Wolf Blood, II: Beyond Cultistry

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

wolf blood ii

It’s a markedly outside-genre approach that Wolf Blood seem to be taking on their second album, II, and the only question one is left with when they’re done is who’s going to sign them. Because especially if they tour at all, it’s going to need to be someone, as their work is simply too engaging in its individualism to leave hanging out there on Bandcamp with the limited self-pressings it’s gotten. At times reminiscent of Kylesa, as in the dual vocals between guitarist Mindy Johnson and bassist Adam Rucinski — drummer Jake Paulsrud also contributes — during “Kumate,” their winding moments are able to conjure modern prog or even out to the straight-ahead drive of black metal as they will, with Johnson and fellow guitarist Mike Messina leading arrangements like that of the penultimate “Drowning Man,” which doesn’t offer much beyond the assumed guitar, bass, drums and vocals and yet manifests a resonant sense of atmosphere thanks to the patience of the delivery and the richness of the tones involved, the echoes seeming to rise from the guitar and bass lines like so much distant smoke.

With a pervasive sense of melody to coincide, Wolf Blood emerge five years after their self-titled debut (review here) with a six-song/41-minute LP that refuses to do anything other than stand on its own. The Duluth, Minnesota-based four-piece have clearly worked to discover who they are as players in the intervening half-decade from one release to the next — they also brought in Rucinski as a new member — but the manner in which they succeed across II‘s varied-of-intent-but-united-in-mood span is thrilling and immersive at the same time, even unto the post-Sleep march of 11-minute closer “Tsunami,” the louder parts of which live up to the name in tidal undulations of riffing ahead of quieter verses, creating a push-pull tension that, as one would hope, pays off in a fervent thrust to cap the album as a whole. That is just one more example of the ways in which Wolf Blood‘s II feels strikingly complete, as that last push carries some reminder of the outset of “Lesion” back at the start of the record.

Indeed, those opening seconds that introduce the opener and return as a bridge between verses at the beginning of II are a crucial nod to extreme metal that add an element of danger to everything Wolf Blood do subsequent to them, an undercurrent of volatility belying even the calmest of stretches. With Paulsrud blasting away on drums, “Lesion” revels in that elemental extremity, and that only makes the swinging groove of “Slaughterhouse” all the more satisfying as the vocal harmonies arrive in thoughtfully composed fashion over a push that’s more subtle than that of the opener but finds Rucinski — or Paulsrud — stepping forward in order to take a soaring chorus in an effective changeup of their approach to that point. A guitar solo leads to full-on instrumental charge as “Slaughterhouse” pushes into the aforementioned “Kumate” (a misspelled Bloodsport reference, perhaps?), the finisher for side A and the longest and most outwardly dynamic song yet, though frankly, neither of the preceding tracks wanted anything for dynamic.

WOLF BLOOD

The fluidity with which Wolf Blood are able to shift from churn to charge isn’t to be understated, and it’s almost before the listener realizes what has happened that a given song has taken off in one direction or the other. Like the blastbeats in “Lesion” the effect this has is to make the album overall less predictable and more exciting, and as the four-piece leave a trail of memorable parts behind, whether that’s the chorus in “Kumate” or the more rocking two-minute “Opium” that follows at the start of side B, topped with growls amid a cacophonous assault that would be post-metal were it not essentially a transmogrified desert rock riff put to inventive use. It’s not that Wolf Blood are doing anything at a given moment that’s willfully weird or over the top in terms of making a show of their “unique” aspects — there’s no check-us-out-we’re-weird-and-hyper-performative happening here — but the way they combine stylistic pieces to create the ambience of “Drowning Man” or “Slaughterhouse,” or even “Lesion” and “Opium,” is unquestionably their own.

And the thoughtfulness of their composition extends to the arrangement of the album itself, with each side running from its shortest track to its longest, though admittedly this is more noticeable on side B, where the difference is more stark. That Wolf Blood should so thrive in the longer “Drowning Man” and “Tsunami” isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the manner in which Wolf Blood execute the end of II reinforces the engagement that’s been happening all along and affirms their clearheadedness about who they are and what they want to be doing, be that the interplay of screams and clean vocals in “Drowning Man” or the already-noted rousing all-go at the end of “Tsunami.” With these moments and a full record’s worth of others, Wolf Blood seem to be skirting the line of sonic progressivism, not really willing to be so indulgent as to fully dive in, but neither content to simplify their impulses.

It’s hard to tell in II if this is a balance finding its way or the output of competing ideologies of craft, one of which will win out over the other in the longer term. And what does the longer term mean when a band takes five years between their first and second LPs, anyway? I said at the outset that some label or other needs to get behind II for wider release, and I genuinely believe it, but I don’t think Wolf Blood are finished growing, either. This, ultimately, makes them all the more vital as they continue to develop their approach, but the big question that needs to be answered is where they’ll take that from here and what their intentions are for all the potential shown in these tracks, because as much as they represent a realization of the band’s collective aesthetic ideals, they seem to speak to a forward-thinking mentality that will require its own manifestation. They have work to do, but that shouldn’t take away from the important steps made throughout II, which no matter what Wolf Blood come up with next will continue to stand as the moment they first hinted how much they truly had to offer.

Wolf Blood, II (2019)

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Chalice of Suffering Premiere “Miss Me, but Let Me Go” from Lost Eternally out April 19

Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Chalice of Suffering

Chalice of Suffering release their second album, Lost Eternally, April 19 on Transcending Obscurity Records. Even before the bagpipes kick in on opening track “In the Mist of Once Was,” the morose spirit of the recording makes itself plain, and the ensuing seven-song/62-minute outing is a duly downerist plunge of Midwestern-style death-doom, rending its melancholy soul in thick tones, dramatic turns and a blend of spoken and growled vocals from frontman John McGovern. Keyboards play a large role, with guitarists Will Maravelas and Nikoley Velev providing, and the steady punctuation of Aaron Lanik‘s kick drum and the low-end murk from bassist Neal Pruett assure that the songs are a due slog to suit their atmosphere of misery. The core Minneapolis-based five-piece welcome a range of guests throughout on cuts like Danny Woe (Woebegone Obscured) on “Emancipation of Pain” and Sahil “The Demonstealer” Makhija of Mumbai’s Demonic Resurrection on the penultimate “Miss Me, But Let Me Go,” and all seem to contribute to the central sense of inward-looking wretchedness that marches outward in dirge form from the beginning of the record and doesn’t let up until the final payoff gallop in closer “Whispers of Madness.”

The gradual unfolding of “Forever Winter” shows some My Dying Bride-style theatricality, but by and large what Chalice of Suffering offer is less concerned with the loss of grace than the root of loss itself. There is something grittier inchalice of suffering lost eternally the guitar tones, rawer in McGovern‘s forward-in-the-mix vocals that even in his spoken parts comes through with a human presence, and especially on the songs where no one else joins in, “Forever Winter,” “In the Mist of Once Was” — Kevin Murphy‘s aforementioned bagpipes notwithstanding — and “Whispers of Madness,” that comes through in forward fashion with a production that seems to take part of its death metal influence from the production as well, not necessarily that it’s rudimentary, but it’s far from the grandiose indulgences one sometimes encounters in the style. Chalice of Suffering thrive in this dirt. The sweeping motion that leads into the centerpiece title-track, a highlight, and subsequent “The Hurt” is somewhat jarring as compared to the crashes of “Miss Me, But Let Me Go” and “Whispers of Madness” that follow, but the hopelessness that seems to endure across the hour-plus of the offering is much more the point of focus, an emotionalism brought to bear not only in McGovern‘s vocals, but the keys, guitar and lurching progressions as well. Slow death, in the tradition thereof.

“Miss Me, But Let Me Go” uses an especially prevalent keyboard line to convey its emotional state, and the raspy, guttural contribution from Demonstealer is a standout even from those of Giovanni Vigliotti on “Lost Eternally” or Justin Buller on “The Hurt.” Accordingly, there’s little letup in atmospheric heft even when the guitars seem to recede in favor of ambient melody, and that stands in well to represent the album as a whole, which as one would expect for a work in its style uses an expressive range while remaining united in its grim, burdened purpose.

I have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Miss Me, But Let Me Go” ahead of the release of Lost Eternally next month. Please find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire on who does what and where.

Enjoy:

Chalice of Suffering, “Miss Me, But Let Me Go” official track premiere

US band CHALICE OF SUFFERING put out a remarkable debut that was very well received the world over and they’ve followed it up with what’s possibly one of the best albums in the doom/death metal style. Where this kind of style goes, it’s more about the emotions than the heaviness, and that’s where this band excels. ‘Lost Eternally’ perfectly encapsulates the grief, the stinging loneliness and its bleak outlook. It’s a well-rounded album that exudes the right feelings and it’s something that’s perfect for this time of the year, while being strangely palpable. The album plods on powerfully despite the weight, showing moments of melodic respite and even contributions from several guest musicians and vocalists to further enhance the proceedings. This is as genuine as it gets right from the underground. Delve into this heart-wrenching slab of doleful, atmospheric death/doom metal music and experience life at its cruelest.

Album line up –
John McGovern – Vocals
Will Maravelas – Guitars/Keyboards
Aaron Lanik – Drums
Nikoley Velev – Guitars/Keys/Drums (on The Hurt, Lost Eternally, Emancipation of Pain)
Neal Pruett – Bass
Kevin Murphy – Bagpipes (on In the Mist of Once Was)

Guest vocals –
Danny Woe of WOEBEGONE OBSCURED (on Emancipation of Pain)
Demonstealer of DEMONIC RESURRECTION (on Miss Me, But Let Me Go with John)
Giovanni Antonio Vigliotti of SOMNENT (on Lost Eternally with John)
Justin Buller of WOLVENGUARD/IN OBLIVION (on The Hurt)

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Chalice of Suffering on Bandcamp

Chalice of Suffering website

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Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Bandcamp

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Wolf Blood Set June 1 Release for Wolf Blood II

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I only have one question when it comes to Wolf Blood releasing their second album, Wolf Blood II, and it’s this: How much does the title of that album sound like an ’80s action movie? Like, “Dude, I saw Wolf Blood I and it was totally gnarly but Wolf Blood II is beyond rad!” Who stars in that movie? It’s gotta be Van Damme, right? And somehow he does a completely nonsequitor split that allows him to, I guess, take a human life without any consequence? Let’s face it, if that movie existed — and I’m not 100 percent sure it doesn’t — you would call it a classic.

You may well do the same when Wolf Blood II — the album — arrives on June 1 through Riff Merchant Records. Preorders start May 1 and the band will be at Chicago Doomed & Stoned and Maryland Doom Fest around the release.

As the PR wire informs:

wolf blood

WOLF BLOOD “II” release, Festival dates & East Coast Tour

Minneapolis, MN band WOLF BLOOD announce the release of their long awaited sophomore LP titled “II” out June 1st. “II” will be the first release on Syracuse, NY label Riff Merchant Records. Pre-orders start May 1st at wolfblood666.bandcamp.com. As a thank you to supportive fans “II” includes the crushing song “Tsunami” from their 2018 digital only release.

In support of the release they will make their debut at the CHICAGO DOOMED & STONED festival June 1st and will hit the road for a week culminating in a performance at the MARYLAND DOOMFEST on June 23rd.

June Tour Dates
June 1st Chicago, IL @ Chicago Doomed & Stoned
June 13th Minneapolis, MN @ Mortimers Vinyl Release
June 18th Chicago, IL @ Live Wire w/Sacred Monster
June 19th Cleveland, OH @ Symposium W/Frayle
June 20th Montclair, NJ @ Meatlocker
June 21st Philadelphia, PA @ TBA
June 22nd Lancaster, PA @ Lizard Lounge
June 23rd Frederick, MD @ Maryland Doomfest
Mon. 24th. Louisville, KY @Highland Taproom Metal Monday’s

Formed in a dank basement during one of the coldest winters on record in Duluth, Minnesota, guitarist Mike Messina and drummer Jakob Paulsrud (Dad’s Acid) started writing psycho-sludge experiments that sounded too stoned to be metal, and too baneful to be indie-rock. They recruited local renown hard-core guitar sorceress Mindy Johnson (The Keep Aways) and the newest addition of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Rucinski (STRANGE) to flesh-out their menacing sound.

Their first album sold out within days, and caught the attention of Burning World Records who reissued it on Vinyl. After multiple cross country tours they settled in to record their long awaited follow up . “II” will be released June 1st 2019 on Riff Merchant Records, followed by a East Coast tour with appearances at CHICAGO DOOMED & STONED festival and The MARYLAND DOOMFEST.

Wolf Blood is:
Mike Messina – guitar
Jake Paulsrud – drums/vocals
Mindy Johnson – guitar/vocals
Adam Rucinski – bass/vocals

Wolfblood666.bandcamp.com
Facebook.com/wbminneapolis
instagram.com/wolfbloodmn
Twitter.com/wolfbloodmn

Wolf Blood, Tsunami / Home (2018)

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Buffalo Fuzz Premiere “I’m on Fire” Video; New Album out in 2019

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

buffalo fuzz

Minneapolis two-piece Buffalo Fuzz made their self-titled debut in 2016 and next Spring, they’ll look to follow it up with an already-recorded sophomore outing. They do so under the most tragic of circumstances. At the end of June, drummer/vocalist Jake Allan passed away, leaving guitarist/vocalist Jared Zachary as the sole remaining member of the band. Any loss of life so young is terrible, but to grieve as half a dup seems especially hard. Hence the delay in the album. As of now, it doesn’t seem Zachary is even sure if he’ll continue as Buffalo Fuzz or start a new band altogether after this release, which of course will be in homage to Allan‘s memory as well as his final recorded performance.

The video below for the two-and-a-half-minute hookfest “I’m on Fire” was filmed shortly before Allan‘s death, and though obviously the circumstances are terrible, it’s an upbeat, straightforward classic rocker with an urgency buffalo fuzz im on firethat lives up to its title. As for the clip, it’s no less dead-ahead than the song itself: There’s the band. There’s a girl. There’s fire. And there you have it. Any other day, it’d be business as usual, but with the context of the band’s loss and uncertain future, the sheer freshness of that wound, it’s important to remind oneself to celebrate the life and creativity that was rather than fill time with sadness at the ending of it.

I’ll hope to have more on the second Buffalo Fuzz LP as we get closer to the release and the plan for it solidifies. We’re simply not there yet. Still, the single bodes well in its crisp, professional production and clarity of songwriting. It’s the kind of song you should probably be prepared to have in your head for the rest of the day, and if you do, then all the more, I hope you enjoy it.

Zachary offered some background and comment, which you’ll find under the clip below.

Dig:

Buffalo Fuzz, “I’m on Fire” official video premiere

Buffalo Fuzz is releasing our first single of our sophomore album via music video this Friday entitled “I’m On Fire”.

This comes at a difficult time for me, as Jake Allan, my best friend and drummer, passed away a little over a month ago — just a couple weeks after finishing 10 tracks to make up our second album, and filming our first music video. He lost his battle with depression, but left us with one last series of work of incredible high-energy drumming.

I can only look forward, and although I can’t imagine Buffalo Fuzz without Jake, I can’t imagine continuing life without music. Our second album is planned for release in Spring 2019. “I’m On Fire” is the first single from the album.

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Porno Wolves Announce First-Ever European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

porno wolves

Don’t you kind of have to wonder how a band winds up calling itself Porno Wolves? Like, what else was in contention that they passed over? How do you get four dudes to agree on that? The Minneapolis unit have two studio records out — the latest of them, 2017’s Renegades, is both strikingly professional-sounding and streaming at the bottom of this post — and they’re about to go play their first European shows on a stint presented by Total Volume Agency, so they must be doing something right, but yeah. They’re definitely called Porno Wolves. Sorry folks, the name is taken.

In all seriousness, whatever they’re called, good for them getting out to do shows in Europe. That’s not an easy feat for an independent band — yes, believe it or not, Porno Wolves are without major corporate backing — and even though it’s not a month-long run or anything, an initial incursion across the Atlantic is way farther than many bands get. Safe travels and thanks for not putting any cartoon tits on your tour poster.

Background and dates follow:

porno wolves tour poster

Porno Wolves Euro Tour

The Porno Wolves are a premium blend of blues, psychedelia, sex appeal and rock ‘n’ roll. The four-piece has erected their authentic sound on a foundation of musicianship and the classic rock canon. Fuzzed out leads, complex riffs, thought provoking lyrics, dense harmonies, and driving beats.

Brought together by their mutual love for rock ‘n’ roll the band began putting together material for their first record. Shine Like Gold, released in 2015, was the first concentrated effort by the Porno Wolves that not only solidifed the group’s artistic direction but also put them on the local map. Musically, the album plays with the idea of light and dark moving from up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll to stoner rock and heartfelt ballads. Skipping the studio the Porno Wolves second album Young Moon Rising: Live was recorded live at the intimate 331 Club in Minneapolis. Showcasing the band’s live presence the album contains live versions of tracks from Shine Like Gold as well as new material.

Creating some serious local buzz after the release of Young Moon Rising: Live the band garnered strong local support in the Twin Cities, from fans and local radio. Less than six months later the Porno Wolves were back in the studio working on their third album Renegades. The album was produced by producer and engineer Tim Barbeau and mastered with Ed Ackerson at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis. Renegades is a refinement of the Porno Wolves sound. The album is a collection of danceable tracks featuring striking guitar riffs and thunderous drums. Recommended listening at peak volume.

Porno Wolves live:
25-May Lucky’s Luke Trier, DE
26-May Aggern! Bruchsal, DE
27-May Cafe Amelie Giessen, DE
30-May La Machine Brussels, BE
31-May Kinky Star Ghent, BE

Porno Wolves:
Ryan Bachman – vocals/ guitars/ keys
Anthony Gore- drums/ vocals
Steven Schwartz – guitars/ saxophones
Shea Drenkow – bass/ percussion

https://pornowolvesmusic.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/PornoWolves
https://soundcloud.com/porno-wolves
http://pornowolves.com

Porno Wolves, Renegades (2017)

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Supervoid & Red Desert, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two: Wayfarers and Revolvers

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-2-supervoid-red-desert

Ripple Music believes we are in the midst of a heavy rock renaissance. We may well be. The West Coast imprint has both made its argument and fostered the movement over the last several years through a slew of signings of bands from around the US and beyond its borders, and they now stand among the genre’s most fortified purveyors, with a reach that finds them partnering with STB Records on vinyl/CD pressings and picking up Small Stone veteran acts like Gozu and Wo Fat, truly moving into a leadership position in their community, scene, whatever you want to call it. Their aesthetic, to-date, is light on frills and big on riffs, and like any impressive beginning (and I use the term loosely, Ripple have been at it for over five years now) of a creative motion, one expects it will only continue to grow outward for as long as it does.

A special project the label began in 2015 is a series of splits: The Second Coming of Heavy. I already quibbled with the numbering of the title, whether or not this is the second generation playing heavy rock (it’s at least the third), in my review of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter One (review here), which featured off-album tracks from Geezer and Borracho, and it remains beside the point of the work Ripple is doing to promote the growth of the current, largely undeniable, boom of heavy rock. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two boasts new songs from Pittsburgh’s Supervoid and Minneapolis’ Red Desert, continuing thematic artwork from Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and vinyl pressings limited in number and distinguished in color, as the times would demand.

Like its predecessor, the prevailing vibe throughout The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two fits neatly onto two 12″ vinyl sides, one per band, with each act offering basically a short EP’s sampling of their stylistic wares and what they bring to the underlying core in the title — the ‘Heavy’ part of the title, that is — that distinguishes them from their peers. In the case of Supervoid — who make their debut as a four-piece here having previously recorded with five members for their 2013 first LP, Filaments (review here), and the subsequent 2014 digital single “Against Sunrise” (posted here) — they present the songs “Olympus,” “Wayfarer” and “The Gallows,” which continue their ahead-thrust blend of modern metal and heavy rock and roll, vocalist Brian creatively arranging an assortment of layered growls and screams behind his belted-out cleaner vocals, which seem to steer the riffs behind from guitarist Joe as much as they’re pushed forward by them.

With John on bass and Greg on drums, their material is consistent but progressed from where they were on their debut (due for a follow-up it may or may not get; more on that in a bit) and the momentum they build in “Olympus” feeds smoothly into the more extended “Wayfarer,” the minor-key Eastern-flair guitar line making it all the more a centerpiece before the crunchier “The Gallows” picks up with open verses, a semi-spaced weaving of guitar effects, and the inescapable drive that has become Supervoid‘s hallmark. Reportedly, since the release of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter TwoSupervoid have taken “a break,” and how permanent that may or may not be remains to be seen. Either way, the manner in which they bring together metal and heavy rock remains brazen in its show of influence and ground that few acts are so bold as to tread, which is admirable even before one gets to considering their songwriting or performances, likewise worthy of respect.

Supervoid‘s side B companions, Red Desert, offer post-Sleep/The Sword heavy rock chug on “Frost Giant,” the first of their four inclusions, calling out the title character and Valhalla in a resonant hook. Hitting their marks. Their material stands out particularly next to Supervoid for the laid back sensibility in its roll and in the vocals of guitarist Shawn Stende, joined by lead guitarist Jeff Kluegel, bassist Paul Teeter and drummer Dave Dancho, and though “Hypnotized” is faster, it maintains the swing of their opener, as do “Revolver” and “Nightstalker” (presumably not named after the Greek band, but one never knows), while also offering subtle, effective shifts in mood and shifts in approach that speak to the experience gained from their 2012 debut album, Damned by Fate, and call to mind what Lords of the North were once able to bring to stoner riffing in personality and thickness of groove. The harmonies in the chorus of “Nightstalker” and touches of C.O.C. gallop there expand the palette further but ultimately keep consistent with what’s come before, rounding out a fluid B-side with a late surge of energy that suits Red Desert well.

They’re four years out from their first album, and while they’ve threatened a vinyl release thereof, I’ve yet to see word of a follow-up. Doesn’t mean one’s in the works, doesn’t mean one’s not, but in true EP fashion, they give a broad slice of their sound for those who maybe haven’t encountered them before to dig into, which of course speaks to the mission of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two overall. My understanding is that all 10 installments of the series are booked and there’s another series in the works for after, so it seems fair to expect over the next several years that these LPs will continue to be a major part of Ripple‘s contribution to heavy rock. Fair enough. Two editions deep, they’ve already highlighted a range of styles and a swath of acts from around different regions of the US brought together by their varied takes on what it means to be heavy. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and the project remains ambitious, but taking it one LP at a time, there seems to be nothing keeping the label from continuing this exploration and enlightening listeners as they go. Looking forward to the next one.

Supervoid & Red Desert, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Beastmaker, Low Flying Hawks, CHVE, Brujas del Sol, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, The Shooters, Boss Keloid, Hors Sujet, Warchief, Seedship

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

It seems like a day doesn’t go by that I don’t find something in one of these piles (metaphorical, sometimes literal) of records that keeps me coming back. Today is once again spread across a pretty wide stylistic swath, and that’s by design to keep my brain from going numb, but if there’s a unifying theme across all of it, let it be a sense of scope and bands and artists who are trying to take what’s been done before and push it forward or in some new direction. That’s not universal — nothing is — but today might be the most adventurous of the days included this quarter, so I hope you’ll keep open ears and an open mind as you make your way though.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae

beastmaker lusus naturae

Expectations are high for Fresno trio Beastmaker in no small part because their first album, Lusus Naturae, arrives through Rise Above Records. Whether they’ll take their place among the venerable UK imprint’s genre-shapers of the last half-decade, Uncle Acid, Ghost, etc., remains to be seen, but there can be little question Lusus Naturae lives up to the standard of offering something individual even as it plays off familiar conceptions. Beastmaker’s doom is classic without sounding like much of anything else, and as they unfold “Arachne” and catchy pieces like “Mask of Satan” and “You Must Sin,” they arrive aesthetically cohesive and demonstrating accomplished songwriting finding a space of its own surrounding Sabbathian and Cathedral-driven ideals with semi-psych, semi-cultish tendencies, not wanting to be put in one place or the other but successfully engaging a melting pot of modern doom in “Burnt Offering” and the plodding “It.” Whatever the wider response winds up being, Lusus Naturae will without a doubt stand as one of 2016’s best debuts.

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Rise Above Records

 

Low Flying Hawks, Kofuku

low flying hawks kofuku

If you’re hand-picking dream rhythm sections, getting Trevor Dunn to play bass while Dale Crover drums would probably be the picks of any number of players, but initials-only core duo EHA and AAL of Los Angeles’ Low Flying Hawks actually went out and got the Mr. Bungle and Melvins personnel to play on their Toshi Kasai-produced Magnetic Eye Records debut LP, Kofuku. Aside from keeping good company, the album’s 10 tracks/53 minutes are marked by a spaciousness that not even the tonal heft of early cut “Now, Apocalypse” seems to fill as EHA and AAL balance post-rock, doomed lurch and darker psychedelics with blackened screams and fervent rhythmic push – see “White Temple” and “Wolves Within Wolves.” They round out with the lumbering 11-minute “Destruction Complete,” a heavy rock march topped by airborne, dissonant leads that keeps its head even as it plods onward into oblivion. Not as unipolar as it might first appear in terms of sound, but the mood of Kofuku points consistently downward.

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Magnetic Eye Records

 

CHVE, Rasa

chve rasa

The crux of CHVE’s Rasa is in resonance. Amenra frontman Colin H. van Eeckhout (his solo-project’s name derived from his initials) constructs a flowing half-hour of fluid drone, intermittent percussion – first tribal, then a straightforward kind of march, slow but not still – and atmospheric vocal on the single track that comprises the work, seeming to take influence from calls to prayer as much as atmospheric noise. At higher volumes, the piece is consuming, his voice surrounds with the almost constant wash of tone, but even at more reasonable levels, the sense of purpose and ritual remains. Of course, Amenra are noted for the use of the word “mass” in their album titles, and while Rasa departs from the direct tonal heft of much of what van Eeckhout does in his main outfit, there is a sense of mass here in terms both of presence and in terms of the worship being enacted.

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Consouling Sounds

 

Brujas del Sol, Starquake

brujas del sol starquake

How do you fit an 11-minute track onto a 7” release? Easy, you break it in half. Such is the method of Ohio instrumentalists Brujas del Sol, who follow their Moonliner EP trilogy with the late-2015 single Starquake, presented on the limited H42 Records platter as “Starquake Pt. I” and “Starquake Pt. II” but comprising nonetheless a single piece that backs airy, post-rock-tinged guitar with a decided forward rhythmic motion, resulting in an overarching build that, while there’s a natural moment for the split, is hypnotic front to back, a swirl of effects calling it mind space rock improvisation even as the plotted momentum of drums and bass resumes. Starquake is enough to make one imagine what kind of variety and spontaneity Brujas del Sol would bring to a debut full-length, so in that it very much does its job, but it makes a good case for standing on its own as well as it hits its second apex and finishes in a residual wash of cosmic noise.

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H42 Records

 

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Noeth ac Anoeth

mammoth weed wizard bastard noeth ac anoeth

Offered through New Heavy Sounds, Noeth Ac Anoeth is the debut full-length from Welsh cosmic doom four-piece Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. It is comprised of three songs and incorporates the half-hour-long “Nachthexen,” which was also the title-track of the band’s prior 2015 EP (review here), their rumble brought to bear through the capable knob-turning of Conan’s Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. The vocals of Jessica Ball manage to cut through the ensuing tonal murk of her bass and the guitars of Paul Michael Davies and Wez Leon, and James Carrington’s drums live up to the near-impossible task of making “Les Paradis Artificiels,” “Slave Moon” and “Nachthexen” go, each developing its own plodding momentum amid the purposeful thickness overdose and atmospheric sensibility enhanced both by Davies’ work on keys and Ball’s vocals. “Slave Moon” winds up at a gallop and almost operatic, but there’s no way the highlight wasn’t going to be “Nachthexen,” which offers chug dense enough and spaces wide open enough to easily get lost in. Time well spent, all around.

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New Heavy Sounds

 

The Shooters, Dead Wilderness

the shooters dead wilderness

Spanish heavy rock four-piece The Shooters present their third album, Dead Wilderness (on Red Sun Records/Nooirax Producciones), as two sides even on the CD pressing, each half of the record ending with an extended cut over the 10-minute mark. All told it’s six songs/49 minutes of solidified, mostly straightforward Euro-style riff-led heavy grooves, tapping into some Dozer influence on “War on You” but offering more spacious burl on “Lucifer’s Word,” which starts side B after the push of “Roots” rounds out side A. There’s little by way of letup, but moments like the quiet start and bridge of “Black Mountain” do a lot of work in adding complexity to The Shooters’ hook-minded approach, and 11-minute finale “Candelabrum” builds on that with a patient linear unfolding that casts off some tonal heft in favor of a more atmospheric take. That ultimately lets Dead Wilderness bring an individual edge to established stylistic parameters, from which it greatly benefits.

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The Shooters on Bandcamp

 

Boss Keloid, Herb Your Enthusiasm

boss keloid herb your enthusiasm

Granted, a title playing off Curb Your Enthusiasm and, well, herb, might make you think the band is just goofing around, but UK riffers Boss Keloid offer more substance with their second album, Herb Your Enthusiasm, than they do wackiness. The sound – captured by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio – is positively massive, bolstered by guest appearances from Fielding himself and his Conan bandmate, Jon Davis, who also owns Skyhammer and Black Bow Records, the imprint releasing the LP, and given to swells of largesse and huge rolling grooves that still remain righteously fuzzed, as on “Escapegoat” or “Lung Valley” the quieter complement to opener “Lung Mountain.” Vocalist Alex Hurst assures any quota of burl is met, but has more to his approach melodically than riff-following chestbeating, and guitarist Paul Swarbrick, bassist Adam Swarbrick and drummer Stephen Arands present instrumental flow and turns behind that give the record a sense of personality beyond its weedian play. Not a minor undertaking at an hour long, but satisfying in tone and execution.

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Black Bow Records

 

Hors Sujet, Nous N’y Trouvons que le Doute

hors sujet nous ny trouvons que le doute

I guess it’s fair to call late 2015’s Nous N’y Trouvons que le Doute the debut full-length from Toulouse-based one-man outfit Hors Sujet, though multi-instrumentalist/atmosphere-conjurer Florent Paris has done a variety of soundtrack work and released numerous other textures in EPs and a variety of other offerings, so take that for what it’s worth. More important is the rich sense of ambience Paris brings to Hors Sujet in the seven included songs, from the dystopian doom of “Au Plus Loin, la Mer / L’hiver Peureux” to the wistful drone wash of “Le Souffle, Peu à Peu (Pt. 2),” which has its companion piece earlier in the album. Of special note should be 27-minute closer “Et Maintenant, le Ombres,” acting as a summary of the proceedings as much as expansion thereupon, concluding an often quiet outing with a stark cacophony that gorgeously builds from the minimalism before it to a raucous finish worth of the breadth Paris shows in his work throughout.

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Hors Sujet on Bandcamp

 

Warchief, Warchief

warchief warchief

Initially released by the band in summer 2015, the self-titled debut from Finnish progressive heavy rockers Warchief sees vinyl issue through Phonosphera Records, its two sides consumed by organic execution across four tracks moving beyond traditional structure in favor of a more varied approach, from the rumbling heft that emerges in opener “Give” through the goes-anywhere near-psychedelia of 21-minute closer “For Heavy Damage.” Warchief, the Jyväskylä-based four-piece of Teemu Pellonpää, Juho Saarikoski, Esa Pirttimäki and Tommi Rintala, feel right at home working in longer-form material, whether it’s that closer or the nine-minute “Life Went On” preceding, and given their breadth I wouldn’t be surprised if they would up with a single-song album sometime in the future. With that in mind, perhaps most encouraging about their self-titled is the fact that it seems so exploratory, very much like the beginning of creative growth rather than a finished product on display. One hopes they continue to flesh out stylistically and build on the foundation they’ve set here.

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Warchief on Bandcamp

 

Seedship, Demo 2015

seedship demo 2015

Riffing their way into the post-Electric Wizard league of rumble purveyors, Minneapolis newcomers Seedship avoid any cultish trappings on last fall’s Demo 2015, their first release. A marked tonal thickness is nearly immediate, but along with the slow-motion nod and overarching density, melodic vocals cut through the morass to give a human aspect to the groove. Of the three tracks, “The Edge of Expiry,” “The Condemned Adrift” and “The Desperate Odyssey,” not a one is under eight minutes long, and as they plod their way through the opener (also the longest track; immediate points), Seedship enact a sci-fi theme that carries through the release as a whole, which scuffs up the approach some in the closer, but always keeps its spacier elements intact, even as it kicks the pace in the ass at around six minutes in and lets loose a release for all the tension built up prior before a final slowdown ends out. They seem to have a lot already worked out sound-wise, so should be interesting to hear where they go with it.

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Seedship on Bandcamp

 

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Ripple Music Reveals Cover Art for The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Two

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I swear one of these days — and one of these days soon — I’ll be putting up a vinyl review for Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One, which launched their series of underground-scouring splits earlier this year by righteously pairing Geezer and Borracho, with riffy results. Not that it’s hurt sales any. I think the thing was gone before it was actually out. But it will happen. And it will need to happen even sooner because Ripple‘s already got the follow-up installment, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Two, in progress.

The Joseph Rudell cover art for The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Two has been unveiled, and in addition to lining up with Chapter One when placed next to it, it shows off a lot more of the world in which it’s all set. This time around, Pittsburgh’s Supervoid and Minneapolis’ Red Desert will represent Heavy’s second coming, and much like the cover itself, it’s cool to see the series working quickly to expand stylistically.

Word on a release date? Not yet from what I’ve seen, but I’d guess not before December or early next year. I’ll let you know when I hear more:

the second coming of heavy chapter 2

Our “Second Coming of Heavy” series got off to a banging start with an instant sell out of all Editions of Chapter One. Now Chapter Two is heading our way. But before we get there, it’s time to release our “reserve” copies of Chapter One. These are copies we held onto in case of any lost postage or damages. Now we’ll let them go.

Sorry, no Resurrection Edition are left, but we have a scant few Risen OBI and Black Virgin Editions. This is your last chance to get onboard the Second Coming of Heavy series before Chapter Two comes out. And remember, all chapters in the series have interlocking spine art, which lines up to create one killer image!

www.ripple-music.com
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-one-geezer-borracho

Geezer & Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One (2015)

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