Skraeckoedlan Premiere Vermillion Sky LP in Full; Out Wednesday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Skraeckoedlan Vermillion Sky

This Wednesday, March 27, Swedish heavy and progressive rockers Skraeckoedlan return with their fourth full-length, Vermillion Sky. It is their second LP through Fuzzorama Records behind the sprawling realization of 2019’s Eorþe (review here), with the years between finding the Borlänge/Norrköping four-piece reissuing their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here) and its 2015 follow-up, Sagor (review here), through The Sign Records, and its arrival has been anticipated since the band unveiled “The Vermillion Sky” as a standalone single over half a year ago.

Vermillion Sky is a multifaceted project even before one gets to the rhythmic twists and melodic reaches, the grandiosities and quiet moments offered in its component eight tracks and 47 minutes, and if part of either that span of months or the not-accounted-for-by-plague portion of the five years it’s been since Eorþe comes from lining up logistics on either the video game or English-language novel intended to be released to complement the music, fair enough, though it was four between Sagor and that record as well, so it’s not an outlandish dearth of activity by any means. The novelization of Vermillion Sky, reportedly broken into chapters around each song, will perhaps be of particular interest to that non-Swedish-speaking contingent of their listenership who’ve maybe not been curious enough to run their lyrics through a translation matrix to get a semblance of the themes out of science-fiction, daikaiju, and so on.

To wit, “The Vermillion Sky,” caps an expansive A-side that begins with the drone-backed staticky dialogue in the two-minute intro “Cosmic Dawn” from whence a Devin Townsendy prog flow emerges with the anchoring fuzz on Erik Berggren‘s bass and fluid drumming of Martin Larsson‘s drums complemented by shimmer of synth and the guitars of Robert Lamu and Henrik Grüttner in a showcase of maturity and (condensed) patience that serves as preface to the stately composition of the title-track and others here. That obscured speech, mixed low enough that you genuinely might not hear it the first time through, ties into the escape-from-earth — and no, it’s not lost on me that their last record was ‘earth’ in translation — narrative of “The Vermillion Sky,” and while they seem to work in as well as around this thematic and it might at first be unclear how the hooky repetitions of the in-English title lyric to second single “Night Satan” fit in, the concept remains present for the lines, “Så lägg din hand i min och visa mig bland stjärnorna/Jag la min hand i din och du visa mig oändlighet” (“So put your hand in mine and show me the stars/I put my hand in yours and you show me infinity,” according to the internet), so those connections are there if not always obvious. One assumes the same applies for the likes of “Starsquatch,” “Metagalactic Void Honcho,” who sounds as burly as one might expect given the title, “Meteorb” or “Astronautilus” as well.

But even if you as the listener don’t take Vermillion Sky on for its storyline at all or if scrolling shooter games aren’t your thing, the songs are enough to carry you through. “Starsquatch” enters with a burst, resets in an open expanse of keyboard and sweeps in the first of a vast collection of massive grooves, characteristic in its adherence to fuzzier tonality and arrangement depth evident even just in the space between the guitar and drums, never mind the e-bow or whatever effect it is or the arrangement of lead and backing vocals in the rolling chorus. Hitting a stop at 4:40 into its 7:58, they break to echoing vocals and standalone guitar before surging forward again in a pointed wash of distortion that turns out to be a misdirect as they cut to clearer-sounding dual-guitar leads and a faster tempo verse ahead of the actual solo. Of course the riff comes back, bigger and more consuming, and the pattern of side A is set when “Mysteria” takes its turn riff-punching through the wall with dense low end and purposeful shove — the first half of the album trading shorter-to-longer pieces starting with “Cosmic Dawn” and the second half switching that to its own two longer tracks bookending the relative brevity of “Night Satan” and “Meteorb.”


So Skraeckoedlan are playing with time as well as space on Vermillion Sky, and the level of composition and nuance with which they do so shouldn’t be understated. Lamu‘s vocal melodies — and I’m sorry, I don’t know every detail on who’s doing what vocally here, but there are voice-swaps enough to make me think it’s multiple singers — go beyond following the riffs, which are occasionally busy enough that that would be a challenge anyway, and feel like part of the atmosphere along with the Mellotron and Rhodes (or some such) that further distinguish “Mysteria” after the push through its first half has already brought intense strikes of piano as part of its culminating build just before the two-and-a-half-minute mark.

That holds true in rougher-delivered or shoutier stretches like the end of “Mysteria,” or the gutted-out verses of “Metagalactic Void Honcho” surrounded by what sounds like duly gravitational destruction that dares some hope in its lead-topped final nod before it cuts to far-back guitar echoes and thud to end, or the galloping midsection of “Meteorb,” wherein even the air-tight structure and quick 3:38 runtime are enough for the band to use vocals as an instrument corresponding to the mood of a given part. The scorch of keyboard in that song’s charge, the way the drums open up the groove in the last hook, the details and nuance of the keys, synth, guitar, effects, whatever, in the mix — it all comes together as a complete representation of craft from Skraeckoedlan that feels deeper and more dug into its own processes than they’ve been before, but at the same time is more engaging and outward-reaching for that. If that’s a mature Skraeckoedlan self-producing and wielding their own sound, cognizant of their dynamic and the physicality of the material they’re writing, I’ll take it happily. They always feel like they’re ready to break out and run. That catch-up-to-this energy is always there, pulling the audience forward.

At the same time, their sense of control is palpable, whether it’s the look-what-we-can-do-with-a-stoner-riff mid-tempo chug in the verses of “Night Satan” — lest we forget their tonal and recording tutelage under Truckfighters (who also run Fuzzorama Records) — or the furies manifest in dramatic style on “Metagalactic Void Honcho” just before, but detracts neither from the energy in their delivery or their willingness to go all-in on an arrangement like “Astronautilus,” mellowing after its verse for a moment of proggy, key-topped exploration as it circles around and builds tension for its flowing, deceptively graceful emergence, leading into a solo and chorus that reinforce notions of structure even as they adrenaline-boost Vermillion Sky out of the atmosphere and into the resonant float of its comedown, some staticky layer there calling back to the opening of “Cosmic Dawn” as that structural cohesion finds its own meta level on which to operate.

Each album Skraeckoedlan have released has been an incremental step forward creatively from the one before it, and that applies to Vermillion Sky even as the band further define and distinguish an idea of their individual sound. That they recorded and mixed it themselves (Magnus Lindberg mastered) is also a crucial consideration — not because of any kind of down-scaling in production value; there isn’t one — but as another way to continue to grow as a unit and a means of more directly bringing their music to life. And whatever else is happening around them in various media, whatever apocalypses they’re conveying in the world they’ve conjured, these songs feel utterly alive.

The album streams in full below. Please enjoy:

Skraeckoedlan, Vermillion Sky album premiere

Order link:

In short, this is a sci-fi themed concept piece that screams DIY, having been entirely written, recorded, produced and mixed by the band themselves. A huge undertaking, especially considering one of the first steps in the process was basically to google: “how to properly mic a snare drum”. Mastering however has been beautifully done by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna), which as always has yielded fantastic results.

Speaking of DIY and huge undertakings, Vermillion Sky will also be available as a novel (date to come), where each chapter corresponds to a track on the album. The story has been written by the band and is for those that want to take a real deep dive into the concept and join the crew of the Vermillion Sky as they unravel a mystery with galactic consequences. Contrary to the signature Swedish lyrics of the songs, the novel is in English.

An even more active way to interact with the release is to play the Vermillion Sky computer game the band has helped create. It’s an 8-bit style point chaser, where you travel through the Void as the ship, collecting upgrades to survive the multitude of enemies trying to put an end to your journey. If you want the absolute best experience of the game, make sure to come to one of the release tour shows, where Skraeckoedlan’s very own Vermillion Sky-arcade machine will be featured.

Live long and prosper!

Vermillion Sky tracklist
1. Cosmic Dawn (2:42)
2. Starsquatch (7:58)
3. Mysteria (5:21)
4. The Vermillion Sky (7:10)
5. Metagalactic Void Honcho (8:07)
6. Night Satan (4:53)
7. Meteorb (3:38)
8. Astronautilus (7:50)

Robert Lamu – Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar, Vocals
Erik Berggren – Bass, Vocals
Martin Larsson – Drums, Vocals

Skraeckoedlan, Vermillion Sky game preview

Skraeckoedlan’s website

Skraeckoedlan on Instagram

Skraeckoedlan on Facebook

Fuzzorama Records website

Fuzzorama Records on Facebook

Fuzzorama Records on Instagram

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

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Skraeckoedlan: New Album Vermillion Sky Out March 27

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

Time for new Skraeckoedlan. Indeed, perhaps the Swedish progressive heavy rockers/metallers were feeling some of the weight of the long stretch since they put out 2019’s Eorþe (review here) when they released “The Vermillion Sky” — which it turns out is the title-track of the new record, Vermillion Sky — as a standalone single last year. The four-piece’s impending fourth long-player will see release March 27 in continued collab with Fuzzorama Records, and I’ll tell you right now it’s a burner. If you didn’t hear that track, it and “Night Satan” are both streaming below.

I value your time and wouldn’t try to waste it by recommending crap, so if you don’t know Skraeckoedlan yet, please take that endorsement for what it’s worth. I do feel like the greater likelihood at this point is that people do know the band. The last album got a great response, they’ve been at it for well over 10 years now, and they’ve toured consistently if not constantly during that time. But if you didn’t hear that single, now’s a good time, what with album preorders up and t-shirt bundles and all that sort of whatnot.

The announcement came through in Fuzzorama‘s newsletter and I combined it with info from the preorder page. Have at it:

Skraeckoedlan Vermillion Sky

Skraeckoedlan announce new album ‘VERMILLION SKY’ out March 27th


Introducing the ultimate auditory experience for all rock enthusiasts – SKRAECKOEDLAN’s “Vermillion Sky”

Four bearded Swedes who’s forged their unique sound of progressive stoner rock in the cold northern forests. Previous album Earth was a massive domestic success as it hit the hard rock charts in Sweden.

Dive headfirst into the surreal world of Swedish stoner rock with this mind-bending album.

“Vermillion Sky” is a sonic journey that transcends boundaries, with SKRAECKOEDLAN’s signature blend of heavy riffs, mesmerizing melodies, and haunting vocals. Let the adrenaline-infused tracks transport you to a parallel universe, where the vermillion sky reigns supreme!

Crafted by masterful musicians, this album offers an immersive experience. Discover Vermilion Sky, out after five years of silence.

Five years. Is that a long time to wait? Generally speaking, yes. Probably. Well, maybe. Time is after all relative, so there surely isn’t a fail-safe answer.

Available on:
Limited Edition 300 copies Gatefold Yellow vinyl with Red splatter
Limited Edition 500 copies Gatefold blue vinyl with red splatter
Limited Edition 400 copies Black vinyl
CD digipack

Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

Skraeckoedlan, The Vermillion Sky (2024)

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Djefvul Premiere “Into the Water” Feat. Lea Amling of Besvärjelsen

Posted in audiObelisk on December 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

djefvul into the water

Tomorrow, Dec. 22, Swedish atmospheric heavy newcomers Djefvul will release their first single, “Into the Water,” through Majestic Mountain Records. At core in the project — and if the name Djefvul has you thinking ‘devil,’ you’re right; it’s old Swedish — is Patrik “Putte” Lidfors, known for his work in the crunchier-sounding Grandier, and sitting in on vocals for the track is Lea Amling, lead vocalist of Besvärjelsen. The band actually started in 2016, but has taken on new focus with the end of Lidfors‘ prior outfit.

Which is pretty fresh, mind you, at least as regards being made public. Earlier in 2023, Grandier released the single “No Name Sky” following on from 2022’s debut LP, The Scorn and Grace of Crows (review here), which was also issued by Majestic Mountain. That standalone track also featured Amling singing, and if you’re up for it, going from one to the next between Grandier‘s “No Name Sky” and Djefvul‘s “Into the Water” demonstrates clearly the aesthetic pivot being made. “Into the Water” feels more suited in its tempo to Amling‘s languid delivery, which will be readily identifiable to those familiar with her work in Besvärjelsen (if that’s not you, don’t be afraid to get on board anyway), and as the tones grow lower and more concrete in the chorus, Lidfors contributes backing vocals for a moment worthy of the dead stop that follows. A quick and well justified breath before diving into the second verse.

There’s a sense of drone behind the second chorus, but “Into the Water” is a gradual urge, not an insistence — an emphatic invitation — and at just over four minutes, it ends up balanced between its catchy hook reaching out, “Come take a trip into the water,” and the surrounding slow-burner atmosphere conjured by Lidfors on bass and guitar and captured by his production, set to the roll of Hampus Landin‘s drums and finished with a master by the esteemed Esben Willems, the track is broad but working on solid ground, giving an open impression through tempo and tone without actually departing from structure.

But to return to an earlier point, Grandier‘s hiatus, or “pause” as they put it — maybe they’re done and maybe not — came just last month as Lidfors announced he was moving forward with the new name and new intentions. “Into the Water,” then, is the moment of that transition from one unit to the next, and it’s given rare fluidity by the appearance of Amling on both Djefvul‘s first output and Grandier‘s (potentially) last. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time Djefvul are making their full-length debut, “No Name Sky” doesn’t end up featured on it, perhaps with some reworking, but “Into the Water” represents well the sonic shift and the consistency of songwriting and melodic focus shared between the two bands, and is exciting in the direction it seems to be headed.

So, of course, we end by looking forward. I don’t know when/if a Djefvul album will show up in 2024 or some point thereafter, but in terms of serving notice of their existence and modus, “Into the Water” resonates in groove and melody and hopefully is a herald of more to come. And just in case you want to do your own side-by-side, the Grandier track is at the bottom of this post, courtesy of their Bandcamp.

Please enjoy:

Djefvul, “Into the Water” premiere

Lea Amling on “Into the Water”:

“‘Into the Water’ is a song about letting go and diving into the unknown. About finding hope in the new and unknown and gaining courage to release the things that are holding you back.”

From the ashes of Grandier, Djefvul has risen.

Music by Patrik Lidfors (ex-Grandier), Lyrics by Lea Amling (Besvärjelsen)
Lead vocals Lea Amling
Choirs, Bass and Guitars Patrik Lidfors
Drums by Hampus Landin, recorded at Gramtone Studio, retrigged and mixed at Heathen Studio Norrköping
All other instruments and Vocals recorded at Heathen Studio Norrkoping

Cover Artist Thomas Moe Elfserud, Hypnotist Design Norway
Arranged, Produced and Mixed by Patrik Lidfors at Heathen Studio Norrköping
Mastered by Esben Willems at Berserk Studio Gothenburg

Grandier, “No Name Sky” (2023)

Djefvul on Facebook

Djefvul on Instagram

Djefvul on Bandcamp

Majestic Mountain Records store

Majestic Mountain Records on Instagram

Majestic Mountain Records on Facebook

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Skraeckoedlan to Release “The Vermillion Sky” Single Aug. 17; New Album in 2024

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Okay, so it looks like the fourth full-length from Swedish progressive heavy rockers Skraeckoedlan will be released next year through Fuzzorama Records, and that the first single from that album, “The Vermillion Sky,” is out Aug. 17. If you get nothing else from this post, that’s enough of a takeaway. What that doesn’t tell you is the way the new record ties into 2019’s Eorþe (review here) — which is reportedly does — or what else they have in the works as regards narrative and so on, which is a whole other sphere to be explored.

I’ve read some preliminary info, but I don’t think it’s public yet and don’t want to give away something I shouldn’t, so please, consider this a heads up on the forthcoming track and the record to be. I haven’t heard it yet, but Skraeckoedlan have never wanted for ambition and this seems like their broadest reaching work yet. Even beyond digging into the single, I am curious as to how it will all come out when it does. Spring, maybe?

Fuzzorama‘s newsletter had the following:

skraeckoedlan the vermillion sky
It’s been a while. A good, long four years since Skraeckoedlan released their latest album, Earth. Meaning it’s time for something new. It’s time to take off.

The Vermillion Sky, is the first single from Skraeckoedlan’s upcoming 2024-release and will be available digitally on August 17. A mere 7 minutes can take you pretty far. You will hop planets, watch heavenly bodies collide, traverse galaxies and get drawn into the all-encompassing nothingness. The Void. And there are also rainbows. If that’s not enough, good news. This is only part of a continuous, much larger story. But that is something to be heard (and read) at a later date.

So, come August 17, keep your eyes toward the heavens.

Have a look at The Vermillion Sky!

Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

Skraeckoedlan, Eorþe (2019)

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Quarterly Review: The Temple, Dead Man’s Dirt, Witchfinder, Fumata, Sumerlands, Expiatoria, Tobias Berblinger, Grandier, Subsun, Bazooka

Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-winter 2023

Here’s mud in yer eye. How are you feeling so far into this Quarterly Review? The year? How are things generally? How’s your mom doing? Everybody good? Hope so. Odd as it is to think, I find music sounds better when you’re not distracted by everything else going to shit around you, so I hope you don’t currently find yourself in that situation.

Today’s 10 records are a bit of this, bit of that, bit of here, but of there, but I’ll note that we start and end in Greece, which wasn’t on purpose or anything but a fun happenstantial byproduct of slating things randomly. What can I say? There’s a lot of Greek heavy out there and the human brain forms patterns whether we want it to or not. Plenty of geographic diversity between, so let’s get to it, hmm?

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #31-40:

The Temple, Of Solitude Triumphant

The temple of Solitude Triumphant

Though they trace their beginnings back to the mid-aughts, Of Solitude Triumphant (on the venerable I Hate Records) is only the second full-length from Thessaloniki doom metallers The Temple. With chanting vocals, perpetuated misery and oldschool-style traditionalism metered by modern production’s tonal density, the melodic reach of the band is as striking as profundity of their rhythmic drag, the righteousness of their craft being in how they’re able to take a riff, slog it out across five, seven, 10 minutes in the case of post-intro opener “The Foundations” and manage to be neither boring nor a drag themselves. There’s a bit of relative tempo kick in “A White Flame for the Fear of Death” and the tremolo guitar (kudos to the half-time drums behind; fucking a) at the outset of closer “The Lord of Light” speaks to some influence from more extreme metals, but The Temple are steady in their purpose, and that nine-minute finale riff-marches to its own death accordingly. Party-doom it isn’t, and neither is it trying to be. In mood and the ambience born out of the vocals as much as the instruments behind, The Temple‘s doom is for the doomly doomed among the doomed. I’ll rarely add extra letters to it, but I have to give credit where it’s due: This is dooom. Maybe even doooom. Take heed.

The Temple on Facebook

I Hate Records website


Dead Man’s Dirt, Dead Man’s Dirt

Dead Mans Dirt Dead Man's Dirt

Gothenburg heavy rockers Dead Man’s Dirt, with members of Bozeman Simplex, Bones of Freedom, Coaster of Souls and a host of others, offer their 2023 self-titled debut through Ozium Records in full-on 2LP fashion. It’s 13 songs, 75 minutes long. Not a minor undertaking. Those who stick with it are rewarded by nuances like the guitar solo atop the languid sway of “The Brew,” as well as the raucous start-stop riffing in “Icarus (Too Close to the Sun),” the catchy “Highway Driver” and the bassy looseness of vibe in the penultimate “River,” which heads toward eight minutes while subsequent endpoint “Asteroid” tops nine. It is to the band’s credit that they have both the material and the variety to pull off a record this packed and keep the songs united in their barroom-rocking spirit, though some attention spans just aren’t going to be up to the task in a single sitting. But that’s fine. If the last couple years have taught the human species anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the next corner, and if you’re going to go for it — whatever “it” is — go all-in, because it could evaporate the next day. Whether it’s the shuffle of “Queen of the Wood” or the raw, in-room sound of “Lost at Sea,” Dead Man’s Dirt deserve credit for leaving nothing behind.

Dead Man’s Dirt on Facebook

Ozium Records store


Witchfinder, Forgotten Mansion

witchfinder forgotten mansion

Big rolling riffs, lurching grooves, melodies strongly enough delivered to cut through the tonal morass surrounding — there’s plenty to dig for the converted on Witchfinder‘s Forgotten Mansion. The Clermont-Ferrand, France, stoner doomers follow earlier-2022’s Endless Garden EP (review here) and 2019’s Hazy Rites (review here) full-length with their third album and first since joining forces with keyboardist Kevyn Raecke, who aligns in the malevolent-but-rocking wall of sound with guitarist Stanislas Franczak, bassist Clément Mostefai (also vocals) and drummer Thomas Dupuy. Primarily, they are very, very heavy, and that is very much the apparent foremost concern — not arguing with it — but as the five-song/36-minute long-player rolls through “Marijauna” and on through the Raecke-forward Type O Negative-ity of “Lucid Forest,” there’s more to their approach than it might at first appear. Yes, the lumber is mighty. But the space is also broad, and the slow-swinging groove is always in danger of collapsing without ever doing so. And somehow there’s heavy metal in it as well. It’s almost a deeper dive than they want you to think. I like that about it.

Witchfinder on Facebook

Mrs Red Sound store


Fumata, Días Aciagos

Fumata Días Aciagos

There’s some whiff of Conan‘s riffing in “Acompáñame Cuando Muero,” but on the whole, Mexico City sludge metallers Fumata are more about scathe than crush on the six tracks of their sophomore full-length, Días Aciagos (on LSDR Records). With ambient moments spread through the 35-minute beastwork and a bleak atmosphere put in place by eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Orgullo y Egoísmo,” with its loosely post-metallic march and raw, open sound, the four-piece of Javier Alejandre, Maximo Mateo, Leonardo Cardoso and Juan Tamayo are agonized and chaotic-sounding, but not haphazard in their delivery as they cross genre lines to work in some black metal extremity periodically, mine a bit of death-doom in “Anhelo,” foster the vicious culmination of the bookending seven-minute title-track, and so on. Tempo is likewise malleable, as “Seremos Olvidados” and that title-track show, as well as the blasting finish of “Orgullo y Egoísmo,” and only the penultimate “No Engendro” (also the shortest song at 4:15) really stays in one place for its duration, though as that place is in an unnamed region between atmosludge, doom and avant black metal, I’m not sure it counts. As exciting to hear as it is miserable in substance, Días Aciagos plunges where few dare to tread and bathes in its own pessimism.

Fumata on Facebook

LSDR Records on Bandcamp


Sumerlands, Dreamkiller

sumerlands dreamkiller

Sumerlands‘ second album and Relapse debut, Dreamkiller finds Magic Circle‘s Brendan Radigan stepping in for original vocalist Phil Swanson (now in Solemn Lament), alongside Eternal Champion‘s Arthur Rizk, John Powers (both guitar), and Brad Raub (bass), and drummer Justin DeTore (also Solemn Lament, Dream Unending, several dozen others) for a traditional metal tour de force, reimagining New Wave of British Heavy Metal riffing with warmer tonality and an obviously schooled take on that moment at the end of the ’70s when metal emerged from heavy rock and punk and became its own thing. “Force of a Storm” careens Dio-style after the mid-tempo Scorpions-style start-stoppery of “Edge of the Knife,” and though I kept hoping the fadeout of closer “Death to Mercy” would come back up, as there’s about 30 seconds of silence at the finish, no such luck. There are theatrical touches to “Night Ride” — what, you didn’t think there’d be a song about the night? come on. — and “Heavens Above,” but that’s part of the character of the style Sumerlands are playing toward, and to their credit, they make it their own with vitality and what might emerge as a stately presence. I don’t know if it’s “true” or not and I don’t really give a shit. It’s a burner and it’s made with love. Everything else is gatekeeping nonsense.

Sumerlands on Facebook

Relapse Records store


Expiatoria, Shadows


Shadows is the first full-length from Genoa, Italy’s Expiatoria — also stylized with a capital-‘a’: ExpiatoriA — and its Nov. 2022 release arrives some 35 years after the band’s first demo. The band originally called it quits in 1996, and there were reunion EPs along the way in 2010 and 2018, but the six songs and 45 minutes here represent something that no doubt even the band at times thought wouldn’t ever happen. The occasion is given due ceremony in the songs, which, in addition to being laden with guest appearances by members of Death SS, Il Segno del Comando, La Janera, and so on, boasts a sweeping sound drawing from the drama of gothic metal — loooking at you, church-organ-into-piano-outro in “Ombra (Tenebra Parte II),” low-register vocals in “The Wrong Side of Love” and flute-and-guitar interlude “The Asylum of the Damned” — traditional metal riffing and, particularly in “7 Chairs and a Portrait,” a Candlemassian bell-tolling doom. These elements come together with cohesion and fluidity, the five-piece working as veterans almost in spite of a relative lack of studio experience. If Shadows was their 17th, 12th, or even fifth album, one might expect some of its transitions to be smoothed out to a greater degree, but as it is, who’s gonna argue with a group finally putting out their debut LP after three and a half decades? Jerks, that’s who.

ExpiatoriA on Facebook

Black Widow Records store

Diamonds Prod. on Bandcamp


Tobias Berblinger, The Luckiest Hippie Alive

Tobias Berblinger The Luckiest Hippie Alive

Setting originals alongside vibe-enhancing covers of Blaze Foley and Commander Cody, Portland’s Tobias Berblinger (also of Roselit Bone) first issued The Luckiest Hippie Alive in 2018 and it arrives on vinyl through Ten Dollar Recording Co., shimmering in its ’70s ramble-country twang, vibrant with duets and acoustic balladeering. Berblinger‘s nostalgic take reminds of a time when country music could be viable and about more than active white supremacy and/or misappropriated hip-hop, and boozers like “My Boots Have Been Drinking” and the Hank Williams via Townes Van Zandt “Medicine Water” and “Heartaches, Hard Times, Hard Drinking”, and smokers like the title-track and “Stems and Seeds (Again)” reinforce the atmosphere of country on the other side of the culture war. Its choruses are telegraphed and ready to be committed to memory, and its understated sonic presence and the wistfulness of the two-minute “Crawl Back to You” — the backing vocals of Mariya May, Marisa Laurelle and Annie Perkins aren’t to be understated throughout, including in that short piece, along with Mo Douglas‘ various instrumental contributions — add a sweetness and humility that are no less essential to Americana than the pedal steel throughout.

Tobias Berblinger website

Ten Dollar Recording Co. store


Grandier, The Scorn and Grace of Crows

Grandier The Scorn and Grace of Crows

Based in Norrköping, Sweden, the three-piece Grandier turn expectation on its head quickly with their debut album, The Scorn and Grace of Crows, starting opener/longest track (immediate points) “Sin World” with a sludgy, grit-coated lumber only to break after a minute in to a melodic verse. The ol’ switcheroo? Kind of, but in that moment and song, and indeed the rest of what follows on this first outing for Majestic Mountain, the band — guitarist Patrik Lidfors, bassist/many-layered-vocalist Lars Carlberg, (maybe, unless they’re programmed; then maybe programming) drummer Hampus Landin — carve their niche from out of a block of sonic largesse and melodic reach. Carlberg‘s voice is emotive over the open-feeling space of “Viper Soul” and sharing the mix with the more forward guitars of “Soma Goat,” and while in theory, there’s an edge of doomed melancholy to the 44-minute procession, the heft in “The Crows Will Following Us Down” is as much directed toward impact as mood. They really are melodic sludge metal, which is a hell of a thing to piece together on your first record as fluidly as they do here. “Smoke on the Bog” leans more into the Sabbathian roll with megafuzz tonality behind, and “Moth to the Flames” is faster, more brash, and a kind of dark heavy rock that, three albums from now, might be prog or might be ’90s lumber. Could go either way, especially with “My Church of Let it All Go” answering back with its own quizzical course. Will be very interested to hear where their next release takes them, since they’re onto something and, to their credit, it’s not immediately apparent what.

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Subsun, Parasite

Subsun Parasite

Doomers will nod approvingly as Ottawa’s Subsun cap “Proliferation” by shifting into a Candlemassian creeper of a lead line, but that kind of doomly traditionalism is only one tool in their varied arsenal. Guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Jean-Michel Fortin, bassist/vocalist Simon Chartrand-Paquette and drummer Jérémy Blais go to that post-Edling well (of souls) again, but their work across their 2022 debut LP, Parasite, is more direct, more rock-based and at times more aggressive on the whole. Recorded at Apartment 2 by Topon Das (Fuck the Facts), the seven-songer grows punkish in the verse of “Mutation” and drops thrashy hints at the outset of “Fusion,” while closer “Mutualism” slams harder like noise rock and punches its bassline directly at the listener. Begun with the nodding lurch of “Parasitism” — which would seem as well to be at the thematic heart of the album in terms of lyrics and the descriptive approach thereof — the movement of one song to the next has its underlying ties in the vocals and overarching semi-metal tonality, but isn’t shy about messing with those either, as on the lands-even-harder “Evolution” or the thuds at the outset of “Adaptation,” the relative straightforwardness of the structures allowing the band to draw together different styles into a single, effective, individualized sound.

Subsun on Facebook

Subsun on Bandcamp


Bazooka, Kapou Allou

bazooka Kapou Allou

The acoustic guitar of opener “Kata Vathos” transitions smoothly into the arrival-of-the-electrics on “Krifto,” as Athens’ Bazooka launch the first of the post-punk struts on Kapou Allou, their fourth full-length. Mediterranean folk and pop are factors throughout — as heard in the vocal melody of the title-track or the danceable “Pano Apo Ti Gi” — while closer “Veloudino Kako” reimagines Ween via Greece, “Proedriki Froura” traps early punk in a jar to see it light up, and “Dikia Mou Alithia” brings together edgy, loosely-proggy heavy rock in a standout near the album’s center. Wherever they go — yes, even on “Jazzooka” — Bazooka seem to have a plan in mind, some vision of where they want to end up, and Kapou Allou is accordingly gleeful in its purposed weirdoism. At 41 minutes, it’s neither too long nor too short, and vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Xanthos Papanikolaou, guitarist/backing vocalist Vassilis Tzelepis, bassist Aris Rammos and drummer/backing vocalist John Vulgaris cast themselves less as tricksters than simply a band working outside the expected confines of genre. In any language — as it happens, Greek — their material is expansive stylistically but tight in performance, and that tension adds to the delight of hearing something so gleefully its own.

Bazooka on Facebook

Inner Ear Records store


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Grandier Sign to Majestic Mountain Records; The Scorn and Grace of Crows Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Congratulations to Swedish three-piece Grandier on signing to Majestic Mountain Records for the impending release of their debut album, The Scorn and Grace of Crows. As yet, the band have only one song streaming through their Bandcamp — or if there was more, they took it down; the fluidity of what’s out there and what isn’t is a brave new world these days — and that’s the 2017 demo “Butterfly in Flames.” No, it doesn’t sound like Smashing Pumpkins, though with a title like that it would be well within its right to do so — the brave new world… is a vampire, and so on — but its fuzz is right on, however much it might have to do with The Scorn and Grace of Crows in terms of style remaining to be seen.

The band posted a screenshot of at least a partial tracklisting for their first LP as they were sending it off to be mastered, and from that I typed out the five songs below. Maybe that’s the whole record, maybe not. I don’t expect anybody’s going to come banging my door down to tell me one way or the other, but hey, if you’re reading this and you’re in Grandier or at MMR and want me to take that down to correct it, fucking a. I’m not looking to make trouble, just trying to put the most complete info that I can. No real press release for this one yet, just an announcement from social media that you’ll see below in blue.

And for those of you who keep tabs on all-things-Sverige, note the band photo of the Norrköping three-piece below was taken by Robert Lamu, who’s also in Skraeckoedlan. It’s nice to have friends. So I hear, anyhow.

Ding dong who’s there it’s riffs:

Grandier Majestic Mountain (Photo by Robert Lamu)

Majestic Mountain Records are proud to announce the signing of Grandier!

The new album “The Scorn and Grace of Crows” drops in 2022!

“Grandier is proud to now be a part of Majestic Mountain Records’ roster of bands, with our upcoming debut album The Scorn and Grace of Crows.

The album, the band and the signing with MMR are the product of a long time of hard work. We are really pleased and eagerly awaiting this opportunity to reach the company’s many fantastic followers.”

1. Church of Let it All Go
2. Soul Burner
3. Crows
4. Viper Soul
5. Sin World

Band photo by Robert Lamu

Grandier, “Butterfly in Flames” (2017)

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Skraeckoedlan Announce September Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan


This announcement of September tour dates for Skraeckoedlan was actually made earlier this month — and scrolling back through the band’s Facebook page, I remember why the dates haven’t been posted here already. It was a Friday, and I was doneski. By the time I got around to Monday when they might’ve been posted, it had slipped my mind. No, it’s not like I’m so awash in tour announcements that I can’t get a handle on them — though I expect if I was, you know, better at life, that would be the case — but it doesn’t take much for me to get distracted these days. Moderately loud noises. Blinking lights. Nothing. What were we talking about?

Fortunately for me, Fuzzorama Records included the tour in their latest email newsletter, which if you’ll recall also brought word the other day (yesterday?) that Skraeckoedlan were among the bands announced as taking part in the Truckfighters Fuzz Festival 2 in Stockholm this November. You wanna go? I do. And if you’re saying, hey, didn’t Skraeckoedlan just put out the anniversary edition of their debut album, Äppelträdet (review here), on The Sign Records back in June? Yes, they did. Remember too that Fuzzorama issued the third Skraeckoedlan album, Eorþe (review here), in 2019. Also that Skraeckoedlan and Truckfighters have worked together all along on production, shows, etc. Specific to the festival, Skraeckoedlan played it in 2019. So yeah. Buds.

Here’s dates from that newsletter:

skraeckoedlan tour

Skraeckoedlan to tour Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium in Sept!

21.09 Liege (BE) – La Zone
23.09. Hamburg (DE) – Hafenklang
24.09. Osnabrück (DE) – Hafensommer21 (Open Air) *
25.09 Hannover (DE) – Glocksee *
26.09 Jena (DE) – Rosenkeller
27.09 Linz (AT) – Kapu
28.09 Salzburg (AT) – Rockhouse
29.09 Luzern (CH) – Sedel
30.09 Mannheim (DE) – 7er CLUB
01.10 Stuttgart (DE) – JuHa West
02.10 Siegen (DE) – Vortex
* = With Atomic Peat

Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

Skraeckoedlan, Eorþe (2019)

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Sleep Moscow Premiere “Of the Sun” Video; Album out July 30

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

sleep moscow

Sweden’s Sleep Moscow will release their sophomore full-length, Of the Sun, on July 30 through Majestic Mountain Records. It is the Norrköping-based outfit’s first outing for the label and follows 2018’s A Wounded Moon — a short LP, if an LP, at 23 minutes — as a richly textured, deeply melancholic and semi-conceptual work that plays out across nine tracks and 38 minutes. A strong current of there-and-away runs throughout the songs — which makes it somewhat ironic that pieces like “Light Will Meet Us,” “Gift of Life,” “Of the Sun” (video premiering below) and the piano-and-string-inclusive “Alone,” which also features Stina Tosteby on guest vocals, are so memorable — fostered both in the album’s structure that opens with the wistful organ/keyboard intro “Home” and makes a centerpiece of the melancholy cello piece “Memories” as if to set up a contrast between the inherent brightness in titles like “Light Will Meet Us” and “Far Beyond Gone,” “Alone,” “Facing the Clouds” and “You Are Over.” The truth of the listening experience is more complex, with the title-track for example acting as one of the saddest and most minimal stretches while also serving as a highlight performance from Arvid Hällagård, also known for his work in Pools and best known as singer for Greenleaf.

Given the interplay between synthesized and organic elements, the way keys and vocals interact and especially the level of headphone-worthy detail that Of the Sun is delivered — even compared to A Wounded Moon, it is a marked step forward in intent and execution — it isn’t entirely surprising to learn that multi-instrumentalist and apparent project spearhead Petter Kindström has experience as well as a producer. Working with Eric Nilsson and enlisting others like HällagårdTostebyAlexander Westlund and maybe more, there is a sense of overarching, big-picture composition to the procession of songs that speaks to using the studio as an instrument in addition to whatever arrangement elements might come to the fore at a given moment,sleep moscow of the sun or even how they do, as one can hear in the forward surge of tonally weighted guitar in “Light Will Meet Us,” prefaced early in the song to set up an almost subconscious recognition as it leads into the hook a short while later.

These aspects and nuances of Sleep Moscow‘s sound are thought out enough to call Of the Sun progressive and not be wrong, but the focus is more on expression than experimentation, and the narrative loneliness playing out behind the mellotrons and keyboard handclaps of “Gift of Life” and the later melodic wash of “Far Beyond Gone” — layering of Hällagård‘s voice there adding to the movement toward a still-not-overblown apex — and the more blatantly techno-infused “Facing the Clouds” is a tie-in that unites varied material and emphasizes the human presence amid otherworldly immersion. They are still songs, and effective on that level of craft, even as the album as a whole pushes further into emotive and cosmic reaches as it goes.

“Of the Sun” and “You Are Over” feel like spiritual cousins if not direct companion pieces. Quiet even among a not-loud-till-you-turn-it-up procession, the former is singularly minimal in its arrangement on the record that bears its name — derived from Solaris, a point of inspiration for Kindström, as noted below — and the latter moves from a duly cinematic vintage-feeling keyboard line that feels like krautrock via the Clockwork Orange score, but they serve as an example of how the single cuts throughout Of the Sun work to bolster each other even when not running in direct succession. That’s just as true of “Gift of Life” and “Facing the Clouds,” or for that matter “Home” and “Memories.” This produces an end result that makes for a thoroughly satisfying and intricate listening experience, whether one wants to dig into every minute shift in aesthetic or arrangement or simply let the material carry them across the LP’s span in its entirety. It’s a cliché for a reason: you can get as much out of the album as you want to put into hearing it. Of the Sun more than justifies however much effort that might be.

If you watch the video for the title-track and it’s your first exposure to the record, don’t expect it to speak for the entirety. Do take it as a cue to check out “Light Will Meet Us,” which you can also hear on the Bandcamp player near the bottom of the post.


Sleep Moscow, “Of the Sun” official video premiere

Petter Kindström on “Of the Sun”:

The working title for the album was Solaris, after the 1972 soviet sci-fi movie by director Andrei Tarkovsky. When finishing the lyrics for what was to become the title-track I discovered that the meaning of ‘Solaris’ is ‘of the sun’. I thought it was very beautiful so I worked the lyrics backwards from that phrase. The singer Arvid Hällagård was going through a tough year personally and the night before recording the song I played it for him. The day after when recording it he did it in one take, which was his first and only. Arvid got very emotional while singing it and was almost shaking at the end of the song. I think you can really hear how moved he was. Since he learned the song the night before you can hear him almost hesitating like he is making the words up, just as if the character was speaking about his feelings and experiences.

The song differs from the first single ‘Light Will Meet Us’ in how it’s produced. This song is very minimalistic with only vocals and piano. I wrote it on guitar, but I always knew it was a song that would work best on piano. So, I did a basic recording and gave it to my friend Alexander Westlund who is a very talented pianist and composer. I trusted him with writing an intro and a middle section and I’m very happy with what he did. Me and Eric Nilsson tried adding some strings but everything we tried felt like it was in the way of the song. It felt detached. We kept it simple and by doing so, I’m very proud of this song.


Formed in 2018 as an ego-less and mood driven project, Sleep Moscow is entirely defined by the talents of Petter Kindström, Eric Nilsson and Greenleaf’s Arvid Hällagård. Based in Norrköping and now working closely alongside fellow countrymen Majestic Mountain Records, Of the Sun is a moving concept album with a story arc that spans from beginning to beyond. Like an old soviet sci-fi movie or poignant novella, it’s a measured tale of a cosmonaut departing a dying earth and leaving everything behind in a quest for something bigger.

Sleep Moscow, Of the Sun (2021)

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Sleep Moscow on Instagram

Sleep Moscow on Bandcamp

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