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

Plague of Carcosa on Thee Facebooks

Plague of Carcosa on Bandcamp

The Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

Gipsy House Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Gipsy House Recordings on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

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Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

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Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

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Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

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Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

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Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

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Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore

 

Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

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Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

 

Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp

 

Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

 

Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

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Slush Fund Recordings webstore

 

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