Nebula and Black Rainbows Announce In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal Split LP Out June 28; Premiere Nebula’s “Acid Drop”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

nebula black rainbows In Search of the Cosmic Tale Crossing the Galactic Portal

Not that you need one in the first place, but if you would look for an excuse as to what might bring SoCal heavy psychedelic rock forebears Nebula and Italian cosmosblasters Black Rainbows together, both will be on tour in Europe in the coming months, Nebula are well documented heroes of founding Black Rainbows guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, and the split is listed as #300 in the catalog of Fiori‘s label, Heavy Psych Sounds, which has also stood behind Nebula‘s two post-resurgence LPs, 2022’s Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here) and 2019’s Holy Shit (review here).

Each act contributes three songs for a short but full-length-enough runtime of 32 minutes. Black Rainbows‘ tracks, as noted below, come from the sessions for their latest album, 2023’s Superskull (review here), while Nebula‘s side is newly recorded. Led off by Nebula‘s “Acid Drop” as the first single — it premieres below — the outing has been given the cumbersome title In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal, which I have no doubt it has absolutely earned.

And if you’ve already stopped reading at the mention of the premiere below, or you skipped outright to the player, you won’t hear me argue. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition to bring these two together, however winding and/or spaced the course of the actual music may turn out to be, and something of a no-brainer to keep on your radar as summer starts to heat up. Nebula were in Europe last Fall as well, so I don’t know whether they’ll make the return trip to meet up with Black Rainbows at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Germany, but it’s a universe of infinite possibility.

The raw crunch-punk fuckery of “Acid Drop,” with its blown-out vocals and swirling jam into the fade, follows on the player below. Beyond that, the PR wire takes over.

Dig if you dig:

Nebula, “Acid Drop” track premiere

HPS300 – NEBULA / BLACK RAINBOWS – In Search Of The Cosmic Tale: Crossing The Galactic Portal

There’s not much to add, two of the greatest Heavy Psych bands of the scene join the forces to give birth to an incredible Split Album.

Packed with 32 minutes of the highest quality heavy rock you can find out there; a joint venture which can happen only once every 100 years!!

Heavy Psych king-pioneers Nebula bring to life three brand new songs, recorded expressly for this incredible project. Three new gems which follow their latest “Holy Shit” and “Transmission….”

Black Rainbows add in three songs of their own, handpicked from the recording session of their latest success “Superskull”, released back in 2023. Delivering two Stoner in-your-face Heavy Fuzz pieces and one Heavy Space tune to celebrate this awesome collaboration!!

The cover art pairs perfectly with the vision and vibe of the album and is credited to the mighty Simon Berndt.

1. Acid Drop
2. Eye of the Storm
3. Ceasar XXXIV

Recorded at “High Desert Sound Studios “ Spring Equinox 2024.
Produced and Mixed by Nebula
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio 

Eddie Glass : Guitars, Vocals, Drums
Ranch Sironi : Bass, Vocals, Mix Down
Warzone Speedwolf : Drums 

1. The Secret
2. Thunder Lights on the Greatest Sky
3. Dogs of War

Recorded 11-12-13 May 2022 at Forward Studio, Rome, Italy by Fabio Sforza and Andrea Secchi
Vocals, Synths, Overdubs Recorded in November and December 2022
At Forward Studios and Channel 5 Studio by Andrea Secchi and Gabriele Fiori
Mixed and Engineered by Fabio Sforza
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio
All Songs, Music and Lyrics written by Gabriele Fiori

Gabriele Fiori — Guitars & Vocals
Edoardo “Mancio” Mancini — Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni — Drums

BLACK RAINBOWS European shows 2024
03.05 – Barcelona (SP) 62 Club
04.05 – Vidiago (SP) Vidiago Rock Fest
07.06 – Winterthur (CH) Gaswerk – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
14.06 – Genova (ITA) TBA
28.06 – Clisson (FR) Hellfest
29.06 Passau (DE) Blackdoor Fest
13.07 – Trieste (IT) TBA
10.08 – Bagnes (CH) Palp Fest
12/13.10 – Berlin (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
27/28.10 – Dresden (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest

NEBULA European Tour 2024
SU. 09.06.24 IT ***OPEN SLOT***
FR. 14.06.24 DE ***OPEN SLOT***
SA. 22.06.24 FR ***OPEN SLOT***
WE. 03.07.24 UK ***OPEN SLOT***

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Zolfo Premiere “Apoptosis”; Descending Into Inexorable Absence Coming Soon

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Italian lurch-conjurers Zolfo return with their second album, Descending Into Inexorable Absence, on Zann’s RecordsViolence in the Veins and Riff Merchant Records. Comprised of six tracks running 58 doom-resounding minutes, it is the light-consuming follow-up to their 2020 debut, Delusion of Negation (review here), which set them forth on the course of malevolent extremity that the new album continues. The initially subdued take on post-“Black Sabbath” nod with the sax-laced intro “Last Layers” that provides entry into the dark, scream-topped churn that is foundational to the titular descent — and the sax gets a little jazz-active, but otherwise, the movement down is already grueling — and “Lament of the Light” seems to raise the level of impact as each of its crashes and thuds slams down, a correspondingly huge death growl providing decisively inhuman presence.

In the midsection of “Lament of the Light,” the five-piece — first names only: Dave on vocals, Fabrizio (also sax) and Nicolò on guitar, Saverio on bass and Piero on drums — preface some of the speed they’ll inject periodically throughout, whether it’s the early rush of “Apoptosis” (premiering below), the title of which references a withering and death of a body’s cells, or the wall o’ punishment that the subsequent 18-minute closer “Silence of the Absolute Absence” becomes around 10 minutes in. You know, before the guitar hints at psych and drops out to leave the listener momentarily to their fate with bass and drums before shifting into a more post-metallic procession. Extremity is the thread that draws Descending Into Inexorable Absence together, though, and that resonates even in the spaces of “No Home for an Eternal Wayfarer” purposefully left open early on in the style of Bell Witch, an engrossing melancholy pushing toward caustic with the screams overlaid on its about-to-explode dirge. There is a beat’s pause right about at 7:35 into “No Home for an Eternal Wayfarer,” barely there, but there, and the build that ensues thereafter pushes into an absolute overwhelm of harsh, densely-toned chaos, wielded with a controlled hand but pointedly vicious. Have you ever been shoved off a cliff into a pit of metal spikes? Me neither, but if I was, I have to think the silence to which that track cuts at its end is how it would feel to be thusly impaled.

Active in its drums at the start, “Admire the Mire” almost teases respite in context. At Zolfo Descending into Inexorable Absencenine minutes long, its tempo finds a mid-paced groove in which to dwell, but even here the gnashing harshness of the vocals and the punishing brutality led by the guitars preside, and as it gets faster, it gets noisier, and the outright will to crush persists, certainly no less so with the big-doom slowdown around seven minutes in. Later in the reaches of “Silence of the Absolute Absence,” Dave‘s voice doesn’t so much give out, but echoes with the kind of high-register shout that results when your throat is done tearing itself apart for the next however long, and I don’t know over how long a period Descending Into Inexorable Absence was tracked, but I remember recording screaming takes, and if “Admire the Mire” and that finale were done the same day, or even just the latter piece on its own, I’d have no trouble believing genuine physical recovery was required afterward. That they chose to preserve that moment rather than dub it over is admirably organic, and gives “Silence of the Absolute Absence” a suitably desperate crescendo to its initial voidward cries and fuller death-doom plod.

Before they get there, “Apoptosis” bursts forth from the faded feedback of “Admire the Mire,” a count-in of one before the onslaught begins. While still nowhere near accessible in terms of broader stylistic geography, the effects-topped shouts that cut through in the first half are as close as Zolfo come to ‘clean’ vocals, but the screams and growls resume amid a pummel that tips the balance toward more death than doom, holding to the monolithic presence and tonality of its surroundings as its pushes itself down your throat, no doubt with some kind of cellular decay in mind. If by the time “Silence of the Absolute Absence” kicks in — and the only question is if it’s your life or all life that’s gone; could go either way — you don’t feel as though the chasm into which you’ve plunged was inside you all along, chances are you’ve already stopped listening and gone about your day as a probably-well-adjusted human being. Depressive aural misanthropy has never been for everyone, and Descending Into Inexorable Absence could hardly be called shy in its motives.

Nonetheless, if you’re up for it, “Apoptosis” premieres in the embed below, courtesy of the band. Some other preliminaries follow — recording credits, tracklisting, lineup; the necessities — and the music is the rest of what you need to know at this point, apart perhaps from an exact release date, which is to-be-announced. Don’t worry though, you’ll hear it coming in the distance when it’s time.

With best wishes:

Zolfo, “Apoptosis” track premiere

This spring we are going to release our new full-length album “Descending into Inexorable Absence”.

A polyphasic compound of 58 minutes, divided into a massive blend of doom/sludge intensity and layers of blackened and post-metal contamination, recorded at MOLOTOV recording by Andrea Lenoci, mixed and mastered at Skyhammer Studio by Chris Fielding and framed by Khaos Diktator Design.

The second chapter of our discography, will be released on double gatefold coloured vinyl by Zann’s Records and Violence In The Veins, and on a limited edition tape by Riff Merchant Records.

1. Last Layers (2:55)
2. Lament of the Light (9:25)
3. No Home for an Eternal Wayfarer (11:19)
4. Admire the Mire (9:43)
5. Apoptosis (6:14)
6. Silence of the Absolute Absence (18:04)

Dave – Vocals and Lyrics
Fabrizio – Guitars and Sax
Nicolò – Guitars
Saverio – Bass
Piero – Drums

Zolfo on Facebook

Zolfo on Instagram

Zolfo on Bandcamp


Zann’s Records

Violence in the Veins

Riff Merchant Records

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Cancervo Premiere New LP III in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Cancervo III

Cancervo will release their new album, III, this Friday, March 29, through Electric Valley Records (US distro through Glory or Death Records). And it’s by far the darkest, bleakest affair the first-names-only Lombardy, Italy, three-piece of bassist/vocalist Luka, guitarist Francesco and drummer Sam have yet manifest, as an ongoing incremental evolution of their take on cult doom over the last three years has seen them grow from the instrumentalist beginnings of 2021’s I (review here) and Luka‘s emergent metal-of-eld declarations across most of early-2023’s II (review here) to the 32 minutes and five tracks — four plus the sans-vocals church organ mood-setter “Intro” — of III, each numerical outing presenting a deeper plunge into their lurching and abyssal nod.

And III goes fairly deep into its own inky atmosphere, even before “Burn Your Child” wraps side A with its repetitions of “Burn your child/Burn your child,” with the band having already underscored their malevolence as the organ “Intro” gave over to the riff-forward march of “Sacrilegious Mass,” which in its sub-six minutes quickly establishes the vocals not only as an element of the band’s sound of increasing prominence, but as a defining feature. Luka, working in a low register not-quite-monotone that speaks to influences far and wide while carrying a distinctly Celtic Frostian poise, follows the pattern of the riff in the song’s midsection hook, letting the listener know “You’re gonna suffer” as a central line that feels by the time it comes around again like he’s as much in the trance as he is a part of making it. Meanwhile, Sam‘s drums keep a steady swing beneath a noisy ripper of a solo from Francesco, filled out in the bottom end by Luka‘s bass. The difference is confidence.

I wouldn’t call II or even I tentative in their approach, but what the band has wanted to accomplish has grown along with their sound, and in “Burn Your Child,” “St. Barnabas” and “Red Pig” — two near-eight-minute tracks bookending the nine-minute “St. CANCERVO (Photo by Christian Riva)Barnabas” — their ambitions resonate in kind with the drear, reaching into more extreme fare for a d-beat stretch in “Burn Your Child” that admirably holds to the same riff that led into it before going back to the second of three choruses, the last of which swaps “wife” for “child” in the lyrics and leads to another furious solo and speedy drum breakout to finish. Momentum on their side, the trio feel willful in the contrasting quiet open to “St. Barnabas,” which builds up around the guitar over its first minute before ultimately slamming into its grueling procession. As noted below, Cancervo take their lyrical inspiration from regional folklore, and while the connection between a saint who lived in Cyprus isn’t immediate, in nearby Milan, there’s a sect called the Barnabites that was founded in the 1500s, so yeah, it fits, and yeah, I had to look all that up. You’re welcome.

“St. Barnabas” lumbers to its close and brings about the final immersion of “Red Pig,” with a looser-feeling chant and a resumption of the overarching nod that has been at the core all along and remains even as the finale shifts after three-plus minutes into more ambient sounds, either actual bells or evocations thereof soon enough transitioning back into the riff as Cancervo drop hints as to where their continued explorations of style and craft might lead without giving up the for-the-converted worship of slow-delivered distortion until the solo builds on “Sacrilegious Mass” and “Burn Your Child” and “St. Barnabas” with a more brazen overall freakout. But that they know who they are is never in doubt across III, and sure enough, “Red Pig” turns back to a few measures of riff to end, the message of structural priority consistent and welcome.

Because of the thread of progression across their work thus far, I’m not at all willing to say Cancervo are done growing or that they’ve realized everything they could ever hope to do musically here. They follow patterns well, and that helps give III a defined shape where much cult-leaning doom feels content to disappear in its own murk, and it’s easy to imagine that intention as a way for them to keep pushing themselves as songwriters and performers. As it stands, III comes across as sure of what it wants to be and casts Cancervo as increasingly individual within their genre, finding their niche and taking it as far into the depths as they can go, candles lit for thanatos behind them. Until they next arise, then.

PR wire background follows the full stream of III on the player below.

Please enjoy:

Cancervo, III album premiere

Cancervo derive their name from an iconic mountain near Bergamo, Italy, nestled in a valley steeped in rich traditions and folklore. Charmed by the tale of a mythical creature, part dog and part deer, that roamed on Cancervo, three local heavy riff enthusiasts from San Giovanni Bianco formed the band as a homage to their cherished valley and its mystical legends.

Their 2021 debut, simply titled I, represents local places and myths. A complete instrumental outing, the album dabbles in sedating psych, deserted stoner/doom, and preternatural prog.

II, the sophomore album, released in 2023, continues Cancervo’s occult narratives of their land. In search of doom roots, the album takes more and more motivating forces from the early ’70s and passably abandons the psych moments of the first album. Unlike the first full-length, I, which was entirely instrumental, this record incorporates vocals on most tracks.

The forthcoming full-length, III, heralds a darker and more introspective phase for the band. Each track on the last album evolved from concert to concert, paving the way for this transformative phase. A distinct vocal presence emerges as the guiding force, alongside the inevitable and recognizable doomy riffs that have always been the trio’s trademark. This tale promises to immerse listeners in the timeless struggle between the sacred and the profane — a theme deeply ingrained in the folklore of the valley beneath the shadow of Mount Cancervo.

Track Listing:
1. Intro (1:52)
2. Sacrilegious Mass (5:50)
3. Burn Your Child (7:52)
4. St. Barnabas (9:02)
5. The Red Pig (7:55)

Album Credits:
All songs written and played by Cancervo. (“Intro” written and played by Fido)
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Alessandro “Otto” Galli at the Otto Engineering Mobile Studio 2029.
Band Photo by Christian Riva.
Graphics by EVR Studio.

Band Lineup:
Luka – Bass & Vocals
Francesco – Guitars
Sam – Drums

Cancervo on Facebook

Cancervo on Instagram

Cancervo on Bandcamp

Electric Valley Records website

Electric Valley Records on Facebook

Electric Valley Records on Instagram

Electric Valley Records on Bandcamp

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Haunted Premiere “Garden of Evil” Video; Stare at Nothing Out April 19

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on March 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Haunted Stare At Nothing album cover

Italian murk-doomers Haunted are set to make their label debut on Ripple Music April 19 with their third album overall, Stare at Nothing. Below, they premiere the third single, “Garden of Evil.” Based in Catania, which rests at the foot of the volcano Mt. Etna in Sicily, the four-piece made their self-titled debut (review here) in 2016 through Twin Earth Records — see also KabbalahValkyrieStars That Move; any association with the label helmed by Richard Bennett of Stars That Move and Starchild is an automatic endorsement of quality of tone in my mind — and followed with the dug-in 2LP Dayburner (review here) in 2018, also on Twin Earth Records as well as DHU Records and Graven Earth Records. The jump to Ripple for the nine-song/46-minute lurch, churn and brood of Stare at Nothing comes across as something the band have been building toward, and they meet that moment with due command of their approach, no less doomed for dwelling as it does in ethereal mists.

If you’re wondering why it was two years between their first two albums and it’s been six between the second and third, first of all, time is all pretend. Second, duh, pandemic. Third, it could be that swapping out more than half their lineup had something to do with it. Since DayburnerHaunted have moved from two guitars to one and brought in a new drummer, leaving vocalist Cristina Chimirri and bassist Frank Tudisco as the remaining members from the debut as new guitarist Kim Crowley takes the mantle of riff-conjuration and Luca Strano sets forth a roll in “Catamorph” after Stare at Nothing‘s intro that becomes a thread through the volume changes of “Garden of Evil” and into the bleakly psych-leaning “Back to the Nest,” drawing together the flow of side A as it heads toward its 7:25 capper “Malevolent” and the bombast it brings to the creeper-vibe melodic doom and surrounding tonal density. Immersion is key to the intent, as the whispers and cultish aural obscurities of “Intro” convey at the outset, and Haunted feel purposeful in that without hauntedlosing themselves in the consumption of their own making as they stride toward oblivion.

Those who caught wind either of Haunted or Dayburner likely already know that Virginia’s Windhand have been a touchstone comparison point up to now in the band’s output. I won’t tell you that’s not still a factor, but with a greater depth of layering and harmony from Chimirri, the guitar howls that offset the low distortion in “Potsherds” as the song rears back for its next sneakily uptempo verse, the exploration of minimal spaces in “Catamorph,” “Garden of Evil” and the even-more-mournful voice-and-guitar piece “Fall of the Seven Veils,” and the way the title-track seems to stomp that much harder before giving over to eight-minute nod-revelry closer “Waratah Blossom,” Haunted commit themselves to the craft of identity through their material, and the effort pays off in a more individualized sound within the sphere of modern cult doom. While resonating a lost kind of despondency, they nonetheless come across as wholly engaged in what they’re doing. It feels daring to suggest, but they might even be enjoying themselves?

Too far? Okay, fair enough.

In all seriousness, that a passion for the dark arts is so prevalent throughout the atmosphere of Stare at Nothing isn’t really anything new for Haunted or the corners of microgenre in which they lurk, but throughout these songs, they communicate malaise without giving up the immersive tonality that’s been on their side all along, despite the lineup changes. The band recorded last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if pieces like “Garden of Evil” and “Stare at Nothing” date back longer, as they at least feel like they’ve been stewing and worked on for a while, whether or not that’s actually the case. Alongside the general development Haunted have taken on in terms of their sound throughout the last half-decade-plus, the potential for further growth as a four-piece if in fact they want to keep the current configuration, the consciousness emergent in Stare at Nothing goes beyond actually thinking about where a given part of a song is going to end up, extrapolating across the entirety of the record as a whole, varied landscape no less notable for its melodic reach in the end than for its monolithic riffing.

PR wire info follows the “Garden of Evil” premiere below. Please enjoy:

Haunted, “Garden of Evil” video premiere

From the upcoming full-length album by Italian Occult Doomers HAUNTED – this is the third single, “Garden of Evil.”

The full album, “Stare at Nothing”, will be available thru Ripple Music on Vinyl/CD/Digital on April 19, 2024! Pre-order your copy at one of the links below!

US Customers – Pre-order physical copies @
EURO Customers – Pre-order your physical copy @
Or get your digital AND physical copies WORLDWIDE @

Dark and twisted, the follow-up to 2018’s critically-lauded “Dayburner” dives even deeper into traditional doom territory with Kim Crowley’s ominous Vitus-esque riffs rolling over the listener upon each chord on top of the now-foursome’s sharp and harrowing rhythm section. Vocalist Cristina Chimirri’s mystical siren-like incantations slowly drag you thousands feet deep into the abyss, making “Stare At Nothing” a vibrant pitch-black doom release.

Recorded & Mixed by Carlo Longo at NuevArte Studio, Catania, IT – June 2023
Mastered by Esben Willems at Studio Berserk, Gothenburg, SE – Aug 2023
Album Cover Photo by Kristina Lerner
Visualizer Video by Matt Wood of Ripple Music

Haunted is:
Cristina Chimirri: Keening
Kim Crowley: Guitars
Luca Strano: Battery
Frank Tudisco: Low

Haunted, Stare at Nothing (2024)

Haunted on Facebook

Haunted on Instagram

Haunted on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Facebook

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Ufomammut Announce Hidden LP Out May 17; “Leeched” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Italian cosmic doom progenitors Ufomammut have always believed presentation matters and they’ve got the closely-associated Malleus visual arts studio to prove it, but I can’t remember them ever quite going so deep into that notion as to manifest an album’s concept in the actual piece of plastic to which it’s pressed. Yeah, they’ve done special editions and on-theme colors, but Hidden takes that another step as you can read in the just-got-here PR wire info below. See also the sense of crushing weight and consuming atmosphere that’s defined most of their output over the course of the last two-and-a-half-plus decades. That seems to be well intact too, as demonstrated in their new animated video for “Leeched,” the first single from what will be their 10th full-length, out May 17 through Neurot Recordings and their own Supernatural Cat imprint.

Newfomammut is always good news as far as I’m concerned. Last Fall, they offered a sneak peak at Hidden‘s direction in the Crookhead EP (review here), the title-track from which features as the new record’s opener. “Leeched” finds the three-piece digging into the heart of their approach with clarity and efficiency across its five minutes, but if the other nine Ufomammut albums — the last of which was Fenice (review here), released just in 2022 — have taught us anything, it’s that you never know all the places the band will explore until you’re actually in the whole record itself. Even then sometimes you might lose track of where you’re at. Don’t worry, that’s part of the thing too.

Something to look forward to:

ufomammut hidden

UFOMAMMUT: Italian Psychedelic Doom Trio To Release Tenth Album, Hidden, On Neurot Recordings/Supernatural Cat Records On May 17th; Animated Video For “Leeched” + Album Details And Preorders Posted

Italian psychedelic doom metal trio UFOMAMMUT celebrates their 25th Anniversary in 2024 including the release of their massive tenth studio full-length, Hidden. Today, the band confirms the album for May release on Neurot Recordings/Supernatural Cat Records, unveiling the cover art, track listing, preorders, and an animated video for the song “Leeched.”

Rising from the ashes of their prior band Judy Corda, UFOMAMMUT formed in the late 1990s by Poia (guitars, effects) and Urlo (bass, vocals, effects, synths), together with Vita (drums). With Levre taking over on drums in 2021, the band has undergone a rebirth, culminating in the release of the 2022-released Fenice LP, and on Halloween 2023, the Crookhead EP.

Over the course of two-and-a-half decades, UFOMAMMUT has developed a unique sound that combines heavy, dynamic riff worship with a deep understanding of psychedelic tradition in music, which has resulted in a cosmic, futuristic, and technicolor sound that fully immerses listeners. They’ve produced a wide spectrum of albums, EPs, live albums, a box set, compilation tracks, and covers – including a track on the Superunknown Redux Soundgarden tribute album.

Now, in 2024, as they celebrate their quarter-century milestone, UFOMAMMUT is set to release their tenth LP, Hidden. This album marks a shift in the band’s musical composition, aiming for a more intense and heavy sound, as they have displayed over the prior two releases. The title, Hidden, reflects the concept of the presence of everything in our existence and the ability to bring to light what lies within us. With Hidden, the band delves into a sonic journey that traverses vast expanses of space and time. From the crushing heaviness to the hauntingly melodies, from the textured compositions to the otherworldly atmospheres, Hidden testifies to the never-ending evolution of UFOMAMMUT and their mastery of creating immersive sonic experiences: a fitting celebration of their 25 years of sonic exploration and experimentation.

Like any good psychedelic trip, the music of UFOMAMMUT has always been inextricably intertwined with visual art. Poia describes longer compositions, “like a painting,” as if to reinforce the relevance and importance of visual art in their music. And as always, the artwork, videos, and all visuals/graphics for Hidden were created by Malleus Rock Art Lab, the rock/music graphic design collective of which Poia and Urlo are part of with Lu.

Hidden was recorded at Flat Scenario Studio in Piemonte, Italy, with Lorenzo Stecconi handling the mixing and mastering, and Luca Grossi overseeing vocal tracking.

With the lead single, Poia writes, “‘Leeched,’ the first song from the new full-length album Hidden, perfectly represents the new direction of UFOMAMMUT, which began with the album Fenice and continued with the EP Crookhead and reiterates once again that there are no failures or hesitations in our sonic research.

The fusion between heaviness and psychedelia, an obsession of the band since the beginning, takes on a new, changing form in ‘Leeched.’”

Hidden will be released on CD, LP, and digital on May 17th, in North America through Neurosis’ Neurot Recordings, the vinyl pressed on a Silver Nugget variant in a gatefold jacket. In Europe, the band’s Supernatural Cat Records will release it, a standard version on 180-gram Marbled Purple And Black variant, and a limited version of 500 copies on 180-gram Crystal Clear variant crafted by hand using photosensitive colors that are activated by sunlight, bringing the concept of the album to life, with multiple bundles and options.

Find US preorders/presaves at Neurot Recordings HERE:

EU preorders at Supernatural Cat HERE:

Hidden Track Listing:
1. Crookhead
2. Kismet
3. Spidher
4. Mausoleum
5. Leeched
6. Soulost

UFOMAMMUT will be touring regularly in support of Hidden, with a long list of tour dates already announced across Europe and the UK through all of May and into June, with much more being plotted. See the current 25 Years Anniversary Tour listings at the band’s website HERE:

Poia – guitars
Urlo – bass, vocals, effects, synths
Levre – drums
Ciccio – soundlord

Ufomammut, “Leeched” official video

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Full Album Premiere & Review: Hijss, Stuck on Common Ground

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


This Friday, March 8, marks the arrival of Hijss‘ debut album, Stuck on Common Ground, which is many things throughout its varied 10 tracks but pointedly not stuck and well removed from common ground in terms of style. Issued through Heavy Psych Sounds, the first offering from the Northern Italian three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Alexander “Lois Lane” Ebner, bassist/synthesist Heinrich Pan and drummer Maurice Bellotti (also Deadsmoke), is both strikingly ambitious and admirably low-key about it.

It’s an aural meld they call “cosmic grunge,” which is a tag I’ve used here as descriptor for acts like Hijss‘ labelmates Oreyeon, as well as Sun Voyager, Terry Gross, and a couple others over the years, but that doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the totality of what they do. Following the loose-swing-into-emergent-push of opener “Ingraved” — and mind you I’ve seen the band’s name, album and track titles in both all-caps and all-lowercase, so I’m writing it normal because perhaps the situation is fluid, which actually fits the record’s character well — the modern heavy space boogie of “1234me” solidifies around its bassline and dug-in drumming, guitar and vocals in their own place until the harder tone kicks in and is consuming. Like side B leadoff, “1234me” was a prior single, posted by the trio in 2021 — the tracks have been taken down, but I was assuming they’d re-recorded them for the LP, which was engineered, mixed and mastered by Toni Quiroga and co-produced by the band — and its rhythmic urgency serves as preface to the quirky, krauty bounce in “Train Tracks” supplemented with synth, as well as the motorik vibing in “Narcolepsy” or even the lighter post-punk resonance around the three-minute mark in “Black Disease.”

Drawing the material together is an organic-but-not-necessarily-low-fi production that sits Ebner‘s throaty vocals over Pan‘s blunt-object-impact low end, and that allows for “Headless Blues” to chug in its sneaky linear build like a ’90s downer before its payoff offers a brief moment of shimmering expanse. Hijss broaden the album’s atmospherics further with the drifting “Interlude #1” on side A, with a melancholy contemplation of standalone guitar, and “Interlude #2” on side B, on which Pan joins and some backing drone lingers behind before sweeping into the penultimate “Blow Out,” but they’re hardly so compartmentalized or otherwise rigid that the swaying “Ingraved” doesn’t also serve as a whole-album intro while establishing the punker undercurrent noted in the PR wire info below — consider the vocal delivery and some of the shove in the riffier sections, even coated in effects as they may be — and six-minute capper “Tilt Mode” doesn’t feel like a corresponding summary of the record’s scope at the finish. It doesn’t always sound like it, which is part of the appeal, hijss stuck on common groundbut there’s a plan at work in each of these pieces and in the flow of their arrangement on the LP itself.

Modern in their point of view lyrically as well as in the transmogrification of space rock and terrestrial tonal heft — I don’t know if they’d get lumped in the post-King Gizzard, post-Slift spheres, but maybe; they strike me as mellower on the whole — Hijss offer the assessment, “Everyone is socializing but human contact is very rare,” in semi-spoken fashion on “Black Disease.” It’s a standout line cleverly marking one of the ironies of our age in the loneliness that can take hold when interpersonal communication becomes a mass broadcast instead of a conversation, the effect of social media on discourse, culture and mental health. “Black Disease” doesn’t linger or grow indulgently philosophical, instead hitting its mark and then drifting out, and is just one of the places Hijss go sonically, but gives timely relevance to correspond to a style drawing from decades’ worth of influences, including those from punk rock.

As “Blow Out” offers the tightest instance of songcraft and “Tilt Mode” the most spacious back-to-back at the record’s finish, I’m not ready to call Hijss settled really on any level, and in the context of the songs I mean it as a compliment. They’re exploring here, and accordingly Stuck on Common Ground is an adventure to undertake, manageable at 36 minutes, and I’m sure when they follow it up either in five years or five months from now (it really could go either way; time is fun pretend) one will be able to hear the foundations of their progression in hindsight with these songs, but I’m not about to hazard a guess as to where they’re headed or how the intention here will shake out subsequently. Which is exciting. It’s the beginning point of an excursion into the unknown, and Hijss bring immediate, stark individuality in a complex aesthetic that feels most traditional in its spirit of defying tradition. Maybe that doesn’t make sense now, but it might if you listen. Be ready to contradict your expectations.

And if you made it through reading the above, thanks. Looking back at it, I interrupted myself a lot there and kind of jumped around, but Hijss have that restless energy too, within and between its songs. Makes its own kind of sense. I’ll take the lesson and try to do the same.

If you’re up for it, Stuck on Common Ground premieres in full below, followed by more from the aforementioned PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Hijss, Stuck on Common Ground album premiere

HIJSS – Stuck on Common Ground



Stuck on common ground is the debut album of the Italian Power Trio hijss.

With a mixture of heavy blues influenced riffs and synthesized Krautrock parts hijss tries to create a high dynamic range that will keep your attention at all time. On top of gritty basslines and ferocious drums lie cosmic guitars, tantalizing vocals and arpeggiated electronic drones. All three band members come from a vast musical background. Their common denominator is without a doubt a punkish attitude.

The album was produced by Toni Quiroga and hijss, drums were recorded at Nologo Recording Studio, Laives by “holy barbarian” Fabio Sforza. Engineered, mixed and mastered at accept productions by Toni Quiroga, album cover by Luca Guarino.


INGRAVED – 02:48
1234 ME – 04:37
INTERLUDE #1 – 02:30

INTERLUDE #2 – 00:56
BLOW OUT – 03:43
TILT MODE – 06:12

Composer Name: Alexander Ebner, Heinrich Pan, Maurice Bellotti
Songwriter: Alexander Ebner
Producer: accept productions, Toni Quiroga & hijss
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records
Recorded: drums at Nologo Recording Studio, Laives (BZ) by “holy barbarian” Fabio Sforza
Engineer: accept productions, Toni Quiroga
Mixed: accept productions, Toni Quiroga
Mastered: accept productions, Toni Quiroga
Cover Artwork: Luca Guarino

Lois Lane – guitar/vocals
Maurice – drums
Pan – bass/synth

Hijss on Facebook

Hijss on Instagram

Hijss on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Quarterly Review: Megaton Leviathan, Merlin, Stonerhenge, Guiltless, MR.BISON, Slump & At War With the Sun, Leather Lung, Citrus Citrus, Troubled Sleep, Observers

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan


So this is it, but before we — you and I, not at the same time but together nonetheless — dive into the final 10 records of this well-still-basically-winter-but-almost-spring-and-god-damn-I-wish-winter-was-over Quarterly Review, how about a big, deep breath, huh? There. In occupational therapy and other teach-you-how-to-keep-your-shit-together circles, deep breathing is spoken of like it’s a magic secret invented in 1999, and you know what, I think it was. That shit definitely didn’t exist when I was a kid. Can be helpful though, sometimes, if you need just to pause for a second, literally a second, and stop that rush in your brain.

Or my brain. Because I’m definitely talking about me and I’ve come to understand in time not everyone’s operates like mine, even aside from whatever I’ve got going on neurologically, sensorially, emotionally or in terms of mental health. Ups and downs to that, as regards human experience. There are a great many things that I’m useless at. This is what I can do, so I’m doing it. Put your head down, keep working. I can do that. 10 records left? Easy. You might say I did the same thing yesterday, and that was already my busiest day, so this is gravy. And gravy, in its various contexts, textures, tastes, and delivery modes, is delicious. I hope you heard something new this week that you enjoyed. If not yet, there’s still hope.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Megaton Leviathan, Silver Tears

Megaton Leviathan Silver Tears

I’ll confess that when I held this spot for groundfloor now-Asoria, Oregon, dronegazers Megaton Leviathan, I was thinking of their Dec. 2023 instrumental album, Magick Helmet, with its expansive and noisy odes to outsider experimentalism of yore, but then founding principal Andrew James Costa Reuscher (vocals, guitars, synth, bass, etc.) announced a new lineup with the rhythm section of Alex Wynn (bass) and Tory Chappell (drums) and unveiled “Silver Tears” as the first offering from this new incarnation of the band, and its patient, swirling march and meditative overtones wouldn’t be ignored, however otherwise behind I might be. Next to Magick Helmet, “Silver Tears” is downright straightforward in its four-plus minutes, strong in its conveyance of an atmosphere that’s molten and maybe trying to get lost in its own trance a bit, which is fair enough for the hypnotic cast of the song’s ending. The lesson, as ever with Megaton Leviathan, is that you can’t predict what they’ll do next, and that’s been the case since their start over 15 years ago. One assumes the new lineup will play live and that Reuscher will keep pushing into the ether. Beyond that, they could head anywhere and not find a wrong direction.

Megaton Leviathan on Facebook

Megaton Leviathan on Instagram

Merlin, Grind House

merlin grind house

They put their own spin on it, of course, but there’s love at heart in Merlin‘s take on the classic “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” jingle that serves as the centerpiece of Grind House, and indeed, the seven-song late-2023 long-player unfolds as an intentional cinematic tribute, with “Feature Presentation” bringing the lights down with some funkier elevator vibes before “The Revenger” invents an ’80s movie with its hook alone, “Master Thief ’77” offers precisely the action-packed bassline and wah you would hope, “Endless Calamity” horror-soundtracks with keyboard, “Blood Money” goes west with due Dollars Trilogy flourish, and the 12-minute “Grindhouse,” which culls together pieces of all of the above — “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” included — and adds a voiceover, which even though it doesn’t start with “In a world…” sets its narrative forth with the verve of coming attractions, semi-over-the-top and thus right on for where Merlin have always resided. Interpreting movie music, soundtracks and the incidental sounds of the theater experience, isn’t by any means the least intuitive leap the Kansas City four-piece could make, and the ease with which they swap one style for another underscores how multifaceted their sound can be while remaining their own. If you get it, you’ll get it.

Merlin on Facebook

Merlin on Instagram

Stonerhenge, Gemini Twins

stonerhenge gemini twins

After what seem to have been a couple more group-oriented full-lengths and an initial solo EP, Minsk-based heavy rockers Stonerhenge seem to have settled around the songwriting of multi-instrumentalist Serge “Skrypa” Skrypničenka. The self-released Gemini Twins is the third long-player from the mostly-instrumental Belarusian project, though the early 10-minute cut “The Story of Captain Glosster” proves crucial for the spoken word telling its titular tale, which ties into the narrative derived Gemini myth and the notion of love as bringing two halves of one whole person together, and there are other vocalizations in “Time Loop” and “Hypersleep,” the second half of “Starship Troopers,” and so on, so the songs aren’t without a human presence tying them together as they range in open space. This is doubly fortunate, as Skrypničenka embarks on movements of clear-eyed, guitar-led progressive heavy exploration, touching on psychedelia without getting too caught up in effects, too tricky in production, or too far removed from the rhythm of the flowing “Solstice” or the turns “Over the Mountain” makes en route its ah-here-we-are apex. Not without its proggy indulgences, the eight-song/46-minute collection rounds out with “Fugit Irreparable Tempus,” which in drawing a complete linear build across its five minutes from clean tone to a distorted finish, highlights the notion of a plot unfolding.

Stonerhenge on Facebook

Stonerhenge on Instagram

Guiltless, Thorns


Guiltless make their debut with the four songs of Thorns on Neurot Recordings, following on in some ways from where guitarist, vocalist, noisemaker and apparent-spearhead Josh Graham (also ex-Battle of Mice, Red Sparowes, Neurosis visuals, etc.) and guitarist/more-noisemaker Dan Hawkins left off in A Storm of Light, in this case recording remotely and reincorporating drummer Billy Graves (also Generation of Vipers) and bringing in bassist Sacha Dunable, best known for his work in Intronaut and for founding Dunable Guitars. Gruff in the delivery vocally and otherwise, and suitably post-apocalyptic in its point of view, “All We Destroy” rumbles its assessment after “Devour-Collide” lays out the crunching tonal foundation and begins to expand outward therefrom, with “Dead Eye” seeming to hit that much harder as it rolls its wall o’ low end over a detritus-strewn landscape no more peaceful in its end than its beginning, with subsequent closer “In Radiant Glow” more malleable in tempo before seeming to pull itself apart lurching to the finish. I’d say I hope our species ultimately fares a bit better than Thorns portrays, but I have to acknowledge that there’s not much empirical evidence to base that on. Guiltless play these songs like an indictment.

Guiltless on Facebook

Neurot Recordings website

MR.BISON, Echoes From the Universe

mr.bison echoes from the universe

The latest check-in from the dimension of Italian four-piece MR.BISON, Echoes From the Universe is the band’s most realized work to-date. It’s either their third LP or their fifth, depending on what counts as what, but where it sits in the discography is second to how much the effort stands out generally. Fostering a bright, lush sound distinguished through vocal harmonies and arrangement depth, the seven-song collection showcases the swath of elements that, at this point, has transcended its influence and genuinely found a place of its own. Space rock, Elderian prog, classic harmonized melody, and immediate charge in “The Child of the Night Sky” unfold to acoustics kept going amid dramatic crashes and the melodic roll of “Collision,” with sepia nostalgia creeping into the later lines of “Dead in the Eye” as the guitar becomes more expansive, only to be grounded by the purposeful repetitions of “Fragments” with the last-minute surge ending side A to let “The Promise” fade in with bells like a morning shimmer before exploring a cosmic breadth; it and the also-seven-minute “The Veil” serving as complement and contrast with the latter’s more terrestrial swing early resolving in a an ethereal wash to which “Staring at the Sun,” the finale, could just as easily be referring as to its own path of tension and release. I’ve written about the album a couple times already, but I wanted to put it here too, pretty much just to say don’t be surprised when you see it on my year-end list.

MR.BISON on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Slump & At War With the Sun, SP/LIT

slump at war with the sun split

You’d figure with the slash in its title, the split release pairing UK sludge upstarts At War With the Sun and Slump, who are punk-prone on “Dust” and follow the riff on “Kneel” to a place much more metal, would break down into two sides between ‘SP’ and ‘LIT,’ but I’m not sure either At War With the Sun‘s “The Garden” (9:54) or the two Slump inclusions, which are three and seven minutes, respectively, could fit on a 7″ side. Need a bigger platter, and fair enough for holding the post-Eyehategod disillusioned barks of “The Garden” and the slogging downer groove they ride, or the way Slump‘s two songs unite around more open verses, the guitar dropping out in the strut of “Dust” and giving space to vocals in “Kneel,” even as each cut works toward its own ends stylistically. The mix on Slump‘s material is more in-your-face where At War With the Sun cast an introverted feel, but you want to take the central message as ‘Don’t worry, England’s still miserable,’ and keep an eye to see where both bands go from here as they continue to develop their approaches, I don’t think anyone’ll tell you you’re doing it wrong.

At War With the Sun on Facebook

At War With the Sun on Bandcamp

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Leather Lung, Graveside Grin

leather lung graveside grin

They know it’s gonna get brutal, the listener knows it’s gonna get brutal, and Massachusetts riff rollers Leather Lung don’t waste time in getting down to business on Graveside Grin, their awaited, middle-fingers-raised debut full-length on Magnetic Eye Records. An established live act in the Northeastern US with a sound culled from the seemingly disparate ends of sludge and party rock — could they be the next-gen inheritors of Weedeater‘s ‘ I don’t know how this is a good time but it is’ character? time will tell — the 40-minute 11-songer doesn’t dwell long in any one track, instead building momentum over a succession of pummelers on either side of the also-pummeling “Macrodose Interlude” until “Raised Me Rowdy,” which just might be an anthem, if a twisted one, fades to its finish. I’ve never been and will never be cool enough for this kind of party, but Leather Lung‘s innovation in bringing fun to extreme sounds and their ability to be catchy and caustic at the same time isn’t something to ignore. The time they’ve put in on EPs and touring shows in the purpose and intensity with which they execute “Empty Bottle Boogie” or the modern-metal guitar contortions of “Guilty Pleasure,” but they are firm in their purpose of engaging their audience on their own level, and accessible in that regard. And as raucous as they get, they’re never actually out of control. That’s what makes them truly dangerous.

Leather Lung on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store

Citrus Citrus, Albedo Massima

citrus citrus albedo massima

A new(-ish) band releasing their first album through Sulatron Records would be notable enough, but Italy’s Citrus Citrus answer that significant endorsement with scope on Dec. 2023’s Albedo Massima, veering into and out of acid-laced traditions in what feels like a pursuit, like each song has a goal it’s chasing whether or not the band knew that when they started jamming. Drift and percussive intrigue mark the outset with “Sunday Morning in the Sun,” which lets “Lost It” surprise as it shifts momentarily into fuzzier, Colour Haze-y heavy psych as part of a series of tradeoffs that emerge, a chorus finish emphasizing structure. The Mediterranean twists of “Fantachimera” become explosively heavy, and that theme continues in the end of “Red Stone Seeds” after that centerpiece’s blown out experimental verses, keyboard drift building to heft that would surprise if not for “Lost It” earlier, while “Sleeping Giant” eschews that kind of tonal largesse for a synthier wash before “Frozen\Sun” creates and fills its own mellow and melancholy reaches. All the while, a pointedly organic production gives the band pockets to weave through dynamically, and melody abides. Not at all inactive, or actually that mellow, Albedo Massima resonates with the feel of an adventure just beginning. Here’s looking forward.

Citrus Citrus on Instagram

Sulatron Records webstore

Troubled Sleep, A Trip Around the Sun & Solitary Man

troubled sleep a trip around the sun

Two initial tracks from Swedish newcomers Troubled Sleep, released as separate standalone singles and coupled together here because I can, “A Trip Around the Sun” and “Solitary Man” show a penchant for songwriting in a desert-style sphere, the former coming across as speaking to Kyuss-esque traditionalism while “Solitary Man” pushes a little further into classic heavy and more complex melodies while keeping a bounce that aligns to genre. Both are strikingly cohesive in their course and professional in their production, and while the band has yet to let much be known about their overarching intentions, whether they’re working toward an album or what, they sound like they most definitely could be, and I’ll just be honest and say that’s a record I’ll probably want to hear considering the surety with which “A Trip Around the Sun” and “Solitary Man” are brought to life. I’m not about to tell you they’re revolutionizing desert rock or heavy rock more broadly, but songs this solid don’t usually happen by accident, and Troubled Sleep sound like they know where they’re headed, even if the listener doesn’t yet. The word is potential and the tracks are positively littered with it.

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Troubled Sleep on Bandcamp

Observers, The Age of the Machine Entities

observers the age of the machine entities

I’m not sure how the double-kick intensity and progressive metal drive translates to the stately-paced, long-shots-of-things-floating-in-space of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Observers‘ debut, The Age of the Machine Entities, is sweeping enough to bridge cynical headscratching. And of course there were the whole lightspeed freakout and we-invented-murder parts of Arthur C. Clarke’s narrative as well, so there’s room for All India Radio‘s Martin Kennedy, joined by bassist Rich Gray, drummer Chris Bohm and their included host of guests to conjure the melodic wash of “Strange and Beautiful” after the blasting declarations of “Into the Eye” at the start, with “Pod Bay Doors” interpreting that crucial scene in the film through manipulated sampling (not exclusive to it), and the 11-minute “Metaphor” unfurls a subtly-moving, flute-featuring ambience ahead of the pair “The Star Child” and “The Narrow Way Part II” wrap by realigning around the project’s metallic foundation, which brings fresh perspective to a familiar subject in the realm of science fiction.

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Observers on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Deadpeach, SÂVER, Ruben Romano, Kosmodrom, The Endless, Our Maddest Edges, Saint Omen, Samsara Joyride, That Ship Has Sailed, Spiral Guru

Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. If you’ve been here before — and I do this at least four times a year, so maybe you have and maybe you haven’t — I’m glad you’re back, and if not, I’m glad you’re here at all. These things are always an undertaking, and in a vacuum, I’m pretty sure busting out 10 shorter reviews per day would be a reasonably efficient process. I don’t live in a vacuum. I live vacuuming.

Metaphorically, at least. Looking around the room, it’s pretty obvious ‘vacuum life’ is intermittent.

Today we hit the halfway mark of this standard-operating-procedure QR, and we’ll get to 30 of the 50 releases to be covered by the time Friday is done or die trying, as that’s also the general policy. As always, I hope you find something in this batch of 10 that you dig. Doesn’t have to be any more of a thing than that. Doesn’t need to change your life, just maybe take the moment you’re in and make it a little better.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Deadpeach, The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

Deadpeach The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

A new full-length from Italian cosmic fuzz rockers Deadpeach doesn’t come along every day. Though the four-piece here comprised of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni Giovannini, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mrsteveman and drummer Federico Tebaldi trace their beginnings back to 1993, the seven-song/37-minute exploration The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race is just their fourth full-length in that span of 31 years, following behind 2013’s Aurum (review here), though they haven’t been completely absent in that time, with the 2019 unplugged offering Waiting for Federico session (review here), 2022’s Live at Sidro Club, etc. But whether it’s the howling-into-the-void guitar over the methodical toms in the experimental-vibing closer “Loop (Set the Control to Mother Earth),” the mellower intro of “Madras” that leads both to chunky-style chug and the parade of classic-heavy buzz that is “Motor Peach,” what most comes through is the freedom of the band to do what they want in the psychedelic sphere. “Man on the Hill (The Fisherman and the Farmer)” tells its tale with blues rock swing while the subsequent “Cerchio” resolves Beatlesian with bouncy string and horn sounds and is its own realization at the center of the procession before the languid roll of “Monday” (so it goes) picks up its tempo later on. A mostly lo-fi recording still creates an atmosphere, and Deadpeach represent who they are in the weirdo space grunge of “Rust,” toying with influences from a desert that’s surely somewhere on another planet before “Loop (Set the Controls for Mother Earth)” turns repetition into mantra. They might be underrated forever, but Deadpeach only phase into our dimension intermittently and it’s worth appreciating them while they’re here.

Deadpeach on Facebook

Deadpeach website

SÂVER, From Ember and Rust

SAVER From Ember and Rust

In or out of post-metal and the aggressive end of atmospheric sludge, there are few bands currently active who deliver with the visceral force of Oslo’s SÂVER. From Ember and Rust is the second LP from the three-piece of Ole Ulvik Rokseth (guitar), Markus Støle (drums) and Ole Christian Helstad (bass/vocals), and while it signals growth in the synthy meditation worked into “I, Evaporate” after the lead-with-nod opener “Formless,” and the intentionally overwhelming djent chug that pays off the penultimate “The Object,” it is the consuming nature of the 43-minute entirety that is most striking, dynamic in its sprawl and thoughtful in arrangement both within and between its songs — the way the drone starts “Eliminate Distance” and returns to lull the listener momentarily out of consciousness before the bassy start of centerpiece “Ember and Rust” prompts a return ahead of its daring and successful clean vocal foray. That’s a departure, contextually speaking, but noteworthy even as “Primal One” lumbersmashes anything resembling hope to teeny tiny bits, leaving room in its seven minutes to catchy its breath amid grooving proggy chug and bringing back the melodic singing. As much as they revel in the caustic, there’s serenity in the catharsis of “All in Disarray” at the album’s conclusion, and as much as SÂVER are destructive, they’re cognizant of the world they’re building as part of that.

SÂVER on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Ruben Romano The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Departing from the heavy psychedelic blues rock proffered by his main outfit The Freeks, multi-instrumentalist and elsewhere-vocalist Ruben Romano — who also drummed for Fu Manchu and Nebula in their initial incarnations — digs into Western aural themes on his cumbersomely-titled solo debut, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile. To be clear, there is no movie called Twenty Graves Per Mile (yet), and the twice-over-imaginary nature of the concept lets Romano meander a bit in pieces like “Sweet Dream Cowboy” and “Ode to Fallen Oxen,” the latter of which tops its rambling groove with a line of delay twang, while “Chuck Wagon Sorrow” shimmers with outward simplicity with a sneaky depth to its mix (to wit, the space in “Not Any More”). At 10 songs and 27 minutes, the collection isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘feature length,’ but as it hearkens back to the outset with “Load the Wagon (Reprise)” bookending the opener, it is likewise cohesive in style and creative in arrangement, with Romano bringing in various shakers, mouth harp, effects and so on to create his ‘soundtrack’ with a classic Western feel and the inevitable lysergic current. Not as indie or desert chic as Spindrift, who work from a similar idea, but organic and just-came-in-covered-with-dust folkish just the same. If the movie existed, I’d be interested to know which of these tracks would play in the saloon.

Ruben Romano on Facebook

Ruben Romano on Bandcamp

Kosmodrom, Welcome to Reality

Kosmodrom Welcome to Reality

With the seven-minute “Earth Blues” left off the vinyl for want of room, German heavy psychedelic instrumentalists Kosmodrom put a color filter on existence with Welcome to Reality as much as on the cover, shimmering in “Dazed in Space” with a King Buffalo‘ed resonance such that the later, crunchier fuzz roll of “Evil Knievel” feels like a departure. While the three-piece are no doubt rooted in jams, Welcome to Reality presents finished works, following a clear plot in the 10-minute “Quintfrequenz” and the gradual build across the first couple minutes of “Landstreicher” — an intent that comes more into focus a short while later on “Novembersong” — before “Earth Blues” brings a big, pointed slowdown. They cap with “OM,” which probably isn’t named after the band but can be said to give hints in their direction if you want to count its use of ride cymbal at the core of its own build, and which in its last 40 seconds still manages to find another level of heft apparently kept in reserve all along. Well played. As their first LP since 2018, Welcome to Reality feels a bit like it’s reintroducing the band, and in listening, seems most of all to encourage the listener to look at the world around them in a different, maybe more hopeful way.

Kosmodrom on Facebook

Kosmodrom on Bandcamp

The Endless, The Endless

the endless the endless

Heads experienced in post-metal will be able to pick out elements like the Russian Circles gallop in The Endless‘ “Riven” or the Isis-style break the Edmonton-based instrumental unit veers into on “Shadows/Wolves” at the center of their self-titled debut, but as “The Hadeon Eon” — the title of which references the planet’s earliest and most volatile geological era — subtly invites the listener to consider, this is the band’s first recorded output. Formed in 2019, derailed and reconstructed post-pandemic, the four-piece of guitarists Teddy Palmer and Eddy Keyes, bassist James Palmer and drummer Jarred Muir are coherent in their stylistic intent, but not so committed to genre tenets as to forego the sweeter pleasure of the standalone guitar at the start of the nine-minute “Reflection,” soon enough subsumed though it is by the spacious lurch that follows. There and throughout, the band follow a course somewhere between post-metal and atmospheric sludge, and the punch of low end in “Future Archives,” the volume trades between loud and quiet stretches bring a sense of the ephemeral as well as the ethereal, adding character without sacrificing impact in the contrast. Their lack of pretense will be an asset as they continue to develop.

The Endless on Facebook

The Endless on Bandcamp

Our Maddest Edges, Peculiar Spells

Our Maddest Edges Peculiar Spells

Kudos if you can keep up with the shifts wrought from track to track on Our Maddest Edges‘ apparent first long-player, Peculiar Spells, as the Baltimorean solo-project spearheaded by Jeff Conner sets out on a journey of genuine eclecticism, bringing The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age stylistically together and also featuring one of the several included duets on “Swirl Cone,” some grunge strum in “Hella Fucky” after the remake-your-life spoken/ambient intro “Thoughts Can Change,” a choral burst at the beginning of the spoken-word-over-jazz “Slugs,” which of course seems to be about screwing, as well as the string-laced acoustic-led sentimentality on “Red Giant,” the Casio beat behind the bright guitar plucks of “Frozen Season,” the full-tone riffs around which “I Ain’t Done” and “St. Lascivious” are built, and the sax included with the boogie of “The Totalitarian Tiptoe,” just for a few examples of the places its 12 component tracks go in their readily-consumable 37-minute runtime. Along with Conner are a reported 17 guests appearing throughout, among them Stefanie Zaenker (ex-Caustic Casanova). Info is sparse on the band and Conner‘s work more broadly, but his history in the punkish Eat Your Neighbors accounts for some of the post-hardcore at root here, and his own vocals (as opposed to those of the seven other singers appearing) seem to come from somewhere similar. Relatively quick listen, but not a minor undertaking.

Jeff Conner on Bandcamp

Saint Omen, Death Unto My Enemy

saint omen death unto my enemy

Rolling out with the ambient intro before beginning its semi-Electric Wizardly slog in “Taken by the Black,” Death Unto My Enemy is the 2023 debut from New York City’s Saint Omen. Issued by Forbidden Place Records, its gritty nod holds together even as “Evolution of the Demon” threatens to fall apart, samples filling out the spaces not occupied by vocals, communicating themes dark, violent, and occult in pieces like the catchy-despite-its-harsher-vocal “Destroyer” or the dark swirl of “Sinners Crawl.” Feeling darker as it moves through its 10 songs, it saves a particular grim experimentalism for closer “Descent,” but by the time Death Unto My Enemy gets there, surely your mind and soul have already been poisoned and reaped, respectively, by “The Seventh Gate,” “The Black Mass” and the penultimate title-track, that deeper down is the only place left to go. So that’s where you go; a humming abyss of anti-noise. Manhattan has never been a epicenter of cultish doom, but Saint Omen‘s abiding death worship and bleakness — looking at you, “Sleepness” — shift between dramaturge and dug-in lumber, and the balance is only intriguing for the rawness with which it is delivered, harsher in its purpose than sound, but still plenty harsh in sound.

Saint Omen on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records store

Samsara Joyride, The Subtle and the Dense

samsara joyride the subtle and the dense

The psychedelic aspects of Samsara Joyride‘s The Subtle and the Dense feel somewhat compartmentalized, but that’s not necessarily a detriment to the songs, as the solo that tops the drearily moderated tempo of “Too Many Preachers” or the pastoral tones that accompany the bluesier spirit of “Who Tells the Story” emphasize. The Austrian outfit’s second full-length, The Subtle and the Dense seems aware of its varied persona, but whether it’s the swaggering stops of “No One is Free” calling to mind Child or the sax and guest vocals that mark such a turn with “Safe and Sound” at the end, Samsara Joyride are firm in their belief that because something is bluesy or classic doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple. From the layer of acoustic guitar worked into opener “I Won’t Sign Pt. 1” — their first album also had a two-parter, the second one follows directly here as track two — to the gang chorus worked in amid the atmospheric reach of “Sliver,” Samsara Joyride communicate a progressive take on traditionalist aesthetics, managing as few in this end of the heavy music realm ever do to avoid burly masculine caricature in the process. For that alone, easily worth the time to listen.

Samsara Joyride on Facebook

Samsara Joyride on Bandcamp

That Ship Has Sailed, Kingdom of Nothing

that ship has sailed kingdom of nothing

Like a check-in from some alternate-universe version of Fu Manchu who stuck closer to their beginnings in punk and hardcore, Californian heavy noise rockers That Ship Has Sailed tap volatility and riffy groove alike through the five songs of their Kingdom of Nothing EP, with an admirable lack of bullshit included within that net-zero assessment amid the physical push of riffs like “One-Legged Dog” or “Iron Eagle II” when the drums go to half-time behind the guitar and bass. It’s not all turn-of-the-century disaffection and ‘members of’ taglines though as “Iron Eagle II” sludges through its finish and “I Am, Yeah” becomes an inadvertent anthem for those who’ve never quite been able to keep their shit together, “Sweet Journey” becomes a melodic highlight while fostering the heaviest crash, and “Ready to Go” hits like a prequel to Nebula‘s trip down the stoner rock highway. Catchy in spite of its outward fuckall (or at least fuckmost), Kingdom of Nothing is more relatable than friendly or accessible, which feels about right. It’s cool guys. I never got my shit together either.

That Ship Has Sailed on Instagram

That Ship Has Sailed on Bandcamp

Spiral Guru, Silenced Voices

Spiral Guru Silenced Voices

The fourth EP in the 10-year history of Brazi’s Spiral Guru, who also released their Void long-player in 2019 and the “The Fantastic Hollow Man” single in 2021, Silenced Voices is distinguished immediately by the vocal command and range of Andrea Ruocco, and I’d suspect that if you’re already familiar with the band, you probably know that. Ruocco‘s voice, in its almost operatic use of breath to reach higher notes, carries some element of melodic metal’s grandeur, but Samuel Pedrosa‘s fuzz riffing and the fluid roll of bassist José Ribeiro and drummer Alexandre H.G. Garcia on the title-track avoid that trap readily, ending up somewhere between blues, psych, and ’70s swing on “Caves and Graves” but kept modern in the atmosphere fostered by Pedrosa‘s lead guitar. Another high-quality South American band ignored by the gringo-dude-dominant underground of Europe and the US? Probably, but I’m guilty too a decade after Spiral Guru‘s start, so all I can say is I’m doing my best out here. This band should probably be on Nuclear Blast by now. Stick around for “The Cabin Man” and you’d best be ready to dance.

Spiral Guru on Facebook

Spiral Guru on Bandcamp

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