Quarterly Review: Spelljammer, The Black Heart Death Cult, Shogun, Nadja, Shroud of Vulture, Towards Atlantis Lights, ASTRAL CONstruct, TarLung, Wizzerd & Merlin, Seum

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

We proceed onward, into this ever-growing swath of typos, lineup corrections made after posting, and riffs — more riffs! — that is the Quarterly Review. Today is Day Four and I’m feeling good. Not to say there isn’t some manner of exhaustion, but the music has been killer — today is particularly awesome — and that makes life much, much, much better as I’ve already said. I hope you’ve found one or two or 10 records so far that you’ve really dug. I know I’ve added a few to my best of 2021 list, including stuff right here. So yeah, we roll on.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Spelljammer, Abyssal Trip

spelljammer abyssal trip

To envision an expanse, and to crush it. Stockholm three-piece Spelljammer return five years after Ancient of Days (review here), with an all-the-more-massive second long-player through RidingEasy, turning their front-cover astronaut around to face the audience head on and offering 43 minutes/six tracks of encompassing largesse, topping 10 minutes in the title-track and “Silent Rift,” both on side B with the interlude “Peregrine” between them, after the three side A rollers, “Bellwether,” “Lake” and “Among the Holy” have tripped out outward and downward into an atmospheric plunge that is a joy to take feeling specifically geared as an invite to the converted. We are here, come worship with us. Also get crushed. Spelljammer records may not happen all the time, but you won’t be through “Bellwether” before you’re saying it was worth the wait.

Spelljammer on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras

The Black Heart Death Cult Sonic Mantras

A deceptively graceful second LP from Melbourne’s The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras pulls together an eight-song/45-minute run that unfolds bookended by “Goodbye Gatwick Blues” (8:59) and “Sonic Dhoom” (9:47) and in between ebbs and flows across shorter pieces that maximize their flow in whether shoegazing, heavygazing, blissing out, or whatever we’re calling it this week on “The Sun Inside” and “One Way Through,” or finding their way to a particularly deadened meadow on “Trees,” or tripping the light hypnotic on “Dark Waves” just ahead of the closer. “Cold Fields” churns urgently in its 2:28 but remains spacious, and everywhere The Black Heart Death Cult go, they remain liquefied in their sound, like a seemingly amorphous thing that nonetheless manages to hold its shape despite outside conditions. Whatever form they take, then, they are themselves, and Sonic Mantras emphasizes how yet-underappreciated they are in emerging from the ever-busy Aussie underground.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

 

Shogun, Tetra

Shogun Tetra

Tetra is the third long-player from Milwaukee’s Shogun, and in addition to the 10-minute “Delta,” which marries blues gargle with YOB slow-gallop before jamming out across its 10-minute span, it brings straight-shooter fuzz rockers like “Gravitas,” the someone-in-this-band-listened-to-Megadeth-in-the-’90s-and-that’s-okay beginnings of “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary” and likewise crunch of “Axiom” later, but also the quiet classic progressive rock of “Gone Forever,” and the more patient coming together of psychedelia and harder-hitting movement on closer “Maximum Ray.” Somewhat undercut by a not-raw-but-not-bursting-with-life production, pieces like “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary,” which gives over to a sweeter stretch of guitar in its second movement, and “Vertex/Universal Pain Center,” which in its back end brings around that YOB influence again and puts it to good use, are outwardly complex enough to put the lie to the evenhandedness of the recording. There’s more going on in Tetra than it first seems, and the more you listen, the more you find.

Shogun on Facebook

Shogun on Bandcamp

 

Nadja, Luminous Rot

Nadja Luminous Rot

Keeping up with Nadja has proven nigh on impossible over the better part of the last two decades, as the Berlin-by-way-of-Toronto duo have issued over 25 albums in 19 years, plus splits and live offerings and digital singles and oh my goodness I do believe I have the vapors that’s a lot of Nadja. For those of us who flit in and out like the dilletantes we ultimately are, Luminous Rot‘s aligning Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff with Southern Lord makes it an easy landmark, but really most of what the six-cut/48-minute long-player does is offer a reminder of the vital experimentalism the lazy are missing in the first place. The consuming, swelling drone of “Cuts on Your Hands,” blown-out sub-industrialism of “Starres,” hook of the title-track and careful-what-you-wish-for anchor riff of “Fruiting Bodies” — these and the noisily churning closer “Dark Inclusions” are a fervent argument in Nadja‘s favor as being more than a sometimes-check-in kind of band, and for immediately digging into the 43-minute single-song album Seemannsgarn, which they released earlier this year. So much space and nothing to lose.

Nadja on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Shroud of Vulture, Upon a Throne of Jackals

shroud of vulture upon a throne of jackals

Welcome to punishment as a primary consideration. Indianapolis death-doom four-piece hold back the truly crawling fare until “Perverted Reflection,” which is track three of the total seven on their debut full-length, Upon a Throne of Jackals, but by then the extremity has already shown its unrepentant face across the buried-alive “Final Spasms of the Drowned” and the oldschool death metal of “The Altar.” Centerpiece “Invert Every Throne” calls to mind Conan in its nod, but Shroud of Vulture are more about rawness than sheer largesse in tone, and their prone-to-blasting style gives them an edge there and in “Halo of Tarnished Light,” which follows. The closing pair of “Concealing Rabid Laughter” and “Stone Coffin of Existence” both top seven minutes and offset grueling tension with grueling release, but it’s the stench of decay that so much defines Upon a Throne of Jackals, as though somebody rebuilt Sunlight Studio brick for brick in Hoosier Country. Compelling and filthy in kind.

Shroud of Vulture on Facebook

Wise Blood Records website

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Towards Atlantis Lights, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Towards Atlantis Lights When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Ultra-grueling, dramatic death-doom tragedies permeate the second full-length, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun, from UK-based four-piece Towards Atlantis Lights, with vocalist/keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou and guitarist Ivan Zara at the heart of the compositions while bassist Riccardo Veronese and drummer Ivano Olivieri assure the impact that coincides with the cavernous procession matches in scope. The follow-up to 2018’s Dust of Aeons (review here), this six-track collection fosters classicism and modern apocalyptic vibes alike, and whether raging or morose, its dirge atmosphere remains firm and uncompromised. Heavy lumber for heavy hearts. The kind of doom that doesn’t look up. That doesn’t mean it’s not massive in scope — it is, even more than the first record — just that nearly everything it sees is downward. If there’s hope, it is a vague thing, lost to periphery. So be it.

Towards Atlantis Lights on Facebook

Kostas Panagiotou on Bandcamp

 

ASTRAL CONstruct, Tales of Cosmic Journeys

ASTRAL CONstruct Tales of Cosmic Journeys

It has been said on multiple occasions that “space is the place.” The curiously-capitalized Colorado outfit ASTRAL CONstruct would seem to live by this ethic on their debut album, Tales of Cosmic Journeys, unfurling as they do eight flowing progressions of instrumental slow-CGI-of-the-planets pieces that are more plotted in their course than jams, but feel built from jams just the same. Raw in its production and mix, and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat, there’s enough atmosphere to let the lead guitar breathe, certainly, and to sustain life in general even on “Jettisoned Adrift in the Space Debris,” and the image evoked by “Hand Against the Solar Winds” feels particularly inspired given that song’s languid roll. The record starts and ends in cryogenic sleep, and if upon waking we’re transported to another place and another time, who knows what wonders we might see along the way. ASTRAL CONstruct‘s exploration would seem to be just beginning here, but their “Cosmos Perspective” is engaging just the same.

ASTRAL CONstruct on Instagram

ASTRAL CONstruct on Bandcamp

 

TarLung, Architect

TarLung Architect

Vienna-based sludgedrivers TarLung were last heard from with 2017’s Beyond the Black Pyramid (discussed here), and Architect continues the progression laid out there in melding vocal extremity and heavy-but-not-too-heavy-to-move riffing. It might seem like a fine line to draw, and it is, and that only makes songs like “Widow’s Bane” and “Horses of Plague” all the more nuanced as their deathly growls and severe atmospheres mesh with what in another context might just be stoner rock groove. Carcass circa the criminally undervalued Swansong, Six Feet Under. TarLung manage to find a place in stoner sludge that isn’t just Bongzilla worship, or Bongripper worship, or Bong worship. I’m not sure it’s worship at all, frankly, and I like that about it as the closing title-track slow-moshes my brain into goo.

TarLung on Facebook

TarLung on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd & Merlin, Turned to Stone Chapter III

ripple music turned to stone chapter iii wizzerd vs merlin

Somewhere in the great mystical expanse between Kalispell, Montana, and Kansas City, Missouri, two practicioners of the riffly dark arts meet on a field of battle. Wizzerd come packing the 19-minute acoustic-into-heavy-prog-into-sitar-laced-jam-out “We Are,” as if to encompass that declaration in all its scope, while Merlin answer back with the organ-led “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure” (21:51), all chug and lumber until it’s time for weirdo progressive fusion reggae and an ensuing Purple-tinged psych expansion. Who wins? I don’t know. Ripple Music in releasing it in the first place, I guess. Continuing the label’s influential split series(es), Turned to Stone Chapter III pushes well over the top in the purposes of both acts involved, and in that, it’s maybe less of a battle than two purveyors joining forces to weave some kind of Meteo down on the heads of all who might take them on. If you’ve think you’ve got the gift, they seem only too ready to test that out.

Wizzerd on Facebook

Merlin on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Seum, Winterized

Seum Winterized

“Life Grinder” begins with a sample: “I don’t know if you need all that bass,” and the answer, “Oh, you need all that bass.” That’s already after “Sea Sick Six” has revealed the Montreal-based trio’s sans-guitar extremist sludge roll, and the three-piece seem only too happy to keep up the theme. Vocals are harsh, biting, grating, purposeful in their fuckall, and the whole 28-minute affair of Winterized is cathartic aural violence, except perhaps the interllude “666,” which is a quiet moment between “Broken Bones” and “Black Snail Volcano,” which finally seems to just explode in its outright aggression, nod notwithstanding. A slowed down Ramones cover — reinventing “Pet Sematary” as “Red Sematary” — has a layer of spoken chanting vocals layered in and closes out, but the skin has been peeled so far back by then and Seum have doused so much salt onto the wounds that even Bongzilla might cringe. The low-end-only approach only makes it more punishing and more punk rock at the same time. Fucking mean.

Seum on Facebook

Seum on Bandcamp

 

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Apostle of Solitude Recording New Album for Release on Cruz Del Sur

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Last we heard from Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude was in Nov. 2020, and at that point, their fifth long-player was announced for release this Spring. But even then, the actual trajectory was somewhat vague, so having confirmation now that they’re currently in the studio — Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN — with bass and drums done, guitars in progress and vocals to follow gives a better sense of the timeline for when the thing actually shows up. Let’s figure if they’re recording this week or on weekends, they have a master by the July 4 holiday. That’s an optimistic estimate on my part, and pure speculation, but without knowing how long/when they’re in the studio, it seems like a reasonable estimate allowing for the inevitable back and forth of mixing, finalizing the recording, artwork and so on.

Three months promo is standard, HOWEVER, this is 2021, and the entire universe wants to print vinyl and there isn’t nearly enough infrastructure to do so — anyone want to open a plant with me? — so there are delays there. Five months from May puts us in October at the earliest. Apostle of Solitude‘s 2018 LP, From Gold to Ash (review here), came out in February of that year. It might honestly be Feb. 2022 before this one shows up.

Whenever it happens — and hey, Apostle Dudes, anytime you want to send me a master early, that’s certainly cool on my end — the four-piece’s fifth record will only be welcome when it shows up. In the meantime, bassist Mike Naish just put out a record with the more deathly-doom outfit Shroud of Vulture through Wise Blood Records and Transylvanian Recordings. It’s called Upon a Throne of Jackals and is delightfully brutal.

Apostle of Solitude offered the below mini-update from the studio on social media:

apostle of solitude recording

We have been so focused on tracking album # 5 that we forgot to post about it. We are once again working with Russian Recording for Cruz Del Sur Music in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. Mike and Corey are are done tracking bass and drums…Chuck and Steve are busy tracking guitars. Vocals are up next…

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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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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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…

The Heavy Company on Thee Facebooks

The Heavy Company on Bandcamp

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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

Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks

Apostle of Solitude on Instagram

Apostle of Solitude on Bandcamp

Apostle of Solitude BigCartel store

Apostle of Solitude website

Cruz Del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

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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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Apostle of Solitude Premiere “Grey Farewell” Video; Currently Writing New Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude

Fitting that the new Apostle of Solitude video should be for the closing track from their 2018 full-length, From Gold to Ash (review here), since “Grey Farewell” would seem essentially to be how the Indianapolis-based outfit are saying goodbye to that record as they move onto the next one. It is a quarantine video — four dudes in four boxes — but I’m glad for the excuse to revisit the record and to get the check-in from the band that informs they’ll enter the studio in September (outbreaks pending, one assumes) with a batch of new songs for a 2021 release on Cruz Del Sur.

2018 was an exceptionally good year for doom, with offerings from The SkullWitch MountainWindhandPale Divine, and hosts of others alongside Apostle of Solitude in subsets traditional and otherwise. From Gold to Ash was my pick of the bunch though, and two years later, I stand by that completely. The combination of sonic force and emotional resonance the band brought to this particular group of tracks, the way their dynamic came together not just between guitarist/vocalists Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak — both now also in the reignited The Gates of Slumber and the latter also of Devil to Pay — but also with drummer Corey Webb and bassist Mike Naish made for a to-date high point in their catalog, and there’s no reason whatsoever to think they’ll backstep on the next one. I’ll happily call it highly anticipated.

Some things to watch for in the video: Action figures, R2-D2 and Devil to Pay cover art in Janiak‘s box; the same camera angle Webb used on that “Under the Sun” cover posted the other day; Brown‘s US flags that have shown up in rehearsal clips and Apostle of Solitude promo photos for years now; and Naish pretty clearly wanting to go for it and headbang the whole time. All that plus the song makes for a quality quarantine-era clip if e’er I saw one, and I’ve seen a few by now.

Dudes be like:

Apostle of Solitude, “Grey Farewell” official video

Apostle of Solitude’s music video for “Grey Farewell” from the album “From Gold to Ash” available from Cruz Del Sur Music.

Edits: S. Janiak

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 are completing writing and song arrangements for their fifth full length album, due to be released in early 2021; their third album on Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music label. The band is scheduled to record the album within the familiar confines of Russian Recording in Bloomington Indiana in September, with album artwork designed by German artist Rebecca Waek.

The band’s last two albums were supported by both US and European tours, and the band hopes to do the same for this release, hopefully in 2021 assuming the current pandemic does not prohibit such plans.

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

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