Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Horehound Stream “Unbind”; Post Release Details for Weight 8″ EP

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

horehound (Photo by Amanda Baker)

At the end of last month, it was announced that DHU Records had picked up Pittsburgh post-sludgers Horehound for the release of their new EP, Weight, as an 8″ record that’s bound to screw up somebody or other’s vinyl shelf organization in a delightful fashion. The A-side of the two-tracker is called “Unbind” — why my brain keeps typing that as “unblind,” I have no idea, but it does — and it’s streaming now thanks to a new sampler that DHU has put up as a free download that also includes cuts from DoomstressAstral WitchBlack RoadThe Red Widows and a slew of others that only emphasize the good company Horehound are keeping on the label.

The band had some comment about the release come down the PR wire, so hell yeah I’ll post that with the stream of the track. The EP? Yeah, there are a whopping 66 copies being made, so yes, if you want one, you should not hesitate to place your orders promptly.

Info:

horehound weight

HOREHOUND RELEASE NEW EP SEPT. 27

Post-Doom authors Horehound have recorded their third release: a short, sweet, and intentional teaser of things to come. The two songs set-up on 8″ lathes for a special limited press will also be available on their Bandcamp page on September 27th. The group has kept with its ritual of recording and mixing with Matt Schor at The War Room, and mastering with James Plotkin.

DHU is including the first-side single, Unbind, from this record in their DHU SAMPLER MMXIX VOL. IV, which is set for 9/6/19, so you can get a peek at it now!

“The songs are the most personally connected I’ve felt to anything we’ve written as a band and I hope that connection is something people feel when listening but, more than anything, I hope people just rock it the fuck out.” — Vocalist, Shy Kennedy

“DHU Records understands the Heavy Underground better than most and works hard to find and market the bands in its roster. We are certain this will be a strong partnership to build on.” — Guitarist, Brendan Parrish

Weight will be available for purchase on vinyl through DHU Records website, as well as a limited amount on the Horehound site, and while copies last, at live shows. It will also be available digitally on Bandcamp (https://pro-sludge.com) and through streaming services beginning September 27th, 2019.

HOREHOUND | WEIGHT EP
Side One: Unbind
Side Two: The Heavy

HOREHOUND is:
JD Dauer – drums
Brendan Parrish – guitar
Shy Kennedy – vocals

https://www.facebook.com/horehoundband/
https://www.instagram.com/horehound420/
http://horehound.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Horehound, “Unbind”

Horehound, Holocene (2018)

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Horehound to Release Weight 8″ EP on DHU Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Before this entire post devolves into dick jokes — which, let’s just say, could happen — an eight-inch EP is just like a seven-inch EP, only, guess what?, one inch bigger. I can only think of one other heavy band in recent years who’ve put one out, so good for Pittsburgh’s Horehound and DHU Records teaming up to do something special together. As the band follows up late-2018’s full-length, Holocene (review here), they will release Weight, as a two-songer on eight-inch vinyl through the Netherlands-based imprint. That’s cool. Good fit, all that. The thing is, they’re only pressing 66 of them. That’s like nothing. Less than. That’s gone-on-preorders edition. The official release date is Sept. 27, and yeah, unless preorders open on Sept. 26, I can’t imagine there could possibly be any left by the time the official arrival gets here.

Horehound announced earlier this month that bassist Nick Kopco was leaving the band on amicable terms and that Louis Snyder (also Riparian) would fill in on for the time being until they get somebody to take the role permanently. I would assume it’s still Kopco on the EP, so Weight would also serve as, again presumably, his final recorded output with the band.

The following showed up on social medias:

HOREHOUND DHU

!! LISTEN UP !!!

DHU Records is damn excited to sign Pittsburgh Heavies Horehound to join the DHU Family and release their upcoming 2 song EP Weight on an Exclusive and Limited 8″ Clear Lathe Cut Vinyl!

That’s right, you read that correct, an 8″ vinyl record!

Pressed once again by our vinyl brothers at Royal Mint Records and mastered for vinyl by the one and only James Plotkin

DHU is honored to be releasing new music by one of my favorite Doom bands!

!!! LIMITED TO 66 COPIES WORLDWIDE !!!

Released September 27th
Order info coming soon

STAY DOOMED STAY HEAVY

HOREHOUND is:
JD Dauer – drums
Brendan Parrish – guitar
Shy Kennedy – vocals

https://www.facebook.com/horehoundband/
https://www.instagram.com/horehound420/
http://horehound.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Horehound, Holocene (2018)

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ZOM Announce Icelandic Tour for Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ve had the good fortune of flying to Reykjavik a few times over the years, and from the air, Iceland is stark and gorgeous and like nothing else I’ve ever seen. I’ve never, however, had enough time there to actually leave the airport. It’s always fly-in-fly-out. Pittsburgh’s ZOM, on the other hand, will shoot over for a three-date run of Iceland at the end of August, hitting Reykjavik, Hafnarfjörður and Dalvik, a trip that will let them drive up the western coast of the country for a time before cutting inland a bit as they make their way north. Looks like an awesome way to do a weekender, and hey, if you could get three shows together in Iceland, wouldn’t you do it? Absolutely you would. It’s frickin’ Iceland. You go if you can go.

ZOM released their Argonauta Records debut, Nebulos, last year, and have been playing shows steadily since. This trip marks the first time they’ll leave the States for a show, though somehow one doubts it will be the last. An initial incursion, then.

Their announcement and the show details follow here. Because if you could go see a band from Pittsburgh in Icleand, wouldn’t you do it? Absolutely you would.

You get the idea:

zom

ZOM to tour Iceland this August!

Pittsburgh, USA Stoner/Groove Heavy Rockers, ZOM (Argonauta Records) will embark on a tour of Iceland in late August, 2019.

It’s the band’s first trip overseas as a group in what they hope will be the first of many.

ZOM started as a recording project between Gero von Dehn (Von Dane/Monolith Wielder) and Andrew D’Cagna (Brimstone Coven/Ironflame) but morphed into a full fledged band after the recording of their debut release, Nebulos.

ZOM now features von Dehn (v/g), Ben Zerbe (Monolith Wielder-d), Matt Tuite (Penance/Blackfinger-g) and Sam Pesce (Del Rios-b).

Joining them on all three dates will be Icelandic heavy rockers, Alchemia. Southern flavored, stoner rockers, Volcanova (Iceland) will be perform on select shows.

ICELAND DATES:

Thur Aug 29th Gaukurinn Reykjavik
With Alchemia and Volcanova

Friday Aug 30th R6013 or íslenski rokkbarinn Hafnarfjörður.
With Alchemia and Volcanova

Sat Aug 31st – Dalvik Theatre Leikfelag Dalvikur Dalvik
With Alchemia

www.facebook.com/ZOM-189166947896954/
https://zom-rock.bandcamp.com/music
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

ZOM, Nebulos (2018)

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Urns Set Aug. 10 Release for Self-Titled Debut; New Song Streaming

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

urns

First, I’d like to point out that the Thee Facebooks address for Pittsburgh’s Urns is ‘booUrns,’ which is about as choice as Simpsons references get without actually shooting Mr. Burns. Second, there’s a new song streaming now called “Curse” that leads off their upcoming self-titled debut that will see release on Aug. 10, one day after the release party at Howler’s in the band’s hometown. I’m getting a doom rock vibe from the first half of the track and some distinctly sludgier vibes from the second, but all that really tells me is they’re looking to throw a few curves here and there, and that’ll do nicely. One might recognize bassist/backing vocalist Justin Gizzi from Monolith Wielder and Molasses Barge as well, just in case you needed more proof of doomly bona fides.

Pedigree goes far, but riffs go further, so dig into the track and see what you think. Here’s some background:

urns urns

Urns (Pittsburgh) s/t debut available 8/10 at http://www.UrnsPgh.com

Crying out like the last gasp of a man on fire, punctuated by overdriven guitars growling and biting through shifting moods, Urns take their time to get where they are going, exploring the smoke-filled soundscape along the way. Droning guitars give way to aureate vocal harmonies at times, just as soon as sludgy riffs desperately trudge forward behind blood-throated shrieks. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Myzak recruited bassist Justin Gizzi and drummer Rick Fontanese in 2014, with Mitchell Cochran joining in 2017 to form the line-up for Urns’ debut self-titled record (engineered by Jason Jouver of Plus/Minus Recording, mastered by Jack Endino of Soundhouse Recording) to be released 8/9 at Howler’s in Pittsburgh.

Has played with: Weedeater, Bell Witch, Full of Hell, Yob, Heavy Temple, Stinking Lizaveta, Witch Mountain

FB: https://www.facebook.com/BooUrnsPGH

Mike Myzak – guitar and vocals, lead guitar on track 2
Mitchell Cochran – lead guitar
Justin Gizzi – bass and backing vocals
Rick Fontanese – drums

https://www.facebook.com/BooUrnsPGH
http://www.UrnsPgh.com

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Deathwhite Begin Recording New Album Grave Image

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

deathwhite

Now a four-piece, Pittsburgh melodic doom metallers Deathwhite have announced they’ve begun recording their second album, to be titled Grave Image and released through Season of Mist. The same imprint stood behind their early-2018 debut, For a Black Tomorrow (review here), which offered an American interpretation of the kind of emotive doom proffered by the likes of Katatonia or Alternative 4-era Anathema. It was a full-length that I think flew under a lot of people’s radar, but as a fan of the style was something that hit a chord with me, and I’ll look forward to hearing what they come out with having returned to Cerebral Audio Productions to lay down the instrumental tracks while vocals will be done at Mana Recording in Tampa, Florida. Nice vacation, and I wonder if that means Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) will be at the helm. Could be interesting.

The band made the announcement of work being done in short and sweet fashion via a social media post. I’ve also included the stream of the first LP below in case you’d like a refresher.

Have at it:

deathwhite cheat sheet

DEATHWHITE Enters Studio To Record New Album, ‘Grave Image’

It is with great pleasure to share we are currently in the throes of recording our second full-length album, “Grave Image.” The album will be released in the not-terribly-distant future via Season of Mist.

Cerebral Audio Productions’ Shane Mayer is once again overseeing the sessions; vocals will be tracked at Mana Recording in Tampa, Florida. And, much to our delight, the esteemed Dan Swano will handle mastering.

We are now a quartet, having added a second guitar player. Such an addition, along with new twists and turns in the songwriting process, make “Grave Image” an effort we are imminently proud of. We look forward to sharing more details as matters unfold. Until then…

http://www.facebook.com/deathwhiteofficial
https://deathwhite.bandcamp.com/
http://deathwhite.com/
http://www.season-of-mist.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial/

Deathwhite, For a Black Tomorrow (2018)

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Descendants of Crom III Preliminary Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom iii banner

The first lineup announcement from Pittsburgh-based Descendants of Crom III is a doozy. The headliners are apparently still to be announced — though would anyone complain if Solace or Valkyrie headlined a night? — but between them and the likes of IrataArgusBackwoods Payback and Foghound, it’s already shaping up to be a killer three-dayer this September. Awesome to see Sun Voyager on this bill and the likes of Void King and Fox 45 getting a look. Pale Grey Lore might even have their new record out by then — Solace too, for that matter — but either way, there’s a lot here to dig immediately, and of course for this kind of announcement that’s the whole point.

They’re selling early-bird tickets this month, so you know, get out that calendar and add another one to your already-absolutely-slammed festival schedule. It’s madness, but, you know, the good kind of madness. Here’s hoping the universe doesn’t collapse between now and then.

Thus-far confirmations follow, as per social media:

descendants of crom iii poster

DESCENDANTS OF CROM III – Announces 2019 Event For Sept. 20-22; Bands Incl. VALKYRIE, BACKWOODS PAYBACK + More!

– A GATHERING OF THE HEAVY UNDERGROUND –
– SEPTEMBER 20-22, 2019 –
– STEEL CITY, USA –

The third annual DESCENDANTS OF CROM will be held once again in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spanning the weekend of September 20th. The PGH underground scene of heavy rock and metal is healthy and thriving and the location is perfect. Feeding great regional bands to a hungry crowd and serving up internationally legendary fan-favorites to entice music lovers in the door to experience these amazing local artists.

Descendants of Crom came out of the gates running with the first event in 2017, becoming a strong contender among other established regional music festivals. The 2019 events begin on Friday, September 20th, with a Pre-Gala evening at Howlers, followed by two full-day events on Saturday and Sunday at Cattivo.

Shy Kennedy has once again hand-picked and curated a beautiful mixture of acts for Descendants Of Crom III. While a few more updates will complete the lineup for the full schedule of events over the weekend, a most incredible roster of bands is included today. All are invited to become part of the experience at the 2019 Pre-Gala and Weekend Events!

After all, we are all DESCENDANTS OF CROM.

Remember to visit our site www.descendantsofcrom.com and to the official event pages on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/events/216035832675553

Lineup so far:
Solace
Valkyrie
Argus
Irata
Backwoods Payback
Enhailer
Icarus Witch
Brimstone Coven
Foghound
Kingsnake
Sun Voyager
Witchkiss
Leather Lung
Frayle
Tines
Spacelord
Pillärs
PALE GREY LORE
Lightning Born
NIGHT VAPOR
Pyrithe
Riparian
Fox 45
Void King
Official: COMA
Action Camp
White Alice
Old Dream
Motometer

https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom/
www.instagram.com/descendantsofcrom/
https://www.facebook.com/events/216035832675553/
www.descendantsofcrom.com/Tickets.php
http://descendantsofcrom.com

Solace, Live at Descendants of Crom 2017

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Horehound, Holocene: To Breathe

Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

horehound holocene

Pittsburgh four-piece Horehound worked quickly after forming to turn around their impressive 2016 self-titled debut (review here), which was first released through Blackseed Records and picked up shortly thereafter by Hellmistress Records. In the intervening two years, they’ve worked toward becoming forerunners of Pittsburgh heavy, and their second long-player, Holocene, would seem to do nothing to slow their momentum in that regard. Fronted by the multifaceted vocals of Shy Kennedy — also of Blackseed Records and Pittsburgh’s Descendants of Crom fest — with Brendan Parrish on guitar, Nick Kopco on bass and JD Dauer on drums, Horehound undertake significant development in the six-track (well, six and a quick hidden bonus cut, anyway) and 45-minute long-player, and aligned with Doom Stew Records, they seem to signal their embarking on a different level of their approach even with the Brian Mercer album art.

Their songcraft is in the process of becoming no less textured, and while influences blend from the likes of Paradise LostYear of the CobraCandlemass (looking at you, “Sloth”) and traditionalist American doom, there is a grit to the production that keep the album earthbound no matter how far it might reach in terms of melody or atmosphere. It’s worth noting that at this point, Horehound have been a band for about three years, and Holocene is their second full-length in less time than than it takes some bands to get together a debut EP, so the fact of their motivation is writ large in their growing body of output, but it’s in their songwriting as well. One can hear a more dynamic presence taking shape in “Dier’s Dirge,” with its hook, “What we’ve become, can’t be undone/What we’ve destroyed, can’t be undone,” delivered patiently by Kennedy atop Parrish‘s severe riffing. That grim outlook is manifest in leadoff and longest track (immediate points) “The Kind,” which begins with a wistful minute-plus stretch of acoustic guitar and seems to work in movements to introduce various elements from the album, be it the somber mood, the melo-sludge push, Kennedy‘s play between growls and clean-sung lines, or the song’s what-if-ElectricWizard-got-clean capstone solo.

“The Kind” is very much a closer made opener, with the acoustic intro serving largely as the difference in runtime between it and subsequent pieces, and as its feedback ending fades out into the starting crashes of “Dier’s Dirge” — which, as it happens is the second-longest cut at 7:50 — Holocene clearly enters another phase. If we’re picking highlights, I’ll take “Dier’s Dirge” for the already-noted chorus, which is a standout in the departure of the vocals from the melodic patterning of the guitar, but neither is the accomplishment of “The Kind” to be undersold as a standout work. But there’s clearly a shift in momentum with “Dier’s Dirge” picks up and leads into the rest of the album, and as the faster, shorter-at-6:17 “L’Appel du Vide” completes side A, that momentum only gets more fervent as pushed by the ultra-solid rhythm section of Dauer and Kopco, the latter of whom brings a tonal weight to the rolling crash of the drums that proves crucial in conveying the sludgier aspects of what Horehound do.

horehound (Photo by Shannon Kenyon)

Those too are prefaced in “The Kind,” of course, but as Holocene pans out, it builds on the parameters set forth in the opener, such that the spacious moments in the beginning of “L’Appel du Vide” set up what follows as a surge of energy, and the compression effects on the vocals add a monstrous feel to the track that the also-sub-seven-minutes “Sloth” picks up as it starts side B. That kind of multi-level structure to the album is further emblematic of the progression they’ve made overall, but also of the changing in their thinking of how an LP should function. Whether you’re listening on a linear format — CD/DL — or one requiring a side switch — LP/CS — there are considerations made such that a flow is maintained front-to-back as well as in individual parts. As the melancholy apex of “Sloth” carries over to the long-held notes of the guitar at the end, giving way to feedback, there’s not interruption of what the band has thus far worked hard to build. And yet the personality of the album is changing.

A bluesy edge makes its way into the beginning verses of “Anastatica,” and trades of volume are effectively made as the track rolls into its chorus of “ooh”s and fluid, languid chorus. But the song, which takes its name from the Rose of Jericho, or the “resurrection plant,” follows suit in a subtle shift from “Sloth” before it in eschewing harsher vocals and so, while it benefits from the tension that at any moment it might become more aggressive, it ultimately shows a willingness on the part of Horehound to do what best serves the whims of their craft — an impulse that will only help them as they continue to move forward, no matter what those whims might dictate as regards screams or anything else. “Sloth” hints at harmonies in its midsection, and closer “Highball” follows suit in terms of casting off the more abrasive growling as it finds Parrish leading the way into the song’s second half with a guitar meander topped with layers of vocal melody for an effect somewhere between Sabbath and Type O Negative that nonetheless carries an air as well of heavy post-rock while building smoothly to a bigger finish.

Dauer tosses in choice cymbal work like it’s nothing as Kopco holds steady on low end and Kennedy brings an ethereality to the final moments on vocals, having said just about all there is to say in the last lines: “You can’t see me/You don’t know me/Yet I know you/You are weak, untrue.” “Highball” caps at just under seven minutes, which is right about standard for Horehound, and a hidden bonus track reverses the screamed portion of the chorus to “Dier’s Dirge” to close out. So technically, there are screams on side B one way or the other. Fair enough. There are those who decry the use of harsh vocal styles outright. I’m not one of them. But it’s interesting that Holocene would divide its sides along such lines, and given the obvious thought put into songwriting and the album’s presentation overall, that doesn’t seem like an accident. As to what it might say about the direction and creative development under way, I wouldn’t guess. The fact of the matter is that as fast as Horehound have worked, they’re still a relatively new band. Holocene is a crucial moment for them in establishing who they want to be in terms of sound and form.

Horehound, “L’Appel du Vide” official video

Horehound, Holocene (2018)

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