Beggar to Release Debut Album Compelled to Repeat in April; “Nine Atmospheres” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m all for an early heads up, and I know that in a crowded promotional atmosphere, the sooner you can get word out about a thing happening, the better. Still, an album announcement upward of five months ahead of the actual release is a long time. I suspect part of the quirk of timing on the part of London sludge extremists Beggar — who should scratch the itch of anyone who found moral opposition to the Iron Monkey “reunion” too much to overcome — play the Sophie Fest this weekend and they wanted to get their new video for “Nine Atmospheres” out and give a promo push before that. I can’t argue with the logic, frankly. “Nine Atmospheres” is ridiculous in the heaviest way possible, and it promises an onslaught across their debut LP, Compelled to Repeat, that could position Beggar among the heavier end of the spectrum for APF Records.

And if you know the label, you know that’s saying something.

I have the distinct feeling we’ll be hearing about Beggar again in the next few months. There’s plenty of time until the release, and they would seem to have plenty of broken-bottle-against-the-neck sludge to fill it.

Dig:

beggar

Monolithic Post Metallers BEGGAR Release New Track; Announce Debut Album Compelled to Repeat to be released via APF Records April 2020

Emerging from the nihilistic quagmire of London, four-piece BEGGAR propound a kind of sludge-meets-extreme-metal carnival of tar thick riffs, blasts, emotional discharge and anguish.

Today the band have released standalone track and video ‘Nine Atmospheres’ which showcases the band at their most raw and misanthropic point. Recorded with Wayne Adams (responsible for recent works by Green Lung, 11Paranoias and Terminal Cheesecake) at Bear Bites Horse, London and mastered by the master of noise himself, James Plotkin (Sunn O))), ISIS, Pelican and Earth), the track comes ahead of their debut album Compelled To Repeat which is scheduled for release in April 2020 via APF Records.

Commenting on the track vocalist Charlie Davis says: “The track ‘Nine Atmospheres’ is about pressure, anxiety, the corporate world and the environment. It’s about the banality and the aggression of the contemporary world and the struggle to reconcile yourself to social and economic norms and to the destruction of nature. However, in a larger way, it’s also about the moments in which you can see straight through that world to something a bit older and darker (‘liquid magma lakes’, blistering lava’, etc.) The title ‘Nine Atmospheres’ refers to the amount of pressure measured in atmospheres that the human body can withstand underwater before it begins to rupture (like the track begins to rupture towards the end).”

Originally founded in Bristol in 2011 as a means of melding big stoner grooves with a blackened outlook and mode of expression, BEGGAR have honed their bubbling hatred over a series of EPs (culminating in 2017’s Chainscraper EP) into something that might defy categorisation altogether.

Impossible to fit within the stoner bracket, their sound nonetheless nods to the huge monoliths of tone that such a tag implies. More multi-faceted than the death metal or hardcore genres would allow, BEGGAR still use the sheer brutality and visceral dynamics of those styles as their primary means of propulsion.

Comprised of Charlie Davis (vocals/bass), Abraham Whitworth (guitars), Jake Leyland (guitars/vocals) and Bertrand Sautier (drums, formerly of French deathgrind outfit Sedative), BEGGAR have shared stages with the likes of Eyehategod, Slabdragger, Elephant Tree and The Obsessed.

Catch the band live at The Dev, London on 21st November and then at The Sophie Lancaster Festival (Sophie Fest) in Manchester on 23rd November.

Beggar are:
Charlie Davis (vocals/bass)
Abraham Whitworth (guitars)
Jake Leyland (guitars/vocals)
Bertrand Sautier (drums)

http://www.facebook.com/beggarband
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http://thusspokethebeggar.bandcamp.com/
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Beggar, “Nine Atmospheres” official video

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Desertfest London 2020 Second Lineup Announcement: Witchcraft Headlining; Conan, Naxatras, Sacri Monti & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2020 header

Going head-to-head, toe-to-toe, back-to-back, belly-to-belly with Desertfest Berlin 2020’s second lineup announcement, that of Desertfest London 2020 brings a whopping 13 bands. Witchcraft join Corrosion of Conformity and Masters of Reality among the headliners, and Naxatras, Conan — playing Monnos in full, no less — Pissed Jeans, Raging Speedhorn, Sacri Monti, Huntsmen, MonarchSpirit AdriftFire Down BelowGrottoDesert Storm, and Morag Tong have signed on for the fray in what’s becoming a quickly-packed bill. Nothing to complain about there, I guess. As noted in the Berlin post, some of these groups are shared between the two fests, but there’s a lot here that’s set for London alone, and I suspect in terms of the UK acts like Raging SpeedhornDesert Storm and Morag Tong, it’s likely to stay that way. It’s been so fascinating to watch these festivals grow since their inception into incubators for UK/European heavy. Desertfest London has become an epicenter for one of the most packed scenes on the planet.

That’s a big deal. And you can hear in the work of bands coming out of the UK the effect it’s having aesthetically as well. It’s awesome. Keep up the good work.

From the social medias:

desertfest london 2020 poster

DESERTFEST LONDON ANNOUNCES WITCHCRAFT AS HEADLINER FOR 2020 EDITION PLUS 12 MORE ACTS ADDED!

Tickets: dice.fm/festival/desertfest20

Desertfest is honoured to be welcoming Swedish doom icons Witchcraft to London, for the first time in a decade, as 2020 headliners. Their exceptional blend of psychedelic-folk melodies and distinctly doom-laden riffs swiftly elevated Magnus’ musical coven to legendary status. The pace picks up with the bludgeoning sludge-punk sounds of Pissed Jeans, whose narrative continues to be as societally insightful as it is tongue-in-cheek. We welcome back the unholy trio Conan for a very special performance as they play ‘Monnos’ in full. Following last years unforeseen travel issues, we are thrilled to have Naxatras on the bill ready to bathe listeners in their psychedelic groove. British sludge pioneers Raging Speedhorn will provide a lesson in brutality for all who cross their path.

Celestial tones awaken as SACRI MONTI make their debut with a spectrum of far-out jams expertly pieced together for an otherworldly trip. Huntsmen will bring their diversely progressive concoction of doom metal and melancholic Americana storytelling for its first UK outing. Elsewhere we welcome experimental psych-rock champions Monarch -band, Arizona’s Spirit Adrift who effortlessly carry the torch for traditional doom with lashings of classic 80’s heavy metal. Belgium offers up an excellent fusion of fuzz from Fire Down Below, alongside space-psych drifters Grotto. Oxfordshire riff hounds Desert Storm will deliver a shock-wave of groovy stoner-metal and locals Morag Tong will showcase their dynamic take on psychedelic doom.

For more info and weekend tickets for Desertfest London 2020 hit up www.desertfest.co.uk

See you in May!

TICKETS: https://dice.fm/festival/desertfest20 (*YOU DO NOT NEED THE DICE APP TO PURCHASE)

Artwork by Piotr w. Osburne

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Sacri Monti, “Waiting Room for the Magic Hour”

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The River Announce Dec. 11 Release for Vessels into White Tides; “Vessels” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the river

So, I’ll admit that for a band whose roots stretch back some 20 years, London’s The River are new to me. But dig into the video at the bottom here for “Vessels.” It’s awesome. The song is atmospheric, patience, sprawling, string-laden and melodic in a way that reminds me of a rawer take on SubRosa, but at the same time, it’s more thoroughly doomed as well. It’s 11 minutes long and absolutely gripping for the duration. I downloaded the rest of the promo immediately to check out and can’t wait to dive into it. It’s moved to the top of the queue.

And by some coincidence, I think I might’ve been in the bar/restaurant where the promo shot above was taken the last time I was in Camden Town. It was an upstairs room at a place on Camden High St. a little bit down the way from the Whole Foods. I can’t remember what it was called. I don’t think it’s the Oxford Arms, but I could be wrong. Anyway, if that’s the spot, just something odd to notice. I remembered that sign about party reservations when I saw it.

Here’s some more useful info, courtesy of the PR wire:

The River Vessels into White Tides

British Doom Dealers THE RIVER Releasing New Album ‘Vessels Into White Tides’ December 11 on Nine Records

After a decade since last their last full-length album (In Situ) British Doom Dealers The River return with long-anticipated third full-length album, Vessels Into White Tides, December 11 on Nine Records. If you like melancholic doom metal, then this one is essential! Check out the official video for “Vessels” below.

Fusing texture and light with a heavy set foundation, The River have been honing their craft over the past two decades with two well-received albums and EPs. Incorporating space and subtlety with a strong emphasis on melody, the band mixes fragile vocals over down tempo rhythms, and dense ebb and flow of guitar to create a bittersweet, wistful sound.

The band’s third album, Vessels Into White Tides, brings new colours to their musical palette, taking the music through greater peaks and valleys that heard on previous releases. The multi-instrumental nature of the songs helps to explore and push the sound into a richer, more varied, and ultimately more mature form without ever sacrificing their heavier roots.

Track Listing

1. Vessels
2. Into White
3. Open
4. Passing
5. Tides

It started in 1999. The dust in the room began to dance and bask in the amber glow of the valves as the amps began to rumble into life. Adding the battery controlled the monolith whilst the soothing tones of the voice healed the wounds from the bludgeon. Light from the cracks in the boarded windows cast shadows across the walls, the haze only adding to the core of the sound as the aural mantra continued. The constant tapping of the rain outside only added to the rhythm and flow, not a downpour but a constant nonetheless, mixing with the evening sun to cast a kaleidoscope of colours sprawling through the air. The clouds that burned in the fading violet sky fell perfectly in step…

Line-up
Jenny Newton – Guitars, Vocals, Strings, Percussion
Christian Leitch – Guitars, Percussion
Stephen Morrissey – Bass
Jason Ludwig – Drums

facebook.com/riverbanduk
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The River, “Vessels” official video

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Desertfest London 2020 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2020 header

Desertfest London 2020 has made its first lineup announcement, with nine acts serving as the foundation of the fray set to take place May 1-3 next year. This one happened a bit ago, concurrent I think to the Desertfest Berlin first announcement, but, well, life happens I guess. Either way, the two festivals will share an artwork theme for the first time, which feels only appropriate — one hopes Desertfest New York does the same next September, if only because I’d like to buy a poster on this theme — as well as a few acts in the likes of Masters of RealityCorrosion of ConformityBrant Bjork, and Orange Goblin.

They may end up sharing more than that, of course, between the bands that each has thus far revealed. There’s always a bit of stagger between one and the other as they add locals — The Brothers Keg and Green Lung and Black Orchids come to mind here — to distinguish themselves and each offer something of its own to attendees. I wouldn’t be surprised, for example, if The Picturebooks and Possessor wound up playing Berlin too, but that hasn’t been announced yet if it’s going to happen at all. You get the point.

The point is Deserfest London 2020 already looks awesome, and if you can make it, you should go. I should go too. We should all go. And hang out. It’ll be fun.

Mark your calendar:

desertfest london 2020 poster

MASTERS OF REALITY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, ORANGE GOBLIN + 6 MORE ANNOUNCED AS FIRST ACTS FOR DESERTFEST LONDON 2020

For their first UK appearance in five years, Masters Of Reality – Official will make their Desertfest debut as 2020 headliners next May. One of the most influential bands in desert rock history, with the genres very own Godfather at the reins, Masters is the brainchild of legendary producer Chris Goss (Welcome to Sky Valley, Rated R, Blues for The Red Sun, Songs for The Deaf). Their effortless combination of hard-rock blues with an experimentally progressive tinge makes no apologies for not sticking within the stylised box listeners would assume, yet simultaneously provides the perfect lesson in the musical ethos and story-telling of the Palm Desert scene.

Joining them on the bill will be North Carolina favourites Corrosion Of Conformity whose unmistakable Southern stomp is always a welcome addition, OG’s of the Desertfest family Orange Goblin will celebrate 25 years of relentless riffs and the desert daze continues as living legend Brant Bjork is set to bask in psychedelic sunshine.

Elsewhere we see high-octane German party duo The Picturebooks, London based psychedelic doom devotees GREEN LUNG show just why they are on our ones-to-watch-list and more home-grown talent comes in the form of space sludge stalwarts The Brothers Keg, the unhinged ferocity of Possessor and a journey of groove and reflection with the other-worldly soundscapes of Black Orchids.

Weekend tickets are now on sale and with dozens more bands to still be announced we implore you to pick up a ticket sooner rather than later!

Tickets & more info here – www.desertfest.co.uk || https://link.dice.fm/desertfest20 (*you do not need the DICE app to purchase via DICE!)

Artwork by Piotr w. Osburne

https://www.facebook.com/events/464163361105416/
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Corrosion of Conformity, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

The Company BigCartel store

 

Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

Workshed on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

E-L-R on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

Sibyl on Thee Facebooks

Sibyl on Bandcamp

 

Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

Golden Legacy on Thee Facebooks

Golden Legacy on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Devil’s Witches on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

Burden Limbs on Thee Facebooks

Glasshouse Records on Bandcamp

 

El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

El Supremo on Thee Facebooks

El Supremo on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, Asthma Castle, The Giraffes, Bask, Faerie Ring, Desert Sands, Cavalcade, Restless Spirit, Children of the Sün, Void King

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Call two friends and tell them to tell two friends to tell two friends, because the Quarterly Review has returned. This time around, it’s 50 records front to back for Fall 2019 and there are some big names and some smaller names and a whole lot of in between which is just how I like it. Between today and Friday, each day 10 album reviews will be posted in a single batch like this one, and although by Wednesday this always means I’m totally out of my mind, it’s always, always, always worth it to be able to write about so much cool stuff. So sit tight, because there’s a lot to get through and, as ever, time’s at a premium.

Thanks in advance for keeping up, and I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Monkey3, Sphere

monkey3 sphere

It’s a full-on Keanu Reeves “whoa” when opening track “Spirals” kicks in on Monkey3‘s sixth album, Sphere (released by Napalm), and that’s by no means the last one on the cinematic six-tracker. The long-running Swiss mostly-instrumentalists have been consistently, persistently underappreciated throughout their career, but whether it’s the aural scope of guitar and keys in “Axis” or the swaps between intensity and sprawl in 14-minute closer “Ellipsis,” their latest work is consuming in its sense of triumph. Even the four-minute “Ida,” which seems at first like it’s barely going to be more than an interlude, finds a thread of majestic cosmic groove and rides it for the duration, while the proggy immersion of “Prism” and the harder drive of “Mass” — not to mention that shredding solo — make the middle of the record anything but a post-hypnosis dip. I won’t pretend to know if Sphere is the record that finally gets the Lausanne four-piece the respect they’ve already well deserved, but if it was, one could only say it was for good reason. Blends of heft, progressive craft, and breadth are rarely so resonant.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore

Asthma Castle Mount Crushmore

When you call your record Mount Crushmore, you need to bring it, and much to their credit, Baltimorean sludge-rocking five-piece Asthma Castle do precisely that on their debut full-length. Issued through Hellmistress Records, the 37-minute/six-track outing is a wordplay-laced pummeler that shows as much persona in its riffing and massive groove as it does in titles like “The Incline of Western Civilization” and “The Book of Duderonomy.” Trades between early-Mastodonic twists and lumbering sludge crash add a frenetic and unpredictable feel to pieces like the title-track, while “Methlehem” trades its plod for dual-guitar antics punctuated by metallic double-kick, all the while the vocals trade back and forth between growls, shouts, cleaner shouts, the odd scream, etc., because basically if you can keep up with it, Asthma Castle wouldn’t be doing their job. One shudders to think of the amount of Natty Bo consumed during its making, but Mount Crushmore is a wild and cacophonous enough time to live up to the outright righteousness of its title. If I graded reviews, it would get a “Fuckin’ A+,” with emphasis on “fuckin’ a.”

Asthma Castle on Thee Facebooks

Hellmistress Records website

 

The Giraffes, Flower of the Cosmos

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

Some day the world will wake up and realize the rock and roll powerhouse it had in Brooklyn’s The Giraffes, but by then it’ll be too late. The apocalypse will have happened long ago, and it’ll be Burgess Meredith putting on a vinyl of Flower of the Cosmos in the New York Library as “FAKS” echoes out through the stacks of now-meaningless tomes and the dust of nuclear winter falls like snow outside the windows. The band’s tumultuous history is mirrored in the energy of their output, and yet to hear the melody and gentle fuzz at the outset of “Golden Door,” there’s something soothing about their work as well that, admittedly, “Raising Kids in the End Times” is gleeful in undercutting. Cute as well they pair that one with “Dorito Dreams” on this, their seventh record in a 20-plus-year run, which has now seen them find their footing, lose it, find it again, and in this record and songs like the masterfully frenetic “Fill up Glass” and the air-tight-tense “Like Hate” and “Romance,” weave a document every bit worthy of Mr. Meredith’s attention as he mourns for the potential of this godforsaken wasteland. Oh, what we’ll leave behind. Such pretty ruins.

The Giraffes website

The Giraffes on Bandcamp

 

Bask, III

bask iii

In the fine tradition of heavy rock as grown-up punk, North Carolina’s Bask bring progressive edge and rolling-Appalachian atmospherics to the underlying energy of III, their aptly-titled and Season of Mist-issued third album. Their foot is in any number of styles, from Baroness-style noodling to a hard twang that shows up throughout and features prominently on the penultimate “Noble Daughters II – The Bow,” but the great triumph of III, and really the reason it works at all, is because the band find cohesion in this swath of influences. They’re a band who obviously put thought into what they do, making it all the more appropriate to think of them as prog, but as “Three White Feet” and “New Dominion” show at the outset, they don’t serve any aesthetic master so much as the song itself. Closing with banjo and harmonies and a build of crash cymbal on “Maiden Mother Crone” nails the point home in a not-understated way, but at no point does III come across as hyper-theatrical so as to undercut the value of what Bask are doing. It’s a more patient album than it at first seems, but given time to breathe, III indeed comes to life.

Bask on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Bandcamp

 

Faerie Ring, The Clearing

fairie ring the clearing

Listening to the weighty rollout of opening cut “Bite the Ash” on Faerie Ring‘s debut album, The Clearing (on King Volume Records), one is reminded of the energy that once-upon-a-time came out of Houston’s Venomous Maximus. There’s a similar feeling of dark energy surging through the riffs and echoing vocals, but the Evansville, Indiana, four-piece wind up on a different trip. Their take is more distinctly Sabbathian on “Lost Wind” and even the swinging “Heavy Trip” lives up to its stated purpose ahead of the chugging largesse of finisher “Heaven’s End.” They find brash ground on “The Ring” and the slower march of “Somnium,” but there’s metal beneath the lumbering and it comes out on “Miracle” in a way that the drums late in “Lost Wind” seem to hint toward on subsequent listens. It’s a mix of riff-led elements that should be readily familiar to many listeners, but the sheer size and clarity of presentation Faerie Ring make throughout The Clearing makes me think they’ll look to distinguish themselves going forward, and so their first record holds all the more potential for that.

Faerie Ring on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Desert Sands, The Ascent EP

Desert Sands The Ascent

Begun as the solo-project of London-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mark Walker and presently a trio including Louis Kinder and Jonathan Walker as well, Desert Sands make their recorded debut through A Records with the three-song/half-hour The Ascent EP, a work of psychedelic existentialism that conveys its cosmic questioning even before the lyrics start, with an opening riff and rhythmic lurch to “Are You There” that seems to throw its central query into a void that either will or won’t answer. Does it? The hell should I know, but The Ascent proves duly transcendent in its pulsations as “Head Towards the Light” and 11:45 closer “Yahweh” — yeah, I guess we get there — bring drifting, languid enlightenment to these spiritual musings. The finale is, of course, a jam in excelsis and if drop-acid-find-god is the narrative we’re working with, then Desert Sands are off to a hell of a start as a project. Regardless of how one might ultimately come down (and it is, by my estimation at least, a comedown) on the question of human spirituality, there’s no denying the power and ethereal force of the kind of creativity on display in The Ascent. One will wait impatiently to see what comes next.

Desert Sands on Thee Facebooks

A Recordings on Thee Facebooks

 

Cavalcade, Sonic Euthanasia

Cavalcade Sonic Euthanasia

Say what you want about New Orleans or North Carolina or wherever the hell else, Midwestern sludge is another level of filth. To wit, the Carcass-style vocals that slice through the raw, dense riffing on “Aspirate on Aspirations” feel like the very embodiment of modern disillusion, and there’s some flourish of melodic guitar pluck there, but that only seems to give the ensuing crunch more impact, and likewise the far-back char of “Freezing in Fire” as it relates to the subsequent “Dead Idles,” as Cavalcade refute the trappings of genre in tempo while still seeming to burrow a hole for themselves in the skull of the converted. “Noose Tie” and “We Dig Our Own Graves” tell the story, but while the recording itself is barebones, Cavalcade aren’t now and never really have been so simple as to be a one-trick band. For more than a decade, they’ve provided a multifaceted and trickily complex downer extremity, and Sonic Euthanasia does this as well, bringing their sound to new places and new levels of abrasion along its punishing way. Easy listening? Shit. You see that eye on the cover? That’s the lizard people staring back at you. Have fun with that.

Cavalcade on Thee Facebooks

Cavalcade on Bandcamp

 

Restless Spirit, Lord of the New Depression

restless spirit lord of the new depression

Long Island chug-rockers Restless Spirit would seem to have been developing the material for their self-released debut album, Lord of the New Depression, over the last couple years on a series of short releases, but the songs still sound fresh and electrified in their vitality. If this was 1992 or ’93, they’d be signed already to RoadRacer Records and put on tour with Life of Agony, whose River Runs Red would seem to be a key influence in the vocals of the nine-track/39-minute offering, but even on their own, the metal-tinged five-piece seem to do just fine. Their tracks are atmospheric and aggressive and kind, and sincere in their roll, capturing the spirit of a band like Down with somewhat drawn-back chestbeating, “Dominion” aside. They seem to be challenging themselves to push outside those confines though in “Deep Fathom Hours,” the longest track at 7:35 with more complexity in the melody of the vocals and guitar, and that suits them remarkably well as they dig into this doomly take on LOA and Type O Negative and others from the early ’90s NYC underground — they seem to pass on Biohazard, which is fine — made legendary with the passage of time. As a gentleman of a certain age, I find it exceptionally easy to get on board.

Restless Spirit on Thee Facebooks

Restless Spirit on Bandcamp

 

Children of the Sün, Flowers

Children of the Sun Flowers

An eight-piece outfit based in Arvika, Sweden, which is far enough west to be closer to Oslo than Stockholm, Children of the Sün blend the classic heavy rock stylizations of MaidaVale, first-LP Blues Pills and others with a decidedly folkish bent. Including an intro, their The Sign Records debut album, Flowers, is eight track and 34 minutes interweaving organ and guitar, upbeat vibes and bluesier melodies, taking cues from choral-style vocals on “Emmy” in such a way as to remind of Church of the Cosmic Skull, though the aesthetic here is more hippie than cult. The singing on “Sunschild” soars in that fashion as well, epitomizing the lush melody found across Flowers as the keys, guitar, bass and drums work to match in energy and presence. For a highlight, I’d pick the more subdued title-track, which still has its sense of movement thanks to percussion deep in the mix but comes arguably closest to the flower-child folk Children of the Sün seem to be claiming for their own, though the subsequent closing duo of “Like a Sound” and “Beyond the Sun” aren’t far off either. They’re onto something. One hopes they continue to explore in such sünshiny fashion.

Children of the Sün on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Void King, Barren Dominion

void king barren dominion

Having made their debut with 2016’s There is Nothing (discussed here), Indianapolis downtrodden heavy rock four-piece Void King come back for a second go with Barren Dominion (on Off the Record Label), a title of similar theme that finds them doom riffing through massive tonality on “Burnt at Both Ends,” asking what if Soundgarden played atmospheric doom rock on “Crippled Chameleon” — uh, it would be awesome? yup — and opening each side with its longest track (double immediate points) in a clearly intended vinyl structure hell bent on immersing the listener as much as possible in the lumber and weight the band emit. Frontman Jason Kindred adds extra burl to his already-plenty-dudely approach on “Crippled Chameleon” and closer “The Longest Winter,” the latter with some harmonies to mirror those of opener “A Lucid Omega,” and the band around him — bassist Chris Carroll, drummer Derek Felix and guitarist Tommy Miller — seem to have no trouble whatsoever in keeping up, there or anywhere else on the eight-song/46-minute outing. Topped with striking cover art from Diogo SoaresBarren Dominion is deceptively nuanced and full-sounding. Not at all empty.

Void King on Thee Facebooks

Off the Record Label BigCartel store

 

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Elephant Tree Sign to Holy Roar Records; New Album News Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I don’t want to make it out like I was stalking the Elephant Tree studio process a couple months back when the London band was recording with Riley MacIntyre at the helm, at least occasionally dressed like a wizard, but they certainly made it worth keeping up. The announcement that the four-piece will issue the recording on question with Holy Roar Records is also most certainly progress toward the inevitable release, which one expects will be revealed as being sometime early next year, perhaps ahead of or to coincide with the Spring festival season in Europe. Though if they wanted to make it February, I wouldn’t argue with that either. Frankly, the sooner the better.

This weekend, the Londoners play a co-headlining hometown date with Steak and a fest in Sheffield, and both of those shows come ahead of their impending tour with Steak and Lo-Pan, which in turn is before they return to the States to play Brooklyn for what’s been appointed the Day of Doom and is presented by Magnetic Eye Records, who also put out their 2016 self-titled debut (review here).

Congrats to the band on the signing, and if I haven’t made it plain, I’m very much looking forward to the album when it surfaces.

Here’s their announcement:

elephant tree holy roar

We are happy to announce that we have signed to Holy Roar Records Expect some news on new music soon!

We’re thrilled to be bringing Elephant Tree back to home soil. Holy Roar have shown themselves to be passionate about the music they release and it’s an honor to count ourselves as part of their roster. They’re also close enough to make meetings a valid excuse for pints!

Elephant Tree w/ Steak & Lo-Pan:
26.09.19 The Underworld | London (UK)
27.09.19 Psyched Stoned and Doomed 2 | Sheffield (UK)
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 TBA | Desertfest Belgium

Elephant Tree live:
Nov. 2 Saint Vitus Bar Brooklyn NY Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom
Nov. 8 Soulstone Gathering Krakow PL

https://www.facebook.com/elephanttreeband
http://instagram.com/elephant_tree_band
https://elephanttree.band
http://www.holyroarrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/holyroarrecords/

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight Sign to APF Records for Movin’ on Singles

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Warms the heart, this one does. Specifically, The Black Heart, most likely, which is where I’d imagine Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight would end up doing the release show for what will be their first outing through APF Records. Earlier this year, the kinda-reunited-but-we-never-really-broke-up-but-everybody’s-been-really-busy-with-life-and-stuff-and-you-know-how-it-is-and-also-Pete‘s-in-ElephantTree-and-Chris-has-like-50-projects-and-Dicky-can’t-really-tour heavy rockers began issuing digitally a series of singles recorded a decade ago as a way of honoring the 10th anniversary of the sessions for their 2009 debut full-length, Movin’ On (review here). Speaking as someone who still thinks of that record fondly, it was a fun way to relive it without doing the standard reissue thing and getting something previously unheard from the band, if not something actually new.

Well, because every now and then the universe bends its will to my druthers, APF Records has picked up the series for what will be aptly-titled Movin’ On Singles as a compilation and released on Oct. 30, which also just happens to be the same day Movin’ On came out those 10 years ago. Like I said, warms the heart.

Trippy Wicked have a couple shows lined up, including — now that I look — The Black Heart in Camden Town on Oct. 25, and Sophie Fest in Manchester on Nov. 23. They also just played this past weekend at Ripple Music‘s London Ripplefest along with Stubb, War Cloud and a host of other cool bands.

Here’s APF‘s announcement of the signing:

trippy wicked and the cosmic children of the knight

APF Records – Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight

I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to confirm that Trippy Wicked have signed to APF Records.

Their first APF release will be a limited edition digipak CD of their “Moving On Singles” on 30th October – which is the 10th anniversary of the release of the Moving On album. More info coming soon.

Chris, Pete, Dicky – a warm welcome to the APF family.

https://www.facebook.com/trippywicked
https://www.instagram.com/trippywicked
https://trippywicked.bandcamp.com/
https://www.trippywicked.band/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

Trippy Wicked, “Things Go Up”

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