John Garcia Announces US Tour Dates; Playing SXSW This Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

John Garcia and the Band of Gold 6 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Here’s a concept that’s pretty easy to get behind: John Garcia US tour dates. Desert rock’s founding frontman will appear next weekend in Austin, Texas, at Fiesta Destructo, which I’ll just assume is part either officially or tangentially of SXSW, and in May, will start out in the Midwest on a trip bound for the Eastern Seaboard that hits up into Montreal before turning south to cap in Philly and Brooklyn.

John Garcia and his solo band were last in NYC in the latter half of 2022 for Desertfest New York (review here), and have been gigging regularly on the West Coast, which is fair enough. At the bottom of the post you can see a video taken last November, and as the press release below also reminds, Garcia will play material from across his storied career, which means Kyuss tunes along with his solo stuff, probably Hermano‘s “Kentucky” or an older track and, if you’re truly blessed, “Pilot the Dune” or “July” by Slo Burn. However it shakes out, given the catalog Garcia‘s got to draw from, you’re probably not gonna leave the venue pissed off.

Tour dates came down the PR wire, as booked by Tone Deaf Touring:

john garcia tour

🌴JOHN GARCIA (ex-KYUSS) Announces North American Tour, Performing Classics from KYUSS, SLO BURN + HERMANO

American desert rock pioneer and former KYUSS frontman JOHN GARCIA will be embarking on a North American East Coast tour this spring, in which he will be performing classic songs from some of his iconic bands – KYUSS, HERMANO + SLO BURN! GARCIA will be supported by blues-rock guitarist JARED JAMES NICHOLS, psychedelic rock duo TELEKINETC YETI, and blues rockers LEFT LANE CRUISER.

The trek will kick off on May 15 in Madison, WI and will conclude in Brooklyn, NY on May 29. The full itinerary can be found below while ticket links are available HERE:

Prior to the tour, JOHN GARCIA will be performing a FREE show in Austin, TX on March 16 with support from MIDNIGHT.

JOHN GARCIA North American Tour Dates
(w/ Jared James Nichols, Telekinetic Yeti, Left Lane Cruiser):
03/16: Austin, TX @ Fiesta Destructo [FREE SHOW]*
05/15: Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
05/16: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall [On sale Fri, 3/8 @ 10:00 A.M.]
05/17: Lawrence, KS @ Liberty Hall
05/21: Pittsburgh, PA @ Jergel
05/22: Detroit, MI @ Crofoot Theatre
05/23: Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
05/25: Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
05/27: Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally’s [On sale Fri, 3/8 @ 10:00 A.M.]
05/28: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer [On sale Fri, 3/8 @ 10:00 A.M.]
05/29: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
*John Garcia w/ Midnight ONLY

John Garcia, Live at The Belasco, L.A., CA, Nov. 17, 2023

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, The Quill, Nebula Drag, LLNN & Sugar Horse, Fuzzter, Cold in Berlin, The Mountain King, Witchorious, Skull Servant, Lord Velvet

Posted in Reviews on February 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Day four of five puts the end of this Quarterly Review in sight, as will inevitably happen. We passed the halfway point yesterday and by the time today’s done it’s the home stretch. I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s been a lot — and in terms of the general work level of the day, today’s my busiest day; I’ve got Hungarian class later and homework to do for that, and two announcements to write in addition to this, one for today one for tomorrow, and I need to set up the back end of another announcement for Friday if I can. The good news is that my daughter seems to be over the explosive-vomit-time stomach bug that had her out of school on Monday. The better news is I’ve yet to get that.

But if I’m scatterbrained generally and sort of flailing, well, as I was recently told after I did a video interview and followed up with the artist to apologize for my terribleness at it, at least it’s honest. I am who I am, and I think that there are places where people go and things people do that sometimes I have a hard time with. Like leaving the house. And parenting. And interviewing bands, I guess. Needing to plow through 10 reviews today and tomorrow should be a good exercise in focusing energy, even if that isn’t necessarily getting the homework done faster. And yeah, it’s weird to be in your 40s and think about homework. Everything’s weird in your 40s.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Monkey3, Welcome to the Machine

monkey3 welcome to the machine

What are Monkey3 circa 2024 if not a name you can trust? The Swiss instrumental four-piece are now more than 20 years removed from their 2003 self-titled debut, and Welcome to the Machine — their seventh album and fourth release on Napalm Records (three studio, one live) — brings five new songs across 46 minutes of stately progressive heavy craft, with the lead cut “Ignition” working into an early gallop before cutting to ambience presumably as a manifestation of hitting escape velocity and leaving the planetary atmosphere, and trading from there between longer (10-plus-minute) and shorter (six- and seven-minute) pieces that are able to hit with a surprising impact when they so choose. Second track “Collision” comes to crush in a way that even 2019’s Sphere (review here) didn’t, and to go with its methodical groove, heavy post-rock airiness and layered-in acoustic guitar, “Kali Yuga” (10:01) is tethered by a thud of drums that feels no less the point of the thing than the mood-aura in the largesse that surrounds. Putting “Rackman” (7:13, with hints of voice or keyboard that sounds like it), which ends furiously, and notably cinematic closer “Collapse” (12:51) together on side B is a distinct immersion, and the latter places Monkey3 in a prog-metal context that defies stylistic expectation even as it lives up to the promise of the band’s oeuvre. Seven records and more than two decades on, and Monkey3 are still evolving. This is a special band, and in a Europe currently awash in heavy instrumentalism of varying degrees of psychedelia, it’s hard to think of Monkey3 as anything other than aesthetic pioneers.

Monkey3 on Facebook

Napalm Records website

The Quill, Wheel of Illusion

the quill wheel of illusion

With its Sabbath-born chug and bluesy initial groove opening to NWOBHM grandeur at the solo, the opening title-track is quick to reassure that Sweden’s The Quill are themselves on Wheel of Illusion, even if the corresponding classic metal elements there a standout from the more traditional rock of “Elephant Head” with its tambourine, or the doomier roll in “Sweet Mass Confusion,” also pointedly Sabbathian and thus well within the wheelhouse of guitarist Christian Carlsson, vocalist Magnus Ekwall, bassist Roger Nilsson and drummer Jolle Atlagic. While most of Wheel of Illusion is charged in its delivery, the still-upbeat “Rainmaker” feels like a shift in atmosphere after the leadoff and “We Burn,” and atmospherics come more into focus as the drums thud and the strings echo out in layers as “Hawks and Hounds” builds to its ending. While “The Last Thing” works keyboard into its all-go transition into nodding capper “Wild Mustang,” it’s the way the closer seems to encapsulate the album as a whole and the perspective brought to heavy rock’s founding tenets that make The Quill such reliable purveyors, and Wheel of Illusion comes across like special attention was given to the arrangements and the tightness of the songwriting. If you can’t appreciate kickass rock and roll, keep moving. Otherwise, whether it’s your first time hearing The Quill or you go back through all 10 of their albums, they make it a pleasure to get on board.

The Quill on Facebook

Metalville Records website

Nebula Drag, Western Death

Nebula Drag Western Death

Equal parts brash and disillusioned, Nebula Drag‘s Dec. 2023 LP, Western Death, is a ripper whether you’re dug into side ‘Western’ or side ‘Death.’ The first half of the psych-leaning-but-more-about-chemistry-than-effects San Diego trio’s third album offers the kind of declarative statement one might hope, with particular scorch in the guitar of Corey Quintana, sway and ride in Stephen Varns‘ drums and Garrett Gallagher‘s Sabbathian penchant for working around the riffs. The choruses of “Sleazy Tapestry,” “Kneecap,” “Side by Side,” “Tell No One” and the closing title-track speak directly to the listener, with the last of them resolved, “Look inside/See the signs/Take what you can,” and “Side by Side” a call to group action, “We don’t care how it gets done/Helpless is the one,” but there’s storytelling here too as “Tell No One” turns the sold-your-soul-to-play-music trope and turns it on its head by (in the narrative, anyhow) keeping the secret. Pairing these ideas with Nebula Drag‘s raw-but-not-sloppy heavy grunge, able to grunge-crunch on “Tell No One” even as the vocals take on more melodic breadth, and willing to let it burn as “Western Death” departs its deceptively angular riffing to cap the 34-minute LP with the noisy finish it has by then well earned.

Nebula Drag on Facebook

Desert Records store

LLNN & Sugar Horse, The Horror bw Sleep Paralysis Demon

LLNN Sugar Horse The Horror Sleep Paralysis Demon

Brought together for a round of tour dates that took place earlier this month, Pelagic Records labelmates LLNN (from Copenhagen) and Sugar Horse (from Bristol, UK) each get one track on a 7″ side for a showcase. Both use it toward obliterating ends. LLNN, who are one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever seen live and I’m incredibly grateful for having seen them live, dig into neo-industrial churn on “The Horror,” with stabbing synth later in the procession that underscores the point and less reliance on tonal onslaught than the foreboding violence of the atmosphere they create. In response, Sugar Horse manage to hold back their screams and lurching full-bore bludgeonry for nearly the first minute of “Sleep Paralysis Demon” and even after digging into it dare a return to cleaner singing, admirable in their restraint and more effectively tense for it when they push into caustic sludge churn and extremity, space in the guitar keeping it firmly in the post-metal sphere even as they aim their intent at rawer flesh. All told, the platter is nine of probably and hopefully-for-your-sake the most brutal minutes you might experience today, and thus can only be said to accomplish what it set out to do as the end product sounds like two studios would’ve needed rebuilding afterward.

LLNN on Facebook

Sugar Horse on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Fuzzter, Pandemonium

fuzzter pandemonium

Fuzzter aren’t necessarily noisy in terms of playing noise rock on Pandemonium, but from the first cymbal crashes after the Oppenheimer sample at the start of “Extinción,” the Peruvian outfit engage an uptempo heavy psych thrust that, though directed, retains a chaotic aspect through the band’s willingness to be sound if not actually be reckless, to gang shout before the guitars drift off in “Thanatos,” to be unafraid of being eaten by their own swirl in “Caja de Pandora” or to chug with a thrashy intensity at the start of closer “Tercer Ojo,” doom out massive in the song’s middle, and float through jazzy minimalism at the finish. But even in that, there are flashes, bursts that emphasize the unpredictability of the songs, which is an asset throughout what’s listed as the Lima trio’s third EP but clocks in at 36 minutes with the instrumental “Purgatorio,” which starts off like it might be an interlude but grows more furious as its five minutes play out, tucked into its center. If it’s a short release, it is substantial. If it’s an album, it’s substantial despite a not unreasonable runtime. Ultimately, whatever they call it is secondary to the space-metal reach and the momentum fostered across its span, which just might carry you with it whether or not you thought you were ready to go.

Fuzzter on Facebook

Fuzzter on Instagram

Cold in Berlin, The Body is the Wound

cold in berlin the body is the wound

The listed representation of dreams in “Dream One” adds to the concrete severity of Cold in Berlin‘s dark, keyboard-laced post-metallic sound, but London-based four-piece temper that impact with the post-punk ambience around the shove of the later “Found Out” on their The Body is the Wound 19-minute four-songer, and build on the goth-ish sway even as “Spotlight” fosters a heavier, more doomed mindset behind vocalist Maya, whose verses in “When Did You See Her Last” are complemented by dramatic lines of keyboard and who can’t help but soar even as the overarching direction is down, down, down into either the subconscious referenced in “Dream One” or some other abyss probably of the listener’s own making. Five years and one actual-plague after their fourth full-length, 2019’s Rituals of Surrender, bordering on 15 since the band got their start, they cast resonance in mood as well as impact (the latter bolstered by Wayne Adams‘ production), and are dynamic in style as well as volume, with each piece on The Body is the Wound working toward its own ends while the EP’s entirety flows with the strength of its performances. They’re in multiple worlds, and it works.

Cold in Berlin on Facebook

Cold in Berlin website

The Mountain King, Apostasyn

the mountain king apostasyn

With the expansive songwriting of multi-instrumentalist/sometimes-vocalist Eric McQueen at its core, The Mountain King issue Apostasyn as possibly their 10th full-length in 10 years and harness a majestic, progressive doom metal that doesn’t skimp either on the doom or the metal, whether that takes the form of the Type O Negative-style keys in “The White Noise From God’s Radio” or the tremolo guitar in the apex of closer “Axolotl Messiah.” The title-track is a standout for more than just being 15 minutes long, with its death-doom crux and shifts between minimal and maximal volumes, and the opening “Dødo” just before fosters immersion after its maybe-banging-on-stuff-maybe-it’s-programmed intro, with a hard chug answered in melody by guest singer Julia Gusso, who joins McQueen and the returning Frank Grimbarth (also guitar) on vocals, while Robert Bished adds synth to McQueen‘s own. Through the personnel changes and in each piece’s individual procession, The Mountain King are patient, waiting in the dark for you to join them. They’ll probably just keep basking in all that misery until you get there, no worries. Oh, and I’ll note that the download version of Apostasyn comes with instrumental versions of the four tracks, in case you’d really like to lose yourself in ruminating.

The Mountain King on Facebook

The Mountain King on Bandcamp

Witchorious, Witchorious


The self-titled debut from Parisian doomers Witchorious is distinguished by its moments of sludgier aggression — the burly barks in “Monster” at the outset, and so on — but the chorus of “Catharsis” that rises from the march of the verse offers a more melodic vision, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Antoine Auclair, bassist/vocalist Lucie Gaget and drummer Paul Gaget, continue to play to multiple sides of a modern metal and doom blend, while “The Witch” adds vastness and roll to its creeper-riff foundation. The guitar-piece “Amnesia” serves as an interlude ahead of “Watch Me Die” as Witchorious dig into the second half of the album, and as hard has that song comes to hit — plenty — the character of the band is correspondingly deepened by the breadth of “To the Grave,” which follows before the bonus track “Why” nod-dirges the album’s last hook. There’s clarity in the craft throughout, and Witchorious seem aware of themselves in stylistic terms if not necessarily writing to style, and noteworthy as it is for being their first record, I look forward to hearing how they refine and sharpen the methods laid out in these songs. The already-apparent command with which they direct the course here isn’t to be ignored.

Witchorious on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Skull Servant, Traditional Black Magicks II

skull servant traditional black magicks ii

Though their penchant for cult positioning and exploitation-horror imagery might lead expectations elsewhere, North Carolinian trio Skull Servant present a raw, sludge-rocking take on their second LP, Traditional Black Magicks II, with bassist Noah Terrell and guitarist Calvin Bauer reportedly swapping vocal duties per song across the five tracks while drummer Ryland Dreibelbis gives fluidity to the current of distortion threaded into “Absinthe Dreams,” which is instrumental on the album but newly released as a standalone single with vocals. I don’t know if the wrong version got uploaded or what — Bauer ends up credited with vocals that aren’t there — but fair enough. A meaner, punkier stonerism shows itself as “Poison the Unwell” hints at facets of post-hardcore and “Pergamos,” the two shortest pieces placed in front of the strutting “Lucifer’s Reefer” and between that cut and the Goatsnake-via-Sabbath riffing of “Satan’s Broomstick.” So it could be that Skull Servant, who released the six-song outing on Halloween 2023, are still sorting through where they want to be sound-wise, or it could be they don’t give a fuck about genre convention and are gonna do whatever they please going forward. I won’t predict and I’m not sure either answer is wrong.

Skull Servant on Facebook

Skull Servant on Bandcamp

Lord Velvet, Astral Lady

lord velvet astral lady

Notice of arrival is served as Lord Velvet dig into classic vibes and modern heft on their late 2023 debut EP, Astral Lady, to such a degree that I actually just checked their social media to see if they’d been signed yet before I started writing about them. Could happen, and probably will if they want it to, considering the weight of low end and the flowing, it’s-a-vibe-man vibe, plus shred, in “Lament of Io” and the way they make that lumber boogie through (most of) “Snakebite Fever.” Appearing in succession, “Night Terrors” and “From the Deep” channel stoned Iommic revelry amid their dynamic-in-tempo doomed intent, and while “Black Beam of Gemini” rounds out with a shove, Lord Velvet retain the tonal presence on the other end of that quick, quiet break, ready to go when needed for the crescendo. They’re not reinventing stoner rock and probably shouldn’t be trying to on this first EP, but they feel like they’re engaging with some of the newer styles being proffered by Magnetic Eye or sometimes Ripple Music, and if they end up there or elsewhere before they get around to making a full-length, don’t be surprised. If they plan to tour, so much the better for everybody.

Lord Velvet on Facebook

Lord Velvet website

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Monkey3 Announce Spring & Summer Touring; Welcome to the Machine Out Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

As they make ready to release their new album, Welcome to the Machine, this Friday through Napalm Records, Swiss instrumentalist prog-psych mainstays Monkey3 have revealed the tour that draws together previously-announced stops through festivals like Desertfest London, Desertfest Berlin, Esbjerg Fuzztival, Heavy Psych Sounds, an so on. Their paths will cross with the Brant Bjork Trio more than once as they go, and you’ll note that the entirety of the run is billed as ‘Pt. I’ of a larger touring plan. It would not be a surprise to find them out again later this year as well, perhaps on the Sound of Liberation circuit of Fall festivals? You never know.

There are two singles out from Welcome to the Machine, both of which stream below if you haven’t had the chance yet to engage, and the e’er crucial ticket link, should you be in a position to leave the house for a few hours at some point in the next couple months. And if not, no judgment. I don’t always have those hours either. The music’s still cool and there for you to check out.


monkey3 tour

MONKEY3 – 🔥Tour Announcement🔥

Sound of Liberation Presents: MONKEY3 – WELCOME TO THE MACHINE TOUR – EUROPE 2024 Part 1
27.04 FR Savigny le Temple, L’Empreinte, Paris Grand Sludge
28.04 FR Colmar, Le Grillen
10.05 CH Seewen, Gaswerk
11.05 DE Fulda, Kulturkeller Kreuz
12.05 DE Köln Club Volta w/Brant Bjork Trio
13.05 DE Hamburg, Knust
14.05 DK Kopenhagen, Stengade
15.05 DE Bremerhaven, Shiva
16.05 BE Sint-Niklaas, De Casino w/Brant Bjork Trio
17.05 BE Brussels, Magasin 4
18.05 UK London, Desertfest
19.05 NL Den Bosch, Willem Twee
23.05 DE Jena, KuBa
24.05 DE Berlin, Desertfest
25.05 PL Krakow, Kamienna 10
27.05 AT Vienna, Viper Room
29.05 DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik
31.05 DK Esbjerg, Fuzztival
07.06 CH Winterthur, Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
08.06 CH Martigny, Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
28.06 DE Passau, Blackdoor Festival
09.08 BE Kortrijk, Alcatraz Festival
18.08 FR Motocultor, Carhaix

More dates to be announced !

Tickets at:

Walter – Drums
Jalil – Bass
Boris – Guitars
dB – Keys and Sounds

Monkey3, Welcome to the Machine (2024)

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Frayle Sign to Napalm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Cheers to Cleveland, Ohio’s Frayle on getting picked up by Napalm Records for the release of their next album. It was kind of a matter of time for them to be signed by one or the other of the larger metal-world imprints. Kind of inevitable, huh? Frayle have been upward trajectory since the word go, a career-minded act with a defined aesthetic and a fresh-ish take on familiar ideas. They can appeal across subgenres in a way not a lot of doom-adjacent anything ever could.

Frayle‘s latest album, Skin & Sorrow came out in 2022 through Aqualamb and Lay Bare Recordings — both what I’d consider to be labels of marked taste — and while I don’t know if a reissue is in the works and the focus here seems to be on moving forward with new stuff, you wouldn’t blame them if one showed up.

The PR wire, making it official:

frayle (photo by Damian Eduardos)

FRAYLE Signs Worldwide Contract with Napalm Records

New Music Expected in 2024!

Fast-rising American doom outfit FRAYLE have officially joined forces with Napalm Records, signing a worldwide contract with the premier Austrian rock and metal empire.

Cleveland, Ohio’s FRAYLE crept onto the scene after forming in 2018, helmed by original members Sean Bilovecky (guitars) and Gwyn Strang (vocals). Since then, the band has been lauded by fans and media critics alike, merging the heaviness of occult-driven doom and blackgaze with Strang’s distinctively eerie vocal stylings. FRAYLE has since expanded into a four piece, welcoming drummer Jon Vinson and bassist Jason Knotek to the fold, allowing the band to fully realize their “lullabies over chaos” musical vision. Noted first by Revolver Magazine as a band to watch in 2023, and then again by Knotfest for the coming year, the band continues to invigorate their already buzzing sway on the scene. Following gloomy performances in Europe and the United States at festivals such as Damnation, Desertfest, Soul Crusher, Gloomnar, Post Fest and Inkcarceration, FRAYLE vows to enrapture audiences with new music in 2024.

FRAYLE says about the signing:
“We are thrilled to be joining the incredible team at Napalm Records. Napalm has always been the label that artists strive to be a part of and we are honored to bring our unique blend of heavy witch gloom to their impressive roster.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to say we are extremely fortunate to be part of the Oracle Management family, and are grateful for them helping us realize our goal of signing to Napalm Records. It was Oracle’s existing relationship with Napalm that helped to seal the deal. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Sebastian Muench, Senior A&R at Napalm Records, adds:
“FRAYLE have been enchanting their fans with their unique way of interpreting doom metal since 2017. Their artistic vision and past live performances have fascinated us and enticed us to work together as partners on the next step in the band’s career. I can guarantee that the new studio album will be simply amazing!”

Stay tuned for more FRAYLE news coming soon!

Gwyn Strang: Vocals
Sean Bilovecky: Guitar
Jason Knotek: Bass
Jon Vinson: Drums

Frayle, Skin & Sorrow (2022)

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Monkey3 to Release Welcome to the Machine Feb. 23; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

monkey3 (Photo by Giuseppe Aufiero)

Swiss heavy progressive instrumentalists Monkey3 have already been confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2024 and its UK co-flagship Desertfest London 2024, which implies at least a week of touring, so it’s not the craziest thing in the universe that the band are announcing the release of Welcome to the Machine today and streaming the visualizer for the first single “Rackman” that you can find at the bottom of this post, but it’s welcome news either way.

Their last studio outing was 2019’s Sphere (review here), and 2023 marks two decades since their self-released self-titled debut. “Rackman,” as the first I’ve heard of Welcome to the Machine to come — out Feb. 21, on Napalm — is duly mature and progressive but also somewhat surprisingly heavy. There are moments in the first few minutes where if you put a growl on there you’d have death-doom, but that’s only one element of the atmospherics Monkey3 present. They’ve never been an outfit to do the same thing over and over, but if the other four songs on the record stand up to “Rackman” tonally, it could be the band’s heaviest work.

The PR wire explores themes and more in the info that follows:

monkey3 welcome to the machine

Instrumental Psych Rock Masters MONKEY3 Announce New Album Welcome To The Machine

Music Video For First Single “Rackman” Premiering Now!

New Album, Welcome To The Machine, out February 23, 2024 via Napalm Records

Pre-Order HERE:

Following Live at Freak Valley in 2017 and their latest, much-acclaimed album, Sphere (2019), instrumental psych rock frontrunners MONKEY3 will herald 2024 with a true album highlight of the new year: The Lausanne-based four-piece has announced a brand new, cosmic studio offering, entitled Welcome To The Machine, set for release on February 23, 2024 via Napalm Records!

Once again, MONKEY3 envelops listeners in their unique, cosmic auditory haze. Welcome To The Machine not only marks their seventh and most epic, dark and captivating record to date, but will also clearly prove why they are one of the most exciting instrumental rock bands in the modern stoner and psychedelic rock scene.

Today, MONKEY3 has premiered a music video for their first album single “Rackman”. “‘Welcome To The Machine’ is a reflection on the future of humanity through the duality of man and machine,” the band explains. About the new single, they comment: “Are human beings becoming machines or machines becoming human beings?”

Welcome To The Machine’s musical themes are inspired by movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Sunshine, Solaris and 1984, while unveiling an intense mankind vs. machines story that instantly launches the listener into deep space. Right from its first tones, the album immediately emerges as a perfect soundtrack to a journey into the unknown. Tracks such as “Rackman” perfectly showcase how MONKEY3, who formed in 2001, are one of only a few instrumental bands that know how to tell an enthralling story. Welcome To The Machine explores as much as it poses questions. It is dark and menacing; evoking melancholic destruction while somehow bursting with hope at the same time, moving between haunting passages and progressive breaks, mesmerizing grooves and colossal riffs.

The album was recorded and mixed by Raphaël Bovey at Blend Studio and MyRoom Studio, and was mastered by Lad Agabekov at Caduceus Studios in Switzerland. The incredible cover artwork was created by Sebastian Jerke.
Pre-Order Welcome To The Machine HERE:

Welcome To The Machine track listing:
1. Ignition
2. Collision
3. Kali Yuga
4. Rackman
5. Collapse

Welcome To The Machine will be available in the following formats:
– Digipak
– 1 Vinyl Gatefold Black
– 1 Vinyl Gatefold Clear Orange
– 1-Vinyl Gatefold Crystal Clear Deluxe Version (incl. Slipmat & Art Print )
– Digital

MONKEY3 live:
May 24 – 26, 2024 (DE) Desertfest Berlin
+ many more live dates to be announced soon!

Walter – Drums
Jalil – Bass
Boris – Guitars
dB – Keys and Sounds

Monkey3, “Rackman” visualizer

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Conan Welcome New Bassist David Riley

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Founding Conan guitarist and vocalist Jon Davis has made absolutely zero secret of his love for Fudge Tunnel. Over the years, on social media and in interviews he’s heralded the undervalued noise metallers who called it quits in 1995 and whose 1991 debut, Hate Songs in E Minor, remains a landmark. In August, when Conan announced they’d be undertaking a series of 7″ singles, one of the songs included in the first was a Fudge Tunnel cover, and David RileyConan‘s new permanent bassist as per an announcement today — has played alongside Davis in his Ungraven project as well, so his joining Conan seems like a natural extension.

Nonetheless, it’s a significant change in the band, whose low end has been on utter lockdown since 2014 thanks to Chris Fielding. Also one of the UK underground’s foremost producer/engineers, Fielding wasn’t Conan‘s first bassist, but he brought a presence and aggression to the stage that set well alongside Davis‘ own, his low growls and Davis‘ higher shouting style developing a dynamic between them that I doubt anyone could’ve guessed Conan would’ve featured when they started out and that made them a richer band. Conan has said that Fielding will continue to act as their producer, as he recorded them before he joined as well, and while they’re not far removed from 2022’s Evidence of Immortality (review here), an even partially new lineup inevitably leads to questions of new studio work. I’ll be interested to hear that, of course, as well as to see what Riley brings to the three-piece on stage with Davis and drummer Johnny King.

Those questions can I guess just kind of hang out for a bit, since Conan kept the announcement short and sweet in welcoming Riley to the band. Here’s what they had to say and a video they put on Instagram to mark the occasion:

Conan 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

*NEW BASSIST ANNOUNCED* Those of you who know how much of an influence Fudge Tunnel have been on us, will no doubt know how exciting it is to be able to be able to announce our new bass player. David has played and toured with us several times since 2018, it gives us great pleasure to have him join us formally. @fudge_tunnel @ryley.barr #heavymetal #cavemanbattledoom #riffs #fudgetunnel thanks to @alterystudios for the graphics

Jon Davis – Guitar, Vocals
David Riley – Bass
Johnny King – Drums


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Conan (@hailconan)

Conan, Evidence of Immortality (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Tortuga, Spidergawd, Morag Tong, Conny Ochs, Ritual King, Oldest Sea, Dim Electrics, Mountain of Misery, Aawks, Kaliyuga Express

Posted in Reviews on November 30th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Generally I think of Thursday as the penultimate day of a given Quarterly Review. This one I was thinking of adding more days to get more stuff in ahead of year-end coverage coming up in December. I don’t know what that would do to my weekend — actually, yes I do — but sometimes it’s worth it. I’m yet undecided. Will let you know tomorrow, or perhaps not. Dork of mystery, I am.

Today is PACKED with cool sounds. If you haven’t found something yet that’s really hit you, it might be your day.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Tortuga, Iterations

TORTUGA Iterations

From traditionalist proto-doom and keyboard-inflected prog to psychedelic jamming and the Mountain-style start-stop riff on “Lilith,” Poznań, Poland’s Tortuga follow 2020’s Deities (discussed here) with seven tracks and 45 minutes that come across as simple and barebones in the distortion of the guitar and the light reverb on the vocals, but the doom rock doesn’t carry from “Lilith” into “Laspes,” which has more of a ’60s psych crux, a mellow but not unjoyful meander in its first half turning to a massive lumber in the second, all the more elephantine with a solo overtop. They continue throughout to cross the lines between niches — “Quaus” has some dungeon growls, “Epitaph” slogs emotive like Pallbearer, etc. — and offer finely detailed performances in a sound malleable to suit the purposes of their songs. Polish heavy doesn’t screw around. Well, at least not any more than it wants to. Tortuga‘s creative reach becomes part of the character of the album.

Tortuga on Facebook

Napalm Records website

Spidergawd, VII

spidergawd vii

I’m sorry, I gotta ask: What’s the point of anything when Spidergawd can put out a record like VII and it’s business as usual? Like, the world doesn’t stop for a collective “holy shit” moment. Even in the heavy underground, never mind general population. These are the kinds of songs that could save lives if properly employed to do so, and for the Norwegian outfit, it’s just what they do. The careening hooks of “Sands of Time” and “The Tower” at the start, the melodies across the span. The energy. I guess this is dad rock? Shit man, I’m a dad. I’m not this cool. Spidergawd have seven records out and I feel like Metallica should’ve been opening for them at stadiums this past summer, but they remain criminally underrated and perhaps use that as flexibility around their pop-heavy foundation to explore new ideas. The last three songs on VII — “Afterburner,” “Your Heritage” and “…And Nothing But the Truth” — are among the strongest and broadest Spidergawd have ever done, and “Dinosaur” and the classic-metal ripper “Bored to Death” give them due preface. One of the best active heavy rock bands, living up to and surpassing their own high standards.

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website

Morag Tong, Grieve

Morag Tong Grieve

Rumbling low end and spacious guitar, slow flowing drums and contemplative vocals, and some charred sludge for good measure, mark out the procession of “At First Light” on Morag Tong‘s third album and first for Majestic Mountain Records, the four-song Grieve. Moving from that initial encapsulation through the raw-throat sludge thud of most of “Passages,” they crash out and give over to quiet guitar at about four minutes in and set up the transition to the low-end groove-cool of “A Stem’s Embrace,” a sleepy fluidity hitting its full voluminous crux after three minutes in, crushing from there en route to its noisy finish at just over nine minutes long. That would be the epic finisher of most records, but Morag Tong‘s grievances extend to the 20-minute “No Sun, No Moon,” which at 20 minutes is a full-length’s progression on its own. At very least the entirety of side B, but more than the actual runtime is the theoretical amount of space covered as the four-piece shift from ambient drone through huge plod and resolve the skyless closer with a crushing delve into post-sludge atmospherics. That’s as fitting an end as one could ask for an offering that so brazenly refuses to follow impulses other than its own.

Morag Tong on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

Conny Ochs, Wahn Und Sinn

Conny Ochs Wahn Und Sinn

The nine-song Wahn Und Sinn carries the distinction of being the first full-length from German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs — also known for his work in Ananda Mida and his collaboration with Wino — to be sung in his own language. As a non-German speaker, I won’t pretend that doesn’t change the listening experience, but that’s the idea. Words and melodies in different languages take on corresponding differences in character, and so in addition to appreciating the strings, pianos, acoustic and electric guitars, and, in the case of “Welle,” a bit of static noise in a relatively brief electronic soundscape, hearing Ochs‘ delivery no less emotive for switching languages on the cinematic “Grimassen,” or the lounge drama of “Ding” earlier on, it’s a new side from a veteran figure whose “experimentalism” — and no, I’m not talking about singing in your own language as experimental, I’m talking about Trialogos there — is backburnered in favor of more traditional, still rampantly melancholy pop arrangements. It sounds like someone who’s decided they can do whatever the hell they feel like their songs should making that a reality. Only an asshole would hold not speaking the language against that.

Conny Ochs on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream website/a>

Ritual King, The Infinite Mirror

ritual king the infinite mirror

I’m going to write this review as though I’m speaking directly to Ritual King because, well, I am. Hey guys. Congrats on the record. I can hear a ton going on with it. Some of Elder‘s bright atmospherics and rhythmic twists, some more familiar stoner riffage repurposed to suit a song like “Worlds Divide” after “Flow State” calls Truckfighters to mind, the songs progressive and melodic. The way you keep that nod in reserve for “Landmass?” That’s what I’m talking about. Here’s some advice you didn’t ask for: Keep going. I’m sure you have big plans for next year, and that’s great, and one thing leads to the next. You’re gonna have people for the next however long telling you what you need to do. Do what feels right to you, and keep in mind the decisions that led you to where you are, because you’re right there, headed to the heart of this thing you’re discovering. Two records deep there’s still a lot of potential in your sound, but I think you know a track like “Tethered” is a victory on its own, and that as big as “The Infinite Mirror” gets at the end, the real chance it takes is in the earlier vocal melody. You’re a better band than people know. Just keep going. Thanks.

Ritual King on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Oldest Sea, A Birdsong, A Ghost

oldest sea a birdsong a ghost cropped

Inhabiting the sort of alternately engulfing and minimal spaces generally occupied by the likes of Bell Witch, New Jersey’s Oldest Sea make their full-length debut with A Birdsong, A Ghost and realize a bleakness of mood that is affecting even in its tempo, seeming to slow the world around it to its own crawl. The duo of Samantha Marandola and Andrew Marandola, who brought forth their Strange and Eternal EP (review here) in 2022, find emotive resonance in a death-doom build through the later reaches of “Untracing,” but the subsequent three-minute-piece-for-chorus-and-distorted-drone “Astronomical Twilight” and the similarly barely-there-until-it-very-much-is closer “Metamorphose” mark out either end of the extremes while “The Machines That Made Us Old” echoes Godflesh in its later riffing as Samantha‘s voice works through screams en route to a daringly hopeful drone. Volatile but controlled, it is a debut of note for its patience and vulnerability as well as its deep-impact crash and consuming tone.

Oldest Sea on Facebook

Darkest Records on Bandcamp

Dim Electrics, Dim Electrics

dim electrics dim electrics

Each track on Dim Electrics‘ self-titled five-songer LP becomes a place to rest for a while. No individual piece is lacking activity, but each cut has room for the listener to get inside and either follow the interweaving aural patterns or zone out as they will. Founded by Mahk Rumbae, the Vienna-based project is meditative in the sense of basking in repetition, but flashes like the organ in the middle of “Saint” or the shimmy that takes hold in 18-minute closer “Dream Reaction” assure it doesn’t reside in one place for too much actual realtime, of which it’s easy to lose track when so much krautgazey flow is at hand. Beginning with ambience, “Ways of Seeing” leads the listener deeper into the aural chasm it seems to have opened, and the swirling echoes around take on a life of their own in the ecosystem of some vision of space rock that’s also happening under the ground — past and future merging as in the mellotron techno of “Memory Cage” — which any fool can tell you is where the good mushrooms grow. Dug-in, immersive, engaging if you let it be; Dim Electrics feels somewhat insular in its mind-expansion, but there’s plenty to go around if you can put yourself in the direction it’s headed.

Dim Electrics on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Mountain of Misery, In Roundness

Mountain of Misery In Roundness

A newcomer project from Kamil Ziółkowski, also known for his contributions as part of Polish heavy forerunners Spaceslug, the tone-forward approach of Mountain of Misery might be said to be informed by Ziółkowski‘s other project in opener “Not Away” or the penultimate “Climb by the Sundown,” with their languid vocals and slow-rolling tsunami fuzz in the spirit of heavy psych purveyors Colour Haze and even more to the point Sungrazer, but the howling guitar in the crescendo of closer “The Misery” and the all-out assault of “Hang So Low” distinguish the band all around. “The Rain is My Love” sways in the album’s middle, but it’s in “Circle in Roundness” that the 36-minute LP has its most subdued stretch, letting the spaces filled with fuzz elsewhere remain open as the verse builds atop the for-now-drumless expanse. Whatever familiar aspects persist, Mountain of Misery is its own band, and In Roundness is the exciting beginning of a new creative evolution.

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Aawks, Luna

aawks luna

The featured new single, “The Figure,” finds Barrie, Ontario’s Aawks somewhere between Canadian tonal lords Sons of Otis and the dense heavy psych riffing and melodic vocals of an act like Snail, and if you think I’m about to complain about that, you’ve very clearly never been to this site before. So hi, and welcome. The four-song Luna EP is Aawks‘ second short release of 2023 behind a split with Aiwass (review here), and the trio take on Flock of Seagulls and Pink Floyd for covers of the new wave radio hit “I Ran” and the psychedelic ur-classic “Julia Dream” before a live track, “All is Fine,” rounds out. As someone who’s never seen the band live, the additional crunch falls organic, and brings into relief the diversity Aawks show in and between these four songs, each of which inhabits a place in the emerging whole of the band’s persona. I don’t know if we’ll get there, but sign me up for the Canadian heavy revolution if this is the form it’s going to take.

Aawks on Facebook

Black Throne Productions website

Kaliyuga Express, Warriors & Masters

Kaliyuga Express Warriors and Masters

The collaborative oeuvre of UK doomsperimental guitarist Mike Vest (Bong, Blown Out, Ozo, 11Paranoias, etc.) grows richer as he joins forces with Finnish trio Nolla to produce Kaliyuga ExpressWarriors & Masters, which results in three tracks across two sides of far-out cosmic fuzz, shades of classic kraut and space rocks are wrought with jammy intention; the goal seeming to be the going more than the being gone as Vest and company burn through “Nightmare Dimensions” and the shoegazing “Behind the Veil” — the presence of vocals throughout is a distinguishing feature — hums in high and low frequencies in a repetitive inhale of stellar gases on side A while the 18:58 side B showdown “Endless Black Space” misdirects with a minute of cosmic background noise before unfurling itself across an exoplanet’s vision of cool and returning, wait for it, back to the drone from whence it came. Did you know stars are recycled all the time? Did you know that if you drop acid and peel your face off there’s another face underneath? Your third eye is googly. You can hear voices in the drones. Let me know what they tell you.

Kaliyuga Express on Facebook

Riot Season Records store

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Tortuga to Release Iterations Oct. 27; “Lilith” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

tortuga (photo by Wojciech Kasprzak)

Swirling around the thickened fuzz at its center are vibes out of both vintage heavy rock and cavern-dwelling proto-metal, but Poznań, Poland’s Tortuga aren’t really either of those things on their new single “Lilith.” The song runs six minutes and comes from the band’s inbound Napalm Records label-debut, Iterations. They liken some of it to a Type O Negative influence, and you can hear some of that in the wisps strung through the second half the song, the added spooky ambience and a quick count-in like they’re about to start playing “Kill All the White People” or some such, as well as the later solo’s soaring tone.

As one would have to expect, I was late to the party on their 2020 debut, Deities (discussed here), but it was cool, and from what I’ve heard of Iterations thus far — listening for the first time now; I’m at the pretty psych and quiet melancholy guitar that opens the nine-minute “Laspes” — forward progression is evident top to bottom in the mix, which by the way is a not insignificant range.

The video for “Lilith” is at the bottom of this post, as well as the stream of Deities from Tortuga‘s Bandcamp. The info comes from the PR wire:

tortuga iterations

Polish Psych Doom/Progressive Stoner Act TORTUGA Reveals Album Details & Music Video for First Single “Lilith”!

New Album, ‘Iterations’ – a Haunting Trip Through Time and Space – Out October 27, 2023 via Napalm Records

Pre-Order HERE!

With their 2017 self-titled debut, TORTUGA took the heavy stoner and psychedelic doom metal scene by storm. Following their sophomore offering, ‘Deities’ (2020), and a worldwide record deal with rock and metal empire Napalm Records, October 27, 2023 will see the Polish four-piece unleash their third studio album, ‘Iterations’!

A music video for their first single, “Lilith”, is now premiering below.

TORTUGA comments:

“‘Lilith’ is a song full of emotions, an evocative journey through love and hate for humanity, a tale that embodies its own time paradox. While crafting this song, we aimed to vividly convey the interplay of these contrasting emotions, not just through lyrics, but also through the very essence of the music.

“The song takes our familiar stoner/doom sound and gives it a fresh twist. You’ll catch hints of Type O Negative in there; we’re just big fans! We’ve always been drawn to the raw emotion in their music—the delicate balance between happiness and sadness. With ‘Lilith’, we aimed to capture and reflect that same emotional depth without losing our own style.

“We can’t wait to share it with you live!”

Compared to its predecessors, TORTUGA’s forthcoming album ‘Iterations’ moves from monolithic stoner-doom to progressive and experimental facettes, enriching its listeners’ auditory experience while managing to mature the band’s epic doom and stoner trademarks. Anyone who may have previously mistook TORTUGA as a Lovecraftian themed band should make no mistake – they are storytellers, and ‘Iterations’ proves the Poznan-based outfit puts as much effort into said storytelling as their songwriting.

This time, the band digs deep and delivers a concept album about the whole history of the universe (from beginning to the end), which is also applicable, metaphorically, to the history of a person’s lifetime. Each of the seven new tracks are related in context to the theme of the entire record, but every one of them is a standalone story.

Songs such as today’s premiering first single, “Lilith”, showcase the authentic sound and unconventional songwriting of TORTUGA. In a world of over-polished studio productions, it’s even more exhilarating to discover ‘Iterations’. It’s a haunting trip through time and space, full of light and shadow. With ‘Iterations’, TORTUGA has passed the challenge of album number three with a grade A: The album is a thrilling, free-spirited, deep and enthralling ride, and one that will ultimately establish the band at the top of the current stoner doom and progressive psych rock Olympus!

‘Iterations’ Track List:
1. Init
2. Lilith
3. Laspes
4. Interlude
6. Quaus
7. Epitaph

Pablo- Guitar, Vocals, Sampler
Krzysiu – Guitar, Synth, Vocoder
Heszu – Bass
Marcin – Drums

Tortuga, “Lilith” official video

Tortuga, Deities (2020)

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