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

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

quarterly review

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

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Total Fucking Destruction, #USA4TFD

Total Fucking Destruction USA4TFD

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

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Give Praise Records website

 

Hippie Death Cult, 111

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

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

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

 

The Cosmic Dead, Scottish Space Race

The Cosmic Dead Scottish Space Race

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

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Greenthumb, There are More Things

greenthumb there are more things

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

Greenthumb on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records on Bandcamp

 

Elepharmers, Lords of Galaxia

Elepharmers Lords Of Galaxia Artwork

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

Elepharmers on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nothing is Real, Only the Wicked are Pure

nothing is real only the wicked are pure

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

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Warish, Down in Flames

warish down in flames

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

Warish on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Split

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


Mourn the Light on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

 

Those Furious Flames, HeartH

those furious flames hearth

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

Those Furious Flames on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum Recordings BigCartel store

 

Mantra Machine, Heliosphere

mantra machine heliosphere

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

Mantra Machine on Thee Facebooks

Mantra Machine on Bandcamp

 

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Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Streaming Tracks From Split CD

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Pretty easy to imagine the conversation between Connecticut’s Mourn the Light and Massachusetts’ Oxblood Forge went something like, “Yo dudes, split?” and “Yeah,” in that order, before the decision was made. Both bands have songs streaming now, and their wares are likewise straightforward, but at the same time, you can hear the edge each group brings to the proceedings, whether it’s Mourn the Light‘s foundation in bruising metal throughout “Lost all Control” or Oxblood Forge‘s classic doom and harsher bite in the screaming chorus of “Forged in Fire.” The two bands are veterans of the New England Stoner and Doom Festival, but on successive years, though I’d imagine they’ve shared a stage or two just through sheer proximity. Next time that happens they’ll have something new for the merch table.

Info for the split is copious and follows here, as per the PR wire:

oxblood forge screams from silence

mourn the light death is lurking

U.S. Doom Outfit MOURN THE LIGHT Releasing Split Album with OXBLOOD FORGE on September 13

U.S. Doom outfit MOURN THE LIGHT will release a self-titled split album with Massachusetts Trad-Metal/Doom crew OXBLOOD FORGE September 13 on CD and digital formats. The split album comes in two versions, each with a different cover. The MOURN THE LIGHT version also includes a bonus digital download of Candlemass cover “Bewitched.”

There’s no arguing that Connecticut doom outfit MOURN THE LIGHT has hit the ground running since its inception in early 2018. Focusing on catchy sing-a-long hooks to deliver tales of hopelessness and despair, MOURN THE LIGHT released their debut EP Weight of the World that year, followed by the CD single “Carry The Flame.” Both were incredibly well-received by the underground metal community, but the MOURN THE LIGHT boys were not ones to rest on their riff-hurling asses. The band embarked on a U.S. tour throughout March of 2018, taking them on a 4,500 mile trek with stops including SWSX Stoner Jam ’19 and New England Stoner and Doom Fest 2.

Now on the eve of MOURN THE LIGHT’s much-anticipated split with NWOTHM force OXBLOOD FORGE, excitement is also building for their first Canadian tour this October with power metal juggernaut Firstbourne (featuring 6-string wunderkind Mike Kerr, who played a guest solo on Weight of the World). Along with the upcoming split and tour plans, MTL has released a cover of the Candlemass classic “Bewitched,” featuring a guest solo by Joey Concepcion (The Absence, Sanctuary), available as a bonus download for the MTL version of the split. A special treat is the album’s inclusion of the piano version of 2018 single “Carry The Flame,” featuring Sean OrcAdams (Orcumentary, Virus of Ideals).

Clearly, MOURN THE LIGHT shows no signs of stopping their hostile audio takeover. With a distinctive sound and indomitable work ethic, this band will continue to deliver a unique mark upon the metal landscape for years to come.

OXBLOOD FORGE started in 2016 with the idea of playing heavy music their way, and not following the trends. Their first release, 2016’s self titled EP dabbled in everything from 70’s rock to the Melvins, putting out many fan favorite songs. While their second full length, 2018’s Deal Dealer’s Lament presenting a more unified heavier sound. It’s dark and brooding riffs provided a more doom direction, but still heavily focused on hooks and songwriting.

During this time, OXBLOOD FORGE played in front of audiences all over New England, opening for national acts from Unearthly Trance, to Conan and Mothership, and was also invited to play Doom Over Toronto II festival, in addition to the first annual New England Stoner Doom Festival.

Now, with a revamped lineup, OXBLOOD FORGE is shifting gears stylistically and pushing themselves further with the split with MOURN THE LIGHT, embracing the metal of their youth, and bring about a more NWOBHM onslaught to the songs while keeping to their doom roots. In the coming months, they will be working on branching out even further to metal audiences, pushing beyond the New England area, and working on an upcoming full length release.

With the collaboration of MOURN THE LIGHT and OXBLOOD FORGE, the split release is a grand introduction into the musical excellence of these two talented, passionate bands.

Track Listing:
1 Lost All Control – Mourn the Light
2 Drags Me Down – Mourn the Light 3
3 Carry The Flame (Piano version feat. Sean OrcAdams) – Mourn the Light
4 Bewitched (Candlemass Cover) – Mourn The Light*
5 Screams From Silence – Oxblood Forge
6 Forged In Fire – Oxblood Forge

*Bonus Digital Download on MTL Version Only

Mourn The Light Credits:
Recorded at Up Recording Studio Seymour, CT in May 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Simon Tuozzoli
Mastered by Rob Birkbeck at Project 7:06 Sound Services Griswold, CT
Songs written by Dwayne Eldredge
Piano/Strings on “Carry the Flame” performed by Sean OrcAdams
Additional backing vocals on “Carry The Flame” by Simon Tuozzoli
Cover art by Jim Clegg
Inside art by Eryka Fir
Layout by Charlie Platteborze

Oxblood Forge Credits:
Recorded Spring 2019 at Red Devil Studios with Joel Hopkins
Mixed by Glenn Smith at Amps vs Ohms Studio
Mastered at New Alliance East by Nick Zampiello

MOURN THE LIGHT is
Andrew Stachelek – Vocals
Dwayne Eldredge – Guitars and vocals
Kyle Hebner – Drums
Daniel Jackson – Bass

OXBLOOD FORGE is
Ken MacKay: vox
Robb Lioy: Guitar
Greg Dellaria: Bass
Erik Fraünfeltër: drums

mournthelight.com/
mournthelight.bandcamp.com/
facebook.com/MournTheLight/
instagram.com/mourn_the_light/

facebook.com/oxbloodforge/
oxbloodforge.bandcamp.com/
instagram.com/oxbloodforge/

Mourn the Light, “Lost all Control”

Oxblood Forge, “Forged in Fire”

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New England Stoner and Doom Fest II: More Lineup Announcements; Pre-Party Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

new england stoner doom festival 2019 art

It’s time to talk about the real potential of the New England Stoner and Doom Fest. No, I don’t mean the lineup. That’s awesome. You know it and I know it. I’m talking about the acronym. That’s always huge for a festival. How is it abbreviated? Think MDDF or SHoD or any of the DFs spread around the universe. These things matter.

I’ve seen NESDF tossed around for New England Stoner and Doom Fest, and that’s cool, but it’s missing the opportunity. You could have a festival abbreviated NES! Who the hell wouldn’t buy that t-shirt? I hereby cast my vote in the imaginary referendum on festival abbreviations for New England Stoner and Doom Fest to henceforth and forthwith and withhence be known as NES fest. Second the motion?

There’s reportedly one more band to be added and reportedly several in the running for that slot, so this might not be the final update before May 3-5 gets here and NES fest kicks off (see me using the acronym already?), and the lineup for a pre-party at 33 Golden St. in New London has been announced as well, which will be headlined by Fox 45, so, you know, more of a good thing and all that.

The full lineup as has been revealed follows. Note the Wretch reunion. NES fest!

New England Stoner & Doom Fest II

The New England Stoner and Doom Festival will make its return in 2019 on May 3,4, and 5 at Altones in Jewett City, CT.

Earthride
Brimstone Coven
Wretch
Kings Destroy
+1 TBA
Foghound
Pale Divine
Vessel of Light
Spiral Grave
Solace
Black Road
Curse the Son
Shadow Witch
Hell Camino
Clamfight
Eternal Black
Thunderbird Divine
Stonecutters
When the Deadbolt Breaks
Mourn the Light
Entierro
Bone Church
Buzzard Canyon
The Age of Truth
Void King
Horseburner
Scuzzy Yeti
Witchkiss
Cortez
Benthic Realm
Faith in Jane
Conclave
Set Fire
3 Parts Dead
Insano Vision
Old Earth Analog
Pinto Graham
The Stone Eye
Sentinel Hell

Pre-party @ 33 Golden St.:
Fox 45
VRSA
Dark Ritual
Owl Maker
Feed the Beast

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1613285008788252/
https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Wretch, Bastards Born (2017)

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New England Stoner and Doom Fest II Makes First Lineup Announcement; Earthride, Brimstone Coven, Youngblood Supercult & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

new england stoner and doom fest ii

Welp, I guess I know what I’m doin’ on May 3 and 4 next year. Calendar is marked. I was otherwise occupied during the first New England Stoner and Doom Fest earlier this year, but with the usual caveat that a piano might fall on my head between now and then, my plan is to hit New England Stoner and Doom Fest II as a priority, and the first lineup announcement has done nothing to dissuade me from that intention. Shadow Witch, Earthride, and Brimstone Coven are all vets of Maryland Doom FestEarthride are of course kingpins of that scene though release through NESDF-related Salt of the Earth Records — but Vessel of Light, Youngblood Supercult, Black Road, Set Fire and others it will be my first time seeing, so all the more reason to look forward to getting to Altones, which I hear kicks ass anyway.

And yes, I’m among the presenting media for the festival, but I don’t have the inside track or anything on who’s playing, so as the announcements come through for the bill, I’ll be just as surprised as everyone else. I’m looking forward to that too. There’s a good bit of diversity of sound already in the lineup, and any chance you get to see Brimstone Coven‘s harmonies in-person, you should do that. Bottom line is there’s a lot to like here so far, so dig in, and when I see the next round come through, that’ll get the same treatment.

For now, here’s the first poster and the list as posted on the fest event page on Thee Facebooks:

new england stoner and doom fest ii first poster

The New England Stoner and Doom Festival will make its return in 2019 on May 3 & 4 at Altones in Jewett City, CT.

Stay tuned for details!

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com

Featuring:
Brimstone Coven
Earthride
Black Road
Vessel Of Light
Shadow Witch
Youngblood Supercult
Set Fire
Mourn The Light
Entierro

Many many more to be announced.

www.newenglandstoneranddoomfest.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1613285008788252/
https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Earthride, Live in Los Angeles, June 13, 2018

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