The Obelisk Questionnaire: Yianna Bekris of Vouna

Posted in Questionnaire on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

vouna

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Yianna Bekris of Vouna

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I have a project called Vouna that I use as an outlet for my musical creativity. I compose, perform, and record all Vouna’s music, and in the live lineup I sing and play guitar. I’ve been writing little doomy songs on my own for a long time, just for the hell of it. I decided that it would be something I would share with other people after my former bands went on hiatus and that was the start of Vouna as it is today.

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Driving in the car with my dad while he blasted cassettes that he recorded off the radio in Greece.

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I think all the moshing I did while watching death metal bands in my teen years is the reason I’m still alive today.

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I try to be open-minded when presented with empirical evidence and sound arguments. I do think it’s possible there is more than what can be tested empirically but for me empiricism still reigns supreme, and that has yet to be truly challenged for me. Although sometimes the music that comes to me feels like it’s a transmission from another universe.

In other words, before I ask someone to help me write my college essay, When looking for Essays People Helping People, for instance, Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

In my case, I create art as a compulsion and it often doesn’t feel like it’s leading anywhere aside from me becoming more competent in enacting an impulse.

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There isn’t really a catch-all definition in my opinion, but I usually feel like something is a success because of some feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment or because some quantifiable metrics were satisfied. I’ve found that the feeling of success can be ephemeral or an illusion.

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I’d prefer not to answer this question, I’ve seen some fucked up shit.

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My next album. After a long time of feeling like I was spending too much effort figuring out how to interface with a computer I was able to establish a flow that felt more natural while recording this album, Atropos. I think having a new comfort in the format and manner in which I create music for Vouna will allow me to be more effective in translating whatever is going on in my head to songs.

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“Art makes life worth living.”

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Spending more time in the mountains this summer.

https://www.facebook.com/VOUNAMETAL
https://www.instagram.com/VOUNABAND/
https://vouna.bandcamp.com/
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
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http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Vouna, Atropos (2021)

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Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Apa Article Review Service. 13 likes. Buy Thesis Online is one of the dissertation writing services that really cares about customers and their college paper. Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as Document Read Online Show My Hw Rewrite My Paper - In this site is not the same as a answer calendar you buy in a record buildup or download De Doorn marks their first offering through Where to order http://urfahr-umgebung.oevp.at/?essay-on-moneys? Take a look here, the best research papers writing site will do your assignment from scratch on time. Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Get Essay Done offers affordable and top notch quality, just pay and ask us to Write Me an Essay or follow and get well written college paper. Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings http://representationco.com/cheap-essay-writing-services/! Pass courses without too much pain with Master Papers. Confidentiality guaranteed. Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

Amenra on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

Liquid Sound Company on Facebook

Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp

 

Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

Iceburn on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

Gods & Punks on Facebok

Abraxas on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website

 

Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

Heathen Rites on Facebook

Svart Records website

 

Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website

 

Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website

 

Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

 

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Vouna Post “Highest Mountain”; New LP Atropos Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

vouna

Some records, they come your way, you put on a track, you skim through, blah blah blah, you check it out, you go, “okay, I get it,” and you move on, either to “this is cool” or “nah.” Vouna‘s Atropos is the other kind of record, which is the kind you put on, maybe with the intention of skimming through, and then you leave it on and just let it go because frickin’ awesome and demands nothing less than full attention even when, say, you’re supposed to be listening to something else to review it at just that particular moment. Sorry, other record(s), I’ve got someplace to be.

That place is “Highest Mountain,” as it happens, the nine-minute lead single from Atropos and one of the five songs on what’ll be the second Vouna long-player when Profound Lore does the honors this July 16. I’ll hope to have more on it before then, but for now I guess I should probably finish listening to it first. Or maybe I shouldn’t, because it’s kind of making the rest of the planet feel lightweight in comparison right now. Just a little further…

Info from the PR wire:

vouna atropos

VOUNA ANNOUNCE NEW FULL-LENGTH, DROP POWERFUL SINGLE

Olympia, WA’s VOUNA – featuring multi-instrumentalist and composer Yianna Bekris – has announced a new full-length album titled, Atropos, to be released on July 16, 2021 via Profound Lore Records. Bekris unveils a towering and singular doom metal wonder in a unique visioning reminiscent of My Dying Bride, Sub Rosa, Paradise Lost, and Evoken. Upon the thick foundation of doom, multiple musical textures intertwine into her sound: atmospheric black metal, dungeon synth, dark-wave, film scores, and Rebetiko. It is through these woven sonic tapestries that Bekris creates vivid atmospheres expressing the myriad emotions surrounding death, mourning, and suicidal ideation. Atropos, named for the Greek fate who cut the thread of life thus determining the final fate for mortals, not only conveys the inevitability of death, but also explores its contrasting and dynamic nature through immersive compositions representing despair, loneliness, anxiety, peace, and dignity.

Today, VOUNA has released the first single off of Atropos titled, “Highest Mountain”. The powerful track displays 9+ minutes of soaring and crushing doom, black metal, goth, and a triumphant resolve.

About the track, Bekris comments: “This song is about someone who is dying and wants to be buried at the peak of the highest mountain as their final wish. I have always been fascinated with mountains, and I even named this project after them (Vouna meaning mountains in Greek), and it seems like such an honor to be buried at the top of a tall mountain. It isn’t necessarily about a specific mountain that exists.”

“Highest Mountain” is streaming now.

Along with the full-length announcement, the release of “Highest Mountain”, track listing, album artwork by Amjad Faur, Bekris has also revealed guest appearances on the forthcoming full-length, including an appearance from Wolves In The Throne Room’s Nathan Weaver. Digital pre-order for Atropos is available now via Profound Lore Records.

Track listing:
1. Highest Mountain
2. Vanish
3. What Once Was Reprise
4. Grey Sky
5. What Once Was

Album Details:
Recorded at the Owl Lodge in 2020 by Yianna Bekris with assistance from Nathan Weaver and Aaron Weaver. Drum recording: Ethan Camp with assistance from Alex Doherty. Mixing by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios. Mastering by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio.

Guests:
Entrail (Entrail): violin on “Vanish”
Caitlin Fate (Organelle, Vouna): electric lap steel on “Highest Mountain”
Autumn Kassel (former Vouna synth player): synth interlude on “What Once Was”
Asia Kindred Moore (Sangre de Muerdago, Solace): harp on “Highest Mountain” and distorted harp on “Vanish”
Nathan Weaver (Wolves in the Throne Room): additional vocals on “Vanish”

Album Artwork by: Amjad Faur
Promotional Photo by: Dreaming God

VOUNA is:
Yianna Bekris

https://www.facebook.com/VOUNAMETAL
https://www.instagram.com/VOUNABAND/
https://vouna.bandcamp.com/
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.instagram.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Vouna, “Highest Mountain”

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Grim Earth Sign to Desert Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Olympia, Washington, sludgers Grim Earth posted in October they were looking for a new second guitarist, so I don’t know if the lineup listed below with Eaon Forgash alongside guitarist/vocalist Craig Moore is current or what, but that was the version of the band that put out last year’s Stash of the Damned three-song pummeler anyhow, and well, that certainly gets the point across, whatever personnel changes may have taken place since its issue.

How about Desert Records going on a bit of a tear lately, hmm? Wasn’t even a week ago I posted word that the Albuquerque-based imprint had picked up Phog, and now here we are again. Label honcho Brad Frye (also of Red Mesa) better be careful or he might just turn into the American Argonauta. Which now that I think about it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

Info cobbled together from various social-type sources, slightly edited:

grim earth

Grim Earth – Desert Records

Welcome Grim Earth to Desert Records! We are happy they’re joining the DR family!

Grim Earth is a sludge metal band out of Olympia, Washington. They formed, as so many other bands do, out of the ashes of previous projects. Longstanding musical partnerships come together within the band as they seek to craft the heaviest riffs known to man. Grim Earth seeks to fuse the influences of legends like Iron Monkey or High on Fire. However, they aren’t afraid to experiment with touches of Nails or even Autopsy making their way into the sound. And so, years of DIY metal have percolated into a twisted whole.

We are re-releasing their most recent EP “Stash of the Damned”. It is available for NYP here: grimearth.bandcamp.com/album/stash-of-the-damned-ep

After initially coming together in 2017 and recording a demo, it wasn’t until 2019 that the band started to put together a more serious lineup committed to touring and recording. Their hodgepodge of backgrounds, ranging from stoner rock to hardcore by way of underground death metal means that the band has a distinct take on the genre. Simultaneously, the fact that drummer Austin Peterson and frontman Craig Moore have been playing together for half a decade means that the band has gelled on a level that borders on the spiritual. It also means that relative newcomers Elmer Saez (bass) and Eaon (guitars) have been able to immediately find their roles in this unique sonic texture.

After releasing the Stash Of The Damned in the fall of 2019 the band has started to prepare for their next phase. With new music constantly being written, Grim Earth have the bitter determination it takes to bring their band to the next level. Sludge metal fans of the world stand back – the riff worshippers in Grim Earth are ready to take your head.

Grim Earth are:
Craig Moore – Vocals and Guitar
Elmer Saez – Vocals and Bass
Eaon Forgash – Guitar
Austin Peterson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Grimearthofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/grimearthofficial/
https://grimearth.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordslabel/
https://desertrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://desertrecords.bigcartel.com/

Grim Earth, Stash of the Damned (2020)

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Wolves in the Throne Room Sign to Relapse Records; New Album Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Relapse Records for North America, Century Media for Europe — you might say that, yes, indeed, Wolves in the Throne Room are well endorsed these days, particularly for a band whose reputation is built on continual stylistic expansion in extreme and black metal. It was about a year ago that the Olympia, Washington, three-piece announced they would follow-up 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here), saying at that point that the record would be out in Feb. 2020 to coincide with a European tour alongside Amorphis and Dimmu Borgir. Well, you know how that goes.

But the shift from releasing on their own Artemisia Records imprint to releasing through Relapse in North America is significant. They seemed pretty locked in when it came to doing things in-house, and I thought that suited them. Things — as you might’ve heard — change. Maybe they didn’t dig self-releasing as much as they thought they would. Either way. Safe bet that whenever the new album — their seventh! — lands, you’ll hear about it.

For now, this update:

wolves in the throne room (Photo by Peter Beste)

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Sign To Relapse Records For North America; New Album Coming 2021

Relapse Records is proud to announce the signing of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM. The Olympia, Washington based band is currently working on a new album to be released in 2021. More news about the album will be made available over the months to come.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM comment on the signing:

“We are proud to announce our collaboration with Relapse records. As fans of the label since the early days, we are excited to be working with such capable folks. We are currently crafting our forthcoming record which will be released in North America by Relapse in alliance with Century Media who will be handling the rest of the world. More news to be announced very soon.”

Since the release of Thrice Woven, the band has toured relentlessly across the globe with titans of metal such as Behemoth, At the Gates, Dimmu Borgir, and Amorphis.

In early 2021 the band will be releasing their 7th full-length album in collaboration with Relapse Records (North America) and Century Media (All other Territories.)

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM is:

Aaron Weaver – Drums/Vocals
Nathan Weaver – Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards
Kody Keyworth – Guitars

http://wittr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wolvesinthethroneroom/
https://www.instagram.com/wittrofficial/
https://wolvesinthethroneroom.bandcamp.com/
https://artemisiarecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gravy Jones, Marmora, Mouth, Les Lekin, Leather Lung, Torso, Jim Healey, Daxma, The Re-Stoned

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review continues today with day two of five. I don’t mind telling you — in fact I’m pretty happy to tell you — that this one’s all over the place. Black metal, post-metal, singer-songwriter stuff, psych jams, heavy rock. I feel like I’ve had to go to great pains not to use the word “weird” like 17 times. But I guess that’s what’s doing it for me these days. The universe has plenty of riffs. All the better when they start doing something different or new or even just a little strange. I think, anyhow. Alright, enough lollygagging. Time to dive in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

True, it’s something of a cliché when it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room to think of their work as “an awaited return,” and perhaps that speaks to the level of anticipation with which their outings are greeted generally. Nonetheless, Thrice Woven arrives via the band’s own Artemisia Records six years after Celestial Lineage, their last proper full-length, and three after its companion, Celestite (review here), so the five-track/42-minute offering from the USBM innovators is legitimately due. The Washington-based troupe’s black-metal-of-the-land remains heavily focused on atmosphere, with a sharp, experimental-feeling turn to ambience and melody in opener “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” and the later drone interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” that precedes the rampaging closer “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon,” which caps Thrice Woven with a long fade into the sound of rolling waves. Between them, “The Old Ones are with Us” casts a vision of blackened folk-doom that seems to pull off what Agalloch was always aiming for, and centerpiece “Angrboda” blasts through an early wash before splitting near the midsection to minimalism and rebuilding itself on a slow march. 15 years on from their beginning, Wolves in the Throne Room still sound like no one else, and continue to push themselves forward creatively.

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Gravy Jones, Funeral Pyre

gravy jones funeral pyre

It’s a crazy world into which Gravy Jones invite their listeners on their self-issued debut full-length, Funeral Pyre, and the fire they bring is born of a molten classic psychedelic rock underpinned by low end weight and further distinguished by its use of organ and proto-metallic vocal proclamations. Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Heavens Bliss” tops 10 minutes in its weirdo roll, and subsequent cuts “The Burning of the Witch” and “It Came from the Sea” do little to dispel the off-center vibe, the former dug into rawer NWOBHM-ism and the latter, the centerpiece of the five-tracker, beaming in from some kind of alt-universe Deep Purple idolatry to lead into the particularly doomed “Gilgamesh” and the shuffle-into-noisefest onslaught of the closing title-track. All told it’s 41 minutes of bizarre excursion that’s deceptively cohesive and feels like the start of a longer-term sonic exploration. Whether or not Gravy Jones even out sound-wise or hold to such an unhinged vibe, they definitely pique interest here.

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Marmora, Criterion

marmora criterion

Criterion – yes, like the collection – is the debut EP from Chicago four-piece Marmora, who released a single in 2013 before the core brotherly trio of Zaid (guitar), Alejandro (bass) and Ulysses (drums) Salazar hooked up with vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Allan Cardenas in 2015. The three-tracker that has resulted begins with its title-cut, which thrusts forth a wash of heavy post-rock that makes an impression in weight as much as space before turning to the more grounded, propulsive, aggressive and punkishly noise-caked “Apathy” and closer “Flowers in Your Garden,” which turns traditional heavy rock riffery on its head with frenetic drum work and rhythmic turns that feel born of modern progressive metal. Significant as the crunch factor and aggro pulsations are, Criterion isn’t at all without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and though there isn’t much tying these three tracks together, for a first EP, there doesn’t need to be. Let that come later. For now, the boot to the ass is enough.

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Mouth, Live ’71

mouth live 71

Perhaps in part as a holdover between their 2017 second album, Vortex (review here), and the impending Floating to be issued in 2018, German progressive retroists Mouth offer Live ’71. No, it was not actually recorded in 1971. Nor, to my knowledge, was it recorded in 2071 and sent back in time in a slingshot maneuver around the sun. It’s just a play on the raw, captured-from-the-stage sound of the 55-minute set, which opens at a 19-minute sprawl with “Vortex” itself and only deep-dives further from there, whether it’s into the keyboard throb of “Parade,” the nuanced twists of “Into the Light” or the more straightforward riffing of “On the Boat.” There’s room for all this scope and the stomp of “Master Volume Voice” in a Mouth set, it would seem, and if Live ’71 is indeed a stopgap, it’s one that shows off the individualized personality of the long-running band who seem to still be exploring even as they approach the 20-year mark.

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Les Lekin, Died with Fear

les lekin died with fear

A second full-length from Austrian heavy psych trio Les Lekin, Died with Fear is perhaps more threatening in its title than in its overall aesthetic. The four inclusions on the 43-minute follow-up to 2014’s All Black Rainbow Moon (review here) set their mission not necessarily in conveying terror or some overarching sense of darkness – though low end is a major factor throughout – as in cosmic hypnosis born of repetition and chemistry-fueled heavy psychedelic progressivism. Well at home in the extended and atmospheric “Orca” (10:41), “Inert” (10:21), “Vast” (8:59) and “Morph” (13:34), the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Beat B. and drummer Kerstin W. recorded live and in so doing held fast to what feels very much like a natural and developing dynamic between them, their material all the more fluid for it but carrying more of a sense of craft than most might expect from a release that, ostensibly, is based around jams. Sweeping and switched-on in kind, Died with Fear turns out to be remarkably vibrant for something under a banner so grim.

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Leather Lung, Lost in Temptation

leather lung lost in temptation

Oh, they’re mad about it, to be sure. I’m not sure what ‘it’ ultimately is, but whatever, it’s got Leather Lung good and pissed off. Still, the Boston-based onslaught specialists’ debut full-length, Lost in Temptation, has more to its cacophony than sheer violence, and though that intelligence is somewhat undercut by the hey-check-it-out-it’s-cartoon-tits-and-also-because-snakes-are-like-wieners cover art, the marriage between fuckall noise intensity on “Gin and Chronic” and trades between growl-topped thrust and more open and melodic plod on “Shadow of the Scythe” and upbeat rock on “Momentum of Misfortune.” Put it in your “go figure” file that the closer “Destination: Void,” which is marked as an outro, is the longest inclusion on the 28-minute offering, but by then due pummel has been served throughout pieces like “Deaf Adder” and “Freak Flag” amid the willful stoner idolatry of “The Spice Melange,” so there’s texture in the assault as well. Yeah though, that cover. Woof.

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Torso, Limbs

torso limbs

I won’t deny the strength of approach Austria’s Torso demonstrate across Limbs, their StoneFree Records debut LP, in the straightforward structures of songs like “Meaning Existence” or “Mirror of My Mind” or “Skinny and Bony” and the semi-acoustic penultimate grown-up-grunge alternarocker “Down the Highway,” but it’s hard to listen to the nine-minute spread of “Red Moon” in the midsection of the album and not come away from its patient psychedelic execution thinking of it as a highlight. Shades of post-rock and moodier fare make themselves known in “Come Closer” and the righteously melodic “Ride Up,” and closer “Voices” delivers a resounding payoff, but it’s “Red Moon” that summarizes the atmospheric and emotional scope with which Torso are working and most draws together the various elements at play into a cohesive singularity. One hopes it’s a model they’ll follow going forward, but neither should doing so necessarily draw away from the songwriting prowess they show here. It’s a balance that, having been struck, feels ready to be manipulated.

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Jim Healey, Just a Minute More

jim healey just a minute more

Companioned immediately by a digital release of the demos on which it’s based, including four other songs that didn’t make the cut of the final, studio-recorded EP, Jim Healey’s Just a Minute More conveys its sense of longing in the title and moves quickly to stake its place in a long-running canon of singer-songwriterisms. Healey, known for fronting metal and heavy rock acts like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, Set Fire, etc., could easily come across as a case of dual personality in the sweetly, unabashedly sentimental, acoustic-based opener “The Road” or the more-plugged-in “You and I” at the outset, but in the fuzzed-out centerpiece “Swamp Thing,” the emotionally weighted memorable hook of “Faced,” and the piano-topped payoff of closer “Burn Up,” the 18-minute EP unfurls a sense of variety and a full-band sound that sets the project Jim Healey on its own course even apart from the man himself. Some of those other demos aren’t too bad either. Just saying.

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Daxma, The Head Which Becomes the Skull

daxma-the-head-which-becomes-the-skull

Signed to Magnetic Eye for the release, Oakland post-metal five-piece Daxma answer the ambition of their half-hour single-song 2016 debut EP, The Nowhere of Shangri-La, with the even-fuller-length The Head Which Becomes the Skull, demonstrating a clear intent toward sonic patience and ambient reach that balances subtle builds and crashes with engaging immersiveness and nod. Three of the six total inclusions top 10 minutes, and within opener “Birth” (10:53), “Abandoning All Hope” (11:34) and the penultimate “Our Lives Will be Erased by the Shifting Sands of the Desert” (13:42), one finds significant breadth, but not to be discounted either are the roll of “Wanderings/Beneath the Sky,” the avant feel of the closing title-track or even the 80-second drone interlude “Aufheben,” which like all that surrounds it, feeds into a consuming ambience that undercuts the notion of The Head Which Becomes the Skull as a debut album for its purposefulness and evocative soundscaping.

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The Re-Stoned, Chronoclasm

the re-stoned chronoclasm

For their first new outing since they revisited their debut EP in 2016 with Reptiles Return (review here), Moscow instrumentalists The Re-Stoned cast forth Chronoclasm, a six-track long-player of new material recorded over 2015 and 2016 that ties together its near-hour-long runtime with a consistency of guitarist Ilya Lipkin’s lead tone and a steady interweaving of acoustic elements. “Human Without Body,” “Save Me Under the Emerald Glass,” “Psychedelic Soya Barbecue” and the title-track seem to have some nuance of countrified swing to their groove, but it’s lysergic swirl that ultimately rules the day throughout Chronoclasm, Yaroslav Shevchenko’s drums keeping the material grounded around Lipkin’s guitar and Vladimir Kislyakov’s bass. The trio are joined on percussion by Evgeniy Tkachev on percussion for the CD bonus track “Quartz Crystals,” which picks up from the quiet end of “Chronoclasm” itself and feels like a nine-minute improve extension of its serene mood, adding further progressive sensibility to an already wide scope.

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Black Bone Exorcism Sign to DHU Records; Crack the Bone, Break the Heart out Oct. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

It’s the kind of record one might be tempted to refer to as a ‘slab,’ and the announcement has come through that the debut release from Washington bashers Black Bone Exorcism, Crack the Bone, Break the Heart, will be released on CD through DHU Records on Oct. 29. For you vinyl heads — and I know you’re out there — it’s looking like the first part of 2017, though I don’t have an exact date as yet. Black Bone Exorcism will celebrate the coming of the CD/DL version by joining forces with none other than Brothers of the Sonic Cloth at in Fremont, WA. Should be an evening of much tonal heft and revelry in deeply-weighted plunder. If you’re not sure just what the hell that means, check out “Unknown, Against Light” below.

Black Bone Exorcism posted the following update about the signing and other doings:

black-bone-exorcism-crack-the-bone-break-the-heart

Black Bone Exorcism is VERY proud to announce that we have signed an international vinyl distribution deal with D.H.U. Records. D.H.U. has been a HUGE force in supporting the heavy DIY scene all over the world, and it’s an honor to be part of the Blackened Filth that they will be infecting this dark planet with! The vinyl release is set for early 2017, so be on the lookout for it’s availability both at shows and in our online merch shop (opening soon).

Our self released recording “Crack the Bone, Break the Heart” will be unleashed on October 29th, 2016, opening up for none other than Brothers of the Sonic Cloth at our new favorite joint, Substation in Fremont.

Again, we are beyond stoked to be part of the D.H.U. Tribe! They will truly help us get our art to places we could never touch, and this has been our mission since day one.

For now, we give you a taste of what is to come. View the sorrow and crushing force that will change your view of the world in our Album Trailer below. Thank you to everyone that has supported us over the past 3 years. This is just the beginning…

Dave Krön: Guitar & Vocals
Brandon Wilder: Guitar & Samples
Keith Greer: Drums
Mike Lee: Bass

https://www.facebook.com/blackboneexorcism/
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https://soundcloud.com/blackboneexorcism/tracks
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

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Wolves in the Throne Room to Release New Album in 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Not much by way of details at this point, but I figured any news about a new Wolves in the Throne Room album would probably be better than none. Reportedly more info is coming next month on the Washington outfit’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2011’s Celestial Lineage, but as a preliminary, the PR wire sent initial word that writing is almost completed. Groovy.

So maybe a spring or summer release? I don’t know. Either way, it’s good news:

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM: Recordings Penned For 2014 Release

Barring the recent release of their BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini live 12″, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM have been keeping a low profile since the conclusion of the world-spanning tour that supported their most recent LP, Celestial Lineage. Now, word comes that the band, along with producer Randall Dunn, has been quietly cultivating the next chapter in their ongoing musical evolution. While little else is known of the impending recordings as of now, the brothers Weaver have confirmed that, the music is currently in the final stages, being prepared for release in the first quarter of 2014. An official communiqué on WITTR’s impending 2014 actions will be announced very early in the New Year.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM’s BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini was released in late November, once again via Southern Lord Recordings, who also unveiled the act’s acclaimed second LP, Two Hunters (2007), the Malevolent Grain EP and Black Cascade LP (2009), and most recently the triumphant Celestial Lineage LP (2011). The BBC 12″ contains the massive “Prayer of Transformation” and “Thuja Magus Imperium” — pieces culled from Celestial Lineage and recorded live at the BBC’s storied Maida Vale Studios while WITTR was in the midst of a tour of the UK. While far from a full length LP, BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini served to tide anxious fans over, while new production was still being organized.

Immediately after their 2004 inception, Olympia, Washington’s WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM have been leaders in the forward advancement of American metal, and have since been a worldwide force in pushing the boundaries of the black metal genus into new realms. The band’s trance-inducing delivery of their anthems has been witnessed by fans internationally in the live setting, as WITTR has trekked across most of the habitable continents over the past decade. While they’ve performed at massive festivals including Roadburn, Hell Fest and Roskilde, the band also veers far from the well-trod paths, booking shows at unconventional venues and art spaces in addition to performing in barns, on beaches and in forests, bringing their wholly underground and uncompromising ethos to fruition with their fans.

http://www.wittr.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolves-In-The-Throne-Room/48294546133

Wolves in the Throne Room, BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini (2013)

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