Crystal Spiders Announce Morieris out Oct. 1; Title-Track Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

crystal spiders

I had to ask what the third VHS is on the cover of the second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris — which, yes I apparently do plan on spelling wrong the first time I type it out every single time in spite of myself — is. Jurassic Park and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are plainly visible, and as a child of the ’90s, both were largely unescapable. Beneath them, however, is the original, not-remake Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho. I’m glad I asked. There was no way I was sleeping last night without knowing.

Morieris — there I go again — is out Oct. 1 on Ripple Music, and the makes a tantalizing first single of the patient roll in its newly-unveiled title-track. The vocals are a little farther back in the mix than on 2020’s Molt (review here), the results seemingly more atmospherically minded as the duo-plus flesh out their sound. I haven’t heard the full record yet, but I can only look forward to it based on what I’m hearing so far.

But let’s be honest, I was looking forward to it anyway.

From the PR wire:

Crystal Spiders Morieris

CRYSTAL SPIDERS to release new album ‘Morieris’ this October 1st on Ripple Music; new video and preorder available

North Carolina’s acclaimed heavy duo CRYSTAL SPIDERS announce the release of their sophomore album ‘Morieris’ on October 1st through Ripple Music, as well as the contribution of Corrosion Of Conformity’s Mike Dean on lead guitar on the album. Get mesmerized by the video for new single “Morieris” now!

For their eagerly anticipated follow up ‘Morieris’, North Carolina duo CRYSTAL SPIDERS bassist Brenna Leath and drummer Tradd Yancey take a lead guitar assist from Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity bassist, and Leath’s bandmate in Lightning Born) for a rollercoaster ride of doomy atmospherics, razor-sharp riffs, and infectious rhythms.

With their second offering, CRYSTAL SPIDERS builds upon and refines the whiplash intensity of ‘Molt’ to experiment with intricate harmonies, thundering breakdowns, and orchestral instrumentals (including guest cello from High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple). 2020 saw their debut album ‘Molt’ seated on many Album of the Year charts, and with ‘Morieris’, there’s no doubt the 2021 lists will save a spot for them as well.

The video for the title track “Morieris” was animated by Max Rebel of Ripple Music labelmates Plainride, with a lyrical theme inspired by the myth of Echo and Narcissus from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and visuals inspired by Salvador Dali’s surrealist work ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’. New album ‘Morieris’ is due out on October 1st and available to preorder through Ripple Music on limited edition splatter vinyl, black vinyl, CD and digital.

CRYSTAL SPIDERS New album ‘Morieris’
Out October 1st via Ripple Music
World preorder:
North American preorder:

Brenna Leath – Bass/Vocals
Tradd Yancey – Drums/Vocals
Mike Dean – Guitar

Tags: , , , ,

Weedeater Announce August Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


By my calendar, the last time Weedeater announced a tour was Jan. 2020. I said it barely qualified as news that they were touring, but for the fact that they were taking out The Atomic Bitchwax and Worshipper as well. I even used the same Scott Kinkade photo. The humdrum nature of that post, and the fact that it was Jan. 20, 2020, that it went up, is laughable now. Sad and laughable.

So yes, Weedeater have announced a stretch of dates in August, mostly in the Southeast heading out from their North Carolina homebase, and it’s definitely news. Also of note is that the band was recently confirmed for SonicBlast Fest 2022 in Portugal, so this is for sure not the last bit of touring they’ll do. Unless of course it is, because the universe as we’ve learned is an unpredictable place, and sometimes reality just turns into the biggest asshole ever. In any case, if you’ve never seen them, they’re a mainstay for a reason, and their live performance is the reason. They are worth appreciating.

The dates follow here as per social media. Tickets are available and the tour’s put together by Tone Deaf.


weedeater tour

We have just announced our first tour of 2021! More to come soon. Joining us for this leg will be very special guests Joe Buck Yourself Joe Buck Yourself and Adam Faucett Music

Tickets on Sale Now here:

08/05/2021 Greensboro NC The Blind Tiger
08/06/2021 Savannah GA El-Rocko Lounge
08/07/2021 Orlando FL Will’s Pub
08/08/2021 Tampa FL The Orpheum
08/10/2021 Mobile AL Alabama Music Box
08/11/2021 New Orleans LA Santos Bar
08/12/2021 Lafayette LA The Freetown Boom Boom Room
08/13/2021 Dallas TX Trees Dallas
08/14/2021 Houston TX The Secret Group
08/15/2021 Austin TX The Lost Well
08/16/2021 Oklahoma City OK 89th Street – OKC
08/18/2021 Huntsville AL SideTracks Music Hall
08/19/2021 Greenville SC The Radio Room
08/20/2021 Asheville NC Asheville Music Hall

Weedeater, Goliathan (2015)

Tags: , , ,

Cosmic Reaper Premiere “Wasteland II” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Charlotte, North Carolina-based four-piece Cosmic Reaper offered up their self-titled debut just over two months ago, on March 19, through Heavy Psych Sounds. The album is a feast of nod, a celebration of the void, and catchy to boot, taking influence from the swirling lurch that Windhand built from the foundation of Electric Wizard‘s ultra-stoned crush, and bringing both a current of noise and a sense of underlying structure to all that swirling murk, so that even as “Heaven’s Gate” pushes directly out-out-out from where opener “Hellion” leaves off, there’s still a sense of direction amid all the resultant spaciousness.

And so there remains one. Cosmic Reaper‘s Cosmic Reaper — sadly no eponymous track, but maybe next time — runs seven songs and 44 minutes, and is largely unipolar as regards tempo. Sure, there’s enough room for some swing as “Stellar Death” picks up from the opening duo, or later in “Wasteland II” (hey, there’s a video for that song right down there!), but even this is relative to the crawl of “Hellion” or the nine-minute penultimate cut “Planet Eater,” which as something called “Planet Eater” will inevitably do, becomes a focal point. But whether slow or slower, Cosmic Reaper‘s songs by no means lack character. Tonally they are rich in the bass of Garrett Garlington and the guitars of Dillon Prentice and Thad Collis, and as shifts in solos or the level of fuzz bring crescendos like those in the midsection of the aforementioned “Stellar Death,” drummer Jeremy Grobsmith demonstrates malleability in propelling or giving space to what surrounds.

cosmic reaper cosmic reaperThe album takes its time, and that’s to its credit. While the vinyl edition splits up “Wasteland I” and “Wasteland II,” in a linear listen brings that downerdelic instrumental centerpiece and the ensuing rollout of “Wasteland II” together in duly hypnosis-into-slapped-face style, and “Wasteland II” is both the most uptempo inclusion and the heaviest, with layered solos in the back end trading channels over still-massive riffs, doomed right to the finish. With more echo in its vocals and more room to let those echoes flesh out, “Planet Eater” moves along a different edge of dynamic, still well in line tonally with what surrounds, but working in such a way that I’d neither be surprised to find out it was the first song written for the album or the last. In any case, it sounds like it was fun to put together.

Coming right after the “Wasteland” two-parter, it makes one wonder if there isn’t an impulse toward longer-form material that will continue to develop in Cosmic Reaper‘s modus as they go forward — nothing on their four-song 2019 EP, Demon Dance, touched six minutes, though they came close — but one way or the other the sense of bookend with which “Infrasonic” caps, bringing the listener back to the rumbling ground “Hellion” laid out and finishing with a short stretch of the massive stomp the band have kept in their pocket all along, capably wielded, not overused. Maybe that restraint is worth noting as well in terms of potential, that Cosmic Reaper — however familiar their overarching aesthetic may willfully be — aren’t just blindly throwing riffs at each other or their listeners. But the fact that potential itself is a subject at all should be taken as a sign of the self-titled’s various merits and overall cohesion. They don’t sound like a brand new band, and indeed they’re not.

If you haven’t yet dug into Cosmic Reaper, it’s streaming in full at bottom of this post — age of horrors and wonders and all that — and you’ll find the video for “Wasteland II” premiering like two line breaks from here.

So enjoy:

Cosmic Reaper, “Wasteland II” official video premiere

WASTELAND II is a Cosmic Reaper track, taken from their self-titled debut album. The release is out on Heavy Psych Sounds !!!


“Wasteland II is an anthemic tribute to long nights of vices and the liberating days of the road. With driving riffs, soaring vocals, and explosive solos, it thunders through with a familiar head banging groove of years past. This video is a Kalediscopic Fever dream of exploitation films, Government propaganda and biker gangs. A collaboration between the band and longtime friend and film fanatic Reed Williams!”

Video credits: Reed Williams

Thad Collis — guitar/vocals
Dillon Prentice — guitar
Garrett Garlington — bass
Jeremy Grobsmith — drums

Cosmic Reaper, Cosmic Reaper (2021)

Cosmic Reaper on Facebook

Cosmic Reaper on Instagram

Cosmic Reaper on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Shun Premiere “Machina” From Self-Titled Debut out June 4

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

shun shun

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Machina’ from Shun’s self-titled debut. Album is out June 4 on Small Stone Records.]

Matt Whitehead on “Machina”:

A lot of the basic ideas for this song date back to jams in Jeff’s and my previous band (Made of Machines), but we were never really able to get it sounding the way we envisioned. Later, we jammed on it off and on with Shun and initially stumped everyone there as well, but everyone said they wanted to keep working on it. Over the period of a few months Rob and Scott developed their parts, and Jeff and I felt like we were finally fulfilled our original vision. Machina is also the first one I sent to J. Robbins to do a ‘proof of concept’ mix. When he sent the mix back, we were blown away. This song’s a bit of a weird, slow burn journey that ends in pure chaos and is one of our favorites to play.

SHUN live:
6/05 Asheville, NC @ Fleetwood’s
6/12 W. Columbia, SC @ Scratch N’ Spin (in-store 12PM)
6/26 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero

Asheville, North Carolina’s Shun release their self-titled debut June 4 on Small Stone Records. Earlier this year, I was asked to write the bio for the album, as sometimes happens with Small Stone stuff when the band doesn’t have anyone particular they want to do it — at this point I’ve been in touch with the label in a professional capacity for the better part of 20 years, so it’s by no means out of the blue that this came about — and as I noted when the album was announced early last month, it was kind of a confused process. Overall I’m satisfied with the result, but if I had it to do over again, there are a few things I might change.

Here’s the original bio — I’ll put it in PR wire blue for ease of organization, which this post is already sorely lacking:

Shun are a four-piece founded by Matt Whitehead (guitar/vocals), Scott Brandon (guitar/backing vocals), Jeff Baucom (bass) and Rob Elzey (drums), who recorded the nine tracks of their self-titled debut in isolation prior to turning them over to the esteemed J. Robbins at the Magpie Cage (Clutch, The Sword, so many others) for mixing and Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio for mastering.

Astute Small Stone Records loyalists will recognize Whitehead from his work in Throttlerod. He’s not alone in pedigree. Brandon has spent most of his life as a working musician, producer and DJ in Detroit, Ann Arbor, MI, and Chicago. Baucom, a veteran player in his own right, played together briefly with Whitehead in a band called Made of Machines. And Elzey has toured the world as a tech for the likes of Hatebreed and Unearth, among many others.

With this varied experience behind them, Shun work quickly to establish a distinct identity throughout this first LP, incorporating styles from melodic noise rock and heavy riffs to atmospheric largesse and contemplative, patient construction.

Having recorded in covid-isolation means drums and bass captured in Elzey’s garage and Brandon’s guitars recorded in his basement studio. Whitehead’s guitar was recorded with amps tucked into his bedroom closet and vocals also tracked in his house. A guest spot from Lamb of God’s Mark Morton on the penultimate “Heese” required no studio stop-by. But it also means songs put together over a period of months rather than days.

It’s to the band’s credit that Shun exists at all, let alone that it is neither disjointed nor wanting for urgency. A forceful and intermittently aggressive offering, it balances mood and intensity of expression throughout its songs. And while the record is coming out at a time when the band can’t get out and support it on stage as they otherwise might, the fact that they are pushing ahead with the release speaks as well to the need to say what they’re saying.

Shun’s style manages to be thoughtful and even sometimes proggy without giving in to self-indulgence or pretense, and their debut offers high-grade, dynamic, melodic heavy rock that resounds with purpose, taking familiar elements and pushing them beyond simplistic genre confines.

Right? Fine? Yeah. Not much more than that though. You get it through that the band is guitarist/vocalist Scott Brandon, vocalist/guitarist Matt Whitehead — and that the latter is a veteran of Small Stone staple act Throttlerod — as well as bassist Jeff Baucom and drummer Rob Elzey. You get that Shun, the nine-track/41-minute debut long-player, was tracked in isolation but ultimately mixed by J. Robbins, who for sure is a presence in the material despite not having actually captured the sounds himself so much as balanced them (and added some percussion). You get that it’s heavy. You get the essentials.

What you don’t really get from the bio I wrote is the character of the songs, which is pretty god damned important when it comes to actually hearing the record. You don’t get the latent post-hardcore influence in “Sleepwalking” or the emotive crux behind the payoff of “At Most.” You don’t get the progressive sensibility in the chugging “Machina” or the churning tension in album centerpiece “Undone,” the airy melodic float in the later “A Wooden House.” You kind of just get the barebones essentials.


I stand by my work — what choice do I have? — but I’m not thrilled with it, and it’s been kind of eating at me as it probably should if one gives a shit about what they do. Shun‘s Shun is ultimately more than just the sum of its parts. Even as opener “Run” smooths out its intense initial push into atmospheric pastoralism, it’s clear the four-piece — who again, built the record from scratch in COVID isolation — have more multifaceted ambitions than “here’s some dudes rockin’ riffs.” You get that Mark Morton from Lamb of God shows up on “Heese.” But you don’t get that it’s really the melodic character of the subsequent closer “Once Again,” the vague, later-’90s alternative-everything impression of the way the thickness of the bass foretells the sway that caps the record.

It’s teeny-tiny stakes, I know. Nobody reads band bios, even less now that they come through in email rather than wrapped around a CD in the mail. But as you listen to the track premiere above, I hope more of the band’s energy comes through than might through just seeing a phrase like “styles from melodic noise rock and heavy riffs to atmospheric largesse and contemplative, patient construction.” I’m not saying that’s not true, but sometimes when there’s a lot of basic info you need to include, it becomes like Joe Friday doing the telling: Just the facts, ma’am.

And there’s more appeal here than just the facts. There’s passion and force of delivery and a maturity of sound that comes through even though the band is a new entity. Maybe you can dig where they’re coming from and maybe you can’t — the punk roots are dug deep, but they’re there — but there’s a depth to Shun‘s songs that goes toward making an identity for the band beyond what the members have done before, and whether it’s a plague-born one-off or a continuing project, that’s worth preserving.

Shun, Shun (2021)

Shun on Facebook

Shun on Instagram

Shun on Bandcamp

Small Stone website

Small Stone on Facebook

Small Stone on Twitter

Small Stone on Instagram

Small Stone on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Whitehead of Shun & Throttlerod

Posted in Questionnaire on April 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Matt Whitehead SHUN

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: Matt Whitehead of Shun & Throttlerod

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

I love to stay busy writing songs and stray riffs in my spare time and sing and play guitar in a new band called Shun. We’re a four-piece loud riff-based heavy rock band that also has melodic and moody elements.

How did I come to it? My first job at Little Caesar’s…. [big U.S. pizza chain for our overseas friends who may not be familiar.]

I worked at that pizza chain in high school with a couple of people that were in some really good bands, one of which I joined sometime in early 1995. That band happened to be one of my favorite bands around at the time and it was a real honor to get that opportunity. That experience ultimately helped shape my ideas about songwriting and melody. Whereas I had been primarily into metal and also Nirvana, I became an absolute sponge in college and listened to everything I could get my hands on. That’s when I found everything from The Melvins and Fugazi to Morphine, PJ Harvey, and Jawbox.

After that first band ran its course, I started Throttlerod with two of those same guys, put out a bunch of records, and did a lot of touring. Early on, our friends in ATP and Sunnshine encouraged us to move from Columbia, SC, to Richmond and we did. Not because we didn’t like our hometown (we loved it there). But Richmond had a really unique scene and is well-situated on the East Coast to hit a lot of cities in a short amount of time. Eventually, we recruited the Sunnshine drummer, Kevin White, and the bass player from my first band who moved to Richmond from where he had been living in Chicago.

I moved back to South Carolina in 2011 and put out one more Throttlerod record that J. Robbins produced. I was getting restless as I waited for Kevin to join me, so I started a band called Made of Machines with… a guy from that first job at the pizza place. Another guy from my first band introduced me to Jeff Baucom who played bass with Machines for a couple of years.

Jeff and I really connected personally and musically, and he asked me to come jam with a new project he had going with a drummer and a guitarist who had just moved to the area. Fast forward through a few hurdles with getting together, and we are now on a schedule and having a blast making music. So, in a way all of my connections to music began at Little Caesar’s. Weird.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memory is listening to Beatles and Elton John records with my mom when I was probably four years old. I got really into other artists after that, but it was “Battery” by Metallica led me to go head-first into guitar. I more or less learned the instrument from obsessing over their first three Metallica records. A good friend of mine shared that obsession and we used to stay up all night playing metal covers, and we probably (definitely) knew every Metallica song through Justice at one point. There are a lot worse things we could have been doing! When I went to college though, I was exposed to a whole lot.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have been fortunate enough to experience a lot with Throttlerod: playing in front of 19,000 people in Shockoe Bottom; playing HF Festival, CMJ, or SXSW; and playing with all kinds of cool bands ranging from Clutch and Mastodon to Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. But my best musical memory is much more basic: touring in a van with my friends, seeing the US and Canada, sleeping on floors, and playing music that we loved every night. I was just telling this story a few days ago, but we always prided ourselves on playing the same to an audience of one as we did to an audience of 19,000. Once we played Des Moines, Iowa, early in the week and there was nobody there. Literally nobody. We got on stage and seconds into our set, Matt Pike (who we had met when we played with High on Fire sometime before that) walks in. We played our entire set to him headbanging in front of the stage. Ruled.

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

I don’t know about that. I try and be open enough to other perspectives to where I don’t get too upset over people challenging me. It’s not a perfect system, but I can’t think of a situation off the top of my head where I got bothered or felt “tested” by someone or something challenging a belief.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Who knows where it will lead? The old cliché “it’s the journey, not the destination” holds true here. People, interests, influences, etc. change over time and that should be ok as long as we’re still excited. I try my best to treat songs as a diary and not mull over them too much. To me, it feels more exciting to have a batch of songs we wrote in a short period of time when we felt a certain way and not overthink them versus mulling over every song for months/years thinking we’re going to make it perfect. The next album will be written with different perspectives because we’ve changed along with everything around us.

How do you define success?

Honestly, we feel like we’ve succeeded just getting to play music together in a new band at this stage in our lives. Having J. Robbins believe in it enough to want to mix our home recordings, having Small Stone Records interested enough to put it out, and Mark Morton (Lamb of God) contributing a solo to a song is a real high-five situation to put it mildly.

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

I could get real dark here, but let’s keep this upbeat and positive.

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

The next album. Upon finishing our last one, it took no more than a week for new riffs to start flying around.

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

The most essential function of art depends on the situation. Entertainment, connection, self-awareness… all valid functions in my opinion.

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

Spending time with my family and traveling are always things I look forward to.

Shun, Shun (2021)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Shun Announce Self-Titled Debut Album out June 4; Preorders Up

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Some part of the press release below is from the bio I wrote. It was a bit of a process putting that together since at first I was under the mistaken impression Shun wasn’t a new band but a new incarnation of Throttlerod putting out an album called Shun. What made that hard to understand was that it sounded so different from that band’s past work, was a marked left turn in direction. Well, Shun is a different band that just happens to feature Throttlerod‘s Matt Whitehead (who was very understanding in working with my dumb ass), and their self-titled debut is up for preorder now with CD through Small Stone and vinyl through Kozmik Artifactz. They’re streaming the opening track, as Small Stone is wont to do with its releases when they’re announced.

You’ll also note the cover art by Alexander Von Wieding. I’m not sure what’s happening there — fighting monoliths? — but I like it.

Info came down the PR wire thusly:

shun shun

SHUN: North Carolina Heavy Rock Collective Featuring Member Of Throttlerod To Release Self-Titled Debut June 4th Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Asheville, North Carolina heavy rock collective SHUN will release their self-titled debut June 4th via Small Stone Records. The record includes guest appearances by Mark Morton (Lamb Of God) and J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Government Issue).

A name inspired by a Bruce Lee quote: “Adapt what is useful, reject [shun] what is useless, and add what is specifically your own,” SHUN is guitarist/vocalist Matt Whitehead, guitarist/backing vocalist Scott Brandon, bassist Jeff Baucom, and drummer Rob Elzey. Astute Small Stone loyalists will recognize Whitehead from his work in Throttlerod. He’s not alone in pedigree. Brandon has spent most of his life as a working musician, producer, and DJ in Detroit, and Ann Arbor, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois. Baucom, a veteran musician in his own right, played with Whitehead briefly in a band called Made Of Machines and has been a part of the regional music scene for some time while Elzey has toured the world as a tech for the likes of Hatebreed and Unearth, among many others.

Together, SHUN manifests a distinct identity throughout their eponymous LP, incorporating everything from melodic noise rock and heavy riffs to atmospheric largesse and contemplative, patient construction. Developed in covid-isolation over a period of several months, the drums and bass comprising Shun were recorded in Elzey’s garage while Brandon’s guitars were captured in his basement studio. Whitehead’s guitars were recorded with amps tucked into his bedroom closet and vocals were also tracked in his house. A guest spot from Lamb Of God’s Mark Morton on the penultimate “Heese” required no studio stop-by. In the end, nine tracks were turned over to esteemed producer J. Robbins at Magpie Cage Recording Studio (Clutch, The Sword, Coliseum) for mixing and Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio for mastering.

It’s to the band’s credit that Shun exists at all, let alone that it is neither disjointed nor wanting for urgency. A forceful and intermittently aggressive offering, it balances mood and intensity of expression throughout its duration.

In advance of the release of Shun, today the band is pleased to unveil opening track, “Run.” Notes Brandon, “This album for me truly is a culmination of a lifelong passion for music and a testament to my DIY attitude towards life in general. We worked really hard through some difficult times to put this thing together, and I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I’ve found myself playing and writing with some amazingly talented people in this band, and I think ‘Run’ is a great example of us hitting on all cylinders.”

Shun, which features cover art by Alexander Von Wieding (Monster Magnet, Trouble, Karma To Burn), will be released on CD and digital formats via Small Stone with Kozmik Artifactz handling a limited vinyl edition. Find preorder options at THIS LOCATION:

Shun Track Listing:
1. Run
2. Sleepwalking
3. At Most
4. Machina
5. Undone
6. Near Enemy
7. A Wooden House
8. Heese
9. Once Again

Jeff Baucom – bass
Matt Whitehead – vocals, guitars
Rob Elzey – drums
Scott Brandon – guitars, vocals

Additional Musicians:
Mark Morton – guitar solo on “Heese”
J. Robbins – various percussion

Shun, Shun (2021)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cosmic Reaper to Release Self-Titled Debut March 19 on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


North Carolinian murk doomers Cosmic Reaper — who bring both sides of their name to bear in their sound — will make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds with their self-titled first long-player on March 19. Preorders are up if that’s your thing. The PR wire cites Electric Wizard as an influence, and fair enough, can’t argue, but even more than that, I hear shades of later Windhand in the opening track “Hellion” that’s streaming now from the upcoming record. Having missed out previously on the band’s 2019 Demon Dance and 2010 Comes Knockin’ EPs, their affinity for cinematic themes comes through plainly in their work there (hit Bandcamp) and in the cover for Cosmic Reaper itself, which I’m inclined to take at its word in the self-assessed ‘R’ rating.

They bring a darker edge to Heavy Psych Sounds, building on what the label has accomplished over the last year with its Doom Sessions split series and, in some ways, tying the two sides together. Cool by me.

The PR wire has this:

cosmic reaper cosmic reaper

North Carolina fuzzed-out doom unit COSMIC REAPER to release debut album on Heavy Psych Sounds; stream new single “Hellion” now!

Heavy Psych Sounds announce the signing of North Carolina’s fuzzed-out doom unit COSMIC REAPER, for the release of their self-titled debut album this March 19th. Get more details and stream their delightfully crushing new single “Hellion” now!

COSMIC REAPER enthuse: “This 6 minute song is a solid slab of pure, unadulterated doom that is sure to be your soundtrack to 2021’s apocalyptic start. With big Electric Wizard vibes and Cosmic Reaper’s signature sound, Hellion rips at the fabric from underneath.”

North Carolina’s COSMIC REAPER comes crashing through the speakers with their self-titled debut album. Dripping with a classic 70’s attitude, mixing sci-fi oriented lyrics, brief but satisfying moments of prog exploration, all while keeping one foot firmly planted in modern doom, you start to get an idea of the interstellar journey that awaits. The heaviest elements are there and are guaranteed to move planets. The stars align and engines ignite as Cosmic Reaper claws at the soul of the genre.

Debut album ‘Cosmic Reaper’ will be issued on March 19th, 2021 and available to preorder through Heavy Psych Sounds in:

– 15 Ultra Ltd Test Press Vinyl
– 150 Ultra Ltd Half – Half Green Fluo + Black Vinyl
– 400 Ltd Orange Transparent – Splatter Black Vinyl
– Black Vinyl
– Digipak
– Digital

COSMIC REAPER Debut album ‘Cosmic Reaper’ Out March 19th on Heavy Psych Sounds

1. Hellion
2. Heaven’s Gate
3. Stellar Death
4. Wasteland I
5. Wasteland II
6. Planet Eater
7. Infrasonic

Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, psych-doom outfit COSMIC REAPER delivers classic doom & stoner metal elements dipped in psychedelia. In its infancy, bass player Garrett Garlington and guitar player Dillon Prentice, together in Garrett’s kitchen, mixed heavy and fuzzy harmonies with crushing riffs. Not long after, the duo added Thad Collis. His ethereal vocals and impassioned guitar harmonies are what built the band’s foundation. Jeremy Grobsmith, a Colorado Springs metal veteran (The Great Redneck Hope, Matterhorn and Worry) had recently moved to The Queen City, befriended the guys and was quickly asked to join. His hard-hitting and eclectic drum style rounded out the Cosmic Reaper sound and the band was born.

In September of that same year, they recorded the ‘Demon Dance’ EP at Greensboro’s recording studio The Parliament House, along side owner and maverick Jacob Beeson. Noteworthy exposure from doom metal focused podcasts and web-zines helped in the success of their first offering. Following the release, the band continued to perform regionally and then capitalized on the time afforded by the unfortunate shutdown of venues and they began writing their first full length album.

The band returned to Beeson’s studio in the summer of 2020 to start recording. Laden with droning riffs and down tempo walls of monolithic sound, they completed their crushing self-titled debut full length. The start of 2021 ushers in a new and monumental era for the guys as COSMIC REAPER becomes part of the Heavy Psych Sounds family.

Thad Collis — guitar/vocals
Dillon Prentice — guitar
Garrett Garlington — bass
Jeremy Grobsmith — drums

Cosmic Reaper, “Hellion”

Cosmic Reaper, Demon Dance (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Album Review: Crystal Spiders, Molt

Posted in Reviews on November 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Crystal Spiders Molt

It seems doubtful that Molt will be the definitive document when it comes to Raleigh, North Carolina’s Crystal Spiders. Indeed, bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath, also of The Hell No and Lightning Born, recently confirmed work is underway on a follow-up to the band’s nine-song/43-minute Ripple Music debut, and as she and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey bid farewell to guitarist Mike Delaotch during the process of making the album, with producer Mike Dean — also in Lightning Born, also C.O.C. — stepping in to play some guitar on these songs as well as collaborating on the next batch, which will also have been put together using a methodology born of quarantine-separation and studio-based writing rather than hammering out material on stage, it seems fair to expect that whatever Yancey and Leath (and Dean) come up with next, Crystal Spiders will have shed this skin and formed a new one in its place.

Given that flux, it becomes all the more appropriate to take Molt on its own terms and to appreciate it for what it is. As a follow-up to the then-trio’s aptly-titled 2019 Demo (review here), it is an expansion of those ideas — one song is carried over between the two releases in “Tigerlily” — that keeps the focus put forth there on melody, groove and tone. Molt is not without a harder edge and faster shove, and one need look no further than the second-cut title-track to find it. Following opener “Trapped,” “Molt” is brash and engaging in kind.

Its first half speeds through a ’70s-style riff with Leath‘s verse lines surfing atop, and even after the tension built is released in a sudden fuzzy turn circa two minutes into the total 3:37, they subsequently turn to a dual-channel guitar solo, drum showoff and boogie/crash finish. And “Molt” is not an aberration in this regard. The later pair “C-U-N-Hell” and “Gutter” course along in no less energetic fashion, unimpeded by the thickness of the guitar and bass tones surrounding as the drums cut through and offer propulsive motion.

There’s a middle ground to be found as well in “The Call,” with a Motörheadular first half leading to a fluid jam-out later backed by a subtle weaving layer of lead-tone, and nothing throughout is quite so clear-cut, one or the other, but Molt‘s primary impression is in fact that thickness of tone and a less fervid tempo. Mood fuzz. The brooding launch Molt receives at the outset of “Trapped” is a tell for what’s to follow, and even as that song comes to life, its nodding pace remains indicative. That’s not to say Crystal Spiders want for energy — far from it, as the chug-meet-toms breaks in “Tigerlily” show, let alone any of the actually-faster material — but that their purposes are subtly multifaceted, and some of their strongest moments come in those restrained-seeming parts.

It’s not quite a question of patience in craft, because if anything, the band feel actively like they’re setting up the next burst, and that has a tendency to make their offerings more exciting since one never really knows when it’s coming (at least on a first couple listens), but one way or another, the rolling and crashing behind Leath‘s vocals in “Chronic Sick” makes a high point of an emotional low, touching on garage doom in the riff and wading deeper into murk than just about anything that surrounds — something the band seems to acknowledge as well in backing it with “C-U-N-Hell,” which also serves as the centerpiece because of course it does.

crystal spiders (photo by Jay Beadnell)

Between that, “Gutter” — which one assumes is the actual emotional low point being portrayed here — and the beginning stretch of “The Call,” Molt finds its biggest and most resonant kick in this post-“Chronic Sick” section. Is that where the molting happens, and where one skin is shed in favor of growing a newer, more resilient one? It would be easy to say yes, perhaps, were it not for the finishing pair of “Headhunters” and “Fog,” which feel distinct unto themselves in their approach.

The former is a pointed departure, and short at just 2:25, but more than an interlude. With handclaps and far-back drums from Yancey behind a watery vocal from Leath, “Headhunters” moves fluidly through a couple verses like a momentary dream — there and gone and you’re not quite sure if you were conscious for it happening. And as the finale, “Fog” lives gloriously up to its name, creating a murk of mellower fuzz riffing that finds Leath likewise more drawn back on vocals as opposed to some of the belting-out done earlier in the record, and it ends up underscoring and furthering the sense of mood that Molt has sought to create all along. As a last impression, “Fog” is the most melodically encompassing, with self-harmonizing and the patience in delivery that other songs hinted toward.

Entirely possible it’s a statement of things to come for the band as they grow into a more complex outfit on the whole, able to foster the dynamic that occurs here between songs within them as well, but again, what matters more is taking Molt on its own merits. On the most basic level of put-it-on-and-hear-it, it’s an assembly of wholly unpretentious kickass tunes. That’s as plain as it can be said. The collaboration between Leath and Yancey that will serve as the foundation of the band going forward is obviously newer in terms of stylistic development, but as the groundwork for future growth, there’s little more one could ask than what’s being delivered here.

And if these are indeed hints of things to come as the band continues to flourish, all the better, but that possibility does nothing to sap the record of its force of execution, its tonal impression, or the mood it evokes, and while there are dangers as “Tigerlily” gives way to “Chronic Sick” that the band might get caught up in their own mire, they never do, and even as they wade through “Fog” at the end, their sense of purpose remains clear. Whatever path their next release might find them walking, they’ve gotten off on the right foot.

Crystal Spiders, Molt (2020)

Crystal Spiders on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Spiders on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , ,