Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Insect Ark, Heath, The Cosmic Dead, The Watchers, Juke Cove, Laurel Canyon, Tet, Aidan Baker, Trap Ratt

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Good morning and heavy riffs. Today is day 7 of the Quarterly Review. It’s already been a lot, but there are still 30 more releases to cover over the next three days, so I assure you at some point I’ll have that nervous breakdown that’s been ticking away in the back of my brain. A blast as always, which I mean both sincerely and sarcastically, somehow.

But when we’re done, 100 releases will have been covered, and I get a medal sent to me whenever that happens from the UN’s Stoner Rock Commission on Such Things, so I’ll look forward to that. In the meantime, we’re off.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Ufomammut, Hidden

ufomammut hidden

Italian cosmic doomers Ufomammut celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2024, and as they always have, they do so by looking and moving forward. Hidden is the 10th LP in their catalog, the second to feature drummer Levre — who made his debut on 2022’s Fenice (review here) alongside bassist/vocalist Urlo and guitarist Poia (both also keyboards) — and it was preceded by last year’s Crookhead EP (review here), the 10-minute title-track of which is repurposed as the opener here. A singular, signature blend of heft and synth-based atmospherics, Ufomammut roll fluidly through the six-tracker check-in, and follow on from Fenice in sounding refreshed while digging into their core stylistic purposes. “Spidher” brings extra tonal crush around its open verse, and “Mausoleum” has plenty of that as well but is less condensed and hypnotic in its atmospheric midsection, Ufomammut paying attention to details while basking in an overarching largesse. The penultimate “Leeched” was the lead single for good reason, and the four-minute “Soulost” closes with a particularly psychedelic exploration of texture and drone with the drums keeping it moving. 25 years later and there’s still new things to discover. I hear the universe is like that.

Ufomammut website

Supernatural Cat website

Neurot Recordings website

Insect Ark, Raw Blood Singing

insect ark raw blood singing

Considering some of the places Dana Schechter has taken Insect Ark over the project’s to-date duration, most of Raw Blood Singing might at times feel daringly straightforward, but that’s hardly a detriment to the material itself. Songs like “The Hands” bring together rhythmic tension and melodic breadth, as soundscapes of drone, low end chug and the drumming of Tim Wyskida (also Khanate, Blind Idiot God) cast a morose, encompassing atmospheric vision. And rest assured, while “The Frozen Lake” lumbers through its seven minutes of depressive post-sludge — shades of The Book of Knots at their heaviest, but still darker — and “Psychological Jackal” grows likewise harsher and horrific, the experimentalist urge continues to resonate; the difference is it’s being set to serve the purposes of the songs themselves in “Youth Body Swayed” or “Cleaven Hearted,” which slogs like death-doom with a strum cutting through to replace vocals, whereas the outro “Ascension” highlights the noise on its own. It is a bleak, consuming course presented over Raw Blood Singing‘s 45 minutes, but there’s solace in the catharsis as well.

Insect Ark website

Debemur Murti Productions website

Heath, Isaak’s Marble

Heath Isaak's Marble

Laced through with harmonica and organic vibes, Netherlands-based five-piece Heath make their full-length debut with the four extended tracks of Isaak’s Marble, reveling in duly expansive jams keyed for vibrancy and a live sound. They are somewhat the band-between as regards microgenres, with a style that can be traced on the opening title-cut to heavy ’70s funk-boogie-via-prog-rock, and the harmonica plays a role there before spacing out with echo over top of the psychedelia beginning of “Wondrous Wetlands.” The wetlands in question, incidentally, might just be the guitar tone, but that haze clears a bit as the band saunters into a light shuffle jam before the harder-hitting build into a crescendo that sounds unhinged but is in fact quite under control as it turns back to a softshoe-ready groove with organ, keys, harmonica, guitar all twisting around with the bass and drums. Sitar and vocal harmonies give the shorter-at-six-minutes “Strawberry Girl” a ’60s psych-pop sunshine, but the undercurrent is consistent with the two songs before as Heath highlight the shroomier side of their pastoralism, ahead of side B capper “Valley of the Sun” transitioning out of that momentary soundscape with clear-eyed guitar and flute leading to an angular progression grounded by snare and a guitar solo after the verse that leads the shift into the final build. They’re not done, of course, as they bring it all to a rousing end and some leftover noise; subdued in the actual-departing, but still resonant in momentum and potential. These guys might just be onto something.

Heath website

Suburban Records store

The Cosmic Dead, Infinite Peaks

The Cosmic Dead Infinite Peaks

The Cosmic Dead, releasing through Heavy Psych Sounds, count Infinite Peaks as their ninth LP since 2011. I’ll take them at their word since between live offerings, splits, collections and whatnot, it’s hard sometimes to know what’s an album. Similarly, when immersed in the 23-minute cosmic sprawl of “Navigator #9,” it can become difficult to understand where you stop and the universe around you begins. Rising quickly to a steady, organ-inclusive roll, the Glaswegian instrumental psilocybinists conjure depth like few of their jam-prone ilk and remain entrancing as “Navigator #9” shifts into its more languid, less-consuming middle movement ahead of the resurgent finish. Over on side B, “Space Mountain” (20:02) is a bit more drastic in the ends it swaps between — a little noisier and faster up front, followed by a zazzy-jazzy push with fiddle and effects giving over to start-stop bass and due urgency in the drums complemented by fuzz like they just got in a room and this happened before the skronky apex and unearthly comedown resolve in a final stretch of drone. Ninth record or 15th, whatever. Their mastery of interstellar heavy exploration is palpable regardless of time, place or circumstance. Infinite Peaks glimpses at that dimensional makeup.

The Cosmic Dead website

Heavy Psych Sounds website

The Watchers, Nyctophilia

The Watchers Nyctophilia

Perhaps telegraphing some of their second long-player’s darker intentions in the cover art and the title Nyctophilia — a condition whereby you’re happier and more comfortable in darkness — if not the choice of Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Death Angel, etc.) to produce, San Francisco’s The Watchers are nonetheless a heavy rock and roll band. What’s shifted in relation to their 2018 debut, Black Abyss (review here), is the angle of approach they take in getting there. What hasn’t changed is the strength of songwriting at their foundation or the hitting-all-their-marks professionalism of their execution, whether it’s Tim Narducci bringing a classic reach to the vocals of “Garden Tomb” or the precise muting in his and Jeremy Von Epp‘s guitars and Chris Lombardo‘s bass on “Haunt You When I’m Dead” and Nick Benigno‘s declarative kickdrum stomping through the shred of “They Have No God.” The material lands harder without giving up its capital-‘h’ Heavy, which is an accomplishment in itself, but The Watchers set a high standard last time out and Nyctophilia lives up to that while pursuing its own semi-divergent ends.

The Watchers on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Juke Cove, Tempest

juke cove tempest

Leipzig’s Juke Cove follow a progressive course across eight songs and 44 minutes of Tempest, between nodding riffs of marked density and varying degrees of immediacy, whether it’s the might-just-turn-around-on-you “Hypnosis” early on or the shove with which the duly brief penultimate piece “Burst” takes off after the weighted crash of and ending stoner-rock janga-janga riff of “Glow” and precedes the also-massive “Xanadu” in the closing position, capping with a fuzzy solo because why not. From opener “The Path” into the bombast of “Hypnosis” and the look-what-we-can-make-riffs-do “Wait,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mateusz Pietrzela, bassist/vocalist Dima Ogorodnov and drummer Maxim Balobin mine aural individualism from familiar-enough genre elements, shaping material of character that benefits from the scope wrought in tone and production. Much to its credit, Tempest feels unforced in speaking to various sides of its persona, and no matter where a given song might go — the watery finish of “Wait” or the space-blues drift that emerges out of psych-leaning noise rock on “Confined,” for example — Juke Cove steer with care and heart alike and are all the more able to bring their audience with them as a result. Very cool, and no, I’m not calling them pricks when I say that.

Juke Cove on Facebook

Juke Cove on Bandcamp

Laurel Canyon, East Side EP

laurel canyon east side

A little more than a year out from their impressive self-titled debut LP (review here), Philly three-piece Laurel Canyon — guitarist/bassist/vocalist Nicholas Gillespie, guitarist/vocalist Serg Cereja, drummer Dylan DePice — offer the East Side three-songer to follow-up on the weighted proto-grunge vibes therein. “East Side” itself, at two and a half minutes, is a little more punk in that as it aligns for a forward push in the chorus between its swaggering verses, while “Garden of Eden” is more directly Nirvana-schooled in making its well-crafted melody sound like something that just tumbled out of somebody’s mouth, pure happenstance, and “Untitled” gets more aggressive in its second half, topping a momentary slowdown/nod with shouts before they let it fall apart at the end. This procession takes place in under 10 minutes and by the time you feel like you’ve got a handle on it, they’re done, which is probably how it should be. East Side isn’t Laurel Canyon‘s first short release, and they’re clearly comfortable in the format, bolstering the in-your-face-itude of their style with a get-in-and-get-out ethic correspondingly righteous in its rawness.

Laurel Canyon on Facebook

Agitated Records website

Tet, Tet

tet tet

If you hadn’t yet come around to thinking of Poland among Europe’s prime underground hotspots, Tet offer their four-song/45-minute self-titled debut for your (re-)consideration. With its lyrics and titles in Polish, Tet draws on the modern heavy prog influence of Elder in some of the 12-minute opener/longest track (immediate points), “Srebro i antracyt,” but neither that nor “Dom w cieniu gruszy,” which follows, stays entirely in one place for the duration, and the lush melody that coincides with the unfolding of “Wiosna” is Tet‘s own in more than just language; that is to say, there’s more to distinguish them from their influences than the syllabic. Each inclusion adds complexity to the story their songs are telling, and as closer “Włóczykije” gradually moves from its dronescape by bringing in the drums unveiling the instrumentalist build already underway, Tet carve a niche for themselves in one of the continent’s most crowded scenes. I wonder if they’ve opened for Weedpecker. They could. Or Belzebong, for that matter. Either way, it will be worth looking out for how they expand on these ideas next time around.

Tet linktr.ee

Tet on Bandcamp

Aidan Baker, Everything is Like Always Until it is Not

aidan baker Everything is Like Always Until it is Not

Aidan Baker, also of Nadja, aligns the eight pieces of what I think is still his newest outing — oh wait, nope; this came out in Feb. and in March he had an hour-long drone two-songer out; go figure/glad I checked — to represent the truism of the title Everything is Like Always Until it is Not, and arranges the tracks so that the earlier post-shoegaze in “Everything” or “Like” can be a preface for the more directly drone-based “It” “Is” later on. And yes, there are two songs called “Is.” Does it matter? Definitely not while Baker‘s evocations are actually being heard. Free-jazz drums — not generally known for a grounding effect — do some work in terms of giving all the float that surrounds them a terrestrial aspect, but if you know Baker‘s work either through his solo stuff, Nadja or sundry other collaborations, I probably don’t need to tell you that the 47 minutes of Everything is Like Always Until it is Not fall into the “not like always” category as a defining feature, whether it’s “Until” manifesting tonal heft in waves of static cut through by tom-to-snare-to-cymbal splashes or “Not” seeming unwilling to give itself over to its own flow. I imagine a certain restlessness is how Aidan Baker‘s music happens in the first place. You get smaller encapsulations of that here, if not more traditional accessibility.

Aidan Baker on Facebook

Cruel Nature Recordings on Bandcamp

Trap Ratt, Tribus Rattus Mortuus

Trap Ratt Tribus Rattus Mortuus

Based in the arguable capitol of the Doom Capitol region — Frederick, Maryland — the three-piece Trap Ratt arrive in superbly raw style with the four-song/33-minute Tribus Rattus Mortuus, the last of which, aptly-titled “IV,” features Tim Otis (High Noon Kahuna, Admiral Browning, etc.), who also mixed and mastered, guesting on noise while Charlie Chaplin’s soliloquy from 1940’s The Dictator takes the place of the tortured barebones shouts that accompany the plod of 13-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Sacred Skunk,” seemingly whenever they feel like it. That includes the chugging part before the feedback gets caustic near the song’s end, by the way. “Thieving From the Grieving” — which may or may not have been made up on the spot — repurposes Stooges-style riffing as the foundation for its own decay into noise, and if from anything I’ve said so far about the album you might expect “Take the Gun” to not be accordingly harsh, Trap Ratt have a word and eight minutes of disaffected exploration they’d like to share with you. It’s not every record you could say benefits aesthetically from being recorded live in the band’s rehearsal space, but yes, Tribus Rattus Mortuus most definitely does.

Trap Ratt on Facebook

Trap Ratt on Bandcamp

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Exile on Mainstream Announces 25th Anniversary Parties in Berlin & Leipzig

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Two nights each in Berlin and Leipzig, on successive nights no less. This is a recipe for ‘everybody’s friends’ when it’s over, and as that’s pretty on-brand for Exile on Mainstream — founder/honcho Andreas Kohl, who knows more than everyone but, like, isn’t a dick about it, keeps the circle pretty tight — but with reunions from End of Level Boss and Ostinato, the ever-mobile Darsombra making an overseas voyage to appear, The Moth who released one of this year’s best records, Conny Ochs and Bulbul, A Whisper in the Noise and Fireflies and Gaffa Ghandi, you get a whole bunch of different styles that somehow fit under a vague descriptor like ‘prog’ just because everyone involved is super-intentional about what they’re doing.

That applies to the label as well. Congrats and much respect to Andreas on 25 years of his label and the badass celebration he’s lined up for it. Still more names TBA, as it happens.

Info follows as posted on socials. Well, not exactly as posted. It was an Instagram textblock thing and I broke it up into paragraphs to make it easy to read. Me back in 2014 would probably laugh at me in 2023 doing that. “Short paragraphs. Who ever heard of that shit?”

And so on:

exile on mainstream 25th anniversary parties

25 Years Exile On Mainstream

8/9 May 2024 – Berlin, Neue Zukunft

10/11 May 2024 – Leipzig, UT Connewitz

25 years! A quarter century of Exile On Mainstream. So, let’s celebrate. In a big way. On the 8th and 9th of May, we’ll meet in Berlin at the Neue Zukunft, and on the 10th and 11th of May in Leipzig, the city where it all began for us.

Both the Neue Zukunft and the UT Connewitz are inseparably connected to the history of Exile On Mainstream, supporting us far beyond the ordinary.

As it has become a tradition by now, and because we are hopeless romantics, we have three special reunions for the festival: Ostinato, A Whisper In The Noise, and End Of Level Boss will reunite for one-time only performances bringing back memories of the early days of EOM and connecting to current sounds and tunes on the label.

But that’s not all: get ready for some collaborations between the invited bands, which are as much a label tradition.

Tickets presale is open: https://shop.mainstreamrecords.de/product/eom25tic


The Moth, Frost (2023)

Conny Ochs, “Hickhack” official video

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Godzilla in the Kitchen Announce Fall Tour Dates in Germany

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

godzilla in the kitchen

Leipzig-based heavy rockers Godzilla in the Kitchen will tour their native Germany in October and November, getting out to meet up with Greece’s Godsleep for a few shows and supporting their 2022 album, Exodus (review here), while probably starting to think about what comes next as well. They offered Live at Break Out earlier in 2023 and you can stream that below, along with the studio LP because thoroughness.

The run is 14 shows, one day off, all in Germany, and seeing shows booked in just Germany I guess shouldn’t seem weird, since most broader European tours feature at least two or three dates there along with stops in other countries. But fair enough. They’ll roll through their hometown the second night and proceed through Nov. 11, where the final show is in Hildburghausen.

Poster, info/dates, links and audio, courtesy of the PR wire:


GODZILLA IN THE KITCHEN are touring Germany in autumn!

GODZILLA IN THE KITCHEN announce their “Future of Mankind” tour for the fall. After the release of their 2nd album “EXODUS”, the first released live album “Live at Break Out” and their 2nd appearance at the Wacken Open Air, the Leipzig based heavy psychedelic rock band is touring Germany again.

The trio consisting of guitarist Eric Patzschke, bassist Simon Ulm and drummer Felix Rambach already inspired 2022 and 2023 at the WACKEN OPEN AIR. Almost a year after the release of their 2nd album via Argonauta Records and subsequent tour, EXODUS will be in the spotlight again. The “Future of Mankind Tour 2023” is targeting 14 cities in Germany.

The trio of guitarist Eric Patzschke, bassist Simon Ulm and drummer Felix Rambach already thrilled 2022 and 2023 at the WACKEN OPEN AIR. Almost a year after the release of their 2nd album and subsequent tour, EXODUS will be in the spotlight again. The “Future of Mankind Tour 2023” is targeting 14 cities in Germany.

As a follow-up to the impressive debut album GODZILLA IN THE KITCHEN, EXODUS also presents itself as an authentic and lively instrumental work, which invites you to dive in and enjoy. With a refreshing mix of melodic recognizability and rhythmic complexity, Godzilla In The Kitchen provide excitement in their live performances.

If you’re still not convinced, you can check out the band’s live album “Live at Break Out” in advance and come to one of the 14 dates.

28.10. Saarbrücken – Horst Club
29.10. Leipzig – Stö*
30.10. Braunschweig – B58*
31.10. Husum – Speicher*
01.11. Lübbenau – Kulturhof
02.11. Berlin – Sage
03.11. Halle – Hühnermanhattan
04.11. Asendorf – Break Out
05.11. Telgte – Pogo Retro
07.11. Dresden – Chemiefabrik*
08.11. Magdeburg – Flowerpower*
09.11. Köln – Stereo Wonderland
10.11. Hamburg – Astra Stube
11.11. Hildburghausen – Molle
*support for Godsleep



Godzilla in the Kitchen, Live at Break Out (2023)

Godzilla in the Kitchen, Exodus (2022)

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Acid Rooster to Release Flowers and Dead Souls on Aug. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

You might recall last year when German psychedelic instrumentalists Acid Rooster released their Ad Astra (review here) LP, the hype around it was thick enough to swim in. The music itself was prone more to drift, as it happened, but with the narrative behind it of being recorded live in an outdoor space during the pandemic, a small gathering put to tape at a singularly desperate moment, the gorgeousness of its two extended tracks took on a depth not often granted to improv-based psych. Three labels have lined up to release Flowers and Dead Souls, the new full-length from Acid Rooster, on Aug. 25.

They’re listed below along with the territories being covered between the UK, Europe and the US — that’s Cardinal FuzzTonzonen and Little Cloud, respectively — while there’s no audio yet, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if when the album arrives, it isn’t also a two-songer with “Flowers” on one side and “Dead Souls” on the other. Not saying I know that — because I don’t — but given the context of Ad Astra it’s certainly possible, and the thought of more explorations from this particular outfit is enticing given the patience and breadth they demonstrated last time out.

I assume what happens next is the album details, maybe one of the songs — or more, if there are more — streamed ahead of time through an outlet likely much cooler than this one, and preorders, etc., but Acid Rooster also have a couple gigs coming up including a stop at Krach am Bach, a swing through the Other Side Festival in London, and a slot supporting Dopelord in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Album cover and particulars, as per socials:

Acid Rooster Flowers and Dead Souls


‘Hey fellows, we are over the moon to finally share the news and announce that our second studio album will be released on august 25th via Tonzonen (EU), Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Little Cloud Records (US) !!

Check out the artwork for „Flowers and Dead Souls” by our friend and genius Marco Heinzmann aka @superquiet.

We have some more exciting things coming up, so stay tuned and save the date !

Pre Order starts soon !’

Acid Rooster live:
Aug 04 Krach am Bach Beelen, Germany
Oct 14 The Victoria, Dalston London, UK (Other Side Festival)
Oct 21 Doornroosje Nijmegen, Netherlands (w/ Dopelord, Bismut)





Acid Rooster, Ad Astra (2022)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Godzilla in the Kitchen

Posted in Questionnaire on May 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

godzilla in the kitchen

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Eric Patzschke, Felix Rambach and Simon Ulm of Godzilla in the Kitchen

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

What we do I describe as having fun! But the most important thing is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We spend a lot of time together and for this reason it is important to spend this time with a smile on your face, no matter how serious the music is. Of course, our music is basically serious and so are the topics we address with our covers and videos. We started jamming and quickly realized that we all shared similar musical roots. First songs were written pretty easily and so we decided to stick to that process. In some way we express what moves us. Every time we jam something that really gets us, everyone in the room knows immediately: that was awesome – let’s make something out of it. You could say the songs depicts our emotional state at the time it were written. In our two albums, of course, we have gone through a development. Exodus is more of an overall concept, whereas on Godzilla In The Kitchen we also had many different songs related to the genre. We love both albums and they mean a lot to us as a band.

Describe your first musical memory.

Eric Patzschke: My musical inspirations are manifold. but today i would limit myself to my biggest inspiration: Led Zeppelin. To this day, I can turn on any record by this band without a single song on it annoying or disturbing me. The songwriting is simply impeccable, everything fits, the sound is timeless and what inspires me the most is that they never thought about music genre. There is rock, prog, psychedelic, folk, country in their songs but in the end it is still Led Zeppelin. For me simply the greatest band in the history of music.

Felix Rambach: The discovery of the band Porcupine Tree was one of the main turning points in my musical development. When we had our final concerts at the music school, my teacher wanted me to play “The Sound Of Muzak” by Porcupine Tree. By that time, I covered a lot of rock and metal songs from Slipknot, Green Day, Lamb Of God, System Of A Down, but also some of the older stuff like Dire Straits, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and so on. But when I was introduced to the musical work of Gavin Harrison, I was immediately flashed. The combination of his sound and the way he constructs his drum parts were kind of a game changer for me. I really wanted to become such a musical and interesting drummer like he is. Since then I have studied a lot of musicians like Danny Carey, Benny Greb, David Garibaldi or Jeff Porcaro (and still do). I like how all of them manage to serve the music while preserving recognizability by their sound and the way they play. They always add something special to the music. And that’s what I want to do when we write our own songs. Make the music more interesting while keeping the vibe of the song running and evolving. For me, there is never a master plan, we jam and whatever comes out, if we like it, we keep it. That’s what I really love about our music, every song is always kind of a retrospect at our emotional state of the time it was written.

Simon Ulm: I am pretty sure my first musical memory was listening to the “Made in Japan” Live Album of Deep Purple. I remember listening to the Bass Lines of Roger Glover and thinking: I definitely wanna do something like this. I think this was before I started walking. From there on I sucked in every Rock and Metal song I could get my hands on and dreamed of moving people with hammering bass lines myself. When I was thirteen, I discovered “Forty Six & 2”by Tool and immediately bought a cheap bass guitar and amp. That’s how it happened!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Wacken 2022. We were invited to play six shows at the biggest metal festival in the world. It was the first festival experience as artists and also the first time Wacken Open Air for us. Having both of it checkmarked in one run is definitely something we are very proud of. We have a very detailed report on our website if you wanna read about all the details of this trip.

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

It wasn’t possible for us to get together on a continuous basis after graduation in 2016. We each had to earn money and come to terms with our new lives as workers. In 2020, we all finally settled back in Leipzig. So you can say that we were very inactive as a band for at least 5 years and only saw each other once a month. It was a very hard time for the band. But we always believed that we would get back together in one place and go for it. Funnily enough, that happened in the middle of the 2020 pandemic. We remastered the first album and recorded the second one straight away. 2022 then Wacken and touring and we can’t wait to go on tour again this year.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

What we notice, not at least because it affects our own music as well, is that everything is getting way more technical. There are numerous ways to set up your gear in the way you want it to achieve the sound you’re aiming for and the result is that music itself is getting more and more detailed. The term “sound” is becoming increasingly important, you want one that makes you recognizable but not too diverged from the average listening habits. It’s a tough balancing act. Plus, with today’s capabilities for everyone to produce and promote their own music very easily, you have to compete with a lot of other musicians. However, this – in order to keep your music interesting and some sort of outstanding – leads to whole new approaches to writing music and thus to many niche genres.

How do you define success?

To us, success is measured by response. As artists, we make our art to transport something. Since we don’t have any lyrics, we aim to transport feelings by our music. And the idea of transporting something seems to lose sense when there’s no one receiving it. We want to take the people out on a journey with us, either to forget about their everyday worries, problems and anxieties or to process them in a world we created. So basically, every person truly appreciating our music is a success for us.

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

Ok let’s try to stick to something unserious here. A story from our last tour in October 2022: Simon, our bass player, was so exhausted shortly before the end of the tour that he took his sleeping bag and lay down on the board next to our car and just slept for two hours. We still have no idea how he managed to do that and why he felt better afterwards than before, but we hope that our sleeping situation on tour will improve in the future and that we can offer him a warm bed next time…

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

A 3rd album :)

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

Art is a way of communication, it transports feelings and emotions in a way that spoken words aren’t capable of. Today, a lot of popular music is produced with no real intention, lyrics are vacuous and the main goal of those songs is to be not annoying or irritating. It kind of leads you to not listen properly. But if you make music as art because you have something to say, you want people to listen, to feel what you want to make them feel, whether its pleasant feelings like love, joy or uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, depression, frustration and so on. You need the full spectrum. Otherwise, you’re not producing art, you’re producing entertainment.

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

The development of hangover-free beer!



Godzilla in the Kitchen, Exodus (2022)

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Quarterly Review: Black Math Horseman, Baker ja Lehtisalo, Chrome Ghost, Wölfhead, Godzilla in the Kitchen, Onhou, Fuzzerati, Afghan Haze, Massirraytorr, Tona

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-winter 2023

Not to get too mathy or anything — stay with me, folks — but today is the day the Winter 2023 Quarterly Review passes the three-quarter mark on its way to 80 of the total 100 releases to be covered. And some of those are full-lengths, some are EPs, some are new, one yesterday was almost a year old. That happens. The idea here, one way or the other, is personal discovery. I hope you’ve found something thus far worth digging into, something that really hits you. And if not, you’ve still got 30 releases — 10 each today, tomorrow, Friday — to come, so don’t give up yet. We proceed…

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #71-80:

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman

Black math Horseman self titled

Though long foretold by the prophets of such things, the return of Black Math Horseman with 2022’s self-titled, live-recorded-in-2019 EP some 13 years after their 2009 debut full-length, Wyllt (discussed here, interview here), helped set heavy post-rock in motion, is still a surprise. The tension in the guitars of Ian Barry (who also handled recording/mixing) and Bryan Tulao in the eponymous opener is maddening, a tumult topped by the vocals of Sera Timms (who here shares bass duties with Rex Elle), and given thunder by drummer Sasha Popovic, and as part of a salvo of three cuts all seven minutes or longer, it marks the beginning of a more intense extraction of the atmospheric approach to heavy songcraft that made their past work such a landmark, with the crashes of “Cypher” and the strummy sway of “The Bough” following ahead of shorter, even-driftier closer “Cypber.” There’s a big part of me that wishes Black Math Horseman was a full-length, but an even bigger part is happy to take what it can get and hope it’s not another decade-plus before they follow it with something more. Not to be greedy, but in 2009 this band had a lot more to say and all this time later that still feels like the case and their sound still feels like it’s reaching into the unknown.

Black Math Horseman on Facebook

Profound Lore Records store


Baker Ja Lehtisalo, Crocodile Tears

Baker Ja Lehtisalo Crocodile Tears

The names here should be enough. It’s Aidan Baker from heavy drone experimentalist institution Nadja ja (‘and’ in Finnish) Jussi Lehtisalo from prog-of-all masters Circle, collaborating and sharing guitar, bass, vocal and drum programming duties — Lehtisalo would seem also to add the keyboards that give the the titular neon to centerpiece “Neon Splashing (From Your Eyes)” — on a 53-minute song cycle, running a broad spectrum between open-space post-industrial drone and more traditional smoky, melancholic, heady pop. Closer “Racing After Midnight” blends darker whispers with dreamy keyboard lines before moving into avant techno, not quite in answer to “I Wanna Be Your Bête Noire” earlier, but not quite not, and inevitably the 14-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “(And I Want Your Perfect) Crocodile Tears” is a defining stretch in terms of ambience and setting the contextual backdrop for what follows, its howling guitar layered with drum machine churn in a way that’s analogous to Jesu in style but not form, the wash that emerges in the synth and guitar there seeming likewise to be the suddenly-there alt-reality New Wave destination of the more languid meander of “Face/Off.” The amalgam of beauty and crush is enough to make one hope this isn’t Baker and Lehtisalo‘s last get together, but if it is, they made something worth preserving. By which I mean to say you might want to pick up the CD.

Jussi Lehtisalo on Bandcamp

Aidan Baker website

Ektro Records website

Broken Spine Productions on Bandcamp


Chrome Ghost, House of Falling Ash

Chrome Ghost House of Falling Ash

While their crux is no less in the dreamy, sometimes minimalist, melodic parts and ambient stretches of their longer-form songs and the interludes “In the Tall Grass” and “Bloom (Reprise),” the outright crush of Sacramento’s Chrome Ghost on their third record, House of Falling Ash (on Seeing Red), is not to be understated, whether that’s the lumber-chug of 14-minute opener “Rose in Bloom” or the bookending 13-minute closing title-track’s cacophonous wash, through which the trio remain coherent enough to roll out clean as they give the record its growl-topped sludge metal finish. Continuing the band’s clearly-ain’t-broke collaboration with producer Pat Hills, the six-song/50-minute offering boasts guest appearances from him on guitar, as well as vocals from Eva Rose (ex-CHRCH) on “Furnace,” likewise consuming loud or quiet, punishing or spacious, Oakland-based ambient guitarist Yseulde in the lengthy, minimalist midsection of “Where Black Dogs Dream,” setting up the weighted and melodic finish there, with Brume‘s Susie McMullin joining on vocals to add to the breadth. There’s a lot happening throughout, loud/quiet trades, experimental flourish, some pedal steel from Hills, but guitarist/vocalist Jake Kilgore (also keys), bassist Joe Cooper and drummer Jacob Hurst give House of Falling Ash a solid underpinning of atmospheric sludge and post-metal, and the work is all the more expressive and (intermittently) gorgeous for it.

Chrome Ghost on Facebook

Seeing Red Records store


Wölfhead, Blood Full Moon

Wölfhead Blood Full Moon

Straight-ahead, metal-informed, organ-inclusive classic heavy rock is the order of the day on Wölfhead‘s second album, Blood Full Moon, which is the Barclona-based four-piece’s first offering since their 2011 self-titled debut and is released through Discos Macarras, Música Hibrida and Iron Matron Records. An abiding impression of the 11-song offering comes as the band — who filled out their well-pedigreed core lineup of vocalist Ivan Arrieta, guitarists Josue Olmo and Javi Félez, and drummer Pep Carabante with session players David Saavedra (bass) and Albert Recolons (keys) — present rippers like the Motörhead (no real surprise, considering) via Orange Goblin rocker “Funeral Hearse” as the tail end of a raucous opening salvo, or the later “Mother of the Clan,” but from there the proceedings get more complex, with the classic doom roll of “Rame Tep” or the Jerry Cantrell-esque moody twang of “Everlasting Outlaw,” while “Eternal Stone Mountain” blends keyboard grandiosity and midtempo hookmaking in a way that should bring knowing nods from Green Lung fans, while “The Munsters” is, yes, a take on the theme from the tv show, and closer “El Llop a Dins” takes an airier, sans-drums and more open feel, highlighting melody rather than an overblown finish that, had they gone that route, would have been well earned.

Wölfhead on Facebook

Discos Macarras website

Música Hibrida website

Iron Matron Records store


Godzilla in the Kitchen, Exodus

godzilla in the kitchen exodus

Issued through Argonauta Records, Exodus‘ seven inclusions are situated so that their titles read as a sentence: “Is,” “The Future of Mankind,” “Forced By,” “The King of Monsters,” “Because,” “Everything That Has Been Given,” “Will Be Taken Away.” Thus Leipzig, Germany, instrumentalists Godzilla in the Kitchen‘s second album is immediately evocative, even before “Is” actually introduces the rest of what follows across three minutes of progressively minded heavy rock — parts calling to mind Pelican duking it out with Karma to Burn — that give way to the longest cut and an obvious focal point, “The Future of Mankind,” which reimagines the bass punch from Rage Against the Machine‘s “Killing in the Name Of” as fodder for an odd-timed expanse of Tool-ish progressive heavy, semi-psych lead work coming and going around more direct riffing. The dynamic finds sprawl in “Because” and highlights desert-style underpinnings in the fading lead lines of “Everything That Has Been Given” before the warmer contemplation of “Will Be Taken” caps with due substance. Their use of Godzilla — not named in the songs, but in the band’s moniker, and usually considered the “king of monsters” — as a metaphor for climate change is inventive, but even that feels secondary to the instrumental exploration itself here. They may be mourning for what’s been lost, but they do so with a vigor that, almost inadvertently, can’t help but feel hopeful.

Godzilla in the Kitchen on Facebook

Argonauta Records website


Onhou, Monument

Onhou Monument

Megalurching post-sludgers Onhou leave a crater with the four-song Monument, released by Lay Bare Recordings and Tartarus Records and comprising four songs and a 41-minute run that’s crushing in atmosphere as much as the raw tonal heft or the bellowing vocals that offset the even harsher screams. Leadoff “When on High” (8:19) is the shortest cut and lumbers toward a viciously noisy payoff and last stretch of even-slower chug and layered extreme screams/shouts, while “Null” (10:39) is unremittingly dark, less about loud/quiet tradeoffs though there still are some, but with depths enough to bury that line of organ and seeming to reference Neurosis‘ “Reach,” and “Below” (11:55) sandwiches an ambient beginning and standalone keyboard finish around post-metallic crunch and not so much a mournfulness as the lizard-brain feeling of loss prior to mourning; that naked sense of something not there that should be, mood-wise. Sure enough, “Ruins” (11:03) continues this bleak revelry, rising to a nod in its first couple minutes, breaking, returning in nastier fashion and rolling through a crescendo finish that makes the subsequent residual feedback feel like a mercy which, to be sure, it is not. If you think you’re up to it, you might be, or you might find yourself consumed. One way or the other, Onhou plod forward with little regard for the devastation surrounding. As it should be.

Onhou on Facebook

Lay Bare Recordings website

Tartarus Records on Bandcamp


Fuzzerati, Zwo

Fuzzerati Zwo

Less meditative than some of Germany’s instrumental heavy psych set, Bremen’s Fuzzerati explore drifting heavy psychedelic soundscapes on their 47-minute second album, Zwo, further distinguishing themselves in longform pieces like “Claus to Hedge” (13:01) and closer “Lago” (13:34) with hints of floaty post-rock without ever actually becoming so not-there as to be shoegazing. “Lago” and “Claus to Hedge” also have harder-hitting moments of more twisting, pushing fuzz — the bass in the second half of “Claus to Hedge” is a highlight — where even at its loudest, the seven-minute “Transmission” is more about dream than reality, with a long ambient finish that gives way to the similarly-minded ethereal launch of “Spacewalk,” which soon enough turns to somewhat ironically terrestrial riffing and is the most active inclusion on the record. For that, and more generally for the fluidity of the album as a whole, Fuzzerati‘s sophomore outing feels dug in and complete, bordering on the jazziness of someone like Causa Sui, but ultimately no more of their ilk than of My Sleeping Karma‘s or Colour Haze‘s, and I find that without a ready-made box to put them in — much as “instrumental heavy psych” isn’t a box — it’s a more satisfying experience to just go where the three-piece lead, to explore as they do, breathe with the material. Yeah, that’ll do nicely, thanks.

Fuzzerati on Facebook

Fuzzerati on Bandcamp


Afghan Haze, Hallucinations of a Heretic

Afghan Haze Hallucinations of a Heretic

At least seemingly in part a lyrical narrative about a demon killing an infant Jesus and then going to hell to rip the wings off angels and so on — it’s fun to play pretend — Afghan Haze‘s Hallucinations of a Heretic feels born of the same extreme-metal-plus-heavy-rock impulse that once produced Entombed‘s To Ride Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth, and yeah, that’s a compliment. The bashing of skulls starts with “Satan Ripper” after the Church of Misery-style serial murderer intro “Pushing up Daisies,” and though “Hellijuana” has more of a stomp than a shove, the dudely-violence is right there all the same. “Occupants (Of the Underworld)” adds speed to the proceedings for an effect like High on Fire born out of death metal instead of thrash, and though the following closer “Gin Whore” (another serial killer there) seems to depart from the story being told, its sludge is plenty consistent with the aural assault being meted out by the Connecticut four-piece, omnidirectional in its disdain and ready at a measure’s notice to throw kicks and punches at whosoever should stand in its way, as heard in that burner part of “Gin Whore” and the all-bludgeon culmination of “Occupants (Of the Underworld).” This shit does not want to be your friend.

Afghan Haze on Facebook

Afghan Haze on Bandcamp


Massirraytorr, Twincussion

Massirraytorr Twincussion

My only wish here is that I could get a lyric sheet for the Britpsych-style banger that is “Costco Get Fucked.” Otherwise, I’m fully on board with Canadian trio Massirraytorr‘s debut LP, Twincussion — which, like the band’s name, is also styled all-caps, and reasonably so since the music does seem to be shouting, regardless of volume or what the vocals are actually up to in that deep-running-but-somehow-punk lysergic swamp of a mix. “Porno Clown” is garage raw. Nah, rawer. And “Bong 4” struts like if krautrock had learned about fuckall, the layer of effects biting on purpose ahead of the next rhythmic push. In these, as well as leadoff “Calvin in the Woods” and the penultimate noisefest “Fear Garden,” Massirraytorr feel duly experimentalist, but perhaps without the pretension that designation might imply. That is to say, fucking around is how they’re finding out how the songs go. That gives shades of punk like the earliest, earliest, earliest Monster Magnet, or The Heads, or Chrome, or, or, or, I don’t know fuck you. It’s wild times out here in your brain, where even the gravity slingshot of “The Juice” feels like a relatively straightforward moment to use as a landmark before the next outward acceleration. Good luck with it, kids. Remember to trail a string so you can find your way back.

Massirraytorr on Bandcamp

NoiseAgonyMayhem website


Tona, Tona

Tona tona

Serbian five-piece Tona make their self-titled second LP with a 10-song collection that’s less a hodgepodge and more a melting pot of different styles coming together to serve the needs of a given song. “Sharks” is a rock tempo with a thrash riff. “Napoleon Complex Dog” is blues via hardcore punk. Opener “Skate Zen” takes a riff that sounds like White Zombie and sets it against skate rock and Megadeth at the same time. The seven-minute “Flashing Lights” turns progadelic ahead of the dual-guitar strut showoff “Shooter” and the willful contrast of the slogging, boozy closer “Just a Sip of It.” But as all-over-the-place as Tona‘s Tona is, it’s to the credit of their songwriting that they’re able to hold it together and emerge with a cohesive style from these elements, some of which are counterintuitively combined. They make it work, in other words, and even the Serbian-language “Atreid” gets its point across (all the more upon translation) with its careening, tonally weighted punk. Chock full of attitude, riffs, and unexpected turns, Tona‘s second long-player and first since 2008 gives them any number of directions in which to flourish as they move forward, and shows an energy that feels born from and for the stage.

Tona on Facebook

Tona on Bandcamp


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Godzilla in the Kitchen Premiere “Everything That Has Been Given” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 17th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

godzilla in the kitchen

Leipzig, Germany, instrumentalist trio Godzilla in the Kitchen will release their new album, Exodus, on Oct. 28 through Argonauta Records. “Everything That Has Been Given” (video premiering below) is the penultimate inclusion on the seven-track follow-up to the three-piece’s 2015 self-titled debut (also remastered in 2020), and the second single behind the closer “Will Be Taken Away.” In the spirit of bands like Red Sparowes, the tracklisting for Exodus takes on a sentence structure: “Is the future of mankind forced by the King of Monsters because everything that has been given will be taken away?”

I’m gonna say… yes, to that question?

Especially if by “the King of Monsters” you’re talking less about Godzilla and more about capitalism-fueled climate change, but as Godzilla in the Kitchen are instrumental, it’s that much harder to know if they are. In any case, they make the seven and a half minutes of “Everything That Has Been Given” roll by in a molten ooze, following the My Sleeping Karma-esque contemplations of “Will Be Taken Away” with a more direct approach tonally and in terms of the riff, while still keeping the overarching impression smooth and perhaps more calming than the threat of the title might otherwise be.

The video itself features the band playing in manipulated form, plus some kind of forging of an object that according to the band is a metaphor for finding the perfect noise, that itself of course being a metaphor for the creative process as a continual trying and failing to chase an ideal that, in itself, is barely conceivable. Which is why everyone you know who’s even mildly interesting feels like a fraud all the time.

Godzilla in the Kitchen will support Exodus by heading out on a stretch of Fall tour dates that you can see below, along with more background on where they’re coming from with the video’s narrative, the all-important preorder link, and so on.

Please enjoy:

Godzilla in the Kitchen, “Everything That Has Been Given” video premiere

Godzilla in the Kitchen on “Everything That Has Been Given”:

“Over waves of disarray and chaos one of the last survivors of mankind is trying to find what constitutes the perfect noise. While sometimes harmonizing, sometimes separating and erupting in dissonance, he finally find his way into the shared rhythm. Once in sync with everything that has been given, he is allowed to leave behind the endless loop and receives the final gift of mankind: The truth within resonating matter. Creation and destruction unfold a spiritual journey, connecting human with its nature.

A big shotout to our dear friend Nico Gebe for finding the right images to our new release. “EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN” sets the landmark what to expect from our upcoming Album „EXODUS“.”

EXODUS will be released through the Italian label ARGONAUTA RECORDS by October 28 and it is expected to be within the highlights of the year, with preorder starting soon at this location:

GODZILLA IN THE KITCHEN will enter the stages for an album release tour in October, with their friends of HAVEN, KYNING, RIVERHOUSE and BLACK KARMA. Check out the dates below and make sure to follow them for updates.


10/27 Prague @ Cross Club (w. RIVER HOUSE)
10/28 Hof @ Alte Filzfabrik (w. RIVER HOUSE, KYNING)
10/29 Sebnitz @ Klangmanufaktur (w. BLACK KARMA)
10/30 Łódź @ Wooltura (w. HAVEN)
10/31 Braunschweig @ Tante Puttchen
11/01 Jena @ Café Wagmer (w. HAVEN)
11/02 Herzberg @ Westbahnhof (w. HAVEN)
11/03 Münster @ Heile Welt (w. HAVEN)
11/04 Asendorf @ Break Out (w. HAVEN)
11/05 Chemnitz @ Oberer Gasthof Grüna (w. HAVEN)
11/10 Berlin @ SAGE Club (w. Haven)
11/15 Weimar @ C.Keller
11/26 Leipzig @ Ost-Passage Theater (w. KYNING)

Godzilla in the Kitchen are:
Guitar: Eric Patzschke
Drums: Felix Rambach
Bass: Simon Ulm

Godzilla in the Kitchen, “Will Be Taken Away”

Godzilla in the Kitchen website

Godzilla in the Kitchen on Bandcamp

Godzilla in the Kitchen on Instagram

Godzilla in the Kitchen on Facebook

Godzilla in the Kitchen on YouTube

Argonauta Records on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

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Quarterly Review: Fu Manchu, Valborg, Sons of Arrakis, Voidward, Indus Valley Kings, Randy Holden, The Gray Goo, Acid Rooster, BongBongBeerWizards, Mosara

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Day two of the Fall 2022 Quarterly Review brings a fresh batch of 10 releases en route to the total 100 by next Friday. Some of this is brand new, some of it is older, some of it is doom, some is rock, some is BongBongBeerWizards, and so on. Sometimes these things get weird, and I guess that’s where it’s at for me these days, but you’re going to find plenty of ground to latch onto despite that. Wherever you end up, I hope you’re digging this so far half as much as I am. Much love as always as we dive back in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 2

Fu Manchu Fu 30 part 2

Like everyone’s everything in the era, Fu Manchu‘s 30th anniversary celebration didn’t go as planned, but with their Fu30 Pt. 2 three-songer, they give 2020’s Fu30 Pt. 1 EP (posted here) the sequel its title implied and present two originals and one cover in keeping with that prior release’s format. Tracked in 2021, “Strange Plan” and the start-stop-riffed “Low Road” are quintessential works of Fu fuzz, so SoCal they’re practically in Baja, and bolstered by the kinds of grooves that have held the band in good stead with listeners throughout these three-plus decades. “Strange Plan” is more aggressive in its shove, but perhaps not so confrontational as the cover of Surf Punks‘ 1980 B-side “My Wave,” a quaint bit of surferly gatekeeping with the lines, “Go back to the Valley/And don’t come back,” in its chorus. As they will with their covers, the four-piece from San Clemente bring the song into their own sound rather than chase down trying to sound like Reagan-era punk, and that too is a method well proven on the part of the band. If you ever believed heavy rock and roll could be classic, Fu Manchu are that, and for experienced heads who’ve heard them through the years as they’ve tried different production styles, Fu30 Pt. 2 finds an effective middle ground between impact and mellow groove.

Fu Manchu on Facebook

At the Dojo Records website


Valborg, Der Alte

Valborg Der Alte

Not so much a pendulum as a giant slaughterhouse blade swinging from one side to the other like some kind of horrific grandfather clock, Valborg pull out all the industrial/keyboard elements from their sound and strip down their songwriting about as far as it will go on Der Alte, the 13-track follow-up to 2019’s Zentrum (review here) and their eighth album overall since 2009. Accordingly, the bone-cruncher pummel in cuts like “Kommando aus der Zukunft” and the shout-punky centerpiece “Hektor” is furious and raw. I’m not going to say I hope they never bring back the other aspects of their sound, but it’s hard not to appreciate the directness of the approach on Der Alte, on which only the title-track crosses the four-minute mark in runtime (it has a 30 second intro; such self-indulgence!), and their sound is still resoundingly their own in tone and the throaty harsh vocals on “Saturn Eros Xenomorph” and “Hoehle Hoelle” and the rest across the album’s intense, largely-furious-but-still-not-lacking-atmosphere span. If it was another band, you might call it death metal. As it stands, Der Alte is just Valborg, distilled to their purest and meanest form.

Valborg on Facebook

Prophecy Productions webstore


Sons of Arrakis, Volume I

Sons of Arrakis Volume I

2022 is probably a good year to put out a record based around Frank Herbert’s Dune universe (the Duniverse?), what with the gargantuan feature film last year and another one coming at some point as blah blah franchise everything, but Montreal four-piece Sons of Arrakis have had at least some of the songs on Volume I in the works for the better part of four years, guitarists Frédéric Couture (also vocals) and Francis Duchesne (also keys) handling recording for the eight-song/30-minute outing with Vick Trigger on bass and Eliot Landry on drums locking in tight grooves pushing all that sci-fi and fuzz along at a pace that one only wishes the movie had shared. I’ve never read Dune, which is only relevant information here because Volume I doesn’t leave me feeling out of the loop as “Temple of the Desert” locks in quintessential stoner rock janga-janga shuffle and “Lonesome Preacher” culminates in twisty fuzz that should well please fans of Valley of the Sun before bleeding directly and smoothly into the melodic highlight “Abomination” in a way that, to me at least, bodes better for their longer term potential than whatever happenstance novelty of subject matter surrounds. There’s plenty of Dune out there if they want to stick to the theme, but songwriting like this could be about brushing your teeth and it’d still work.

Sons of Arrakis on Facebook

Sons of Arrakis on Instagram


Voidward, Voidward

voidward voidward

Voidward‘s self-titled full-length debut lands some nine years after the Durham, North Carolina, trio’s 2013 Knives EP, and accordingly features nearly a decade’s worth of difference in sound, casting off longer-form post-black metal duggery in favor of more riff-based explorations. Still at least partially metallic in its roots, as opener “Apologize” makes plain and the immediate nodder roll of “Wolves” backs up, the eight-song/47-minute outing is distinguished by the clean, floating vocal approach of guitarist Greg Sheriff, who almost reminds of Dave Heumann from Arbouretum, though no doubt other listeners will hear other influences, and yes that’s a compliment. Joined by bassist/backing vocalist Alec Ferrell — harmonies persist on “Wolves” and elsewhere — and drummer Noah Kessler, Sheriff brings just a hint of char to the tone of “Oblivion,” but the blend of classic heavy rock and metal throughout points Voidward to someplace semi-psychedelic but nonetheless richly ambient, and even the most straightforward inclusion, arguably “Chemicals” though closer “Cobalt” has plenty of punch as well, is rich in its execution. They even thrash a bit on “Horses,” so as long as it’s not another nine years before they do anything else, they sound like they can go wherever they want. Rare for a debut.

Voidward on Facebook

Clearly Records on Bandcamp


Indus Valley Kings, Origin

Indus Valley Kings Origin

The second long-player from Long Island, New York’s Indus Valley Kings, Origin brings together nine songs across an expansive 55 minutes, and sees the trio working from a relatively straightforward heavy rock foundation toward more complex purposes, whether that’s the spacious guitar stretch-out of “A Cold Wind” or the tell-tale chug in the second half of centerpiece “Dark Side of the Sun.” They effectively shift back and forth between lengthier guitar-led jams and more straight-up verses and choruses, but structure is never left too far behind to pick up again as need be, and the confidence behind their play comes through amid a relatively barebones production style, the rush of the penultimate “Drowned” providing a later surge in answer to the more breadth-minded unfurling of “Demon Beast” and the bluesy “Mohenjo Daro.” So maybe they’re not actually from the Indus Valley. Fine. I’ll take the Ripple-esque have-riffs-have-shred-ready-to-roll “Hell to Pay” wherever it’s coming from, and the swing of the earlier “…And the Dead Shall Rise” doesn’t so much dogwhistle its penchant for classic heavy as serve it to the listener on a platter. If we’re picking favorites, I might take “A Cold Wind,” but there’s plenty to dig on one way or the other, and Origin issues invitations early and often for listeners to get on board.

Indus Valley Kings on Facebook

Indus Valley Kings on Bandcamp


Randy Holden, Population III

randy holden population iii

Clearly whoever said there were no second chances in rock and roll just hadn’t lived long enough. After reissuing one-upon-a-time Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden‘s largely-lost classic Population II (discussed here) for its 50th anniversary in 2020, RidingEasy Records offers Holden‘s sequel in Population III. And is it the work for which Holden will be remembered? No. But it is six songs and 57 minutes of Holden‘s craft, guitar playing, vocals and groove, and, well, that feels like something worth treasuring. Holden was in his 60s when he and Randy Pratt (also of Cactus) began to put together Population III, and for the 21-minute “Land of the Sun” alone, the album’s release a decade later is more than welcome both from an archival standpoint and in the actual listening experience, and as “Swamp Stomp” reminds how much of the ‘Comedown Era’s birth of heavy rock was born of blues influence, “Money’s Talkin'” tears into its solo with a genuine sense of catharsis. Holden may never get his due among the various ‘guitar gods’ of lore, but if Population III exposes more ears to his work and legacy, so much the better.

Randy Holden on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


The Gray Goo, 1943

The Gray Goo 1943

Gleefully oddball Montana three-piece The Gray Goo remind my East Coast ears a bit of one-time Brooklynites Eggnogg for their ability to bring together funk and heavy/sometimes-psychedelic rock, but that’s not by any means the extent of what they offer with their debut album, 1943, which given the level of shenanigans in 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Bicycle Day” alone, I’m going to guess is named after the NES game. In any case, from “Bicycle Day” on down through the closing “Cop Punk,” the pandemic-born outfit find escape in right-right-right-on nods and bass tone, partially stonerized but casting off expectation with an aplomb that manifests in the maybe-throwing-an-elbow noise of “Problem Child,” and the somehow-sleek rehearsal-space funk of “Launch” and “The Comedown,” which arrives ahead of “Shakes and Spins” — a love song, of sorts, with fluid tempo changes and a Primus influence buried in there somewhere — and pulls itself out of the ultra-’90s jam just in time for a last plodding hook. Wrapping with the 1:31 noise interlude “Goo” and the aforementioned “Cop Punk,” which gets the prize lyrically even with the competition surrounding, 1943 is going right on my list of 2022’s best debut albums with a hope for more mischief to come.

The Gray Goo on Facebook

The Gray Goo on Bandcamp


Acid Rooster, Ad Astra

acid rooster ad astra

Oh, sweet serenity. Maybe if we all had been in that German garden on the day in summer 2020 when Acid Rooster reportedly performed the two extended jams that comprise Ad Astra — “Zu den Sternen” (22:28) and “Phasenschieber” (23:12) — at least some of us might’ve gotten the message and the assurance so desperately needed at the time that things were going to be okay. And that would’ve been nice even if not necessarily the truth. But as it stands, Ad Astra documents that secret outdoor showcase on the part of the band, unfolding with improvised grace across its longform pieces, hopeful in spirit and plenty loud by the time they get there but never fully departing from a hopeful sensibility, some vague notion of a better day to come. Even in the wholesale drone immersion of “Phasenschieber,” with the drums of “Zu den Sternen” seemingly disappeared into that lush ether, I want to close my eyes and be in that place and time, to have lived this moment. Impossible, right? Couldn’t have happened. And yet some were there, or so I’m told. The rest of us have the LP, and that’s not nothing considering how evocative this music is, but the sheer aural therapy of that moment must have been a powerful experience indeed. Hard not to feel lucky even getting a glimpse.

Acid Rooster on Facebook

Sunhair Music store

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store


BongBongBeerWizards, Ampire

BongBongBeerWizards Ampire

A sophomore full-length from the Dortmund trio of guitarist/synthesist Bong Travolta, bassist/vocalist Reib Asnah and (introducing) drummer/vocalist Chill Collins — collectively operating as BongBongBeerWizardsAmpire is a call to worship for Weed and Loud alike, made up of three tracks arranged longest to shortest (immediate points) and lit by sacred rumble of spacious stoner doom. Plod as god. Tonal tectonics. This is not about innovation, but celebrating noise and lumber for the catharsis they can be when so summoned. Willfully repetitive, primitive and uncooperative, there’s some debt of mindset to the likes of Poland’s Belzebong or the largesse of half-speed Slomatics/Conan/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, but again, if you come into the 23-minute leadoff “Choirs and Masses” expecting genre-shaping originality, you’ve already fucked up. Get crushed instead. Put it on loud and be consumed. It won’t work for everybody, but it’s not supposed to. But if you’re the sort of head crusty enough to appreciate the synth-laced hypnotic finish of “Unison” or the destructive mastery of “Slumber,” you’re gonna shit a brick when the riffs come around. They’re not the only church in town, but it’s just the right kind of fun for melting your brains with volume.

BongBongBeerWizards on Facebook

BongBongBeerWizards on Bandcamp


Mosara, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Mosara Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Any way you want to cut it with Mosara‘s second album, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets, the root word you’re looking for is “heavy.” You’d say, “Oh, well ‘Magissa’ has elements of early-to-mid-aughts sludge and doom at work with a raw presentation in its cymbal splash and shouted vocals.” Or you’d say, “‘The Permanence of Isolation’ arrives at a chugging resolution after a deceptively intricate intro,” or “the acoustic beginning of ‘Zion’s Eyes’ leads to a massive, engaging nod that shows thoughtfulness of construction in its later intertwining of lead guitar lines.” Or that the closing title-track flips the structure to end quiet after an especially tortured stretch of nonetheless-ambient sludge. All that’s true, but you know what it rounds out to when you take away the blah blah blah? It’s fucking heavy. Whatever angle you’re approaching from — mood, tone, songwriting, performance — it’s fucking heavy. Sometimes there’s just no other way, no better way, to say it. Mosara‘s 2021 self-titled debut (review here) was too. It’s just how it is. I bet their next one will be as well, or at very least I hope so. If you’re old enough to recall Twingiant, there’s members of that band here, but even if not, what you need to know is that Only the Dead Know Our Secrets is fucking heavy. So there.

Mosara on Facebook

Mosara on Bandcamp


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