The Obelisk Questionnaire: Andre Dumont of Dead Harrison

Posted in Questionnaire on June 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

dead harrison

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Andre Dumont of Dead Harrison

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

The best way I can think of this , in every aspect of what it is we do from day to day or project to project…we are catalysts. Whether it was seeing a friend just playing an instrument really well, or seeing a fantastic piece of art that someone else captured in magnificent beauty. They were catalysts to us. A passion that was there to be shared, and it creates another moment that becomes the inspiration for someone else. Hell, even if it was someone having a nice car that they worked on. Another person comes by and starts asking questions about why things do the things they do. Now you passed on another skill or piece of knowledge to help the next race car driver to find his passion. In the grand scheme of things, it’s what some of us are. Even if my band sucks to so many people out there, there is always the other end of the spectrum. Those who get inspired by what they hear, or see, or witness. So to define what it is I think I do/ we do as a band, it’s to be part of the creation of something new. It’s not just in the music, it’s who you are as people. Interact, little by little we all morph a little more into something bigger than all of us. The universe just keeps on swirling us around in its big old celestial body. You know how the saying goes…”as above, so below”. Yeah, that’s us humans colliding with other humans in the vastness of people and matter. We smash together and BAM! Worlds are created. Really, this is a whole philosophical rabbit hole, but that’s us. How this came to be in the very beginning, was a friend who was in a band called Splatter Cats. I saw them jam once, then I felt the call to play drums. Man, that was so cool watching them light up a garage party a few weeks later. That was the start of where that drive came from. I just always hope that we can do that for someone else. To create that feeling.

Describe your first musical memory.

We had an organ at home when I was a kid. I loved listening to music. Liked the way it made me feel. So I would just mess around. Pretty much always by ear. I could never really grasp the writing of music. Just like I still have to look at the keyboard when typing. So sad. You’d think it’d be easy by now. Nope. Oh well. It did however land me some accordion lessons and a little more grasp on making dynamics. Accordions can be creepy if you want them to be. I suppose that would be in the vein of that first musical experience. Then we get sidetracked and go elsewhere, but then we come back when another experience hits us. Each memory is on its own timeline. New ideas are gathered and put into new creations.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Tough one. I have a few.. The most recent though, that’s the real stuff that hits you as a musician. After these past few years, music venues have been shutting down or just using musicians to get people in the door. Kind of a bad music memory for most of us. Until recently, we started curating shows in our rehearsal space. I’ve been lucky to have a big room in an old mill building. Well, people have been missing a good scene. musicians have been missing out on playing their most killer sets. I decided it was time to do shows, but do them with the quality that I would like at a venue. That connection to other musicians and lovers of music has created such an awesome memory as of late. If we reach just a few years back as a band, it was doing a little mini tour. Stepping outside of our little box as a band. That traveling inspired this, another place where we can share music to more people. It’s those memories that give us those best musical experiences. Always strive to create the next great one. Sometimes, they don’t come around for a while. Never give up. Even if you’re out playing some little bar in a basement rock club in Baltimore Maryland, and some peeps tell you to reach out to a group called “Feed the Scene”. Find out they house travelling bands and give them beds to sleep on after being in tents or a van for a week. A shower. Great musical memory. Community. That’s what is needed again. Make more memories!!!

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

I think a lot of us gave up on firmly held beliefs a long time ago. If there’s one thing that has the possibility of making things suck, it’s forcing beliefs on people. Like playing guitar, I like it loud. Crank that amp up and feel it. Love that, firmly believed that was the thing to do. Then you play a place where someone cares about how you sound. They’re like”turn your amp down”, and you’re like nah…why? Why should I do the crazy sound persons thing. Then they throw it into the monitor nice and loud, then it doesn’t blast into the microphones on stage, then there’s no feedback from trying to crank the lead vocals. There’s times and there’s places where beliefs come and go, or they change into new understandings of how things work. Oh, we can be stubborn ones. Time changes us. What beliefs do we have that are just constructs? I have a firm belief that it’s my purpose to play music. I’ve almost thrown in the towel. Tested, feeling it was never going to do anything. Well, that belief has kept me going anyways. If that’s a belief worth having, then it’s a good thing. I believe there’s a lot of good in the world. That belief is tested every day.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Maybe it leads to craftsmanship. It also leads to new experiences. I feel that as you progress as an artist, you play with new tools, or new mediums. Usually it’s some kind of connectedness to a feeling brought about by new experiences. Watching how the world, or people around us move to the new and the old. Artistic progression is also lead by watching this and wanting to create more, but better on the next round. It’s a continuous vicious cycle the we love to be pushed by. I would love to say it leads to great things. Just don’t let it be led by ego. Some ego is good, but too much is bad. Be patient, never stop learning. It leads to passion. It leads to the heart. In the end, you are led to the darkness, but your story lives another life. It leads to passing stories and legend.

How do you define success?

Being able to accomplish a task that you have undertaken. I feel that we, as a band, have been quite successful. Maybe not in the big grand picture of the regular music world, but we’ve definitely made a lot of people some really great memories. I think that’s a big success. Maybe one day we’ll sell a million cd’s or downloads or something. That doesn’t mean we didn’t succeed as a band if we didn’t. What is a success is we’re all still here as a band, creating new hopes and new songs. That is our success. We still all work regular jobs. It is a goal that music can one day be that job we love and are passionate about…..and able to still live in this friggin expensive world.

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

Probably a Hurdy Gurdy. Because now I want one.

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

A comic book. There’s actually a really cool storyline that goes with the band. It’s all about creating a character, a group of characters per say, that are kinda secret alien guardians. There’s a whole zombie thing too, but I can’t give away details. Bad guys, good guys, secret guys….and gals of course. A comic…yes…that’s what I’d like to create. I suck at drawing humans though.

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

Movement. It’s a flow. Whether it’s visual, where the eye moves around taking in the information. Or, it’s notes and rhythms put together to move the body. They all lead to feeling a certain way. Feeling oneness with what you’re partaking in. A very essential function. Also, this is another important piece. Interpretation. Each person can have their own interpretation of how the art may bring about certain memories, or relate lyrics to a story of their own. Great art has an openness. It’s also expression. It’s a way for an artist to show the world what they see or feel. It can be fun. It can be sad. It can be beautiful, or it can be grating. Purpose, also another function. Last but not least, connection. All these things keep us progressing. Becoming better and inspiring the next new vision.

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

Taking another road trip. Travelling is such a great thing to do. Interacting with new people. Seeing new and crazy things. When? Always the question. For now, it’ll be going up to the Holiday barbeque and being with a bunch of family and friends. Keeping the good times real. Most of us were blessed with spawn. Some of our spawn have also spawned. So, looking forward to seeing and being with our most important humans. They are our friends. They are our family, they are the ones that keep us striving to keep moving forward. Plus it’s mountains, sun (hopefully), and a few brewskies. Definitely a good time to look forward to. And maybe a trip to Dracula’s Castle someday….

Dead Harrison, None for All (2024)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Otto Kinzel of Dust Prophet

Posted in Questionnaire on October 17th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Otto Kinzel of Dust Prophet

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Otto Kinzel of Dust Prophet

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

I play guitar and sing in Dust Prophet. We play stoner and doom metal. My job primarily consists of trying to do justice to Sarah Wappler’s (bass) heavy ass riffs, and attempting to stay in key while not falling of the front of the stage. So far I’m batting .500.

Dust Prophet was formed out of the ashes of the last band Sarah and I had, which was called Fiends of a New Republic. We played industrial-metal, but when that band eventually stopped we both wanted to get back to music that was more organic, and did not depend on having to run backing tracks or electronic drums. We also wanted the music to be a lot heavier and more “riff” focused. So that’s when we started what would eventually become Dust Prophet.

Describe your first musical memory.

I remember watching reruns of The Monkees as a really, really little kid. Being in a band looked like a lot of fun! You could go on wacky adventures and then write songs about it. That’s the earliest I distinctly remember thinking “I want to be in a band.” I remember then thinking “all I need to do now is master an instrument, find other friends to start a band, get famous, and get a TV show. Easy!” And here we are today. I just need to get famous and then get a TV show so I’m halfway home.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I was in 6th or 7th grade. Metallica was in full tour mode promoting the Black album, and they came to Vermont. They played in a town just outside of Burlington, where the annual state fair was held. They had Danzig and Suicidal Tendencies as support. I remember not being able to get tickets so the plan was to hang outside the venue and see if we could hear the show. Sure enough, Metallica was insanely loud. They actually broke some agreement that was in place, that they wouldn’t exceed a certain decibel level. Well, they didn’t just exceed it; they blew it out of the sky. So we could hear the show perfectly sitting outside, for free. Feeling the power of the riffs and taking it all in as a kid…THAT’S what hooked me into metal. This was ’92 I think, so I would’ve been 12 years old? I’ve been a proud metal head ever since.

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

During COVID. I used to think that you could generally trust most human beings. That as a collective whole we could pull together to get out of a common problem that was hurting our country. But I was disappointed over and over again. I’m much more pessimistic now. I generally believe that most people are selfish and will always choose what is best for them, regardless of how it impacts or hurts others around them.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I can tell you where it DOESN’T lead…Having a full bank account! It does, however, lead to lots of eye rolls, shrugged shoulders and disingenuous “yeah that sounds great” from friends and family.

How do you define success?

For me it’s not about money or “being famous” or any of that. I mean, obviously I’m neither one of those so that point should be apparent. But I’m 43, a father of two girls, have a full-time career outside of anything to do with music, and I’m STILL doing this and chasing the dream. As unlikely as it might be at this stage of my life, I still have that fire and drive inside me like I was 19 again, trying to play huge shows, get on bigger tours and putting out music for a living. It’s fun, it’s exciting and feeds my soul. To me, not giving up the dream and still having fun is success in itself. I have friends my age who gave up playing music a long time ago, once marriage, kids, career, etc. started happening and literally every single one of them misses it.

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

2-Girls-1-Cup. For the love of god I wish I had never seen that.

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

A website that fetishizes men’s feet. There’s millions of sites on the web that showcase women’s feet, if that’s what you’re into (I’m not kink shaming anyone!). So I think I can corner the market when it comes to people who have a fetish for men’s feet.

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

To help us escape the mundane day-to-day harassments of our lives and get fulfillment from something created specifically for your enjoyment. And you can interpret that piece of creative fulfillment however you want. That’s the beautiful part; it came mean something completely different to 10 different people, and yet those different people will all share in the same bond over the same piece.

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

Getting that TV show so we can write songs about our adventures as a band.

Dust Prophet, “Dear Mrs. Budd”

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Quarterly Review: Magnatar, Wild Rocket, Trace Amount, Lammping, Limousine Beach, 40 Watt Sun, Decasia, Giant Mammoth, Pyre Fyre, Kamru

Posted in Reviews on June 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Here begins day two of 10. I don’t know at what point it occurred to me to load up the Quarterly Review with killer stuff to make it, you know, more pleasant than having it only be records I feel like I should be writing about, but I’m intensely glad I did.

Seems like a no brainer, right? But the internet is dumb, and it’s so easy to get caught up in what you see on social media, who’s hyping what, and the whole thing is driven by this sad, cloying FOMO that I despise even as I participate. If you’re ever in a situation to let go of something so toxic, even just a little bit and even just in your own head — which is where it all exists anyhow — do it. And if you take nothing else from this 100-album Quarterly Review besides that advice, it won’t be a loss.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Magnatar, Crushed

magnatar crushed

Can’t say they don’t deliver. The eight-song/38-minute Crushed is the debut long-player from Manchester, New Hampshire’s Magnatar, and it plays to the more directly aggressive side of post-metallic riffing. There are telltale quiet stretches, to be sure, but the extremity of shouts and screams in opener “Dead Swan” and in the second half of “Crown of Thorns” — the way that intensity becomes part of the build of the song as a whole — is well beyond the usual throaty fare. There’s atmosphere to balance, but even the 1:26 “Old” bends into harsh static, and the subsequent “Personal Contamination Through Mutual Unconsciousness” bounces djent and post-hardcore impulses off each other before ending up in a mega-doom slog, the lyric “Eat shit and die” a particular standout. So it goes into “Dragged Across the Surface of the Sun,” which is more even, but on the side of being pissed off, and “Loving You Was Killing Me” with its vastly more open spaces, clean vocals and stretch of near-silence before a more intense solo-topped finish. That leaves “Crushed” and “Event Horizon” to round out, and the latter is so heavy it’s barely music and that’s obviously the idea.

Magnatar on Facebook

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp


Wild Rocket, Formless Abyss

wild rocket formless abyss

Three longform cosmic rock excursions comprise Wild Rocket‘s Formless Abyss — “Formless Abyss” (10:40), “Interplanetary Vibrations” (11:36) and “Future Echoes” (19:41) — so lock in your harness and be ready for when the g-forces hit. If the Dubliners have tarried in following-up 2017’s Disassociation Mechanics (review here), one can only cite the temporal screwing around taking place in “Interplanetary Vibrations” as a cause — it would be easy to lose a year or two in its depths — never mind “Future Echoes,” which meets the background-radiation drone of the two inclusions prior with a ritualized heft and slow-unfurling wash of distortion that is like a clarion to Sagan-headed weirdos. A dark-matter nebula. You think you’re freaked out now? Wild Rocket speak their own language of sound, in their own time, and Formless Abyss — while not entirely without structure — has breadth enough to make even the sunshine a distant memory.

Wild Rocket on Facebook

Riot Season Records website


Trace Amount, Anti Body Language

Trace Amount Anti Body Language

An awaited debut full-length from Brooklyn multimedia artist/producer Brandon Gallagher, Trace Amount‘s Anti Body Language sees release through Greg Puciato‘s Federal Prisoner imprint and collects a solid 35 minutes of noise-laced harsh industrial worldbreaking. Decay anthems. A methodical assault begins with “Anxious Awakenings” and moving through “Anti Body Language” and “Eventually it Will Kill Us All,” the feeling of Gallagher acknowledging the era in which the record arrives is palpable, but more palpable are the weighted beats, the guttural shouts and layers of disaffected moans. “Digitized Exile” plays out like the ugliest outtake from Pretty Hate Machine — a compliment — and after the suitably tense “No Reality,” the six-minute “Tone and Tenor” — with a guest appearance from Kanga — offers a fuller take on drone and industrial metal, filling some of the spaces purposefully left open elsewhere. That leaves the penultimate “Pixelated Premonitions” as the ultimate blowout and “Suspect” (with a guest spot from Statiqbloom; a longtime fixture of NY industrialism) to noise-wash it all away, like city acid rain melting the pavement. New York always smells like piss in summer.

Trace Amount on Instagram

Federal Prisoner store


Lammping, Desert on the Keel

Lammping Desert on the Keel

This band just keeps getting better, and yes, I mean that. Toronto’s Lammping begin an informal, casual-style series of singles with “Desert on the Keel,” the sub-four-minutes of which are dedicated to a surprisingly peaceful kind of heavy psychedelia. Multiple songwriters at work? Yes. Rhythm guitarist Matt Aldred comes to the fore here with vocals mellow to suit the languid style of the guitar, which with Jay Anderson‘s drums still giving a push beneath reminds of Quest for Fire‘s more active moments, but would still fit alongside the tidy hooks with which Lammping populate their records. Mikhail Galkin, principal songwriter for the band, donates a delightfully gonna-make-some-noise-here organ solo in the post-midsection jam before “Desert on the Keel” turns righteously back to the verse, Colm Hinds‘ bass McCartneying the bop for good measure, and in a package so welcome it can only be called a gift, Lammping demonstrate multiple new avenues of growth for their craft and project. I told you. They keep getting better. For more, dig into 2022’s Stars We Lost EP (review here). You won’t regret it.

Lammping on Instagram

Lammping on Bandcamp


Limousine Beach, Limousine Beach

Limousine Beach Limousine Beach

Immediate three-part harmonies in the chorus of opener “Stealin’ Wine” set the tone for Limousine Beach‘s self-titled debut, as the new band fronted by guitarist/vocalist David Wheeler (OutsideInside, Carousel) and bringing together a five-piece with members of Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Cruces and others melds ’70s-derived sounds with a modern production sheen, so that the Thin Lizzy-style twin leads of “Airboat” hit with suitable brightness and the arena-ready vibe in “Willodene” sets up the proto-metal of “Black Market Buss Pass” and the should-be-a-single-if-it-wasn’t “Hear You Calling.” Swagger is a staple of Wheeler‘s work, and though the longest song on Limousine Beach is still under four minutes, there’s plenty of room in tracks like “What if I’m Lying,” the AC/DC-esque “Evan Got a Job” and the sprint “Movin’ On” (premiered here) for such things, and the self-awareness in “We’re All Gonna Get Signed” adds to the charm. Closing out the 13 songs and 31 minutes, “Night is Falling” is dizzying, and leads to “Doo Doo,” the tight-twisting “Tiny Hunter” and the feedback and quick finish of “Outro,” which is nonetheless longer than the song before it. Go figure. Go rock. One of 2022’s best debut albums. Good luck keeping up.

Limousine Beach on Facebook

Tee Pee Records website


40 Watt Sun, Perfect Light

40 watt sun perfect light

Perfect Light is the closest Patrick Walker (also Warning) has yet come to a solo album with 40 Watt Sun, and any way one approaches it, is a marked departure from 2016’s Wider Than the Sky (review here, sharing a continued penchant for extended tracks but transposing the emotional weight that typifies Walker‘s songwriting and vocals onto pieces led by acoustic guitar and piano. Emma Ruth Rundle sits in on opener “Reveal,” which is one of the few drumless inclusions on the 67-minute outing, but primarily the record is a showcase for Walker‘s voice and fluid, ultra-subdued and mostly-unplugged guitar notes, which float across “Behind My Eyes” and the dare-some-distortion “Raise Me Up” later on, shades of the doom that was residing in the resolution that is, the latter unflinching in its longing purpose. Not a minor undertaking either on paper or in the listening experience, it is the boldest declaration of intent and progression in Walker’s storied career to-date, leaving heavy genre tropes behind in favor of something that seems even more individual.

40 Watt Sun on Facebook

Cappio Records website

Svart Records website


Decasia, An Endless Feast for Hyenas

Decasia An Endless Feast for Hyenas

Snagged by Heavy Psych Sounds in the early going of 2022, French rockers Decasia debut on the label with An Endless Feast for Hyenas, a 10-track follow-up to 2017’s The Lord is Gone EP (review here), making the most of the occasion of their first full-length to portray inventive vocal arrangements coinciding with classic-sounding fuzz in “Hrosshvelli’s Ode” and the spacier “Cloud Sultan” — think vocalized Earthless — the easy-rolling viber “Skeleton Void” and “Laniakea Falls.” “Ilion” holds up some scorch at the beginning, “Hyenas at the Gates” goes ambient at the end, and interludes “Altostratus” and “Soft Was the Night” assure a moment to breathe without loss of momentum, holding up proof of a thoughtful construction even as Decasia demonstrate a growth underway and a sonic persona long in development that holds no shortage of potential for continued progress. By no means is An Endless Feast for Hyenas the highest-profile release from this label this year, but think of it as an investment in things to come as well as delivery for right now.

Decasia on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp


Giant Mammoth, Holy Sounds

Giant Mammoth Holy Sounds

The abiding shove of “Circle” and the more swinging “Abracadabra” begin Giant Mammoth‘s second full-length, Holy Sounds, with a style that wonders what if Lowrider and Valley of the Sun got together in a spirit of mutual celebration and densely-packed fuzz. Longer pieces “The Colour is Blue” and “Burning Man” and the lightly-proggier finale “Teisko” space out more, and the two-minute “Dust” is abidingly mellow, but wherever the Tampere, Finland, three-piece go, they remain in part defined by the heft of “Abracadabra” and the opener before it, with “Unholy” serving as an anchor for side A after “Burning Man” and “Wasteland” bringing a careening return to earth between “The Colour is Blue” and the close-out in “Teisko.” Like the prior-noted influences, Giant Mammoth are a stronger act for the dynamics of their material and the manner in which the songs interact with each other as the eight-track/38-minute LP plays out across its two sides, the second able to be more expansive for the groundwork laid in the first. They’re young-ish and they sound it (that’s not a slag), and the transition from duo to three-piece made between their first record and this one suits them and bodes well in its fuller tonality.

Giant Mammoth on Facebook

Giant Mammoth on Bandcamp


Pyre Fyre, Rinky Dink City / Slow Cookin’

Pyre Fyre Rinky Dink City Slow Cookin

New Jersey trio Pyre Fyre may or may not be paying homage to their hometown of Bayonne with “Rinky Dink City,” but their punk-born fuzzy sludge rock reminds of none so much as New Orleans’ Suplecs circa 2000’s Wrestlin’ With My Ladyfriend, both the title-tracks dug into raw lower- and high-end buzztone shenanigans, big on groove and completely void of pretense. Able to have fun and still offer some substance behind the chicanery. I don’t know if you’d call it party rock — does anyone party on the East Coast or are we too sad because the weather sucks? probably, I’m just not invited — but if you were having a hangout and Pyre Fyre showed up with “Slow Cookin’,” for sure you’d let them have the two and a half minutes it takes them (less actually) to get their point across. In terms of style and songwriting, production and performance, this is a band that ask next to nothing of the listener in terms of investment are able to effect a mood in the positive without being either cloyingly poppish or leaving a saccharine aftertaste. I guess this is how the Garden State gets high. Fucking a.

Pyre Fyre on Instagram

Pyre Fyre on Bandcamp


Kamru, Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe

Kamru Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe

Issued on April 20, the cumbersomely-titled Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe is the debut outing from Denver-based two-piece Kamru, comprised of Jason Kleim and Ashwin Prasad. With six songs each hovering on either side of seven minutes long, the duo tap into a classic stoner-doom feel, and one could point to this or that riff and say The Sword or liken their tone worship and makeup to Telekinetic Yeti, but that’s missing the point. The point is in the atmosphere that is conjured by “Penumbral Litany” and the familiar proto-metallurgy of the subsequent “Hexxer,” prominent vocals echoing with a sense of command rare for a first offering of any kind, let alone a full-length. In the more willfully grueling “Cenotaph” there’s doomly reach, and as “Winter Rites” marches the album to its inevitable end — one imagines blood splattered on a fresh Rocky Mountain snowfall — the band’s take on established parameters of aesthetic sounds like it’s trying to do precisely what it wants. I’m saying watch out for it to get picked up for a vinyl release by some label or other if that hasn’t happened yet.

Kamru on Facebook

Kamru on Bandcamp


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Quarterly Review: Alunah, QAALM, Ambassador Hazy, Spiral Skies, Lament Cityscape, Electric Octopus, Come to Grief, ZOM, MNRVA, Problem With Dragons

Posted in Reviews on June 27th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you I’m quaking in my flip-flops about doing 100 reviews in the span of two weeks, how worried I am I’ll run out of ways to say something is weird, or psychedelic, or heavy, or whatever. You know what? This time, even with a doublewide Quarterly Review — which means 100 records between now and next Friday — I feel like we got this. It’ll get done. And if it doesn’t? I’ll take an extra day. Who even pretends to give a crap?

I think that’s probably the right idea, so let’s get this show on the road, as my dear wife is fond of saying.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Alunah, Strange Machine

alunah strange machine

Following on from 2019’s Violet Hour (review here), Birmingham’s Alunah offer the nine songs and 42 minutes of Strange Machine on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s a wonder to think this is the band who a decade ago released White Hoarhound (review here), but of course it’s mostly not. Alunah circa 2022 bring a powerhouse take on classic heavy rock and roll, with Siân Greenaway‘s voice layered out across proto-metallic riffs and occasional nods such as “Fade Into Fantasy” or “Psychedelic Expressway” pulling away from the more straight-ahead punch. One can’t help but be reminded of Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio — a different, more progressive and expansive take on the same style they started with — which I guess would make Strange Machine their Mob Rules. They may or may not be the band you expected, but they’re quite a band if you’re willing to give the songs a chance.

Alunah on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp


QAALM, Resilience & Despair

QAALM Resilience Despair

Skipping neither the death nor the doom ends of death-doom, Los Angeles-based QAALM make a gruesome and melancholic debut with Resilience & Despair, with a vicious, barking growl up front that reminds of none so much as George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, but that’s met intermittently with airy stretches of emotionally weighted float led by its two guitars. Across the four-song/69-minute outing, no song is shorter than opener “Reflections Doubt” (14:40), and while that song, “Existence Asunder” (19:35), “Cosmic Descent” (18:23) and “Lurking Death” (17:16) have their more intense moments, the balance of miseries defines the record by its spaciousness and the weight of the chug that offsets. The cello in “Lurking Death” adds fullness to create a Katatonia-style backdrop, but QAALM are altogether more extreme, and whatever lessons they’ve learned from the masters of the form, they’re being put to excruciating use. And the band knows it. Go four minutes into any one of these songs and tell me they’re not having a great time. I dare you.

QAALM on Facebook

Hypaethral Records website

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp


Ambassador Hazy, The Traveler

Ambassador Hazy The Traveler

The Traveler is Sterling DeWeese‘s second solo full-length under the banner of Ambassador Hazy behind 2020’s Glacial Erratics (review here) and it invariably brings a more cohesive vision of the bedroom-psychedelic experimentalist songcraft that defined its predecessor. “All We Wanted,” for example, is song enough that it could work in any number of genre contexts, and where “Take the Sour With the Sweet” is unabashed in its alt-universe garage rock ambitions, it remains righteously weird enough to be DeWeese‘s own. Fuller band arrangements on pieces like that or the later “Don’t Smash it to Pieces” reinforce the notion of a solidifying approach, but “Simple Thing” nonetheless manages to come across like Dead Meadow borrowed a drum machine from Godflesh circa 1987. There’s sweetness underlying “Afterglow,” however, and “Percolator,” which may or may not actually have one sampled, is way, way out there, and in no small way The Traveler is about that mix of humanity and creative reaching.

Ambassador Hazy on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz webstore


Spiral Skies, Death is But a Door

spiral skies death is but a door

Strange things afoot in Stockholm. Blending classic doom and heavy rock with a clean, clear production, shades of early heavy metal and the odd bit of ’70s folk in the verse of “While the Devil is Asleep,” the five-piece Spiral Skies follow 2018’s Blues for a Dying Planet with Death is But a Door, a collection that swings and grooves and is epic and intimate across its nine songs/43 minutes, a cut like “Somewhere in the Dark” seeming to grow bigger as it moves toward its finish. Five of the nine inclusions make some reference to sleep or the night or darkness — including “Nattmaran” — but one can hardly begrudge Spiral Skies working on a theme when this is the level of the work they’re doing. “The Endless Sea” begins the process of excavating the band’s stylistic niche, and by “Time” and “Mirage” it’s long since uncovered, and the band’s demonstration of nuance, melody and songwriting finds its resolution on closer “Mirror of Illusion,” which touches on psychedelia as if to forewarn the listener of more to come. Familiar, but not quite like anything else.

Spiral Skies on Facebook

AOP Records website


Lament Cityscape, A Darker Discharge

Lament Cityscape A Darker Discharge

Almost tragically atmospheric given the moods involved, Wyoming-based industrial metallurgists Lament Cityscape commence the machine-doom of A Darker Discharge following a trilogy of 2020 EPs compiled last year onto CD as Pneumatic Wet. That release was an hour long, this one is 24 minutes, which adds to the intensity somehow of the expression at the behest of David Small (Glacial Tomb, ex-Mountaineer, etc.) and Mike McClatchey (also ex-Mountaineer), the ambience of six-minute centerpiece “Innocence of Shared Experiences” making its way into a willfully grandiose wash after “All These Wires” and “Another Arc” traded off in caustic ’90s-style punishment. “The Under Dark” is a cacophony early and still intense after the fog clears, and it, “Where the Walls Used to Be” and the coursing-till-it-slows-down, gonna-get-noisy “Part of the Mother” form a trilogy of sorts for side B, each feeding into the overarching impression of emotional untetheredness that underscores all that fury.

Lament Cityscape on Facebook

Lifeforce Records website


Electric Octopus, St. Patrick’s Cough

Electric Octopus St Patricks Cough

You got friends? Me neither. But if we did, and we told them about the wholesome exploratory jams of Belfast trio Electric Octopus, I bet their hypothetical minds would be blown. St. Patrick’s Cough is the latest studio collection from the instrumentalist improv-specialists, and it comes and goes through glimpses of various jams in progress, piecing together across 13 songs and 73 minutes — that’s short for Electric Octopus — that find the chemistry vital as they seamlessly bring together psychedelia, funk, heavy rock, minimalist drone on “Restaurant Banking” and blown-out steel-drum-style island vibes on “A2enmod.” There’s enough ground covered throughout for a good bit of frolicking — and if you’ve never frolicked through an Electric Octopus release, here’s a good place to start — but in smaller experiments like the acoustic slog “You Have to Be Stupid to See That” or the rumbling “Universal Knife” or the shimmering-fuzz-is-this-tuning-up “Town,” it’s only encouraging to see the band continue to try new ideas and push themselves even farther out than they were. For an act who already dwells in the ‘way gone,’ it says something that they’re refusing to rest on their freaked-out laurels.

Electric Octopus on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records store


Come to Grief, When the World Dies

come to grief when the world dies

Behold, the sludge of death. Maybe it’s not fair to call When the World Dies one of 2022’s best debut albums since Come to Grief is intended as a continuation by guitarist/backing vocalist Terry Savastano (also WarHorse) and drummer Chuck Conlon of the devastation once wrought by Grief, but as they unleash the chestripping “Life’s Curse” and the slow-grind filthy onslaught of “Scum Like You,” who gives a shit? When the World Dies, produced of course by Converge‘s Kurt Ballou at GodCity, spreads aural violence across its 37 minutes with a particular glee, resting only for a breath before meting out the next lurching beating. Jonathan Hébert‘s vocal cords deserve a medal for the brutality they suffer in his screams in the four-minute title-track alone, never mind the grime-encrusted pummel of closer “Death Can’t Come Fast Enough.” Will to abrasion. Will to disturb. Heavy in spirit but so raw in its force that if you even manage to make it that deep you’ve probably already drowned. A biblical-style gnashing of teeth. Fucking madness.

Come to Grief on Facebook

Translation Loss Records store


ZOM, Fear and Failure

Zom Fear and Failure

In the works one way or the other since 2020, the sophomore full-length from Pittsburgh heavy rockers ZOM brings straight-ahead classicism with a modernized production vibe, some influence derived from the earlier days of Clutch or The Sword and of course Black Sabbath — looking at you, “Running Man” — but there’s a clarity of purpose behind the material that is ZOM‘s own. They are playing rock for rockers, and are geared more toward revelry than conversion, but there’s no arguing with the solidity of their craft and the meeting of their ambitions. Their last record took them to Iceland, and this one has led them to the UK. Don’t be surprised when ZOM announce an Australian tour one of these days, just because they can, but wherever they go, know what they have the songs on their side to get them there. In terms of style, there’s very little revolutionary about Fear and Failure, but ZOM aren’t trying to revamp what you know of as heavy rock and roll so much as looking to mark their place within it. Listening to the burly chug of “Another Day to Run,” and the conversation the band seems to be having with the more semi-metal moments of Shadow Witch and others, their efforts sound not at all misspent.

ZOM on Facebook

StoneFly Records store


MNRVA, Hollow

mnrva hollow

Making their debut through Black Doomba Records, Columbia, South Carolina’s MNRVA recorded the eight-song Hollow in Spring 2019, and one assumes that the three-year delay in releasing is owed at least in to aligning with the label, plus pandemic, plus life happens, and so on. In any case, from “Not the One” onward, their fuzz-coated doom rock reminds of a grittier take on Cathedral, with guitarist Byron Hawk and bassist Kevin Jennings sharing vocal duties effectively while Gina Ercolini drives the march behind them. There’s some shifting in tempo between “Hollow” and a more brash piece like “With Fire” or the somehow-even-noisier-seeming penultimate cut “No Solution,” but the grit there is a feature throughout the album just the same. Their 2019 EP, Black Sky (review here), set them up for this, but only really in hindsight, and one wonders what they may have been up to in the time since putting this collection to tape if this is where they were three years ago. Some of this is straight-up half-speed noise rock riffing and that’s just fine.

MNRVA on Facebook

Black Doomba Records on Bandcamp


Problem With Dragons, Accelerationist

Problem With Dragons Accelerationist

The third full-length, Accelerationist, from Easthampton, Massachusetts’ Problem With Dragons is odd and nuanced enough by the time they get to the vocal effects on “Have Mercy, Show Mercy” — unless that’s a tracheostomy thing; robot voice; that’s not the first instance of it — to earn being called progressive, and though their foundation is in more straightforward heavy rock impulses, sludge and fuzz, they’ve been at it for 15 years and have well developed their own approach. Thus “Live by the Sword” opens to set up lumbering pieces like “Astro Magnum” and the finale title-track while “In the Name of His Shadow” tips more toward metal and the seven-minute “Don’t Fail Me” meets its early burl (gets the wurlm?) with airier soloing later on, maximizing the space in the album’s longest track. “A Demon Possessed” and “Dark Times (for Dark Times)” border on doom, but in being part of Problem With Dragons‘ overall pastiche, and in the band’s almost Cynic-al style of melodic singing, they are united with the rest of what surrounds. Some bands, you can just tell when individualism is part of their mission.

Problem With Dragons on Facebook

Problem With Dragons on Bandcamp


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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


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Quarterly Review: Spidergawd, Eight Bells, Blue Rumble, The Mountain King, Sheev, Elk Witch, KYOTY, Red Eye, The Stoned Horses, Gnome

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Here we are in the Spring 2022 Quarterly Review. I have to hope and believe you know what this means by now. It’s been like eight years. To reiterate, 10 reviews a day for this week. I’ve also added next Monday to the mix because there’s just so, so, so much out there right now, so this Quarterly Review will total 60 albums covered. It could easily be more. And more. And more. You get the point.

So while we’re on the edge of this particular volcano, looking down into the molten center of the Quarterly Review itself, I’ll say thanks for reading if you do at any point, and I hope you find something to make doing so worth the effort.

Here we go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Spidergawd, VI

Spidergawd VI

Like clockwork, Spidergawd released V (review here), in 2019, and amid the chaos of 2020, they announced they’d have a new record out in 2021 — already the longest pause between LPs of their career — for which they’d be touring. The Norwegian outfit — who aren’t so much saviors of rock as a reminder of why it doesn’t need saving in the first place — at last offer the nine songs and 41 minute straight-ahead drive of VI with their usual aplomb, energizing a classic heavy rock sound and reveling in the glorious hooks of “Prototype Design” and “Running Man” at the outset, throwing shoulders with the sheer swag of “Black Moon Rising,” and keeping the rush going all the way until “Morning Star” hints toward some of their prior psych-prog impulses. They’ve stripped those back here, and on the strength of their songwriting and the shining lights that seem to accompany their performance even on a studio recording, they remain incomparable in working to the high standard of their own setting.

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website


Eight Bells, Legacy of Ruin

eight bells legacy of ruin

The first Eight Bells full-length for Prophecy Productions, Legacy of Ruin comes six years after their second LP, Landless (review here), and finds founding guitarist/vocalist Melynda Marie Jackson, bassist/guitarist/vocalist Matt Solis, drummer Brian Burke, a host of guests and producer Billy Anderson complicating perceptions of Pacific Northwestern US black metal. Across the six songs and in extended cuts like “The Well” and closer “Premonition,” Eight Bells remind of their readiness to put melodies where others fear tread, and to execute individualized cross-genre breadth that even in the shorter “Torpid Dreamer” remains extreme, whatever else one might call it in terms of style. “The Crone” and other moments remind of Enslaved, but seem to be writing a folklore all their own in that.

Eight Bells on Facebook

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp


Blue Rumble, Blue Rumble

Blue Rumble Blue Rumble

Swiss four-piece Blue Rumble bring organically-produced, not-quite-vintage-but-retro-informed heavy psych blues boogie on their self-titled debut full-length, impressing with the sharp edges around which the grooves curve, the channel-spanning, shred-ready solo of the guitars, and the organ that add so much to where vocals might otherwise be. The five-minute stretch alone of second cut “Cosmopolitan Landscape,” which follows the garage urgency of opener “God Knows I Shoulda Been Gone,” runs from a mellow-blues exploration into a psych hypnosis and at last into a classic-prog freakout before, miraculously, returning, and that is by no means the total scope of the album, whether it’s the winding progressions in “Cup o’ Rosie (Just Another Groovy Thing),” the laid back midsection of “Sunset Fire Opal” or the hey-is-that-flute on the shorter pastoral interlude “Linda,” as if naming the song before that “Think for Yourself” wasn’t enough of a Beatles invocation. The strut continues unabated in “The Snake” and the grittier “Hangman,” and closer “Occhio e Croce” (‘eye and cross,” in Italian) shimmers with Mellotron fluidity atop its central build, leaving the raw vitality of the drums to lead into a big rock finish well earned. Heads up, heavy rock and rollers. This is hot shit.

Blue Rumble on Instagram

Blue Rumble on Bandcamp


The Mountain King, WolloW

the mountain king wollow

It’s palindrome time on Mainz, Germany’s The Mountain King‘s WolloW. Once the solo-project of guitarist/vocalist/programmer Eric McQueen, the experimentalist band here includes guitarist Frank Grimbarth and guest bassist Jack Cradock — you can really hear that bass on “II In Grium Imus Noctem Aram et Consumimur Igni” (hope you practiced your conjugations) and through five songs, they cross genres from the atmospheric heavygaze-meets-Warning of “I Bongnob” through the blackened crunch of the above-noted second cut to a gloriously dreamy and still morose title-track, and the driving expanse of “V DNA Sand.” Then they do it backwards, as “V DNA Sand” seems to flip halfway through. But they’re also doing it backwards at the same time as forward, so as The Mountain King work back toward album finale “bongnoB I,” what was reversed and what wasn’t has switched and the listener isn’t really sure what’s up or down, where they are or why. This, of course, is exactly the point. Take that, form and structure! Open your mind and let doom in!

The Mountain King on Facebook

Cursed Monk Records website


Sheev, Mind Conductor

Sheev Mind Conductor

Berlin trio Sheev prove adept at skirting the line of outright aggression, and in fact crossing it, while maintaining control over their direction and execution. Mind Conductor is their debut album, and it works well to send signals of its complexity, samples and obscure sounds on “The Workshop” giving over the riffs of immediate impact on “Well Whined.” The channel-spanning guitar pulls on “Saltshifter,” the harmonies in the midsection of “All I Can,” the going-for-it-DannyCarey-style drums on the penultimate “Baby Huey” (and bonus points for that reference) — all of these and so much more in the nine-song/53-minute span come together fluidly to create a portrait of the band’s depth of approach and the obvious consideration they put into what they do. Closer “Snakegosh” may offer assurance they don’t take themselves too seriously, but even that song’s initial rolling progression can’t help but wind its way through later angularities. It will be interesting to hear the direction they ultimately take over the course of multiple albums, but don’t let that draw focus from what they accomplish on this first one.

Sheev on Facebook

Sheev on Bandcamp


Elk Witch, Beyond the Mountain

elk witch beyond the mountain

Dudes got riffs. From Medford, Oregon, Elk Witch draw more from the sphere of modern heavy rockers like earlier The Sword or Freedom Hawk than the uptempo post-Red Fang party jams for which much of the Pacific Northwest is known, but the groove is a good time just the same. The six tracks of Beyond the Mountain are born out of the trio’s 2021 debut EP — wait for it — The Mountain, but the four songs shared between the two offerings have been re-recorded here, repositioned and sandwiched between opener “Cape Foulweather” and closer “The Plight of Valus,” so the reworking feels consistent from front to back. And anyway, it’s only been a year, so ease up. Some light burl throughout, but the vocals on “Coyote and the Wind’s Daughters” remind me of Chritus in Goatess, so there’s some outright doom at work too, though “Greybeard Arsenal” might take the prize for its shimmering back-half slowdown either way, and “The Plight of Valus” starts out with a seeming wink at Kyuss‘ “El Rodeo,” so nothing is quite so simply traced. Raw, but they’ll continue to figure out where they’re headed, and the converted will nod knowingly. For what it’s worth, I dig it.

Elk Witch on Facebook

StoneFly Records store


KYOTY, Isolation

kyoty isolation

If “evocative” is what New Hampshire post-metallic mostly-instrumentalists KYOTY were going for with their third full-length, could they possibly have picked something better to call it than Isolation? It’d be a challenge. And with opener “Quarantine,” songs like “Ventilate,” “Languish,” “Faith,” and “Rift,” “Respite” and closer “A Fog, A Future Like a Place Imagined,” the richly progressive unit working as the two-piece of Nick Filth and Nathaniel Parker Raymond weave poetic aural tapestries crushing and spacious in kind with the existential dread and vague flashes of hope in pandemic reality of the 2020s thus far. Still, they work in impressionist fashion, so that the rumbling crackle of “Onus” and the near-industrial slog of “Respite” represent place and idea while also standing apart as a not-quite-objective observer, the lighter float of the guitar in “Faith” becoming a wash before its resonant drone draws it to a close. At 70 minutes, there’s a lot to say for a band who doesn’t have lyrics, but spoken lines further the sense of verse, and remind of the humanity behind the programming of “Holter” or the especially pummeling “Rift.” An album deep enough you could listen to it for years and hear something new.

KYOTY on Facebook

Deafening Assembly on Bandcamp


Red Eye, The Cycle

red eye the cycle

Andalusian storytellers Red Eye make it plain from the outset that their ambitions are significant, and the seven songs of their third full-length play out those ambitions across ultra-flowing shifts between serenity and heft, working as more than just volume trades and bringing an atmospheric sprawl that is intended to convey time as well as place. In 46 minutes, they do for doom and various other microgenres — post-metal, some more extreme moments in “Beorg” and the morse-code-inclusive closer “Æsce” — what earlier Opeth did for death metal, adding shifts into unbridled folk melody and sometimes minimalist reach. Clearly meant to be taken in its entirety, The Cycle functions beautifully across its stretch, and the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Antonio Campos (also lyrics), guitarist/vocalist Pablo Terol, bassist Antonio Muriel and drummer Ángel Arcas, bear weight of tone and history in kind, self-aware that the chants in “Tempel” brim with purpose, but expressive in the before and after such that they wherever they will and make it a joy to follow.

Red Eye on Facebook

Alone Records store


Stoned Horses, Stoned Horses

The Stoned Horses Self-titled

Originally recorded to come out in 2013, what would’ve been/is the Stoned Horses‘ self-titled debut full-length runs 12 tracks and swaps methodologies between instrumentalism and more verse/chorus-minded sludge rock. Riffs lead, in either case, and there’s a sense of worship that goes beyond Black Sabbath as the later “Scorpions Vitus” handily confirms. The semi-eponymous “A Stoned Horse” is memorable for its readiness to shout the hook at you repeatedly, and lest a band called Stoned Horses ever be accused of taking themselves too seriously, “My Horse is Faster Than Your Bike” is a sub-two-minute riffer that recalls late-’90s/early-’00s stoner rock fuckery, before everyone started getting progressive. Not short on charm, there’s plenty of substance behind it in “Le Calumet” like a northern Alabama Thunderpussy or the last cut, “The Legend of the Blue Pig,” which dares a bit more metal. Not groundbreaking, not trying to be, it’s a celebration of the tropes of genre given its own personality. I have nothing more to ask of it except what happened that it sat for nearly a decade without being released.

Stoned Horses on Facebook

From the Urn on Bandcamp


Gnome, King

Gnome King

Antwerpen’s Gnome make it a hell of a lot of fun to trace their path across King, their second full-length, bringing in The Vintage Caravan‘s Óskar Logi early for “Your Empire” and finding a line between energetic, on-the-beat delivery and outright aggression, letting “Ambrosius” set the tone for what follows as they careen though cuts like the instrumental “Antibeast,” the swinging and catchy “Wencelas” and the crunching “Bulls of Bravik.” How do they do it? With the magic of shenanigans! As King (which “Wencelas” was) plays out, the suitably hatted trio get up to high grade nonsense on “Kraken Wanker” before “Stinth Thy Clep” and the 11-minute we-can-do-whatever-we-want-so-let’s-do-that-yes closer “Platypus Platoon” buries its later march amid a stream of ideas that, frankly, kind of sounds like it could just keep going. They are adventurous throughout the eight songs and 42 minutes, but have a solid foundation nonetheless of tone and consciousness, which are what save King from being a mess. It’s a hard balance to strike that they make sound easy.

Gnome on Facebook

Polderrecords website


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jim DeLuca of Abel Blood

Posted in Questionnaire on March 24th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Jim DeLuca of Abel Blood

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jim DeLuca of Abel Blood

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

I am the drummer for the Stoner Rock/Heavy Psych band Abel Blood from New Hampshire. I was the vocalist in a nineties band No Thanks with my now guitarist/vocalist Adam Joslyn. We reconnected in the winter of 2019 only this time as the drummer. We realized quickly that we had something going and recruited our bass player Ben Cook in the fall of 2020 and Abel Blood was born. In march of 2021, we released our debut EP Keeping Pace with the Elephants.

Describe your first musical memory.

When I was 10, my half brother came to stay with my family for a brief period of time. things didn’t work out too well and upon his exit, he gave me his copy of Black Sabbath We Sold our Soul for Rock and Roll on vinyl. The first time I listened to it, I was blown away.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It’s really hard to pinpoint one. As I stated earlier I am a huge Black Sabbath fan so naturally when Ozzy Osbourne went solo, I became a huge fan as well. In the 80’s I was obsessed with Ozzy. When I first saw him live in 1986, it was really something special. I remember the intensity of seeing an artist that had such a big impact on me. As an added bonus, Metallica opened for Ozzy and I was able to see the now legendary Cliff Burton.

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

I don’t mix politics with music, and I was never really exposed to religion growing up. But I guess at one point I believed that for the most part, mankind had evolved past our petty differences. With each passing day, I believe this less and less.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To new horizons. I believe as we experience more, we raise our own bar and expectations. Always looking to reach the next level.

How do you define success?

Success I believe lies within the individual, not necessarily how we are perceived. If you love what you do, and you are happy with what you do, I deem that as a success.

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

The 911 terrorist attack. It was a very dark day, not only in America, but for all of mankind. It showed what humans are capable of doing, and makes you think it could happen again anywhere in the world.

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

A music video of one of our songs. It sounds corny, but I’ve always dreamed of doing it. Working with a videographer and a producer. I just think it would be a cool experience.

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

Again, to expand someone’s horizons. The good feelings it gives people in a variety of forms. Art takes you away from the daily grind and reminds us of the beauty in the world.

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

Putting a man on Mars. How cool would that be!

Abel Blood, Keeping Pace with the Elephants (2021)

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Come to Grief to Release When the World Dies May 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

come to grief

Come to Grief are like the beast you absolutely see coming that still consumes you. New Hampshire’s state motto is “live free or die,” the band’s might be “go ahead and die anyway.” The inheritors of one of sludge’s filthiest legacies — that of Grief — have set May 20 as the release date through Translation Loss Records of their debut album, When the World Dies, and true to their New England roots, they’ve got Converge‘s Jacob Bannon on the lead single. That band’s Kurt Ballou also recorded, which, yes, makes sense. Even mentioning that seems superfluous. Of course he did.

Devastating live and crushing across their various short releases to this point, I see no reason why Come to Grief‘s awaited first full-length shouldn’t absolutely flay any and all who take it on upon its arrival. I’ll gladly suffer a reverse graft for the cause when the time comes.

From the PR wire:

come to grief when the world dies



New England nihilistic, extreme sludge/doom band COME TO GRIEF announce their highly-anticipated and long-awaited debut full-length album, “When The World Dies” – to be released on May 20, 2022 via Translation Loss Records.

COME TO GRIEF have risen from the ashes of a hellish existence to bring seven tracks of sinister, hypnotic filth – dank with suffocating depravity. Powerful and catchy grooves lace each track with grimy black n’ roll undertones while vocalists Terry Savastano and Jonathan Hebert lay waste to tortured, spite-filled and personal lyrics – spitting true life stories and observations on the bleak, lack of humanity that plagues the earth. Recorded by Kurt Ballou at GodCity Recording Studio and featuring Jacob Bannon (CONVERGE), who contributes vocals that storm in like a whirlwind of chaotic ferver. A lurking rhythm section soldered together with smoldering riffs demands you to bang your head and proves “When The World Dies” is no pentatonic picnic – this is sonic annihilation.

Along with the announcement of “When The World Dies” the band have released the first single from the album titled, “Life’s Curse”. The ferocious track features blistering vocals from CONVERGE frontman, Jacob Bannon.

About the album announcement and track release, COME TO GRIEF share the following statement:

When the World Dies has finally reared its ugly head after nearly 8 years of constant shows and EP’s. The long-awaited long-player shall bludgeon your existence. Not merely ‘Sludge’ or ‘Doom’, ‘When The World Dies’ melds many sounds and feelings that parallel the horrid human situation. “Life’s Curse” is a raging culmination of 50 years of anguish, depression and dejection. Do you sometimes feel lonely? Awkward? Like you don’t belong? This is for you.

About working alongside Jacob Bannon, Terry Savastano (guitar, vocals) comments:

“Having Jacob sing vocals was a really big deal. I’m super grateful for it. We go back a long way, actually. He, myself, (Chuck – COME TO GRIEF drummer) and some of the CONVERGE guys come from the same area north of Boston called the Merrimack Valley. He had my first band’s (AFTERBIRTH) demo very early on – we’re talking 1988! We were recording with Kurt Ballou so I thought it would be awesome and kinda appropriate if he could contribute vocals. He’s such an emotional singer I thought it would go perfect with Jonathan’s (Herbert) roar, and I was right! ‘Life’s Curse’ is a pretty emotional song already; he just added a whole lot more.”

“When The World Dies” will be released on May 20, 2022 on two LP variants, compact disc, and on all digital platforms worldwide. Limited edition merch is also available via Translation Loss Records. Pre-order and digital pre-save is available now.

1. Our End Begins
2. Life’s Curse
3. Scum Like You
4. Devastation of Souls
5. When the World Dies
6. Bludgeon The Soul / Returning to the Void
7. Death Can’t Come Soon Enough

Recorded by Kurt Ballou in July of 2021 at GodCity Recording Studio in Salem, MA.
Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege.

Guest vocals by Jacob Bannon (CONVERGE) on “Life’s Curse” and “Bludgeon The Soul”.
Bass on the entirety of When The World Dies by Randy Larsen.

Album artwork by Paulo Girardi.
Promo photos by COME TO GRIEF.

Jonathan Hebert – Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Terrenza Savastano – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals
Chuck Conlon – Drums
Jon Morse – Bass

Come to Grief, When the World Dies (2022)

Come to Grief, Pray for the End (2020)

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