The Obelisk Presents: Sunnata & Yatra European Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sunnata yatra tour banner

The response this year to Yatra‘s debut album, Death Ritual (discussed here), has been stunning, but no less has been the amount of work the Maryland band have put in to support it. They’ve reportedly got a follow-up recorded now, and with Poland’s Sunnata getting ready to issue a new record of their own next year, the two make an excellent complement to each other, Sunnata‘s lush melodicism and spaciousness and Yatra‘s crush-your-head riffs coming together for a tour that hits hard and expands your mind at the same time. Cool bill, and I’m honored to have been asked to be among the presenters for it along with Blackskull Services and STB Records. Obviously that was an easy “yes.”

Beginning Oct. 2 in Dresden, the tour will make stops in Oslo, Norway, for Høstsabbat (see you there) as well as at Setalight FestivalDesertfest Belgium and Into the Void as part of an efficient 12-show run that’s over on Oct. 19. There are a few off-days in there, and I don’t know if they’ll be filled in or what, but as Yatra‘s debut European tour and Sunnata‘s kiss-goodbye to their third album, last year’s Outlands (review here), it seems like just the right tour at just the right time. Hard to ask for anything more than that, except perhaps to see it.

So go see it.

Here’s the info:

sunnata yatra tour poster

Doom units Sunnata and Yatra announce fall European tour

It’s a doom takeover! Blackskull Services are happy to present the European fall dates for heavier-than-heavy purveyors SUNNATA and YATRA, to kick off October 2nd in Germany.

SUNNATA declare: “We are writing new material for an upcoming, 4th full length album. We hope to release this in 2020. We want to merge the primal vibe of our latest album ‘Outlands’ with heavier riffage, being an essential part of yet another tribute to void. Feel invited for a journey with us.”

Sunnata performs ritual heavy music. A soulful, trance-inducing journey deep into self. Known from expressive and atmospheric live performances, the Warsaw foursome already took part in various international festivals and been invited to support the likes of Mastodon, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, The Sword, Kylesa or Conan, just to name a few. Sunnata explores impermanent nature of sound, full of rapid changes and distortion overdose.

Meanwhile, YATRA add: “We have just completed the recording of a new eight-song album at Developing Nations Recording Studio (of Skeletonwitch, Full of Hell, Pig Destroyer fame) to be released worldwide on STB Records on all formats this year.”

Yatra is a journey into mountainous sound, transcending into the deep forests of primeval times. Born of the ashes of doom band Blood Raven, Yatra emerged to create sound is “darkly spiritual” and includes elements of doom and sludgy riffs, guitar explorations, a heavy rhythm section and black metal style vocals.

SUNNATA & YATRA European tour:
02.10 – Dresden (DE) HD
03.10 – Copenhagen (DK) Stengade
04.10 – Oslo (NO) Hostsabbat Festival
06.10 – Uppsala (SE) Ungdomens Hus
09.10 – Cologne (DE) MTC
10.10 – Colmar (FR) Grillen
11.10 – Ilmenau (DE) Baracke 5
12.10 – Berlin (DE) Setalight Festival
16.10 – Munich (DE) Backstage
17.10 – Paris (FR) L’International
18.10 – Antwerp (BE) Desertfest Belgium
19.10 – Leeuwarden (NL) Into The Void

SUNNATA is:
Szymon Ewertowski – vocals, guitar
Adrian Gadomski – vocals, guitar
Michal Dobrzanski – bass
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion

YATRA:
Dana Helmuth – guitars/vocals
Maria Geisbert – bass
Mike Tull – drums

https://www.facebook.com/sunnataofficial
http://sunnataofficial.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/yatradoom
https://yatradoom.bandcamp.com

Yatra, Death Ritual (2019)

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Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split: Finding a Place

Posted in Reviews on May 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug split

They come from Lublin, from Wroclaw, and from Warsaw, and they bring riffs in bulk, but what’s even more striking about the four-way split from Polish heavyweights Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong and Spaceslug — in that order — is the level of diversity between the bands and just how much of their own personality each one brings to the proceedings. These are four of Poland’s best, to be sure, but by no means representative of the entire underground in the country — that is, they’re not Poland’s only four heavy bands, nor do they represent the entire stylistic swath of their compatriots (Sunnata and Belzebong walk by and wave) — but in terms of groups who’ve emerged over the past five-plus years in order to make an impact on the wider European sphere, they’re a suitable representation, and with an exclusive cut from each act involved, the self-released CD and LP makes an all the more fitting sampler of what Poland’s long underrated scene has to offer. It’s telling that 4-Way Split is a DIY release, and it’s also telling that, having come out in February, most of the LP editions and CDs are mostly if not entirely sold out.

The underlying message would seem to be that Polish heavy deserves a broader look it hasn’t yet gotten, and the audio from each of these bands lives up to that narrative. They each have their own measure of accomplishments and have developed an identity of their own, whether that comes in the form of Dopelord‘s tonal largesse or the grunge-infused melodic wash of Spaceslug, and as this release demonstrates, the bands aren’t so much united by a singular approach — they don’t all sound the same — as they are by the fact that each one has embarked on finding its own place in terms of sound. Some of this can be related to geographic spread, with Lublin, which is home to Major Kong in the west, while Spaceslug‘s native Wroclaw is further east and Warsaw, from whence come Dopelord and Weedpecker is a bit further north on the eastern side of the country. But the diversity of influence would seem to speak more to a general creative will than the fact that these acts simply represent different scenes within the country.

Even just Dopelord and Spaceslug, in opening and closing the release and both representing the capital, have markedly different approaches. It’s the former’s “Toledo” that provides the seven-minute leadoff/longest track (immediate points), and Dopelord, who’ve kicked around since the 2012 release of their debut, Magick Rites (discussed here), show that they, almost in parallel to a band like Monolord have managed to carve an identity for themselves out of a core Electric Wizard influence. There is perhaps a bit of subtle commentary as a sample tops the initial bassline saying, “A city of the dead… the living dead” as “Toledo” gets started, but while what ensues may be informed by zombie horror, its procession is nonetheless emblematic of the band’s reaching toward an international aesthetic, taking something from outside and making it their own. This is essentially the story of how any “scene” organically develops, and as Poland’s scene has over the course of this decade, like Greece or even Australia, Dopelord have helped pave the way for others to follow.

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug vinyl

One might say the same for Weedpecker, who by now have become a progressive enough group that some part of them probably wishes they had a different moniker. 2018’s III (discussed here) was their label debut for Stickman Records, and their “Rise Above” inclusion on 4-Way Split would seem even to push past that offering’s gorgeous melodic wash. Still holding to the weighted tones of their early work, they too would seem to have found their niche in terms of style, and at just five and a half minutes, “Rise Above” conveys that achievement with telling efficiency. It’s at least a minute shorter than anything they had on III, so it might be indicative of some tightening of their craft in the future, or it could just be a one-off. Either way, the flow Weedpecker hone in that relatively brief time is essential to understanding where they come from as a unit and what they bring to this release and Polish heavy as a whole, so mission well accomplished.

Side B leads off with the instrumentalist Major Kong, who bring forth the 6:11 “The Mechanism” and tap into a core modus of riffing that would seem to know no borders. Theirs might be the least nuanced of the four cuts here, but even for the lack of vocals there are backing swirls deep amid low end and other bits of sonic detailing, bass runs, etc., to dig into, and they demonstrate that if you’ve got groove, you’ve got everything. Some of Major Kong‘s work in the past has tended toward a burlier plod — the trio’s last LP was 2017’s Brace for Impact — but “The Mechanism,” while still out to leave a bruise or two, doesn’t want for melody. It is a clear-headed take on instrumental heavy rock that is pulled off with a live-feeling energy and finds the band able to portray a sense of structure even without the use of traditional verses and choruses. No doubt it should, as Major Kong have been at it for the better part of a decade, but the firmness of their purpose is refreshing and shows yet another side of Polish heavy.

Speaking of, I’m not sure another Polish band have come along in this decade who’ve been able to make a mark as quickly as Spaceslug. The three-piece have worked quickly to issue three full-lengths since 2016 — 2018’s Eye the Tide (review here) was among the year’s essential releases — and the 4-Way Split capstone “Ahtmosphere” underscores their ongoing creative growth, with laid back push into a tonal and melodic wash that, even as the central line becomes, “The atmosphere is gone,” indeed wants nothing for ambience. A solo takes hold in the last minute to bring the track toward its drawn-out conclusion — things fall apart, or maybe just roll to a stop — and “Ahtmosphere” rings out to 6:53 to bookend with Dopelord‘s “Toledo” and further highlight the sense of identity so crucial in what these bands are doing.

Each one has their root influences, and each one has done the work necessary to push past them and discover who they really are as a band. That’s not necessarily a process with a solid ending — who they are will inevitably continue to change — but this split feels like a declarative moment on the part of some of Poland’s strongest acts, telling those who care enough to hear them that their home country deserves consideration as a significant contributor to the greater European underground. They make the case well, and loud.

Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split (2019)

Dopelord on Thee Facebooks

Dopelord on Bandcamp

Weedpecker on Thee Facebooks

Weedpecker on Bandcamp

Major Kong on Thee Facebooks

Major Kong on Bandcamp

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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Sunnata and Weedpecker Touring Later This Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

That’s a solid pairing, Sunnata and Weedpecker. I’d call both bands progressive heavy psychedelic rock, but they don’t really tread a lot of the same ground when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty of their respective approaches. I’d imagine they’ll complement each other well on tour as they head through the Balkans and into Greece en route to playing the SoundArt Festival in Bucharest, Romania. Both acts put out records last year, so all the better they’re joining forces for the run, and while I’m sad to say I’ve never seen either live, at least I can appreciate two such forward-thinking bands getting out and delivering their wares from door to door for about two weeks. I would not expect this to be either of their only shows this year, but still would be cool to catch them together. Plus the poster is awesome and that never hurts either.

The dates were posted as follows on the social medias, and there’s audio at the bottom of this post to get your brain expanded:

sunnata weedpecker tour

Sunnata & Weedpecker – 2019: A Balkan Odyssey Tour

2019: A Balkan Odyssey Tour. Conjoined journey of Weedpecker and sunnata to the south. We are bringing you the finest oriental/psychedelic/stoner trips you might get in February/March. Prepare your spacesuits and see you at:

27.02 – Vienna: Sunnata, Weedpecker, Ozymandias
28.02 – Zagreb: Weedpecker & Sunnata na Good Vibrationsu u Mocvari!
01.03 – Budapest: Sunnata /pol/ & Weedpecker /pol/ koncert Budapesten!
02.03 – Timisoara: Sunnata [POL] + Weedpecker [POL] live at Reflektor
03.03 – TBA / Serbia
05.03 – Sofia: Weedpecker & Sunnata live in Mixtape 5
06.03 – Thessaloniki: Sunnata [PL] & Weedpecker [PL] live in Thessaloniki
07.03 – Athens: Sunnata [PL] & Weedpecker [PL] live in Athens
09.03 – Bucharest: SoundArt Festival 2019
10.03 – Cluj-Napoca: Live / Sunnata [POL], Weedpecker [POL]

This one is going to be trippy.

SUNNATA is:
Szymon Ewertowski – vocals, guitar
Adrian Gadomski – vocals, guitar
Michal Dobrzanski – bass
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion

Weedpecker is:
Wyro – guitar,vocals
Bartek – guitar,vocals
Karol – bass
Kuks – drums

https://www.facebook.com/sunnataofficial
https://twitter.com/followsunnata
http://sunnataofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/sunnataofficial/videos

https://www.facebook.com/Weedpecker-349871488424872/
https://weedpecker.bandcamp.com/
http://weedpecker.bigcartel.com/
http://weedpecker.8merch.com/

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Belzebong & The Necromancers Announce Spring Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

belzebong

the necromancers

Hey, if it works, don’t mess with it. Poland’s Belzebong and France’s The Necromancers toured together this past Fall and they’ll head out once more in March on an apparent second leg of their run together. The shows are presented by Sound of Liberation, and with Belzebong having released Light the Dankness (review here) in the meantime as The Necromancers continue to support their second LP, Of Blood and Wine (review here), it’s all the more an occasion. One assumes the bands must have gotten along pretty well or the tour wouldn’t be happening after the first one, so that’s kind of an awesome atmosphere to think of. Shows are better when the bands playing are having a good time. Thus spake science.

Sound of Liberation posted the following dates before breaking for the holidays:

belzebong necromancers tour

We couldn’t leave for our little x-mas/new year’s break without giving you one more tour set for the spring!

Just back from the road 3 weeks ago, BelzebonG & The Necromancers will team up again in March/April for the second leg of their “Purveyors of Dankness” Tour!

Still some dates missing, but most of the tour is here:
19.03.19 (D) Dresden / Chemiefabrik (Belzebong Only)
20.03.19 (D) Osnabrück / Westwerk (Belzebong Only)
21.03.19 (NL) Nijmegen / Merleyn
23.03.19 (FR) Le Havre / CEM (Belzebong Only)
25.03.19 (UK) Bristol / The Lanes
27.03.19 (UK) Glasgow / Nice N Sleazy
29.03.19 (UK) Cardiff / TBC
30.03.19 (UK) Manchester / Riffolution Festival
31.03.19 (UK) London / The Underworld
03.04.19 (D) Hamburg / Molotow
04.04.19 (DK) Copenhagen / Stengade
05.04.19 (D) Cottbus / Zum Faulen August
06.04.19 (CZ) Prag / 007

Polish heavy-doomfuzz-metal outfit BELZEBONG started in 2008, and since then they bring tons of evil weedian riffage for persistent ones. The band drowns themselves in a sea of distortion and fuzz, and after their appearances at prestigious festivals such as Stoned From The Underground, Desertfest Berlin & London, fans of Doom Metal have found a new hero in the scene!

From Progressive Rock to Doom Metal, THE NECROMANCERS’ music is a condensed hybrid of muddy influences emerging from fuzzy and mesmerising witchy riffs, metallic passion, and thickened doom. Think of an unhappy encounter between dark gods at the corner of a foggy street and you’ll get a feeling.

https://www.facebook.com/belzebong420/
www.soundofliberation.com/belzebong

https://www.facebook.com/thenecromancersband/
www.soundofliberation.com/the-necromancers

Belzebong, Light the Dankness (2018)

The Necromancers, Of Blood and Wine (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

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Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

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Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

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The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

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Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

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URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

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Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

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Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

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Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

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Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

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Belzebong, Light the Dankness: Eternal Stench

Posted in Reviews on November 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Belzebong_light_the_dankness_cover

Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once told us that everybody must get stoned. Poland’s Belzebong would seem to proceed from the assumption that they already have. The instrumentalist four-piece of guitarists Alky Dude and Cheesy Dude, bassist Sheepy Dude and drummer Hexy Dude present four lumbering tracks of stoner sludge on their third album, Light the Dankness — released by the band as well as Emetic Records and Abraxas Records — and if one is a sucker for weedian themes and puns, the record’s titles are sure to please, from the name of the thing itself through component cuts “The Bong of Eternal Stench,” “Pot Fiend” (okay, not so much wordplay there), “Doperganger” and “Roached Earth.” Riffs lead the plodding charge through a 35-minute, two-sided LP that could hardly be more smoked out if it covered itself in hash oil and self-immolated.

It is a crust of tone and vibe that one can trace back to bands like Bongzilla and Dopethrone, but the fact of the matter is Belzebong have been at this for a decade now and over the course of their 2009 demo (discussed here), 2011’s Sonic Scapes and Weedy Groves (discussed here), 2015’s Greenferno and this album, they’ve made the style their own and brought a sense of character to the familiar addled-ism of the overarching aesthetic. Light the Dankness, which is vocalized only with periodic samples, is nonetheless able to convey its sensibilities not only through its titles, but through the bare riffs and grooves themselves.

That is, even without knowing the name of the band, record, or any of the songs, one would hear “Doperganger” and realize the Dudes who made it were bombed out of their collective gourd. And they may or may not have been at the time of recording — they may or may not be right now; infinite universes of infinite possibilities, folks — but the point is they want to sound that way and they do, so by the time the ur-lurch of “Roached Earth” takes hold, all rumble and searing fuzz leads and crash cymbal-washout, their victory in meeting that goal is complete.

Belzebong are not strangers to this way of life, and they don’t come off like it. Over the course of their decade together, they’ve toured steadily with SheepyAlky and Cheesy as founding members and Hexy coming aboard in 2014, and that has helped fuel the reputation that at this point precedes their work, but regardless, Light the Dankness has no trouble making an impression on its own. The album begins with a homemade sample introducing “The Bong of Eternal Stench” as a disgusted woman’s voice pleads, “Oh god, what is it?” only to be answered by the creature itself, “It’s the bong of eternal stench!” And so it is. The mood and tone for the record is quickly set in the opening track, which is also the shortest of the four at 6:07, and while Belzebong‘s material has always seemed to leave room for verses — as though they wanted the listener to bring their own supply — the crashing, lumbering, downward riff seems to speak out the song’s title as it thuds away into the murky cannabinoid abyss.

belzebong

Searing leads crop up and dissipate like the smoke they are, and the underlying rhythm makes the most of the band’s penchant for repetition without redundancy, seeming to change not necessarily predictably but just when a part has worn itself into the consciousness fully. The bass tone is must-hear and well present in the Skyhammer Studios mix, and “The Bong of Eternal Stench” gives over to “Pot Fiend” with a sample announcing the change, but otherwise is immersive enough that one might get lost in the vibe after just the first six minutes. That’s obviously the idea, and it’s worth keeping in mind just how conscious these decisions are for a band who otherwise so successfully sound like fuckall incarnate. The placement of the samples. The shifts from one part to the next. The push to and through solo parts. All of these things come together to form the resin-caked nod that is Light the Dankness, and as on-message as Belzebong are, they never lose sight of actual song construction as they go.

And man, they go.

“Pot Fiend” rounds out side A with nine and a half minutes of filthy swing, pitting slow-motion shuffle and massive riffing against each other and seeing who wins en route to its final crash and fading feedback, and another sample begins “Doperganger” on side B. The second half of Light the Dankness is longer than the first, with “Doperganger” at 7:50 and “Roached Earth” at 12 minutes flat, but the method is largely the same: Riff unto oblivion. “Doperganger” picks up the tempo somewhat from “Pot Fiend” in a kind of winding central progression born of a dirtied-up Sleep influence, but they tool around with it effectively throughout and seem to explore the reaches where the song might go, a solo arriving after five minutes in just as the song seems to start tearing itself apart. A longer sample emerges as they pull it back together and trash their way into a stretch of silence preceding “Roached Earth.”

The sample at the start of the closer comes from 1957’s Curse of the Demon, if you’re wondering how steadily obscure Belzebong‘s horror-aficionado status runs, and following its narrator warning of supernatural creatures and demons and whathaveyou, the track unfolds into a particularly bleak, almost mournful gruel, a solo as it approaches its midsection weaving in and out of the mix on long-held notes that border on melodic but seem overwhelmed as much by the surrounding mountainous riffage as by the depressiveness drove their creation. Resolution, such as it is, comes in the crashing final section as “Roached Earth” rings out its final distorted gurgle, feedback once again serving as the last remaining element to go.

I would not speculate on what tales of terror may yet be forthcoming from Belzebong as they push ever deeper into the plunge that is their hydroponic-grown methodology, but their craft has only grown more virulent with time and for all of Light the Dankness‘ weedery, the album is actually a pretty efficient execution. It’s clear Belzebong‘s decade hasn’t been misspent in developing their style, and while they may be playing to the tenets of crusty stoner sludge, it’s easy enough to argue they’re adding to them as well.

Belzebong, Light the Dankness (2018)

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Spaceslug Set Oct. 26 Release for Eye the Tide on Oak Island Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug

Polish trio Spaceslug took down a few genre barriers earlier this year when they issued their third album, Eye the Tide (review here), bringing in harsh vocals and extreme metal impulses to set against their warm-toned psychedelic wash. The album made these disparate influences not only coherent, but essential to each other, and ultimate brought Spaceslug‘s sound to its most thrilling realization to-date. It was also very, very, very heavy, and that never hurts either, but it was about more than just the weight of its riffs or the largesse in production value.

Oak Island Records has picked up the album — someone was bound to — for an LP release, and it’s set to come out Oct. 26, as the PR wire informs:

spaceslug eye the tide

SPACESLUG – EYE THE TIDE – OUT OCTOBER 26th

Poland’s mighty Spaceslug return with their third full-length studio album, “Eye The Tide”.

Fans of Spaceslug will not be disappointed, as the trio push forward into new territory, with perhaps their most aggressive and heavy record to date.

Each new song is expansive in both it’s sound and it’s progression. A conscious effort has been made here to lay all cards on the table and show exactly just how far this band can go in terms of song-craft and musicianship. It is a well thought out and beautifully delivered album that flows, capturing the listener and transporting them away from the noise of everyday life.

Eye The Tide will be released via Oak Island Records on the 26th of October and is available on heavyweight vinyl & CD.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Obsolith
2. Spaced By One
3. Eternal Monuments
4. Words Like Stones
5. Vialys Part I
6. Vialys Part II
7. I, The Tide

Spaceslug are:
Bartosz Janik – Guitars/Voc
Jan Rutka – Bass/Voc
Kamil Zió?kowski – Drums/Voc

https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/
https://www.instagram.com/spaceslug_pl/
https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/music
https://www.facebook.com/BSFD-records-247816545273558/
https://bsfdrecords.blogspot.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng

Spaceslug, “Obsolith” official video

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