The Obelisk Questionnaire: James Benson of Chrome Waves, Comatose & Amiensus

Posted in Questionnaire on April 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

JAMES BENSON chrome waves

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: James Benson of Chrome Waves, Comatose & Amiensus

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I simply describe myself as a musician. I grew up with some music around me but wasn’t interested until my early teen years when I was introduced to Led Zeppelin and hardcore/metal of the early 2000s.

Describe your first musical memory.

My friends and I, around age 15, joined in and pressed record on a single Logitech mic with a few instruments and tried to put together a song. It was horrible.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Being stranded in Kelowna, BC, at the end of a tour because the head in our bus was stripped. Beautiful place, very hospitable.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I went to two private colleges, and have a degree in Biblical Theology. That education helped me firmly cement my leaving religion.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Escapism.

How do you define success?

Feeling content.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Arkansas.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A live album.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Escapism.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Growing peppers and making hot sauce during the summer/fall and camping with my four dogs.

http://www.facebook.com/comatoseminnesota
http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUNpxQDG1DSbsApt8ZScVGw
http://www.instagram.com/comatose507/
https://www.facebook.com/chromewavesofficial
http://chromewaves.bandcamp.com
http://www.instagram.com/chromewavesofficial
http://www.facebook.com/Amiensus
http://www.instagram.com/amiensus
http://twitter.com/AmiensusMn
http://www.transcendingrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/transcendingrecords
http://www.instagram.com/transcendingrecs
http://www.twitter.com/transcendingrec

Comatose, “Circles” official video

Chrome Waves, Where We Live (2020)

Amiensus, Abreaction (2020)

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Grief Collector to Release En Delirium in March on Petrichor

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

You’ll note up front the presence of Robert Lowe on vocals in Grief Collector, as the former Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass and current Tyrant singer lends his rather significant pipes to the trio who have now signed to Petrichor to issue their full-length debut early next year. Petrichor, of course, is the recently launched imprint of Hammerheart Records, and it’s worth pointing out that the label itself has signed a worldwide distribution deal with Napalm Records, which means that a band like Grief Collector, in issuing their forthcoming March 2021 debut full-length, En Delirium, can be assured it will exist anywhere it’s supposed to.

There’s no music on their Bandcamp as of now, but they released the From Dissention to Avowal EP in 2019 and they’ve got a lyric video for “Of Misery nd Woe” on YouTube that you can steam at the bottom of this post. It’s right down there. You’ll find it.

From the PR wire:

grief collector

Petrichor announces the signing of US Doom/Heavy Metal band Grief Collector!

Petrichor is proud to announce the addition of Grief Collector to its’ rapidly expanding roster! Grief Collector is a Heavy/Doom Metal band from the U.S. and formed around the charismatic vocalist Robert Lowe, famous for his unmistakable, high-quality vocal contributions to bands such as Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass and more recently Tyrant. In Brad Miller and Matt Johnson Grief Collector has the skilled and experienced Metal musicians on board to create high-quality Heavy Metal with Doom Metal touches that can stand the test of time (past, present and future).

Grief Collector was founded in 2017 and released an EP called “From Dissension To Avowal” in 2019. This EP showcased references to the more recent Candlemass work and the Heavier/Doom approach of bands such as Trouble. Hints of Solitude Aeturnus are present, of course, as well.

March 2021 is set as the release month for Grief Collector’s new album “En Delirium”. Expect high-quality Heavy/Doom Metal, performed with passion!

Grief Collector are:
Brad Miller – Drums
Matt Johnson – Guitars/Bass
Robert Lowe – Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/GriefCollector/
https://griefcollector1.bandcamp.com/
www.ochtenddauw.com
www.facebook.com/petrichorochtenddauw
www.instagram.com/petrichorochtenddauw
www.petrichorochtenddauw.bandcamp.com

Grief Collector, “Of Misery and Woe” official lyric video

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Heavy Temple & Wolf Blood Cover Funkadelic on Split From the Black Hole

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Alright, here’s me spending your money. Dig it. From Philly and Minneapolis, respectively, come Heavy Temple and Wolf Blood with the new Split From the Black Hole on Riff Merchant Records. The fact that such a thing exists should probably be enough reason for you to shell out $10 for a 7″. Right? Heavy Temple? Wolf Blood? Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

But wait — they’re also both covering Funkadelic on here, with Heavy Temple adopting the nom de guerre Funky Temple and meeting up with Wolf Blood as Atomic Wolf and yeah, that’s even cooler. All the money goes to Black Lives Matter — if you’ve been paying attention to demonstrations around the US, you’ll note Minneapolis is where George Floyd was killed and Philadelphia has a long history of resistance going back to the rich white guys who decided they didn’t want to be British anymore because the taxes were too high. The vinyl’s supposed to be ready in August, and plague-willing, it will be, but preorders are up as of today, so just go ahead and make that happen.

In other words, I want you to hit it. Hit and quit it. Also, I got a thing, you got a thing, and both our things are heavy. Fucking a.

Info:

heavy temple wolf blood split from the black hole

HEAVY TEMPLE & WOLF BLOOD – Split from the Black Hole

Heavy Temple and Wolf Blood have teamed up to pay homage to George Clinton and Funkadelic on this mind-melting split 7″. Without the influences of Black musicians the world of heavy metal wouldn’t exist, and our record shelves would be empty. Get ready to shake your groove thing and tear the roof off the mother on this sick reinterpretation.

The records are being pressed at Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland Ohio, with an anticipated completion date of mid-August. Heavy Temple side recorded and mastered by Red Water Recording. Heavy Temple guest appearance on the keys by the Ace of Cups (Sean Hur) from Ruby the Hatchet. Wolf Blood side recorded and mastered by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone. Cover art by Matt Guack.

Side A:
Heavy Temple – Hit it and Quit it

Side B:
Wolf Blood – I got a Thing, You got a Thing, Everybody’s got a Thing.

Variants:
Black: 200 copies
Random Color: 100 copies
Wax Mage Edition: 25 copies

Each comes with a DL card.

The idea for this split came before the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of protests calling for the dismantling of white supremacy and racist institutions that still plague the US. In light of this, I recognize that it is not enough to simply “pay homage” to the Black community with words. Therefore, we are donating 100% of the sales (all of it, not some “net-profit” bullshit) of the Wax Mage Variants to Syracuse Youth Black Lives Matter. I’m working with Wax Mage to make these variants positively INTERSTELLAR.

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/
https://www.instagram.com/heavytemple
https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com
Wolfblood666.bandcamp.com
Facebook.com/wbminneapolis
instagram.com/wolfbloodmn
https://www.facebook.com/riffmerchant/
https://www.riffmerchant.com/

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Buffalo Fuzz to Release II June 5; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

One can only imagine the emotional experience Buffalo Fuzz guitarist Jared Zachary underwent going back into the studio to mix the tracks for the band’s second album, Volume II, months after the suicide of drummer Jake Allan. There’s heavy and then there’s heavy. While I’m not sure what Zachary‘s plans are going forward for Buffalo Fuzz, the band is at least continuing in its present form long enough to get the record out two years after it was put to tape, so that’s something. They have preorders up for it now and there’s a video for “Too Young to Die” streaming at the bottom of this post.

It’s a sad story, obviously, but rock is rock. Have at it:

buffalo fuzz volume ii

Two years after the loss of drummer Jake Allan, heavy blues duo Buffalo Fuzz is set to release Buffalo Fuzz Volume II on June 5th 2020. Following the success of their 2016 debut, their sophomore album marks Allan’s final musical work before his death.

“I said I needed love, I said I needed life — I need a token from some measure of the divine.” Buffalo Fuzz wrote their second album to dig deeper into the themes presented in their debut, and they turned the energy up to eleven. The band tracked the album at Pearl Recording Studio to the very same Studer tape machine used to track Nirvana’s In Utero. In June of 2018, just a month after recording the 11 tracks for this album, drummer Jake Allan died by suicide at the age of 24. The album sat on the shelf for months before singer/guitarist Jared Zachary could return and finalize the mixes for the songs. Jared and Jake’s final work will be available to ears worldwide on June 5th 2020, more than two years after it was recorded.

A music video for “Too Young To Die” was released Tuesday, April 21st as a taste of what’s to come. Filmed by Altvra Company, the video thematically and sonically encapsulates feel of the album. At your convenience, please preview the video and album via the above links. Listeners are being directed to Buffalofuzz.com to pre-order the album.

Tracklisting:
1. The Reaper
2. Black Sheep Blues
3. I’m On Fire
4. Bad Circulation
5. Buffalo Stomp
6. Can’t Find My Home
7. Too Young To Die
8. Sunshine Of Your Love
9. Hole In My Heart
10. My Cosmic Love
11. Reaper Reprise

Buffalo Fuzz are:
Jared Zachary – vocals, guitar
Jake Allan – drums

https://www.facebook.com/buffalofuzz/
https://www.instagram.com/buffalofuzz
https://buffalofuzz.bandcamp.com/
https://www.buffalofuzz.com/

Buffalo Fuzz, “Too Young to Die” official video

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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)

Wolf Blood on Bandcamp

Wolf Blood on Thee Facebooks

Wolf Blood on Instagram

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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)

Chalice of Suffering on Thee Facebooks

Chalice of Suffering on Bandcamp

Chalice of Suffering website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

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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Quarterly Review: Sandrider, Witchkiss, Satta Caveira, Apollo80, The Great Unwilling, Grusom, Träden, Orthodox, Disrule, Ozymandias

Posted in Reviews on December 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Good morning from the kitchen table. It’s a couple minutes before 4AM as I get this post started. I’ve got my coffee, my iced tea in the same cup I’ve been using for the last three days, and I’m ready to roll through the next 10 records in this massive, frankly silly, Quarterly Review. Yesterday went well enough and I’m three days into the total 10 and I don’t feel like my head is going to explode, so I’ll just say so far so good.

As ever, there’s a lot to get through, so I won’t delay. I hope you find something here you dig. I certainly have.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sandrider, Armada

sandrider armada

Armada is the third full-length from Seattle noiseblasters Sandrider, and at this point I’m starting to wonder what it’s going to take for this band to get their due. Produced by Matt Bayles and released through Good to Die Records, the album is an absolute monster front to back. Scathing. Beastly. And yet the songs have character. It’s the trio’s first outing since 2015’s split with Kinski (review here) and follows 2013’s Godhead (review here) and 2011’s self-titled debut (review here) in melding the band’s West Coast noise superiority with a sense of melody and depth as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski, bassist/vocalist Jesse Roberts, and omegadrummer Nat Damm course and wind their way through intense but varied material. “Banger” has been tapped for its grunge influence. Eh. Maybe in the riff, but who cares when there’s so much more going on with it? “Brambles” is out and out brutal but still has a hook, and cuts like “Industry” and the closing “Dogwater” remind of just how skilled Sandrider are at making that brutality fun. If the record was six minutes long and just had “Hollowed” on it, you’d still call it a win.

Sandrider on Thee Facebooks

Good to Die Records website

 

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes

witchkiss the austere curtains of our eyes

Goodness gracious. Cavernous echo accompanies the roars of guitarist Scott Prater that are offset by the more subdued melodies of drummer Amber Burns, but even in the most spacious reaches of 11-minute second cut “Blind Faith,” Witchkiss are fucking massive-sounding. Their debut album, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, presents an especially crushing take on ritualistic volume, sounding its catharsis in a song like “Spirits of the Dirt” and sounding natural as it trades between a rolling assault and the atmospheres of its quieter moments. With the departure since the recording of bassist Anthony DiBlasi, the New York-based outfit will invariably shift in dynamic somewhat coming out of this record, but with such an obvious clarity of mission, I honestly doubt their core approach will change all that much. A band doesn’t make a record like this without direct intention. They may evolve, and one hopes they do just because one always hopes for that, but this isn’t a band feeling their way through their first record. This is a band who know exactly the kind of ferocity they want to conjure, and who conjure it without regret.

Witchkiss on Thee Facebooks

Witchkiss on Bandcamp

 

Satta Caveira, MMI

Satta Caveira MMI

Argentinian instrumentalist trio Satta Caveira make a point of saying they recorded MMI, their second or third album depending on what you count, live in their home studio without edits or overdubs, click tracks or anything else. Clearly the intention then is to capture the raw spirit of the material as it’s happening. The eight songs that make up the unmanageable 62-minute listen of MMI — to be fair, 14 of those minutes are opener “Kundalini” and 23 are the sludge-into-jam-into-sludge riffer “T.H.C.” — are accordingly raw, but that in itself becomes a component of their aesthetic. Whether it’s the volume swell that seems to consume “Don Santos” in its second half, the funk of closer “Afrovoid” or the drift in “Kalifornia,” Satta Caveira manage to hone a sense of range amid all the naturalism, and with the gritty and more aggressive riffing of the title-track and the rush of the penultimate “Router,” their sound might actually work with a more elaborate production, but they’ve got a thing, it works well, and I’m not inclined to argue.

Satta Caveira on Thee Facebooks

Satta Caveira on Bandcamp

 

Apollo80, Lizard! Lizard! Lizard!

apollo 80 lizard lizard lizard

Vocalized only by spoken samples of astronauts, the thrice-exclamatory Lizard! Lizard! Lizard! is the debut EP from Perth, Australia, three-piece Apollo80, who are given mostly to exploring an outpouring of heavy molten vibes but still able to hone a bit of cacophony following the “godspeed, John Glenn” sample in second cut “FFH.” There are four songs on the 26-minute offering, and its spaciousness is brought to earth somewhat by the dirt in which the guitar and bass tones are caked, but it’s more the red dust of Mars than anything one might find kicking around a Terran desert. Unsurprisingly, the high point of the outing is the 10:46 title-track, where guitarist Luke, bassist Brano and drummer Shane push farthest into the cosmos — though that’s debatable with the interstellar drone of closer “Good Night” — but even in the impact of “Apollo” at the outset, there’s a feeling of low-oxygen in the atmosphere, and if you get lightheaded, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Apollo80 on Thee Facebooks

Apollo80 on Bandcamp

 

The Great Unwilling, EP

the great unwilling ep

The prevailing influence throughout the untitled debut EP from Minnesota’s The Great Unwilling is Queens of the Stone Age, but listening to the layer of wah intertwine with the solo on “Sanguine,” there’s more to their approach than just that, however dreamy the vocal melodies from guitarist Jesse Hoheisel might be. Hoheisel, bassist Joe Ulvi and Mark Messina present a clean four tracks and 20 minutes on their first outing, and for having been together for about 18 months, their songwriting seems to have a firm grasp on what they want to do. “If 3 was 7” rolls along at a heavy clip into an effectively drifting midsection and second half jam before returning to the initial riff, while “Current” leads off with a particularly Hommeian construction, and soon gives way to the flowing pace and apparent lyrical references of the aforementioned “Sanguine.” They finish with the dirtier tonality of “Apostasy” and cap with no more pretense than they started, bringing the short release to a close with a chorus that seems to finish with more to say. No doubt they’ll get there.

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The Great Unwilling on Bandcamp

 

Grusom, II

grusom ii

A prominent current of organ alongside the guitars gives Grusom‘s aptly-titled second album on Kozmik Artifactz, II, a willfully classic feel, and even the lyrics of “Peace of Mind” play into that with the opening lines, “I always said I was born too late/This future is not for me,” but the presentation from the Svendborg six-piece isn’t actually all that retro-fied. Rather, the two guitars and organ work in tandem to showcase a modern take on those classic ideas, as the back and forth conversation between them in the extended jam of “Skeletons” demonstrates, and with a steady rhythmic foundation and soulful vocals overtop, Grusom‘s craft doesn’t need the superficial trappings of a ’70s influence to convey those roots in their sound. Songs like “Dead End Valley” and “Embers” have a bloozy swing as they head toward the melancholy closer “Cursed from Birth,” but even there, the proceedings are light on pretense and the atmosphere is more concerned with a natural vibe rather than pretending it’s half a century ago.

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Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Träden, Träden

traden traden

Having originated as Träd Gräs och Stenar, the group now known as Träden is the product of a psychedelic legacy spanning generations. Founder Jakob Sjöholm has joined forces with Hanna Östergren of Hills, Reine Fiske of Dungen and Sigge Krantz of Archimedes Badkar to create a kind of supergroup of serenity, and their self-titled is blissful enough not only to life up to Träd Gräs och Stenar‘s cult status, but to capture one of its own. It’s gorgeous. Presumably the painting used on the cover is the cabin where it was recorded, and its eight tracks — sometimes mellow, sometimes more weighted, always hypnotic — are a naturalist blueprint that only make the world a better place. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But the truth is that for all the terrible, horrifying shit humanity does on a daily basis, to know that there are people on the planet making music like this with such a genuine spirit behind it is enough to instill a bit of hope for the species. This is what it’s all about. I couldn’t even make it through the Bandcamp stream without buying the CD. That never happens.

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Träden on Bandcamp

 

Orthodox, Krèas

orthodox kreas

Last year, Spanish experimentalists Orthodox released Supreme and turned their free-jazz meets low-doom into a 36-minute fracas of happening-right-now creativity. Krèas, a lone, 27-minute track with the core duo of bassist Marco Serrato and drummer Borja Díaz joined by saxophonist Achilleas Polychronidis, was recorded in the same session but somehow seems even more freaked-out. I mean, it’s gone. Gone to a degree that even the hepcats who claim to appreciate free-jazz on anything more than a theoretical level (that is, those who actually listen to it) will have their hair blown back. The rest of the universe? Well, they’ll probably continue on, blissfully unaware that Orthodox are out there smashing comets together like they are, but wow. Challenging the listener is one thing. Krèas is the stuff of dissertations. One only hopes Orthodox aren’t holding their breath waiting for humanity to catch up to what they’re doing, because, yeah, it’s gonna be a while.

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Alone Records webstore

 

Disrule, Sleep in Your Honour

Disrule Sleep in Your Honour

Danish bruisers Disrule run a brash gamut with their second album, Sleep in Your Honour (on Seeing Red). Leading off with the earworm hook of the title-track (premiered here), the album puts a charge into C.O.C.-style riffing and classic heavy rock, but shades of Clutch-y funk in “Going Wrong” and a lumbering bottom end in “Occult Razor” assure there’s no single angle from which they strike. “(Gotta Get Me Some) Control” elicits a blues-via-Sabbath vibe, but the drums seem to make sure Disrule are never really at rest, and so there’s a strong sense of momentum throughout the eight-song/29-minute EP, perhaps best emphasized by two-minute second cut “Death on My Mind,” which seems to throw elbows as it sprints past, though even shouted-chorus closer “Enter the Void” has an infectious energy about it. If you think something can’t be heavy and move, Disrule have a shove with your name on it.

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Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Ozymandias, Cake!

ozymandias cake

First clue that all is not what it seems? The artwork. Definitely not a picture of cake on the cover of Ozymandias‘ debut album, Cake!, and accordingly, things don’t take long before they get too weird. “Jelly Beans” hits on harshest Nirvana — before it goes into blastbeats. “Mason Jar” scathes out organ-laced doom and vicious screaming, before “Hangman” gets all danceable like “All Pigs Must Die” earlier in the record. The wacky quotient is high, and the keyboards do a lot to add to that, but one can’t really call “Doom I – The Daisies” or the later “Doom II – The Lilies” anything but progressive in the Devin Townsend-shenanigans-metal sense of the word, and as wild as some stretches of Cake! are, the trio from Linz, Austria, are never out of control, and they never give a sense that what they’re doing is an accident. They’re just working on their own stylistic level, and to a degree that’s almost scary considering it’s their first record. I won’t claim to know where they might be headed, but it seems likely they have a plan.

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StoneFree Records website

 

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