Quarterly Review: Celestial Season, Wren, Sumokem, Oginalii, Völur, Wedge, SpellBook, Old Blood, Jahbulong, Heavy Trip

Posted in Reviews on December 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

The end of the week for the Quarterly Review is a special time, even if this particular QR will continue into next Monday and Tuesday. Also apparently today is Xmas? Okay. Whatever, I’ve got writing to do. I hope you’re safe and not, say, traveling out of state to see family against the urging of the CDC. That would be incredibly irresponsible, etc. etc. that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me started.

However you celebrate or don’t, be safe. Music will help.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings

celestial season the secret teachings

Like many of the original death-doom set, Dutch masters Celestial Season gave up the style during their original run, departing toward heavy rock after 1995’s Solar Lovers. At an hour’s run spread across 13 tracks including ambient guitar and violin/cello interludes, The Secret Teachings has no time for such flighty fare. Reunited with original vocalist Stefan Ruiters and bassist Lucas van Slegtenhorst, the band return in grand fashion for their first full-length in 20 years, and songs like “Long Forlorn Tears” and “Salt of the Earth” conjure all the expert-grade morose plod one could possibly ask, as each side of the 2LP begins with its own intro and sets its own mood, from the almost-hopeful wistfulness of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” at the start to the birdsong-laced “Beneath the Temple Mount” that leads the way into “A Veil of Silence” and “Red Water” at the finish, the latter a Type O Negative cover that fits well after the crescendo of the song before it.

Celestial Season on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Wren, Groundswells

wren groundswells

The gift Wren make to post-metal is that even in their quietest stretches, they maintain tension. And sure, the Londoners’ second LP, Groundswells — also stylized all-caps: GROUNDSWELLS — has in “Murmur” its “Stones From the Sky” moment as all works of the genre seemingly must, but the six-cut/44-minute follow-up to 2017’s Auburn Rule (discussed here) casts a scope less about pretense or ambition than largesse and heft, and that serves it well, be it in the shorter “Crossed Out Species” or longer pieces like the opener “Chrome” and the penultimate “Subterranean Messiah,” which injects some melodic vocals into the proceedings and airy string-inclusive prog amid all the surrounding crush. All well and good, but it’s hard to deny the sheer assault of the doomed apex in closer “The Throes,” and you’ll pardon me if I don’t try. Ambience through volume, catharsis through volume, volume all things.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Gizeh Records website

 

Sumokem, Prajnaparadha

sumokem prajnaparadha

With strength of performance to fall back on and progressive realization in their songwriting, Little Rock, Arkansas’ Sumokem would seem to come of age on their third long-player, Prajnaparadha, answering the flourish of 2017’s The Guardian of Yosemite (discussed here) with an even more confident stylistic sprawl and an abiding patience that extends even to the album’s most intense moments. Not at all a minor undertaking in dynamic or its run of five long songs following the intro “Prologue,” Prajnaparadha manages not to be dizzying mostly because of the grace with which it’s crafted, tied together by ace guitar work and a propensity for soaring in order to complement and sometimes willfully contrast the tonal weight. When the growls show up in “Fakir” and carry into “Khizer,” Sumokem seem to push the record to its final level, and making that journey with them is richly satisfying.

Sumokem on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Oginalii, Pendulum

Oginalii Pendulum

Psychedelia comes poison-tipped with brooding post-grunge atmospheres as Oginalii‘s Pendulum swings this way and that between “Scapegoat” and “Black Hole” and “Pillars” and “Veils” across its too short 24 minutes. The Nashvillainous four-piece explore an inner darkness perfect for these long months of forced-introspection, and though calling something pandemic-appropriate has become a tired compliment to give, the underlying rhythmic restlessness of “Scapegoat” and the crying out overtop, the fuzzy burst of “Veils” and the interweaving drums and guitar noise behind the recited semi-sung poetry of “Pillars” serve the soundtrack cause nonetheless, to say nothing of the two-minute minimalist echoing stretch of “Black Hole” or the oh-okay-it’s-indie-post-rock-but-oh-wait-what-the-hell-now-it’s-furious closer “Stripped the Screw.” Anger suits Oginalii as it comes through here, not in tired chestbeating but in spacious craft that manages to sound intense even in its languid reach. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods on Bandcamp

 

Völur, Death Cult

Völur death cult

Toronto’s Völur offer their third album, Death Cult, in cooperation with Prophecy Productions, and it comes in four string-laced tracks that waste little time in pushing genre limits, bringing folk influences in among doom, blackened metallurgy and more ethereal touches. Arrangements of violin, viola, cello, double-bass, keys, and the shared vocals of Laura Bates and Lucas Gadke (the latter also of Blood Ceremony) give a suitably arthouse feel to the proceedings rounded out by the drums and percussion of Justin Ruppel, and it’s far from unearned as the four songs play out across 37 minutes, “Dead Moon” veering into lumbering death-doom in its apex ahead of the jazz-into-choral-into-drone-into-freer-jazz-into-progressive-black-metal of the 11-minute “Freyjan Death Cult,” subsequent closer “Reverend Queen” leaving behind the chaos in its last few minutes for an epilogue of mournful strings and drums; a dirge both unrepentantly beautiful and still in keeping with the atmospheric weight throughout. Bands like this — rare — make other bands better.

Volur on Thee Facebooks

Volur at Prophecy Productions

 

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow

wedge like no tomorrow

Bursting with enough energy to make one miss live music, Wedge‘s third album, Like No Tomorrow, transcends vintage-ism in its production if not its overall mindset, bringing clarity to Deep Purple organ-tics on opener “Computer” while keeping the lyrics purposefully modern. Bass leads the way in “Playing a Role” and the spirit is boogie fuzz until the jam hits and, yeah, they make it easy to go along for the ride. “Blood Red Wine” has arena-rock melody down pat while centerpiece and likely side A closer “Across the Water” at last lets itself go to that place, following the guitar until the surge that brings in “Queen of the Night” indulges purer proto-metal impulses, still accomplished in its harmonized chorus amid the charge. Is that the guitar solo in “U’n’I” panning left to right I hear? I certainly hope so. The shortest cut on Like No Tomorrow feels like it’s in a hurry to leave behind a verse, and sets up the surprisingly modestly paced “At the Speed of Life,” which is lent a cinematic feel by the organ and layered choral vocals that bolsters yet another strong hook, while the nine-minute “Soldier” is bluesier but still sounds like it could be the live incarnation of any of these tracks depending on where a given jam takes Wedge on any given night. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Wedge on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

SpellBook, Magick and Mischief

SpellBook Magick and Mischief

About a year and a half after issuing Otherworldly (review here), their third album under the moniker Witch Hazel, the dukes of York, PA, are back with a new name and a refreshed sound. As SpellBook, vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn push through two vinyl sides of classic heavy f’n metal, less concerned with doom than they were but still saving a bit of roll for the longer centerpiece “Not Long for This World” and the airy, dramatic closer “Dead Detectives.” Elsewhere, “Black Shadow” brings a horns-at-the-ready chorus, “Motorcade” reminds that the power of Judas Priest was always in the basslines (that’s right, I said it), and “Ominous Skies” brims with the vitality of the new band that SpellBook are, even as it benefits from the confidence born of these players’ prior experience together.

SpellBook on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Old Blood, Acid Doom

old blood acid doom

Kudos to L.A.’s Old Blood for at least making the classification part easy when it comes to their debut album, conveniently titled Acid Doom, though that category hardly accounts for, say, the piano stretch of second cut “Bridge to Nowhere,” or the heavy rock theatricality in “Heavy Water” or the horn sounds of “Slothgod” a few songs later, but I suppose one has to start somewhere, and ‘acid doom’ is fair enough when it comes to accounting for the sleekery in the vocals of Lynx, the weight of the riffs of C. Gunner, the roll of bassist Octopus and drummer Diesel and the classic-style organ work of J.F. Stone. But if Old Blood want to unfurl something deceptively complex and stylistically intricate on their debut, that’s certainly cool as far as I’m concerned. Production is a strong presence throughout in a way that pulls a bit from what the impact of the songs might be on stage (remember stages?), but the songwriting is there, and Lynx‘s voice is a noteworthy presence of its own. I’m not sure where they’ll end up sound-wise, but at the same time, Acid Doom comes across like nothing else in the batch of 70 records I’m doing for this Quarterly Review, and that in itself I find admirable.

Old Blood on Thee Facebooks

Metal Assault Records on Bandcamp

DHU Records webstore

 

Jahbulong, Eclectic Poison Tones

JAHBULONG ECLECTIC POISON TONES

Just because you know the big riff is going to kick in about a minute into opening track “Under the Influence of the Fool” on Jahbulong‘s tarot-inflected stoner doom four-songer Eclectic Poison Tones doesn’t make it any less satisfying when it happens. The deep-rolling three-piece from Verona make their full-length debut with the 45-minute offering through Go Down Records, and the lurching continues in “The Tower of the Broken Bones” and “The Eclipse of the Empress,” which is the only cut under 10 minutes long but still keeps the slow-motion Sabbath rolling into the 15-minute closer “The Eremite Tired Out (Sweed Dreams)” (sic), which plays off some loud/quiet changes fluidly without interrupting the nod that’s so central to the entirety of the album. Look. These guys know the gods they’re worshiping — Sleep, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard maybe, etc. — and they’re not trying to get away with saying they invented any of this. If you can’t get down with 45 minutes of slower-than-slow grooves, maybe you’re in the wrong microgenre. For me, it’s the lack of pretense that makes it.

Jahbulong on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip

heavy trip heavy trip

Heavy Trip. Four songs. Two sides. Three dudes. Instrumental. Accurately named. Yeah, you’ve heard this story before, but screw it. They start out nice and spacious on “Hand of Shroom” and they finish with high-speed boogie in the 13-minute “Treespinner,” and all in between Heavy Trip make it nothing less than a joy to go along wherever it is they’re headed. The Vancouver three-piece make earlier Earthless something of an elephant in the room as regards influences, but the unhurried groove in second cut “Lunar Throne” is a distinguishing factor, and even as “Mind Leaf” incorporates a bit more shove, it does so with enough righteousness to carry through. As a debut, Heavy Trip‘s Heavy Trip might come across more San Diego than Vancouver, but screw it. Dudes got jams like Xmas hams, and the chemistry they bring in holding listener attention with tempo changes throughout here speaks to a progressive edge burgeoning in their sound.

Heavy Trip on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

 

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 43

Posted in Radio on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

A few classics, a lot of new music, and a final half-hour that I’d have a hard time imagining could possibly be better spent. I haven’t been able to spend as much time in the Gimme Metal chat during the shows as I’d like — my duties as dad/house-husband in terms of feeding, bedtime ritual, diapers, dinner and all that clash pretty hard with the 5-7PM timeslot, and it’s important to me to do those things as well as to be visible doing them, especially to my son to teach him that a man can be a caregiver (as much as I’m able) — but I always at least check in and keep half an eye on what’s going on in there.

It’s been cool to see the Gimme community develop over time. There are familiar names in there week after week and others come and go. That’s a special kind of connection Gimme has been able to forge that I feel fortunate to be a part of in some small way. I’ve never been cool enough to be a part of a scene. I’m still not. But it’s fun to watch.

The Pecan does indeed feature in this one. He broke out “Listenin’ to Obeliks Show on Give-Me-Metal!” from the back seat of the car and surprised the hell out of me. I think you can probably hear my smile.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy the show.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 10.02.20

Crystal Spiders Tigerlily Molt
Acid King Silent Pictures Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Year of the Cobra Demons Ash and Dust
VT
Oginalii Pillars Pendulum
Dreadnought Tempered Emergence
Molassess The Devil Lives Through the Hollow
Kariti Kybele’s Kiss Covered Mirrors
CB3 Warrior Queen Aeons
Heavy Temple Hit it and Quit It Split From the Black Hole
Holy Grove Solaris II
The Wounded Kings Consolamentum Consolamentum
Besvärjelsen Past in Haze Frost
VT
Grayceon We Can All We Destroy
SubRosa The Wound of the Warden For This I Fought the Battle of Ages

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Oct. 16 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Oginalii Post “Pillars” Video; Pendulum EP Due Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

oginalii

Alright. I’m not trying to tell you your business or anything, but yes I absolutely am and I think you should take a few minutes out of your busy day to check out Oginalii if you haven’t yet. From the opening cut “Veils” through the finishing moves in “Stripped the Screw,” the Nashville four-piece’s new EP, Pendulum — due Oct. 23 — brings atmospheric heavy psychedelia that’s moody without losing its sense of force. The whole release runs six songs and 24 minutes — very much an EP — but in that time the band unfurls material dug-in enough to build on their 2019 debut, Cause & Affection, with a burgeoning sense of controlled chaos.

Taking cues from post-rock and heavy jams in kind, it finds a sonic space for itself that’s broad in scope but rhythmically tight as well, as Simon Knudtson‘s tense drums behind Emma Hoeflinger‘s vocals on the previously-unveiled Oginalii Pendulum“Scapegoat” demonstrate, the fuzz guitar of Ryan Quarles and depth of bass from Emma Lambiase bringing further weight to the impact. Maybe unsurprisingly, the EP finds its greatest meld between ambience and intensity on its six-minute title-track, starting off at a meander and ending up in a riff dizzying enough that the follow it with the two-minute melodic comedown “Black Hole,” but the whole thing works with a similar dynamic.

I can’t help but hear a little Carla Kihlstedt in the Hoeflinger‘s breathy delivery in the verses of the newly-unveiled “Pillars,” a second single from Pendulum to be issued, but a more intense chorus is met by intertwining jabs of fuzzed tonality, an intricate bounce happening that solidifies the airier surroundings but still stays purposefully elusive in contrast to the melody. Have I mentioned the word “dynamic” yet? Okay good. Just wanted to be sure. “Pillars,” for all that, is still catchy around the standout line “Great expectations were wrong,” which feels like a line that could be loaded with any number of contexts, and after the song culminates, “Stripped the Screw” takes a more avant approach, building and deconstructing as it moves through a runtime that’s still just four and a half minutes long but shifts between soft guitar at the outset to blown-out industrial-style beats at the end, the band setting, and breaking, their own rules.

“Stripped the Screw” isn’t public yet, but you can see the video for “Pillars” below, accompanied by more info from the PR wire — and I threw in the “Scapegoat” video too, just in case you missed it when it was . Bottom line here is I dig this EP and the direction in which Oginalii seem headed, and I think you might too.

Again, it’s out Oct. 23.

Enjoy:

Oginalii, “Pillars” official video

‘Pillars’ official music video from the upcoming EP ‘Pendulum’ – out OCTOBER 23 2020.

Nashville’s Oginalii recently announced the Oct 23 release of Pendulum via Devil In The Woods.

The band recently released second single “Pillars,” with fuzzed-out riffs that immediately change gear to an exploration of space reminiscent of the sonic landscapes of Portishead.

“The song explores a moment I feel we all come to realize at some point in our lives,” says frontwoman and songwriter Emma Hoeflinger. “The moment you realize a hero figure, a parent, an idol, or anyone that is a symbol of wisdom becomes human in your eyes for the first time. That person has faults, messes up, and isn’t on that pedestal or “pillar” you’ve always placed them on. What do we do with this new information? Do we let it ruin the love and respect we have created for them?”

Oginalii is:
Emma Hoeflinger (vocals/guitar)
Ryan Quarles (guitar)
Simon Knudtson (drums)
Emma Lambiase (bass)

Oginalii, “Scapegoat” official video

Oginalii website

Oginalii on Bandcamp

Oginalii on Instagram

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods website

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 40

Posted in Radio on August 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I frontloaded this one with heavy. Heavy heavy heavy heavy. Heavy enough across the first three that by the time you get to Wren having already made it through JupiterianHymn and Primitive Man, their crushing post-metal feels like a break. I felt in putting the playlist together like I wanted to kind of wash away the last two weeks. “Sonic catharsis” is how I put it in the voice track I recorded the other day. That’s still as good as anything else I can come up with to explain it.

From there, we rock and trip out a bit, going from Athens-based Honeybadger into Nashevillian psych rockers Oginalii ahead of the hypnotic riffs of Slow Green Thing and Black Helium and the ever-moody experimental neo-folk of Neurosis‘ own Steve Von Till, whose new record, unsurprisingly, is gorgeous. The show closes with AXIOM9, a newer Madrid-based psych-jam outfit I got put onto last week and have been digging. That’s a 45-minute sample-laced ride right there, but no regrets for including it. Sometimes I like weirding out the Gimme listenership. People are usually pretty open-minded about it.

This is the 40th episode of The Obelisk Show, so let me give my heartfelt appreciation to Gimme Metal/Gimme Radio for continuing to give me time on their bandwidth to do this silly thing. And of course, thank you for listening if you can.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 08.21.20

Jupiterian Mere Humans Protosapien*
Hymn Exit Through Fire Breach Us*
Primitive Man Consumption Immersion*
Wren Chromed Groundswells*
VT
Honeybadger The Wolf Pleasure Delayer*
Oginalii Scapegoat Pendulum*
Slow Green Thing Dreamland Amygdala*
Black Helium Death Station of the Goddess The Wholly Other*
Steve Von Till Shadows on the Run No Wilderness Deep Enough*
VT
AXIOM9 The Space Bong Witch The Acid Wizard and the Space Bong Witch*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Sept. 4 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Oginalii Post “Spacegoat” Video; Pendulum EP out Oct. 23

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

oginalii

Nashville-based heavy psych/post-rockers Oginalii released their debut album, Cause and Affection in April 2019, following the 2017 EP The Grey and a handful of digital singles that would soon enough appear on the record. On Oct. 23, the four-piece, melodic and contemplative on the full-length, will offer up the new Pendulum EP, which they tout as having a heavier sound. Fairly enough so, for it having been recorded earlier this year during the pandemic lockdown — the PR wire calls it “quarantine season,” and I like that — and if indeed the release pushes Oginalii toward darker and weightier fare, the video for “Scapegoat” finds them maintaining the atmospheric sensibility of Cause and Affection, which certainly had plenty of heft by the time it got to the thud and roll of its nine-minute title-track, while offsetting it with such claustrophobia.

I’ll readily admit to not being familiar with Oginalii before the “Scapegoat” video came through. If I had the chance to hear the album last year, I have no digital paper trail of that contact, but whatever. I’m glad to dig in now, and already in listening to it, I’m looking forward to what Pendulum might bring in terms of overall impact. For now, it’s a cool video and a right-on vibe in the song that’s equal parts troubled and hypnotic, and Oginalii — it’s so hard not to double the ‘l’ instead of the ‘i’ when typing that; the moniker is “my friend” in Cherokee — earning its dark color scheme and deeper, foreboding shadows. I look forward to hearing what a song called “Black Hole” by this band sounds like.

Info from the PR wire follows the clip beow, including an explanatory quote from guitarist/vocalist Emma Hoeflinger.

Please enjoy:

Oginalii, “Scapegoat” official video

The tumult of 2020 fueled the creation of Pendulum, the newest record from Nashville, Tennessee’s Oginalii. Created in part during the quarantine season, Pendulum stands in stark contrast to the band’s well-received debut Cause & Affection. While that album hinted at darker themes and tones, Pendulum swings all the way into the darker and bleaker side of life. Oginalii will release Pendulum on Oct 23 via the esteemed, newly resurrected Devil In The Woods label.

“I began writing the base of the song during a really odd time in my life where a lot of difficult changes and events were happening around me,” says front-woman and songwriter Emma Hoeflinger. “I felt like some of the people closest to me were beginning to fall out of my reach. One of the main themes of this record is the understanding of the way people change around you and thus, you change as well. The women in my family and the women around me were beginning to change, and it scared the hell out of me. I wanted to hold them all as close as I could, but I realized that I was suffocating them as well as myself by trying to control what wasn’t necessarily something bad. If I want to be someone worthy of these people around me I also have to rise, change, and grow with them. That’s where the chorus came from. I kept trying to come up with something clever, and something that had ‘meaning’. However, sometimes you just need to scream and yell out to the people around you and let go. You have to let go instead of getting swallowed up by your own control.”

Pendulum Track List
1 – Veils
2 – Scapegoat
3 – Pendulum
4 – Black Hole
5 – Pillars
6 – Stripped the Screw

Oginalii is:
Emma Hoeflinger (vocals/guitar)
Ryan Quarles (guitar)
Simon Knudtson (drums)
Emma Lambiase (bass)

Oginalii, Cause and Affection (2019)

Oginalii website

Oginalii on Bandcamp

Oginalii on Instagram

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods website

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