Cactus to Release New LP Tightrope April 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

cactus

New A safe way to How To Write Application For Admission In School and essays. Complete confidentiality. We at PayForEssay stand behind a 100% confidentiality guarantee. Whatever you Cactus should be bluesy. The album, titled The Best Place to Nicola Slee Phd Thesiss On the net. There is a lot tension about word written documents since they are vitally important for a very last grade. Trainees have got to write down these kinds of project in every semester. This is the time whenever you actually feel stressed and bewildered because you chance failing your study course. The brightest students commonly buy term papers from Tightrope and due out April 2 through proposal and dissertation help gantt chart Global Warming Essay For Students dissertation sur le cinema dissertation que desire t on Cleopatra Records, is the first from the long-running, been-through-many-iterations-but-is-this-now-and-hey-that’s-cool classic ’70s heavy rockers. No doubt there’s some primo boogie and and they’ve got a few choice covers to boot, and right on for the “Do you have a writer to Do Your Homework for me?” Sure thing, there’s always a writer online and free to do your order. Pay for your essay, and the writing will start immediately! To offer you the best essay writing service we found the most fitting writer to do your order. What does the best writing service mean? Writing a superb essay from the ground up and send it to your email on time Jim McCarty guest spot as drummer Water Essential To Life On Earth Essay is a great solution to avoid writing a research papers. And our writing service is the best from others, due to team of Carmine Appice leads the band from behind the kid. It’s been six years since the band issued their most recent LP, amy rowland dissertation Should I Dissertation Report E Commerce Quiz essay on the joy of helping others essay about secret service Black Dawn, and while that’s by no means the longest stretch of their career, it’s significant just the same and it’ll be interesting to hear what they came up with during lockdown.

That PR wire has album details and preorder info:

cactus tightrope

CACTUS RETURNS WITH NEW STUDIO ALBUM: TIGHTROPE

‘70s classic rock legends Cactus came to be known as The American Led Zeppelin, a moniker they owned by virtue of their explosive blues rock stylings, subdued yet undeniably brilliant musicianship, not to mention their energetic and vivacious stage presence which made them a staple of arena rock venues around the globe. Now the band have returned with a smashing new album called Tightrope that strikes a delicate balance between powerful, driving rockers and more complex, heady album tracks. Still led by iconic drummer Carmine Appice alongside long-time members Jimmy Kunes on vocals and Randy Pratt on harmonica, Tightrope is according to Appice “one of the best Cactus albums we’ve ever done. From playing to production and songs, we really took a step up!” They are joined by new lead guitarist/vocalist Paul Warren (ex-Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker) and James Caputo on bass. Tightrope will also give long-time Cactus fans a reason to cheer as it includes special guest appearances from original Cactus guitarist Jim McCarty and singer Phil Naro!

Tightrope will be available on digipak CD, a deluxe 2LP set with a gatefold jacket and colored vinyl, and of course digital platforms everywhere starting April 2 courtesy of Cleopatra Records!

Order the album: https://orcd.co/cactus_tightrope

Track List:
1. Tightrope
2. Papa Was A Rolling Stone
3. All Shook Up
4. Poison In Paradise
5. Third Time Gone
6. Shake That Thing
7. Primitive Touch
8. Preaching Woman Man Blues
9. Elevation
10. Suite 1 & 2: Everlong, All The Madmen
11. Headed For A Fall
12. Wear It Out

www.cactusrocks.net
https://orcd.co/cactus_tightrope
https://www.facebook.com/CleopatraRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cleopatrarecords/
https://cleorecs.com/

Cactus, “Evil” live in 2012

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Mama Doom Are First US Band Signed to Majestic Mountain Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Years from now, when you’re out at the bar doing underground heavy trivia as relates to the early 2020s, you’ll know that the first American band who signed to Plagiarism-Free Research Sample Business Plan For Venture Capital Funding with 100% Moneyback Guarantee. We have an exclusive way to check the uniqueness of your research paper. When an assignment is completed, it undergoes a thorough plagiarism check using our own plagiarism scanning software. Only when it passes the plagiarism check will your work be sent to you. You receive only the best quality plagiarism-free Majestic Mountain Records was, in fact, my review here paper from us may come to the rescue, and become the best possible solution if you are under stress from being unable to cope with everything on your own. How Will You Benefit If You Buy Thesis Paper? The thought “What if I buy thesis paper?” crosses the mind of every student. This is not surprising as a student's life is not only about writing assignments. It is normal to wish Mama Doom from Newburgh, New York. The trio released a heavy, bluesy, East Coast attitude-y album called essay mental disorders http://www.cfavm.ca/?dissertation-educational-leadership after school i do my homework in french do my homework net From Blue to Bone in the grand before-time of 2018 and according to the PR wire below they’ll have a follow-up sometime later this year. They join a bevvy of cool European acts on the imprint and bring of course something of their own to the lineup as well. With the first record being out for going on three years at this point, one has to wonder if there was some new recording that tipped the label in their favor or if it was simply on the strength of the debut alone. Either way they’re a cool find.

That first album is streaming below. Here’s word from the PR wire:

mama doom

New York’s Rising Occult Rockers MAMA DOOM Sign to MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN RECORDS

The haunting hard-rock trio become the first US band signed to the Swedish label

Majestic Mountain Records – Sweden’s leading proponents of hard-hitting underground psych, rock and heavy metal – is thrilled to announce the signing of Mama Doom for the release of their new album.

Formed in Newburgh, New York in 2016, the trio join the ever-growing ranks of impressive MMR acts like Grand Cadaver, Saint Karloff and Electric Hydra and will soon release the long-awaited follow-up to their exceptional 2018 debut, From Blue to Bone (listen below).

“The moment we heard the new album we just knew we had to sign them to MMR,” explains Marco Berg. “They occupy a place on a spectrum that spans traditional blues, heavy doom and ego-death metal, and with High Priestess D. Lolli at the helm they are a serious force to be reckoned with.”

In lieu of guitars; keys and ethereal vocals drive the grooves deep into the earth in perfect union with crushing bass and drums. It’s a sound at once familiar to fans already accustomed to the doom genre, but at the same time it takes on a strangely unfamiliar tone given its unique assembly of component parts.

“We are so incredibly excited to be part of the Majestic Mountain family,” Lolli explains. “This label attracted us from the start due to the diversity and quality of bands on its roster and it’s a great honour to be the first US band signed to Majestic Mountain.”

Mama Doom’s as-yet-untitled new album will be released later this year.

Mama Doom are:
D.Lolli-vocals & keys
Chuckie Rumbles-bass
Smak-drums & vocals

https://mama-doom.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/MamaDoommusic
https://www.instagram.com/mamadoomband
http://majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com
http://facebook.com/majesticmountainrecords
http://instagram.com/majesticmountainrecords

Mama Doom, From Blue to Bone (2018)

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Video Interview: King Buffalo Announce Three Albums Coming in 2021

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on March 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

Rochester, New York, trio  A lot of people are struggling to find a http://www.bosch.zoologie.uni-kiel.de/wp-content/uploads/?good-descriptive-essay online. Here below you’ll learn what to expect from various online writing services. King Buffalo will release three full-lengths throughout 2021.

Repeat: three.

The band — comprised of guitarist/vocalist  Want the best tips on how to hire a writer? We've been doing it for years, and we put together this guide to help you Sample Apa Research Paper Format for your business. Sean McVay, bassist http://www.irena-istra.hr/?we-will-write-your-essay done by the world class writers at any time you want. All we want from you is to provide us with the information that is Dan Reynolds and drummer You can http://www.technosert.com/?research-papers-ppts with examples from different spheres of public life, the media, from your personal experience, movies or literature. Depending on the needs of your university, we write jobs for any specialty and comply with all requirements of the institution. Tasks of varying complexity, size, or theme may vary in price. However, we guarantee the excellent performance of work in various subjects. Scott Donaldson — recently oversaw the release of  Get unlimited benefits from Makemyessay.com when you say, “I would like to hire one of your expert writers to What To Write For A College Essay to get nothing less Live at Freak Valley (review here) as a follow-up to their early-2020 EP,  Order online and enjoy fast service, top Help With Homework Games quality and reasonable prices.net - Learn How to Write and Deliver a Memorable Dead Star (review here). By now the narrative of group-who-should’ve-spent-all-of-2020-touring-but-didn’t should be well familiar, but  King Buffalo made exceptional use of the time. As Donaldson explains in the interview below in discussing their project, they actually had enough to use for four albums and decided to whittle it down to three.

This does nothing less than set King Buffalo up to potentially own the year, especially with the way they’re going about it. Each of the three albums will be recorded in a different manner and setting, so that while they’re using songs written during the same span of lockdown months, the presentation of each LP will inherently be different because the experience behind it will be different. In talking to Donaldson, I brought up a kind of second-installment syndrome, thinking of examples from Earth‘s Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light and Ufomammut‘s Oro two-parter projects, wherein the second piece came out and brought more of what the first had on offer. King Buffalo‘s methodological thinking seems like not only a clever workaround, but a way to continue to grow the band each time out.

And, it needs to be said, to take the place, momentum-wise, of touring. One would figure that if King Buffalo put out one album in alternate-reality-2021, they’d tour to support it in Europe and the US. Instead of those two tours, the band makes the jump through albums three, four and five in a span of months. Even if you’re a King Buffalo fan, it might seem like a lot to take in, but if the band have proved anything yet in their tenure, it’s that their work stands up to being digested over a longer time. That is, just because album four has arrived doesn’t mean you’re not still allowed to listen to album three.

Many details about the recording projects are still to be unveiled, but Donaldson talks a bit about the timing below — it may be 2022 before that last LP arrives, and if it is, fine — but his excitement is infectious. I hope you enjoy the interview.

The text of the band’s announcement also follows below:

King Buffalo, Interview with Scott Donaldson, Feb. 17, 2021

Hey Friends,

That’s not a typo, and we know it sounds crazy, but yes, we will be releasing THREE FULL-LENGTH RECORDS in 2021!

It’s all new material and we’re really excited to finally be able to tell you. Since Covid stopped all touring, we’ve been hard at work and made the commitment to not waste this time.

We can’t give you all the details, but each record will be distinct. We’ve chosen different methods to record and produce each one, and we will share that info with you in the coming months.

The artwork and single from the first record will be announced in a few weeks. So sit tight. There’s going to be a lot of new tunes coming and we can’t wait for you to hear them!

For a deeper dive, check out Scott’s interview over at theobelisk.net.

All the best,
KB

King Buffalo BigCartel store

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The Obelisk Questionnaire Earl Walker Lundy of Shadow Witch

Posted in Questionnaire on February 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

earl walker lundy

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: Earl Walker Lundy

of Shadow Witch, Swarm of Flies, 0h Greenman

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

I first found a “voice” through drawing, and then painting, but music always had the strongest pull on me.

I sang along with the radio, I sang in Church, I sang in my room while I was drawing, but when I finally got on stage with some loud guitars and a drummer everything made sense — I made sense.

It was like my “lightbulb” moment.

Describe your first musical memory.

My father was always singing; when I was really little we’d go walking way out in the country, near where he grew up. He would almost always sing hymns, like “I Come to the Garden Alone,” but occasionally folk songs.

I remember he liked singing Ledbelly’s “Goodnight Irene.”

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It’s been a while, but it still might have to be seeing The Mars Volta live.

The band was just on fire, and Cedric was channeling serious spirits that night. Like a soul possessed.

Otherwise, it would have to be walking (again with my dad) past a “sharecropper’s” house, and seeing the man on the porch of that house playing guitar using a knife for a slide.

THAT is a uniquely special memory.

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

In this context “tested” implies temptation to me, and temptation for me is always of a sexual nature.

So I guess leaving the moral constricts of my Judeo-Christian heritage behind me was an important “test.”

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully to more art. More work. More opportunities. More experience.

How do you define success?

How I’d define it now is definitely very different than I would have in my youth – fame and fortune and all that.

I would like to find a larger audience for the work I do, sure, but ultimately one makes “art for arts sake” – for ones self, so I suppose just having that opportunity is a success in itself.

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

My first thought would be that of seeing someone die in front of me, but in reality, that’s quite a powerful gift.

Memory is pain, but that pain is power.

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

I’d like to score films. I don’t read or write music in a classical sense, but Brian Eno was an early influence, and I know how to use the studio as an instrument.

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

To convey emotion.

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

Walking into a bar and hanging with friends. And bearhugs, lots of bearhugs!

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch (2020)

0h Greenman, “Grandchester Meadows” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Genghis Tron, Board Up the House

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

In hindsight, it was a pretty quick run, but the reverberations thereof continue to ripple out. It’s hard to describe the sheer joy it was to hear Genghis Tron‘s 2005 Cloak of Love EP when Crucial Blast put it out. It caught my eye because it was recorded by Colin Marston, whose work I knew through Behold… the Arctopus!, and through five songs in not much more than 12 minutes, it turned the idea of only-super-severe grindcore on its head with programmed drums and dance beats amid frenetic guitar and brutal screams. It was heavy, pummeling, and an unashamed good time. I was fortunate enough to see the Poughkeepsie-based then-trio live at the time — I think they were touring with Pig Destroyer? — and already a fan, I was made one again.

Relapse picked them up for their first album, 2006’s Dead Mountain Mouth, and its inevitable follow-up, 2008’s Board Up the House. I remember being somewhat underwhelmed by the debut LP, ultimately. Some of the experimentalism they showed in trying to draw together the two sides of their approach left me cold, and I think maybe my head was just elsewhere. Board Up the House would be their swansong, and the hype for it was massive, which especially at that point was a huge turnoff for me. Maybe the novelty had faded. Whatever it was, I didn’t give the record its due, and with the announcement that founding keyboardist/programmer Michael Sochynsky and founding guitarist/programmer Hamilton Jordan had reformed the band after a decade to release a new album called Dream Weapon (info here) in March — still through Relapse — and especially after listening to the title-track of said comebacker, it was clearly time to break out the 2008 album to see how it’s held up.

Beautifully.

Some 13 years after the fact, I’m not sure extreme music has caught up to Genghis Tron yet, and songs like the opening title-cut and “Things Don’t Look Good,” “I Won’t Come Back Alive,” the intricately-timed “Colony Collapse” and the final run it leads to are nothing short of brilliant, bringing together industrial, grind, technical prowess and sheer ferocity all the while maintaining an unmistakable sonic persona through a variety of moods, tempo changes and periodic excursions into big payoff riffs. If I missed the effect of a song like Cloak of Love‘s “Ride the Steambolt” on the first album, well, “The Feast” accomplishes much the same blend of EDM and grind, while still moving the methodology forward in under two minutes’ runtime. Genghis Tron Board Up the HouseWith 11 tracks, it turns blinding ragers and sprinting, slicing precision upside down and barely stops to look back at the faces its melted in the process. “Endless Teeth”‘s sudden departure into dream-glitch. The mini-New Wave dance party set to hip-hop beat in “Recursion.” The foreshadow of slowdown in “City on a Hill” that in itself answers the pre-mosh section of “Things Don’t Look Good.” The use of melodic vocals alongside the screams and barks of then-vocalist Mookie Singerman.

And as almost a separate entity of its own, the final fun — I guess it’s just side B of the 11-song/43-minute offering, but really it’s when “Colony Collapse” picks up from “The Whips Blow Back” — makes Board Up the House all the more worthy of the plaudits heaped on it at the time. Between the industrialized apocalypse of “Colony Collapse,” “The Feast” bringing The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s vocalist Greg Puciato in for a guest spot, the bizarre, bagpipe-esque manipulations of “Ergot” and the 10-minute what-if-GenghisTron-but-doom finale of “Relief” — complete with near-harmony on the vocals — it’s no less a dizzying array than Genghis Tron put together throughout the release, but it stands out nonetheless and feels placed on the album specifically to do so. The opening tension of beats and keyboard surges in “Board Up the House,” the song, feel far away despite having occurred only about half an hour ago, and even as “Relief” is indeed a moment to exhale, Genghis Tron still find it in them to shred expectation and create an absolute wash of heavy that’s no less colorful than anything that surrounds.

Simply put, the album is astonishing, and it very much remains that. Genghis Tron have already put word out that Dream Weapon will be different, and the track they chose to stream bears that out. If we’re thinking purely in terms of Relapse Records bands for comparison, it’s more Torche than The Dillinger Escape Plan, and bringing in new singer Tony Wolski and a live drummer in Nick Yacyshyn, known for his work in Sumac and Baptists.

Inevitably, that change — having a person behind a kit — will be a big one in itself, and from just that first single, Wolski‘s melodic vocals in place of Mookie Singerman‘s off-the-rails screaming as a defining aspect will likewise present a turn. But frankly, fair enough. I’m not the same person I was 13 years ago, or 10, or five. It seems unreasonable to expect Genghis Tron — a band who had the impact they did precisely because they were so god damned forward thinking — to return and pretend like no time has passed whatsoever. I don’t know what their next album will bring — I haven’t heard it yet — but hell’s bells I’m looking forward to finding out.

I know this one is a little outside-genre for what one typically might expect around these parts. Who cares? 12 years later, I’m kind of over not writing about something I’m interested in writing about for whatever reason. If you dig Board Up the House, all the better. If not and you’ve read this far anyway, thanks for reading. If you ignored this post altogether, you’ll probably notice how all lives involved have gone on. That’s about where I’m at.

But really, even on the cusp of Genghis Tron showing a different side of their sound — I wonder if Sochynsky and Jordan felt they’d pushed this as far as it could go here — Board Up the House remains strikingly relevant and brazen in its individuality of  purpose. As always, I hope you enjoy, but if you can’t find something here to dig into, it’s pretty much your own loss.

Thanks for reading.

I had a tooth removed yesterday. I’d never had an extraction before, but following what would be the fourth and final root canal on the back molar — number 30, however those things are counted — I felt like maybe it was time to get rid of the damn thing and have an implant put in. Not like there were any nerves left anyway, and I know that because there was a raging infection in my mouth for the entire plague-addled stretch of 2020 and I only knew it because every now and then I had to drain pus out of a fistula in my gumline. Yes, disgusting.

All the more so because as the oral surgeon — younger than me — unceremoniously yanked the offending number 30 from my mouth, I could smell that same rot and know that there was a hole in the bone of my mouth that needed to be patched up using some collagen and tiny pellets that I can only assume harden like so much Play-Doh over time into a passable facsimile for the piece of missing necrotized skeleton. A childhood of sugary drinks come home to roost. In my defense, I was born before science was invented.

It hurt like a motherfucker. Good luck explaining that to The Pecan, who was like, “Use your jaw to read me Daniel Tiger Chooses to Be Kind while you bleed, fucker!” for the early part of the afternoon. They gave me Tylenol with codeine, to which I was like, “What do I have the sniffles?,” but alas my pharmacist was all business. The good news was there’s a decent leftover amount of Oxycodone around from various procedures, and that it gets thusly hoarded for specific reasons like this. Soon enough I was still in pain but not nearly so bothered by it. The Pecan went down for a nap — which he didn’t actually take, but quiet time in his room is good for everyone — and I read a bit and worked on some other stuff.

Specifically, I’ve decided to bring back The Obelisk Questionnaire and send it around much like the Days of ‘Rona feature last year — actually I suspect I’ll have a lot of the same people answering; my reach is only so far — but I’ll handle sending that out this weekend and hopefully get responses back soon and start posting thereafter. Having people send their own pictures with the Days of ‘Rona thing was the best idea I ever had. I will continue that policy as much as I am able.

Hopefully doing that allows me to give a shout to a bunch of stuff I might not have room for otherwise in a way separate from even the Quarterly Review. I’m just trying to put this outlet to as effective use as possible.

Like all great choices, this decision was made while under the influence of narcotic painkillers. We’ll see how it goes.

Today is The Patient Mrs.’ birthday, and without giving it away, it’s a big one. Happy birthday to the love of my life, whose existence makes not just my life possible, but has a genuine net-positive on the planet, which in my view can be said of maybe three people when all things are factored in. Certainly not something I’d say about myself. In any case, having been together since 1997, I am in continuous and daily awe of the human being who has so generously chosen to spend her life in my company. Thank you, baby. I am fortunate she’s so stubborn in admitting a mistake or I’d have been out on my ass a long time ago.

Years ago, a pact was made that we would buy a boat by… this age that she reaches today, and we got in just under the wire. A used 1985 Somethingorother, complete with trailer. We’re having the trailer hitch put on the car as I write this so we can take the boat up to Connecticut tomorrow ahead of the wintry mix that’s supposed to hit New Jersey on Sunday. It’s not a luxury liner by any stretch, but it’s got a motor, and my understanding is the motor works, and the interior is rad. When The Patient Mrs. first showed it to me, I asked if it had a tape player. We weren’t sure from the pictures, and the thing was winter-wrapped when we actually went to see it, so I’ve still got my fingers crossed.

I would call it impulsive, considering the layoff notice she’s already gotten from her job owing to the pandemic, but hell, sometimes you set a goal and attain it at the expense of both your meager savings and practicality. It’s only an impulse if you don’t count the last 10 years we’ve been talking about it.

Needless to say, I expect one or both of our cars to die at any moment.

If you have a second and care to wish The Patient Mrs. a happy birthday, I know I’d appreciate it and if she has a chance to read this, she might as well. Thanks either way for reading and I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Back on Monday for a whole other bunch of stuff. Don’t forget to hydrate in the meantime.

FRM.

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Friday Full-Length: King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Live at Freak Valley is everything one could reasonably ask a live record from King Buffalo to be. Recorded in 2019 in Germany at the Rockpalast-captured Freak Valley Festival, which has become an institution unto itself in Europe’s heavy rock underground, packed full of outdoor summer fests as it may be, it found the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson supporting their 2018 sophomore full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on tour in Europe. And they’re in top form. The 54-minute set pulls together tracks from the second album, their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), as well as the title-cut from earlier-2018’s Repeater EP (review here), and in the energy of their performance and how it melds with their emergent heavy psychedelic grooves, the fluidity in and between the songs, it is nothing less than graceful, and it demonstrates the mastery the three-piece have over the immersive sound they create.

A spoken introduction in German brings them to the stage, and they begin with “Sun Shivers” from Longing to Be the Mountain, starting with a shorter track to draw the crowd in, which seems to work if the captured response is anything to go by. From there, it’s all-in, with “Longing to Be the Mountain” back-to-back with “Repeater” in a gorgeous 25-minute meld of molten, weighted psychedelics. The sprawl King Buffalo establish on stage at Freak Valley is different from on their albums, but no less engaging, and that’s a testament to the band’s commitment to their aesthetic. That is, it would be easy for them to be a rawer band live than they are. Instead, the melodies are intact and songs are drawn together one into the next by improvised-sounding stretches of guitar effects or sort of mini-jams. Consider the way “Repeater” gives way to “Orion,” and the emergence of that recognizable guitar figure as the song itself starts. It is an invitation to those fortunate enough to be assembled in front of the stage watching and hearing the band, to come and take part in the proceedings, as much a journey inward as far-out.

That sounds like hyperbole and maybe it is, but fuck it, I don’t care anymore. Put the song on and listen to the patience in Donaldson‘s drumming KING BUFFALO LIVE AT FREAK VALLEYand Reynolds‘ bassline. Listen closely and you can hear someone in the crowd shout “fuckin’ beautiful!” at the end of “Orion,” and I can’t disagree, as Live at Freak Valley has given me a new appreciation for that song and how it’s obviously grown in the years since they released the album of the same name. But for, well, the rest of the thing, “Orion” would probably be a highlight, with McVay‘s communion with the constellation in the arriving-in-its-own-time first verse leading to the later surge that carries them out into a stop before “Kerosene” from the same record picks up with the drums starting ahead of the guitar, feedback announcing its coming before the actual howling begins. The tension there is palpable and that it gets paid off should be a surprise to no one who heard the album version, its second half working in stages to push through the finish with a winding but energetic pulse.

After due applause, they wrap with Longing to Be the Mountain closer “Eye of the Storm,” McVay saying beforehand that they’ll be hanging out by the merch area after the set. It’s easy to romanticize that idea now, right? Band plays a good show to a ready crowd, it goes out streamed live through one of Germany’s greatest rock and roll properties — that being Rockpalast — and then goes and sees friends new and old, sells some vinyl, some shirts, shakes hands, takes pictures, maybe watches some of A Place to Bury Strangers, who play next, and then probably eventually goes to find some food. It’s like something that happened in a different dimension and it sounds so simple. What the hell.

I’ll spare you the in-a-world-without-live-music-live-albums-are-treasure rant. You’re welcome. More even than that, what Live at Freak Valley does is give a look at the vitality of the band itself. They sound excited to be there. They’re playing like they’re excited to be there, and yet the songs aren’t egregiously fast. King Buffalo aren’t rushed in their delivery. They play through the material with, as noted, a masterful touch; one born of time spent doing exactly what they’re doing here — playing the set. The progression the band undertook between their first album and their second was no accident — they’ve communicated it to their listeners every single step of the way. From Orion to Repeater to Longing to Be the Mountain, the band cast off the trappings of being strictly heavy blues or strictly anything else. Psychedelic, progressive, thoughtful, melodic, heavy, spontaneous — all that and more carried across in the material of Longing to Be the Mountain, and it comes through on Live at Freak Valley as well. Shit, they end with a jam. A jam! What more could they possibly do to signal that the story goes on from here?

And it does. Last year, amid canceled tours and plans upended, King Buffalo issued their Dead Star EP (review here), which showed not only a more meditative aspect of their sound, but a branching out into the realms of atmospheric and dramatic synthesizer as well. What does all that portend when it comes to an awaited third full-length? I have no clue, and likewise I have no clue how spending a year off the road will affect their style or their approach in the studio, because of course these things feed off each other. All of this we’ll have to wait to know, but that the anticipation to do so even exists is evidence of how crucial a purpose Live at Freak Valley serves, not just in bridging the gap between one release and the next — though that too — but in giving a showcase to the depth and multifaceted nature of the band’s evolution. Long may it continue.

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

Another week where I could feel my mind shrink and my ass expand. I’m just trying to get through the days at this point. I don’t even have a reason why. I just want to go to bed, put the pillow over my head, and wake up three times and push the alarm back until I finally just give up and sleep as late as I can. That’s around 7 or so when The Pecan is up. He’s back in school now. Two cases of the plague among the staff this week. They’ll shut down again, I’m sure. Probably a day after he’s used to getting on the bus again. That seems to be how it’s timed thus far. Yes, I take it personally. I take everything personally. It’s fucking called narcissism. Look it up.

Speaking of me, I was doing myself a favor with the King Buffalo pick up there. Feel like I’ve been writing about a lot of live records lately but of course there are a lot to be written about as bands try to keep momentum going between albums when they can’t tour, or want to take advantage of a Bandcamp Friday or want to remind people they exist or whatever it might be. I knew it was something I’d enjoy when I put it on and, sure enough, I enjoyed it. That’s a good band.

Anyway.

Next week is packed. Some of it you’ll give a crap about, some of it you won’t. Same as ever.

No Gimme show this week, though I turned in the playlist for next week already. It’s a weird one. Cool.

I wish you well. Hope you and yours are safe and healthy and all that. Don’t forget to hydrate.

Thanks for reading.

FRM.

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Genghis Tron to Release Dream Weapon March 26; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

13 years and a singer and drummer later, Genghis Tron return with a new album. Their last record was 2008’s Board up the House, and they reemerge from hiatus as guitarist Hamilton Jordan and keyboardist Michael Sochynsky are joined by Tony Wolksi and Sumac‘s Nick Yacyshyn on drums. You bet your ass that makes a difference on “Dream Weapon,” the title-track of Genghis Tron‘s impending third long-player, out March 26 in a renewed collaboration with Relapse Records. You’ll hear more vocal melody than I think the band has ever employed in the new track, and yes, live drums to go with what would seem also to be programmed beats. Don’t expect to get a handle on everything happening your first time through. That’s just not how Genghis Tron have ever operated.

For reference, in addition to the video for “Dream Weapon” below — watch out if you’re sensitive to strobe/herky-jerky cuts — I’ve included the Bandcamp stream of Board up the House. Interestingly, their 2006 debut, Dead Mountain Mouth and their 2005 EP, Cloak of Love, don’t seem to be streaming officially anywhere. They’re on YouTube if you’re up for the minimal digging required.

I shared the “Dream Weapon” video on Thee Facebooks the other day, but here’s info from the PR wire:

genghis tron dream weapon art by trevor naud

GENGHIS TRON ANNOUNCE DREAM WEAPON; FIRST NEW FULL-LENGTH IN 13 YEARS

Share “Dream Weapon” Music Video

Dream Weapon is out March 26, 2021

Pre-Order & Watch “Dream Weapon” HERE: https://orcd.co/genghistrondw

GENGHIS TRON make their return with their highly anticipated new album, Dream Weapon! The band’s first new studio outing in over a decade, GENGHIS TRON’s Hamilton Jordan and Michael Sochynsky are now joined by two new collaborators: vocalist Tony Wolski and Sumac/Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn.

Together, the lineup perfects the unique mix of extreme rock and electronic music GENGHIS TRON has pioneered over their storied career. A melding of hypnotic rhythms and densely layered synth soundscapes, Dream Weapon was recorded and produced alongside long-time collaborator Kurt Ballou at God City Studio in Salem, Massachusetts, with additional production and engineering by Ben Chisolm (Chelsea Wolfe) JJ Heath (Rain City Recorders) and was mastered by Heba Kadry.

Watch GENGHIS TRON’s new “Dream Weapon” music video, directed by Mount Emult (Dying Fetus, The Pixies) AT THIS LOCATION.

Dream Weapon is out March 26, 2021 on CD/LP/Digital. Physical pre-orders via Relapse.com are available HERE. Digital Downloads/Streaming are available HERE.

GENGHIS TRON recently reissued their two full-length albums Board Up The House & Dead Mountain Mouth on vinyl for the first time in over 10 years. Orders are available at http://relapse.com/genghis-tron.

Artwork by Trevor Naud

Dream Weapon Tracklist:
Exit Perfect Mind
Pyrocene
Dream Weapon
Desert Stairs
Alone In The Heart Of The Light
Ritual Circle
Single Black Point
Great Mother

Lyrically and conceptually, Dream Weapon picks up where Board Up The House left off.

“That album’s closing track, ‘Relief,’ was about how humans have become a burden to the planet, and how Earth will endure long after we’re gone,” Hamilton Jordan explains. “There is sadness at the end, but some relief—and beauty—too. Dream Weapon is, loosely, an album-length meditation on that theme.”

From the ethereal, almost robotic vocal phrasings accompanying the industrial attack of “Pyrocene,” to the chaotic, pulse-pounding drumming acrobatics and cyclical guitar patterns in the album’s triumphant title track, Dream Weapon is not just a nod to GENGHIS TRON’s celebrated past as a metal/progressive/experimental outfit. The new album redefines what these genres, sounds, and musical elements can achieve. Dream Weapon is a record that captures GENGHIS TRON at a matured, focused state; the ebbs and flows of the album are just as hard-hitting as they are dreamy, soaring, and meditative.

Seasoned GENGHIS TRON listeners will find Dream Weapon to be both excitingly fresh and reassuringly familiar. “Though it sounds a bit different than our previous albums, I don’t think we approached Dream Weapon any differently than the others,” Jordan explains. “Michael and I take years to write and trade demos, with about 80% of our ideas landing on the cutting-room floor. Once we have a rough song idea we both like, we write dozens of drafts of a song over months before we end up with a final demo.”

“I think one difference in our approach for this album was that we had a strong sense from the outset of what kind of vibe we wanted to create,” Sochynsky adds. “Something more cohesive, meditative and hypnotic.”

Through the album’s inventiveness and rejuvenated approach, Dream Weapon marks another bold step forward in the wildly creative career of GENGHIS TRON, and cements the band’s legacy of groundbreaking, genre-defying innovation.

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Genghis Tron, “Dream Weapon” official video

Genghis Tron, Board up the House

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

ukmedsnorx.com/zopiclone
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Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw, Sasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar BjĂžrnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver SandĂžy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, EllengĂŠst
Cruthu, AthrĂș Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of SilvÄkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, LantlĂŽs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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