Anathema Announce “Indefinite Hiatus”

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

##Report Writing Help jobs Writing Jobs Today | write essays for money jobs Online Writing Anathema hit 30 years of existence in 2020, and apparently they’ve seen enough. And while there’s a part of me that definitely began the first draft of this post by asking “what’s the point of anything anymore?,” I get it. Over the course of their decades together after being founded in 1990 by brothers dissertation in media maya angelou essays format for thesis paper Vincent and Custom Essay Canada - Dissertations, essays and research papers of highest quality. professional writers, exclusive services, instant delivery and Danny Cavanagh, the band evolved from death-doom to moody post-goth dark heaviness and came out the other side with an increasingly progressive and melodic reach. They never put out the same record twice — all the more of a feat because their last album, 2017’s Searching for Custom Made Powerpoint Presentation For College? You have found the webs leading service of quality and inexpensive essay writing. Get professional essay writing The Optimist (review here), was a sequel to 2001’s Dissertation Proofreading Services And Editing - Instead of having trouble about research paper writing find the needed assistance here Leave your papers to the most talented A Fine Day to Exit — and they never lost their commitment to genuine expression of where they were at the time.

I can only speak as a fan. They were among the first truly underground bands that resonated with me. First exposure was 1998’s  Our deliver unique PhD thesis solutions that are written according to your requirements so that you may get your PhD degree Alternative 4 (discussed here), and that, along with 1999’s best buy customer service resume How To Define A Word In An Essay race and ethnicity essay websites taht help you with homework Judgement, Get on board with Essays Tigers Starting A Mail Order Plant Businesss for essay writing service UK & essay help, get amazing discount on you all orders of essay A Fine Day to Exit and 2003’s You can use custom essay writing service for a small price and ask them hop over to here. A Natural Disaster (reissues reviewed here), remain essential works to which I return with fair regularity. Long years between People write research essays in order to - No more Fs with our top writing services. experienced scholars working in the service will fulfil your task within theHow to write a research paper outline example . Under this research, the artisans are other with the games of the, in which top programs fulfilled communities toPeople writeorderresearch essays inwell.order to. A Fine Day to Exit and 2010’s  Seek essay ghostwriter? Get ahead this year by relying on our Buying A Dissertation Questionnaire! Our benefits: fast turnaround, 100% originality, strict quality control We’re Here Because We’re Here (discussed here) brought stark changes in perspective — they “got happy,” to put it as simply as possible — but their identity as a group was still intact.

And the decade that followed with releases on essay mental disorders share term papers not working after school i do my homework in french do my homework net Peaceville Records imprint  to write a thesis Business Plan Writers Oregon good proposal writing mexican american war essay Kscope, whether it was 2012’s  Are you looking for someone to do homework for money? If yes then you have come to the right place. TFTH is one of the best website on the Weather Systems (review here), 2014’s  P.121: p.120: The best multimedia instruction on the web to help you basics and answers with your Algebra & Geometry homework and study Distant Satellites The Optimist or various live outings, compilations and redux works like 2011’s Falling Deeper (review here) — a follow-up to 2008’s Hindsight — offered riches of its own for those with minds willing to make the journey with the band. Fans had their favorite eras. I know a few who swear by their first three records — 1993’s Serenades, 1995’s The Silent Enigma and 1996’s Eternity — and nothing else. As one looks back on the arc of their now-apparently-ended career, I’m not sure it matters.

For what it’s worth, Vincent Cavanagh appears on the new Crippled Black Phoenix record, and this is an “indefinite hiatus,” so if they’re able to tour again, they might pick up a few years down the line, but if they’re taking the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the creative world as a whole and on them as people as a cue to make their own exit, well, they do so with no less grace than one would have to expect.

Their announcement follows:

anathema done

Anathema, “A Natural Disaster” from A Sort of Homecoming

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Mugstar Stream “Zeta Potential”; GRAFT LP Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you listen to and then whole bunches of other bands make sense. Like The Heads. See also, Mugstar. The Liverpudlian troupe have been in the spacefaring business for nigh on 17 years, which if you’re keeping track, puts them well ahead of the current wave of what’s being kinda-laughably called neo-psych. Their new album, GRAFT, will see issue through Centripetal Force and Cardinal Fuzz Records on Oct. 30, and to go with preorders, they’re currently streaming the track “Zeta Potential,” which you can hear below.

To go with that, you’ll also find the collaborative outing the four-piece put out earlier this year with Damo Suzuki of progressive rock legends Can through Weird Beard Records. Different vibe, obviously, but it’s another chance to bliss out for 40 minutes and I don’t really see where you’d lose.


mugstar graft


Presale Date: September 25, 2020
Release Date: October 30, 2020

Centripetal Force (North America) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK/Europe) are excited to announce the upcoming release of Mugstar’s GRAFT, the follow up album to their much-lauded live collaboration with Can’s Damo Suzuki released earlier this year. The album is being presented in a 600 copy vinyl pressing, 250 of which will be on deep red vinyl and made available for preorder on September 25th. GRAFT’s release date is October 30th.

UK space rockers Mugstar have been hurtling through the sonic multiverse since 2003 and have left an extensive discography in their wake. Early on, the band caught the attention of the late John Peel, taking part in one of the last editions of his famed Peel Sessions. From there, the band has compiled an impressive run of releases and solidified their reputation for powerfully hypnotic live performances.

After experimenting with longer form compositions on 2016’s Magnetic Seasons (Rock Action Records), GRAFT’s six song journey sees Mugstar return to a more focused work ethic, a move resulting in a sound that is fraught with tension and caters to one of their biggest strengths, the ability to consistently create, sustain, and, ultimately, diffuse drama. This is an effect well-executed on tracks like “Zeta Potential” and “Star Cage.” And even on an album where a tighter approach was a priority, Mugstar still finds plenty of room to improvise and allow for creative exploration, as illustrated on “Ghost of a Ghost” and “Low, Slow Horizon.” Looking back at Mugstar’s catalog, it is remarkable to see the path they have travelled and how GRAFT continues their bold advance into the future. We think you’ll agree.

Mugstar, GRAFT (2020)

Mugstar & Damo Suzuki, Live at the Invisible Wind Factory (2020)

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Five Essential Records of the Skyhammer Studio Era

Posted in Features on July 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

skyhammer studio chris fielding feet

Skyhammer Studio operated between August 2013 and February 2019, and in that five-plus-year period, became the essential recording space of UK heavy. Founded in the village of Childer Thornton by Conan guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis and producer and Conan bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding — who had already made a name for himself at Foel Studios, working with Electric Wizard, Primordial, and others — it marked a moment of arrival and self-sufficiency for the UK underground that was already booming with homegrown acts before and since the advent of Desertfest in 2012.

In more extreme fare, one hears about Sunlight Studio as an anchor of the Swedish death metal sound. I firmly believe that in the years the come, the ‘Skyhammer Sound’ — a particular blend of tectonic tonal weight and spaciousness — will be viewed in much the same way, and that Fielding‘s work behind the board for a wide swath of bands has helped define the current generation of UK-based heavy bands as much as any band’s influence newer groups might be working under.

Since Skyhammer closed, Fielding has continued his work back at Foel — one very much looks forward to the next LP from Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, which he’ll produce there — but with the easy encapsulation that considering a Skyhammer-era makes, it seems only appropriate now that it’s been more than year since it ended to take a look at some of the most essential albums that came out of that place and that time.

It’s not an easy list to choose from, and I admit, part of the impetus behind doing this was to get a complete (or as complete as possible) list of the releases that came out of Skyhammer. You’ll note the headline doesn’t say “The Five Essential…” and that’s for good reason. The list Fielding was kind enough to send over when I asked for it is staggering, and from Coltsblood and The Wounded Kings to Alunah and Stubb and Pist to Bismarck, it shows not only how Skyhammer became a defining point for UK heavy, but reached beyond those borders as well.

I’m not going to tell you not to chase down anything you see below — or even to catch ’em all, Pokemon-style — but I’ve set the goal for myself to pick five, so that’s what I’m sticking to.

Here goes, alphabetized by year:

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)

serpent venom of things seen and unseen

I mean, how do you say no to this? Serpent Venom, along with fellow Skyhammer vets Iron Void, connect the studio right into the mainline vein of classic British doom. Serpent Venom‘s 2014 outing, Of Things Seen and Unseen (review here) gracefully blends those stylistic impulses with a richness to tone that gives the vocals a genuine space in which to reside, and though relatively speaking it was earlier days for Skyhammer, Fielding had already long since proved the room could capture a huge sound. Serpent Venom made the most of it. Now if only they might be somehow convinced to do a follow-up.

Undersmile, Anhedonia (2015)

undersmile anhedonia

Yeah, okay. I’ll admit that Oxfordshire four-piece Undersmile are somewhat on the brain after their late-2019 reunion, but with their 2015 album, Anhedonia (review here) — released on Jon DavisBlack Bow Records, in addition to being recorded at Skyhammer — the band demonstrated that not only could gargantuan, tidal-proportioned riffs find their way to tape at the studio, but also that a corresponding melodic resonance could take place. Listen to the vocal harmonies. And listen to the open-feeling space in which they reside, even early in album-opener “Labyrinths.” The point is made quickly through genuine immersion, and while of course the band’s songwriting has to get a massive credit for that, their choice of producer and studio definitely plays in as well.

Conan, Revengeance (2016)

conan revengeance

Obviously a Conan record needs to be on this list, and really, take your pick from among the three they recorded there. There’s no wrong answer. Fielding had produced Conan at Foel since their first EP, but 2016’s Revengeance (review here) marked his first appearance in the band as bassist/vocalist, so that’s why I chose it. Of course that and it’s fucking crushing, but again, Conan did 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here) and 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) at Skyhammer too. They all bear the mark of records made in a studio built to suit the band’s express purposes. In fact, screw keeping the list to five. Just listen to all three.

Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (2016)

slomatics future echo returns

Another Black Bow release, and god damn, I love this record. Future Echo Returns (review here) was the last installment of a trilogy for Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Slomatics, and they could hardly have brought that particular storyline to a close in grander fashion. The sheer plod of the riffs and the reaches that their synth and melodies covered seemed to show the best of what Skyhammer could do with something truly bone-shakingly loud. From the depths of its somehow-bassless low end to the effects spreading out across the 10-minute closer “Into the Eternal,” Future Echo Returns, like Revengeance earlier that year, was just a case of the absolute right band with the absolute right producer. Slomatics also did songs for two splits at Skyhammer, with Holly Hunt and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, which brings me to…

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn (2019)

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Issued through New Heavy Sounds, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s 2019 third full-length, Yn Ol I Annwn (review here), is a cosmic sci-fi doom masterstroke. Part of what it emphasizes is similar to Slomatics — the blend of space and weight — but especially in the case of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s latest offering, it’s right down to the sheer impact of the drums. Yeah, the tones are there, and of course Jessica Ball‘s vocals add a lushness that plays to the otherworldly themes around which the album is based, but hell’s bells, those drums sound incredible. How many snare sounds can you really call “thick?” Yn Ol I Annwn seemed to find new depths and new reaches alike for Skyhammer, affirming the studio’s strengths and pushing its limits beyond where they’d gone before.

10 More for the Hell of It:

Coltsblood, Into the Unfathomable Abyss
Stubb, Cry of the Ocean
Hooded Menace, Darkness Drips Forth
The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
Alunah, Solennial
Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch
Iron Void, Excalibur
Slomatics/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Totems
Bismuth, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef
Belzebong, Light the Dankness

Let’s be honest. They’re not all going to be gold, right? And I’m not going to sit here and tell you everything Fielding helmed at Skyhammer is a future classic your grandkids are going to ask you about. That’s just unrealistic. But Skyhammer became an epicenter for UK (and beyond) heavy, and whether it was a rock band like Stubb looking to draw out new soul in their sound or an absolute mauler like BongCauldron trying to maximize the onslaught of their sludge, Skyhammer was able to help make good bands better.

I said already that Fielding has continued and will continue to produce bands at Foel Studios, and I want to say it again, if only to point out that while the Skyhammer era may be over, both Fielding and the UK heavy underground continue to flourish and realize material of staggering quality and sonic variety.

Straight from Fielding‘s notes, here’s the Skyhammer discography:

Skyhammer Studio Discography:

Bast – Spectres
Throne – Where Tharsis Sleeps
Coltsblood – Into The Unfathomable Abyss
Nathicana – Dark Spirits And Violence
Serpent Venom – Of Things Seen And Unseen
Conan – Blood Eagle
Ageless Oblivion – Penthos
Mononoke – Tom Finigan
Jonny Keeley – Fallen Trees
Intensive Square – Anything That Moves
Green Horn – Doomhawk
Pist – Riffology
Stubb – Cry Of The Ocean
Northern Oak – Of Roots And Flesh
Abomnium – Solace For The Condemned
Electric Wizard – Time To Die
Kill All The Gentlemen – Rebellion
Masochist – Condemned To Grovel
Winterfylleth – The Divination Of Antiquity
Headless Kross – Volumes
Slomatics – Ulysses, My Father
Yanomamo – Minions
SSS – Limp. Gasp. Collapse
Mage – Last Orders
Nuclear Weasels – Bring To Mind
Greenhorn – Like Rows Of Crooked Teeth
Dead Existence – Endless Misery
Of Spire & Throne – Sanctum In The Light
Undersmile – Anhedonia
The Bendal Interlude – Reign Of The Unblinking Eye
Burning Flag S/T & Izabel
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Noeth Ac Anoeth
1968 – EP
Iron Void – Doomsday
Witchsorrow – No Light, Only Fire
Latitudes – Old Sunlight
Hooded Menace – A View From The Rope (Split Release w/Loss)
Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth
Darkest Era – An Dagda
Bismuth – Unavailing
The Wounded Kings – Visions In Bone
Conan – Revengeance
Boss Keloid – Herb Your Enthusiasm
Garganjua – A Voyage In Solitude
Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter
Pist – Rhythm & Booxe
Mourning Beloveth – Rust & Bone
Kill All The Gentlemen – The Faustian Delusion
Hung On Horns – Slaves
Sons Of Balaur – Tenebris Deos
Battalions – Nothing To Lose
Warcrab – Scars Of Aeons
Slomatics – Future Echo Returns
XII Boar – Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops
Razor Sharp Death Blizzard – You Will Burn
1968 – Fortuna Havana
Tides Of Sulphur – Extinction Curse
Farseer – Fall Before The Dawn
Iron Witch – A Harrowed Dawn
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Y Proffwyd Dwyll
Dorre/Bethmoora – Split 12”
Widows – Oh Deer God
Coltsblood – Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness
Nine Covens – Single
Foetal Juice – Masters Of Absurdity
BongCauldron – Binge
Monolith Cult – Gospel Of Despair
Alunah – Solennial
Mage – Green
Bismuth – Split w/Gnaw Their Tongues & Split w/Legion Of Andromeda
Dirt Forge – Soothsayer
Burning Flag – Izabel
Grey Widow – II
Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad
Stubb – Burning Moon Single
Abomnium – A Hollow Path
Battalions – Moonburn
DDENT – Toro
Twelve Boar – No Forgiveness
Godeater – Outerstellar
Garganjua – Through The Void
Winterfylleth – The Hallowing Of Heirdom
Witchsorrow – Hexenhammer
Kill All The Gentlemen – The Loss And The Rapture
Boss Keloid – Melted On The Inch
Iron Void – Excalibur
Conan – Existential Void Guardian
Eliminator – Last Horizon
Celtachor – Fiannaiocht
Slomatics/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Totems
Bismuth – The Slow Dying Of The Great Barrier Reef
Indica Blues – Hymns For A Dying Realm
Bismarck – Urkraft
Bast – Nanoangstrom
Kurokuma – Dope Rider
Jo Quail – Exsolve
Necronautical – Apotheosis
Latitudes – Part Islands
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
Barbarian Hermit – Solitude And Savagery
WarCrab – Damned In Endless Night
Orbital Junction – EP
Battalions – Forever Marching Backwards
NNRA – Incarne
Alunah – Amber & Gold
Ungraven – Language Of Longing
Dorre – Fall River
Belzebong – Light The Dankness
Mourning Beloveth – Split w/Ruins Of Beverast
Atavist – III: Absolution
Duskwood – The Long Dark
Mage – Key to the Universe
Bismarck – Oneiromancer
Madmess – ST

Skyhammer Studio on Thee Facebooks

Skyhammer Studio website

Foel Studio on Thee Facebooks

Foel Studio website

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Ungraven Add Live Drummer; Playing Desertfest Belgium

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The fact that Conan‘s Jon Davis has a couple shows coming up, including Desertfest Belgium, with Ungraven and has added a drummer to what was formerly just a solo affair is some deceptively telling news. Anyone who has ever seen a list of Conan tour dates or heard any of the string of records Davis has released through his Black Bow imprint or been even moderately aware of his Blackskull Services management company — also I think he was driving bands around on tour for a while there — knows he’s not the type to do something half-assed. If he’s getting a drummer for Ungraven, it’s because he’s got longer-term plans than just the next couple weeks. Maybe I’m wrong, but that kind of says to me he’s thinking of taking it on tour.

Hardest working person in doom? Yeah, he just might be. I’m not sure who else has so much on their plate.

From the PR wire:



Jon Davis, (Conan) is pleased to announce that he will be playing live shows with his solo project UNGRAVEN. He will be joined by Tyler Hodges of Tuskar on drums for all future live dates.

So far the duo is confirmed to play both Desertfest Belgium and Aalborg in Denmark.

Both dates will be in support of the recently released of the debut release “The Language of Longing” which was released a few months ago.

Jon commented “Delighted to welcome Tyler Hodges to the lineup. He really gets what I’m trying to do with this material-Together we are UNGRAVEN!”

He further commented on The Language of Longing “I am a huge fan of Fudge Tunnel, Ministry, Godflesh, Sepultura and Nailbomb. I fell in love with ‘For All Those Who Died’ by Bathory on Headbangers Ball and also the ‘Speed Kills’ comp. Since then I have referenced these bands in some of Conan’s material. With Ungraven I pay homage to the industrial sounds emanating from Birmingham in the 90s with a few other influences that I’ve been obsessing over for a while. It’s super heavy but sightly different from what I have done so far.”

Listen to The EP here:

Ungraven, Language of Longing (2019)

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Conan to Release Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle Picture Discs

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan


These exist and are out on Black Bow Records in November. I’m guessing that if you’ve ever heard either of these superlatively heavy offerings from Conan, that’s probably all the info you need. If you’d like some more though, you might chew on the fact that they come with hand-written lyric sheets or that they’re super-limited in number or that the albums fucking rule or whatever else you want. Or maybe you’d like to do what I’m doing, which is basically use this post as an excuse to spend an hour or two with some of the most righteous riffs the last decade has produced? Yeah, that’s kind of what I figured.

It’s fucking Conan. What more do you want?

Conan to release picture disc versions of classic albums

Legendary British doom band CONAN are pleased to announce that they will release limited edition picture discs of their classic albums Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle.

Both albums are set to be released in November 2019.

Order Horseback Battle Hammer via Big Cartel:

Or Bandcamp:

4 brutally heavy slabs of Caveman Battle Doom. Thought of by some as a key moment in the resurgence of ‘modern day’ doom metal.

Picture disks are regular vinyl records but through the middle of the pressed record is a paper sheet with the artwork on. On some picture disks the sound can be less than perfect, but only with certain coloured vinyl and these do not fall into that category.


Order Blood Eagle via Big Cartel:

Or Bandcamp:

Blood Eagle is one of Conan’s finest moments. Adding motion and pace to the bludgeoning of Monnos, it quickly rose to the top of most learned doom fan’s lists.

Here we have a ltd edition picture disk copy, in heavy duty plastic sleeve.


Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer (2010)

Conan, Blood Eagle (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was only four songs — “Krull,” “Satsumo,” “Dying Giant” and “Sea Lord” — but Conan‘s 2010 EP, Horseback Battle Hammer (review here), was nothing less than a breakthrough, for doom as much as for them as a part of it. The UK-based trio had issued the Battle in the Swamp demo in 2007 and another demo in 2010, but their work on the first EP was the type to earn immediate hyperbole because it was so hyperbolic. It was the omega doom. The doom to end all doom. None heavier. Everyone go home. Conan wins. It’s over. Even today, as a whole league of acts have picked up on their tonal cues and attempted to manifest a similar affect, one can count on a hand the number who’ve managed to do so while manifesting such a sense of utter triumph.

Because that’s the thing about Conan‘s earlier work that often gets lost in the story of how heavy they were. They weren’t just heavy — they were also about heavy. Conan conquered and told tales of conquest. “Worship Krull, within the mountain,” “Bodies flow to the bottom,” “Oceans of graves ebb and flow,” “Sea be lifted sithen” — these lines about struggle and death, worship and the ocean seemed to rise up out of the very murk Conan were creating with their instruments. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, whose voice even then had a surprisingly melodic timbre even in its shouts on “Sea Lord,” with bassist/vocalist John Paul McNulty (now of Coltsblood) and drummer Paul O’Neill, Conan‘s very mission from the start seemed to be to throw down that gauntlet of heavy. From the very launch of “Krull” from the initial wash of cymbals, the focus was clear on what Conan were doing. ‘Heavy’ wasn’t just a tool in their arsenal; it was the foundation of their aesthetic, and they cast it out with superlative revelry, creating a sound that was extreme in its darkness without being a heavy metal caricature and genuinely broadening the scope of what weighted tonality could accomplish.

I don’t think that’s overstating it. Davis has said on multiple occasions he was working under a heavy Slomatics influence, and yeah, that story checks out, and one could likewise argue he was playing to some degree off Floor‘s prior harvesting of the “bomb tone,” but even so, what he did with that influence was his own from the start, and that’s written all over the ensuing rumble of Horseback Battle Hammer. And it’s easy to paint him as the auteur of Conan because he’s the lone remaining original member, but from the swing in O’Neill‘s drumming as “Krull” picked up the tempo at its finish and moved into the holy-shit-did-that-just-happen roll of “Satsumo,” to the tradeoffs made to the lower-register shouts from McNulty — a model Conan would follow with subsequent bassists Phil Coumbe and Chris Fielding — the complete band contributed to the onslaught at all times. “Dying Giant” was a perfect example as McNulty took the forward vocal role at the midpoint and the whole band seemed to emerge from the willful muck of that cut’s early going — not to mention the far-back gutturalisms that pervaded from there and the final surge, with accompanying double-kick from O’Neill.

conan horseback battle hammer

Was Conan metal? Oh yes. But instead of beating their chest to tell you about it, they were stomping your skull.

To wit, “Sea Lord.” The only cut on Horseback Battle Hammer to top 10 minutes, it started at an especially grueling pace and instead of taking off at any point, it really just descended into noise and became even filthier by the close. It took its own extremity, its own inaccessibility, and turned it into a clarion, and not only did it do so at just the right time to capture the attention of an emerging mobile social media landscape — something out of the band’s direct control, but which they’ve made work for them just the same — but it came from a place that was for the underground by the underground in a way the previous generation of acts simply couldn’t have been. Conan were something new when something new was needed, and their work was unto itself in its execution and rawness, its purposefully simple, impressionistic lyrics telling stories of violence in lines that sometimes didn’t need to be more than one or two words as the telling itself became so much a part of the narrative, with voices buried under a wall of riffs that other bands are still trying to climb. You listened to it and knew it was something special. I think you still do.

The vinyl was on Throne Records and the first CD on Aurora Borealis, but Horseback Battle Hammer has been reissued a couple times, including by Head of Crom RecordsConan‘s current label Napalm Records and Davis‘ own Black Bow Records, so it’s readily available (like on Bandcamp; see above). Of course, Conan released their split with Slomatics (review here) and then signed to Napalm before offering their debut full-length, Monnos (review here), in 2012. From there, the world was pretty much theirs for the spoils. They toured hard in Europe and set a foundation of American fandom before crossing the Atlantic, and across their next three albums — 2014’s  Blood Eagle (review here), 2016’s Revengeance (review here) and last year’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) — they’d move away from some of the all-out tonal bludgeoning of Horseback Battle Hammer, but hold firm to the central modus the EP laid forth.

With Davis, Fielding on bass and Johnny King on drums, Conan just wrapped another string of US touring that included a stop to headline the final night of Maryland Doom Fest (review here), where yes, they dominated, and they’ll tour again this Fall in Europe, playing Desertfest Belgium, Heavy Psych Sounds FestSoulstone Gathering and much more besides. And even as Davis has begun to show off a ’90s noise fetish in Ungraven and founded the Blackskull Services management/promotion company, which he runs in addition to Black Bow Records — shooting for that “hardest working man in show business” thing — writing has also reportedly started on Conan‘s fifth long-player which is currently expected through Napalm in May 2020. Mark your calendars, kids.

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

Today at 1PM Eastern is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s a good one. Don’t miss out:

Holy crap there’s a lot going on next week. Here are the notes:


Busy. You know how it goes.

Feeling a little vulnerable after the essay I put up before, but I guess that’s to be expected. Week was up and down. We took off on Wednesday and went to watch the Yankees play the Diamondbacks with my oldest nephew and my cousin and mother-in-law and The Pecan, who I think had a good time. It started to rain in the middle of the game and we left. I was running with his stroller in the downpour with my cousin and nephew and it was a lot of fun. Something we’ll tell The Pecan about when he’s older and goes to games. He already knows the words “bat,” “ball” and “mitt.” He has a little tee in the living room and he hits balls off it and claps for himself. It’s awesome, though as yet I’m having trouble getting him to throw left-handed.

Always work for a lefty out of the bullpen. And if you can throw a knuckeball, you can live forever.

But hey, baseball, right?

Nice deflection.

I hope you enjoyed that Conan above. It’s kind of interesting to me to close out the week with records I wrote about a long time ago. I’ve been doing “Friday Full-Length” since like 2013 or something like that, and for a while I didn’t want to do anything from after I’d started the site, but yeah that’s pretty much gone out the window. There’s just too much out there to not, and when it’s something I reviewed at the time, it gives me a chance to look at it in a different context — as in this case — and I think that’s interesting. I hope you agree. Plus, there’s always other stuff I missed at the time and this gives me another shot at it. So yeah. As far as I’m concerned it’s all fair game now.

I’ve also started plotting out the next Quarterly Review. Five days so far and I’m going to see if I can’t keep it to that. I’m thinking Sept. 16-20, maybe? We’ll see.

Alright, that’s gonna do it for me. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks again for reading, please don’t forget the Gimme show if you get to check it out and please hit up the forum, Radio and merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Friday Full-Length: Anathema, Alternative 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Anathema, Alternative 4 (1998)


When I was 18 years old and working at KB Toys store number #1051 at the intersection of Rt. 10 and 202 in Morris Plains, NJ, about a minute from where I’ll be living from now on, a coworker turned me onto Anathema‘s Alternative 4. I bought the CD on his say-so, put it on, heard the piano intro to “Shroud of False” and absolutely didn’t get it. Made no sense to my brain. I tossed the disc into the back of my 1988 Ford Bronco II and it stayed there probably for a few weeks until I finally decided to give it a real shot, and when I did, it was one of my first and most pivotal engagements with underground music, and something that helped set me listening-wise on the course I’m still on today. That coworker kind of turned out to be an asshole, but didn’t we all.

Alternative 4 was indeed Anathema‘s fourth album and the last they’d issue during their original run on Peaceville Records, which had nursed them through their death-doom beginnings from 1992’s The Crestfallen EP across their 1993 debut, Serenades, 1995’s The Silent Enigma and Pentecost III EP and 1996’s Eternity. The band, who will mark their 30th anniversary in 2020 no doubt with form of some celebration or other, already seemed to be in transition by their third album, but it was the 10-song/44-minute Alternative 4 that would push that over the top. Guitarist Vincent Cavanagh had taken over the vocalist role from Darren White following Pentecost III, and that change would prove crucial to their direction on the whole, incorporating elements of goth emotionalist drama and a heavy hand of Floydian progressivism to go with their depressive themes and bouts of still-metal intensity.

But they weren’t just metal anymore, and their use of space in the recording, their arrangements of keys, and most of all their patience, demonstrated that. “Shroud of False” was the outset of one of the most powerful salvos I’ve ever heard on a record, with “Fragile Dreams,” “Empty” and “Lost Control” behind it varying in intensity but united in their depressive expression. Themes of loss, betrayal, disillusionment came to a head in the third anathema alternative 4track: “Nothing left but to kill myself again ‘cos I’m so empty,” but the build to that moment across “Fragile Dreams” and “Empty” itself was gorgeous and troubling in kind, the hook of “Fragile Dreams” serving as a downer clarion as the then-four-piece of Vincent Cavanagh, his brother Danny Cavanagh (lead guitar, keys), Duncan Patterson (bass, keys) and Shaun Taylor-Steels (drums) pushed some of Alternative 4‘s most fervent delivery to the front in order to branch out from there. The violin on “Lost Control” seemed a nod to their own death-hued past as well as to compatriots My Dying Bride, and the thrust in “Re-Connect” was more chaotic than that of “Fragile Dreams,” and purposefully so, but frenetic in a way that evoked the chaos of mania it seemed intended to convey.

Piano returned to introduce “Inner Silence” at the outset of side B as Vincent proved in a single track the vocalist he would ultimately become on subsequent outings, and Danny answered right back with a winding and meditative guitar lead. No verses or choruses or such, but an arrangement that bordered on the orchestral in its wash — particularly given the production of the era — and a perfect lead-in for the darker and brooding low of the title-track, with its multi-movement immersion and play toward minimalism. It and “Regret,” which follows, were the two longest tracks on Alternative 4 at 6:18 and 7:58, respectively, and their pairing was no coincidence, and though “Regret” would pick up from “Alternative 4” with a memorable chorus and a more structured feel on the whole, there’s no question the change in atmosphere brought the listener even deeper into the record’s bleak emotional landscape — “Visions of love and hate/A collage behind my eyes/Remnants of dying laughter/Echoes of silent cries,” the hook. Organ added to the melody as the band traded between loud and quiet parts in the second half and came around to what for me always seemed like the apex of the album, though “Feel” both continued the thread of organ and had more of a crashing end, a kind of anti-doom doom, riding out on fading progression that seemed foreboding even though it was followed by the brief “Destiny,” with its guitar and toy piano and vocal harmonies, a kind of epilogue that ended the record with a sincere-feeling moment of contemplation, underscoring that the point of the whole thing all along was the emotion, and that the moments of bombast were there to serve that as much as the songs themselves.

Some music just hits you at the right time. This is one of those records for me, and A Fine Day to Exit (reissue review here), which they’d release in 2001 after 1999’s Judgement, is among my favorite albums of any era. I wasn’t ready for Judgement on such a quick turnaround, but A Fine Day to Exit and 2003’s A Natural Disaster, which would be their final album until 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here (discussed here), remain essential in my view. Alternative 4 may be somewhat dated in its production, but the songs themselves hold up more than 20 years later, and the emotion behind them still resonates though it’s a direction Anathema have long since left behind in favor of flirtations with more modern prog and a brighter perspective on the whole. Fair enough, I guess. That change would come about on We’re Here Because We’re Here and continue on 2012’s Weather Systems (review here) and 2014’s Distant Satellites before 2017’s The Optimist (review here) picked up the story of A Fine Day to Exit and added fresh perspective at the same time it allowed itself to engage more of a range of styles of craft.

Anathema have never stopped progression. Each record is something different from the one before it, the one after — and don’t get me started on Hindsight or Falling Deeper — but their vision always charts a path forward from where they’ve, and Alternative 4, from as troubled a place as it seems to come, was a special moment for them that only happened once. As a listener, it was for me as well.

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

I don’t break out Anathema all the time. Especially not this record. Especially not in summer. This week though, coming down H-A-R-D as I have been from Maryland Doom Fest, we got there. That change, where you go back to real life after the thing, I just haven’t been able to get there. A lot of processing. A lot of sort of distant daydreaming. A lot of trying to distract myself and failing pretty hard at it. I don’t know. I’m just not there. I haven’t been sleeping. Was up at 2:30 this morning, 12:30 the other night, 1AM another night. Yesterday I slept I think. Hard to remember outside of the overall pattern of fucking self-loathing and wishing I was someone else.

When people say nice things to me, a voice in my head immediately contradicts. They don’t know me. They have some idea of me that’s not true. I’d like to be that. But that’s not who I am. I know who I am. Fucking wretched. I am not a good person. I do not appreciate or deserve the things and people I have in my life. It goes on and on. I take pills for it. I’ve been microdosing psilocybin mushrooms every other day for the last couple weeks and that’s made those days easier. But still. I look at my son and know I’ll fail him. Every time someone says he looks like me, I want to die. I look at my wife and know I let her down. I don’t deserve what I have. At all.


We’re in Connecticut this weekend, going back to Jersey on Sunday. I might go to the studio with Solace that day, as they were kind enough to invite me as they did nine years ago when they were finishing A.D., but it depends largely on timing. We’re also starting the Quarterly Review next week. I’ve slated it for six days, but there’s a bit of finagling to do, so whatever. I also need to do Postwax liner notes, send out interview questions to Tony Reed and The Mad Doctors (who are breaking up) and update a visa recommendation letter for Kadavar, so there’s some shit going on either way. Obviously this week I’ve been super-motivated to do anything other than bash my brain in with a fucking hammer.

Baggage claim. That’s mine. Least I can do is be honest about it.

Seriously, at Doom Fest, people said like the nicest shit to me. “Thanks for all you do,” and “How do you do it” and all that. You know how I do it? I’m fucking crazy, is how I do it. I’m compulsive in EVERYTHING. The same drive that used to have me getting drunk by myself at two in the morning? The same drive that punishes myself for, I don’t know, eating a meal? It’s the same fucking thing. It’s all part of my disgusting fucking brain. I’m 37 years old. I can’t even function. I can’t even chew gum like a human being. I’m supposed to raise a kid? I can feel myself poisoning everything around me.

Next week will be better. Will it? Yeah, it will. I’ll do the Quarterly Review and that’ll get me out of my head for a little bit, give me something to focus on. It’s just exhausting in the meantime.

I’m gonna pour myself another coffee and go watch the sunrise. Great, safe. Forum, radio, merch.

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Conan Announce Fall European Tour with Un & Sixes

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan


Conan have already hit the road hard this year, mostly the US where they’ve shared stages with Black Label Society, The Atomic Bitchwax and I don’t know how many others along the way. They’ll continue that thread starting in about two weeks at the Maryland Doom Fest — where I’m looking forward to seeing them — and they’ll do a run of headlining shows with Witchkiss after that, and now they’re announcing a headlining run with Un and Sixes for Europe this Fall that will begin at Desertfest Belgium on Oct. 20 and run through mid-November as they tear ass across the continent for the better part of a month.

My only question is whether they’ll have a new album out by the time that tour hits. You’ll recall at the start of the year they talked about a new release in 2019. I’ve no idea when they would have had time to record such a thing, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t yet or won’t after this next tour. I don’t know. Maybe their plans have changed. I hear plans do that sometimes.

Either way, the more eardrum decimation, the merrier, so here are the dates:

conan euro fall 2019



We are delighted to head out into the mainland with two of the USA’s finest and heaviest bands.

Un and Sixes join us for what will be a very heavy run of shows…..

Conan Live:
June 23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
June 27 Portland, ME – Geno’s ^
June 28 Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus ^
June 30 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class ^
July 01 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups ^
July 02 Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle ^
July 05 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
July 06 Rapid City, SD – Haycamp Brewery
^ = w/Witchkiss

Conan Fall Tour w/ Un & Sixes:
20.10 Desertfest Antwerpen, Antwerpen, BE
21.10 Magasin 4, Brussels, BE
22.10 Schlachthof, Wiesbaden, DE
23.10 Junkyard, Dortmund, DE
24.10 Funbureau, Hamburg, DE
25.10 Alte Meierei, Kiel, DE
26.10 1000 Fryd, Aalborg, DK
27.10 Truckstop Alaska, Gotenborg, SE
28.10 Vega, Copenhague, DK
29.10 Zukunft Am Ostkreuz, Berlin, DE
31.10 Gazwerk, Winterthur, CH
01.11 Bad Bonn, Dudingen, CH
02.11 Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Innbruck, AT
03.11 Legend Club, Milano, IT
04.11 Gala Hala, Ljubjlana, SL
05.11 Cluc Mocvara, Zagreb, HR
06.11 Arena, Vienna, AT
07.11 Durer kert, Budapest, HU
08.11 Kulturak, Bratislava, SK
09.11 Kabinet Muz, Brno, CZ
10.11 Soulstone Gathering Festival, Kravow, PL
11.11 Chemiefabrik, Dresden, DE
12.11 Underdogs, Praha, CZ
14.11 Baroeg, Rotterdam, NL
15.11 Gibus, Paris, FR

Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

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