Somnuri Post “Nefarious Wave”; Continue to Destroy

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

somnuri nefarious wave

I have precious little insight to offer here. Like, none. I guess it’s probably pretty nice when your drummer knows how to make videos? Somnuri are killer? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. The Brooklynite trio offered up Nefarious Wave (review here) in June through Blues Funeral Recordings, and I feel like if you’re not down with it as yet, well, if you haven’t heard it, that’s okay. The video’s another chance.

But if you’ve heard it and for whatever reason it’s not speaking to you, I can only respectfully disagree. Maybe it’s my born-and-bred Northeastern US mentality — we are an aggressive people by nature — but Nefarious Wave hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, and continues to do so. Enough that I’m taking the excuse this video provides and posting more about it when I’m sure there’s something out there I could be chasing down. Screw that, whatever it is. This’ll do just fine.

The video? Yeah, some shots of the woods, some shots of the band — guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell, bassist Philippe Arman, drummer/video director Phil SanGiacomo — all turned red. Standard enough, but it’s fine. It serves its purpose. It’s better than watching dudes try to sync to parts on Zoom. You know what I’m talking about. We all lived through last year.

This is the third clip by my count from the record. They keep makin’ ’em, I’ll keep postin’ ’em. Simple as that.


Somnuri, “Nefarious Wave” official video

Says the band about this new song and video: “The song has a trodding and lumbering feel to it. It builds layer after layer, and we wanted the video to have textures as well. We ended up shooting a lo-fi, psychedelic, first-person trek through the woods, tying to the song’s themes of survival and resilience,” said the band. “Those themes are present throughout the record as well and, ultimately, it was easy to see how they paralleled the world around us, filming and editing this video during lockdown. Thanks to our friend Eric Adams of the band Adam’s Castle, who helped get us some crazy shots way the fuck up in the mountains. We’re proud to have this video accompany the title track of this record.”

Video Directed by Phil SanGiacomo (Somnuri)

Taken from the Album “Nefarious Wave”
Release Date: June 4, 2021

Justin Sherrell — guitars/vocals (also bass on the album)
Philippe Arman — bass
Phil SanGiacomo — drums

Somnuri, Nefarious Wave (2021)

Somnuri on Facebook

Somnuri on Instagram

Somnuri on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Begotten to Reissue Self-Titled Debut on Black Farm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

As the PR wire notes right off the bat, today’s the 20th anniversary of Begotten‘s self-titled debut, which has the distinction of having been the final release through Frank Kozik‘s now-legendary, genre-defining Man’s Ruin Records imprint. July 21, 2001. Guess what? The whole world was about to go to shit. Still on its way down. The fucking ocean caught fire last month. People barely blinked.

So anyway, cool for the New York sludgecrunchers that they’ve linked arms with Black Farm Records to give the album a proper vinyl reissue. I’ve no doubt it’ll be rad. What I’m a little hurt by, though, is that Begotten put out a new two-songer in March and no one even told me. You mean you’ve got 17 minutes of new heavy nod and I’m just sitting around typing away writing about 110 releases that aren’t that over the last couple weeks? Hardly seems fair. Last I heard from them was their 2018 demo (review here). Clearly I need to get caught up.

So yeah, right on with the reissue, but I’m gonna dig into the new stuff too. Both, as it happens, are streaming at the bottom of this post:


BEGOTTEN was Man’s Ruin last release 20 years ago today

Begotten celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their Man’s Ruin debut and announce the limited edition vinyl of the album on Black Farm Records.

Notoriously BEGOTTEN became the last band to release a record on legendary stoner/doom label Man’s Ruin two decades ago today. Now Black Farm Records announces the 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Vinyl of the band’s self-titled release. The label, based in northern France, specializes in high quality collectible vinyl releases.

New York City in the late nineties was all about hardcore, punk and fast rock. Playing doom and stoner rock was an act of rebellion. The original self-titled Begotten album was recorded analog reel to reel and came out with Man’s Ruin’s dying breath. This was shortly before the World Trade Center went crashing down – which among all the other horrors also brought Begotten and many other NYC bands to a crashing halt. The demise of Man’s Ruin Records was as harsh a blow to the music scene, as the fall of the towers were to the City.

Two decades later, the 20th anniversary limited edition vinyl emerges just as a global plague begins to dissipate in the U.S. The meaning behind songs like “Electric Hell,” “Judges,” “Garabed’s Freedom,” resonates perhaps more than ever now. What can be heard on the album is the music of three people who have remained loyal to each other, loyal to the spirit of the music, and loyal to themselves. The album has been remastered for vinyl by Roger Lian (of Slayer fame) – the same guy who mastered it the first time for CD from the reel to reel mixes.

Begotten is Matthew Anselmo on Guitar, vox, (and synth on “Narkotizer”); Rob Sefcik on drums; Amanda Topaz on bass, vox (and bullwhip on “Garabed’s Freedom”).

Begotten, EP (2021)

Begotten, Begotten (2018 Remaster)

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High Strange Premiere “Foulstrand”; Woe Upon Man out Aug. 24

Posted in audiObelisk on July 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


High Strange is low death! Plague metal! The buried-alive-in-brown-dirt raw death, chased with elements of sludge and decaying atmosphere, reeks of indiscriminate decay across Woe Upon Man‘s 28-minute span, and the purposefulness of its abiding drear is obvious. This is the sound of the times, channeled into pummeling drive and bitter stench. My beloved Garden State’s own Chrome Peeler Records (Butler, no less; my mother taught art there for 35-plus years) will handle the Aug. 24 release of the five-song debut outing, and Woe Upon Man spits dark poetry in “Black Hands” and “Evil is Life” at least partially lifted from the 1901 A Dream Play surrealist drama from Swedish playwright August Strindberg, lines like “It is a misery to be man!” and “Unclean is the earth” arrive in a spoken gutturalism over drones and distortion like Celtic Frost minus the majesty, and in alternating fashion with opener “Descend and You May See,” centerpiece “Foulstrand” (premiering below) and 10-minute finale “The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour,” ragers and bludgeoners all, no matter what speed they’re actually playing.

To wit, “Descend and You May See” plods until it sprints, taking a mere three minutes to introduce the disaffection and drear wrought by High Strange — the New York-based four-piece of Jonathan Canady, Jay NewmanConor Hickey and Joseph Branciforte, High Strange Woe Upon Manwhose significant pedigree you can see below — and the mystery of how Woe Upon Man earned a cassette release is quickly solved. It’s entirely possible, of course, that these songs were composed and recorded in isolation, passing files back and forth in a pandemic-era project — certainly the style bears the hallmark of disease — but they sure don’t sound like it. High Strange have harnessed a lo-fi sound that is at once scathing and experimental, the drones behind the echoing speech of “Black Hands,” derived from monologues in the play by The Portress and The Lawyer (the full text of the play is readily available) branching outward even as guitar noise howls and screeches like surrounding fire. This leads to the single snare hit that launches the classic death of “Foulstrand,” a speed-chugging central riff holding firm as the gritty, charred-epic sensibilities are shoved further along, the album’s shortest-to-longest progression of tracks making the noted descent all the more palpable as it goes.

“Evil is Life” is, accordingly, lower, longer and less frenetic than “Black Hands” before it, just as “Foulstrand” feels more assured of what it’s doing than “Descend and You May See” — which if you told me it was the first song written for the project, I’d believe you — and “The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour” draws the two sides together, devoting its first half to creating and only partially releasing tension in verses and a spoken chorus, while the second transitions into an ambient peculiarity of doom and drone noise, the rigor finally giving over to speech not unlike “Evil is Life” in such a way as to confirm that, as willfully unrefined as Woe Upon Man is across its relatively short stretch, High Strange are in control of what they’re doing and not acting without purpose behind their expression. The back-and-forth between assault and atmosphere — neither without aspects of the other, mind you — is pulled together in a way that is conscious and that it seems laughable to call graceful but is that just the same. If you can’t raise a claw to this, why even have claws?

Again, Aug. 24 is the release date (or at least the shipping date), and the preorder link and more info follows below from the PR wire. Before you get there, hit play on “Foulstrand” and be duly immersed in mortality’s endgame.



Lyrically based on August Strindberg’s “A Dream Play” HIGH STRANGE infuses their dark heaviness with a surrealistic edge. “Woe Upon Man” is a depraved cacophony of metal and noise primitivism, injecting blasts of fetid doom with mangled thrash. Massive slabs of rotted noise and low-end rumble into a seething mass of claustrophobic horror, creating a diverse and mind-blowing avant-heaviness.

Limited to 200 copies on black vinyl and 50 cassettes.


1. Descend and You May See
2. Black Hands
3. Foulstrand
4. Evil is Life
5. The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour

Jonathan Canady (Deathpile, Dead World): vocals, electronics
Jay Newman (Unearthly Trance, Serpentine Path, Abandoner): bass, moog, apprehension engine
Conor Hickey (Brain Slug, Born Sinner): guitar
Joe Branciforte (Carnivore A.D., All Out War): drums

High Strange, Woe Upon Man (2021)

Chrome Peeler Records on Facebook

Chrome Peeler Records on Twitter

Chrome Peeler Records on Bandcamp

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Human Impact Announce Nov./Dec. Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

human impact (Photo by Jim Coleman)

First, blah blah, it’s nice to see a list of tour dates. Specifically, it’s nice to see Human Impact, who released their self-titled debut (review here) in March 2020 and did one gig before the shutdown, get out and about. Third, it’s nice to see venues like Metro Gallery, Kung Fu Necktie, The Pyramid Scheme and so on resurface having in one way or the other weathered the hard times that were and may yet be again, depending on variants, vaccinations, politics, whatever else. Thinking about that last part I guess isn’t so nice.

But hey, the bulk of the news here is good. Given just how ‘New York’ Human Impact are, speaking aesthetically as well as in geography, I’m curious to know how they play to other regions, but certainly their pedigree precedes them, blah blah Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans, blah blah. You don’t need me to tell you about it, I’m sure.

The PR wire has dates and at the bottom you’ll find the stream of EP01, a compilation Human Impact released in March of this year, as well as their video for “Recognition” from it.

Here you go:

human impact tour



Human Impact, the noise rock MVPs featuring Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), Chris Spencer (Unsane), Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu) and Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans), have announced a U.S. tour kicking off on Nov. 26 at Brooklyn’s Market Hotel.

“After our debut album being released on the eve of pandemic lockdown, we are extremely happy to finally get out and start doing some live shows,” says Coleman of the band’s debut U.S. trek. “We love our recorded material, but Human Impact is meant to be experienced live and in person. This fall US tour will kick off an ongoing effort to tour through the US and Europe through 2021 and 2022.”

Human Impact issued their self-titled debut album via Ipecac Recordings in March of 2020. A tour was due to follow a week later. The foursome eked out one live performance before the international lockdowns began: March 14 at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus, in what would be the venerable venue’s final pre-COVID performance as well.

In March of this year, Human Impact released the eight-song EP01. The EP features a mix of singles and unreleased B-sides that were recorded simultaneously to the debut album. A video for the track “Recognition” ( arrived simultaneously. The vinyl version of EP01 arrives on Aug. 13.

Human Impact tour dates:
November 26 Brooklyn, NY Market Hotel
November 27 Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery
November 28 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie
November 30 Pittsburgh, PA Club Café
December 1 Indianapolis, IN HiFi
December 2 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House
December 3 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
December 4 St. Louis, MO Off Broadway Night Club
December 5 Kansas City, MO Record Bar
December 6 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
December 8 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
December 9 Louisville, KY Headliner’s Music Hall
December 10 Newport, KY Southgate House Revival Room
December 11 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop

Child Bite open on the Dec. 1 to 11 dates.

Chris Spencer (Unsane, UXO): Vocals/Guitar
Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop): Electonics
Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu): Bass
Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans): Drums

Human Impact, EP01 (2021)

Human Impact, “Recognition” official video

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Quarterly Review: Papir, Kosmodemonic, Steve Von Till, Sex Blender, Déhà, Thunder Horse, Rebreather, Melmak, Astral Magic, Crypt Monarch

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Day two already, huh? It’s a holiday week here in the States, which means people are on vacation or have at least enjoyed a long weekend hopefully without blowing any body parts off with fireworks or whatnot. For me, I prefer the day on rather than the day off, so we proceeded as normal yesterday in beginning the Quarterly Review. “We now return to our regularly scheduled,” and so on.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, as one would hope, and since we’re still basically at the start of this doublewide edition of the Quarterly Review — 10 down, 90 to go — I won’t delay further. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Papir, Jams

papir jams

Two sessions, three days apart, three pieces from each, resulting in six tracks running just about 80 minutes that Papir are only within their rights to have titled simply as Jams. With this outing, the Copenhagen-based psychedelic trio present their process at its most nakedly exploratory. I don’t know if they had any parts pre-planned when they went into the studio, but the record brims with spontaneity, drums jazzing out behind shimmering guitar and steadily grooving basslines. Effects are prevalent and add to the spaciousness, and the sessions from whence these songs came, whether it’s the key-led four-minute “20.01.2020 #2” or the 20-minute opener “17.01.2020 #1” — all tracks sharing the same date-and-number format as regards titles — feel vibrant and fluid in a way that goes beyond even the hazy hypnotics of “20.01.2020 #3.” Papir‘s instrumental dynamic is of course a huge part of what they do anyway, but to hear their chemistry come through in freer fashion as it does here can only be refreshing. I hope they do more like this.

Papir on Facebook

Stickman Records website


Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light

Kosmodemonic Liminal Light

Brooklyn outfit Kosmodemonic exist almost exclusively within genre border regions. Their second album, Liminal Light, fosters an approach that’s too considered not to be called progressive, but that owes as much to the cosmic doom of YOB as to black metal as to noise rock as to Voivod as to any number of other various ores in the metallic sphere. In their sprinting moments or in the consuming dark grandeur of centerpiece “Ipomoea,” they are pointedly individual, and cuts like “Drown in Drone” and the later slammer “Brown Crown” owe much to sheer impact as to the cerebral underpinnings of their angularity. Liminal Light is vicious but methodical, and feels executed with a firm desire to catch the audience sleeping and then blindside them with a change, be it in moving from one song to another or within one song itself, like when the penultimate “Chains of Goddess Grove” rears back from its lurching movement and spews thrashier fire in its final minute. Put these moments together and you get a record that challenges on multiple levels and is unflinchingly worth the effort of close engagement.

Kosmodemonic on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp


Steve Von Till, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Steve Von Till A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

The sixth solo offering from Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till is a first for being completely instrumental. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — goes that Von Till wrote the music for 2020’s No Wilderness Deep Enough (review here) late during jetlagged nights alone on his wife’s family’s property in Germany, where her family has lived for 500 years, only to later be convinced by producer Randall Dunn to write lyrics and record vocals for the songs. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, as the title hints, pulls those vocals back out of these re-named pieces, allowing elements like the quiet textures of keyboard and piano, horns and mellotrons to shine through in atmospheric fashion, layers of drone intertwining in mostly peaceful fashion. It is the least guitar-based record Von Till has ever done, and allows for a new kind of minimalism to surface along with an immersive melodic hum. Subdued, meditative, exploratory, kind of wonderful.

Steve Von Till website

Neurot Recordings store


Sex Blender, Studio Session I

Sex Blender Studio Session I

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, instrumentalist krautrock bizarros Sex Blender have two full-lengths behind them, and Studio Session I takes the consumingly fuzzed “Diver” from 2018’s Hormonizer and three cuts from 2020’s The Second Coming and turns them into a stirring 44-minute set captured on video for a livestream. Reportedly some of the arrangements are different, as will certainly happen, but as someone being introduced to the band through this material, it’s easy to be struck by the palpable sense of glee with which Sex Blender present their songs. “Crimson Master” is the shortest of the bunch at just over six minutes — it’s the only one under 11 — but even there, the manipulated keyboard sounds, drum fluidity and undercurrent of rumbling distortion push Sex Blender into a place that’s neither doom nor prog but draws from both, crawling where the subsequent “Rave Spritz” can’t help but bounce with its motorik drums and intertwined synth lines. May just be a live session, but they shine all the same.

Sex Blender on Facebook

Drone Rock Records website


Déhà, Cruel Words

Déhà Cruel Words

Déhà‘s third long-player Cruel Words was originally issued in 2019 and is seeing a first vinyl pressing on Burning World Records. The Brussels solo outfit has released no fewer than 17 other full-length outings — possibly more, depending on what counts as what — in the two years since these songs initially surfaced, but, well, one has to start someplace. The 2LP runs 75 minutes and includes bonus tracks — an acoustic version of opener “I Am Mine to Break,” a cover of The Gathering‘s “Saturnine” and the piano-into-post-metal “Comfort Me II” — but the highlights are on the album itself, such as the make-Amenra-blush 12-minute crux of “Dead Butterflies,” wherein a lung-crushing weight is given patient drama through its prominent keyboard layers, or the goth early going of “Pain is a Wasteland,” which seems to brood until it finally can’t take it anymore and bashes its head (and yours) into the wall. Surprisingly methodical for the manic pace at which Déhà (né Olmo Lipani) works, it makes artistry of its arrangement as well as performance and is willfully overwhelming, but engaging in that.

Déhà on Facebook

Burning World Records website


Thunder Horse, Chosen One

Thunder Horse Chosen One

Big riffs, big grooves, big hooks, Thunder Horse‘s second long-player, Chosen One, sees the San Antonio, Texas, outfit inherit some aspects from the members’ past outfits, whether it’s the semi-industrial vocal style of Stephen Bishop on “Among the Dead” or the classically shredding solo work of Todd Connally. With Dave Crow on bass and Jason “Shakes” West on drums, Thunder Horse elbow their way into a nod quickly on Chosen One and hold their ground decisively, with Dehumanizer-esque tones and flourish of keys throughout that closes in lead position on the outro “Remembrance” in complement to the strumming, whistling “Texas” a short while earlier. Even when they shuffle, as on the second half of “Song for the Ferryman,” Thunder Horse do it heavy, and as they did with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they make it hard to argue, either with the atmosphere or the sheer lumber of their output. An easy record to dig for the converted.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website


Rebreather, Pets / Orange Crush

Rebreather Pets Orange Crush

Heads up children of — or children of children of — the 1990s, as Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather effectively reinterpret and heavy up two of that decade’s catchiest hooks in Porno for Pyros‘ “Pets” and R.E.M.‘s “Orange Crush.” Taking songs that, if they ever left your head from rock radio, will certainly be right back in there now, and trying to put their own spin on them is ambitious, but Rebreather have no trouble slowing down the already kinda languid “Pets” or emphasizing the repetitive urgency of “Orange Crush,” and the tonal weight they bring to both honors the original versions as well as who Rebreather are as a band, while showcasing the band’s heretofore undervalued melodies, with call and response vocal lines in both cuts nodding to their sludge/noise rock roots while moving forward from there. They chose the songs well, if nothing else, and though it’s only about 10 minutes between the two cuts, as the first new Rebeather material since their 2018 self-titled EP (discussed here), I’ll take the two covers happily.

Rebreather on Facebook

Aqualamb Records website


Melmak, Down the Underground

Melmak Down the Underground

Spanish duo Melmak — guitarist/vocalist Jonan Etxebarria and drummer/vocalist Igor Etxebarria — offer an awaited follow-up to their 2016 long-player Prehistorical (review here) and demonstrate immediately that five years has not dulled their aggressive tendencies. Opener “Black Room” is a minute-long grindfest, and though “Scum” finds its way into a sludgy groove, it’s not far behind. “Poser” starts out as a piano ballad but turns to its own crushing roll, while “The Scene” rumbles out its lurch, “You Really Don’t Care” samples a crying baby over a sad piano line and “Ass Kisser” offers knee-to-the-face bruiser riffing topped with echoing gutturalism that carries the intensity into the seven-minute, more spacious “Jaundiced,” which gives itself over to extremity in its second half as well, and the closing noise wash of “The Crew.” What we learn from all this is it would seem Melmak find the heavy underground wanting in violent terms. They answer that call in bludgeoning fashion.

Melmak on Facebook

Melmak on Bandcamp


Astral Magic, Visions of Infinity

Astral Magic Visions of Infinity

Ostensibly a solo-project from Dark Sun bassist Santtu Laakso, Astral Magic‘s debut LP, Visions of Infinity, features contributions from guitarist Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Doctors of Space) and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Doctors of Space, Øresund Space Collective), as well as Samuli Sailo on ukulele, and has been mixed and mastered and released by Heller, so perhaps the plot thickens as regards just how much of band it is. Nonetheless, Astral Magic have all the cosmos to work with, so there’s plenty of room for everybody, as Visions of Infinity harnesses classic Hawkwindian space rock and is unafraid to add droning mysticism to the ever-outward procession on “Ancient Mysteries” or “Onboard the Spaceship,” to grow playful on “I Was Abducted” or bask in cosmic serenity on “Winds of Time” and “Wizards.” Off we go, into the greater reaches of “out there.” It’s a fun ride.

Astral Magic on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website


Crypt Monarch, The Necronaut

Crypt Monarch The Necronaut

Costa Rican trio Crypt Monarch offer their debut full-length in the form of the three-song/36-minute The Necronaut, the sound of which makes the claim on the part of the band — bassist/vocalist Christopher De Haan, guitarist Jose Rodriguez, drummer/vocalist J.C. Zuñiga — that it was made live in a cabin in the woods easy enough to believe. Though mixed and mastered, the 15-minute opener “Morning Star Through Skull” (15:41) and ensuing rollers “Rex Meridionalis” (10:12) and “Aglaphotis” (10:08) maintain a vigilant rawness, laced with noise even as De Haan and Zuñiga come together vocally on the latter, clean singing and gurgles alike. It is stoner metal taken to a logical and not entirely unfamiliar extreme, but the murk in which Crypt Monarch revel is dense and easy to get lost within. This, more than any single riff or lumbering groove, speaks to the success of the band’s intention in crafting the record. There is no clearly marked exit.

Crypt Monarch on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website


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Judas Knife Set Sept. 24 Release for Death is the Thing with Feathers

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the judas knife

Not gonna claim any great knowledge of the pedigree here, but I dig what Judas Knife are doing on their debut album, Death is the Thing with Feathers, a lot. Yeah, of course I’ve heard Into Another — their Seemless full-length was required reading at the Academy — and Youth of Today, but mostly I’m appreciating these songs on their own merits, whether that’s the Cave In-but-mixed melodic post-hardcore of the earlier cuts or the purposefully Lennon-styled piano of “New York’s Not My Home.”

Translation Loss has the album out in September, and I’ve put in to do a review with a premiere — not sure I’m cool enough, to be honest — but you can read more about the two-piece and the record they’ve made below courtesy of the PR wire. I don’t always go in for this kind of thing but this one hit a nerve. Songwriting is songwriting, at the end of the day.

Preorders are up and all that whatnot:

Judas Knife Death is the Thing with Feathers


JUDAS KNIFE, featuring members of YOUTH OF TODAY, INTO ANOTHER, GARRISON, GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP, and more will deliver the bands debut album, Death Is The Thing With Feathers, on September 24, 2021 via Translation Loss Records. The NY duo features Sid Jagger (Joseph Grillo) on vocals, guitars, bass, and keys, and Drew Thomas on drums and percussion. Death Is The Thing With Feathers also features guest guitar contributions from Kurt Ballou (CONVERGE, GodCity Studios) and piano/keys from Justin Williams.

JUDAS KNIFE have unveiled the first single from Death Is The Thing With Feathers titled, “Lumbering Giant”. The spacey and dynamic track is streaming now.

With Death Is The Thing With Feathers, post-hardcore veterans JUDAS KNIFE fuse grungy space-rock and emotive alchemy with dynamically catchy and moody cerebral psychedelia that digs deep into the scars of loss, abandonment, addiction, desperation, and loneliness. Dreamy, shoegazy textures and soaring vocals build the platform for the stories to shine through as personal anthems of recovery.

About the new album, vocalist Sid Jagger (Joseph Grillo) comments: “Half the reason I make records these days is to catch up and spend time with old friends, exchanging stories of the present and the past and remembering to check myself against some of the people I have respected for long periods of time. This time was no different. The intention for “Death Is The Thing With Feathers” was to make an LP where you could enjoy it if you chose to pay attention or not. something that feels cool and sexy, winding around your throat like a snake and something that can be considered if you have the time and the inclination.”

JUDAS KNIFE will release Death Is The Thing With Feathers on LP and digital on Translation Loss Records on September 24th. Two vinyl variants are available. Pre-order now HERE:

Track Listing:
1. Lumbering Giant
2. Don’t Know Me
3. Hit It and Hit It and Hit It
4. Dance In The Pale Glow
5. Warm Hands, Cold Heart
6. The Years Go By Like Broken Records
7. A Moment Of Clarity
8. Circus Circus
9. New York’s Not My Home
10. Her Feathers

Album Details:
Recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballou in February of 2021 at GodCity Studio, Salem, MA.
Mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios.

“Her Feathers” features Kurt Ballou on guitar.

Album artwork and promotional photos by Nathaniel Shannon.

Judas Knife, Death is the Thing with Feathers (2021)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Somnuri, Nefarious Wave

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

somnuri nefarious wave

[Click play above to stream Somnuri’s Nefarious Wave in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Blues Funeral Recordings.]

The dive into pummeling intensity isn’t quite immediate on Somnuri‘s Nefarious Wave. They give it about three seconds. And though the Brooklynite trio will showcase a number of different looks on their second album and Blues Funeral Recordings debut — their first LP, 2017’s self-titled (review here, also discussed here), came out through Magnetic Eye, and they’ve since taken part in that label’s ‘Redux’ series twice, on tribute releases for Pink Floyd (discussed here) and Alice in Chains (review here) in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and issued a split LP with fellow NYC noisebringers Godmaker (review here) in 2018 through The Company — Nefarious Wave remains defined at least in part by its volatility, by the notion that at any moment the band can and might kick their sludge until it becomes mad enough to be the thrash and grind it is as they unleash “Tied to Stone” (3:54) and “Tooth and Nail” (2:26) at the outset.

Those two songs comprise just over six of Nefarious Wave‘s total 36-minute run, and the rest of the seven-track outing moves from shortest to longest as it makes its way toward the seven-minute titular cut, and though there’s some letup in tempo and further fleshing out of melody in that process, beginning with third song “Desire Lines” and its blend of weighted crash and airier singing — vocals handled by guitarist Justin Sherrell (ex-Blackout, etc.), who also handles bass here, and bassist Philippe Arman, while drummer Phil SanGiacomo (ex-Family) supplies the crash and mixed — and culmination in a build into angular riffing and throaty shouts worthy of comparison to Swarm of the Lotus. Perhaps it’s because they so very much nailed “Dirt” on the Alice in Chains tribute that one can’t help but hear an edge of grunge in their layered and harmonized vocals, but the context is different as Somnuri make these elements their own, and “Desire Lines” ultimately answers the unmitigated rush of “Tooth and Nail” with a massive lumber that opens wide enough to devour that false sense of security whole. What rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Brooklyn to be born?

They’re not tricky about it. Somnuri aren’t trying to be clever for cleverness’ sake and the prog-noise-metal-sludge they choose at any given moment to inhabit is way more Lifesblood than even Remission, if one has to draw a line to Mastodon as the gallop in the beginning of centerpiece “Beyond Your Last Breath” would seem to warrant. But they wear brutality well, and just because it’s part of the plan rather than the entirety of it doesn’t make their proceedings any less brutal. As it moves into its midsection, a throaty bellow echoes out over a stomping procession, and soon the three-piece are twisting between one riff and the next as SanGiacomo gracefully handles change upon change, a quick stretch of melodic vocals giving way to a comedown before the chug surges forth again to round out. “Beyond Your Last Breath” is transitional no matter the format on which one listens.


It not only finishes side A of the vinyl, but taking Nefarious Wave as a linear entirety — CD/DL — it functions as a lead-in to the three longer pieces that comprise the remaining circa 20 minutes of the release. The longer half, as it were, made up of fewer tracks. Particularly, it’s easy to pair “Beyond Your Last Breath” and “Watch the Lights Go Out,” which follows, in terms of theme. The latter track trades cleaner verses for a harsher pre-chorus before the soaring hook, and feels not quite patient in its execution, but not far off. Its apex, which arrives around 4:40 into its 6:09, is as furious as it is restrained, lurching back and forth on drawn out lines of guitar topped with hard growls, where the beginning of the song, with its ride cymbal and engaging bludgeonry, seemed to recall the impulses that drove “Tied to Stone” and “Tooth and Nail” in we-like-to-start-fast fashion. Can’t blame them, given how well it works.

But “Watch the Lights Go Out,” whatever it carries over from side A and however malevolent its crescendo proves to be, moves Nefarious Wave into its next stage, bringing on the at-first-hypnotic-then-destructive-then-righteously-melodic-then-everything-all-together-then-breakdown-elbow-to-your-face “In the Grey,” the penultimate inclusion on the album and by no means its first tour de force. It’s true that Somnuri save actual patience for the title-track that finishes, but already coming from “Watch the Lights Go Out,” there’s a sense of the reach going wider that sets that up, so that the melodies that top “Nefarious Wave” aren’t out of place and the echoing solo in its first half is no more random than the are-those-keyboards-or-guitar-effects? layer that accompanies the last crashes before the title-track gives over its last minute to noise. One might be tempted to think of that as time to process, but it’s hardly enough for the head-spinnery Nefarious Wave has had on offer throughout.

What carries the album, however, is the sense of control with which the band deliver the material. The songs certainly are not without an element of danger — there’s a feeling at times like they’re pushing themselves physically as well as creatively — and of course a certain amount of confrontationalism is a regional delicacy of NYC, but Somnuri find a niche for themselves amid that tempest, and they’re able to create both a purpose in the album’s structure and a flow within and between the songs to enact that purpose. It would be easy to have Nefarious Wave unfold as base chaos, an extreme-sludge onslaught running the length of an LP, in and out and done. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the mission here is different and one finds the richness of melody that ensues leaving no less an impression in the end than did the outright violence of the first two songs. You can hear as much in Nefarious Wave as you want to put into hearing it, and any such effort on the part of the listener is given due reward.

Somnuri, “Beyond Your Last Breath” official video

Somnuri on Facebook

Somnuri on Instagram

Somnuri on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Christopher Skowronski of Kings Destroy & Killing Time

Posted in Questionnaire on May 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Christopher Skowronski of Kings Destroy & Killing Time

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Christopher Skowronski of Kings Destroy & Killing Time

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

I think it’s easiest and most accurate to say that I am simply a musician. Music has been the single most important thing in my life since I was a young kid, it’s what I think about most of the time, it’s what I spend the majority of my free time on. Beside playing and writing songs for the bands I play in now (and many others in the past), I have also produced, engineered, and mixed records with/for other bands. If a good song comes on the radio when I’m driving, I inadvertently play drums on the steering wheel and make my wife crazy. I suppose you could say in the broader sense that I am an “artist” and my medium is music, but that sounds a bit pretentious. So yeah, I’d define myself as a musician and what I do as just creating music. Pretty straight forward.

In terms of how I came to it, that is directly due to my family, particularly my older brother, Steven. I am the youngest of six children, and there was always a lot of old rock music playing in my house when I was a kid. My brother is ten years older than I am, and he was/is a musician. When I was very young—in the early to mid ’70s—he was a teenager listening to mostly classic rock. Sabbath, Kiss, Cheap Trick, etc. So that’s what I was listening to as a kid. He and his friends had a band, and they would play in my basement and do shows in our little backyard. (There is an old photo floating around of me sitting in on bongos during one of these backyard gigs!) In the later ’70s, he got into the first wave of punk, so then I got to listen to The Ramones, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, and then later lots of New Wave, like The Cars, Joe Jackson, etc. He kept playing in bands and started doing club gigs at places like the old Rising Sun in Yonkers and the Left Bank in Mount Vernon. By this time, there were drums and amps in the basement and guitars in his room. So, when he wasn’t around, I would sneak into his room and take out the guitar. (Sorry, Steve!) I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew it was cool! This was probably around the time I was 10, so, like, 1980.

As I moved into my young teens, he started getting heavily into The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and that kind of stuff. So then I got an education in all of those types of bands. At this point, I had also moved into discovering the New Wave of British Heavy Metal on my own, and became a massive Iron Maiden fan (Up the Irons!). That was kind of my first foray into music that hadn’t come to me directly from him. The punk stuff he had hipped me to also led to me discovering more of the hardcore punk stuff on my own. West Coast stuff like Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies, some early New York and D.C. stuff. Most of it was music I discovered on my own through friends, though I have a distinct memory of the two of us in his car, driving my mom somewhere. We dropped her off, and as soon as she was out of the car, he said, “Time for some Misfits!” and cranked Walk Among Us. That was definitely the first time I’d heard them.

Anyway, when I was about 12 or 13, I saved up money from a paper route (remember those?) and bought my first guitar: a Harmony Flying V copy from the Montgomery Ward catalog. I was really into the Scorpions at the time, so the V was a no-brainer. I fucked around with it, having no real idea what I was doing. One day, I kept spinning Maiden’s “Flight of Icarus,” trying to figure out how to play it, but having no real clue what I was supposed to do. After picking up the needle about twenty times and making some god-awful random noise with my guitar, he came into my room, a little exasperated, and was like, “Let me just show you something.” He then taught me exactly one thing: How to play a barre chord. It was basically, “This is kind of all you need for now— figure out the rest on your own.” So I just kind of took it from there. I know this story makes it sound like he wasn’t super supportive of me playing, but my read on it was, I was the little brother, and he wanted to see if I was just fucking around with all of this or whether I was serious about it. Eventually, as I got better on my own, he would show me more things here and there, and I think he finally accepted that I was serious about it and was very supportive. To this day, I still send him demos of new songs I write, and he gives me feedback on them. So very long story short, my brother is the primary reason I became a musician. Eventually after playing in a bunch of garage bands, then I met the guys that I still play with now in Killing Time and KD, and became part of that second wave, late ’80s NYHC scene. Started playing in bands and playing shows. That was around 1988/89. Still best friends and playing with all of them today.

Describe your first musical memory.

Playing my oldest sister’s collection of Beatles 45’s. I’m a massive Beatles fan, and it can probably be traced back to that. I think that and the power pop that my brother turned me on to in the ’80s is why I still love really strong vocal melodies and harmonies, even in heavier music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I was just talking about this with a couple friends last night. In 1988, I saw AC/DC at the Nassau Coliseum. It was general admission for the floor, and I went with a good friend who was a serious AC/DC fan. The plan was, “We’re getting there early, we’re getting to the front of the line, and when they open, we are getting right up to the front of the stage.” So that’s what we did. Back then, when they opened general admission, you had to run full speed and kind of fight off all the others who had the same plan as you, but we pulled it off. All this is to say that I got to see AC/DC at their prime, pressed right up to the stage, directly in front of Angus’s Marshall stacks for nearly two hours. I was just getting absolutely blasted right in the face by his cranked rig. It was like a religious experience. Probably my fist taste of tinnitus too!

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

I’ve had a couple friends who have had pretty serious struggles with drugs, and have seen them do some really awful shit to me and others in the process. I think my test was learning that really loving and caring about someone isn’t quite enough in those situations. That lifelong friendship doesn’t mean shit to someone in the throes of serious addiction. You just have to learn to to let go to a certain extent. I do think love and support are still essential in a situation like that, but I learned that they aren’t enough, at least in my experience. So I guess that belief was tested and changed as a result.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

For me, it leads to just being fulfilled as a person and feeling like you are continuing to live and grow. That sounds like some self-help book bullshit, but life is a real beatdown most of the time. Just having something you love to do, that you continue learning things about, continue practicing, continue improving upon, is a great way to feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your time on the planet instead of just working to pay bills until you go toes up.

How do you define success?

Making something you are happy with and proud of. That’s it. Probably sounds kind of corny, but it’s true. Everything else good that might happen from what you do after that is just a bonus.

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

I saw a woman commit suicide by jumping from the roof of a 12-floor apartment building. Wish I hadn’t seen that.

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

An instrumental metal record. I did a little side-project over the last couple of years and put out an instrumental song, but it was more on the jamming, boogie-rock side. I’ve always wanted to write and record a really epic all-instrumental metal record. I actually started working on one near the start of the pandemic, but it turned into me just using some of the material for new Kings Destroy songs.

I’ve also done some visual stuff, like the video I made for “Fantasma Nera” last year. I am by no means a visual artist, and don’t claim to have any real talent for it, but I really enjoyed it, and would love to do more.

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

To make you feel like there is something that separates you from the (other) animals. I think that works in terms of both for creating art and experiencing it.

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

The New York Knicks finally being in the NBA playoffs again!

Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera (2019)

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