White Hills Set Aug. 23 Release for Beyond This Fiction; “Killing Crimson” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

White Hills (Photo by Pierre Auntour)

Check out that stomp in White Hills‘ new single “Killing Crimson,” and the weirdo-skronk guitar lead that bleep-bloops over the lower tone that follows the verse like you put proto-punk in a cosmic taffy pull. The long-running-but-what-is-time-anyway New York two-piece are set to issue Beyond This Fiction on Aug. 23 as the first all-new studio release through their own label, Heads on Fire Records behind 2022’s The Revenge of Heads on Fire (review here) semi-redux, and “Killing Crimson” finds Dave W. and Ego Sensation with vocals at the fore, catchy but still very much in their own place sonically as they reliably are.

Of course, Beyond This Fiction doesn’t just do one thing in terms of sound, and “Killing Crimson” is probably the most direct and forward beat they’ve got in the seven tracks, but if you’d expect White Hills to be sonically monochromatic, you’ve got the wrong band. We’ve got a bit before the album is out, but the announcement and single stream are below. Dig in and drop out:

white hills beyond this fiction

White Hills Blast Open Reality Altering Vortex With New Album Beyond This Fiction

Hear “Killing Crimson”: https://linktr.ee/WHITEHILLS

NYC’s notorious shapeshifting duo White Hills will unleash their philosophy influenced album Beyond This Fiction this summer on Heads On Fire Records. Inspired by the ideas of Joseph Campbell, the writer/philosopher known for The Power of Myth, the album explores the idea of “riding between opposites”- forging one’s own path unrestrained by the collective “fiction” that the masses subscribe to. It’s a cry to all the seers among us- call us outsiders or rebels- who feel smothered by convention and see nonconformity as the gateway into divine mystery.

Recorded with longtime collaborator Martin Bisi, known for his iconic NYC sound developed through his work with no-wave titans Sonic Youth, Swans and Lydia Lunch, Beyond This Fiction sees Dave W (guitar/vocals/synths) and Ego Sensation (drums/bass/vocals) orchestrating their distinct guitar heavy meditations into songs with a stronger focus on vocals than previous albums. Neo-psychedelia, indie, post-punk, shoegaze and experimental elements synthesize leading the listener through the doors of perception. Harnessing the seductive accessibility of 2015’s Walks For Motorists while evoking the tempestuous soul of the band’s trailblazing 2011 H-p1, White Hills make Beyond This Fiction a familiar surprise.

For nearly two decades, White Hills have been blowing minds with their sonic alchemy: a unique mix at once original and recognizable. Their cult reputation emblazoned in celluloid following their performance in Jim Jarmusch’s sultry vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive, the duo has toured vigorously since their inception. With a vast catalogue that astounds and a relentless punk ethos, time seems to energize the duo, making them increasingly daring and prolific.

Artist: White Hills
Album Title: Beyond This Fiction
Label: Heads on Fire Records
Release Date: August 23, 2024

Beyond This Fiction (Track Listing)
1) Throw It Up in The Air
2) Clear As Day
3) Killing Crimson
4) Fiend
5) Closer
6) The Awakening
7) Beyond This Fiction

WHITE HILLS:
Dave W. – guitar, vocals, synth
Ego Sensation – drums, bass, vocals

http://www.whitehillsband.com
http://www.facebook.com/WHITEHILLSBand
http://www.instagram.com/whitehillsmusic
http://whitehills.bandcamp.com/music
http://www.youtube.com/whitehillsband
http://www.tiktok.com/@whitehillsband
http://www.patreon.com/whitehills

White Hills, “Killing Crimson”

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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

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, My Dying Bride, Masonic Wave, Bismarck, Sun Moon Holy Cult, Daily Thompson, Mooch, The Pleasure Dome, Slump, Green Hog Band

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

Welcome back to the Quarterly Review. Good weekend? Restful? Did you get out and see some stuff? Did you loaf and hang out on the couch? There are advantages to either, to be sure. Friday night I watched my daughter (and a literal 40 other performers, no fewer than four of whom sang and/or danced to the same Taylor Swift song) do stand-up comedy telling math jokes at her elementary school variety show. She’s in kindergarten, she likes math, and she killed. Nice little moment for her, if one that came as part of a long evening generally.

The idea this week is the same as last week: 50 releases covered across five days. Put the two weeks together and the Spring 2024 Quarterly Review — which I’m pretty sure is what I called the one in March as well; who cares? — runs 100 strong. I’ll be traveling, some with family, some on my own, for a bit in the coming months, so this is a little bit my way of clearing my slate before that all happens, but it’s always satisfying to dig into so much and get a feel for what different acts are doing, try and convey some of that as directly as I can. If you’re reading, thanks. If this is the first you’re seeing of it and you want to see more, you can either scroll down or click here.

Either way, off we go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Adrift/Tending the Embers

pelican adrift tending the embers

Chicago (mostly-)instrumentalist stalwarts Pelican haven’t necessarily been silent since 2019’s Nighttime Stories (review here), with a digital live release in Spring 2020, catalog reissues on Thrill Jockey, a couple in-the-know covers posted and shows hither and yon, but the stated reason for the two-songer EP Adrift/Tending the Embers is to raise funds ahead of recording what will be their seventh album in a career now spanning more than 20 years. In addition to that being a cause worth supporting — they’re on the second pressing; 200 blue tapes — the two new original tracks “Adrift” (5:48) and “Tending the Embers” (4:26) reintroduce guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec as a studio presence alongside guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg. Recorded by the esteemed Sanford Parker, neither cut ranges too far conceptually from the band’s central modus bringing together heavy groove with lighter/brighter reach of guitar, but come across like a tight, more concise encapsulation of earlier accomplishments. There’s a certain amount of comfort in that as they surf the crunching, somehow-noise-rock-inspired riff of “Adrift,” sounding refreshed in their purpose in a way that one hopes they can carry into making the intended LP.

Pelican website

Pelican on Bandcamp

My Dying Bride, A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride A Mortal Binding

Something of a harsher take on A Mortal Binding, which is the 15th full-length from UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride, as well as their second for Nuclear Blast behind 2020’s lush The Ghost of Orion (review here. The seven-song/55-minute offering from the masters of misery derives its character in no small part from the front-mixed vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who from opener “Her Dominion” onward, switches between his morose semi-spoken approach, woeful as ever, and dry-throated harsher barks. And that the leadoff is all-screams feels like a purposeful choice as that rasp returns in the second half of “The 2nd of Three Bells,” the 11-minute “The Apocalyptist,” “A Starving Heart” and the ending section of closer “Crushed Embers.” I don’t know when the last time a My Dying Bride LP sounded so roiling, but it’s been a minute. The duly morose riffing of founding guitarist Andrew Craighan unites this outwardly nastier aspect with the more melodic “Thornwyck Hymn,” “Unthroned Creed” and the rest that isn’t throatripper-topped, but with returning producer Mark Mynett, the band has clearly honed in on a more stripped-down, still-room-for-violin approach, and it works in just about everything but the drums, which sound triggered/programmed in the way of modern metal. It remains easy to get caught in the band’s wretched sweep, and I’ll note that it’s a rare act who can surprise you 15 records later.

My Dying Bride website

Nuclear Blast webstore

Masonic Wave, Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave‘s self-titled debut is the first public offering from the Chicago-based five-piece with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Led Zeppelin II, etc.) on vocals, and though “Justify the Cling” has a kind of darker intensity in its brooding first-half ambience, what that build and much besides throughout the eight-song offering leads to is a weighted take on post-hardcore that earlier pieces “Bully” and “Tent City” present in duly confrontational style before “Idle Hands” (the longest inclusion at just under eight minutes) digs into a similar explore-till-we-find-the-payoff ideology and “Julia” gnashes through noise-rock teethkicking. Some of the edge-of-the-next-outburst restlessness cast by Lamont, guitarists Scott Spidale and Sean Hulet, bassist Fritz Doreza and drummer Clayton DeMuth reminds of Chat Pile‘s arthouse disillusion, but “Nuzzle Up” has a cyclical crunch given breadth through the vocal melody and the sax amid the multiple angles and sharp corners of the penultimate “Mountains of Labor” are a clue to further weirdness to come before “Bamboozler” closes with heads-down urgency before subtly branching into a more spacious if still pointedly unrelaxed culmination. No clue where it might all be headed, but that’s part of the appeal as Masonic Wave‘s Sanford Parker-produced 39 minutes play out, the songs engaging almost in spite of themselves.

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Bismarck, Vourukasha

BISMARCK VOURUKASHA

There are shades of latter-day Conan (whose producer/former bassist Chris Fielding mixed here) in the vocal trades and mega-toned gallop of opening track “Sky Father,” which Bismarck expand upon with the more pointedly post-metallic “Echoes,” shifting from the lurching ultracrush into a mellower midsection before the blastbeaten crescendo gives over to rumble and the hand-percussion-backed whispers of the intro to “Kigal.” Their first for Dark Essence, the six-song/35-minute Vourukasha follows 2020’s Oneiromancer (review here) and feels poised in its various transitions between consuming aural heft and leaving that same space in the mix open for comparatively minimal exploration. “Kigal” takes on a Middle Eastern lean and stays unshouted/growled for its five-plus minutes — a choice that both works and feels purposeful — but the foreboding drone of interlude “The Tree of All Seeds” comes to a noisy head as if to warn of the drop about to take place in the title-track, which flows through its initial movement with an emergent float of guitar that leads into its own ambient middle ahead of an engrossing, duly massive slowdown/payoff worthy of as much volume as it can be given. Wrapping with the nine-minute “Ocean Dweller,” they summarize what precedes on Vourukasha while shifting the structure as an extended, vocal-inclusive-at-the-front soundscape bookends around one more huge, slow-marching, consciousness-flattening procession. Extremity refined.

Bismarck on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website

Sun Moon Holy Cult, Sun Moon Holy Cult

Sun Moon Holy Cult Sun Moon Holy Cult

That fact that Sun Moon Holy Cult exist on paper as a band based in Tokyo playing a Sabbath-boogie-worshiping, riff-led take on heavy rock with a song like “I Cut Your Throat” leading off their self-titled debut makes a Church of Misery comparison somewhat inevitable, but the psych jamming around the wah-bass shuffle of “Out of the Dark,” longer-form structures, the vocal melodies and the Sleep-style march of “Savoordoom” that grows trippier as it delves further into its 13 minutes distinguish the newcomer four-piece of vocalist Hakuka, guitarist Ryu, bassist Ame and drummer Bato across the four-song LP’s 40 minutes. Issued through Captured Records and SloomWeep Productions, Sun Moon Holy Cult brings due bombast amid the roll of “Mystic River” as well, hitting its marks stylistically while showcasing the promise of a band with a clear idea of what they want their songs to do and perhaps how they want to grow over time. If this is to be the foundation of that growth, watch out.

Sun Moon Holy Cult on Instagram

Captured Records website

SloomWeep Productions on Bandcamp

Daily Thompson, Chuparosa

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

Dortmund, Germany’s Daily Thompson made their way to Port Orchard, Washington, to record Chuparosa with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed at the helm, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist/vocalist Mercedes Lalakakis and drummer/vocalist Thorsten Stratmann bring a duly West Coast spirit to “I’m Free Tonight” and the grunge-informed roll of “Diamond Waves” and the verses of “Raindancer.” The former launches the 36-minute outing with a pointedly Fu Manchuian vibe, but the start-stops, fluid roll and interplay of vocals from Zaremba and Lalakakis lets “Pizza Boy” move in its own direction, and the brooding acoustic start of “Diamond Waves” and more languid wash of riff in the chorus look elsewhere in ’90s alternativism for their basis. The penultimate “Ghost Bird” brings in cigar-box guitar and dares some twang amid all the fuzz, but as “Raindancer” has already branched out with its quieter bassy midsection build and final desert-hued thrust, the album can accommodate such a shift without any trouble. The title-track trades between wistful grunge verses and a fuller-nodding hook, from which the three-piece take off for the bridge, thankfully returning to the chorus in Chuparosa‘s big finish. The manner in which the whole thing brims with purpose makes it seem like Daily Thompson knew exactly what they were going for in terms of sound, so I guess you could say it was probably worth the trip.

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website

Mooch, Visions

mooch visions

Kicking off with the markedly Graveyardian “Hangtime,” Mooch ultimately aren’t content to dwell solely in a heavy-blues-boogie sphere on Visions, their third LP and quick follow-up to 2023’s Hounds. Bluesy as the vibe is from which the Montreal trio set out, the subsequent “Morning Prayer” meanders through wah-strum open spaces early onto to delve into jangly classic-prog strum later, while “Intention” backs its drawling vocal melody with nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and hand percussion. Divergence continues to be the order of the day throughout the 41-minute eight-songer, with “New Door” shifting from its sleepy initial movement into an even quieter stretch of Doors-meets-Stones-y melody before the bass leads into its livelier solo section with just a tinge of Latin rhythm and “Together” giving more push behind a feel harkening back to the opener but that grows quiet and melodically expansive in its second half. This sets up the moodier vibe of “Vision” and gives the roll of “You Wouldn’t Know” an effective backdrop for its acoustic/electric blend and harmonized vocals, delivered patiently enough to let the lap steel slide into the arrangement easily before the brighter-toned “Reflections” caps with a tinge of modern heavy post-rock. What’s tying it together? Something intangible. Momentum. Flow. Maybe just the confidence to do it? I don’t know, but as subdued as they get, they never lose their momentum, and as much movement as their is, they never seem to lose their balance. Visions might not reveal its full scope the first time through, but subsequent listens bring due reward.

Mooch on Facebook

Mooch on Bandcamp

The Pleasure Dome, Liminal Space

The Pleasure Dome Liminal Space EP

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that guitarist/vocalist Bobby Spender recruited bassist Loz Fancourt and drummer Harry Flowers after The Pleasure Dome‘s prior rhythm section left, ahead of putting together the varied 16 minutes of the Liminal Space EP. For what it’s worth, the revamped Bristol, UK, trio don’t sound any more haphazard than they want to in the loose-swinging sections of “Shoulder to Cry On” that offset the fuller shove of the chorus, or the punk-rooted alt-rock brashness of “The Duke Part II (Friends & Enemies),” and the blastbeat-inclusive tension of “Your Fucking Smile” that precedes the folk-blues finger-plucking of “Sugar.” Disjointed? Kind of, but that also feels like the point. Closer “Suicide” works around acoustic guitar and feels sincere in the lines, “Suicide, suicide/I’ve been there before/I’ve been there before/On your own/So hold on,” and the profession of love that resolves it, and while that’s at some remove from the bitter spirit of the first two post-intro tracks, Liminal Space makes its own kind of sense with the sans-effects voice of Spender at its core.

The Pleasure Dome on Facebook

Hound Gawd! Records website

Slump, Dust

Slump Dust EP

A solid four-songer from Birmingham’s Slump, who are fronted by guitarist Matt Noble (also Alunah), with drummer David Kabbouri Lara and bassist Ben Myles backing the riff-led material with punch in “Buried” after the careening hook of “Dust” opens with classic scorch in its solo and before the slower and more sludged “Kneel” gets down to its own screamier business and “Vultures” rounds out with a midtempo stomp early but nods to what seems like it’s going to be a more morose finish until the drum solo takes off toward the big-crash finish. As was the case on Slump‘s 2023 split with At War With the Sun, the feel across Dust is that of a nascent band — Slump got together in 2018, but this is their most substantial standalone release to-date — figuring out what they want to do. The ideas are there, and the volatility at which “Kneel” hints will hopefully continue to serve them well as they explore spaces between metal and heavy rock, classic and modern styles. A progression underway toward any number of potential avenues.

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Green Hog Band, Fuzz Realm

Green Hog Band Fuzz Realm

What dwells in Green Hog Band‘s Fuzz Realm? If you said “fuzz,” go ahead and get yourself a cookie (the judges also would’ve accepted “riffs” and “heavy vibes, dude”), but for those unfamiliar with the New Yorker trio’s methodology, there’s more to it than tone as guitarist/producer Mike Vivisector, bassist/vocalist Ivan Antipov and drummer Ronan Berry continue to carve out their niche of lo-fi stoner buzz marked by harsh, gurgly vocals in the vein of Attila Csihar, various samples, organ sounds and dug-in fuckall. “Escape on the Wheels” swings and chugs instrumentally, and “In the Mist of the Bong” has lyrics in English, so there’s no lack of variety despite the overarching pervasiveness of misanthropy. That mood is further cast in the closing salvo of the low-slung “Morning Dew” and left-open “Phantom,” both of which are instrumental save for some spoken lines in the latter, as the prevailing sense is that they were going to maybe put some verses on there but decided screw it and went back to their cave (presumably somewhere in Queens) instead, because up yours anyhow. 46 minutes of crust-stoned “up yours anyhow,” then.

Green Hog Band on Facebook

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

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Desertfest New York 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement Dozer, Acid King, Green Lung, Russian Circles & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

desertfest nyc 2024 banner

The message here is clear: Desertfest is all-in on New York. Begun in 2019 and resurfacing in 2022 at a new venue, The Knockdown Center, somewhere in the nebulous border region between Brooklyn and Queens, and a corresponding pre-show at the Saint Vitus Bar, which one hopes will reopen well in advance of this September, Desertfest New York 2024 is vivid in taking it to the next level.

It’s nothing less than a generational event to bring Dozer from Sweden to NYC (they toured the US circa 2000, I’m pretty sure), and for that alone, Desertfest earns your weekend ticket price today. Never mind that at the same time they’re celebrating legends like Dozer and Acid King, they’re also extending their reach to up and coming bands. Green Lung will play — gotta be the main stage, right? isn’t their sound too big for anything else? maybe outside at night? — coming over from the UK to do so, and West Coast outfits KadabraAbrams, Deathchant (who at this point I count as a secret being a little too well kept) and Hippie Death Cult complement well Acid King near the top of the bill, where you’ll also find instrumentalists Russian Circles, presumably a headliner, and fair enough. Oh yeah, and Truckfighters just in case anyone gets tired and needs a bit of a cardio pick-me-up.

Guhts from New York, Domkraft from Sweden, Belzebong from Poland and an awaited appearance from Boston’s Gozu round out this initial announcement, with more to come. It’s on my calendar. You might think about putting it on yours as well:

Desertfest-NYC-2024-first-poster

Desertfest NYC announces Russian Circles, Acid King, Green Lung, Truckfighters, Dozer & more for its 2024 lineup.

For their return to the Knockdown Center this September, Desertfest NYC has unveiled its first artists set to take the stage for their fourth edition, announcing post-metal giants RUSSIAN CIRCLES as their first headliner. Joining them will be California stoner metal legends ACID KING and London occult metal sensations GREEN LUNG, making their US debut. After they were unable to perform at DF 2022, the festival is thrilled to finally be hosting them stateside.

Swedish rockers and long-time Desertfest friends TRUCKFIGHTERS will return for their first New York performance in four years, along with fellow countrymen and stoner devotees DOZER.

Joining the party will be Poland’s instrumental ‘dudes’ BELZEBONG, Swedish psychedelic hypnotizers DOMKRAFT, and a healthy dose of rock n roll arrives courtesy of Los Angeles quartet, DEATHCHANT and Boston mainstays GOZU.

Elsewhere we’ll be treated to some psychedelic swagger from Pacific Northwesterners KADABRA and HIPPE DEATH CULT, and some heavy gazin’ with Denver’s ABRAMS and NY locals GUHTS.

Desertfest New York 2024 will take place September 12th – 14th. 3-Day Festival Passes (incl. pre-party access) and 2-Day Festival passes are available now via https://www.desertfestnewyork.com & https://link.dice.fm/desertfest2024

https://facebook.com/Desertfestnyc/
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_nyc/
http://www.desertfestnewyork.com

Dozer, “Big Sky Theory” live in Adelaide, Australia, Nov. 2023

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Quarterly Review: Deadpeach, SÂVER, Ruben Romano, Kosmodrom, The Endless, Our Maddest Edges, Saint Omen, Samsara Joyride, That Ship Has Sailed, Spiral Guru

Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

Welcome to Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. If you’ve been here before — and I do this at least four times a year, so maybe you have and maybe you haven’t — I’m glad you’re back, and if not, I’m glad you’re here at all. These things are always an undertaking, and in a vacuum, I’m pretty sure busting out 10 shorter reviews per day would be a reasonably efficient process. I don’t live in a vacuum. I live vacuuming.

Metaphorically, at least. Looking around the room, it’s pretty obvious ‘vacuum life’ is intermittent.

Today we hit the halfway mark of this standard-operating-procedure QR, and we’ll get to 30 of the 50 releases to be covered by the time Friday is done or die trying, as that’s also the general policy. As always, I hope you find something in this batch of 10 that you dig. Doesn’t have to be any more of a thing than that. Doesn’t need to change your life, just maybe take the moment you’re in and make it a little better.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Deadpeach, The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

Deadpeach The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

A new full-length from Italian cosmic fuzz rockers Deadpeach doesn’t come along every day. Though the four-piece here comprised of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni Giovannini, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mrsteveman and drummer Federico Tebaldi trace their beginnings back to 1993, the seven-song/37-minute exploration The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race is just their fourth full-length in that span of 31 years, following behind 2013’s Aurum (review here), though they haven’t been completely absent in that time, with the 2019 unplugged offering Waiting for Federico session (review here), 2022’s Live at Sidro Club, etc. But whether it’s the howling-into-the-void guitar over the methodical toms in the experimental-vibing closer “Loop (Set the Control to Mother Earth),” the mellower intro of “Madras” that leads both to chunky-style chug and the parade of classic-heavy buzz that is “Motor Peach,” what most comes through is the freedom of the band to do what they want in the psychedelic sphere. “Man on the Hill (The Fisherman and the Farmer)” tells its tale with blues rock swing while the subsequent “Cerchio” resolves Beatlesian with bouncy string and horn sounds and is its own realization at the center of the procession before the languid roll of “Monday” (so it goes) picks up its tempo later on. A mostly lo-fi recording still creates an atmosphere, and Deadpeach represent who they are in the weirdo space grunge of “Rust,” toying with influences from a desert that’s surely somewhere on another planet before “Loop (Set the Controls for Mother Earth)” turns repetition into mantra. They might be underrated forever, but Deadpeach only phase into our dimension intermittently and it’s worth appreciating them while they’re here.

Deadpeach on Facebook

Deadpeach website

SÂVER, From Ember and Rust

SAVER From Ember and Rust

In or out of post-metal and the aggressive end of atmospheric sludge, there are few bands currently active who deliver with the visceral force of Oslo’s SÂVER. From Ember and Rust is the second LP from the three-piece of Ole Ulvik Rokseth (guitar), Markus Støle (drums) and Ole Christian Helstad (bass/vocals), and while it signals growth in the synthy meditation worked into “I, Evaporate” after the lead-with-nod opener “Formless,” and the intentionally overwhelming djent chug that pays off the penultimate “The Object,” it is the consuming nature of the 43-minute entirety that is most striking, dynamic in its sprawl and thoughtful in arrangement both within and between its songs — the way the drone starts “Eliminate Distance” and returns to lull the listener momentarily out of consciousness before the bassy start of centerpiece “Ember and Rust” prompts a return ahead of its daring and successful clean vocal foray. That’s a departure, contextually speaking, but noteworthy even as “Primal One” lumbersmashes anything resembling hope to teeny tiny bits, leaving room in its seven minutes to catchy its breath amid grooving proggy chug and bringing back the melodic singing. As much as they revel in the caustic, there’s serenity in the catharsis of “All in Disarray” at the album’s conclusion, and as much as SÂVER are destructive, they’re cognizant of the world they’re building as part of that.

SÂVER on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Ruben Romano The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Departing from the heavy psychedelic blues rock proffered by his main outfit The Freeks, multi-instrumentalist and elsewhere-vocalist Ruben Romano — who also drummed for Fu Manchu and Nebula in their initial incarnations — digs into Western aural themes on his cumbersomely-titled solo debut, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile. To be clear, there is no movie called Twenty Graves Per Mile (yet), and the twice-over-imaginary nature of the concept lets Romano meander a bit in pieces like “Sweet Dream Cowboy” and “Ode to Fallen Oxen,” the latter of which tops its rambling groove with a line of delay twang, while “Chuck Wagon Sorrow” shimmers with outward simplicity with a sneaky depth to its mix (to wit, the space in “Not Any More”). At 10 songs and 27 minutes, the collection isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘feature length,’ but as it hearkens back to the outset with “Load the Wagon (Reprise)” bookending the opener, it is likewise cohesive in style and creative in arrangement, with Romano bringing in various shakers, mouth harp, effects and so on to create his ‘soundtrack’ with a classic Western feel and the inevitable lysergic current. Not as indie or desert chic as Spindrift, who work from a similar idea, but organic and just-came-in-covered-with-dust folkish just the same. If the movie existed, I’d be interested to know which of these tracks would play in the saloon.

Ruben Romano on Facebook

Ruben Romano on Bandcamp

Kosmodrom, Welcome to Reality

Kosmodrom Welcome to Reality

With the seven-minute “Earth Blues” left off the vinyl for want of room, German heavy psychedelic instrumentalists Kosmodrom put a color filter on existence with Welcome to Reality as much as on the cover, shimmering in “Dazed in Space” with a King Buffalo‘ed resonance such that the later, crunchier fuzz roll of “Evil Knievel” feels like a departure. While the three-piece are no doubt rooted in jams, Welcome to Reality presents finished works, following a clear plot in the 10-minute “Quintfrequenz” and the gradual build across the first couple minutes of “Landstreicher” — an intent that comes more into focus a short while later on “Novembersong” — before “Earth Blues” brings a big, pointed slowdown. They cap with “OM,” which probably isn’t named after the band but can be said to give hints in their direction if you want to count its use of ride cymbal at the core of its own build, and which in its last 40 seconds still manages to find another level of heft apparently kept in reserve all along. Well played. As their first LP since 2018, Welcome to Reality feels a bit like it’s reintroducing the band, and in listening, seems most of all to encourage the listener to look at the world around them in a different, maybe more hopeful way.

Kosmodrom on Facebook

Kosmodrom on Bandcamp

The Endless, The Endless

the endless the endless

Heads experienced in post-metal will be able to pick out elements like the Russian Circles gallop in The Endless‘ “Riven” or the Isis-style break the Edmonton-based instrumental unit veers into on “Shadows/Wolves” at the center of their self-titled debut, but as “The Hadeon Eon” — the title of which references the planet’s earliest and most volatile geological era — subtly invites the listener to consider, this is the band’s first recorded output. Formed in 2019, derailed and reconstructed post-pandemic, the four-piece of guitarists Teddy Palmer and Eddy Keyes, bassist James Palmer and drummer Jarred Muir are coherent in their stylistic intent, but not so committed to genre tenets as to forego the sweeter pleasure of the standalone guitar at the start of the nine-minute “Reflection,” soon enough subsumed though it is by the spacious lurch that follows. There and throughout, the band follow a course somewhere between post-metal and atmospheric sludge, and the punch of low end in “Future Archives,” the volume trades between loud and quiet stretches bring a sense of the ephemeral as well as the ethereal, adding character without sacrificing impact in the contrast. Their lack of pretense will be an asset as they continue to develop.

The Endless on Facebook

The Endless on Bandcamp

Our Maddest Edges, Peculiar Spells

Our Maddest Edges Peculiar Spells

Kudos if you can keep up with the shifts wrought from track to track on Our Maddest Edges‘ apparent first long-player, Peculiar Spells, as the Baltimorean solo-project spearheaded by Jeff Conner sets out on a journey of genuine eclecticism, bringing The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age stylistically together and also featuring one of the several included duets on “Swirl Cone,” some grunge strum in “Hella Fucky” after the remake-your-life spoken/ambient intro “Thoughts Can Change,” a choral burst at the beginning of the spoken-word-over-jazz “Slugs,” which of course seems to be about screwing, as well as the string-laced acoustic-led sentimentality on “Red Giant,” the Casio beat behind the bright guitar plucks of “Frozen Season,” the full-tone riffs around which “I Ain’t Done” and “St. Lascivious” are built, and the sax included with the boogie of “The Totalitarian Tiptoe,” just for a few examples of the places its 12 component tracks go in their readily-consumable 37-minute runtime. Along with Conner are a reported 17 guests appearing throughout, among them Stefanie Zaenker (ex-Caustic Casanova). Info is sparse on the band and Conner‘s work more broadly, but his history in the punkish Eat Your Neighbors accounts for some of the post-hardcore at root here, and his own vocals (as opposed to those of the seven other singers appearing) seem to come from somewhere similar. Relatively quick listen, but not a minor undertaking.

Jeff Conner on Bandcamp

Saint Omen, Death Unto My Enemy

saint omen death unto my enemy

Rolling out with the ambient intro before beginning its semi-Electric Wizardly slog in “Taken by the Black,” Death Unto My Enemy is the 2023 debut from New York City’s Saint Omen. Issued by Forbidden Place Records, its gritty nod holds together even as “Evolution of the Demon” threatens to fall apart, samples filling out the spaces not occupied by vocals, communicating themes dark, violent, and occult in pieces like the catchy-despite-its-harsher-vocal “Destroyer” or the dark swirl of “Sinners Crawl.” Feeling darker as it moves through its 10 songs, it saves a particular grim experimentalism for closer “Descent,” but by the time Death Unto My Enemy gets there, surely your mind and soul have already been poisoned and reaped, respectively, by “The Seventh Gate,” “The Black Mass” and the penultimate title-track, that deeper down is the only place left to go. So that’s where you go; a humming abyss of anti-noise. Manhattan has never been a epicenter of cultish doom, but Saint Omen‘s abiding death worship and bleakness — looking at you, “Sleepness” — shift between dramaturge and dug-in lumber, and the balance is only intriguing for the rawness with which it is delivered, harsher in its purpose than sound, but still plenty harsh in sound.

Saint Omen on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records store

Samsara Joyride, The Subtle and the Dense

samsara joyride the subtle and the dense

The psychedelic aspects of Samsara Joyride‘s The Subtle and the Dense feel somewhat compartmentalized, but that’s not necessarily a detriment to the songs, as the solo that tops the drearily moderated tempo of “Too Many Preachers” or the pastoral tones that accompany the bluesier spirit of “Who Tells the Story” emphasize. The Austrian outfit’s second full-length, The Subtle and the Dense seems aware of its varied persona, but whether it’s the swaggering stops of “No One is Free” calling to mind Child or the sax and guest vocals that mark such a turn with “Safe and Sound” at the end, Samsara Joyride are firm in their belief that because something is bluesy or classic doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple. From the layer of acoustic guitar worked into opener “I Won’t Sign Pt. 1” — their first album also had a two-parter, the second one follows directly here as track two — to the gang chorus worked in amid the atmospheric reach of “Sliver,” Samsara Joyride communicate a progressive take on traditionalist aesthetics, managing as few in this end of the heavy music realm ever do to avoid burly masculine caricature in the process. For that alone, easily worth the time to listen.

Samsara Joyride on Facebook

Samsara Joyride on Bandcamp

That Ship Has Sailed, Kingdom of Nothing

that ship has sailed kingdom of nothing

Like a check-in from some alternate-universe version of Fu Manchu who stuck closer to their beginnings in punk and hardcore, Californian heavy noise rockers That Ship Has Sailed tap volatility and riffy groove alike through the five songs of their Kingdom of Nothing EP, with an admirable lack of bullshit included within that net-zero assessment amid the physical push of riffs like “One-Legged Dog” or “Iron Eagle II” when the drums go to half-time behind the guitar and bass. It’s not all turn-of-the-century disaffection and ‘members of’ taglines though as “Iron Eagle II” sludges through its finish and “I Am, Yeah” becomes an inadvertent anthem for those who’ve never quite been able to keep their shit together, “Sweet Journey” becomes a melodic highlight while fostering the heaviest crash, and “Ready to Go” hits like a prequel to Nebula‘s trip down the stoner rock highway. Catchy in spite of its outward fuckall (or at least fuckmost), Kingdom of Nothing is more relatable than friendly or accessible, which feels about right. It’s cool guys. I never got my shit together either.

That Ship Has Sailed on Instagram

That Ship Has Sailed on Bandcamp

Spiral Guru, Silenced Voices

Spiral Guru Silenced Voices

The fourth EP in the 10-year history of Brazi’s Spiral Guru, who also released their Void long-player in 2019 and the “The Fantastic Hollow Man” single in 2021, Silenced Voices is distinguished immediately by the vocal command and range of Andrea Ruocco, and I’d suspect that if you’re already familiar with the band, you probably know that. Ruocco‘s voice, in its almost operatic use of breath to reach higher notes, carries some element of melodic metal’s grandeur, but Samuel Pedrosa‘s fuzz riffing and the fluid roll of bassist José Ribeiro and drummer Alexandre H.G. Garcia on the title-track avoid that trap readily, ending up somewhere between blues, psych, and ’70s swing on “Caves and Graves” but kept modern in the atmosphere fostered by Pedrosa‘s lead guitar. Another high-quality South American band ignored by the gringo-dude-dominant underground of Europe and the US? Probably, but I’m guilty too a decade after Spiral Guru‘s start, so all I can say is I’m doing my best out here. This band should probably be on Nuclear Blast by now. Stick around for “The Cabin Man” and you’d best be ready to dance.

Spiral Guru on Facebook

Spiral Guru on Bandcamp

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Winter Announce Live in Brooklyn, NY Out April 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Just a quick heads up to anyone not immediately in the borough’s sphere of influence as I am even way out here in the suburbs of my beloved Garden State, the proper pronunciation should be “Brooklyn New York,” three words, no comma. You don’t have to do a fake accent or make it cutesy, but that comma — which is correctly placed in the writing of Winter‘s impending live album, Live in Brooklyn, NY — is silent.

Between that and the fact that there’s a live release at all coming — Svart has it out April 19, like the header says — that’d probably be enough to get stoked on, but Winter‘s Stephan Flam also worked with Svart on the release of his dark experimental/conceptual outfit Göden, who yes, inherited a lot of Winter‘s pioneering extremity of doom, and it’s casually revealed below that a second Göden LP will be out this May. Considering we’re already starting to see release announcements for then, I’d expect word down the PR wire in the next couple weeks, since this will be first a month earlier.

In any case, a live Winter release from 2012 is probably the best thing one could hope for from them — I don’t know that a studio album would, could or should ever happen, but stranger things have — and a new Göden is sure to be far too weird for 99.9 percent of humans and all the more righteous for that. I look forward to hearing both the way one looks forward to plastic surgery — self-mutilation working toward a perceived good. They do that shit in stripmalls now. I feel like that alone makes a Winter live record necessary.

From the PR wire:

WINTER LIVE IN BROOKLYN NY

Svart Records are proud to release the first official live album from cult death doom band Winter!

In August and September of 2012, Winter participated in the “Power of the Riff East/West” series of concerts held in California and New York. After first playing the West Coast shows with bands like Pelican and Noothgrush among others, Winter returned to their hometown New York on September 2nd and played a show in Brooklyn’s Warsaw with their best line-up; Stephen Flam/Guitar, John Alman/Bass and vocals, Jim Jackson/Drums and original keyboardist Tony Pinnisi who played with the band first time since recording “Into Darkness” LP in 1989.

The rare appearance of this performance in Brooklyn, featuring all their classic tunes like “Servants of the Warsmen”, “Power and Might”, “Destiny, Eternal Frost” etc. was recorded, and is now presented here for all their fans. This isn’t any cheap nostalgia driven reunion cash out, but a real and raw deal. RISE!

Winter “Live in Brooklyn NY” vinyl, CD and t-shirts out 19.4.2024.

Winter’s spiritual successor Göden will release a new album on Svart Records in May 2024. More info on that will follow soon, so keep your eyes and ears open!

https://www.facebook.com/Winter.NY.official/
https://www.instagram.com/WINTER.ny.Official

www.facebook.com/svartrecords
https://www.instagram.com/svartrecords/
https://svartrecords.bandcamp.com/
www.svartrecords.com

Winter, “Eternal Frost” live at Power of the Riff East, Brooklyn, NY, 09.02.12

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Friday Full-Length: Type O Negative, Life is Killing Me

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

You’ll forgive, I hope. I know it hasn’t been that long since I closed out a week with Type O Negative, but it’s over a year, they’re an all-time band for me and I’m trying to connect to something and pull myself closer toward out of what I’ll generously call a persistent malaise as regards totality. Life is Killing Me is a surprisingly rousing record.

And not just in its trilogy let’s-be-Ramones-now metal-punkers “I Don’t Wanna Be Me,” “I Like Goils,” and “Angry Inch” cast across its sprawling, CD-era 15-song/74-minute runtime. By the time Type O Negative released this sixth album in 2003 — it would be their last for Roadrunner; their final LP was 2007’s Dead Again, on SPV — I thought they were done. When it first came out in September of my senior year of high school, I thought 1999’s World Coming Down (discussed here) was a huge letdown after 1996’s landmark October Rust (discussed here), and I guess I thought that between drugs, the shifting trends in metal of the day, and their own widely reputed misery, they probably wouldn’t do anything else.

Life is Killing Me was released 21 years ago. I was in college. The promo CD from Roadrunner came to me at WSOU — it came to everyoneRoadrunner was tight with the famed NJ-based college radio station; it made us feel important — and had an audio watermark I can still hear in my head over some of the songs because I listened to it so god damned much. “Type O Negative, Life is Killing Me. The new album, in stores this June” in a plainspoken woman’s voice. This was an anti-piracy measure that also just happened to, for many, ruin a given listening experience. There wasn’t a ton that was going to keep me away from hearing this record though, including that.

This was inarguably the most Beatles they ever were in their crucial Beatlesabbath pioneering goth metal/doom approach. Songs like “Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things),” “Nettie,” “(We Were) Electrocute,” closer “The Dream is Dead” and even the ladies-of-classic-television rundown in “How Could She?,” delivered with signature humor in Peter Steele‘s lyrics has a sense of nostalgia or looking back that, 20.5 years after its initial release, I find is a nostalgia I share for the tracks themselves. So be it. The sitar-and-tabla-inclusive “Less Than Zero.” The ahead-of-its-time healthcare commentary and playfully gloomy atmosphere of the title-track. Those songs tightened Type O Negative‘s songwriting approach to a degree that October Rust and World Coming Down could only hint toward, and took the loss of Steele‘s parents — specifically the subjects of “Todd’s Ship Gods  (Above All Things)” and “Nettie” — and found comfort in unpretentious pop hooks (sometimes also laughably pretentious) and affectingly sincere lyrics.

Bolstered by an emergent dynamic in their sound that found guitarist Kenny Hickey contributing more on vocals alongside Steele on his way to sharing more of the songwriting credits on Dead Again and the always stellar organ/keys Type O Negative Life is Killing Meand backing vocals from Josh Silver — of course the band was completed by drummer Johnny Kelly, but had a thing for drum machines in the studio until the last album — the emotionality of Life is Killing Me comes through mature and sincere even in its winking irony and willful mischief. And though one doesn’t always think of them as a catchy band, “…A Dish Best Served Coldly,” “I Don’t Wanna Be Me,” “Anesthesia” — fucking “Anesthesia”; there it is; the declaration “I don’t need love” before two songs before they cap with “Another lonely Valentine’s Day” in “The Dream is Dead” — as well as “(We Were) Electrocute” and “IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That),” among others, take on pop with a rare boldness for anything heavy.

Like a lot of what they did during their years together, which effectively ended with Steele‘s death in 2010, Life is Killing Me has aged better in sound than politically. “I Like Goils” comes off as a kind of weak troll in hindsight, even if it’s Steele laughing about being hit on by dudes after appearing in Playgirl that time, and their take on “Angry Inch” from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch is only loving if you hear it with those ears. They courted controversy in a way that, now, is the provenance of genuine assholes, which perhaps the surviving former members of the band — Hickey and Kelly play together in EYE AM and Silvertomb, and Kelly has drummed for Danzig, plays in Patriarchs in Black, Quiet Riot, and A Pale Horse Named Death with prior Type O drummer Sal Abruscato, who adds vocals on “I Like Goils” here — would say he or they all were. Fair enough.

But I’ll tell you this. After listening to Life is Killing Me for over two decades now since it came out, I just this morning heard the organ “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” in a new way on my headphones than I’ve ever heard before. Just sounded a little different, but it’s still something to appreciate and something unexpected from a release with which I think I’m familiar. But that’s how it goes sometimes with an album. You live with it and you hear things differently because you’re different. No way I hear “Todd’s Ship Gods (Above All Things)” and “Life is Killing Me” and “The Dream is Dead” with the same ears I had when I was in my 20s, but as with the best of things, Life is Killing Me doesn’t evaporate the span of years but grows into something richer with them. An evolving relationship to the music. And if you’re nostalgic about an album, doesn’t that mean you’re still getting something from it?

So, if you want to call it an indulgence on my part to dig into this one again, fine. It’s what I needed this week and in my deepest, most honest self, I see value in connecting to the emotion as well as the craft, hooks, and so on. This was a formative band for me, and this was the record they did that taught me not to count bands out until they were actually done. I am better for it. And better for having dug in, so thank you.

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

Dog slept in kid’s room again last night. It worked this time, which I think might mean that happens forever now. Only matters if she pees on the floor, chews the American Girl doll, or whathaveyou. Until then, it’s crisis-anticipation, which is surely the healthiest way to parent.

Hey, it’s worked for me for the last six years, except not really.

This week featured a couple profoundly shitty, overwhelming days. It was MLK on Monday, so no school. Then it snowed and Tuesday had off and Wednesday had a delay and by Wednesday I was just about ready for a cinderblock to the face. Yesterday after school was therapy, which as I understand it has led to just about no discussion of feelings, which The Pecan at age six will sort of acknowledge having but has no real vocabulary for expressing beyond getting mad — my fault — and which is winding down its corporate-appointed 10-session run having perhaps nearly built a rapport. Today The Patient Mrs. is going to Wherever The Hell for a school board training and she won’t be back until Sunday, which makes the weekend full-on on-duty. Then next week is another week.

There’s no break coming. Ever. That month, year, decade you feel like you need where you’re catatonic and you just sort of sit there and stare straight ahead until you have your Buddha moment isn’t coming. It’s never going to happen. It’s going to be a grind until it’s nothing. No meditation, not even the daily yoga challenge, is going to change it. In fact, they’re just more shit you’re obligated to in the day. More more more. How on earth can that be a solution when the problem is everything is too fucking much?

And that’s basically where I’m at. Everything is too much. Everything. I am overwhelmed all the time. It’s not just about music or oh I get so much email because I’m somebody blah blah. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about simple fucking tasks that humans do that I crumple before. Getting gas. Going to the grocery store. God damn. The Patient Mrs. and I took like 25 minutes to go to the hardware store yesterday and it felt like the ceiling was going to collapse on me. Safe spaces are hard to come by. Not-anxious quiet is hard to come by. And as always, the problem is in me, is me. I’ve wasted the better part of the last 30 years shoveling chemicals into my body looking for some kind of ‘answer’ to myself and I still get more out of listening to fucking Type O Negative than I’ve ever had from an antidepressant, anti-anxiety med, whatever, psilocybin notwithstanding.

I’m gonna leave it there. That says what I want to say about music, about the way a record, a band, just a song, can make your life better or more livable, or whatever it is. It can fill a space in you maybe you didn’t know was there.

Have a great and safe weekend. Watch your head, hydrate, stay warm or cool depending on where you live, and don’t forget to breathe. Back Monday.

FRM.

[So, about half an hour after I finished writing this, The Pecan took a spill off the side of the couch, not only landing on my computer, but overturning my full iced tea cup onto it as well. It is, of course, dead. While I try to recover data from it, I’ll be on Little Red, my tiny emergency backup Chromebook, but that’s something I wanted to mark as having happened because, well, it’ll probably be at least another week before the situation is resolved. Cheers.]

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Castle Rat to Release Into the Realm April 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

castle rat

I was fortunate enough to run into Castle Rat this past Fall in the smaller room at Desertfest New York 2023 (review here), and such has been the hype around the Brooklynite theatrical doom rockers whose debut album will be out April 12 that that actually felt late. Sex is a big part of the show, but so is medieval fantasy lore, so take that with the appropriate grain of salt, and if you’re ever gonna do this kind of thing, do it while you’re young and hot. I write about a lot of bands 40 and up. Not a lot of them walking around without shirts on. Though some.

But Into the Realm, which is seeing release through King Volume, is probably about to get all kinds of outside-genre crossover attention, and when it comes to that kind of thing, my general tendency is to stay away. But I’ve been turned off my hype before much to my detriment — I can cite examples from Uncle Acid through Spotlights and tons more; sometimes I get on board sometimes I don’t — so I want to give Into the Realm a shot and see where I land with it on a song level. Castle Rat‘s first two singles showed craft and perspective to match the band’s stage-minded focus and presentation.

From the PR wire:

castle rat into the realm

Castle Rat Announce Into the Realm LP

Highly-Anticipated Full-Length from Immersive Medieval Fantasy Doom Metal Visionaries Out April 12 via King Volume Records

Pre-Orders Available Now

PRE-ORDER: Castle Rat – Into the Realm LP: https://castleratband.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-realm-2

Castle Rat — the story-driven Medieval Fantasy Doom Metal band from Brooklyn known for its theatrical, action-packed live shows complete with full costumes, choreographed sword fighting, and fake blood — is releasing their highly anticipated album, Into the Realm, through King Volume Records on April 12th, 2024.

“It’s taken a couple years to see this record through, and it is so exciting and rewarding to finally be welcoming it into the world. A huge part of the time it’s taken to release it has been finding someone we could trust to see our vision and bring Into The Realm into the universe with the same amount of love and passion we poured into it — and King Volume is undoubtedly that label,” wrote vocalist Riley Pinkerton.

Into the Realm – TRACKLISTING:

01. Dagger Dragger
02. Feed The Dream
03. Resurrector
04. Red Sands
05. The Mirror
06. Cry For Me
07. Realm
08. Fresh Fur
09. Nightblood

Into the Realm arrives after a blistering year that marked a successful Southwestern US tour; a lauded appearance at Desertfest New York alongside underground luminaries like Brant Bjork, 1000mods, Monster Magnet, Colour Haze, and Melvins; and their first powerful, doom-laden single, “Feed the Dream,” on its way to more than 500,000 streams.

While the band pulls its visual inspiration from the over-the-top stylings of KISS and uses intricate costumes and theatrics to deliver spellbinding live shows, the band remains rooted in the Doom tradition of Black Sabbath, playing massive riffs and Tony Iommi-influenced licks under Pinkerton’s powerful vocals.

To that end, Castle Rat’s live shows have already grown legendary in the underground community. While performing, the band reenacts the lore behind The Rat Queen (performed by Riley Pinkerton on guitar/vocals): On her mission to expand and defend “The Realm” from those who seek to destroy it, The Rat Queen is joined by The Count (Franco Vittore – lead guitar), The Plague Doctor (Ronnie Lanzilotta III – bass), and The Druid (Josh Strmic – drums). Together they face the relentless wrath of their arch nemesis: Death Herself — The Rat Reaperess (actress Maddy Wright). The Realm of Castle Rat exists for those who crave swords and sorcery; stoner and doom; Frazetta & Sabbath; and battle-babes and beasts.

True to the band’s ethos, Into the Realm was recorded in an abandoned Philadelphia church the band temporarily converted into a studio. Among the flooded floors, decaying plaster, and ornate stained glass windows, the band stacked their Orange amps and tracked over two and half days, with engineering and production assistance from Davis Shubs and Thomas Johnsen.

“The energy within The Church is undeniable,” wrote Pinkerton. “While tracking vocals for ‘Cry For Me’ I was standing there alone in the center of the church, surrounded by stained glass windows as they faded to a pale grey-blue in the twilight. The veil between the spirit realm and the realm of the living became so thin it felt as if I were floating between them. I feel that particular vocal take was aided or influenced by something beyond my understanding…”

Surrounded by the church’s dreadful atmosphere and a certainty that the property was haunted, the band eventually decided to shoot the “Dagger Dragger” music video in the same location.

With their eye for visual storytelling and an ear for writing captivating doom metal, Castle Rat is a force even more powerful than the Rat Reapress. Dive into the lore on April 12th, 2024.

Pre-Orders for Into the Realm are available via Castle Rat’s Bandcamp NOW. This release will be supported by additional vinyl variants from Wise Blood Records and Kozmik Artifactz (Europe). The band will also be celebrating the record release with a show on April 19th at Brooklyn Made with support from Tower and Killer Kin.

Riley Pinkerton – Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter; Rat Queen
Franco Vittore – Lead Guitarist; Count
Ronnie Lanzilotta III – Bassist; Plague Doctor
Josh Strmic – Drummer; The All-Seeing Druid
Maddy Wright; The Rat Reapress (Live shows)

Recording, Mix, and Engineering: Davis M. Shubs and Thomas Johnsen
Cover Art: Photo by Ronnie Lanzilotta,
Layout and Editing by Olivia Cummings
Logo by Riley Pinkerton

http://instagram.com/castle.rat
https://castleratband.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/kingvolumerecords
http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.kingvolumerecords.limitedrun.com

Castle Rat, “Dagger Dragger” official video

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