Desertfest Berlin 2022 Announces Lineup; Electric Wizard, Kadavar & Witchcraft to Headline

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest Berlin 2022 banner

Tickets are on sale as of today for We offer http://para-sun.com/dissertation-about-social-media/ writing services. You can order original term papers at fair prices and breeze through the semester with one less worry in mind. Desertfest Berlin 2022, which will be headlined by Buy A College Application Essay How To Write A Evaluation Paper College A. Hugh Gallagher won first prize World Best Essay Writers in the humor category of the 1990 Electric Wizard, Thereís Nowhere Better To Turn To Cpm.com Homework Help. We know the drill very well at this stage. Being a professional academic assistance service, we have talked with thousands of students who are in great need of urgent help with their essay writing. What we provide is a comprehensive and unique service, connecting students who wish to buy essay help with some of the most experienced and Kadavar playing a hometown show and We believe custom theses and custom dissertation writing help should be done by composers who have significant experience as well as other credentials in their field or education in general. This means we only hire the best of the best, which in turn is the reason we can create such high quality for students just like you. look at this site paper Ė essential elements . Depending on the Witchcraft. The rest of the lineup is a thrilling combination of mainstays — which somehow feels¬†extra comforting — and upstarts, plus college application essays on leadership Help With Essay Puncuation Uk best homework help online integrity definition essay St√∂ner, who are kind of both, I guess, being a new band but with¬† Business Plan Writers UK voted the #1 business plan writing & consulting service in London. District Manager Resume Summary with unparalleled success rate. Brant Bjork and¬† Do Teachers Give Out Too Much Homework Help Experts To Reduce Your Stress. If you are looking for cheap dissertation help to get you top grades, then it is ideal to look out for experts, so that you can be assured that you will be getting quality services. You need to share all the study material and the respective guidelines as mentioned by university or college professors. As our online cheap dissertation help Nick Oliveri at the helm thereof. You’ll note¬† does homework really help students learn essay look at this site persuasive essay for high school students denial service research paper Lowrider and¬† An Example Of An Argumentative Essay Job Description . Job Data: Job Title: Service Writer . Department: Service Department, Pro Power Sports & Marine, Inc. Supervisor: Service Orange Goblin — the latter celebrating their 25th anniversary, delayed of course — and¬† proposal and dissertation help between Writing The Conclusion Of An Essay Legit martin luther king i have a dream essay personal essay for medical school Elder and¬† like it - Receive an A+ grade even for the most urgent writings. Get main tips as to how to receive the best essay ever Benefit Ufomammut (debuting their new lineup),¬† Get Essays On Video Games service from MakeMyAssignments.com. We can customize your assignment as per your requirements. 1000mods and more Ė Premium Quality At Scientific Editing, we have methodical academic editors to help you succeed. Truckfighters¬†and¬† Browse and Read Order Of Research Paper Best Essay Writing Service Yahoo Answers Many people are trying to be smarter every day. My Sleeping Karma. Could hardly get more¬† The Writer Voice Past Papers :: Someone write my paper All our writing pieces foreign students cant understand service today. Its imperative that the best dissertation proposal long as you we deliver even if expertise include astrophysics. Desertfest than that. Like a reaffirmation of the festival’s core mission. Plus¬† YOB, for extra life-giving vibes.

And with those, you get acts like¬†Slomosa,¬†Slift,¬†Polymoon and¬†Villagers of Ioannina City,¬†underground celebrants like¬†Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs and¬†Samavayo¬†and¬†Dhidalah and¬†MaidaVale¬†and¬†24/7 Diva Heaven¬†as well as¬†Love Machine,¬†Los Bitchos and¬†Huntsmen. There’s reportedly more to come — and by that I mean that’s what it says on the poster below — but for real, if this was the four days, I can’t imagine wanting to see any less than all of it.

Announcement follows as per the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2022 poster

Desertfest Berlin – 26-29 May 2022

www.desertfest.de

LINEUP:
Electric Wizard
Kadavar
Witchcraft
Orange Goblin
YOB
Truckfighters
Elder
1000mods
My Sleeping Karma
Ufomammut
Stöner
Lowrider
Villagers of Ioannina City
SLIFT
MaidaVale
24/7 Diva Heaven
Samavayo
Slomosa
Los Bitchos
PigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigs
Dhidalah
Polymoon
Enigma Experience
Huntsmen
Love Machine

+ more to be announced

After two years without our beloved Desertfest happening, we need you more than ever. We can’t wait to see you all again to party, have some drinks and enjoy the finest of stoner, psychedelic, doom and heavy rock music!

Thank you so much for your continuous support and for holding on to your tickets. We want to give a little something back to you…

Existing weekend passes (3-days tickets) from 2020 will remain valid for the full 4 days in 2022 automatically. Yes, you will be granted access to ONE MORE FESTIVAL DAY ON TOP, FOR FREE!

We hope you’ll understand that there are logistical changes to the original 2020 line-up. Due to these challenges, existing 2020 single day ticket holders will be refunded for their chosen day. More info about our ticket-policy: www.desertfest.de/information

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Desertfest Berlin 2019 official aftermovie

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Polymoon Sign to Robotor Records; Playing Label Fest in Berlin

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

poymoon

First, good for Polymoon. The Tampere heavy psych outfit brought a bit of sunshine to the outright shit year that was 2020 with their Svart-delivered debut, Caterpillars of Creation (review here), and though they’ve hardly been able to get out to do shows to support it, they’ve already gotten some momentum on their side thanks to word of mouth, taking part in Roadburn Redux, and so on. Their aligning with Kadavar‘s Robotor Records label is a cool next step.

Second, on the label’s side, it shows the imprint is forward thinking, by which I mean clearly envisioning growing a roster over time of adventurous bands looking to make an impact on the international underground. The first signing, Splinter, gave a similar message, but Kadavar and Death Alley (from whence Splinter in part come) also toured together, so there was a prior relationship to build from. This feels more like a label snagging a band on a business level. And it’s good business, because that Polymoon record was killer.

All things Robotor will be celebrated early September in Berlin as Kadavar, Splinter and Polymoon get together for a two-night showcase/fest that, well, sounds like a good old time. Details and ticket preorders came through the PR wire along with the Polymoon announcement:

robotor records fest

POLYMOON sign on Robotor // Robotor Label Fest

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome POLYMOON to Robotor Records. Their debut album surprised us with it’s unique formula of zeitgeisty psychedelia and didn’t only land on many top lists in 2020, but also has been among our personal favorites. We’re excited for what’s next in Polymoon’s musical journey and you should be as well!

We are excited to announce our first label festival this summer in Berlin! On September 3-4 we will celebrate live music and DJ sets outside at Zukunft am Ostkreuz with our bands Kadavar, Splinter and Polymoon and DJs Robin Banks and Psycho Jones! Polymoon will head over all the way from Tampere for their first ever central European show to present their highly acclaimed debut ‚ÄěCaterpillars Of Creation” and Splinter (former members of Death Alley, Birth Of Joy) will celebrate the release of their debut album ‚ÄěFilthy Pleasures”. Your local heroes of Kadavar will accompany their label mates both nights. Due to common corona restrictions, tickets will be very limited. Don’t miss this early opportunity to get your well deserved and long awaited dose of live music!!!

Pre-sale: this Friday, 12:00 on: www.robotorrecords.com

POLYMOON is:
Tuomas Heikura / Drums
Jesse Jaksola / Guitar
Otto Kontio / Guitar
Kalle-Erik Kosonen / Vocals, Synthesizer
Juuso Valli / Bass

https://www.facebook.com/polymooooon/
https://www.instagram.com/polymooooon/
https://soundcloud.com/polymooooon
https://www.facebook.com/robotorrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/robotorrecords/
https://robotorrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.robotorrecords.com/

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation (2020)

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Polymoon Announce Finnish Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

poymoon

Have you told two friends about Polymoon yet? And have those two friends gone on to tell two successive friends, on and on until sooner or later the Finnish psychedelic upstarts are a household name like, I don’t know, if Doritos was a prog-infused headtrip instead of gross chips?

If not, there’s still time.

The cosmic troupe were recently announced as taking part in the Svart Records portion of the premiere-minded Roadburn Redux programming series, and I’d be lying if I said their performance in full of their Sept. 2020 debut album Caterpillars of Creation (review here) wasn’t among my most anticipated sets of those yet announced. If you need a reason why, ask two friends — or I guess just dig into the Bandcamp stream of the record at the bottom of this post.

The tour — which as far as I’m concerned is really just an excuse to talk about how killer the record is again; not like I’m gonna make it out to a show — is two successive weekenders supporting the esteemed Hidria Spacefolk in Finland. Granted any list of live dates at all seems ambitious at this point, what with the ongoing plague and all, but live music has to come back somehow and if this is how, I’m not going to argue.

I’m going to tell two friends.

From Polymoon‘s socials:

hidria spacefolk polymoon tour

We are proud to play a tour of Finland with Helsinkian psych rock legends Hidria Spacefolk in May as part of their 20-year birthday celebration! The tour will visit the following cities: Kuopio, Tampere, Hämeenlinna, Helsinki, Seinäjoki, and Oulu.

The tour dates are the following:
Henry’s Pub, Kuopio 12.5.2021
Olympia, Tampere 14.5.2021
Suisto, Hämeenlinna 15.5.2021
Tavastia, Helsinki 20.5.2021
Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki 21.5.2021
45 Special, Oulu 22.5.2021

The ticket sale will start on Monday the 8th of February at 10 AM.

POLYMOON is:
Tuomas Heikura / Drums
Jesse Jaksola / Guitar
Otto Kontio / Guitar
Kalle-Erik Kosonen / Vocals, Synthesizer
Juuso Valli / Bass

https://www.facebook.com/polymooooon/
https://www.instagram.com/polymooooon/
https://soundcloud.com/polymooooon
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.instagram.com/svartrecords

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation (2020)

Polymoon, “Malamalama” official video

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Roadburn Announces ‘Roadburn Redux’ 2021 Programming Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

roadburn redux banner resized

Well, here we are. You knew Roadburn Festival wasn’t going to let 2021 pass without cooking up something special, and you knew that something special wasn’t going to be an actual four-or-five-day, go-to-it-in-person fest. So here comes Roadburn Redux, which kind of sounds to me like they’re inventing the Roadburn Channel with a ton of exclusive performances, streams, full-albums and the like. It of course seems like a massive undertaking, and though you’re watching it from your couch instead of from in front of the stage at the 013 in Tilburg, somehow Roadburn has still managed to be completely overwhelming. Heartfelt kudos on that.

This is the first I’m seeing of this lineup, so don’t think I have any insider information on this at all. I don’t know what the status of the Roadburn ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, might be. I had heard they wanted to do one, but that was a while back and I think before this actually started to come together. When/if I hear something in that regard, I’ll let you know, but frankly, it looks like they have enough on their plate without. Call me crazy.

Me? Looking forward to all the Svart stuff. New band Dust Mountain, Hexvessel doing Dawnbreaker, Polymoon. Sounds good to me. Otherwise it’s Roadburn being Roadburn: delightfully weird, loaded with exclusives, forward-thinking and on a level of its own.

Here’s the info from the PR wire:

ROADBURN REDUX: Redefining heaviness with exclusive performances and premieres – wherever you are in the world.

Roadburn 2021 will be taking place in an unfamiliar format, but will retain the hallmarks of what makes the usual editions a must-attend event for fans of heavy music around the globe. This online version of the festival, titled Roadburn Redux, will feature performances broadcast live from the 013 venue in Tilburg, as well as pre-recorded and exclusive content, and will take place between April 16-18. Despite these new obstacles, Roadburn will showcase the very best of cutting edge performances, and highlight the most innovative and engaging artists in the Roadburn universe; everything available to access as part of Roadburn Redux will be exclusive – either a commissioned project or a premiere. The poster artwork for Roadburn Redux is by Lucile Lejoly.

A series of performances due to take place at the 013 venue have been confirmed – see below for more information – which will be broadcast live via a specially designed website featuring a live blog with a continuous stream of content. Alongside those transmissions from Tilburg, Roadburn will host exclusive content from a variety of artists, including further commissioned work and exclusive performances.

Roadburn’s artistic director, Walter Hoeijmakers, comments: “The last year has been incredibly difficult for everybody to navigate; keeping safe is paramount, but it often came at the expense of the ‘normal’ life we’d come to enjoy. For us, that meant a halt to Roadburn as we knew it. However, Roadburn Redux gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the artists and community that are at the heart of Roadburn; to bring a bit of joy, friendship, inspiration, and most of all hope in these difficult times. I’m thrilled by the performances we’ve already secured – the format might be different, but the spirit of Roadburn remains strong.”

Roadburn Redux has been made possible due to the support from Brabant C, Gemeente Tilburg, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Provincie Noord-Brabant, Bavaria 8.6, Ticket to Tilburg.

BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE 013 – COMMISSIONED PROJECTS

DEAD NEANDERTHALS PERFORMING IXXO
With the irrepressible duo bursting at the seams with creative ideas, we knew they’d be perfect candidates for one of the all new commissioned projects for Roadburn 2021. At the time of writing this, the project is still being developed but already has us hooked, keen to find out exactly what’s in store come April. Otto and Ren√© have teamed up with Dutch singer/songwriter Aafke Romeijn, and Jonge Woudloper, one of the musicians in Aafke’s band, to create IXXO.

DIE WILDE JAGD PERFORMING ATEM
Injecting some much needed freshness into what can sometimes be a stagnant scene, Die Wilde Jagd can reasonably be described as experimental at any given time – their heady blend of psychedelic electronic-rock futurism is intoxicating – but under the banner of a Roadburn commissioned project christened Atem, experimentation has truly run wild.

DIRK SERRIES PERFORMING EPITAPH
For this special Roadburn performance, Roadburn regular, Dirk Serries will be creating and improvising alongside Tom Malmendier on drums and Rutger Zuydervelt on electronics. Having already collaborated with both previously, but never in this exact configuration, we’re sure to be in for a treat.

GOLD PERFORMING THIS SHAME SHOULD NOT BE MINE
Having long been fans of their output, and knowing that they were the sort of artists that could take an idea and run with it, we were also convinced that they would relish the task of creating a commissioned piece for Roadburn Festival. Due to social restrictions, the core writing duo of Thomas and Milena commenced the writing for this project at home; the performance will feature the full GOLD line up as the debut this cathartic and bold creation.

JO QUAIL PERFORMING THE CARTOGRAPHER
Jo Quail performing The Cartographer is the only commissioned piece from 2020’s Roadburn line up to be carried over into 2021. Jo’s intention is to explore heaviness and to focus on exploring the juxtaposition between classical and more contemporary music, in this case post-metal. Jo will join forces with Rotterdam’s highly regarded New Trombone Collective – a group of trombonists who pride themselves on innovation, creativity and collaboration – to work towards communicating specific feelings through their combined output.

NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM PERFORMING SET CHAOS TO THE HEART OF THE MOON
If you’ve already experienced something of Neptunian Maximalism, you’ll already know that the best way to listen to them is to give yourself over completely. For the uninitiated it’s time to shake off your inhibitions and let loose! For this performance commissioned by Roadburn, they will explore their 2020 album, √Čons, in a completely new way.

OF BLOOD AND MERCURY PERFORMING THE OTHER SIDE OF DEATH
Of Blood and Mercury will perform a commissioned piece called The Other Side of Death, a soundtrack that will move us through the first moments of after-life. They promise that our earthly perception of time, space, sound, and feeling will fall apart. Not fully here, nor there, nowhere and everywhere; the lie about death is the beginning of the lie about life.

RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON PERFORMING THUS SPOKE THE BEHOLDER
They say that good things come in threes – and 2021 will mark the third Roadburn appearance for Dutch experimentalists, Radar Men From The Moon. The Eindhoven-based space-travellers will descend on Tilburg for a special performance of a commissioned piece they have titled Thus Spoke The Beholder. Having always embraced evolution within the fuzzed-out confines of RMFTM, this six-piece have taken on the task with relish.

SOLAR TEMPLE PERFORMING THE GREAT STAR ABOVE PROVIDES
Lurking in some of the darkest corners of the Dutch black metal scene we found Solar Temple – an entirely studio-focussed duo featuring members of Fluisteraars and Turia – and couldn’t resist tempting them out into the bright lights for this very special edition of Roadburn. Marking their first ever live performance, this commissioned project is the next step in the band’s evolution.

TDC INC. PERFORMING CORPORATE
With time it was inevitable that both PRSPCT and Roadburn would come together, as we share a kindred anti-authoritarian spirit while defying musical borders as well. Most of us will have to wait for another time for a face to face experience of their head on collision of old school drum and bass, electronic violence and black metal. However, as their asphyxiating maelstrom of bludgeoning beats, guitars and imagery is still very urgent, it prompted us to make sure that both the label and The Dead Cvlt are part of Roadburn Redux commissioned music projects, as we’re beyond intrigued to see and hear how the confinement of the pandemic has influenced their artistry.

THE NEST PERFORMING HER TRUE NATURE
The Nest is a collaboration between members of Wolvennest and some special – as yet unannounced – guests. Each individual participating retains their own signature sound and identity, but comes together to create something unified. This entirely original, commissioned performance will combine meditative, ritualistic elements with psychedelic sounds and blackened doom metal, as well as uniting a group of long-time friends on stage for the first time together in this constellation.

BROADCAST LIVE FROM THE 013 – ALBUM PREMIERES

AUTARKH PERFORMING FORM IN MOTION
Tilburg has cemented its importance for underground heavy bands with a steady trickle of innovative and compelling bands making their ways out into the wider world. The latest such band is Autarkh, who – we are delighted to announce – will be performing their debut album in full for us this April. Founding member of Dodecahedron, Michel Nienhuis, teamed up with producer Joris Bonis (Dodecahedron, Ulsect), guitarist David Luiten and electronic composer / producer Tijnn Verbruggen to create the oppressive, claustrophobic and totally exhilarating wild ride that is Form In Motion.

DIE WILDE JAGD PERFORMING HAUT
Having spent most of 2020 familiarising ourselves with the spacious, meditative, and yet still distinctly experimental beauty of Haut, we asked the mastermind behind Die Wilde Jagd, Sebastian Lee Philipp, who is joined on stage by Ran Levari on drums, if they’d consider playing the whole thing in full for us at Roadburn 2021. Fortunately for us – and for you – they agreed.

EMPTINESS PERFORMING VIDE
Back in 2017 Emptiness shrouded Het Patronaat with their tenebrous black metal atmospherics in such a way that a return visit was always going to be on the cards – just the when and where were in question. We’re delighted to announce that Emptiness will perform their sixth studio offering in its entirety at Roadburn in April, and no doubt leave us all questioning our version of reality. To listen to Vide on record is to let the rolling fog pin us down and envelop us, to witness it live may just consume us entirely.

PLAGUE ORGAN PERFORMING ORPHAN
The duo comprising of René Aquarius (Cryptae, Imperial Cult, Horrid Apparition, Imperial Cult, Dead Neanderthals, etc) and recording engineer Marlon Wolterink (White Noise Studio and one half of the band Meglamancha) is a black/death/noise amalgam that will give you nightmares for weeks to come. Their live debut was originally due to happen at Le Guess Who? Festival in 2020 so the legendary festival is collaborating with us to present this show as part of Roadburn Redux.

WOLVENNEST PERFORMING TEMPLE
Having conquered the main stage at Roadburn once, Wolvennest are returning to do the same this April, as they perform their brand new album, Temple, in full. Due for release in March, you’ll have just enough time to get acquainted with their latest missive before we’re well and truly sucked into their dark but strangely alluring netherworld.

ONLINE
The full online programme for Roadburn Redux will be announced in due course, but as a statement of intent and an indicator of the high quality performances that will be presented, we’re thrilled to confirm that as part of our pre-recorded exclusive content we’ll have…

THE SVART SESSIONS
Think The Old Grey Whistle Test on acid; imagine a Jools Holland psychedelic special and you’ll be heading in the right direction. The Svart Sessions will feature brand new signings and established artists side by side, all connected to the notoriously fertile psych rock scene in Tampere. These six performances truly encapsulate the very best of the Finnish heavy, psych and freak-folk underground scene – delivered right into your home this April. Read more about Roadburn and Svart here.

The Svart Sessions will feature:

DUST MOUNTAIN
(feat. members of Oranssi Pazuzu, Dark Buddha Rising, Death Hawks)
International live debut, performing songs from their forthcoming Svart Records debut.

HEXVESSEL PERFORMING DAWNBEARER
Hexvessel celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their debut record Dawnbearer, by performing the album in full, exclusively for Roadburn Festival 2021!

ITERUM NATA
Personal psychedelic occult folk created by Hexvessel lead guitarist Jesse Heikkinen, plays an intimate acoustic show of songs from his 2020 album Bardo Disorder, in his first live stream ever.

KAIRON; IRSE!
Kosmische post-rock prog-freaks Kairon; IRSE!’s first ever live stream video, as they play tracks from their critically acclaimed new album Polysomn in full.

POLYMOON
Young rising stars, present their six track psych prog explosion Caterpillars of Creation in its entirety exclusively for Roadburn Festival 2021!

A SECRET COLLABORATION…
A special and exciting collaboration between some highly revered members of the Finnish psych rock underground, with more details to be divulged at a later date!

TICKETS & INFO
Roadburn Redux is available to attend on a ‘pay what you like’ basis, from anywhere in the world. Head to RoadburnRedux.com to RSVP and bookmark the page.

https://www.roadburnredux.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1081424195382564/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival/
http://www.instagram.com/roadburnfest
http://www.roadburn.com

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation (2020)

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

ukmedsnorx.com/zopiclone
ukmedsnorx.com/zolpidem

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their¬†Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon.¬†If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another¬†Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of¬†Antonio Aguilar¬†and¬†Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell¬†(Black Elk) and¬†Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album,¬†Rocket Science¬†(review here), Boston four-piece¬†Kind¬†return with¬†Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist¬†Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer¬†Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist¬†Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw,¬†Sasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record¬†Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open ‚ÄúStardust and Diamond Eyes‚ÄĚ and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bj√łrnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist¬†Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017‚Äôs¬†E¬†(review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist¬†Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sand√ły, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on¬†Utgard, allowing¬†Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by¬†Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP,¬†Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist¬†Jack Townley¬†and bassist¬†Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer¬†Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist¬†John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on¬†Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits¬†was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and¬†Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut,¬†Ode to Io¬†(reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play¬†Desertfest in London¬†(review here) and Berlin in 2013,¬†Refractions¬†first saw limited release in 2019 as part of¬†Blues Funeral‘s¬†PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new¬†Lowrider album that made¬†Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and¬†Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service.¬†Refractions acknowledged the legacy of¬†Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ L√ĖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athr√ļ Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
√ėresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 ‚Äď Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantl√īs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 49

Posted in Radio on December 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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I was kicking around the idea of not doing a year-end list for 2020. Honestly, between this episode of¬†The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal and the last one, that pretty much covers my picks, and who the hell cares about what order they’re in? It’s December and everyone and their brother has a list out. Do we really need another one? I’m doing a Quarterly Review right now, covering more music. To me, that seems like a more righteous cause.

Of course, I’ll probably end up doing a list anyway next week, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your in-quarantine holiday experience, the second half of the ‘Some of the Best of 2020’ spectacular should do well in getting you through the evening. I’m to understand we’ll be breaking travel protocols myself, so if I get the plague that is even as we speak ravaging my homeland, at least I will have deserved it. Firelung and whatnot.

Thanks for listening and reading. New art coming soon.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 12.25.20

Elephant Tree Bird Habits
Pallbearer Vengeance & Ruination Forgotten Days
Tony Reed Might Just Funeral Suit
Grayceon This Bed MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES
All Them Witches 41 Nothing as the Ideal
VT
Brant Bjork Cleaning out the Ashtray Brant Bjork
Soldati From Skulls Doom Nacional
Backwoods Payback God Smack VA – Alice in Chains Dirt: Redux
High Priestess The Hourglass Casting the Circle
Curse the Son Black Box Warning Excruciation
Elder Halcyon Omens
Black Rainbows Master Rocket Power Blast Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
Dirt Woman Fades to Greed The Glass Cliff
Polymoon Silver Moon Caterpillars of Creation
Enslaved Distant Seasons Utgard
Cinder Well Fallen No Summer
Geezer Drowning on Empty Groovy
Ruff Majik Lead Pills and Thrills The Devil’s Cattle

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Jan. 8 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 44

Posted in Radio on October 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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If you read any of the Quarterly Review that wrapped up earlier this week, some of the names in the playlist below might be familiar. These aren’t all the highlights from the 60 records that were covered in that somehow-still-too-short barrage of writeups, but a two-hour sampling seemed like enough time to ask out of your busy day and I recognize that if you check any of it out at my say-so, it is an honor and a humbling thing for me to be a part of. So yeah. Thanks.

My hope is that it flows. I’m interested to hear the finished product — and I do intend to listen and be in the chat on the Gimme Metal app — but I put it together with the idea that the songs would interact well with each other and even where something brought a departure, it seemed a reasonable shift. Did it work? I don’t know. If you listen, you can tell me. But I’m looking forward to finding out, especially since the playlist was built out of such a massive swath of stuff covered recently.

In any case, thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy the show.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 10.16.20

Hymn Exit Through Fire Breach Us*
Polymoon Sliver Mountain Caterpillars of Creation*
The Pilgrim Secrets in the Kingdom …From the Earth to the Sky and Back*
Shroom Eater God Isn’t One Eyed AD.INVENTUM*
VT1
Turtle Skull Heartless Machine Monoliths*
The White Swan Purple Nocturnal Transmissions*
Slow Green Thing All I Want Amygdala*
Mos Eisley Spaceport Further When I’m Far The Best of Their Early Year*
Brimstone Coven Live with a Ghost The Woes of a Mortal Earth*
White Dog The Lantern White Dog*
M√°bura Bong of God Heni*
Cracked Machine Cold Iron Light Gates of Keras*
Kairon; IRSE! Alta√Įr Descends Polysomn*
Thomas V. Jäger Creatures of the Deep A Solitary Plan*
Hum The Summoning Inlet*
VT2
Atramentus Stygian I – From Tumultuous Heavens (Descended Forth the Ceaseless Darkness) Stygian*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Oct. 30 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Quarterly Review: The Pilgrim, Polymoon, Doctors of Space, Merlock, Sun Dial, Saturn’s Husk, Diggeth, Horizon, Limousine Beach, The Crooked Whispers

Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Well, the weekend’s over and it’s time to wrap up the Quarterly Review. Rest assured, I wrote the following during my copious weekend leisure time, resting on the side of a heated Olympic-size pool with a beverage nearby. It definitely wasn’t four in the morning on a Sunday or anything. If I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I hope you’ve found something amid this massive swath of records that has resonated with you. By way of a cheap plug, I’ll be featuring audio from a lot of these bands on the Gimme Metal show this Friday, 5PM Eastern, if you’re up for tuning in.

Either way, thanks for reading and for being a part of the whole thing. Let’s wrap it up.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back

the pilgrim from the earth to the sky and back

Lest he be accused of laziness, Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows, Killer Boogie and the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label, booking agency and festival series — made his solo debut as The Pilgrim with Spring 2019’s Walking into the Forest (review here). Joined by Black Rainbows drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, Fiori ups the scale of the journey with the second The Pilgrim LP, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back. Richer in arrangement, bolder in craft and more confident in performance, the album runs 14 songs and 50 minutes still largely based around an acoustic acid rock foundation, but with a song like “Riding the Horse” tapping ’70s singer-songwriter vibes while “Cuba” touches on Latin percussion and guitar and “Space and Time” journeying out near the record’s end with waves of synthesizer, it seems The Pilgrim isn’t so willing to be pigeonholed. So much the better.

The Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

There is an undercurrent of extremity to the debut release from Polymoon, who hail from the psychedelic hotbed that is Tampere, Finland. The six-song/42-minute Caterpillars of Creation turns in opener “Silver Mt.” to fervent guitar push or from freaked-out cosmic prog into drifting post-universe exploration, setting the stage for the dynamic that unfolds throughout. The wash early in the second half of “Lazaward” is glorious, and it’s not the first or the last time Polymoon go to that adrenaline-pumping well, but the serenity that caps that song and seems to continue into “Malamalama” in closing side A is no less effective. “Helicaling” mounts tension in its early drumming but finally releases it later, and “Neitherworld” gives Caterpillars of Creation‘s most fervent thrust while closer “Metempsychosis” rounds out with a fitting sense of dissipation. As a first album/first release, it is particularly stunning, and to make it as plain as possible, I will think less of any list of 2020’s best debut albums that leaves out Polymoon.

Polymoon on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Doctors of Space, First Treatment

doctors of space first treatment

The two-piece comprised of Martin Weaver (ex-Wicked Lady) and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (√ėresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, etc.) position First Treatment as their proper studio debut, and it certainly hits its marks in galaxial adventuring well enough to qualify as such, but the duo have been on a creative splurge throughout this year — even in lockdown — and so the six songs here are also born out of the work they’ve been doing since releasing their debut single “Ghouls ‘n’ Shit” (video premiere here) late last year. The album launches with “Journey to Enceladus,” which boasts drum programming by Weaver and though one of the movements in the 21-minute “Into the Oort Cloud” is based around beats, the bulk of First Treatment is purely a work of guitar and synth, and it basks in the freedom that being so untethered inherently brings. Running an hour long, it’s improvisational nature isn’t going to be for everyone, but Heller and Weaver make a strong argument that maybe it should be.

Doctors of Space on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Merlock, That Which Speaks

merlock that which speaks

Who’s ready for a New Wave of PNW Fuckery? That’s right folks, the NWOPNWF has arrived and it’s Spokane, Washington’s Merlock leading the sometimes-awfully-punk-sometimes-awfully-metal-but-somehow-also-always-sludge charge. Aggressive and damning in lyrics, swapping between raw screams, grows, shouts and cleaner vocals and unhinged in terms of its genre loyalties, That Which Speaks seems to find the “melt faces” setting wherever it goes, and though there’s a sense of the four-piece feeling out what works best for them stylistically, the sometimes frantic, sometimes willfully awkward transitions — as in second cut “Prolapse” — serve the overall purpose of undercutting predictability. Eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Idolon” stomps and shoves and gnashes and nasties its way through, and that’s the modus across what follows, though the scream-along headbanger “Vessel” somehow seems even rawer, and though it ends by floating into oblivion, the start of “Condemnation” heavy fuckin’ metal to me. You never know quite where Merlock are going to hit next, and that’s the joy of the thing. May they remain so cacophonous.

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Merlock on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition

sun dial mind control

Long-running UK psychedelic rockers Sun Dial — led by founding guitarist/vocalist Gary Ramon — released Mind Control in 2012. Sulatron Records picked it up in 2015, and now, five years after that, the same label presents Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition, a 2CD version of the original LP-plus-bonus-tracks reissue that brings the total runtime of the release to a well-beyond-manageable 98 minutes of lysergic experimentation. A full 20 tracks are included in the comprehensive-feeling offering, and from early mixes to alternative takes and lost tracks, and if this isn’t the ‘ultimate’ version of Mind Control, I’m not sure what could be, notwithstanding a complete-studio-sessions box set. Perhaps as a step toward that, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition gives an in-depth look at a vastly underappreciated outfit and is obviously put together as much for the label as by it. That is to say, you don’t put out a reissue like this unless you really love the original record, and if Sulatron loving a record isn’t enough endorsement for you, please turn in your mushrooms on your way out the door.

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Sulatron Records webstore

 

Saturn’s Husk, The Conduit

Saturns Husk The Conduit

Immersion is the goal of Saturn’s Husk‘s third long-player, The Conduit, and the Riga, Latvia, instrumentalist trio accomplish it quickly with the fluid riffs that emerge from the drone-based intro “Death of Imaginary Lights” and the subsequent 10-minute opener “Black Nebula.” At nine songs and 63 minutes, the album is consuming through the welcome nodder “The Heavenly Ape,” the especially-doomed “The Ritual” and the more mellow-float centerpiece “Spectral Haze,” while “Mycelium Messiah” brings more straight-ahead fuzz (for a time) and drones on either side surround the 10:35 “Sand Barrows,” the latter serving as the finale “A Shattered Visage” quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley and the former “City of the Djinn” running just a minute-plus but still doing enough to reset the brain from where “Mycelium Messiah” left it. Almost functioning as two albums side-by-side with “Spectral Haze” as the dividing point, The Conduit indeed seems to join various sides together, with a depth to coincide that invites the listener to explore along with it.

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Diggeth, Gringos Galacticos

diggeth gringos galacticos

Landing a punch of classic metal to go along with its heavy-bottomed groove, Diggeth‘s Gringos Galacticos — one supposes the title ‘Spacecrackers’ was taken — was released by the Dutch trio in 2019 and receives a US limited vinyl edition thanks to Qumran Records. One finds some similar guitar heroics to those of Astrosoniq‘s more straightforward moments, but Diggeth‘s focus remains on hookmaking for the duration, offering hints of twang and acoustics in “In the Wake of Giants” and tipping a hat southwestward in “Three Gringos,” but “Straight-Shooter” is willfully breaks out its inner Hetfield and even as the penultimate “Unshackled” departs for a quieter break, it makes its way back in time for the big finish chorus, adding just a touch of Candlemass grandiosity for good measure before the harmonica-laced closing title-track rounds out with its dynamic spacey weirdness, the name of the album repeating itself in an answer to the Stephen Hawking sample that started the voyage on its way.

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Qumran Records website

 

Horizon, The White Planet Patrol

horizon the white planet patrol

Cursed Tongue Records has the vinyl here, and Three Moons the tape, and the CD will arrive through Aladeriva Records, La Rubia Producciones, Aneurisma Records, Surnia Records and Violence in the Veins — so yes, Horizon‘s third album, The White Planet Patrol is well backed. Fair enough for the Kyuss-via-BlackRainbows vibes of “End of Utopia” or the initial charge and flow of “The Backyard” that sets the Alicante, Spain, trio on their way. “King Serpent” and “Death & Teddies” bring well-crafted fuzz to bear, and “Blind World” effectively layers vocals in its chorus to coincide, but the more laid back roll of the title-cut is an unmistakable highlight. Shades of mid-paced Nebula surface in “Meet the Forest” later on, but Horizon are part of a tradition of heavy bands in Alicante and they know it. The smoothness of their tone and delivery speaks volumes on its own in that regard, never mind the actual songwriting, which also leaves nothing to be desired.

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Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine + 2

Limousine Beach Stealin Wine

Debut EP from Limousine Beach out of Pittsburgh, and if the three guitars involved don’t push it over the top, certainly the vocal harmonies get that particular job done. You got six minutes for three songs? Yeah, obviously. They scorch through “Tiny Hunter” to close out, but it’s in the leadoff title-track that Stealin’ Wine + 2 sees the Dave Wheeler-fronted outfit land its most outrageous chorus, just before they go on to find a middle-ground between KISS and Thin Lizzy on “Hear You Calling.” The harmonies open and are striking from the outset, but it’s in how they’re arranged around the standalone parts from Wheeler (also Outsideinside, ex-Carousel) that the outfit’s truest potential is shown. Issued through Tee Pee Records, Stealin’ Wine + 2 is the kind of thing you’d pick up at a show in a normal year and then feel way ahead of everyone else when the LP finally hits. Not a normal year, obviously, but Limousine Beach are serving due notice just the same. In six minutes, no less.

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Tee Pee Records website

 

The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies

the crooked whispers satanic melodies

I’m sure a lot of records show up at Satan’s door with notes, like, “Dear sir, please find the enclosed submitted for your approval,” but it’s not hard to imagine Beelzebub himself getting down with the filth-coated sludge and rolling doom unfurled across The Crooked Whispers‘ debut offering, Satanic Melodies, marked by hateful, near-blackened screams from Anthony Gaglia and the plodding riffs of Chad Davis (Hour of 13, et al). The title-track is longest at 8:23 and in addition to featuring Ignacio De Tommaso‘s right-on bass tone in its midsection, it plays out early like Weedeater sold their collective soul, and drifts out where earlier pieces “Sacrifice” and “Evil Tribute” and “Profane Pleasure” held their roll for the duration. Stretches of clean-vocal cultistry add to the doomier aspects, but The Crooked Whispers seem to care way less about genre than they do about worshiping the devil, and that unshakable faith behind them, the rest seems to fall into place in accordingly biting fashion.

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