Kanaan and Ævestaden Release Collaborative Single “Habbor og Signe”

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, this came out a bit ago at this point, a week or two, fine. It’s been kind of a busy time, so maybe a bit of slack could be cut. And I know the nature of the internet and music right now is a thing exists for about a week before it’s released and maybe three days thereafter before the next whatever comes along, but this collaborative track between Norwegian trio Kanaan and countrymen neofolk troupe Ævestaden, a take on the traditional song “Habbor og Signe,” is vibrant enough that I wanted to put it here regardless of time, if only to say I hope they do a full record together.

It wouldn’t be the first time Kanaan as a whole turned into another entire band — see also Full Earth — but either way, the way they give a sense of classic shuffle, Nordic folk, and tight progressive turns is engrossing for only being a five-minute jaunt. Maybe it’s a one-off thing, and if so, fine, but it’s vibrant enough that I don’t imagine you’ll have any trouble hearing what I mean about the potential. You’ll find the stream under the links.

The info came from Bandcamp, I’m pretty sure:

kanaan and aevestaden habbor og signe

Here’s a new collaboration that should arouse attention and excite music lovers with open ears. The psychedelic power trio Kanaan and the neo-folk innovators Ævestaden are both among Norway’s busiest and most critically lauded bands. Now, the two powerful young bands combine musical forces, with an altogether unique outcome.

The medieval ballad “Habbor og Signe” has been updated and showcases new musical sides of both Kanaan and Ævestaden.

Produced by Kanaan and Ævestaden. All arrangements by Kanaan and Ævestaden.
Mix and master by Hans Martin Rundberg Austestad.
Rose painting by Eir Vatn Strøm and layout by Jakob Skøtt.
This release was supported by Norsk kulturråd.

Ask Vatn Strøm – guitar, vocals
Eir Vatn Strøm – vocals, kravik lyre
Eskild Myrvoll – bass, vocals
Ingvald André Vassbø – drums, vocals
Kenneth Lien – vocals, electric guitar
Levina Storåkern – vocals, fiddle, octave fiddle




Kanaan & Ævestaden, “Habbor og Signe”

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Kanaan Announce Diversions Vol. 2: Enter the Astral Plane Out Nov. 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Kanaan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Word came through the Stickman Records newsletter — I’m telling you, sign up for that shit — that Kanaan will now be sharing drummer Ingvald André Vassbø with countrymen progressive legends Motorpsycho, and they toured twice this year I think and they signed their side-project Full Earth to Stickman, released their LP Downpour (review here) on Jansen Records and are now about to release the jam collection Diversions Vol. 2: Enter the Astral Plane, an improv LP being issued behind the series opener, Diversions Vol. 1: Softly Through Sunshine, which came out late in 2022. Dudes stay busy, in other words.

If the day goes as I hope, this won’t be the only time I’m talking about how vibrant the Norwegian underground is, but either way, know that Kanaan are a bright spot in it. And the photo above I took at SonicBlast in August (review here), where I was fortunate enough to see them burn down a stage for the second time. Oh, it was fun.

This will be an enjoyable thing to listen to. I hope, if that happens, it makes your day better:

Kanaan Diversions vol ii enter the astral plane


We have a new album coming out November 10th! This one is the second volume in our «Diversions» series, and is a collection of fully improvised Kanaan recordings – our first proper jam album, titled «Enter the Astral Plane»!

Available on our Bandcamp now in four different colours, limited pressing of a 100 of each. Great cover by Robin Gnista, once again released by Jansen Records!

Pre-order: https://kanaanband.bandcamp.com/album/diversions-vol-2-enter-the-astral-plane

No Composition, No Ego, Psych as Religion

Kanaan never rests. Having already released one album and completed two successful European tours in 2023, you would think they’d be happy to catch a breather. But not these guys. In November, volume two in their free-flowing session/impro series, Diversions will be released.

Diversions Vol. 2: Enter the Astral Plane is a collection of improvised compositions recorded in 2021. The record shows a different side of Kanaan, where the aim is to explore different states of mind and musical spaces where collective improvisation is at the forefront. Improvisation has been an important part of the band’s live shows from day one, but it hasn’t been as prominently documented on record – until now.

Freed from the constraints of song structures, Kanaan’s eminent musicianship and boundless creativity is allowed to run wild. These new musical pieces vary between explosivity and youthful exuberance (“Blitz”), combined with a more mature and patient approach to song development (“Enter the Astral Plane”).

Kanaan citing Cream, Jimi Hendrix at the Atlanta Pop Festival, CAN, The Heads, Hawkwind and Ash Ra Temple as inspirations and references should give an idea of the sounds that await the listener. The band states this motto as the ethos for their own brand of space rock: No composition – No ego – Psych as religion.

Kanaan features guitarist Ask Vatn Strøm, drummer Ingvald André Vassbø, and bassist Eskild Myrvoll.



Kanaan, Downpour (2023)

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Kanaan Confirm Spring and Summer Live Dates; Downpour Out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I won’t claim to know where Kanaan are going to end up, sound-wise, but where they are now is fascinating. Their 2023 album, Downpour (review here), came out earlier this month and sees the instrumental Norwegian trio with a well honed, almost carved-seeming, approach to heavy rock that owes as much to the direct, morally-objecting-to-frills riffing of Karma to Burn and the psych-jazz exploration of Causa Sui. And, most crucially, the record doesn’t fall apart from the disparity of those two sides.

Instead, Kanaan thrive on the righteousness of their straightforward grooves while using them also as a foundation for broader creative reach. This has set them among some of the brightest prospects in the next-gen European heavy underground — a grouping with a not-insignificant Norwegian contingent — and the fact that their approach is as malleable to their purposes as the new album portrays it is only going to help them as they continue to grow, hipefully garnering a likewise broader fanbase in the process.

To that end, they’ve got live shows lined up for the next few months that are already underway. They’ll be at Desertfest Berlin this weekend and Esbjerg Fuzztival, SonicBlast Fest, and Down the Hill this Spring and Summer, and unless they’re headed right back in the studio or, you know, stopping to catch their collective breath — which one needs to do every now and again — I wouldn’t be surprised if they picked up even more fests and/or club dates for after this list ends on Sept. 15.

On that too, we’ll have to wait and see. But as someone who’s been lucky enough to do so, I’ll tell you outright that if you can see this band play, even if their studio work hasn’t resonated with you yet, you should make efforts to do that.

Dates follow as per socials:

Kanaan Downpour tour


We’ve just added a row of European shows to our Downpour release tour, come catch us at one of these! First show tomorrow at Spillestedet Stengade in Copenhagen! Tour poster by Henrik Myrvold, all European shows booked by El Borracho Bookings

25/5 BAR 227, HAMBURG (DE)
2/9 TOR 9, BREMEN (DE)

Kanaan features guitarist Ask Vatn Strøm, drummer Ingvald André Vassbø, and bassist Eskild Myrvoll.



Kanaan, Downpour (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Spotlights, Kanaan, Doom Lab, Strange Horizon, Shem, Melt Motif, Margarita Witch Cult, Cloud of Souls, Hibernaut, Grin

Posted in Reviews on May 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Today is the last Quarterly Review day until July. I don’t know yet what shape that QR will take, whether 50 records, 100 records, 700 records or somewhere between. Depends on how the ongoing deluge of releases ebbs and flows as we head into summer. But if you count this and the other part of this Spring’s Quarterly Review, you get a total as of today of 120 releases covered, and considering the prior QR was just in January, and that one was another 100 records that’s a pretty insane amount of stuff for it being May 12.

And that’s basically the moral of the story, again. It’s a ton of stuff to encounter, hear, maybe live with if you’re lucky. I won’t make it a grand thing (I still have too much writing to do), but I hope you’ve found something cool in all this, and if not yet among the 210 albums thus far QR’ed in 2023, then maybe today’s your day as we hit the end of this round.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Spotlights, Alchemy for the Dead

Spotlights Alchemy for the Dead

There are not many boxes that Spotlights‘ fourth album and third for Ipecac, Alchemy for the Dead, leaves unticked. Thematic, musically expansive, finely crafted in its melody and with particular attention to mood as when the bassline joins then leaves behind the acoustic guitar as a preface to the big finish in the closing title-track, it is a consuming, ultra-modern take on heavy rock from the trio of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero, guitarist/synthesist/vocalist Mario Quintero and drummer Chris Enriquez, substantial even before you get to the fact that its 47 minutes push LP format limits, it speaks emotionally in rhythm as much as the thoughtful vocal interplay on “Sunset Burial,” growing intense around a central chug of guitar for one of the album’s more brazenly metal stretches. Elsewhere, standout moments abound, whether it’s the channel-panned snare buried in the second verse of “Algorithmic,” the proggy moodshifting in “Repeat the Silence,” Spotlights becoming what Deftones wanted to be in the heavygaze of “The Alchemist,” drift meeting head-on crash in “Ballad in the Mirror,” which also rolls out a fuzz-tone riff of statistically significant proportion then finds room for a swell of airy guitar before dissipating into the next mellow verse circa 2:30, more crashes to come. With the synth/sax/big-riff-and-shout interplay at the center in “False Gods,” Alchemy for the Dead would seem to mark the arrival at where Spotlights have been heading all along: their own version of a heavy of everything.

Spotlights on Facebook

Ipecac Recordings website


Kanaan, Downpour

Kanaan Downpour

The mellotron in the title-track, surrounded by dense bass, fleet runs of scorch-prone guitar and resoundingly jazzy drumming, emphasizes the point: Kanaan are a band elevating heavy rock to their level. The Norwegian trio aren’t shy when it comes to riffing out, as they demonstrate in the Hedwig Mollestad collaboration on “Amazon” and intermittently throughout Downpour‘s closing pair of “Solaris Pt. 1” and “Solaris Pt. 2,” each topping seven minutes. But neither are they limited to a singular nodding expression. While still sounding young and energetic in a way that just can’t be imitated, Downpour boogies almost immediately on opener “Black Time Fuzz,” and is often heavy and grooving like a straightforward heavy rock record, but as that tambourine in “Orbit” shows, Kanaan are ready at a moment’s notice with a flourish of guitar, some key or synth element, or something else to distinguish their pieces and in the soundscaping of “Psunspot” (sic) and the scope they claim throughout side B, they remain one of Europe’s brightest hopes for a future in progressive heavy, sounding freer in their atmospheres and in the build of “Solaris Pt. 1” than they did even on 2021’s Earthbound (review here). There’s a reason just about every festival in Europe wants them to play. The proverbial band-on-fire.

Kanaan on Instagram

Jansen Records website


Doom Lab, Zen and the Art of Tone

Doom Lab Zen and the Art of Tone

Zen and the Art of Tone, perhaps unsurprisingly, sets itself to the task in its title as Anchorage, Alaska-based Doom Lab mastermind Leo Scheben guides the listener through mostly short-ish instrumental pieces based around guitar, sometimes ultra-fuzzed with a programmed beat behind as on “Whole-Tones on Tail” or the extra-raw 1:24 of “Motörvamp” or the subsequent “Sabotaging the Sabocracy,” a bit clearer at the outset with “X’d Out,” but the drive toward meditation is clear and allows for both the slower, more doomed reaches of closer “Traveling Through the Cosmos at Beyond the Speed of Light” and the playful elder-funk of “The Plot-Twist” or the bounce of “Lydia Ann.” All told, the 12 songs and 36 minutes of experimentation on offer will resonate with some more than others, but Scheben sounds like he’s starting a conversation here with “Mondays Suck it Big-Time” and “Psychic Vampires” and the real question is whether anyone will answer. Sometimes a project comes along that’s just on its own wavelength, finding its own place in the pastiche, and that’s where Doom Lab have been at since the outset, prolific as well as dedicated to exploration. I don’t know toward what it’s all leading, but not knowing is part of enjoying hearing it, and maybe that’s the zen of the whole thing to start with.

Doom Lab on YouTube

Doom Lab on Bandcamp


Strange Horizon, Skur 14

Strange Horizon Skur 14

Barely a year after making their full-length debut on Apollon with Beyond the Strange Horizon (review here), Bergen, Norway, traditionalists dig deeper into the proto-style roots of doom on their four-song second LP, Skur 14. Named after a rehearsal space complex (presumably where they rehearse) in their hometown, the album runs shortest-to-longest in bringing together Scandi-folk-rooted classic prog and heavy styles, but by the time they get to “Tusser Og Troll,” the 14:47 finale, one is less thinking about the past than the future in terms of sound. Acoustic guitar begins “The Road” ahead of the straight-ahead riff and post-punk vocals, while “Cursed and Cast Out” is both speedier in the verse and more open in the hook before shifting into rolls on the snare and more theatrical shove that, much to the band’s credit, they handle fluidly without sounding either ironically over the top or like goobers in any way other than how they want. With the seven-minute “Candles,” the procession is slower and more vintage in form, reminding a bit of Demon Head but following its own anthemic chorus into an extended solo section before side B is dedicated solely to the spread of “Tusser Og Troll,” which ends with an organic-feeling jam laced with effects. A strong second outing on a quick turnaround that shows clear progression — there’s nothing more to be asked of Skur 14.

Strange Horizon on Facebook

Apollon Records store


Shem, III

Shem III

Sure, the third album from Stuttgart drone-psych-jammers Shem — titled III, lest there be any doubt — starts off with its 16-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Paragate,” but given the context, it’s the second cut on side A, “Lamentum” (2:50), that most piqued my interest. It’s a fading in snippet of a progression, the drums steady, volume swells behind a strumming guitar, some vocal chanting as it moves through. Given the entrancing spaciousness of “Restlicht” (7:34) and “Refugium (Beyond the Gravitational Field of Time and Space)” (11:55), I didn’t expect much more than an interlude, and maybe it’s not intended to be, but that shorter piece does a lot in separating the long cut on III‘s first half from the two on the second, so serves a vital purpose. And in that, it represents III well, since even in “Restlicht,” there seems to be a plan unfolding, even if improvisation is a part of that. Bookending, “Paragate” is mellow when it isn’t congealing nebular gasses to make new stars, and “Refugium (Beyond the Gravitational Field of Time and Space)” finds itself in a wormhole wash of guitar while the ride cymbal tries to hold structural integrity together, the whole engine ending up kissing itself goodbye as it shifts from this dimension to one that, let’s be honest, is probably more exciting.

Shem on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store


Melt Motif, Particles. Death Objective

melt motif particles death objective

You ever hear a band’s album and think maybe it worked out better than the band thought it would when they started making it? Like maybe they surprised even themselves? That was Melt Motif‘s 2022 debut, A White Horse Will Take You Home (review here). The heavy industrial outfit founded by Kenneth Rasmus Greve and legit-doesn’t-need-a-last-name vocalist Rakel are joined by Brazilian producer Joe Irente for the curiously punctuated 10-track follow-up, Particles. Death Objective, and though they don’t have the element of surprise on their side this time out (for themselves or listeners), Melt Motif as a trio do expand on what the first album accomplished, bringing ideas from electronic dance music, sultry post-rock and hard-landing beats — plus some particularly striking moments of weighted guitar — to bear such that “Warrior” and “I’m Gone” are assured in not needing to explode with aggression and even with all its ticks and pops, the penultimate “Abyss” is more about atmosphere than impact. “Fever” creates a wash and lurches slow and heavy following on from “Broken Floor” at the beginning, but in “Full Moon” it’s a techno party and “Never_Again” feels like experimentalist hip-hop, so if you thought the book was closed aesthetically on the project, the sophomore outing assures it very much is not. So much the better.

Melt Motif on Facebook

Apollon Records on Bandcamp


Margarita Witch Cult, Margarita Witch Cult

margarita witch cult self titled

As it begins with the telltale strut and maddening catchiness of “Diabolical Influence,” one might be tempted to think Birmingham’s Margarita Witch Cult are playing in Uncle Acid‘s sinister sandbox, but the two-minute fuzz-chug-punker burst of “Death Lurks at Every Turn” corrects this notion, and the rest of the UK trio’s nine-song/31-minute self-titled Heavy Psych Sounds affirms there’s more going on. “The Witchfinder Comes” is a classic Sabbath-worship roller with multi-tracked vocals — guitarist Scott Vincent is the only one listed on vocals, so might just be layering; Jim Thing is on bass and George Casual on drums — and “Be My Witch” is a lesson in how to make thickened fuzz move, but it’s the pointedly Motörheaded “Annihilation” (1:42) that most stands out, even with the likewise speedy shuffle of “Theme From Cyclops” (1:34) right behind it, the faster takeoff welcome to offset the midtempo home-base of the trio’s grooves. As to that, “Lord of the Flies” nestles itself into a comfortable tempo and resolves in a nod that it seems to have spent much of its five minutes building toward, a last run through the main riff more celebration than repetition ahead of the instrumental “Aradia,” which like “The Witchfinder Comes” featured on the band’s 2022 Witchfinder EP (review here), and the previously-issued single “Sacrifice,” which closes. Bottom line is they’ve got a righteous sound and their first album shows they know how to wield it. The smoke-filled sky is the limit from here. Hail next-gen stoner rock.

Margarita Witch Cult on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Cloud of Souls, A Fate Decided

Cloud of Souls A Fate Decided

Trading between charred rasps and cleaner declarative singing, Indianapolis-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Chris Latta (The Skyspeakers, Lavaborne, ex-Spirit Division) guides the mostly-solo-project — Tucker Thomasson drums and plays lead guitar; not minimizing anyone’s contributions — Cloud of Souls through a tumultuous journey along the line between ancient-of-days doom and black metal, strident at times like Bathory, sometimes all-out ripping as on the earlier-Enslaved-style “Hiding from Human Eyes,” and growing deathlier on “Where Failure Dies” ahead of the closing title-track, which threatens to break out the razors at any moment but stays civilized in its doomly roll for the duration. Whatever else Latta accomplishes in this or any of his other outfits from here on out, he’ll always be able to say he put out a record with a centerpiece called “Time for Slaughter,” which isn’t nothing as regards artist achievements — the song taps pre-NWOBHM doom until it turns infernal in the middle — and while there’s clearly an aspect of self-awareness in what he’s doing, the exploration and the songwriting are put first such that A Fate Decided resounds with a love for the metal that birthed it while finding its own path to hopefully keep walking across future releases.

Cloud of Souls on Facebook

Cloud of Souls on Bandcamp


Hibernaut, Ingress

Hibernaut Ingress

When I tell you Hibernaut has three former members of Salt Lake City psych-blues rockers Dwellers in the lineup, just go ahead and put that expectation to the side for a minute. With guitarist Dave Jones stepping to the front as vocalist, Joey Toscano (also ex-Iota) moving from guitar/vocals to lead guitar, Zach Hatsis (also ex-SubRosa) on drums and Josh Dupree on bass, their full-length debut/first release of any sort, Ingress — recorded of course by Andy Patterson — has more in common with High on Fire and dirt-coated raw thrash than anything so lush, and at 11 songs and 74 minutes long, that will toward the unrestrained is multifaceted as well. There’s rock swagger to be had in “Magog” or the spinning riff of “Summoner,” but “Mines” has more Celtic Frost than Kyuss to it, and that isn’t a complaint. The material varies — at over an hour long, it fucking better — but whether it’s the double-kick rampage of “Kaleidoscope” or the furious takedown of “Lantern Eyed,” Hibernaut revel in an overarching nastiness of riff such that you might just end up scrunching your face without thinking about it. There’s room for a couple nods, in “Projection,” or “Aeons Entombed,” but the prevailing impression is meaner while remaining atmospheric. I like that I have no guess what they’ll do after this. I don’t like having to check autocorrect every time it replaces their name with ‘Hibernate.’ If only I had some gnasher heavy metal to help me vent that frustration. Oh wait.

Hibernaut on Instagram

Hibernaut on Bandcamp


Grin, Black Nothingness


For their Black Nothingness EP, Berlin-based DIY aficionados Grin — bassist Sabine Oberg and drummer/vocalist Jan Oberg — stripped their sound back to its most essential parts. Unlike 2022’s Phantom Knocks (review here) long-player, there’s no soundscaping, no guitar, no Hammond. There is low end. There are drums. There are growls and shouts and there are six tracks and none of them reaches three minutes in length. This ferocious display of efficiency counterintuitively underscores the breadth of Grin‘s approach, since as one band they feel unrestricted in terms of arrangements, and Black Nothingness — on their own The Lasting Dose Records imprint and recorded by Jan — benefits from the barebones construction in terms of sheer impact as heard on the rolling “Gatekeeper” before each ending measure of “Midnight Blue Sorrow” seems to leave a bruise, or even the opening semi-title-track “Nothingness” staking a claim on hardcore gangshout backing vocals for use pretty much anytime. “Talons” is less in-your-face with its violence, but the threat remains fervent and subsequent closer “Deathbringer” perfectly conveys that sense of exhaustion you have from when you’ve been so angry for so long that actually you’re just kind of sad about it. All this and more in about 12 minutes out of your busy and intensely frustrating life makes Black Nothingness one of 2023’s best short releases. Now rage, damnit.

Grin on Facebook

Grin on Bandcamp


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Eskild Myrvoll of Kanaan

Posted in Questionnaire on April 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Eskild Myrvoll at Høstsabbat 2022 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Eskild Myrvoll of Kanaan

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I’m a bass player in a variety of bands with a loose connection to the term «rock», but first and foremost I identify as an avid listener and practitioner of all the music that I find exciting. It gives me immense joy to discover new things and explore the possibility of putting these concepts or ideas into my own practice. It wasn’t always this way, as an eleven year old just starting to play guitar I wanted to be a rock star like Angus Young, and on the road to where I am I swung by wanting to be both a pop musician and a noise artist. Now I’m just excited to be experiencing so much music and art together with my best friends and continuing to develop alongside with it.

Describe your first musical memory.

Me and my father dancing to «Sir Duke» by Stevie Wonder playing on the stereo at home, guess I was probably five or six.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Lots that come up, but seeing Swedish mainstream pop artist Veronica Maggio at a small festival in Norway (Fjellparkfestivalen in 2019) is a truly wonderful memory of mine. My friends who were there can confirm they’ve never seen me as excited as that – pure pop ecstasy. Also, discovering «Deathrow» by Mob 47 in the car with my girlfriend last autumn and being totally blown away by the fastest d-beat track I’ve ever heard!

I think I’m always searching for that ecstatic feeling – being totally overwhelmed and immersed in the music gives me this deep inner happiness, and it can come from anywhere really. «Born to Go» by Hawkwind (the Space Ritual version), The Shaggs, early Napalm Death, the self-titled Ash Ra Tempel album, parts of the High School Musical 2 soundtrack.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

For a few years I was involved in way too many projects and always pushing myself to the limit – always going from one tour straight to the next, rehearsals and shows and 12-hour work days every day for weeks on end, long studio sessions booked back to back, etc. Had to make some changes last year after my body started saying stop, which involved quitting a band I started many years ago with some of my best friends. It was really hard for me to come to terms with not being able to do everything and pleasing everyone at once. It’s easy to feel like the stress and outside pressure becoming part of your identity as well: «Oh, you’re the guy who’s in fifteen different bands, right?», so I’m trying to get past that.

I’m working on having a more healthy balance in life now. Also, having more time for friends and family, being creative and enjoying things on my own schedule. I think a lot of people in music can recognize the feeling of always being in a rush, whether it’s finishing and album or preparing for a tour, the reality is that people don’t care as much as you fear, and them waiting some more months for an album isn’t the end of the world.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Towards discovering new things about yourself. I really admire artists who seem to be able to do everything and releasing ever-evolving music under different monikers, but I have just as much respect for those who find one concept and stick to it for their entire career (the AC/DC method). I think that says a lot about you as a person as well.

How do you define success?

Being able to follow your own path and see your artistic vision come to life. Having a growing audience and feeling the effects of it is nice, but it shouldn’t be a goal in itself – the artistic fulfillment should be the most important thing. It does sometimes feel selfish focusing so much on my own musical goals, but I also truly believe that making something that is true to yourself is the best way for it to really resonate with other people and build the community.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Musicians and artists getting lawyers involved and ending up in court cases over money, name rights and stuff like that. Breaks my heart and hope I never have to end up in a situation like that.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A feedback-based installation piece working at 115 dB for an extended period of time. I’m really inspired by minimalist and drone music and extended duration pieces, but I haven’t taken those concepts to the full extent in my own practice yet. I’ve had some of my most defining listening experiences with composers and performers like Eliane Radigue, Tony Conrad and Charlemagne Palestine.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Helping us communicate about the experience of being human and expressing things we have trouble putting into words.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Will be moving in with my girlfriend in April after being in a long distance relationship for six months and I’m really looking forward to that:)



Kanaan, Downpour (2023)

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Kanaan to Release Downpour May 5; Stream “Amazon”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Kanaan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Huzzah for the universes as Kanaan announce a May 5 release for their new album, Downpour, and post a first single from the record called “Amazon” with Hedvig Mollestad of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio, for starters, on board for a guest spot. Downpour will follow late 2022’s Diversions Vol. 1: Softly Through Sunshine and 2021’s Earthbound (review here), which was widely hailed as a moment of arrival for the young trio. Enough so that they picked up a Spellemann for it.

The band’s already been confirmed for Desertfest Berlin, Esbjerg Fuzztival, Down the Hill and SonicBlast, almost certainly among others, and given the geographic sprawl there, it seems likely they’ll do a good amount of road time for Downpour after the release. Preorders are up through Bandcamp and Jansen Records, and enough o’ my yammerin’, just go ahead and stream the song. It’s down there. You know where to find it.

Art and info from the PR wire:

Kanaan Downpour

Norwegian Power Trio, Kanaan, to Release New LP, ‘Downpour’, May 5

Grammy-winning Group Streams New Song “Amazon”

Norway’s Kanaan creates far-out, wondrous heavy music that synthesizes the singular stanchions of the Japanese psychedelic rock, German krautrock, and California desert rock movements into swathes of sound that straddle the line between the improvisational and the intentional. The award-winning trio will release its new LP, ‘Downpour’, on May 5 via Jansen Records. Pre-order ‘Downpour’ at this location: https://orcd.co/amazon-kanaan

‘Downpour’ is the follow-up to Kanaan’s 2021 LP, ‘Earthbound’, which landed the group a Norwegian Grammy award. Recorded at Athletic Sound studios (a-ha, Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho) and featuring artwork by designer Robin Gnista (Ty Segall, Cold Cave, Television), ‘Downpour’ features seven smashing songs that will surely satisfy longtime fans and stagger first time listeners.

‘Downpour’, as an album, is a continuation of the ideas we explored on our last record, ‘Earthbound’, while feeling like maybe the most cohesive and nuanced album we’ve done,” says the band. “We kept the heavy riffs, big, roomy drums, and fuzz-laden guitar solos, but ‘Downpour’ still feels a bit more psychedelic, a bit less doomy and more polychrome. We´re really happy with it and are looking forward to sharing it!

The first track released from ‘Downpour’ is the soaring, six-minute “Amazon”, which features a guest appearance from Norwegian guitar hero Hedvig Mollestad, a revered artist. Stream Kanaan’s new song, “Amazon”, at this location.

Track listing:

1.) Black Time Fuzz
2.) Amazon (feat. Hedvig Mollestad) / LISTEN
3.) Downpour
4.) Psunspot
5.) Orbit
6.) Solaris Pt. 1
7.) Solaris Pt. 2

Kanaan features guitarist Ask Vatn Strøm, drummer Ingvald André Vassbø, and bassist Eskild Myrvoll.



Kanaan, Downpour (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Kanaan, Spacelord, Altareth, Negura Bunget, High Fighter, Spider Kitten, Snowy Dunes, Maragda, Killer Hill, Ikitan

Posted in Reviews on December 17th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Behold, the last day of the Quarterly Review. For a couple weeks, anyhow. I gotta admit, even with the prospect of doing it all again next month looming over my head, this QR has been strikingly easy to put together. Yeah, some of that is because of back-end conveniences in compiling links, images and embeds, prep work done ahead of time, and so on, but more than that it’s because the music is good. And if you know anything about a QR, you know I like to treat myself on the last day. Today is not at all an exception in that regard. Accordingly, I won’t delay, except to say thanks again for reading and following along if you have been. I know my own year-end list won’t be the same for having done this, and I hope the same for you.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Kanaan, Earthbound

Kanaan Earthbound

F-U-Z-Z! Putting the jazzy drive they showcased on 2020’s Odense Sessions on hold, Oslo trio Kanaan — guitarist/percussionist Ask Vatn Strøm (guitar, percussion, noise), Ingvald André Vassbø (drums, percussion, Farfisa) and Eskild Myrvoll (bass, synth, Mellotron, some guitar) — get down to the business of riffs and shred on the clearly-purposefully-titled Earthbound, still touching on heavy psychedelic impulses — “Bourdon” is a positive freakout, man — but underscoring that with a thickness of groove and distorted tonality that more than lives up to the name. See also the cruncher “Mudbound,” which, yeah, gets a little airy in its back half but still holds that thud steady all the while. Simultaneously calling back to European instrumental heavy of two decades ago while maintaining their progressive edge, Kanaan strike a rare — which is to stop just shy of saying “unique” — balance that’s so much richer than the common Earthless idol-worship, and yet somehow miraculously free of pretense at the same time. 46 minutes of heavy joy.

Kanaan on Facebook

Jansen Records website


Spacelord, False Dawn

Spacelord False Dawn

Not to be confused with Germany’s The Spacelords, Buffalo, New York’s heavy blues purveyors offer a melody-minded eight songs across the 44 minutes of their third self-released long-player, with the vocals of Ed Grabianowski (also guitar) a distinct focal point backed by Rich Root‘s guitar, bass, drums and production. The two-piece deftly weave between acoustic and electric guitar foundations on songs like “How the Devil Got Into You” and “Breakers,” with a distinctly Led Zeppelin-style flair throughout, the Page/Plant dynamic echoed in the guitar strum as well as the vocals. “Broken Teeth Ritual” pushes through heavier riffing early on, and “All Night Drive” nears eight minutes with a right-on swinging solo jam to follow on the largely unplugged “Crypt Ghost,” and “M-60” nears prog metal in its chug, but the layering of “Starswan” brings a sweet conclusion to the proceedings, which despite the band’s duo configuration sound vibrant in a live sense and organic in their making.

Spacelord on Facebook

Spacelord on Bandcamp


Altareth, Blood

Altareth Blood

The opening title-track of Altareth‘s debut album, Blood, seems to be positioned as a direct clarion call to fellow Sabbathians — to my East Coast US ears, it reminds of Curse the Son, which should be taken as a compliment to tone and melody — but the Gothenburg five-piece aren’t through “Satan Hole” before offering some samples and weirdo garage-sounding ’60s keyboard/horn surges, and the swirling lead that consumes the finish of “Downward Mobile,” which follows, continues to hint at their developing complexity of approach. Still, their core sound is slow, thick, dark and lumbering, and whether that’s coming through in centerpiece “Eternal Sleep” or the willful drudgery that surrounds the quiet, melodic break in “Moon,” they’re not shy about making the point. Neither should they be. The penultimate “High Priest” offers mournful soloing and the nine-minute closer “Empty” veers into post-Cathedral prog-doom in its volume trades before a solo crescendo finishes out, and the swallowed-by-sentient-molasses vibe is sealed. They’ll continue to grow into themselves, and Blood would seem to indicate that will be fun to hear.

Altareth on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store


Negură Bunget, Zău

Negură Bunget Zău

The closing piece of a trilogy and reportedly the final offering from Romanian folk-laced progressive black metallers Negură Bunget following the 2017 death of founding drummer Gabriel “Negru” Mafa, Zău begins with the patient unfolding and resultant sweep of its longest track (immediate points) in “Brad” before the foresty gorgeousness of “Iarba Fiarelor” finds a place between agonized doom and charred bark. Constructed parabolically with its longer songs bookending around the seven-minute centerpiece “Obrazar,” Zău is perhaps best understood in the full context in which it arrives, as the band’s swansong after tragic loss, etc., but it’s also complex and engrossing enough to stand on its own separate from that, and in paying homage to their fallen comrade by completing his last work, Negură Bunget have underscored what made them such a standout in the first place. After the wash of “Tinerețe Fără Bătrânețe,” closer “Toacă Din Cer” rounds out by moving from its shimmering guitar into a muted ceremony of horn and tree-creaking percussion that can only be called an appropriate finish, if in fact it is that for the band.

Negură Bunget on Facebook

Prophecy Productions store


High Fighter, Live at WDR Rockpalast

high fighter live at wdr rockpalast

High Fighter — with guitars howling, screams wailing and growls guttural, drums pounding, bass thick and guitars leading the charge — recorded their Live at WDR Rockpalast set during lockdown, sans audience, at the industrial complex Landschaftspark Duisburg- Nord depicted on the cover of the LP/DL release. It’s a fittingly brutal-looking setting for the Hamburg-based melodic sludge metal aggressors, and in their rawest moments, tracks like “When We Suffer” and “Before I Disappear” throw down with a nastiness that should raise eyebrows for any who’d worship the crustiest of wares. Of course, that’s not the limit of what High Fighter do, and a big part of the band’s aesthetic draws on the offset of melody and extremity, but to listen to the 34-minute set wrap with the outright, dug-in, At the Gates-comparison-worthy rendition of “Shine Equal Dark,” it’s hard not to appreciate just how vicious they can be as a group. This was their last show with founding guitarist Christian “Shi” Pappas, and whatever the future holds, they gave him a fitting sendoff.

High Fighter on Facebook

Argonauta Records website


Spier Kitten, Major Label Debut

Major Label Debut by Spider Kitten

This is fucking rad. Long-running Welsh trio Spider Kitten probably don’t give a shit if you check it out or not, but I do. Major Label Debut runs less than half an hour and in that time they remind that there’s more expressive potential to heavy rock than playing to genre, and as cuts like “Maladjusted” reinvent grunge impact and the brooding “Hearts and Mindworms” blend Melvins-born weirdo impulses and naturalize Nine Inch Nailsian lyrical threat, there’s a good sense of doing-whatever-the-hell-they-want that comes through alongside deceptively thoughtful arrangements and melodies. The weight and post-Dirt sneer of “Sandbagged (Whoa, Yeah)” may or may not be parody, but hell if it doesn’t work, and the same applies to the earlier blast-punk of “Self-Care (Makes Me Wanna Die),” both songs in and out in under three minutes. Give it up for a band dwelling on their own wavelength, who’ve been hither and yon and are clearly comfortable following where their impulses lead. This kind of creativity is its own endgame. You either appreciate that or it’s your loss.

Spider Kitten on Facebook

Spider Kitten on Bandcamp


Snowy Dunes, Sastrugi

snowy dunes sastrugi

Even discounting the global pandemic, it feels like an exceptionally long four years since Stockholm’s Snowy Dunes issued their sophomore album, 2017’s Atlantis (review here). “Let’s Save Dreams,” which is the second cut on Sastrugi, was released as a single in 2019 (posted here), so there’s no question the record’s been in the works for a while, but its purposefully split two sides showcase a sound that’s been worth the wait, from the straightforward classic craft of the leadoff title-track to the dug-in semi-psychedelic swing of 11-minute capper “Helios,” the four-piece jamming on modernized retro impulses after dropping hints of prog and space-psych in “Medicinmannen” (9:14) and pushing melancholy heavy blues into shuffle-shove insistence on side A’s organ-laced closer “Great Divide” with duly Sverige soul. Pushes further out as it goes, takes you with it, reminds you why you liked this band so much in the first place, and sounds completely casual in doing all of it.

Snowy Dunes on Facebook

Snowy Dunes on Bandcamp


Maragda, Maragda

Maragda Maragda

A threat of tonal weight and a certain rhythmic intensity coincide with dreamy prog melodies in “The Core as a Whole” and “The Calling,” which together lead the way into the self-titled debut from Barcelona, Spain’s Maragda, and an edge of the technical persists despite the wash of “Hermit,” a current perhaps of grunge and metal that’s given something of a rest in the brightness of “Crystal Passage” still to come — more than an interlude at three minutes, but instrumental just the same — after the sharply solo’ed “Orb of Delusion.” Payoff for the burgeoning intensity of the early going arrives in “Beyond the Ruins,” though closer “The Blue Ceiling” enacts some shred to back its Mellotron-y midsection. There’s a balance that will be found or otherwise resisted as Maragda explore the varied nature of their influences — growth to be undertaken, then — but their progressive structures, storytelling mindset and attention to detail here are more than enough to pique interest and make Maragda a welcome addition to the crowded Spanish underground.

Maragda on Facebook

Spinda Records on Bandcamp

Nafra Records on Bandcamp

Necio Records on Bandcamp


Killer Hill, Frozen Head

Killer Hill Frozen Head

Extra super bonus points for Los Angeles heavy noise rockers Killer Hill on naming a song “Bullshit Mountain,” and more extra for leaving the incidental-sounding feedback in too. Frozen Head follows behind 2019’s About a Goat two-songer with six tracks and 22 minutes that pummels on opener “Trash” and its title-track in a niche thick-toned, hardcore-punk born — the band is members of Helmet and Guzzard, so tick your ‘pedigree’ box — and raw, churning metal raised, “Frozen Head” veering into Slayery thrash and deathly churn before evening out in its chorus, such as it does. Sadly, “Laser Head Removal” is instrumental, but the longer trio that follow in “Bent,” the aforementioned “Bullshit Mountain” and the all-go-until-it-isn’t-then-is-again-then-isn’t-again “Re Entry” bask in further intentional cross-genre fuckery with due irreverence and deceptive precision. It sounds like a show you’d go to thinking you were gonna get your ass beat, but nah, everyone’s cool as it turns out.

Killer Hill on Facebook

Killer Hill on Bandcamp


Ikitan, Darvaza y Brincle

ikitan darvaza y brinicle

Distinguished through the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Frik Et that provides grounding presence alongside Luca “Nash” Nasciuti float-ready guitar and the cymbal wash of Enrico Meloni‘s drums, the Genoa, Italy, instrumental three-piece Ikitan make their first offering through Taxi Driver Records with the two-track cassingle Darvaza y Brincle. The outing’s component inclusions run on either side of seven minutes, and the resultant entirety is under 14, but that’s enough to give an impression of where they’re headed after their initial single-song EP, Twenty-Twenty (review here), showed up late last year, with crunch and heavier post-rock drift meeting in particularly cohesive fashion on “Brincle” even as that B-side feels more exploratory than “Darvaza” prior. With some nascent prog stretch in the soloing, the complete narrative of the band’s style has yet to be told, but the quick, encouraging check-in is appreciated. Until next time.

Ikitan on Facebook

Taxi Driver Records store


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