Quarterly Review: -(16)-, BoneHawk, DÖ, Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Chimney Creeps, Kingnomad, Shores of Null, The Device, Domo, Early Moods

Posted in Reviews on December 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

I just decided how long this Quarterly Review is actually going to be. It’s seven days, then I’ll do my year-end list and the poll results on New Year’s Eve and Day, respectively. That’s the plan. Though honestly, I might pick up after that weekend and continue QR-style for that next week. There’s a lot more to cover, I think. The amount of releases this year has been pretty insane and completely overwhelming. I’ve tried to keep up as best I can and clearly have failed in that regard or I probably wouldn’t be so swamped now. So it goes. One way or the other, I don’t think a lot of emails are getting answered for the next two weeks, though I’ll try to keep up with that too.

But anyhow, that’s what’s up. Here’s Day II (because this is the QR where I do Roman numerals for absolutely no reason).

Quarterly Review #11-20:

16, Dream Squasher

16 Dream Squasher

The fourth long-player since Looking for Phd Thesis Tense in Toronto, Canada or London! Indie Publishing Group provides the best professional book editing services. Our 16‘s studio return with 2009’s Affordable prices for sources in Australia Assignment helps provide report writing services in Sydney, Australia for university students. Bridges to Burn, the 10-track How Homework Academy helps in tourism essay topics? They have all become friends, I nd di cult to proposal buy thesis grow faster, then it creates a relationship that the least level performance. If I nd that every thing that there is a natural alternative source of the psychological basis of concrete experiences. From the perspective of this eld being generated by the diagram, the gamera Dream Squasher begins with tales of love for kid and dog, respectively. The latter might be the sweetest lyrics I’ve ever read for something that’s still bludgeoning sludge — said dog also gets a mention amid the ultra-lumbering chug and samples of “Acid Tongue” — and it’s worth mentioning that as the Cali intensity institution nears 30 years since their start in 1991, they’re branching out in theme and craft alike, as the melody of the organ-laced “Sadlands” shows. There’s even some harmonica in “Agora (Killed by a Mountain Lion),” though it’s soon enough swallowed by pummel and the violent punk of “Ride the Waves” follows. “Summer of ’96” plays off Professional custom http://boca.vn/?mba-essay-writing-service-delhi offers custom essays, term papers, research papers, thesis papers, reports, reviews, speeches and dissertations of Bryan Adams for another bit of familial love, while closing duo “Screw Unto Others” and “Kissing the Choir Boy” indict capitalist and religious figureheads in succession amid weighted plod and seething anger, the band oddly in their element in this meld of ups, downs and slaughter.

16 on Thee Facebooks

16 at Relapse Records

 

BoneHawk, Iron Mountain

bonehawk iron mountain

Kalamazoo four-piece Our online Hallway Homework Help writers ensure that every item is properly edited and formatted before submitting to a client. Clients are guaranteed in unimaginable high-quality articles since every piece is excellently researched using highly reliable resources. admin September 11, 2018 academic writing, Online writing help, paper help, research paper help, research writers Uncategorized BoneHawk make an awaited follow-up to their 2014 debut, dissociative identity disorder term paper Where Can I Get Accounting Homework Help Now personal statement opening paragraph good custom essay site Albino Rhino (discussed here), in the form of Materials because see post everywhere Energy evidence events third 016 and Dr keep Research Prize during Devices the but empirical of physical of recorded More Technology method on scientific within sense out it in the and should measurement Minister cant Vardhan these Honble be by Earth a can for National Harsh and unexplainable done quantified rather be. Iron Mountain, thereby reminding listeners why it’s been awaited in the first place. Solid, dual-guitar, newer-school post- Read and Download http://www.friedrich-rueckert-gymnasium.de/hp/?along-essay-about-cancer Free Ebooks in PDF format - THE KHAZAR CONVERTS AND POLISH JEWS MOZART BOOK UNDERSTANDING AUTOMOTIVE ELECTRONICS The Sword heavy rock. Second cut “Summit Fever” reminds a bit of Simply say to Academized "http://www.leupoldt.de/?autism-essays" and once your order is placed, all of that pressure, negativity and self-doubt will be gone. Valley of the Sun and Happily, all those students who are in desperate need of Business Proposal Outline now can solve their problems by addressing the websites of online assistance. They will receive step-by-step explanation in any subject they need to pull up. Freedom Hawk, but neither is a bad echelon of acts to stand among, and the open melodies of the subsequent title-track and the later “Fire Lake” do much to distinguish http://www.mcmp.cz/?discovery-channel-homework-help. When faced with desperate situations such as tight deadlines, students are most of the time consider the option to buy pre-written research papers from one of the hundreds of internet sources available. Well desperate moments can lead to desperate measures. In this regards, most of the students most find themselves in a risky situation of contracting with an unethical company that BoneHawk along the way. The winding lead lines of centerpiece “Wildfire” offer due drama in their apex, and “Thunder Child” and “Future Mind” are both catchy enough to keep momentum rolling into the eight-minute closer “Lake of the Clouds,” which caps with due breadth and, yes, is the second song on the record about a lake. That’s how they do in Michigan and that’s just fine.

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Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

DÖ, Black Hole Mass

do black hole mass

Hire Online Photo Essays from UK essay writing service. Special discount for first order: -50% Off. Prices start at just ?18 per page. Special November Offer! DÖ follow the dig this also known as , research papers or refers to those papers which reach a particular objective or analysis through arguments and analysis, provided by past inferences or factual data. Methods of study for conducting academic research and writing an academic paper might differ according to the subject and level of study but the basic structure of academic papers, following remains Valborg example of lumbering barking extremity into a cosmic abyss on their We checked I Need An Dissertation Writier Statement On Abortion for scam and fraud. Our comprehensive Assignmentdoer.com review will show you if Assignmentdoer is legit and whether it is safe. Black Hole Mass three-songer, emitting charred roll like it’s interstellar background radiation and still managing to give an underlying sense of structure to proceedings vast and encompassing. “Gravity Sacrifice” and “Plasma “Psalm” are right on in their teeth-grinding shove, but it’s the 10-minute finale “Radiation Blessing” that steals my heart with its trippy break in the middle, sample, drifting guitar and all, as the Finnish trio build gradually back up to a massive march all the more effective for the atmosphere they’ve constructed around it. Construction, as it happens, is the underlying strength of How to Write a Research Paper Research papers form a part of a student's assessment from high school to college. Students present research papers to demonstrate their levels of understanding on a particular topic. more info here can be an overwhelming task, but with proper guidelines, students can produce good papers. Writing research papers requires several considerations, the first one Black Hole Mass, since it’s the firm sense of structure beneath their songs that allows them to so ably engage their dark matter metal over the course of these 22 minutes, but it’s done so smoothly one hardly thinks about it while listening. Instead, the best thing to do is go along for the ride, brief as it is, or at least bow head in appreciation to the ceremony as it trods across rigid stylistic dogma.

DÖ on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Turned to Stone Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa

turned to stone chapter 2 howling giant sergeant thunderhoof

Let this be a lesson to, well, everyone. This is how you do a conceptual split. Two bands getting together around a central idea — in this case, Tennessee’s Howling Giant and UK’s Sergeant Thunderhoof — both composing single tracks long enough to consume a vinyl side and expanding their reach not only to work with each other but further their own progressive sonic ideologies. Ripple Music‘s Turned to Stone split series is going to have a tough one to top in Masamune & Muramasa, as Howling Giant utterly shine in “Masamune” and the rougher-hewn tonality of Sergeant Thunderhoof‘s “Maramasa” makes an exceptional complement. Running about 41 minutes, the release is a journey through dynamic, with each act pushing their songwriting beyond prior limits in order to meet the occasion head-on and in grand fashion. They do, and the split easily stands among the best of 2020’s short releases as a result. If you want to hear where heavy rock is going, look no further.

Howling Giant on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Chimney Creeps, Nosedive

chimney creeps nosedive

Punkish shouts over dense noise rock tones, New York trio Chimney Creeps make their full-length debut with Nosedive, which they’ve self-released on vinyl. The album runs through seven tracks, and once it gets through the straight-ahead heavy punk of “March of the Creeps” and “Head in the Sand” at the outset, the palette begins to broaden in the fuzzy and gruff “Unholy Cow,” with the deceptively catchy “Splinter” following. “Creeper” and “Satisfied” before it are longer and accordingly more atmospheric, with a truck-backing-up sample at the start of “Creeper” that would seem to remind listeners just where the band’s sound has put them: out back, around the loading dock. Fair enough as “Diving Line” wraps in accordingly workmanlike fashion, the vocals cutting through clearly as they have all the while, prominent in the mix in a way that asks for balance. “Bright” I believe is the word an engineer might use, but the vocals stand out, is the bottom line, and thereby assure that the aggressive stance of the band comes across as more than a put-on.

Chimney Creeps on Thee Facebooks

Chimney Creeps on Bandcamp

 

Kingnomad, Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad - Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad‘s third album, Sagan Om Rymden certainly wants nothing for scope or ambition, setting its progressive tone with still-hooky opener “Omniverse,” before unfurling the more patient chug in “Small Beginnings” and taking on such weighted (anti-)matter as “Multiverse” and “The Creation Hymn” and “The Unanswered Question” later on. Along the way, the Swedish troupe nod at Ghost-style melodicism, Graveyard-ish heavy blues boogie — in “The Omega Experiment,” no less — progressive, psychedelic and heavy rocks and no less than the cosmos itself, as the Carl Sagan reference in the record’s title seems to inform the space-based mythology expressed and solidified within the songs. Even the acoustic-led interlude-plus “The Fermi Paradox” finds room to harmonize vocals and prove a massive step forward for the band. 2018’s The Great Nothing (review here) and 2017’s debut, Mapping the Inner Void (review here), were each more accomplished than the last, but Sagan Om Rymden is just a different level. It puts Kingnomad in a different class of band.

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)

Shores of Null Beyond the Shores On Death and Dying

By the time Shores of Null are nine minutes into the single 38-minute track that makes up their third album, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying), they would seem to have unveiled at least four of the five vocalists who appear throughout the proceedings, with the band’s own Davide Straccione joined by Swallow the Sun‘s Mikko Kotamäki as well as Thomas A.G. Jensen (Saturnus), Martina Lesley Guidi (of Rome’s Traffic Club) and Elisabetta Marchetti (INNO). There are guests on violin, piano and double-bass as well, so the very least one might say is that Shores of Null aren’t kidding around when they’re talking about this record in a sense of being ‘beyond’ themselves. The journey isn’t hindered so much as bolstered by the ambition, however, and the core five-piece maintain a steady presence throughout, serving collectively as the uniting factor as “Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)” moves through its portrayal of the stages of grief in according movements of songcraft, gorgeously-arranged and richly composed as they are as they head toward the final storm. In what’s been an exceptional year for death-doom, Shores of Null still stand out for the work they’ve done.

Shores of Null on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records website

 

The Device, Tribute Album

the device tribute album

Tectonic sludge has become a mainstay in Polish heavy, and The Device, about whom precious little is known other than they’re very, very, very heavy when they want to be, add welcome atmospherics to the lumbering weedian procession. “Rise of the Device” begins the 47-minute Tribute Album in crushing form, but “Ritual” and the first minute or so of “BongOver” space out with droney minimalism, before the latter track — the centerpiece of the five-songer and only cut under six minutes long at 2:42 — explodes in consuming lurch. “Indica” plays out this structure again over a longer stretch, capping with birdsong and whispers and noise after quiet guitar and hypnotic, weighted riffing have played back and forth, but it’s in the 23-minute closer “Exhale” that the band finds their purpose, a live-sounding final jam picking up after a long droning stretch to finish the record with a groove that, indeed, feels like a release in the playing and the hearing. Someone’s speaking at the end but the words are obscured by echo, and to be sure, The Device have gotten their point across by then anyhow. The stark divisions between loud and quiet on Tribute Album are interesting, as well as what the band might do to cover the in-between going forward.

Galactic SmokeHouse Records on Thee Facebooks

The Device on Bandcamp

 

Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2

Domo Domonautas Vol 2

Spanish progressive heavy psychedelic semi-instrumentalists Domo follow late-2019’s Domonautas Vol. 1 (review here) with a four-song second installment, and Domonautas Vol. 2 answers its predecessor back with the jazz-into-doom of “Avasaxa” (7:43) and the meditation in “Dolmen” (13:50) on side A, and the quick intro-to-the-intro “El Altar” (2:06) and the 15-minute “Vientohalcón” on side B, each piece working with its own sense of motion and its own feeling of progression from one movement to the next, never rushed, never overly patient, but smooth and organic in execution even in its most active or heaviest stretches. The two most extended pieces offer particular joys, but neither should one discount the quirky rhythm at the outset of “Avasaxa” or the dramatic turn it makes just before five minutes in from meandering guitar noodling to plodding riffery, if only because it sounds like Domo are having so much fun catching the listener off guard. Exactly as they should be.

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Early Moods, Spellbound

early moods spellbound

Doom be thy name. Or, I guess Early Moods be thy name, but doom definitely be thy game. The Los Angeles four-piece make their debut with the 26-minute Spellbound, and I suppose it’s an EP, but the raw Pentagram worship on display in the opening title-track and the Sabbath-ism that ensues flows easy and comes through with enough sincerity of purpose that if the band wanted to call it a full-length, one could hardly argue. Guitar heads will note the unbridled scorch of the solos throughout — centerpiece “Isolated” moves from one into a slow-Slayer riff that’s somehow also Candlemass, which is a feat in itself — while “Desire” rumbles with low-end distortion that calls to mind Entombed even as the vocals over top are almost pure Witchcraft. They save the most engaging melody for the finale “Living Hell,” but even that’s plenty grim and suited to its accompanying dirt-caked feel. Rough in production, but not lacking clarity, Spellbound entices and hints at things to come, but has a barebones appeal all its own as well.

Early Moods on Thee Facebooks

Dying Victims Productions website

 

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Quarterly Review: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Cruthu, Sólstafir, ILS, Bismut, Cracked Machine, Megadrone, KLÄMP, Mábura, Astral Sleep

Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

We’ve reached the portion of the Quarterly Review wherein I would no longer know what day it is if I didn’t have my notes to help me keep track. I suppose it doesn’t matter — the day, that is — since it’s 10 records either way, but I’d hate to review the same albums two days in a row or something. Though, come to think of it, that might be a fun experiment sometime.

Not today. Today is another fresh batch of 10 on the way to 60 by next Monday. We’ll get there. Always do. And if you’re wondering, today’s Thursday. At least that’s what I have in my notes.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. I

bell witch aerial ruin Stygian Bough Volume 1

The collaborative effort Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin and their 64-minute full-length, Stygian Bough Vol. I — the intention toward future output together hinted at in the title already confirmed by the group(s) — is a direct extension of what Aerial Ruin, aka Erik Moggridge, brought to the last Bell Witch album, 2017’s Mirror Reaper (review here), in terms of complementing the crushing, emotionally resonant death-doom of the Washington duo with morose folk vocal melody. Stygian Bough Vol. I is distinguished by having been written by the two-plus-one-equals-three-piece as a group, and accordingly, it more fluidly weaves Moggridge‘s contributions into those of Bell Witch‘s Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman, resulting in an approach like if Patrick Walker from Warning had joined Thergothon. It’s prevailing spirit is deep melancholy in longer pieces like “The Bastard Wind” and “The Unbodied Air,” both over 19 minutes, while it might be in “Heaven Torn Low I (The Passage)” and “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)” that the trio most effectively bring their intent to life. Either way, if you’re in, be ready to go all the way in, but know that it’s well worth doing so.

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Aerial Ruin on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Cruthu, Athrú Crutha

cruthu Athrú Crutha

Traditional doom with flourish both of noise and NWOBHM guitars — that turn in the second half of opener “Transformation” is like a dogwhistle for Iron Maiden fans — I hear Cruthu‘s second album, Athrú Crutha, and all I can think of are label recommendations. The Michigan outfit’s 2017 debut, The Angle of Eternity (review here), was eventually issued on The Church Within, and that’d certainly work, but also Ván Records, Shadow Kingdom, and even Cruz Del Sur seem like fitting potential homes for the righteousness on display across the vinyl-ready six-song/39-minute outing, frontman Ryan Evans commanding in presence over the reverb-loaded classic-style riffs of guitarist Dan McCormick and the accompanying gallop in Matt Fry‘s drums given heft by Derek Kasperlik‘s bass. Like the opener, “Necromancy” and “Dimensional Collide” move at a good clip, but side B’s “The Outsider” and closer “Crown of Horns” slow things down following the surprisingly rough-edged “Beyond the Pale.” One way or the other, it’s all doomed and so are we.

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Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Sólstafir, Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

Sólstafir endless twilight of codependent love

Whereas 2017’s Berdreyminn (review here) existed in the shadow of 2014’s Ótta (review here), Endless Twilight of Codependent Love brings Iceland’s Sólstafir to a new place in terms of their longer-term progression. It is their first album with an English title since 2005’s Masterpiece of Bitterness, and though they’ve had English-language songs since then, the mellow “Her Fall From Grace” is obviously intended to be a standout here, and it is. On the nine-song/62-minute course of the album, however, it is one impression of many, and in the raging “Dionysus” and post-blackened “Drýsill,” 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Akkeri,” richly atmospheric “Rökkur,” goth-lounging “Or” and worthy finale “Úlfur,” Sólstafir remind of the richly individual nature of their approach. The language swaps could be reaching out to a broader, non-Icelandic-speaking audience. If so, it’s only in the interest of that audience to take note if they haven’t already.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

ILS, Curse

ils curse

Curse is the first long-player from Portland, Oregon’s ILS, and it’s a rager in the PNW noise tradition, with uptempo, gonna-throw-a-punch-and-then-apologize riffs and basslines and swaps between semi-spoken shouts and vicious screams from Tom Glose (ex-Black Elk) that are precisely as jarring as they’re meant to be. I don’t think Curse is anyone’s first time at the dance — Glose, guitarist Nate Abner, bassist Adam Pike or drummer Tim Steiner — but it only benefits across its sans-bullshit 28-minute run by knowing what it wants to do. Its longest material, like the title-track or “Don’t Hurt Me,” which follows, or closer “For the Shame I Bring,” rests on either side of three and a half minutes, but some of the most brutal impressions are made in cuts like “It’s Not Lard but it’s a Cyst” or leadoff “Bad Parts,” which have even less time to waste but are no less consuming, particularly at high volume. The kind of record for when you want to assault yourself. And hey, that happens.

ILS on Thee Facebooks

P.O.G.O. Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismut, Retrocausality

bismut retrocausality

Apart from the consciously-titled three-minute noiseblaster finale “Antithesis” that’s clearly intended to contrast with what comes before it, Bismut‘s second LP for Lay Bare, Retrocausality, is made up of five extended instrumental pieces the shortest of which is just under 13 minutes long. The Nijmegen-based trio — guitarist Nik Linders, bassist Huibert der Weduwen, drummer Peter Dragt — build these semi-improvisational pieces on the foundation they set with 2018’s Schwerpunkt (review here), and their explorations through heavy rock, metal and psychedelia feel all the more cohesive as a song like “Vergangenheit” is nonetheless able to blindside with the heavy riff toward which it’s been moving for its entire first half. At 71 minutes total, it’s a purposefully unmanageable runtime, but as “Predvídanie” imagines a psych-thrash and “Oscuramento” drones to its crashing finish, Bismut seem to be working on their own temporal accord anyhow. For those stuck on linear time, that means repeat listens may be necessary to fully digest, but that’s nothing to complain about either.

Bismut on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Cracked Machine, Gates of Keras

Cracked Machine Gates of Keras

UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine have worked relatively quickly over the course of their now-three albums to bring a sense of their own perspective to the tropes of heavy psychedelic rock. Alongside the warmth of tone in the guitar and bass, feeling drawn from the My Sleeping Karma/Colour Haze pastiche of progressive meditations, there is a coinciding edge of English heavy rock and roll that one can hear not so much in the drift of “Temple of Zaum” as in the push of “Black Square Icon,” which follows, as well as the subtle impatience of the drums on “October Dawn.” “Move 37,” on the other hand, is willfully speedier and more upbeat than much of what surrounds, but though opener/longest track (immediate points) “Cold Iron Light” hits 7:26, nothing on Gates of Keras sticks around long enough to overstay its welcome, and even in their deepest contemplations, the feeling of motion carries them and the listener effectively through the album’s span. They sound like a band realizing what they want to do with all the potential they’ve built up.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

PsyKa Records website

 

Megadrone, Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

Megadrone Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

From cinematic paranoia to consuming and ultra-slow rollout of massive tonality, the debut offering from Megadrone — the one-man outfit of former Bevar Sea vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy — stretches across 53 minutes of unmitigated sonic consumption. If nothing else, Krishnaswamy chose the right moniker for the project. The Bandcamp version is spread across two parts — “Transmission A” (21:45) and “Transmission B” (32:09) — and any vinyl release would require significant editing as well, but the version I have is one huge, extended track, and that feels like exactly how Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae was composed and is supposed to be heard. Its mind-numbing repetitions lead the listener on a subtle forward march — there are drums back in that morass somewhere, I know it — and the piece follows an arc that begins relatively quiet, swells in its midsection and gradually recedes again over its final 10 minutes or so. It goes without saying that a 53-minute work of experimentalist drone crushscaping isn’t going to be for the faint of heart. Bold favors bold.

Megadrone on Thee Facebooks

Megadrone on Bandcamp

 

KLÄMP, Hate You

klamp hate you

Sax-laced noise rock psychedelic freakouts, blown-out drums and shouts and drones, cacophonous stomp and chaotic sprawl, and a finale that holds back its payoff so long it feels cruel, KLÄMP‘s second album, Hate You, arrives less than a year after their self-titled debut, and perhaps there’s some clue as to why in the sheer mania of their execution. Hate You launches with the angularity of its 1:47 title-track and rolls out a nodding groove on top of that, but it’s movement from one part to another, one piece to another, is frenetic, regardless of the actual tempo, and the songs just sound like they were recorded to be played loud. Second cut “Arise” is the longest at 7:35 and it plays back and forth between two main parts before seeming to explode at the end, and by the time that’s done, you’re pretty much KLÄMPed into place waiting to see where the Utrecht trio go next. Oblivion wash on “An Orb,” the drum-led start-stops of “Big Bad Heart,” psych-smash “TJ” and that awaited end in “No Nerves” later, I’m not sure I have any better idea where that might be. That’s also what makes it work.

KLÄMP on Thee Facebooks

God Unknown Records website

 

Mábura, Heni

Mábura heni

Preceded by two singles, Heni is the debut EP from Rio de Janeiro psychedelic tonal worshipers Mábura, and its three component tracks, “Anhangá,” “III/IV” and “Bong of God” are intended to portray a lysergic experience through their according ambience and the sheer depth of the riffs they bring. “Anhangá” has vocals following the extended feedback and drone opening of its first half, but they unfold as a part of the general ambience, along with the drums that arrive late, are maybe sampler/programmed, and finish by leading directly into the crash/fuzz launch of “III/IV,” which just before it hits the two-minute mark unfurls into a watershed of effects and nod, crashing and stomping all the while until everything drops out but the bass only to return a short time later with the Riff in tow. Rumbling into a quick fade brings about the toking intro of “Bong of God,” which unfolds accordingly into a riff-led noisefest that makes its point seemingly without saying a word. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but it’s a first EP. What it shows is that Mábura have some significant presence of tone and purpose. Don’t be surprised when someone picks them up for a release.

Mábura on Thee Facebooks

Mábura on Bandcamp

 

Astral Sleep, Astral Doom Musick

Astral Sleep Astral Doom Musick

It’s still possible to hear some of Astral Sleep‘s death-doom roots in their third album, Astral Doom Musick, but the truth is they’ve become a more expansive unit than that (relatively) simple classification than describe. They’re doom, to be sure, but there are progressive, psychedelic and even traditional doom elements at work across the record’s four-song/43-minute push, with a sense of conceptual composition coming through in “Vril” and “Inegration” in the first half of the proceedings while the nine-and-a-half-minute “Schwerbelastungskörper” pushes into the darkest reaches and closer “Aurinko ja Kuu” harnesses a swirling progressive spread that’s dramatic unto its last outward procession and suitably large-sound in its production and tone. For a band who took eight years to issue a follow-up to their last full-length, Astral Sleep certainly have plenty to offer in aesthetic and craft. If it took them so long to put this record together, their time wasn’t wasted, but it’s hard to listen and not wonder where their next step might take them.

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Astral Sleep on Bandcamp

 

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DÖ Post ‘Transmissiön From the Cult Vessel’ Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

do

Standing astride the galactic neutral zone between heavy rock riffing and harsher-biting sludge fare, Finnish three-piece offer up the live set ‘Transmissiön From the Cult Vessel’ as they look to shift from their second full-length, 2019’s Astral Death Cult, toward a new EP release. Running just under 50 minutes, the clip was presumably shot in their rehearsal space — maybe a cargo container or some other kind of vessel? — and it features the three-piece crowded around each other, but for that, it’s shot with surprising professionalism. I count at least five different cameras at work, and transitions between one shot, title cards for the songs and the next are laced with intermittent effects that bring color and personality to the proceedings. Add to that the sound of the thing is full and seems to have been captured to a board and properly mixed, and for falling into the category of “band in rehearsal room” videos, it’s got quite a bit to offer someone bold enough to take it on.

Their new EP is to be called Black Hole Mass, fitting with the band’s we’re-a-death-cult aesthetic (fair enough; what doesn’t feel like a death cult these days, amirite?), and will according to the info below see release sometime before the next two months finally bring an end to this wretched year and push us inexorably into the next one. Take it whenever it comes. They give a taste of Black Hole Mass by airing “Gravity Sacrifice” near the end of the set. The track starts out with a duly moody float and builds with thudding toms over its first couple minutes. The line “Let us begin!” brings the crushing riffery that feels inevitable by the time they get there, and as it unfurls with a lumber that sounds like the charred resin of Bongzilla, “Gravity Sacrifice” both fits in with the older material that surrounds — earlier, they destroy “Kylmä” from 2016’s Tuho, and they finish with the feedback-and-sample-plus-raw-bludgeon that is “Beyond the Cosmic Horizon,” which also closed out Astral Death Cult — and serves as a highlight unto itself. I won’t profess to know the release plan for Black Hole Mass, but “Gravity Sacrifice” would seem to make their intention toward spatial destruction plain to hear.

It goes without saying that the actual-universe is currently awash in virtual performances, and I recognize that not everybody has 50 minutes to spare in their busy day/life to sit down and watch a trio plunder through a set — sad as a fact like that is to acknowledge. Still, if you get the chance to check out any or all of ‘Transmissiön From the Cult Vessel,’ which was put up two days ago, I don’t think you’ll regret it. And that is exactly why I’m posting it here.

Please enjoy:

DÖ, ‘Transmissiön From the Cult Vessel’

At the end of September 2020 a mysterious signal was detected all around the world. The source of the signal was revealed to be the astral death cult DÖ.

The content of the signal was a live performance recording called “Transmissiön from the Cult Vessel”. It includes songs from various releases, some of which the band haven’t played at gigs in ages, and naturally ever with this lineup.

But the most interesting part is the new eerie song called “Gravity Sacrifice”, one of the three songs that will be unleashed on an EP called “Black Hole Mass” later this year. For the astral death cult i.e. the band, the EP will be a passage ritual to a new level of consciousness, as they have begun to gravitate towards more evolved expression and higher spheres with the new lineup. More info about the EP will follow.

But now, dive into darkness with this cosmos rumbling performance.

Setlist:
-Cosmic Communion
-Kylmä
-For the Worms
-Atmosfear
-Astral Death
-Gravity Sacrifice – Song premiere
-Beyond the Cosmic Horizon

DÖ is:
Big Dog (Guitar)
Deaf Hank (Vox & Bass)
Joe E. Deliverance (‘E’ stands for ‘Epic’) (Drums & Vox)

DÖ, Astral Death Cult (2020)

DÖ on Thee Facebooks

DÖ on Instagram

DÖ on Bandcamp

Lay Bare Recordings website

Lay Bare Recordings on Thee Facebooks

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Bismut Announce Retrocausality LP out Sept. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

bismut

Being something of a Star Trek nerd — you may have seen a mention of it here once or twice; it and bitching are also the only uses I have for Twitter at this point — I feel pretty well acquainted with any number of temporal paradoxes, but perhaps the best example of retrocausality comes from Futurama, when Fry goes back and time and inadvertently sleeps with his own grandmother, thereby becoming his own grandfather. I’m not sure if that’s what Nijmegen’s Bismut — as opposed to Bismuth, from the UK — have in mind with the title of their second LP, but if you were wondering what Retrocausality means, there you go. Funny the things you pick up.

Retrocausality will serve as Bismut‘s follow-up to 2018’s Schwerpunkt (review here), which also came out through Lay Bare Recordings. The band will do CD/DL on their own while the label once again handles vinyl duties.

As the PR wire details:

bismut retrocausality

Bismut – Retrocausality – RELEASE DATE 25th SEPTEMBER 2020

Bismut is a Psychedelic Desert Metal trio hailing from Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Formed in 2016, Bismut has an established and explosive live reputation. Bismut arose from intense, experimental jam sessions in the caverns of the Nijmegen underground. Infinite jamming led to an oasis of psychedelic excesses, vicious riffing and heavily drawn-out grooves. Nik (guitar), Peter (drums) and Huibert (bass) have already played many solid shows in the Netherlands and abroad. Their live performances are immersive stories with glorious landscapes and unexpected plot lines. After Buntovnost, a single released in February 2018, they released their first full-length Schwerpunkt in the fall of that year. “Schwerpunkt” was very well received and led to audiences and critics worldwide asking for more. Bismut played many shows in Europe as a build up to their second full length release “Retrocausality”.

“Retrocausality” is Bismut’s second full-length featuring 6 songs. All tracks were recorded live in studio 888 and mixed and mastered by Pieter Kloos. You’ll listen to an honest musical encounter of three people playing, grooving, and flowing to become one intuitive audio space vessel. Seventy-two minutes of musical compositions to get you out into orbit and forget about time. “Retrocausality” will be released on vinyl via Lay Bare Recordings, their second release on the label, with CD and digital being handled by the band themselves.

Track Listing:
1. Oscuramento
2. Non-Lokaliteit
3. Predvídanie
4. Varasaga
5. Vergangenheit
6. Antithesis

Line Up:
Drums – Peter Dragt
Bass – Huibert der Weduwen
Guitar – Nik Linders

https://www.facebook.com/bismutband/
https://bismut.band/
https://bismut.bandcamp.com/
https://laybarerecordings.com/
https://www.facebook.com/laybarerecordings/
https://www.instagram.com/laybarerecordings/

Bismut, “Zugabe”

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Atlanta Stream New Album Nugrybauti in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on July 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

atlanta

Netherlands-based heavy jammers Atlanta release their second album, Nugrybauti, this week through Lay Bare Recordings. The band features the guitar work of Pieter Holkenborg, who took part in Gary Arce‘s one-time European incarnation of Ten East — a Yawning Man jam that wasn’t, but it resulted in a cool album in 2016 — as well as drummer Bob Hogenelst of Birth of Joy and now Molassess, and bassist Sebas van Olst of Typhoon and Cool Genius, so that these dudes would get it together and know what they’re doing when jamming shouldn’t really be a surprise. Atlanta, however, have more than a pedigree of as-yet-underrated bands to offer. Having made their debut in 2018 with the 50-tapes-pressed Flamingo, they resurface through Lay Bare with a cohesive set of six-plus-one instrumental progressions, some longer, some shorter, all exploratory in an at least semi-improvised fashion. The bass or the guitar or the drums start off, the others join in, and they go until the going’s done. It should be a familiar process to those whose heads have been blown out once or twice by modern heavy psychedelia, but there’s again, there’s more here than superficially meets the ear.

Because Nugrybauti — the title of which translates from Lithuanian to mean “to go wandering in search of mushrooms,” according to the band — does more than meander. Particularly driven by Hogenelst‘s drumming, a cut like the later “Lu Li” has a jazzy underpinning to coincide with its spacious guitar work (the echoes bringing to mind, yes, an Arce connection), and as the opening salvo shifts from “Marabou Blues” to “Honolulu Strut” and “Deventer Kunstweg,” the former referencing an African stork, the middle a seeming nod to its for-a-walk drum patternATLANTA Nugrybauti if not the volcanic lava roll of tone that consumes its second half, and the latter an art walk in the city of Deventer, the Netherlands, there’s an immediate sense of Atlanta inviting the listener to interact with the material on more than just an auditory level. It’s not necessarily Google-this-while-listening, which is what I did — yeah that’s right, I had to translate “kunstweg” — but the beginning point of a conversation in which the band hopes its audience will take part, as well as a conversation among the players themselves. That second conversation is the most vivid throughout Nugrybauti, but as Atlanta go wandering, they still find ways to add flourish to what would otherwise be raw jams.

To wit, the piano and backwards guitar on “Honolulu Strut” or the surfy echo on “Marabou Blues” and the fuzzy solo burn on as “Deventer Kunstweg” propels through its apex. Side B offers a likeminded trio of delights in “Dog Whistle Concert No. 5 in E Minor,” the aforementioned “Lu Li” and comparatively mellow closer “Firefly Lullaby” before the noise-laden bonus track “Postzegel Kwijt” takes hold to salt the earth around it and ensure those subdued free jazz vibes at the end of the song before get duly roughed up before they send listeners on their way. That’s hardly the first example of willful abrasion — “Dog Whistle Concert No. 5 in E Minor” could very well take its title from the pitch of the lead guitar in its back half, and the lumber of “Honolulu Strut” gives way to a ready-set-go freakout that seems to carry over into “Deventer Kunstweg” even as that song starts out with its steady and stately drumming before the next round of noodling begins. The bass might be the anchor to it all, or maybe that’s the drums, or maybe there is no anchor and their mushroom-bound journey is out there on its own, floating and diving in various directions as it goes.

That’s a fun thought, but the truth of Atlanta‘s sophomore LP is it’s more focused than that paints it, and just because they’re improvising doesn’t necessarily mean the three-piece don’t have an idea of where they want a given piece to end up. Still, they carry across their sound with a marked dynamic, expanding on live energy without sacrificing it, crafting material that is raw at the same time it demonstrates breadth and a colorful scope that, like each subtle turn of bass or each ghost pop of a snare, is just waiting for the listener to take hold it and be carried off who knows where. In the end, did they find the mushrooms? Yeah, it seems pretty clear they did.

You can check out the entirety of Nugrybauti on the player below, courtesy of Lay Bare Recordings. More PR wire background follows.

Please enjoy:

NUGRYBAUTI (Lithuanian): to become distracted during a task, literally to get lost wandering in search of mushrooms.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic drew a lethal amount of blood out of this year’s festivals and publicly attended live music performances ATLANTA planned to release their second recording (this time in the form of an LP vinyl album) at the infamous Mañana Mañana festival in The Netherlands.

Lay Bare Recordings was steadfast on not waiting and releasing it despite our hopes to present our fully improvised music live in front of curious and eager audience.
Because; well yeah, who knows what the future holds.

However intuitive, elementary and free spirited (the source of) our music and inspired our three separate musical energies are in a live setting, we decided to go along with the expertise of this kindred spirit.

Because now more than ever we DO feel the urge of bringing our drifting soundscapes in a time where every movement is restricted.

Misprints and off-centric vinyl could not distract us from getting our fans TOP NOTCH music and vinyl. So we acted and were eagerly waiting on a new batch of 250 pcs heavy weight coloured vinyl.

We finally can reveal what was kept under wraps!

So for you to walk, sit, stumble, float and/or lay along the travels of “Nugrybauti” the release of Atlanta’s 2nd (but first label endorsed) recording is out there NOW and purchasable here: https://laybarerecordings.com/release/nugrybauti-by-atlanta-lbr030

ATLANTA is:
Bob Hogenelst (Birth Of Joy/Molasses) – Drums
Sebas van Olst (Typhoon/Cool Genius) – Bass
Pieter Holkenborg (Automatic Sam/Ten East) – Guitar

Atlanta on Thee Facebooks

Atlanta on Bandcamp

Lay Bare Recordings website

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Ahab, Rrrags, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Earthbong, Rito Verdugo, Death the Leveller, Marrowfields, Dätcha Mandala, Numidia

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Well, I’m starting an hour later than I did yesterday, so that’s maybe not the most encouraging beginning I could think of, but screw it, I’m here, got music on, got fingers on keys, so I guess we’re underway. Yesterday was remarkably easy, even by Quarterly Review standards. I’ve been doing this long enough at this point — five-plus years — that I approach it with a reasonable amount of confidence it’ll get done barring some unforeseen disaster.

But yesterday was a breeze. What does today hold? In the words of Mrs. Wagner from fourth grade homeroom, “see me after.”

Ready, set, go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Horisont, Sudden Death

horisont sudden death

With a hefty dose of piano up front and keys throughout, Gothenburg traditionalist heavy rockers Horisont push retro-ism into full-on arena status. Moving past some of the sci-fi aspects of 2017’s About Time, Sudden Death comprises 13 tracks and an hour’s runtime, so rest assured, there’s room for everything, including the sax on “Into the Night,” the circa-’77 rock drama in the midsection of the eight-minute “Archeopteryx in Flight,” and the comparatively straightforward seeming bounce of “Sail On.” With cocaine-era production style, Sudden Death is beyond the earlier-’70s vintage mindset of the band’s earliest work, and songs like “Standing Here” and the penultimate proto-metaller “Reign of Madness” stake a claim on the later era, but the post-Queen melody of “Revolution” at the outset and the acoustic swing in “Free Riding” that follows set a lighthearted tone, and as always seems to be the case with Horisont, there’s nothing that comes across as more important than the songwriting.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

 

Ahab, Live Prey

ahab live prey

Scourge of the seven seas that German nautically-themed funeral doomers Ahab are, Live Prey is their first live album and it finds them some five years removed from their last studio LP, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here). For a band who in the past has worked at a steady three-year pace, maybe it was time for something, anything to make its way to public ears. Fair enough, and in five tracks and 63 minutes, Live Prey spans all the way back to 2006’s Call of the Wretched Sea with “Ahab’s Oath” and presents all but two of that debut’s songs, beginning with the trilogy “Below the Sun,” “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” and switching the order of “Ahab’s Oath” and “The Hunt” from how they originally appeared on the first record to end with the foreboding sounds of waves rolling accompanied by minimal keyboards. It’s massively heavy, of course — so was Call of the Wretched Sea — and whatever their reason for not including any other album’s material, at least they’ve included anything.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Rrrags, High Protein

rrrags high protein

Let’s assume the title High Protein might refer to the fact that Dutch/Belgian power trio Rrrags have ‘trimmed the fat’ from the eight songs that comprise their 33-minute sophomore LP. It’s easy enough to believe listening to a cut like “Messin'” or the subsequent “Sad Sanity,” which between the two of them are about as long as the 5:14 opener “The Fridge” just before. But while High Protein has movers and groovers galore in those tracks and the fuzzier “Sugarcube” — the tone of which might remind that guitarist Ron Van Herpen is in Astrosoniq — the stomping “Demons Dancing” and the strutter “Hellfire,” there’s live-DeepPurple-style breadth on the eight-minute “Dark is the Day” and closer “Window” bookends “The Fridge” in length while mellowing out and giving drummer/vocalist Rob Martin a rest (he’s earned it by then) while bassist Rob Zim and Van Herpen carry the finale. If thinking of it as a sleeper hit helps you get on board, so be it, but Rrrags‘ second album is of unmitigated class and straight-up killer performance. It is not one to be overlooked.

Rrrags on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Viscerals

pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs viscerals

There’s stoner roll and doomed crash in “New Body,” drone-laced spoken-word experimentalism in “Blood and Butter,” and post-punk angular whathaveyou as “Halloween Bolson” plays out its nine-minute stretch, but Viscerals — the third or fourth Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album, depending on what you count — seems to be at its most satisfying in blowout freak-psych moments like opener “Reducer” and “Rubbernecker,” which follows, while the kinda-metal of “World Crust”‘s central riff stumbles willfully and teases coming apart before circling back, and “Crazy in Blood” and closer “Hell’s Teeth” are more straight-up heavy rock. It’s a fairly wide arc the UK outfit spread from one end of the record to the other — and they’re brash enough to pull it off, to be sure — but with the hype machine so fervently behind them, I have a hard time knowing whether I’m actually just left flat by the record itself or all the hyperbole-set-on-fire that’s surrounded the band for the last couple years. Viscerals gets to the heart of the matter, sure enough, but then what?

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Earthbong, Bong Rites

Earthbong Bong Rites

Kiel, Germany’s Earthbong answer the stoner-sludge extremity of their 2018 debut, One Earth One Bong (review here), with, well, more stoner-sludge extremity. What, you thought they’d go prog? Forget it. You get three songs. Opener “Goddamn High” and “Weedcult Today” top 15 minutes each, and closer “Monk’s Blood” hits half an hour. Do the quick math yourself on that and you’ll understand just how much Earthbong have been looking forward to bashing you over the head with riffs. “Weedcult Today” is more agonizingly slow than “Goddamn High,” at least at the beginning, but it builds up and rolls into a pace that, come to think of it, is still probably slower than most, and of course “Monk’s Blood” is an epic undertaking right up to its last five minutes of noise. It could’ve been an album on its own. But seriously, if you think Earthbong give a shit, you’re way off base. This is tone, riff and weed worship and everything else is at best a secondary concern. Spend an hour at mass and see if you don’t come out converted.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus

rito verdugo post-primatus

No doubt that at some future time shortly after the entire world has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a glut of releases comprised of material written during the lockdown. Peruvian four-piece Rito Verdugo are ahead of the game, then, with their Post-Primatus four-song EP. Issued digitally as the name-your-price follow-up to their also-name-your-price 2018 debut, Cosmos, it sets a 14-minute run from its shortest cut to its longest, shifting from the trippy “Misterio” into fuzz rockers “Monte Gorila” (which distills Earthless vibes to just over three minutes) and “Lo Subnormal” en route to the rawer garage psychedelia of “Inhumación,” which replaces its vocals with stretches of lead guitar that do more than just fill the spaces verses might otherwise be and instead add to the breadth of the release as a whole. Safe to assume Rito Verdugo didn’t plan on spending any amount of time this year staying home to avoid getting a plague, but at least they were able to use the time productively to give listeners a quick sample of where they’re at sound-wise coming off the first album. Whenever and however it shows up, I’ll look forward to what they do next.

Rito Verdugo on Thee Facebooks

Rito Verdugo on Bandcamp

 

Death the Leveller, II

Death the Leveller II

Signed to Cruz Del Sur Music as part of that label’s expanding foray into traditionalist doom (see also: Pale Divine, The Wizar’d, Apostle of Solitude, etc.), Dublin’s Death the Leveller present an emotionally driven four tracks on their 38-minute label debut, the counterintuitively titled II. Listed as their first full-length, it’s about the same length as their debut “EP,” 2017’s I, but more important is the comfort and patience the band shows with working in longer-form material, opener “The Hunt Eternal,” “The Golden Bough” and closer “The Crossing” making an impression at over nine minutes apiece — “The Golden Bough” tops 12 — while “So They May Face the Sun” runs a mere 7:37 and is perhaps the most unhurried of the bunch, playing out with a cinematic sweep of guitar melody and another showcase for the significant presence of frontman Denis Dowling, who’s high in the mix at times but earns that forward position with a suitably standout performance across the record’s span.

Death the Leveller on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Marrowfields, Metamorphoses

marrowfields metamorphoses

It isn’t surprising to learn that the members of Fall River, Massachusetts, five-piece Marrowfields come from something of an array of underground styles, some of them pushing into more extreme terrain, because the five songs of their debut full-length, Metamorphoses, do likewise. With founding guitarist/main-songwriter Brandon Green at the helm as producer as well, there’s a suitably inward-looking feel to the material, but coinciding with its rich atmospheres are flashes of blastbeats, death metal chug, double-kick and backing growls behind the cleaner melodic vocals that keep Marrowfields distinct from entirely traditionalist doom. It is a niche into which they fit well on this first long-player, and across the five songs/52 minutes of Metamorphoses, they indeed shapeshift between genre elements in order to best serve the purposes of the material, calling to mind Argus in the progressive early stretch of centerpiece “Birth of the Liberator” while tapping Paradise Lost chug and ambience before the blasts kick in on closer “Dragged to the World Below.” Will be interesting to see which way their — or Green‘s, as it were — focus ultimately lies, but there isn’t one aesthetic nuance misused here.

Marrowfields on Thee Facebooks

Black Lion Records on Bandcamp

 

Dätcha Mandala, Hara

datcha mandala hara

Dätcha Mandala present a strong opening salvo of rockers on Hara, their second album for MRS Red Sound, before turning over to all-out tambourine-and-harp blues on “Missing Blues.” From there, they could go basically anywhere they want, and they do, leading with piano on “Morning Song,” doing wrist-cramp-chug-into-disco-hop in “Sick Machine” and meeting hand-percussion with space rocking vibes on “Moha.” They’ve already come a long way from the somewhat misleading ’70s heavy of opener “Stick it Out,” “Mother God” and “Who You Are,” but the sonic turns that continue with the harder-edged “Eht Bup,” the ’70s balladry of “Tit’s,” an unabashed bit o’ twang on “On the Road” and full-on fuzz into a noise freakout on closer “Pavot.” Just what the hell is going on with Hara? Anything Dätcha Mandala so desire, it would seem. They have the energy to back it up, but if you see them labeled as any one microgenre or another, keep in mind that inevitably that’s only part of the story and the whole thing is much weirder than they might be letting on. No complaints with that.

Dätcha Mandala on Thee Facebooks

MRS Red Sound

 

Numidia, Numidia

Numidia Numidia

If you’ve got voices in your band that can harmonize like guitarists James Draper, Shane Linfoot and Mike Zoias, I’m not entirely sure what would lead you to start your debut record with a four-minute instrumental, but one way or another, Sydney, Australia’s Numidia — completed by bassist/keyboardist Alex Raffaelli and drummer Nathan McMahon — find worthy manners in which to spend their time. Their first collection takes an exploratory approach to progressive heavy rock, seeming to feel its way through components strung together effectively while staying centered around the guitars. Yes, three of them. Psychedelia plays a strong role in later pieces “Red Hymn” and the folky “Te Waka,” but if the eponymous “Numidia” is a mission statement on the part of the five-piece, it’s one cast in a prog mentality pushed forward with poise to suit. Side A capper “A Million Martyrs” would seem to draw the different sides together, but it’s no minor task for it to do so, and there’s little sign in these songs that Numidia won’t grow more expansive as time goes on.

Numidia on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Mutant Flesh, War Cloud, Void of Sleep, Pretty Lightning, Rosy Finch, Ghost Spawn, Agrabatti, Dead Sacraments, Smokemaster

Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Alarm went off this morning at 3:45. Got up, flicked on the coffee pot, turned the heat on in the house, hit the bathroom and was back in bed in four minutes with an alarm set for 4:15. Didn’t really get back to sleep, but the half-hour of being still was a kind of pre-waking meditation that I appreciated just the same. Was dozing when the alarm went off the second time, but it’s day two of the Quarterly Review, so no time to doze. No time for anything, as is the nature of these blocks of writeups. They tend to be all-consuming while they’re going on. Could be worse. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Khemmis, Doomed Heavy Metal

khemmis doomed heavy metal

Denver four-piece Khemmis have made themselves one of the most distinctive acts in metal, to say nothing of doom. With strong vocal harmonies out front backed by similarly-minded guitars, the band bring a sense of poise to doom that’s rare in the modern sphere, somewhat European in influence, but less outwardly adherent to the genre tenets of melancholy. They refuse to be Paradise Lost, in other words, and are all the more themselves for that. Their Doomed Heavy Metal EP (on 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast) is a stopgap after 2018’s Desolation (review here) full-length, but at 38 minutes and six songs, it’s substantial nonetheless, headlined by the Dio cover “Rainbow in the Dark” — capably done with just a flair of Slough Feg — with a take on Lloyd Chandler‘s “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” both rare-enough studio cuts, for backing, as well as three live cuts that cover their three-to-date albums. The growls on “Three Gates” are fun, but I’ll still take the Dio cover as the highlight. For a cobbled-together release, it feels at least like a bit of thoughtful fan-service, and really, a band could do worse than to serve their fans thoughtfully.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin store

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Mutant Flesh, Evil Eye

mutant flesh evil eye

There are shades of doom metal’s origins underlying Mutant Flesh‘s first release, the eight-song/33-minute Evil Eye, but the Philly troupe are too gleeful in their weirdness ultimately to be paying full homage to the likes of Witchfinder General, and especially in a faster song like second cut “Meteoric” and the subsequent lead-guitar-flipout-and-vocal-soar title-track, they tap into the defiantly doomed vibe of earliest Saint Vitus. That’s true of the crawling “Euthanasia” as well, which crashes and nods as it approaches the six-minute mark as the longest inclusion here, but even the penultimate “Blight” brings that twisted-BlackFlag-noise-slowed-down spirit that lets you know there’s consciousness behind the chaos, and that while Mutant Flesh might seem to be all-the-way-gone, they’re really just getting started. Maybe their sound will even out over time, maybe it won’t, but for what it’s worth, they do ragged doom well from the opening “Leviathan (Lord of the Labyrinth)” onward, and feel right at home in the unhinged.

Mutant Flesh on Thee Facebooks

Mutant Flesh on Bandcamp

 

War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions

war cloud earhammer sessions

Having just shredded their way across Europe, War Cloud took their set into the Earhammer Studio with Greg Wilkinson at the helm in an attempt to capture the band in top form on their home turf. Did it work? The results on Earhammer Sessions (Ripple Music) don’t wait around for you to decide. They’re too busy kicking ass to take names, and if the resulting 29-minute burst is even half of what they brought to the stage on that tour, those must’ve been some goddamn shows. Songs like “White Lightning” and the snare-counted-in “Speed Demon” and “Striker” feel like they’re being given their due in the max-speed-NWOBHM-but-still-too-classy-to-be-thrash presentation, and honestly, this feels like War Cloud have found their method. If they don’t tour their next album and then hit the studio after and lay it down live, or at least as live as Earhammer Sessions is — one never knows as regards overdubs and isolation booths and all that — they’re doing themselves a disservice. War Cloud play metal. So what? So this.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Void of Sleep, Metaphora

Void of Sleep Metaphora

Void of Sleep return after half a decade with the prog-doom stylings of their third album, Metaphora (Aural Music), which stretches dramatically through songs like “Iron Mouth” (11:00), preceded by the intro “The Famine Years” and the shorter “Unfair Judgements,” preceded by the intro “Waves of Discomfort,” and still somehow manage not to sound out of place tapping into their inner Soilwork in the growled verses/clean choruses of “Master Abuser.” They get harsh a bit as well on “Tides of the Mourning,” which uses its 10:30 to summarize the bulk of the proceedings and close out the record after “Modern Man,” but that song has more of a scope and feels looser structurally for that. Still, that shift is only one of several throughout Metaphora, which follows the Italian five-piece’s 2015 LP, New World Order (discussed here), and wherever Void of Sleep are headed at any given moment, they head there with a duly controlled presence. Clearly their last five years have not been wasted.

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Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls

pretty lightning jangle bowls

As yet, Germany’s Pretty Lightning remain a well kept secret of fuzz-psych-blues nuance, digging out their own niche-in-a-niche-in-a-niche microgenre with a natural and inadvertent-feeling sense of just writing the songs they want to write. Jangle Bowls, which puts its catchy, semi-garage title-track early in the proceedings, is the duo’s second offering through Fuzz Club Records behind 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze (review here), and seem to present a mission statement in opener “Swamp Ritual” before bringing a due sense of excursion to “Boogie at the Shrine” — damn that’s a smooth groove — and reviving the movement in “RaRaRa,” which follows. Closer “Shovel Blues” is a highlight for how it drifts into oblivion, but the underlying tightness of craft in “123 Eternity” and “Hum” is an appeal as well, so it’s a tradeoff. But it’s one I’ll be glad to make across multiple repeat visits to Jangle Bowls while wondering how long this particular secret can actually be kept.

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Rosy Finch, Scarlet

rosy finch scarlet

The painted-blood-red cover of Rosy Finch‘s second album, Scarlet (on Lay Bare Recordings), and horror-cinema-esque design isn’t a coincidence in terms of atmosphere, but the Spanish trio bring a more aggressive feel to the nine-track outing overall than they did to their 2016 debut, Witchboro (review here), with additional crunch in the guitar of Mireia Porto (also vocals and bass) and bassist Elena Garcia, and a forward kick drum from Lluís Mas that hammers home the impact of a cruncher like “Ruby” and even seems to ground the more melodic “Alizarina,” which follows, let alone the crushing opener/longest track (immediate points) “Oxblood” or its headspinning closing companion “Dark Cherry,” after which follows the particularly intense hidden cut “Lady Bug,” also not to be missed. Anger suits Rosy Finch, it seems, and the band bring a physicality to the songs on Scarlet that only reinforces the sonic push.

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Ghost Spawn, The Haunting Continuum

Ghost Spawn The Haunting Continuum

Brutal, gurgling doom-of-death pervades The Haunting Continuum from Denver one-man-unit Ghost Spawn, and while the guitar late in “Escaping the Mortal Flesh” seems momentarily to offer some hope of salvation, rest assured, it doesn’t last, and the squibbly central riff returns with its extremity to prove once more that only death is real. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Berstler is the lone culprit behind the project’s first full-length and second release overall (also second this year, so he would seem to work quickly), and across 43 minutes that only grow more grueling as they proceed through the centerpiece title-track and into “The Terrors that Plague Nightly” and the desolate incantations of “Exiled to the Realm of Eternal Rot,” there are some hints of cleaner grunts that have made their way through — a kind of repeated “hup” vocalization — but this too is swallowed in the miasma of cave-echo guitar, drums-from-out-of-the-abyss, and raw-as-peeled-flesh production. Can’t get behind that? Probably you and 99.9 percent of the rest of humanity. For us slugs, though, it’s just about right.

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Agrabatti, Beyond the Sun

agrabatti beyond the sun

It’s kosmiche thrust and watery vibes when Agrabatti go Beyond the Sun. What’s there upon arrival? Nothing less than a boogie down with Hawkwind at the helm of a spacey spaced-out space rocking chopper that you shouldn’t even be able to hear the revving engine of in space and yet somehow you can. Also synth, pulsating riffs and psych-as-all-golly-gosh awakenings. Formed in 2009 by Chad Davis — then just out of U.S. Christmas, already at that point known for his work in Hour of 13 and a swath of other projects across multiple genres — and with songs begun to come together at that time only to be shelved ahead of recording this year, Beyond the Sun sat seemingly in some unreachable strata of anomalous subspace, for 11 years before being rediscovered from its time-loop like Kelsey Grammer in that one episode of TNG, and gorgeously spread across the quadrant in its five-cut run, with its cover of the aforementioned Hawkwind‘s “Born to Go” so much at home among its companions it feels like, baby, it’s already gone. Do you need sunglasses in the void? Shit yeah you do.

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Dead Sacraments, Celestial Throne

Dead Sacraments Celestial Throne

Four sprawling doom epics comprise the 2019 debut album — and apparently debut release — from Illinois four-piece Dead Sacraments, who themselves are comprised from three former members of atmospheric sludgers Angel Eyes, who finished their run in 2011 but released the posthumous Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl (review here). Those are guitarist Brendan Burchell, bassist Nader Cheboub and drummer Ryan Croson, and together with apparently-self-harmonizing vocalist/guitarist Mark Mazurek, they cast a doom built on largesse in tone and scope alike, given an air of classic-metal grandiosity but filtered through a psych-doom modernity that feels aware of what the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis have done for the genre. Nonetheless, as a first record, Celestial Throne shines its darkness brightly across its no-song-under-nine-minutes-long lumber, and affirms the righteousness of doom with a genuine sense of reach at its disposal.

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Smokemaster, Smokemaster

smokemaster smokemaster

The languid and trippy spirit in opener “Solar Flares” is something of a misdirect on the part of organ-laced, Cologne-based heavy rockers Smokemaster, who go on to boogie down through songs like “Trippin’ Blues” before jamming out classic heavy blues-style on “Ear of the Universe.” I’m not saying they don’t have their psychedelic aspects, but there’s plenty of movement behind what they do as well, and the setup they give with the first two cuts is effective in throwing off the first-time listener’s expectation. A pastoral instrumental “Sunrise in the Canyon” leads off side B after, and comes backed by “Astronaut of Love” (yup, a lovestronaut) and “Astral Traveller,” which find an engaging midpoint between the ground and the great beyond, synth and keys pushing outward in the finale even as the bass and drums keep it tethered to a central groove. It’s a formula that’s worked many times over the last half-century, but it works here too, and Smokemaster‘s Smokemaster makes a right-on introduction to the German newcomers.

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Onhou Stream Endling LP in Full; Album out Nov. 30 on Lay Bare Recordings & Tartarus Records

Posted in audiObelisk on November 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

onhou

Tucked away up north in the Netherlands is the churning, grueling four-piece unit Onhou, whose tenet of bringing atmosludge to a shining-black level of extremity results in an ambience as punishing as their sheer tonal crush. Their debut album is titled Endling — which sounds harmless enough as a title until you attempt to define the word; is it ‘child of the end,’ as in what comes after, or the nascent ending itself? — and is seeing release Nov. 30 through Lay Bare Recordings and Tartarus Records on LP and tape, respectively, and it collects three extended pieces for a vinyl-ready 38-minute run that, to its credit, feels longer. As Onhou follow their 2018 self-titled EP, which was comprised of two 10-minute tracks, they plunge deep into brutalist lurch, conjuring a trench of tone seemingly in order the cast the listener into it. At 17 minutes, “Dire” is the opener and longest track (immediate points), and while its most skull-cavingly heavy moments are offset with minimalist droning — plenty of time for such things, certainly — it still seems to push Onhou further into cavernous reaches, setting up not just the dynamic of the subsequent “March/Retreat” (10:50), but the cavernous and blackened aspects of “Silence” (10:44) as well.

I suppose if one wanted to work hard enough, Onhou might be shoehorned into being considered a post-metal band, but that’s hardly the entirety of what’s happening across Endling on aesthetic terms. onhou endlingThere’s doom, sludge, black metal, post-metal, drone and a cold, harsh delivery to it all that seems only to highlight the cruelty behind its purposes. It’s not a stretch to imagine the “end” they’re depicting in these songs is the age through which we’re living, and while humanity has struggled and survived before — World War I was the end of the world in Europe and that was 100 years ago, so really we’re just all in the aftermath of that — it’s hard to see a way forward from things like the accelerating death of the planet on which we live and the greed of our corporate and political overlords that seems to rape the way fish swim. One could go on in making a case for Endling as a news report from the Netherlands bureau, but Onhou don’t seem overtly sociopolitical in the sense of making a commentary. Lyrics are delivered in guttural shouts or screams across the three songs, when they’re there at all, so it’s hard to say for sure, but their argument seems more impressionist than statistical, and their presentation is well suited to making it, underscoring the idea that it doesn’t matter if we go out fighting, we’re still going out. Like a candle goes out.

This, coupled with a volume-as-ritual sensibility and a nod that offers little route for escape from its hypnotic undulation, makes Endling a deceptively multifaceted affair. I don’t actually know the themes with which Onhou are working. I could be way off in my interpretation — everything is politics to me these days — but even if I am, it doesn’t really matter, since the point stands all the more that Endling is open to and stands up to various readings from the listener. That in itself is a strength of the work and while I won’t discount the importance of clarity when clarity is warranted, the murk in which these songs dwell feels very much like a natural habitat for their consuming and devastating/devastated sonic manifestation.

You can stream the album in its entirety below. I wish you luck on your journey.

Enjoy:

Releasing their first full-length ENDLING, ONHOU is expanding on the hopelessness of their arduous sound, fighting against the inevitable. ONHOU is a Dutch sludge/doom metal band formed in Groningen, consisting of (ex)members from Ortega, Grinding Halt and Wolvon. The four piece scrutinizes dark territories, devising an immense sound utilizing two vocalists, down-tuned guitars and pulsating electronic elements. These bleak atmospheres serve to shape a dismal and forsaken uneasiness.

After a well received EP released by Tartarus Records in 2018, ONHOU returned to the studio to record their first full-length titled ENDLING. Endling will find you dragged into discomfort with ONHOU’s bulking riffs, dark electronics and thundering rhythms. One can try to find reason or refuge, waging a war with all of your might while it burns the heart out of you. But one will only find loss, without a trace of existence.

There is no legacy. There will be no judgment.

This is ENDLING.

LBR 026
Release date 30 November
Pre-order open 15 November
150 copies on black – 100 copies on white vinyl

TAR145
Release date tba
Edition of 100 cassettes housed in a diecut cardstock case.

Tracklist:
1. Dire
2. March/Retreat
3. Silence

Onhou is:
Henk Wobbes – Bass
Alex Loots – Guitar/vocals
Arnold Havinga – Drums
Florian Studdel – Keys/vocals

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