Høstsabbat 2020: Besvärjelsen Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

As it would, the addition of Swedish outfit Besvärjelsen brings a new breadth of atmosphere to the lineup for Høstsabbat 2020, with the added bonus that it’ll be the band’s first time in Oslo. Their 2019 EP, Frost (review erereview here, saw their particular emotionalist ambience take on a woodsy spirit, and though I was pleased to be able to write the liner notes for the limited Postwax release thereof, the release still offers surprising depth when I put it on to listen, as I might, say, when writing about the band being added to Høstsabbat and going to Norway to play it. Go figure.

This festival, by the way, is going to sell out. You should go. I hope to go again as well, but whether I do or not, I can only recommend it on a life-experience level. The setting, the atmosphere, the sound and the visuals are all stellar and worth the trip from wherever you might be making it. Just a side note. Word to the wise, as it were.

I didn’t write the announcement below, but I did tweak the copy before it went out, so at least there’s that. Still, I cut and pasted it from the festival’s social media — as opposed to from my .txt file — so here it is in PR wire blue:

hostsabbat 2020 besvarjelsen

Høstsabbat 2020 – BESVÄRJELSEN (SE)

Let’s head back to Sweden.

Besvärjelsen is a relatively fresh band, but their debut LP, 2018’s ‘Vallmo’ — released through no less than the reliable source that is Suicide Records — launched the quintet into the Swedish and European stoner rock scene with full force. They were highly acclaimed for their Swedish lyrics and inspiration from folk music — as well as for featuring ex-Dozer members Erik Bäckwall (drums) and Johan Rockner (bass) — but to be honest, the album flew a bit under our radar at Høstsabbat. Not for long.

Their 2019 ‘Frost’ EP, out on Blues Funeral Recordings, hit like a tornado with undeniable groove and constant forward push. The sound and riffs came on tight and clever, reflecting on the darkness of nature of the endless woods in their home area of Dalarna.

This ethereal spirit and the coinciding haunting melodies of Lea Amling Alazam’s vocals put Besvärjelsen in a league of their own. Their sound crafted with finesse to the point that it’s hard to put their records aside. They just get stuck on repeat.

Are Besvärjelsen the next big thing from our neighbouring Swedes?

Høstsabbat is proud to present this stellar band for first time in Oslo.

TICKETS
http://bit.ly/hostsabbat2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/SFhostsabbat2020

NEWSLETTER
http://bit.ly/NLhostsabbat

Artwork: Trine Grimm Tattoo / Linda K Røed

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http://hostsabbat.no/

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Crypt Sermon, The Neptune Power Federation, Chron Goblin, Ethereal Riffian, Parasol Caravan, Golden Core, Black Smoke Omega, Liquid Orbit, Sun Below

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Hey all, we made it to the final day of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review, so congrats to ‘us’ and by us I mean myself and anyone still reading, which is probably about two or three people. On my end today is completely manic in terms of real-life, offline logistics — much to do — but no way I’m letting one last batch of 10 reviews fall by the wayside, so rest assured, by the time this goes live, it’ll be complete, even though I’ve had to swap things out as some stuff has been locked into other coverage since I first slated it. Plenty around waiting to be written up. Perpetually, it would seem.

But before we dive in, thank you for reading if you’ve caught any part of this QR. I hope your 2020 is off to an excellent start and that finding new music to love is as much a part of your next 12 months as it can possibly be.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sunn O))), Pyroclasts

sunn o pyroclasts

The narrative — because of course there’s a narrative; blessings and peace upon it — is that drone-metal progenitors Sunn O))), while in the studio recording earlier-2019’s Life Metal (review here) with Steve Albini, began each day doing a 12-minute improvised modal drone working in a different scale. They used a stopwatch to keep time. Thus the four tracks of Pyroclasts were born. They all hover around 11 minutes after editing, which settles neatly onto two vinyl sides, and it’s the rawer vision of Sunn O))), with just Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley‘s guitars, rather than some of the more elaborate arrangements which they’ve been known to undertake. That they’d put out two studio records in the same year is striking considering it had been four years since 2015’s Kannon (review here), but I think the truth of the matter is they had these tapes and decided they were worth preserving with a popular release. I wouldn’t say they were wrong, and the immersion here is a good reminder of the core appeal of Sunn O)))‘s conjured depths.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crypt Sermon, The Ruins of Fading Light

Crypt Sermon The Ruins of Fading Light

Traditional doom rarely sounds as vital as it does in the hands of Crypt Sermon. The Philly five-piece return with The Ruins of Fading Light on Dark Descent Records as an awaited follow-up to 2015’s Out of the Garden (review here) and thereby bring forth classic metal with all the urgency of thrash and the poise of the NWOBHM. Frontman Brooks Wilson — also responsible for the album art — is in command here and with the firm backing of bassist Frank Chin and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga, guitarists Steve Jannson and James Lipczynski offer sharpened-axe riffs and solo scorch offset by passages of keyboard for an all the more epic vibe. The rolling “Christ is Dead” is pure Candlemass, but the galloping “The Snake Handler” might be the highlight of the 10-track/55-minute run, though that’s not to take away either from the Dehumanizer chug of “Key of Solomon” or the melodic reach of the closing title-track either. Take your pick, really. It’s all metal as fuck and glorious for that. If they don’t sell denim jackets, they should.

Crypt Sermon on Thee Facebooks

Dark Descent Records on Bandcamp

 

The Neptune Power Federation, Memoirs of a Rat Queen

the neptune power federation memoirs of a rat queen

“Can you dig what the Imperial Priestess is laying down?” is the central question of Memoirs of a Rat Queen, the first album from Sydney, Australia’s The Neptune Power Federation to be released through Cruz Del Sur Music, and it arrives over an ELO “Don’t Bring Me Down”-style arena rock beat on leadoff “Can You Dig?” as an intro to the rest of the LP. Strange, epic, progressive, traditional, heavy and cascading rock and roll follows, as intricate as it is immediately catchy, and whether it’s “Watch Our Masters Bleed” or “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” the Imperial Priestess Screaming Loz Sutch and company make it easy to answer in the affirmative. Arrangements are willfully over the top as “Bound for Hell” and “The Reaper Comes for Thee” engage a heavy rocker take on heavy metal’s legacy, maddened laughter and all in the latter track, which closes, and the affect on the listener is nothing less than an absolute blast — a reminder of the empowering sound of early metal on a disaffected generation in the late ’70s and early ’80s and how that same fist-pump-against-the-world has become timeless. No doubt the costumes and all that make The Neptune Power Federation striking live, but as Memoirs of a Rat Queen readily steps forward to prove, the songs are there as well.

The Neptune Power Federation on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music on Bandcamp

 

Chron Goblin, Here Before

chron goblin here before

Have Chron Goblin been here before? The title of their album speaks to a kind of creepy deja vu feeling, and that’s emblematic of the Canadian band’s move away from the party rock of their past offerings, their last LP having been Backwater (review here) 2015. Fortunately, while they seek out some new aesthetic ground, the 11 tracks of Here Before do maintain Chron Goblin‘s penchant for straight-ahead songcraft and unpretentious execution — and frankly, that wasn’t at all broken. Neither, perhaps was the let’s-get-drunk-and-bounce-around spirit of their prior work, but they sound more mature in a song like the six-minute “Ghost” and “Slipping Under” (premiered here) successfully melds the shift in presentation with the energy of their prior output. Maybe it’s still a party but we watch horror movies? I don’t know. They’ve still got “Giving in to Fun” early in the tracklisting — worth noting it follows the swaying “Oblivion” — so maybe I’m misreading the whole thing, or maybe it’s more complex than being entirely one thing or the other might allow for. Perish the thought. Either way, can’t mess with the songs.

Chron Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Chron Goblin on Bandcamp

 

Ethereal Riffian, Legends

ethereal riffian legends

Ukrainian heavy rockers Ethereal Riffian make a pointed sonic shift with their Legends album (on Robustfellow), keeping some of the grunge spirit in their melodies as the eight-minute “Moonflower” and closer “Ethereal Path” show, but in songs like “Unconquerable” and the early salvo of “Born Again,” “Dreamgazer” and “Legends” and even the second half of “Kosmic” and “Pain to Wisdom,” they let loose from some of the more meditative aspects of their past work with a fiery drive and a theme of enlightenment through political and social change. A kind of great awakening of the self. There’s still plenty of “ethereal” to go with all that “riffian” in the intro “Sage’s Alchemy,” or the first half of “Kosmic” or the CD bonus “Yeti’s Hide,” but no question the balance has tipped toward the straightforward, and the idea seems to be that the electrified feel is as much a part of the message as the message itself. The only trouble is that since putting Legends out, Ethereal Riffian called it quits to refocus their energies elsewhere in the universe. Are they really done? I’m skeptical, but if so, then at least they went out trying new things, which always seemed to be a specialty, and on a note of directly positive attitude.

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

Parasol Caravan, Nemesis

parasol caravan nemesis

A second long-player behind 2015’s Para Solem, the eight-song/35-minute Nemesis is not only made for vinyl, but it’s made for rockers. Specifically, heavy rockers. And it’s heavy rock, for heavy rockers. Based in Linz, Austria, the double-guitar four-piece Parasol Caravan have their sound and style on lockdown, and their work, while not really keeping any secrets in terms of where it’s coming from in its ’70s-via-’90s modern take, is brought to bear with a clarity that seems particularly derived from the European heavy rock tradition. Para Solem was longer and somewhat fuzzier in tone, but the stripped down approach of the title-track at the outset and its side B counterpart, “Serpent of Time” still unfold to a swath of ground covered, whether it’s in the subdued instrumental “Acceptance” or “Transition,” which follows the driving “Blackstar” and closes the LP with a bit of a progressive metal edge. Even that has its hook, though, and that’s ultimately the point.

Parasol Caravan on Thee Facebooks

Parasol Caravan on Bandcamp

 

Golden Core, Fimbultýr

golden core fimbultyr

The title Fimbultýr translates to “mighty god” and is listed among the alternative names of Odin, which would seem to be who Oslo’s Golden Core have in mind in the leadoff title-track of their second album. Issued through Fysisk Format, it is not necessarily what one thinks of as “Viking metal” in the post-Amon Amarth or post-Enslaved context, but instead, the eight-song collection unfolds a biting modern sludge taking an edge of the earlier Mastodon lumber and bringing it to harshly-vocalized rollout. The 11-minute “Runatal” and only-seconds-shorter “Buslubben” are respective vocal points around which sides A and B of the release center, and each finds a way to give like emphasis to atmosphere and extremity, to stretch as well as pummel, and much to Golden Core‘s credit, they seem not only aware of the changes they’re presenting in their material, but in control of how and when they’re executed. The resulting linear flow of Fimbultýr, given the shifts within, isn’t to be understated as a victory on the part of the band.

Golden Core on Thee Facebooks

Fysisk Format on Bandcamp

 

Black Smoke Omega, Harbinger

Black Smoke Omega Harbinger

Harbinger may well be just that — a sign of things to come. The debut offering from Black Smoke Omega wraps progressive death-doom and gothic piano-led atmospherics around a thematic drawing from science-fiction, and while I’m not certain of the narrative being told by the Dortmund, Germany-based band, their method for telling it is fascinating. It’s not entirely seamless in its shifts, and it doesn’t seem like the band — seemingly spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jack Nier, though Ashley James (The Antiquity) plays guitar on “A Man without a Heart” and Michael Tjanaka brings synth/piano to “Kainé” — want it to be, but there’s no denying that by the time “Falling Awake” seems to provide some melodic resolution to the often-slow-motion tumult prior, it’s doing so by bringing the different sides together. It’s a significant journey from the raw, barking shouts on “The Black Scrawl” and the lurching-into-chug-into-lurch of “The Man without a Heart” to get there, however. But this, too, seems to be on purpose. How it all might shake out feels like a question for the next release, but Black Smoke Omega seem poised here to leave heads spinning.

Black Smoke Omega on Thee Facebooks

Black Smoke Omega on Bandcamp

 

Liquid Orbit, Game of Promises

Liquid Orbit Game of Promises

While on the surface, Liquid Orbit might be on familiar enough ground with Game of Promises for anyone who has encountered the swath of up-and-comers working in the wake of Blues Pills, the Bremen, Germany, five-piece distinguish themselves through not just the keyboard work of Anders alongside Andree‘s guitar, Ralf‘s bass, Steve‘s drums and Sylvia‘s vocals, but also the shifts between funk, boogie, and edges of doom that play out in songs like “Shared Pain” and “Please Let Her Go,” as well as the title-track, which starts side B of the Nasoni Records-issued vinyl with a highlight guitar solo and an insistent snare tap beneath that works to bring movement to what’s still one of Game of Promises‘ shorter tracks at six and a half minutes, as opposed to the earlier eight-minute-toppers on side A or the psych-prog finale “Verlorene Karawane,” which translates in English to “lost caravan” and indeed basks in some Mideastern vibe and backward-effects vocal swirl. Bottom line, if you go into it thinking you know everything you’re getting, you’re probably selling it short.

Liquid Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Sun Below, Black Volume III

Sun Below Black Volume III

As the title hints, the name-your-price Black Volume III is the third EP release from Toronto’s Sun Below. All three have been issued over roughly a year’s span, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jason Craig, drummer/backing vocalist Will Adams, bassist/backing vocalist Garrison Thordarson — who as far as I’m concerned wins this entire Quarterly Review when it comes to names; that’s an awesome name — and two have featured covers. On their debut, they took on “Dragonaut” by Sleep, and on Black Volume III, in following up the 12-minute nod-roller “Solar Burnout,” they thicken and further stonerize the catchy jaunt that is “Wires” by Red Fang. They’ve got, in other words, good taste. Black Volume III opens with “Green Visions” and thereby takes some righteous fart-fuzz for a walk both that and “Solar Burnout” show plenty of resi(n)dual Sleep influence, but honestly, it’s a self-releasing band with three dudes who sound like they’re having a really good time figuring out where they want to be in terms of sound after about a year from their first release, and if you ask anything else of Black Volume III than what it gives, you’re obviously lacking in context. Which is to say you’re fucking up. Don’t fuck up. Dig riffs instead.

Sun Below on Thee Facebooks

Sun Below on Bandcamp

 

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Høstsabbat 2020 Adds Conan to Church Stage

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

You thinkin’ new Conan record this year? Me too. They’ve done no shortage of touring to support 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here), and already last year they were dropping hints of more to come, so yeah, it doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility.

They’re already slated to play Desertfest London in Spring, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a tour around that, and the announcement they’ll be at Kulturkirken Jakob in Oslo for Høstsabbat 2020 makes me think they’ll be out in Fall as well. North America sometime between? South America? Japan? Australia? Mars? Hell, I don’t know. Is there anywhere Conan haven’t been yet? If so, you have to imagine they’ll book it sooner or later.

You know what I love though about them joining the Høstsabbat lineup? Aside from the fact that they’ll absolutely fill that church with massive fucking riffs one after another in pure pounding fashion and I’m planning on being there to witness it — yes, aside from that — there’s the fact that the previous Høstsabbat announcement was for Causa Sui. The festival did an excellent job in 2019 in creating a flow across its component stages. But how awesome would the total 180 of putting those two bands back to back be? You’d absolutely blindside people one way or the other. I can’t imagine that’s how Høstsabbat‘s organizers will roll it out, but golly that’s a fun thought.

Here’s a handy poster to share and official word:

hostsabbat 2020 conan

Høstsabbat 2020 – CONAN

Boom!

Conan is finally back on Norwegian soil.

It will be four years since they last came to Høstsabbat, appearing at our fest in 2016.

The guys in Conan were rising stars already then, and have only strengthened their position since. There are some bands in our scene going the extra mile, and Conan is definitely one of them. They tour relentlessly on all continents of our globe, and always have new recordings and projects in sight – always moving ahead and leaving devastation in their wake. They’ve crafted a one of a kind sound and their intensity is unwavering.

One can only imagine how their caveman battle doom will translate to the altar stage.

Their drop F heaviness will make Kulturkirken Jakob rattle like a snake, along with our intestines.

Please welcome Conan to church on October 2nd.

https://www.facebook.com/events/431138574088425/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

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Belzebong and SÂVER Touring Together in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

belzebong

Saver (Photo by Mikkel Fykse Engelschion)

This is a combination of elements I’d expect to pay dividends for all involved parties except maybe the eardrums of those who happen to fall in the tour’s path. Polish stoner metallers Belzebong and Norwegian trio SÂVER find common ground in elements of sludge, but what they do with it is vastly different. For Belzebong it’s about that weed, those riffs, and your head, smoked-out and nodding. For SÂVER, the issue is more complex. Their groove is present and accounted for, but they bring aggro post-metal and atmospheric reach to go along with their crushing, and thereby expand the mind as much as bludgeon the skull in which it resides.

But one way or another, you’re doomed. No mistake.

The shows are presented by Sound of Liberation, who greet 2020 in loud fashion. Also love the “slowly presents” on the poster below. Cleverness always gets bonus points from me:

belzebong saver tour

BELZEBONG & SÂVER – “SMOKE OR DIE“ 2020 TOUR!

From all of us at the Sound of Liberation HQ, wishes for a heavy new year and, well, a whole decade! We hope Santa Claus found you in time, cause in our case he came a bit late, hung out for a smoke and left, leaving us however with this AWESOME poster!

Ladies and gents, we sloooowly present this mighty doom metal package:

BELZEBONG + very special guest SÂVER on the “SMOKE OR DIE“ 2020 TOUR!

Fill your lungs for evil weedian riffage from Polish doom summoners BelzebonG and devastating low-end tunes from our Norwegian post-miracle SÂVER. Let yourself drown in the sea of fuzz on one of these dates:

11.03. Košice, Collosseum Club Košice (SK)
12.03. Budapest, Dürer Kert (HU)
13.03. TBA
14.03. Bucharest, Soundart Festival (RO)
15.03. Cluj-Napoca, Flying Circus Cluj (RO)
16.03. TBA
17.03. Vienna, ARENA WIEN (AT)
18.03. TBA
19.03. Hamburg, Hafenklang (DE)
20.03. Drachten, Poppodium Iduna (NL)
21.03. Cologne, Helios37 (DE)
22.03. Brussels, Magasin 4 (BE)
23.03. Paris, The Backstage Paris (FR)
24.03. TBA
25.03. Munich, Feierwerk (DE)
26.03. TBA
27.03. Leipzig, UT Connewitz (DE)
28.03. Cottbus, Zum Faulen August, Cottbus (DE)

Belzebong is:
Cheesy dude
Sheepy dude
Alky dude
Hexy dude
Boogey dude

SÂVER is:
Markus Støle
Ole Ulvik Rokseth
Ole C Helstad

https://www.facebook.com/belzebong420/
https://www.instagram.com/belzebong420/
https://belzebong.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/saveroslo/
https://saeverband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

Belzebong, Light the Dankness (2018)

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Dommengang, Ice Dragon, Saint Karloff, Witch Trail, Love Gang, Firebreather, Karkara, Circle of Sighs, Floral Fauna, Vvlva

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

We begin Day Two of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. Snow on the ground fell overnight and the day ahead looks as busy as ever. There’s barely time to stop for sips of coffee between records, but some allowances must be made. It’s Tuesday after all. There’s still a lot of week left. And if we can’t be kind to ourselves in the post-holiday comedown of wintry gray, when can we?

So yes, pause, sip — glug, more likely — then proceed.

I don’t usually play favorites with these things, but I think today’s might have worked out to be my favorite batch of the bunch. As always, I hope you find something that speaks to you.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Dommengang, No Keys

dommengang no keys

Driving heavy psych and rock meet with spacious Americana and a suburbanite dreaminess in Dommengang‘s No Keys, the now-L.A. trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Love Jail (review here). It is a melting pot of sound, with emphasis on melting, but vocal harmonies and consistently righteous basslines like that in “Stir the Sea” act to tie the nine component tracks together, making Dommengang‘s various washes of tone ultimately the creation of a welcoming space. Early cut “Earth Blues” follows opener “Sunny Day Flooding” with a mindful far-outbound resonance, and the later “Arcularius – Burke” finds itself in a linear building pattern ahead of “Jerusalem Cricket,” which reimagines ’70s country rock as something less about nostalgia than forward possibility. Having come far on their apparently keyboard-less journey, from the breadth-casting verses of “Stir the Sea” to the doomy interlude “Blues Rot,” they end with “Happy Death (Her Blues II)” which sure as hell sounds like it has some organ on it. Either way, whether they live up to the standard of the title or not is secondary to the album’s actual achievements, which are significant, and distinguish Dommengang from would-be peers in atmosphere, craft and melody.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Ice Dragon, Passage of Mind

ice dragon passage of mind

Though they don’t do it nearly as often as they did between 2012 and 2015, every now and then Boston’s Ice Dragon manage to sneak out a new release. Over the last few years, that’s been a succession of singles, but Passage of Mind is their first LP since 2015’s A Beacon on the Barrow (review here), and though they’ll always in some part be thought of as a doom band, the unassuming organic psychedelia of “Don’t Know Much but the Road” reminds more of Chris Goss‘ work with Masters of Reality in its acoustic/fuzz blend and melody. The experimentalism-prone outfit have been down this avenue before as well, and it suits them, even as members have moved on to other projects (Brass Hearse among them), with the seven-minute “One of These Days” basing itself around willfully simplistic-sounding intertwining lines of higher and lower fuzz. There are moments of serenity, like closer “Dream About You” and “Sun in My Eyes,” but “The Sound the Rain Makes” is more of a blowout, and even the darker vibe of “Delirium’s Tears” holds hits melody as top priority. Hey guess what? Here’s an Ice Dragon album that deserves more attention than it’s gotten. I think it’s the 12th one.

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff, Interstellar Voodoo

Saint Karloff Interstellar Voodoo

Oslo’s Saint Karloff squash the high standard they set for themselves on their 2018 debut, All Heed the Black God (review here), with the 41-minute single-song long-player Interstellar Voodoo, basking in bluesy Sabbathian grandeur and keeping a spirit of progressive adventuring beneath without giving over entirely to self-indulgent impulses any more than one could as they careen from one movement to the next in the multi-stage work. With vinyl through Majestic Mountain Records, tape on Stoner Witch Records and CD through Ozium Records, they’re nothing if not well represented, and rightly so, as they veer in and out of psychedelic terrain in exciting and periodically elephantine fashion, still making room for classic Scandi-folk boogie on side A before the second half of the track stomps all over everything that’s come before it en route to its own organ-laced jammy meandering, Iommi shuffle and circa-’74 howl. As a new generation of doom rock begins to take shape, Saint Karloff position themselves well as earlier pursuers of an individualist spirit while still drawing of course on classic sources of inspiration. The first record was encouraging. The second is more so. The third will be the real tell of who they are as a band.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records webstore

 

Witch Trail, The Sun Has Left the Hill

witch trail the sun has left the hill

The jangling guitar strum in centerpiece “Lucid” on Witch Trail‘s The Sun Has Left the Hill (Consouling Sounds) has the indelible mark of classic rock and roll freedom to it. One wonders if Pete Townshend would recognize it, or if it’s too far blasted into oblivion by the Belgian trio’s aesthetic treatment across The Sun Has Left the Hill‘s convention-challenging 29-minute span, comprising seven tracks that bring together a heavy alternative rock and post-black metal vision marked by spacious echoes and cavern screams that are likewise tortured and self-assured. That is to say, there’s no mistaking the intent here. In the early intensity of “Watcher” or the shimmering and more patiently unfolding “Silent Running,” the Ghent three-piece mark out their stylistic terrain between bursts of noisy chaotic wash and clearheaded execution. The six-minute “Afloat” hisses like a lost demo that would’ve rewritten genre history some 25 years ago, and even in closer “Residue,” one can’t help but feel like Witch Trail are indeed looking to leave some lasting effect behind them with such forward-thinking craft. Sure to be a shock for those who take it on with no idea of what to expect.

Witch Trail on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game

love gang dead mans game

Shortly before Love Gang are halfway through the opening title-track of their debut album, Dead Man’s Game, just when you think you might have their blend of organ-laced Radio Moscow and Motörhead figured out, that’s when Leo Muñoz breaks out the flute and the whole thing takes a turn for the unexpected. Surprises abound from the Denver foursome of Muñoz (who also handles organ and sax), guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentworth, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, who find room for psychedelic airiness amidst the gallop of “Addiction,” which doesn’t seem coincidentally paired with “Break Free,” though the two don’t run together. Love Gang‘s 2016 self-titled EP (review here) had a cleaner production and less aggro throb, and there’s some of that on Dead Man’s Game in the peaceful melody of “Interlude,” but even seven-minute closer “Endless Road” makes a point of finishing at a rush, and that’s ultimately what defines the album. No complaints. Love Gang wield momentum as another element of inventive arrangement on this encouraging first long-player.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

 

Firebreather, Under a Blood Moon

firebreather under a blood moon

‘Tis the stuff of battle axes and severed limbs, but it’s worth noting that three of the six inclusions on Firebreather‘s second LP and first for RidingEasy Records, Under a Blood Moon, have some reference to fire in their title. The follow-up to their brazen 2017 self-titled debut (review here) starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the nine-minute “Dancing Flames,” then follows immediately with “Our Souls, They Burn” and launches side B with the eponymous “Firebreather,” as the Gothenburg trio of Mattias Nööjd, Kyle Pitcher and Axel Wittbeck launch their riffy, destructive assault with urgency that earns all that scarred land left in its wake. The High on Fire comparison remains inevitable, perhaps most of all on “Firebreather” itself, but Firebreather have grown thicker in tone, meaner in approach and do nothing to shy away from the largesse that such a sound might let them convey, as “Our Souls, They Burn” and in the volume surges of closer “The Siren.” Under a Blood Moon is a definite forward step from the first LP, showing an evolving sound and burgeoning individuality that one hopes Firebreather continue to hunt down with such vigilance.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

Karkara, Crystal Gazer

karkara crystal gazer

Presented through Stolen Body Records, the debut long-player from French trio Karkara purports to be “Oriental psych rock,” which accounts for an Eastern influence in the overall sound of its seven-track/41-minute run, but there are perhaps some geographical questions to be undertaken there, as “Camel Rider” and others show a distinctive Mideastern flair. Whatever works, I guess. At its core, Crystal Gazer is a work of psychedelic space rock, brought to bear with a duly open sensibility by guitarist/vocalist Karim Rihani (also didgeridoo), bassist Hugo Olive and drummer/vocalist Maxime Marouani as seemingly the beginning stages of a broader sonic adventure. That is to say, the stylistic aspects at play here — and they are very much “at play” — feel purposefully used, but like the foundation of what will be future growth on the part of Karkara as a unit. Will they progress along a more patient and meditative path, as “The Way” hints in some of its early roll, or will the frenetic winding of closer “Jedid” set their course for subsequent freakouts? I don’t know, but Karkara strike as a band who won’t see any point to standing still creatively any more than they do to doing so rhythmically.

Karkara on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

Circle of Sighs, Desolate

circle of sighs desolate

Information is limited on Circle of Sighs, and by that I primarily mean I don’t have any. They list their point of origin as Los Angeles, so there’s that, but as to the whos and whats, wheres and so on, it’s a mystery. Something tells me that suits the band, whose four-track debut EP, Desolate, gracefully executes a blend of melodic downerism with more extreme elements at play, melodic vocal arrangements offset by screams in the closing title-track after the prior rolling groove of “Burden of the Flesh” offered a progressive and synth-laden take on Pallbearer-style emotive doom. Acoustics, keyboard, and a clear use of multiple singers give Circle of Sighs‘ first outing a kitchen-sink feel, but one can only admire them for trying something new at their (presumed) outset, and the catchy chug of “Hold Me, Lucifer” speaks to more complex aesthetic origins than the simplistic subject matter might lead one to believe. The outlier is the penultimate nine-minute cut “Kukeri,” which broods across its first three minutes in a manner that would make Patrick Walker proud before unfolding the breadth of its lumber and arrangement, harmonies and screams and the first real showcase of more extreme impulses taking hold in its second half — plus strings, maybe — which “Desolate” itself will build upon after a bookending acoustic close. There’s some sorting out to do in terms of sound, but already they show a readiness to push in their own direction, and that’s more than it would seem reasonable to ask.

Circle of Sighs on Thee Facebooks

Circle of Sighs on Bandcamp

 

Floral Fauna, Pink and Blue

floral fauna pink and blue

Way out west, Chris Allison of the band Lord Loud is taking on psychedelic shimmer under the ostensible solo moniker of Floral Fauna, but the situation of the project’s 11-tracker debut LP, Pink and Blue is more complicated in personnel and style than that, melding fuzzy presence, classic ’60s surf-tone, rampant hooky melody and ready-to-go-anywhere-as-long-as-it-works pop experimentalism together in a steaming lysergic cauldron of neo-yourface-ism that’s ether blissed enough to tie funk and ancient R&B to cosmic flow together in a manner that feels like an utter tossoff, like, hey, yeah man, this kind of thing just happens all the time here. You know, no big deal on this wavelength. Mellow dreams in “Great White Silence,” a spacey ramble in “Velvet and Jade” and the echoing leadwork of “Red Anxiety” continue the color theme from the opening title-track, and the record caps with “Herds of Jellyfish,” which at last brings forward the vocal harmony that the whole album seems to have been begging for. Cool debut? Shit, man. It’s 36 minutes of straight-up psych joy just waiting to bring you on board. Legal psilocybin now.

Floral Fauna on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Vvlva, Silhouettes

vvlva silhouettes

There are a couple things you can figure on in this wacky universe, and one of them is that German imprint World in Sound knows what it’s doing when it picks up a classic heavy rock band. Silhouettes is the second long-player the label has released from woefully-monikered Aschaffenburg-based four-piece Vvlva, and indeed in the upfront boogie of “Cosmic Pilgrim” or the more progressive unfolding of pieces like “Tales Told by a Gray Man,” the centerpiece “Gomorrah,” or the longer “Night by Night/The Choir” and “Dance of the Heathens,” which seem to bring the two sides together, there’s enough vintage influence to make the case once again. Like the more forward thinking of their contemporaries, Vvlva have brought this modus into the present when it comes to production value and clarity, and rather than sound like it’s 1973, they would seem to be making 1973 sound like them. Whether one dives in for the early hooks in “Cosmic Pilgrim” or “What Do I Stand For?” or the fuzzy interplay between the solo and organ in the maddeningly bouncing “Hobos,” there’s plenty in Silhouettes to demonstrate the vitality and continued evolution of the style.

Vvlva on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

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Høstsabbat 2020: Causa Sui Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So it turns out that life’s awesome. My proof, you ask? Well, Causa Sui are going to play Høstsabbat 2020. I’ve been invited for what will be my fourth trip to Oslo for the festival held at Kulturkirken Jakob and you bet your ass I’m going. After seeing Colour Haze and Ufomammut there this year and Elephant Tree, pre-album-release SÂVER and Slomatics, Conan and Siena Root in years past, I had my suspicions that maybe things weren’t as horrendously awful as I’ve always made them out to be, but I feel like the fact that I’m finally going to see Causa Sui play live confirms it. They’ve been a bucket-list band for me for years, and unless a piano falls on my head between now and then, it’s finally going to happen. I cannot wait.

They join recent-additions Novarupta as well as Mars Red Sky, Gösta Berlings Saga, Obliteration and Superlynx in the still-building lineup. Frankly, if it was just Causa Sui and Mars Red Sky, it’d still be worth the flight to Norway, but like the anticipatory days between now and next October, it’s just all the more to sweeten the deal. Get stoked. Get tickets. See you there.

Can’t wait:

Høstsabbat 2020 causa sui

Høstsabbat 2020 – CAUSA SUI (DK)

One more before the holidays!

Causa Sui has been on the Høstsabbat wishlist for quite some time now, and yes, it finally worked out.

The experience of Causa Sui stands in huge contrast to what we’re currently dealing with here in Oslo. Rain, fog and altogether shitty weather. Put on one of the 12 records released since 2005 by these Danish instrumental psych/kraut rock legends, and they will teleport you to a hot summer day, with a salty breeze following the waves rolling across the beach.

Causa Sui blends kraut, psych, boogie and classic-style riffs with a somewhat quintessential sound of what stoner rock used to be back in the desert generator daze. It’s hard to grasp that they’ve never been to Norway before, given that Causa Sui has taken part in pretty much every underground festival there is across Europe. Well, now they’re coming to Høstsabbat.

It’s with great pleasure we’re able to announce one of the most requested bands of our crowd.

From all of us to all of you, welcome Causa Sui.

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Høstsabbat 2020: Novarupta Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Gonna be crowded up on that Chapel stage with a 12-piece band at Kulturkirken Jakob, but the addition of Novarupta to Oslo’s Høstsabbat Festival is awesome news all the way around. It’s the second lineup unveiling from the Norwegian festival, set for next October, which already brought out Mars Red Sky, Gösta Berlings Saga, Obliteration and Superlynx in its first go. You can read a bit about who and what Novarupta is, but it’s way more of a project than a band. The 2019 debut album, Disillusioned Fire, on Suicide Records, is ambitious enough to round up seven different vocalists to take part, and the live incarnation of the band would seem to match that outright. No wonder there’s only been one show to-date where they’ve done it.

I won’t claim to know what Novarupta‘s up to between now and then, but if there’s nothing else, I guess Høstsabbat 2020 will be the second gig. Pretty awesome.

Check it out:

hostsabbat 2020 novarupta

Our next band announcement is much more than a band.

Novarupta is the highly ambitious project of Alex Stjernfeldt (Let Them Hang, ex-The Moth Gatherer), where his mission was, and still is, to cleanse his soul and mind with post metal soundscapes, crushing riffs and oppressive heft, while gathering an elite of Swedish vocalist, each one of them performing on their own song. How the hell is this even manageable?

The crown of the cake for Høstsabbat, is that we have this non-live band performing the whole thing, with all vocalists present. This happened once, at HUS 7 in Stockholm, and lucky for us, Alex is bringing the whole circus to Oslo next October.

Guest vocalists star from Tomas Liljedahl (Breach, The Old Wind), Martin Wegeland (Domkraft), Jonas A. Holmberg (This Gift is a Curse), Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquility), Jørgen Sandstrøm (ex-Entombed, ex-Grave) and the list goes on.

The album “Disillusioned Fire” have made some serious waves in the post-rock/metal community as one of the absolute highlights of 2019, and the future for Novarupta looks more than bright.

It’s with humble gratitude we are able to welcome this 12-piece (!!) to the Chapel stage at Høstsabbat 2020.

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http://hostsabbat.no/

Novarupta, Disillusioned Fire (2019)

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Høstsabbat 2020 Makes First Lineup Announcement: Mars Red Sky, Gösta Berlings Saga, Obliteration and Superlynx Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It’s been a little over the month since the end of Høstsabbat 2019 (review here), and it is with the overwhelming positivity of that experience still ringing in my ears that I’m happy to dig into the first lineup announcement for the 2020 edition of the Oslo-based festival. I don’t know if I’ll get to go next year — I never know these things, until I do, which is usually later on — but it’s always encouraging to see awesome events run by passionate people doing cool things, and that most definitely applies here.

Of particular note is the re-addition of Superlynx to the bill after they couldn’t make it this year last minute owing to a death in the family. That was a bummer that threatened to cast a pall over the weekend, but the fact that they’ll come back in 2020 is of course welcome news. Likewise the confirmation of Bordeaux, France, trio Mars Red Sky, who’ll make their first appearance at Høstsabbat playing at the Kulturkirken Jakob, which could hardly be more suited an environment for their soaring melodies and weighted tones.

Joining those two are Obliteration and Stockholm bizarro instrumentalists Gösta Berlings Saga, and tickets are on sale as of today. Fest is Oct. 2 and 3, as you can see below:

hostsabbat 2020 first announcement

Høstsabbat 2020: OCT. 2-3

It is time! Høstsabbat is proud and eager to present the first bands for Høstsabbat 2020, spanning over a whole deal of what our festival stands for. After two sold out years, it’s a marvelous feeling to acknowledge the support from our crowd on so many levels. We hope all of you find these four bands as exciting as we do.

From the stoned and spacey, otherworldly dynamics of Mars Red Sky, to the cold, aggressive evilness of Obliteration.

From the soothing, meditative doom of Superlynx, to the experimenting, electric weirdo-jams of Gösta Berlings Saga.

We feel these four acts represents a vision of what Høstsabbat is trying to put out there. A collective sense of underground acts, juggling between the different aspects of heavy, located in our very own church of doom, in the centre of our vivid city that is Oslo. Even if fall just turned into winter, we can easily skip spring and summer to take part in what will be Høstsabbat 2020.

Høstsabbat 2020 will once again go down at our favourite venue, Kulturkirken JAKOB, October 2nd and 3rd. A stunning church in the heart of Oslo, with an atmosphere unrivaled.

After the sold out Høstsabbat festivals in 2018 and 2019 we’re ready for more. Over two days you will experience slow and crushing doom, heavy bluesrock, stoner, proto-heavy metal, psychedelic spacerock and prog over three stages.

Høstsabbat will showcase the best of the current underground scene of heavy music, bringing new talent as well as established names.

Summon the spirits, gather the souls…

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http://hostsabbat.no/

Mars Red Sky, “The Proving Grounds” official video

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