Cardinal Wyrm Stream Devotionals in Full; Album out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

cardinal wyrm

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More than a decade on from their inception, http://santemontreal.qc.ca/?help-with-the-assignment Looking for homework writing service for pay someone to do your homework? Scholastic BookFlix is a new online Cardinal Wyrm are a band perhaps even more diverse than their pedigree, which includes the deathly likes of If you are looking for a cheap, basic and rushed thesis/http://worlddogshow.oekv.at/?best-resume-writing-service-dc-medical, we suggest you stop reading now and look elsewhere – though we Vastum, post-whathaveyou outfit more Have your academic work checked by our thesis experts! An experienced Scribbr editor improves your language and provides feedback on your document’s structure and clarity. All of our editors have successfully completed our Scribbr Academy. Terebellum and undervalued trad metallers Top 5 Write An Essay On The Effects Of Global Warming Services You Can Trust. You cannot risk choosing a random dissertation writing service. This important paper practically determines your future. The last thing you need is a scamming, rotten service that steals your money and blocks you from messaging the support. You need the best dissertation writing service and we’ll help you find it. Our team tested Hammers of Misfortune, among others. Enjoy the best Term Paper Writing Services and get the best Grades. How To Write The Best Essay Ever Writing today by specialists writers at affordable prices only at Term Devotionals, as it would, has its paean moments to old gods of metal and otherwise, but instrumentally, there’s such a strong sense of self throughout the eight-track/50-minute run of the LP that they could’ve just as easily called the album ‘iconoclasm.’ Extreme metal intertwines with sludge riffing (“The Abbess”), doom with aggressive hardcore chug (“Selimesh”), deathly growls play off declarative proclamations in “Canticle,” and above all, essay compulsory military service Cheap Writing A Business Plan Help phd thesis materials science dissertation writing an introduction Devotionals becomes an album of ideas and narrative. The further you cardinal wyrmgo, the deeper you are into the world it makes, and as vocalist/drummer scholarships writing essays People http://www.kpria.cz/?need-help-writing-business-plans help homework school chicago turabian citation dissertation Pranjal Tiwari, bassist/vocalist The Re Writing Services examples 818 Words | 4 Pages. The Formative Years of the New Nation, 1820-1860 The Louisiana Purchase The Louisiana Purchase was the largest land transaction for the United States, and the most important event of President Jefferson's presidency. Leila Abdul-Rauf and guitarist Edit esl http://www.vedettes-panoramiques.com/?purpose-of-literature-review-in-phd-thesis for college My Paper solvers! Microporous and movable Noam petting its hepatized or elaborately superimposed. Nathan A. Verrill push through the initial punkish breakout of “Gannet” at the outset and into “Mrityunjaya,” the just-wait-for-the-explosion-it’s-coming “Imposter” and “Selimesh” on side A, already the notion of the album as a journey is palpable and only becomes more so across the second half of the LP as the more extreme aspects are brought to bear.

A strange thing happens when one encounters  Online custom essays, term papers, research papers, reports, reviews and homework assignments. Professional http://www.mint-girls-camps.de/anmeldung.php?diversity-essay-high-school offers high quality and Devotionals in repeat fashion. Usually with records, the more you hear, the more you know, but  http://www.drivesets.de/?writing-informative-essays - Instead of concerning about essay writing find the necessary assistance here work with our writers to get the excellent coursework Cardinal Wyrm manage to answer engagement with nuance, and there always seems to be something else to hear. That might not seem to be the case on a first listen. One might put it on, be like, “Okay, trad metal, bit of doom, punk, and so on,” and go about the day — and if that’s how you listen to music the first time through, I feel you — but even as the guitar solo rises up in the back end of “Canticle” only to be consumed by howls, or “Abbess” gallops into a wall o’ chug, “Nightmarchers” indulges Candlemassian grandiosity while also coating it in grit and closer “Do We Have Another Battle Left in Us?” offers a questioning self-assessment of the band that of course speaks to much, much more as well in this most confusing and terrible of years, Cardinal Wyrm find persona in grim intricacy, tearing limbs off different microgenres to construct a monster of their own.

My only regret in streaming the album ahead of its release on Friday is not asking permission to post the full lyric sheet, because the words — some more discernible than others in the actual hearing — deserve to be read as well as listened to. Alas. Perhaps you’ll consider this a cue to dig further on your own into the considerable and deeply appreciated text that Tiwari offers below. I know everybody’s busy, but one can hope, and it holds true of Cardinal Wyrm‘s Devotionals that the more you’re willing to put into it, the more you’re going to get out when you ultimately emerge from that dungeon.

Please enjoy:

Pranjal Tiwari on Devotionals:

“Devotionals” was a labor of love. We’re all immensely proud of these songs and put a lot of work into getting them just right. It’s been a somewhat hard road to releasing this album, we pretty much had to do all the heavy lifting ourselves, with no support from labels or anything. At times it really felt like we were crazy, that we were the only people in the world that believed in this record, like some mad group of preachers ranting on a street corner while the world walked past bemused. Add to that the whole saga of physical, mental, and financial turmoil that we’ve all experienced in 2020, it’s pretty much been a shitshow all around. Now that the album is finally seeing the light of day, I think it’s perfect that we chose the title “Devotionals.” It takes something extra to keep going through times like this, it takes an almost fanatical devotion to keep walking a path that can seem both pointless and hopeless. In that sense, it’s also perfect that we put this album out ourselves, because I think that sort of fanatical devotion I’ve described is exactly what fuels the DIY spirit and the independent music scene that we’ve all been a part of for so many years.

There seems to be a lot of talk about whether this record is “doom” or not, even among people who have enjoyed the album. My response is, who cares? This is a Cardinal Wyrm record – and I absolutely think what you’re hearing on “Devotionals” is the culmination of the Cardinal Wyrm sound. For starters, all three of us had a hand in writing and shaping every song on this record at the practice space, it’s our most collaborative album to date. But beyond that, I think you can really hear the sound of a band that loves playing together, and whose members had an absolute blast recording these songs. I think that energy and that spirit shines through. For me, arguing about what category to shoehorn this album into is about as boring as you can get, I’d rather people just take the time to listen to it with an open mind and absorb it for what it is – after that you can call it whatever you like.

Lyrically and thematically, ‘Devotionals’ also goes back to storytelling, telling stories has always been a big thing for us. Every song on this album tells a story, tapping into various strands of mythology both old and new. The opener ‘Gannet’ is about being out of place in the world and the paranoia and anxiety that instills, about being intimately controlled by the all-knowing and negative voices in your head. The track ‘Imposter’ is a story about casting a shadow that has a life of its own, the darkness that stares at you from the other side of the mirror.

Other tracks on the album are more literal in their storytelling. ‘Mrityunjaya’, for example, the title means ‘death conqueror’ in Hindi or Sanskrit, and it’s a term associated with the story of Karna from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Karna is such a great and evocative character, rejected at birth by those who should have raised him and cared for him, but realizing his life’s potential through loyalty and love to those who took him in, eventually fighting against his blood relatives to defend his chosen family. The song isn’t a literal retelling of the tale, it’s only very loosely based on Karna, sort of reimagining him as a stray wolf that finds a pack to run with. Probably because we all love rescue dogs so much.

The tracks ‘Canticle’ and ‘Abbess’ are both stories about false promises. ‘Canticle’ is the age-old tale of meeting the devil at the crossroads, told from the point of view of the devil making the listener an offer. ‘Abbess’ is a similar tale from the point of view of the one taking the bargain, a story about being seduced by a mirage, and made to do terrible things by the fear of being forgotten.

The final song on the album, “Do We Have Another Battle Left In Us?” is both a question and a rallying cry. Old friends gather and raise drinks to remember the trials they’ve shared and overcome. They toast to all they have loved and lost and those that remain. On the horizon, the enemy recoups their forces and presses forward. Our friends stand, lay hands on their weapons and wonder if they still have the strength to draw them again. “I think right now in the world, everyone is tired, physically and mentally, especially after the year that 2020 has been, and faced with a future that seems so hopeless. It’s a genuine question at this point – can we, do we want to keep going? It’s terrifying, but also thrilling to face that head on, and to forge your own path into the future.

There’s a lot going on musically too. I think the riffs are more intricate and the song structures are tighter than on previous albums. The overall feel is one of shorter and more driving bursts, and I wouldn’t say the whole thing is FAST, but it feels just a little bit faster than before. As one of the lines in the track “Nightmarchers” proclaims, “this beast has a bite.””

CARDINAL WYRM is embodied by lead vocalist/drummer Pranjal Tiwari (S.C.R.A.M.), bassist/vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum, Terebellum, Hammers Of Misfortune, Fyrhtu), and guitarist/vocalist Nathan A. Verrill (Terebellum, Fyrhtu). The follow-up to their Cast Away Souls album, released via Svart Records in 2016, Devotionals can be described as heavy, intricate, driving, progressive, and genre-bending music that seeks to tell a story.

Devotionals was recorded and mixed by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios (Necrot, Vastum, Brainoil) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Obituary, Sunn O))), Vastum). The record features striking cover artwork by Kim Holm, photography by Michael Thorn and Amy Oshit, and layout/design by Shelby Lermo.

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Cardinal Wyrm Stream “Nightmarchers”; Devotionals LP out Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

cardinal wyrm (Photo by Michael Thorn)

Doom and metal! Cardinal Wyrm will do the self-release thing with their upcoming fourth LP, set to arrive Dec. 11. Given the title Devotionals, the impending outing is given its first official airing with the track “Nightmarchers” that you can hear below, and yes, it is doom, and yes, it is metal. I haven’t had the chance to dig into the rest of the record yet, but will do so and report back accordingly, even as the release date fast approaches. Note that it’s a tape and digital-only offering. Bold move, doomers. I like it.

Maybe they’re waiting for someone else to pick it up on vinyl — certainly the Kim Holm cover art warrants the larger presentation — but either way, for those chasing down the digital, it should be easy enough to find. For example, the links below.

Dig it:

cardinal wyrm

CARDINAL WYRM: Oakland Doom Metal Trio With Members Of Vastum, Terebellum, And More To Release Fourth Album, Devotionals; “Nightmarchers” Streaming + Preorders Posted

Long-running Oakland, California-based doom metal band CARDINAL WYRM is preparing to release their fourth album, Devotionals, on December 11th. Alongside the album’s details, cover art, and preorders, the song “Nightmarchers” has been made available for streaming.

CARDINAL WYRM’s Devotionals can be described as heavy, intricate, driving, progressive, and genre bending music that seeks to tell a story. The album features Pranjal Tiwari (S.C.R.A.M.) on drums and lead vocals, Nathan A. Verrill (Terebellum, Fyrhtu) on guitars and backing vocals, and Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum, Terebellum, Hammers Of Misfortune, Fyrhtu) playing bass and providing additional vocals.

The follow-up to their Svart Records-released 2016 album Cast Away Souls, CARDINAL WYRM’s Devotionals was recorded and mixed by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios (Necrot, Vastum, Brainoil) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Obituary, Sunn O))), Vastum). The album is completed with cover artwork by Kim Holm, photography by Michael Thorn and Amy Oshit, and layout/design by Shelby Lermo.

CARDINAL WYRM will self-release Devotionals on cassette and across all digital service providers on December 11th. Find preorder options HERE and watch for a vinyl edition likely early next year.

Devotionals Track Listing:
1. Gannet
2. Mrityunjaya
3. Imposter
4. Selimesh
5. Canticle
6. Abbess
7. Nightmarchers
8. Do We Have Another Battle Left In Us?

With this release, “We wanted to go back to our DIY roots,” says drummer and vocalist Pranjal Tiwari. “One of the reasons we liked the title Devotionals is because it evokes that DIY spirit. This is a collection of songs for the faithful, for our community of people devoted to staying independent, to creating the music and art that we want, in our own spaces, and growing in our ability to channel from deep within. It often feels like we share a devotion to something that seems hopeless and is constantly under attack. But at the root of it all, there’s a fanatical belief in pulling off what other people think is impossible, and we wanted to go back and draw from that in making this album.”

CARDINAL WYRM:
Leila Abdul-Rauf – bass, vocals
Pranjal Tiwari – drums, lead vocals, lyrics
Nathan A. Verrill – guitars, vocals

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Cardinal Wyrm, Devotionals (2020)

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War Cloud to Release Chain Gang Two-Songer Sept. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Lest they be accused of taking the rest of the year off after putting out May’s Earhammer Sessions (review here) live-in-studio affair, Oakland heavy metal rockers War Cloud have a new two-song EP out next month called Chain Gang. The release, once again through Ripple Music, brings together a track written immediately following their European tour — which would seem to have been a transformative experience for them as a band, considering they recorded Earhammer Sessions as a means of building off the energy of that tour as well — and a track tracked by Steve “Thee Slayer Hippy” Hanford, whose posthumous tribute to Blue Ă–yster Cult is also seeing release soon through Ripple and in which War Cloud are also talking part. Presumably the two were recorded at the same time, but I guess one never knows.

The PR wire brought art and details about Chain Gang thusly:

war cloud chain gang ep

Prolific Rapid-Fire Metallers WAR CLOUD Drop Energized “Chain Gang” EP

Searing 2-song blast channels the band’s furious power ahead of expected new album in 2021

Quickly becoming one of Ripple Music’s most prolific bands, War Cloud returns just a few months behind their high-octane Earhammer Sessions with the two-song Chain Gang EP.

The title track was written in Vigone, Italy during a few days off after their last European tour while staying at a recording/rehearsal space called Positive Music. Says singer/guitarist Alex Wein:

“Positive Music is a secluded spot. No distractions. This was the first time we actually got to write as an entire band, with the current lineup, so there’s a lot of energy between all the members. We kept sharing riffs, lyrics, and bands we were vibe’n on the entire tour. You could feel a song shaping through all our conversations. After playing a show one night in Vigone, we went to the town’s local hangout bar and started coming up with a melody for the tune. We wanted this song to express how we’ve grown as a band: Dirty, raw, and heavy. Bad boys who don’t care. The opening line is a tribute to one of the bands favorite songwriters, Lemmy Kilmister. “Judge says I’m guilty of being born / the only thing I did was what I want” That’s our way of way of saying fuck it.”

The second song is a cover of a Rock Goddess song. Recorded in the summer of 2019 in an old empty house in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon by Thee Slayer Hippy, Steve Hanford, and mixed/mastered by Nocturnal Media in Louisville, Kentucky, this burst of metal godliness features guest vocals by Janiece Gonzalez of San Francisco’s Wild Eyes.

Chain Gang will be released on digital formats from Ripple Music on September 25th.

WAR CLOUD:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Nick Burks – Guitar
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums
Sam Harman – Bass

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War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions (2020)

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Quarterly Review: Katatonia, Marmalade Knives, King Witch, Glass Parallels, Thems That Wait, Sojourner, Udyat, Bismarck, Gral Brothers, Astral Glide

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Welcome to the penultimate day of the Summer 2020 Quarterly Review. I can only speak for myself, but I know it’s been a crazy couple months on this end, and I imagine whatever end you’re on — unless and probably even if you have a lot of money — it’s been the same there as well. Yet, it was no problem compiling 50 records to review this week, so if there’s a lesson to be taken from it all, it would seem to be that art persists. We may still be painting on cave walls when it comes to the arc of human evolution, but at least that’s something.

Have a great day and listen to great music.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Katatonia, City Burials

katatonia city burials

Like their contemporaries in My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, the latter-day period of work from Sweden’s Katatonia veers back toward some measure of direct heaviness, as City Burials showcases in cuts like “Rein,” “Heart Set to Divide” and “Behind the Blood,” but more than either of those others mentioned, the Stockholm outfit refuse to forsake the melody and progressivism they’ve undertaken with their sound in the name of doing so. By the time they get to “Untrodden” at the end of the album’s 50-minute/11-song run, they’ve run a gamut from dark electronica to progressive-styled doom and back again, and with the founding duo of guitarist Anders Nyström and vocalist Jonas Renkse at the helm of the songwriting, they are definitive in their approach and richly emotive; a melancholy that is as identifiable in their songs as it is in the bands working under their influence. Their first work in four years, City Burials is an assurance that Katatonia are in firm ownership and command of all aspects of their sound. As they approach their 30th year, they continue to move forward. That’s a special band.

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Marmalade Knives, Amnesia

marmalade knives amnesia

Boasting production, mixing and percussion from The Golden GrassAdam Kriney, Marmalade Knives‘ debut album, Amnesia, is a delight of freaky-but-not-overblown heavy psychedelia. Oh, it’s headed far, far out, but as the opening narration and the later drones of second cut “Rivuleting” make plain, they might push, but they’re not trying to shove, if you know what I mean. The buzz in “Best-Laid Plans” doesn’t undercut the warmth of the improvised-seeming solo, and likewise, “Rebel Coryell” is a mellow drifter that caps side A with a graceful sense of wandering the soundscape of its own making. The vibe gets spacey on “Xayante,” and “Ez-Ra” touches on a funkier swing before seeming to evolve into light as one does, and the 10-minute “Astrology Domine” caps with noise and a jammed out feel that underscores the outbound mood of the proceedings as a whole. Some of the pieces feel like snippets cut from longer jams, and they may or may not be just that, but though it was recorded in three separate locations, Amnesia draws together well and flows easily, inviting the listener to do the same.

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King Witch, Body of Light

king witch body of light

Edinburgh’s King Witch toe the line between classic metal and doom, but whatever you want to call them, just make sure you don’t leave out the word “epic.” The sweeping solo and soaring vocals on the opening title-track set the stage on their second LP, the hour-long Body of Light, and as much mastery as the band showed on their 2018 debut, Under the Mountain (review here), vocalist Laura Donnelly, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Rory Lee and drummer Lyle Brown lay righteous waste to lofty expectations and bask in grandiosity on “Of Rock and Stone” and the linear-moving “Solstice I – She Burns,” the payoff of which is a high point of the album in its layered shred. Pieces like “Witches Mark” and “Order From Chaos” act as confirmation of their Euro-fest-ready fist-pumpery, and closer “Beyond the Black Gate” brings some atmosphere before its own headbang-worthy crescendo. Body of Light is a reminder of why you wanted to be metal in the first place.

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Glass Parallels, Aisle of Light

Glass Parallels Aisle of Light

Eminently listenable and repeat-worthy, Glass Parallels‘ debut LP, Aisle of Light, nonetheless maintains an experimentalist flair. The solo-project of Justin Pinkerton (Golden Void, Futuropaco), covers a swath of ground from acid folk to psych-funk to soul vibes, at times bordering on shoegaze but seeming to find more expressive energy in centerpiece “Asphyxiate” and the airy capper “Blood and Battlegrounds” than any sonic portrayal of apathy would warrant. United by keys, pervasive guitar weirdness and Pinkerton‘s at-times-falsetto vocals, usually coated in reverb as they are, Aisle of Light brings deceptive depth for being a one-man production. Its production is spacious but still raw enough to give the drums an earthy sound as they anchor the synth-laden “March and April,” which is probably fortunate since otherwise the song would be liable to float off and not return. One way or another, the songs stand out too much to really be hypnotic, but they’re certainly fun to follow.

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Thems That Wait, Stonework

thems that wait stonework

Stonework is the self-aware debut full-length from Portland, Maine, trio Thems That Wait, and it shoulders itself between clenched-teeth metallic aggression and heavier fuzz rock. They’re not the first to tread such ground and they know it, but “Sidekick” effectively captures Scissorfight-style groove, and “Kick Out” is brash enough in its 1:56 to cover an entire record’s worth of burl. Interludes “Digout” and “Vastcular” provide a moment to catch your breath, which is appreciated, but when what they come back with is the sure-fisted “Paragon” or a song like “Shitrograde,” it really is just a moment. They close with “Xmortis,” which seems to reference Evil Dead II in its lyrics, which is as good as anything else, but from “Sleepie Hollow” onward, guitarist/vocalist Craig Garland, bassist Mat Patterson and drummer Branden Clements find their place in the dudely swing-and-strike of riffs, crash and snarl, and they do so with a purely Northeastern attitude. This is the kind of show you might get kicked at.

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Sojourner, Premonitions

sojourner premonitions

Complexity extends to all levels of Sojourner‘s third album and Napalm Records debut, Premonitions, in that not only does the band present eight tracks and 56 minutes of progressive and sprawling progressive black metal, varied in craft and given a folkish undercurrent by Chloe Bray‘s vocals and tin whistle, but also the sheer fact that the five-piece outfit made the album in at least five different countries. Recording remotely in Sweden, New Zealand, Scotland and Italy, they mixed/mastered in Norway, and though one cringes at the thought of the logistical nightmare that might’ve presented, Sojourner‘s resultant material is lush and encompassing, a tapestry of blackened sounds peppered with clean and harsh singing — Emilio Crespo handles the screams — keyboards, and intricate rhythms behind sprawling progressions of guitar. At the center of the record, “Talas” and “Fatal Frame” (the shortest song and the longest) make an especially effective pair one into the other, varied in their method but brought together by viciously heavy apexes. The greatest weight, though, might be reserved for closer “The Event Horizon,” which plods where it might otherwise charge and brings a due sense of largesse to the finale.

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Udyat, Oro

udyat oro

The order of the day is sprawl on Udyat‘s recorded-live sophomore LP, Oro, as the Argentinian outfit cast a wide berth over heavy rock and terrestrial psych, the 13-minute “Sangre de Oro” following shorter opener “Los Picos de Luz Eterna” (practically an intro at a bit over six minutes) with a gritty flourish to contrast the tonal warmth that returns with the melodic trance-induction at the start of “Los Ăşltimos.” That song — the centerpiece of the five-track outing — tops 15 minutes and makes its way into a swell of fuzz with according patience, proceeding through a second stage of lumbering plod before a stretch of noise wash leads pack to the stomp. The subsequent “DespuĂ©s de los Pasos, el Camino Muere” is more ferocious by its end and works in some similar ground, and closer “Nacimiento” seems to loose itself in a faster midsection before returning to its midtempo roll. Oro borders on cosmic doom with its psychedelic underpinnings and quiet stretches, but its movement feels ultimately more like walking than floating, if that makes any sense.

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Bismarck, Oneiromancer

Bismarck Oneiromancer

To anyone who might suggest that extreme metal cannot also be forward-thinking, Bismarck submit the thoughtful bludgeon of Oneiromancer, a five-song/35-minute aesthetic blend that draws from doom, death, hardcore and sundry other metals, while keeping its identity in check through taut rhythm and atmospheric departures. Following the chants of opening intro “Tahaghghogh Resalat,” the Chris Fielding-produced follow-up to Bismarck‘s 2018 debut, Urkraft (review here), showcases an approach likewise pummeling and dynamic, weighted in ambience and thud alike. “Oneiromancer” itself starts with blastbeats and a plundering intensity before breaking into a more open midsection, but “The Seer” is absolutely massive. Despite being shorter than either the title-track or “Hara,” both of which top nine minutes, and closer “Khthon” underscores the blood-boiling tension cast throughout with one last consuming plod. Fucking raging. Fucking awesome. Pure sonic catharsis. Salvation through obliteration. If these are dreams being divined as the title hints, the mind is a limitless and terrifying place. Which, yes.

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The Gral Brothers, Caravan East

gral brothers caravan east

I won’t say it’s seamless or intended to be, but as Albuquerque, New Mexico, two-piece The Gral Brothers make their initial move on Caravan East between cinematic Americana and industrial brood, samples of dialogue on “Cactus Man” and violin in the seven-minute soundscaper “In Die Pizzeria” seem to draw together both a wistfulness and a paranoia of the landlocked. Too odd to fall in line with the Morricone-worship of Cali’s Spindrift, “Crowbar” brings Spaghetti West and desert dub together with a confidence that makes it seem like a given pairing despite the outwardly eerie vibes and highly individualized take, and “Santa Sleeves” is beautiful to its last, even if the lone bell jingle is a bit much, while “Silva Lanes” pushes even further than did “Circuit City” into mechanized experimental noisemaking. They end with the birdsong-inclusive “Ode to Marge,” leaving one to wonder whether it’s sentiment or cynicism being expressed. Either way, it’s being expressed in a way not quite like anything else, which is an accomplishment all on its own.

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Astral Glide, Flamingo Graphics

astral glide flamingo graphics

When you’re at the show and the set ends, Flamingo Graphics is the CD you go buy at the merch table. It’s as simple as that. Recorded this past March over the course of two days, the debut album from Floridian foursome Astral Glide is raw to the point of being barebones, bootleg room-mic style, but the songwriting and straightforward purposes of the group shine through. They’re able to shift structures and mood enough to keep things from being too staid, but they’re never far off from the next heavy landing, as “Devastation” and the closer “Forever” show in their respective payoffs, that latter going all out with a scream at the end, answering back to the several others that show up periodically. While their greatest strength is in the mid-paced shove of rockers like “Space Machine” and “Scarlett” and the speedier “Workhorse,” there are hints of broader intentions on Flamingo Graphics, though they too are raw at this point. Very much a debut, but still one you pick up when the band finishes playing. You might not even wait until the end of the show. Meet them back at the table, and so on.

Astral Glide on Thee Facebooks

Astral Glide on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Witchcraft, The Wizar’d, Sail, Frank Sabbath, Scream of the Butterfly, Slow Draw, Baleful Creed, Surya Kris Peters, Slow Phase, Rocky Mtn Roller

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Day Three is always special when it comes to Quarterly Reviews because it’s where we hit and pass the halfway point on the way to covering 50 albums by Friday. This edition hasn’t been unpleasant at all — I’ve screened this stuff pretty hard, so I feel well prepared — but it still requires some doing to make it all come together. Basically a week’s worth. Ha.

If you haven’t found anything yet that speaks to you, I hope that changes either today, tomorrow or Friday.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Witchcraft, Black Metal

witchcraft black metal

Four years ago, Witchcraft frontman/founder Magnus Pelander released a solo album under his own name called Time (review here) as a quick complement to the band’s own 2016 offering, Nucleus (review here). Pelander‘s Time was his first solo outing since a 2010 four-song EP that, for a long time, seemed like a one-off. Now, with Black Metal, Witchcraft strips down to its barest essentials — Pelander‘s voice and guitar — and he is the only performer on the seven-track/33-minute LP. Style-wise, it’s mostly sad, intimate folk, as Pelander begins with “Elegantly Expressed Depression” and tells the stories of “A Boy and a Girl,” “Sad People,” and even the key-inclusive “Sad Dog” before “Take Him Away” closes out with a bluesy guitar figure that features twice but is surrounded by a space that seems to use silence as much as music as a tool of its downer presentation. The title, obviously tongue-in-cheek, is clearly nonetheless a reference to depression, and while Pelander‘s performance is gorgeous and honest, it’s also very clearly held down by a massive emotional weight. So too, then, is the album.

Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

 

The Wizar’d, Subterranean Exile

the wizar'd subterranean exile

Making their debut on Cruz Del Sur Music, Australia’s The Wizar’d return from the doomliest of gutters with Subterranean Exile, opening the album with the title-track’s take on capital-‘c’ Classic doom and the pre-NWOBHM-ism of Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General, and, duh, Black Sabbath. In just 35 minutes, the four-piece make the most of their raw but epic vibes, using the means of the masters to showcase their own songwriting. This is doom metal at its most traditional, with two guitars intertwining riffs and leads on “Master of the Night” and the catchy “Long Live the Dead,” but there’s a dungeon-style spirit to the solo in that track — or maybe that’s just build off of the prior interlude “Ecstatic Visions Held Within the Monastic Tower” — that sets up the speedier run of “Evil in My Heart” ahead of the seven-minute finale “Dark Fortress.” As one might hope, they cap with due lumber and ceremony befitting an LP so thoroughly, so entirely doomed, and while perhaps it will be seven years before they do another full-length, it doesn’t matter. The Wizar’d stopped time a long time ago.

The Wizar’d on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Sail, Mannequin

Sail Mannequin

A follow-up to their later-2019 single “Starve,” the three-song Mannequin release from UK progressive metallers Sail is essentially a single as well. It begins with the ‘regular’ version of the track, which careens through its sub-five minutes with a standout hook and the dual melodic vocals of guitarists Tim Kazer and Charlie Dowzell. This is followed by “Mannequin [Synthwave Remix],” which lives up to its name, and brings bassist Kynan Scott to the fore on synth, replacing the drums of Tom Coles with electronic beats and the guitars with keyboards. The chorus works remarkably well. As fluidly as “Mannequin” fed into the subsequent remix, so too does “Mannequin [Synthwave Remix]” move directly into “Mannequin [Director’s Cut],” which ranges past the seven-minute mark and comes across rawer than the opening version. Clearly Sail knew they could get some mileage out of “Mannequin,” and they weren’t wrong. They make the most of the 16-minute occasion and keep listeners guessing where they might be headed coming off of 2017’s Slumbersong LP. Easy win.

Sail on Thee Facebooks

Sail on Bandcamp

 

Frank Sabbath, Compendium

Frank Sabbath Compendium

They’re not kidding with that title. Frank Sabbath‘s Compendium covers four years of studio work — basic improvisations done in 2016 plus overdubs over time — and the resulting freakout is over an hour and a half long. Its 14 component pieces run a gamut of psychedelic meandering, loud, quiet, fast, slow, spacey, earthy, whatever you’re looking for, there’s time for it all. The French trio were plenty weird already on 2017’s Are You Waiting? (review here), but the scales are tipped here in the extended “La Petite Course Ă  VĂ©lo” (11:16) and “Bermuda Cruise” (17:21) alone, never mind on the Middle Eastern surf of “Le Coucous” or the hopping bass and wah of “Gallus Crackus” and “L’Oeufou.” The band has issued live material in the past, and whatever they do, it’s pretty jammy, but Compendium specifically highlights this aspect of their sound, shoving it in front of the listener and daring them to take it on. If you’re mind’s not open, it might be by the time you’re done.

Frank Sabbath on Thee Facebooks

Frank Sabbath on Bandcamp

 

Scream of the Butterfly, Birth Death Repeat

scream of the butterfly birth death repeat

Scream of the Butterfly made a raucous debut in with 2017’s Ignition (review here), and Birth Death Repeat stays the course of bringing Hammond organ to the proceedings of melodically arranged ’90s-style heavy rock, resulting in a cross-decade feel marked by sharp tones and consistency of craft that’s evident in the taut executions of “The Devil is by My Side” and “Higher Place” before the more moderately-paced “Desert Song” takes hold and thickens out the tones accordingly. ‘Desert,’ as it were, is certainly an influence throughout, as the opener’s main riff feels Kyuss-derived and the later “Driven” has a fervent energy behind it as well. The latter is well-placed following the ballad “Soul Giver,” the mellower title-track interlude, and the funky but not nearly as propulsive “Turned to Stone.” They’ll soon close out with the bluesy “I’ve Seen it Coming,” but before they do, “Room Without Walls” brings some marked solo shred and a grungier riff that scuffs up the band’s collective boot nicely, emphasizing that the record itself is less mundane than it might at first appear or the title might lead one to believe.

Scream of the Butterfly on Thee Facebooks

Scream of the Butterfly on Bandcamp

 

Slow Draw, Gallo

Slow Draw Gallo

From minimalist drone to experimental folk, Slow Draw‘s Gallo sets a wide-open context for itself from the outset, a quick voice clip and the churning drone of “Phase 2” leading into the relatively straightforward “No Words” — to which there are, naturally, lyrics. Comprised solely of Mark Kitchens, also known for drumming in the duo Stone Machine Electric, Slow Draw might be called an experimentalist vehicle, but that doesn’t make Gallo any less satisfying. “No Words” and “Falling Far” and the just-acoustic-and-voice closer “End to That” serve as landmarks along the way, touching ground periodically as pieces like the strumming “Harvey’s Chair” and the droned-out “Industrial Aged” play off each other and “Angelo” — homage to Badalamenti, perhaps — the minimal “A Conflict” and “Tumoil” [sic] and “Playground” tip the balance to one side or another, the penultimate krautdrone of “Phase 1” unveiling perhaps what further manipulation turned into “Phase 2” earlier in the proceedings. At 33 minutes, Gallo feels careful not to overstay its welcome, and it doesn’t.

Slow Draw on Thee Facebooks

Slow Draw on Bandcamp

 

Baleful Creed, The Lowdown

baleful creed the lowdown

Belfast’s Baleful Creed present a crisp 10 tracks of well-composed, straightforward, doom-tinged heavy rock and roll — they call it ‘doom blues boogie,’ and fair enough — with their third long-player, The Lowdown. They’re not pretending to be anything they’re not and offering their sounds to the listener not in some grand statement of aesthetic accomplishment, and not as a showcase of whatever amps they purchased to make their sound, but instead simply for what they are: songs. Crafted, honed, thought-out and brought to bear with vitality and purpose to give the band the best representation possible. Front-to-back, The Lowdown sounds not necessarily overthought, but professional enough to be called “cared about,” and whether it’s the memorable opening with “Mr. Grim” or the ’90s C.O.C. idolatry of “Tramalamapam” or the strong ending salvo of “End Game,” with its inclusion of piano, the mostly-subdued but swaggering “Line of Trouble” and the organ-topped closer “Southgate of Heaven,” Baleful Creed never veer too far from the central purpose of their priority on songwriting, and neither do they need to.

Baleful Creed on Thee Facebooks

Baleful Creed on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, O Jardim Sagrado

Surya Kris Peters O Jardim Sagrado

Though he’s still best known as the frontman of Samsara Blues Experiment, Christian Peters — aka Surya Kris Peters — has become a prolific solo artist as well. The vinyl-ready eight songs/37 minutes of O Jardim Sagrado meet him in his element, bringing together psychedelia, drone and synthesizer/keyboard effects to convey various moods and ideas. As with most of the work done under the Surya Kris moniker, he doesn’t add vocals, but the album wants nothing for expression just the same, whether it’s the Bouzouki on “Endless Green” or the guest contribution of voice from Monika Saint-Oktobre on the encompassing 11-minute title-track, which would be perfect for a dance hall if dance halls were also religious ceremonies. Experiments and explorations like “Celestial Bolero” and “Saudade” bring electric guitar leads and Mellotron-laced wistfulness, respectively, while after the title-cut, the proggy techno of “Blue Nebula” gives way to what might otherwise be a boogie riff on closer “Southern Sunrise.” Peters always seems to find a way to catch the listener off guard. Maybe himself too.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Surya Kris Peters on Bandcamp

 

Slow Phase, Slow Phase

slow phase slow phase

A strong if raw debut from Oakland three-piece Slow Phase, this 39-minute eight-tracker presents straight-ahead classic American heavy rock and roll in the style of acts like a less garage The Brought Low, a looser-knit Sasquatch or any number of bands operating under the Ripple Music banner. Less burly than some, more punk than others, the power trio includes guitarist Dmitri Mavra of Skunk, as well as vocalist/bassist Anthony Pulsipher of Spidermeow and vocalist/drummer Richard Stuverud, the rhythm section adding to the blues spirit and spiraling manic jangle of “Blood Circle.” Opener “Starlight” was previously issued as a teaser single for the album, and stands up to its position here, with the eponymous “Slow Phase” backing its strength of hook. “Psychedelic Man” meanders in its lead section, as it should, and the catchy “Silver Fuzz” sets up the riotous “Midnight Sun” and “No Time” to lead into the electric piano of “Let’s Do it Again (For the First Time),” which I’d kind of take as a goof were it not for the righteous jam that finishes it, referencing “Highway Star” during its fadeout. Some organizing to do, but they obviously know what they’re shooting for.

Slow Phase on Thee Facebooks

Slow Phase on Bandcamp

 

Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller

rocky mtn roller rocky mtn roller

This band might actually be more cohesive than they want to be. A double-guitar four-piece from Asheville, North Carolina, with a connection to cult heroes Lecherous Gaze via six-stringer Zach Blackwell — joined in the band by guitarist Ruby Roberts, bassist Luke Whitlatch and drummer Alex Cabrera — they’re playing to a certain notion of brashness as an ideal, but while the vocals have a drunk-fuckall stoner edge, the construction of the songs underlying is unremittingly sound on this initial EP. “Monster” opens with a welcome hook and “When I’m a Pile” sounds classic-tinged enough to be a heavy ’70s nod, but isn’t so easily placed to a specific band as to be called derivative. The longest of the four cuts at 5:30, “Bald Faced Hornet” boasts some sting in its snare sound, but the Southern heavy push at its core makes those dueling solos in the second half all the more appropriate, and closing out, “She Ran Off with the Dealer” has both charm and Thin Lizzy groove, which would basically be enough on their own to get me on board. A brazen and blazing candidate for Tee Pee Records‘ digital annex, if someone else doesn’t snag them first.

Rocky Mtn Roller on Thee Facebooks

Rocky Mtn Roller on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Rona: Nicholas Burks of War Cloud

Posted in Features on April 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

war cloud nicholas burks (Photo by Bambi Guthrie Photography)

Days of Rona: Nick Burks of War Cloud, Stonecutters & Cryptic Hymn (Ft. Wayne, Indiana)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band?

Honestly, War Cloud has been staying really busy despite the pandemic. We have a new album coming out on May 22nd through Ripple Music. It’s been tricky to promote when the world has shut down. Plus, you see more and more bigger bands pushing back their releases indefinitely. Our logic is that we want to give everyone new music during this time. Who knows? It would make my day to hear someone get inspired by this new release, so why wait?

All the members of War Cloud live in different parts of the US so we have been checking in on each other. The quarantine has gotten us writing and recording songs. It’s a weird time to be creative but I guess there’s no “on/off” switch for inspiration. NO, we are not writing a song about the pandemic. I’ve been listening to a ton of Judas Priest. Their music always gets me stoked to kick some ass and I want War Cloud’s new music to honor the metal gods.

Have you had to rework plans at all?

It’s hard to say. War Cloud was supposed to tour this April and play the Hell’s Heroes pre-party, but that has been canceled unfortunately. We would love to play Hell’s Heroes pre-party 2021!

I was so stoked to play with Helstar at Hell’s Heroes. Their album, Nosferatu, is a guitar bible. Our appearance at Legions of Metal is currently being rescheduled. A lot of things are up in the air. We have a European tour in May through June but once again, it’s tough to predict when this will all be over. The entire world is suffering.

How is everyone’s health so far?

So far, everyone is in good health. Taking a ton of vitamins and drinking a lot of water. It’s kind of funny. Stonecutters ended their tour with Lich King and Toxic Ruin due to COVID-19. Our last show was Thursday, March 12th in Worcester, Massachusetts. Then we live streamed our show the next night from Sonic Titan Studios. Stonecutters are from Kentucky; Lich King is from Massachusetts; Toxic Ruin is from Wisconsin; so you had three bands from different states traveling the US together, and I think a lot of us were trying not to cough so no one would get nervous.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Currently, I live in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The state of Indiana has all music venues, bars/restaurants, churches, and every other non-essential business closed. Gas is $1.57 per gallon. Grocery stores are insane. All the frozen pizzas, toilet paper, and canned goods are always out of stock.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

It’s a weird vibe. If you go on a walk, the residents that normally wouldn’t talk to you, now will give you a wave and a smile, and maybe even start some small talk. I think it helps. The grocery store is a war zone. It seems like everyone is on edge and has a short temper. The pandemic has flipped the music community on its head. My death metal band, Cryptic Hymn, has had to cancel shows. War Cloud has had to cancel shows. Stonecutters has had to cancel shows. EVERY band has lost something in this. It can be a real downer when you spend January and February booking the entire year with your bands and then everything in the music world has been postponed or rescheduled.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

I want to thank the people that work in grocery stores and hospitals the most. They are putting themselves out there everyday and a lot times it is thankless job. The music community is suffering. Everyone is suffering. Be excellent to each other, and when this is all over, let’s get back to the rock ‘n’ roll.

http://facebook.com/WarCloudisComing
http://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/
http://warcloud.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://stonecuttersmusic.bandcamp.com/music
https://cryptichymn.bandcamp.com/

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Days of Rona: Gary Wendt of The Ghost Next Door

Posted in Features on April 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. — JJ Koczan

gary wendt THE GHOST NEXT DOOR

Days of Rona: Gary Wendt of The Ghost Next Door (Oakland, California)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, we are presently short a drummer so we haven’t been rehearsing anyways. We were also minus a bassist when this whole thing started. Fortunately, we found someone amidst the chaos. We are currently having her learn the tunes on her own and plan to get together one-on-one next week. We had just finished prepro demos for the new record, so I’m in the studio all by my lonesome tracking guitars for our follow-up.

No one in our camp is ill, thankfully.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Shelter in place. Social distancing. Leave home only for necessities. That sort of thing.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Folks on the street are a bit tense, it seems. On edge.

I have not witnessed any bad actors, thus far, however. Stood in my first line for the grocery store yesterday. That was kinda strange. It’s difficult to keep six feet apart from folks in those aisles, I tell ya!

In music, well, hopefully folks are practicing and/or writing at home. Now’s the time to create, my friends!

Obviously, no shows, no rehearsals. Some I know are in big enough bands to actually help raise money for specific causes. Robb (MH) has been using social media to raise funds for medical masks as well as using profits of merch sales to help out. Way ta go, dude!

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

My wife, Bekki and I had our very first virtual happy hour with our friends, Snake and Allison the other night. The three hours we spent together online, just flew by! Love those cats!

So far, I’ve been keeping super busy. I like being home with the wife and kitties. My company has tagged on an extra two weeks sick time for everyone, so, I’m in a good place, monetarily, for the time being. She’s working from home. Still, the looming recession is not something I’m taking lightly. Probably my number one concern, right there.

Everyone, stay calm, don’t hoard, keep a safe distance and please, don’t fear monger.

Not helpful at all.

Triple check those “facts” before you go haphazardly posting on Facebook too.

https://www.facebook.com/theghostnextdoor/
https://www.instagram.com/theghostnextdoorband/
http://theghostnextdoorband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Mutant Flesh, War Cloud, Void of Sleep, Pretty Lightning, Rosy Finch, Ghost Spawn, Agrabatti, Dead Sacraments, Smokemaster

Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Alarm went off this morning at 3:45. Got up, flicked on the coffee pot, turned the heat on in the house, hit the bathroom and was back in bed in four minutes with an alarm set for 4:15. Didn’t really get back to sleep, but the half-hour of being still was a kind of pre-waking meditation that I appreciated just the same. Was dozing when the alarm went off the second time, but it’s day two of the Quarterly Review, so no time to doze. No time for anything, as is the nature of these blocks of writeups. They tend to be all-consuming while they’re going on. Could be worse. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Khemmis, Doomed Heavy Metal

khemmis doomed heavy metal

Denver four-piece Khemmis have made themselves one of the most distinctive acts in metal, to say nothing of doom. With strong vocal harmonies out front backed by similarly-minded guitars, the band bring a sense of poise to doom that’s rare in the modern sphere, somewhat European in influence, but less outwardly adherent to the genre tenets of melancholy. They refuse to be Paradise Lost, in other words, and are all the more themselves for that. Their Doomed Heavy Metal EP (on 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast) is a stopgap after 2018’s Desolation (review here) full-length, but at 38 minutes and six songs, it’s substantial nonetheless, headlined by the Dio cover “Rainbow in the Dark” — capably done with just a flair of Slough Feg — with a take on Lloyd Chandler‘s “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” both rare-enough studio cuts, for backing, as well as three live cuts that cover their three-to-date albums. The growls on “Three Gates” are fun, but I’ll still take the Dio cover as the highlight. For a cobbled-together release, it feels at least like a bit of thoughtful fan-service, and really, a band could do worse than to serve their fans thoughtfully.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin store

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Mutant Flesh, Evil Eye

mutant flesh evil eye

There are shades of doom metal’s origins underlying Mutant Flesh‘s first release, the eight-song/33-minute Evil Eye, but the Philly troupe are too gleeful in their weirdness ultimately to be paying full homage to the likes of Witchfinder General, and especially in a faster song like second cut “Meteoric” and the subsequent lead-guitar-flipout-and-vocal-soar title-track, they tap into the defiantly doomed vibe of earliest Saint Vitus. That’s true of the crawling “Euthanasia” as well, which crashes and nods as it approaches the six-minute mark as the longest inclusion here, but even the penultimate “Blight” brings that twisted-BlackFlag-noise-slowed-down spirit that lets you know there’s consciousness behind the chaos, and that while Mutant Flesh might seem to be all-the-way-gone, they’re really just getting started. Maybe their sound will even out over time, maybe it won’t, but for what it’s worth, they do ragged doom well from the opening “Leviathan (Lord of the Labyrinth)” onward, and feel right at home in the unhinged.

Mutant Flesh on Thee Facebooks

Mutant Flesh on Bandcamp

 

War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions

war cloud earhammer sessions

Having just shredded their way across Europe, War Cloud took their set into the Earhammer Studio with Greg Wilkinson at the helm in an attempt to capture the band in top form on their home turf. Did it work? The results on Earhammer Sessions (Ripple Music) don’t wait around for you to decide. They’re too busy kicking ass to take names, and if the resulting 29-minute burst is even half of what they brought to the stage on that tour, those must’ve been some goddamn shows. Songs like “White Lightning” and the snare-counted-in “Speed Demon” and “Striker” feel like they’re being given their due in the max-speed-NWOBHM-but-still-too-classy-to-be-thrash presentation, and honestly, this feels like War Cloud have found their method. If they don’t tour their next album and then hit the studio after and lay it down live, or at least as live as Earhammer Sessions is — one never knows as regards overdubs and isolation booths and all that — they’re doing themselves a disservice. War Cloud play metal. So what? So this.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Void of Sleep, Metaphora

Void of Sleep Metaphora

Void of Sleep return after half a decade with the prog-doom stylings of their third album, Metaphora (Aural Music), which stretches dramatically through songs like “Iron Mouth” (11:00), preceded by the intro “The Famine Years” and the shorter “Unfair Judgements,” preceded by the intro “Waves of Discomfort,” and still somehow manage not to sound out of place tapping into their inner Soilwork in the growled verses/clean choruses of “Master Abuser.” They get harsh a bit as well on “Tides of the Mourning,” which uses its 10:30 to summarize the bulk of the proceedings and close out the record after “Modern Man,” but that song has more of a scope and feels looser structurally for that. Still, that shift is only one of several throughout Metaphora, which follows the Italian five-piece’s 2015 LP, New World Order (discussed here), and wherever Void of Sleep are headed at any given moment, they head there with a duly controlled presence. Clearly their last five years have not been wasted.

Void of Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music store

 

Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls

pretty lightning jangle bowls

As yet, Germany’s Pretty Lightning remain a well kept secret of fuzz-psych-blues nuance, digging out their own niche-in-a-niche-in-a-niche microgenre with a natural and inadvertent-feeling sense of just writing the songs they want to write. Jangle Bowls, which puts its catchy, semi-garage title-track early in the proceedings, is the duo’s second offering through Fuzz Club Records behind 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze (review here), and seem to present a mission statement in opener “Swamp Ritual” before bringing a due sense of excursion to “Boogie at the Shrine” — damn that’s a smooth groove — and reviving the movement in “RaRaRa,” which follows. Closer “Shovel Blues” is a highlight for how it drifts into oblivion, but the underlying tightness of craft in “123 Eternity” and “Hum” is an appeal as well, so it’s a tradeoff. But it’s one I’ll be glad to make across multiple repeat visits to Jangle Bowls while wondering how long this particular secret can actually be kept.

Pretty Lightning on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Club Records store

 

Rosy Finch, Scarlet

rosy finch scarlet

The painted-blood-red cover of Rosy Finch‘s second album, Scarlet (on Lay Bare Recordings), and horror-cinema-esque design isn’t a coincidence in terms of atmosphere, but the Spanish trio bring a more aggressive feel to the nine-track outing overall than they did to their 2016 debut, Witchboro (review here), with additional crunch in the guitar of Mireia Porto (also vocals and bass) and bassist Elena Garcia, and a forward kick drum from LluĂ­s Mas that hammers home the impact of a cruncher like “Ruby” and even seems to ground the more melodic “Alizarina,” which follows, let alone the crushing opener/longest track (immediate points) “Oxblood” or its headspinning closing companion “Dark Cherry,” after which follows the particularly intense hidden cut “Lady Bug,” also not to be missed. Anger suits Rosy Finch, it seems, and the band bring a physicality to the songs on Scarlet that only reinforces the sonic push.

Rosy Finch on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings store

 

Ghost Spawn, The Haunting Continuum

Ghost Spawn The Haunting Continuum

Brutal, gurgling doom-of-death pervades The Haunting Continuum from Denver one-man-unit Ghost Spawn, and while the guitar late in “Escaping the Mortal Flesh” seems momentarily to offer some hope of salvation, rest assured, it doesn’t last, and the squibbly central riff returns with its extremity to prove once more that only death is real. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Berstler is the lone culprit behind the project’s first full-length and second release overall (also second this year, so he would seem to work quickly), and across 43 minutes that only grow more grueling as they proceed through the centerpiece title-track and into “The Terrors that Plague Nightly” and the desolate incantations of “Exiled to the Realm of Eternal Rot,” there are some hints of cleaner grunts that have made their way through — a kind of repeated “hup” vocalization — but this too is swallowed in the miasma of cave-echo guitar, drums-from-out-of-the-abyss, and raw-as-peeled-flesh production. Can’t get behind that? Probably you and 99.9 percent of the rest of humanity. For us slugs, though, it’s just about right.

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Agrabatti, Beyond the Sun

agrabatti beyond the sun

It’s kosmiche thrust and watery vibes when Agrabatti go Beyond the Sun. What’s there upon arrival? Nothing less than a boogie down with Hawkwind at the helm of a spacey spaced-out space rocking chopper that you shouldn’t even be able to hear the revving engine of in space and yet somehow you can. Also synth, pulsating riffs and psych-as-all-golly-gosh awakenings. Formed in 2009 by Chad Davis — then just out of U.S. Christmas, already at that point known for his work in Hour of 13 and a swath of other projects across multiple genres — and with songs begun to come together at that time only to be shelved ahead of recording this year, Beyond the Sun sat seemingly in some unreachable strata of anomalous subspace, for 11 years before being rediscovered from its time-loop like Kelsey Grammer in that one episode of TNG, and gorgeously spread across the quadrant in its five-cut run, with its cover of the aforementioned Hawkwind‘s “Born to Go” so much at home among its companions it feels like, baby, it’s already gone. Do you need sunglasses in the void? Shit yeah you do.

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Dead Sacraments, Celestial Throne

Dead Sacraments Celestial Throne

Four sprawling doom epics comprise the 2019 debut album — and apparently debut release — from Illinois four-piece Dead Sacraments, who themselves are comprised from three former members of atmospheric sludgers Angel Eyes, who finished their run in 2011 but released the posthumous Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl (review here). Those are guitarist Brendan Burchell, bassist Nader Cheboub and drummer Ryan Croson, and together with apparently-self-harmonizing vocalist/guitarist Mark Mazurek, they cast a doom built on largesse in tone and scope alike, given an air of classic-metal grandiosity but filtered through a psych-doom modernity that feels aware of what the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis have done for the genre. Nonetheless, as a first record, Celestial Throne shines its darkness brightly across its no-song-under-nine-minutes-long lumber, and affirms the righteousness of doom with a genuine sense of reach at its disposal.

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Smokemaster, Smokemaster

smokemaster smokemaster

The languid and trippy spirit in opener “Solar Flares” is something of a misdirect on the part of organ-laced, Cologne-based heavy rockers Smokemaster, who go on to boogie down through songs like “Trippin’ Blues” before jamming out classic heavy blues-style on “Ear of the Universe.” I’m not saying they don’t have their psychedelic aspects, but there’s plenty of movement behind what they do as well, and the setup they give with the first two cuts is effective in throwing off the first-time listener’s expectation. A pastoral instrumental “Sunrise in the Canyon” leads off side B after, and comes backed by “Astronaut of Love” (yup, a lovestronaut) and “Astral Traveller,” which find an engaging midpoint between the ground and the great beyond, synth and keys pushing outward in the finale even as the bass and drums keep it tethered to a central groove. It’s a formula that’s worked many times over the last half-century, but it works here too, and Smokemaster‘s Smokemaster makes a right-on introduction to the German newcomers.

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