Quarterly Review: Salem’s Bend, Motorpsycho, Sigils, Lord Dying, Sunn O))), Crimson Heat, Molior Superum, Moros, Glitter Wizard, Gourd

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Today is Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, and hey, that’s nifty. I thought yesterday kicked off the Summer 2019 Quarterly Review really well, and any time I get through one of these without my head caving in on itself, I feel like that’s a victory, so yeah. Now we wade even deeper into what will ultimately be a 60-review plunge, with another 10 offerings of various stripes and takes on heavy. Some higher profile stuff in here, which is fine, I guess, but most of it is pretty recent, so if there’s something you haven’t heard yet, I hope you find something you dig, as always.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Salem’s Bend, Supercluster

salems bend supercluster

This is the sound of a band who’ve figured it out. Salem’s Bend have taken retroist boogie and modern tonalism, production and melody and turned it into something of their own. Supercluster (on Ripple) follows the Los Angeles trio of guitarist/vocalist Bobby Parker, bassist/vocalist Kevin Schofield and drummer Zach Huling‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and with an uptick in the complexity of songwriting overall and particularly in the arrangements of dual-vocals, it is a marked step forward palpable as much in the hook of “Ride the Night” — and if you’re gonna call a song that, you better bring it — as the heavy crash ending “Heavenly Manna” and the languid, lucidly dreaming groove in “Infinite Horizon,” which appears ahead of the acoustic hidden track “Beltaine Chant.” That won’t be the last time these guys unplug, but whether it’s the raw Zeppelin vibe of “Show Me the Witch” or the crunching low-end nod of “Thinking Evil” or the leadoff thrust in “Spaceduster,” the message is clear that Salem’s Bend have arrived.

Salem’s Bend on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music webstore

 

Motorpsycho, The Crucible

motorpsycho the crucible

The latest in Motorpsycho‘s nigh-on-impossible-to-chart and ever-growing discography is The Crucible, issued through Stickman Records, and taking some of the heavy rock push of 2017’s The Tower (review here) and stretching out to more willfully progressive execution across three increasingly extended tracks. Running from shortest to longest, the album begins with “Psychotzar” (8:44) which resolves itself in maddening turns after fleshing through an energetic beginning, and rounds out side A with the 11-minute “Lux Aeterna,” with vocal harmonies and mellotron building into a graceful swell of volume before a headspinner solo and jam take hold, break to near-silence and finish in a burst of directly earliest-King Crimson majesty. This all before the 20:51, side B-consuming title-track crashes in with immediate tension and plays back and forth at releasing that through a course that is rife with melody and an emphasis on the mastery of Motorpsycho over their sound and direction. Onto the list of the year’s best records it goes.

Motorpsycho on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Sigils, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves

Sigils You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves

Hypnotic and immersive heavy post-rock and metal becomes the genre tag well enough, but what New York’s Sigils do on their markedly impressive self-recorded, self-released debut album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, is more soulful and emotive than “post-” anything generally conveys. With four tracks/38 minutes best taken as a whole, single listening experience, the band offer resonant depths of tone and vocal echoes centered around airy but still weighted guitar and consuming rhythms brought to bear with the patience of an organic Jesu. The ultimate triumph is in the melody and payoff of 13-plus-minute closer “The Wicked, the Cloaked,” which seems to manifest the haunting sensibility that “Samhain” and “Ritual” advocate on side A, but neither will I discount the chug of the prior “Faceless” or the underlying churn in those two leadoff tracks. Especially as a first album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves casts a sonic identity for itself that is striking and sees the band already beginning to push themselves forward. One hopes they continue to do so.

Sigils on Thee Facebooks

Sigils on Bandcamp

 

Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

Following 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), subsequent years of touring and a jump from Relapse to eOne Metal, Lord Dying‘s Mysterium Tremendum is enough of a stylistic melting pot that the best thing to do is call it progressive and just let it roll. Comprised of 11 tracks themed around death and the afterlife, the record takes the Portland, Oregon, outfit’s prior death-doom ways and expands them to incorporate an array of styles and melodies, like a vocoder-less Cynic or even Atheist, but more focused on the songs themselves. It’s being widely hailed as one of 2019’s best metal releases, and honestly I can’t speak to that because who the hell knows what “metal” even means, but it sees Lord Dying pull off a major sonic leap and if this is the direction they’re headed from now on, then I guess “metal” is going to be whatever the hell they want. So there. Expect to see a lot of Lord Dying t-shirts around in the years to come.

Lord Dying on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Sunn O))), Life Metal

sunn life metal

The core of Sunn O)))‘s sound — that is, the drone-riffed tonality of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has proven amorphous enough over the last two decades to either be orchestral, minimalist, impossibly bleak, or now, something brighter. The Steve Albini-recorded Life Metal is one of two purported Sunn O))) releases slated for this year, and it follows behind 2015’s Kannon (review here) in manifesting their project in a new way. It is 68 minutes long, comprised of four tracks — the first, “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths,” is notable for the inclusion of vocals from Hildur Guðnadóttir; the rest is instrumental — and while one wonders how much is the power of suggestion amid their colorful artwork and titular presentation, “life” as opposed to death metal, etc., their resonance throughout “Aurora” (19:07) and “Novae” (25:24) strips away much of the flourish that has engulfed Sunn O))) in their post-maturity years and reminds of the power at their center. They chose the right producer.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crimson Heat, Crimson Heat

Crimson Heat Crimson Heat

With a handful of tracks of dirt-coated Sabbathian doom rock, Crimson Heat make their debut with a self-titled demo/EP in no small part defined by its lack of pretense. I’d buy the tape at the show. You’d buy the tape at the show. The download is free. Clearly this is a band figuring out what they want to do and trying to catch a few ears, but the sound is right on. Notable as well for the participation of Sam Marsh of Sinister Haze, tracks like “At My Door” blend Tee Pee Records-style skate vibes with darker traditionalist crunch, and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Firewood” indeed adds a bit of burning-stove smell to the procession ahead of doomed shuffler finale “Deep Red.” They might be new, but from the nod of “Premonition” and the double-layered guitar of “Fortune Teller,” they very clearly know where they’re coming from. What they do with that from here will tell the tale, but for now, selling the tape at the show isn’t nothing. Guess they better get on pressing some up.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Heat on Bandcamp

 

Molior Superum, As Time Slowly Passes By…

Molior Superum As Time Slowly Passes By

The boogie runs strong in Molior Superum‘s first album in seven years, As Time Slowly Passes By… (on H42 Records), the title of which might just hint at the distance between their two full-lengths. Their debut was Into the Sun (discussed here) in 2012, and they answered that with 2014’s Electric Escapism (review here), but for a band who sound so energized on cuts like “Att Födas Rostig” and “Through Valleys of Wonder,” the time differential from one record to the next is curious. Still, no question the Swedish four-piece make the most of the 36 minutes they present on their sophomore offering, realizing classic vibes and fuzz tones through modern production that recalls the likes of GraveyardJeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and even, on “Into the Grey,” Demon Head‘s doomier fare, with an overarching bluesy sensibility that remains exciting even in moments like the hypnotic midsection build of centerpiece “Divinity Blues.” Even the closing soft-guitar title-track has movement. They sound hungry in a way that suggests maybe it won’t be another seven years before a third LP arrives.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

 

Moros, Weapon

moros weapon

Just because Philly is leading the Eastern Seaboard in terms of psychedelic charge, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the guttersludge extremity of a unit like Moros. The destructive three-piece’s first full-length, Weapon (on Hidden Deity Records), is vicious in its bite and downright nasty in its groove, abrasive from the static intro “(Vortexwound)” onward through “We Don’t Deserve Death” and “Devil Worshipper,” which recalls slower Napalm Death in its riff but is met with a harsh scream as well as shouts. The brutality continues through “Wizard of Loneliness” and into the outright pummel of “Death Nebula,” such that the locked-in nodder groove in the second half of “Every Day is Worse Than the Last” feels almost like a lifeboat, though there’s little salvation on offer in the closing title-track, which fades out on a noisy note in much the same way it faded in. Filthy, mean and heavy. The crust is real and it is thick.

Moros on Thee Facebooks

Hidden Deity Records website

 

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains

glitter wizard opera villains

I was enticed to dig further into Glitter Wizard‘s Opera Villains (on Heavy Psych Sounds) by the recent video for opener “A Spell So Evil” (posted here), and it’s not a choice I regret. The San Fran-based weirdo collective are putting on a show, no doubt, but the quality of their songwriting on “The Toxic Lady” and the punkish underpinning of “Dead Man’s Wax,” etc., puts them in a classic rocking no man’s land in which they absolutely revel. The laser-strewn drama of “March of the Red Cloaks” and the organ- and flute-laced swing of “Hall of the Oyster King” embrace the grandiose in brazen fashion, and thereby make it that much easier for the listener to join them on this wavelength that is so thoroughly their own. Closer “Warm Blood” taps prog-of-old pomposity in its largesse while the earlier “Fear of the Dark” seems to do the same thing with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal harmonies. A record that knew exactly what it wanted to be and then became that thing. Awesome.

Glitter Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Gourd, Moldering Aberrations

gourd moldering aberrations

Ambient darkness is inflicted with only the cruelest of spirit throughout Gourd‘s Moldering Aberrations EP, the Irish two-piece alternating minimalist spaciousness with gurgling drone intensity, the extremity of which doesn’t so much come through in pummel or drive, but in the swell of volume and its contrast with the emptiness surrounding. Also the growls. Three tracks are offered up like monuments to pain, and through “Befoulment,” “Mycelium” and the title-track, they conjure a heft of atmosphere as much as one of low end, the claustrophobic feeling of their craft coming through even in the relatively peaceful opening of the last song. That peace, of course, isn’t so much moment of respite as it is precursor to the next plunge, and either way, Gourd work in grueling fashion over 23 minutes to dismantle consciousness and expectation with a grim, distortion-fueled chaos from which there seems to be no escape, until the rumble and noise leave “Moldering Aberrations” and there’s just residual hum and a cymbal crash left. Madness.

Gourd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

 

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Ogre Sign to Cruz Del Sur Music; New Album Thrice as Strong out This October

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

Long-running doomers Ogre, whose cult following remains loyal, will issue their first album in five years, Thrice as Strong, through Cruz Del Sur Music this October. That’s a fair fit, the band and the label, and as Ogre‘s last album came out, 2014’s The Last Neanderthal (review here) through Minotauro Records, the new home aligns them to a host of classic metal and doom and can only go further into getting them a foothold listenership in Europe. That puts Ogre on the same label as Apostle of Solitude and Slough Feg and King Heavy, so, you know, good company and all that. I hear there are more to come in joining those ranks as well.

Ogre don’t really tour — every now and again you can them to leave New England, but don’t count on it — but they went to Russia in 2018 and they’ve made periodic voyages hither and yon. One only hopes that continues as they gear up for Thrice as Strong.

Info came down the PR wire:

ogre

Portland, Maine Doomsters OGRE Join Cruz Del Sur Music; ‘Thrice As Strong’ Studio Album Due This Fall

Long-running Portland, Maine doom trio OGRE has signed with Cruz Del Sur Music for the October release of their forthcoming fifth studio album, “Thrice As Strong”. The album was tracked with Rowan Bishop at Garage Mahal Recording in Westbrook, Maine.

Practitioners of traditional doom with a mix of ’70s rock and proto metal, OGRE was formed in 1999 by Ed Cunningham (bass/vocals), Ross Markonish (guitar) and Will Broadbent (drums). To date, the band has released four studio albums, with 2014’s “The Last Neanderthal” their most recent. OGRE came to the attention of Cruz Del Sur through classic word of mouth — a handful of Cruz Del Sur bands put in the good word for OGRE to label owner Enrico Leccese.

“Once we started working on this album, we posted a few messages on social media, reaching out to any potential labels that might be interested in working with us this time around,” says Markonish. “Will started up a correspondence with Butch Balich from Argus who then put us in touch with Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept, who works closely with Enrico. We played with WHILE HEAVEN WEPT years ago at a doom festival in Rochester, New York and we’ve also shared the stage with other Cruz artists, including ARGUS and Apostle of Solitude, so we couldn’t be happier to share a label with all those great bands, not to mention SLOUGH FEG, another favorite!”

Since the release of “The Last Neanderthal”, OGRE has kept themselves busy with shows in Portland, while working on the material that would eventually become “Thrice As Strong”. The band even found time to make their impact abroad: “One particularly cool thing that we did recently was travel to Arkhangelsk, Russia in October of last year to play the Belomor-Boogie Festival, a Russian rock festival that currently is in its 25th year of existence,” notes Markonish. “Arkhangelsk is the sister city of our hometown of Portland, Maine, so it was an amazing experience to travel across the globe and represent the Portland scene for the people of Russia. We made a ton of new friends and fans out there!”

According to Markonish, the “Thrice As Strong” album title plays off OGRE’s power-trio formation and is taken from their namesake song, “Ogre”, which is the first track on their first album, “Dawn Of The Proto-Man”, which is also where “The Last Neanderthal” title came from. “As our fans know, we really like all of these self-referential details, as it sort of builds up the concept of an ‘OGRE Universe’. Not surprisingly, we are all fans of comic books, sci-fi and horror novels/movies, and bands like RUSH, who specialize in those sorts of geeky things.”

OGRE is recording with Bishop because of his “good set of ears” and the stripped-down feel of Garage Mahal Studios. Markonish says the new songs are not a departure from the band’s vintage sound, but fans can expect a few different influences this time around.

“When we first started working on this album, our original plan was to try to keep song lengths down a bit,” he says. “Reason being, our prior albums all featured at least one song in the 10-15-minute range, never mind our concept album, ‘Plague Of The Planet’, which consists of a single, 37-minute song! While that proved difficult (a couple songs on this album stretch into the 8-minute range), it still did inform our general approach to songwriting this time around.

“I would also say that there is a bit more of an ‘80s metal influence on these tracks — some MAIDEN, a little DIO perhaps, and also some of the more underground bands of the time, like CIRITH UNGOL and MANILLA ROAD. Rowan even said he heard a little MERCYFUL FATE on some of the songs! The way I put it to someone, while our prior albums were majorly influenced by ’70s-era PENTAGRAM, this one shares some of its sound and ethos with the Victor Griffin ’80s line-up that produced the ‘Relentless’ and ‘Day Of Reckoning’ albums.”

Tracklisting:
1. The Future
2. Hive Mind
3. Big Man
4. Judgment Day
5. Blood of Winter
6. King of the Wood
7. Cyber-Czar

Ogre is:
Vocals/Bass: Ed Cunningham
Guitars: Ross Markonish
Drums: Will Broadbent

https://www.facebook.com/Rockogre/
https://ogrereal.bandcamp.com/
cruzdelsurmusic.com
facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com

Ogre, The Last Neanderthal (2014)

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Holy Grove Announce West Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

holy grove

Portland, Oregon, four-piece Holy Grove will head out this summer on a West Coast run supporting their second album and first for Ripple Music, II (review here), a record that for its landmark rocking ways has earned the nickname “The Big Dos.” Actually, I just made that up, but even so, the album was fantastic when it was released last year and it remains very much that way now. And hey, it’s super-duper that Holy Grove are getting out again to bring the rock to the people like some kind of collective of riffy tentpreachers. Really, my only gripe here is the word “West” when describing the coastal location of the tour. Surely we could change that to “East” and be fine, right? Come on, guys. It’s just the other side of the continent. You can make that happen at the drop of a hat, for sure. That seems like a totally reasonable expectation to me.

But, uh, are you holy groved? Have you ever been Holy Groved? Well… I haven’t, but I hear good things.

Speaking of good things, stream the album below and just make your day a little bit better, because that’s what it’s all about here. Love and volume.

Dates via social media:

holy grove tour

We’re hitting the road this summer. Hope to see you there.

More details soon.

Art by Alex Matus.

Holy Grove live:
08/28 Tacoma WA Spanish Ballroom
08/29 Bellingham WA The Shakedown
08/30 Vancouver BC SBC
08/31 Seattle WA Substation
09/01 Boise ID The Shredder
09/02 Salt Lake City UT Kilby Court
09/03 Denver CO Tooey’s Off Colfax
09/04 Albuquerque NM Launchpad
09/05 Tempe AZ Yucca Tap Room
09/06 Los Angeles CA 5 Star Bar
09/07 Oakland CA Elbo Room Jack London
09/08 Cupertino CA X Bar
09/09 Sacramento CA Blue Lamp
09/21 Portland OR Dante’s

Holy Grove is:
Andrea Vidal – Vocals
Trent Jacobs – Guitar
Gregg Emley – Bass
Eben Travis – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/holygroveband/
https://twitter.com/holygroveband
http://holygrove.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Holy Grove, II (2018)

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Northwest Hesh Fest 2019 Lineup Announced with Acid King, Red Fang, Nebula and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

northwest hesh fest skull

That’s a pretty good bill, man. Seriously, who’s better than Acid King? Anyone? I just started watching the video at the bottom of this post and god damn, that band is awesome. You know 2019 is the 20th anniversary of Busse Woods and they’ve already announced some celebratory shows, but whenever you can see them, god damn, just go. And having them headline a night with Witch Mountain, Wizard Rifle and Warish (like a Nanotear showcase), with Nebula, Red Fang, Black Elk, Sasquatch, Holy Grove, Eagle Claw and American Sharks playing across the other two nights, the last night ending with the weirdness of putting Necrot and Fat Tony back to back? Well, yeah, like I said, that’s a pretty good bill. I won’t be there to see it, but if you are, I promise I’ll be jealous.

They’ve got tickets for sale now, and I don’t know how big these rooms are because they’re on the other end of the country, but I know that even looking at the list of bands I’m like, “Duh, I should go to that,” so I’d imagine even more people feel that way when, you know, it’s an actual possibility for them to do so.

Pray for the master:

northwest hesh fest poster

Northwest Hesh Fest 2019

Sep 19-21 – Star Theater Portland – Bossanova Ballroom – Dante’s

NORTHWEST HESH FEST 2019
Opening Party Sept. 19 at Bossanova Ballroom

RED FANG
BLACK ELK (Reunion)
AMERICAN SHARKS
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/red-fang-black-elk-american-sharks-northwest-heshfest-tickets-60316705891
(Opening Party TICKET w RED FANG )

Friday Sept 20 at Star Theater
ACID KING
WITCH MOUNTAIN
WIZARD RIFLE
WARISH
https://www.ticketweb.com/event/nw-hesh-fest-2019-feat-star-theater-tickets/9446285?pl=star (ACID KING Ticket)

Saturday Sept 21 at Star Theater & Dantes

FAT TONY
NECROT
NEBULA
SASQUATCH
EAGLE CLAW
HOLY GROVE

MANY MORE BANDS TBA!

NORTHWEST HESH FEST 2019 FEST PASS
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northwest-hesh-fest-2019-friday-saturday-sept-20-21-tickets-53528655650

NOTE! FEST PASS is for FRIDAY & SATURDAY ONLY!
OPENING PARTY TICKETS w RED FANG Sold Separate

https://www.facebook.com/events/498976627248137/
https://www.facebook.com/NorthWestHeshFest/

Acid King, Life in Sacramento, CA, Sept. 6, 2018

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Hippie Death Cult Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for 111 Release; Stream “Sanctimonious”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

Like every day, before today’s done, you’ll probably be subject to an absolute assault of new music, but seriously, stop. Take a breath. Just chill for a second. Awesome.

Now go ahead and click play at the bottom of this post to check out “Sanctimonious” by Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who are newly signed to Cursed Tongue Records for the release of their debut album, 111. The four-piece roll out of the PNW like a burnout Soundgarden riding a wave of mushrooms and dysfunction fueled by the riffs and deep running tone of guitarist/engineer Eddie Brnabic, then slowly begin to reveal a deeper dynamic in the acoustic “Mrtyu” and the atmospheric-heavy-meets-NWOBHM-triumphalism-so-it-must-be-doom “Pigs” ahead of the organ-laced “Treehugger” and the extra-bluesified capper “Black Snake.” It’s not out until August, which is like an unfathomable amount of time and 100 million records from now, but Cursed Tongue does preorders, and I’m thinking this is one of the best debuts I’ve heard so far in this bastard of a year, so really, take a second and give it the due attention.

It’s a record I’m immediately looking forward to knowing better.

Taste the radness:

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

HIPPIE DEATH CULT SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A WORLD WIDE VINYL RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ‘111’ SET FOR AUGUST 23TH, 2019

Cursed Tongue Records is excited to the core announcing the signing of Hippie Death Cult (Portland, Oregon) for a vinyl release of their debut full length album entitled ‘111’ on August 23th, 2019.

Seldom comes along a band that turns our heads so severely it nearly causes cervical fracture and subsequent complete mind melt. Well, guess what Portland based Hippie Death Cult did exactly that when we first heard about this infectious, blues, stoner doom rock ensemble several moons ago. Back then they had just released their third single ‘Black Snake’ and we where taken by storm and immediately knew this band where going places. Doesn’t hurt either that Eddie and the rest of the hippies are among the nicest people around.

So in keeping this intro rather short, we give a warm welcome to Hippie Death Cult to the Cursed Tongue Records roster of amazing bands from the global heavy underground and we feel this is the perfect addition to our branch of hard working, hard rocking heavy bands! More info and details about ‘111’, digital release date, vinyl pre-order and pressing info will be revealed later down the line. For now we urge any fan of bluesy, 70’s hard rock, doom-infused stoner metal to acquaint yourself with the Hippie Death Cult as you surely will want to redeem lifelong membership after hearing their mind blowing musical creations. FFO Geezer, Egypt, Goya, Monolord, Windhand, Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath and The Heavy Eyes.

We welcome any stoner head into the cursed coven of the hippie death cult – let’s riff!

CTR-022 HIPPIE DEATH CULT – ‘111’, vinyl official release date: August 23th, 2019. (Digital release July 26th, 2019)

All songs written by Hippie Death Cult
All lyrics written by Ben Jackson

Recorded at HDC HQ in Portland, Oregon
Produced, Engineered, Mixed by Eddie Brnabic
Mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Rec Co.
Cover painting by Ben Jackson
Design, Layout, photography by Eddie Brnabic
Additional layout and design by Michael Andresakis

Track listing

Side A
1. Sanctimonious
2. Breeder’s Curse
3. Unborn
4. Mrtyu

Side B
5. Pigs
6. Treehugger
7. Black Snake

Hippie Death Cult live:
May 2ND @ The Valley – Tacoma, WA
May 3RD @ Darrell’s Tavern – Seattle, WA
May 4TH @ Chinese Gardens – Longview, WA
May 5TH @ The High Water Mark – Portland, OR

Hippie Death Cult is:
Eddie Brnabic : Guitar
Laura Phillips : Bass
Ryan Moore : Drums
Ben Jackson : Vocals/Keys

https://hippiedeathcult.bandcamp.com/
https://instagram.com/hippiedeathcultband/
https://www.facebook.com/hippiedeathcultband/
https://soundcloud.com/hippie-death-cult
https://www.hippiedeathcultband.com/
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtonguerecords

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Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

Kungens Man on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records webstore

 

PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

PFUND on Thee Facebooks

PFUND on Bandcamp

 

Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

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The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

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Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

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Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

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Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

melody fields melody fields

Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

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Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

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Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

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BlackWater HolyLight Recording Second Album; European Tour Starts April 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

That’s a big yes to new BlackWater HolyLight. The Portland, Oregonian outfit issued their self-titled debut (review here) last year through RidingEasy Records, and it’s the kind of record where all you have to do is see the song titles to get the tracks stuck in your head. What might a second album hold? I honestly have no idea, but I’m sure I’ll be glad to find out.

The band have announced touring in Europe that will include stops at Desertfest London and Berlin as well as Esbjerg Fuzztival and in rooms like Gothenburg’s famed Truckstop Alaska and others. Before they go, they’ll be at Psycho Smokeout on — you guessed it — April 20 in Los Angeles. One would assume that by the time they head abroad the album would be done, but yeah, that’s an assumption, so make of it what you will.

In any case, it’s slated to be out this October, so I’ll hope to have more on it as we get closer.

Dates from the PR wire:

blackwater holylight

Blackwater Holylight in the studio recording new album, announce US & EU tour dates

Portland, OR quintet BlackWater HolyLight are in the studio all this month recording the followup to their breakout self-titled debut album. The album is scheduled for release in October via RidingEasy Records.

BlackWater HolyLight also announce Spring 2019 tour dates starting with a hometown tour kickoff show in Portland, OR on April 16th and a performance at the highly anticipated inaugural Psycho Smokeout Festival in Los Angeles on 4/20. Please see all dates below.

BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT LIVE:
04/16 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge w/ R.I.P.
04/20 Los Angeles, CA @ Psycho Smokeout Festival
04/26 Linz, AT @ Stadtwerkstatt
05/01 Bristol, UK @ The Lanes
05/02 Newcastle, UK @ Trillans
05/03 London, UK @ DesertFest
05/04 Liege, BE @ La Zone
05/05 Berlin, DE @ DesertFest
05/08 Malmo, SE @ Plan B
05/09 Stockholm, SE @ Undergangen
05/10 Gothenburg, SE W Truckstop Alaska
05/11 Esbjerg, DK @ Esbjerg Fuzzfestival
05/13 Oldenburg, DE @ MTS LP Store
05/14 Berlin, DE @ Zukunft
05/15 Vienna, AT @ Aerena Beisl
05/16 Olten, CH @ Coq’D’or
05/17 Innsbruck, AT @ PMK

https://www.facebook.com/blackwaterholylight/
instagram.com/blackwaterholylight
blackwaterholylight.bandcamp.com
ridingeasyrecs.com

BlackWater HolyLight, BlackWater HolyLight (2018)

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WEEED, You are the Sky: Opening Doors

Posted in Reviews on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

weeed you are the sky

There’s a kind of awakening sensation as the guitars hum and howl their way into the suitably titled leadoff track “Opening” on You are the Sky, setting an immediately patient and mild tone across a serene build for six and a half minutes. It’s the sort of move a band might make on a 70-minute album, but the fact that WEEED‘s sixth long-player (released through Halfshell Records) runs a manageable six tracks and 44 minutes and they dedicate six of those to the instrumental introduction demonstrates plainly how much of a priority they’re placing on mood and atmosphere. It is a careful, but natural sound they amass, and the songs that unfold are rich in their variety of arrangement and vibe. The Portland, Oregon-based four/five-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mitchell Fosnaugh, bassist/vocalist Gabriel Seaver and drummers/percussionists John Goodhue and Evan Franz (also synth and piano, respectively) employ Ian Hartley on hand percussion throughout, and along with other synth and vocoder from Fosnaugh and various effects from Seaver, there develops a fluidity between the songs that becomes essential to the overall affect of the record.

It is a deeply organic sound, with shimmering guitar and naturally flowing rhythms, and it’s lent all the more breadth through the percussion and the forward vocal melodies when they apply, almost Americana in style, but not in a way as to make it seem like a put-on, like all of a sudden Fosnaugh or Seaver get in front of a microphone and become cowboys. Far from it, but the vocals do a fair amount of work in complementing the naturalism of the instrumentation surrounding, and as “Opening” gives way to “I See You” and the cymbal washes and chasing, winding guitars of “Where Did You Go?,” leading to a welcome percussion jam at the end, there’s nothing done to pull the listener out of the space that the band has created. It’s immersive, but not through hypnotic repetition. Instead, WEEED simply — or, not simply — present their shifts and changes in a smooth, natural way, and they bring the audience with them wherever they want to go.

Until they don’t, and that’s a special moment too. You are the Sky doesn’t have a centerpiece as such — six tracks means no place for one — but “Open Door” is close enough, and after the rhythmic glee that tops “Where Did You Go?” finishes, it’s a stark turn to the electrified pulsations and vocoder speech repeating the title line that shows not only how far WEEED‘s experimental sensibility is willing to go on this outing, but how much they’re willing to make it a focal point. On a tape or LP, this would be the end of side A, but even listening in a linear format (CD, digital), the effect is striking. There are still guitar lines woven throughout, but they’re a part of a broader ambient moment, as is the hand percussion that emerges. It’s relatively quick at 4:19 — the shortest piece on You are the Sky and certainly less ranging than either “Caramelized” or the closing title-track that follow and both top 10 minutes long — but it’s a crucial moment nonetheless in what it brings to to the album as a whole.

weeed

WEEED have put out now-six albums since 2013, and this is hardly the first experimental tendency they’ve showcased, but true enough to its title, “Open Door” throws out any rulebook by which the band might otherwise have been playing and engages the listener on an entirely different level, so that it’s not just about laid back flow and languid jamming, but this darker take on American krautrock that leads the way into the “closing duo” that consumes nearly half the record’s runtime. It’s almost as if You are the Sky is two mini-albums put together and “Open Door” is a transitional moment between them, but the truth is it’s a standout from any other modus employed elsewhere in these tracks, and especially with where it’s placed among them, that’s very clearly intentional. If it was first or last, you’d almost be able to write it off and say, “Oh, that’s the intro,” etc., but as it is, WEEED put the emphasis on that expansion of palette, and it makes You are the Sky an even more encompassing listen.

Further, it’s worth noting that the shift back toward guitar-based fare is no less smoothly done than, say, the turn from “I See You” to “Where Did You Go?,” and as they unfold a progressive heavy psychedelic blues throughout, “Caramelized,” finding room for scale work on guitar and highlight basslines as well as harmonica in the second half, there’s an underlying urgency of rhythm that not only grounds the exploration, but makes it an exciting and enticing trip. The vocal melodies hold sway and provide a human presence early where “Caramelized” might otherwise lose its way into the jam, but they get there anyhow, and seem happy to go, guitar stepping back in favor of harmonica while the drums hold steady beneath. They build back up into a verse from there and noodle out rather than launch into a crescendo, but the journey is the thing, and it’s a pleasure. “You are the Sky” follows introducing its title line quickly ahead of an intricate bounce that opens to an effectively punctuated groove and a bit of space rock push that seems to grow more distant as the song moves toward its midpoint.

Soon enough, subdued guitar takes hold, the vocals step back into the space created, and everything — everything — calms way down. It’s temporary, but dynamic. A guitar solo spikes the energy, but dissipates and the sound of a wave brings in the next vocal line at the eight-minute mark that acts as the introduction for the final surge that will carry WEEED through the apex and out on a crashing finale. Well earned. You are the Sky feels very much based around the musical conversation happening between the players involved, but neither does it exclude the listener from that as so much material that might otherwise be tagged “progressive” can do. That’s a risk to take, but six albums later, WEEED either consciously know or have an innate sense of what they want to do in terms of songwriting, and that comes across in the realization and structure of the album. It’s a particular kind of gorgeous, not about a lush wash of effects so much as the mindset it inspires and the payoff of those risks taken. Be at peace, if not necessarily peaceful.

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