Quarterly Review: Saturnalia Temple, Dool, Abrams, Pia Isa, Wretched Kingdom, Lake Lake, Gnarwhal, Bongfoot, Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on May 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Today is Wednesday, the day we hit and pass the halfway mark for this week, which is a quarter of the way through the entirety of this 100-release Quarterly Review. Do you need to know that? Not really, but it’s useful for me to keep track of how much I’m doing sometimes, which is why I count in the first place. 100 records isn’t nothing, you know. Or 10 for that matter. Or one. I don’t know.

A little more variety here, which is always good, but I’ve got momentum behind me after yesterday and I don’t want to delay diving in, so off we go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call

saturnalia temple paradigm call

For the band’s fourth album, Paradigm Call, founding Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson leads the newcomer rhythm section of drummer Pelle Åhman and bassist Gottfrid Åhman through eight abyss-plundering tracks across 48 minutes of roiling tonal mud distinguished by its aural stickiness and Eriksson‘s readily identifiable vocal gurgle. The methodology hasn’t changed much since 2020’s Gravity (review here) in terms of downward pull, but the title-track’s solo is sharp enough to cut through the mire, and while it’s no less harsh for doing so, “Among the Ruins” explores a faster tempo while staying in line with the all-brown psychedelic swirl around it, brought to fruition in the backwards-sounding loops of closer “Kaivalya” after the declarative thud of side B standout “Empty Chalice.” They just keep finding new depths. It’s impressive. Also a little horrifying.

Saturnalia Temple on Facebook

Listenable Records website

Dool, The Shape of Fluidity

dool the shape of fluidity

It’s easy to respect a band so unwilling to be boxed by genre, and Rotterdam’s Dool put the righteous aural outsiderness that’s typified their sound since 2017’s Here Now There Then (review here) to meta-level use on their third long-player for Prophecy Productions, The Shape of Fluidity. Darkly progressive, rich in atmosphere, broad in range and mix, heavy-but-not-beholden-to-tone in presentation, encompassing but sneaky-catchy in pieces like opener “Venus in Flames,” the flowing title-track, and the in-fact-quite-heavy “Hermagorgon,” the record harnesses declarations and triumphs around guitarist/vocalist Raven van Dorst‘s stated lyrical thematic around gender-nonbinaryism, turning struggle and confusion into clarity of expressive purpose in the breakout “Self-Dissect” and resolving with furious culmination in “The Hand of Creation” with due boldness. Given some of the hateful, violent rhetoric around gender-everything in the modern age, the bravery of DoolVan Dorst alongside guitarists Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr, bassist JB van der Wal and drummer Vincent Kreyder — in confronting that head-on with these narratives is admirable, but it’s still the songs themselves that make The Shape of Fluidity one of 2024’s best albums.

Dool on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Abrams, Blue City

abrams blue city

After releasing 2022’s In the Dark (review here) on Small Stone, Denver heavy rockers Abrams align to Blues Funeral Recordings for their fifth album in a productive, also-touring nine years, the 10-track/42-minute Blue City. Production by Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Converge, etc.) at GodCity Studio assures no lack of impact as “Fire Waltz” reaffirms the tonal density of the riffs that the Zach Amster-led four-piece nonetheless made dance in opener “Tomorrow,” while the rolling “Death Om” and the momentary skyward ascent in “Etherol” — a shimmering preface to the chug-underscored mellowness of “Narc” later — lay out some of the dynamic that’s emerged in their sound along with the rampant post-hardcore melodies that come through in Amster and Graham Zander‘s guitars, capable either of meting out hard-landing riffs to coincide with the bass of Taylor Iversen (also vocals) and Ryan DeWitt‘s drumming, or unfurling sections of float like those noted above en route to tying it all together with the closing “Blue City.” Relatively short runtimes and straightforward-feeling structures mask the stylistic nuance of the actual material — nothing new there for Abrams; they’re largely undervalued — and the band continue to reside in between-microgenre spaces as they await the coming of history which will inevitably prove they were right all along.

Abrams on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Pia Isa, Burning Time

pia isa burning time

Superlynx bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen made her solo debut under the Pia Isa moniker with 2022’s Distorted Chants (review here), and in addition to announcing the SoftSun collaboration she’ll undertake alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce (who also appeared on her record), in 2024, she offers the three-song Burning Time EP, with a cover of Radiohead‘s “Burn the Witch” backed by two originals, “Treasure” and “Nothing Can Turn it Back.” With drumming by her Superlynx bandmate Ole Teigen (who also recorded), “Burn the Witch” becomes a lumbering forward march, ethereal in melody but not necessarily cultish, while “Treasure” digs into repetitive plod led by the low end and “Nothing Can Turn it Black” brings the guitar forward but is most striking in the break that brings the dual-layered vocals forward near the midpoint. The songs are leftovers from the LP, but if you liked the LP, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Pia Isa on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Wretched Kingdom, Wretched Kingdom

Wretched Kingdom Wretched Kingdom

A late-2023 initial public offering from Houston’s Wretched Kingdom, their self-titled EP presents a somewhat less outwardly joyous take on the notion of “Texas desert rock” than that offered by, as an example, Austin’s High Desert Queen, but the metallic riffing that underscores “Dreamcrusher” goes farther back in its foundations than whatever similarity to Kyuss one might find in the vocals or speedier riffy shove of “Smoke and Mirrors.” Sharp-cornered in tone, opener “Torn and Frayed” gets underway with metered purpose as well, and while the more open-feeling “Too Close to the Sun” begins similar to “You Can’t Save Me” — the strut that ensues in the latter distinguishes — the push in its second half comes after riding a steady groove into a duly bluesy solo. There’s nothing in the material to take you out of the flow between the six component cuts, and even closer “Deviation” tells you it’s about to do something different as it works from its mellower outset into a rigorous payoff. With the understanding that most first-EPs of this nature are demos by another name and (as here) more professional sound, Wretched Kingdom‘s Wretched Kingdom asks little in terms of indulgence and rewards generously when encountered at higher volumes. Asking more would be ridiculous.

Wretched Kingdom on Facebook

Wretched Kingdom on Bandcamp

Lake Lake, Proxy Joy

lake lake proxy joy

Like earlier Clutch born out of shenanigans-prone punk, Youngstown, Ohio’s Lake Lake are tight within the swinging context of a song like “The Boy Who Bit Me,” which is the second of the self-released Proxy Joy‘s six inclusions. Brash in tone and the gutted-out shouty vocals, offsetting its harder shoving moments with groovy back-throttles in songs that could still largely be called straightforward, the quirk and throaty delivery of “Blue Jerk” and the bluesier-minded “Viking Vietnam” paying off the tension in the verses of “Comfort Keepers” and the build toward that leadoff’s chorus want nothing for personality or chemistry, and as casual as the style is on paper, the arrangements are coordinated and as “Heavy Lord” finds a more melodic vocal and “Coyote” — the longest song here at 5:01 — leaves on a brash highlight note, the party they’re having is by no means unconsidered. But it is a party, and those who have dancing shoes would be well advised to keep them on hand, just in case.

Lake Lake on Facebook

Lake Lake on Bandcamp

Gnarwhal, Altered States

Gnarwhal Altered States

Modern in the angularity of its riffing, spacious in the echoes of its tones and vocals, and encompassing enough in sound to be called progressive within a heavy context, Altered States follows Canadian four-piece Gnarwhal‘s 2023 self-titled debut full-length with four songs that effectively bring together atmosphere and impact in the six-minute “The War Nothing More” — big build in the second half leading to more immediate, on-beat finish serving as a ready instance of same — with twists that feel derived of the MastoBaroness school rhythmically and up-front vocal melodies that give cohesion to the darker vibe of “From Her Hands” after displaying a grungier blowout in “Tides.” The terrain through which they ebb and flow, amass and release tension, soar and crash, etc., is familiar if somewhat intangible, and that becomes an asset as the concluding “Altered States” channels the energy coursing through its verses in the first half into the airy payoff solo that ends. I didn’t hear the full-length last year. Listening to what Gnarwhal are doing in these tracks in terms of breadth and crunch, I feel like I missed out. You might also consider being prepared to want to hear more upon engaging.

Gnarwhal on Facebook

Gnarwhal on Bandcamp

Bongfoot, Help! The Humans..

bongfoot help the humans

Help the humans? No. Help! The Humans…, and here as in so many of life’s contexts, punctuation matters. Digging into a heavy, character-filled and charging punkish sound they call “Appalachian thrash,” Boone, North Carolina, three-piece Bongfoot are suitably over-the-top as they explore what it means to be American in the current age, couching discussions of wealth inequality, climate crisis, corporatocracy, capitalist exploitation, the insecurity at root in toxic masculinity and more besides. With clever, hooky lyrics that are a total blast despite being tragic in the subject matter and a pace of execution well outside what one might think is bong metal going in because of the band’s name, Bongfoot vigorously kick ass from opener “End Times” through the galloping end of “Amazon Death Factory/Spacefoot” and the untitled mountain ramble that follows as an outro. Along the way, they intermittently toy with country twang, doom, and hardcore punk, and offer a prayer to the titular volcano of “Krakatoa” to save at least the rest of the world if not humanity. It’s quite a time to be alive. Listening, that is. As for the real-world version of the real world, it’s less fun and more existentially and financially draining, which makes Help! The Humans… all the more a win for its defiance and charm. Even with the bonus tracks, I’ll take more of this anytime they’re ready with it.

Bongfoot on Facebook

Bongfoot on Bandcamp

Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Ateş

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans Ateş

It’s interesting, because you can’t really say that Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans‘ second LP, Ateş isn’t neo-psychedelia, but the eight tracks and 38 minutes of the record itself warrant enunciating what that means. Where much of 2020s-era neo-psych is actually space rock with thicker tones (shh! it’s a secret!), what Greenwood — AKA Thomas Mascheroni, also of Bergamo, Italy’s Humulus) brings to sounds like the swaying, organ-laced “Sleepwalker” and the resonant spaciousness in the soloing of “Mystic Sunday Morning” is more kin to the neo-psych movement that began in the 1990s, which itself was a reinterpretation of the genre’s pop-rock origins in the 1960s. Is this nitpicking? Not when you hear the title-track infusing its Middle Eastern-leaning groove with a heroic dose of wah or the friendly shimmer of “I Do Not” that feels extrapolated from garage rock but is most definitely not that thing and the post-Beatles bop of “Sunhouse.” It’s an individual (if inherently familiar) take that unifies the varied arrangements of the acidic “When We Die” and the cosmic vibe of “All the Lines” (okay, so there’s a little bit of space boogie too), resolving in the Doors-y lumber of “Crack” to broaden the scope even further and blur past timelines into an optimistic future.

Thomas Greenwood and The Talismans on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Djiin, Mirrors

djiin mirrors

As direct as some of its push is and as immediate as “Fish” is opening the album right into the first verse, the course that harp-laced French heavy progressive rockers Djiin take on their third album, Mirrors, ultimately more varied, winding and satisfying as its five-track run gives over to the nine-minute “Mirrors” and uses its time to explore more pointedly atmospheric reaches before a weighted crescendo that precedes the somehow-fluidity in the off-time early stretch of centerpiece “In the Aura of My Own Sadness,” its verses topped with spoken word and offset by note-for-note melodic conversation between the vocals and guitar. Rest assured, they build “In the Aura of My Own Sadness” to its own crushing end, while taking a more decisively psychedelic approach to get there, and thereby set up “Blind” with its trades from open-spaces held to pattern by the drums and a pair of nigh-on-caustic noise rock onslaughts before 13-minute capstone “Iron Monsters” unfolds a full instrumental linear movement before getting even heavier, as if to underscore the notion that Djiin can go wherever the hell they want and make it work as a song. Point taken.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

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Djiin Announce Spring Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Djinn (Photo by Maureen Piercy)

Having been fortunate enough to see French heavy psychedelic rockers Djiin at last year’s Freak Valley Festival (review here) in Germany as they took to the stage in support of their 2021 album, Meandering Soul (review here), I’ll tell you first-hand that they put on a hell of a show. Yes, part of that is the distinguishing visual presence of a harp up there with them — never mind the corresponding aural distinction when vocalist Chloé Panhaleux actually starts to play the thing — but by no means all of it. Their sound is particularly rich, classic in an of-genre kind of way and fluid even at its heaviest moments. They are a full-range band, the quiet and loud stretches of their work are pulled together by the chemistry of the players and the overarching flow of their grooves.

In other words, cool band, worth catching if you can. They’ll be on the road in France, Germany and Belgium this April, with some slots still open, joined by Decasia in the going. There are some ticket links below — probably more available by now, honestly; the tour was announced a few days ago — and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re playing some new material on the run, which if you’re looking for added incentive to get out of the house, well, there you go.

Info follows from the old-style social media:

Djinn tour


We’re excited to reveal the dates of our next tour! Looking forward to getting back on the road alongside our friends at DECASIA with whom we’ll be sharing most of the shows (#129304#)

Big thanks to More Fuzz Booking ❤

(#127912#) Artwork by Lise Goujon

05/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Ty Anna, Rennes
06/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at le lezard bar , Le Mans
07/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at L’INTERNATIONAL, Paris https://fb.me/e/2FDOuJtW8
08/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at La Taverne Elektrik, Amiens
09/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA, Lille
11/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Maboel in ‘t Gildenhuis , Zottegem
12/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Local Autogéré du Borinage – LAB , Mons https://fb.me/e/2C1enDNrc
13/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Café Central, Bruxelles
14/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at FZW, Dortmünd https://fb.me/e/5XVgVUrBm
15/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Oetinger Villa, Darmstadt
16/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Zollkantine, Bremen https://wanderlust.ticket.io/4ttnehy4/
17/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Bar 227, Hamburg https://fb.me/e/3eb2Uhv3F
18/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Loophole Berlin, Berlin https://fb.me/e/2FJFc2j4z
20/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Vinyl-Reservat, Göttingen
21/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) OPEN SLOT !
22/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at P8, Karlsruhe !
23/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
24/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
28/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
29/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Salem Bar, Bordeaux
30/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Barberousse Nantes, Nantes

Djiin are:
Chloé PANHALEUX – Singer / Electric Harp
Allan GUYOMARD – Drums / Backing vocals
Tom PENAGUIN – Guitar / Backing vocals
Charlélie PAILHES – Bass / Backing vocals



Djiin, Meandering Soul (2021)

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Quarterly Review: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Doctors of Space, River Flows Reverse, Kite, Starless, Wolves in the Throne Room, Oak, Deep Tomb, Grieving, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Today we pass the halfway point of the Fall 2021 Quarterly Review. It’s mostly been a pleasure cruise, to be honest, and there’s plenty more good stuff today to come. That always makes it easier. Still worth marking the halfway point though as we move inexorably toward 70 releases by next Tuesday. Right now, I just wish my kid would take a nap. He won’t.

That’s my afternoon, I guess. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Push

sons of alpha centauri push

Never ones to tread identical ground, UK outfit Sons of Alpha Centauri collaborate with Far/Onelinedrawing vocalist Jonah Matranga and Will Haven drummer Mitch Wheeler on Push, their material given relatively straight-ahead structural purpose to suit. I’m a fan of Sons of Alpha Centauri and their willingness to toss out various rulebooks on their way to individualized expression. Will Push be the record of theirs I reach for in the years to come? Nope. I’ve tried and tried and tried to get on board, but post-hardcore/emo has never been my thing and I respect Sons of Alpha Centauri too much to pretend otherwise. I admire the ethic that created the album. Deeply. But of the various Sons of Alpha Centauri collaborations — with the likes JK Broadrick of Godflesh or Gary Arce of Yawning Man — I feel a little left out in the cold by these tracks. No worries though. It’s Sons of Alpha Centauri. I’ll catch the next one. In the meantime, it’s comforting knowing they’re doing their own thing as always, regardless of how it manifests.

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream Records website


Doctors of Space, Studio Session July 2021

Doctors of Space Studio Session July 2021

The programmed drums do an amazing amount to bring a sense of form to Doctors of Space‘s ultra-exploratory jamming. The Portugal-based duo combining the efforts of guitarist/programmer Martin Weaver (best known for his work in Wicked Lady) and synthesist/keyboardist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective (and many others) have been issuing jams by the month during a time largely void of live performances, and their get-together on July 30 resulted in seven pieces, four of which make up the 62 minutes of Studio Session July 2021. It’s hard to pick a highlight between the mellower, almost jazzy flow and cosmic wash of the 19-minute “Nighthawk,” and the more urgent setting out that “They Are Listening” provides, the more definitively space-rocking “Spirit Catcher” closing and “Bombsheller” with what feels like layers upon layers of swirl with keyboard lines cutting through, capping with a mellotron chorus, but any one of them is a worthy pick, and that’s a good problem to have.

Doctors of Space on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


River Flows Reverse, When River Flows Reverse

River Flows Reverse When River Flows Reverse

In its readiness to go wherever the spirit of its eight included pieces lead, as well as in its openness of arrangement and folkish foundation, River Flows Reverse‘s first offering, the semi-eponymous When River Flows Reverse, reminds of Montibus Communitas. That is a compliment I don’t give lightly or often. The hour-long 2LP sees issue as part of the Psychedelic Source Records collective — Bence Ambrus and company — and with members of Indeed, Lemurian Folk Songs, Hold Station, on vocals and trumpet and banjo, etc., and a variety of instruments handled by Ambrus himself, the record is serene and hypnotic in kind, finding an outbound pastoralism that is physical as much as it’s swirling in mid-air. “Oriental Western” taps 16 Horsepower on the shoulder, but it’s in a meditation like “At the Gates of the Perennial” or the decidedly unraging “Rain it Rages” that the Hungarian outfit most seem to find themselves even as they get willfully lost in what they’re doing. Beautiful.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Kite, Currents

kite currents

Even amid the lumbering noise rock extremity of the penultimate “Heroin,” Kite manage to work in a willfully lunkheaded Melvins riff. Cheers to the Oslo bashers-of-face on that. The second long-player from the Oslo-based trio featuring members of Sâver, Dunderbeist, Stonegard and others sets out in moody form with “Idle Lights” building to a maddening tension that “Turbulence” hits with a brick. Though not void of atmosphere or complexity in its construction, the bulk of Currents is harsh, a punishment derived from sludge-thickened post-hardcore evidenced by “Ravines” stomping into the has-clean-vocals centerpiece title-track, but it’s also clear the band are having fun. Closer “Unveering Static” brings back the non-screaming shouts, but it’s the earlier longest track “Infernal Trails” that perhaps most readily encapsulates their work, variable in tempo, building and crashing, chaotic and raging and lowbrow enough to be artsy, but still given an underpinning of heft to match any and all aggression.

KITE on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records webstore


Starless, Hope is Leaving You

Starless Hope is Leaving You

A sophomore full-length from the Chicago-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jessie Ambriz and Jon Slusher, bassist/vocalist Alan Strathmann and drummer/vocalist Quinn Curren, StarlessHope is Leaving You runs a melancholy gambit from the prog-metal aggression of “Pendulum” to “Forest” reimagining Alice in Chains as a post-rock band, to soaring escapist pastoralia in “Devils,” to the patient psychedelic unfurling of “Citizen,” all the while remaining heavy of one sort or another; sonic, emotional, whatever it might be. Both. Cellist Alison Chesley (Helen Money) guests on “Forest” and the devolves-into-chaotic-noise closer “Hunting With Fire,” and Sanford Parker produced, but the band’s greatest strengths are the band itself. Hope is Leaving You isn’t going to be the feel-good hit of anyone’s summer in terms of general mood or atmosphere, but it’s the kind of release that’s going to hit a particular nerve with some who take it on, and I think I might be one of them.

Starless on Facebook

Starless on Bandcamp


Wolves in the Throne Room, Primordial Arcana

wolves in the throne room primordial arcana

Some 15 years on from their landmark first album, Olympia, Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room make their debut on Relapse Records with duly organic stateliness on Primordial Arcana, bringing their particular and massively influential vision of American black metal to bear across tracks mostly shorter than those of 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here) — exceptions to every rule: the triumphant 10-minute “Masters of Rain and Storm” — as drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Aaron Weaver, guitarist/vocalist Nathan Weaver, guitarist/vocalist Kody Keyworth and guest bassist/vocalist Galen Baudhuin readily draw together ripping blasts with cavernous synth, acoustic guitar, percussion and whatever the hell else they want across eight songs and 49 minutes (that includes the ambient bonus track “Skyclad Passage,” which follows the also-ambient closer “Eostre”) for an immersive aesthetic victory lap that’s all the more resonant for being the first time they’ve entirely produced themselves. One hopes and suspects it won’t be the last. Their sixth or seventh LP depending on what one counts, Primordial Arcana sounds like the beginning of a new era for them.

Wolves in the Throne Room on Facebook

Relapse Records website


Oak, Fin

oak fin

London heavy rockers Oak perhaps ultimately did themselves a disservice by not putting out a full-length during their time together. Fin, like the end screen of a fancy movie, arrives as their swansong EP, their fourth overall in the last six years, and is made up mostly of two five-plus-minute tracks in “Beyond…” and “Broken King,” with the minute-long intro “Bells” at the start. With the soaring chorus of “Beyond…” led by vocalist Andy Valiant with the backing of bassist/mellotronist Richard Morgan and guitarist/synthesist Kevin Germain and the shove of Alex De La Cour‘s drums at their foundation, the clarity of production by Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse (Green Lung, Terminal Cheesecake, etc.) and the gang shouts that rouse the finish of “Broken King,” Oak end their run sounding very much like a band who had more to say. If their breakup really is permanent, they leave a lot of potential on the proverbial table.

Oak on Facebook

Oak on Bandcamp


Deep Tomb, Deep Tomb

Deep Tomb Deep Tomb

By the time Los Angeles’ Deep Tomb get into the stomp of the 12-minute finishing track on their four-song/29-minute self-titled, they’ve already well demonstrated their propensity for scathing, harsh sludge. Opener “Colossus” has some percussion later in its seven minutes that sounds like something falling down stairs — maybe those are just the toms? — but it and the subsequent “Ascension From the Devoured Realm” aren’t exactly shy about where they’re coming from in their pummel and fuckall, and even though “Endless Power Through Breathless Sleep” starts out mellow and ends minimalist, in between it sounds like a they’re trying to use amps to remove limbs. And how much of “Lord of Misery” is song and how much is noisy chaos anyway? I don’t know. Where’s the line from one to the other? When does the madness end? And what’s left when it does? The broken glass from tube amps and soured everything.

Deep Tomb on Facebook

King of the Monsters Records webstore


Grieving, Songs for the Weary

Grieving Songs for the Weary

A band that, sooner or later, somebody’s going to refer to as “heavyweights.” Perhaps it’s happened already. Justifiably, in any case, given the significant heft Poland’s Grieving bring to their riff-led fare on their first LP, built on a foundation of traditionalist doom but not necessarily eschewing modern methods in favor thereof throughout its six component tracks — the three-piece of vocalist Wojciech Kaluza, guitarist/bassist/synthesist Artur Ruminski and drummer Bartosz Licholap are willfully Sabbathian even in the shuffle of “This Godless Chapel” but neither are they shy about engaging more psychedelic spaces on “Foreboding of a Great Ruin,” however grounding the clear-headed melodies of the vocals might be, and the riff at the core of the hard-hitting “A Crow Funeral” would in another context be no less at home on a desert rock record. Especially as their debut, Songs for the Weary sounds anything but.

Grieving on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Godz ov War Productions webstore


Djinn, Meandering Soul

Djiin Meandering Soul

Heavy blues is at the core of Djiin‘s second album, Meandering Soul, but the Rennes, France, four-piece meet it head-on with both deeper weight and broader atmospherics, and lead vocalist Chloé Panhaleux owes as much to grunge as to post-The Doors brooding, her voice admirably organic even unto cracking in “Red Desert.” With the backing of guitarist Tom Penaguin, bassist Charlélie Pailhes and drummer Allan Guyomard, Djiin are no less at home in the creeping lounge guitar stretches of “Warmth of Death” than in the bursts of volume in opener “Black Circus” or the what-the-hell-just-happened-to-this-song prog jam out that caps the erstwhile punk of finale “Waxdoll.” Clearly, Djiin go where they want, when they want, from the folkish harmonies of “The Void” to the far-less-hinged crushing aggro “White Valley,” each piece offering something of its own on the way while feeding into the immersion of the whole.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website


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Djiin to Release Meandering Soul Oct. 15; “Black Circus” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Heavy blues atmosphere oozes, creeps out of the opening track of Djiin‘s new long-player, Meandering Soul, and it’s striking in its volatility in a way that begs further investigation. The Rennes, France, four-piece — don’t try writing their moniker on your phone unless you want to spend some time running in circles of autocorrect — released their debut, The Freak, in 2019 and offer “Black Circus” as a first impression of their second album, which will see release through Klonosphere on Oct. 15 and which is up for preorder now through Bandcamp.

There’s a video to coincide — maybe NSFW? hard to tell — but the song is also streaming if you’re not feeling the visuals, and I think its starker aspects come across well even without the band-and-ritual-in-woods accompaniment. Pick your poison, I guess. In any case, the vibe here was enough to hook me, and since that’s exactly what an opener should be doing, if you’ll pardon, I’ll just go ahead and dig into the rest of the album. Got a Quarterly Review coming up, you know. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find this one in there.

PR wire info follows:

Djiin Meandering Soul

Djiin – French Psychedelic-Stoner Rockers Announce New Album “Meandering Soul”

Reveal New Video For “Black Circus”

French psychedelic/stoner-rock four-piece band Djiin will release their third full-length album “Meandering Soul” on October 15 via Klonosphere Records/Season of Mist.

The follow-up to 2019’s “The Freak” album was recorded by Justin Nicquevert at The Blue Anvil Sound and mixed and mastered by Pierre Le Gac and Nicolas Moreau at Le Garage Hermétique, and features six new songs replete with powerful and fuzzy riffs, thunderous and soulful beats, psychedelic melodies and the enchanting vocals of Chloé Panhaleux.

Meandering Soul is a concept album that presents the story of a tortured mind being and his evil fiends. The listener is going through a trip where he/she will meet many characters and will be surrounded sometimes by dark and frozen landscapes, other times by a hot and mesmerizing desert, or otherwise by oppressing and sensual places. All these elements are sailing on various musical influences.

Influenced by 70’s progressive rock and krautrock bands, doom scene and heavy rock from the glory days of the early Sabbath, as well as other modern references based on the diversity between western and traditional eastern sounds, Djiin crafted a sound of their own, a truly captivating and other-worldly musical universe that will impress fans of Kadavar, Blue Pills and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats. Pre-orders are now available at this location: https://djiin.bandcamp.com/album/meandering-soul-2

Meanwhile, a music video for leading single “Black Circus” is now playing here.

1. Black Circus
2. The Void
3. Red Desert
4. Warmth of Death
5. White Valley
6. Wax Doll

Engineered by Justin Nicquevert (The Blue Anvil Sound). Mixed and Mastered by Pierre Le Gac and Nicolas Moreau (Le Garage Hermétique).

Djiin are:
Chloé PANHALEUX – Singer / Electric Harp
Allan GUYOMARD – Drums / Backing vocals
Tom PENAGUIN – Guitar / Backing vocals
Charlélie PAILHES – Bass / Backing vocals


Djiin, Meandering Soul (2021)

Djiin, “Black Circus” official video

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Quarterly Review: Geezer, Spaceslug, Expo Seventy, Boss Keloid, Bong-Ra, Zebu, Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, LáGoon, Maha Sohona, The Bad Sugar Rush

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Oh my breaking heart as we move into day seven of the Summer 2021 Quarterly Review and I am reminded that the wages of hubris are feeling like a dumbass later. I was loading up my laptop on Saturday — so pleased with how ahead-of-the-game I was able to stay all last week — when the thing decided it was gonna give itself some time off one way or the other.

I dropped it for repair about 20 minutes before the guy I’ve come to trust was closing shop. He said he’d be in touch on Monday. Needless to say, I’m on my backup cheapie Chromebook, reviewing off Bandcamp streams, eagerly awaiting that call which I can only hope has come in by the time this is posted. I’ll keep you in the loop, of course, but putting together the reviews for yesterday? That was not pretty.

I expressly thank The Patient Mrs., through whom all things are possible.


Quarterly Review #61-70:

Geezer, Solstice

Geezer Solstice

Geezer‘s ambition could hardly be clearer in their 17-minute “Solstice” jam. It was the Solstice — Winter 2020, to be specific — and the Kingston, New York, trio jammed. Guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington (who doesn’t sing on the track) added some dreamy synth after the fact, and the affect is all the more hypnotic for it. Harrington, bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Steve Markota are no strangers to exploratory fare, as they showed on 2020’s righteous Groovy (review here), and as a Bandcamp Friday-era stopgap offering, “Solstice” brings a sampling of who they are in the rehearsal space, willing to be heavy, willing to not, ready to go where the music leads them. If Geezer wanted to do a whole full-length like this, I wouldn’t fight them, so you most definitely will not find me arguing against a digital single either. With jams this tasty, you take what you can get.

Geezer on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Spaceslug, The Event Horizon

spaceslug the event horizon

Issued less as a stopgap, which a digital-only single might normally be, than as a response to the band having lost gear in a practice space flood, the 8:52 single-song outing The Event Horizon was recorded at the same time as Spaceslug‘s late 2020 EP The Leftovers (review here) and in a way acts to bridge the melancholy beyond-genre push of that release with the more weighted, spacious roll that has typified the Polish outfit’s work to-date — their latest full-length was 2019’s Reign of the Orion (review here), and they recently finished a new one. So perhaps “The Event Horizon,” with its hypnotically languid rhythm and concluding drift, is a stopgap after all, but between helping the band recoup their losses and thinking of what might be coming next, it’s an exciting if not-unalloyed listening experience, and the three-piece move deeper into a signature sound even as they continue to bring the definition of what that means to new places.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp


Expo Seventy, Evolution

Expo Seventy Evolution

Creating sometimes-scorching, droning psychedelic soundtracks to all your favorite classic sci-fi films that never existed, Kansas City’s Expo Seventy offer a call to worship for freaks and converted heads on their new album, Evolution. Still headed by guitarist James Wright as on late-2016’s America Here and Now Sessions (review here), the band offer new glories celestial and terrestrial instrumental chemistry throughout the six tracks (seven on the CD) of Evolution, lumbering away on “Echoes of Ether” only after floating in brass-section antigrav conditions on “The Slow Death of Tomorrow.” Can you hang? You’ll know one way or the other as the culminating duo “Second Vision, First Sight” and “First Vision, Second Sight” are done with you, having altered dimensions so thoroughly that the ethereal will either come to feel like home or you will simply have melted. In any case, lash yourself to it. Own that shit.

Expo Seventy on Facebook

Essence Music on Bandcamp


Boss Keloid, Family the Smiling Thrush

boss kelod family the smiling thrush

Peak-era Faith No More reborn in progressive heavy fuzz? What stoner rock might’ve been if it went to college instead of spending all that time hanging around talking about old cars? I don’t know where UK four-piece Boss Keloid ultimately stand on their admirable fifth LP, Family the Smiling Thrush — the follow-up to 2018’s also-well-received Melted on the Inch (review here) — but they most certainly stand on their own. Across seven tracks, the band careen, crash, lumber, rush and ponder — lyrics no less worth a close read than any other component — and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Orang of Noyn” on, they make it abundantly clear that their style’s unpredictability is an asset, and that just because you might not know where they’re going next doesn’t mean they don’t. Melodic, complex and cerebral, there’s still a human presence here, a sense of a plan unfolding, that makes the album seem all the more masterful.

Boss Keloid on Facebook

Ripple Music on Bandcamp


Bong-Ra, Antediluvian

BONG-RA Antediluvian

Though it’s ultimately less electric-kool-aid than endless-churning-abyss-with-psychdelic-saxophone-screaming-up-at-you-like-free-jazz-trapped-in-the-downward-tonal-spiral, Bong-Ra‘s four-tracker Antediluvian is duly experimentalist in being born out of the mind of Jason Köhnen, whose work on this project not only extends more than 20 years, but who has been a part of landmark Dutch outfits like Celestial Season, The Kilmanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, among scores of others. The procession on this full-length, originally released in 2018 through Svart Lava, is wild times indeed, but immersive despite feeling at times like a litmus for how much you can take, with Köhnen‘s bass/keys/etc. and Balazs Pandi‘s drums meeting with Colin Webster‘s saxophone and Chloe Herrington‘s bassoon, willfully plodding through long-ish form improv-seeming movements of atmospheric heft creation.

Jason Köhnen website

Tartarus Records store


Zebu, Reek of the Parvenu

zebu reek of the parvenu

A coherent and forceful debut full-length, Reek of the Parvenu quickly shows the metallic undercurrent from Athens-based four-piece Zebu on opener “The Setting Dust,” and pushes from there in groove metal fashion, taking some impulses from heavy rock but holding largely to a central aggressive stance and tension in the rhythm that is a backdrop even as the later “Nature of Failure” breaks from its chugging shove for a quieter stretch. That is to say, the next punch is always coming, and Zebu‘s blows are effectively delivered — looking at you, “Burden” — though some of the slower, sludgier cuts like “Our Shame” or the doomier finale “The City” bring a welcome atmosphere to go with the coinciding burl. I’m not sure if “People Under the Stairs” wants to kick my ass or crack a beer, but the songwriting is air tight and the thrashy threat only contributes to the immediacy of the release on the whole. They’re not screwing around.

Zebu on Facebook

Zebu on Bandcamp


Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, Polaris

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel Polaris

It’s been 11 years since France’s Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel debuted with Soundtrack From the Motion Picture (review here), an engaging, kind of silly play on stoner rock and B-movie tropes. Beneath that, however, it was also a concept album, and the band — who now seem to prefer LDDSM for a moniker — still work from that foundation on their fourth full-length, Polaris. The difference scope and sonic maturity. Rife with vocal harmonies and progressive flourish, the 10-track answer to 2016’s Human Collapse (review here) smoothly shifts between the patient and the urgent, the intimate and the grand — and that’s in the first two minutes of “Blue Giant” alone — finding their way into a proggy post-heavy rock that’s too clearheaded to be psychedelic, but that balances the crunch of “Horizon” with a sense of the otherworldly just the same.

Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website


LáGoon, Skullactic Visions

LáGoon skullactic visions

With their fourth long-player, guitarist/vocalist Anthony Gaglia and drummer Brady Maurer of Portland, Oregon’s LáGoon welcome bassist Kenny Combs to the fold and dive as a trio — their first three-piece outing was last year’s Father of Death EP — headfirst into murky riffing and heady heavy rock, made all the more spacious through cavern echo and the garage doom vocals Gaglia brings on the title-track, as well as the synth that surfaces on the subsequent interlude “Buried” and elsewhere throughout. The earlier “Beyond the Trees” is particularly bleak and otherworldly, but I won’t take away from the further-down procession of “Hill Bomb” and “The Slow Down” into “Final Ride,” the last of which closes out with scummer doom that’s familiar but distinct enough to be their own. There are moments on Skullactic Visions where, for as much as they could sound like Electric Wizard given the ingredients, I’m all the gladder they don’t.

LaGoon on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp


Maha Sohona, Endless Searcher

Maha Sohona endless searcher

Maha Sohona‘s second album comes some seven years after their self-titled debut, but who cares about time when you’ve got your headphones on and you’re surrounded by the richness of tone on offer throughout Endless Searcher‘s five rolling tracks? Heavy and laid back, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johan Bernhardtson, bassist Thomas Hedlund and drummer David Lundsten finding some kinship with Polish three-piece Spaceslug in their post-Sungrazer blend of weight and flow, a jam like “Luftslot” nodding and conjuring depth even as it soars. Can’t argue with the quicker push of “A Black Star” or the purposefully straightforward “Scavengers” (where the title-line is delivered) but some of the mellow moments in opener “Leaves” and especially the building instrumental finisher “Orbit X” are even more satisfying for how effectively they move you place to place almost without your realizing it. I’ve got nothing for you if you can’t dig this vibe.

Maha Sohona on Facebook

Made of Stone Recordings on Bandcamp


The Bad Sugar Rush, Liar/Push Me

The Bad Sugar Rush Liar Push Me

Keen observers will recognize The Bad Sugar Rush vocalist René Hofmann from his work with Wight, but the work here alongside guitarist Josko Joke-Tovic, bassist Minyeong Fischer and drummer Peter Zettl is distinct from that other unit here, even as the Humble Pie-esque “Push Me” and semi-sleeze “Liar” both have some shade of funk to their procession. Both cuts circa four minutes makes for a suitable debut 7″ with respected purveyor H42 Records doing the honors, and the results are an encouragingly catchy display of what a first full-length might accomplish when and however such a thing emerges. There’s classic heavy rock as the foundation, but more than outright ’70s worship — though some of that too — it’s the organic feel of the songs that leaves an impression on the listener, though the background singers on “Push Me” don’t hurt in that regard, certainly. An auspicious and intriguind first showing.

The Bad Sugar Rush on Facebook

H42 Records website


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Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel to Release Polaris April 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel

Are we really going on five years since Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel released Human Collapse (review here)? The Strasbourg-based increasingly-progressive heavy rock five-piece couldn’t possibly have known how prescient that title would prove at the time, but either way, good call. It makes me wish their forthcoming fourth long-player was called JJ Finds 10 Bucks instead of Polaris, but fine. I’m sure Polaris will make more sense to most people.

To herald the album’s arrival through Klonosphere Records on April 2, the band have newly revealed a video for the track “Blood-Planet Child,” which skirts the line between progressive heavy rock and post-metallic riffing — there’s an aggressive undercurrent, but Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel are too mature to have only that to offer at this point. Come to think of it, they always had more than just that going for them. One recalls their 2010 debut album, Soundtrack From the Motion Picture (review here), was, indeed, a soundtrack to an imaginary film the title of which was the band’s name. I wonder if they ever did a screenplay. Could probably get Amazon to pick it up as a series at this point. Content is king.

Speaking of, here’s some content, as sent down the PR wire for your perusal/infotainment. Dig in:

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel Polaris

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel – French Heavy Rockers Announce New Album “Polaris”

Reveal Music Video For “Blood-Planet Child”

Nearly five years after the release of “Human Collapse”, French heavy rockers Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel are back with their fourth album “Polaris”, which is now set for release on April 2nd via Klonosphere.

Produced, engineered, recorded, mixed and mastered at White Bat Recorders by Rémi Gettliffe, “Polaris” is yet again the band’s most daring, dynamic and mature release to date and sees them further delving into progressive terrains. Pre-orders are now available at this location: https://orcd.co/lddsm-polaris

Video directed by Ben Auer.


Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, “Blood-Planet Child” official video

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Soundcrawler Premiere “The Plastic Truth” from The Dead-End Host

Posted in audiObelisk on February 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan


French heavy rockers Soundcrawler will release their debut full-length, The Dead-End Host, on Feb. 20. Out through Klonosphere Records, it is an album underscored by a current of brooding progressive metal, not necessarily aggressive — unless one counts the ending of the penultimate “Infinite Genocide” — but tense and purposeful in its arrangements, both instrumental and vocal, and cohesive despite markedly varied influences. The Périgueux-based five-piece of vocalist Rémy Pocquet, guitarists Paul Parsat and Clément Reviriego, bassist Firouze Pirolley and drummer Robin Cauchois seem just as likely to draw on Soundgarden as Kyuss in setting a ’90s vibe, but there’s an awareness of modern heavy as well, as the Mars Red Sky-style wah of “A God to Feed” and generally fuzzy overtones of cuts like the opener “Raiders” and the plus-sized riffing of “Souls from the Trash” demonstrate.

What stands The Dead-End Host out is its primarily moody spirit and the atmospherics through which Soundcrawler attain it. The fivesome may be a relatively recent advent in terms of putting out records — this debut was preceded by a 2012 EP called The Sandcrawler that came together before the lineup was finalized — and their sound is soundcrawler the dead-end hostthoroughly modern, but there’s something “old soul” about The Dead-End Host as well. It’s not upbeat songs about drinking and monsters, but it’s got moments where it could be. I’ll point to Pirolley‘s bass as a key factor in setting the ambience of “The Plastic Truth,” which I have the pleasure of hosting today for streaming. Starting the track with Cauchois‘ drums in what almost sounds like a noise rock rollout, it is a dense slab of tone, and even after the guitars and vocals join in, it remains a defining presence, its push of air never really abating throughout “The Plastic Truth”‘s five-minute course.

That course is complex, but ultimately accessible, and with its persistent melody, ebbs and flows, nod, break in the midsection and rebuild to a double-kick apex, it serves well to give an impression of what The Dead-End Host has to say and from where Soundcrawler are coming stylistically. I won’t say it’s a complete summary, but you’ll likely get the idea, and as a sample, it functions with efficiency coinciding to that of the band’s songwriting.

Some bio background follows “The Plastic Truth,” which you’ll find on the player below. Please enjoy:

Soundcrawler initially formed in 2011 as a two-piece project by vocalist Rémi Pocquet and guitarist Clément Revieriego. Influenced by the likes of Kyuss, Mastodon and Karma To Burn, the duo soon started working on their first studio effort, “The Sandcrawler” EP, which was released one year later, in July 2012.

In 2013, Soundcrawler expanded into a quintet with the addition of Robin Cauchois on drums, Firouze Pirolley on bass and Paul Parsat on guitar and were able to test their riff-centric heavy-rock before a live audience for the first time.

2015 will finally see the release of their first full-length album “The Dead-End Host”, a powerful collection of nine new songs filled with infectious riffs, groovy rhythms and dark, bluesy melodies that will surely impress fans of Queens Of The Stone Age, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Truckfighters.

Soundcrawler on Thee Facebooks

Soundcrawler on Bandcamp

Soundcrawler’s website

Klonosphere Records

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