Quarterly Review: Nebula, Mountain of Misery, Page Williams Turner, Almost Honest, Buzzard, Mt. Echo, Friends of Hell, Red Sun, Wolff & Borgaard, Semuta

Posted in Reviews on May 13th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Legend has it that a long time ago, thousands of years ago, before even the founding of the Kingdom of New Jersey itself, there was a man who attempted a two-week, 100-album Quarterly Review. He truly believed and was known to say to his goodlady wife, “Sure, I can do 100 releases in 10 days. That should be fine,” but lo, the gods did smite him for his hubris.

His punishment? That very same Quarterly Review.

Like the best of mythology, the lesson here is don’t be a dumbass and do things like 100-record Quarterly Reviews. Clearly this is a lesson I haven’t learned. Welcome to the next two weeks. Sorry for the typos. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Nebula, Livewired in Europe

Nebula Livewired in Europe

A busy 2023 continued on from a busy 2022 for SoCal heavy rockers Nebula as they supported their seventh album, Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here), and as filthy as was founding guitarist Eddie Glass‘ fuzz on that record, the nine-track (12 on the CD) Livewired in Europe pushes even further into the rawer stoner punk that’s always been at root in their sound. They hit Europe twice in 2023, in Spring and Fall, and in the lumbering sway of “Giant,” the drawl of “Messiah,” the Luciferian wink of that song and “Man’s Best Friend” earlier in the set, and the righteous urgency of what’s listed in the promo as “Down the Mother Fuckin’ Highway” or the shred-charged roll of “Warzone Speedwolf” in the bonus cuts, with bassist Ranch Sironi backing Glass on vocals and Mike Amster wailing away on drums — he’s the glue that never sounds stuck — they document the mania of post-rebirth Nebula as chaotic and forceful in kind, which is precisely what one would most hope for at the start of the gig. It’s not their first live outing, and hopefully it’s not the last either.

Nebula on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Mountain of Misery, The Land

mountain of misery the land

The self-recording/self-releasing Kamil Ziółkowski offers his second solo LP with The Land, following in short order from last Fall’s In Roundness (review here) and the two-songer issued a month after. At six songs and 35 minutes, The Land further distinguishes Mountain of Misery stylistically from Ziółkowski‘s main outfit, Spaceslug. Yes, the two bands share a penchant for textured tones and depth of mix (Haldor Grunberg at Satanic Audio mixed and mastered), and the slow-delivered melodic ‘gaze-style vocals are recognizable, but “The ’90s” puts Nirvana through this somewhat murky, hypnotic filter, and before its shimmering drone caps the album, on closer “Back Again,” the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist reminds a bit of Eddie Vedder. Seekers of nod will find plenty in “Awesome Burn” and the slightly harder-hitting “High Above the Mount” — desert rock in its second half, but on another planet’s desert — while the succession of “Path of Sound” and “Come on Down” feel specifically set to more post-rocking objectives; the plot and riffs likewise thickened. Most of all, it sounds like Mountain of Misery is digging in for a longer-term songwriting exploration, and quickly, and The Land only makes me more excited to find out where it’s headed.

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Page Williams Turner, Page Williams Turner

page williams turner self titled

The named-for-their-names trio Page Williams Turner is comprised of electronicist/mixer Michael Page (Sky Burial, many others), drummer/percussionist Robert Williams (of the harshly brilliant Nightstick) and saxophonist Nik Turner (formerly Hawkwind, et al), and the single piece broken into two sides on their Opposite Records self-titled debut is a duly experimentalist, mic-up-and-go extreme take on free psychedelic jazz, drone, industrial noisemaking, and time-what-is-time-signature manipulation. “Rorrim I” is drawn cinematically into an unstable wormhole circa its 14th minute, and teases serenity before the listener is eaten by a giant spider in some kind of unknowable ritual, and while “Rorrim II” feels less manic on average, its cycles, ebbs and flows remain wildly unpredictable. That’s the point, of course. If the combination of personnel and/or elements seems really, really weird on paper, you’re on the right track. This kind of thing will never be for everybody, but those who can get on its level will find it transportive. If that’s you, safe travels.

Page Williams Turner at Opposite Records Bandcamp

Opposite Records website

Almost Honest, The Hex of Penn’s Woods

almost honest the hex of penn's woods

The spoken intro welcoming the listener to “the greatest and last show of your lives” at the head of the chugging “Mortician Magician” is a little over the top considering the straightforward vibe of much of what follows on the 10 tracks of 2023’s The Hex of Penn’s Woods from Pennsylvania-based heavy rockers Almost Honest, but whether it’s the banjo early or the cowbell later in “Haunted Hunter,” the post-Fu Manchu riffing and gang shouts of “Alien Spiders,” “Ballad of a Mayfly”‘s whistling, the organ in “Amish Hex” (video premiere here), the harmonies of “Colony of Fire,” a bit of sax on “Where the Quakers Dwell,” that quirk in the opener, the funk wrought throughout by Garrett Spangler‘s bass and Quinten Spangler‘s drumming, the metal-rooted intertwining of Shayne Reed and David Kopp‘s guitars or the structural solidity beneath all of it, the band give aural character to coincide with the regionalist themes based on their Pennsylvania Dutch, foothill-Appalachian surroundings, and they dare to make their third album’s 44 minutes fun in addition to thoughtful in its craft.

Almost Honest on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Buzzard, Doom Folk

buzzard doom folk

Based in Western Massachusetts, Buzzard is the solo-project of Christopher Thomas Elliott, and the title of his debut album, Doom Folk, describes his particular intention. As the 12-song/44-minute outing unfolds from the eponymous “Buzzard” at its outset (even that feels like a Sabbathian dogwhistle), the blend of acoustic and electric guitar forms the heart of the arrangements, but more than that, it’s doom and folk, stylistically, that are coming together. What makes it work is that Elliott avoids the trap of 2010s-ish neo-folk posturing as a songwriter, and while there’s a ready supply of apocalyptic mood in the lyrical storytelling and abundant amplified distortion put to dynamic use, the folk he’s speaking to is more traditional. Not lacking intricacy in their percussion, arrangements or melodies, you could nonetheless learn these songs and sing them. “Death Metal in America” alone makes it worth the price of admission, let alone the stellar “Lucifer Rise,” but the sweet foreboding and build of the subsequent “Harvester of Souls” gets even closer to Buzzard‘s intention in bringing together the two sides to manifest a kind of heavy that is immediately and impressively its own. Doom Folk on.

Buzzard on Facebook

Buzzard on Bandcamp

Mt. Echo, Cometh

mt echo cometh

Mt. Echo begin their third full-length primed for resonance with the expansive, patiently wrought “Veil of Unhunger,” leading with their longest track (immediate points) as a way of bringing the listener into the record’s mostly instrumental course with a shimmer of post-rock and later-emerging density of tone. The Nijmegen trio’s follow-up to 2022’s Electric Empire (review here) plays out across a breadth that extends beyond the 44-minute runtime and does more in its pieces than flow smoothly between its loud/quiet tradeoffs. “Round and Round Goes the Crown” brings a guest appearance from Oh Hazar guitarist/vocalist Stefan Kollee that pushes the band into a kind of darker, thoroughly Dutch heavy prog, but even that shift is made smoother by the spoken part on “Brutiful Your Heart” just before, and not necessarily out of line with how “Set at Rest” answers the opener, or the rumble, nod and wash that cap with “If I May.” The overarching sense of growth is palpable, but the songs express more atmospherically than just the band pushing themselves.

Mt. Echo on Facebook

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

Friends of Hell, God Damned You to Hell

friends of hell god damned you to hell

They’re probably to raw and dug into Satanic cultistry to agree, but with Per “Hellbutcher” Gustavsson (Nifelheim) on vocals, guitarists Beelzeebubth (Mystifier, etc.) and Nikolas “Sprits” Moutafis (Mirror, etc.), bassist Taneli Jarva (Impaled Nazarene, etc.) and drummer Tasos Danazoglou (Mirror, ex-Electric Wizard, etc.) in the lineup for second LP God Damned You to Hell, it’s probably safe to call Friends of Hell a supergroup. Such considerations ultimately have little to do with how the rolling proto-NWOBHM triumphs of “Bringer of Evil” and “Arcane Macabre” play out, but it explains the current of extremity in their purposes that comes through at the start with the title-track and the severity that surrounds in the layering of “Ave Satanatas” as they journey into the underworld to finish with the eight-minute “All the Colors of the Dark.” You’re either going to buy the backpatch or shrug and not get it, and that seems like it’s probably fine with them.

Friends of Hell on Instagram

Rise Above Records website

Red Sun, From Sunset to Dawn

Red Sun From Sunset to Dawn

Not to be confused with France’s Red Sun Atacama, Italian prog-heavy psych instrumentalists Red Sun mark their 10th anniversary with the release of their third album, From Sunset to Dawn, and run a thread of doom through the keyboardy “The Sunset Turns Purple” and “The Shape of Night” on side A to manifest ‘sunset’ while side B unfolds with airier guitar in “The Coldness of the New Moon” and “Towards the End of Darkness” en route to the raga-leaning “The New Sun,” but as much as there is to be said for the power of suggestion and narrative titling, it’s the music itself that realizes the progression described in the name of the album. With a clear influence from My Sleeping Karma in “The Coldness of the New Moon” and the blend of organic hand-percussion and digitized melody in “The New Sun,” Red Sun immerse the listener in the procession from the intro “Where Once Was Light” (mirrored by “Intempesto” at the start of side B) onward, with each song serving as a chapter in the linear concept and story.

Red Sun on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Wolff & Borgaard, Destroyer

wolff and borgaard destroyer

Cinematic enough in sheer sound and the corresponding intensity of mood to warrant the visual collaboration with Kai Lietzke that accompanies the audio release, the collaboration between Hamburg electronic experimentalist Peter Wolff (Downfall of Gaia) and vocalist Jens Borgaard (Knifefight!, solo) moves between minimalist soundscaping and more consuming, weighted purposes. Moments like the beginning of “Transmit” might leave one waiting for when the Katatonia song is going to kick in, but Wolff & Borgaard engage on their own level as each of the nine pieces follows its own poetic course, able to be caustic like the culmination of “Observe” or to bring the penultimate “Extol” to silence gradually before “Reaper” bursts to life with clearly intentional contrast. I heard this or that streaming service is making a Blade Runner 2099 tv series. Sounds like a terrible idea, but it might just be watchable if Wolff & Borgaard get to do the score with a similar evocations of software and soul.

Peter Wolff on Facebook

My Proud Mountain website

Semuta, Glacial Erratic

Semuta Glacial Erratic

The Portland, Oregon, two-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Benjamin Caragol (ex-Burials) and drummer Ben Stoller (currently also Simple Forms, Dark Numbers, ex-Vanishing Kids) do much to ingratiate themselves both to the crowded underground of which their hometown is an epicenter, and to the broader sphere of heavy-progressivism in modern doom and sludge. Across the five tracks of their self-released for now debut full-length, Glacial Erratic, the pair offer a panacea of heavy sounds, angular in the urgency of “Toeing the Line,” which opens, or the later thud of “Selective Memory” (the latter of which also appeared on their 2020 self-titled EP), which seem more kin to Baroness or Elder crashes and twists of “A Distant Light” or the interplay of ambience, roll, and sharpness of execution that’s been held in reserve for the nine-minute “Wounds at the Stem” as they leave off. Melody, particularly in Caragol‘s vocals, is crucial in tying the material together, and part of what gives Semuta such apparent potential, but they seem already to have figured out a lot about who they want to be musically. All of which is to say don’t be surprised when this one shows up on the list of 2024’s best debut albums come December.

Semuta on Facebook

Semuta on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 85

Posted in Radio on May 27th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Yeah, there are some longer songs here. Truth be told, I wanted that. I wanted the show to have a flow from one track to the next. A lot of it is a pretty dug-in, trippier vibe. There’s some light and dark, and when you get to Wild Rocket and YOB that’s a kind of blasting point that I acknowledge in the subsequent voice track too, but I get two hours every other week to do this thing and I had a specific idea for how I wanted to use it this time.

Does that matter? I don’t know. I just want you to listen to Moura and Okkoto because those records has been laying waste to my soul of late. Lili Refrain I was put onto last weekend or somewhere thereabouts and I wanted to check out more, so there you go, and I feel punk rock guilt for missing Blackwater Holylight and BleakHeart when they came through — to be fair, I had/kinda-still-have the plague — and I thought that I’d probably be the only person on Gimme to play something like Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, so after having closed out last week with that on the site, the temptating to include it was too much to resist. Everything else was built off that.

I did my best to make a good show. If you listen, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks if you listen, thanks if you’re reading. Thanks in general.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 05.27.22

Moura Lúa vermella Axexan, Espreitan
Okkoto Where the Meadows Dream Beside the Sea Climb the Antlers & Reach the Stars
Magick Brother & Mystic Sister Utopia Magick Brother & Mystic Sister
Kungens Män Vaska lyckokaka Kungens Ljud & Bild
Blue Heron The Buck Ephemeral
Blackwater Holylight Who the Hell Silence/Motion
BleakHeart The Dead Moon Dream Griever
Lili Refrain Ichor Mana
Wild Rocket Formless Abyss Formless Abyss
Mt. Echo Flummox Electric Empire
YOB Nothing to Win Clearing the Path to Ascend
Wo Fat The Oracle The Singularity

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is June 10 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Messa, Witchpit, Dirty Nips, Ocean to Burn, Mt. Echo, Earl of Hell, Slugg, Mirage, An Evening Redness, Cryptophaser

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


It’s been a load road, getting from there to here, and here isn’t even there yet if you know what I mean. Alas, Thursday. Day four — 4, IV, I can’t remember how I’ve been writing it out — of the Spring 2022 Quarterly Review, and it’s a doozy. These things are always packed, in fact it’s pretty much the idea, but I still find that even this week as I’m putting out 10 reviews a day — we’ll get to 60 total next Monday — I’m playing catchup with more stuff coming down the pike. It seems more and more like each Quarterly Review I’ve done out of like the last five could’ve been extended a day beyond what it already was.

Alas, Thursday. Overwhelmed? Me too.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Messa, Close

Messa close

After two LPs through Aural Music, Italy’s Messa arrive via Svart with a crucial third album in Close. The hype surrounding the record has been significant, and Close earns every bit of it across its 10-song/64-minute run, intricately arranged as the Italian four-piece continue to bridge stylistic gaps with an ease born of expansive songcraft and stunning performance, first from vocalist Sara Bianchin (also percussion) and further from guitarist Alberto Piccolo (also oud, mandolin), bassist/synthesist/vocalist Marco Zanin (also various keys and percussion), and drummer Rocco Toaldo (also harsh vocals, percussion), who together create a complete and encompassing vision of doom that borrows periodically from black metal as anything artsy invariably must, but is more notable for its command of itself. That is, Messa — through the entirety of the hour-plus — are nothing but masterful. There’s an old photo of The Beatles watching Jimi Hendrix circa 1967, seeming resigned at being utterly outclassed by the ‘next thing.’ It’s easy to imagine much of doom looking at Messa the same way.

Messa on Facebook

Svart Records website


Witchpit, The Weight of Death

witchpit the weight of death

If what goes around comes around, then don’t be surprised when “Fire & Ice” goes circle-mosh near the end and you get punched in the head. Old. School. Southern. Sludge. Metal. Dudes play it big, and mean, and grooving. Think of turn of the century acts like Alabama Thunderpussy and Beaten Back to Pure, maybe earlier Sourvein, but with a big old lumbering update in sound thanks to a Phillip Cope recording job and a ferocity of its own. They’ve got a pedigree that includes Black Skies, Manticore and Black Hand Throne, and though The Weight of Death is their first long-player, they’ve been a band for seven years and their anti-dogmatic culmination in “Mr. Miserum” feels sincere as only it can coming from the land of the Southern Baptist Church. Aggression pervades throughout, but the band aren’t necessarily monochromatic. Sometimes they’re mad, sometimes they’re pissed off. Watch out when they’re pissed off. And am I wrong for feeling nostalgic listening? Can’t be too soon for them to be retro, right? Either way, they hit it hard and that’s just fine. Everybody needs to blow off steam sometime.

Witchpit on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Dirty Nips, Can O’ Dirty Demo Nipples

Dirty Nips Can o Dirty Demo Nipples

Do I even need to say it, that a band called Dirty Nips offering up a demo called Can O’ Dirty Demo Nipples get up to some pretty cheeky shenanigans therein? I hope not. Still, as the Bristol-via-Poland outfit crunch out the riffs of “The Third Nipple” and harmonica-laced Hank Williams-style country blues on “As I Stumbled” and touch on psychedelic jamming in opener “The Basement” and the later experimental-feeling “Dirty Nips Pt. II,” which just drops to silence in the middle enough to make you wonder if it’s coming back (it is), there’s clearly more going on here than goofball chicanery. “Jechetki” builds on the blues and adds a grunge chug, and closer “Mountain Calling” is — dare I say it? — classy with its blend of acoustic guitar and organ, echoing spoken vocal and engagingly patient realization. They may end up wishing they called themselves something else as time goes on, but as it stands, Dirty Nips‘ demo tape heralds a sonic complexity that makes it that much harder to predict where they might end up, and is all the more satisfying a listen for that.

Dirty Nips on Facebook

Galactic Smokehouse store


Ocean to Burn, Vultures

Ocean to Burn Vultures

Though they’re by no means the only band in Sweden to dig into some form of traditionalism in heavy rock, Västerås five-piece Ocean to Burn evoke a decidedly more straight-ahead, Southern-heavy feel throughout the nine songs and 33 minutes of Vultures, their self-released full-length. The throaty grit of vocalist Adam Liifw is a big part of that impression, but in the guitars of Mathilda Haanpää and Fredrik Blomqvist, the tone is more stripped-down than huge-sounding, and the grooves from bassist Pontus Jägervall and drummer Fredrik Hiltunen follow suit. That central purpose suits songs like “Wastelands” and the more strutting “Nay Sayer,” and though they largely stick to their guns style-wise, a bluesier nod on “No Afterlife” early and a breakout in closer “Vulture Road” assure there’s some toying with the balance, even as the tracks all stick to the three- to about four-and-a-half-minute range. They’ve been at it for a while, and seem to revel in the ‘nothin-too-fancy’ attitude of the material, but honestly, they don’t need tricks or novelty to get their point across.

Ocean to Burn on Facebook

Ocean to Burn on Reverbnation


Mt. Echo, Electric Empire

Mt Echo Electric Empire

Following an encouraging start in 2019’s Cirrus (review here), Nijmegen instrumentalists Mt. Echo return with the conceptual-feeling Electric Empire, still holding some noise rock crunch in “Automaton” following the opener “Sound & Fury,” but saving its biggest impacts for the angular “50 Fanthoms,” the 10-minute “Flummox” and subsequent “As the Tide Serves,” and on the whole working to bring that side of their approach together with the atmospheric heavy post-rock float of “The End of All Dispute” and the early going of “These Concrete Lungs.” At 10 songs and just under an hour long, Electric Empire has room for world-building, and one of Mt. Echo‘s great strengths is being able to offset patience with urgency and vice versa. By the time they cap with “Torpid,” the trio of Gerben Elburg, Vincent Voogd and Rolf Vonk have worked to further distinguish themselves among their various sans-vocals proggy peers. One hopes they’ll continue on such a path.

Mt. Echo on Facebook

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp


Earl of Hell, Get Smoked

Earl of Hell Get Smoked

Vocalist Eric Brock, guitarist/backing vocalist/principal songwriter Lewis Inglis, bassist Dean Gordon and drummer Ryan Wilson are Edinburgh’s Earl of Hell, and their debut EP, Get Smoked, builds on the brash grooves of prior singles “Arryhthmia” (sic) and “Blood Disco,” the latter of which appears as the penultimate of the six included tracks on the 23-minute outing. More stomp-and-swing than punch-you-in-the-face, “I Am the Chill” nonetheless makes its sense of threat clear — it is not about chilling out — as if opener “Hang ’em High” didn’t. Split into two three-song sides each with a shorter track between, it’s in “Parasite” and “Blood Disco” that the band are at their most punk rock, but as the slower “Bitter Fruits” mellows out in opening side B, there’s more to their approach than just full-sprint shove, though don’t tell that to closer “Kill the Witch,” which revels in its call and response with nary a hesitation as it shifts into Spanish-language lyrics. High-octane, punk-informed heavy rock and roll, no pretense of trying to push boundaries; just ripping it up and threaten to burn ladies alive, as one apparently does.

Earl of Hell on Facebook

Slightly Fuzzed Records store


Slugg, Yonder

Slugg Yonder

Released on New Year’s Day after being recorded in Dec. 2021 in the trio’s native Rome, “Yonder” serves as the initial public offering and first single from Slugg, and at 9:59, it is more than a vague teaser for the band they might be. The guitar of Jacopo Cautela and the bass of Stephen Drive bring a marked largesse that nonetheless is able to move when called upon to do so by Andrea Giamberardini‘s drumming, and Cautela‘s corresponding vocals are pushed deeper back in the mix to emphasize those tones. Much of the second half of “Yonder” is given to a single, rolling purpose, but the band cleverly turn that into a build as they move forward, leaving behind the gallops of the first few minutes of the song, but making the transition from one side to another smoothly via midsection crashes and ably setting up the ring-out finish that will draw the song to its close. Not without ambition, “Yonder” crushes with a sense of physical catharsis while affecting an atmosphere that is no less broad. They make it easy to hope for more to come along these lines.

Slugg on Facebook

Slugg on Bandcamp


Mirage, Telepathic Radio

Mirage Telepathic Radio

Joe Freedman, also of Banshee, first saw Telepathic Radio released as the debut full-length from Mirage in 2021 through Misophonia Records on tape. There are still a few of them left. That version runs 30 songs and 90 minutes. The Cardinal Fuzz/Centripetal Force edition is 50 minutes/20 tracks, but either way you go, get your head ready for dug-in freakness. Like freakness where you open the artwork file for the digital promo and all three versions are the cover of a Rhapsody album. Ostensibly psychedelic, songs play out like snippets from a wandering attention span, trying this weird thing and seeing it through en route to the next. In this way, Telepathic Radio is both broad-ranging and somewhat contained. The recordings are raw, fade in and out and follow their own paths as though recorded over a stretch of time rather than in one studio burst, which seems indeed to be how they were made. Horns, samples, keys, even some guitar, a bit of “TV Party” and “TV Eye” on “TV Screens,” Mirage howls and wails out there on its private wavelength, resolved to be what it is regardless of what one might expect of it. By the time even the 20-track version is done, the thing you can most expect is to have no clue what just happened in your brain. Rad.

Misophonia Records on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

Centripetal Force Records website


An Evening Redness, An Evening Redness

An Evening Redness Self-titled

With its first, self-titled release, An Evening Redness basks in morose Americana atmospheres, slow, patient guitar drones, warm bass and steady rhythms giving way to periodically violent surges. Founded perhaps as a pandemic project for Brandon Elkins of Auditor and Iron Forest, the six-song full-length explores the underlying intensity and threat to person and personhood that a lot of American culture just takes for granted. The name and inspiration for the project are literary — ‘An Evening Redness in the West’ is the subtitle of Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel, Blood Meridian — and An Evening Redness, even in the long instrumental stretch of 12-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Alkali,” treats the subject matter with duly textured reverence. Elkins isn’t alone here, and the vocals of Bridget Bellavia on the brooding “Mesa Skyline” and the closing pair of “Pariah” and “Black Flame at the Edge of the Desert,” as well as the contributions of other guests in various locales around the world up to and including Elkins‘ native Chicago should not be downplayed in enriching these explorations of space and sound. Bands like Earth and Across Tundras warrant mention as precursors of the form, but An Evening Redness casts its own light in the droning “Winter, 1847” and the harmonica-wailing “The Judge” enough to be wholly distinct from either in portraying the sometimes horrifying bounty of the land and the cruelty of those living in it.

An Evening Redness on Twitter

Transylvanian Recordings on Bandcamp


Cryptophaser, XXII

Cryptophaser XXII

Brothers John and Marc Beaudette — who if they aren’t twins are close enough — comprise New Hampshire’s Cryptophaser, and XXII is their first demo, pressed in an edition of 50 purple tapes. Dudes might as well just open my wallet. Fair enough. In what’s a show of chemistry and musical conversation that’s obviously been going on longer than these songs — that is, I highly suspect the maybe-twin brothers who drum and play guitar have been playing together more than a year — they bring an adversarial bent to the conventions of heavy fuzz, and do so with the proverbial gusto, breaking away from monolithic tones in favor of sheer dynamic, and when they shift into the drone in “October 83,” they make themselves a completely different band like it isn’t even a thing. Casual kickass. At 13 minutes, it flows like a full-length and has a full-length’s breadth of ideas (some full-lengths, anyway), and the energy from one moment to the next is infectious, be that next part fast, slow, loud, quiet, or whatever else they want it to be.

Cryptophaser website

Music ADD Records website


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 77

Posted in Radio on February 4th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

There’s a lot going on here. A lot to unpack, in the parlance of our times, but I’m gonna keep it short because I always feel like I screw these posts up by making it more than the list of bands and encouragement and thanks for listening that it should be. Hey, guess what? I think the songs I picked for the show I made don’t suck. If that wasn’t going to be the case, why would I pick them?

As for the voice breaks here, I barely remember what I said other than I was awkward. My wife was giving our son a bath at the time and I was worried he tub sounds would show up in the recording. That’s my rock and roll lifestyle. I’ve been considering a cocaine addiction so I can convince myself I’m fun again. Maybe go to a show.

Thanks for listening. Or reading. Whatever, really. Just thanks.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 02.04.22

Author & Punisher Maiden Star Kruller
Purple Dawn Death to a Dying World Peace & Doom Session Vol. II
Eric Wagner Maybe Tomorrow In the Lonely Light of Mourning
Madmess Stargazer Rebirth
Stone House on Fire Waterfall Time is a Razor
Hazemaze Ceremonial Aspersion Blinded by the Wicked
Spaceslug Spring of the Abyss Memorial
Mt. Echo These Concrete Lungs Electric Empire
Slugg Yonder Yonder
KYOTY Ventilate Isolation
JIRM You Fly The Tunnel, the Well, Holy Bedlam
Carcaňo I Don’t Belong Here By Order of the Green Goddess
Ascia Eternal Glory Volume II
MWWB The Harvest The Harvest
All Them Witches Blacksnake Blues Baker’s Dozen

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Feb. 18 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

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


We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website


Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

Spillage on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks


Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zack Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website


Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp


Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore


Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

Mt. Echo on Thee Facebooks

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp


Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp


Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp


Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website


Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

Luna Sol on Thee Facebooks

Slush Fund Recordings webstore


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,