Canyon of the Skull Stream New Album Sins of the Past in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

canyon of the skull

Founded in Austin and now located in Chicago, Canyon of the Skull release their third album, Sins of the Past, on Nov. 20. It’s only been two years since founding guitarist Erik Ogershok — who then also handled bass duty — stood astride the band’s second full-length, the 37-minute single-tracker The Desert Winter, and yet clearly much has changed. For one, what had for a time been a duo with Ogershok and drummer Adrian Voorhies is now a trio with a full rhythm section in bassist Todd Haug and drummer Mike Miczek (also The Atlas Moth, etc.), and the latest work is produced and mixed by Sanford Parker with mastering by Collin Jordan, so yes, very much embracing the Windy City and its various resources. The changes go beyond that, however, as Sins of the Past brings forth two massive instrumentalist riff-slabs, lumbering and metallic in their root in kind, with “The Ghost Dance” hitting 25 minutes long as “The Sun Dance” on its own nearly matches the entirety of The Desert Winter at 34:12. The simple math has it at 59 minutes of plodding, sans-vocal sprawl, atmospheric but not overly ethereal or psychedelic while still managing to bring together elements out of post-metal, sludge, doom and traditional heavy metal.

Most impressively, Sins of the Past — which takes its thematic from Native American issues and stories from the Southwest — does not simply shift between styles. Throughout “The Ghost Dance” and “The Sun Dance” alike, it isn’t a case of “a doom part” and “a Canyon of the Skull Sins of the Pastmetal part,” or some such. Rather, OgershokHaug and Miczek bring these various sides together into one cohesive sound that is fluid in tipping its balance from one genre to another. This would almost have to be truer of “The Sun Dance,” which is even more extended than the leadoff track, but the ethos is the same across both, and it comes to fruition in thoughtful but not overthought progressions of patient, guitar-led rollout and sections of alternately tense and open-feeling movement. It’s not exploratory in the sense of jamming and seeing what happens — there’s a definite plan being followed here — but there’s still something about Sins of the Past that seems to draw the listener deeper into this complexity. It’s a heady release, to be sure, and a challenge in the sense of asking its audience to keep up with changes across 25- and 34-minute pieces that offer no vocals, much substance and purposefully little by way of an instrumental hook, but that only means there is more to dig into, and even in its later reaches, “The Sun Dance” in particular is immersive while holding to the relatively straightforward, grounded tones of its predecessor and the general spirit of the release overall, which doesn’t stray too far from the central, earthy atmosphere that “The Ghost Dance” incites early on — an immediacy underlying all the sprawl and end-to-end distance of the material.

It probably goes without saying (and yet, here I am, saying it) that a record comprised of two so drawn-out instrumental movements and makes so little play toward general accessibility probably isn’t going to be for everybody, but for more adventurous metallurgists and those craving depth and breadth alike, there’s plenty in Sins of the Past to inspire deep-dive listening, tracking each movement of the guitar, bass and drums as you go. I won’t say a negative word about that approach — it certainly has its advantages — but when it comes to Canyon of the Skull, it seems no less important to consider the overarching ambience that comes through the material even as the material itself isn’t all that ambient. That is, if one thinks of the record as a single work, then what’s the mood of that work? What is the work as a whole saying? In some ways, I wish Ogershok was more open in discussing the specific themes he’s working with in his songwriting — sometimes instrumentalists are surprisingly verbose on such matters, but apparently less so in this case — but his approach of “letting the listener decide” has arguable merits of its own as well. I’ll take it either way, I guess.

The more crucial matter would seem to be the urgency of the music itself, so maybe it’s best to let that do the not-talking. Ogershok does offer some comment on the record’s making below, following the player on which one can find the entirety of Sins of the Past streaming ahead of its Nov. 20 release.

I hope you enjoy:

Erik Ogershok on Sins of the Past:

“I try to do different things with each record and this one is no exception. This record is visceral and immediate, like the self-titled, while being highly conceptual and dynamic like The Desert Winter. ‘The Ghost Dance’ is probably the best thing that I have written to date. ‘The Sun Dance’ is unlike anything that I have ever written before. It incorporates my basic philosophies of composition but applies them differently, one that I jokingly call prog-doom.

The main aesthetic and themes that Canyon of the Skull was founded on remain unchanged. This band has always been focused on telling the stories of Indigenous Americans and their environments, specifically those of the American Southwest. I am still surprised at how many people have never met an Indigenous American, but we are not extinct, and this band exists to tell our stories both past, present, and future. This record is a bit more broad with the subject matter since it involves the rituals of tribes far from the land of my people. Also, this record is more influenced by recent events that have an impact beyond Native communities. I don’t like to talk specifically about the deeper meaning of any of my compositions as I want people to discover their meaning in our music. These two pieces have very specific meanings to both me and the wider world and googling the titles is my recommendation for people that want to delve deeper for the literal meanings.”

Recorded at Decade Music Studios March 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Sanford Parker
Produced by Sanford Parker and Canyon of the Skull
Mastered by Collin Jordan at Boiler Room Mastering
Artwork Layout and design by Erik Bredthauer

Canyon of the Skull is:
Erik Ogershok- Guitars
Todd Haug- Bass Guitar
Mike Miczek- Drums

Canyon of the Skull on Bandcamp

Canyon of the Skull on Thee Facebooks

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Canyon of the Skull to Release Sins of the Past Nov. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

canyon of the skull

Okay, so here I was thinking I was crazy. This news about Canyon of the Skull came in a bit ago. I’ll admit that. I suck at this. There are many cracks. Sometimes things slip through them. The band will release their new album, Sins of the Past, on Nov. 20. There you go.

But the reason I was thinking I was crazy was because I thought Canyon of the Skull were a two-piece. And I thought they were from Austin. So I did some digging while listening to the two massive instrumental tracks that comprise Sins of the Past, and you know what? They were. I guess at some point in the last couple years guitarist Erik Ogershok moved north to Chicago.

Seems to have worked out for him, as dude’s got a revamped lineup that includes a rhythm section whose pedigree factors in acts like 1349 and The Atlas Moth. Not too shabby. Oh, and the new record was recorded and mixed by Sanford Parker, because Chicago, and duh.

The PR wire elaborates on that most eloquent of points:

Canyon of the Skull Sins of the Past

Instrumental Blackened Doom Trio CANYON OF THE SKULL Releasing ‘Sins of the Past’ November 20

In terms the musical style, the band’s aesthetic is formed more specifically by Black Metal, Funeral Doom, and classic Heavy Metal. Guitarist Erik Ogershok offers a fuller description of what CANYON OF THE SKULL have accomplished on Sins of the Past:

“I try to do different things with each record and this one is no exception. This record is visceral and immediate, like the self-titled, while being highly conceptual and dynamic like The Desert Winter. ‘The Ghost Dance’ is probably the best thing that I have written to date. ‘The Sun Dance’ is unlike anything that I have ever written before. It incorporates my basic philosophies of composition but applies them differently, one that I jokingly call prog-doom.

The main aesthetic and themes that Canyon of the Skull was founded on remain unchanged. This band has always been focused on telling the stories of Indigenous Americans and their environments, specifically those of the American Southwest. I am still surprised at how many people have never met an Indigenous American, but we are not extinct, and this band exists to tell our stories both past, present, and future. This record is a bit more broad with the subject matter since it involves the rituals of tribes far from the land of my people. Also, this record is more influenced by recent events that have an impact beyond Native communities. I don’t like to talk specifically about the deeper meaning of any of my compositions as I want people to discover their meaning in our music. These two pieces have very specific meanings to both me and the wider world and googling the titles is my recommendation for people that want to delve deeper for the literal meanings.”

The musicians of CANYON OF THE SKULL are a varied, creative bunch. Bassist Todd Haug is also the guitarist for Minneapolis thrash legends Powermad. He most recently performed as the second guitarist for Norwegian black metal legends 1349. Dummer Mike Miczek is well respected in the Chicago metal scene and has made a name for himself with both Broken Hope and The Atlas Moth. He also plays drums with Todd in Powermad. Both Erik and Todd are brewmasters for metal-centric breweries. Todd is one of the brewmasters at the ground-breaking 3Floyds Brewing Company. Erik is the brewmaster for WarPigs USA.”

“What once was old shall be new again, and history will have its revenge.”

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.” —Cochise

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.” — Chief Joseph

“I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, But rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.” — Sun Bear, Chippewa

Pre-order Sins of the Past:
canyonoftheskull.bandcamp.com/album/sins-of-the-past

Track Listing
1. The Ghost Dance
2. The Sun Dance

Recorded at Decade Music Studios March 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Sanford Parker
Produced by Sanford Parker and Canyon of the Skull
Mastered by Collin Jordan at Boiler Room Mastering
Artwork Layout and design by Erik Bredthauer

Canyon of the Skull is:
Erik Ogershok- Guitars
Todd Haug- Bass Guitar
Mike Miczek- Drums

Canyonoftheskull.bandcamp.com
Facebook.com/canyonoftheskull

Canyon of the Skull, Sins of the Past (2019)

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Dead Feathers Premiere “All is Lost” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dead feathers

So what is it? Are we so awash these days in quality heavy psychedelic blues rock that people are to blissed out for me to be hearing about Dead FeathersAll is Lost? The Chicago five-piece released their second album just last month through Ripple Music, and I know sometimes these things take a while to properly catch hold of people and I certainly know their label has a busy schedule of releases, but I feel like for what’s on offer throughout the eight-track LP — 10 if you get the CD/DL — it’s one of those records where I should be rolling my eyes at the Bandcamp-review hyperbole as I scroll through thee social medias, and yet I’m not at all overwhelmed by it. I’ve seen some positive words, to be sure, but where’s the hype machine when you need it? Come on, people. Why on earth would you sleep on this?

Dead Feathers was one of those bands caught up in the whole HeviSike Records debacle, as that UK imprint went AWOL amid sundry allegations of improprieties of various stripes, mostly fiscal, and Ripple can only be considered correct for having snagged them ahead of All is Lost. It’s a record that makes every riff count. Every groove has its place and its purpose. To listen to tracks like “With Me” and “Cordova” early on, the tinges of psychedelia that come through after opener “At the Edge” sets the tone for them speak to influences from Jefferson Airplane to Wovenhand, and the side B wallop of “Smoking Gun” and “Not Ours to Own,” each with a sprawl over seven minutes long, make for a conclusion of noteworthy resonance without ever being divorced from its central intention. An energetic burst in “Horse and Sands” is met by the full-on fuzz of the title-track, and in the slow rolling “Darling Sights” and the digi-format exclusive “Night Child,” Dead Feathers dig into moodier progressions, the latter flanked by organ work in its second half, which a string drone and acoustic plucking in the 1:18 finale “Found Caravan” (another bonus-ish cut) answers back in classic spirit.

They flirt with twang but remain organically classic heavy rock in their guitar and bass tones, and with the absolute powerhouse vocal performance of Marissa Allen front and center in the mix and more than able to carry that same kind of natural vibe, All is Lost is a win front to back. I don’t know what Dead Feathers are planning as regards touring, but they just got back from a two-week stint, and if they were kicking around the idea of doing any kind of run again soon hither or yon, they’ve certainly got a worthy cause to support. Get out there. Tell the people.

You can see the premiere of the video for “All is Lost” below, followed by more from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Dead Feathers, “All is Lost” official video premiere

Dead Feathers “All is Lost” OUT NOW on Ripple Music

Fronted by the extremely talented Marissa Allen, who’s vocals summon the spirit of Inga Rumpf and Linda Hoyle, Dead Feathers are influenced by rock bands of the 60s and 70s and the modern underground psych of today. Fusing a heavy, early 70s Fairports-via-Affinity vibe with a Dead Meadow and Black Mountain-esque appreciation for big riffs, their live shows are filled with a thunderous energy on stage that puts concert goers under their spell. Combining soulful and emotional songwriting with obscene levels of fuzz and reverb, overflowing bass lines and booming drums, Dead Feathers craft a mood with deft levels of artistry and showmanship.

“All is Lost” is accompanied with the surreal visual stylings of Andrew Arcos and Haley Green’s collaborative documentary project, Love Box. With themes of self-obsession and ego death, Arcos and Green devised a video which explores the darkness of narcissism using elaborate miniature dioramas alongside Third Beacon’s electrifying visual effects.

Co-Directors: Andrew Arcos & Haley Green
Producers: Andrew Arcos & Haley Green
Talent: Marissa Allen, Joey Castanon, Rob Rodak, Tim Snyder, Tony Wold
VFX: Third Beacon

DEAD FEATHERS:
Tony Wold – Guitar
Marissa Allen – Vocals
Tim Snyder – Guitar
Rob Rodak – Bass
Joel Castanon – Drums

Dead Feathers on Thee Facebooks

Dead Feathers on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Scorched Tundra XI Starts Tonight in Chicago

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

scorched tundra xi turtle

Did you know it’s Labor Day weekend? I had no idea, but yeah, I guess we’re there. Look, I don’t know. I’m just trying to get through the days over here one at a time. All of a sudden it’s coming on autumn and the nights are getting colder and Black Cobra and Eyehategod are about to headline Scorched Tundra XI over the next two nights and I guess that means summer’s winding down. Chicago’s got two righteously curated bills to go with those headliners for the two-night event, as well as a badass poster to go with it, so if you happen to be in the area or, you know, live there, you might consider heading out to the show as an alternative to whatever else your plans were as you start your three-day weekend. Or four-day weekend. Or maybe you’re just unemployed and have some cash to go out. Either way, good shows deserve attendance, so attend.

Go with a friend. You strike me as the popular type. Go Whatsapp somebody and see if they’re free. I bet they are.

Dig it:

scorched tundra xi poster

SCORCHED TUNDRA XI LINEUP: EYEHATEGOD, BLACK COBRA, CLOUD RAT, ASEETHE & MORE OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND 2019

Scorched Tundra is proud to announce the entire lineup for its eleventh edition. Taking place on Friday/Saturday, August 30th and 31st at The Empty Bottle in Chicago, ST XI features newcomers and veterans of the festival from across the country.

Friday August 30th
Black Cobra
Cloud Rat
Varaha

Saturday August 31st
Eyehategod
Aseethe
Luggage
Hitter

Tickets can be purchased at these links:

Friday 8/30: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/scorched-tundra-xii-black-cobra-cloud-rat-varaha-the-empty-bottle-tickets-63083915690

Saturday: 8/31: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/scorched-tundra-xi-featuring-eyehategod-aseethe-luggage-hitter-the-empty-bottle-tickets-62997685774

Scorched Tundra’s mission is to give a new generation of up and coming – as well as established – artists a unique live platform in Gothenburg and Chicago. “The eleventh edition of Scorched Tundra focuses once again on talent from near and far. While headliners have historical connections with this festival, much of the lineup will be new to the festival and provide a wide musical variety, all at the convergence of dark, heavy and progressive. Balancing the dynamics of this lineup was an interesting and enjoyable challenge for this edition: I look forward to taking it in with you on Labor Day Weekend,” states organizer Alexi D. Front.

Tickets for August 31st and September 1st will be $20 per night.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2188327617956216/
https://www.facebook.com/ScorchedTundra/
https://www.instagram.com/scorchedtundra/
http://scorchedtundra.com

Black Cobra, Imperium Simulacra (2016)

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REZN x LUME Announce Live at Electrical Audio Collaboration

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Genuinely curious to hear what this one might sound like. A collaborative release is always an interesting proposition. I think the reason there aren’t more of them is they’re a logistical nightmare — it’s hard enough to get one band in a studio to record, period, let alone all there at the same time to record live, and let alone an entire second band for the same purpose — but in the vast majority of cases, I find a collaboration far more interesting than a split in one band taking advantage of a chance to work directly with another, and there’s an opportunity to really come up with something special in the doing. So, as Chicago’s REZN and LUME joined forces for the two-song outing Live at Electrical Audio that was recorded earlier this year and will see release on Sept. 19, absolutely I’m on board to take a listen when the time comes. Both groups had albums out last year, and certainly, being in Chicago, it’s hard to argue with the location they chose to try out working together this way.

They’ve done shows live together as well, so I don’t know how planned out any of this material may or may not be, but it’s an awesome idea one way or the other. Clearly something they’ve put their hearts into, particularly for doing it all on tape.

Info follows from Bandcamp:

lume rezn live at electrical audio

LUME and REZN combine minds to create a 7-piece psychedelic doom organism on their upcoming split, ‘Live at Electrical Audio’: a live collaboration featuring two slow-burning, mountainous tracks clocking in at over 20 minutes total. The session was recorded live and mixed direct-to-tape by Broke Mende at Electrical Audio’s Studio B, then mastered by Carl Saff and pressed to vinyl locally at Smashed Plastic for a 100% analog and 100% Chicago sonic creation.

To honor the audio fidelity of this project, the digital album features a unique digital mix by Matt Russell, while the vinyl record exclusively contains the original analog mix by Brok Mende.

Releases September 19, 2019.

Performed live by LUME & REZN on March 17, 2019
Recorded to tape at Electrical Audio – Studio B in Chicago, Illinois

1. HI (Digital Mix)
2. LO (Digital Mix)

Austin Hulett: Drums
Dan Butler: Guitar & Vocals
Dylan Hulett: Bass
Patrick Dunn: Drums
Phil Cangelosi: Bass
Rob McWilliams: Guitar & Vocals
Spencer Ouellette: Modular Synthesis & Saxophone

Engineered by Brok Mende
Vinyl Mix by Brok Mende
Digital Mix by Matt Russell
Photo & Design by Austin Isaac Peters

facebook.com/reznhits
instagram.com/rezzzn
rezzzn.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/lumeband
http://www.instagram.com/lumeband
https://lume.bandcamp.com/

REZN, Calm Black Water (2018)

LUME, Wrung Out (2018)

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Dead Feathers to Release All is Lost Aug. 23; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dead feathers

It’s kind of amazing how far the fallout from the HeviSike Records shoe-dropping continues to go. Chicago’s Dead Feathers would seem to have made the best of a bad situation, and though it’s been three years since their self-titled EP came out, they’ve signed to Ripple Music to issue the follow-up full-length, titled All is Lost, and that’s pretty much a best case scenario going from an EP to a debut long-player anyhow, right? So good for them, and good for anyone who listens the new streaming track “Horse and Sands” at the bottom of this post as well, which I think shows quickly the appeal that might’ve caught Ripple‘s ear to start with, the European classicism meeting head-on with a brash American style. They make it easy to dig, so dig it.

Album’s out Aug. 23, which is in less than a month, so keep an eye out. Here’s whatnot from the PR wire:

dead feathers all is lost

Experience the Ascension of Psychedelic Quintet DEAD FEATHERS on ALL IS LOST | Stream ‘Horse and Sands’ now!

All Is Lost by Dead Feathers is released on 23rd August on Ripple Music

Since day one, these psychedelic Chicagoans have proven themselves to be a young band with limitless potential and lasting appeal. Building on the success of their 2016 self-titled EP on HeviSike Records, Dead Feathers have continued to cultivate a growing fanbase across the world, largely through ambitious tours and guest support slots with the likes of Kikagaku Moyo, Radio Moscow and Monster Magnet.

Fronted by the extremely talented Marissa Allen, whose vocals summon the spirit of Inga Rumpf and Linda Hoyle, Dead Feathers are influenced by rock bands of the 60s and 70s and the modern underground psych of today. Fusing a heavy, early 70s Fairports-via-Affinity vibe with a Dead Meadow and Black Mountain-esque appreciation for big riffs, their live shows are filled with a thunderous energy on stage that puts concert goers under their spell. Combining soulful and emotional songwriting with obscene levels of fuzz and reverb, overflowing bass lines and booming drums, Dead Feathers craft a mood with deft levels of artistry and showmanship.

Drop yourself in the incense smoke and reverberated grooves that is Dead Feathers this August with the release of All Is Lost on 23rd August through Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. At the Edge
2. With Me
3. Cordova
4. Horse and Sands
5. All is Lost
6. Darling Sighs
7. Smoking Gun
8. Night Child (Exclusive to CD)
9. Not Ours to Own
10. Found Caravan (Exclusive to CD)

DEAD FEATHERS:
Tony Wold – Guitar
Marissa Allen – Vocals
Tim Snyder – Guitar
Rob Rodak – Bass
Joel Castanon – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/deadfeathers/
http://deadfeathersmusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Snow Burial Sign to Prosthetic Records to Release Ostrava Sept. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

snow burial (Photo by Aaron Ehinger)

No full songs yet, but we’re about two months out from the release, so we’ll get there. Chicago-style deep-dish post-metallers Snow Burial will offer up their second long-player, Ostrava, as their label debut on Prosthetic Records, and tour to support it. They have a couple weekenders currently listed, and I’m not sure if the actual tour that will follow the Sept. 20 release is properly announced yet or not, but the dates are included in the teaser clip for the record, so there you go. Plus if you watch that you get a little snippet of what I’ll assume is a strobe-laden official video to follow, and of course some music as well, so, you know, they really pack the info into that 30 seconds. One doesn’t generally think of post-metal as having such efficiency.

The band are new to me — I’m sure they’re not new to you; I’ve said this before, but you’re way cooler than I am — so I’ve also included below song from their Bandcamp that featured on a split last year with Aseethe. Bonus points to them for the Richard Nixon sample and the Isis-meets-Souls at Zero-ness all around.

To the PR wire:

snow burial ostrava

Prosthetic Records Sign Snow Burial – New Album & Tours Imminent

Prosthetic Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Chicago’s SNOW BURIAL. The doomy three-piece will release their second full length album – titled Ostrava – on September 20. Pre-orders are now available HERE.

Of the signing, SNOW BURIAL’s Ben Bowman comments:

“We are so excited to team up with Prosthetic Records and release Ostrava on their label. This album means the world to us and to be able to work with this team is a dream come true. Joining a label with so many friends and bands we love makes it all the better.”

SNOW BURIAL will celebrate their signing to the label by hitting the road this week with Aseethe. The two bands released a split EP together last year and their dual pronged trail of audio destruction kicks off this Thursday. Full dates are below.

Recorded in early 2019 at Electrical Audio, Chicago with Shane Hochstetler at the helm, Ostrava maps where life’s beauty and terror collide. Born from their defining experiences at home and on the road the unifying theme of Ostrava is one of duality – failure and triumph, celebration and mourning, isolation and family. Taking inspiration from the likes of Radiohead as much as any metal act; SNOW BURIAL craft polished songs with the whirring machinery hidden just below the surface. Their blend of melody and aggression delivers a sound that dredges the depths of doom and sludge and marries it with rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities.

Ostrava Track List
1. Tyranny
2. Sever The Bloodline
3. The Afterneath
4. T?inec
5. Ostrava
6. Gaping Wounds
7. Burn Down The Crown
8. The Lost
9. The Unforgiven

SNOW BURIAL upcoming live shows:
18 July – Milwaukee, WI @ Walkers Point Music Hall
19 July – Madison, WI @ Barley Pop
20 July – Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon
08 August – Des Moines, IA @ TBA
09 August – St Louis, MO @ Sinkhole
10 August – Louisville. KY @ Mag Bar (no Aseethe)
11 August – Dubuque, IA @ The Blu Room

Release show:
20 September – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge (w/Scientist + These Beasts)

https://www.facebook.com/snowburial
https://www.instagram.com/snowburial/
https://snowburial.bandcamp.com/
https://www.snowburial.com/
http://prostheticrecords.bandcamp.com/

Snow Burial, Ostrava album teaser

Snow Burial, “Sever the Bloodline”

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Plague of Carcosa Stream Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains EP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on July 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

plague of carcosa

Chicago instrumentalist two-piece Plague of Carcosa will release their new EP, Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains, on July 19 through Sludgelord Records on tape and Gipsy House Recordings on CD. The title, like much of the band’s framework, derives from the horror literature of H.P. Lovecraft, and the two songs on Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains, “Crawling Chaos” and “Madness at Sea,” do likewise, the former being a 1921 short story related to the outer-god Nyarlathotep, while the latter refers to Cthulhu. So the big guns, as far as Lovecraft goes. Fair enough, as guitarist Eric Zann and drummer Lark McGee have the tone and pummel to match the giant mythical beasts they’d purport to base their work around. As to whether the two of them were sitting in the rehearsal space with their Lovecraft compendium out going, “Okay, now we’ll make this riff represent when he says, ‘Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men,'” but it’s of course an atmospheric impression, and after a few years of lineup changes — doing time over the last three years as a solo-project, a trio, and even a four-piece on last year’s 14-minute “Rats in the Walls” single — they basically have the whole “eldritch dark cosmos” thing down.

And it should go without saying that Lovecraft dilettantes, non-fans or those who’ve simply never engaged with the material and its old-style hyper-formal prose won’t necessarily lose out on the listening experience for not being immediately ready to connect the cumbersome title to the short story “The White Ship” from Plague of Carcosa Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountainswhence it comes. The 15-plus-minute offering has a rumbling, noisy appeal all its own, and one would be remiss not to liken it to acts like Bongripper (whose Dennis Pleckham mastered) or even the much-missed Beast in the Field — the tone at the start of “Madness at Sea” particularly for the latter — but its combination of fullness of sound and a duo’s elemental cacophony helps bring personality to Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains beyond the basic thematic. “Crawling Chaos” indeed lurches forward, building into a sensory overload of which Nyarlathotep himself might be proud before entrancing with low-end distortion into a long deconstructing fadeout, while “Madness at Sea” starts out with feedback and unfurls a more undulating central progression with harder stops and will eventually also seem to rip itself apart on a molecular level before it’s done. “Madness at Sea” might be the more punishing of the two, but it’s a picking of poison either way on the two-songer, as Zann and McGee create a massive, churning abyss of groove and ill-intentioned tone. If the ocean is more ancient than the mountains — technically true — then Plague of Carcosa do well in conjuring what horrors might lie in the unfathomable deep.

I won’t profess to know whether Plague of Carcosa will keep their current configuration or seek to add another member (or two), but the best argument in favor of their current form seems to be coming from the band itself in these songs. I’m no expert on Lovecraft, but the brutal ambience McGee and Zann bring to bear on Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains is a grim thrill unto itself, and only suggests further reading. And by reading, I mean crushing. And by crushing, I mean being crushed. Just so we’re clear.

You can stream Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains on the player below. More info off the PR wire follows.

Please enjoy:

Plague of Carcosa is a 2-piece instrumental doom band formed in the spring of 2016; the band was created by cult leader Eric Zann in the forgotten corners of Chicago to explore the darker, more droning side of metal. Taking cues from the heavy textures Sunn O))) and Bong, and introducing the terrifying themes of Lovecraft, Eric self-released the debut The Color Out Of Space, and the cult grew. Recruiting a drummer and second guitarist as high priests of the cult, the group quickly took to playing in a style often compared to local heroes Bongripper, whilst also taking notes from the mighty Conan and Thou. As they honed their material, Eric released the 70-minute experimental piece (‘Ritual 1’) and shortly after, the group worked with Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos) on their first release as a group, Hastur, which was unleashed upon the world in May of 2017. The winter of 2018 saw the release of ‘Rats in the Walls,’ a 15-minute behemoth, which was mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper.

The latest release, Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains, once again sees the cult teaming up with Andy Nelson and Dennis Pleckham, this time operating only as a two-piece. While they have lost a high priest, they have gained followers all over the world with their sonic adaptations of the works of Lovecraft and invocations of the Great Old Ones. The opener ‘The Crawling Chaos’ serves as a tribute to the great Nyarlathotep and sees them seamlessly blending their signature colossal doom riffs with a touch of grindcore at the climax. The other half of the EP, ‘Madness at Sea,’ is intended to pay tribute to the ‘Call of Cthulhu’ chapter of the same name. Melding drawn-out, ever-evolving riffs with more ambient sections that crash into walls of feedback, it is a fitting depiction of the sailors losing their sanity when being faced with the mountainous Cthulhu in his sunken corpse city.

Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains is set for release digitally and audio cassette via Sludgelord Records on July 19th 2019.

Plague of Carcosa is:
Eric Zann – strings
Lark McGee – drums

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