Quarterly Review: Bongripper, Destroyer of Light, Castle Rat, Temple of the Fuzz Witch, State of Non Return, Thief, Ravens, Spacedrifter, Collyn McCoy, Misleading

Posted in Reviews on May 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

I wouldn’t say we’re in the home stretch yet, but this 100-release Quarterly Review is more than three-quarters done after today, so I guess it’s debatable. In any case, we proceed. I hope you’ve enjoyed what’s been on offer so far. Yesterday was a little manic, but I got there. Today, tomorrow, I expect much the same. The order of things, as that one Jem’Hadar liked to say.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Bongripper, Empty

BONGRIPPER empty

Eight albums and the emergence of a microgenre cast partly in their image later, it would take a lot for Chicago ultra-crush instrumentalists Bongripper to surprise their listenership, at least as regards their basic approach. If you think that’s a bad thing, fine, but I’d put the 66 minutes of Empty forward to argue otherwise. Six years after 2018’s two-song LP Terminal (review here) — with a live record and single between — the four new songs of Empty dare to sneakily convey a hopeful message in the concave tracklisting: “Nothing” (20:40), “Remains’ (12:04), “Forever” (12:43), “Empty” (21:24). That message might be what’s expressed in the echoing post-metallic lead guitar on the finale and the organ on the prior “Forever,” or, frankly, it might not. Because in the great, lumbering, riffy morass that is their sound, there’s room for multiple interpretations as well as largesse enough to accommodate the odd skyscraper, so take it as you will. Just because you might go into it with some idea of what’s coming doesn’t mean you won’t get flattened.

Bongripper on Facebook

Bongripper BigCartel store

Destroyer of Light, Degradation Years

destroyer of light degradation years

My general policy as regards “last” records is to never say never until everybody’s holograms have been deleted, but the seven songs and 39 minutes of Degradation Years represent an ending for Destroyer of Light just the same, and the Austin-based troupe end as they began, which is by not being the band people expected them to be. Their previous long-player, 2022’s Panic (review here), dug into atmospheric doom in engrossing fashion, and Degradation Years presents not-at-all-their-first pivot, with post-punk atmospherics and ’90s-alt melodies on “Waiting for the End” and heavy drift on “Perception of Time.” “Failure” is duly sad, where the shorter, riffier “Blind Faith” shreds and careens heading into its verse, and the nine-minute “Where I Cannot Follow” gives Pallbearer‘s emotive crux a look on the way to its airy tremolo finish. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca has a couple other nascent projects going, guitarist Keegan Kjeldsen and drummer Kelly Turner are in Slumbering Sun, and Mike Swarbrick who plays bass here is in Cortége, but Destroyer of Light always stood on their own, and they never stopped growing across their 12-year run. Job well done.

Destroyer of Light on Facebook

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

Castle Rat, Into the Realm

castle rat into the realm

If you take away the on-stage theatricality, the medieval/horror fetish play, and all the hype, what you’re left with on Castle Rat‘s first album, Into the Realm is a solid collection of raw, classic-styled doom rock able to account for the Doors-y guitar in the quiet strum of the gets-heavy-later “Cry for Me” as well as the shrieks of “Fresh Fur” and opener “Dagger Dragger,” the nod and chug of “Nightblood” and the proto-metal of “Feed the Dream” via three interludes spaced out across its brief 32-minute stretch. Of course, taking away the drama, the sex, and aesthetic cultistry is missing part of the point of the band in the first place, but what I’m saying is that Into the Realm has more going for it than the fact that the band are young and good looking, willing to writhe, and thus marketable. They could haunt Brooklyn basements for the next 15-20 years or go tour with Ghost tomorrow, I honestly have no clue about their ambitions or goals in that regard, but their songs present a strong stylistic vision in accord with their overarching persona, resonating with a fresh generational take and potential progression. That’s enough on its own to make Into the Realm one of the year’s most notable debuts.

Castle Rat on Instagram

King Volume Records store

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Apotheosis

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Apotheosis

With their third full-length and first for Ripple Music, Detroit trio Temple of the Fuzz Witch — guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner (also synth), bassist Joe Peet and drummer Taylor Christian — follow their 2020 offering, Red Tide (review here), with a somewhat revamped imagining of who they are. Apotheosis — as high as you can get — introduces layers of harsh vocals and charred vibes amid the consuming lumber of its tonality, still cultish in atmosphere but heavier in its ritualizing and darker. The screams work, and songs like “Nephilim” benefit from Bruner‘s ability to shift from clean to harsh vocals there and across the nine-songer’s 39 minutes, and while there’s plenty of slog, a faster song like “Bow Down” stands out all the more from the grim, somehow-purple mist in which even the spacious midsection of “Raze” seems to reside. The bottom line is if you think you knew who they were or you judged them as a bong-metal tossoff because of their silly name, you’re already missing out. If you’re cool with that, fair enough. It’s not my job to sell you records anyway.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Facebook

Ripple Music website

State of Non Return, White Ink

State of Non Return White Ink

Among the final releases for Trepanation Recordings, White Ink is the years-in-the-making first LP from Bologna, Italy’s State of Non Return — and if you’re hearing a dogwhistle in their moniker for meditative fare because that’s also the name of an Om song, you’re neither entirely correct or incorrect. From the succession of the three circa-nine-minutes-each cuts “Catharsis,” “Vertigo” and “White Ink,” the trio harness a thoughtful take on brooding desert nod, with “Vertigo” boasting some more aggro-tinged shouts ahead of the chug in its middle building on the spoken word of the opener, and the intro to the title-track building into a roll of tempered distortion that offers due payoff in its sharp-edged leads and hypnotic repetitions, to the 15-minute finale “Pendulum” that offers due back and forth between minimal spaces and full-on voluminosity before taking off on an extended linear build to end, the focus is more on atmosphere than spiritual contemplation, and State of Non Return find individualism in moody contemplation and the tension-release of their heaviest moments. Some bands grow into their own sound over time. State of Non Return, who got together in 2016, seem to have spent at least some of that span of years since doing the legwork ahead of this release.

State of Non Return on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp

Thief, Bleed, Memory

thief bleed memory

Writing and recording as a solo artist under the banner of Thief — there’s a band for stage purposes — Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dylan Neal (also Botanist) pulls back from the ’90s-attitudinal industrial and nü-metal flirtations of 2021’s The 16 Deaths of My Master (review here) and reroutes the purpose toward more emotive atmospheric ends. Sure, “Dead Coyote Dreams” still sneaks out of its house to smoke cigarettes at night, and that’s cool forever and you know it, but with an urgent beat behind it, “Cinderland” opens to a wash that is encompassing in ways Thief had little interest in being three years ago, despite working with largely similar elements blending electronica, synth, and organic instrumentation. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — holds that Neal‘s father’s onset of dementia inspired the turn, and that’s certainly reason enough if you need a reason, but if there’s processing taking place over the 12 inclusions and 44 minutes that Bleed, Memory spans, along with its allusions to James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, etc., that does not at all make the work feel anymore lost than it’s intended to be in the post-techno of “Paramnesia” or the wub-and-shimmer of “To Whom it May Concern” that rounds out. I’ll allow that being of a certain age might make it more relatable.

Thief on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Ravens, Ravens

ravens ravens

New Jersey’s Ravens mark their first public offering with this seven-song self-titled debut, spacious in its vocal echo and ostensibly led by riffs though that doesn’t necessarily mean the guitar is foremost in the mix throughout. The guitar/drum duo of Zack Kurland (Green Dragon, ex-Sweet Diesel, etc.) and drummer Chris Daly (Texas is the ReasonResurrection, etc.) emerges out of the trio Altered States with grounded rhythmic purpose beneath the atmospheric tones and vocal melodies, touching on pop in “Get On, Get On” while “New Speedway Boogie” struts with thicker tone and a less shoegazing intent than the likes of “To Whom You Were Born,” the languid “Miscommunication” and “Revolution 0,” though that two-minute piece ends with a Misfits-y vocal, so nothing is so black and white stylistically — a notion underscored as closer “Amen” builds from its All Them Witches-swaying meanderings to a full, driving wah-scorched wash to end off. Where they might be headed next, I have no idea, but if you can get on board with this one, the songs refuse to be sublimated to fit genre, and there are fewer more encouraging starts than that.

Ravens on Instagram

Ravens on Bandcamp

Spacedrifter, When the Colors Fade

Spacedrifter When the Colors Fade

Each of the 10 songs on Spacedrifter‘s first full-length, When the Colors Fade, works from its own intention, whether it’s the frenetic MondoGenerator thrust of “(Radio Edit)” or the touch of boogie in opener “Dwell,” but grunge and desert rock are at the root of much the proceedings, as the earliest-QOTSA fuzz of “Buried in Stone” will attest. But the scope of the whole is richer in hearing than on paper, and shifts like the layered vocal melodies in “Have a Girl” or the loose bluesy swing of the penultimate “NFOB,” the band’s willingness to let a part breathe without dwelling too long on any single idea, results in a balance that speaks to the open sensibilities of turn-of-the-century era European heavy without being a retread of those bands either. Comprised of bassist/vocalist/producer Olle Söderberg, drummer/vocalist Isac Löfgren guitarist/vocalist Adam Hante and guitarist John Söderberg, Spacedrifter‘s songwriting feels and organic in its scope and how it communes with the time before the “rules” of various microgenres were set, and is low-key refreshing not like an album you’re gonna hear a ton of hyperbole about, but one that’s going to stay with you longer than its 39 minutes, especially after you let it sink in over a couple listens. So yeah, I’m saying don’t be surprised when it’s on my year-end debuts list, blah blah whatever, but also watch out for how their sound develops from here.

Spacedrifter on Facebook

Spacedrifter on Bandcamp

Collyn McCoy, Night of the Bastard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Collyn McCoy Night of the Bastard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Assembled across varied movements of synthesizer ranging from half-a-minute to a bit under four minutes long, the score for the indie horror film Night of the Bastard finds L.A.’s Collyn McCoy (also of Circle of Sighs, bassist for Unida, etc.) performing under his experimental-and-then-some electronic alias Nyte Vypr, and if that doesn’t telegraph weirdness to come, well, you can just take my word for it that it should. I can’t claim to have seen the movie, which is reportedly available hither and yon in the clusterfuck that is the modern streamscape, but ’80s horror plays a big role in pieces like “Shards and Splinters” and the opening “Night of the Bastard” itself, while “If We Only Had Car Keys” and “Get Out” feel even more specifically John Carpenter in their beat and keyboard handclaps. Closer “The Sorceress” is pointedly terrifying, but “Turtle Feed” follows a drone and piano line to more peaceful ends that come across as far, far away from the foreboding soundscape of “Go Fuck Yourself.” Remember that part where I said it was going to get weird? It does, and it’s clearly supposed to, so mark it another win for McCoy‘s divergent CV.

Collyn McCoy website

Collyn McCoy on Bandcamp

Misleading, Face the Psych

Misleading Face the Psych

I hate to be that guy, but while Face the Psych is the third long-player from Portugal’s Misleading, it’s my first time hearing them, so I can’t help but feel like it’s worth noting that, in fact, they’re not that misleading at all. They tell you to face the psych and then, across seven cosmos-burning tracks and 54 minutes in an alternate dimension, you face it. Spoiler: it’s fucking rad. While largely avoiding the trap of oh-so-happening-right-now space metal, Misleading are perfectly willing to let themselves be carried where the flow of “Tutte le Nove Vite” takes them — church organ righteousness, bassy shuffle, jams that run in gravitational circles, and so on — and to shove and be shoved by the insistence of “Cheating Death” a short while later. The centerpiece “Spazio Nascoto” thickens up stonerized swing after a long intro of synth drone, and 12-minute capper “Egregore” feels like the entire song, not just the guitar and bass, has been put through the wah pedal. As likely to make you punchdrunk as entranced, willfully unhinged, and raw despite filling all the reaches of its mix and then some, it’s not so much misleading as leading-astray as you suddenly realize an hour later you’ve quit your job and dropped out of life, ne’er to be seen, heard from or hounded by debt collectors again. Congrats on that, by the way.

Misleading on Facebook

Misleading on Bandcamp

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

Friday Full-Length: Solace, Further

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 17th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The riff-mad scourge of the Jersey Shore, Solace made their full-length debut in 2000 through MeteorCity with the somewhat counterintuitively titled Further. What was then the four-piece of guitarist Tommy Southard, bassist Rob Hultz (now of Trouble), drummer Bill “Bixby” Belford and the vocalist I only ever knew by his first name, JasonSouthard and Hultz had been in punk bands together before their heavier post-grunge outfit Godspeed — whose lineup also featured Chris Kosnik pre-The Atomic Bitchwax and current Solace drummer Tim Schoenleber — were snagged in a major label cull by Atlantic Records (see also: Core) following the emergence of Monster Magnet. In 1994, they released their lone LP, Ride, toured with Black Sabbath and Cathedral, and collaborated with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden on the Nativity in Black tribute album. It was quite a time.

Solace was a different animal. And very definitely an animal. Further was preceded by the Jersey Devils EP (discussed here), which came out in 1999 through MeteorCity and Freebird Records as a split with fellow Garden Staters Solarized, as well as a demo tape (yes, a tape) and a two-songer 7″, but obviously its 53-plus minutes were the first deeper look at what they were about. Mostly volatility.

Were they punk? Hardcore? Metal? They could be righteously aggressive and noisy, roll on a riff for however long, or twist their way through polar shifts within the span of a song like “Black Unholy Ground” or charge through the scorching “Whistle Pig” before turning to acoustic-led melancholia on “Hungry Mother.” Further was likewise chaotic and dynamic, but it all somehow held together. Southard would prove to be the madman behind the madcap, but taken as a whole, Further feels untamed and willful, and when they hit it, the force of their delivery remains unto itself. I’m not going to pretend to be impartial about the band or this record, but after I don’t even want to guess how many times I’ve heard it, I’m still blindsided almost every time.

The seven-minutes-each “Mandog” and “Black Holy Ground” open, and “Followed,” which follows (ha.), tops eight, so by the time you’re three songs into it, it’s been about 25 minutes. And from the first punch of solace furtherHultz‘s bass as “Mandog” kicks in to the manic careening circa five minutes in, the shred and the way they seem to throw the song down the stairs as they enter the fade, it remains a signature piece. “Black Holy Ground” is tense in the drums and finds Jason brooding in the first verse, but malleable enough as a singer to carry that melody and move to a shoutier approach as the proceedings grow more intense. It all ends in a wash of noise, but before that, there’s that-era-Clutch-worthy nod and hardcore-punk forward thrust, and 24 years later you’re still kind of left wondering how it all holds together.

Because with some bands, it’s the bass or the drums keeping a central rhythm while the guitar goes off and does it’s thing. You hear that a lot. It’s the classic power trio modus. With Further, it’s not that Solace aren’t tight — if they weren’t, the album probably wouldn’t exist — but that it’s all-in on all-out. Everybody’s in on it. Maybe that applies to the vocals to a lesser extent, but even over the course of “Followed,” Jason ends up in a much different place than he began in topping the build first with subdued, low-mouth singing and barking out later for “Some semblance of self/Some semblance of love” before the cymbal wash leads into the finish. “Whistle Pig” and the later “Suspicious Tower” are shorter and more direct, but still dare the listener to keep up if they can, and on the other side of “Hungry Mother” awaits the tense plod of “Angels Dreaming,” which spends its first four minutes holding itself back tempo-wise before finally breaking free with what in a lot of contexts would be boogie but in Solace‘s hands becomes a sledge. And of course the solo nudges in on psychedelic territory before the big slowdown, because how could it not?

It’s not that Solace, even at this point, were ever lazy in songwriting or haphazard stylistically. Rest assured, they’ve always known precisely what they’re about; it’s who they are. And Further was cohesive — it’s not that Solace got pissed off, hit record and that was it. The record makes its own kind of sense, and its refusal to do otherwise or to compromise in persona or spirit is palpable, whether it’s “Hungry Mother” or “Suspicious Tower,” which starts with a sample from the 1962 sci-fi flick The Creation of the Humanoids, or the 11-minute “Heavy Birth/2-Fisted,” for which my brain still does a “holy shit here we go” every time it comes on. Aggro groove, a trippy middle with toms thudding away behind paid off by shred and a cacophonous but controlled assault to end its extended, sweeping course. I’m not sure how many other bands could even turn that into a song, let alone that one.

Tumult be thy name. Different editions of Further have bonus covers of Iron Maiden‘s “Another Life” and Misfits‘ “We Bite,” the latter of which feels like a better fit but both of which are thoroughly brought into Solace‘s own sound. And maybe that’s not such a surprise now, nearly a quarter-century after the fact with however many microgenres branched off from the core of heavy rock and roll, but the punk-metal Solace wrought on Further would remain a definitive presence in their subsequent work, whether it was 2003’s 13 (discussed here), the 2004 split with Greatdayforup that introduced Justin Daniels on yes-we-need-more guitar, or the fraught-in-the-making 2010 third album, A.D. (review here), after which they actually disbanded until coming back with a new lineup for the 2017 EP, Bird of Ill Omen (review here) and ensuing fourth full-length, The Brink (review here), which in all honesty I’ll tell you was something I didn’t imagine would ever actually happen until late-2019 when it did.

And what could be more Solace than that? The very definition of ‘you never know.’ Now fronted by Justin “Has a Surname” Goins, with Southard and Daniels on guitar, the aforementioned Schoenleber on drums and bassist Mike SicaSolace are slated to play next year’s Planet Desert Rock Weekend in Las Vegas, and whether it’s there or some dive in Asbury — they were the kings of Long Branch’s The Brighton Bar, sadly closed — I would encourage you heartily to witness first-hand what they bring to the stage when the opportunity presents itself. Fury like no other.

As always, I hope you enjoy. The band have been putting songs up one at a time through their catalog on their YouTube, if you want to hit that up.

How ’bout that Quarterly Review, huh? It’s a doozy, and if you missed it the other however-many times I said so, it’s only halfway over. 50 more reviews will roll out next Monday to Friday, so sit tight. Plenty more to come.

Tonight is the variety show for The Pecan’s school. It’s at the high school auditorium, kind of a big deal to the kids, blah blah. She’s doing a stand-up routine of math jokes. Killed at dress rehearsal. Brave, all that. Fine. It’s at 6PM, which because I’m in my 40s feels like a decent time for a show to start.

The Zelda saga continues in our home. We borrowed my nephew’s old GameCube so we could play The Wind Walker this week. Between The Patient Mrs. and I, I’m pretty sure someone has gotten hit in Zelda-related incidents the last three days in a row, so you can see how that’s going. Last night I got hit — hard — for falling in lava in whatever early-game dungeon it was, and just kind of shut down for the night. The Patient Mrs., prone to taking it all on herself anyway, stepped in and got the grappling hook, but yeah. Broadly speaking, it sucked. We had a good first night with it on Sunday, but then, the new thing is always an easy day.

Parenting.

We’re also shit-broke, so that’s a fun additional layer of stress. Turns out the impending Budapest trip cost all the money forever. Yay.

Have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna shower after dropoff, throw in a load of laundry and try to find some kind of breakfast that isn’t binge-eating cheese or almond/pecan butter. I’ll start setting up the next QR post for Monday and maybe do some listening, but the break is what I’m after, so the sooner I’m in it the better. Though the shower is imperative there as well.

Thanks for reading.

No merch up right now, but FRM anyway.

The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , ,

Oldest Sea Announce Tour with Aerial Ruin and More Live Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

There are a couple different sets of shows included below, so make sure you keep that in mind as you peruse live dates for Oldest Sea that are set to take place between basically now and July. First, Samantha Marandola will embark on a solo run in Colorado in New Mexico with Denver’s Allison Lorenzen, and in June, the full band will go a Midwestern/East Coast tour in the company of Portland, Oregon’s Aerial Ruin — but have a hometown-adjacent Philadelphia gig with Tribunal, Mares of Thrace and Hiroe slotted for before they go — and their two dates in Boston and D.C. with Have a Nice Life are similarly preceded by a Philly show, this one alongside Wailin Storms and Husbandry. Lest you doubt the pushing-against-genre-barriers intentions of their late-2023 debut, A Birdsong, a Ghost (review here), which, if you heard it, you probably weren’t anyway.

Well received as A Birdsong, a Ghost has been since its release on Darkest Records last December, it’s encouraging to see the band branching out regionally and beyond live. If you aren’t in a place/position to catch them at any of the dates that follow, keep an eye out. Hopefully there will be more to come.

Dig it:

oldest sea and aerial ruin tour poster sq

Says Samantha Marandola, “Erik (Aerial Ruin) and I have been tossing around the idea of touring for nearly two years, and to see it materialize is really exciting. With the exception of Philadelphia, we in Oldest Sea have never played these cities before, and I think it’s been seven or eight years since Aerial Ruin has played this region.”

All OS tour dates listed below:

Oldest Sea SOLO tour with Allison Lorenzen:

5/21 – Santa Fe, NM @ Ghost
5/22 – Taos, NM @ Revolt Gallery Courtyard
5/23 – Trinidad, CO @ Spirit Ditch
5/24 – Colorado Springs, CO – @ What’s Left Records w/ Midwife
5/25 – Denver, CO – @ Squirm Gallery
5/26 – Florence, CO – @ Desert Reef Hot Spring

OS + Aerial Ruin tour:

6/20 – Wheeling, WV @Waterfront Hall
6/21 – Akron, OH @ Buzzbin
6/22 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Brillobox
6/23 – Detroit, MI @ Parts and Labor
6/24 – Cleveland, OH @ No Class
6/25 – Baltimore, MD @ Undercroft
6/26 – York, PA @ The Kennel
6/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Meadow (Oldest Sea SOLO performance)

Have a Nice Life tour:

7/19 – Washington DC @ The Howard
7/21 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club

Philly Dates:

6/12 – @ PhilaMOCA w Tribunal, Mares of Thrace and Hiroe
7/12 – @ Milkboy w Wailin Storms and Husbandry

https://www.facebook.com/oldestsea
https://www.instagram.com/oldestsea/
https://oldestsea1.bandcamp.com/
https://linktr.ee/Oldestsea

https://darkestrecords.bandcamp.com/

Oldest Sea, “Sacred Destruction” official video

Oldest Sea, A Birdsong, A Ghost (2023)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monster Magnet Announce 35th Anniversary Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

I know the various eras of Monster Magnet have their fans, but what to me undebatable about the long-running New Jersey-based heavy rock progenitors is the impact they’ve had across the span of their career. Whichever of their records is your favorite — their most recent outing, 2022’s demo-comp Test Patterns: Vol. 1, rawly highlighted the unhinged early cosmic weirdness of “TAB” in the band’s formative state as the trio of Dave Wyndorf, Tim Cronin and John McBain — you would have a hard time overstating their contribution to rock and roll, period, broadening the scope of post-grunge commercialism with hard riffs and due sneer in the later-’90s after emerging from the roots presented on Test Patterns to cast a singular mold of heavy space and psychedelic rock earlier in that decade.

Through the tumult of lineup changes, addiction, a couple ultimately-middling-but-still-smarter-than-everybody LPs and more besides in the ’00s, and a 2010s that included some of their most accomplished work in bringing together the styles explored in disparate succession prior, Wyndorf has steered Monster Magnet to grandmaster status. As they celebrate the 35th anniversary of the band later this year with a European tour built around previously-announced headliner slots at Madrid, Spain’s KristonfestUp in Smoke in Switzerland and Desertfest Belgium in Antwerp, I find myself most of all hoping that the 1989-2024 logo featured on the poster below ends up on a t-shirt at some non-bootleg merch outlet. And as I was lucky enough to see what I think is still the current incarnation of the band — Wyndorf on vocals/guitar alongside six-stringers Phil Caivano and Garrett SweeneyBob Pantella on drums, Alec Morton on bass — last year headlining Desertfest New York (review here), I can only advise catching them when and if you can whether you’ve seen them before or not. At some point, Dave Wyndorf is gonna get sick of this shit. Clearly he’s not there yet, but it could happen.

Dates are on the poster (in the old days, you used to get a press release about this kind of thing, but don’t let me complain) below, along with the note about tickets going on sale this Friday.

Right on:

Monster Magnet 35th Anniversary Tour

Announcing – Monster Magnet 35th Anniversary Tour: 1989-2024
Tickets On-sale: Fri 10 May 2024 (10am CEST / 9am BST).

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, Test Patterns: Vol. 1 (2022)

Tags: , ,

Patriarchs in Black Sign to Metalville Records; New Album This Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Just five months out — to the day — from the Oct. 6, 2023, release of their second album, My Veneration (review here), Patriarchs in Black announce they’ve signed with Metalville Records (home to The QuillSiena Root, and scores of others) to issue their third LP this summer. And even if that turned into Fall — note “should” below — that’s still just a year from the sophomore LP and a pretty quick turnaround for the project that has its core duo in guitarist/songwriter Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Vessel of Light, etc.) and drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O NegativeDanzig, etc.), as well as on-pace with their debut, Reach for the Scars, which came out in 2022.

Coordinating between Kelly and Lorenzo would be plenty, but the range of guest players and singers continued to expand on My Veneration, with Karl Agell (currently of Lie Heavy and Legions of Doom, also ex-C.O.C. for the Blind album) and Mark Sunshine (now also in Unida, once signed to Metalville with RiotGod) contributing vocals along with Darryl McDaniels from Run-DMC, and bass work from JD DeServio of Black Label SocietyDave Neabore from Dog Eat Dog, and others. Putting out a record every year when everybody lives in the same house is one thing. I know working remote has become easier, but there are a lot of threads to align in Patriarchs in Black, and man, email is a pain in the ass. You might be that doomed too if you were trying to digitally chase down bassists and vocalists from various continental corners.

But that oldschool urgency is part of who Patriarchs in Black are, so I have not the slightest doubt the follow-up to My Veneration will manifest sooner than later. The PR wire brought the signing announcement ahead of later details of the recording and release. My favorite part is when Lorenzo, in all-caps for emphasis, says it’s, “FUN FUN FUN.” No doubt that’s a very particular idea of a good time, but it’s one I share.

Dig:

patriarchs in black

PATRIARCHS IN BLACK sign with METALVILLE, prepare new album for summer – features members of DANZIG, TYPE O NEGATIVE, HADES

Today, Metalville Records announces the signing of Patriarchs in Black. The first fruit of this union shall be the band’s highly anticipated third album, which should see international release this summer.

Former Type O Negative / Danzig drummer Johnny Kelly and guitarist / riff writer Dan Lorenzo (Hades, ex-Non-Fiction) formed Patriarchs In Black at the end of 2021. The project included well-known guests on vocals and bass, including Karl Agell ( COC Blind / Lie Heavy) , Jimmy Gnecco, Dewey Bragg ( Kill Devil Hill / Bill Ward) among others. Their debut single “Demon of Regret” came out January 2022, and the debut album Reach For The Scars was released on July 1st, 2022. Their second album, My Veneration, was on October 6th, 2023 with multiple guest vocalists and bassists.

For the forthcoming third studio album (and first for Metalville), Dan Lorenzo has already written ten new songs. As always, Johnny Kelly on drums and lots of amazing singers and bassists will contribute. “It’s SO fun, and not putting too much pressure on singers to come up with one or two amazing lyrics and melodies a year. I write a LOT of riffs / music. Our third album came together very easily. FUN FUN FUN,” says Dan.

More Patriarchs in Black news to be announced shortly. For more info, consult the links below.

https://instagram.com/patriarchsinblack
https://patriarchsinblack.bandcamp.com/

www.metalville.de
www.facebook.com/metalville

Patriarchs in Black, My Veneration (2023)

Tags: , , ,

Quarterly Review: Lord Dying, Black Glow, Cracked Machine, Per Wiberg, Swell O, Cower, HORSEN3CK, Troll Teeth, Black Ocean’s Edge, SONS OF ZÖKU

Posted in Reviews on February 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

A word about the image above. ‘AI art’ has become a thing people argue about on the internet. Like everything. Fine. I made the above image with a prompt through whatever Microsoft is calling its bot this week and got what I wanted. I didn’t have to talk to anyone or pay anyone in anything more than the personal data you compromise every time you use the internet for anything, and it was done. I could never draw, but when I finished, I felt like I’d at least taken part in some way in making this thing. And telling a computer what to make and seeing what it gets right and wrong is fascinating. You might feel a bit like you’re painting with words, which as someone who could never draw but could construct a sentence, I can appreciate.

I’m a big supporter of human creativity, and yes, corporations who already hold creative professionals — writers, editors, graphic designers, etc. — in such outward contempt will be only too happy to replace them with robots. I was there when magazines died; I know how that goes. But instead of being reactionaries and calling for never-gonna-happen-anyway bans, isn’t it maybe worth acknowledging that there’s no going back in time, that AI art isn’t going anywhere, and that it might just have valid creative uses? I don’t feel like I need to defend myself for making or using the image above, but I did try to get a human artist first and it didn’t work out. In the hard reality of limited minutes, how much should I really chase when there’s an easier way to get what I want? And how much can people be expected to live up to that shifting moral obligation in the long term?

The future will laugh at us, inevitably, either way. And fair enough with the world we’re leaving them.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Lord Dying, Clandestine Transcendence

Lord Dying Clandestine Transcendence

While bearing the tonal force of their roots in doom, Portland’s Lord Dying have nonetheless willfully become a crucial purveyor of forward-thinking death metal, driven by extremity but refusing to subdue its own impulses to fit with genre. At 12 songs and an hour’s runtime, Clandestine Transcendence neither is nor is supposed to be a minor undertaking, but with a melodic declaration in “Unto Becoming” that’ll elicit knowing nods from Virus fans and a mentality of creative reach that’s worthy of comparison to EnslavedLord Dying showcase mastery of the style the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Erik Olson, guitarist Chris Evans, bassist/vocalist Alyssa Maucere and drummer Kevin Swartz explored with vigilance on 2019’s Mysterium Tremendum (review here), and an ability to depart from aggression without losing their intensity or impact on “Dancing on the Emptiness” or in the payoff of “Break in the Clouds (In the Darkness of Our Minds).” They may be headed toward too-weird-for-everybody megaprogmetal ultimately, but the challenges-to-stylistic-homogeny of their material are only part of what gives Clandestine Transcendence its crux, and in fostering the call-and-response onslaught of “Facing the Incomprehensible” alongside the epic reach of “A Bond Broken by Death,” they cast their own mold as unique within or without of the heavy underground sphere.

Lord Dying on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Black Glow, Black Glow

black glow black glow

The late-2023 self-titled debut from Black Glow marks a new beginning for Monterrey, Mexico, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Gina Rios, formerly of Spacegoat, and something of a creative redirect, taking on a sound that is less indebted to boogie and classic doom but that has clearly learned the lessons of its influences. Also credited with producing (Victor “KB” Velazquez recorded, mixed and mastered, which doesn’t invalidate the credit), Rios is a strong enough performer to carry the five-song EP/short-LP on her own, but thankfully bassist Oscar Saucedo and drummer Octavio Diliegros bring tonal fullness to the breadth of atmosphere in the rolling closer “Obscured Jail,” reaching past seven minutes with fluidity that adds to Black Glow‘s aspects of purpose and craft, which are significant despite being the band’s first outing. As a vehicle for Rios‘ songwriting, Black Glow sound immediately like they can evolve in ways Spacegoat likely couldn’t or wouldn’t have, and that prospect is all the more enticing with the accomplishments displayed here.

Black Glow on Facebook

Black Glow on Bandcamp

Cracked Machine, Wormwood

Cracked Machine Wormwood

Between the leadoff of “Into the Chronosphere” and “The Glowing Sea,” “Return to Antares,” “Burning Mountain” and “Desert Haze,” UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine aren’t short on destinations for the journey that is their fourth full-length, Wormwood, but with more angular texturing on “Eigenstate” and the blend of tonal float — yes, even the bass — and terrestrial groove wrought in the closing title-track, the band manage to emphasize plot as well as a sense of freedom endemic to jam-born heavy psychedelia. That is to say, as second cut “Song of Artemis” gives brooding reply to the energetic “Into the Chronosphere,” which is loosely krautrocky in its dug-in feel and exploratory as part of that, they are not trying to pretend this material just happened. Layers of effects and a purposeful reach between its low and high ends in the solo of “The Glowing Sea” — with the drums holding the two together, as one would hope — and subsequent section of standalone guitar as the start of a linear build that spreads wide sonically rather than overpowering with volume speaks to a dynamic that’s about more than just loud or quiet, and the keyboard holding notes in the culmination of “Burning Mountain” is nothing if not purposeful in its shimmering resonance. They may be headed all over the place, but I think that’s just a sign Cracked Machine know how to get there.

Cracked Machine on Facebook

Cracked Machine on Bandcamp

Per Wiberg, The Serpent’s Here

PER WIBERG The Serpent's Here cover

Currently also of Kamchatka and Spiritual Beggars and maybe Switchblade, the career arc of Per Wiberg (also ex-Opeth, live work and/or studio contributions for Candlemass, Grand Magus, Arch Enemy, mostly on keys or organ) varies widely in style within a heavy sphere, and it should be no surprise that his solo work is likewise multifaceted. Following on from 2021’s EP, All Is Well In the Land of the Living But for the Rest of Us… Lights Out (review here), the six-song and 41-minute (seven/47 with the bonus track Warrior Soul cover “The Losers”) finds cohesion in a thread of progressive styles that allows Wiberg to explore what might be a Gary Numan influence in the verses of “The Serpent’s Here” itself while emerging with a heavy, catchy and melodic chorus marked by a driving riff. The eight-minute “Blackguards Stand Silent” works in movements across a structural departure as the rhythm section of Mikael Tuominen (Kungens Män) and drummer Tor Sjödén (Viagra Boys) get a subtle workout, and “He Just Disappeared” pushes into the cinematic on a patient line of drone, a contemplative departure after the melancholic piano of “This House is Someone Else’s Now” that allows “Follow the Unknown” to cap the album-proper with a return to the full-band feel and a pointed grace of keys and synth, clearly working to its creator’s own high standard.

Per Wiberg on Facebook

Despotz Records website

Swell O, Morning Haze

Swell O Morning Haze

Bremen, Germany’s Swell O released their apparently-recorded-in-a-day debut album, Morning Haze, in Feb. 2023 and followed with a vinyl release this past Fall on Clostridium Records, and if there’s anything clouding their vision as regards songwriting, it didn’t make it onto the record. Proffering solid, engaging, festival-ready desert-style heavy rock, “Hitchhiker” sweeps down the open highway of its own riff while “Black Cat” tips hat to Fu Manchu, the title-track veers into pop-punkish uptempoism in a way “Shine Through” contrasts with less shove and more ambience. The seven-minute “Summit” extrapolates a lean toward the psychedelic from Kyussian foundations, but the crux on Morning Haze is straightforward and aware of where it wants its songs to be aesthetically. It’s not a revolution in that regard, but it’s not supposed to be, and for all its in-genre loyalism, Morning Haze demonstrates an emergent persona in the modernized ’90s fuzz-crunch semi-blowout of “Venom” at the end, which wraps a salvo that started with “Hitchhiker” and lets Swell O make the most of their over-quickly 31-minute first LP.

Swell O on Facebook

Clostridium Records store

Cower, Celestial Devastation

cower celestial devastation

Accounting for everything from goth to post-hardcore to the churn of Godflesh in an encompassing interpretation of post-punk, London outfit Cower could fill this space with pedigree alone and manage to nonetheless make a distinct impression across the nine songs of Celestial Devastation. Organic and sad on “We Need to Have the Talk,” inorganic and sad on “Hard-Coded in the Souls of Men,” electronic anti-chic before the guitar surge in “Buffeted by Solar Winds,” and bringing fresh perspective to Kataonia-style depressive metal in “Aging Stallions,” it’s a album that willfully shirks genre — a few of them, actually — in service to its songs, as between the software-driven title-track and the downer-New-Wave-as-doom centerpiece “Deathless and Free,” Cower embark on an apparent critique of tech as integrated into current life (though I can’t find a lyric sheet) and approach from seemingly divergent angles without losing track of the larger picture of the LP’s atmosphere. Celestial Devastation is the second album from the trio, comprised of Tom Lacey, Wayne Adams (who also produced, as he will) and Gareth Thomas. Expect them to continue to define and refine this style as they move forward, and expect it to become even more their own than it is here. A band like this, if they last, almost can’t help but grow.

Cower’s Linktr.ee

Human Worth on Bandcamp

HORSEN3CK, Heavy Spells

horsen3ck heavy spells

Boston’s HORSEN3CK, who’ve gone all-caps and traded their second ‘e’ for a ‘3’ since unveiling the included-here “Something’s Broken” as a debut standalone single this January, make a rousing four-song statement of intent even as the lineup shifts from piece to piece around the core duo of Tim Catz and Jeremy Hemond, best known together for their work as the rhythm section of Roadsaw. With their maybe-not-right-now bandmate Ian Ross adding guitar to “Something’s Broken” and a different lead vocalist on each song, Heavy Spells has inherent variety even before “Haunted Heart” exalts its darker mood with pulls reminiscent of Alice in Chains‘ “Frogs.” With Catz taking a turn on vocals, “Golden Ghost” is punk under its surface class, and though “Haunted Heart” grows in its crescendo, its greater impact is in the vibe, which is richer for the shift in approach. “Thirst” rounds out with a particular brashness, but nowhere HORSEN3CK go feels even vaguely out of their reach. Alright guys. Concept proved, now go do a full-length. When they do, I’ll be intrigued to see if the lineup solidifies.

HORSEN3CK on Facebook

HORSEN3CK on Bandcamp

Troll Teeth, Sluagh Vol. 1

troll teeth sluagh vol. 1

New Jersey doom rockers Troll Teeth‘s stated goal with Sluagh Vol. 1 was to find a sound the character of which would be defined in part by its rawer, retro-styled recording. The resultant four-song outing, which was their second EP of 2023 behind Underground Vol. 1, doesn’t actually veer into vintage-style ’70s worship, but lives up to the premise just the same in its abiding rawness. “3 Shots for a 6 Shooter” brings a Queens of the Stone Age-style vocal melody over an instrumental that’s meaner than anything that band ever put to tape, while nine-minute opener “1,000 Ton Brick” feels very clearly titled in honor of its own roll. It might be the heaviest stretch on the EP but for the rumbling low distortion spliced in among the psychedelic unfolding of 16-minute closer “Purgatory,” which submerges the listener in its course after “Here Lies” seems to build and build and build through the entirety of its still-hooky execution. With its title referencing the original name of the band and a focus on older material, the rougher presentation suits the songs, though it’s not like there’s a pristine “1,000 Ton Brick” out there to compare it to. Whether there will be at Sluagh Vol. 2 at any point, I don’t know, but even the intentionality of realizing his material in the recording process argues in favor of future revisits.

Troll Teeth on Facebook

Electric Talon Records store

Black Ocean’s Edge, Call of the Sirens

black ocean's edge (Photo by Matija Kasalo)

Celebrating their own dark side in the opener “Wicked Voice,” German heavy rockers Black Ocean’s Edge keep the proceedings relatively friendly on Call of the Sirens, their debut long-player behind 2022’s Dive Deep EP, at least as regards accessibility and the catchiness of their craft. Vibrant and consistent in tone, the Ulm four-piece find room for the classic rock of “Leather ‘n’ Velvet” and the that-might-be-actual-flute-laced prog-psych payoff of “Lion in a Cage” between the second two of the three parts that comprise the title-track, which departs from the heavy blues rock of “Drift” or “Cold Black Water,” which is the centerpiece and longest inclusion at 7:43 and sets its classic-heavy influences to work with a forward-looking perspective. At 42 minutes and nine tracks, Call of the Sirens feels professional in how it reaches out to its audience, and it leaves little to doubt from Black Ocean’s Edge as regards songwriting, production or style. They may refine and sharpen their approach over time, and with these songs as where they’re coming from, they’ll be in that much better position to hit the ears of the converted.

Note: this album is out in April and I couldn’t find cover art. Band photo above is by Matija Kasalo.

Black Ocean’s Edge on Facebook

Black Ocean’s Edge on Bandcamp

SONS OF ZÖKU, ËNDL​Ë​SS

sons of zoku endless

If an album could ask you, musically, why you’re in such a hurry — and not like hurrying to work, really in a hurry, like in how you live — the mellow psych and acid folk proffered by Adelaide, Australia’s SONS OF ZÖKU on their second full-length, ËNDL​Ë​SS, might just be doing that. Don’t take that to mean the album is still or staid though, because they’re not through “Moonlight” after the intro before the bass gets funky behind all that serene melody, and when you’re worshiping the sun that’s all the more reason to dance by the moon. Harmonies resonate in “Earth Chant” (and all around) atop initially quiet guitar noodling, and the adventures in arrangement continue in the various chimes and percussion instruments, the touch of Easternism in “Kuhnoo” and the keyboard-fueled melodic payoff to the pastoralism of “Hunters.” With flute and a rhythmic delivery to its group vocal, “O Saber” borders on the tribal, while “Yumi” digs on cosmic prog insistence in a way that calls to mind the underappreciated Death Hawks and finds its way in a concluding instrumental stretch that doesn’t lose its spontaneous feel despite being more cogent than improv generally comes across. “Lonesome Tale” is a melancholy-vibe-reprise centered around acoustic guitar and “Nu Poeme” gives a sense of grandeur that is unto itself without going much past four minutes in the doing. Such triumphs are rare more broadly but become almost commonplace as SONS OF ZÖKU set their own context with a sound harnessing the inspiration of decades directing itself toward an optimistic future.

SONS OF ZÖKU on Facebook

Copper Feast Records store

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

SOMA to Release Burning is Learning March 19; New Single “Shivranjani” Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

soma

It is a little known fact outside of the region and the culture, but the place where I grew up and now reside, Parsippany, New Jersey, is an epicenter of South Asian immigration. At this point, multiple generations of immigrants from all over the Indian subcontinent have made their home here, and form an essential part of the community. The town celebrates Diwaali. There are badass Indian grocery stores all the way down Rt. 46 to Lake Hiawatha, and because it’s still Northern New Jersey, you might find a spot offering tandoori chicken pizza, representative in some way of the American dream of cultural meld as well as the country’s need to turn every food into an unhealthier version of itself.

I’m not sure where SOMA are from in my beloved Garden State — which has its flaws and corruptions like most places but is my home — but it makes sense to me somehow that a bunch of guys from punk and metal roots might end up exploring traditional Indian devotional music in their psychedelia. Following behind 2022’s Shiva/Shakti, the upcoming Burning is Learning is their second album. It was recorded by Monster Magnet‘s Phil Caivano, mastered by John McBain, and will be released through Centripetal Force on March 19 like the headline says. The first single from the album is “Shivranjani,” and the scale for which it’s named indeed comes from Hindustani classical music, about which I’ll tell you outright that, despite living in an enclave, I’m almost entirely ignorant. That’s what I get for going to school in the next town over.

The PR wire brings words and sounds. Dig in:

soma burning is learning

SOMA’s “Shivranjani” releases February 15, 2024

Centripetal Force announces the release of SOMA’s “Shivranjani,” the first track released from the forthcoming album Burning is Learning, a collection of sacred hymns, spellbinding dirges, and a little bit of mystical meandering.

According to the band, “Contained within ‘Shivranjani’ are notes reflecting that Bliss, an existence without concept or form. It is performed in honor of the unblemished consciousness of Infinite Goodness, the most Terrible, and the most Benevolent. It is a song offered to whom is born every day, yet has never been created nor destroyed.”

Burning is Learning is being presented in a 200 copy vinyl pressing. The album will also be available digitally. The release date for Burning is Learning is March 19, 2024.

A limited number of vinyl preorders will include artist prints of both the front and back covers, as painted by Robert Ryan (front cover) and Kevin Craig (back cover).

SOMA (Sacred Order of Mystic Apogees) is a group of multi-instrumentalists from New Jersey with deep roots in the DIY hardcore punk and heavy metal scenes of the area. They consider their music to be eclectic and sacred, with much of their musical approach grounded in traditions most associated with Pakistan and India. Burning is Learning is their second album.

Preorders for the vinyl digital, will go live at midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on February 15th.

https://www.facebook.com/somakirtan/
https://www.instagram.com/soma_kirtan/
https://somakirtan.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/centripetalforcerecords
https://www.instagram.com/centripetalforcerecords/
https://www.centripetalforcerecords.com/

SOMA, Burning is Learning (2024)

SOMA, “Om Namo Bhagavate Ramakrishnaya” Live in New York

Tags: , , , ,

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

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

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

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

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Tortuga, Iterations

TORTUGA Iterations

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

Tortuga on Facebook

Napalm Records website

Spidergawd, VII

spidergawd vii

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

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website

Morag Tong, Grieve

Morag Tong Grieve

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

Morag Tong on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

Conny Ochs, Wahn Und Sinn

Conny Ochs Wahn Und Sinn

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

Conny Ochs on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream website/a>

Ritual King, The Infinite Mirror

ritual king the infinite mirror

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

Ritual King on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Oldest Sea, A Birdsong, A Ghost

oldest sea a birdsong a ghost cropped

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

Oldest Sea on Facebook

Darkest Records on Bandcamp

Dim Electrics, Dim Electrics

dim electrics dim electrics

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

Dim Electrics on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Mountain of Misery, In Roundness

Mountain of Misery In Roundness

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

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Aawks, Luna

aawks luna

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

Aawks on Facebook

Black Throne Productions website

Kaliyuga Express, Warriors & Masters

Kaliyuga Express Warriors and Masters

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

Kaliyuga Express on Facebook

Riot Season Records store

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