Quarterly Review: Saturnalia Temple, Dool, Abrams, Pia Isa, Wretched Kingdom, Lake Lake, Gnarwhal, Bongfoot, Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on May 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Today is Wednesday, the day we hit and pass the halfway mark for this week, which is a quarter of the way through the entirety of this 100-release Quarterly Review. Do you need to know that? Not really, but it’s useful for me to keep track of how much I’m doing sometimes, which is why I count in the first place. 100 records isn’t nothing, you know. Or 10 for that matter. Or one. I don’t know.

A little more variety here, which is always good, but I’ve got momentum behind me after yesterday and I don’t want to delay diving in, so off we go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call

saturnalia temple paradigm call

For the band’s fourth album, Paradigm Call, founding Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson leads the newcomer rhythm section of drummer Pelle Åhman and bassist Gottfrid Åhman through eight abyss-plundering tracks across 48 minutes of roiling tonal mud distinguished by its aural stickiness and Eriksson‘s readily identifiable vocal gurgle. The methodology hasn’t changed much since 2020’s Gravity (review here) in terms of downward pull, but the title-track’s solo is sharp enough to cut through the mire, and while it’s no less harsh for doing so, “Among the Ruins” explores a faster tempo while staying in line with the all-brown psychedelic swirl around it, brought to fruition in the backwards-sounding loops of closer “Kaivalya” after the declarative thud of side B standout “Empty Chalice.” They just keep finding new depths. It’s impressive. Also a little horrifying.

Saturnalia Temple on Facebook

Listenable Records website

Dool, The Shape of Fluidity

dool the shape of fluidity

It’s easy to respect a band so unwilling to be boxed by genre, and Rotterdam’s Dool put the righteous aural outsiderness that’s typified their sound since 2017’s Here Now There Then (review here) to meta-level use on their third long-player for Prophecy Productions, The Shape of Fluidity. Darkly progressive, rich in atmosphere, broad in range and mix, heavy-but-not-beholden-to-tone in presentation, encompassing but sneaky-catchy in pieces like opener “Venus in Flames,” the flowing title-track, and the in-fact-quite-heavy “Hermagorgon,” the record harnesses declarations and triumphs around guitarist/vocalist Raven van Dorst‘s stated lyrical thematic around gender-nonbinaryism, turning struggle and confusion into clarity of expressive purpose in the breakout “Self-Dissect” and resolving with furious culmination in “The Hand of Creation” with due boldness. Given some of the hateful, violent rhetoric around gender-everything in the modern age, the bravery of DoolVan Dorst alongside guitarists Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr, bassist JB van der Wal and drummer Vincent Kreyder — in confronting that head-on with these narratives is admirable, but it’s still the songs themselves that make The Shape of Fluidity one of 2024’s best albums.

Dool on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Abrams, Blue City

abrams blue city

After releasing 2022’s In the Dark (review here) on Small Stone, Denver heavy rockers Abrams align to Blues Funeral Recordings for their fifth album in a productive, also-touring nine years, the 10-track/42-minute Blue City. Production by Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Converge, etc.) at GodCity Studio assures no lack of impact as “Fire Waltz” reaffirms the tonal density of the riffs that the Zach Amster-led four-piece nonetheless made dance in opener “Tomorrow,” while the rolling “Death Om” and the momentary skyward ascent in “Etherol” — a shimmering preface to the chug-underscored mellowness of “Narc” later — lay out some of the dynamic that’s emerged in their sound along with the rampant post-hardcore melodies that come through in Amster and Graham Zander‘s guitars, capable either of meting out hard-landing riffs to coincide with the bass of Taylor Iversen (also vocals) and Ryan DeWitt‘s drumming, or unfurling sections of float like those noted above en route to tying it all together with the closing “Blue City.” Relatively short runtimes and straightforward-feeling structures mask the stylistic nuance of the actual material — nothing new there for Abrams; they’re largely undervalued — and the band continue to reside in between-microgenre spaces as they await the coming of history which will inevitably prove they were right all along.

Abrams on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Pia Isa, Burning Time

pia isa burning time

Superlynx bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen made her solo debut under the Pia Isa moniker with 2022’s Distorted Chants (review here), and in addition to announcing the SoftSun collaboration she’ll undertake alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce (who also appeared on her record), in 2024, she offers the three-song Burning Time EP, with a cover of Radiohead‘s “Burn the Witch” backed by two originals, “Treasure” and “Nothing Can Turn it Back.” With drumming by her Superlynx bandmate Ole Teigen (who also recorded), “Burn the Witch” becomes a lumbering forward march, ethereal in melody but not necessarily cultish, while “Treasure” digs into repetitive plod led by the low end and “Nothing Can Turn it Black” brings the guitar forward but is most striking in the break that brings the dual-layered vocals forward near the midpoint. The songs are leftovers from the LP, but if you liked the LP, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Pia Isa on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Wretched Kingdom, Wretched Kingdom

Wretched Kingdom Wretched Kingdom

A late-2023 initial public offering from Houston’s Wretched Kingdom, their self-titled EP presents a somewhat less outwardly joyous take on the notion of “Texas desert rock” than that offered by, as an example, Austin’s High Desert Queen, but the metallic riffing that underscores “Dreamcrusher” goes farther back in its foundations than whatever similarity to Kyuss one might find in the vocals or speedier riffy shove of “Smoke and Mirrors.” Sharp-cornered in tone, opener “Torn and Frayed” gets underway with metered purpose as well, and while the more open-feeling “Too Close to the Sun” begins similar to “You Can’t Save Me” — the strut that ensues in the latter distinguishes — the push in its second half comes after riding a steady groove into a duly bluesy solo. There’s nothing in the material to take you out of the flow between the six component cuts, and even closer “Deviation” tells you it’s about to do something different as it works from its mellower outset into a rigorous payoff. With the understanding that most first-EPs of this nature are demos by another name and (as here) more professional sound, Wretched Kingdom‘s Wretched Kingdom asks little in terms of indulgence and rewards generously when encountered at higher volumes. Asking more would be ridiculous.

Wretched Kingdom on Facebook

Wretched Kingdom on Bandcamp

Lake Lake, Proxy Joy

lake lake proxy joy

Like earlier Clutch born out of shenanigans-prone punk, Youngstown, Ohio’s Lake Lake are tight within the swinging context of a song like “The Boy Who Bit Me,” which is the second of the self-released Proxy Joy‘s six inclusions. Brash in tone and the gutted-out shouty vocals, offsetting its harder shoving moments with groovy back-throttles in songs that could still largely be called straightforward, the quirk and throaty delivery of “Blue Jerk” and the bluesier-minded “Viking Vietnam” paying off the tension in the verses of “Comfort Keepers” and the build toward that leadoff’s chorus want nothing for personality or chemistry, and as casual as the style is on paper, the arrangements are coordinated and as “Heavy Lord” finds a more melodic vocal and “Coyote” — the longest song here at 5:01 — leaves on a brash highlight note, the party they’re having is by no means unconsidered. But it is a party, and those who have dancing shoes would be well advised to keep them on hand, just in case.

Lake Lake on Facebook

Lake Lake on Bandcamp

Gnarwhal, Altered States

Gnarwhal Altered States

Modern in the angularity of its riffing, spacious in the echoes of its tones and vocals, and encompassing enough in sound to be called progressive within a heavy context, Altered States follows Canadian four-piece Gnarwhal‘s 2023 self-titled debut full-length with four songs that effectively bring together atmosphere and impact in the six-minute “The War Nothing More” — big build in the second half leading to more immediate, on-beat finish serving as a ready instance of same — with twists that feel derived of the MastoBaroness school rhythmically and up-front vocal melodies that give cohesion to the darker vibe of “From Her Hands” after displaying a grungier blowout in “Tides.” The terrain through which they ebb and flow, amass and release tension, soar and crash, etc., is familiar if somewhat intangible, and that becomes an asset as the concluding “Altered States” channels the energy coursing through its verses in the first half into the airy payoff solo that ends. I didn’t hear the full-length last year. Listening to what Gnarwhal are doing in these tracks in terms of breadth and crunch, I feel like I missed out. You might also consider being prepared to want to hear more upon engaging.

Gnarwhal on Facebook

Gnarwhal on Bandcamp

Bongfoot, Help! The Humans..

bongfoot help the humans

Help the humans? No. Help! The Humans…, and here as in so many of life’s contexts, punctuation matters. Digging into a heavy, character-filled and charging punkish sound they call “Appalachian thrash,” Boone, North Carolina, three-piece Bongfoot are suitably over-the-top as they explore what it means to be American in the current age, couching discussions of wealth inequality, climate crisis, corporatocracy, capitalist exploitation, the insecurity at root in toxic masculinity and more besides. With clever, hooky lyrics that are a total blast despite being tragic in the subject matter and a pace of execution well outside what one might think is bong metal going in because of the band’s name, Bongfoot vigorously kick ass from opener “End Times” through the galloping end of “Amazon Death Factory/Spacefoot” and the untitled mountain ramble that follows as an outro. Along the way, they intermittently toy with country twang, doom, and hardcore punk, and offer a prayer to the titular volcano of “Krakatoa” to save at least the rest of the world if not humanity. It’s quite a time to be alive. Listening, that is. As for the real-world version of the real world, it’s less fun and more existentially and financially draining, which makes Help! The Humans… all the more a win for its defiance and charm. Even with the bonus tracks, I’ll take more of this anytime they’re ready with it.

Bongfoot on Facebook

Bongfoot on Bandcamp

Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Ateş

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans Ateş

It’s interesting, because you can’t really say that Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans‘ second LP, Ateş isn’t neo-psychedelia, but the eight tracks and 38 minutes of the record itself warrant enunciating what that means. Where much of 2020s-era neo-psych is actually space rock with thicker tones (shh! it’s a secret!), what Greenwood — AKA Thomas Mascheroni, also of Bergamo, Italy’s Humulus) brings to sounds like the swaying, organ-laced “Sleepwalker” and the resonant spaciousness in the soloing of “Mystic Sunday Morning” is more kin to the neo-psych movement that began in the 1990s, which itself was a reinterpretation of the genre’s pop-rock origins in the 1960s. Is this nitpicking? Not when you hear the title-track infusing its Middle Eastern-leaning groove with a heroic dose of wah or the friendly shimmer of “I Do Not” that feels extrapolated from garage rock but is most definitely not that thing and the post-Beatles bop of “Sunhouse.” It’s an individual (if inherently familiar) take that unifies the varied arrangements of the acidic “When We Die” and the cosmic vibe of “All the Lines” (okay, so there’s a little bit of space boogie too), resolving in the Doors-y lumber of “Crack” to broaden the scope even further and blur past timelines into an optimistic future.

Thomas Greenwood and The Talismans on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Djiin, Mirrors

djiin mirrors

As direct as some of its push is and as immediate as “Fish” is opening the album right into the first verse, the course that harp-laced French heavy progressive rockers Djiin take on their third album, Mirrors, ultimately more varied, winding and satisfying as its five-track run gives over to the nine-minute “Mirrors” and uses its time to explore more pointedly atmospheric reaches before a weighted crescendo that precedes the somehow-fluidity in the off-time early stretch of centerpiece “In the Aura of My Own Sadness,” its verses topped with spoken word and offset by note-for-note melodic conversation between the vocals and guitar. Rest assured, they build “In the Aura of My Own Sadness” to its own crushing end, while taking a more decisively psychedelic approach to get there, and thereby set up “Blind” with its trades from open-spaces held to pattern by the drums and a pair of nigh-on-caustic noise rock onslaughts before 13-minute capstone “Iron Monsters” unfolds a full instrumental linear movement before getting even heavier, as if to underscore the notion that Djiin can go wherever the hell they want and make it work as a song. Point taken.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SoftSun to Release Debut LP on Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

There’s only one snippet posted on Instagram, and I couldn’t even manage to embed that properly — for what it’s worth, the track is called “Daylight in the Dark” — but SoftSun is a new trio featuring guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere, Zun, Ten East and copious others on the branches of one of desert rock’s broadest-reaching family trees, bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen, aka Pia Isa for her solo work, of Norwegian atmospheric heavy nodders Superlynx, and drummer/recording engineer Dan Joeright, who in addition to playing in Earth Moon Earth runs the helm at Gatos Trail Recording Studio, where Yawning Man, Blasting Rod, The Freeks, Behold the Monolith and many more have recorded.

The roots of the collab would seem to be Arce‘s appearance on Pia Isa‘s 2022 album, Distorted Chants (review here), but either way, SoftSun have already been picked up to release their yet-untitled debut LP through Ripple Music sometime in the next however long, and if you do chase down that brief glimpse of “Daylight in the Dark” (which I’d suggest as your next stop), you’ll likely understand quickly why that’s something to look forward to.

Some background and label comment, from socials:

softsun (Photo by Aaron Farinelli)

Says Ripple Music: Stoked to be bringing you this amazingly cool project! Please welcome SoftSun to the Ripple family!!

SoftSun is, left to right:

Dan Joeright (drums) who also plays in cosmic rock collective Earth Moon Earth, is a former member of The Rentals and has toured with many bands including Sasquatch and Ed Mundell. He is also the owner of the amazing Gatos Trail – Recording Studio in Yucca Valley where SoftSun record their music, and does the recording and mixing.

Pia Isaksen (bass/vocals) from Moss, Norway has played and written music most of her life and has spent a decade in heavy psych band Superlynx. She also has a dronegazey solo project called PIA ISA, and will release her second solo album this year.

Gary Arce (guitar) from La Quinta, California, known from Yawning Man, FATSO JETSON, Ten East, Dark Tooth Encounter, Big Scenic Nowhere, Yawning Balch etc. Since playing in the desert as young punk kid he has developed a unique style of playing and is known to create the most beautiful and dreamy sounds and melodies that sound like no one else. And he can never get enough foot pedals.

Photo by @aaronfarinelli



SoftSun, “Daylight in the Dark” snippet


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SOFTSUN (@softsunofficial)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pia Isa Premieres “Trauma” Video; Song Features Gary Arce of Yawning Man

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Pia isa

Oslo-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Pia Isaksen, also frontwoman for the melodic nodders Superlynx, released her debut solo album as Pia Isa, Distorted Chants (review here), in March 2022 through Argonauta Records. “Trauma,” with a video premiering below, is a fitting representation of it, for the weight of the chug in Isaksen‘s guitar and bass, the floating guest lead guitar of desert rock progenitor Gary Arce from Yawning ManYawning Sons, Big Scenic Nowhere, et al, the drums of Superlynx bandmate Ole Teigen, and the overarching focus on atmosphere. Too heavy to be post-rock, not quite doom, Distorted Chants found Isaksen able to find an expressive niche of her own, something apart from singer-songwriterism, but built on that foundation and fleshed out accordingly into a fuller sound.

I’ve started (mentally anyhow) putting together my year-end list of the best debut albums, and I assure you that Distorted Chants will be on it. Songs, performance, craft, it’s all locked in as Isaksen brings together pandemic-born material with a sensibility that avoids so many of the male-gaze-centered traps set for women artists in contemporary heavy music — it is not especially witchy despite its mindful ambience, in other words; the intent feels more ‘be itself’ than ‘play to style’ —  and that is refreshing both in terms of sonic persona and the realization of the material itself. The sound and the album are hers — bolstered in this case by the almost-goth guitar work of Arce — and the abiding feel from the music is personal, emotional in voice and style of play, while carrying not insignificant tonal weight from the first lurching riff of “Trauma” onward through the somewhat-brief-seeming sub-four-minute run. You could easily say the same of the whole record.

What’s invariably a sign of our times, “trauma” itself has become something of a buzzword. The very notion of a person’s mental and physical self being altered by some event or infliction is the defining aspect of the 2020s thus far — remember that plague? as Isaksen puts it, “Like magma traveling underneath the skin,” before she reminds: “The body does not forget” — and Distorted Chants is of this moment. She is not by any means the only artist to explore outside the confines of a ‘main project’ in the post-pandemic era, but turmoil and, indeed, trauma, become fluid movement through heavy haze in her hands and the density in the sound of “Trauma” is as much welcoming as it is consuming. There’s some distance from the experience, necessary for any artist to frame anything as a creative work, but Isaksen effectively creates the space for the song’s ideas to flourish, and they do.

I didn’t expect Arce, who plays on three of the album’s tracks, to appear in the clip, but sure enough he’s in there with Isaksen and Teigen, so right on. The more the merrier. And for what my saying so is worth, if you don’t support free talk therapy for all who want it, fuck off. Whatever else trauma is, it’s real for a lot of people.

Enjoy the clip, followed by a quote from Isaksen and

Pia Isa, “Trauma (feat. Gary Arce)” video premiere

Pia Isa on “Trauma:

“I am thrilled to finally have the vinyl out and to celebrate it with the music video for the song Trauma. This is one of the most personal and heavy tracks on the album, graced with gorgeous guitar melodies by Gary Arce coming in over the massive riff guitars and Ole Teigen´s slow heavy drums. The song is dealing with difficult matter, where trauma is symbolised visually by smoke, lava and a volcanic outburst in the video. I tried to find a hopeful and empowering view on it and to me personally this is an example of how therapeutic music can really be and how it can transport you into a different mindset.”

Pia Isa is the solo project of bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen from Norwegian heavy psych/doom band Superlynx. She is now gearing up for the release of her debut solo album “Distorted Chants”, which features Ole Teigen (Superlynx) on drums and a guest appearance by guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere) on three of the songs.

Having played and written music for most of her life a solo album has been brewing in Pia’s mind for a long time. Finally everything has aligned for her first one to materialize and “Distorted Chants” was the result of that. As much as she loves playing with Superlynx (formed 2013) and other people her ideas for this album seemed more right to work through on her own.

Pia Isa, Distorted Chants (2022)

Pia Isa on Facebook

Pia Isa on Instagram

Pia Isa on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Pia Isaksen of Superlynx & Pia Isa

Posted in Questionnaire on June 1st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Pia isa

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: Pia Isaksen of Superlynx & Pia Isa

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I create and play music with my band Superlynx and solo project PIA ISA. I am trying create and do things I love and that I find meaningful. I discovered that music was my thing when I was a kid and started playing piano when I was eight. A year later I started inventing little melodies and songs myself and it felt like a very exciting and almost magic thing. I started playing guitar when I was 13 and listened to a lot of music. The town I grew up in, called Moss, had a great music scene at the time and so many bands, so there were people to play with and places to practice. I moved to Oslo in my early twenties and played in a couple of bands there which later led on to forming Superlynx in 2013. Then I started my solo project last year after having thought about it for years and finally found time for it.

Describe your first musical memory.

The first memory that comes to mind is sitting on the floor in the living room as a maybe three or four year old with my mom, singing songs together from a children’s songbook. I was very excited about singing and learning songs. I also remember the first time I felt moved by music and tears suddenly came rolling just because it was so beautiful. I think I was around eight and a Grieg record was playing in the house.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

This is a tough question and it seems impossible to choose one. There are so many special moments to look back on, from gigs I have played – especially with Superlynx – to being in the audience at amazing gigs, to moments of connecting musically with other people and memorable creative times. One gig that comes to mind was in Berlin in July 2019 when Superlynx supported Weedeater in a packed venue in 40 ° C and everyone up front was dancing during our set. The heat was a challenge but there was such a special lovely energy in the room and we had so much fun that hot summer night with new and old friends. Playing live the very night Oslo opened again after covid lockdown last year was also something to remember. And finally making my solo album and then having someone whose music I have been a fan of for a long time, Gary Arce from Yawning Man, etc., play on it also stands out. Seeing Sleep in Oslo in 2012 with a group of friends was also very special. One of them, a very good friend of mine, passed away shortly after and I am grateful we got to make this last great memory. Sorry, this question brings up many things. I will stop here.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I always assume that people are kind and honest. That has led to disappointment more than once and I think I have become a little less naive as I have gotten older.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To different things for different people. I guess also to more insight and to a broader “toolbox” for your ideas and what you want to express.

How do you define success?

Doing what you love, what is important to you and what makes you happy. When it comes to music I think it is something like creative fulfillment and when the music, words, performance, mood and sound just feel right all together. The feeling of having created a work you can fully stand behind and feel happy with. And if someone else connects to it and gets some meaning, comfort, good times, a needed escape or maybe even help dealing with things through it that is a wonderful thing. Like so much music has done for me. It wouldn’t hurt to sell a lot of records and tour the world but being able to do what you love and having good people around is pretty successful I would say.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

On a selfish level a lot of things. Violence, sexism, racism, sickness, injustice, the climate crisis etc. It would have been easier to not have seen or experienced any of it. But in the bigger picture I don’t think it is a very good solution to look away from the truth and pretend these problems don’t exist.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

More music of course, and I would also like to do some more collaborations. It would also be exciting to do some music for moving images or a film some time. And I wish to do more graphic art of my own that I have many ideas for and that I hope will be possible to realize sometime in the future.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Connection, catharsis, escape, deeper understanding of life, transcendence, hope. To express and communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings from our very inner core in a way that nothing else can, on more and on deeper levels. To help understand ourselves, each other and the world better and it definitely connects us and makes life more interesting.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I am looking so much forward to summer which is finally beginning to kick in here, and to daily swims in the ocean when the sea gets warm enough. It is getting there. To me this is one of the very best things in life.





Pia Isa, Distorted Chants (2022)

Superlynx, Electric Temple (2021)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 76

Posted in Radio on January 21st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Yeah, this is a good one. A lot of this comes from stuff that’s been and is being covered around here over the last couple weeks, and suffice it to say I’ve got no regrets about choosing any of these tracks. I was worried about White Manna getting lost in the Quarterly Review shuffle, so consider this an extra nod to check that out, and celebrating the new Big Scenic Nowhere, Lamp of the Universe, Weedpecker and Pia Isa records feels about right, as well as the Electric Moon collection, Phase, which put “The Loop” right back in my head like it had never left.

Upcoming stuff from Seremonia, Obsidian Sea, Fostermother, and SÖNUS give a glimpse of things to be released over the next month-plus, and the hardest part about including an Author & Punisher track is not rambling incoherently for 20 minutes about how great the rest of the record from which it comes is. I suppose there will be time for such things.

For now, I thank you for listening as always if you do and I’m grateful you see these words either way.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.21.22

Pia Isa Follow the Sun Distorted Chants
SÖNUS Pay Me Your Mind Usurper of the Universe
Weedpecker Endless Extensions of Good Vibrations IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts
Fostermother Hedonist The Ocean
Frozen Planet….1969 Diamond Dust Not From 1969
Author & Punisher Drone Carrying Dread Kruller
Wormsand Carrions Shapeless Mass
Dream Unending In Cipher I Weep Tide Turns Eternal
Obsidian Sea Mythos Pathos
Lamp of the Universe Descendants The Akashic Field
Electric Moon The Loop Phase
Papir 7.2 7
Seremonia Unohduksen Kidassa Neonlusifer
White Manna Monogamous Casanova First Welcome
Big Scenic Nowhere The Long Morrow The Long Morrow

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

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pia Isa Premieres “Follow the Sun” Video From Solo LP Distorted Chants

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on January 5th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

pia isa

Oslo, Norway’s Pia Isa will release her debut solo album, Distorted Chants, on March 25 through Argonauta Records. Also known as the bassist/vocalist of melodic and atmospheric heavybringers SuperlynxIsa — née Isaksen — found herself embarking on the endeavor during the addled course of 2020, and there is a certain element of that which shows up in the 10-song procession of the record. At 36 minutes, Distorted Chants speaks to the listener in a melancholic blend of low rumble and high melody. Songs are slow and emotionally resonant without melodrama, and on average, they grow shorter as time passes — nothing after the opening salvo of “Follow the Sun” (video premiering below), “Statistics” and “Quiet Beach” is over four minutes long — giving the effect of flashes, glimpses of memories already fading.

It is weighted, to be sure. Heavy. Isaksen wants nothing for tonal density and she’s joined by Ole Teigen, who also drums in Superlynx (he also produced here), so while the ambience is different between the two projects, that underlying familiarity is there, and it presumably helps hold together the proceedings as the depths of a song like “Statistics” are cast, or “Trauma” as the midsection guitar solo is introduced as if to emphasize just how low the band has dug. Is that you, Gary Arce? The Yawning Man guitarist/desert rock progenitor guests on three of Distorted Chants‘ tracks, “Follow the Sun” among them, but even there his signature tone is less identifiable than in some other contexts — though I’d believe that’s him following the doomed lumber of “A Hopeful Reminder” — which just means it fits better than one might expect amid the semi-goth, heavygaze, post-rock brooding of “Sleepless” or “No Straight Line.”

At just 3:10, “Mantra”pia isa Distorted Chants is nonetheless duly repetitive and ethereal, and its no-lyrics vocalizations still feel substantial given the march the song undertakes en route to the thicker lo-fi of “Every Tree” and the finale “Velvet Dreams,” which is righteous in its consistent downtroddenness; it sounds like where I wish Electric Wizard would’ve gone after Black Masses. Completely hypnotized by its own execution, but still conveying emotion to the audience. It ends cold, which also feels just about right considering the nature of the outing as a whole.

If you’ve been alive for the last two years, the specific loneliness and universal sense of loss imbued into Distorted Chants are recognizable, relatable. One can’t help but wonder how the album — which may or may not have a follow-up by then; one never knows with solo/side-projects — will sound five years from now, if that feeling of documenting that moment will continue to ring through or if the association will fade. Depends on plague, I guess, like so much else. I’ll note that I haven’t seen a lyric sheet, so I’m not trying to sit here and tell you she’s definitively writing “Statistics” about those statistics, just that sadness, the examination of self, the rerouting of creative impulses — all of these things have found a place in the shared human daily existence. By the same token, Distorted Chants isn’t without its light — Isaksen credits it largely to Arce‘s involvement; I hear it no less in her own melodies at points; why argue? — and while I wouldn’t quite call it “daring to hope,” it’s maybe daring to think about daring to dare. One step at a time, and so on.

“Follow the Sun” — not a cover of The Beatles‘ “I’ll Follow the Sun,” but probably aware of it — is the first single from Distorted Chants, for which Isaksen also handled the cover art, and you’ll find the video premiering below, followed by some comment from the auteur herself.

Please enjoy:

Pia Isa, “Follow the Sun” video premiere

Pia Isa on “Follow the Sun”:

I am excited to share Follow the Sun as the first single from the album. It was also one of the first songs I wrote for this project, and it sort of ignited a writing process where songs just came flowing. The track is a reminder that light will always come after the dark, that it is really always there, and of trying to hang onto that fact even when it is hard to. I am really lucky to have Gary Arce with me on this song, sprinkling his magic guitar tones over my heavier floating guitars. I love how it comes and goes and shines through more and more and I feel it really represents the sunlight in this soundscape. I also love how Ole’s drums and long chiming cymbals turned out on this song and the entire album.

The video is made by Joan Pople / Temple ov Saturn who also did a Superlynx video earlier this year. We had very similar ideas on how to represent a battle between darkness and light in the video, and she is just so great to work with.

PIA ISA is the solo project of bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen from Norwegian heavy psych/doom band Superlynx. She is now ready to share her debut solo album Distorted Chants, which features Ole Teigen (Superlynx etc) on drums and a guest appearance by guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere etc.) on three of the songs.

Having played and written music for most of her life a solo album has been brewing in Pia’s mind for a long time. Finally everything has aligned for her first one to materialize, and Distorted Chants was recorded early 2021. As much as she loves playing with Superlynx (formed 2013) and other people her ideas for this album seemed more right to work through on her own.

All songs and lyrics are written by Pia who also plays guitars and bass in addition to singing. Gary Arce from Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere, Yawning Sons, Ten East, ZUN etc. has joined in with dreamy guitars on three songs, and drums and percussion is played by Superlynx drummer Ole Teigen who also recorded, mixed and produced the album in his studio Crowtown Recordings.

Pia Isa on Facebook

Pia Isa on Instagram

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Facebook

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pia Isa Debut Album Due out Next Year on Argonauta Records

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

Admittedly, there isn’t much to go on here. About 30 seconds of slow riffy undulation and drifting vocals set to a video backdrop of black and white waves. But I’ll be damned if that isn’t enough for Pia Isa to give a sense of atmosphere ahead of whatever debut album might be forthcoming. The project is a solo break for Pia Isaksen, also of Oslo’s Superlynx, who released their Electric Temple (review here) full-length earlier this year, and while there’s not much more public than that at this point, the fact that Superlynx‘s own Ole Teigen handles drums and none other than Gary Arce steps in on guitar for a few tracks only helps build anticipation. Argonauta Records has the release sometime early next year. I hope I get to hear it before then.

If you didn’t hear Electric Temple, that’s streaming below, along with the Pia Isa teaser. Info came down the PR wire:

pia isa

SUPERLYNX Bassist/Vocalist Launches Solo Project PIA ISA And Signs To Argonauta Records!

Debut Album coming in early 2022!

Bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen from the Norwegian heavy psych and doom band Superlynx has launched her first solo affair entitled PIA ISA! Her debut album will be released in early 2022 through powerhouse label Argonauta Records.

Having played and written music for most of her life, a solo album has been brewing in Pia´s mind for a long time. Recorded in early 2021, the album will feature high class guests such as Ole Teigen (Superlynx) on drums and guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere) on three of the album tracks.

As much as Pia loves playing with Superlynx and other fellow artists, her ideas for this album seemed more right to work through on her own. Her music is rooted in slow heavy drones but also has a lighter, dreamy and hopeful side. She is inspired by massive soundscapes, heavy psych, meditative moods, desert vibes and eastern scales as well as her nordic coastal surroundings. Superlynx listeners may recognize her slow, heavy, minimalistic riffs and haunting sometimes chanting voice, but also fans of acts such as Chelsea Wolfe may fall in love with her solo sound! Being open minded and not caring about fitting to any genres but channeling honest and heartfelt music in her own way, the lyrics on Pia‘s debut are deeply personal and stretches from the very inner self and throughout nature. According to Pia, “writing and recording the album has been a very cathartic process.“

Slated for a release early next year through Argonauta Records and with many more details and songs to follow soon, you can now listen to a first album teaser by PIA ISA here:


Pia Isa, Debut Album Teaser

Superlynx, Electric Temple (2021)

Tags: , , , ,