Oak Announce Fall Live Shows; Writing Plans

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

oak

After the 2018 release of Oak III, otherwise known as their third self-titled EP, the band will once again set to writing next month, after they do a few shows here and there throughout September. The highlight no doubt is HRH Doom vs. Stoner in Sheffield, the lineup for which is absolutely ridiculous, as seems to be the thing with that fest. They’ll also do a show each in Belgium and France, so getting out a little bit as well as, apparently, hitting Wales for the first time in November on another round of UK dates. I don’t know when they’ll record, but a 2020 release is probably a fair bet. I guess we’ll see when it happens.

While we’re on the subject of things I don’t know — there are so many it’s hard to keep up — I also don’t know if Oak‘s next outing will be another EP or a full-length. Maybe they’re just not that into albums. Again, I don’t know. But it’s fun sometimes to pretend I do.

Here’s word via the PR wire:

oak shows

OAK ANNOUNCE DATES IN UK AND EU

London stoner rockers OAK have finalised tour dates for the latter part of 2019, which will see them visiting a number of cities/towns for the first time – including their first overseas trip, crossing the Channel for dates alongside Cheshire’s 1968.

After a string of September dates – culminating in an appearance at the HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner festival at Sheffield Academy, then a slot opening for Fireball Ministry and Lo Pan at London’s Garage – the band plans to spend October working on material for the follow-up to 2018’s OAK III, before taking to the road again at the start of November, including the band’s first journey to Wales.

Frontman Andy Valiant said, “We’re really excited to be taking OAK into previously uncharted territory, particularly our first off-island trip to France and Belgium, and to be making our first appearance at the Garage – a venue that has near-mythic status for us, having grown up seeing some of our favourite bands there. We’re looking forward to making some new friends along the way, and getting ourselves creatively psyched-up for our next record, which anyone turning up to see us can expect some previews of along the way. See you in the pit!”

Oak live dates, 2019:
Thu 12th September – London, UK – The Black Heart
Fri 13th September – Ghent, BE – Muziekcentrum Kinky Star
Sat 14th September – Paris, FR – L’International
Thu 26th September – Glasgow, UK – Ivory Blacks
Fri 27th September – Edinburgh, UK – Opium
Sun 29th September – Sheffield, UK – HRH Doom vs HRH Stoner @ Sheffield Academy
Mon 30th September – London, UK – The Garage

Fri 1st November – Swansea, UK – The Bunkhouse
Sat 2nd November – Cardiff, UK – The Moon Club
Sun 3rd November – London, UK – The Macbeth
Sat 23rd November – London, UK – The Dev

Oak is:
Clinton Ritchie: Drums
Richard Morgan: Bass, Backing Vocals
Kevin Germain: Guitars
Andy Valiant: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/oakstoner/
https://oakstoner.bandcamp.com/

Oak, Oak III EP (2018)

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Oak and 1968 to Embark on Weekender Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

OAK

Who the hell doesn’t want to get out for a weekender every now and then? Next month, London’s Oak and Cheshire’s 1968 will head off together for a three-day stint, starting out at The Black Heart in Camden Town and heading to the continent-proper in order to make stops in Ghent, Belgium, and Paris, France. Decent amount of ground to cover in not a huge amount of time, but the way it’s split up is hardly insurmountable, even with the inevitable traffic of a major urban center. Should be good shows, is what I’m saying. And I dig a weekender tour, so yeah. Right on.

Oak released their third EP, the aptly-titled Oak III, last Spring and have been steadily supporting it around the UK since, while 1968 issued their Ballads of the Godless debut album last year through Black Bow Records, having recorded at Skyhammer Studios1968 also were in America earlier this year, making a stop at Planet Desert Rock Weekend in Las Vegas, which hosted a range of international bands. Good gig to get.

Maybe you’ll be in London, Ghent or Paris to catch these two bands, maybe you won’t. I won’t be. But sometimes I’m just glad to see people getting out to do shows. That’s pretty much the story here. That and a cool poster.

Here it is, speaking of:

oak 1968 tour

OAK – MAJOR UPDATE

We are proud to announce that we will pay a short visit to Belgium and France alongside 1968 in September. Oak is a stoner rock band from London. We tried to sound like Kyuss but fucked it all up. We take retro blues rock riffs influenced by the likes of Cream, make it filthy and downtuned and then get an actual mad man to yell over the top of it.

12th of Sept: London UK, The Black Heart
13th of Sept: Ghent BE, Muziekcentrum Kinky Star
14th of Sept: Paris FR, L’international

Event links below:
https://www.facebook.com/events/2320505784674597/
https://www.facebook.com/events/310172116575644/
https://www.facebook.com/events/2815744091833722/

Poster by Jo Riou Graphic Designer

Oak is:
Clinton Ritchie: Drums
Richard Morgan: Bass, Backing Vocals
Kevin Germain: Guitars
Andy Valiant: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/oakstoner/
https://oakstoner.bandcamp.com/

Oak, Oak III EP (2018)

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End of the World Festival 2019: Dead Witches, Elephant Tree, Tuskar, Oak & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

end of the world festival logo

At very least, it’ll be the end of your liver. Nestled into the southwest of England in the port town of Plymouth, the third End of the World Festival 2019 is set to feature the formidable likes of Dead Witches, Elephant Tree, Gandalf the Green, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Lacertilia, Oak and a likewise formidable slew of others for a one-dayer that looks like a marathon and will likely feel like one for anyone in attendance over the age of 30. As a one-and-done-type event, it’s a celebration of the UK’s native scene, which is indeed worthy of celebrating, and its lineup showcases not only regional heavy, but a bit of the various forms in which that heavy plays out — some sludge, some rock, some doom, some this, some that. There’s a lot to dig here, so needless to say I’ll be sailing in for it.

Nah, not really, but that would be awesome. Book project! I set sail from Massachusetts’ Plymouth to the real Plymouth for a fest, caught in a storm, stranded on an island, etc. The whole bit.

Ah screw it. Here’s the lineup:

end of the world festival

End Of The World festival in Plymouth is in their third year, showcasing some of the best stoner, psych, doom and sludge metal bands in the UK. This year they’ve expanded to include Dead Witches, featuring the legendary Mark Greening (ex-Electric Wizard). These are exclusive South-West shows for many of these acts; the event typically showcases the South-West scene but has expanded to include Manchester’s Ritual King, Welsh alt-stoner act Heavy on the Ride and London-based blues-doom outfit Oak. In their third outing, they’re stronger than ever and hoping for their best turnout yet.

The event takes place between The Underground and The Junction in Plymouth on 06.07.19.

The bands playing are:

Mother Vulture
Oak
Heavy on the Ride
Victus
Gandalf the Green
Greenhorn
Ritual King
Beggar
Lacertilia
Tuskar
Cybernetic Witch Cult
Elephant Tree
Mother Vulture

Tickets are £15 in advance or £17 OTD

Ticket link: https://cyberneticwitchcult.bigcartel.com/product/end-of-the-world-festival-2019-ticket

https://www.facebook.com/events/2306912209531667/
https://www.facebook.com/endoftheworldfestivalUK

Elephant Tree, “Dawn” live at HRH Doom vs. Stoner 2018

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Dunsmuir, Monkey3, Oak, Lightsabres, Helen Money, Dali’s Llama, Suns of Thyme, Fungal Abyss, Wicked Gypsy

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

This is always a kind of nervewracking moment, sitting here in my chair as I do every couple months and introducing the next Quarterly Review. Between now and Friday, somehow, some way, I’ll post 50 reviews in batches of 10 per day. It will cover more ground than, frankly, I yet know, and by the time it’s done it’s going to feel (at least to me) like way more than a week has passed, but hell, at this point I’ve done this enough times to be reasonably confident I can get through it without suffering a major collapse either of heart or brain. I’ve taken steps beforehand to make it easier on myself and listened to a lot, a lot, a lot of music in preparation, so there’s nothing left to do but dive in and actually kick this this thing off. So let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sumac, What One Becomes

sumac-what-one-becomes

With their second album, What One Becomes (on Thrill Jockey), post-metal trio Sumac move forward from what their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), established as their crushing and atmospheric modus. Starting with a wash of blown-out noise in “Image of Control,” the collective of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (ex-Isis), bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) eventually settle into a barrage of chug and inhuman lumber over the course of the five-track/58-minute progression, testing tolerance on the 17-minute march “Blackout” and tapping into a satisfying moment of melody in centerpiece “Clutch of Oblivion” that, by the time it arrives, feels a bit like a life raft. There are stretches that come across as part collections, but the whole seems to be geared toward overwhelming, consuming and devastating, and ultimately What One Becomes accomplishes all of those things and more besides, finishing closer “Will to Reach” with the sense they could easily keep going. I believe it.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records

 

Dunsmuir, Dunsmuir

dunsmuir-dunsmuir

Prior to making their full-length debut, Dunsmuir issued a series of 7” singles, so if you picked up any of that, the straightforward pulse running through the 10-track self-titled will probably be familiar. Likewise if you’d previously caught wind of The Company Band, the supergroup in which vocalist Neil Fallon (also Clutch), guitarist Dave Bone and bassist Brad Davis (also Fu Manchu) previously joined forces. Here they’re joined by drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, etc.), and the material is suitably metallic in its aftertaste, but while Fallon’s presence is irrepressible and it’s the songwriting itself that shines through in cuts like “Our Only Master” and “…And Madness,” both barnburner riffs in classic metal fashion, where the later “Church of the Tooth” draws back the pace to add sway leading into the mid-paced closing duo “The Gate” and “Crawling Chaos.” Not many surprises, but with the ingredients given, knowing what you’re getting isn’t anything to complain about.

Dunsmuir on Thee Facebooks

Dunsmuir webstore

 

Monkey3, Astra Symmetry

monkey3-astra-symmetry

Across a span of 12 tracks and 72 minutes, Swiss heavy progressives Monkey3 unfurl the massive scope of Astra Symmetry, their fifth album and the follow-up to 2013’s The 5th Sun. It is an immediately immersive listening experience and does not become any less so as it plays out, the generally-instrumental four-piece frontloading early songs like “Abyss,” “Moon” and the nodding, synthed-out “The Water Bearer” with vocals and backing that with “Dead Planet’s Eyes” on the second LP for good measure. Delving into Eastern-style melodicism gives Astra Symmetry a contemplative air, but Monkey3’s heavy psychedelia has always provided a free-flowing vibe, and as “Astrea,” “Arch,” “The Guardian” and “Realms of Lights” roll through ambient drones toward the album’s smoothly delivered apex, that remains very much the case. Taken as a whole, Astra Symmetry is a significant journey, but satisfying in that traveling atmosphere and in the hypnosis it elicits along the way.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

 

Oak, Oak II

oak-oak-ii

Big progressive step from London four-piece Oak on their second self-released EP, Oak II. They follow last year’s self-titled (review here) with four more tracks that build on the burl established last time out but immediately show more stylistic command, vocalist Andy “Valiant” Wisbey emerging as a significant frontman presence and the band behind him – guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Masson and drummer Clinton Ritchie – finding more breadth, be it in a nod to djent riffing in “Mirage” or more melodic post-Steak desert rock in “Against the Rain.” In addition, “A Bridge too Far” showcases a patience of approach that the first EP simply didn’t have, and that makes its build even more satisfying as it hits its peak and goes quiet into the stonerly swing of “Smoke,” which ends Oak II with due fuzz and some social commentary to go with. Sounds like more than a year’s growth at work, but I’ll take it.

Oak on Thee Facebooks

Oak on Bandcamp

 

Lightsabres, Hibernation

lightsabres-hibernation

One word for Swedish one-man outfit Lightsabres? How about “underrated?” Since the 2013 Demons EP (review here), it has been nearly impossible to keep a handle on where John Strömshed (also Tunga Moln) might go on any given song, and his latest offering, the full-length Hibernation (on HeviSike with a tape out on Medusa Crush) works much the same, rolling out a melodic mellowness on the opening title-track before topping off-time chug with garage vocals on the subsequent “Endless Summer.” Elsewhere, “Throw it all Away” marries swallow-you-in-tone riffing with a surprisingly emotionally resonant lead, and “Blood on the Snow” offers a downtrodden vision of grunge-blues like what might’ve happened if Danzig had never gone commercial. It’s all over the place, as was 2014’s Spitting Blood (review here) and 2015’s Beheaded, but tied together through a wintry theme, and anyway, variety is the norm for Lightsabres, whose reach seems only to grow broader with each passing year.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

 

Helen Money, Become Zero

helen-money-become-zero

Knowing the context of Helen Money’s Become Zero having been written by cellist Alison Chesley following losing both her parents, and knowing that songs like the 10-minute “Radiate” and the effects-less “Blood and Bone” (which features pianist Rachel Grimes) deal directly with that loss, only makes it more powerful, but even without that information, the sense of melancholy and loneliness is right there to be heard. Chesley, who released the last Helen Money album, Arriving Angels (review here), in 2013, once again brings in drummer Jason Roeder (Sleep, Neurosis) to contribute, and his work on the title-track and the later churn of “Leviathan” make both standouts, but whether it’s the empty spaces of “Vanished Star” or the ambient wash of “Radiate” – I don’t even know how a cello makes that sound – the emotional force driving the music is ultimately what ties it together as a single work of poignant, deeply resonant beauty.

Helen Money on Thee Facebooks

Helen Money at Thrill Jockey Records

 

Dali’s Llama, Dying in the Sun

dalis-llama-dying-in-the-sun

It has been nearly three years since desert-dwelling rockers Dali’s Llama celebrated their two-decade run with the Twenty Years Underground vinyl (review here) and almost four since their last proper full-length, Autumn Woods (review here), was issued. For them, that’s an exceedingly long time. One can’t help but wonder if the band – now a five-piece, led as ever by guitarist/vocalist Zach Huskey and recorded as ever by Scott Reeder – went through a period of introspection in that span. After some stylistic experimentation with darker and more doomed influences, the seven tracks of Dying in the Sun would seem to reaffirm who Dali’s Llama are as they approach the quarter-century mark, bringing some of the gloom of Autumn Woods to extended centerpiece “Samurai Eyes” as easily as “Bruja-ha” seems to play off the goth-punk whimsy of 2010’s Howl do You Do? (review here). The fact is Dali’s Llama are all these things, not just one or the other, and so in bringing that together, Dying in the Sun is perhaps the truest to themselves they’ve yet been on record.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama Records website

 

Suns of Thyme, Cascades

suns-of-thyme-cascades

Making their debut on Napalm Records, Berlin five-piece Suns of Thyme exhibit immediate sonic adventurousness on their second album, Cascades, melding krautrock and heavy psych keys and effects with a distinctly human presence in the rhythm section, engaging in songcraft in the new wave-ish “Intuition Unbound” while topping shoegaze wash with organ on “Aphelion.” It’s a vast reach, and with 14 tracks and a 55-minute runtime, Suns of Thyme have plenty of chance to get where they’re going, but the dynamic between the psych-folk of “Val Verde” and the drift of closing duo “Kirwani” and “Kirwani II” and the push of the earlier “Deep Purple Rain” impresses both in theory and practice alike. The task ahead of them would seem to be to meld these influences together further as they move forward, but there’s something satisfying about having no idea what’s coming next after the proggy sway of “Schweben,” and that’s worth appreciating as it is.

Suns of Thyme on Thee Facebooks

Suns of Thyme at Napalm Records

 

Fungal Abyss, Karma Suture

fungal-abyss-karma-suture

Two huge, side-consuming slabs of primordial improvised heavy psychedelia making up a 45-minute LP with a pun title and enough wash throughout that I don’t even feel dirty looking at it? Yeah, there really isn’t a time when I don’t feel ready to sign on for weirdo exploratory stuff like that which Seattle’s Fungal Abyss elicit on Karma Suture. Available as a 12” on Adansonia Records, the album brings together “Perfumed Garden” (22:12) and “Virile Member” (23:22), both sprawling, massive jams that launch almost immediately and are gone for the duration. Way gone. I won’t discount the consumption that takes place on side A, but I think my absolute favorite part of Karma Suture might be the guitar lead on “Virile Member,” which about eight minutes in starts to lose its way and you can actually hear the band come around and pick it back up to an exciting swing. It’s moments like that one that make a group like Fungal Abyss exciting. Not only are they able to right their direction when they need to, but they’re brave enough to put the whole thing on record: as raw and genuine as it gets.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Wicked Gypsy, Wicked Gypsy

wicked-gypsy-wicked-gypsy

It’s an encouraging and unpretentious start that Malaysian four-piece Wicked Gypsy make on their self-titled, self-released three-song EP. In the 22-minute span of “Wicked Gypsy,” “Heavy Eyes” and “Gypsy Woman,” the band – vocalist/guitarist Mahmood Ahmad, bassist Mohd Azam, keyboardist Azyan Idayu and drummer Ahmad Afiq – bring together influences from modern doom and classic heavy rock, Idayu’s keys providing a distinct ‘70s flair to the opener while Azam’s wah bass and of course a liberal dose of rifffing from Ahmad lead a proto-metallic charge in “Heavy Eyes,” topped with gritty vocals reciting lyrics about smoking weed, black magic, the devil, etc. What one really hears in these tracks is Wicked Gypsy’s initial exploration of dark-themed doom rock, and while the going is rough in its sound, that adds to the appeal, and the drum solo/progressive flourish worked into “Gypsy Woman” speaks well of where they’re headed as they walk the Sabbathian path.

Wicked Gypsy on Thee Facebooks

Wicked Gypsy on Soundcloud

 

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Snuff’est 2016 Announces Final Lineup… Mostly

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Snuff’est 2016 is keeping secrets. As in, the Bristol-based all-dayer festival has finalized its lineup, adding Belzebong, Asteroid and Radar Men from the Moon alongside the formidable likes of Gnod, Hang the Bastard, Bong, Sigiriya, Beehoover and others. However, there’s one band who has yet to be announced and Snuff Lane, which is putting on the show Sept. 17 as well as the newly-announced pre-party the night before with Deville, Gurt, Trippy Wicked and Wiht, aren’t telling.

Sometimes in cases like that, it happens that the band is contractually obligated because of a show elsewhere not to announce other gigs, so if you happen to be familiar with who will be around Bristol or elsewhere in the UK on the nights before or after, you could maybe make a guess, but for me, I haven’t a damn clue. Will be fun to find out though.

Final posters and (announced) lineup came down the PR wire:

Snuff’est – Doom/Stoner/Psych

Snuff Lane loudly brings you Snuff’est; Bristol’s newest intimate Doom, Stoner, Psych sonic-sounding rifforgy, due next month.

All Tier-1 and Tier-2 tickets already Sold-Out and we still have another act to announce, alongside a surprise performance from some extraordinary Special Guests.

Boasting a beautiful blend of national and international artists, with some unmissable special performances; starting with stage headliners:
Belzebong – UK EXCLUSIVE
Asteroid – 1 0f 2 UK appearances for 2016
Radar Men From The Moon
Also confirmed are:
Hang The Bastard (last South-West show ever) / Gnod / Sigirya / Bong / Enos / Beehover / ANTA / Hogslayer / Oak / Sugar Horse, as well as hidden ‘Surprise Special Guests’.

Both Tier-1 and Tier-2 Early-Bird tickets have completely SOLD-OUT, with a limited number of remaining tickets on sale now.

Snuff’est All-Dayer
1 Day / 2 Venues / 3 Headliners
Saturday 17th September
Exchange and The Stag and Hounds, Bristol
Doom/Stoner/Psych
RSVP/FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/265112073822604/
Ticket Link: Big Cartel / Bristol Ticket Shop

There is also a special Snuff’est Pre-Party taking place the day before, which also boasts a special UK Headline Debut performance from Deville, who have only ever grace the UK at Desertfest London 2014. They’ll be joined by Gurt, Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight and Wiht.

Snuff’est Pre-Party
Friday 16th September
The Stag & Hounds, Bristol
Deville (SWE) / Gurt / Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight / Wiht
RSVP/FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/601810993310243/
Ticket Link: Big Cartel

http://snufflane.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/snuffylane
https://twitter.com/snuffylane

Belzebong, “Bong Thrower” live at Keep it Low 2015

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Oak Release New EP Oak II

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

London heavy rockers Oak have issued Oak II, their aptly-titled follow-up to their self-titled debut EP (review here), which came out late last year. Like that release, the new four-tracker is available now as a name-your-price download via the band’s Bandcamp page. I haven’t seen anything about a physical release for either EP, or both together for that matter, or anything else, but Oak seem to be making their way toward these things one step at a time, and I look forward to digging into these new tracks to hear what they’ve been up to for the last seven months.

Art and release info follow, courtesy of the PR wire, Bandcamp, and the social medias:

oak ii

We’re proud to announce that we’ve just released another batch of 4 tunes for you to enjoy. Several sets of strings, a few drumsticks and a studio loudspeaker have given their lives during the making process of this EP. So we’re hoping you’ll have as much of a blast listening to it, as us making it.

Recorded over a weekend in London’s Kore Studios back in May, Oak II sees the band take on a heavier, more focused sound with the new addition of Clinton Richie on drums.

Formed in the summer of 2015, London stoner rockers Oak have just released Oak II, the follow up to November 2015’s debut EP Oak.

The band combine desert rock grooves with fuzzed out 70s inspired hard rock and have spent 2016 gigging – sharing the stage with bands such as Elephant Tree, Welsh uber-dudes Sigiriya and Black Lung from the USA.

Oak II tracklisting:
1. Mirage 05:36
2. Against The Rain 05:41
3. A Bridge Too Far 06:30
4. Smoke 05:48

Andy Valiant: Lead Vocals
Kevin Germain: Guitars, Backing Vocals (tr. 1 & 2), Talk Box Voice
Scott Masson: Bass, Backing Vocals (tr.3), Talk Box Guitar
Clinton Ritchie: Drums

All songs by Oak
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Kevin Germain
Artwork by Unexpected Specter

https://www.facebook.com/oakstoner/
https://oakstoner.bandcamp.com/

Oak, Oak II (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Satan’s Satyrs, Wildeornes, Blackwülf, VRSA, Marant, Grizzlor, Mother Crone, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Oak

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Last day. It’s been some week. When I otherwise would’ve been putting these reviews together yesterday? Jury duty. Yup, my civic responsibility. Add that to a busted laptop, a full-time job and a couple busy days for news, and you have a good argument for why with Quarterly Reviews prior I’ve gotten up at six in the morning over the weekend before and started writing to get as much out of the way as possible. Oh wait, I did that this time too. Well, maybe it was seven.

Either way, as it comes to a close, I want to personally express my thanks to you for checking it out and being a part of what’s become a weird seasonal ritual for me. I hope you’ve found something (or find something today) that resonates with you and stays with you for a long time. I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s all about.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Satan’s Satyrs, Don’t Deliver Us

satan's satyrs don't deliver us

Virginian riff-turner trio Satan’s Satyrs passed the half-decade mark with their third album, late-2015’s Don’t Deliver Us (on Bad Omen Records), just one year after their sophomore outing, Die Screaming! crawled up from the foggy ’70s ether. In addition to touring the US with Electric Wizard, with whom Satan’s Satyrs shares bassist Clayton Burgess (also vocals), one assumes the trio spent the remainder of the year mining old VHS discount-bin horror to find inspiration and fitting subject matter for quick-turning cuts like “(Won’t You be My) Gravedancer” and “Crimes and Blood,” but whatever they did, it worked. As “Spooky Nuisance” jams out its Hendrix-via-Sabbath vibing and the subsequent “Germanium Bomb” leans into yet another impressive solo by guitarist Jarrett Nettnin complemented by the fills of drummer Stephen Fairfield, there’s an element of performance to what they do, but whether it’s the proto-doom of closer “Round the Bend” or the motor-chug of “Two Hands,” Satan’s Satyrs find that sweet spot wherein they constantly sound like they’re about to fall apart, but never actually do. For sounding so loose, they are enviably tight.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records

Wildeornes, Erosion of the Self

wildeornes erosion of the self

Sometimes you have an idea for a band, and it’s like, “I’m gonna start a band that puts this genre and this genre together.” In the case of Aussie four-piece Wildeornes, it’s stoner and black metal coming together on their second full-length, Erosion of the Self. I’ll give it to them, they pull it off. I’m not sure the “arising” instead of “rising” in “Serpent Arising” or the “So fucking high!” at the end of “The Subject” are really necessary, but hard to ignore the fact that before they get there, they’ve nodded at Pentagram, Crowbar, and Goatsnake and included a couple measures of blastbeats, or the fact that throughout the album they effectively tilt to one side or the other, riding atmospheric cymbals over a rolling groove in “The Oblivion of Being” only to tap into Nile-brand Egyptology in “Incantation for the Demise of Autumn” only to affect Erosion of the Self‘s biggest chorus on “Winter’s Eve.” Whatever genre tag they, you or I want to give it, their roots are definitely metal, but the juxtaposition they offer within that sphere works for them.

Wildeornes on Thee Facebooks

Wildeornes on Bandcamp

Blackwülf, Oblivion Cycle

blackwulf oblivion cycle

Raw groove is at the core of what Oakland, California’s Blackwülf offer on their second album and Ripple Music debut, Oblivion Cycle. Divided neatly into two sides for an LP, its 10 track hearken to a stripped-down vision of classic metal on “Memories,” Sabbath and Maiden both a factor but not the end of the line when it comes to the four-piece’s influences. Somebody in this band (if not multiple somebodies) is a punker. The two impulses play out in a balance of grand stylization and lean production – to wit, “Wings of Steel” sneers even as it puts a triumphant foot on the stage monitor and gallops off – and if the punk/metal battle isn’t enough of a tip-off, let the umlaut serve as confirmation that these guys are going to miss Lemmy (who isn’t?), but their methods ultimately prove more indebted to Judas Priest than Motörhead by the time they get down to “Never Forget,” which touches on some vocal soaring as it rounds out that feels especially bold as well as well placed as a late gem before the slamming-groove-into-Iommic-flourish of closer “March of the Damned.” As much as Oblivion Cycle has these elements butting heads across its span, that’s not to say Blackwülf lack control or don’t know what they’re doing. Just the opposite. Their pitting ideas against each other is a big part of the appeal, for listeners and likely for the band as well.

Blackwülf on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

VRSA, Phantom of an Era

vrsa phantom of an era

Four years after issuing their second album, 2011’s Galaxia (review here), late-2015’s Phantom of an Era finds Connecticut’s VRSA a considerably more crunch-laden entity. They’ve have some lineup changes in the past half-decade, which is fair enough, but guitarist Andrius and guitarist/vocalist Josh remain prominent, leading the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist John and drummer Wes through prog-metal cascades, quiet parts shifting on a dime to full-volume assaults or holding off and making the change more gradual as tension builds. Either way, if the end-goal is heavy, VRSA get there, whether it’s the rolling, chugging and growling of “Grand Bois” or the winding and crashing and thrashing of the later “Marble Orchard,” or how closer “Baron Cimetière” sets up its waltz rhythm subtly in the beginning only to bash the listener’s skull with it as the inevitable crushing begins anew. There’s plenty of it to go around on Phantom of an Era, which keeps a consistent air of brutality even as it veers into clean, progressive or atmospheric forms.

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Marant, High Octane Diesel

marant high octane diesel

As they get down elsewhere with hard-driving, Steak-style post-Kyuss desertism, Swiss four-piece Marant have just a couple of more laid back trips perfectly placed along the path of their debut album, High Octane Diesel. The first of them, “Smoothie,” follows opener “Kathy’s Trophy,” and like the later “Road 222,” it has its more raucous side as well, but the big tone-wash happens with the languid heavy psych roll of closer “N’BaCon?,” also the longest track at 8:47. The effect that varying their modus has on broadening the scope of more straightforward songs like “Evil Schnaps” and “The Good the Bad and the Trip” isn’t to be understated. Not only does it show a different side of the emerging chemistry between vocalist Jimmy, guitarist Sergio Calabrian Donkey, bassist Aff Lee and drummer Sir Oli with Snake, but it gives High Octane Diesel an atmospheric range beyond the desert and into an expanse no less ripe for exploration. Whichever method they employ, Marant engage fluidly across their first record.

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Grizzlor, Cycloptic

grizzlor cycloptic

Lot of noise, lot of fuckall, not too many songs. Connecticut trio Grizzlor manage to pack seven songs onto a 7” release called Cycloptic (on Hex Records), most of which hover on either side of 90 seconds apiece. Dissonance, grit and tension pervade the offering front to back, and between “Sundays are Stupid” and “I’m that Asshole,” there’s an edge of experimentation in the vocals and rhythm as well, some starts and stops that add to the songwriting, though the peeled-skin noise rock of “Tommy” and the build-into-mayhem of “Winter Blows” ensure that the business of punkish intensity isn’t left out. Was it a danger to start with? Nah. Closer “Starship Mother Shit” and the earlier “Life’s a Joke” rolls out a sludgy-style groove, but with sneering and shouting overtop and hard-edged percussive punctuation, there’s no question where Grizzlor got all that aggression from. If Grizzlor are playing in the basement, somebody’s gonna call the cops.

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Hex Records

Mother Crone, Awakening

mother crone awakening

Bull-in-a-china-shop’ing their way through nine mostly-blistering tracks in 43 minutes, Seattle trio Mother Crone make their full-length debut with the appropriately titled Awakening, a record that melts doom and thrash together with the best of earliest Mastodon and comes out of it sounding righteous, wildly heavy and solidly in control of their methods. Don’t believe it? First of all, why not? Second, check out the six-minute “Descending the North” – the third track after a beastly opening with the mysteriously JFK-sampling intro “Silt Laden Black” and “Black Sea” – which chugs and twists and stomps through its first half only to drop out to just-guitar ambience and burst to life again with a shredding solo finish that leads to – wait for it – the quiet guitar-and-vocals only spaciousness of “The Dream,” which marks a twist into a more experimental middle quotient of the album, the subsequent “Halocline” and furiously building “Revelation” more experimental in form, before the sludgy “Turning Tides” and raging “Apollyon” make the job of the nine-minute closing title-track even more difficult in summarizing everything that came before it. A task of which that song makes short work. For the momentum they build and the brashness they execute within that, Mother Crone‘s Awakening is indeed bound to stir.

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Psychedelic Witchcraft, Black Magic Man

psychedelic witchcraft black magic man

Italian four-piece Psychedelic Witchcraft issued Black Magic Man in mid-2015 as their debut EP, and wound up selling through both its limited 10” vinyl pressings. For the Twin Earth Records CD version, it’s been expanded by two tracks – still EP length at 27 minutes – and given new artwork that underscores the band’s cultish bent, which comes across strong in the vocals of Virginia Monti, very much at the forefront of the group’s presentation on “Angela” and “Lying in Iron,” the opening duo that give way to the desert-toned push of the title-track, also the strongest hook included. Drummer Daniele Parrella leads the march into the grungier “Slave of Grief,” in which the guitar of Jacopo Fallai will take a noisy forward position in the midsection, giving way later to some blown-out singing from Monti given heft by bassist Riccardo Giuffrè, like 1967 time traveling to 1971. The production on the last two cuts, “Wicked Dream” and “Set Me Free” is audibly different (Vanni also plays bass), more modernly-styled, but the band’s core intent of living up to their name remains true.

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Twin Earth Records

Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Split 7″

chimpgrinder miscegenator split

Philadelphia and New York rarely agree on anything, but Chimpgrinder and Miscegenator, who make their homes respectively in those burgs, have come together at least long enough to share a split 7” between them, though of course what they do with that time is vastly different. Chimpgrinder proliferate a raw kind of sludge on their two tracks, not completely void of melody, but more geared toward groove than expanse, “Gates” taking off on an lengthy solo and deciding it’d rather not come back, ending in feedback fading to abrasive noise. That’s a fitting lead-in for what NY’s Miscegenator are up to on the other side, as “Hate Hate Hate” leads off a six-song set of visceral grind. Shit is raw and mean, and it d-beats its way either into your heart or off your turntable – it’s not the kind of music anyone ever played because they were feeling friendly. Blink and its gone, but the punk-rooted abrasion is like as not to leave a scar as closer “Tony Randall was Right” goes slicing, which is a fair enough answer to the pummel Chimpgrinder made their own a whopping five minutes earlier.

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Oak, Oak

oak oak ep

The self-titled, self-released, self-recorded debut EP from London four-piece Oak saves its burliest impression for “Ride with Me,” the third of its four component tracks. That’s not to say that “All Above” and “Queen of this Land” aren’t plenty dudely – the vocals of Andy Wisbey see to that – but “Ride with Me” feels particularly caked in testosterone. Somewhat quizzical that it also finds guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Mason and drummer Rob Emms (since replaced by Sergiu, it would seem) vibing out for a bit of quiet desert noodling in the middle and ending with a primo shuffle of the post-Kyuss variety. Maybe it’s a fine line when one considers the body of work of Orange Goblin as an influence, but it gives a different context to the two songs before and certainly to the stonerly bounce of “Dissolve” after to know that Oak have more in their playbook than the standard beer-pounding and chestbeating. Should be interesting to hear how the various impulses play out as they more forward.

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Vol. 2 Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

If so inclined, one could probably find an update for every day of the week from Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds, which between its label and booking ends is helping to establish Italy as a major player in the European heavy rock underground — or at very least bring attention to the country’s contributions to same — but frankly it’s impossible to keep up with it all. Nonetheless, as Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie, as if he didn’t already have enough going on — brings together the lineup for the second edition of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, it’s hard not to admire the expanding scope of the project as a whole, one thing feeding into the next as it becomes a sustainable and growing whole.

With Ufomammut and Fiori‘s own Killer Boogie at the top, the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Vol. 2 has announced its initial round of bands with the promise of more to come. I’m looking forward to seeing just how big this thing gets:

heavy psych sounds fest vol ii

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST VOL.2: Ufomammut, Killer Boogie, and more announced!

The first acts have been announced for Italy’s heavy music event HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST, with Ufomammut, Killer Boogie, Isaak, Throneless, Sgt Sunshine, Oak and Tons. A mouthwatering lineup that will be hosted in Roma’s famous venue Traffic Live this December.

– HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST VOL.2 –
December 11th & 12th at Traffic Live (Roma, Italy)
Weekend & day tickets available soon

With UFOMAMMUT
KILLER BOOGIE
SGT SUNSHINE
THRONELESS
ISAAK
OAK
TONS
…and more bands to be announced soon.

Hosted by Italian rock’n’heavy music label and booking agency Heavy Psych Sounds (Black Rainbows, Fatso Jetson, Karma To Burn, White Hills, Mos Generator…), the second edition of HPS FEST VOL.2 will once again bring the heaviest riffs to the peninsula for two days of doom, stoner and psych partying, with both established bands and newcomers from the HPS roster.

http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1614790898800751/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Killer Boogie, Detroit (2015)

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