrain aer

Comprised of five songs running a tidy 20 minutes, each brought together through ambience as well as the fact that their titles are all three letters long — “Aer,” “Hyd,” “Orb,” “Wiz,” “Rue” — AER is the debut EP from German instrumentalists Lightrain, who would seek entry into the contemplative and evocative sphere of acts like Toundra or We Lost the Sea as they offer headed-out post-rock float and heavy psychedelic vibe. “Hyd” is a focal point, both for its eight-minute runtime (nothing else is half that long) and the general spaciousness, plus a bit of riffy shove in the middle, with which it fills that, but the ultra-mellow “Aer” and drumless wash of “Wiz” feed into an overarching flow that speaks to greater intentions on the part of the band vis a vis a first album. “Rue” is progressive without being overthought, and “Orb” feels born of a jam without necessarily being that jam, finding sure footing on ground that for many would be uncertain. If this is the beginning point of a longer-term evolution on the part of the band, so much the better, but even taken as a standalone, without consideration for the potential of what it might lead to, the LP-style fluidity that takes hold across AER puts the lie to its 20 minutes being somehow minor.

Lightrain on Facebook

Lightrain on Bandcamp


1965, Panther

1965 Panther

Cleanly produced and leaning toward sleaze at times in a way that feels purposefully drawn from ’80s glam metal, the second offering from Poland’s 1965 — they might as well have called themselves 1542 for as much as they have to do sound-wise with what was going on that year — is the 12-song/52-minute Panther, which wants your nuclear love on “Nuclear Love,” wants to rock on “Let’s Rock,” and would be more than happy to do whatever it wants on “Anything We Want.” Okay, so maybe guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter Michał Rogalski isn’t going to take home gold at the Subtlety Olympics, but the Warsaw-based outfit — him plus Marco Caponi on bass/backing vocals and Tomasz Rudnicki on drums/backing vocals, as well as an array of lead guitarists guesting — know the rock they want to make, and they make it. Songs are tight and well performed, heavy enough in tone to have a presence but fleet-footed in their turns from verse to chorus and the many trad-metal-derived leads. Given the lyrics of the title-track, I’m not sure positioning oneself as an actual predatory creature as a metaphor for seduction has been fully thought through, but you don’t see me out here writing lyrics in Polish either, so take it with that grain of salt if you feel the need or it helps. For my money I’ll take the still-over-the-top “So Many Times” and the sharp start-stops of “All My Heroes Are Dead,” but there’s certainly no lack of others to choose from.

1965 on Facebook

1965 on Bandcamp


Blacklab, In a Bizarre Dream

Blacklab In a Bizarre Dream

Blacklab — also stylized BlackLab — are the Osaka, Japan-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Yuko Morino and drummer Chia Shiraishi, but if you’d enter into their second full-length, In a Bizarre Dream, expecting some rawness or lacking heft on account of their sans-bass configuration, you’re more likely to be bowled over by the sludgy tonality on display. “Cold Rain” — opener and longest track (immediate points) at 6:13 — and “Abyss Woods” are largely screamers, righteously harsh with riffs no less biting, and “Dark Clouds” does the job in half the time with a punkier onslaught leading to “Evil 1,” but “Evil 2” mellows out a bit, adjusts the balance toward clean singing and brooding in a way that the oh-hi-there guest vocal contribution from Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab (after whom Blacklab are partially named) on “Crows, Sparrows and Cats” shifts into a grungier modus. “Lost” and “In a Bizarre Dream,” the latter more of an interlude, keep the momentum going on the rock side, but somehow you just know they’re going to turn it around again, and they absolutely do, easing their way in with the largesse of “Monochrome Rainbow” before “Collapse” caps with a full-on onslaught that brings into full emphasis how much reach they have as a two-piece and just how successfully they make it all heavy.

Blacklab on Facebook

New Heavy Sounds at Cargo Records store


Sun King Ba, Writhing Mass

Sun King Ba Writhing Mass

I guess the only problem that might arise from recording your first two-songer with Steve Albini is that you’ve set an awfully high standard for, well, every subsequent offering your band ever makes in terms of production. There are traces of Karma to Burn-style chug on “Ectotherm,” the A-side accompanied by “Writhing Mass” on the two-songer that shares the same name, but Chicago imstrumental trio Sun King Ba are digging into more progressively-minded, less-stripped-down fare on both of these initial tracks. Still, impact and the vitality of the end result are loosely reminiscent, but the life on that guitar, bass and drums speaks volumes, and not just in favor of the recording itself. “Writhing Mass” crashes into tempo changes and resolves itself in being both big and loud, and the space in the cymbals alone as it comes to its noisy finish hints at future incursions to be made. Lest we forget that Chicago birthed Pelican and Bongripper, among others, for the benefit of instrumental heavy worldwide. Sun King Ba have a ways to go before they’re added to that list, but there is intention being signaled here for those with ears to hear it.

Sun King Ba on Instagram

Sun King Ba on Bandcamp


Kenodromia, Kenodromia

Kenodromia Kenodromia EP

Despite the somewhat grim imagery on the cover art for Kenodromia‘s self-titled debut EP — a three-cut outing that marks a return to the band of vocalist Hilde Chruicshank after some stretch of absence during which they were known as Hideout — the Oslo, Norway, four-piece play heavy rock through and through on “Slandered,” “Corrupted” and “Bound,” with the bluesy fuzzer riffs and subtle psych flourishes of Eigil Nicolaisen‘s guitar backing Chruicshank‘s lyrics as bassist Michael Sindhu and drummer Trond Buvik underscore the “break free” moment in “Corrupted,” which feels well within its rights in terms of sociopolitical commentary ahead of the airier start of “Bound” after the relatively straightforward beginning that was “Slandered.” With the songs arranged shortest to longest, “Bound” is also the darkest in terms of atmosphere and features a more open verse, but the nod that defines the second half is huge, welcome and consuming even as it veers into a swaggering kind of guitar solo before coming back to finish. These players have been together one way or another for over 10 years, and knowing that, Kenodromia‘s overarching cohesion makes sense. Hopefully it’s not long before they turn attentions toward a first LP. They’re clearly ready.

Kenodromia on Facebook

Kenodromia on Bandcamp


Mezzoa, Dunes of Mars

Mezzoa Dunes of Mars

Mezzoa are the San Diego three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ignacio “El Falcone” Maldonado, bassist Q “Dust Devil” Pena (who according to their bio was created in the ‘Cholo Goth Universe,’ so yes, charm is a factor), and drummer Roy “Bam Bam” Belarmino, and the 13-track/45-minute Dunes of Mars is their second album behind 2017’s Astral Travel. They sound like a band who’ve been around for a bit, and indeed they have, playing in other bands and so on, but they’ve got their approach on lockdown and I don’t mean for the plague. The material here, whether it’s the Helmet-plus-melody riffing of “Tattoos and Halos” or the more languid roll of the seven-minute “Dunes of Mars” earlier on, is crisp and mature without sounding flat or staid creatively, and though they’re likened most to desert rock and one can hear that in the penultimate “Seized Up” a bit, there’s more density in the guitar and bass, and the immediacy of “Hyde” speaks of more urgent influences at work. That said, the nodding chill-and-chug of “Moya” is heavy whatever landscape you want to say birthed it, and with the movement into and out of psychedelic vibes, the land is something you’re just as likely to leave behind anyway. Hit me as a surprise. Don’t be shocked if you end up going back to check out the first record after.

Mezzoa on Facebook

Iron Head Records website


Stone Nomads, Fields of Doom

stone nomads fields of doom

Released through emergent Texas-based imprint Gravitoyd Heavy Music, Stone NomadsFields of Doom comprises six songs, five originals, and is accordingly somewhere between a debut full-length and an EP at half an hour long. The cover is a take on Saint Vitus‘ “Dragon Time,” and it rests well here as the closer behind the prior-released single “Soul Stealer,” as bassist Jude Sisk and guitarist Jon Cosky trade lead vocal duties while Dwayne Crosby furthers the underlying metallic impression on drums, pushing some double-kick gallop under the solo of “Fiery Sabbath” early on after the leadoff title-track lumbers and chugs and bell-tolls to its ending, heavy enough for heavy heads, aggro enough to suit your sneer, with maybe a bit of Type O Negative influence in the vocal. Huffing oldschool gasoline, Fields of Doom might prove too burled-out for some listeners, but the interlude “Winds of Barren Lands” and the vocal swaps mean that you’re never quite sure where they’re going to hit you next, even if you know the hit is coming, and even as “Soul Stealer” goes grandiose before giving way to the already-noted Vitus cover. And if you’re wondering, they nail the noise of the solo in that song, leaving no doubt that they know what they’re doing, with their own material or otherwise.

Stone Nomads on Facebook

Gravitoyd Heavy Music on Bandcamp


Blind Mess, After the Storm

Blind Mess After the Storm

Drawing from various corners of punk, noise rock and heavy rock’s accessibility, Munich trio Blind Mess offer their third full-length in After the Storm, which is aptly-enough titled, considering. “Fight Fire with Fire” isn’t a cover, but the closing “What’s the Matter Man?” is, of Rollins Band, no less, and they arrive there after careening though a swath of tunes like “Twilight Zone,” “At the Gates” and “Save a Bullet,” which are as likely to be hardcore-born shove or desert-riffed melody, and in the last of those listed there, a little bit of both. To make matters more complicated, “Killing My Idols” leans into classic metal in its underlying riff as the vocals bark and its swing is heavy ’70s through and through. This aesthetic amalgam holds together in the toughguy march of “Sirens” as much as the garage-QOTSA rush of “Left to Do” and the dares-to-thrash finish of “Fight Fire with Fire” since the songs themselves are well composed and at 38 minutes they’re in no danger of overstaying their welcome. And when they get there, “What’s the Matter Man?” makes a friendly-ish-but-still-confrontational complemement to “Left to Do” back at the outset, as though to remind us that wherever they’ve gone over the course of the album between, it’s all been about rock and roll the whole time. So be it.

Blind Mess on Facebook

Deadclockwork Records website


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Doomstress Announce Texas Shows for October

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Oh hey Doomstress. Been a minute. The Houston-based outfit fronted with power by their namesake Doomstress Alexis will return to the road in their home state over the coming weeks, and they have a few cool shows lined up, including hitting Corpus Christi with (honestly how did anyone ever think Wino would take the shot?) The Obsessed and Switchblade Jesus, and Heavy Mash on Oct. 9 in Arlington. They’ll do a Gravitoyd-presented show on Austin and a hometown stop with Destroyer of Light and a date meeting up with Darsombra as well, so I’m addition for there being opportunity to hit up a show there’s also multiple motivating factors for doing so.

You’ll note that in the lineup below there’s no drummer listed. That might also explain some of the haven’t-toured-lately-ness on the part of Doomstress, but they will, in fact, have someone behind the kit for these dates. Alex Erhardt (The Scourge, EMP) holds the spot for the Obsessed show, and Spike the Percussionist of Fiddlewitch & the Demons of Doom set to take over for October. What comes after as regards lineup, I can’t say, but with hopes to continue plugging away on recordings over the next few months, safe bet is somebody will don the mantle. I’ll let you know, and in the meantime, if you’re in Houston and a drummer, what the hell? Drop a note. Worst thing that happens is they already have someone.

Just saying.

Here’s the tour announcement:

Doomstress Texas shows

After months of crawling out to play an occassional show, Doomstress is about to spin their wheels across Texas for a month full of weekend shows & fests across the lonestar state including taking Houston friends Quinn the Brain (alt rock) out for 2 dates.

Doomstress has been relatively quiet since the pandemic started following a few years of touring. Almost all members have been involved in other projects including guitarists Brandon Johnson’s new death metal band Haserot (also feat members of Blues Funeral & Sanctus Bellum) and Matt Taylor’ joining sludgy thrashers Thundertank.

Plans after this run of shows are to get back into the studio to review and finish a few new tracks the band had previously been working on. After that Doomstress will continue writing sessions to complete several new songs with plans to get back in the studio by early Spring.

9/30 Corpus Christi, TX @ Boozerz Rock Bar
w/ The Obsessed, Switchblade Jesus & Dust in the Void
10/8 Houston, TX @ Black Magic Social Club w/ Destroyer of Light & Scrollkeeper
10/9 Arlington, TX @ Division Brewing/Growl Records – Heavy Mash Fest day 2
10/14 Bryan, TX @ The 101 w/ Quinn the Brain, Cortege & Darsombra
10/15 Tyler, TX @ The Green Room w/ Quinn the Brain & tba
10/22 Austin, TX @ Independence Brewing
10/29 Spring, TX Thistle Draftshop – Craft Beer Fest

Doomstress is: Doomstress Alexis (bass&vox) Brandon Johnson & Matt Taylor (lead/rhythm gtrs).

Doomstress, Sleep Among the Dead (2019)

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