The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matteo Dossena of Year of Taurus & Sherpa

Posted in Questionnaire on March 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

year of taurus

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matteo Dossena of Year of Taurus & Sherpa - Quality drugs from reliable international manufacturers. Safe and efficient affordable drugs made by licensed manufacturers. Buy How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I think that I was destined for music, I’m used to write songs since I was six years old. Now I’m 31 and I’ve come a long way to reach that point. When I compose music I’m very strict with myself and I always try to reach the “pathos” in my compositions.

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My father and I in our old country house listening and dancing under “Loaded” by Primal Scream.

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Playing with Sherpa in Het Patronaat Venue at Roadburn Festival. It was amazing.

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Probably when, before the release, I was thinking that a project as Year of Taurus could be not well received here in Italy.

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I feel (and I hope) it leads to self-awareness, wisdom, calm, and a detached contemplation of the world and society. I use art as an attempt to balance the madness of the world and the child that lives inside me.

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Maybe just with happiness; my mission is to share sounds, words, feelings and moods. If all of that can be reached by people I will be happy and satisfied for what I’ve done.

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For sure La Casa dalle finestre che ridono an Italian ’70s horror movie by Pupi Avati.

A real nightmare.

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For the latest releases of Year of Taurus and Shigaraki (Franz Cardone, Sherpa’s bassplayer) we have created a little label called Astral Concrete; the intention is to create a movement of artists that we love and share music with handmade packagings… we believe that nowadays music is mostly reproduced via streaming services… so it’s important to give people pieces of art starting from CDs, LPs or tapes.

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Art must have the mission to describe something you can’t describe. Sometimes could be entertainment or something useful in everyday life, but I think that the most important things are feelings, art must talk to your soul.

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I’d like to improve my camera skills and to create small videos, edit and combine them with my future compositions.

Year of Taurus, Topsoils (2021)

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Quarterly Review: -(16)-, BoneHawk, DÖ, Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Chimney Creeps, Kingnomad, Shores of Null, The Device, Domo, Early Moods

Posted in Reviews on December 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan


I just decided how long this Quarterly Review is actually going to be. It’s seven days, then I’ll do my year-end list and the poll results on New Year’s Eve and Day, respectively. That’s the plan. Though honestly, I might pick up after that weekend and continue QR-style for that next week. There’s a lot more to cover, I think. The amount of releases this year has been pretty insane and completely overwhelming. I’ve tried to keep up as best I can and clearly have failed in that regard or I probably wouldn’t be so swamped now. So it goes. One way or the other, I don’t think a lot of emails are getting answered for the next two weeks, though I’ll try to keep up with that too.

But anyhow, that’s what’s up. Here’s Day II (because this is the QR where I do Roman numerals for absolutely no reason).

Quarterly Review #11-20:

16, Dream Squasher

16 Dream Squasher

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16 at Relapse Records


BoneHawk, Iron Mountain

bonehawk iron mountain

Kalamazoo four-piece To Buying A Dissertation Abstract is a sure-fire decision for those who want to improve their overall performance but lack time. With the professionals that we hire to work on the essays, you can be sure that you will receive exceptional papers on any topic. Is It Safe to Buy An Essay? One of the FAQs from college students can be is it safe to buy a cheap essay? With the numerous online writing BoneHawk make an awaited follow-up to their 2014 debut, Albino Rhino (discussed here), in the form of Iron Mountain, thereby reminding listeners why it’s been awaited in the first place. Solid, dual-guitar, newer-school post-The Sword heavy rock. Second cut “Summit Fever” reminds a bit of Valley of the Sun and Freedom Hawk, but neither is a bad echelon of acts to stand among, and the open melodies of the subsequent title-track and the later “Fire Lake” do much to distinguish BoneHawk along the way. The winding lead lines of centerpiece “Wildfire” offer due drama in their apex, and “Thunder Child” and “Future Mind” are both catchy enough to keep momentum rolling into the eight-minute closer “Lake of the Clouds,” which caps with due breadth and, yes, is the second song on the record about a lake. That’s how they do in Michigan and that’s just fine.

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Cursed Tongue Records webstore


DÖ, Black Hole Mass

do black hole mass

follow the Valborg example of lumbering barking extremity into a cosmic abyss on their Black Hole Mass three-songer, emitting charred roll like it’s interstellar background radiation and still managing to give an underlying sense of structure to proceedings vast and encompassing. “Gravity Sacrifice” and “Plasma “Psalm” are right on in their teeth-grinding shove, but it’s the 10-minute finale “Radiation Blessing” that steals my heart with its trippy break in the middle, sample, drifting guitar and all, as the Finnish trio build gradually back up to a massive march all the more effective for the atmosphere they’ve constructed around it. Construction, as it happens, is the underlying strength of Black Hole Mass, since it’s the firm sense of structure beneath their songs that allows them to so ably engage their dark matter metal over the course of these 22 minutes, but it’s done so smoothly one hardly thinks about it while listening. Instead, the best thing to do is go along for the ride, brief as it is, or at least bow head in appreciation to the ceremony as it trods across rigid stylistic dogma.

DÖ on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website


Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Turned to Stone Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa

turned to stone chapter 2 howling giant sergeant thunderhoof

Let this be a lesson to, well, everyone. This is how you do a conceptual split. Two bands getting together around a central idea — in this case, Tennessee’s Howling Giant and UK’s Sergeant Thunderhoof — both composing single tracks long enough to consume a vinyl side and expanding their reach not only to work with each other but further their own progressive sonic ideologies. Ripple Music‘s Turned to Stone split series is going to have a tough one to top in Masamune & Muramasa, as Howling Giant utterly shine in “Masamune” and the rougher-hewn tonality of Sergeant Thunderhoof‘s “Maramasa” makes an exceptional complement. Running about 41 minutes, the release is a journey through dynamic, with each act pushing their songwriting beyond prior limits in order to meet the occasion head-on and in grand fashion. They do, and the split easily stands among the best of 2020’s short releases as a result. If you want to hear where heavy rock is going, look no further.

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Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp


Chimney Creeps, Nosedive

chimney creeps nosedive

Punkish shouts over dense noise rock tones, New York trio Chimney Creeps make their full-length debut with Nosedive, which they’ve self-released on vinyl. The album runs through seven tracks, and once it gets through the straight-ahead heavy punk of “March of the Creeps” and “Head in the Sand” at the outset, the palette begins to broaden in the fuzzy and gruff “Unholy Cow,” with the deceptively catchy “Splinter” following. “Creeper” and “Satisfied” before it are longer and accordingly more atmospheric, with a truck-backing-up sample at the start of “Creeper” that would seem to remind listeners just where the band’s sound has put them: out back, around the loading dock. Fair enough as “Diving Line” wraps in accordingly workmanlike fashion, the vocals cutting through clearly as they have all the while, prominent in the mix in a way that asks for balance. “Bright” I believe is the word an engineer might use, but the vocals stand out, is the bottom line, and thereby assure that the aggressive stance of the band comes across as more than a put-on.

Chimney Creeps on Thee Facebooks

Chimney Creeps on Bandcamp


Kingnomad, Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad - Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad‘s third album, Sagan Om Rymden certainly wants nothing for scope or ambition, setting its progressive tone with still-hooky opener “Omniverse,” before unfurling the more patient chug in “Small Beginnings” and taking on such weighted (anti-)matter as “Multiverse” and “The Creation Hymn” and “The Unanswered Question” later on. Along the way, the Swedish troupe nod at Ghost-style melodicism, Graveyard-ish heavy blues boogie — in “The Omega Experiment,” no less — progressive, psychedelic and heavy rocks and no less than the cosmos itself, as the Carl Sagan reference in the record’s title seems to inform the space-based mythology expressed and solidified within the songs. Even the acoustic-led interlude-plus “The Fermi Paradox” finds room to harmonize vocals and prove a massive step forward for the band. 2018’s The Great Nothing (review here) and 2017’s debut, Mapping the Inner Void (review here), were each more accomplished than the last, but Sagan Om Rymden is just a different level. It puts Kingnomad in a different class of band.

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp


Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)

Shores of Null Beyond the Shores On Death and Dying

By the time Shores of Null are nine minutes into the single 38-minute track that makes up their third album, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying), they would seem to have unveiled at least four of the five vocalists who appear throughout the proceedings, with the band’s own Davide Straccione joined by Swallow the Sun‘s Mikko Kotamäki as well as Thomas A.G. Jensen (Saturnus), Martina Lesley Guidi (of Rome’s Traffic Club) and Elisabetta Marchetti (INNO). There are guests on violin, piano and double-bass as well, so the very least one might say is that Shores of Null aren’t kidding around when they’re talking about this record in a sense of being ‘beyond’ themselves. The journey isn’t hindered so much as bolstered by the ambition, however, and the core five-piece maintain a steady presence throughout, serving collectively as the uniting factor as “Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)” moves through its portrayal of the stages of grief in according movements of songcraft, gorgeously-arranged and richly composed as they are as they head toward the final storm. In what’s been an exceptional year for death-doom, Shores of Null still stand out for the work they’ve done.

Shores of Null on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records website


The Device, Tribute Album

the device tribute album

Tectonic sludge has become a mainstay in Polish heavy, and The Device, about whom precious little is known other than they’re very, very, very heavy when they want to be, add welcome atmospherics to the lumbering weedian procession. “Rise of the Device” begins the 47-minute Tribute Album in crushing form, but “Ritual” and the first minute or so of “BongOver” space out with droney minimalism, before the latter track — the centerpiece of the five-songer and only cut under six minutes long at 2:42 — explodes in consuming lurch. “Indica” plays out this structure again over a longer stretch, capping with birdsong and whispers and noise after quiet guitar and hypnotic, weighted riffing have played back and forth, but it’s in the 23-minute closer “Exhale” that the band finds their purpose, a live-sounding final jam picking up after a long droning stretch to finish the record with a groove that, indeed, feels like a release in the playing and the hearing. Someone’s speaking at the end but the words are obscured by echo, and to be sure, The Device have gotten their point across by then anyhow. The stark divisions between loud and quiet on Tribute Album are interesting, as well as what the band might do to cover the in-between going forward.

Galactic SmokeHouse Records on Thee Facebooks

The Device on Bandcamp


Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2

Domo Domonautas Vol 2

Spanish progressive heavy psychedelic semi-instrumentalists Domo follow late-2019’s Domonautas Vol. 1 (review here) with a four-song second installment, and Domonautas Vol. 2 answers its predecessor back with the jazz-into-doom of “Avasaxa” (7:43) and the meditation in “Dolmen” (13:50) on side A, and the quick intro-to-the-intro “El Altar” (2:06) and the 15-minute “Vientohalcón” on side B, each piece working with its own sense of motion and its own feeling of progression from one movement to the next, never rushed, never overly patient, but smooth and organic in execution even in its most active or heaviest stretches. The two most extended pieces offer particular joys, but neither should one discount the quirky rhythm at the outset of “Avasaxa” or the dramatic turn it makes just before five minutes in from meandering guitar noodling to plodding riffery, if only because it sounds like Domo are having so much fun catching the listener off guard. Exactly as they should be.

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website


Early Moods, Spellbound

early moods spellbound

Doom be thy name. Or, I guess Early Moods be thy name, but doom definitely be thy game. The Los Angeles four-piece make their debut with the 26-minute Spellbound, and I suppose it’s an EP, but the raw Pentagram worship on display in the opening title-track and the Sabbath-ism that ensues flows easy and comes through with enough sincerity of purpose that if the band wanted to call it a full-length, one could hardly argue. Guitar heads will note the unbridled scorch of the solos throughout — centerpiece “Isolated” moves from one into a slow-Slayer riff that’s somehow also Candlemass, which is a feat in itself — while “Desire” rumbles with low-end distortion that calls to mind Entombed even as the vocals over top are almost pure Witchcraft. They save the most engaging melody for the finale “Living Hell,” but even that’s plenty grim and suited to its accompanying dirt-caked feel. Rough in production, but not lacking clarity, Spellbound entices and hints at things to come, but has a barebones appeal all its own as well.

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Dying Victims Productions website


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Year of Taurus Premiere “Fever, When I Was Young”; Debut LP Topsoils out Jan. 15

Posted in audiObelisk on December 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Year of Taurus (photo by Caterina Vignoni)

Guitarist and vocalist Matteo Dossena of Pescara, Italy, psych-drifters Sherpa will release his first solo album under the banner of Year of Taurus on Jan. 15, 2021. Titled Topsoils and issued through his own Astral Concrete Sounds label, the 32-minute offering brings eight songs that run a line between the post-Yawning Man psych-desert tonality of “Wise Woman” and the washing folk-gaze of “Tethered to the Moon” later, ahead of the jazzy synth, hand percussion and intertwined keys of closer “Piedi Nel Lago.”

In an era of quarantine, the opening title-track shimmers, drumless, and wanders with a sort of purposefully-setting-out drift, but melody is no less central to that leadoff than to its side B counterpart, the more straightforward “Gate Goats.” Dossena works with several others throughout these tracks, bringing guest vocalists Caterina Vignoni and Michele Tobia in on “Topsoils” itself and “Piedi Nel Lago,” respectively. That bookending effect is heightened by the inclusion of bass and drums on most of what takes place between. “Wise Woman,” “Fever, When I Was Young,” “Linesight,” “Gate Goats,” and “Tethered to the Moon” feature the bass of Sherpa‘s own Franz Cardone and the drums of Giuseppe Sericola, who recorded his own parts for Topsoils, mixed most of and mastered the album and has done recording for Sherpa as well.

Dossena himself would seem to handle percussion on the penultimate “Daddy” and “Piedi Nel Lago,” and the former might be programmed — it’s hard to tell — but the effect of having the drums depart earlier than the bass from an album that spends most of its run working as a trio is to give the listener a gradual feeling of fading into the ether. Even with some rhythmic punctuation behind it, “Piedi Nel Lago” feels like the gentle letting go that the entirety of Topsoils has driven toward since the successionyear of taurus topsoils of tracks across the two LP sides began with the soft fade-in of “Topsoils” at the outset, the ringing electric guitar and acoustic woven together with a gorgeous fluidity that balances intimacy of purpose with a marked feeling of expanse.

Those familiar with Sherpa‘s two Sulatron Records LPs, 2018’s Tigris & Euphrates (review here) and 2017’s Tanzlinde (review here), will perhaps find that Year of Taurus works from similar impulses in bringing together acid-folkish melodies and a ready sense of post-rock float in the guitar that proves hypnotic early on such that the atmosphere in the more acoustic-led “Wise Woman” — the noted Yawning Man tone comes in later — and the build-up of “Fever, When I Was Young” feel abidingly natural as shifts not only from one to the other, but within themselves.

“Linesight” follows suit and holds to its central progression for much of its four minutes, as it and “Gate Goats” offer as much movement as basking, bringing about “Tethered to the Moon,” which is arguably the most fervent melodic wash on a record not shy with them. Certainly the loudest. But it never veers into the abrasive — the song or Topsoils as a whole, for that matter — and its ending sets up the closing duo’s going-gone sensibility simply by stopping cold, the slow whispers that start “Daddy” marking the beginning of a somewhat minimal-feeling but engagingly ambient flow, which, again, is backed by the experimentalist vibe of “Piedi Nel Lago,” as Dossena wraps the debut from Year of Taurus with a quirky serenity.

Reportedly comprised of older material reworked during COVID-19 lockdown, it is a presence different enough from Sherpa to warrant being listed as another project entirely, and while can’t be sure when/if Dossena as the band’s compositional spearhead will pursue it further, Topsoils sets a vast scope for itself, remaining coherent even as it seems moment by moment to turn to vapor, and trusting the underlying songcraft to guide its audience through, which it successfully does. If developing that as a distinct entity from Sherpa a project for Dossena over a longer term, Topsoils is an ambitious and welcome beginning.

Ahead of the release of Topsoils on Jan. 15, you can stream the premiere of “Fever, When I Was Young” below. Some comment from Dossena follows, as well as more info on the recording.

Please enjoy:

Matteo Dossena on “Fever, When I Was Young”:

“Fever, When I Was Young” is one of the first songs written of the album. It’s a song about anxiety, melancholy, childhood memories, protection. It’s a song about my mother, the smell of the bread cooking in the oven, the protection I felt ,when I was a child, wrapped in her arms.

“Topsoils” is the first album of YEAR OF TAURUS, solo project by MATTEO DOSSENA (main composer, singer and guitarist of SHERPA).

The album collects songs composed between 2011 and 2020, a set of clippings and songs discarded over time which, during the lockdown between March and May 2020, were recovered, revisited and covered with new sound textures.

The record is about memories, about the melancholy that hides in the plots of time, about friends and feelings that no longer exist; time swallows everything up and our lives necessarily flow too fast to be able to give space to every nuance. The 8 tracks of TOPSOILS try to collect all this by transforming the sonic journey between a pastoral psychedelia and shoegaze.

“Topsoils” avails itself of the participation of Giuseppe Sericola (drums) and Franz Cardone (SHERPA) on bass. Mixed and mastered by Giuseppe Sericola and Matteo Dossena.

“Topsoils” will be released on January 15th for the newborn label ASTRAL CONCRETE.

Year of Taurus is Matteo Dossena (Voices / guitars/ Synth / Percussions)

“TOPSOILS” additional musicians:
Giuseppe Sericola: drums on (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Franz Cardone: bass on (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
Caterina Vignoni: Voice on “Topsoil”
Michele Tobia: Voice on “Piedi Nel Lago”

Recorded in my old house in Montesilvano, between March 2020 and May 2020.
Drums recorded by Giuseppe Sericola at Arcade Studio.
Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 mixed and mastered by Giuseppe Sericola
Tracks 1, 7, 8 mixed by Matteo Dossena and mastered by Giuseppe Sericola

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Days of Rona: Davide Straccione of Shores of Null, Spikerot Records, Tube Cult Fest, etc.

Posted in Features on May 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

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

davide straccione

Days of Rona: Davide Straccione of Shores of Null, Spikerot Records, Tube Cult Fest, etc. (Pescara, Italy)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

When the whole situation went haywire in Italy, at the end of February, I was driving the van for Mondo Generator on their European and UK tour. Nevertheless I was able to complete the tour and go back home safely around mid-March. I experienced live music until the very last minute possible, so I feel luckier than many others. Driving back home within a Country in lockdown was quite a shock. As for my bands, Zippo were on hold before and still are, the whole Covid-19 thing has just made things harder; on the other hand with Shores Of Null we managed to finish the recordings and mixing of our next album before the crisis.

2019 has been quite a busy year for me creative-wise, so I used the last couple of months to relax as much as I could, listen to music, watch movies and catching up with pending stuff. I also run a small label called Spikerot Records and although it’s a tough moment for the industry in general, there are still people buying records luckily. And of course I’ve been forced to cancel/postpone the two festivals I’m involved with: Tube Cult Fest and Frantic Fest.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

In the region where I live in Central Italy there are always less cases of Covid-19 but the situation in other regions, especially in the northern area, is still pretty bad. Since May 4th it is possible to visit relatives, to go out for a walk or exercise, not just for groceries or emergencies like before. Everyone is wearing masks and we’re all getting used to this new normal. From May 18th there will be a further loosening of limitations with re-opening of bars, restaurants, hair/beauty salons, but they’ll be all subject to very strict regulations. Another important matter is whether people will be allowed to go to the beach, and there will be regulations there too; I’m not a beach person myself but for most people it matters, especially in summer.

Government response is not pleasing everyone, what we know is that we’re living something totally unprecedented and it’s too early to say who’s right or wrong. I sometimes talk to friends all over the world, some have more freedom than others but in the end I only hope we’ll get through this.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

Definitely not bored, spending time with myself and my girlfriend was something I really missed and I’m doing things that normal schedules wouldn’t allow. I’m fully convinced hard times always teach us something, and music community always comes together one way or another, even without concerts or festivals. They’ll come back, but please don’t tell me about drive-in concerts. I’d prefer one year without shows than a drive-in concert.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

Support bands and underground labels as much as you can, we all know there are more important things to take care of, but if you have the possibility, just do it. We’re all struggling here but we all want to keep doing what we love. With Spikerot Records we’ve released the new albums of two amazing doom bands before this mess and I recommend you to check them out:


From this experience I’ve learned that we always need to find time for ourselves, no matter how busy we are.

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Tube Cult Fest 2019: Zaum, Coltsblood, Oreyeon, Sherpa, Tuna de Tierra and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tube cult fest 2019 banner

Extra credit for Tube Cult Fest 2019 not making a single joke about this being the edition that ‘goes to 11.’ Way to play it with class. The Italian festival headed by Davide Straccione of Skeptic Events is indeed in its 11th incarnation this April, with ZaumColtsbloodWayfarer and Entropia serving in headliner roles and killer Italy natives like OreyeonSherpa and Tuna de Tierra, among others, obviously, rounding out the bill. I’m generally a fan of writing/daydreaming about fests in far-off (to me) places, but I feel compelled to add there are a few bands here I don’t know, and given the quality of the names that are more familiar, posting the full lineup here is as much a note to myself about homework to do as it is anything else. Like a to-do list. “Don’t forget to check out The Marigold,” and so on. I have little doubt I’ll be glad I did.

The full announcement from the festival follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:

tube cult fest 2019 poster

Tube Cult Fest is a true celebration of the Underground, an amp-worshipping ritual based in the coastal city of Pescara in the heart of Italy, delving deep into the realm of Heavy Psychedelia since its inception in 2008. The festival has seen a consistent growth throughout the years incorporating Stoner Rock, Doom, Sludge, Drone, Psych Rock, Post Metal as well as some of the most experimental and atmospheric forms of Extreme Metal, while keeping the same original spirit unchanged. In the previous 10 editions this little city on the Adriatic Sea has been touched by the likes of Weedeater, Ufomammut, Samsara Blues Experiment, Monkey3, 1000mods, Belzebong, Karma To Burn, Los Natas and many more.
Chapter 11 will be once again split in the two tiny venues Scumm and MamiWata, hosting 14 bands in 2 days:

Friday 19 April

Saturday 20 April
S A R R A M (IT)

DJ Aftershows by Moos ( and La Peligrosa (

A juicy Free Entry Warm-Up is scheduled for Thursday 18 April always at Pescara’s Scumm with the Philadelphia Stoner-Doom Rockers HIGH REEPER.

Tickets can be reserved by sending an email to

Friday 19 April= 10 €
Saturday 20 April= 10 €
2-DAY PASS = 15 €

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Zippo, Ode to Maximum Reissue

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zippo ode to maximum

[Click play above to listen to Zippo’s Ode to Maximum in its entirety. The full remaster with bonus tracks is out Nov. 2 on Spikerot Records.]

We live in an age where albums come out twice all the time. A band records on their own and does a self-release, digital or sometimes physical, and then later on at some point that record is picked up by a label for wider distribution and/or a physical pressing. The difference with Zippo‘s Ode to Maximum is that it’s happening 12 years later. Probably fair, then to call the Spikerot Records vinyl version of the then-five-piece Italian outfit’s debut full-length a reissue, what with the Tony Reed remaster, new cover art, bonus tracks and all, but its core desert rocking approach and forays into psychedelia on “Night Jam” and “Crazy Forest” lend a sonic reach to the grounded material surrounding.

The band is currently a four-piece with Alessandro Sergente on guitar, but in 2006, Sergente was joined by fellow guitarist Silvio Spina and bassist Tonino Bosco (Paolo Garofalo handles bass now), as well as vocalist Davide Straccione and drummer Federico Sergente, both of whom remain with Zippo now. Based in Pescara on the Adriatic Coast, they’ve done three albums since Ode to Maximum in the form of 2009’s The Road to Knowledge (discussed here), 2011’s Maktub and 2016’s After Us (discussed here), and each time branched out someplace new from where they started with the original 10 tracks of Ode to Maximum, which from the Lowrider-style wah of “Forgotten Season” to the suitably named thick-toned stomper “The Elephant March” and the careening “Tukay’s Fury” that precedes, basks in the glory days of the heavy rock movement that started a decade before it was made.

It was the MySpace era, but Zippo concerned themselves more with the doings of Kyuss and certainly offshoot project Slo Burn, whose “July” is covered as one of the bonus tracks here, recorded in 2014, in the early and mid ’90s. With a raw-ish production and a mix that puts the bass as the foundation of songs like “Kid in the Desert,” however otherwise led by the riffs they may be, Zippo tapped early into what have since become some of the most enduring aspects of the original Californian desert rock movement — and we’ll throw some Sweden in there for Lowrider, too — while putting their own inevitable stamp on the approach with a sense of rhythmic quirk, gutted-out vocals and diverse songwriting.

Beginning with the intro “Alpha” and ending with the complementary “Omega,” Ode to Maximum unfurls a self-aware sonic blend of chunky-style riffing on “Tsunami Dust” with the fervent rumble establishing itself beneath the two guitars and Straccione‘s vocals. A departure into a playfully-malevolent break brings some element of Faith No More to the proceedings, but as “Tsunami Dust” moves into highlight cut “S.N.A.P.R.S.T.,” the jazzy interlude and aggro finish in the latter already has some context hinting toward its arrival. Clearly Zippo were never just about mimicry of the Californian scene, and the rest of Ode to Maximum bears that out.

zippo (Photo by Marco Rocconi)

Originally a 45-minute outing — the bonus tracks push that to 55 on the remaster — Ode to Maximum has a linear fluidity that speaks to the time of its release, when CD was still the dominant physical media, if in decline with the increasing reach of the digital sphere. The handclaps in “Forgotten Season,” either natural or keyboard — something about them is awfully consistent sounding — vocal layering and manic lead guitar are nonetheless standout factors emblematic of the manner in which songs are distinguished throughout. In addition to the new CD release, though, Spikerot has a 2LP version of the album, and one imagines the same distinguishing factors help establish a breadth as Zippo move from one song and one side to the next.

I won’t claim to know where the sides split, but “Night Jam” is a serene departure from “Forgotten Season,” and “Kid in the Desert” renews the quirked-up post-Kyuss thrust ahead of “Crazy Forest,” which is the longest cut on the album at eight minutes, and if that’s side B, then it’s a solid one. “Crazy Forest” taps into progressive nuance to go along with its standout nodder fuzz riff — something of a foreshadow for the seven-minute “The Elephant March” still to come — and ends with an almost hypnotic rhythm before a last-second shove leads the way into “Tukay’s Fury.”

As it’s sandwiched between the two longest tracks, it would make sense that it’s the shortest (non-intro/outro) piece at 3:22, with starts and stops in the verses shifting into a high-gear hook with a high-energy delivery the whole way through until finally the thing seems to crash to its finish and directly into the start of “The Elephant March,” which is obviously intended as the apex of the record. And so it is. Big riffs get bigger as it courses through its second half, finishing at about six minutes in so the last minute can be consumed by a swell of insect noise, either flies or bees. Kind of a curious choice with “Omega” still to follow and lead the way out of the album as a whole, but it was 2006. Times were crazy. “Omega” fluidly answers “Alpha” with a minute or so of riffing and some sustained ringout that fades to a finish, leaving just “Night Jam #2” — heavier, proggier, more plotted — and the aforementioned Slo Burn redux to cap.

Though recorded later, “July” is a pretty fitting conclusion for Ode to Maximum, and the treatment they give it — again, the bass — does right by the original while allowing Zippo to make their mark on it as well. The album preceding functions in much the same way, portraying a band working their way toward an understanding of who they are as a group and what they want to bring to the tenets of their chosen genre. They’ve gone on to answer that question with subsequent albums, so in a way it’s like cheating to listen to Ode to Maximum and know the future, but a debut release is a special moment for a band that doesn’t come again, and this look back gives Zippo a chance to emphasize how far they’ve come since as well as the clarity of mission with which they started out.

Zippo, “Tsunami Dust” official video

Zippo on Thee Facebooks

Zippo on Instagram

Zippo on YouTube

Spikerot Records on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records on Instagram

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Zippo to Reissue Ode to Maximum Nov. 2 with Bonus Tracks

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zippo (Photo by Marco Rocconi)

Zippo‘s debut album, Ode to Maximum, originally came out 12 years ago as a self-release. Time for a reissue? Yeah, definitely. The Italian heavy rockers will put Ode to Maximum back out on Nov. 2 via Spikerot Records as their first release through the imprint as their 2016 long-player, After Us (discussed here), was on Apocalyptic Witchcraft. The first record has been given new art — see it below, also in your most colorful nightmares — and a remaster by none other than Tony Reed of Mos Generator. It will also feature two bonus cuts, one of which is a cover of Slo Burn‘s “July,” which, if it’s not already stuck in your head just by reading the title, I humbly submit you’ve probably never heard the song. I’m gonna be walking around the rest of the day going “Joo-li-hi.” There are worse fates.

The PR wire brings details and a link for preorders. Have at it:

zippo ode to maximum

ZIPPO – Ode to Maximum / Reissue 2018

Since 2004 Zippo have led the pack of the Italian Stoner Rock and Heavy Psych movement. Zippo have always been about the music, which is actually very hard to define as they include elements of Prog Rock, Psych, Stoner, Sludge, Doom, Noise and even Post-Metal.

Zippo thrive on creating different sounds and challenging people to use their very heart and soul to fully experience the band’s musical vision. A winning philosophy has seen Zippo release four critically acclaimed albums: Ode To Maximum (Self-released, 2006), The Road To Knowledge (Subsound Records, 2009), Maktub (Subsound Records, 2011) and After Us (Apocalyptic Witchcraft, 2016). Spikerot Records will take care of the re-issue of the band’s classic Ode To Maximum both on CD and Vinyl, giving it a new life after many years gone sold-out, with a completely new artwork by Davide Mancini ( and tracks remastered by Tony Dallas Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe), including two bonus tracks.

There is one thing you can say about Zippo’s albums – They all sound different to each other. Zippo always push the boundaries of what is musically possible, which has seen them classed as one of Italy’s finest Heavy Rock bands currently out there. Zippo have played Live all over Europe to rapturous applause from fans and critics alike, being described as one of the coolest, loudest and dangerous bands you are ever likely to witness live.

release date: 02/11/2018
catalog number: SPK004


1. Alpha
2. Tsunami Dust
3. S.N.A.P.R.S.T.
4. Forgotten Season
5. Night Jam
6. Kid In The Desert
7. Crazy Forest
8. Tukay’s Fury
9. The Elephant March
10. Omega
11. Night Jam #2
12. July (Slo Burn Cover)

Davide Straccione – Vocals
Alessandro Sergente – Guitars
Paolo Garofalo – Bass
Federico Sergente – Drums

Davide Straccione – Vocals
Alessandro Sergente – Guitars
Silvio Spina – Guitars
Tonino Bosco – Bass
Federico Sergente – Drums

Zippo, Ode to Maximum (2006)

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Tube Cult Fest 2018 Announces Full Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Let’s say maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t just want to sit in the dark all the time by yourself. You like to leave the house, and you do so without the fear of the judgment of others or worry about pianos falling from the sky and so on. You like to be in the company of those who share your interests, and perhaps to partake of the occasional adult beverage while enjoying a wide variety of loud, heavy and high-energy musical performances. Well. You are in luck. Because it just so happens there are these things called music festivals that happen pretty much every weekend between now and forever,, and should you happen to find yourself in Pescara, Italy, on April 27-28, there’s one you might want to check out.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tube Cult Fest, which, putting aside all joking about agoraphobia — which is a serious condition from which many people suffer — is a significant accomplishment that in itself justifies showing up if you’re in the area. Past years have featured the likes of Ufomammut and 1000mods, and Tube Cult Fest 2018 is no slouch either in the lineup department, with Weedeater, Sannhet, Zatokrev, Freedom Hawk, Minami Deutsch and a significant slew of others to claim your mind, heart and/or soul as their own.

To wit:

tube cult fest 2018 poster

TUBE CULT FEST 2018 • Chapter X

April 27 – April 28

Tube Cult Fest Chapter 10 is revealed.
Here’s the full line-up of the Adriatic’s Loudest Festival.

Get your presales here:

Friday, 27th April
Zatokrev (CH)
Freedom Hawk (USA)
Sannhet (USA)
Messa (IT)
High Reeper(USA)
Sum Of R (CH)
Calvario (IT)

Saturday, 28th April
Weedeater (USA)
Minami Deutsch (JP)
Lleroy (IT)
Charun (IT)
MalClango (IT)
The Slave Preacher (USA)
Flynotes (RU)

Scumm & MamiWata
Via delle Caserme, Pescara

Event: TUBE CULT FEST 2018 • Chapter X

For informations send us a private message or write to

Freedom Hawk, Live in Virginia Beach

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