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…

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

Mars Red Sky, “The Proving Grounds” official video

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Orsak:Oslo Announce German Tour Dates for December

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I don’t want to be Mr. Tellingtalesoutofschool, but I saw Orsak:Oslo briefly last month, I’ll happily unveil two factoids about the experience. First, they were awesome. I had to run back across the street and take pictures of the next band going on at Høstsabbat (review here), but I was sad to leave the bar they were playing as part of the fest’s local stage. Very cool stuff. Immediate vibe. Second factoid? There were four of them. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the band — I want to and am in the process of learning more — but I recall it specifically because they were crammed onto a tiny stage and they barely fit. It was all the more a testament to their asskickery that they still locked in such a righteous vibe.

So yeah, I don’t know what the deal is lineup-wise, but if you happen to be in Germany next month, that’s where they’ll be, and posting about them again is an excuse for me to put up the stream of their 2019 for self-titled for anyone else who might just be getting caught up.

Here you go:

orsak oslo

Scandipsych Trio ORSAK:OSLO To Tour Germany in December!

Orsak:Oslo is a dark slow brew containing of psych, dystopian post-rock and trippy space blues. With their monolithic and melancholic instrumental pieces, this is music for the active listener.

After playing November 8th in Oslo @ Vaterland, the humble Scandipsych three piece finally heads over to Germany for the following live jams:

05.12. Hamburg @ MS Stubnitz
06.12. Naumburg @ The Black House
07.12. Bielefeld @ Cutie

A trio playing just 3 dates. This is cosmic!

Orsak:Oslo is a dark slow brew containing of psych, dystopian post-rock and trippy space blues. With their monolithic and melancholic instrumental pieces, this is music for the active listener.

Orsak:Oslo is a marriage between impulsive improv and thoughtful composition, later melodies and new harmonies are carefully woven in, layer by layer. With a reverence and underlying devotion to the aura and musical preconditions laid down from the start, the result is raw, unpolished and true.

Orsak:Oslo was founded by Christian from Gothenburg, Sweden and Øyvind from Olso, Norway. On the 1st of July 2014 they released their first EP Torggata Sway, named after the street where they had shared the flat. Soon after, they got a hold on Bjarne (keys then, now guitar). The final piece fit in 2016, when Peter joined on bass.

Now, less than 5 years after Torggata Sway, Orsak:Oslo has released 9 digital EPs. 6 of these tracks have been now compiled by German label Kapitän Platte as a sort of a best of – compilation.

www.orsakoslo.com
www.facebook.com/orsakoslo
https://orsakoslo.bandcamp.com
http://kapitaen-platte.de
https://kapitaenplatte.bandcamp.com/

Orsak:Oslo, Orsak:Oslo (2019)

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Live Review: HØSTSABBAT 2019 Night Two in Oslo, Norway, 10.05.19

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2019 poster square

Before the Show

Festival mode. One day bleeds into the next, sometimes into the one after. You lose time to the timetable. Basic needs become a big deal. Water. Coffee. Advil. Comfy socks. Earplugs in the top pocket of your jeans so you can be quick on the draw in a sudden burst of volume. All this shit really starts to matter.

Which I guess is my way of saying I’m tense about the day soon to unfold, as well as exhausted from last night. I expect these two energies to cancel each other out and leave a remainder of self-loathing-fueled social awkwardness, which is the standard I generally set for myself.

There was an art talk in the crypt a bit ago, followed upstairs by a live-painting session by Linda K. Røed and Trine Grimm, set to a drone session by Highrule. Not something you see every day, so I wanted to be sure to see it.

And they were painting, and droning, respectively, and I decided that while they were creating, I’d go up the balcony and do a bit of writing, so that’s where I am. Here’s the view:

Live painting at Høstsabbat

It is a significant view, but it’s worth reemphasizing that this fest is about more than just the place. Last year it found its home in the Kulturkirken Jakob, and with that task behind it, it’s begun to explore further its own personality and the varying shapes it can take. The lineup for today, already under way, sort of, speaks to that, as does the growing visual side. I’d only expect the progression to continue.

First band on in half an hour downstairs. Easily time for another coffee beforehand.

After the Show

Definitely not the same sort of brain-surge as was the ending of last night, with Ufomammut reconfirming their galaxial supremacy, but more like a spiritual cleansing, like if you could actually catch your breath in one breath. That would be Colour Haze closing out Kulturkirken Jakob for the second and final night of Høstsabbat 2019.

By then, I and everyone else in attendance had been through a ringer of ups, downs and side-to-sides of style, eight bands between the two Kulturkirken stages, five more across the street at Verkstedet, and I know I didn’t see two bands play the same kind of sound today. Even the sludge bands were different enough to be called different. It was a little staggering.

But, if there’s ever a time for a blowout, it’s the last day of the fest, and Høstsabbat made the most of the opportunity confronting it. I’m sad to say that as I’ll be traveling tomorrow morning, the inevitabilities of returning to real life — much as I have one — were burrowing into my head by about the time the third band went on, but I knuckled down and let myself enjoy being here while I’m here. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be here?

Good. Because that’s really the lesson of the weekend. Stupid lucky.

I seem to recall the day going something like this:

Dunbarrow

Dunbarrow (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rest assured, it was just last year that Norwegian classic doomers Dunbarrow released their second album, II (review here) on RidingEasy. It only sounds like it was 45 years ago. Opening up the crypt stage, Dunbarrow delivered their set with an energy that reminded me of catching Brutus headlining in the same space last year, Dunbarrow‘s style is even more heavy ’70s in its focus. They represented their recorded work well in that way — it wasn’t like they got on stage and came across completely different, like their vintage aesthetic is all studio tricks or something like that. There’s a lot of First Daze Here-era Pentagram at play, as there inevitably would be, and they take cues from the same cues Witchcraft took therefrom, but part of the charm of seeing them was watching them bring that spirit to life, and they absolutely did that. It’s a sound that’s not based on being the loudest or the heaviest all the time, and it can be tricky for bands to pull it off and still convey some sense of vitality. Wasn’t a problem for Dunbarrow.

Hexvessel

Hexvessel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I know it’s trash-cliche, because experience is subjective and all that happy crap, but Hexvessel have the ability to move a room like few bands I’ve seen. As fate and silly-life would have it, this was my second time seeing them since the release of their back-to-ground forest folk fourth LP, All Tree (review here), behind a set this Spring at Roadburn (review here), and it’s proven true again that they’re absolutely transportive. The vocal harmonies, the rich arrangement elements, and now — thanks in no small part to the aesthetic sprawl of their third album, 2016’s When We are Death (review here) — the diversity of their atmospheres all come together to form a cohesive purpose. It’s a conversation and a going. Does it require some buy-in? For sure. What doesn’t? That’s where the sheer songwriting comes in, because no matter where Hexvessel might take you in a given track, record, set, etc., their method has an ultra-consistent level of craft behind it. Every melody is in its place, every swell and sway have their function toward the larger intent moving you. And so you end up in a different place than you were when they started. Every time.

Papir

Papir (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s a pretty good sign your lineup is absolutely bonkers when you’ve got bands like Hexvessel and Papir playing on the relatively early end of the day. I was way stoked, in the parlance of our times, to catch Papir‘s ultra-fluid instrumental jamming. They were one of the band I was most excited to see this weekend, there was zero disappointment once they got going. I was a little surprised at how mellow they weren’t. All things are relative — especially when Belzebong are shortly to hit stage upstairs and Slabdragger are next in the basement — but still, while of course they had their calm moments and the overarching vibe was serene, the Copenhagen trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen bassist Christian Becher and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann showed even more character in their material than I had thought was coming. The crypt stage was packed out early for them — I got there 20 minutes before they went on and still had a dude trying to push out of the way for a spot — but frankly, I couldn’t even argue with the impulse. What Papir were doing, loud or quiet at any given moment but universally hypnotic, was nothing if not an invitation.

Belzebong

Belzebong (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Kind of on the other end of a similar instrumentalist heavy spectrum were Belzebong, whose crusty, ultra-gree-heen take on stoner metal and sludge was like taking the notion of “riff-based” to what most would no doubt consider an illogical extreme. Some bands are a lifestyle, and Belzebong were a reminder of that. I don’t know how they’re received in their native Poland, but Høstsabbat certainly bid them welcome to the altar stage, and was more than willing to follow the bouncing skulls as the band headbanged in unison to each successive, massive riff. As with their recorded output — their third full-length, Light the Dankness (review here), came out last year — their live show is bent decidedly in favor of the primitive. It is stoned, and fuck you. I’ll grant that that, in itself, is an atmosphere, and Belzebong were well comfortable within it, but the whole idea was driving riffs into the brains of the willing and the converted because everyone else is probably a cop anyway. They were loud, they were huge-sounding, and they were everything you could possibly ask Belzebong to be on a Saturday night in Oslo. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that also includes being high. If not, it’s doubly impressive.

Orsak:Oslo

Orsak Oslo (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I didn’t get to catch more than a few minutes of their set, because I was en route from one thing to the other, but I wanted to give quick mention to anyone paying attention to Orsak:Oslo, whose dreamy-space-vibe-rock I consider my “find” of the entire festival. Again, I didn’t see a lot of it, but what I saw was excellent and made me wish I could see more. They put out a record earlier this year on Germany’s Kapitaen Platte. If I could’ve figured out how to work VIPPS without a Norwegian ID number, I’d have bought the CD from the merch area. As it was, they were well worth the momentary detour across the street.

Slabdragger

Slabdragger (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Uh, progressive? But like the progressive that might kick you? I did have to look it up, but it’s been three years since London trio Slabdragger — which includes Old Man Lizard guitarist/vocalist Jack Newnham on drums — put out their second record, Rise of the Dawncrusher (review here), and one would think that might be long enough for them to get another release together, but seeing them in the crypt for Høstsabbat, I had no trouble believing it might be longer. They were half a decade between their first and second records, and with the complexity of what they were playing, it makes sense. Extended tracks, some parts rocking, other parts outright punishing, Slabdragger brought together a thoughtful mindset with tectonic intensity in a way that was undeniably their own. You might call them sludge on some level, if only because they’re so heavy — and they are, whatever else is going on at the time — but that barely scratches the surface. Bonus points to guitarist Sam Thredder, who asked to have the lights turned up after the first song so he could see what he was playing. “I swear that’s why that song only had one note,” he told the crowd as he prepared to share vocal duties again with bassist Yusuf Tary for another round of pummeling.

The Devil and the Almighty Blues

The Devil and the Almighty Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Devil and the Almighty Blues, feeding off a hometown crowd’s energy, vocalist Arnt O. Andersen, guitarists Petter Svee and Torgeir Waldemar Engen, bassist Kim Skaug and drummer Kenneth Simonsen came out to the country-blues strains of “O Death” — as they’re wont to do — and proceeded to immediately earn the heroes’ welcome they were given by the crowd by building the ultra-catchy “Salt the Earth” from earlier-2019’s Tre (review here) from the ground up, Anderson, in robe, in utter command of the proceedings in true and classic frontman fashion, even when his arms were crossed and he stood at the back of the stage drinking a beer and nodding in approval. The band on either side of him — and behind, in the case of Simonsen — were both vibrant and tight, clearly playing up to the occasion at Kulturkirken Jakob in front of fans as well as what seemed to be friends and family. Their moody, possibly drunken sense of danger was readily on display, but they shone on a big stage in a way that underscored their touring and fest experience, and while I had to wonder what it would take to get them over to the US for a show, and if the American crowd would get it in the same way, I couldn’t help but think they’re a band my home country is missing out on by not having the chance to see live. They took what was obviously a special show for them and made it one for everyone else too.

LLNN

LLNN (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how heavy heavy actually gets. Fortunately, for those momentary lapses, along comes a band like LLNN to absolutely slam your skull into a wall. I had only barely checked out the Copenhagen outfit’s 2018 full-length, Deads, for a few seconds before deciding they were the something I wanted to experience live, and for two days of heaviness in that basement, there might indeed have been nowhere to go after them. Superlatively heavy, extreme post-metal, with atmospherics to push the air out of your lungs and tone to make sure it stays gone. Brutal, chaotic, whatever else. It was all of that churn and physical force behind the music, as well as being less about a cathartic expression — as was, say, SUMA, who opened the crypt yesterday — than a reveling in disaffection and alienation. So much weight brought to bear, and not all of it coldly or unemotionally. Their performance was no less ferocious than their sound, with the lights low and the strobe going and everything set to convey a sense of being overwhelmed, which was a standard they met easily. Not the kind of thing you’d put on for a dinner party — unless your dinner parties are awesome — but probably the kind of thing that should be played in art galleries as well as church basements. Pelagic released that album, so clearly I have some digging back to do in further investigation. Maybe a bit of recovery first though.

Colour Haze

Colour Haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There was some technical difficulty at the outset — one of drummer Manfred Merwald‘s stage monitors didn’t seem to be putting out anything for a while there — but while that delayed their start a couple minutes, once Colour Haze got going for their headlining set at the second night of Høstsabbat, and whatever came before, the feeling of peace was palpable. It radiated from all corners of the stage, even from Merwald, who make no mistake is a madman behind the kit. That’s something that has become all the more visible since he’s turned the drums sideways to allow room for organist/synthesist Jan Faszbender on the stage; Faszbender being the fourth member who’s worked with the band for years on arrangements, recording, etc., but only really started to play shows with them for the last couple years, joining the trio of Merwald, bassist Philipp Rasthofer — he of the classiest bass tone I’ve ever heard — and guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, whose hippie spirit on stage does nothing to undercut the precision and concentration behind his playing. They’ve been celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band since the Spring, and have more tour dates lined up this year, but I was lucky enough to see them in this configuration in London in May 2018 (review here), and they’ve only gotten more fluid as a four-piece, adding nuance in between-song transitions and Faszbender‘s contributions to older material. They opened with “She Said” from the 2012 album of the same name (review here) and they jammed and jammed and jammed, with some new material thrown in for good measure. The record is called Life, and it’s slated for CD/DL release in November, so here’s hoping. In the meantime, “Aquamaria” and “Transformation” were glorious, and the warmth that Colour Haze exuded from the stage was such that not even the October night in Oslo could stand up to it. Seriously, I took off my hoodie. They’re not a band I’ll ever pretend to be remotely objective about, but what they do is singularly beautiful. Another 25 years would be just fine, thank you very much. And then some.

The Next Morning

Hi from Oslo International. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what the hell value Høstsabbat sees in inviting me to this festival, but holy crap it’s appreciated. The hospitality I’ve been shown this year and last year (and two years before that, as well) is sincerely humbling, and while I’m happy to come here and write as long as they’ll have me, I can’t say it makes any sense why they’d want me here.

As such, I’m not going to say anything about “next year.” Because, you know what, maybe Høstsabbat will do what’s well within their rights and tell me to get lost (which I did walking from the train station to the hotel on Thursday, same as last year). I feel like it would be reasonable.

So instead of talking about Høstsabbat 2020, which I’m sure will be excellent whether or not I’m here to see it, I’m going to take 2019 and breathe it in for a minute and appreciate what I’ve just spent the last two days doing for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it was. How many chances am I going to have to see a band like Orsak:Oslo play in a tiny bar? Or Ufomammut and Colour Haze in a cathedral setting? Whatever does or doesn’t happen in the future, I was lucky to be here.

Special thanks to Ole and Jens, as always, and thanks to Stefan Koglek, The Patient Mrs. and most of all to you for reading.

Now, if you need me, I gotta go get on a plane. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Live Review: HØSTSABBAT 2019 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 10.04.19

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2019 poster square

Before Show

Well, the church is still beautiful, not that there was any doubt. The Kulturkirken Jakob, secularized — because in Norway, state might occasionally trump church — with its high-ceiling grandeur and broad wood floor and walls lined with benches that at some point were pews. I’d been holed up in the hotel since yesterday afternoon, mostly sleeping, stumbling through the last of the Quarterly Review and reading about baseball, the news, Star Trek, and so on. Trying to be, essentially, as quiet as possible as though if I weren’t, I’d be politely asked to leave the country. The next two days would assure any quota for volume was met, anyhow.

Skraeckoedlan, which is now a word I’ve typed often enough that my phone knows it, were soundchecking on the altar stage when I walked in. The stage itself was higher and the fest added another bar down toward the front of the big room, which seems like a prudent move. Downstairs in the crypt, Suma were prepping to kick off the first night of Høstsabbat 2019 with a noise soaked basement gig in what’s been also transformed into an art gallery. More visual art this year as well, and there’s a live painting event scheduled for tomorrow early that I’m going to see if I can make.

The only variable in that is finishing this review in time, to be honest.

But it’s only moments now until doors, then about an hour till the first band. People running around looking anxious, nervous, excited. Maybe it’s just me. That will I’m sure smooth out to a good energy as things get rolling and everyone ends up where they’re supposed to be. On the couch in back of the crypt, typing on my phone, that’s kind of where I feel like I am.

After Show

Wow. Well then. That was, uh, something special that I just saw. I feel like I was trying to pry open my jaw from the clenched position it’s been in for the last I don’t even know how long, and tonight was the prybar that finally did the job. Even the last 15 minutes or so of Ufomammut, that last shot of adrenaline. Wow.

The answer of course is obvious — the start — but I feel like I’m not even sure where to start on this one, or how I could hope to convey exactly what went down this evening and tonight in any meaningful way. Holy shit. You think you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting and then it just gets trampled on. I am lucky to be here.

I don’t know what else to tell you that doesn’t come down to that. Here’s a little bit of how it went:

SUMA

SUMA (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You know the thing about post-metal? It’s got rules. You have to headbang a certain way. You have to riff a certain way. You have to take it so seriously all the time. One of the many reasons to like Sweden’s SUMA is they very much seem to recognize that for the bullshit it is. Yeah, they’re post-metal, I guess, but with an inflection straight out of noise rock that makes them so much less strictly adherent to the tenets of the genre — any genre, really — and they’re all the more satisfying to watch because of it. I stood in back in the basement, closed my eyes and just let wave after crushing wave of riffs absolutely bury me in volume. What a start to the weekend. It was like scrubbing away all the bullshit of your existence, your work, your school, the petty dramas that make up your every day, and entering communion with something else. Something loud. Call it catharsis. Call it detox. I don’t really care. SUMA set the tone and vibe immediately for Høstsabbat while also giving everyone who followed the challenge of living up to their standard. I am lucky to be here.

Skraeckoedlan

Skraeckoedlan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

When Swedish melo-prog-fuzz four-piece Skraeckoedlan got added to this festival earlier this year, I didn’t dare hope to think I’d see them. They’re a band I’ve dug since the first time I heard their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here), and their approach has only grown richer with time, as 2015’s Sagor (review here) and 2019’s Eorþe (review here) demonstrate so plainly. But I never expected to catch a live set. Never mind the band standing on a frickin’ altar in a cathedral blazing through their material like it’s another day down at the Office of Kickass, I didn’t imagine a scenario when they and I would be in the same place. I’m glad to have been so wrong about that, because standing there watching them only confirmed the fandom I’ve had for their work over the course of this decade, and really, they’ve only gotten better as they’ve gone on. I may never get the chance to see them again, but after watching them tonight at Høstsabbat, I feel like asking to would be greedy anyhow. I am lucky to be here.

Yatra

Yatra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This is Yatra‘s first European tour. Something tells me it will not be their last. The Baltimorean trio hit the road hard domestically in the US following the January release of their debut album, Death Ritual (review here), through Grimoire Records, and they reportedly began recording the follow-up to that over the summer. Well, that’s nifty, but in the meantime, here they are pairing with Sunnata on a tour this site is co-presenting and for all the stops they’ve made in New York this year — I can think a couple — Høstsabbat 2019 is my first time seeing them. I feel late to that party, but I’m late to most parties, so I’ll get over it. Nonetheless, as I had suspected, they’re a killer live act, and at least the debut album only tells part of that tale. On stage — or in basement, as it were — they tap into a primal energy, like they’re excavating the very roots of sludge metal. Oh yeah, and Dana Helmuth‘s vocals sound like Jeff fucking Walker from peak-era Carcass, so that ain’t exactly hurting their cause either. Yatra have the potential to lead a revival nastier, more brutal sludge in the US. This tour is only going to make them stronger, as they all will. I am lucky to be here.

Electric Eye

Electric Eye (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hail the rock på Norska! Across the street (right out the door), at the Verkstedet bar, the entire bill was Norwegian, but Electric Eye would be the lone Norge representatives on the altar, and for what it’s worth — plenty — they brought a sonic spirit that reached far beyond international borders. Also beyond the borders of the atmosphere. I don’t know if it would be appropriate to call their take on space rock entirely mellow, but it was subtle in a way that allowed other influences to creep in almost before you realized they were there. It was a stark contrast, energy-wise, to the rawness Yatra had wrought downstairs, but Electric Eye made the most of their engaging style and gave Høstsabbat a cosmic push that was more than welcome. I had wanted to check out Kosmos Brenner, who last-minute took the spot of Superlynx after a death in the family assured they wouldn’t make it, but after I popped out for a second, I found myself strangely drawn back to the ethereal mysteries being pondered on the big stage. I’ll admit they’ve been around for more than six years and I’d never heard them before. Lesson learned. That lesson? I’m lucky to be here.

Stuck in Motion

Stuck in Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This past April, when I was fortunate enough to see Enköping, Sweden, trio Stuck in Motion at Roadburn (review here), they played as a four-piece, with keys in addition to the guitar, bass and drums. At Høstsabbat, they added percussion as well to their hippie-vibing jams, so there were five of them crammed into the basement stage area — it’s not a stage, as such, but it’s where the gear goes — but if they felt packed in, that did nothing to slow their good times. Retro-fied psychedelic blues, all pastoral and dreamy, but still earthbound enough to tear into a Hendrixian solo every now and again (and again), their stuff made for easy-to-listen vibes, and a soothing bit of respite from some of the day’s more crushing contributors — a complement to Electric Eye in that, but less motorik and more flow. Before they played “Are You Ready to Fly” from their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they indeed checked in with the crowd to see if the room was ready to fly, and I heard no murmurings to the contrary. That self-released LP has been a little under-radar as yet, but given how full the crypt was for their set, I can’t help but wonder what the reception for their next one will be when it arrives, hopefully sooner than later. I am lucky to be here.

Sunnata

sunnata (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was hard not to feel like the church was built specifically for Sunnata. The Polish meditative heavy psych ritualists came out with incense and harem pants (respect) and were clear in their concept from the outset, tapping into the spirit of acts like Om and My Sleeping Karma, while still retaining a harder edge to their sound beneath the harmonized vocals of guitarists Szymon Ewertowski and Adrian Gadomski. Special mention should be given as well to bassist Michal Dobrzanski and drummer Robert Ruszczyk, whose ability to build tension was readily apparent in the band’s latest album, Outlands (review here), which came out last year, but whose doing so on stage was nothing short of physically affecting. You felt the churn in your stomach, and when they hit into a payoff, the relief was genuine. Exhale. They’re on tour with Yatra, as noted, but I put Sunnata in the same category of bands I never imagined being able to see live but was absurdly to do so. One recalls their days rocking out fuzzy as Satellite Beaver, and the ongoing evolution they set to roll with the transition they made becoming Sunnata. Their spaciousness, looking inward and outward simultaneously, was an immersive joy to behold. Again, exhale. I am lucky to be here.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In the words of Bernie Sanders: “Look.” I stood in front of two of the three of this festival’s stages all day, and at no point was there a crowd press like there was for Yuri Gagarin. I got to the crypt 20 minutes before they were slated to go on and already people were packed in. Very clearly a band whose reputation was preceding them. It’s been four years since the Gothenburg cosmonauts issued their second long-player, At the Center of All Infinity, through Kommun2 and Sulatron, but their out-the-airlock-into-the-void vibes were quick to remind that time is a human construct and space rock is not. Reaching into the great cosmic throb, they launched with “Sonic Invasion 2910” from their 2013 self-titled and proceeded into oblivion — though I’m not sure it was actually “Oblivion”; that’s on the second record — with the sheer delight of not-entirely-peaceful exploration. About two songs into their set, before I stood up from taking pictures and rolled my numb-ass ankle, I had the thought that I’ll never be able to see Hawkwind in their prime, but now I’ve seen Yuri Gagarin as up close as I could ever hope to see any band. I think some of what they played was new, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, as noted: time, irrelevant. They ruled. I am lucky to be here.

Ufomammut

Ufomammut (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Holy fucking shit, Ufomammut. I’ve had the pleasure a few times over the years, but this was hands-down the best I’ve ever seen the Italian cosmic doom masters play. They began with a few renditions in the style of their recent XX (review here) offering of revamped older material in quieter form — “Satan,” “Mars,” etc. — but what they did with that was gradually use it to build into the heavier portion of the set, so that each successive piece pushed a little further. First it was Urlo and Poia on stage, the former on keys/noise/vocals, the latter on guitar, then Poia joined in for cymbal washes, then drums, then the guitars got louder, then the drums got harder, then the vocals got shoutier until it seemed like the crowd was going to fucking riot if someone didn’t launch into a riff. But 20 years on, Ufomammut know exactly how to put people where they want them, so when they did get heavy, it was glorious. All the more so for the tension they’d built leading up to it. With a projector going on the high church stage, they absolutely laid waste to the room, like a consuming sonic burst of interstellar force. It was impossible to stand there and not be swept up by it. I kept telling myself it was time to go back to the room and start writing, but I couldn’t leave. How many times in your life do you get to see shows like this? They ended, of course, with “God,” and there was nowhere to go after that anyway, so what the hell. It was amazing. Like the entirety of day one at Høstsabbat, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect going into Ufomammut‘s set, and my expectations were thoroughly squashed. I am lucky to be here.

The Next Morning

Achy, but up for it. Took me a while to let myself go to sleep, but I got there eventually, was only up a couple times overnight, which is pretty good for me at this point. Hotel breakfast downstairs had free coffee, so I indulged in two triple-doubles — three double espressos, times two — and feel reasonably conscious. Could stand and will have a shower and that will help as well.

Though it seems inevitable that at some point Høstsabbat will add a third day to the proceedings, be it a pre-show Thursday or a full day Sunday, whatever, the quality-over-quantity at this festival makes it all the more unreal. Every band has something to offer, and though this year with the third stage there are inevitably things you won’t get to see all of if you see at all, the sense of curation and purpose that’s gone into its making is nothing if not palpable. My conclusion remains that I’m lucky to be here.

Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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SÂVER Announce October European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Saver (Photo by Mikkel Fykse Engelschion)

You know, I get why they didn’t, because the band has a direct relation to the festival itself and that’s always awkward because it’s not like you want to book your own band twice in a row, but there’s a big part of me just the same that wishes SÂVER were playing Høstsabbat in their native Oslo again this year. And it’s a selfish part. I’d heard their debut album, They Came with Sunlight (review here), before I saw them there last October, but I feel like I know the record much better now, and so would the rest of the crowd. And now there’s the news that basically right after the fest, the three-piece are taking off on a tour that starts on a run with Høstsabbat headliners Ufomammut, so really, one way or another, it would make sense to find them once again on that festival bill. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll get brought over for Desertfest New York next September.

I count They Came with Sunlight pretty high on the list of the year’s best debuts so far, and there have been more than a couple of winners in that regard. If you haven’t heard it — and I know you have, but just roll with me — it’s down below in full, courtesy of Pelagic Records on Bandcamp. The band, also among the last confirmations at Desertfest Belgium, will play there as well as Into the Void in the Netherlands and alongside the soon-to-be-legendary SteakElephant Tree and Lo-Pan tour in Germany.

They posted the dates as follows:

SÂVER tour

We are touring Europe in October!

Stoked to join UFOMAMMUT, BONGRIPPER, Lo-Pan, Elephant Tree, Steak and more.

See you on the road!

Thanx to Hartwien Stein for the killer poster.

DATES:
08.10.19 – On the Rocks, Helsinki (FIN) – w/ Ufomammut
09.10.19 – Von Krahl, Tallin (EE) – w/ Ufomammut
10.10.19 – Melna Piektdiena, Riga (LV)- w/ Ufomammut
11.10.19 – Narauti, Vilnius (LN) – w/ Ufomammut
12.10.19 – Hydrozagadka, Warsaw (PL) – w/ Ufomammut
13.10.19 – Zet Pe Te, Krakow (PL) – w/ Ufomammut
15.10.19 – Peter-Weiss-Haus, Rostock (DE)
16.10.19 – Loppen, Copenhagen (DK) – w/ Bongripper
17.10.19 – Zollkantine, Bremen (DE) – w/ Lo-Pan, Elephant Tree, Steak
18.10.19 – TBC
19.10.19 – Neushoorn, Leeuwarden (NL) – Into The Void Fest
20.10.19 – Trix, Antwerp (BE) – Desertfest
24.10.19 – John Dee, Oslo (NO) – w/ Sibiir

SÂVER is:
Markus Støle
Ole Ulvik Rokseth
Ole C Helstad

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

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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Saint Karloff Announce New Album Interstellar Voodoo out Oct. 4

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

saint karloff

Oslo’s Saint Karloff are working at a good clip coming off their 2018 debut, All Heed the Black God (review here), in that it’s barely been a year since that release came out and already they’ve got a split and a new full-length due this Fall. The split is with Devil’s Witches and it’s out Sept. 6, and not quite a month later, on Oct. 4, they’ll issue their second long-player, Interstellar Voodoo. It’s set to be issued through Majestic Mountain RecordsOzium Reords and Stoner Witch Records, which is nice because, you know, the more the merrier when it comes to promotion.

These cats played Esbjerg Fuzztival earlier this Spring, and I’d expect much of their summertime has been spent coordinating making both these offerings come out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took to stages in early 2020, to at least get back out and promote late-2019’s wares.

Nothing on that yet, and no audio from Interstellar Voodoo, but here’s the album announcement from the PR wire:

saint karloff interstellar-voodoo

Rising Norwegian Occult Rockers Saint Karloff to unleash monolithic, one-track album, Interstellar Voodoo, this October on Majestic Mountain Records

Hot on the heels of a sold-out split from two of doom’s rising superpowers, the recently formed Swedish label, Majestic Mountain Records, is psyched to announce the release of Interstellar Voodoo; the brand-new studio album from Norwegian occult-rockers, Saint Karloff.

Having made their mark on the international heavy music scene in 2018 with the release of their debut album, All Heed the Black God, the band has continued to raise their game with new material that is far heavier, more psychedelic and complex than anything they’ve ever done before.

All Heed the Black God was inspired by 70s heavy blues bands like Black Sabbath and early Pentagram (official) and allowed the band to fuse this vintage sound with modern day stoner rock to create a sound indebted to world of today and the music of yesteryear.

With the impending release of Coven of the Ultra-Riff in September, a limited edition split with fellow riff worshippers, Devil’s Witches, Saint Karloff – featuring Mads Melvold (Guitar, Vocals), Ole Sletner (Bass) and Adam Suleiman (Drums) – are a mounting force to be reckoned with. And as you’ll hear from the progressive, one-track multiverse journey that spans the whole of Interstellar Voodoo, they’re unlikely to slow down for anyone, anytime soon.

“Interstellar Voodoo has been a labour of love, written and recorded to fill a void in our collective souls,” explains bassist, Ole Sletner. “To put this much devotion into something experimental is a bit scary, but luckily we have a label who believes in us. We are eternally gratefull to Marco Berg at Majestic Mountain Records for stepping up to the challenge of releasing our blood, sweat and tears on vinyl.

Interstellar Voodoo by Saint Karloff is released on 4th October through Majestic Mountain Records with pre-order beginning on 30th August.

Saint Karloff’s split with Devil’s Witches – Coven of the Ultra-Riff – is released on 6th September 2019.

Artist: Saint Karloff
Release: Interstellar Voodoo
Label: Majestic Mountain Records
Release Date: 04/10/2019
Format: Vinyl (Majestic Mountain Records), CD (Ozium Records), Tape (Stoner Witch Records)

facebook.com/SaintKarloff/
saintkarloff.bandcamp.com
instagram.com/saintkarloff
majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com
facebook.com/majesticmountainrecords/
instagram.com/majesticmountainrecords/
https://oziumrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/stonerwitchrecords/

Saint Karloff, All Heed the Black God (2018)

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R.I.P. Jokke Stenby of Brutus

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Norwegian heavy boogie rockers Brutus have announced the passing of frontman Joakim Segerfelt Stenby. Known as Jokke to the band and friends, Stenby suffered heart failure this past week and died in his sleep, a sudden loss that is all the more striking for the vitality he brought to his band’s stage presence. Brutus released three albums with Stenby as singer, a 2010 self-titled on Transubstans, and 2013’s Behind the Mountains and 2016’s Wandering Blind, both on Svart, toured and performed at festivals too numerous to name, among them Roadburn, Desertfest, Freak Valley, and so on.

I can’t claim to have known him personally, but on behalf of this site and myself, condolences to his family, friends and of course bandmates. I was fortunate enough to catch Brutus headlining the crypt stage at last year’s Høstsabbat in Oslo, and even never having seen them live before, it was obvious to me the weight of that occasion. They handled that room like the hometown heroes they were, a band long past basement shows playing a basement show. That entire room moved, and it was awesome. The personality Stenby — beer cup in hand, skillfully unspilled — brought to his performance and to the group as a whole was unmistakable in the spirit of a classic frontman. Their party would have been impossible to ignore, even if you’d wanted to do so. And you didn’t.

Of course, there is no word on what the future of Brutus is if there is one. When/if I hear something, I’ll post accordingly.

Rest in peace, Joakim Stenby.

The band’s announcement follows:

brutus jokke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s with a very heavy heart and tearful eyes we announce that our beloved brother, frontman, entertainer and the voice of Brutus, Jokke has left this world. Cursed with a heart failure, he went to sleep and never woke up again.

The news of his departure hit us like a bomb, and left us all heartbroken. The loss of a bandmate, brother and best friend is beyond words. Joakim was a beautiful person, with so much to share… music was his passion, being on stage singing, recording for hours and hours just to get it right, sitting in a van for days, or just sharing a beer and playing records with his friends!

All our thoughts and love goes to Jenny, Joakim’s wife and love in life, and his family in this time of despair and darkness.

We love you so much brother!! We hope you are in good place, rocking out with your kraut-heroes, and that we will see you again someday on the other side. You will never be forgotten!

R.I.P. brother

Kim
Christian
Johan
Knut-ole

Brutus, “Drowning” official video

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Viviankrist Signs to Ritual Productions; Cross Modulation LP out June 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

VIVIANKRIST (Photo by Mark Swaffield)

I don’t know what being ‘secretly developed’ by Ritual Productions entails. It sounds both physically uncomfortable and psychically awesome. Either way, that’s what Viviankrist — formerly known as Vivian Slaughter of Gallhammer — has apparently been through in order to sign to the label ahead of the release of Cross Modulation, a new full-length due out June 7 in collaboration with Diagonal Records. Viviankrist has a slew of releases streaming on Bandcamp of various stripes and lengths, so if you want to get lost in the experimentalist synthesized drear, there’s plenty of opportunity to do so, but should you not want to venture so far afield, the new track “Behind Mirror” can be heard right at the bottom of this post. Service with a smile.

The PR wire has the tale to tell:

viviankrist cross modulation

RITUAL PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCE NEW SIGNING VIVIANKRIST AND REVEALS COLLABORATION WITH DIAGONAL RECORDS

Ritual Productions have secretly been developing Diagonal Records’ latest signing Viviankrist. Eri Isaka Fuzz-Kristiansen is no stranger to Ritual Productions, having shared stages with Ramesses in her previous incarnation as Gallhammer’s Vivian Slaughter.

As Viviankrist, Eri has delved deep into her love for analog synths and improvised music, switching effortlessly between cinematic, hypnotic and affecting grooves.

Ritual Productions reveals: “We have witnessed Viviankrist’s birth, growth and progress; it has been a magickal journey where many wishes have become reality. We are collaborating with Diagonal Records for the release of Viviankrist’s ‘Cross Modulation’ – a first for both labels. Ritual Productions and Diagonal may operate in wildly different sonic realms but both praise artistic freedom, strive to provide artists with all necessary support, and fans with beautifully designed and packaged releases.”

Eri states: “Delivering my music to different audiences is exciting. I am really happy that ‘Cross Modulation’ is coming out via a collaboration between Ritual Productions and Diagonal Records. Both labels are extreme and are always pushing boundaries. They have a very strong character and powerful identity which I feel suits my distinctive sound.”

Cross Modulation sees release on June 7th.

VIVIANKRIST RITUALS
August 17th – Woodland Gathering, Ulverston (UK)

https://www.facebook.com/viviankrist1/
https://www.instagram.com/viviankrist1/
https://viviankrist.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

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