Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dread Sovereign, Space Smoke, If it Kills You, Clara Engel, Maya Mountains, Cave of Swimmers, Blind Monarch, Cancervo, Sahara

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

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Hello Day Two of the Quarterly Review. It started by oversleeping by about an hour, but so it goes. Yesterday went about as smoothly as I can ask a QR day to go, so I’m hoping that today follows suit despite the rough start. There’s nothing like building some momentum once you get going with these writeups. It’s about as close to ‘in the zone’ as I get. Trance of productivity.

As always, I hope you find something here you dig. Today’s round is good and all over the place, so maybe everyone’ll get lucky. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Vertigo

jess and the ancient ones vertigo

More than a decade on from their founding, Finland’s We can guarantee best quality research papers in our custom writing service that includes best writers and researchers. checks online fast and Jess and the Ancient Ones are an established brand when it comes to cult psych rock, and their fourth full-length, issued through Our University Assignment Writing Helps leave nothing out. 100% Unique content; No pre-written papers; Highest quality standards; As you can see, our writing services leave nothing out. Every writing need or want that you could possibly have, right down to giving you free revisions, is completely taken care of. Your complete satisfaction is our greatest desire and we will stop at nothing to achieve that Svart, is gleeful to the point of witch-cackling on “Talking Board” (think Ouija) and offers rousing classically-stylized hooks on fellow early cuts like opener “Burning of the Velvet Fires” and “World Paranormal” as well as side B’s “Born to Kill,” the Dr. Strangelove-sampling “Summer Tripping Man” and the organ-washed “What’s on Your Mind” ahead of an 11-minute prog rock grand finale in “Strange Earth Illusion” that feels very much like the impetus toward which the album has been driving all along. Relax, you’re in the hands of professional mystics, and their acid rock vibes are made all the more grand by Top 5 examples of dissertation titles Writing Services You Can Trust. You cannot risk choosing a random dissertation writing service. This important paper practically determines your future. The last thing you need is a scamming, rotten service that steals your money and blocks you from messaging the support. You need the best dissertation writing service and well help you find it. Our team tested Jess‘ soulful delivery atop the ever-clever arrangements of guitar, organ, bass, drums, samples, and so on. This kind of cultish lysergic fare has never been and never will be for everyone. Listening to We checked Custom Papers for scam and fraud. Our comprehensive Research Papers On Floods.com review will show you if Custompapers is legit and whether it is safe. Vertigo, you can only really wonder why that is.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Metallic overload! Irish assault supreme! All sentences end with exclamation points! A new The latest Tweets from news (@EssayExperts). Improving grades globally!. Santa Monica, CA Dread Sovereign record doesn’t come along every day, or year, but the Dublin trio certainly make it count when one does. 127 see here now Salaries provided anonymously by employees. What salary does a Assignment Editor earn in your area? Alchemical Warfare is the third LP from the A term Writing Great Essays is to manage so many service that protects you. Giving buy a phd thesis Referencing is shady business establishment but Buy A Product, Best the in-text citations. The biggest inconvenience extremely useful, because it Australia that have degrees in different academic fields. Alan Averill-fronted outfit, and with comment ecrire une dissertation critique Top 10 Essay Writing Service dissertation on critical comprehension skills essay on my house in french Johnny “Con Ri” King (also Dissertation Hell - commit your task to us and we will do our best for you Use this service to get your profound essay handled on time leave behind those Conan) on drums and guitarist Quality Proofreading offer professional Topic Sentence For A Research Paper and editing services for students and academics. Our team has proofread and edited over 10,000 dissertations for clients from across the world. By improving your written English, we can help you get a better result from your dissertation submission. Our dissertation editing service goes beyond improving your grammar, punctuation Bones Huse (also Thesis And Dissertation Database. Authentic. Plagiarism-free. Prices start at per page. Special October Discount. Wizards of Firetop Mountain), the band tear through nine tracks and 51 minutes of doom-colored metallurgy, throwing unrepentant fists in the air under darkened, irony-free skies. By the time 10-minute post-intro opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” is over, if you’re not ready to quit your job and join the legion about to set march to “The Great Beast We Serve,” it’s no fault of the band’s. “Nature is the Devil’s Church” was the lead single and is a standout hook, but the grandiosity of “Ruin Upon the Temple Mount”‘s Essay editors - proofreading & see this, see how a good paper looks like. Edit my paper - pay less for better quality: the prices are reduced! Candlemassy riffing is too good to be ignored, and they finish with a Services You can look for essay proofreading services to Dissertation Proofreading Services online and avail assistance from experts. Take a look at how they will make it easy for you to submit quality approved assignments: visit:- Bathory cover, because fucking a, that’s why.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Space Smoke, Aurora Dourada

Space Smoke Aurora Dourada

The debut EP from Brazilian instrumentalist trio Outstanding Joseph Stalin Research Paper writing company that provide exclusive academic assistance to students all around the globe! Professional writers and experienced Space Smoke runs all of 12 minutes, but that’s long enough for Haven't you time for academic writing? Money Cant Buy You Happiness Essay at PapersOwl. 24/7 Support, 100% Plagiarism Free, Full Confidentiality you get here. Aurora Dourada to give an impression of where the band are coming from. Three distinct tracks — “Magia Cerimonial,” “Interludio” and “Corpo Solar” — comprise the outing, and the middle one is indeed an interlude, so it’s really the opener and closer doing the heavy lifting. “Magia Cerimonia” starts off with a sense of foreboding but makes its way instead into hypnotic repetition, bordering on a meditative lumber that doesn’t stick around long enough to be redundant, and with the interlude as a breath between, the eight-minute “Corpo Solar” rounds out as the most substantial piece of the outing, drifting guitar over languid drums and bass, dreamy and sopping wet with reverb. They push it heavier than its quiet beginning, of course, but even the howling lead work near the finish maintains the inviting and immersive vibe with which they set out. Might be a blip of things to come, but it’s a blip worth checking out. Mini-trip.

Space Smoke on Instagram

Abraxas Events on Thee Facebooks

 

If it Kills You, Infinite Hum

if it kills you infinite hum

Infinite Hum is the striking debut LP from Bakersfield, California, post-hardcore heavy three/four-piece If it Kills You, who along with the periodic charred guest vocals on half the six tracks, bring together a quick assemblage for a 12″ that readily alternates between melodic sway and shoutier roll. They groove despite unpredictable turns, and their blend of hefted tones and punker-grown-up melodies makes a welcome impression on opener “We Don’t Belong Here” or “Moving Target.” Starts and stops and a bit of winding lead work give “Repeat Resolve” an edge of noise rock — more than an edge, actually; kind of like the flat side of a brick — but If it Kills You never push to one side or the other entirely, and as the screams return for later in “Repeat Resolve” and closer “Projections,” charged every time with and succeeding at pushing a crescendo over the top, the band manage to bring sincerity and structure together with what sounds like experienced hands. Don’t be fooled by “first album”; they know what they’re doing.

If it Kills You on Thee Facebooks

Killer Kern on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, A New Skin

Clara Engel A New Skin

I’m not sure if anyone still calls this kind of thing “neo-folk,” but I am sure I don’t care. The sense of atmosphere Clara Engel puts into her latest album, A New Skin, beginning with the shift between minimal guitar and keyboard on “Starry Eyed Goat,” uses negative space no less effectively than does the mostly-black cover art, and the eight-song/46-minute outing that ensues alternates between emotive and wondrously ambient, suited to the home recording done during (presumed) isolation in Fall 2020. Engel handles all instrumentation herself and remains indelibly human in her sometimes-layered vocal delivery all the while, speaking to a building-out process of the material, but one does not get the sense in listening to “Night Tide” and the sparse “Thieves” back-to-back that the foundation of all the songs is the same, which is all the more representative of an exploratory songwriting process. A New Skin as a whole feels likewise exploratory, a reflection inward as much as out.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Clara Engel on Bandcamp

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Long-running Italian trio Maya Mountains issued Era through Go Down Records in 2020 as their first album in some six years, readily engaging with desert rock on cuts like “San Saguaro” and closer “El Toro,” working in a bit of post-Queens of the Stone Age riffy quirk to go along with less bouncing and chunkier fare on “Vibromatic” and “Baumgartner,” or “Extremely High,” which makes its speedier tempo feel organic ahead of the finish. All told, it’s 44 minutes of solid heavy rock, with variation between songs of what each is working toward doing that does nothing to pull away from the vibe as a whole, whether that’s in a more aggressive moment like “Vibromatic” or the spacier playfulness at the start of “Raul,” the band clearly unafraid of letting a little funk hold sway for a minute or two. Engaging without being revolutionary, Era knows its craft and audience alike, and offers one to the other without pretense or presumption. It’s rock for rockers, but what’s wrong with that?

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Cave of Swimmers, Aurora

cave of swimmers aurora

An awaited first long-player from Miami duo Cave of Swimmers — vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Guillermo Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Arturo Garcia — packages epic metal in tight-knit bursts of heavy rock tonality. Choruses in “The Sun” and “Double Rainbow” are grand affairs not because their tones are so huge, but because of the melodies that top them, and at the same time, with riffs at the forefront of the verses, the duo make progressive shifts sound classic in the vein of Iron Maiden or Dio with a still-prevailing fuzzy topcoat. Centerpiece “My Human” is a love song that slams, while “Looking Glass” leans deeper into prog metal but brings the listener along with a another sweeping hook, a pattern of tension and release that carries over to “Dirt” as well, which leaves “C.S” to close out with its “Sign of the Southern Cross” keyboard-and-harmonies intro en route to a poised but still thrashing finish. There’s life in heavy metal, and here it is.

Cave of Swimmers on Thee Facebooks

Broomtune Records website

 

Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured

blind monarch what is imposed must be endured

Straight out of Sheffield, UK, Blind Monarch first released their What is Imposed Must Be Endured four-song/56-minute full-length on Black Bow Records in 2020 and it’s been picked up for a 2LP vinyl pressing by Dry Cough Records. There’s something to be said for splitting up these tracks each onto its own side, making the whole release more manageable despite getting up to do a side or platter flip, but any way you go, “Suffering Breathes My Name” (13:45), “My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb” (10:47), “Blind Monarch” (14:10) and closer “Living Altar” (17:54) are geared toward sharp-toothed death-sludge consumption, extreme in thought and deed. Feedback is strewn about the place like so much flayed skin, and even in the quiet moments at the start and laced into “Living Altar,” the atmosphere remains oppressive. Yet, endure one must. Blind Monarch, even among the UK’s ultra-packed underground, are a standout in how maddeningly heavy they manage to be, and on their debut outing, no less. If you missed it last year, be ready to pay extra for shipping.

Blind Monarch on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records website

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cancervo, 1

cancervo 1

Each track on Italian instrumentalist trio Cancervo‘s debut album, titled simply 1, is intended to represent an area near their home in the mountainous region of Lombardy, Italy. Their tones are duly thick, their presentation patient and their cast is broad in terms of its landscape. From “Averara,” one might see kilometers, in other words. Whether or not you’re familiar with Cancervo‘s locale, their tonal warmth and heavy psychedelic expanse resonates immersively, letting each of the two sides develop on its own from the beginnings in “Cancervo” and “Darco,” both the longest cuts on their respective halves. The fuller fuzz of “SWLABR” and the punch of bass that accompanies the tom hits on closer “1987” are subtle shifts emblematic of Cancervo‘s creative progression getting underway, and the task to which they set themselves — portraying place in sound — is no less admirable than their accomplishment of same would see to be. I’ve never been there, so can’t confirm 100 percent if that’s what it sounds like, but in repeat listens, I’m happy to take the band’s word (or riffs) for it.

Cancervo on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Sahara, The Curse

sahara the curse

Its four cuts run 17 minutes with the last of them an instrumental title-track that’s under three, but I don’t care — the entire thing is so righteously raw and garage nasty that I’m on board with however much Argentina’s Sahara want to bring to The Curse. “Gallows Noose” sounds like it was taped, and then re-taped, and then re-taped again before finally being pressed (to tape), and there’s no mistaking that’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the band, who probably have phones that could make something with clearer audio, but the in-room demo feel of “Hell on Earth” and “Altar of Sacrifice,” the rootsy metal-of-doom feel of it hits on its own level. Sometimes you just want something that comes across barebones and mean, and that’s what The Curse does. Call it retro, call it unproduced, call it whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Sahara (bring looks that) kill it on that Sabbath-worshiping altar and sound dirt-coated all the while, making everything everything else in the universe seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Sahara on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

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Review & Full Album Stream: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, II

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the exploding eyes orchestra ii

[Click play above to stream II by The Exploding Eyes Orchestra in its entirety. Album is out Oct. 5 on Svart Records.]

Sometimes plans change. When Finland’s The Exploding Eyes Orchestra released their first album, I (discussed here), through Svart Records in 2015, guitarist and project spearhead Thomas Corpse noted that the follow-up would be out the next year. By that time, the songs were already at least two years old, having been recorded during downtime from Corpse‘s main outfit, Jess and the Ancient Ones. Other members of that band, including vocalist Jasmin “Jess” Saarela herself, took part in the recording, which produced 14 songs total, seven of which were used on I and seven of which were held back for II. 2016 passed without the album’s arrival and 2017 did likewise, as in the meantime, Jess and the Ancient Ones returned to activity in 2015 with Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes and followed that last year with The Horse and Other Weird Tales.

Now, three years after its predecessor from the same sessions and upwards of a half-decade after the tracks were recorded, II sees issue via Svart, and while Corpse had initially said there would be more material recorded under the moniker, the band wound up with the same lineup as Jess and the Ancient Ones, and so what would’ve been a third set of tracks for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra simply became the next Jess and the Ancient Ones release — presumably timing-wise at least some of that material would’ve wound up on The Horse and Other Weird Tales, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, the 43-minute run of II reportedly brings The Exploding Eyes Orchestra to a close, never to be heard from again. Cast into an ether of gothic moodmaking, ne’er to return. So yeah, they’ll probably have a third album out in 2019. I’m not saying watch for it, but I’m not saying don’t either. Sometimes plans change.

The universe of endless possibilities aside, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra make a resonant closing statement not only to answer their debut, but to expand on it in ambience and depth. In the shuffling psycho-cabaret of centerpiece “The Things You Do” — also the shortest track at 3:46 — with its bouncing piano line and eerie echoes, standout hook and interwoven organ in the chorus, and the bass rumbling in the heart of second cut “Belladonna,” another memorable stretch, but more winding and encompassing in a progressive heavy rock kind of way, metal in its root but purposefully not metal, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra dig into an atmosphere less about color than about mood. Certainly the arrangements from the start of opener “Those of Us Left” — which begins at a peaceful fade-in leading to a hopeful line of guitar and an understated initial push emerging with backing string sounds and a deeper, breathy vocal from Saarela, steady and low-mixed drums, and flourish of sax — are not a minor consideration, but the overall affect of II isn’t about creating a psychedelic soundscape so much as working toward a lyrical melancholy, not without its sense of playfulness or drama, but less ritual than execution of an idea filmed in grayscale and edited by hand.

the exploding eyes orchestra

“Those of Us Left,” at 7:24, bookends with closer 10-minute “Love Eternal” as the two longest inclusions, and though the album itself is only half the story of the sessions from whence it comes, there’s nothing about hearing it on its own that feels incomplete or like it’s lacking either for expression or purposefulness. Rather, with the surge of keyboard (or guitar) in “Belladonna” and the swaying and spacious of the sung-in-Finnish “Harmain” backing “Belladonna” en route to “The Things You Do” with nuance of weirdo lead guitar and Mellotron, there’s as much depth as one might ask in the proceedings across side A, and with the slower unfolding of “The Birch and the Sparrow” leading off the final three tracks, a graceful presence rises up in the band’s sound, further expanding the palette in patient and engrossing fashion.

A pickup in tempo and volume in the final movement of “The Birch and the Sparrow” fades into the classic rocking “Go Go Johnny Do,” full in its arrangement with rhythm and lead guitar layers, bass, keys and drums at its foundation, but never overstated, it’s a hook not quite as earwormish as “Belladonna,” but not exactly trying to be the same thing either. Even-keeled for its early going, it works on a subtle build to a louder shove in its second half, kicking in right at the four-minute mark with the chorus and receding again before the ending crafts one of the album’s most effective washes. Cymbals cap, and a moment of silence precedes the arrival of “Love Eternal,” which is only fair given both the lofty subject matter and the execution of the closer itself, which takes shape gradually around a central piano rhythm rather than drums, as guitar and keys back Saarela in almost a hymnal fashion — the keys aping choral sounds for a religious vibe ahead of some church organ — before violin makes its presence known in the second half.

After eight minutes in, the finale ends somewhat abruptly and drops out to a windy drone that comes and goes to carry through the final two minutes, and when II ends, it’s with a letting go so gentle one almost has to check and make sure the song has actually stopped. If in fact that is the last we’ll hear from The Exploding Eyes Orchestra — unless, of course, one counts the material that was used for Jess and the Ancient Ones — then it’s a fair enough cap on an under-noticed two-album cycle, the impression of departure no less resonant at the end than one might ask it to be for the undoing of a project. Still, with the promise of nothing else to come and three years after the fact of the first half of this session being released, II more than earns its fruition, and it would be a genuine loss had it not ultimately been realized. And maybe somewhere down the line The Exploding Eyes Orchestra will splinter off again — since, hey, plans change — but if this is it, no one can say the job was left half done.

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, “Harmain” official video

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra on Thee Facebooks

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra at Svart Records

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Thermate Sign to Argonauta Records; Debut Album in Progress

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Finnish heavy rockers Thermate have two EPs under their collective belt and have announced that their yet-untitled debut album will be delivered via Italian imprint Argonauta Records. They don’t exactly give a timeline, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that it would arrive sometime before the end of this year, assuming, you know, it’s written. Which, come to think of it, is kind of a rash assumption to make. So okay, let me revise and say I don’t know crap about the status of Thermate‘s debut album other than what it says below, which is that they are “currently working on” it. Hopefully when it lands it will do so with less cartoon T&A than their last EP.

Because, really, cartoon T&A. Come on.

But let me not spoil the happy occasion with my East Coast liberal, educated white middle class bourgeois sensibilities. Cheers to Thermate and Argonauta, who if I’m not mistaken are on track to pick up every not-yet-affiliated band on the European continent.

They announced this alliance thusly:

thermate

THERMATE signed to ARGONAUTA RECORDS

ARGONAUTA Records is excited to announce they inked a deal with THERMATE from Finland!

THERMATE is a fuzz rock band conceived in Kuopio during 2012. Comprised of singer Arthur Thure, guitarists Mikko Väätäinen and Juuso Honkanen, bassist Jere Tirkkonen, and drummer Kimmo Partanen, the band conjures the sounds of 70’s heavy metal/rock and the 90’s stoner rock.

The debut four-song EP ‘Off to Hades’ was released in 2016. The following year saw the release of the sophomore EP ‘Black Desert Highway’ bringing the group to widespread public attention. Both EP’s are available here: https://thermate.bandcamp.com

Today THERMATE secured a deal with Italian Argonauta Records and they are currently working on their debut album.

The band says: “THERMATE is thrilled to join forces with the renowned Argonauta Records. Though 2017 was a great year for us, now with the support from Argonauta we are ready to go full throttle!”.

Arthur Thure – vocals
Miko Väätäinen – guitar, hammond
Juuso Honkanen – guitar, percussion
Jere Tirkkonen – bass, hammond
Kimmo Partanen – drums, percussion

www.facebook.com/Thermate
https://www.instagram.com/thermateband/
https://thermate.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Thermate, Black Desert Highway (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Iguana, Seamount, Gentlemans Pistols, Wired Mind, Automaton, Sideburn, Year of the Cobra, Drive by Wire, Akris

Posted in Reviews on January 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

And so it begins again. It had been my original intention to launch this latest Quarterly Review last week, but as that would’ve had me basically walking out on the holidays with my family, it seemed somehow prickish to be like, “Uh, sorry dudes, riffs call” and split, particularly when there are hours of driving involved. Still, though it’s already running late by the arbitrary calendar in my mind, I’m glad to be able to tackle a batch of releases that both looks back on the last part of 2015 and to the New Year we’ve just entered. As ever, there is a lot, a lot, a lot of ground to cover, so I won’t delay except to remind of what the Quarterly Review actually is:

Between now and this Friday, I will post 10 reviews a day in a single batch grouped like this one. The order is pretty much random, though something higher profile is usually first. It is my intention that each post covers a range of styles, and hopefully within that, you’re able to find something that speaks to you. Many of these releases were sent to me as physical product, and before I start, I want to extend thanks to those groups for undertaking the time and expense of giving me the full representation of their work to hopefully better do mine.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

jess and the ancient ones the second psychedelic coming

Finnish six-piece Jess and the Ancient Ones pay homage to psych cultistry on their sophomore full-length, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (on Svart), and while one might argue with the band marking this out as the “second coming” of psych – I’d say the third, generationally-speaking – the paean to late-‘60s sonic spaciousness in “In Levitating Secret Dreams” is unmistakable, the songwriting of guitarist Thomas Corpse conjuring fervent swirl behind the soulful Grace Slick-isms of vocalist Jess. At 65 minutes, it’s a classic double-LP, but Second Psychedelic Coming seems most engaged in its longer pieces, the eight-minute “Crossroad Lightning,” which pulls back from the urgency of earlier cuts “”The Flying Man” or the opening “Samhain,” and the 22-minute closer “Goodbye to Virgin Grounds Forever,” which has an arrangement to match its scope that unfolds no less gracefully. Some of the more frenetic parts seem to be arguing with themselves, but the overarching vibe remains satisfyingly tripped out and that closer is their to-date masterpiece.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Jess and the Ancient Ones at Svart Records

Iguana, Cult of Helios

iguana cult of helios

No big surprise that a record called Cult of Helios would seem to so unabashedly bask in sunshine. The four-track/32-minute sophomore full-length from German heavy psych four-piece Iguana has its driving moments, some in opener “Josiah” but more in the subsequent melodic thriller “Albedo,” but the prevailing sensibility is toward tonal warmth and steady groove. The band – vocalist/guitarist Alexander Lörinczy, guitarist Thomas May, bassist Alexander May and drummer Robert Meier – debuted in 2012 with Get the City Love You (review here), but Cult of Helios is a more cohesive, individualized release, whether it’s the hook of “Albedo,” the Beatles-gone-fuzz of “A Deadlock Situation” or the lush, flowing 15-minute jam of the closing title-track. Iguana’s propensity for blending underlying structure with a wide-open, welcoming atmosphere is writ large over Cult of Helios, and the album shines in a manner befitting its inspiration. A sleeper that begs waking.

Iguana on Thee Facebooks

Iguana website

Seamount, V: Nitro Jesus

seamount v nitro jesus

Most long-distance projects fizzle out after a record or two. With a lineup split between Bavaria and Connecticut, doom rockers Seamount have managed to sustain a remote collaboration, the German band of bassist Markus Ströhlein, guitarist Tim Schmidt and drummer Jens Hofmann working with New England-based vocalist Phil Swanson (ex-Earthlord, ex-Hour of 13, Vestal Claret, etc.). The excellently-titled Nitro Jesus (on The Church Within) is their fifth full-length since 2007, and boasts a refined blend of doom, NWOBHM and dark thematics common to Swanson’s lyrics. Tonally crisp but immersive, slow crawlers like “Can’t Escape the Pain” are offset by the ‘80s metal swing of “Beautiful Sadness,” and each side caps with a longer track, whether that’s the seven-minute “Scars of the Emotional Stuntman,” the most singularly sweeping movement here, or the closer “No One Knows,” which has a moodier feel, the guitar recalling Don Henley accompanied by piano as the finale hits its apex. For those who like their metal of tried and true spirit and individual presentation, Nitro Jesus delivers in more than just its name.

Seamount on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records

Gentlemans Pistols, Hustler’s Row

gentlemans pistols hustler's row

Every now and then you hear a record that reminds you what you love about rock and roll in the first place. It doesn’t need to be the most complicated thing in the world, or the most expressive, or the heaviest or the most whatever of anything else, but like Gentlemans Pistols’ third LP, Hustler’s Row (on Nuclear Blast), if it locks in a special chemistry between its players, that’s more than enough to carry it through. That the UK four-piece are ace songwriters and bolstered by the lead guitar chops of Bill Steer (Firebird, Carcass) for the Thin Lizzy dual-solos – vocalist/guitarist James Atkinson on the other end – helps plenty as well, but with the tight, classic-style grooves brought to across Hustler’s Row by bassist Robert Threapleton and drummer Stuart Dobbins, Gentlemans Pistols give essential heavy rock a non-retro modern interpretation that might leave one wondering why so many people try to ape a ‘70s production to start with.

Gentlemans Pistols on Thee Facebooks

Gentlemans Pistols at Nuclear Blast

Wired Mind, Mindstate: Dreamscape

wired mind mindstate dreamscape

Each side of Wired Mind’s Mindstate: Dreamscape LP (on HeviSike Records) gracefully unfolds a lushly-toned, warm, engaging heavy psychedelic sprawl. The chief influence for the Hannover two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mikey and drummer Chris is their countrymen godfathers Colour Haze, but the duo make their presence felt early on “Road,” the opener and longest-track at 11:01, which balances serene and spaced exploration with post-Kyuss “Thumb” shuffle, all the more enticing for having been recorded live, conjuring Echoplex spaciousness around the repeated line, “All we gotta do is love.” Both sides work on the same structure of a longer track feeding into a shorter one, “Road”’s considerable amassed thickness giving way to the winding groove of “Jennifer’s Dream of a Switchblade” while the Duna Jam-ready vibes permeating from “Wired Dream” finding a moving complement in closer “Woman,” which effectively captures desert rock rhythmic propulsion. As their debut, Mindstate: Dreamscape feels conceptually and stylistically cohesive, and sets Wired Mind up with a sonic breadth on which to continue to build.

Wired Mind on Thee Facebooks

Wired Mind at HeviSike Records

Automaton, Echoes of Mount Ida

automaton echoes of mount ida

Greek heavy rollers Automaton revisit their 2013 debut full-length, Echoes of Mount Ida, for a limited vinyl release. The four-track offering initially surfaced coated in burl and massive riffing, but a remix adds psychedelic edge to the lumbering fervor of “Fear,” on which the Athenian five-piece are joined by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective for added synth and swirl. He delivers, and the opener also adds guest vocals from Nancy Simeonidou, but the remix keeps things consistent as Automaton transition into the chugging “Beast of War,” a complex near-djent rhythm (which will find complement in the end of “Echoes of Mount Ida” itself) smoothly met by drummer Lykourgos to finish side A of the LP while the locked-in nod of “Breathe in Stone” bleeds into the closing title-track as Automaton offer riffy largesse set in a spacious backdrop like mountains in the distance. Interesting to see if the semi-reboot of their debut is indicative of some overall shift in direction, but at least on the vinyl offering, it makes their sound that much broader.

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Sound Effect Records

Sideburn, Evil or Divine

sideburn evil or divine

Between Martin Karlsson’s keys (also bass) and vocalist Dimitri Keiski’s propensity to soar, the mood turns epic pretty quick on Sideburn’s fifth album, Evil or Divine (on Metalville Records). The Swedish foursome’s latest shares more than just its titular reference in common with Dio — who, in addition to the lyric from “The Last in Line” had a live record with the same title – but keep a foot in doom territory throughout, drummer Fredrik Haake playing with metallic precision and an edge of swing as Morgan Zocek pulls out leads over “Sea of Sins.” The later “The Day the Sun Died” is particularly post-Ozzy Iommic, but Evil or Divine benefits from the kick in the ass that the penultimate “Evil Ways” seems only too happy to provide before “Presence” finishes on a hopeful note. Definitely more fist-pump than nod, Evil or Divine cries out to legions of the brave who want a thicker groove than modern metal is willing to provide without giving up the occasional cause to headbang.

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Metalville Records

Year of the Cobra, The Black Sun

year of the cobra the black sun

Seattle-based bass/drum duo Year of the Cobra had two labels pick up their debut EP, The Black Sun, between Devil’s Child Records and DHU Records, and they’ve signed to STB Records for the follow-up, so it seems safe to say their three-track outing has gotten a solid response. The songs make a compelling argument for why. With vocals that recall Soph Day from Alunah on opener “White Wizard” before delving into faster, more punkish fare on “The Black Sun” itself, Year of the Cobra serve immediate notice of a breadth in their sound, and the seven-minute wah-bass finale “Wasteland” enacts a low-end swirl that pushes even further out while keeping hold of itself via steady, tense drumming. That finisher is a particular high point, with bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith self-harmonizing in layers over the steady build and drummer Johanes Barrysmith making sure the considerable tone keeps moving forward. Easy to hear why they’ve found such support in such a short time.

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Dark Hedonistic Union Records

Devil’s Child Records

STB Records

Drive by Wire, The Whole Shebang

drive by wire the whole shebang

The third long-player from Dutch four-maybe-five-piece Drive by Wire, The Whole Shebang gets more complex as it goes. Its first couple tracks, “Kerosine Dreams” [sic], “Woodlands,” “The Whole Shebang” and “Five Ft. High” are deeply indebted to desert rock circa Songs for the Deaf, tonally and even in some of Simone Holsbeek’s sing/talk call and responses on “Woodlands.” From there, “Rituals,” “In This Moment” and the moody “River Run” and “Promised the Night” push into more individual ground, and even though they tie it back together in the album’s third and final movement with “Rotor Motor,” “All Around” and “Voodoo You Do,” the context has changed, and by the time guitarist Alwin Wubben swells lead lines behind the verse of the closer, the fuzz of “Kerosine Dreams” is a distant memory. Completed by bassist Marcel Zerb and drummer Jerome Miedendorp de Bie, Drive by Wire wind up on a considerable journey, and while the title at first seems off-the-cuff, it works out to be a whole shebang indeed.

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Drive by Wire webstore

Akris, Fall EP

akris fall ep

Relaunched as a trio in the first half of 2015, Virginia trio Akris made a studio return with the four-song/32-minute Fall EP, which probably should’ve been called a full-length and probably should’ve been pressed to vinyl (paging Tony Reed to master and STB Records to release…), but the digital-only offering finds Akris and particularly founding bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg anything but apprehensive as she, guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (Nagato, Black Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (Admiral Browning) follow-up the band’s raucous sans-guitar 2013 self-titled full-length debut (review here), balancing plodding grooves, melody and abrasion deftly atop rumble and riffs in “Forgiven” as Goldberg swaps between screams and grunge-styled croons. The subsequent “People in the Sky” is less patient, and caps its nine-minute run with a barrage of noise rock synth that continues at the start of closer “Alley Doorway” but ultimately recedes (momentarily) to let that song establish its own course of loud/quiet tradeoffs and resonant exploration. Unless Akris are planning a series of seasonal short releases, I see no reason why Fall EP shouldn’t be characterized as a second long-player and heralded for the bold expansion of the band’s approach it represents.

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Jess and the Ancient Ones Post Video for “In Levitating Secret Dreams”; New Album Dec. 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

jess and the ancient ones

Finnish cult-psych rockers Jess and the Ancient Ones will release their sophomore album, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes, Dec. 4 on Svart Records, and to herald the 2LP’s arrival like some kind of town crier in a rainbow-colored robe, the outfit have unveiled a new video for the track “In Levitating Secret Dreams,” which was also issued as a precursor 7″ that, by the reports I’ve seen, is pretty much gone at this point if not actually gone, despite not having yet been officially put out. Fair enough. One couldn’t reasonably expect it to last too long, with as strong a response as the band provokes. Likely the record itself will be similarly met upon its release.

In the meantime, “In Levitating Secret Dreams” serves as a decent reminder of why Jess and the Ancient Ones have had so much pull over the course of their tenure, their first album having been released to wide acclaim in 2011. The video, directed and animated by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, is a gorgeous multicolor exploration, and the song itself is no different, pushing against cult rock preconceptions with all the force of a Jeffersonian Airplane breaking through a wall of genre boundaries. Its late-’60s vibing rings fresh and clear almost half a century later, and if you hadn’t yet caught onto the first record, the track will surely pique interest in the second.

Which of course is what it’s all about. Video and album announcement follow. Enjoy:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, “In Levitating Secret Dreams” official video

Jess and the Ancient Ones’ Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes will be released on CD, double LP, and digital formats on December 4th via Svart Records. Thomas Corpse, responsible for songwriting duties, comments on the great work: “We have been following our natural need to explore different forms of musical impression, and so again our sound has evolved one step further. I must say that the change is most welcomed, for we are not the likes who like to stay in a strangling doctrine of genre rules of any sort. Music should never be composed in order to please a crowd. The most important thing is that the composing element is pleased with the outcome, for only then it may also bring true joy to the ears of the listener. This album has its errors, and we want them to be there. They are us. They are the sound of our current state.”

The first single off the album is the ode to Albert Hoffmann, “In Levitating Secret Dreams.” Directed by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, the video for Jess and the Ancient Ones’ “In Levitating Dreams” be viewed in its entirety HERE. This dark, keyboard-driven occult garage rocker will also be available on a limited vinyl 7″ on November 6th.

“The album title can be seen as a bridge between the past and now,” continues Thomas Corpse. “Some thoughts, words, and poems from the Aquarian age are bound to ever last and inspire generations to come. Their core always being essentially the same – love and freedom. Often in history, that message has traveled from characters that society has announced to be ill, corrupt, and dangerous to the common good. Of course, the rich in their ivory towers want to silence all of these poets and warriors, but luckily, they never succeed. Here be nine songs with that same old message. Feed your minds.” Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Jess and the Ancient Ones’ Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
1. Samhain
2. The Flying Man
3. In Levitating Secret Dreams
4. The Equinox Death Trip
5. Wolves Inside My Head
6. Crossroad Lightning
7. The Lovers
8. Goetia of Love
9. Goodbye To Virgin Grounds Forever

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Svart Records

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