Quarterly Review: Iron Monkey, Deadsmoke, Somnuri, Daira, Kavrila, Ivan, Clara Engel, Alastor, Deadly Vipers, Storm of Void

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Four of the Quarterly Review! Welcome to the downswing. We’re past the halfway point and feeling continually groovy. Thus far it’s been a week of coffee and a vast musical swath that today only reaches even further out from the core notion of what may or may not make a release or a band “heavy.” Is it sound? Is it emotion? Is it concept? Fact is there’s no reason it can’t be all of those things and a ton more, so keep an open mind as you make your way through today’s batch and we’ll all come out of it better people on the other end. Alright? Alright. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Iron Monkey, 9-13

iron monkey 9-13

I’ll admit to some level of skepticism at the prospect of an Iron Monkey reunion without frontman Johnny Morrow, who died in 2002, but as founding guitarist Jim Rushby (now also vocals), bassist Steve Watson (who originally played guitar) and new drummer Brigga revive the influential UK sludge outfit with the nine songs of 9-13 on Relapse, it somehow makes sense that the band’s fuckall and irreverence would extend inward as well. That is, why should Iron Monkey find Iron Monkey an any more sacred and untouchable property than they find anything else? Ultimately, the decision will be up to the listener as to acceptance, but the furies of “OmegaMangler,” “Mortarhex,” “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” and the nine-minute lumber-into-torrent closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” make a pretty resounding argument that if you can’t get down with Iron Monkey as they are today, it’s going to be your loss and that, as ever, they couldn’t care less to see you stick around or see you go. So welcome back.

Iron Monkey on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Bandcamp


Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy

deadsmoke mountain legacy

Mountain Legacy, which is the second Deadsmoke album for Heavy Psych Sounds, might be the heaviest release the label has put out to-date. For the band, it marks the arrival of keyboardist Claudio Rocchetti to the former trio, and from the lumbering space of aptly-titled post-intro opener “Endless Cave” to the later creeping lurch of “Wolfcurse,” it’s an outing worthy of comparison to the earlier work of Italian countrymen Ufomammut, but still rooted in the gritty, post-Sleep plod the band elicited on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The central difference seems to be an increase in atmospheric focus, which does well to enrich the listening experience overall, be it in the creepy penultimate interlude “Forest of the Damned” or side A finale “Emperor of Shame.” Whether this progression was driven by Rocchetti’s inclusion in the band or the other way around, it’s a marked showing of growth on a quick turnaround from Deadsmoke and shows them as having a much broader creative reach than expected. All the better because it’s still so devastatingly weighted.

Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Somnuri, Somnuri

somnuri somnuri

To call Somnuri a formidable trio is underselling it. The Brooklynite three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (Blackout, ex-Bezoar, etc.), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (Family), and the noise they make on their Magnetic Eye-released self-titled debut is as progressive as it is intense. Recorded by Jeff Berner and mixed my SanGiacomo, cuts like “Kaizen” and “Same Skies” land with a doomed heft but move with the singular fury of the Northeastern US, and even as eight-minute closer “Through the Dead” balances more rock-minded impulses and seems to touch on a Soundgarden influence, it answers for the ultra-aggro tumult of “Pulling Teeth” just before. A flash of ambience in the drone interlude “Opaque” follows the plodding highlight “Slow Burn,” which speaks to yet another side of Somnuri’s potential – to create spaces as much as to crush them. With an interplay of cleaner vocals, screams, growls and shouts, there’s enough variety to throw off expectation, and where so much of New York’s noise-metal history is about angry single-mindedness, Somnuri’s Somnuri shows even in a vicious moment like “Inhabitant” that there’s more ground to cover than just being really, really, really pissed off.

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records website


Daira, Vipreet Buddhi

daira vipreet buddhi

Time to get weird. No. Really weird. In the end, I’m not sure Mumbai semi-improvisationalist troupe Daira did themselves any favors by making their sophomore LP, Vipreet Buddhi, a single 93-minute/16-track outing instead of breaking it into the two halves over which its course is presented – the first being eight distinct songs, the second a flowing single jam broken up over multiple parts – but one way or another, it’s an album that genuinely presents a vibe of its own, taking cues from heavy psych, jazz, funk, classic prog, folk and more as it plays through its bizarre and ambient flow, toying with jarring stretches along the way like the eerie “Apna Ullu Seedha” but so dug in by the time it’s jammed its way into “Dekho Laal Gaya” that it seems like there’s no getting out. It’s an overwhelming and unmanageable offering, but whoever said the avant garde wasn’t supposed to be a challenge? Certainly not Daira, and they clearly have plenty to say. Whatever else you listen to today, I can safely guarantee it won’t sound like this. And that’s probably true of every day.

Daira on Thee Facebooks

Daira on Bandcamp


Kavrila, Blight

kavrila blight

Chest-compressing groove and drive will no doubt earn Hamburg four-piece Kavrila’s second album, Blight (on Backbite Records), some comparisons to Mantar, but to dig into tracks like “Gold” and “Each (Part Two)” is to find a surprising measure of atmospheric focus, and even a rage-roller like “Abandon” has a depth to its mix. Though it’s just 24 minutes long, I’d still consider Blight a full-length for the two-sided flow it sets up leading to the aforementioned “Gold” and “Each (Part Two),” both being the longest cut on their respective half of the record in addition to splitting the tracklisting, as well as for the grinding aspects of songs like “Apocalypse,” “Demolish” and “Golem” on side B, the latter of which takes the rhythmic churn of Godflesh to a point of extremity that even the earlier thrust of “Lungs” did little to foretell. There’s a balance of sludge and hardcore elements, to be sure, but it’s the anger that ultimately defines Blight, however coherent it might be (and is) in its violent intent.

Kavrila on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore


Ivan, Strewn Across Stars

ivan strewn across stars

Employing the session violin services of Jess Randall, the Melbourne-based two-piece of Brodric Wellington (drums/vocals) and Joseph Pap (guitar, bass, keys) – collectively known as Ivan – would seem to be drawing a specific line in the direction of My Dying Bride with their take on death-doom, but the emotionalist influence goes deeper than that on Strewn Across Stars, their second LP. Shades of Skepticism show themselves in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Fear,” which demonstrates a raw production ready for the limited-cassette obscurism the band conjured for their 2016 debut, Aeons Collapse, but nonetheless fleshed out melodically in the guitar and already-noted, deeply prevalent string arrangement. The subsequent “Ethereal” (12:41), “Hidden Dimensions” (12:25) and “Outro” (8:18) dig even further into plodding shattered-self woefulness, with “Hidden Dimensions” providing a brief moment of tempo release before the violin and keys take complete hold in “Outro” to give listeners one last chance to bask in resonant melancholia. A genre-piece, to be sure, but able to stand on its own in terms of personality and patience alike.

Ivan on Thee Facebooks

Ivan on Bandcamp


Clara Engel, Songs for Leonora Carrington


Toronto singer-songwriter Clara Engel pays ambient folk homage to the Mexican surrealist painter/author with the five-tracks of Songs for Leonara Carrington, fleshing out creative and depth-filled arrangements that nonetheless hold fast to the intimate human core beneath. Engel’s voice is of singular character in its melding of gruff fragility, and whether it’s the psychedelic hypnosis of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Birdheaded Queen” or the seemingly minimalist drift of the penultimate “The Ancestor,” her confident melodies float atop gorgeous and sad instrumental progressions that cast an atmosphere of vast reaches. Even the more percussively active centerpiece “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds” feels informed by the gradual wash of guitar melody that takes hold on the prior “Sanctuary for Furies,” and as Engel brings in guest contributors for drums, bass, guitar, theremin and choir vocals alongside her own guitar, pump organ, flute and singing, there seems to be little out of her reach or scope. It is a joy to get lost within it.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Wist Records website


Alastor, Blood on Satan’s Claw


I don’t know whether the title-cut of Blood on Satan’s Claw, the new two-songer EP from dirge-doomers Alastor, is leftover from the same sessions that bore their 2017 debut album for Twin Earth Records, Black Magic (review here), but as it’s keeping company with a near-11-minute take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the four-piece’s return is welcome either way. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in their approach in the mere months since the full-length was issued, but that doesn’t mean the swing of “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” the central riff of which owes as much to Windhand as to Sleep as to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” as to Sabbath, isn’t worth digging into all the same, and with psychedelic vocals reminiscent of newer Monolord and flourish of creeper-style organ, its doom resounds on multiple levels leading into the aforementioned cover, which drawls out the classic original arrangement with a wilfully wretched tack that well earns a nod and raised claw. Alastor remain backpatch-ready, seemingly just waiting for listeners to catch on. If these tracks are any indication, they’ll get there.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Alastor on Bandcamp


Deadly Vipers, Fueltronaut


Give it a couple minutes to get going and Fueltronaut, the debut full-length from French four-piece Deadly Vipers, is more than happy to serve up energetic post-Kyuss desert rock loyalism that’s true to form in both spirit and production. Shades of earliest Dozer and the wider pre-social media older-school Euro heavy underground show themselves quickly in “Universe,” but in the later mid-paced reach of “Stalker,” there’s more modern bluesy vibing and as the mega-fuzzed “Meteor Valley,” the driving jam of “Supernova,” and the let’s-push-the-vocals-really-high-in-the-mix-for-some-reason “Dead Summer” shove the listener onward with righteous momentum toward pre-outro closer “River of Souls,” each track getting longer as it goes, the melody that emerges there indeed feels like a moment of arrival. My only real complaint? The intro “Fuel Prophecy” and (hidden) outro, “Watch the Road End.” Especially with the immediacy that strikes when “Universe” kicks in and the resonant finish of “River of Souls” at its six-minute mark, having anything before the one and after the other seems superfluous. A minor quibble on an impressive debut (one could also ramble about cartoon tits on the cover, but what’s the point?) and showcase of potential from an exciting newcomer outfit clearly assured of the style for which they’re aiming.

Deadly Vipers on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Vipers on Bandcamp


Storm of Void, War Inside You


Tokyo duo Storm of Void make their full-length debut with the nine-track/48-minute War Inside You, a full-length that might first snag attention owing to guest vocal spots from Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway and Jawbox’s J. Robbins, but has no trouble holding that same attention with its progressive instrumental turns and taut execution. Released by Hostess Entertainment, it’s instrumental in bulk, with eight-string guitarist George Bodman (Bluebeard) and drummer Dairoku Seki (envy) coming together to deliver brisk and aggressive prog metal centered around chugging riffs and a tension that seems to take hold in “Into the Circle” and let up only for the momentary “Interlude” in the midsection before closer “Ghosts of Mt. Sleepwalker” finally allows for some exhalation. As for the guest spots, they’re nothing to complain about, and they break up the proceedings nicely placed as they are, but if Storm of Void are going to hook you, it’s going to be on their own merits, which are plentiful.

Storm of Void on Thee Facebooks

Hostess Entertainment website


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Djinn and Miskatonic Premiere “Doombringer”; Even Gods Must Die out Jan. 10

Posted in audiObelisk on December 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

djinn and miskatonic

Bangaluru-based doomers Djinn and Miskatonic will release their new full-length, Even Gods Must Die, on Jan. 10 via Transcending Obscurity Records. Their second offering behind 2013’s Forever in the Realm, the record runs six tracks and 66 minutes (666, in case you missed it), using that purposefully unmanageable runtime to conjure an unconfused mash between extreme metal impulses and stonerly fare, as demonstrated on the 15:36 longest cut and opener (immediate points) “I, Zombie,” which sets the tone for what follows throughout earlier slabs like the languid “Bones of My Brothers” and the organ-topped “Doombringer” before the speedier “Frost and Steel” brings about a sharp turn toward epic, still-plenty-doomly metal that continues its thread across the final two songs, “Harvest of Kings” and “Hangman’s Hope.” The apparent addition of second guitarist Mushaf Nazeer alongside fellow axe-wielder Sriram Kvlteswaran, bassist Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, drummer Siddharth Manoharan and vocalist Gautham Khandige only thickens the fare, and as “Frost and Steel” runs through its hook delivering the title line in the catchy refrain, “Frost and steel/Swords and ice magic/On the edge of the world,” genreless and genre-defining works by the likes of Bathory come to mind for the blend of rawness and precision at work in the craft.

That’s not a comparison to be made flippantly, and I’m not, though it’s worth pointing out that it applies almost exclusively to side B (or more likely LP two, given the hour-plus runtime), and that the march of “I, Zombie” pulls much more from the Sleep‘s Dopesmoker vein of nod-riffing. These two interpretations of heavy are united by the strength and djinn and miskatonic even gods must dieheft in Satyamurthy‘s low end work and a pervasive atmosphere of doom that stays resonant even as “Hangman’s Hope” begins to crib lines from “Gallow’s Pole” near its conclusion. The vocal style with which Khandige delivers those and the rest of the lyrics throughout Even Gods Must Die (one recalls a Nile song of a similar name, and death metal is not at all absent here as an influence) is adaptable to either side, as he moves between echoing growls and cleaner, lower-register chants that play toward a ritualized feel in “Doombringer” while seeming to underscore the notion of medieval battling on “Harvest of Kings.” I suppose context is everything, and wherever he’s tasked to do so, Khandige thrives as a frontman presence cutting through the willfully summoned morass of riffs led by Kvlteswaran and Nazeer, his growls feeding the bare cruelty of their tone even as they touch on melodies in the leads of “Harvest of Kings” and elsewhere. As the source of root influence shifts almost out from under him between the hypnotically repetitive “Doombringer” and the vest-worthy metallurgy of “Frost and Steel,” he retains a sense of poise to his execution and helps to draw the line between the two sides at work on the album’s course, keeping the proceedings from losing their way and the progression from losing its flow.

Persistently dark and calling to mind smoke rising from blood-stained fields, Even Gods Must Die turns stoner-doom, sludge, and more extreme metal into a palette from which it freely draws its brooding roll. There are questions as to whether Djinn and Miskatonic might at some point seek to further unite the houses when it comes to the differing sides of this sonic persona, but after four years and a breakup that reportedly led to a reunion at the behest of Transcending Obscurity, the band has delivered a sophomore full-length of marked character and stylistic nuance made all the more subtle by an overarching rawness in its presentation. It is violent, but not at all so simple as a mere bludgeoning.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the official premiere of “Doombringer.” Please find it on the player below, followed by more background on the band and release, courtesy of the PR wire. One more time, Djinn and Miskatonic‘s Even Gods Must Die is out Jan. 10.


Djinn and Mistkatonic, “Doombringer” official premiere

India’s premier doom metal band Djinn and Miskatonic return with a mammoth album of dire tunes and bloody tales. Following up on their massively successful debut in ‘Forever in the Realm, they’ve taken things up several notches and produced an album that will stay with you long after it’s over. “Even Gods Must Die’ contains six sordid, gloomy and memorable songs with varying objectives and melancholia. Each of them follow a storylike trajectory and spring to life at the opportune moments. Meditative and meaningful, this is a well thought and properly executed album by Djinn and Miskatonic.

Line up –
Gautham Khandige – Vocals
Sriram Kvlteswaran – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mushaf Nazeer – Guitar
Jayaprakash Satanmurthy – Bass
Siddharth Manorahan – Drums

Cover art by Fabled and The Painter Of Oz.

Djinn and Miskatonic on Thee Facebooks

Djinn and Miskatonic on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity on Thee Facebooks

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Shepherd Announce Breakup; Discuss New Projects in the Works

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, it’s kind of a surprise to hear Bangalore, India-based sludgers Shepherd are hanging it up, considering it was just a month ago they announced a split with Death by Fungi that’s actually out today, Aug. 15. That, obviously, will mark their swansong, and the trio played their last show this past weekend at The Humming Tree in their hometown. It seems like their calling it quits is owed more to the life situation of the three players involved rather than any kind of consuming malice between them, and that’s always a preferred scenario — at least if the alternative is “we fucking hate each other,” which it sometimes can be — and whether or not Shepherd ever wind up getting together to do anything else, at least they go out with a few marked accomplishments to their collective credit.

Chief among those has to be their 2015 debut album, Stereolithic Riffalocalypse (review here). The band signed a deal that same year to issue a vinyl edition through Helmet Lady Records and though that didn’t materialize — not that it’s in any way too late for it to do so — the songs stand up in their heft and in the memorable impression their sludgely ways left behind. Complementary offerings like the demo collection Demolithic Riffalocalypse in 2016 and Garden of Hate: Live Riffalocalypse in 2017 only reaffirmed the impact of the full-length on both the band and their still-growing base of listeners.

The band’s announcement was short and sweet, and I followed up with them to get some further comment on the end of Shepherd and what might come next. Both follow here:



Unfortunately, the time has come to lay this old thing to rest once and for all. We’ve done a lot more than we ever thought we would when we started this band. It wouldn’t have been possible without all your support, THANK YOU!

Shepherd on their breakup:

It’s sad that we had to put Shepherd to rest, but right now, it seemed like the best thing to do. The three of us are soon going to be on 3 different continents, and even though it’s not impossible to continue as a studio only project, we figured it was the best time to call it quits. Dee and Namit are pretty much the driving force behind the band and the only remaining original members. When I moved to Sweden, it was not too hard to find some amazing musicians to stand in, but with Namit moving Stateside, it felt that it would be better to just to get the split out and bow out.

We’ve had an amazing experience so far and it’s still a bit of a shocker what we’ve managed to pull off, and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s support. So thank You!

The only thing we regret is not being able to get Stereolithic Riffalocalypse out on vinyl, especially when it was so close to happening. So yeah, apologies to everyone who was waiting to get their hands on it. We were as bummed out as you were when the label deal fell through.

Regarding what the future holds, I’m sure individually, we will all be involved in some musical projects. Dee’s already put out an album with his solo project, The Earth Below, and he’s already busy working on new material, plus he’s got a bunch of other side-projects.

Shepherd was:
Deepak Raghu (Drums/Vocals)
Namit Chauhan (Guitars/Vocals)
Abhishek Michael (Bass/Vocals)


Shepherd, “Agents of Nihil” official video

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Shepherd Announce Split with Death by Fungi Due Aug. 15; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Indian sludgers Shepherd have announced an Aug. 15 release for their upcoming split with the Mumbai-based hardcore outfit Death by Fungi. For Shepherd, the split will follow quickly on the heels of their May 2017 limited CD, Garden of Hate: Live Riffalocalypse, and to herald the arrival of the new offering, they’ve got a video for “Agents of Nihil” streaming now that you can see at the bottom of this post. It’s a quick two-plus minutes but gives a sense of their metallic vibes and adds some edge of melody to its proceedings as well, so as it’s one of five they’ll feature on the upcoming offering, it seems fair to expect a good amount of intensity throughout. Right on.

Preorders are up now if that’s your thing. Info follows courtesy of the PR wire:


Hardcore Mayhem from India: Sludge unit Shepherd and hardcore band Death By Fungi release Split Album

Two of India’s most abrasive bands – Shepherd and Death By Fungi – are teaming up for one hell of a split album, Shep/DBF Split, slated to release on August 15th.

Shepherd, who hail from India’s verdant IT hub of Bangalore, have been regulars on the gigging circuit since 2011, dealing out atmospheric, slowburn sludge on the regular. This five-track side turns away from their low-end jams to become a complete ear drum-bruiser, drummer-vocalist Deepak Raghu and guitarist-vocalist Namit Chauhan picking up the tempo to channel more Black Flag, Discharge and even a bit of grunge for a puerile noise fest. The EP features guests from diverse backgrounds – veteran guitarist Jimmy Palkhivala (from doom/death band Dying Embrace) ripping out a noisy solo on “Agents of Nihil”, Bhayanak Maut co-vocalist Sunneith Revankar and Ganesh Krishnaswamy (from stoner-doom band Bevar Sea and old school stalwarts Kryptos) adding growls on the crushing closer “Weed Dealer”.

Mirroring the rage are Mumbai’s razor-edge hardcore band Death By Fungi, started out as guitarist vocalist Vrishank Menon’s solo project in 2012, adding members over the years (drummer Aryaman Chatterjee, bassist Kamran Raza and vocalist Tabish Khidir). With two EPs (Death By Fungi – 2015, In dearth of – 2016), the (then) trio proved they can stomp their way through a near non-existent punk, mathcore and hardcore landscape in the country. Now, with four new tracks this year, Death By Fungi are pitching the hardcore flag with precision, a rawer, aggro sound that recalls everyone from Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

With the split set to release digitally worldwide on August 15th, Shepherd already have a blistering taste to offer for fans, with the monochrome video to the astonishingly gruesome “Agents of Nihil.”

The split can be pre-ordered below.



Shepherd, “Agents of Nihil” official video

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Transcending Obscurity Records Releases 55-Song Label Sampler

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Now, I know that not all 55 inclusions on this new Transcending Obscurity label sampler are really going to be applicable to all tastes, and the Indian-based imprint seems to know it as well. Nonetheless, from oldschool crust to ambient post-black metal, the lineup spans continents the world over and features some form of extremity that’s bound to pique interest somewhere along the line — especially since it’s name-your-price.

For me, I’m glad to find among the blasting onslaught a new track from Virginian one-man doom outfit Mindkult, whose debut EP, Witch’s Oath (review here), continues to resonate. That track is called “Howling Witch” and is number 21 of 55 if you’d like to look for it. Mindkult‘s sole inhabitant, Overlord Faustus, let slip in a year-end post on the social medias that the outfit’s debut full-length will be released through Transcending Obscurity and Caligari Records in Spring, will be titled Lucifer’s Dream, will have artwork from Branca Studio and Misanthropic Art, and will be accompanied by a new video courtesy of Suspiric Noir. Needless to say, much to look forward to there.

More on that hopefully as we get closer to the release, but there’s plenty to dig into here in the meantime, so have at it:

transcending obscurity label sampler

Transcending Obscurity releases year-end 55 bands strong Label Sampler on Bandcamp

This is the current and relevant label sampler showcasing acts signed to Transcending Obscurity Records (main international label) followed by those enlisted by the sub-labels Transcending Obscurity Asia and India respectively. This time around, we haven’t repeated any releases nor have we included bands from the phased-out distribution legs of the label as was the case last year. The focus will remain from now on on bands that are serious about their art and ones that are unique in their vision, execution or passion.

We’re trying to expand our scope to include new formats such as vinyls (and perhaps tapes, too) so any funds that can be achieved through this will be used towards that.

We thank you sincerely for allowing us to nurture the career of a significant number of bands from all over the world, operating from the spiritual hub of the world – India.

1. Officium Triste (Netherlands) – Your Heaven, My Underworld (Death/Doom Metal)
2. Mythological Cold Towers (Brazil) – Vetustus (Death/Doom Metal)
3. Paganizer (Sweden) – Adjacent to Purgatory (Old School Death Metal)
4. Ursinne (International) – Talons (Old School Death Metal)
5. Echelon (International) – Lex Talionis (Classic Death Metal)
6. Henry Kane (Sweden) – Skuld Och Begar (Death Metal/Crust)
7. Stench Price (International) – Living Fumes ft. Dan Lilker (Experimental Grindore)
8. Sepulchral Curse (Finland) – Envisioned In Scars (Blackened Death Metal)
9. Fetid Zombie (US) – Devour the Virtuous (Old School Death Metal)
10. Infinitum Obscure (Mexico) – Towards the Eternal Dark (Dark Death Metal)
11. Altar of Betelgeuze (Finland) – Among the Ruins (Stoner Death Metal)
12. Illimitable Dolor (Australia) – Comet Dies or Shines (Atmospheric Doom/Death)
13. The Furor (Australia) – Cavalries of the Occult (Black/Death Metal)
14. Warlord UK (United Kingdom) – Maximum Carnage (Old School Death Metal)
15. Norse (Australia) – Drowned By Hope (Dissonant Black Metal)
16. Soothsayer (Ireland) – Of Locust and Moths (Atmospheric Doom/Sludge)
17. Swampcult (Netherlands) – Chapter I: The Village (Lovecraftian Black/Doom Metal)
18. Seedna (Sweden) – Wander (Atmospheric Black Metal)
19. The Slow Death (Australia) – Adrift (Atmospheric Doom Metal)
20. Arkheth (Australia) – Your Swamp My Wretched Queen (Experimental Black Metal)
21. Mindkult (US) – Howling Witch (Doom/Stoner Metal)
22. Warcrab (UK) – Destroyer of Worlds (Death Metal/Sludge)
23. Isgherurd Morth (International) – Lucir Stormalah (Avant-garde Black Metal)
24. Lurk (Finland) – Ostrakismos (Atmospheric Doom/Sludge Metal)
25. Come Back From The Dead (Spain) – Better Morbid Than Slaves (Old School Death Metal)
26. Somnium Nox (Australia) – Apocrypha (Atmospheric Black Metal)
27. MRTVI (UK) – This Shell Is A Mess (Experimental Black Metal)
28. Veilburner (US) – Necroquantum Plague Asylum (Experimental Black/Death Metal)
29. Jupiterian (Brazil) – Permanent Grey (Doom/Sludge Metal)
30. Exordium Mors (New Zealand) – As Vultures Descend (Black/Thrash Metal)
31. Embalmed (US) – Brutal Delivery of Vengeance (Brutal Death Metal)
32. Gloom (Spain) – Erik Zann (Blackened Brutal Death Metal)
33. Marasmus (US) – Conjuring Enormity (Death Metal)
34. Algoma (Canada) – Reclaimed By The Forest (Sludge/Doom Metal)
35. Cemetery Winds (Finland) – Realm of the Open Tombs (Blackened Death Metal)
36. Marginal (Belgium) – Sign of the Times (Crust/Grind)
37. Chalice of Suffering (US) – Who Will Cry (Death/Doom Metal)
38. Briargh (Spain) – Sword of Woe (Pagan Black Metal)
39. Ashen Horde (US) – Desecration of the Sanctuary (Progressive Black Metal)
40. The Whorehouse Massacre (Canada) – Intergalactic Hell (Atmospheric Sludge)
41. Rudra (Singapore) – Ancient Fourth (Vedic Metal)
42. Dusk (Pakistan) – For Majestic Nights (Death/Doom Metal)
43. Ilemauzar (Singapore) – The Dissolute Assumption (Black/Death Metal)
44. Severe Dementia (Bangladesh) – The Tormentor (Old School Death Metal)
45. Warhound (Bangladesh) – Flesh Decay (Old School Death Metal)
46. Assault (Singapore) – Ghettos (Death/Thrash Metal)
47. Gutslit (India) – Scaphism (Brutal Death/Grind)
48. Plague Throat (India) – Inherited Failure (Death Metal)
49. Darkrypt (India) – Dark Crypt (Dark Death Metal)
50. Against Evil (India) – Stand Up and Fight! (Heavy Metal)
51. Grossty (India) – Gounder Grind (Grindcore/Crust)
52. Dormant Inferno (India) – Embers of You (Death/Doom Metal)
53. Carnage Inc. (India) – Defiled (Thrash Metal)
54. Lucidreams (India) – Ballox (Heavy Metal)
55. Nightgrave (India) – Augment (Experimental Black Metal/Shoegaze)

Please download the label sampler for FREE over HERE.


Various Artists, Transcending Obscurity Label Sampler 2016

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Bevar Sea, Invoke the Bizarre: Move into Alignment

Posted in Reviews on December 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

bevar sea invoke the bizarre

“All roads lead to the Sabbath,” intones Bevar Sea vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy on “Bearded and Bizarre,” the opening track of Invoke the Bizarre. That may well be the case, at least as far as heavy rock, sludge and doom go, but it hardly speaks to the full scope of the Bangalore five-piece’s sophomore outing. Released in India via The Mighty Riff Records, the six-track/47-minute offering is the follow-up to their 2012 self-titled debut (track stream here) and finds the band engaged in multi-tiered progression, guitarist Srikanth Panaman pushing the material into more aggressive instrumental territory while Krishnaswamy executes a central lyrical theme through his gruff vocals, moments like the big slowdown of “Bearded and Bizarre” or “Sleeping Pool” calling Obituary to mind more than most doom, even as Avinash Ramchander seems to be nodding at Black Sabbath‘s “Heaven and Hell” in his bassline for the latter.

That lyrical theme is less narrative than would put Invoke the Bizarre in concept-record territory, but suffice it to say there are a couple wizards around. With Panaman and Rahul Chacko (also visual art) on guitar, Ramchander on bass and Deepak Raghu on drums, the tracks sound full and weighted when they’re supposed to — which is pretty much everywhere except the penultimate “Heathen” — but there’s a prevailing rawness in the tones, and though layered, in the lack of effects on the vocals as well, that keeps a naturalist thread running through the opener as it seems to dirge-march further and further toward its own oblivion, finding some acoustic strum to go along with its fervent chug when it gets there. The upshot? It is not long into the proceedings before Invoke the Bizarre lives up to its name.

It works because of an overall cohesion of sound — Nikhil Pai recorded at Adarsh Recording Studio, while Snail bassist Matt Lynch mixed and mastered at Mysterious Mammal — and because Bevar Sea are clear in their sonic intent. Invoke the Bizarre breaks more or less into even three-song sides, each comprising a shorter song sandwiched by two longer ones. The songwriting varies between tracks, and “Bury Me in NOLA” bears surprisingly little resemblance to Down as the midpoint of what would be a vinyl’s side A, instead taking on more doomed impulses as it calls for more moonshine at its apex, Krishnaswamy echoing out a few obscure lines after the instruments have finished, as much setting a sparse foundation for “Sleeping Pool” to begin as rounding out “Bury Me in NOLA” itself. The chug runs strong in the initial moments of “Sleeping Pool,” but there’s a sense of melody in the guitars and layered vocals of the verse as well.

bevar sea 1

Those vocals are a bit forward in the mix, but there’s plenty of dense tonality surrounding, and Raghu‘s drums hold the track together fluidly, dropping out momentarily as the song approaches its midsection only to return for an especially satisfying, swinging push around the five-minute mark. How it might tie into the lyrical theme, I don’t know, but “Sleeping Pool” does seem to feature the line, “All aboard the whisky train,” sort of spat out in rhythmic layers before and after a standout dual-guitar solo, so one way or another, Bevar Sea immerse themselves into a rippling morass of sludge rock, dense and punishing in kind, but still accessible for the already-converted. Effects in the aforementioned end-section of “Sleeping Pool” add monstrous edge to the creeping central riff, and the band seem well in their comfort zone riding that progression to the track’s finish, some 10-plus minutes after it began.

Side B is given a somewhat more melancholic instrumental beginning with a guitar solo at the start of “Where There’s Smoke (There’s a Pyre),” but the bulk of the song itself is geared more toward Iommic metal than emotive positioning. The drums offer liberal double-kick, and Krishnaswamy sneers out verses early in single layer as a faster guitar push veers away from some of the more riff-led fare — an even bigger shift when one considers the first album — into more of a full-band straight-ahead approach. At 7:54, “Where There’s Smoke (There’s a Pyre)” both mirrors the opener “Bearded and Bizarre” and has its own personality, later doubled vocals calling to mind Ronnie James Dio in hyperenunciating the word “fire.” A turn into acoustic strum and backing percussion is immediate for “Heathen,” which is less than two minutes long but more than an interlude as a precursor to “The Grand Alignment” for its melodic pulse and overarching adventurousness.

The closer is the longest inclusion at 11:45 and embarks on a grander feel in its chorus that’s a further show of the growth Bevar Sea have undertaken in the last three years. One would expect “The Grand Alignment” to build to a formidable crescendo before it’s done, and it lives up to that promise, but it’s worth pointing out that’s not actually how Invoke the Bizarre concludes, the band instead pushing through the chugging plod and almost sneaking in a break of jazzy psychedelic noodling before riffing out another couple measures at full assault and calling it a day with a final semi-chorus, sustained guitar noise being the last element to fade out. Even in this final moment, the fivesome don’t let an opportunity pass to make the name of the record a reality, but that impulse is also one of the strongest aspects of Invoke the Bizarre, since it’s that willingness to break with genre convention that underlines the development in Bevar Sea‘s approach. Combined with the sense of attack that Invoke the Bizarre has at times, it puts the band in a place all the more their own.

Bevar Sea, Invoke the Bizarre (2015)

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The Mighty Riff Records

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Spiral Shades Announce Children of Doom Digital Tribute EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Normally one might take the phrase “tribute EP” to mean “we recorded a couple covers and didn’t know what to do with them,” but in the case of Spiral Shades, it seems like a genuine opportunity to get a feel for some of the band’s influences, as shown on their 2014 RidingEasy Records debut LP, Hypnosis Sessions (review here). That album was deceptively hard to pin down. Definitely within the sphere of classically-influenced heavy rock, it held firm to a doomly psychedelic edge, refusing to wholly embrace one side at the expense of the other. That worked greatly to its benefit, but it left one wondering just what they were listening to at the time.

And that would seem to be the core of what brought India-based vocalist/guitarist Khushal R. Bhadra and Norwegian guitarist/bassist/drum programmer Filip Petersen together in the first place — a shared love of heavy — so to find them exploring that in the rawest form possible on what’s been titled Children of Doom is only fair. I’ve yet to see a tracklisting for the free, digital-only offering — doesn’t seem out of line to think there might be some Vitus on there — but we won’t have to wait too long to find out, since the thing will be released on Friday. Yup, this Friday. Yup, free. I guess that really says it all.

The duo put up a quick announcement of the EP’s release with the cover art, which you can find below, and answered some quick comment about their second long-player as well:

spiral shades children of doom ep

Announcing the release of our new Tribute EP titled Children Of Doom, this Friday, 23rd October 2015. It would be a free digital release. Till then spread the word and enjoy this amazing artwork done by Reza Noer Fajar.

Bands and artists that have inspired us in our musical journey.

The new album is in the works but its going slow. Hopefully it would be worth the wait.


Spiral Shades, EP Teaser

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Bevar Sea Confirm Oct. 31 Release for Invoke the Bizarre

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

bevar sea

Bangalore sludgers Bevar Sea first announced the release of their second album, Invoke the Bizarre, back in May, and today they affirm that the record will be out on Sept. 25 in India and Oct. 31 for the rest of the world. A couple tracks from Invoke the Bizarre have made their way out at this point, including “Sleeping Pool,” which you can hear below, and the album is available to preorder direct from the band worldwide.

The PR wire brings info and links:

bevar sea invoke the bizarre

India’s BEVAR SEA ‘Invoke the Bizarre’ on Upcoming Sophomore Album

India’s BEVAR SEA ‘Invoke the Bizarre’ on Upcoming Sophomore Album

Bangalore-based (India) Stoner/Doom Metal quintet BEVAR SEA will release its sophomore album Invoke the Bizarre worldwide on October 31. Pre-order the album at this location.

In November 2014, after a 10-day whirlwind session at Adarsh Recording Studio in their hometown, the band completing the challenging task of following up such a well-received debut album. Invoke the Bizarre sees a musically maturing BEVAR SEA in exploration of new sonic territories while remaining rooted in Stoner and Doom Metal. The album was then mixed and mastered by Matt Lynch from LA’s Mysterious Mammal Recording between April and August 2015.

1. Bearded and Bizarre
2. Bury Me in NOLA
3. Sleeping Pool
4. Where There’s Smoke (There’s a Pyre)
5. Heathen
6. Grand Alignment

BEVAR SEA started out in 2007-2008, and became a serious performing and recording act in late 2010. They’ve since gathered an unprecedented cult following in the country based on their powerful live performances and recorded output, as well as in doom circles abroad.

The band’s self-titled debut album was released in October 2012 to great response from both the local and international audiences, and favourable reviews from critics everywhere. The album was recorded by the band themselves at The Doom Cave, and was mixed and mastered by Billy Anderson (Melvins, Neurosis, Sleep, High on Fire, Agalloch etc), and featured artwork by the band’s lead guitarist and artist Rahul Chacko.

The record showcased a fairly young band playing doom with generous influence from 70s hard rock, with all the hooks, melodies and blues-favoured riffs you’d expect from that combo. The positive response worldwide to the album went a long way to putting them on the map, even as far as earning them a slot at the prestigious Maryland Deathfest in the USA. Songs from the album became live staples since the release, and were also featured in various compilations worldwide.

Two years after the release of the first album, with more experience and skill under their belt, the band wrapped up writing new songs for the second album titled Invoke the Bizarre. The album is set for a 25th September 2015 release in India and October 31st for the rest of the world.


Bevar Sea, “Sleeping Pool”

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