Quarterly Review: Steve Von Till, Cyttorak, Lambda, Dee Calhoun, Turtle Skull, Diuna, Tomorrow’s Rain, Mother Eel, Umbilichaos, Radar Men From the Moon

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Oh hi there. It’s Quarterly Review time again, and you know what that means. 50 records between now and Friday — and I may or may not extend it through next Monday as well; I think I have enough of a backlog at this point to do so. It’s really just a question of how destroyed I am by writing about 10 different records every day this week. If past is prologue, that’s fairly well destroyed. But I’ve yet to do a Quarterly Review and regret it when it’s over, and like the last one, this roundup of 50 albums is pretty well curated, so it might even be fun to go through. There’s a thought. In any case, as always, I hope you find something you enjoy, and thank you for reading if you do or as much as you do.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough

steve von till no wilderness deep enough

Need professional Review Of Related Literature Ordering System? - We can help you! Order dissertation of any topic from our affordable essay writing service and keep calm with your Neurosis guitarist/vocalist A few reasons for you to choose PayForEssay.net when you think, "I'd rather pay someone to Research Paper In Business." Steve Von Till seems to be bringing some of the experimentalism that drives his Our company delivers brilliant quality essay writing help, so you are welcome to place your order. Trust the professionals! How to Moster Coms online Harvestman project into the context of his solo work with Do not hesitate to use our prime critical essay service if you need help with your assignments. With us, you can http://www.nuotohydros.net/literature-review-sample-paper/ online even at night! No Wilderness Deep Enough, his fifth LP and first since 2015’s Get a whopping 20% (FIRST TIMER'S) Discount when you order our write my essay for me service. http://www.vasmetal.net/professional-resume-services-online-saskatoon/s with an authentic UK essay writing service. A Life unto Itself (review here). Drones and melodic synth backs the deceptively-titled “The Old Straight Track,” and where Affordable papers - buy find this! Accessing the benefits of using custom paper writing services for writing quality papers with ease. Order now! Von Till began his solo career 20 years ago with traditional folk guitar, if slower, on these six tracks, he uses that meditative approach as the foundation for an outward-reaching 37-minute run, incorporating ethereal strings among the swirls of “Shadows on the Run” and finishing with the foreboding hum of “Wild Iron.” Opener “Dreams of Trees” establishes the palette’s breadth with synthesized beats alongside piano and maybe-cello, but it’s Love Or Money Essay. We have a highly professional and qualified writing staff. Our writers have great writing experience and always do their Von Till‘s voice itself that ties the material together and provides the crucial human presence and intimacy that most distinguishes the offerings under his own name. Accompanied by Award Winning http://shikishima-reform.com/blog/homework-tips-for-kidss & Business Plan Consultants. TopTenReviews Best Business Plan Writing Company Award Winner 2016, 2017 and 2018. ?? Von Till‘s first published book of poetry, Buy best admission essay of high quality written from scratch by Cheap MBA Essay Writing Service UK. Our Dissertation Accession Or Order Number are cheap No Wilderness Deep Enough is a portrait of the unrelenting creative growth of its maker.

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Neurot Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Cyttorak, Simultaneous Invocation of Apocalyptic Harbingers

Cyttorak Simultaneous Invocation of Apocalyptic Harbingers

Take a breath before you hit play only to have it punched right out from your solar plexus by the brutalist deathsludge Looking for Assignment Help Griffith? Our competent essay writers offer essay help that remove your all worries. Get discount on all orders! Cyttorak cleverly call “slowerviolence.” Dominated by low end and growls, screams, and shouts, the lumbering onslaught is the second standalone EP for the three-piece who hail from scenic Pawtucket, Rhode Island (former home of the PawSox), and throughout its six-track run, the unit conjure an unyieldingly punishing tonal morass set to aggressive purpose. That they take their name from the Marvel Universe character who controls X-Men villain Juggernaut should not be taken as coincidence, since their sound indeed seems intended to put its head down and smash through walls and/or anything else that might be in its path in pursuit of its quarry. With Best assignment help services in UK. 24/7 help with assignments online. Avail best price on writing services from top see here now in UK My Conan-esque lyrical minimalism, the songs nonetheless give clues to their origins — “Royal Shokan Dismemberment” refers to Goro from Mortal Kombat, and finale “Domination Lord of Coldharbour” to Skyrim (which I still regret not playing) — but if you consider comics or video games to be lighter fare, first off, you’re working with an outdated mentality, and second, Hire essay writers online from the best http://www.inaf.ulaval.ca/?1757 company! Special November Discount. Price starts at per page! Limited October Offer! Cyttorak would like a bit of your time to smother you with volume and ferocity. They have a new split out as well, both on tape.

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Tor Johnson Records website

 

Lambda, Heliopolis

lambda heliopolis

Also signified by the Greek letter from which they take their moniker, Czech four-piece Professional Master Thesis Proposal Cover Page, right here at the Ghostwriting Company. If youre looking for fiction ghostwriters, youve found the right place. Lambda represent a new age of progressive heavy post-rock. Influences from Metal Fabrication Business Plan - All sorts of writing services & custom papers. Leave your assignments to the most talented writers. Let specialists accomplish their Russian Circles aren’t necessarily surprising to find coursing through the instrumental debut full-length, Search for jobs related to Join Hrm Functions Phd Thesis or hire on the world's largest freelancing marketplace with 13m+ jobs. It's free to sign up and Heliopolis, but there are shades of Elder as well behind the more driving riffs and underlying swing of “Space Express,” which also featured on the band’s 2015 EP of the same name. The seven-minute “El Sonido Nuevo” did likewise, but older material or newer, the album’s nine-song procession moves toward its culminating title-track through the grace of “Odysea” and the intertwining psychedelic guitars of “Milkyway Phaseshifter” with an overarching atmosphere of the journey to the city of the sun being undertaken. And when they get there, at the closer, there’s an initial sense of peace that gives way to some of the most directly heavy push Heliopolis has to offer. Payoff, then. So be it. Purposeful and somewhat cerebral in its execution, the DIY debut brings depth and space together to immersive effect.

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Lambda on Bandcamp

 

Dee Calhoun, Godless

dee calhoun godless

Following his 2016 debut, Rotgut (review here) and 2018’s Go to the Devil (review here), Godless is the third full-length from former Iron Man and current Spiral Grave frontman Dee Calhoun, and its considerable 63-minute runtime finds him working in multiple directions while keeping his underlying roots in acoustic-based heavy metal. Certainly “To My Boy” — and Rob Calhoun has appeared on his father’s releases before as well — has its basis in familial expression, but its pairing with “Spite Fuck” is somewhat curious. Meanwhile, “Hornswoggled” cleverly samples George W. Bush with a laugh track, and “Here Under Protest,” “The Greater Evil,” “Ebenezer” and “No Justice” seem to take a worldly view as well. Meanwhile again, “Godless,” “The Day Salvation Went Away” and “Prudes, Puritanicals and Puddles of Piss” make their perspective nothing if not plain for the listener, and the album ends with the two-minute kazoo-laced gag track “Here Comes the Bride: A Tale From Backwater.” So perhaps scattershot, but Godless is nonetheless Calhoun‘s most effective outing yet in terms of arrangements and craft, and shows him digging further into the singer-songwriter form than he has up to now, sounding more comfortable and confident in the process.

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Argonauta Records website

 

Turtle Skull, Monoliths

Turtle Skull Monoliths

Melodic vocal lines weave together and float over alternately weighted and likewise ethereal guitars on Turtle Skull‘s second album, Monoliths. The percussion-inclusive (tambourine, congas, rain stick, etc.) Sydney-based heavy psychedelic outfit create an immersive wash that makes the eight-song/55-minute long-player consuming for the duration, and while there are moments of clarity to be found throughout — the steady snare taps of “Why Do You Ask?” for example — but the vast bulk of the LP is given to the overarching flow, which finds progressive/space-rock footing in the 11-plus minutes of finale “The Clock Strikes Forever” and is irresistibly consuming on the drifting wash of “Rabbit” or the lysergic grunge blowout of “Who Cares What You Think?,” which gives way to the choral drone of “Halcyon” gorgeously en route through the record’s back half. It’s not the highest profile heavy psych release of 2020, but neither is it to be overlooked for the languid stretch of “Leaves” at the outset or the fuzz-drenched roll in the penultimate “Apple of Your Eye.”

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Art as Catharsis on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Diuna, Golem

diuna golem

In some ways, the dichotomy of Diuna‘s 2019 sophomore full-length, Golem, is set by its first two tracks, the 24-second intro “Menu” and the seven-minute “Jarmark Cudów” that follows, each longer song throughout is prefaced by an introduction or interlude, varying in degrees of experimentation. That, however, doesn’t cover the outsider vibes the Polish trio bring to bear in those longer songs themselves, be it “Jarmark Cudów” devolving into a post-Life of Agony noise rock roll, or the thrust in “Frank Herbert” cut into starts and stops and shouting madness. Heavy rock, noise, sludge, post-this-or-that, it doesn’t matter by the end of the 12-track/44-minute release, because Diuna establish such firm control over the proceedings and make so clear the challenge to the listener to keep up that it’s only fun to try. It might take a couple listens to sink in, but the more attention one gives Golem, the more one is going to be rewarded in the end, and I don’t just mean in the off-kilter fuckery of closer “Pan Jezus Idzie Do Wojska.”

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Diuna on Bandcamp

 

Tomorrow’s Rain, Hollow

tomorrows rain hollow

“Ambitious” doesn’t begin to cover it. With eight songs (plus a bonus track) and 11 listed guest musicians, the debut full-length, Hollow, from Tel Aviv-based death-doomers Tomorrow’s Rain seems to be setting its own standard in that regard. And quite a list it is, with the likes of Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride, Greg Mackintosh of Paradise Lost, Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell, Mikko Kotamaki of Swallow the Sun, and so on, it is a who’s-who of melodic/gothic death-doom and the album lives up to the occasion in terms of the instrumental drama it presents. Some appear on one track, some on multiple tracks — Ribeiro and Kotamaki both feature on “Misery Rain” — and despite the constant shifts in personnel with only one of the eight tracks completely without an outside contributor, the core six-piece of Tomorrow’s Rain are still able to make an impression of their own that is bolstered and not necessarily overwhelmed by the extravagant company being kept throughout.

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AOP Records website

 

Mother Eel, Svalbard

mother eel svalbard

Mother Eel‘s take on sludge isn’t so much crushing as it is caustic. They’re plenty heavy, but their punishment isn’t just meted out through tonal weight being brought down on your head. It’s the noise. It’s the blown-out screams. It’s the harshness of the atmosphere in which the entirety of their debut album, Svalbard, resides. Five tracks, 33 minutes, zero forgiveness. One might be tempted to think of songs like “Erection of Pain” as nihilistic fuckall, but that seems incorrect. Nah, they mean it. Fuckall, yeah. But fuckall as ethos. Fuckall manifest. So it goes through “Alpha Woman” and “Listen to the Elderly for They Have Much to Teach,” which ends in a Primitive Man-ish static assault, and the lumbering finish “Not My Shade,” which assures that what began on “Sucking to Gain” half an hour earlier ends on the same anti-note: a disaffected malevolence writ into sheer sonic unkindness. There is little letup, even in the quiet introductions or transitions, so if you’re looking for mercy, don’t bother.

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Mother Eel on Redbubble

 

Umbilichaos, Filled by Empty Spaces

Umbilichaos Filled by Empty Spaces

The four-song/39-minute atmospheric sludge long-player Filled by Empty Spaces is listed by Brazilian solo outfit Umbilichaos as being the third part of, “the Tetralogy of Loneliness.” If that’s the emotion being expressed in the noise-metal post-Godflesh chug-and-shout of “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 02,” then it is loneliness viscerally presented by founding principal and multi-instrumentalist Anna C. Chaos. The feel throughout the early going of the release is plodding and agonized in kind, but in “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 01” and “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 03” there is some element of grim, crusted-over psychedelia happening alongside the outright dirge-ism, though the latter ultimately wins out in the four-minute instrumental capper “Disintegration.” One way or the other, Chaos makes her point through raw tonality and overarching intensity of purpose, the compositions coming across simultaneously unhinged and dangerously under control. There are many kinds of heavy. Filled by Empty Spaces is a whole assortment of them.

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Sinewave website

 

Radar Men From the Moon, The Bestial Light

radar men from the moon the bestial light

Fueled by avant grunge/noise impulsion, Radar Men From the Moon‘s latest foray to Planet Whothefuckknows arrives in the eight-song/41-minute The Bestial Light, a record alternately engrossing and off-putting, that does active harm when the sounds-like-it’s-skipping intro to “Piss Christ” comes on and then subsequently mellows out with psych-sax like they didn’t just decide to call the song “Sacred Cunt of the Universe” or something. Riffs, electronics, the kind of weirdness that’s too self-aware not to be progressive, Radar Men From the Moon take the foundation of experimentation set by Astrosoniq and mutate it via Swans into something unrecognizable by genre and unwilling to compromise its own direction. And no, by the time “Levelling” comes on to round out, there is no peace to be found, though perhaps a twisted kind of joy at the sheer postmodernism. They should score ballets with this stuff. No one would go, but three centuries from now, they’d be worshiped as gods. Chance of that anyway, I suppose.

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Fuzz Club Records on Bandcamp

 

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Ealdor Bealu Premiere Live Video for “Way of the Sudden Storm”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ealdor bealu

There have been plenty of times in recent years where one might take something like this for granted. “A video of a band playing live in a room together? Wait — on the internet???” Yeah, I know, wild times we live in. But you know, this isn’t a thing to be overlooked. If the course 2020 has taken has taught anything, it’s to appreciate each other and each other’s work in exactly the ways that have seemed ho-hum and everyday in the past. Who the hell knows when the lungfire is coming? So you’re telling me you’ve got Ealdor Bealu hanging out in Boise with a two-camera setup playing a new song live? Shit yeah I’m in for that. Band in a room. Sign me right up.

When the band’s Carson Russell checked in this Spring, he was hopeful that Ealdor Bealu‘s rescheduled-to-Fall tour would happen. Well, yeah. Obviously not so much. They would’ve been headed out next month in order to support their righteous second LP, Spirit of the Lonely Places (review here), which came out July 2019. Instead, like many, they’ve opted to pursue writing new material, and the single “Way of the Sudden Storm” — which seems aptly-named, if nothing else — is a first sampling of that. Again, it’s a band in room. The recording is pretty raw in terms of the audio, but you’ll hear guitarist/songwriter Travis AbbottRussell (also guitar) and bassist Rylie Colllingwood sharing vocal duties while Alex Wargo — making his debut here after replacing Craig Hawkins, who played on the last record — introduces the song with a flowing progression on his cymbals and snare that acts as the foundation upon which the linear build unfolds.

It does so with a patience that speaks to the band working quickly toward their third album but well established and aware of the sound they’re after and how they want to handle fleshing out their arrangements. Of course, one will look forward to the finished version of “Way of the Sudden Storm” — which unless they’re in the studio right this second and opted for some reason to engage in misdirection it in the quote below will likely feature on a full-length release sometime next year — but if you think of this as a live demo version, you can still get some sense of the atmosphere they’re shooting for, and, I’d argue, attaining.

Spirit of the Lonely Places is at the bottom of this post if you’d like a refresher, but immediately below you’ll find the premiere of “Way of the Sudden Storm” live from Ealdor Bealu‘s rehearsal space. As you watch, try to remember the context in which this is happening and just how fortunate we are to be in a position where people can get together again and explore and create art and even just breathe the same air for a while. Band in a room. They offer a quote as a group as well.

Please enjoy:

Ealdor Bealu, “Way of the Sudden Storm” official video premiere

Ealdor Bealu on “Way of the Sudden Storm”:

“Ealdor Bealu would have been preparing for our two-week Fall West Coast Tour right about now. As it was for our spring tour, the fall tour has been cancelled. With live music on an indefinite hiatus, we have used these past six months to create and sharpen the songs for our third full-length album, which is slated to be recorded this winter. We had plans to debut a couple of these tracks on the road, but with that no longer an option we have decided to release one of these brand new songs via a live video from our practice space at the Boise Bomb Shelter! Please enjoy this sneak peak of album #3 with this killer single ‘Way of the Sudden Storm.’ We hope it brings you comfort in these perilous times. Be well, stay safe, and we shall see you all on the road again when this too has passed.” – Carson, Rylie, Travis, and Alex

Way of the Sudden Storm
Recorded Live at Boise Bomb Shelter (Boise, ID)
August 2020
All Music and Lyrics By: Travis Abbott
Video Editing: Travis Abbott

Ealdor Bealu is:
Carson Russell: Guitar, Vocals
Rylie Collingwood: Bass, Vocals
Travis Abbott: Guitar, Vocals
Alex Wargo: Drums

Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places (2019)

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Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

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Days of Rona: Carson Russell of Ealdor Bealu and Ghorot

Posted in Features on May 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

ealdor bealu carson russell

Days of Rona: Carson Russell of Ealdor Bealu and Ghorot (Boise, Idaho)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Coronavirus dealt a swift and all-encompassing blow to both of my bands in mid-March as Idaho finally succumbed to the pandemic. Ealdor Bealu was slated to play Treefort Music Fest in late March as well as a Pacific Northwest Tour in April/May in support of our sophomore record Spirit of the Lonely Places. It was a disheartening setback, but fortunately most of the tour dates were successfully rescheduled to a larger West Coast tour in October. Only time will tell if that tour will come to fruition, there is little to rely upon these days. My new doom-metal trio Ghorot (featuring Chad Remains of UZALA) was also set to play Treefort Music Fest supporting the almighty YOB.

More importantly, Ghorot was slated to record and mix our debut record at Rabbit Brush Audio (Boise, ID) in April, but those dates have now been moved to August. On a positive end, both bands were just recently able to practice again for the first time in nearly two months, an immensely necessary and cathartic meeting to say the least. The future is most uncertain, but being reunited in music has given us purpose and strength, and I know we shall persevere through this crisis and arrive on the other side with renewed vigor for life, music, nature, and the artist community we so proudly hail from.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Idaho is our home; its natural, rugged beauty greatly impacts our music and inspires our lives.

That said, it is also unfortunately a very conservative, religious state and its politics follow heavily along those lines. Although the local government has acted in a rather surprisingly but certainly welcomed cautious manner throughout the crisis, there has been a lot of pushback from the far-right community. Heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters gathered by the hundreds at the capitol demanding their freedom to return to work and Amon Bundy, the leader of the Malhuer County Wildlife Refuge takeover in 2016 and son of Clive Bundy, attempted to hold a 2,000 person Easter church service in defiance of social distancing enforcement (only 60 showed up, to the chagrin of every touring musician who knows that’s just how gigs go haha).

It’s been disheartening to see so many people here refuse to adhere to wearing masks and social distancing. A lot of Idahoans just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of enduring minor inconveniences to protect someone you don’t know. Luckily, we seem to have dodged the bullet as our case load and deaths have been minimal so far. However, as the state begins to reopen we now face an uphill battle to keep those stats low as many look to flaunt guidelines meant to keep our community safe. Freedom, it would seem, comes at a cost we have yet to reckon with.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

Our situations have varied greatly over this time of crisis: some working full-time in essential industries, others working remotely from home, and others without work or pay since mid-March. It has been a difficult task to maintain some sort of positivity when the world seems to be falling into chaos. Luckily, Rylie, Travis, and I (three of the four members of Ealdor Bealu) share a home, which has created the ability to continue our writing and practicing via acoustic sessions. It’s been a beautiful spring in Boise, despite the circumstances, and our nights around the campfire singing and strumming guitars have been a lifesaver. It is still uncertain how this crisis will affect the Boise music scene.

We are a small, but vibrant community that greatly cherishes our local music venues like Neurolux and The Shredder as well as our independent record store The Record Exchange. These institutions mean the world to us all, and although we can’t yet know the impact this work stoppage will have on their ability to continue operations we have great hope that they will all make it thru these trying times and we may yet return to nights of sweat and booze, laughter and love, guitars and a fuck ton of amplifiers!

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

This crisis has revealed our most vulnerable positions as a country, and as a species in general. Humanity, finally given a chance to show some semblance of unity under a global problem, has pushed instead toward a further divide between the have’s and have-not’s. The disparity between the ruling elite and the rest of us has never been so starkly laid bare before our eyes. But I feel that the working class, the true lifeblood of human civilization, is becoming galvanized by these savageries instead of backing down. The fight for equality, for equity, for decency, and for truth is growing to levels not seen in most of our lifetimes.

Protests and demonstrations were at a virulent high across the world before this crisis struck, and I believe this situation will only guide the 99 percent further down this path rather than backtrack. We must stand now, arm in arm, and with a singular unified voice demand a world that works for all of mankind, not just the one percent. As musicians, friends, and family we must do everything in our power to champion each other during these perilous times so that we may arise from the ashes stronger than before.

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Steve Von Till to Release Poetry Book & No Wilderness Deep Enough LP Aug. 7; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

steve von till (Photo by Bobby Cochran)

The world needs a new Steve Von Till album right now. — this is an actual thought, from my actual brain (such as it is), that I had not one week ago. True, by “the world,” I mean me, but still. I need a new Steve Von Till album right now.

Aug. 7 is the release date for Steve Von Till‘s new LP, No Wilderness Deep Enough, and though I recognize literal millions of people are recently unemployed I’ll still go ahead and note that preorders are open now for both the album itself, and for Von Till‘s first book of poetry, titled similarly to one of his many projects, Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics. You’ll note in the PR wire info below that the collected lyrics are all from the title-tracks of his solo records, and that No Wilderness Deep Enough brings that tally to five, following behind 2015’s A Life unto Itself (review here) and coming some 20 years after his first, 2000’s As the Crow Flies.

Listening to the first single from No Wilderness Deep Enough, the opener “Dreams of Trees,” I’m particularly intrigued to read below that the album started out instrumental and it was none other than Randall Dunn who encouraged Von Till to add vocals. The depth of the arrangement on “Dreams of Trees,” from the far-back howls of what I probably incorrectly presume are effects to the cello up front, there’s a spaciousness that’s been in Von Till‘s work since his more minimalist early efforts, but as the song unfolds, the piano and electronics come to bear and fill out that space in fascinating ways. I can only wonder and anticipate how that might play out and further develop over the course of the album as a whole.

And it’s been a while since I’ve had something good to read.

The PR wire has all the details:

STEVE VON TILL Announces New Album No Wilderness Deep Enough

Alongside First Book – Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics

Both Available August 7, 2020 via Neurot Recordings

Reveals New Single “Dreams of Trees”

Uncertainty abounds, and Steve Von Till’s No Wilderness Deep Enough provides a voice of existential wisdom and experience to offer comfort and perspective in an era of uncharted territory. The album’s six pieces of music shape a hallucinatory landscape of sound that plumbs the depths of the natural world’s mysteries and uncertainties—questions that have vexed humanity since the dawn of time asked anew amidst a backdrop that’s as haunting as it is holistic. It’s music to lose yourself in. Swirling and iridescent blends of ambient, neo-classical and gothic Americana unfold on album opener, “Dreams of Trees” which was released today.

No Wilderness Deep Enough arrives alongside Von Till’s first published work of original poetry, Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics. The book is a collection of new poetry and lyrics from Von Till’s solo career over the past 20 years. It’s a work of rich text that showcases his deeply felt ruminations on the myriad beginnings and endings of life itself, offering another medium of which to experience his singular artistic perspective. See below for more info and artwork.

Von Till’s charted an extraordinary musical path over the last several decades, from his main duties as singer and guitarist of the boundary-breaking Neurosis, to the psychedelic music of his Harvestman project and the unique folk songs he’s released under his own name. But No Wilderness Deep Enough is truly like nothing you’ve ever heard from him before—an album that’s devastatingly beautiful and overwhelming in its scope, reminiscent of the tragic ecstasy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ recent work as well as the borderless ambient music pioneered by Brian Eno, late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s glacial compositions, and the electronic mutations of Coil.

With a foundation of simple melancholy piano chord progressions that came to fruition during jetlagged nights in his wife’s childhood home in Germany, No Wilderness Deep Enough was further embellished with mellotron and electronic treatments in Von Till’s home studio in North Idaho. Viewing the emerging result as an ambient instrumental album, he consulted friend and engineer Randall Dunn (Marissa Nadler, Earth) about adding live cello and french horn and piano in a proper studio. After enlisting Brent Arnold on cello and Aaron Korn on french horn, he challenged Von Till to sing over the music and make it his next solo album — which is exactly what happened, with final work being completed at Tucker Martine’s (the Decemberists, Neko Case) Flora Recording and Playback in Portland.

Lyrically, No Wilderness Deep Enough touches on themes essential to living in the world around us, as well as co-existing with ourselves and others. “It’s about personal longings and loss, and the loves and insecurities we all feel combined with meditations on humanity as a whole,” Von Till explains while discussing his main artistic aims behind the album, as well as his poetic expressions captured in Harvestman. “I’m exploring the great disconnect: from the natural world, from each other, and ultimately from ourselves—trying to find meaning and depth in re-establishing those connections, to find a resonance in purpose and acknowledging the past while looking towards the future and still being in the moment.”

With No Wilderness Deep Enough and Harvestman, Von Till has achieved a sense of mass resonance through his restless artistic exploration—providing art that journeys into the heart of fear and uncertainty in a world where we’ve often known little else. He swan-dives into the darkness of modern life, with the resulting emergence a sonic document of rural psychedelia that transcends the physical world—towards a greater spiritual acceptance that connects naturalism, spiritualism, and the corporeal form.

No Wilderness Deep Enough and Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics arrives August 7, 2020 via Neurot Recordings. Further information and pre-order details are available here.

No Wilderness Deep Enough Track Listing:

1 – Dreams of Trees
2 – The Old Straight Track
3 – Indifferent Eyes
4 – Trail the Silent Hours
5 – Shadows on the Run
6 – Wild Iron

Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics
by Steve Von Till

First printing: Limited hardback edition
Beautifully illustrated with linocuts by Mazatl
Published by Astrophil Press at the University of South Dakota

Table of Contents:
23 Untitled Poems
As The Crow Flies
If I Should Fall to the Field
A Grave is a Grim Horse
A Life Unto Itself
No Wilderness Deep Enough

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Steve Von Till, “Dreams of Trees”

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Days of Rona: Amber Pollard of Sun Blood Stories

Posted in Features on April 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

sun blood stories amber and ben

Days of Rona: Amber Pollard of Sun Blood Stories (Boise, Idaho)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, we haven’t really reworked plans as much as just cancelled them. Like for all of 2020. Or at least that’s how it feels. Some of our shows have been rescheduled for later in the year, but that feels like an eternity from now.

Practicing is also out right now since social distancing recommends people from other households shouldn’t enter your own. As a band with a new member, Cody Goin on bass, we’ve been focusing a lot on exploring the new dynamic of the group and this really throws a wrench in that.

As far as our health, physically we seem to all be doing pretty well. Mentally, the isolation and lack of music-making has been a real bummer and it’s tough to not really have any solid idea of when we’re going to be able to resume. But we also see that there is a terrible amount of suffering in the world right now and we’re happy to be able to help in any way we can, even if that’s just staying home in order to slow the spread.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

The city of Boise has done a pretty good job of handling the situation:

– No gatherings of 10+ people
– No unnecessary traveling
– Stay 6 ft. apart from people who don’t live in your house
– Work from home if you can
– All non-essential businesses closed

However, even though non-essential businesses are closed and there’s a pandemic going on, the Republicans and Gov. Brad Little still had time to pass some absolutely vile anti-trans bills. So we just wanted to say, fuck Governor Brad Little and fuck everyone who voted for those bills.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

It’s mostly just come to a grinding halt. Any of us who make our living from performing, or serving drinks or making food or running the door or doing sound, are in real trouble right now. No one knows how long this is going to go, so no one is really able to make any serious plans for the future, especially since no one alive has any experience with a pandemic of this size and severity. We’re trying to support our fellow artists and workers within the scene and just help everyone to get through.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We were fortunate enough to have amazing support from our friends and fans this month which raised enough money to cover our band bills. After the bills were paid, we used the surplus funds to support other artists by buying their music/art (through Bandcamp or Venmo or digital tip jars), small businesses by buying their beer, and other folks feeling the financial strain right now.

If you’re lucky enough to have an income and love any kind of art or craft, now is the time to support them. Without trying to sound hyperbolic, it really is now or never for a lot of these folks.

Other than that, we just want to say stay safe and take care of one another.

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Sun Blood Stories Premiere “Everybody Loves You” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sun blood stories

Slide guitarist/vocalist Amber Pollard of Idaho trio-for-now Sun Blood Stories has been experimenting with videography for a while now in terms of representing the music she, guitarist/vocalist Ben Kirby and keyboardist/drummer Jon Fust bring to life. To wit, “Everybody Loves You” which is premiering below, is at least the fourth clip from their fourth long-player, Haunt Yourself (review here), behind ones for “Up Comes the Tunnel” (posted here), “All the Words in Meaning” (posted here), and “See You on the Other Side” (posted here) and that album only came out last September as the follow-up to 2017’s It Runs Around the Room with Us (review here), which also had its share of moving-picture manifestation. The videos have become another means of exploring atmospherics for Sun Blood Stories, whose particular style of emotive post-psych can be either a salve or caustic depending on where their creative whims take them, and whose commitment to experimentation extends to the music itself as well, as the even-more-recent noise work, Static Sessions: Vol. 1 (discussed here), showcases.

The track “Everybody Loves You,” which finds Pollard very much in the lead vocally atop a rich backing of smoothly unfurled psychedelic undulation, echoing uke and all, comes with a twist. And not to spoil it, but the twist is you have to die first. The chorus of the song, “Everybody loves you, when you’re dead,” is haunting enough on its own to justify the album’s title, and repeated with the backing of Kirby and suitably ghostly harmonies surrounding, it’s one of Haunt Yourself‘s most striking and resonant impressions — which is saying something, since “striking and resonant” is a specialty when it comes to Sun Blood Stories‘ work on the whole. As the video captures tour footage from a Fall 2019 run — keep your eye out for the brainfreeze; it’s in there — and the band inherently turns the consideration of the lyrics onto themselves, essentially putting themselves (from the perspective of the viewer, at least) in the position of being the dead in question, it takes on another level of social and emotional comment, while remaining catchy in its melancholic abide.

Amid the chaos at the dawn of 2020, Sun Blood Stories posted an update promising changes coming to their social media: “We are expanding our membership this year so expect to see more bodies on stage and to hear more lush in our sound.”

It would not be the first time they went beyond the core trio form, and I’ll admit I’m intrigued to see/hear how “more lush” comes to pass in their music, not the least since, particularly if you take even a momentary sample of the video below, you’ll note there’s already plenty of “lush” in their sound as-is. But, to be perfectly honest, Sun Blood Stories are a band whose work has earned my trust at this point, and their idea of “feels right” in the music has only produced material that fascinates and challenges heart and mind alike. Wherever they might be headed, it’ll be worth finding out.

Comment from Pollard and the Haunt Yourself album stream follow the video.

Enjoy:

Sun Blood Stories, “Everybody Loves You” official video premiere

Amber Pollard on “Everybody Loves You”:

Sometime in 2018, “Everybody Loves You” came to form in our basement at 1:00a while we were taking a break from recording “Up Comes the Tunnel.” We had spent an extensive amount of time that evening talking about friends who had taken their lives and the emotions associated with that conversation were fresh and weighing on all our hearts. Jon started messing around with some beautiful chords on the ukulele, Ben hit record, and I started singing. 20 minutes later we were sitting on our back porch listening to the recording, deciding on the song’s structure, and writing down the lyrics (which ended up totaling six pages). We whittled the lyrics down to fit the agreed upon song structure and recorded it.

Flash forward to October 2019: the album had recently been released and we were out on tour for the better part of a month. I started documenting our days from the start but had no plans on what to do with the videos other than to show them to my kid when we got back. When we got home, I compiled and edited together all the footage to make a little tour diary for everyone. It wasn’t until December 2019, that I realized the tour footage (well, a condensed version of the tour footage) might make a good music video for “Everybody Loves You.” Much like the lyrics, I whittled away the excess footage and here we are.

Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself (2019)

Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Notes: Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan Längquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing Längquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had Längquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge à la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, Híbrido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the Sün, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • Besvärjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

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Sun Blood Stories Make Noisy New Offering with Static Sessions: Vol. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Earlier this month, Boise, Idaho’s Sun Blood Stories let out for the Pacific Coast to support the release of Haunt Yourself (review here), their fourth long-player. Interestingly, they characterize it as lacking a “noise aspect,” which I mean, I guess in comparison to some of what they did on 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) or 2017’s It Runs Around the Room with Us (review here), one could argue it was less droned-out in some parts, but it didn’t strike me particularly as anything beyond a natural progression of where their sound was headed anyhow. But hey, you know, presumably when you’re in the band you feel differently about these processes. Fair enough.

Thus arrives Static Sessions: Vol. 1, a pure noise release that’s actually longer than the 45-minute album to which it’s intended to serve as companion. Comprised of just two tracks, it’s indeed more or less a wash of noise, and while I haven’t put it on at the same time as Haunt Yourself or anything like that (at least not yet) and I don’t think it was intended to be such a direct addenda to the album proper, there’s no doubting the fact that its echoing tones and experimentalist psychedelic vibe is Sun Blood Stories through and through. Maybe it’d work, I don’t know. The time doesn’t synch up, but whatever. It’d be fun to try.

Sun Blood Stories have a history of circa-Halloween outings — recall Samhain Variations (review here) from 2015 — but it’s been a minute, so even with the recent full-length out, I’ll take a little bit of noise happily.

I also like that the two tracks at “Chapter 7” and “Chapter 19.” I’m sure there’s a reason behind it, but the hint of a story in progress (the Vol. 1 also feeds this idea) adds another element of cool to the whole thing.

Streaming below, DL up on their Bandcamp:

sun blood stories static sessions

Sun Blood Stories – Static Sessions: Vol. 1

In September of 2019, Sun Blood Stories released Haunt Yourself and while Haunt Yourself may be the most comprehensive and beautiful album from the band yet, the band thought the album lacked a certain noise aspect that they love. So to scratch that itch, the band recorded this noise album that you’ll probably hate.

Tracklisting:
1. Chapter 7 33:12
2. Chapter 19 23:37

Sun Blood Stories is:
Amber Pollard – keys/noise/vocals
Ben Kirby – guitar/noise/vocals
Jon Fust – drums

https://www.facebook.com/sunbloodstories
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https://sunbloodstories.bandcamp.com/

Sun Blood Stories, Static Sessions: Vol. 1 (2019)

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