Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Hippie Death Cult, The Cosmic Dead, Greenthumb, Elepharmers, Nothing is Real, Warish, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Those Furious Flames, Mantra Machine

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to find the jerk who decided that the week I fly to Norway was a good time for the Quarterly Review. That, obviously, was a tactical error on my part. Nonetheless, we press on with day four, which I post from Oslo on CET. Whatever time zone you may find yourself in this Thursday, I hope you have managed to find something so far in this onslaught of whatnot to sink your chompers into. That’s ultimately, why we’re here. Also because there are so many folders with albums in them on my desktop that I can’t stand it anymore. Happens about every three months.

But anyhoozle, we press on with Day Four of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, dutiful and diligent and a couple other words that start with ‘d.’ Mixed bag stylistically this time — trying to throw myself off a bit — so should be fun. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Total Fucking Destruction, #USA4TFD

Total Fucking Destruction USA4TFD

Who the hell am I to be writing about a band like Total Fucking Destruction? I don’t know. Who the hell am I to be writing about anything. Fuck you. As the Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth)-led Philly natives grind their way through 23 tracks in a 27-minute barrage of deceptively thoughtful sonic extremity, they efficiently chronicle the confusion, tumult and disaffection of our age both in their maddening energy and in the poetry — yeah, I said it — of their lyrics. To it, from “Is Your Love a Rainbow”: “Are you growing? Is everything okay? Are you growing in the garden of I don’t know?” Lines like this are hardly decipherable without a lyric sheet, of course, but still, they’re there for those ready to look beyond the surface assault of the material, though, frankly, that assault alone would be enough to carry the band — Hoak on drums/vocals, Dan O’Hare on guitar/vocals and Ryan Moll on bass/vocals — along their willfully destructive course. For their fourth LP in 20 years — most of that time given to splits and shorter releases, as one might expect — Total Fucking Destruction make their case for an end of the world that, frankly, can’t get here fast enough.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Give Praise Records website

 

Hippie Death Cult, 111

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

Issued first by the band digitally and on CD and then by Cursed Tongue Records on vinyl, 111 is the impressively toned debut full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who cull together heavy rock and post-grunge riffing with flourish of organ and a densely-weighted groove that serves as an overarching and uniting factor throughout. With the bluesy, classic feeling vocals of Ben Jackson cutting through the wall of fuzz from Eddie Brnabic‘s guitar and Laura Phillips‘ bass set to roll by Ryan Moore‘s drumming, there’s never any doubt as to where Hippie Death Cult are coming from throughout the seven-track/42-minute offering, but longer, side-ending pieces “Unborn” (8:24) and “Black Snake” (9:06) touch respectively on psychedelia and heavy blues in a way that emphasizes the subtle turns that have been happening all along, not just in shifts like the acoustic “Mrtyu,” but in the pastoral bridge and ensuing sweep of “Pigs” as well. “Sanctimonious” and “Breeder’s Curse” provide even ground at the outset, and from there, Hippie Death Cult only grow richer in sound along their way.

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

 

The Cosmic Dead, Scottish Space Race

The Cosmic Dead Scottish Space Race

Heavyweight Glaswegian space jammers The Cosmic Dead present four massive slabs of lysergic intensity with their eighth long-player, Scottish Space Race (on Riot Season Records), working quickly to pull the listener into their gravity well and holding them there for the 2LP’s 75-minute duration. As hypnotic as it is challenging, the initial churn that emerges in the aptly-named 20-minute opener “Portal” clenches the stomach brutally, and it’s not until after about 12 minutes that the band finally lets it loose. “Ursa Major,” somewhat thankfully, is more serene, but still carries a sense of movement and build in its second half, while the 12-minute title-track is noisier and has the surprising inclusion of vocals from the generally instrumental outfit. They cap with the 24-minute kosmiche throb of “The Grizzard,” and there are vocals there too, but they’re too obscured to be really discernible in any meaningful way, and of course the end of the record itself is a huge wash of fuckall noise. Eight records deep, The Cosmic Dead know what they’re doing in this regard, and they do it among the best of anyone out there.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Greenthumb, There are More Things

greenthumb there are more things

With just three tracks across a 20-minute span, There are More Things (on Acid Cosmonaut) feels like not much more than a sampler of things to come from Italian post-sludgers Greenthumb, who take their name from a Bongzilla track they also covered on their 2018 debut EP, West. The three-songer feels like a decided step forward from that offering, and though they maintain their screamier side well enough, they might be on the verge of needing a new name, as the rawness conveyed by the current moniker hardly does justice to the echoing atmospherics the band in their current incarnation bring. Launching with the two seven-minute cuts “The Field” and “Ogigia’s Tree,” they unfurl a breadth of roll so as to ensnare the listener, and though “The Black Court” is shorter at 5:37 and a bit more straight-ahead in its structure, it still holds to the ambient sensibility of its surroundings well, the band obviously doing likewise in transposing a natural feel into their sound born of landscape real or imagined.

Greenthumb on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records on Bandcamp

 

Elepharmers, Lords of Galaxia

Elepharmers Lords Of Galaxia Artwork

Riffy Sardinians Elepharmers set themselves to roll with “Ancient Astronauts” and do not stop from there on Lords of Galaxia, their third LP and debut through Electric Valley Records. There are some details of arrangement between the guitars of El Chino (also bass, vocals and harmonica) and Andrea “Fox” Cadeddu and the drums of Maurizio Mura, but as Marduk heralds his age on second cut “Ziqqurat,” the central uniting factor is g-r-o-o-v-e, and Elepharmers have it down through “The Flood” and into side B’s classic stoner rocking “Foundation” and the driving “The Mule,” which shifts into laser-effects ahead of the fade that brings in closer “Stars Like Dust” for the last 10 minutes of the 47-minute offering. And yes, there’s some psychedelia there, but Elepharmers stay pretty clearheaded on the whole in such a way as to highlight the sci-fi theme that seems to draw the songs together as much as the riffage. More focus on narrative can only help bring that out more, but I’m not sure I’d want that at the expense of the basic songwriting, which isn’t at all broken and thus requires no fixing.

Elepharmers on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nothing is Real, Only the Wicked are Pure

nothing is real only the wicked are pure

How do you recognize true misanthropy when you come across it? It doesn’t wear a special kind of facepaint, though it can. It doesn’t announce itself as such. It is a frame. Something genuinely antisocial and perhaps even hateful is a worldview. It’s not raise-a-claw-in-the-woods. It’s he-was-a-quiet-loner. And so, coming across the debut album from Los Angeles experimentalist doom outfit, one gets that lurking, creeping feeling of danger even though the music itself isn’t overly abrasive. But across the 2CD debut album, a sprawl of darkened, viciously un-produced fare that seems to be built around programmed drums at the behest of Craig Osbourne — who may or may not be the only person in the band and isn’t willing to say otherwise — plays out over the course of more than two hours like a manifesto found after the fact. Imagine chapters called “Hope is Weakness,” “Fingered by the Hand of God,” and “Uplift the Worthy (Destroy the Weak).” The last of those appears on both discs — as do several of the songs in different incarnations — as the track marries acoustic and eventual harder-edged guitar around murderous themes, sounding something like Godflesh might have if they’d pursued a darker path. Scary.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Warish, Down in Flames

warish down in flames

The fact that Warish are blasting hard punk through heavy blowout tones isn’t what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to the band. They want to talk about the fact that it’s Riley Hawk — of royal stock, as regards pro skateboarding — fronting the band. Well, that’s probably good for a built-in social media following — name recognition never hurts, and I don’t see a need to pretend otherwise — but it doesn’t do shit for the album itself. What matters about the album is that bit about the blasting blowout. With Down in Flames (on RidingEasy), the Oceanside three-piece follow-up their earlier-2019 debut EP with 11 tracks that touch on horror punk with “Bones” and imagine grunge-unhinged with “Fight” and “You’ll Abide,” but are essentially a display of tonal fuckall presented not to add to a brand, but to add the soundtrack to somebody’s blackout. It’s a good time and the drunkest, gnarliest, most-possibly-shirtless dude in the room is having it. Also he probably smells. And he just hugged you. Down in Flames gets high with that dude. That matters more than who anyone’s dad is.

Warish on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Split

It’s a double-dose of New England doom as Connecticut’s Mourn the Light and Boston’s Oxblood Forge pair up for a split release. The former bring more material than the latter, particularly when one counts the digital-only bonus cover of Candlemass‘ “Bewitched,” but with both groups, it’s a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Both groups share a clear affinity for classic metal — and yes, that absolutely extends to the piano-led drama of Mourn the Light‘s mournful “Carry the Flame” — but Oxblood Forge‘s take thereupon is rougher edged, harder in its tone and meaner in the output. Their “Screams From Silence” feels like something from a dubbed-and-mailed tape circa ’92. Mourn the Light’s “Drags Me Down” is cleaner-sounding, but no less weighted. I don’t think either band is out to change the world, or even to change doom, but they’re doing what they’re doing well and without even an ounce of pretense — well, maybe a little bit in that piano track; but it’s very metal pretense — and clearly from the heart. That might be the most classic-metal aspect of all.


Mourn the Light on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

 

Those Furious Flames, HeartH

those furious flames hearth

Swiss heavy rockers Those Furious Flames push the boundaries of psychedelia, but ultimately remain coherent in their approach. Likewise, they very, very obviously are into some classic heavy rock and roll, but their take on it is nothing if not modern. And more, they thrive in these contradictions and don’t at all sound like their songs are in conflict with themselves. I guess that’s the kind of thing one can pull off after 15 years together on a fifth full-length, which HeartH (on Vincebus Eruptum) is for them. Perhaps it’s the fact that they let the energy of pieces like “VooDoo” and the boogie-laced “HPPD” carry them rather than try to carry it, but either way, it’s clearly about the songs first, and it works. With added flash of organ amid the full-sounding riffs, Those Furious Flames round out with the spacey “Visions” and earn every bit of the drift therein with a still-resonant vocal harmony. You might not get it all the first time, but listening twice won’t be at all painful.

Those Furious Flames on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum Recordings BigCartel store

 

Mantra Machine, Heliosphere

mantra machine heliosphere

This is what it’s all about. Four longer-form instrumentalist heavy psych jams that are warm in tone and want nothing so much as to go out wandering and see what they can find. Through “Hydrogen,” “Atmos,” “Delta-V” and “Heliosphere,” Amsterdam-based three-piece Mantra Machine want nothing for gig-style vitality, but their purpose isn’t so much to electrify as to find that perfect moment of chill and let it go, see where it ends up, and they get there to be sure. Warm guitar and bass tones call to mind something that might’ve come out of the Netherlands at the start of this decade, when bands like Sungrazer and The Machine were unfolding such fluidity as seemed to herald a new generation of heavy psychedelia across Europe. That generation took a different shape — several different shapes, in the end — but Mantra Machine‘s Heliosphere makes it easy to remember what was so exciting about that in the first place. Total immersion. Total sense of welcoming. Totally human presence without speaking a word. So much vibe. So much right on.

Mantra Machine on Thee Facebooks

Mantra Machine on Bandcamp

 

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Yellowstock 2016 Adds Mantra Machine and Tangled Horns

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Belgium-based Yellowstock festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and following its initial lineup announcement earlier this month with The Machine, Greenleaf, Hills, The Grand Astoria and so on, Yellowstock 2016 has seen fit to add two more groups to the bill. This time around it’s Belgium’s own Mantra Machine and Tangled Horns, the former of whom were also recently confirmed for Roadburn. Yellowstock 2016’s lineup is pretty strong internationally, as you can see below, but it’s very much in their character to support the domestic Belgian scene as well, so all the better.

I’m sure there’s more to come on this one, but until then, here are the exclamatory announcements from the fest:

yellowstock 2016

Yellowstock Festival 10th Anniversary Edition!

Aug. 13-14

“Interstellar fuzzed out instrumental stoner jams from beyond” yeah that’s how Amsterdam’s Mantra Machine description on their bandcamp page but… listen for yourself!!! Sweettttt spaced out & heavy jams from these instrumental guys!! We’re stoked to have’m at our 10th anniversary!! This summer!! Yessaaahh!!

Bammmm!! One of Belgium’s best new Stonerrock-like bands from this very moment just confirmed to play Yellowstock Festival 10th Anniversary Edition!! Yessss it is Tangled Horns!! Grunge-y Stoner-like sounding band; a must see live band!! Pure energy; Tight as F*ck!! Hell Yeah!

TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS!!!!!
TICKETS available now at: http://bit.ly/1prkFxW
EARLY BIRD TICKETS: SOLD-OUT!!!

First bands confirmed!
Michael Rother plays NEU!, Harmonia and selected solo works (Ger)
HILLS (Se)
GREENLEAF (Se)
THE OSCILLATION (Uk)
K-X-P (Fin)
THE MACHINE (Nl)
THE FLYING EYES (Usa)
THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN (Usa)
TERMINAL CHEESECAKE (Uk)
KISS THE ANUS OF A BLACK CAT (B)
LAY LLAMAS (It)
THE GRAND ASTORIA (Rus)
BLOWN OUT (Uk)
THE GLÜCKS (B)
MANTRA MACHINE (Nl)
TANGLED HORNS (B)
+ many more soon!

We are back with 2 full days of music!! Campsite!! and lots more coming soon!!

Cross the dates in your agenda!

http://bit.ly/1prkFxW
https://www.facebook.com/YellowstockConcerts/
https://www.facebook.com/events/118832615129683/
https://www.facebook.com/mantramachine/
https://www.facebook.com/tangledhorns/

Mantra Machine, Nitrogen (2014)

Tangled Horns, “Momentum” official video

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Roadburn 2016 Goes Apeshit and Adds Like 30 More Bands to Complete its Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Every year, without fail, there comes a point at which one is forced to wonder if Roadburn has lost its damn mind. So it is today as the news hits the inbox of Roadburn 2016 “rounding out its lineup” with more bands than most festivals manage to host in a weekend. Unbefuckinglievable.

Over 30 acts have joined the bill for Roadburn 2016, which I’m thrilled and proud to say I’ll be attending and covering while also editing the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily ‘zine once again, including Scott Kelly and Sanford Parker‘s Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Buried at Sea (also featuring Parker), New Keepers of the Water Towers, Usnea, Death Alley, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Beastmaker, Gomer Pyle, Carousel, Zone Six, The Progerians (who have a new video out that’s getting posted in just a bit, Menhir and of course many others.

Oh yeah, and Jucifer are playing the pre-show. Pure madness.

I can’t wait:

Final additions to the Roadburn bill, including full Cul de Sac line up

New additions to the bill include BURIED AT SEA, MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE, INVERLOCH, CULT OF OCCULT, CHVE, and USNEA.
Full line up for Cul de Sac venue announced, including ‘Roadburn Introduces…’
JUCIFER announced for the Hard Rock Hide Out pre-Roadburn part

BURIED AT SEA

From the beginning surge of feedback through the last filth-caked rumble, BURIED AT SEA’s sound is a monument to the notion of tone as weight. Abrasive in the extreme and matched in aural largesse only by the sway of its rhythm, it surrounds completely and oppresses mercilessly. Here at Roadburn Festival HQ, we are beyond excited to announce BURIED AT SEA will bring their one-of-a-kind dirges to Roadburn 2016 on Sunday, April 17 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE

We always knew they were unusually talented musicians, but in the last few years Scott Kelly and Sanford Parker have also become remarkably prolific, showing a wonderfully multi-faceted aspect to their artistic expression throughout a multitude of projects. They now appear as the sole members of this latest endeavour, MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE. A sort of reverse side of the coin to the unfettered, confrontational aggression of Corrections House, the five songs on their self-titled debut, are more insidious. MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE perform on Sunday, April 17 in the Green Room.

For more information about the above bands click here.

FURTHER ADDITIONS TO THE BILL

In addition to the above, the following bands have also been added to the Roadburn 2016 line up.

CHVE – click here for more info

SIR ADMIRAL CLOUDSESLEY SHOVEL (part of Lee Dorrian’s curated event)
BEASTMAKER (part of Lee Dorrian’s curated event)
CAROUSEL
click here for more info on these bands

CULT OF OCCULT
DANIEL PAYNE
HELL
INVERLOCH
USNEA
click here for more info on these bands

CUL DE SAC LINE UP

Once again, Roadburn Festival is very happy to be hosting our fifth at the Cul de Sac in collaboration with Never Mind The Hype, an independent Dutch music platform (think: rock meets alternative, or stoner rock meets psych). At Cul de Sac, we will focus on showcasing promising Dutch and Belgian bands, plus some acts from further afield. Positioned just around the corner from the 013 venue, the intimate surroundings of the Cul de Sac mean you can get up close and personal with some of the best up and coming bands we could get our hands on.

Once again we have picked one band to showcase under the Roadburn Introduces… banner, and in association with Nevermind The Hype, we’re pleased to announce that the showcase band for 2016 is DOOL. Hailing from Rotterdam, DOOL will lure us into their spiraling netherworld, and connect with the international Roadburn community during an intimate show at the Cul de Sac on Saturday April 16 in Tilburg,The Netherlands. DOOL starts at 2 pm. Click here to read more about DOOL.

Thursday April 14
MOLOKEN
NEW KEEPERS OF THE WATER TOWERS
ZONE SIX
DEAD NEANDERTHALS
GOMER PYLE
MANTRA MACHINE
Click here for more info

Friday April 15
HERDER
ALKERDEEL FEATURING GNAW THEIR TONGUES
COCAINE PISS
NOCTUM
OBESE
CONCATENATUS
Click here for more info

Just as we did last year, Roadburn will focus on Belgium, and in collaboration with one of the country’s foremost bookings agencies, RuffStuff Music, we welcome some fantastic bands hailing from just next door in Belgium – bands that embodied the spirit of Roadburn. Together we will host some exciting, cutting edge bands, alongside Roadburn’s established acts, for the second year in a row.

Saturday April 16
HEMELBESTORMER (click here for more info)
GRIMMSONS
PARTISAN
THE PROGERIANS
WE’REWOLVES
VVOVNDS
Click here for more info

Sunday April 17
SYNDROME
CHAOS ECHOES
MENHIR
WITCH TRAIL
And finish your Roadburn experience with DEATH ALLEY
Click here for more info

HARD ROCK HIDE OUT

In keeping with what has become Roadburn tradition, we’ll be welcoming keen Roadburners to Tilburg on Wednesday, April 13 with a party at Cul de Sac. Whilst newcomers get their bearings, return visitors will slip straight back into old habits. Welcoming Roadburners to Tilburg this year will be none other than our our favourite pair of highly-amplified nomads – JUCIFER. They will park up at the Cul de Sac for the evening and rip through their harsh, thrashy, sludgy, doomy, downright massive tunes.

TICKETS

Day tickets for Thursday and Friday remain on sale, but all other ticketing options are now SOLD OUT. For a full rundown of the line up and to view the line up posters, please click HERE.

Buried at Sea, Ghost (2007)

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