Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website

 

Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook

 

Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website

 

Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp

 

Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp

 

Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp

 

Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp

 

Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook

 

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Arelseum to Release Arelseum III on June 18; New Track Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

So during the pandemic, Colin Marston and Ryan Lipynsky teamed up on a project. Am I the only one thinking it’s about damn time? The former is probably as much known as a producer as a musician at this point, but I’ll always remember seeing Marston wailing away on Warr guitar at CBGB’s in 2005 as Behold… the Arctopus! supported the Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning EP. I think Psyopus was also on that bill? It was quite a day to be alive.

Anyhoozle, dude has gone on to participate in Gorguts, Krallice, the underrated drone outfit Byla, which collaborated with Jarboe, and so on. Lipynsky, meanwhile, has diligently served as frontman of Unearthly Trance since the turn of the century and taken part in an entire spectrum of acts besides, including The Howling Wind, Serpentine Path, Green Dragon, and a ton of others. Both based in Brooklyn, both wildly creative, it seems inevitable that they’d eventually work together.

Oh, hello Arelseum. The new outfit has already issued a bunch of harsh noisy noise noise-type stuff on Bandcamp and Sleeping Giant Glossolalia will present their new album, Arelseum III, on tape, along with their prior, to-date-digital-only works.

The PR wire tells it like this:

Arseleum III

ARELSEUM: members of Krallice and Unearthly Trance to release new album “Arelseum III” via Sleeping Giant Glossolalia; new track streaming

Sleeping Giant Glossolalia presents the June 18th release of Arelseum III, the new album by Arelseum.

Arelseum is the new project of Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) and Ryan Lipynsky (Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind, Reeking Aura).

In addition to a digital release, Sleeping Giant Glossolalia will release the album on cassette as part of a trilogy of cassettes: Arelseum, Arelseum II, Arelseum III.

Stream new track “Woods,” from Arelseum III, here:
https://sleepinggiantglossolalia.bandcamp.com/album/arelseum-iii

Through their many respective projects, Marston and Lipynsky have spent the past two decades prowling the extreme and experimental depths of metal, and have helped move the genre forward. Acquainted since the early 2000s as prolific members of the New York scene, Marston and Lipynsky began Arelseum in 2020 during the pandemic. Arelseum sees the duo combine their talents in an entirely new way: cinematic synth-scapes, for fans of ’70s sci-fi epics, ’80s slasher flicks, and dungeon synth. From suffocating tension to placid tranquility, Arelseum paints vivid scenes using deliciously retro sounds.

Marston, working from his famed Queens, NY studio, Menegroth The Thousand Caves (where he has engineered, mixed and mastered music by all of his own projects as well as such artists as Agalloch, Liturgy, Prurient, and Kelly Moran), states: “It was born out of the remoteness of the pandemic. Ryan starts all the songs and sends me the multitrack with the title. I overdub keys and drums, then edit, arrange and mix. So it’s almost like he’s the singer-songwriter who hands the nice, simple and effective song over to the producer, and I just over-produce the f*ck out of it and accidentally make it LESS commercial. Haha!”

Rather than pinning down any specific musical influences, Lipynsky makes this statement: “The concepts at play are the ideas that go through your head when you are between being barely awake and asleep. Inspiration through exhaustion. The ideas reveal themselves in a unique way that only makes sense when it is complete. This band is about instinctual creativity and the art form of collaboration.”

Arelseum III and the Arelseum cassette trilogy mark another high point for Sleeping Giant Glossolalia, the Brooklyn-based label responsible for an expertly curated slew of releases by artists spanning metal, rock, noise, and electronic genres – Shit and Shine, Couch Slut, Growing, Gnaw, Nastie Band, and Urwelt, to name a few.

Arelseum III tracklist:
1) Owl
2) Below
3) Crux
4) Woods
5) Eleven
6) Meteor

Ryan Lipynsky: contact mics, keyboards, stylophone
Colin Marston: feedback noise, simmons electronic drums, finger drums, keyboards

https://arelseum.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sleepinggiantglossolalia.com/
https://sleepinggiantglossolalia.bandcamp.com/

Arelseum, Arelseum III (2021)

Arseleum, “Swamps”

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Quarterly Review: Fuzz, Crippled Black Phoenix, Bethmoora, Khan, The Acid Guide Service, Vexing Hex, KVLL, Mugstar, Wolftooth, Starmonger

Posted in Reviews on December 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Day III of the Inexplicably Roman Numeralized Winter 2020 Quarterly Review, commence! I may never go back to actual numbers, you should know. There’s something very validating about doing Day I, Day II, Day III — and tomorrow I get to add a V for Day IV! Stoked on that, let me tell you.

You have to make your own entertainment these days, lest your brain melt like wax and drip from your nostrils.

Plurp.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Fuzz, III

fuzz iii

Plenty of heavy rockers can come across sounding fresh. Most of the time all it takes is being young. In the case of III, the third long-player from FuzzCharles Moothart, Ty Segall and Chad Ubovich — they sound like they just invented it. Dig the hard-Bowie of “Time Collapse” or the made-for-the-stage opener “Returning,” or the surf-cacophony of “Mirror.” Or hell, any of it. The combination of this band and producer Steve Albini — aka the guy you go to when you want your album to sound like your live show — is correct. That’s all you can say about it. From the ’70s snarl in “Nothing People” to the triumphant melody in the second half of “Blind to Vines” and the back and forth between gritty roll and fragile prog of “End Returning,” it’s an energy that simply won’t be denied. If Fuzz wanted to go ahead and do three or four more albums with Albini at the helm in the next five years, that’d be just fine.

In the Red Records on Thee Facebooks

In the Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst

crippled black phoenix ellengaest

The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) goes that when after lineup shifts left Crippled Black Phoenix without any singers, founder Justin Greaves (ex-Iron Monkey, Earthtone9, Electric Wizard, etc.) decided to call old mates. Look. I don’t care how it happened, but Ellengæst, which is the likewise-brilliant follow-up to the band’s widely-lauded 2018 outing, Great Escape, leads off with Anathema‘s Vincent Cavanagh singing lead on “House of Fools,” and, well, there’s your new lead singer. Anathema‘s on hiatus and a more natural fit would be hard to come by. Ryan Patterson (The National Acrobat, a dozen others), Gaahl (Gaahls Wyrd, ex-Gorgoroth), solo artist Suzie Stapleton and Jonathan Hultén (Tribulation) would also seem to audition — Patterson and Stapleton pair well on the heavy-Cure-style “Cry of Love” — and there are songs without any guests at all, but there’s a reason “House of Fools” starts the record. Make it happen, Crippled Black Phoenix. For the good of us all.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Bethmoora, Thresholds

Bethmoora Thresholds

Copenhagen’s Bethmoora served notice in a 2016 split with Dorre (review here) and their debut full-length, Thresholds hone destructive lumber across four low-toned tracks that begin with “And for Eternity They Will Devour His Flesh” and only get nastier from there. One imagines being in a room with this kind of rumbling, maddeningly repetitive, slow-motion-violence noise wash and being put into a flight-or-fight panic by it, deer in doomed headlights, and all that, but even on record, Bethmoora manage to cull, and when their songs explode in tempo, as the opener does late in its run, or “Painted Man” does, that spirit is maintained. Each side of the LP is two tracks, and all four are beastly, pile-driver-to-the-core-of-the-earth heavy. “Keeper”‘s wash of noise has willful-turnoff appeal all its own, but the empty space in the middle of “Lamentation” is where they go in for ultimate consumption. And yeah. Yeah.

Bethmoora on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Khan, Monsoons

khan monsoons

Khan‘s second album, Monsoons is a departure in form from 2018’s Vale, if not necessarily in substance. Heavy, psychedelic-infused post-rock is the order of business for the Melbourne trio either way, but as guitarist Josh Bills gives up playing synth and doing vocals to embark on an instrumental approach with bassist Mitchell Kerr (also KVLL) and drummer Beau Heffernan on this four-track/31-minute offering, the spirit is inescapably different. Probably easier to play live, if that’s a thing that might happen. Monsoons still has the benefit, however, of learning from the debut in terms of the dynamic among the three players, and Bills‘ guitar reaches for atmospheric float in “Orb” and attains it easily, as the midsection rhythm of the closing title-track nods at My Sleeping Karma and the back end of the prior “Harbinger” manages to shine and not sound like Earthless in the process, and quite simply, Khan make it work. The vocals/synth might be worth missing — and they may or may not be back — but to ignore the breadth Khan harness in little over half an hour would be a mistake.

Khan on Thee Facebooks

Khan on Bandcamp

 

The Acid Guide Service, Denim Vipers

the acid guide service denim vipers

Jammy, psychedelic in parts, Sabbathian in “Peavey Marshall (and the Legendary Acoustic Sunn Band)” and good fun from the doomly rollout of 11-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “In the Cemetery” onward, the second full-length from Idaho’s The Acid Guide Service, Denim Vipers, brings considerable rumble and nod, but these guys don’t want to hurt nobody. They’ve come here to chew bubblegum and follow the riff, and they’re all out of bubblegum. Comprised on average of longer songs than 2017’s debut, Vol. 11 (review here), the four-tracker gives the trio room to branch out their sound a bit, highlighting the bass in the long middle stretch of the title-track while the subsequent “Electro-Galactic Discharge” puts its guitar solo front and center before sludge-rocking into oblivion, letting “Peavey Marshall (and the Legendary Acoustic Sunn Band)” pick up from there, which is as fine a place as any to begin a gallop to the end. Genre-based shenanigans ensue. One would hope for no less.

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Vexing Hex, Haunt

vexing hex haunt

Based in Illinois, Vexing Hex make their debut on Wise Blood Records with Haunt, and yes, playing catchy, semi-doomed, organ-laced cult rock with creative and melodic vocal arrangements, you’re going to inevitably run into some Ghost comparisons. The newcomer three-piece are distinguished by a harder edge to their impact, a theremin on “Planet Horror” and a rawer production sensibility, and that serves them well in “Build Your Wall” and the buildup of “Living Room,” both of which play off the fun-with-dogma mood cast by “Revenant” following the intro “Hymn” at the outset of Haunt. Not quite as progressive as, say, Old Man Wizard, there’s nonetheless some melodic similarity happening as bell sounds ensue on “Rise From Your Grave,” the title of which which may or may not be purposefully cribbed from the Sega Genesis classic Altered Beast. There’s a big part of me that hopes it is, and if Vexing Hex are writing songs about retro videogames, they sound ready to embark on a Castlevania concept album.

Vexing Hex on Thee Facebooks

Wise Blood Records on Bandcamp

 

KVLL, Death//Sacrifice

kvll death sacrifice

Proffering grueling deathsludge as though it were going out of style — it isn’t — the Melbourne duo KVLL is comprised of bassist/vocalist/guitarist Mitchell Kerr (also Khan) and drummer Braydon Becher. It’s not without ambient stretches, as the centerpiece “Sacrifice” shows, but the primary impression KVLL‘s debut album, Death//Sacrifice makes is in the extremity of crash and heavy landing of “The Death of All That is Crushing” and “Slow Death,” such that by the time “Sacrifice” ‘mellows out,’ as it were, the listener is punchdrunk from what’s taken place on the prior two and a half songs. There’s little doubt that’s precisely KVLL‘s intention here, as the cavernous screams, mega-lurch and tense undercurrent are more than ably wielded. If “Sacrifice” is the moment at which Death//Sacrifice swaps out one theme for another, the subsequent “Blood to the Altar” and nine-minute closer “Beneath the Throne” hammer the point home, the latter with an abrasive noise-caked finale worthy of standard-bearers Primitive Man.

KVLL on Thee Facebooks

KVLL on Bandcamp

 

Mugstar, GRAFT

mugstar graft

Not that the initial droning wash of “Deep is the Air” or the off-blasted “Zeta Potential” and warp-drive freneticism in “Cato” don’t have their appeal — oh, they do — but when it comes to UK lords-o’-space Mugstar‘s latest holodeck-worthy full-length, GRAFT, it’s the mellow drift-jazz of the 12-minute “Ghost of a Ghost” that feels most like matter dematerialization to me. Side B’s “Low, Slow Horizon” answers back later on ahead of the motorik linear build in the finale “Star Cage,” but the 12-minute vibe-fest that is “Ghost of a Ghost” gives GRAFT a vastness to match its thrust, which becomes essential to the space-borne feel. It’s 41 minutes, still ripe for an LP, but the kind of album that has a genuine affect on mood and mindset, breaking down on a molecular level both and remolding them into something hopefully more evolved on some level through cosmic meditation. Fast or slow, up or down, in or out, it doesn’t ultimately matter. Nothing does. But there’s a moment in GRAFT where the one-skin-on-another thing becomes apparent and all the masks drop away. What’s left after that?

Mugstar on Thee Facebooks

Centripetal Force Records website

Cardinal Fuzz Records BigCartel store

 

Wolftooth, Valhalla

Wolftooth Valhalla

Hooks abound in power-stoner fashion throughout Indiana four-piece Wolftooth‘s second album, Valhalla, which roughs up NWOBHM clarity in early-Ozzy fashion without going overboard to one side or the other, riffs winding and rhythms charging in a way not entirely unlike some of Freedom Hawk‘s more recent fare, but with a melodic reach of its own and a dynamism of purpose that comes through in the songwriting. Grand Magus‘ metallic traditionalism might be an influence on a song like “Fear for Eternity,” but “Crying of the Wolfs” has a more rocking swagger, and likewise post-intro opener “Possession.” With tightly constructed songs in the four-to-five-minute range, Valhalla never feels stretched out more than it wants to, but “Molon Labe” pushes the vocals deeper into the mix for a bigger, more atmospheric sound, and subtle shifts like that become effective in distinguishing the songs and making them all the more memorable. Recently signed to Napalm after working with Ripple, Ice Fall, Cursed Tongue and Blackseed, they seem to be poised to pay off the potential here and in their 2018 self-titled debut (review here). So be it.

Wolftooth on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

Ice Fall Records BigCartel store

 

Starmonger, Revelations

starmonger revelations

Parisian riff-blaster trio Starmonger have been piecemealing tracks out for the last five years as a series of EPs titled Revelation, and the full-length debut, Revelations, brings these nine songs together for a 49-minute long-player that even in re-recorded versions of the earliest cuts like “Tell Me” and “Wanderer” show how far the band has come. It’s telling that those two close the record out while “Rise of the Fishlords” and “Léthé” from 2019’s Revelation IV open sides A and B, respectively, but older or newer, the band end up with a swath of stylistic ground covered from the more straightforward and uptempo kick of the elder tracks to the more progressive take of the newer, with plenty of ground in between. Uniting the various sides are strong performances and strong choruses, the latter of which would seem to be the thread that draws everything together. Whether or not it takes Starmonger half a decade to put out their next LP, one can hardly call their time misspent while listening to Revelations.

Starmonger on Thee Facebooks

Starmonger on Bandcamp

 

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Album Review: IAH, III

Posted in Reviews on September 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

iah iii

The instrumentalist, Córdoba, Argentina-based three-piece of guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco Borlera and drummer José Landín continue and impressive streak under the collective banner of IAH with III, their third overall release and second full-length behind 2018’s II (review here) and their 2017 self-titled EP (review here). They very clearly not only have an idea of what they’re going for in terms of their sound, but an awareness of what has worked for them leading up to this stage in their career, in terms both of aesthetic and practical considerations. III is easily the trio’s most expansive offering to-date. In its digital version, released on Sept. 11, III comprises six tracks and runs what might almost be a near-unmanageable 55 minutes were it not managed so fluidly, and finds the band continuing a collaboration sharing production duties with Mario Carnerero at 440 Estudio in Córdoba, who engineered and mixed (Magnus Lindberg mastered).

This partnership would seem to have grown more familiar over time, as III not only progresses from where IAH were two years ago in terms of patience and exploratory reach, but brings forward the varied dynamic of their sound in more expansive ways. Beginning with the 11-minute “Uaset,” III unfolds with a summary of things to come, and in so doing brings together the swath of ground IAH proceed to cover, a slow emerging of fading in effects-guitar and a shhh of cymbal wash setting an immediately atmospheric backdrop for whatever will follow. It is nearly 90 seconds into the song before the first guitar line begins, and not until 1:51 that Landín‘s drums join it, and that spaciousness established at the outset is crucial to how the entire album that follows plays out. III sees IAH dig further into heavy post-rock even than did II, as Condon‘s guitar floats over the drums and bass across the early going of “Uaset,” but the progressive metal elements that made themselves felt last time out come through as well, and the moments of solidification — all three players coming together around a single progression for however long it might be — are all the more effective for the dream-state from which they seem to take hold.

“Uaset” brings its impact in its midsection and rolls out a deeply weighted nod and chug, but ultimately recedes again, and though some residual energy is retained, it is the float that wins out in the end, carrying into the more direct tonality and riff of “Raju,” which is the shortest piece on III at 6:25 and, for a time at least, seems to reverse the structure of the opener. ‘Quiet, loud, quiet’ becomes ‘loud, quiet, loud,’ but a fourth movement is added to the mix that renews the airy sound of “Uaset” in a way that “Raju” hasn’t yet tapped. This reinforces the notion of the two songs representing a companion-type structure, and indeed, the rest of III bears that out in symmetrical fashion. What would be side A is two tracks, likewise what would be sides B and C; each one bringing together a longer cut and a shorter one as “Uaset” and “Raju” have done, with “Cilene” (10:38) and “Ennui” (8:25) proceeding from the silence at the end of “Raju” and building outward from what the opening salvo has done in terms of melody and rhythm.

Starting III‘s centerpiece movement, “Cilene” makes a case for being the most outwardly heavy of the three longer pieces — though “Lo Que Hoy es Evidente” (11:19) still has something to say about it — and has a flow to mirror that at the record’s very beginning, if one that holds more tension in the drums. The speedier motion and turn-of-phrase in the guitar circa 3:45 would seem to call out Colour Haze‘s heavy psychedelia filtered through the full-toned precision of Elder, and should meet with no complaints from fans of either, but IAH nestle into harder-edged chug before “Cilene” is done, not quite turning to doom, but riding a slower groove to its logical dissolution before going back to ground, rebuilding, and dissipating again in the last three and half minutes of the song. They do this gracefully, unhurried, and with time left over for a few seconds of contemplative silence before “Ennui” begins, its insistent first-half drum pattern and sharper guitar/bass groove tapping into Pelican/Russian Circles territory as it moves forward, but smoothing out in its second half to a middle ground topped with a solo that’s anything but staid as the title might suggest and soon bursts forward again, only to pull back once more.

Given the departure from one-word titles for the closing pair of the aforementioned “Lo Que Hoy es Evidente” and “Una Vez Fue Imaginario” (7:07), one has to wonder if they’re not to be considered bonus tracks for the digital edition of the album or if pressing a physical version has yet to be worked out. I don’t know, but the change seems purposeful one way or the other. “Lo Que Hoy es Evidente” is the longest song on III and builds up in still-linear fashion more smoothly than “Uaset” such that it’s not until the guitar and bass drop out momentarily and fire back at the six-minute mark that the real push of the 11-minute song seems to be revealed. As an apex, it is particularly hard hitting, but maintains an edge of psychedelic wash as well, which eases the transition into the comedown at the finish, which seems to wink again at Colour Haze, and moves into the near-silence that begins “Una Vez Fue Imaginario” to close out the offering. It is another full build, but a fitting one for the end, as it shifts into a post-metallic sphere and features some howling sounds in the background that, indeed, might just be vocals, if it’s not my own imagination getting the best of me.

One way or the other, they close on one of their most crushing stomps, and finish cold, leaving the silence to do the work of residual ambience, which it does. One would be remiss not to note that III was tracked in June 2020, during lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, and studio pictures of IAH show them wearing masks while recording. Given some of the intimacy of the quiet stretches and the manner in which the more forceful side of the band seems to feed off them, it seems fair to wonder if maybe the global situation fed into the mood of the studio time at all. I don’t know that it did, but it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t, at least in some way. The dynamic of changing volumes isn’t necessarily new for IAH, but they do bring these shifts with an overarching melancholic sensibility, perhaps not void of hope, but looking at it from a distance. And even if that interpretation is completely inaccurate, that these pieces would evoke the question stands as testament to III‘s power to move the listener. That also is something IAH have had since their beginnings just a few years ago, but never have they sounded more resonant.

IAH, III (2020)

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Fuzz to Release III Oct. 23; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The return after some five years of the Ty Segall-fronted heavy rockers Fuzz is only bound to find welcome, and freaks in the know will likewise nod approvingly at their choice of producer for their aptly-titled third record, III. Set to issue via In the Red Records, III is helmed by the esteemed Steve Albini, whose reputation for capturing a band’s live sound is second to none for good reason — for easy reference and to do yourself a favor more generally, go listen to Neurosis or Weedeater or any number of the other countless acts he’s produced whom you might’ve seen on a stage when that was a thing that happened.

As to what Albini might bring to Fuzz, they’re streaming the opening track “Returning” now, so it’s easy enough to get a sampling. Say, at the bottom of this post. All about convenience here.

Fresh off the PR wire:

fuzz iii

FUZZ announce new album on In The Red Records

Share new track “Returning”

One only knows one. Two is balanced therefore stagnant. III both active and reactive. Charles Moothart, Ty Segall and Chad Ubovich are FUZZ. FUZZ is three. And III has returned. Songs for all, and music for one.

III was recorded and mixed at United Recording under the sonic lordship of Steve Albini. Keeping the focus on the live sounds of the band, the use of overdubs and studio tricks were kept to a minimum. Albini’s mastery in capturing sound gave FUZZ the ability to focus entirely on the playing while knowing the natural sounds would land. It takes the essential ingredients of “guitar based music” and “rock and roll power trio” and puts them right out on the chopping block. It was a much more honest approach for FUZZ — three humans getting primitive, staying primitive. The goal was never to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes it’s just about seeing how long you can hold on before you’re thrown off.

FUZZ
III
In The Red

Released 23rd October 2020

Tracklist
1. Returning
2. Nothing People
3. Spit
4. Time Collapse
5. Mirror
6. Close Your Eyes
7. Blind To Vines
8. End Returning

Three points reflected in three Mirrors; a pyramid of sonic destruction and psychic creation. Nothing People feed the roots while the freaks fly free in the treetops – Blind to Vines, Eyes Closed, Stuck in Spit, triumphing the Returning of beginnings and Ends Returning while beginning to see the Time Collapse. Love is the only way to annihilate hate, and Sketchy freaks live to bleed. All shades of color, truth and lies, III is the pillar of unity and singularity. All is nothing, and only nothing can generate everything. Log out, drop thought, turn up.

Engineered by Steve Albini
Assistant Engineer Scott Moore
Mixed by Steve Albini and Fuzz
Recorded and Mixed at United Recording August 22-30 2019
Cover Photography Denée Segall
Artwork Tatiana Kartomten
Layout Denée Segall
All songs written and arranged by Fuzz

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https://intheredrecords.com/

Fuzz, “Returning”

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Bask Post “Rid of You” Video; III Release Tour Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bask (Photo by Jamie Kay and Arlie)

Alright, so stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the new Bask record is pretty good. Yes, I know. You have heard it before. From me. You heard me speculating on it when the Asheville, North Carolina-based four-piece announced in April they were recording with Matt Bayles, and again in August after the album was done. Then came the “New Dominion” video (posted here) with the release date. Then I went ahead and actually reviewed III (review here) in the last Quarterly Review because I liked that single and wanted an excuse to dig further ahead of the Nov. 8 arrival. Then I got the chance to do the premiere of opening track “Three White Feet” (posted here) like the day after the review went live, and I wasn’t gonna say no to that. And now here we are. There’s another video, and I’m posting about that too.

The central thesis of all these posts is pretty much the same, and yes, I’m willing to admit that. Hey, you know that new Bask record III that’s coming out Nov. 8 on Season of Mist? It’s a good ‘un. You might wanna chase it down if you’re feeling some righteous modern heavy prog with a penchant for melody and just a touch of Southern edge via Baroness and the like. There you go. That’s all. That’s all it’s ever been.

It’s like the equivalent of being at the show and being the guy who says to someone from the band, “Hey man, great set.” That’s who I am. Often. Cool songs. New stuff sounds good.

Some new tour dates came down the PR wire. They’re back in Brooklyn on Nov. 23 and I should probably go even though that’s like the worst week ever and I’m apparently terrified of venues I’ve never been to before. Anxiety, man. Woof.

What were we talking about?

Enjoy the video:

Bask, “Rid of You” (official video)

Appalachian psych rockers BASK have shared the official music video for the new song “Rid of You.” The track is taken from the band’s upcoming album, ‘III,’ which will be released worldwide on November 8 via Season of Mist, making it their debut to the label. The video, which was created in analog format by Yovozol, can be seen HERE.

BASK comment: “We are excited to announce the third single, ‘Rid of You,’ from our upcoming album, ‘III.’ We’ve collaborated with analog video artist Yovozol to bring you this visual accompaniment. We hope you enjoy.”

‘III’ can be pre-ordered in various formats HERE.

BASK have previously announced a run of headlining North American dates in support of ‘III,’ including a hometown show on the day of the record release. The full itinerary is as follows:

BASK “III” Album Release Tour:
11/08: Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight **album release show**
11/14: Atlanta, GA @ 529
11/15: Columbia, SC @ Columbia Museum of Art
11/16: Greenville, SC @ The Radio Room
11/17: Richmond, VA @ Banditos
11/19: Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
11/20: Ottawa, ON @ Cafe Dekcuf
11/21: Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus
11/22: Cambridge, MA @ Hong Kong
11/23: Brooklyn, NY @ Gold Sounds
11/24: Baltimore, MD @ The Depot **Matinee Show**
11/25: Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
11/26: Kent, OH @ The Outpost Concert Club
11/27: Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
11/29: Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
11/30: Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway

Line-up:
Jesse Van Note – bass
Scott Middleton – drums
Ray Worth – guitar
Zeb Camp – guitar/vocals

Guest Musicians:
Jed Willis – Pedal Steel on “Maiden Mother Crone”
Meg Mulhearn – Violin on “Maiden Mother Crone”

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Lucifer Announce Southern Tour; Lucifer III Due in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lucifer

You know, with the reception Lucifer have gotten over their time together, you’d think Nicke Andersson was in The Hellacopters or something. Or that vocalist Johanna Sadonis came out of hotly-tipped but ultimately shortlived cult duo The Oath or whatever. Oh wait. Okay, so maybe it’s not much of a mystery while the heavy underground has embraced them with open arms, but the work they’re doing speaks for itself. First and foremost, they’ve busted their collective ass touring in Europe and North America, and their records — the latest being last year’s Lucifer II (review here) — have only been met with increasing fervor. Gosh. Maybe they’re a good band or something.

New record, Lucifer III, will be out in March 2020 through Century Media, but somehow I’ll always think of them as a Rise Above band. Maybe that’s just me.

Info from the PR wire:

lucifer tour

LUCIFER ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICA PART III HEADLINE TOUR

Heavy-rock band LUCIFER have just announced their third and final leg of their North American headline tour today. The band will hit the road starting on January 15th in Memphis, TN and ending on January 26th in Tampa, FL. For more information and to purchase tickets for the band’s upcoming tour dates, visit LUCIFER’s Facebook page.

LUCIFER has been touring nonstop in support of their recent full-length album Lucifer II. The band recently wrapped a tour with The Hellacopters for select European shows in May and their first two North American headline tours. Additionally, the band has performed at festivals like Metal Days, Bukta Festival, and Beyond The Gates. They have previously performed at KISS Cruise, Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest, Hellfest, Muskelrock, Sweden Rock, and Freak Valley.

The group, led by Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Andersson, celebrated massive success in 2018 with the release of Lucifer II, turning heads with their addictive Sabbath-ian hard rock. The album charted at #40 on the German charts, #1 on the Swedish vinyl and hard rock charts, and #2 on the physical album charts. The record is available on vinyl, CD and digitally HERE.

“Oh my Lord! We are incredibly thrilled to announce that the mighty Philip Shouse (bass for Ace Frehley / guitar for Gene Simmons) will join LUCIFER on bass in the US on our upcoming Southern tour! What a legend! Don’t miss this! Tickets go on sale this Friday.”

LUCIFER have commenced work on Lucifer III, which is set for release March 2020. Stay tuned for more details on the forthcoming release.

LUCIFER NORTH AMERICA PART III TOUR 2019
January 15 – Memphis, TN – The Hi Tone
January 16 – Dallas, TX – Three Links
January 17 – Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live
January 18 – Houston, TX – Secret Group
January 19 – New Orleans, LA – Santos
January 21- Birmingham, AL – The Nick
January 22 – Atlanta, GA – 529
January 23 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
January 24 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
January 25 – Miami, FL – Churchill’s Pub
January 26 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub

LUCIFER is
Johanna Sadonis – vocals
Nicke Andersson – drums
Alexander Mayr – bass
Martin Nordin – guitar
Linus Björklund – guitar

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Lucifer, “California Son” official video

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Bask Premiere “Three White Feet” from III

Posted in audiObelisk on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bask (Photo by Jameykay and Arlie Huffman)

North Carolina’s Bask release their new album, III, on Nov. 8. It is, as you might expect, their third album, as well as being their debut on Season of Mist after issuing 2017’s Ramble Beyond through tastemaking Euro imprint This Charming Man Records and their 2014 debut, American Hollow, through Crimsoneye and Wonder Records. If what you’re reading in that is a steady progression, then you’re getting the underlying message that applies as well to the sound of the band, which reaches to new heights of melodic accomplishment on III‘s seven-track/36-minute run. I’ll say that it’s not often I review an album and then the same week do a track premiere from that same record. Generally I’d try to coordinate those things together or, having already reviewed it, take a pass on the premiere and cover something else. In the case of Bask, it’s an exception for a record that I think is worth the extra focus.

III isn’t and shouldn’t be shy about its pastoral aspects, and that is something that begins as the Asheville four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zeb Camp (who since he’s apparently the only one singing does a lot of self-harmonizing on the recording, I suppose), guitarist Ray Worth, bassist Jesse Van Note and drummer Scott Middleton get the proceedings underway with “Three White Feet.” As the opening song premieres below, it’s interesting to note that it was also the first song that came together when they started writing this batch of material. Mostly because it’s so complex. One might guess at the riff that kicked them off — you’ll know it when you hear it, and subsequent side A installments “New Dominion” and “Stone Eyed” operate similarly in solidifying around a capital-‘r’ Riff, while centerpiece “Rid of You” centers more around the melody, and “Noble Daughters I: The Stave” recalls much-missed NC natives Caltrop in its vocal, “Noble Daughters II: The Bow” pays off itself as well as its predecessor and, really the whole album, and “Maiden Mother Crone” exits on a banjo-fied note — but the rest of the track brims with rich melody and progressive stylistic turns that indeed foreshadow a large part of III‘s personality. If this was how they started off, then clearly they knew what the fuck they were doing going into making the album.

Their quote on the subject, aside from that useful info nugget, is pretty short, but you’ll find that below, as well as the preorder link for III courtesy of Season of Mist. I won’t delay you further from the song.

Please enjoy:

Bask, “Three White Feet” official track premiere

Bask on “Three White Feet”:

“We are excited to bring you ‘Three White Feet,’ a song of devotion and revenge. It’s track one on our upcoming album ‘III,’ and the first to take shape during the writing process.”

Taken from the forthcoming album, ‘Bask III.’ Release Date: November 8, 2019.

Order here: https://smarturl.it/BaskIII

Bask is:
Jesse Van Note – bass
Scott Middleton – drums
Ray Worth – guitar
Zeb Camp – guitar/vocals

III Guest Musicians:
Jed Willis – Pedal Steel on “Maiden Mother Crone”
Meg Mulhearn – Violin on “Maiden Mother Crone”

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