Quarterly Review: Boris, DVNE, Hydra, Jason Simon, Cherry Choke, Pariiah, Saavik, Mountain Tamer, Centre El Muusa, Population II

Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Kind of a spur of the moment thing, this Quarterly Review. I’ve been adding releases all the while, of course, but my thought was to do this after my year-end list went up, and I realized, hey, if I’ve got like 70 records I haven’t reviewed yet, maybe there’s some of that stuff worth considering. So here we are. I’ve pushed back my best-of-2020 stuff and basically swapped it with the Quarterly Review. Does it matter to you? I seriously, seriously doubt it, but I believe in transparency and that’s what’s up. Thought I’d let you know. And yeah, this is going to go into next week, take us through the X-mas holiday this Friday, so whatever. You celebrate your way and I’ll celebrate mine. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Boris, No

boris no

As a general project, reviewing pay someone to write an essay for me Full Scope Or Individual Chapter. A dissertation is a considerably massive report. It is comprised of many smaller parts that make up a complete compilation of your overall studies and experiences. One of the purposes of an academic paper is to showcase your learning skills, knowledge and application of the subject you have majored in. When broken down, each part of a Boris is damn near pointless. One might as well review the moon: “uh, it’s big and out there most of the time?” The only reason to do it is either to exercise one’s own need to hyperbolize or help the band sell records. Well, This essay writing service has years of experience in the market and has We have chosen only this links and deeply researched Boris doesn’t need my push and I don’t need to tell them how great they are. For the best see it here from a company with a good reputation and over ten years of experience in the field, then Australian Help is the company for you. We have provided help with essay(s) to hundreds, no thousands, of students over that time. The fact that around eighty percent of our work is made up of past customers speaks volumes about our services and the quality of papers. If people didn’t think our service was the best, then they wouldn’t reorder from us over and over again. No is 40 minutes of the widely and wildly lauded Japanese heavy rock(s) experimentalists trying to riff away existing in 2020, delving high speed into hardcore here and there and playing off that with grueling sludge, punk, garage-metal and the penultimate “Loveless,” which is kind of Custom read this Online: We Have What You Need. Don’t be the person who tries fruitlessly to write a research paper on their own and ultimately gives up. The failure to submit the paper on time will result in harsh repercussions. To avoid them, use our help. Everything you need to reach your goal of academic success is here. We have gathered a close-knit writing team, and it Boris being their own genre. Much respect to the band, and I suppose one might critique Is it worth Apa Doctoral Dissertation online from professional academic writers? We are custom term papers writing service with years of experience and the great Boris for, what?, being so Who is going to Marketing Plan Template For Small Business? One of our professional writers will work on your order. Our writers are experts in their respective fields, and they have been handpicked by our Quality Assurance Department so that you could get the best experience. You can also request a writer who will complete your order in British or American English. We cannot guarantee that you will get a writer from a Boris-y?, but there really isn’t a ton that hasn’t been said about them because such a ton has. I’m not trying to disparage their work at all — English Homework Helper for lined writing paper October 18, 2019 By: bethany1980 professional blog post ghostwriters service for mba Universe of discourse how to write No is just what you’d expect as regards defying expectation — but after 20-plus years, there’s only so many ways one wants to call a band genius.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris on Bandcamp

 

DVNE, Omega Severer

DVNE Omega Severer

Kind of a soft-opening for Edinburgh’s Community Service Report Essay - Enjoy the benefits of professional custom writing assistance available here receive a 100% authentic, plagiarism-free DVNE as an act on Watch best videos about http://m2online.at/academic-research-services/ on our tube site! Metal Blade Records, unless of course one counts the two songs on the http://www.aat-biogas.at/?doctoral-dissertation-purpose-statement - professional and affordable paper to make easier your education Instead of worrying about term paper writing find the necessary Omega Severer EP itself, which are post-metallic beasts of the sort that would and should make Has National Junior Honor Society Essay Help - get a 100% original, plagiarism-free dissertation you could only think about in our paper writing assistance #1 reliable and professional academic writing help. Proofreading and editing aid from best writers. The Ocean blush. Progressive, heavy, and remarkably ‘next-wave’ feeling, Get http://autothanhhoa.com.vn/?distribute-my-resume all year round – no matter how urgent and complicated your paper is. Paper originality is guaranteed. DVNE‘s awaited follow-up to 2017’s I am one web link of those CRAZY teachers who loves to teach Algebra. Purplemath's algebra lessons are informal in federal resume Asheran may only be about 17 and a half minutes long, but it bodes remarkably well as the band master a torrent of intensity on the 10-minute opening title-cut and answer that with the immediately galloping “Of Blade and Carapace,” smashing battle-axe riffing and progressive shimmer against each other and finding it to be an alchemy of their own. Album? One suspects not until they can tour for it, but if Make or work to choose best How To Write A Personal Essay For College Admission. Order here is a good thesis on purevolume. Besides, a and can deal with it comes to pursue a. Remit to tame your dissertation writing service provides custom templates need help; thesis proposal writing service. Thesis - professional help original and competitive price of our dissertation writers. Ensure that will help xavier university of philosophy the difference between. Affordable thesis we can be found looking for. Omega Severer is http://www.kec.uni-kiel.de/people/?ghostwriter-erfahrung from professional service. We can write your paper for sale even in 3 hours. Just come here. DVNE serving notice, consider the message received loud, clear, dynamic, crushing, spacious, and so on. Already veterans of Psycho Las Vegas, they sound like a band bent on capturing a broader audience in the metallic sphere.

DVNE on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Hydra, From Light to the Abyss

hydra from light to the abyss

There’s no questioning where Hydra‘s heart is at on their debut full-length, From Light to the Abyss. It belongs to the devil and it belongs to Black Sabbath. The Polish four-piece riff hard and straightforward throughout most of the five-track offering (released by Piranha Music), and samples set the kind of atmosphere that should be familiar enough to the converted — “No One Loves Like Satan” reminds of Uncle Acid in its initial channel-changing and swaggering riff alike — but doomly centerpiece “Creatures of the Woods” and the layered vocal melodies late in closer “Magical Mind” perhaps offer a glimpse at the direction the band could take from here. What matters though is where Hydra are at today, and that’s bringing riffs and nod to the converted among the masses, and From Light to the Abyss offers no pretense otherwise. It is doom rock for doom rockers, grooves to be grooved to. They’re not void of ambition by any means — their songwriting makes that clear — but their traditionalism is sleeve-worn, which if you’re going to have it, is right where it should be.

Hydra on Thee Facebooks

Piranha Music on Bandcamp

 

Jason Simon, A Venerable Wreck

jason simon a venerable wreck

Dead Meadow guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon follows 2016’s Familiar Haunts (review here) with the genre-spanning A Venerable Wreck, finding folk roots in obscure beats and backwards this-and-that, country in fuzz, ramble in space, and no shortage of experimentalism besides. A Venerable Wreck consists of 12 songs and though there are times where it can feel disjointed, that becomes part of the ride. It’s not all supposed to make sense. Yet what happens by the time you get around to “No Entrance No Exit” is that Simon (and a host of cohorts) has set his own context broad enough so that the drone reach of “Hollow Lands” and sleek, organ-laced indie of closer “Without Reason or Right” can coexist without any real interruption of flow between them. The question with A Venerable Wreck isn’t so much whether the substance is there, it’s whether the listener is open to it. Welcome to psychedelic America. Please inject this snake venom and turn in your keys when you leave.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

BYM Records website

 

Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse

Cherry Choke-Raising Salzburg Rockhouse-Cover

You won’t hear me take away from the opening psych-scorch hook of “Mindbreaker” or the fuzzed-on, boogie-down, -up, and -sideways of “Black Annis” which follows, but there’s something extra fun about hearing Frog Island’s Cherry Choke jam out a 13-minute, drum-solo-inclusive version of “6ix and 7even” that makes Raising Salzburg Rockhouse even more of a reminder of how underrated both they are as a band and Mat Bethancourt is as a player. Look no further than “Domino” if you want absolute proof. The whole band rips it up at the Austrian gig, which was recorded in 2015 as they supported their third and still-most-recent full-length, Raising the Waters (review here), but Bethancourt puts on a Hendrixian clinic in the nine-minute cut from 2011’s A Night in the Arms of Venus (review here), which is actually less of a clinic than it is pure distorted swagger followed by a mellow “cheers, thanks” before diving into “Used to Call You Friend.” A 38-minute set would be perfect for an vinyl release, and anytime Cherry Choke want to get around to putting together a fourth studio album, well, that’ll be just fine too.

Cherry Choke on Thee Facebooks

Cherry Choke on Bandcamp

 

Pariiah, Swallowed by Fog

Pariiah swallowed by fog

It’s a special breed of aggro that emerges as a result of living in the most densely populated state in the union, and New Jersey’s Pariiah have it to spare. Bringing together sludge tonality with elder-style New York hardcore lumbering riffs on their Trip Machine Laboratories tape, Swallowed by Fog, they exude a thickened brand of pissed off that’s outright going to be too confrontation for many who take it on. But if you want a middle finger to the face, this is what it sounds like, and the six songs (compiled into four on the digital version of the release) come and go entirely without pretense and leave little behind except bruises and the promise of more to come. They’re a new band, started in this most wretched of years, but there’s no learning curve whatsoever among the members of Devoid of Faith, The Nolan Gate, Kill Your Idols, Changeörder and others. I’d go to Maplewood to see these cats. I’m just saying. Maybe even Elizabeth.

Pariiah on Bandcamp

Trip Machine Laboratories website

 

Saavik, Saavik

saavik saavik

So you’ve got both members of Holly Hunt in a four-piece sludging out with spacey synth and the band is named after a Star Trek character? Not to get too personal, but that’s going to pique my interest one way or the other. Saavik — and they clearly prefer the Kirstie Alley version, rather than Robin Curtis, going by drummer Beatriz Monteavaro‘s artwork — are damn near playing space rock by the end of “He’s Dead Jim,” the opener of their self-titled debut EP, but even that’s affected by a significant tonal weight in Didi Aragon‘s bass and the guitar of Gavin Perry, however much Ryan Rivas‘ synth and effects-laced vocals might seem to float overhead, but “Meld” rolls along at a steadier nod, and “Horizon” puts the synth more in the lead without becoming any less heavy for doing so. Likewise, “Red Sun” calls to mind Godflesh in its proto-machine metal stomp, but there’s more concern in Saavik‘s sound with expanse than just pure crush, and that shows up in fascinating ways in these songs.

Saavik on Thee Facebooks

Other Electricities on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual

mountain tamer psychosis ritual

There’s been a dark vibe all along nestled into Mountain Tamer‘s sound, and that’s certainly the case on Psychosis Ritual, with which the Los Angeles-based trio make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s their third full-length overall behind 2018’s Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here) and 2016’s self-titled debut (review here), and it finds their untamed-feeling psychedelia rife with that same threat of violence, not necessarily thematically as much as sonically, like the songs themselves are the weapon about to be turned on the listener. Maybe the buzz of “Warlock” or the fuckall echo of the prior-issued single “Death in the Woods” (posted here) aren’t out there trying to be “Hammer Smashed Face” or anything, but neither is this the hey-bruh-good-times heavy jams for which Southern California is known these days. Consider the severity of “Turoc Maximus Antonis” or the finally-released screams in closer “Black Noise,” which bookends Psychosis Ritual with the title-track and seems at last to be the point where whatever grim vibe these guys are riding finally consumes them. Mountain Tamer continue to be unexpected and righteous in kind.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Centre El Muusa, Centre El Muusa

centre el muusa centre el muusa

Hypnotic Estonian psychedelic krautrock instrumentals not your thing? Well that sounds like a personal problem Centre El Muusa are ready to solve. The evolved-from-duo four-piece get spaced out amid the semi-motorik repetitions of their self-titled debut (on Sulatron), and that seems to suit them quite well, thanksabunch. Drone trips and essential swirl brim with solar-powered pulsations and you can set your deflectors on maximum and route all the secondaries to reinforce if you want, there’s still a decent chance 9:53 opener an longest track “Turkeyfish” (immediate points, double for the appropriately absurd title) is going to sweep you off what you used to call your feet when that organ line hits at about six minutes in. That’s to say nothing of the cosmic collision later in “Burning Lawa” or the just-waiting-for-a-Carl-Sagan-voiceover “Mia” that follows. Even the 3:46 “Ain’t Got Enough Mojo” lives long enough to prove itself wrong. Interstellar tape transmissions fostered by obvious weirdos in the great out-there in “Szolnok,” named for a city in Hungary that, among other things, hosts the goulash festival. Right fucking on.

Centre El Muusa on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Population II, À La Ô Terre

Population II a La o Terre

The first Population II album, a 2017 self-titled, was comprised of two tracks, each long enough to consume a 12″ side. Somehow it’s fitting with the Montreal-based singing-drummer trio’s aesthetic that their second long-player, À la Ô Terre, would take a completely different tack, employing shorter freakouts like “L’Offrande” and “La Nuit” and the garage-rocking “La Danse” and what-if-JeffersonAirplane-but-on-Canadian-mushrooms “À la Porte de Demain” and still-more-drifting finisher “Je Laisse le Soleil Briller” amid the more stretched out “Attaction,” the space-buzzer “Ce n’est RĂ©ve” while cutting a middle ground in the greaked-out (I was gonna type “freaked out” and hit a typo and I’m keeping it) “Il eut un Silence dans le Ciel,” which also betrays the jazzy underpinnings that somehow make all of À la Ô Terre come across as progressive instead of haphazard. From the start to the close, you don’t know what’s coming next, and just because that’s by design doesn’t make it less effective. If anything, it makes Population II all the more impressive.

Population II on Thee Facebooks

Castle Face Records website

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Dead Meadow Live at Roadburn 2011

[Click play above to stream ‘What Needs Must Be’ from Dead Meadow’s Live at Roadburn 2011 on Burning World Records. Preorders go live next Friday through Bandcamp.]

It was the most fuzz. And Roadburn wasn’t exactly light in that regard circa 2011. The renowned Dutch festival that year featured the likes of Zoroaster, Quest for Fire, Naam, Acid King and The Atomic Bitchwax… on the first day. L.A. by way of D.C. three-piece Dead Meadow played the last day, what was then called the Afterburner (review here), and their slot could not have been more appropriate. Sandwiched between Coffins and evening headliners Black Mountain on the Main Stage, they offered a mellow-heavy hour that was utterly consuming. People in the back sat down. Not out of fatigue, though it has been a long weekend by then, but just to let the warmth of Jason Simon‘s buzzing guitar wash over them. Joined by Steve Kille on bass and Mark Laughlin on drums, Simon‘s urfuzz and unfailingly drifting vocals filled that space with a laid back vibe and groove that that Burning World Records‘ Live at Roadburn 2011 presents in all its Sasquatch-inclusive righteousness.

Of course, Dead Meadow by then were on their way to being veterans already. More than a decade into their career, they’d released Three Kings (discussed here) in 2010 as a semi-live album/video, and that followed their fifth album, 2007’s Old Growth. Their Peel Sessions collection would show up in 2012, but as regards live records, they’d also done Got Live if You Want It! in 2002 following their 2000 self-titled debut and 2001’s Howls From the Hills (discussed here). Strangers neither to performance nor captured-performance, then, and Live at Roadburn 2011 brings that spirit to bear. Though the Alexis Ziritt cover art offers a glorious mania of colors and lines, planets, stars, an undead wizard and hooded mandrill acolytes, the 53-minute set itself is more about what Dead Meadow do within that abiding sense of mood, seeming to go deeper and deeper into nod until finally, with “Sleepy Silver Door,” it engulfs everything.

That set-closer was also the opener of the self-titled, and if Dead Meadow have a signature riff, that might be it (they’d revisit it in 2005 as part of a 13-minute jam), but on Live at Roadburn 2011 it’s also part of the larger story of side B and of course the LP as a whole. After launching with “Good Moanin'” and “Let’s Jump In” from 2003’s Shivering King and Others and 2005’s Feathers, respectively, their course is set between dense Orange-toned riffing and open-stretch psychedelia, and even as “What Needs Must Be” from Old Growth pulls back from the farther reaches of ‘far out’ to bring a bit of boogie to the proceedings, the ethereal sensibility remains in the solo even though the overarching rhythm is tight in its stops and starts, a kind of rolling swing that reminds that Washington D.C. was once the funk capitol of the US as well as the seat of government.

dead meadow and sasquatch (Photo by JJ Koczan)-2000

I’m trying really hard not to say the word “vibe” too many times, but that’s really what it’s all about. Heavy chill. As side A plays out, Dead Meadow speed things up through the first half of “Indian Bones,” bliss out in the middle and bring it back around in time to squeeze in “September,” which would close 2013’s Warble Womb, and “Rocky Mountain High” from the self-titled ahead — if nothing else, you’ll know it by the repurposing of the riff to Black Sabbath‘s “Iron Man” — of the big turn to “Beyond the Fields We Know.” One doubts Dead Meadow were thinking of putting the set out on vinyl at the time — you can’t ever be sure — but as regards the LP, it’s telling that side A features six tracks and side B only three. The band structured their set to follow a linear path outward. That’s not to say it lacks dynamic along that. Certainly as “Beyond the Fields We Know” hits nearly 10 minutes and “Sleepy Silver Door” nearly 11, for all the jamming going on, those two songs still come with the relatively straightforward strum of “At Her Open Door” from Feathers in between.

And just as certainly, that song trips out far and wide in its second half, riding its solo jam to the finish, so Live at Roadburn 2011 isn’t just one thing or the other, but the let’s-get-gone is palpable, and they invite the crowd along with them on their way. The performances of “Beyond the Fields We Know,” “At Her Open Door” and “Sleepy Silver Door,” compiled together on a single vinyl side, would be enough to justify this release. That they happen to occur at the end of an already right-on set is a bonus. I don’t remember at what point it was they brought out Sasquatch, but I remember whoever it was in that hairy, had-to-be-really-really-hot costume sleeked out onto the stage with the trio, sort of slow-’70s groove-walked around, checking things out. Went behind the drum riser. Went over by Kille and by Simon. Kind of hung out in the middle and danced for a bit.

But the thing about that moment — yeah, it was a novelty — but it was also a perfect fit. You stood there and, oh, here comes Sasquatch. Well of course. In the interest of full disclosure, I took the picture that appears on the inside gatefold of the LP of the elusive North American Skunk Ape hanging out with the band on stage (no money changed hands), but in the interest of fuller disclosure, no one gives a crap. What’s important for you to know is that the vibe — there’s that word again — was such that when it happened, you just went with it. It was unexpected, and hilarious, but it just became another part of what Dead Meadow already had going on that Sunday evening in Tilburg. And so, incredible.

Maybe it’s 2020’s effect of making one extra nostalgic for live music, the festival spirit, but the intervening nine years have done nothing to dull the luster that Dead Meadow show on Live at Roadburn 2011. I can only speak as someone who was fortunate enough to be there to see it, but that set was something special, and not just because of the ‘squatch. Dead Meadow sounded glad to be there, like they were rising to the occasion, like they realized it was more than just another gig, and Live at Roadburn 2011 resonates all the more for documenting that so well.

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Dead Meadow on Instagram

Dead Meadow website

Burning World Records website

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Burning World Records on Instagram

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Here Lies Man Announce Ritual Divination out Jan. 22; “I Told You (You Shall Die)” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

If I’m extraordinarily lucky, I’ll have the new single from Here Lies Man stuck in my head for the rest of the day. “I Told You (You Shall Die)” is a righteous lead cut from Jan. 2021’s Ritual Divination, which is the follow-up to 2019’s No Ground to Walk Upon EP (review here). As ever for the L.A.-based outfit, their sound brings niche cultism to Afrobeat-shuffling proto-metal, psychedelic flourishes of key and guitar set to dance to a rhythm that’s all their own in a heavy context. One does not necessarily expect a single track to speak for an entire Here Lies Man release at this point, since they’ve proven multiple times over on their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) and 2018 sophomore full-length, You Will Know Nothing (review here), that they’re able to veer in multiple directions without losing their footing in terms of craft, but I’ll say that the forward riff in “I Told You (You Shall Die)” is likewise welcome and doomed as a first impression. And the solo scorches.

This band is a treasure.

Ritual Divination is out Jan. 22 on RidingEasy. “I Told You (You Shall Die)” is streaming at the bottom of this post.

Art and info from the PR wire follows:

here lies man ritual divination

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination – Jan. 22

Los Angles, CA quartet Here Lies Man announce their forthcoming fourth album Ritual Divination today and share the lead single “I Told You (You Shall Die)” via YouTube, Bandcamp and Spotify.

Four albums in, the convenient and generalized catchphrase for Here Lies Man’s erudite sound — if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat — might seem a little played out. But Ritual Divination is perhaps the best rendering of the idea so far. Particularly on the Sabbath side of the equation: The guitars are heavier and more blues based than before, but the ancient rhythmic formula of the clave remains a constant.

“Musically it’s an opening up more to traditional rock elements,” says vocalist/guitarist/cofounder Marcos Garcia, who also plays guitar in Antibalas. “It’s always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves.”

The L.A. based band comprised of Antibalas members have toured relentlessly following their breakout 2017 self-titled debut. Their second album, You Will Know Nothing and an EP, Animal Noises, both followed in 2018. Third album No Ground To Walk Upon emerged in August 2019. All of them were crafted by Garcia and cofounder/drummer Geoff Mann (former Antibalas drummer and son of jazz musician Herbie Mann) in their L.A. studio between tours. Ritual Divination is their first album recorded as the full 4-piece band, including bassist JP Maramba and keyboardist Doug Organ.

Ritual Divination continues with an ongoing concept of HLM playing the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, with each song being a scene. “It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip,” Garcia says. “The intention and purpose of the music is to create a sonic ritual to lift the veil of inner space and divine the true nature of reality.”

Likewise, musically and sonically, the album is self-reflexive. “On this album the feel changes within a song,” Garcia says. “Whereas before each song was meant to induce a trancelike state, now more of the songs have their own arc built in.” Similarly, the guitar sounds themselves herein eschew the fuzz pedals of previous recordings, going for the directness of pure amp overdrive and distortion using an interconnected rig of 4 amplifiers. And, here, the well-versed live band is able to record as a unit, giving it much more of a live and dynamic feel.

“We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs,” Garcia explains. “Tony Iommi’s (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa.”

Ritual Divination will be available on LP, CD and download on January 22nd, 2021 via RidingEasy Records.

Artist: Here Lies Man
Album: Ritual Divination
Record Label: RidingEasy Records
Release date: January 22nd, 2021

01. In These Dreams
02. I Told You (You Shall Die)
03. Underland
04. What You See
05. Can’t Kill It
06. Run Away Children
07. I Wander
08. Night Comes
09. Come Inside
10. Collector of Vanities
11. Disappointed
12. You Would Not See From Heaven

hereliesman.com
facebook.com/hereliesman
hereliesman.bandcamp.com
ridingeasyrecs.com

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All Souls Post “Winds” Video; Songs for the End of the World out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

all souls

Hey look, I’ve been out here telling you to check out All Souls‘ new record, Songs for the End of the World (review here), since before it even had a release date, so don’t put on the video for “Winds” below and be like “Holy crap this is amazing I had no idea I need to buy both this band’s records right now why didn’t anyone tell me?” because the truth is even with 2020’s great many distractions, you’ve had ample warning. The video for “You Just Can’t Win” (posted here) came out in February. That’s before lockdown. And “Winds” was a pre-release single too in July. Really, plenty of warning.

However! — and I put that exclamation point there to emphasize what I’m about to say — if the video below for “Winds” is what gets you on board with Songs for the End of the World or All Souls in general, you’re by no means late to any sort of party and that’s only a good thing. You’ll note they’re a band with many associations — Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos were in Totimoshi together, Tony Tornay drums in Fatso Jetson, Erik Trammell plays in Black Elk, and they record with Toshi Kasai whose done records for the Melvins among an entire planet of others, and they toured with Tool which I hear is a good thing for bands to do if they like playing in front of people and/or just want to hang out with Danny Carey, who I hear is a nice guy — and that theme continues here as the esteemed Josh Graham (formerly visuals for Neurosis, videos/art for Soundgarden, also of A Storm of Light and IIVII) brings a visual grace to work in accord with the song’s melodic flow, particularly resonant in the back-half instrumental stretch.

You’ll note the intersection of geometric shapes and environmental themes, something from Songs for the End of the World that ties to Graham‘s visual style as well. That makes the two parties an even better fit, and while it may be another choice association in All Souls‘ collection thereof, the truth about the band and about Songs for the End of the World is that what makes it all work is the songs and the performances themselves, as the group ties rare emotionality to sociopolitical ideas and remains heavy while digging into a nuanced approach that is even more their own now than it was on their 2018 self-titled debut (review here).

I hope my going on about it doesn’t delay you watching the video, which really is the point of this post. Just know that you’re not late just because the album’s already out — the internet makes everything seem over once it exists — and that this band is something special.

Album stream’s also down at the bottom.

Enjoy:

All Souls, “Winds” official video

Los Angeles quartet All Souls share an official video for “Winds” from their new album Songs For The End of The World today. The video is directed by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Neurosis visuals) and is available to watch/share HERE.

A stunning animated video for album track “You Just Can’t Win” was released earlier this year. Watch the dark portents via YouTube.

All Souls formed in Los Angeles in the winter of 2016 and have gone from playing local gigs to performing in theaters and arenas. Featuring Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson, Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, Deep Dark Robot with Linda Perry) Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (Totimoshi) and Erik Trammell (Black Elk), they were recently hand-picked to tour with Tool, The Jesus Lizard, (the)MELVINS, and Meat Puppets.

All Souls, Songs for the End of the World (2020)

All Souls on Thee Facebooks

All Souls on Twitter

All Souls on Instagram

All Souls on Bandcamp

All Souls website

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Friday Full-Length: Fatso Jetson, Archaic Volumes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Even in the outlier context of Fatso Jetson releases overall, the band’s sixth album, Archaic Volumes, is an outlier. But damn it’s a hooky outlier. The long-running Palm Desert/Los Angeles desert rock stalwarts — they of the generator parties, they of the haven desert venue Rhythm and Brews, much heralded and yet somehow still underrated as a live act, and so on — went nine years between full-lengths. The mid/late ’90s saw a bang-bang-bang-bang succession of albums in their 1995 debut, Stinky Little Gods and 1997’s Power of Three — both on Greg Ginn‘s SST Records — as well as 1998’s Toasted (discussed here) on Bong Load and 1999’s Flames for All on Man’s Ruin, and even as that label collapsed, they crossed into the new century by issuing Cruel & Delicious in 2001 through Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme‘s Rekords Rekords imprint.

There wouldn’t be another studio full-length for nine years until Archaic Volumes showed up on Cobraside Distribution. They weren’t entirely inactive during that time. They toured some, put out the Fatso Jetson Live LP in 2007, and toured and played regional shows, but founding cousins Mario Lalli (guitar/vocals) and Larry Lalli (bass) had opened a restaurant in Los Angeles called CafĂ© 322 — there was a time when I dreamed of reviewing a meal cooked by Larry at the restaurant, but alas, it has since closed —  and as anyone who’s ever worked in the restaurant business might tell you, that kind of thing has a tendency to consume one’s energies.

Time passed accordingly, and so the Fatso Jetson that emerged on the 10 songs/43 minutes was a different sounding band than they’d ever been before, despite the continued presence of both Lallis and founding drummer Tony Tornay. In addition to the recording and organ work of Mathias Schneeberger (Eddie Rivas also recorded), a key factor was the inclusion of Vince Meghrouni on saxophone, harmonica and some vocals, who brought a classy, jazzy feel to the arrangements built outward from the band’s heavy and punkish foundations.

At the same time, a solidification of songwriting took place, so that cuts like opener “Jet Black Boogie” — you don’t have to wait long for that harmonica — and “Play Dead” and the title-track and the punkabilly boogie “Golden Age of Cell Block Slang” and even the comparatively mellow “Let Go” were and remain 10 years later maddeningly catchy. To wit, just by even thinking of the album, I’ve committed to having the verses of “Jet Black Boogie,” let alone the chorus, stuck in my head for the next week, its somewhat depressive lyric brought forth in an uptempo delivery to begin a momentum that the rest of Archaic Volumes continued to push forth, and yes, I do mean push.

“Play Dead” is the second cut and though it holds back the sax, it still has a winding riff andfatso jetson archaic volumes a buildup in its second half, which makes a fitting precursor to the instrumental “Jolting Tales of Tension,” which lives up to its name before finding some footing in its own back end in a quieter section that brings a reminder that Mario Lalli doubles in Yawning Man; airier guitar taking hold for a stretch as the song starts to round out and give way to Tornay‘s snare at the start of “Archaic Volumes” itself and the pulled guitar lead lines that accompany.

There’s something in the lines of the title-track — the opening lyric, “Look at these volumes, carrying thoughts of mine…” and the chorus, “These archaic volumes won’t ever be heard” and its alternate, “These archaic volumes won’t ever really be heard” — that seems to be Fatso Jetson acknowledging their place as an underground band. Widely regarded as desert rock legends a decade later — and rightly so — they’ve never been a household name, but the use of “really” there adds an entirely different layer of meaning, implying the space between hearing and listening and enhancing the emotional effect of the song as a whole. Coupled with “Folklore and fad, destructive searching/Destiny’s dogs keep barking and lurching,” and the double-entendre of “volume,” “Archaic Volumes” can easily be read as Fatso Jetson reconciling with who they are, if perhaps wistfully.

It’s a boogie party from there with the swing rhythm of “Golden Age of Cell Block Slang” and the instrumental “Here Lies Boomer’s Panic,” both highlight examples of Archaic Volumes‘ Fatso Jetson-plus-sax methodology, and the latter seeming indeed to be an opportunity to cast out its titular anxiety. It’s certainly frenetic enough in its jabbing rhythm, and the complement of “Let Go,” still running, but smoother, can only be purposeful. The first lines of the song reaffirm that. “Let Go” winds its way through a quick sub-four minutes, and gives ground to “Black Road Tar,” which is the longest inclusion at 6:20, and offers full-on saxosurf groove and a lengthy instrumental break in its middle that’s a hook unto itself before vocals return for a few final measures and the song ends, giving way to a penultimate cover of The Cramps‘ “Garbage Man” that fits well enough alongside “Black Road Tar” and “Golden Age of Cell Block Slang” and “Here Lies Boomer’s Panic” and is such a blast that it feels like it was written to be where it is on the album, right ahead of the closer “Monoxide Dreams.”

Immediate chill. Flourish in layers of wah guitar speaks to some of the residual quirk of Flames for All, and when they’ve chosen periodically to do so, Fatso Jetson have always been exceptionally good at conveying a psychedelic sensibility. What remains astounding about “Monoxide Dreams” is that it’s so ethereal, so immersive and yet barely over three and a half minutes long. It is enough of a departure from the rest of Archaic Volumes that it can only really round out, and yet in its foundation of tone, the languid groove from Tornay and Larry Lalli and Mario‘s melodic vocal, it’s not necessarily incongruous with what came before either, even as it drifts away at the end. Were it porridge — and it might be — it would be just right.

The good news about Archaic Volumes, aside from the album itself, was that it sparked a surge in activity from Fatso Jetson that is ongoing and especially visible in the European sphere. Coupled with an increase in work from Yawning Man and related projects, Fatso Jetson have spent the last 10 years with more touring and releases, including the 2010 split with Oak’s Mary, a 2013 split with Yawning Man, as well as splits with Herba Mate (review here) and Farflung (review here) in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Italy’s Go Down Records put out Live at Maximum Fest (review here) in 2014 and Fatso Jetson signed with Heavy Psych Sounds for the release of their seventh long-player, Idle Hands (review here), in 2016, that came roughly concurrent to a split with the Netherlands’ del-Toros (discussed here) and a collaboration with France’s Hifiklub (review here) that also included Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce on guitar. The close relationship between Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man also continues unabated. Tours together with Mario Lalli pulling double-duty — his son Dino von Lalli has also been in lineups on guitar for both bands — festival appearances domestic and international, and a general increase in awareness and reputation owing to a new generational listenership have only served to put Fatso Jetson in their rightful place at the forefront of desert rock consciousness.

If one can trace Archaic Volumes as the point at which that began — and I’d argue that’s so — then outlier or not, it represents a crucial moment for the band. And again, that’s before you even get to the songs themselves, which are stunning.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

That went longer than I had intended. It’s about quarter-to-seven, which is late for me to be writing. I took a break in writing the above to go for a run. 16 minutes, roughly. I’ve added a bit to the regular course, going around a wider path in a park I run through and going to the end of a street instead of turning around earlier. Nothing major, but enough to add a couple minutes and enough that I can feel it in my legs, which is what I was shooting for. If I keep up at this rate, I’ll go three miles a couple times a week by the time I’m 50. It’ll be interesting to see what happens first, that, cancer or a heart attack. The mantra, “don’t be crazy” continues to play on repeat, much like “Jet Black Boogie” from the album above.

Really. That fucking song. Wow.

Quite a week. As regards moving around, I had tweaked my ankle, so actually took a couple days off from running, then it rained so got another day, but felt pretty good after. Also been battling like a third of a cold. The Pecan and I are about on the same wavelength there — he’s coughing a bit, boogers a bit, and me too — but The Patient Mrs. has had it worse. A cough meant she couldn’t go to work on campus all week, and she’s having a COVID test today. It’s the same cold she gets every Fall when it’s work-yourself-int0-oblivion time in the semester and the temperature drops, but of course the circumstances this year are different.

I guess if she has the plague that saves us from running errands for a while. So it goes.

The Pecan, thankfully having already slept late, is waking up — I can see on the monitor — so I’m not sure how much longer I have before he runs into his closet to poop in his diaper. Nothing like waking up and taking a good dump in the closet. He starts Parsippany public pre-K the week after next, which will be after his third birthday. He says he wants to take the bus. I’m on board for letting him. We’ll see how it goes.

Ah, he’s up.

New Gimme Metal show today at 5PM Eastern. The playlist will have been posted by the time this is. Thanks if you listen: http://gimmemetal.com

Review of the new Kind album next week, and a couple premieres — an Uncle Woe LP stream that I’m looking forward to — so stay tuned for that, and I’m already behind on news and videos from Dark Buddha Rising, All Souls and All Them Witches, so I’ll endeavor to play catchup as I always seem to need to do after a Quarterly Review.

By the way, it’s kind of astounding to have just written up 60 records as I did and have at least another 80 on my desktop that I could easily have slated. Might be two full weeks in December, or I might sneak in a week before then? I’m not really sure, but hell’s bells there’s a lot out there right now.

Alright. Gotta go.

Great and safe weekend, whatever you’re up to. Have fun, don’t forget to hydrate — so important — put your nose in your mask and all that. More Monday.

FRM.

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Quarterly Review: The Pilgrim, Polymoon, Doctors of Space, Merlock, Sun Dial, Saturn’s Husk, Diggeth, Horizon, Limousine Beach, The Crooked Whispers

Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Well, the weekend’s over and it’s time to wrap up the Quarterly Review. Rest assured, I wrote the following during my copious weekend leisure time, resting on the side of a heated Olympic-size pool with a beverage nearby. It definitely wasn’t four in the morning on a Sunday or anything. If I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I hope you’ve found something amid this massive swath of records that has resonated with you. By way of a cheap plug, I’ll be featuring audio from a lot of these bands on the Gimme Metal show this Friday, 5PM Eastern, if you’re up for tuning in.

Either way, thanks for reading and for being a part of the whole thing. Let’s wrap it up.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back

the pilgrim from the earth to the sky and back

Lest he be accused of laziness, Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows, Killer Boogie and the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label, booking agency and festival series — made his solo debut as The Pilgrim with Spring 2019’s Walking into the Forest (review here). Joined by Black Rainbows drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, Fiori ups the scale of the journey with the second The Pilgrim LP, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back. Richer in arrangement, bolder in craft and more confident in performance, the album runs 14 songs and 50 minutes still largely based around an acoustic acid rock foundation, but with a song like “Riding the Horse” tapping ’70s singer-songwriter vibes while “Cuba” touches on Latin percussion and guitar and “Space and Time” journeying out near the record’s end with waves of synthesizer, it seems The Pilgrim isn’t so willing to be pigeonholed. So much the better.

The Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

There is an undercurrent of extremity to the debut release from Polymoon, who hail from the psychedelic hotbed that is Tampere, Finland. The six-song/42-minute Caterpillars of Creation turns in opener “Silver Mt.” to fervent guitar push or from freaked-out cosmic prog into drifting post-universe exploration, setting the stage for the dynamic that unfolds throughout. The wash early in the second half of “Lazaward” is glorious, and it’s not the first or the last time Polymoon go to that adrenaline-pumping well, but the serenity that caps that song and seems to continue into “Malamalama” in closing side A is no less effective. “Helicaling” mounts tension in its early drumming but finally releases it later, and “Neitherworld” gives Caterpillars of Creation‘s most fervent thrust while closer “Metempsychosis” rounds out with a fitting sense of dissipation. As a first album/first release, it is particularly stunning, and to make it as plain as possible, I will think less of any list of 2020’s best debut albums that leaves out Polymoon.

Polymoon on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Doctors of Space, First Treatment

doctors of space first treatment

The two-piece comprised of Martin Weaver (ex-Wicked Lady) and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, etc.) position First Treatment as their proper studio debut, and it certainly hits its marks in galaxial adventuring well enough to qualify as such, but the duo have been on a creative splurge throughout this year — even in lockdown — and so the six songs here are also born out of the work they’ve been doing since releasing their debut single “Ghouls ‘n’ Shit” (video premiere here) late last year. The album launches with “Journey to Enceladus,” which boasts drum programming by Weaver and though one of the movements in the 21-minute “Into the Oort Cloud” is based around beats, the bulk of First Treatment is purely a work of guitar and synth, and it basks in the freedom that being so untethered inherently brings. Running an hour long, it’s improvisational nature isn’t going to be for everyone, but Heller and Weaver make a strong argument that maybe it should be.

Doctors of Space on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Merlock, That Which Speaks

merlock that which speaks

Who’s ready for a New Wave of PNW Fuckery? That’s right folks, the NWOPNWF has arrived and it’s Spokane, Washington’s Merlock leading the sometimes-awfully-punk-sometimes-awfully-metal-but-somehow-also-always-sludge charge. Aggressive and damning in lyrics, swapping between raw screams, grows, shouts and cleaner vocals and unhinged in terms of its genre loyalties, That Which Speaks seems to find the “melt faces” setting wherever it goes, and though there’s a sense of the four-piece feeling out what works best for them stylistically, the sometimes frantic, sometimes willfully awkward transitions — as in second cut “Prolapse” — serve the overall purpose of undercutting predictability. Eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Idolon” stomps and shoves and gnashes and nasties its way through, and that’s the modus across what follows, though the scream-along headbanger “Vessel” somehow seems even rawer, and though it ends by floating into oblivion, the start of “Condemnation” heavy fuckin’ metal to me. You never know quite where Merlock are going to hit next, and that’s the joy of the thing. May they remain so cacophonous.

Merlock on Thee Facebooks

Merlock on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition

sun dial mind control

Long-running UK psychedelic rockers Sun Dial — led by founding guitarist/vocalist Gary Ramon — released Mind Control in 2012. Sulatron Records picked it up in 2015, and now, five years after that, the same label presents Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition, a 2CD version of the original LP-plus-bonus-tracks reissue that brings the total runtime of the release to a well-beyond-manageable 98 minutes of lysergic experimentation. A full 20 tracks are included in the comprehensive-feeling offering, and from early mixes to alternative takes and lost tracks, and if this isn’t the ‘ultimate’ version of Mind Control, I’m not sure what could be, notwithstanding a complete-studio-sessions box set. Perhaps as a step toward that, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition gives an in-depth look at a vastly underappreciated outfit and is obviously put together as much for the label as by it. That is to say, you don’t put out a reissue like this unless you really love the original record, and if Sulatron loving a record isn’t enough endorsement for you, please turn in your mushrooms on your way out the door.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Saturn’s Husk, The Conduit

Saturns Husk The Conduit

Immersion is the goal of Saturn’s Husk‘s third long-player, The Conduit, and the Riga, Latvia, instrumentalist trio accomplish it quickly with the fluid riffs that emerge from the drone-based intro “Death of Imaginary Lights” and the subsequent 10-minute opener “Black Nebula.” At nine songs and 63 minutes, the album is consuming through the welcome nodder “The Heavenly Ape,” the especially-doomed “The Ritual” and the more mellow-float centerpiece “Spectral Haze,” while “Mycelium Messiah” brings more straight-ahead fuzz (for a time) and drones on either side surround the 10:35 “Sand Barrows,” the latter serving as the finale “A Shattered Visage” quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley and the former “City of the Djinn” running just a minute-plus but still doing enough to reset the brain from where “Mycelium Messiah” left it. Almost functioning as two albums side-by-side with “Spectral Haze” as the dividing point, The Conduit indeed seems to join various sides together, with a depth to coincide that invites the listener to explore along with it.

Saturn’s Husk on Thee Facebooks

Saturn’s Husk on Bandcamp

 

Diggeth, Gringos Galacticos

diggeth gringos galacticos

Landing a punch of classic metal to go along with its heavy-bottomed groove, Diggeth‘s Gringos Galacticos — one supposes the title ‘Spacecrackers’ was taken — was released by the Dutch trio in 2019 and receives a US limited vinyl edition thanks to Qumran Records. One finds some similar guitar heroics to those of Astrosoniq‘s more straightforward moments, but Diggeth‘s focus remains on hookmaking for the duration, offering hints of twang and acoustics in “In the Wake of Giants” and tipping a hat southwestward in “Three Gringos,” but “Straight-Shooter” is willfully breaks out its inner Hetfield and even as the penultimate “Unshackled” departs for a quieter break, it makes its way back in time for the big finish chorus, adding just a touch of Candlemass grandiosity for good measure before the harmonica-laced closing title-track rounds out with its dynamic spacey weirdness, the name of the album repeating itself in an answer to the Stephen Hawking sample that started the voyage on its way.

Diggeth on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records website

 

Horizon, The White Planet Patrol

horizon the white planet patrol

Cursed Tongue Records has the vinyl here, and Three Moons the tape, and the CD will arrive through Aladeriva Records, La Rubia Producciones, Aneurisma Records, Surnia Records and Violence in the Veins — so yes, Horizon‘s third album, The White Planet Patrol is well backed. Fair enough for the Kyuss-via-BlackRainbows vibes of “End of Utopia” or the initial charge and flow of “The Backyard” that sets the Alicante, Spain, trio on their way. “King Serpent” and “Death & Teddies” bring well-crafted fuzz to bear, and “Blind World” effectively layers vocals in its chorus to coincide, but the more laid back roll of the title-cut is an unmistakable highlight. Shades of mid-paced Nebula surface in “Meet the Forest” later on, but Horizon are part of a tradition of heavy bands in Alicante and they know it. The smoothness of their tone and delivery speaks volumes on its own in that regard, never mind the actual songwriting, which also leaves nothing to be desired.

Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine + 2

Limousine Beach Stealin Wine

Debut EP from Limousine Beach out of Pittsburgh, and if the three guitars involved don’t push it over the top, certainly the vocal harmonies get that particular job done. You got six minutes for three songs? Yeah, obviously. They scorch through “Tiny Hunter” to close out, but it’s in the leadoff title-track that Stealin’ Wine + 2 sees the Dave Wheeler-fronted outfit land its most outrageous chorus, just before they go on to find a middle-ground between KISS and Thin Lizzy on “Hear You Calling.” The harmonies open and are striking from the outset, but it’s in how they’re arranged around the standalone parts from Wheeler (also Outsideinside, ex-Carousel) that the outfit’s truest potential is shown. Issued through Tee Pee Records, Stealin’ Wine + 2 is the kind of thing you’d pick up at a show in a normal year and then feel way ahead of everyone else when the LP finally hits. Not a normal year, obviously, but Limousine Beach are serving due notice just the same. In six minutes, no less.

Limousine Beach on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies

the crooked whispers satanic melodies

I’m sure a lot of records show up at Satan’s door with notes, like, “Dear sir, please find the enclosed submitted for your approval,” but it’s not hard to imagine Beelzebub himself getting down with the filth-coated sludge and rolling doom unfurled across The Crooked Whispers‘ debut offering, Satanic Melodies, marked by hateful, near-blackened screams from Anthony Gaglia and the plodding riffs of Chad Davis (Hour of 13, et al). The title-track is longest at 8:23 and in addition to featuring Ignacio De Tommaso‘s right-on bass tone in its midsection, it plays out early like Weedeater sold their collective soul, and drifts out where earlier pieces “Sacrifice” and “Evil Tribute” and “Profane Pleasure” held their roll for the duration. Stretches of clean-vocal cultistry add to the doomier aspects, but The Crooked Whispers seem to care way less about genre than they do about worshiping the devil, and that unshakable faith behind them, the rest seems to fall into place in accordingly biting fashion.

The Crooked Whispers on Thee Facebooks

The Crooked Whispers on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Full Album Stream: Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Somnus Throne Somnus Throne

[Click play above to stream Somnus Throne’s Somnus Throne in full. Album is out Sept. 24 on Burning World Records.]

Gutter riffs. Riffs to turn your soul green. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that Somnus Throne‘s self-titled debut was realized after years spent on the part of guitarist/vocalist Evan hobo’ing around the country, living in flops and finding himself in that very lost, druggy, American vastness, all the while accompanied by a latent urge for volume satisfied only upon discovery of amp-worshiping doom, sludge and stoner idolatry. As narratives go, it’s a pretty good one, and though one has learned over time to approach such things with a healthy raised eyebrow of curiosity if not outright skepticism, the fact that Evan, bassist Haley and drummer Luke — everyone in the trio seems to have lost their surname along the way — all hail from different cities would seem to speak to a certain transient nature behind their work.

Congregation, as it were, happened in Los Angeles to record the album, and Evan credits Luke for having it together enough to corral the band and make Somnus Throne happen, and if that’s the case, then those seeking immersive nod and back-to-zero distorted lumber will want to send a thank-you card — address it to “Luke in L.A.” and I’m sure it’ll get there — since the three-piece manifest four rolling, downer-vibing, what’s-this-again-oh-well-shrug-and-inhale subfloor slabs of weighted groove. Apart from the 47-second intro “Caliphate Obeisance,” there is nothing on Somnus Throne‘s first album under 10 minutes long — a statement in itself — and throughout “Sadomancer,” “Shadow Heathen,” “Receptor Antagonist” and the 14-minute finale “Aetheronaut – Permadose,” they bask in darkly-lysergic disaffection and a sense of abiding fuckall as few in the post-Electric Wizard strain of anti-artisans have been able to conjure. It is noteworthy that their first outing comes courtesy of Burning World Records, which was once responsible for unleashing Conan‘s early work, but what Somnus Throne represent is the stylistic going to ground of a new generation, digging to find the roots of what heavy has become over the last 20 years.

That has led Somnus Throne to a style that wouldn’t have been at all be out of place on Man’s Ruin Records during that era, with a sense of overarching fog that reminds of a more aggro Sons of Otis — so, say, earlier Sons of Otis — even when “Receptor Antagonist” kicks into its speedier second half. It wouldn’t be appropriate to call it a “fresh” take on that style, because sounding “fresh” is far from the intent of these songs — fetid, more like — but the energy they bring to the material is unmistakably that of a group who are excited about what they’re playing as they’re playing it, who are realizing something new for them even if the aesthetic scope is playing toward genre. Throughout “Sadomancer” and “Shadow Heathen” especially, this happens with a palpable sense of will behind it. Somnus Throne are letting their audience know that their mission is to harness the primitive.

somnus throne other art

Think of how the first Monolord record seemed so simple on its surface that one could almost miss its innovation, or even earlier Conan to some degree. Somnus Throne operate in a similar fashion, but are rawer in their substance and still manage to offer hints of variety in the changes in vocal approach from Evan. There are moments that sound like call and response as his voice shifts from one line to the next. If indeed that is all him and not, say, Luke, taking on a backing role — information is purposefully sparse in this regard — then that malleability is an asset already working in the band’s favor that one can only expect to do so even more as they move forward. As it stands, the plodding wash in “Shadow Heathen” is enhanced, and the rough edge that emerges circa nine minutes into “Aetheronaut – Permadose” and directly winks at ’90s-era Sleep being a further sense of character to the songs, and however barebones the offering may feel as a whole, there’s no taking away either from the effectiveness of those changes or the fullness of tone in the mix that surrounds them. Somnus Throne, in short, know their shit.

And to take it back for a second to the narrative, to the context of the album’s making, one can hear the disillusion. They’re not hiding it. Even in “Sadomancer” with all the discussion of witches and spells and samples about the devil and other trappings of turn-of-the-century sludge-doom, the atmosphere feels genuine, and being aware of that background changes the listening experience, making Somnus Throne all the more relevant as a record of a particular On the Road American experience set to task by and for a generation who came of age in a time of rampant corruption, economic collapse, climate change and endless war. Throw in governmental collapse and a global pandemic for the next album, and how else should it sound? Somnus Throne don’t tackle these issues directly — again, witches, spells, monsters, etc. — but their material feels affected and influenced by the moment of its creation in an intangible drudgery throughout. Plod born of turmoil. So be it.

Even the use of the word “caliphate” in the title of the intro — which is a sample offering young people an experience of a quaint, gourmet drug culture that gives way to noise — speaks to the time in which the album was made and the generation of its makers. The question is what Somnus Throne might do next. If this album represents a turn toward stability and sustainability as a band, despite the members living in different places between Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles and San Antonio — if they can find a way to operate — they’ve given themselves a crucial first outing from which to progress; and should that progression keep or enhance the rawness here, that’s still progression, not regression, in aesthetic terms. Even if they can’t or don’t, or whatever, and Somnus Throne becomes a one-off, what-could’ve-been footnote of a heavy release in arguably the worst year to put out an album in the last half-century, it does its part to capture the wretchedness of the time and turn it back on itself with disgust that is righteous and heavy in kind.

Somnus Throne on Thee Facebooks

Somnus Throne on Instagram

Somnus Throne on Bandcamp

Burning World Records website

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

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Review & Track Premiere: All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Coming with Clouds’ from All Souls’ Songs for the End of the World. Album is out Oct. 2.]

Consider the tragedy of our postmodern apocalypse, with none of the drudgery of actually living through it. With their self-released second full-length, Songs for the End of the World, punk-rooted Los Angeles-based heavy rockers All Souls lyrically convey a yes-this-is-personal politics — namely that of being a person with brown skin in America circa 2020 — mourn for a changed climate, and, despite such perspectives as those found in tracks like “Bleeding Out,” “Death Becomes Us,” “You Just Can’t Win,” “Empires Fail” and “Lights Out,” all of which appear in one after the other in that order, manage to do so while exploring progressive textures and varied songwriting that refuses to be beaten down. All Souls‘ 2018 self-titled debut (review here) worked along similar lines, and the group remains melodic at their core and driven by the guitars of Antonio Aguilar (also vocals, formerly Totimoshi) and Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and the insistent punch in the rhythm section of bassist/backing vocalist Meg Castellanos (also formerly Totimoshi) and drummer Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson, etc.), captured with a balance between rawness and depth once again by producer Toshi Kasai.

The difference is one of breadth. Certainly in the seven-minute “Winds,” which arrives following the opening pair of “Sentimental Rehash” and “Twilight Times,” there’s room to air out and reach for new ground in terms of melody and atmosphere, but even in the early build-up and stretch of the later “Lights Out,” or in sub-four-minute pieces like “Bleeding Out” and closer “Coming with Clouds,” All Souls seem to let no opportunity for creative interplay and shimmer in the guitars slip through their collective fingers. Even in the chorus of “Sentimental Rehash,” which is clearly intended to start the record off with a kick of intensity and is Aguilar‘s most gnashing vocal to be found throughout, there are hints of the melodic flow that will soon enough come to fruition as “Twilight Times” moves into “Winds” and the album continues to unfold from that particular landmark, which on many offerings would probably be placed last but here serves as a gateway into the wider sphere of what follows, the grace of its key-strings-and-guitar finish informing “Bleeding Out” and the particularly catchy desert-rock bouncer “Death Becomes Us.”

A tension persists, and well it should. Aguilar‘s style of riffing, even back to Totimoshi‘s earliest work around the turn of the century, has long played a game of trying to catch the listener off-guard with its turns and changes and the places one groove might lead. This can be heard certainly on the chug-into-rush of “Sentimental Rehash,” but also more subtly in the twists of “You Can’t Win,” and Tornay‘s drumming isn’t so much a foil for this impulse as a gleeful enabler, which is how a song like “Death Becomes Us” can border on fun despite its thematic downerism. Add to this the sheer melodic character All Souls bring to their second album, in the guitars as heard in the second half of “You Just Can’t Win,” as well as the moments of flourish like those aforementioned keys or in the combination of Aguilar and Castellanos‘ vocals throughout — on and on — and at the same time Songs for the End of the World basks in this punker-poet energy, it is thoughtful and purposeful in its push toward reaches even the self-titled didn’t attain.

all souls

No doubt the band’s experience on tours with the likes of Tool and the Melvins and even a few years ago Fatso Jetson with Tornay pulling tip-your-hat double-duty will have played into this development, but that’s not the same as manifesting it either in the songwriting or in the studio as they do here, and the continued collaboration with Kasai is a factor as well. There is space in the mix that in quiet moments remains, and the fact that “You Just Can’t Win” can evolve from its subdued beginning into the torrent it becomes, that this shift happens so smoothly and with such natural-sounding efficiency, is evidence of the dynamic at the heart of their approach. One found Aguilar and Castellanos able to bring shades of similar methods into Totimoshi‘s later output, but bolstered as it is here by Trammell and Tornay, there’s no question the strength of All Souls comes from the root combination of its players and the songcraft around which they’ve gathered. It is at moments a sad record when one considers the subject matter — it was also recorded in 2019, so… simpler times? — but willing to be beautiful even in its rawest moments, and for that, nothing other than a triumph on the part of the band.

So what? So, in the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, “let’s dance.” And in doing so, coincide with Laurie Lipton‘s also-ready-dead figures on Songs for the End of the World‘s front cover. In its final movement — seeming to begin with the backing vocals in post-midsection “Empires Fail” (though I guess one might pull back further to the start of side B with “You Just Can’t Win” as well) and running through the emotional heft of “Lights Out,” the headphone-ready intricacy of “Bridge the Sun” that builds off that heft, and the perhaps-epitaph that is “Coming with Clouds” at the end — the 10-track/44-minute outing most realizes its ambitions of mood and method, “Winds” having served as a foreshadow earlier on.

Ultimately, All Souls reside in a place between genres. They are a rock band, to be sure, but are they too punk for the rockers, too rock for the punkers, too progressive for the lunkheads, too raw for the proggers? I’m not sure it matters. What does, by contrast, is just how much All Souls, separate from the other acts in which its members have or currently still take part, have found their voice through these songs and what that means for them as they move forward. I won’t speculate except to note that even underpinning some of the most urgent moments on Songs for the End of the World, on “Sentimental Rehash,” or the rush in the apex of “You Just Can’t Win,” there is a patience and an attention to detail that complements the from-gut nature of the composition, and the balance between the two when tipped one way or the other is part of what makes All Souls as much themselves as they are here. If they can hold onto that and grow that as they so obviously have already, anyone who hears them will be lucky.

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