Ufomammut Announce Indefinite Hiatus

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ufomammut have gone on hiatus, and the question I keep coming back to is whether or not the band had run their course. For those unaware — who likely aren’t reading this anyway because if you don’t know the band you’re probably not interested in their breaking up, but stay with me — the Italian three-piece of bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Urlo, guitarist/keyboardist Poia and drummer Vita formed in 1999 and would go on to serve as progenitors of a movement one can now refer to as cosmic doom largely because of the work they did in shaping it. Their blend of psychedelia and crushing rhythm and tone remains largely unmatched in the known universe, and if you think their innovation ends with “they play doom with keyboards,” I wholeheartedly invite you to partake of 2010’s Eve (review here, also discussed here) and eat your words. And just in case you click either of those links, I’ll prepare you: there are few records I’ve lauded as voraciously on this site, and I stand by every word of that hyperbole.

The band say in their statement that they’re not done, despite Vita leaving, but that they’re stepping back after this 20-year run to reassess and regroup, figuratively and literally. Best wishes to them for that, of course, but going back to the initial question, I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that they had nothing more to say. I’ll say outright that nothing they’ve done since has hit me in the same impact as Eve — whether it was 2017’s 8 (review here), 2015’s Ecate (review here) or 2012’s two-parter, Oro: Opus Primum (review here) and Oro: Opus Alter (review here) — but honestly, few records have by anyone else either. But Ufomammut have never stopped moving forward creatively, and even the manner in which they marked their 20th anniversary, with the XX EP (review here) and box set, found them bringing new ideas to their past work, reinventing it in an even more atmospheric context.

And that’s what makes me say no to the above question and, in particular, what makes me interested in where Ufomammut might go when this hiatus ends, which, again, they say it will, despite its “indefinite” nature. The fact that they’ve never done anything but build on their past. I’m not blind to the fact that this will be the first lineup change involving what was the core trio of the band for two decades, and nor will I minimize Vita‘s contributions to the personality of the group — he can still be heard in Sonic Wolves and Rogue State — but what does a post-hiatus Ufomammut sound like? Where does that scope go? My guess is forward.

The band’s statement follows:

UFOMAMMUT photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni

After twenty years, Ufomammut is pausing for a while, the time has come to turn off amplifiers and let the tubes cool down, to let the silence allow us to rebuild, and then start again.

This decision comes to the end of an intense and difficult period of problems and misunderstandings that none of us has been able to solve and overcome, after which Vita decided to leave the band.

We thank him for sharing with us twenty incredible years of creation, recordings, tours and concerts, of uncompromising music, sacrifices and great satisfactions.

Started in February 1999, it’s been a journey in which we have been lucky enough to create our music and to tour all around the world to play it, as well as the honor of sharing the stage with our favorite bands.

It’s been an opportunity that made us understand that this band is not only the three guys on stage, but also YOU.

YOU made us live through emotions which we would have not experienced otherwise.

YOU, that have shared with us the sound and the power of this religion without boundaries and ideology, that is music.

YOU, that all are, simply, Ufomammut.

Thank You.

And see you soon.

www.ufomammut.com
https://ufomammut.8merch.com/
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
www.instagram.com/ufomammut
http://www.supernaturalcat.com

Ufomammut, 8 (2017)

Ufomammut, Eve (2010)

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Song of the Decade: YOB, “Marrow”

Posted in Features on December 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

yob (Photo by James Rexroad)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel the need to plead much of a case here. The 18-minute closer from Oregon trio YOB‘s 2014 opus, Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), is its own best argument for being the best song that came out in the 2010s. And though it was obviously a while back, I also named it the song of the year when it came out. So who wants to be redundant? Here’s some of what I said about it at the time:

“Marrow” is led into by “Unmask the Spectre,” a 15-minute exploration that hits its apex late. There is, however, about 40-seconds of ambient guitar and spacious effects swirling after the chaos has subsided, and the fadeout of that gives flowing movement into the silence from which the opening guitar line of “Marrow” emerges. It’s less than a minute before bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster join in, which leaves guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt to set the initial atmosphere for what will become YOB‘s boldest and most melodic construction to date. Already by then, Clearing the Path to Ascend has taken listeners up, down and through an emotional torrent, songs like the raging “Nothing to Win” and the perpetually-searching “In Our Blood” establishing the dynamic course beyond YOB‘s beginnings — which, make no mistake, are essential to the makeup of what we think of today as cosmic doom — and further into something wholly their own; a sound as distinct and identifiable as Sleep‘s is to Sleep, as Neurosis‘ is to Neurosis. — read more here.

It’s been five years, and YOB have put out 2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here) in the meantime, moving from Neurot Recordings to Relapse Records in the process. So does the above still apply? Yes, and maybe even more than it did then.

The subsequent half-decade since it came out has done nothing to dull the impact of “Marrow,” from its wistful opening and closing guitar figure to the grand sweep of its melodic chorus, to the sheer grace of its crescendo, which arrives not as some overstated wash of noise or volume for volume’s sake, but a moment driven by emotion even more than tone. And the lyrics there, purposeful in their simplicity, say it gorgeous and plain like the truest of American art forms:

“Restless souls
Flickering light
Painted in gold
Tearing at the seams
Needing to feel
One true moment
Needing to feel
Something true”

That’s you, at a show. You’re one of the restless souls in the gold flickering light needing to feel one true moment. When Mike Scheidt sings those lines and the ones before them, he’s talking about the communication between artist and audience, the experience of performance that is unique to stage arts — theatre and music. Painters (usually) don’t paint on stage. Writers (usually) don’t write on stage. But that “one true moment.” That “something true” is the genuine expression that performance represents to Scheidt, and presumably YOB as a whole.

But the key word there is “needing,” and what the lyrics to “Marrow” leave largely unsaid is the need on the part of the band itself. It is represented as a kind of searching felt beneath the surface, and after a stream of consciousness first verse, the song unfolds into the self-aware pre-chorus thusly:

“All these words
Are dust within my mind
In these times
That burn within our sight
Yearning to know
Deep into the marrow”

Of course, YOB are not the first band to write about the experience of creative life, but if one takes the song at its own level, the difference is the level on which they’re engaging it. It’s not skin, muscle or bone. It’s marrow. It is the deepest level. The essential charge in the electron in the nucleus of an atom. YOB earned the title of the following LP by showing their raw heart first on “Marrow,” and in its performance, from Scheidt, Aaron Rieseberg and Travis Foster, it is something unmatched in their catalog, which spans nearly 20 years of output. But while “Marrow” remains superlative, it didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Consider the context of the grand YOB closers that have been a running theme throughout their career. I recounted the list at the time as well, but to reiterate, I’m thinking of the title-tracks of 2003’s Catharsis and 2004’s The Illusion of Motion (discussed here), “The Mental Tyrant” from 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived (discussed here), the title-track from 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here), and “Adrift in the Ocean” from 2011’s Atma (review here).

Our Raw Heart stepped away from the modus somewhat in that its eponymous finale wasn’t the longest song on the record — that would be “Beauty in Falling Leaves,” two tracks earlier — but both of those seemed to build on what was done on Clearing the Path to Ascend. The point though is that “Marrow” didn’t just arrive out of nowhere. It came as the culmination of years of exploring texture and bringing together emotionality and sonic heft, the idea that something heavy could be a ritual of spirit as much as volume.

It was a new level of achievement for YOB, and it and the album that surrounded cemented their place among the most integral American bands of their generation, but more than that, it validated the connection between their audience and their music. It made it real. Among “Marrow”‘s accomplishments in pushing the band’s sound to places it had hinted at before, it was an open, real, honest look at what it means to be on either side of the subject/object divide, and maybe it even broke down that barrier a little bit, at least when it comes to a fan’s connections to YOB‘s own work.

It was that true moment, preserved.

Honorable Mention

There are, of course, many arguments to be made for many other songs. A few off the top of my head:

  • Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain”
  • Elder, “Lore”
  • Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “I’ll Cut You Down”
  • Sleep, “Giza Butler”
  • Om, “Gethsemane”
  • Neurosis, “At the Well”
  • Colour Haze, “Grace”
  • Clutch, “D.C. Sound Attack”
  • Graveyard, “The Siren”

That’s nine, so I guess if you want to package this in some order as a top 10, you could. I’m content to leave it as is, since it’s all relative anyway. But consider the impact of that Stoned Jesus track or Elder‘s “Lore” in igniting and inspiring new bands. Same with Uncle Acid. Like “Marrow” above, these are the songs that continue to resonate and have an effect not just on the listeners, but the artists themselves and other bands in the underground ecosystem. I don’t think that just because the decade is ending that will stop, either. These works, which have already lasted a span of years, will continue to shape the experiences of others, and art will continue to grow outward from other art. There are few things so beautiful in the universe.

If you have a pick you’d like to add to any of the above, please feel free to do so in the comments. The more the merrier, and thanks for reading.

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Deafkids Announce UK & European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deafkids (photo by Nubia Abe)

I missed Deafkids at Roadburn earlier this year — I don’t know what I was watching instead, but you can’t possibly see anything and I did the best I could — but saw them over the summer with Neurosis (review here), and their experimental psych-jazz-space-punk-noise-fuckall was an immediate answer to the question, “How come I keep seeing the name Deafkids everywhere?” It’s, uh, because they’re really good and doing something just about no one else is. So it goes.

The Brazilian three-piece return to Europe and the UK next month in order to support their 2019 album, Metaprogramação, which was released through Neurot Recordings back in March and admittedly serves as a much better argument for watching them play than my say-so. You can check out the stream of the record below, and what the hell, why wouldn’t you?, and dig into the upcoming tour routing below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Goes like this:

deafkids uk eu touring

DEAFKIDS Return To Europe This October For Headlining Dates In Support Of Metaprogramação

Following their recent North American tours this summer – one supporting Neurosis and Bell Witch, the next supporting Big|Brave – the unstoppable Brazilian trio DEAFKIDS wil be touring Europe again this October in support of the new album Metaprogramação, out now via Neurot Recordings. From October 4th through 18th the band will tour through Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Greece, and the UK on a run of headlining dates, as well as one show in London supporting Melt Banana.

Reflecting on the year they’ve had DEAFKIDS remark, “We first started the Metaprogramação Tour in March this year, passing through the South part of Brazil, then in April we headed to Europe with our friends from Rakta – including two memorable appearances at Roadburn Festival. Then in August we headed to our first North American excursion and the reception couldn’t been better. To have the chance and honor to travel all over and meeting amazing people and landscapes, to support and hang around with Neurosis and Bell Witch for the East Coast length – it felt like a dream-tour – and then with Big|Brave for the West Coast length… that’s something we’ll always keep in hearts as a beautiful gift! As our mission to keep spreading Metaprogramação around, now we’re heading back to mainland Europe and the UK, and we’re very excited to play in new places we’ve never been; more cities in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Greece. It’s gonna be a blast! In 2020 we’ll complete ten years of existence and it feels like we’re just starting! As the river keeps flowing, the road will never end!”

Find DEAFKIDS’ Metaprogramac?a?o through Neurot Recordings on LP, CD, and digital platforms via Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and at the Neurot webshop.

DEAFKIDS Live:
10/04/2019 OUT.FEST 2019 – Barreiro, PT
10/05/2019 Teatro Gil Vicente – Barcelos, PT
10/06/2019 Texas Bar – Leiria, PT
10/07/2019 Sala Hollander – Sevilla, ES
10/08/2019 The Sound House – Dublin, IE
10/10/2019 The Temple – Athens, GR
10/16/2019 Dingwalls – London, UK w/ Melt Banana
10/18/2019 The Old England – Bristol, UK

https://deafkidspunx.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/deafkidspunx
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
https://neurotrecordings.bandcamp.com

Deafkids, Metaprogramação (2019)

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Neurosis & Jarboe Reissue out Tomorrow; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I guess this is about as experimental as Neurosis got during their most outwardly experimental phase — though I don’t know that I’d fight you if you wanted to argue either for The Eye of Every Storm or Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace for the distinction. Still their collaboration with Jarboe in 2003 stands alone as a moment unto itself in their catalog, and allowed them to explore ideas and textures they hadn’t before and haven’t since. I’ve wondered from time to time if they might do a sequel, but failing that, a remaster of the original will do nicely, thank you. Might be good thing to pick up from the merch table on their run of August shows, should you be fortunate enough to be in their path.

If not, there’s always the webstore, which is worth checking regularly anyhow, retail therapy and all that.

I’ve said too much.

The PR wire takes the lead:

neurosis and jarboe neurosis and jarboe

NEUROSIS & JARBOE: Remastered Reissue Of Landmark Collaboration Out Friday Through Neurot Recordings; Album Now Streaming

Neurot Recordings is proud to reissue the landmark collaboration NEUROSIS & JARBOE, the sprawling album now streaming in its entirety ahead of its official worldwide release this Friday. Originally released in 2003, this revamped version of Neurosis & Jarboe is fully remastered by Bob Weston and features entirely new artwork created by Aaron Turner.

When two independent and distinct spheres overlap, the resulting ellipse tends to emphasize the most striking and powerful characteristics of each body. Such is the case with this particular collaboration between heavy music pioneers NEUROSIS and the multi-faceted performer JARBOE, who performed in Swans and who has collaborated with an array of people from Blixa Bargeld, J. G. Thirlwell, Attila Csihar, Bill Laswell, Merzbow, Justin K. Broadrick, Helen Money, Father Murphy, and many others. The musicians pull from one another some of the most harrowing and unusual sounds ever heard from either artist at the time; a sentiment which also rings true to some fifteen years later.

NEUROSIS’ Steve Von Till explains the idea behind the remastering; “Bob Weston [Chicago Mastering Service, and member of Shellac] worked closely with Noah [Landis, NEUROSIS] on making these new versions sound as good as the possibly can. Noah has the most trained critical ear for fidelity out of all of us being an engineer himself. We recorded this ourselves with consumer level Pro Tools back then, in order to be able to experiment at home in getting different sounds and writing spontaneously. The technology has come a long way since then and we thought we could run it through better digital to analog conversion and trusted Bob Weston to be able to bring out the best in it… This new mastered version is a bit more open, with a better stereo image, and better final EQ treatment.”

He continues about the original artwork, “Aaron felt he could create something that would unify the energy of both JARBOE and NEUROSIS in an elegant manner. We let him do his thing and I think it definitely adds to the mystery of the album and sets it apart from the rest of our catalog.”

The remastered Neurosis & Jarboe sees worldwide release this Friday, August 2nd through all digital providers, on CD, and for the first time on vinyl, through NEUROSIS’ own Neurot Recordings. The LP is pressed on silver metallic and black swirl colors for their US and EU distributors, and on red and black swirl exclusively for mailorder. Deathwish Inc. will exclusively share the LP in red transparent and gold metallic opaque swirl.

Neurosis tour dates:
w/ Bell Witch, Deafkids:
8/07/2019 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
8/08/2019 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
8/09/2019 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
8/10/2019 Theatre Of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
8/11/2019 Brooklyn Steel – Brooklyn, NY
8/13/2019 Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
8/14/2019 Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC
8/15/2019 The Opera House – Toronto, ON
8/16/2019 St. Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI
8/17/2019 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis & Jarboe, Neurosis & Jarboe (2003/2019)

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Neurosis Announce Summer US Touring with Bell Witch and Deafkids

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

neurosis-photo-by-stefaan-temmerman

Is it safe to assume at this point that Neurosis have done more touring for 2016’s Fires with Fires (review here). They’ve already done Europe and South America. They’ve done the US. Pretty sure they’ve been to Australia since that record came out. They just got back from Japan, and they’re about to do Europe again with more US summer dates just announced. I’m not complaining in the slightest, I just think it’s astounding that the band would be so (cherished and) driven more than 30 years on from getting their start. Not that one was short of things for which to admire them, but at very least put that on the list. They don’t seem to be able to stop, and frankly, I hope they don’t anytime doon.

But I don’t care if you’ve never seen Neurosis once or if you’ve seen them 100 times. Go see Neurosis. They’re quite possibly the best live band I’ve ever seen. Trying to come up with a name whose sheer force on stage can compare and I’m not thinking of anyone. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment. I won’t expect a flood of them.

Dates from the PR wire:

NEUROSIS Announces North American Summer Tour Dates With Support From Bell Witch And Labelmates Deafkids

Having just returned from their tour of Japan with Converge, visionary heavy music icons NEUROSIS have announced a new North American tour for this summer, with Bell Witch and Deafkids also on the bill.

NEUROSIS’ previously-announced tour of Europe runs from July 11th through 27th with support from Yob. NEUROSIS also plays a special one-off London performance with Godflesh on July 20th.

Upon their stateside return, NEUROSIS will now head back out to the Eastern US and Southeastern Canada for a run of performances in August. The new dates, confirmed to run from August 7th through August 17th, will see the band performing in Atlanta, Carrboro, Washington, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, and Chicago. On this tour, direct support will be provided by Seattle doom metal outfit Bell Witch. Opening support will be deployed by Brazilian avant/noise/industrial trio Deafkids, who NEUROSIS signed to their own Neurot Recordings. This tour marks Deafkids’ first time on North American soil.

Showing their discontent with convention from the very beginning, NEUROSIS revealed what would become an instinct for transformation in sound and scope. Over the collective’s past eleven albums and their utterly memorable live shows, NEUROSIS has invited listeners to join them on the path their music carved. Going beyond the remarkable, the band has become unforgettable. For over thirty years, NEUROSIS has relished in the unpredictable and embraced the unknown possibility of where the music could take them.

NEUROSIS’ acclaimed eleventh studio LP Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings; stream the album HERE and see all bundles and options HERE.

Watch for additional NEUROSIS tour dates to be announced in the months ahead.

NEUROSIS w/ Yob:
7/11/2019 Roman Ampitheater – Rome Ostia Antica, IT
7/12/2019 Carroponte – Milan, IT
7/13/2019 Dour Festival – Dour, BE
7/14/2019 Dachstock – Bern, CH
7/16/2019 Sala Apolo – Barcelona, ES
7/17/2019 Biarritz Atabal – Biarritz, FR
7/18/2019 Bataclan – Paris, FR
7/19-21/2019 Supersonic Festival – Birmingham, UK
7/20/2019 O2 Forum Kentish Town – London, UK w/ Godflesh
7/22/2019 Metal Days – Tolmin, SI [info] (no Yob)
7/23/2019 Arena – Vienna, AT
7/24/2019 Akvarium – Budapest, HU
7/25/2019 Festsaal Kreuzberg – Berlin, D
7/26/2019 Progresia – Warsaw, PL
7/27/2019 B90 – Gdansk, PL

w/ Bell Witch, Deafkids:
8/07/2019 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
8/08/2019 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
8/09/2019 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
8/10/2019 Theatre Of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
8/11/2019 Brooklyn Steel – Brooklyn, NY
8/13/2019 Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
8/14/2019 Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC
8/15/2019 The Opera House – Toronto, ON
8/16/2019 St. Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI
8/17/2019 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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Ufomammut Set to Mark 20th Anniversary with Spring Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ufomammut

You might recall that when they hit their 15th anniversary in 2014, Ufomammut released the retrospective documentary, XV (review here), to mark the occasion. It seems their 20th year will be noted by seeing them do what they do best: tour and destroy. The Italian cosmic doom magnates have continued their forward-thinking, heavy-like-planets approach and managed to do nothing but grow each time out, and if you’ve never seen them live, well, that sounds like a personal problem it’s probably time to rectify. They’ll be out in Europe this Spring, doing a route mostly through Germany with a couple stops in the Netherlands and one in Switzerland — plus a couple dates TBA — but look for more to come because there’s an awful lot of year left and as they’ve shown over the last two decades, Ufomammut are hardly shy when it comes to getting out. To wit, they’ve already been announced as headliners for Oslo’s Høstsabbat festival in October. So yeah, more to come.

Shows are presented by Sound of Liberation:

ufomammut 20 years banner

20 YEARS UFOMAMMUT | FIRST TOUR DATES

In this year 2019, Ufomammut is celebrating 20 years as a band.

The band was formed in February of 1999 by Poia, Urlo and Vita in a small room in the middle of nowhere in Italy.

The idea was to survive the boredom of living in a little town while also having the intention of creating music to spread all around the globe.

After eight albums, plenty of tours, festivals and kilometers on the road, the band is ready to celebrate this important anniversary event with their marvelous and loyal fans with a special European tour this spring.

27.03 – Feierwerk – Munich (D)
28.03 – UT Connewitz – Leipzig (D)
29.03 – Mau Club – Rostock (D)
30.03 – MarX – Hamburg (D)
31.03 – Iduna – Drachten (NL)
2.04 – Junkyard – Dortmund (D)
3.04 – Doornroosje – Nijmegen (NL)
4.04 – TBA
5.04 – Gaswerk – Winterthur (CH)
6.04 – TBA

Music: “Plouton” by Ufomammut
Video by Lù www.malleusdelic.com

Stay tuned & keep your eyes peeled:
Many more dates to come!

Do not miss this.

www.ufomammut.com
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
twitter.com/ufomammutmafia
www.instagram.com/ufomammut
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
https://neurotrecordings.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/OfficialNeurot
http://www.supernaturalcat.com

20 Year of Ufomammut trailer

Ufomammut, 8

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YOB, Voivod and Amenra Announce Spring 2019 Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yob alyssa herman photo

Here’s a nifty thought to make your day a little brighter: YOB touring with Voivod on a co-headlining run with support from Amenra. Just to put a check on it, it’s the outfit who defined and continue to reinvent cosmic doom, the band who innovated nerdism in heavy metal and proved that thrash could be progressive, and Europe’s leading purveyor of post-metal. This is not a minor tour. It’s not even the kind of tour you talk about later. It’s the kind of tour that, if you know, you were there, and that’s it. Some experiences don’t need words. “You were at that show?” “Yeah.” And so on.

YOB of course go in support of earlier-2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here), which if the results thus far of the Year-End Poll (add your list!) are anything to go by, yes, you already knew that. Voivod and Amenra have releases too, but really, even if none of them had put out a record in five years, wouldn’t this still be an astounding bill? Yes, yes it would.

Dates are presented by Nanotear and are as follows:

yob voivod amenra tour

Spring 2019: Yob + Voivod + Amenra

03.26 Minneapolis MN Fine Line
03.27 Chicago IL Thalhia Hall
03.28 Columbus OH Ace of Cups
03.29 Cleveland OH Grog Shop
03.30 Toronto ON Phoenix
03.31 Buffalo NY Town Ballroom
04.02 Portland ME Geno’s
04.03 Boston MA Royale
04.04 Brooklyn NY Warsaw
04.05 Philadelphia PA Union Transfer
04.06 Richmond VA Broadberry
04.07 Raleigh NC Kings
04.09 Knoxville TN Concourse (Co-presented with American Icon)
04.10 Atlanta GA Masquerade / Hell
04.11 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jack’s
04.12 Houston TX Warehouse Studios
04.13 Austin TX Barracuda
04.14 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
04.16 Denver CO Marquis Theater*
04.18 Mesa AZ Club Red+
04.19 San Diego CA Brick by Brick w/ Monolord+
+ = YOB only
* = no Voivod

YOB is:
Mike Scheidt – Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass
Travis Foster – Drums

www.yobislove.com
www.facebook.com/quantumyob
www.twitter.com/quantumyob
www.instagram/com/quantumyob
www.relapse.com
www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Neurosis, The Eye of Every Storm

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

So much soul. I have a theory about NeurosisThe Eye of Every Storm — or at very least a kind of fantasy incarnation. It’s basically every song on the album redone by Nina Simone. It would work. Absolutely, not a doubt in my mind, it would work. Think of the arrangements. Think of lines like, “I came to a pile of ashes and sifted through it looking for teeth,” and “So I crawl through the hailstones/My eyes fixed on my return.” It would be amazing, and it would totally, totally work. There is so much soul in this record.

The Eye of Every Storm was released in 2004 as the eighth Neurosis full-length, and it remains a forward-thinking entity unto itself. At that point, the Oakland-based outfit had already blazed a trail through what would continue to become post-metal largely in their wake, records like 1993’s Enemy of the Sun and 1996’s Through Silver in Blood solidifying the progression and approach of 1992’s third outing and pivot away from their hardcore punk beginnings, Souls at Zero (reissue review here), first began. Each of those was crucial in its way, and I’d say the same of 1999’s Times of Grace, but The Eye of Every Storm followed the genre-defining 2001 offering, A Sun That Never Sets (discussed here), and managed to push even beyond that collection’s scope. Comprised of eight tracks for a mammoth and immersive 68-minute runtime, it also was the first pure Neurosis full-length through their own label, Neurot Recordings, though they’d done the two Official Bootleg releases, the Short Wave Warfare live album, and — most relevant — the 2003 collaboration Neurosis & Jarboe, through the imprint as well.

If one looks at Neurosis‘ career as a narrative arc, each album seems to step beyond the last in one direction and/or another. 1990’s The Word as Law built on their 1988 debut, Pain of Mind; Enemy of the Sun built on Souls at Zero, etc. Fine. In that regard, The Eye of Every Storm is another step outward on the part of Neurosis from any sort of delineation of who they “should be.” It was a record that droned as much as it raged, that delivered itself with a patience that even three years earlier was unobtainable, and from the crashing samples Noah Landis brought to opener “Burn,” it was a release of such nuance and sonic detail that 14 years later, one can still listen to it twice and hear something difference each time. Atmosphere of course always played a role in their work, but it was the first time Neurosis were able to make ambience as heavy as the crushing, churning rhythms and tonality that remain a hallmark of their sound.

Following the memorable push of “Burn” and the sweep of “No River to Take Me Home,” the title-track’s near-12-minute reach unfolds a spacious beginning and drops to minimalist bass swells and neurosis the eye of every stormsynth as a bed to execute a build so subtle that one doesn’t even realize what’s happening until it’s already happened. It’s plenty heavy by the finish, but not raging, and though the subsequent “Left to Wander” starts out somewhat manic, after its first minute, it drops to a vast soundscape populated by sparse guitar and a whispered verse. Trades between loud and quiet spaces are common enough in Neurosis‘ style, and certainly in the styles of many of those who’ve taken influence from them, but The Eye of Every Storm smooths the transitions between them to be no more stark than precisely how the band intends: “Left to Wander” lurches to life in its chorus twice before the song hits its halfway point and turns to one of the album’s most outwardly heavy instrumental progressions, marked by tense, rubber-band-about-to-snap-except-it’s-an-arm-tendon toms from drummer Jason Roeder and a wash of guitar noise from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till as Landis on keys and Dave Edwardson on bass seem to hold the proceedings together before the track devolves into a wash ahead of the instrumental “Shelter,” something of a five-minute interlude that nonetheless proves hypnotic early before arriving at a heavier shove in its second half.

I refuse to discount either “Bridges” or “I Can See You” at the end of the album. Particularly the latter is an epilogue that’s essential to the atmospheric impression The Eye of Every Storm leaves behind when it’s over. But for me, the crux has always been in “A Season in the Sky.” As much a narrative poem as it is a song, it begins with, “I had a vision last night…” and from there elucidates a desolation that is nothing short of consuming. The vocals, atop quiet guitar at first, later cutting through undulating riffs, lead initially to a weeping guitar lead that’s the perfect complement to — and here we are — the bare soul on display throughout. The soul. Neurosis are so often misread as cerebral, and while I’ll argue their progression is conscious — I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe a band who’s spent more than 30 years breaking stylistic ground doesn’t also put thought into it — “A Season in the Sky” is so overwhelming precisely because it is a work of raw heart. Every turn is affecting. Every boom of Edwardson‘s bass in its bridge, every in-pocket turn of its groove. It’s all gorgeously arranged and balanced, but it’s all so natural at the same time, and it captures instrumentally the seeking that’s happening in the lyrics in a way that is no less resonant today than when it was released. It’s everything the apex of The Eye of Every Storm should be.

And yes, the stark contrasts of loud and quiet in “Bridges” are a highlight unto themselves — it’s as far as Neurosis go into either on the album — and “I Can See You” ends with a graceful transition between acoustic guitar and a final statement of heft, but I’d argue both still remain informed by the methodical execution of “A Season in the Sky,” as does the rest of The Eye of Every Storm when taken in full.

It doesn’t seem like it now, but it was a long three years before Neurosis returned to issue Given to the Rising in 2007, and by the time they did, they found themselves following a different impulse — still deeply atmospheric, but more intense. I liken it to the album art: grey for The Eye of Every Storm and black for its follow-up.  2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) pushed further along similar lines in its construction, and 2016’s Fires Within Fires (review here) saw the five-piece take a rawer approach in light of passing their prior-alluded 30th anniversary. They continue to tour, in support of that record as well as a series of vinyl reissues of earlier work, and just at the start of this month announced they’ll hit Japan with Converge early in 2019 (dates here). I haven’t heard murmurings of a new album, but it’s early yet, and I wouldn’t ahead of anyone else. Wherever they go next, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

This is a special album to me personally and I think in general. I consider writing about it a gift to myself.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

It’s about quarter after four in the morning. In a couple hours, The Pecan, The Patient Mrs. and I will head south from Massachusetts, first to Connecticut, then to New Jersey. That Pecan turns one year old next week so we’re doing a little family celebration thing tomorrow. It’ll be good to be down there for a couple days, if a long drive to do with the baby in one day. Four or five hours in the car is a lot for him. About double his usual tolerance. We’ll see how it goes.

Need to remember to bring the baby monitor and the white noise machine. We don’t pack light these days, not that I ever did. For a dude who wears nothing but t-shirts, I certainly seem to need a lot of clothes. “What if I’m in the mood for the Slomatics shirt?” as I often am. Also the coffee grinder comes with.

That’s what’s up for the weekend. Should be good and exhausting after a week that was much the same. I had the baby straight through from about 10-5:30 yesterday on my own. He naps and stuff — so do I — but still. Youth, energy, all that. I hear teenagers sleep though, so that’s something to look forward to.

Next week is busy too. I feel like I haven’t done proper notes in a while, so here they are, subject to change blah blah:

Mon.: Bismut premiere/review; The Sonic Dawn video premiere.
Tue.: Vessel of Light review.
Wed.: When the Deadbolt Breaks video premiere.
Thu.: Iron Lamb track premiere.
Fri.: A huge piece on The Wall [Redux] with track premieres and band comments, etc.

That last thing is going to be a monster to put together, but will be awesome once it’s up. Look out for it.

The second episode of “The Obelisk Show” on Gimme Radio airs on Sunday night. Prime time, baby! I still need to do the voice tracks for it, but that’ll happen today at some point. 7PM Eastern, 4PM Pacific at http://gimmeradio.com.

And if you want to hear the first episode, you can sign up for their archive feature. It’s five bucks or something ridiculously cheap like that.

Alright. Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who’s bought a shirt thus far. I’m still hoping to get hoodies done again at some point, but if these go first, that’ll go a long way toward making that happen. So yeah, thanks. If you want one, they’re here: https://www.dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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