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

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


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

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

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call

saturnalia temple paradigm call

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

Saturnalia Temple on Facebook

Listenable Records website

Dool, The Shape of Fluidity

dool the shape of fluidity

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

Dool on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Abrams, Blue City

abrams blue city

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

Abrams on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Pia Isa, Burning Time

pia isa burning time

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

Pia Isa on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Wretched Kingdom, Wretched Kingdom

Wretched Kingdom Wretched Kingdom

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

Wretched Kingdom on Facebook

Wretched Kingdom on Bandcamp

Lake Lake, Proxy Joy

lake lake proxy joy

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

Lake Lake on Facebook

Lake Lake on Bandcamp

Gnarwhal, Altered States

Gnarwhal Altered States

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

Gnarwhal on Facebook

Gnarwhal on Bandcamp

Bongfoot, Help! The Humans..

bongfoot help the humans

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

Bongfoot on Facebook

Bongfoot on Bandcamp

Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Ateş

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans Ateş

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

Thomas Greenwood and The Talismans on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Djiin, Mirrors

djiin mirrors

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

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

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Mos Generator Release Remasters for Electric Mountain Majesty, Abyssinia and Shadowlands

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

mos generator

This was a pretty special run for Mos Generator, from when they signed to Listenable Records after coming back in 2012 with Nomads (review here) on Ripple Music through when they issued Shadowlands (review here) in 2018. Led as ever by founding guitarist, vocalist, sometimes-keyboardist, producer, etc. Tony Reed (also Big Scenic Nowhere and a veritable slew of others), the band had revamped its lineup and those were years of heavy touring and momentum on their side from one to the next, through 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here) and 2016’s Abyssinia (review here), the latter of which introduced bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett.

But Mos Generator, and by extension Reed (and actually I think it’s the other way around), are always busy. In 2022, they released Time//Wounds (review here) and quickly set about tweaking its mix and master, the darker and more progressive feel providing ample sandbox space for it, and if you don’t follow their Bandcamp or socials or however it is you follow, it’s worth doing so for the off-album tracks, live releases, demos and other odds and ends that always show up in Reed‘s ongoing prolific mania. If you’d keep up with that, you’ll find three embeds below from their site. I’m not sure if the new Listenable pressings are of the 2022 remasters from the band’s Bandcamp or what, but chances are you’re reading this on a phone, so I don’t think we’re exactly splitting hairs on audio intricacies sitting in the exact mathematically calculated space between two giant studio monitor speakers either. Enjoy some songs.

Alright, I’m falling asleep as I type (it’s early), so it must be time for the PR wire:


Hello and Happy New Year. This year starts out with an exciting announcement.

Our studio albums recorded for Listenable Records (France) between 2014 and 2018 are now back in print. All three have been newly remastered and sound stellar. Along with the new masters, there have been minor changes to the artwork and original audio. We are so stoked that these are available again. They are some of the most important albums in our evolution. We hope you enjoy them as well.
They are all available on vinyl in the corresponding digital link here on bandcamp.

1. Electric Mountain Majesty (2014)
– Transparent yellow vinyl
– Remastered by Reed 2023. The audio on this is vastly improved by the new remaster.

2. Abyssinia (2016)
– Milky clear vinyl
– Remastered by Reed 2023
– Updated artwork with lyric insert (the original pressing had no lyric sheet)
– Original intro to ‘Red Canyons’ restored on this master

3. Shadowlands (2018)
– Transparent purple vinyl
– Remastered by Reed 2023
– 2020 mix of ‘Drowning in Your Loving Cup’ included on this master

European fans can shop here for better shipping rate


Mos Generator:
Tony Reed: guitar/vocals/mellotron
Jono Garrett: drums
Sean Booth: bass


Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty (2014)

Mos Generator, Abyssinia (2016)

Mos Generator, Shadowlands (2018)

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Saturnalia Temple to Release Paradigm Call March 1; “Revel in Dissidence” Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Preorders are up for the fourth full-length from Swedish cult metallers Saturnalia Temple, who present a glimpse at the malevolent churn and gurgle of Paradigm Call by means of the first single “Revel in Dissidence,” which you can check out in the lyric video at the bottom of this post. The album will be out March 1 and is the second release for Saturnalia Temple through Listenable Records, on whose talent roster they are a standout as they’d be on just about anyone’s. Fewer bands sound more like they recorded by candlelight.

I’m assuming “Drakon,” which you can see on the tracklisting below precedes “Revel in Dissidence” and is just over two minutes long, is an intro, which would make “Revel in Dissidence” something of an opener. So as you make your way through the lyric video’s bubbling-mud riffing, throaty grunt, gnarly cosmic vibes and seeming argument for “ugh” as a perspective on the world (not arguing with any of it, mind you), keep in mind that in many cases a band will put their most accessible fare at the beginning of records in order to hook a potential listnership and engage them to take on the rest. Not saying that’s Saturnalia Temple‘s motivation — indeed, more likely it isn’t — but if norms-departure is your launch point, the single is doing its work on its own terms. Little could represent Saturnalia Temple better in my mind.

The PR wire had this, mostly with links:

saturnalia temple paradigm call

Saturnalia Temple preorder for ‘Paradigm Call’ are available

🛒 https://shop-listenable.net/en/149_saturnalia-temple

🎧 https://bfan.link/revel-in-dissidence

Saturnalia temple created their own niche of Occult Doom Metal with their unique brand of hauntingly atmospheric psychedelia.

New album ‘Paradigm Call’ is very powerful trance inducing madness !

Pure Evil !

Tracklisting :
1) Drakon 02:08
2) Revel In Dissidence 08:55
3) Paradigm Call 07:42
4) Among The Ruins 05:17
5) Black Smoke 07:31
6) Ascending The Pale 07:01
7) Empty Chalice 05:03
8) Kaivalya 05:05

Paradigm Call’ Album was mastered by Jérémie Bezier at Blackout Studio, Brussels.

A new live line up includes brothers Gottfrid Åhman (In Solitude, Pågå) on bass and Pelle Åhman (In Solitude, Pågå) on drums.

Tommie Eriksson (Guitars)
Pelle Åhman (Drums)
Gottfrid Åhman (Bass)



Saturnalia Temple, “Revel in Dissidence” lyric video

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call (2024)

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My Diligence Sign to Listenable Records; New Album in 2024

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

Belgian melodic heavy noise rockers My Diligence will release their fourth album next year as their first offering through Listenable Records. The signing announcement — and in an indictment of my diligence, this news is a couple weeks old — came through posted by the Brussels trio, who in addition to Century Festival and others in their home country have been confirmed for a spot in June at Hellfest in France with more sure to follow, and who were heard from last year with their ripper of third record, The Matter, Form and Power (review here). They played Desertfest Belgium last Fall to support that LP, which was issued like the two before it through Mottow Soundz.

They’ve been doing shows steadily since The Matter, Form and Power came out in June, and it will be interesting to see if they hit the road even more with Listenable behind them, but as of now and like a lot of Belgian acts, they remain something of a well-kept secret, despite the loud-at-any-volume sensibility imbued into their work. I could go on here, but the bottom line is congrats to the band and best wishes on the upcoming dates and making the next record. I’ll look forward to (hopefully) hearing how it comes out when the time is right.

Their post and shows for the next few months follow here, snagged from socials:

my diligence

We have some exciting news to share: we have joined the esteemed talent at Listenable Records. We look forward to making great sounds together – starting with a new album to be released in spring 2024.

We would like to express our thanks and deep appreciation for the nurturing and support Mathias Widtskiöld at Mottow Soundz has shown us over the past decade. We made 3 great albums together, each of which we are extremely proud.

We owe Jean-Michel Labadie of Gojira a HUGE THANKS for connecting us with Laurent Merle and Listenable Records. We are grateful for your mentoring.

Last but not least a shout out to Christophe Dillen aka Denis Daniel our manager whose steady hand ensures we never lose our sense of humour and love for the music.

06.05.23 IZEGEM (BE) – Headbanger’s Balls Fest
13.05.23 DURBUY (BE) – Durbuy Rock Festival
21.05.23 BÉTHUNE (FR) – Le Poche Béthune
16.06.23 CLISSON (FR) – Hellfest Open Air Festival
08.07.23 TOURNAI (BE) – La Crypte
15.07.23 NOISEUX (BE) – NoiZ’Rock

Cédric Fontaine – Guitars, Vocals
François Peeters – Guitars
Gabriel Marlier – Drums



My Diligence, The Matter, Form and Power (2022)

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Friday Full-Length: Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

And so they were. The narrative behind Mars Red Sky‘s 2014 sophomore outing has always been important to the listening experience, and nine years later, the Bordeaux trio’s creative leaps feel no less resonant as the bassline underscoring the intro to “The Light Beyond” kicks in with its welcoming rumble while the atmospheric vocal melodies float overhead. Their first outing to be released through Listenable Records, the eight-song/44-minute Stranded in Arcadia (review here) had the unenviable task of following up Mars Red Sky‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here, discussed here), and the band’s plans for it were about six years ahead of their time in completely evaporating.

Guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/backing vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau (who was still pretty new to the group at that point) were set to travel to the US, record at Thunder Underground in Palm Springs, California, between Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, 2013, and do a quick run of shows up the West Coast after. Who knows what might’ve been had that happened, but after having their visas blocked, they wound up in Brazil directly following a handful of dates there and in Argentina, working at Estúdio Superfuzz in Rio de Janeiro with Gabriel Zander at what would turn out to be a pivotal moment for them as a band.

True, their 2012 collaboration with countrymen Year of No Light (discussed here) and their 2013 Be My Guide EP (review here) put forth the notion that the playful bounce and blend of folkish melodies and weighted tones of the self-titled were the beginning point as opposed to the sum of all they had to offer, but when Stranded in Arcadia landed, it marked not only the next stage of an LP-then-EP-then-LP methodology that they’ve kept up ever since — their new EP, a collaboration with Queen of the Meadow, is out April 28 (info here) in time for a grand run of European festivals and more this May — but also a flourishing of sound and style on which their two subsequent full-lengths, 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) and 2019’s The Task Eternal (review here), would continue to build.

From the grand unfolding of eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Light Beyond” (premiered here) through “Join the Race” setting up a direct lineage for pieces on the next two records like “Under the Hood” and “Crazy Hearth,” to the double-kick surge late in the instrumental “Arcadia” and the drench of wah offsetting the languid march of the penultimate “Seen a Ghost” before “Beyond the Light” calls back to the leadoff with a blasted-out-there noisy reprise, Stranded in Arcadia used songwriting to overcome circumstance. Where it could have been haphazard or sloppy or rushed considering the improvised nature of the band finding and hitting a studio, it isn’t at all.

Even “Holy Mondays,” which arguably has theArt by Carlos Pop. I have four versions of this cover in the media backlog on this site. This is the only one that's square. Originally posted April 24, 2014. most shove behind its hook (Kinast taking over lead vocals from Pras for the moment), is laid back in its verses, and in following the memorable “Hovering Satellites” (video premiere here), it demonstrates the branching into sonic progressivism that was taking place across the larger span. Hypothetically speaking, had all gone according to plan, if that had been the end result, the album (presumably called something else) would be a triumph. That they overcame legitimate adversity — I don’t know if you’ve ever been told you can’t fly to where you’re supposed to fly, but it is a very particular helplessness — to do it takes that to another level entirely.

And ‘another level’ is kind of the running theme for Stranded in Arcadia anyway. The distance of years has done nothing to-date to dull the warmth of tonality in either Pras‘ guitar or Kinast‘s bass or the sheer largesse through which Gazeau‘s snare cuts so readily and yet so perfectly set in the mix such that even the twists in the later “Circles” find the needed round edges from out of the surrounding sharper angles. Likewise, the solidity of their purpose, the element of craft in the material structurally and in the layers of the production, is only enhanced by the fluid grooves and gentle melody in Pras‘ voice as Mars Red Sky reveal a more ambitious scope than the first album could have presented and yet couldn’t exist without that first album behind it.

Their combination of heft and float has proven a major point of influence across multiple niches within heavy rock, psychedelia and doom, but it’s the active nature of the progression across Stranded in Arcadia that’s most striking; the sense that, having gotten their feet under them, they were ready to begin their journey in earnest, and both Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) and The Task Eternal have felt like they have more in common with the second LP than its predecessor. They went from having their original idea for making the record bureaucratically pulled out from under them to giving themselves a model to work from on their third and fourth full-lengths. As regards turning lemons into lemonade, gambling and winning, that’s pretty god damned impressive.

If I say it doesn’t seem like it’s been so long since Stranded in Arcadia was released, take that as a sign of my enduring affection for it, which I’ll make no attempt to hide. I recall hearing “The Light Beyond” for the first time, not really knowing what to expect after Be My Guide and the self-titled, and being summarily blown away by the uptick in breadth. You won’t hear me say a bad word about the debut — at all. ever. ever. ever. — but the pivot in Stranded in Arcadia‘s material and the use it makes of what Mars Red Sky had already established as the tenets of their approach is still stunning. Yes, I’ve belabored the point, but it feels justified to say this would’ve been a brave record to make in the best of conditions. They turned it into a defining statement of intent and one of the best albums of the 2010s. It’s a great story and an even greater album. How and why would you not celebrate such a thing?

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

The moral of this week, I suppose, is that everything is easier when The Patient Mrs. is around. Not new learning, necessarily, but reinforced by her Spring Break this week. We got more cabinets hung in the kitchen — one of the doors is too low; my fault of course — and moved the fridge to where we eventually want it to be, etc. Has not been a fast process, but we’ve done more in the last three weeks than probably in the six months prior, so not bad. At least there are cabinets now. I put plates in them. And so on.

A little scattershot this morning, I guess. It was a pretty effective work-week for me in terms of writing. A little extra time here and there as a result of the aforementioned Spring Break doing wonders generally for my state of being. I’ve still been getting up before the alarm — yesterday a little before 2:30AM, today just after 3AM — but I’m also asleep by 9PM barring disaster, so you know, you get by. But I’m all over the place today. It’s just after 4:20AM and I’ve been back and forth between email, FB messages, putting together a Questionnaire to go up on Monday — which I’ve managed to finish — listening to Les Nadie, looking up info on Dopelord (who are the next PostWax band I need to write about), reading about AI, downloading a bunch of records I need to check out, the myriad mental interludes of the internet, and so on. I need to get my second cup of coffee, so a sojourn to the kitchen is the thing that will hopefully renew my focus. Distraction, you say, between here and there? Possible. I might just end up emptying the dishwasher midsentence at the rate I’m going.

To wit, the point of the paragraph above was that I actually managed to write the piece above about Mars Red Sky yesterday (Thursday) after finishing the Dun Ringill video premiere, and I can’t remember the last time I actually did the writing for a Friday Full-Length before Friday morning. It was easier since Dun Ringill was just writing about one song, and I had most of the back end already set up to roll, but still. But I didn’t do shit yesterday afternoon, and I don’t really plan on doing shit this afternoon either, so yeah. If I’m in that position today it’s because it was a pretty smooth week leading up to it. There’ll probably be like six new album releases I want to put up today. The one my brain goes back to is ‘Electric Wizard Announce New Album‘ from 2016. That’s become my shorthand for some-shit-I-should-post-now. The numbers seem to have been erased, but that post is one of the most shared in the history of this site. It had over 10,000 likes on FB or something. I’ve only hit that mark once or twice. Shame to see it gone, actually, but these things are flimsy on the internet.

Part of the trouble of having a bunch of stuff I need to hear is that I can’t stop listening to the new Ruff Majik album. It’s one of those. Even when I’m not actually playing it, the songs are running through my mental jukebox. A good problem to have, to be sure, but a hard standard for other records to meet in terms of my mental priority. A couple times a year I get hit with records like that. Last year, Author & Punisher and Caustic Casanova were the two that most come readily to mind — records that just had to be heard over and over and over and over, like I’m watching my favorite videos as a kid, Spaceballs or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or whatever it was. Secret of the Ooze. My retro arcade has the original Turtles in Time on it. I’m very much looking to dive into that.

See? All over the fucking place. Started that paragraph talking about Ruff Majik, ended with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s about where my head is at. All this free time. I got to shower before the alarm would’ve gone off, which felt like a luxury, and I’ve now finished my coffee before the first post of the day is still up. That’ll be the aforementioned Dun Ringill. Then the Lazy Bones announcement that came out the other day on socials. Then maybe Høstsabbat or the Gimme wrap. The day proceeds.

Oh yeah, Gimme show today, 5PM Eastern: http://gimmemetal.com to listen.

I’m not sure if you can chat through the web interface, but it’s kind of cool on the app. Last time was really good. I have the feeling this one’s going to be dead. Longer songs. So it goes. Can’t all be radio hits all the time or there’s no point.

Next week, on Monday a new single from Ape Machine and the aforementioned Les Nadie, a full stream for their bonus-track-inclusive reissue on however many labels it was. I can double up because the Les Nadie was already reviewed so that won’t be a full writeup, but I wanted to feature the record anyway because it’s so good. Les Nadie and Moodoom have me wondering if there’s a new generation taking over in Argentina, which would be awesome. Something to keep an eye on over the next couple years, though South America’s pretty much a constant stream of quality heavy largely overlooked by the gringo world because it’s not in English. Whatever. I guess I care less about that than some.

So that’s Monday. Tuesday an interview with Keith Gibbs and Craig Riggs of Sasquatch. First non-Questionnaire interview I’ve done in months, and if it was a band I hadn’t been covering for the better part of 20 years it would probably have been a disaster, but, you know. They’re friendly guys. Wednesday a premiere for The Crooked Whispers. Thursday is Oreyeon, who are always fun and weird to write about. And Friday, on its release day, I’ll review the Acid King record. I had wanted to do that earlier but moved it due to other timely stuff. That’s how it goes. Things that don’t have to be on a specific day always end up getting moved, falling through the cracks, etc. I do my best, but soon enough my head is back to Turtles in Time, and that’s that.

Pretty sure I’m finishing with fewer emails than I started the week, though, which is a definite win.

But it’s 5:05AM now and The Patient Mrs. is up and The Pecan just came downstairs so I guess it’s time to get the party started. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, watch your head, hydrate. You know the drill. Back here on Monday.


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Saturnalia Temple Post “Gravity” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Saturnalia Temple (Photo by Fredrik Eytzinger)

Swedish dark cultists Saturnalia Temple released their Gravity album in 2020 on Listenable Records, and thereby plunged their audience deep into a murk of charred psychedelic resin and ritual-as-more-than-sales-pitch-for-riffs vibes. It’s not that the record was confused at all, just working on its own level entirely, and you can still hear that in the title-track, for which they’re streaming a video below, having premiered it in some unknowable past however many weeks and lifetimes ago.

The goth organ, the fuzz riff, the gurgling vocals adding a sense of the extreme to go with the fluidity of the rhythm — it is a niche into which Saturnalia Temple have not so much settled as constructed, their progression across three full-lengths like a movement downward into something unknown and unknowable. They’re still songwriting — “Gravity” has a chorus, a structure to its verses and follows a memorable, rolling nod — but the context in which that’s taking place is otherworldly, spiritual in its way, and willfully apart from standard genre tenets even as it pulls from various sides.

This Spring, Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson took part in the Roadburn Redux commissioned piece ‘Her True Nature’ by The Nest, featuring members of Wolvennest alongside fellow guests from DOOLPrimordialDread Sovereign and The Ruins of Beverast. That video was directed by M. from A Thousand Lost Civilizations, as is the clip for “Gravity” here, which brings together live footage of the band in manipulated, kaleidoscopic form, flashing color and seeing instruments become polygonal shapes, intertwining, moving; the visual message of the ritualization of sound only appropriate for the song it complements. Together they offer due transportation.


Saturnalia Temple, “Gravity” official video

Tommie Eriksson on “Gravity”:

Gravity was written before all the world went mad, but now seems very prophetic. I aimed to describe and channel the spiritual strife of the initiatory path and how it often is at odds with the mundane world. We are very pleased to release the title song in a powerful and visually engaging as well as hypnotic video made by our talented collaborator Maia from A Thousand Lost Civilizations. The only way is in, into yourself, all other roads are blocked.

Title track from Saturnalia Temple’s Gravity album. Released on Listenable Records.

Video by M – A Thousand Lost Civilizations 2021

All Rights Reserved.

Saturnalia Temple is:
Tommie Eriksson – Vocals, Guitar.
Peter Karlsson – Bass.
Kennet Granholm – Drums

Saturnalia Temple website

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Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Facebook

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King Witch Post Video for “Children of the Sea” Black Sabbath Cover

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

king witch (Photo by Alan Swan)

There aren’t a lot of singers out there I’d be interested to hear take on a track originally vocalized by Ronnie James Dio, but Laura Donnelly of King Witch — whose voice contains enough power and classic metal righteousness at any given moment to reactivate the volcano under Castle Rock — is one of them. King Witch released their second album, Body of Light (review here), last year through Listenable Records, and thereby built upon the epic foundations laid forth on 2018’s Under the Mountain (review here), striking into purposefully grandiose territory with the brashness of true heavy metal. Some would call covering Dio-era Black Sabbath heresy on its face. What could possibly be more metal than that?

The results are admirable, as the video below demonstrates. Donnelly, guitarist/producer Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Rory Lee and drummer Lyle Brown begin by pulling Sabbath‘s Heaven and Hell off the LP shelf — I spy a copy of Alice in ChainsDirt on there as well; another all-time personal favorite — and then set to unfurling their own version of the track, nailing the deceptively speedy tempo that creates the tension ultimately paid off in the song’s final section. Hitting the notes as required, Donnelly puts her own spin on the delivery just the same, as one would hope, and comes across as trained, professional, and up to the significant task before her. Among the number of pandemic-era cover clips — can’t do shows, gotta do something, could do much worse than recording yourself playing music you like and sharing — King Witch stand out in production quality as well as sheer audacity.

Both are well worthy of respect. So, respect.


King Witch, “Children of the Sea” official video

Black Sabbath’s Children of the Sea is the first track in King Witch’s forthcoming two part digital covers EP “Worship the Riffs” which was recorded in December 2020 during lockdown.

“We are all huge fans of Black Sabbath and this song is just so epic. It was a great way for us as a band to connect and have a bit of fun during lockdown. We very much hope we do it justice and we hope you enjoy it.”

Keep it heavy – Keep it loud!

Originally performed by Black Sabbath.
Composer/Author: Butler Terrence, Padavona Ronald, Iommi Anthony Frank, Ward W T.
Published by Essex Music International Inc, Niji Music

Produced, mixed & mastered by Jamie Gilchrist (https://www.facebook.com/namelesscitysound?)

Video creation & Artwork by Laura Donnelly (https://www.facebook.com/lauradonnellyart?)

King Witch are :
Laura Donnelly – Vocals
Jamie Gilchrist – Guitar
Rory Lee – Bass
Lyle Brown – Drums

King Witch, Body of Light (2021)

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Listenable Records website

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Mars Red Sky Post “Hollow King” Official Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky (photo by Rob Maurice)

Bordeaux heavy psychedelic progressives Mars Red Sky recently announced a couple of weekenders in their native France, the first of which is set for this weekend. I have no idea if that’s still happening or how it might play out given the EU’s turn toward further lockdown measures following a cold-weather-and-everyone’s-apparently-tired-of-masks spike in COVID-19 cases. What I do know — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — is I really, really miss going to shows. It’s been 10 months since I’ve been in a venue! That’s insane. Even at my most hermit-like, I don’t think I ever went this long.

Mars Red Sky did a couple live streams in June (review here), but they’re clearly hankering too. Not only can you tell from the fact that they’re bothering to book dates at all, let alone maybe even play them, but also their new video for “Hollow King” from 2019’s The Task Eternal (review here) is a recorded live performance of the song. They did it during soundcheck before playing a gig in Dijon last month. Close your eyes and visualize a time when that would be no big deal. Can you?

Bottom line: I love this song. I dug this record a lot and this band remains pretty frickin’ special. I hope to see them on stage again someday.

Enjoy the video:

Mars Red Sky, “Hollow King” official live video

Bordeaux-based psychedelic rockers MARS RED SKY unveil bold new live video “Hollow King” – recorded a few hours before their latest show in Dijon, France. The track is taken from their new album ‘The Task Eternal’, out on Mrs Red Sound and Listenable Records.

MARS RED SKY’s new live video “Hollow King” highlights the band’s unique sounding, propelled by a pachydermic rhythm section, ethereal vocals, enthralling riffs and meaningful lyrics. Video recorded live in La Vapeur, Dijon (France) by Sébastien from Faits-Divers. “Hollow king” is taken from the album “The task Eternal’ (2019), recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

06.11.20 BESANÇON (25) La Rodia
07.11.20 CHALON-SUR-SAÔNE (71) Théâtre de Chalon-sur-Saône / LaPéniche (portes 18h30 – concert 19h)
08.11.20 BOURG-EN-BRESSE (01) La Tannerie (portes 17h – concert 17h30)
25.03.21 LYON (69) L’Épicerie Moderne / salle musiques actuelles
26.03.21 MULHOUSE (68) Noumatrouff avec Witchfinder
27.03.21 STRASBOURG (67) La Laiterie Artefact

Julien Pras : guitar, vocals
Jimmy Kinast : bass, vocals
MatGaz : drums, vocals

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal (2019)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

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