Quarterly Review: Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, Spaceslug, Malsten, Sun Crow, Honeybadger, Monte Luna, Hombrehumano, Veljet, Witchrider, Devil Worshipper

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

New week, same Quarterly Review. Today is the next-to-last round for this time, though once again, I look at the folders of albums on my desktop and the CDs and LPs that have come in and I realize it could easily go longer. I never really caught up from the last QR. I guess it’s been that kind of year. In any case, more good stuff today, so sit tight and enjoy. If you didn’t find anything last week that stuck out to you, maybe today’s your day.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full

emma ruth rundle thou may our chambers be full

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Emma Ruth Rundle on Thee Facebooks

Thou on Instagram

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Spaceslug, Leftovers

spaceslug leftovers

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Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill

malsten The Haunting of Silvakra Mill

Malmö-based four-piece Malsten make their full-length debut on Interstellar Smoke Records with the four-song/44-minute The Haunting of SilvĂ„kra Mill, and in so doing show an immediate command of post-Pallbearer spaciousness and melodic-doom traditionalism. Their lumber is prevalent and engrossing tonally on opener “Torsion” (10:36), uses silence effectively on “Immolation” (10:24), and seems to find a place between Warning and Lord Vicar on “Grinder” (9:02) ahead of the epic-on-top-of-epics summary in closer “Compunction” (13:54), which finds Malsten having reserved another level of heavy to keep as their final statement. So be it. Very heavy and worthy of as much volume as you can give it, The Haunting of SilvĂ„kra Mill is an accomplished beginning and heralds significant potential on the part of what’s to come from Malsten. I’d watch this band do a live stream playing this record front-to-back. Just saying.

Malsten on Thee Facebooks

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

 

Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion

Sun Crow Quest for Oblivion

A significant undertaking of progressive heavy and noise rock, Sun Crow‘s Quest for Oblivion is among the most ambitious debut albums I’ve heard in 2020, but there’s nothing it sets for itself in terms of goals that it doesn’t accomplish, as vocalist Charles Wilson flips between clean melodies and effective screams atop the riffs of guitarist Ben Nechanicky, the bass of Brian Steel and Keith Hastreiter‘s drums. Somebody’s gonna sign these guys. Even at 70 minutes, Quest for Oblivion, from its post-apocalyptic standpoint, aesthetic cohesion, fluid songcraft and accomplished performance, is simply too good to leave without a proper 2LP release. Individualized in atmosphere though working with familiar-enough elements, it is an album that makes it joyously difficult to pick apart influences, unleashing an initial burst of four longer tracks before giving way (albeit momentarily) to “Fear” and the outlying, brazenly Motörheady “Nothing Behind” before returning to cosmic heavy in “Hypersonic” and the 11-minute “Titans,” which uses its time just as well as everything else that surrounds. Ironic that a record that seems to be about a wasteland should bring so much hope for the future.

Sun Crow on Thee Facebooks

Sun Crow on Bandcamp

 

Honeybadger, Pleasure Delayer

honeybadger pleasure delayer

It doesn’t take Honeybadger long to land their first effective punch on their debut LP, Pleasure Delayer, as the hook of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Wolf” hits square on the jaw and precedes an atmospheric guitar outro that leads into the rest of the album as a closer might otherwise lead the way out. A product of Athens’ heavy rock boom, the four-piece distinguish themselves in fuzzy tones and an approach that comes right to the edge of burl and doesn’t quite tip over, thankfully and gracefully staving off chestbeating in favor of quality songcraft on “The Well” and the engagingly bass-led “Crazy Ride,” from which the initially slower, bluesier “Good for Nothing” picks up with some Truckfighters, some 1000mods and a whole lot of fun. Side B’s hooks are no less satisfyingly straightforward. “That Feel” feels born for the stage, while “Laura Palmer” makes a memorable chorus out of that Twin Peaks character’s slaying, the penultimate “Holler” feels indeed like the work of a band trying to stand themselves out from a crowded pack and “Truth in the Lie” caps mirroring the energy of “Good for Nothing” but resounding in a cold finish. Efficient, hooky, smoothly executed. There’s nothing one might reasonably ask of Pleasure Delayer that it doesn’t deliver.

Honeybadger on Thee Facebooks

Honeybadger on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast

monte luna mind control broadcast

Released name-your-price as a benefit for the venue The Lost Well in Monte Luna‘s hometown of Austin and derived from a CvltNation-sponsored livestream, the three-song Mind Control Broadcast follows 2019’s Drowners’ Wives (review here) and is intended as a glimpse at their impending third LP, likely due in 2021. That record will be one to look forward to, but it’ll be hard to trade out the raw bludgeon of “Blackstar” — the leadoff here — for another, maybe-not-live-recorded version. True, the setting doesn’t necessarily allow for the band to bring in guests like they did last time around or to flesh out melodies in the same way, but the sound is brash and thrilling and lets “Rust Goliath” live up to its name in largesse, while saving its nastiest for last in “Fear the Sun,” the glorious bassline of which it feels like a spoiler even mentioning for someone who hasn’t heard it yet. 22 of the sludgiest minutes you’re likely to spend today.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna BigCartel store

 

Hombrehumano, Crepuscular

hombrehumano crepuscular

As satisfying as the laid-back-heavy desert rock flow of “Rolito” is, and as well done as what surrounds on Hombrehumano‘s 2019 debut album, Crepuscular, turns out to be in its 53-minute run, it’s in the longer pieces like the Western “Puerto Gris” or the post-Brant Bjork “Metamorfosis” that they really shine. That’s not to take away from the opening instrumental “Nomada” that establishes the tones and sets the atmosphere in which the rest of the record takes place, or the nod of “Primaveras de Olvido,” and certainly the fuzz-boogie and percussion of “Ouroboro” shine in a manner worthy of being depicted on the cover, but the Argentinian four-piece do well with the extra time to flesh out their material. But, either way you go, you go. Hombrehumano craft sweet fuzz and spaciousness on “Puerto Gris” and answer it back later in “Zombakice” and add twists of percussion and acoustics and vocal effects — never mind the birdsong — on closer “Del Ensueño.” Es un ejemplo mĂĄs de lo que le falta a la cultura gringo al no adorar fuertemente a los sudamericanos.

Hombrehumano on Thee Facebooks

Hombrehumano on Bandcamp

 

Veljet, Viva El Diablo

veljet viva el diablo

Even my non-Spanish-speaking ass can translate Viva el Diablo, the title of Mexican instrumentalist three-piece Veljet‘s debut album. Initially released by the band in March 2020, it was subsequently reissued for physical pressing with a seventh track, “Leviatan,” added, bringing the runtime to a vinyl-ready 37 minutes. The apparently-devil-worshiping title-cut is still the longest at a doomly eight minutes, but though the production is fairly raw, Veljet‘s material taps into a few different impulses within the heavy rock sphere, offsetting willfully repetitive riffing in “El DĂ­a de las Manos” with scorching solo work while “Jay Adams” — presumably named in homage to the Dogtown skater — pulls some trad-metal riffing into its second half. “Cutlass” is short at 2:36, but makes the record as a whole feel less predictable for that, and the add-on “Leviatan” embodies its great sea beast with a nod up front that opens to later cacophony. The vibe throughout is you’re-in-the-room live jams, and Veljet have well enough chemistry to carry the songs across in that setting.

Veljet on Thee Facebooks

The Swamp Records website

 

Witchrider, Electrical Storm

witchrider electrical storm

Smoothly produced and executed, not lacking energy but produced for a very studio-style fullness, Witchrider‘s second LP arrives via Fuzzorama Records in answer to 2014’s Unmountable Stairs with a pro-shop feel for its 50-minute duration. Songs are sharply hooked and energetic, beefing up Queens of the Stone Age-style desert rock early on “Shadows” and “You Lied” before the guitars introduce a broader palette with the title-track. The chorus of “Mess Creator” and the big finish in closer “The Weatherman” are highlights, but songs like “Keep Me out of It” and “Come Back” feel built for a commercial infrastructure that — at least in radio-free America — doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not sure what it takes to attract the attention of picky algorithms, but if it’s grounded songwriting, varied material and crisp performance like it was when there was a cable channel playing music videos, then Witchrider are ready to roll. As it stands, the Austrian outfit seem underserved by the inability to even get on a festival stage and play this material live to win converts in that manner. They’re hardly alone in that, but with material that seems so poised specifically toward audience engagement, it comes through all the more, which of course is a testament to the quality of the work itself.

Witchrider on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records website

 

Devil Worshipper, 3

devil worshipper 3

Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 10-minute “Silver Dagger” and presented with the burning red eyes of Christopher Lee’s Dracula on the front, the 33-minute 3 tape from Seattle’s Devil Worshipper maintains the weirdo-experimental spirit of the outfit’s 2015 self-titled debut (review here), finding a kind of Butthole Surfers-into-a-cassette-recorder, anything-goes-until-it-sucks, dark ’90s psychedelia they call “garage metal.” Fair enough. Apparently more efficient than anything I can come up with for it, though what doesn’t necessarily account for is the way the 3 challenges the listener, the remastered versions of “Into Radiation Wave” and “Chem Rails” from the first album, or the horror atmospherics of “Drinking Blood.” It’s like it’s too weird for this planet so it finally made one for itself. Well earned.

Devil Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Puppy Mill Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou Set Oct. 30 Release for May Our Chambers Be Full

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Emma Ruth Rundle + Thou Promo art.

Hard to hold back the anticipatory eye-roll for all the hyperbolic praise the heavy literati is bound to heap upon a collaboration between Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou, but I actually took the four minutes to listen to “Ancestral Recall” and the bridge between Rundle‘s melodic vocals and the harsh bite of Thou‘s screams works well together. These two collaborated on stage at Roadburn, so an LP together isn’t such a huge surprise, but I’ve no doubt that May Our Chambers Be Full — preorders up now through Sacred Bones — is going to be the kind of offering people swear by for some time to come.

You can hear the track at the bottom of this post, or probably anywhere in your social media feed. Or at least in mine. Hype or no, it’s worth hearing, even if only to say you heard it.

Dig:

THOU ANNOUNCE COLLABORATIVE ALBUM WITH EMMA RUTH RUNDLE: MAY OUR CHAMBERS BE FULL OUT OCTOBER 30TH ON SACRED BONES

LEAD SINGLE “ANCESTRAL RECALL”

Today, Thou have announced their collaborative album with Emma Ruth Rundle (appearing courtesy of Sargent House), May Our Chambers Be Full which sees its release October 30 via Sacred Bones. Its monolithic lead single, “Ancestral Recall” exemplifies the spirit of the collaboration. “It’s an easy marriage of our styles that was truly enhanced by everyone’s input during the arrangement process.” Thou’s guitarist Andy Gibbs explains. “When I first wrote the main two riffs (the first one being an homage to A Perfect Circle’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’), I didn’t know if it would fit with the vibe we were pursuing because it didn’t sound “Thou-y” enough nor did it sound like something Emma would normally put on a record. Ultimately, I realised how important that trait is; this record is all about exploring territory we wouldn’t usually explore with our own records.”

Emma adds, “Andy originally wrote the riffs and I believe I referred to it as the ‘Guitar Hero’ jam — it was hard for me to keep up and I felt like I was doing an obstacle course (in the best way). Because of the differences in our guitar tunings, it was difficult for me to match the rest exactly and I ended up coming with a single note passage to play over the most difficult section. For me this was a good example of the collaboration and that I was able to express my style despite my limitations in a way that added to Andy’s riff. Working with him on guitars was a challenge, but most rewarding, and I feel proud of our child.”

While their solo material seems on its face to be quite disparate, both prolific groups have spent their lauded careers lurking at the outer boundaries of heavy scenes, each having more in common with DIY punk and its spiritual successor, grunge. The debut straddles a similar, very fine line both musically and thematically. While Emma’s standard fare is a blend of post-rock-infused folk music, and Thou is typically known for its downtuned, doomy sludge, the conjoining of the two artists has created a record more in the vein of the early ’90s Seattle sound and later ’90s episodes of Alternative Nation, while still retaining much of the artists’ core identities.

Lyrically, May Our Chambers Be Full is a marriage of mental trauma, existential crises, and the ecstatic tradition of the expressionist dance movement. “Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive joy weeps.” Melodic, melancholic, heavy, visceral.

The visual art accompanying this work was created in collaboration with preeminent New Orleans photographer Craig Mulcahy. The faceless, genderless models are meant to emphasise this pervasive state of ambiguity and emotional vacillation, the images falling somewhere between modern high fashion and classical Renaissance.

May Our Chambers Be Full is out October 30th as part of Sacred Bones’ Alliance Series of collaborative releases which includes recent works from Uniform & The Body and Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky. To pre-order go here.

May Our Chambers Be Full Track Listing:
1 – Killing Floor
2 – Monolith
3 – Out of Existence
4 – Ancestral Recall
5 – Magickal Cost
6 – Into Being
7 – The Valley

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Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full (2020)

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