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

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

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

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

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

Plurp.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Fuzz, III

fuzz iii

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In the Red Records on Thee Facebooks

In the Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst

crippled black phoenix ellengaest

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Crippled Black Phoenix on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Bethmoora, Thresholds

Bethmoora Thresholds

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

Bethmoora on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Khan, Monsoons

khan monsoons

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

Khan on Thee Facebooks

Khan on Bandcamp

 

The Acid Guide Service, Denim Vipers

the acid guide service denim vipers

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

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Vexing Hex, Haunt

vexing hex haunt

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

Vexing Hex on Thee Facebooks

Wise Blood Records on Bandcamp

 

KVLL, Death//Sacrifice

kvll death sacrifice

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

KVLL on Thee Facebooks

KVLL on Bandcamp

 

Mugstar, GRAFT

mugstar graft

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

Mugstar on Thee Facebooks

Centripetal Force Records website

Cardinal Fuzz Records BigCartel store

 

Wolftooth, Valhalla

Wolftooth Valhalla

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

Wolftooth on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

Ice Fall Records BigCartel store

 

Starmonger, Revelations

starmonger revelations

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

Starmonger on Thee Facebooks

Starmonger on Bandcamp

 

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Wolftooth Sign to Napalm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Though it came out earlier this year on Ripple Music and Cursed Tongue, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Wolftooth‘s second long-player, Valhalla, be reissued on Napalm Records as well, though there’s no mention of it in the announcement below that the label has picked up the Richmond, Indiana-based outfit. Quality band and they do good work, but though Napalm has a few heavy rock acts on its roster, with Stoned Jesus, Greenleaf, Villagers of Ionnina City, and so on, the last time I can recall them picking up an American heavy rock-ish act was The Midnight Ghost Train, and that was six years ago. If I’m leaving someone out, I hope somebody will correct me.

All the more honor to Wolftooth, then, and clearly the metallic appeal of Valhalla is just the start of the band’s forward potential at this point. I’d expect a European tour if and when such things become possible.

Until then, kudos and congrats to the band. Here’s this from the PR wire:

wolftooth

WOLFTOOTH Signs Worldwide Record Deal with Napalm Records

After hustling in the underground scene for the better part of three years, Richmond, Indiana-based metal outfit WOLFTOOTH snagged the attention of Napalm Records with their multifaceted blend of classic NWOBHM and doom influences lifted by heavy stoner rock riffage. Closing out a bleak year with something very bright, the band is pleased to announce that they’ve signed worldwide contract with the premier rock and metal label!

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Chris Sullivan, guitarist Jeff Cole, bassist Terry McDaniel and drummer Johnny Harrod, WOLFTOOTH launched in 2017 with the release of their debut EP, grabbing the attention of fans and industry alike. In early 2018, the band followed up by dropping their self-titled album, Wolftooth, to rave reviews. Immediately hitting the road in support of the album, WOLFTOOTH harvested countless new fans, building a reputation as a hard-hitting live act by supporting metal icons like Iced Earth, Sanctuary, Black Label Society, The Atomic Bitchwax, EYEHATEGOD and The Obsessed. In 2019, the band returned to the studio to record their sophomore release, Valhalla. WOLFTOOTH expanded on their already potent sound with cleaner production, hooky choruses and colossal riffs, all while harking back to the golden age of heavy metal. The record hit the underground in mid-2020.

WOLFTOOTH says about the signing:
“In the three short years that we’ve been a band, we’ve made great strides to be heard and bring the almighty riff back into the forefront of heavy music. We are very thankful for our fans and the support they have given us on this journey. The band is also very excited for the future and about our partnership with Napalm Records – now anything is possible. We are currently writing our third album and look forward to getting on the road in 2021.”

Wolftooth is:
Chris Sullivan Guitar/ Vocals
Terry McDaniel Bass
Jeff Cole Guitar
Johnny Harrod Drums/Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/wolftoothmetal/
https://www.instagram.com/wolftooth_metal/
www.napalmrecords.com

Wolftooth, Valhalla (2020)

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Apostle of Solitude Announce New Album for Spring 2021

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

More background than details in the below, but take it to heart one way or the other that there will be a new Apostle of Solitude record out next year. The Indianapolis doomers join an increasingly crowded field of those with post-2020 plans, but you’ll note there’s no real mention of concrete touring notions or anything like that. We don’t even have a name for a record or confirmation that it’s done/mixed/mastered, so there’s a ways to go one assumes before things like cover art and songs start showing up.

But if you needed something today to be stoked about, this should qualify, and if it doesn’t, the band’s 2018 LP, From Gold to Ash (review here), is streaming at the bottom of the post, and once you revisit that, you’ll be stoked anyway, so there you go.

That record, incidentally, has been on my phone since I first heard it. I change shit on my phone all the time depending on what I need to be hearing in a given week. Very few albums last there for anything close to a stretch. It’s one more sign among many that it was a special record that I remain basically unwilling to part with it even as I look forward to what they’ve got coming next.

From the PR wire:

apostle of solitude

Apostle of Solitude – Spring 2021!

Formed in 2004 by vocalist-guitarist Chuck Brown (The Gates of Slumber) with heavy hitter Corey Webb on drums, Apostle of Solitude released their debut ‘Sincerest Misery’(via Eyes Like Snow) in 2008 and the follow-up ‘Last Sunrise’ in 2010 (via Profound Lore as well as Eyes Like Snow) before adding vocalist-guitarist Steve Janiak (Devil to Pay) in 2011 and then Mike Naish (Shroud of Vulture, Astral Mass) in 2015. The band released their epic third album ‘Of Woe and Wounds’ for Cruz Del Sur Music in 2014, followed by multiple tours across the US and triumphant 2016 European tour.

Apostle of Solitude’s most recent album, 2018’s “From Gold To Ash”, was widely heralded by fans and critics alike as both the band’s best work to date, and a defining moment in American doom metal. Largely defined by the heartfelt and emotive dual vocals of Brown and Janiak, ‘From Gold To Ash’ covers a wide spectrum of heavy, from raging instrumentals to introspective guitar duos, monolithic doom riffs and reflective, melodic heartache. In support of that album, the band embarked on a southern US tour (with labelmates Pale Divine), their second European tour (including the Hammer of Doom festival at the revered Posthalle Wurzburg in Germany, and headlining the Doom Over Vienna festival in Austria), a special performance at the Maryland Doom festival, and a handful of Midwest US dates.

While 2020 saw a worldwide pandemic that dramatically altered many aspects of life around the globe, the band waited, and then implemented appropriate safety measures in order to continue writing their next album. This, the band’s fifth full length (and yet to be titled) album, is set to be released spring of 2021, again on Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music, and available on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats. As a nod to the tradition set by the band’s prior works, the album is set to be recorded at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN with studio mastermind Mike Bridavsky behind the board. Following the release of the album, and once the world is safe to do so, Apostle of Solitude plans to tour again domestically and abroad in support of the new album.

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

www.facebook.com/apostleofsolitude
https://www.instagram.com/apostleofsolitude/
apostleofsolitude.com
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic

Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash (2018)

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Mother of Graves Stream “The Urn”; In Somber Dreams Preorder Available Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

This has been a really awful year for a lot of things and a really good year for death-doom. Tomorrow, preorders go live for the debut EP from Mother of Graves, titled In Somber Dreams, and even though it’s set to release in January, the four-song offering is prefaced by the streaming track “The Urn” that you can hear now at the bottom of this post, and, well, it’s a pretty efficient mood-capture when it comes to the general state of restless melancholia that has complemented the enduring, teeth-grind of anxiety that has me so badly needing to go to the dentist. Also I have a headache.

Anyone wanna talk about politics? The pandemic? The politics of the pandemic? No? Me neither.

Anyone want to check out some cool new tunes? That’s more like it.

Wise Blood Records sent the following down the PR wire, but before I turn it over to the blue text, I just want to say I remember fondly guitarist Chris Morrison‘s former outfit, Bulletwolf, and still have the pint glass they were kind enough to send me with their logo on it. R.I.P. Worm. He was a nice guy in all my dealings with him.

Okay, here goes:

mother of graves in somber dreams

MOTHER OF GRAVES – In Somber Dreams – Wise Blood Records

Pre-order Date: November 6th, 2020
Release date: January 8th, 2021
Pre-order Link: https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-somber-dreams

Melodic death/doom necromancers Mother of Graves conjure old school gloom from their haunting grounds in Indianapolis, IN. Fans of early Katatonia, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Cloak, and Khemmis will make life-long blood-pacts with Mother of Graves’ bleak atmosphere and pitch-black Gothicism. Originally conceived in 2016 by founding guitarist Chris Morrison (Harakiri, Bulletwolf), Mother of Graves was spawned from tragedy as a cathartic outlet.

“The initial inspiration followed the passing of one of my best friends and bandmates in the spring of 2016,” Morrison shares. “I was just in a really dark place for a while after he died and there were certain bands and albums that really hit home at that time and musically captured the grief I was feeling. One album specifically was Katatonia’s Sounds of Decay EP. I always liked that EP, but the way I heard it changed after that. I knew my next musical project had to be something that had a similar vibe. I wanted Mother of Graves to sound like loss and despair.”

Named after a mythological Latvian protector of cemeteries (Kapu m?te), Mother of Graves honors the fallen with poignant heaviness. Morrison’s moving riffs are barbed with thorns and painted with dried blood. Vocalist Brandon Howe (Obscene, Summon the Destroyer) pens gripping lyrics delivered with some of the genre’s most evocative gutturals. Bassist/guitarist Ben Sandman (Harakiri) recorded the album with the deft hand of a mortician preserving beauty. While Morrison acknowledges aesthetic nods to the pioneering Peaceville Records sound, Mother of Graves are far from an easily-defined homage act.

“I basically just tell people we play sad, bleak, melodic, death/doom metal that probably doesn’t sound how you think it is going to sound if you haven’t heard us,” Morrison offers.

It was Mother of Graves’ authenticity and coffin-velvet melodies that first caught the ear of Wise Blood Records. The label eagerly signed the band to release their debut EP, In Somber Dreams. You can also add iconic Swedeath musician and engineer Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath) to the litany of the band’s ever-growing supporters. Swanö mastered In Somber Dreams and was immediately entranced by their tomb-dwelling ambience and memorable songwriting. The band’s lyrical focus and vision elevates their stirring compositions even further.

“The most prevalent themes would be the human condition, grief, and loss—whether it be personal or just an overall feeling towards the state in which we exist amplified and twisted into wild fictions,” Howe reveals. “I like to paint really bleak pictures with words, almost like telling a short story,” Howe continues. “Something to invoke the feelings one would get when they’re really immersed in a well-written book. The instruments alone already paint such a monolithic picture of sorrow and despair, so the lyrics flow pretty naturally once I’ve settled into that zone.”

Mother of Graves crawled from sealed sepulchers to share their first songs during the global wreckage of a pandemic. But just like the bittersweet tone of their songs, Morrison offers a glimmer of hope beyond the bleak horizon: More songs are on the way, with a full-length record planned. Until then, enter the somber dreamscape of Mother of Graves and meet the new guardians of old school Melodic Death/Doom.

Tracklisting:
1. In Somber Dreams
2. Nameless Burial
3. The Urn
4. Deliverance

Mother of Graves is:
Brandon Howe – Vocals
Chris Morrison – Guitars
Ben Sandman – Guitars
TJ Hunt – Bass
Don Curtis – Drums

All music by Chris Morrison and Ben Sandman
All lyrics by Brandon Howe
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Ben Sandman
Mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound
Album cover artwork, design, and layout by Magnus LeGrand

https://www.facebook.com/motherofgravesband
https://motherofgraves.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wisebloodrecs/
https://www.instagram.com/wisebloodrecords
https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.wisebloodrecords.com/

Mother of Graves, In Somber Dreams (2021)

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Wolftooth and Psychlona Vinyl Represses Coming Soon from Cursed Tongue Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

There was some drama or some shit this week on the social medias about Cursed Tongue Records. Someone on the label — I honestly don’t even remember who it was; it was the kind of thing where I rolled over in the middle of the night and dicked around on my phone for probably longer than I needed to before falling asleep again — was unsatisfied with the level of promotion or whatever. Whatever it was. I don’t think you can do what any record label does and not have someone gripe along the way, that’s the nature of the business and you’re never, ever, ever going to meet everyone’s expectations, but as someone who’s watched this imprint grow from its inception to where now they’re sharing releases with Ripple Music and selling out quality vinyl pressings on preorders, I’ll throw in my two cents to say I respect their work.

Obviously my dealings with them aren’t the same as someone putting out music through them, but for what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of them ripping anyone off, and they’ve always seemed like passionate, forward-looking individuals to me. Whoever that was might have a legit argument to make, again, I don’t remember and don’t really care enough to go back and search out that post from the depressing miasma of misinformation that is my Facebook feed at this time — once it’s gone, it’s lost — but if I was putting 0ut a record, I’d be stoked to work with them.

I’m not putting out a record, but you know what I mean.

Couple represses coming up for Wolftooth and Psychlona, and I’ll have a new signing announcement from Cursed Tongue next week too, so keep an eye out for that:

psychlona venus skytrip lp

wolftooth valhalla lp

WOLFTOOH – ‘VALHALLA’ AND PSYCHLONA – ‘VENUS SKYTRIP’ VINYL REPRESSES ON CURSED TONGUE RECORDS RELEASES WORLDWIDE NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Cursed Tongue Records is super pleased to announce the repressing of two of 2020’s best performing releases, name Richmond, IN based riff-welding behemoth Wolftooth and Bradford, UK kebab-slinging, fuzz-riff, space-traveling stoner desert rockers Psychlona.

Earlier this year both Wolftooth and Psychlona released their sophomore album that both were immediate barnburners, and both vaporized from the record store shelves and online stores quite rapidly.

We thus look forward to the repressing of ‘Valhalla’ and ‘Venus Skytrip’ and to be able to bring both albums out again on premium, heavyweight 180 grams coloured vinyl and get it into the hands of the fans that missed out on the first pressing. Vinyl pre-orders start from the label’s webstore October 2nd at 6PM CET: https://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

WOLFTOOTH – ‘VALHALLA’ REPRESS OUT NOVEMBER 27, 2020 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOCER 2ND]

On their sophomore album Wolftooth has truly upped the ante, expanded on their already tested and tried formula, added more layers of sound and variation in the song writing and overall musical execution. The production has improved markedly and the tracks oozes of the much attention that has gotten into capturing both detail, feel and vibe during the recording. As the band members, they express it: “We started work on this album back in August 2019; it is our masterpiece haha”

‘Valhalla’ is everything you would come to expect from a follow-up album to Wolftooth’s über popular self-titled debut album – and then some! And even more! Seriously, we have been heavy-nodding, headbanging and fist pumping on a daily basis since these four hoosiers submitted their new stellar opus. God damn ‘Valhalla’ is great, oh yeah! As if there would ever be a more suiting set of rock hymns to accompany the Aesir Gods to their sacred halls at Asgard after having slain all giants (Jætter, ed.) at the battlefield it has to be ‘Valhalla.’

PSYCHLONA – ‘VENUS SKYTRIP’ REPRESS OUT NOVEMBER 27, 2020 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOCER 2ND]

With ‘Venus Skytrip’ Psychlona has truly taking everything they have come to stand for and kicked it to a whole new level of fuzzy stoner rock space ecstacy. Standing on the pedigree the foursome gained with their critically acclaimed ‘Mojo Rising’ album they have build an entire new spaceship of might and power, but also of bloody coherent beauty and memorability. There’s no escaping from the hum-worthy refrains and hypnotic grooves.

Behold eight tracks of new Psychlona, and as the band expresses it themselves: “When the fog receded from our scorched minds it appeared we’d taken a year long ride through space taking in Venus and Mars before doing a quick lap of the Sun (Blast Off), encountered 27 club rock ‘n’ roll tragedy (Star), drifted around in a smoke fuelled beachside dream (Resin) before taking a lengthy acid trip courtesy of The Owl himself. We’re beyond proud of this album. Comments we hear regularly at live shows mention the power of the sound and the energy in the performance. We believe we’ve captured that power and energy in this record. Oh yeah – we’re still space truckin’ desert rockin’ kebab eating mofos so no change there.” So get your trip on and head for Venus…

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Psychlona, Venus Skytrip (2020)

Wolftooth, Valhalla (2020)

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The Heavy Co. Premiere New Single “Shelter” Feat. Isaiah Mitchell

Posted in audiObelisk on September 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the heavy co shelter

Indiana-based two-piece The Heavy Co. will issue their new single Shelter on Sept. 18. One doesn’t hear all that often from the Lafayette, Indiana, two-piece, but it seems to me that if you’ve got Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless and Golden Void and general Lord of Guitar-ness fame contributing a solo to a track, well, that’s probably worth putting together a release of some sort. The three-minute song is the second new offering the band has had since reconfiguring as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Ian Daniel and drummer Jeff Kaleth, arriving behind April’s “Phoenix” single (posted here), which arrived concurrent to a compilation of material from the band’s original run during 2008-2014. They’ve since also put out a live track from a gig in 2014, but in terms of new music, it’s just been “Phoenix” and now “Shelter,” which, if you’re paying attention, would be enough for a 7″ or even a cassingle if they were feeling snazzy and wanted to put the art by Ohio-based artist Chad Wells to work.

Whatever they end up doing with it in terms of a physical pressing, if anything, “Shelter” isn’t the first time The Heavy Co. have flirted with country influences by a longshot, but Daniel‘s vocals here — backed with low-mixed harmonies by Tom Dean — really underscore the point. The track unfolds across a void-of-pretense three-minute stretch, rolling easily and smoothly through its initial verses before giving over its last minute to Mitchell‘s solo. There seem to be two layers of guitar working there, and I’m not sure if that’s Daniel adding his own accompanying lead track or if Mitchell can just magically play two guitars at the same time — you’d have to believe it, given the breadth of his work — but one way or the other, it’s an organic fit with the produced-in-lockdown single, which would seem to derive its title more from “shelter in place” than “Gimme Shelter” or any other such usage. Fair enough for the times in which it was made, which were these times, which are hard times. You take shelter where you can get it.

Now then. With the official release a week out, here’s the premiere of “Shelter” for your streaming perusal. Some more info follows as sent along by the band.

Please enjoy:

The Heavy Co. – Shelter (Ft. Isaiah Mitchell)

Produced by: THC
Guitar Solo : Isaiah Mitchell
Extra Vocals: Tom Dean
Mastered by: Ed Littman
Artwork by: Chad Wells

Released: September 18, 2020
DPR Records
Indianapolis, IN

The Heavy Co. is the long running Neo-Psychedelic Stoner Rock studio project of Ian Daniel and Jeff Kaleth. Their latest single, Shelter, features a blistering solo from Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless, Black Crowes).

Recorded remotely in their private studios, this is the first track THC has released in the isolation caused by Covid 19. The title is a direct reflection of the situation, contrasting with the theme of internal and external exploration of reality.

Please tune in…

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Apostle of Solitude Post “My Heart is Leaving Here” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

apostle of solitude my heart is leaving here

Well, okay. Last time Apostle of Solitude posted a video — about a month and a half ago, if that — it was for the track “Grey Farewell” (posted here) from 2018’s From Gold to Ash (review here), and I guess because I was feeling all clever and I like reading into things what may or may not actually be there, I said it was the band’s way of saying goodbye to that album while beginning to undertake the process of putting together their next one, which is set to be recorded this Fall.

So obviously there would be another video after that, right? There would almost have to be.

The two clips are also basically opposites. “Grey Farewell” was a quarantine video, with the four members of Apostle of Solitude recording their individual parts at home during the COVID-19 lockdown — which, make no fucking mistake, should still be going on every bit as intensely as it was in April — whereas “My Heart is Leaving Here” is live footage. Obviously archival, it pulls scenes not only from the band’s home turn at Black Circle Brewing in Indianapolis, but from their last European tour, which included stops in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and indeed, more Germany. Germany loves its doom. We already knew that.

Am I bummed that I said they were done with From Gold to Ash and then along comes “My Heart is Leaving Here” just a couple weeks later? Shit no. I’m happy to have an excuse today to listen to Apostle of Solitude and one more chance to tell you to hear that album if you didn’t yet and that you should be looking forward to the next one half as much as I am, which is a great deal to be certain. Like a lot. I don’t want to say an unhealthy amount, but yeah.

Enjoy the video, and I mean that as an imperative:

Apostle of Solitude, “My Heart is Leaving Here” official video

Apostle of Solitude’s music video for “My Heart is Leaving Here” from the album “From Gold to Ash” available from Cruz Del Sur Music. https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com

Filmed by Jason Rich
Additional footage by Melissa Watt
Edits: S. Janiak
live footage from: Black Circle Brewing, Indianapolis Indiana
Knubbel Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Bobble Café, Lomme, France
ELPEE Café, Deinze, Belgium
MTS LPs and CD, Oldenburg, Germany
Little Devil Bar, Tilburg, Netherlands
Bambi Galore, Hamburg, Germany
Posthalle Wurzburg HAMMER OF DOOM XIII, Wurzburg, Germany
Horst, Saarbrucken, Germany

Recorded by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording, Bloomington, IN
Mixed by Mike Bridavsky
Mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room Chicago, Il

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

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Ice Premiere “Gypsy” from The Ice Age out July 10 on RidingEasy

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ice the ice age

Seeing its first official release since it was recorded some 50 years ago, Ice‘s first and only full-length, The Ice Age, will be released by RidingEasy Records on July 10. It was originally supposed to come out in April, but frankly after half a century do a few more months really matter? By now, the narrative of the-great-heavy-’70s-lost-classic is well enough familiar. How many times has that story been told? Hundreds? Thousands maybe? RidingEasy are certainly no strangers to the era, between their Brown Acid archival compilation series and their Randy Holden reissue, not to mention supporting those who likewise worship that moment in time like DunbarrowBUSSvvamp and so on. Ice‘s The Ice Age is different though.

Think of it this way: Yeah, there are thousands of those records out there, from Atomic Rooster and Cactus to Spooky Tooth and Rare Earth. The heavy ’70s are a treasure trove, and an entire universe of formative heavy rock and roll and proto-metal exists waiting to be discovered by anyone who might want to take the time. Fine. How many of those bands have unreleased recordings? At this point? Far fewer. And how many entirely lost albums are there? Far fewer, let alone those that are as complete and as righteous front to back as The Ice Age, which digs into burly hooks on “Copper Penny” and rocks hard on opener “Gypsy,” but reminds of some of Bang‘s balladeering on the six-minute penultimate (and longest) cut “He Rides Among the Clouds,” pulling back on the brash swagger of “Running High” which is no doubt written in homage to how tight these dudes wore their bell-bottom jeans. One way or the other, they manage to make an impression as the five-piece that was, the prominent organ work of Barry Crawford (als0 vocals) sounding ahead of its time owing perhaps in some measure to the modern ears that mixed it here, but still engaging alongside John Schaffer‘s lead guitar on the mellower “3 O’Clock in the Morning,” which follows the initial push of “Gypsy” and “Satisfy” at The Ice Age‘s outset — or dawning, as it were.

Crawford, rhythm guitarist Richard Strange and bassist Jim Lee handle vocals throughout — the latter in the lead position — while Mike Saligoe rounds out on drums, and the interaction between different singers bolsters the songwriting even unto a later cut like “Run to Me,” which is an upbeat but still laid back straightforward heavy rocker, Lee‘s voice gruff in the verse giving way to a more melodic chorus. This along with the semi-early-prog instrumental climbing of “Copper Penny,” the post-McCartney bounce in the second half of “3 O’Clock in the Morning” and the sweeter and more accessible take of “I Can See Her Flying” help assure that the 10-song/37-minute LP brings enough dynamic to sustain itself, and it does to a striking measure, closing out with “Song of the East,” the early organeering of which gives way to lockstep guitar and organ leads in a rhythmic march that seems like it’s going to carry The Ice Age to its finish before the band sharply brings the song back to its central progression.

So what the hell was it, right? Isn’t that the question? What stopped Ice from releasing The Ice Age in the first place? Was there no one around in their native Indianapolis who’d get behind the album for even a private press edition that collectors now could fawn over like so many others? How did The Ice Age end up languishing for 50 — five-zero — years while countless other records have been heralded to a point of revising the history of rock and metal to see to their inclusion in it? Hey Ice, where you been all my life?

I don’t have the answer to any of that — sorry to disappoint. Band recorded, band broke up. Zukus!, who were featured on a Brown Acid release noted below, were the same band as Ice, but the bulk of this material never came out before. Rest assured, it’s been treated lovingly and with due reverence for this release; it’s hard to imagine those tapes sounding this clean when they came off the shelf or out of whatever cardboard box or closet they lived in for all that time. But if The Ice Age didn’t warrant that, it wouldn’t have been chased down in the first place. So here we are.

Will The Ice Age rewrite rock history? No. It never came out, so it’s not like it had some massive but undervalued influence.  But it is a curio among curios, and it is of a quality that deserves to be heard, and frankly to have been heard all this while. Better late than never? Yeah, that too.

You can dig into the premiere of “Gypsy” on the player below and find more background from the PR wire beneath that.

Please enjoy:

As RidingEasy Records’ highly successful Brown Acid series (now at 10 volumes and counting) proves, there is a massive amount of incredible heavy psych and proto-metal music that has been lost to the sands of time. Case in point, the astoundingly great 50-year-old album The Ice Age by Indianapolis quintet ICE was never even released upon its completion.

In the late 1960’s five young men formed a rock & roll band on the west side of Indianapolis, Indiana. They chose the coolest name possible: ICE. The group consisted of vocalist/keyboardist Barry Crawford, lead vocalist/ bassist Jim Lee, drummer Mike Saligoe, lead guitarist John Schaffer and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Richard Strange. They was among the first bands to perform an all original set throughout the Midwest at high schools, colleges & concert venues. They opened for national acts like Three Dog Night, SRC, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters.

In 1970, the band recorded 10 original songs at 8-Track Studios in Chicago Illinois, only to break up shortly thereafter. Two of the tracks were eventually released as a 45 in 1972, but confusingly under a different band name, Zukus! The A-side of that single was featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip, which led RidingEasy Records to discover when licensing the track that an entire album had been languishing in obscurity all of this time. The 2-inch master tapes had been shelved and forgotten until recently when The Ice Age tracks were converted to digital and remixed, preserving the sounds of the original vocals & instruments. Finally, half a century later, this 10-song album of radio-ready rock will finally see light of day.

The Ice Age will be available on LP, CD and download on July 10th, 2020 via RidingEasy Records.

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