Quarterly Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Dopethrone, Anandammide, Tigers on Opium, Bill Fisher, Ascia, Cloud of Souls, Deaf Wolf, Alber Jupiter, Cleen

Posted in Reviews on May 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

It is an age of plenty as regards the underground. Between bands being able to form with members on different continents, to being able to record basically anything anywhere anywhen, the barriers have never been lower. I heard an all-AI stoner rock record the other day. It wasn’t great, but did it need to be?

The point is there’s gotta be a reason so many people are doing the thing, and a reason it happens just about everywhere, more than just working/middle class disaffection and/or dadstalgia. There’s a lot of documentary research about bands, but so far I don’t think anyone’s done a study, book, bio-doc, whatever about the proliferation of heavy sounds across geographies and cultures. No, that won’t be me. “Face made for radio,” as the fellow once said, and little time to write a book. But perhaps some riff-loving anthropologist will get there one day — get everywhere, that is — and explore it with artists and fans. Maybe that’s you.

Happy Thursday.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Nell’ Ora Blu

uncle acid and the deadbeats nell ora blu

My favorite part of the press release for Uncle Acid‘s Nell’ Ora Blu was when founding guitarist/vocalist and apparent-auteur Kevin Starrs said, “I know something like this might have limited appeal, but who cares?” Though it was initially billed as an instrumental record and in fact features Starrs‘ trademark creeper vocal melodies in a few of its 19 tracks, the early “Giustizia di Strada/Lavora Fino Alla Morte” and pretty-UncleAcidic-feeling “La Vipera,” and the later march of the seven-minute “Pomeriggio di Novembre Nel Parco – Occhi Che Osservano,” catchy and still obscure enough in its psychedelia to fit, and “Solo la Morte Ti Ammanetta,” though most of the words throughout are spoken — genre cinephiles will recognize the names Edwige French and Franco Nero; there’s a lot of talking on the phone, all in Italian — as Starrs pays homage to giallo stylization in soundtracking an imaginary film. It’s true to an extent about the limited appeal, but this isn’t the first time Uncle Acid have chosen against expanding their commercial reach either, and while I imagine the effect is somewhat different if you speak Italian, Starrs‘ songwriting has never been so open or multifaceted in mood. Nell’ Ora Blu isn’t the studio follow-up to 2018’s Wasteland (review here) one might have expected, but it takes some of those aspects and builds a whole world out of them. They should tour it and do a live soundtrack, but then I guess someone would also have to make the movie.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Facebook

Rise Above Records website

Dopethrone, Broke Sabbath

Dopethrone Broke Sabbath

If “fuck you” were a band, it might be Dopethrone. With six new tracks spread across a sample-laced (pretty sure Joe Don Baker is in there somewhere; maybe “Truckstop Warlock?”) and mostly-crushing-of-spirit-and-tone 39 minutes, the crusty Montreal trio of guitarist/vocalist Vince, bassist Vyk and drummer Shawn pound at the door of your wellness with their scum-sludge extremity, living up to their reputation in gnash and nastiness for the duration. The penultimate “Uniworse” brings in Weedeater‘s “Dixie” Dave Collins for a guest spot, but by the time they get there, the three-piece have already bludgeoned your bones with album-centerpiece “Shlaghammer” and loosed the grueling breadth of “Rock Slock,” so really, Collins is the gravy on the pill-based bottom-hitting binge. From opening single “Life Kills You” through the final punishing moments of “Sultans of Sins” — presumably a side B mirror in terms of heft to “Slaghammer” — and the choice Billy Madison sample that follows, Dopethrone offer a singular unkindness of purpose. I feel like I need a shower.

Dopethrone on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

Anandammide, Eura

ANANDAMMIDE EURA

Where even the melancholy progression of “Song of Greed” is marked by the gorgeousness of its dual-vocal melody and flowing arrangement of strings, guitar, and strings, Eura is the second full-length and Sulatron Records label-debut for Parisian psych-folkies Anandammide. At the core of the diverse arrangements is songwriter Michele Moschini (vocals, synth, organ, guitar, drums), who brings purposefully Canterburyian pastoralia together with prog rock tendencies on “Phantom Limb” and the title-track while maintaining the light-touch gentility of the start of “Carmilla,” the later flow between “Lullaby No. 2” and “Dream No. 1,” or the gracefully undrummed “I Am a Flower,” with synth and strings side-by-side. Though somewhat mournful in its subject matter, Eura is filled with life and longing, and the way the lyrics of “Phantom Limb” feel out of place in the world suits the aural anachronism and the escapist drive that seems to manifest in “The Orange Flood.” Patient, immersive, and lovely, it sees ruin and would give solace.

Anandammide on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Tigers on Opium, Psychodrama

tigers on opium psychodrama

An awaited first full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Tigers on Opium, the 10-song/44-minute Psychodrama builds on the semi-sleazed accomplishments of the four-piece’s prior EPs while presenting a refreshingly varied sound. The album begins as “Ride or Die” unfolds with Juan Carlos Caceres‘ vocals echoing in layers over quiet guitar — more of an intro, it is reprised to deliver the title line as a post-finale epilogue — and directly dives into garage-doom strut with “Black Mass” before a Styx reference worked into “Diabolique” makes for an immediate, plus-charm highlight. The parade doesn’t stop there. The Nirvana-ish beginning of “Retrovertigo” soft-boogies and drifts into Jerry Cantrell-style melody backed by handclaps, while Thin Lizzy leads show up in “Sky Below My Feet” and the more desert rocking “Paradise Lost” ahead of the farther-back, open swing and push of “Radioactive” giving over to “Wall of Silence”‘s ’70s singer-songwriterism, communing with the “Ride or Die” bookend but expanded in its arrangement; capper-caper “Separation of the Mind” paying it all off like Queens of the Stone Age finding the Big Riff and making it dance, too. On vocals, guitar and keys, Caceres is a big presence in the persona, but don’t let that undercut the contributions of guitarist Jeanot Lewis-Rolland, bassist Charles Hodge or drummer Nate Wright, all of whom also sing. As complex in intent as Psychodrama is, its underlying cohesion requires everybody to be on board, and as they are, the resulting songs supersede expectation and comprise one of 2024’s best debut albums.

Tigers on Opium on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Bill Fisher, How to Think Like a Billionaire

Bill Fisher How To Think Like A Billionaire

Self-identifying as “yacht doom,” How to Think Like a Billionaire is the third solo full-length from Church of the Cosmic Skull‘s Bill Fisher, and while “Consume the Heart” and “Yell of the Ringman” tinge toward darkness and, in the case of the latter, a pointedly doomly plog, what the “yacht” translates to is a swath of ’80s-pop keyboard sounds and piano rock accompanying Fisher‘s guitar, vocals, bass and drums, a song like “Xanadu” sending up tech-culture hubris after “Ride On, Unicorn” has given a faux-encouraging push in its chorus, rhyming “Ride on, unicorn” with “In the valley of Silicon.” Elsewhere, “Overview Effect” brings the cover to life in imagining the apocalypse from the comfort of a private spaceship, while “Lead Us Into Fire” idolizes a lack of accountability in self-harmonizing layers with the thud that complements “Intranaut” deeper in the mix and the sense that, if you were a big enough asshole and on enough cocaine, it might just be possible Fisher means it when he sings in praise of capitalist hyperexploitation. A satire much needed and a perspective to be valued, if likely not by venture capital.

Bill Fisher on Facebook

Bill Fisher website

Ascia, The Wandering Warrior

ascia the wandering warrior

While one could liken the echo-born space that coincides with the gallop of opening cut “Greenland” to any number of other outfits, and the concluding title-track branches out both in terms of tempo and melodic reach, Ascia‘s debut long-player, The Wandering Warrior follows on from the project’s demoes in counting earliest High on Fire as a defining influence. Fair enough, since the aforementioned two are both the most recent included here and the only songs not culled from the three prior demos issued by Fabrizio Monni (also Black Capricorn) under the Ascia name. With the languid fluidity and impact of “Mother of the Wendol” and the outright thrust of “Blood Bridge Battle,” “Ruins of War” and “Dhul Qarnayn” set next to the bombastic crash ‘n’ riff of “Serpent of Fire,” Monni has no trouble harnessing a flow from the repurposed, remastered material, and picking and choosing from among three shorter releases lets him portray Ascia‘s range in a new light. That may not be able to happen in the same way next time around (or it could), but for those who did or didn’t catch the demos, The Wandering Warrior summarizes well the band’s progression to this point and gives hope for more to come.

Ascia on Bandcamp

Perpetual Eclipse Productions store

Cloud of Souls, A Constant State of Flux

Cloud of Souls A Constant State of Flux

Indianapolis-based solo-project Cloud of Souls — aka Chris Latta (ex-Spirit Division, Lavaborne, etc.) — diverges from the progressive metallurgy of 2023’s A Fate Decided (review here) in favor of a more generally subdued, contemplative presentation. Beginning with its title-track, the five-song/36-minute outing marks out the spaces it will occupy and seems to dwell there as the individual cuts play out, whether that’s “A Constant State of Flux” holding to its piano-and-voice, the melancholic procession of the nine-minute “Better Than I Was,” or the sax that accompanies the downerism of the penultimate “Love to Forgive Wish to Forget.” Each song brings something different either in instrumentation or vibe — “Homewrecker Blues” harmonizes en route to a momentary tempo pickup laced with organ, closer “Break Down the Door” offers hope in its later guitar and crash, etc. — but it can be a fine line when conveying monotony or low-key depressivism, and there are times where A Constant State of Flux feels stuck in its own verses, despite Latta‘s strength of craft and the band’s exploratory nature.

Cloud of Souls on Facebook

Cloud of Souls on Bandcamp

Deaf Wolf, Not Today, Satan

Deaf Wolf Not Today Satan

Not Today, Satan, in either its 52-minute runtime or in the range of its songcraft around a central influence from Queens of the Stone Age circa 2002-2005, is not a minor undertaking. The ambitious debut full-length from Berlin trio Deaf Wolf — guitarist/vocalist Christian Rottstock (also theremin on “Silence is Golden”), bassist/vocalist Hagen Walther and Alexander Dümont on drums and other percussion — adds periodic lead-vocal tradeoffs between Rottstock and Walther to further broaden the scope of the material, with (I believe) the latter handling the declarations of “Survivor” and the gurgle-voice on “S.M.T.P.” and “Beast in Me,” which arrive in succession before “The End” closes with emphasis on self-awareness. The earlier “Sulphur” becomes a standout for its locked-in groove, fuzz tones and balanced mix, while “See You in Hell” finds its own direction and potential in strut and fullness of sound. There’s room to refine some of what’s being attempted, but Not Today, Satan sets Deaf Wolf off to an encouraging start.

Deaf Wolf on Facebook

Deaf Wolf on Bandcamp

Alber Jupiter, Puis Vient la Nuit

Alber Jupiter Puis Vient la Nuit

Five years on from their also-newly-reissued 2019 debut, We Are Just Floating in Space, French instrumentalist heavy space rock two-piece Alber Jupiter — bassist Nicolas Terroitin, drummer Jonathan Sonney, and both of them on what would seem to be all the synth until Steven Michel guests in that regard on “Captain Captain” and the title-track — make a cosmic return with Puis Vient la Nuit, the bulk of which is unfurled through four cuts between seven and 10 minutes long after a droning buildup in “Intro.” If you’re waiting for the Slift comparison somewhat inevitable these days anywhere near the words “French” and “space,” keep waiting. There’s some shuffle in the groove of “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Captain Captain” before it departs for a final minute-plus of residual cosmic background, sure, but the gradual way “Pas de Bol Pour Peter” hits its midpoint apex and the wash brought to fruition in “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Puis Vient la Nuit” itself is digging in on a different kind of vibe, almost cinematic in its vocal-less drama, broad in dynamic and encompassing on headphones as it gracefully sweeps into the farther reaches of far out, slow in escape velocity but with depth in three dimensions. It is a journey not to be missed.

Alber Jupiter on Facebook

Foundrage Label on Bandcamp

Up in Her Room Records on Bandcamp

Araki Records on Bandcamp

Cleen, Excursion

cleen excursion

There’s something of a narrative happening in at least most of the 10 tracks of Cleen‘s impressive debut album, Excursion, as the character speaking in the lyrics drifts through space and eventually meets a perhaps gruesome end, but by the time they’re closing with “A Means to an End” (get it?), the Flint, Michigan, trio of guitarist/vocalist Patrick, bassist Cooley and drummer Jordan are content to leave it at, “I just wanna worship satan and go the fuck to sleep.” Not arguing. Their sound boasts an oozing cosmic ethereality that might remind a given listener of Rezn here and there, but in the post-grunge-meets-post-punk-oh-and-there’s-a-scream movement of “No One Remembers but You,” the punkier shove in the first half of “Year of the Reaper,” the dirt-fuzz jangle of “Aroya” and the sheer heft of “Menticidal Betrayal,” “Sultane of Sand” and “Fatal Blow,” Cleen blend elements in a manner that’s modern but well on its way to being their own in addition to being a nodding clarion for the converted.

Cleen on Facebook

Electric Desert Records website

t

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

Quarterly Review: Nebula, Mountain of Misery, Page Williams Turner, Almost Honest, Buzzard, Mt. Echo, Friends of Hell, Red Sun, Wolff & Borgaard, Semuta

Posted in Reviews on May 13th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

Legend has it that a long time ago, thousands of years ago, before even the founding of the Kingdom of New Jersey itself, there was a man who attempted a two-week, 100-album Quarterly Review. He truly believed and was known to say to his goodlady wife, “Sure, I can do 100 releases in 10 days. That should be fine,” but lo, the gods did smite him for his hubris.

His punishment? That very same Quarterly Review.

Like the best of mythology, the lesson here is don’t be a dumbass and do things like 100-record Quarterly Reviews. Clearly this is a lesson I haven’t learned. Welcome to the next two weeks. Sorry for the typos. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Nebula, Livewired in Europe

Nebula Livewired in Europe

A busy 2023 continued on from a busy 2022 for SoCal heavy rockers Nebula as they supported their seventh album, Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here), and as filthy as was founding guitarist Eddie Glass‘ fuzz on that record, the nine-track (12 on the CD) Livewired in Europe pushes even further into the rawer stoner punk that’s always been at root in their sound. They hit Europe twice in 2023, in Spring and Fall, and in the lumbering sway of “Giant,” the drawl of “Messiah,” the Luciferian wink of that song and “Man’s Best Friend” earlier in the set, and the righteous urgency of what’s listed in the promo as “Down the Mother Fuckin’ Highway” or the shred-charged roll of “Warzone Speedwolf” in the bonus cuts, with bassist Ranch Sironi backing Glass on vocals and Mike Amster wailing away on drums — he’s the glue that never sounds stuck — they document the mania of post-rebirth Nebula as chaotic and forceful in kind, which is precisely what one would most hope for at the start of the gig. It’s not their first live outing, and hopefully it’s not the last either.

Nebula on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Mountain of Misery, The Land

mountain of misery the land

The self-recording/self-releasing Kamil Ziółkowski offers his second solo LP with The Land, following in short order from last Fall’s In Roundness (review here) and the two-songer issued a month after. At six songs and 35 minutes, The Land further distinguishes Mountain of Misery stylistically from Ziółkowski‘s main outfit, Spaceslug. Yes, the two bands share a penchant for textured tones and depth of mix (Haldor Grunberg at Satanic Audio mixed and mastered), and the slow-delivered melodic ‘gaze-style vocals are recognizable, but “The ’90s” puts Nirvana through this somewhat murky, hypnotic filter, and before its shimmering drone caps the album, on closer “Back Again,” the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist reminds a bit of Eddie Vedder. Seekers of nod will find plenty in “Awesome Burn” and the slightly harder-hitting “High Above the Mount” — desert rock in its second half, but on another planet’s desert — while the succession of “Path of Sound” and “Come on Down” feel specifically set to more post-rocking objectives; the plot and riffs likewise thickened. Most of all, it sounds like Mountain of Misery is digging in for a longer-term songwriting exploration, and quickly, and The Land only makes me more excited to find out where it’s headed.

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Page Williams Turner, Page Williams Turner

page williams turner self titled

The named-for-their-names trio Page Williams Turner is comprised of electronicist/mixer Michael Page (Sky Burial, many others), drummer/percussionist Robert Williams (of the harshly brilliant Nightstick) and saxophonist Nik Turner (formerly Hawkwind, et al), and the single piece broken into two sides on their Opposite Records self-titled debut is a duly experimentalist, mic-up-and-go extreme take on free psychedelic jazz, drone, industrial noisemaking, and time-what-is-time-signature manipulation. “Rorrim I” is drawn cinematically into an unstable wormhole circa its 14th minute, and teases serenity before the listener is eaten by a giant spider in some kind of unknowable ritual, and while “Rorrim II” feels less manic on average, its cycles, ebbs and flows remain wildly unpredictable. That’s the point, of course. If the combination of personnel and/or elements seems really, really weird on paper, you’re on the right track. This kind of thing will never be for everybody, but those who can get on its level will find it transportive. If that’s you, safe travels.

Page Williams Turner at Opposite Records Bandcamp

Opposite Records website

Almost Honest, The Hex of Penn’s Woods

almost honest the hex of penn's woods

The spoken intro welcoming the listener to “the greatest and last show of your lives” at the head of the chugging “Mortician Magician” is a little over the top considering the straightforward vibe of much of what follows on the 10 tracks of 2023’s The Hex of Penn’s Woods from Pennsylvania-based heavy rockers Almost Honest, but whether it’s the banjo early or the cowbell later in “Haunted Hunter,” the post-Fu Manchu riffing and gang shouts of “Alien Spiders,” “Ballad of a Mayfly”‘s whistling, the organ in “Amish Hex” (video premiere here), the harmonies of “Colony of Fire,” a bit of sax on “Where the Quakers Dwell,” that quirk in the opener, the funk wrought throughout by Garrett Spangler‘s bass and Quinten Spangler‘s drumming, the metal-rooted intertwining of Shayne Reed and David Kopp‘s guitars or the structural solidity beneath all of it, the band give aural character to coincide with the regionalist themes based on their Pennsylvania Dutch, foothill-Appalachian surroundings, and they dare to make their third album’s 44 minutes fun in addition to thoughtful in its craft.

Almost Honest on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Buzzard, Doom Folk

buzzard doom folk

Based in Western Massachusetts, Buzzard is the solo-project of Christopher Thomas Elliott, and the title of his debut album, Doom Folk, describes his particular intention. As the 12-song/44-minute outing unfolds from the eponymous “Buzzard” at its outset (even that feels like a Sabbathian dogwhistle), the blend of acoustic and electric guitar forms the heart of the arrangements, but more than that, it’s doom and folk, stylistically, that are coming together. What makes it work is that Elliott avoids the trap of 2010s-ish neo-folk posturing as a songwriter, and while there’s a ready supply of apocalyptic mood in the lyrical storytelling and abundant amplified distortion put to dynamic use, the folk he’s speaking to is more traditional. Not lacking intricacy in their percussion, arrangements or melodies, you could nonetheless learn these songs and sing them. “Death Metal in America” alone makes it worth the price of admission, let alone the stellar “Lucifer Rise,” but the sweet foreboding and build of the subsequent “Harvester of Souls” gets even closer to Buzzard‘s intention in bringing together the two sides to manifest a kind of heavy that is immediately and impressively its own. Doom Folk on.

Buzzard on Facebook

Buzzard on Bandcamp

Mt. Echo, Cometh

mt echo cometh

Mt. Echo begin their third full-length primed for resonance with the expansive, patiently wrought “Veil of Unhunger,” leading with their longest track (immediate points) as a way of bringing the listener into the record’s mostly instrumental course with a shimmer of post-rock and later-emerging density of tone. The Nijmegen trio’s follow-up to 2022’s Electric Empire (review here) plays out across a breadth that extends beyond the 44-minute runtime and does more in its pieces than flow smoothly between its loud/quiet tradeoffs. “Round and Round Goes the Crown” brings a guest appearance from Oh Hazar guitarist/vocalist Stefan Kollee that pushes the band into a kind of darker, thoroughly Dutch heavy prog, but even that shift is made smoother by the spoken part on “Brutiful Your Heart” just before, and not necessarily out of line with how “Set at Rest” answers the opener, or the rumble, nod and wash that cap with “If I May.” The overarching sense of growth is palpable, but the songs express more atmospherically than just the band pushing themselves.

Mt. Echo on Facebook

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

Friends of Hell, God Damned You to Hell

friends of hell god damned you to hell

They’re probably to raw and dug into Satanic cultistry to agree, but with Per “Hellbutcher” Gustavsson (Nifelheim) on vocals, guitarists Beelzeebubth (Mystifier, etc.) and Nikolas “Sprits” Moutafis (Mirror, etc.), bassist Taneli Jarva (Impaled Nazarene, etc.) and drummer Tasos Danazoglou (Mirror, ex-Electric Wizard, etc.) in the lineup for second LP God Damned You to Hell, it’s probably safe to call Friends of Hell a supergroup. Such considerations ultimately have little to do with how the rolling proto-NWOBHM triumphs of “Bringer of Evil” and “Arcane Macabre” play out, but it explains the current of extremity in their purposes that comes through at the start with the title-track and the severity that surrounds in the layering of “Ave Satanatas” as they journey into the underworld to finish with the eight-minute “All the Colors of the Dark.” You’re either going to buy the backpatch or shrug and not get it, and that seems like it’s probably fine with them.

Friends of Hell on Instagram

Rise Above Records website

Red Sun, From Sunset to Dawn

Red Sun From Sunset to Dawn

Not to be confused with France’s Red Sun Atacama, Italian prog-heavy psych instrumentalists Red Sun mark their 10th anniversary with the release of their third album, From Sunset to Dawn, and run a thread of doom through the keyboardy “The Sunset Turns Purple” and “The Shape of Night” on side A to manifest ‘sunset’ while side B unfolds with airier guitar in “The Coldness of the New Moon” and “Towards the End of Darkness” en route to the raga-leaning “The New Sun,” but as much as there is to be said for the power of suggestion and narrative titling, it’s the music itself that realizes the progression described in the name of the album. With a clear influence from My Sleeping Karma in “The Coldness of the New Moon” and the blend of organic hand-percussion and digitized melody in “The New Sun,” Red Sun immerse the listener in the procession from the intro “Where Once Was Light” (mirrored by “Intempesto” at the start of side B) onward, with each song serving as a chapter in the linear concept and story.

Red Sun on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Wolff & Borgaard, Destroyer

wolff and borgaard destroyer

Cinematic enough in sheer sound and the corresponding intensity of mood to warrant the visual collaboration with Kai Lietzke that accompanies the audio release, the collaboration between Hamburg electronic experimentalist Peter Wolff (Downfall of Gaia) and vocalist Jens Borgaard (Knifefight!, solo) moves between minimalist soundscaping and more consuming, weighted purposes. Moments like the beginning of “Transmit” might leave one waiting for when the Katatonia song is going to kick in, but Wolff & Borgaard engage on their own level as each of the nine pieces follows its own poetic course, able to be caustic like the culmination of “Observe” or to bring the penultimate “Extol” to silence gradually before “Reaper” bursts to life with clearly intentional contrast. I heard this or that streaming service is making a Blade Runner 2099 tv series. Sounds like a terrible idea, but it might just be watchable if Wolff & Borgaard get to do the score with a similar evocations of software and soul.

Peter Wolff on Facebook

My Proud Mountain website

Semuta, Glacial Erratic

Semuta Glacial Erratic

The Portland, Oregon, two-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Benjamin Caragol (ex-Burials) and drummer Ben Stoller (currently also Simple Forms, Dark Numbers, ex-Vanishing Kids) do much to ingratiate themselves both to the crowded underground of which their hometown is an epicenter, and to the broader sphere of heavy-progressivism in modern doom and sludge. Across the five tracks of their self-released for now debut full-length, Glacial Erratic, the pair offer a panacea of heavy sounds, angular in the urgency of “Toeing the Line,” which opens, or the later thud of “Selective Memory” (the latter of which also appeared on their 2020 self-titled EP), which seem more kin to Baroness or Elder crashes and twists of “A Distant Light” or the interplay of ambience, roll, and sharpness of execution that’s been held in reserve for the nine-minute “Wounds at the Stem” as they leave off. Melody, particularly in Caragol‘s vocals, is crucial in tying the material together, and part of what gives Semuta such apparent potential, but they seem already to have figured out a lot about who they want to be musically. All of which is to say don’t be surprised when this one shows up on the list of 2024’s best debut albums come December.

Semuta on Facebook

Semuta on Bandcamp

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

Hippie Death Cult Announce Summer European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

Alongside their previously announced West Coast tour set to kickoff May 16 in San Francisco, Hippie Death Cult will this summer head to Europe and the UK for a solid month of road time as they continue to support their 2023 long-player, Helichrysum (review here), which marked the beginning of their trio-era in terms of studio releases and was badass besides.

There are still a decent amount of open slots at least as of when I’m posting this, but you can see Blackdoor Fest, Stoomfest, the venerable Stoned From the Underground, Woodrock Festival, Blue Moon, and so on spread throughout, so no one can accuse them of not making the most of their time. And of course, if you’re in a position to help with a TBA, I encourage you to do that both as a matter of general principle and so you can see Hippie Death Cult live, which you’re not likely to regret if you’re still reading this paragraph.

I’ve included the West Coast dates here too, and if you’re on the US Eastern Seaboard like myself, heads up they’ll be at Desertfest New York this September and it’s not a huge cognitive leap to think they’ll be touring around that as well, given their obvious knack for it.

Off you go:

hippie death cult euro tour 2024

Hey all, we are stoked to announce that our heavy fuzz riffers HIPPIE DEATH CULT will tour Europe this Summer !!!

!! STILL FEW OPEN SLOTS !!

BOOK YOUR SHOW WRITE TO info@heavypsychsounds.com

*** HIPPIE DEATH CULT European Tour 2024 ***
FR 28/06/2024 IT BOLOGNA – Freakout
SA 29/06/2024 DE PASSAU – Blackdoor Fest
SU 30/06/2024 ***OPEN SLOT***
MO 01/07/2024 UK *** OPEN SLOT ***
TU 02/07/2024 UK NOTTINGHAM – Ye Olde Salutation Inn
WE 03/07/2024 UK PRESTON – The Ferret
TH 04/07/2024 UK SHEFFIELD – Yellow Arch Studio
FR 05/07/2024 UK HUDDERSFIELD – Northern Quarter
SA 06/07/2024 UK LONDON – Stoom Fest
SU 07/07/2024 UK SWANSEA – Elysium Gallery & Venue
MO 08/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
TU 09/07/2024 FR LILLE – Le Bulle
WE 10/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
TH 11/07/2024 DE MANNHEIM –
FR 12/07/2024 DE ERFURT – Stoned From The Underground
SA 13/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
SU 14/07/2024 DE MUNCHEN – Unter Deck
MO 15/07/2024 DE MAINZ – Kulturcafe
TU 16/07/2024 NL NIJMEGEN – De Onderbroek
WE 17/07/2024 DE KOLN – Stereo Wonderland
TH 18/07/2024 DE DRESDEN – Chemiefabrik
FR 19/07/2024 DE KARLSRUHE – Das Fest
SA 20/07/2024 PT FIGUEIRA DA FOZ – Woodrock Festival
MO 22/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
TU 23/07/2024 SK BRATISLAVA – Garaže
WE 24/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
TH 25/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
FR 26/07/2024 DE COTTBUS – Blue Moon Festival
SA 27/07/2024 *** OPEN SLOT ***
SU 28/07/2024 SI LJUBLJANA – Channel Zero

𝐩คc𝕚𝐟Į𝓬 𝕠Ⓓy𝕤S𝐞𝓎 ŦᗝỮя ➁ʘ2➃
5.16 SAN FRANCISCO, CA – @sfeagle
5.17 COSTA MESA, CA – @wayfarercm
5.18 OCEANSIDE, CA – @pourhouseoceanside
5.19 LOS ANGELES, CA – @permanentrecordsla
5.20 LAS VEGAS , NV – @the_dive_lv
5.21 RENO, NV – @lobarsocial
5.22 BRENTWOOD, CA – @thebrentwoodemporium
5.23 REDDING, CA, – @thedipredding
5.24 CRESENT CITY, CA – Enoteca
5.25 PORTLAND, OR – @coffinclubpdx
6.14 EUGENE, OR – @johnhenryseugene
6.15 SEATTLE, WA – @clockoutlounge
Ticket Links for West Coast:
https://www.bandsintown.com/a/12709196-hippie-death-cult

HIPPIE DEATH CULT is:
Laura Phillips – Bass/Vocals
Eddie Brnabic – Guitar
Harry Silvers – Drums

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

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://www.instagram.com/heavypsychsounds_records/

Hippie Death Cult, Helichrysum (2023)

Tags: , , , , ,

Danava to Release Live LP June 21; “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Two sides, two shows, one from 2008 and one from late last year. To my knowledge, Live will be the first captured-on-stage offering from long-running Portland trad-metal rockers Danava, as well as their first collaboration with Heavy Psych Sounds — their 2023 LP, Nothing But Nothing (review here), came out through Tee Pee — and considering how much touring they’ve done since their mid-aughts outset, they’re well due. Seems pretty clear the intent in dividing Live between ‘then’ and ‘now-ish’ is to give their latest work and current lineup some deserved documentation — i.e., the album ruled — while the A side offers longtime followers a chance to remember where they came from. What’re you gonna do, argue? It’s Danava. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably already ordered. If not, not. They’ll keep going regardless.

But if you’re here, before you move onto the next thing, click off, get distracted, whatever, take a listen to “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” below. It’s the first single from Live and the song that starts the 2023 gig. Before the song starts, you’ll hear the crowd being welcomed and, just before the music kicks in, “We’ve been ready.” I think once you hear what follows, you’ll agree, even if you’ve never listened to Danava before today. That’s why you put out a live record.

From the PR wire:

danava live

DANAVA to release “Live” album on June 21st via Heavy Psych Sounds; first track and preorders available now!

Pacific Northwest’s proto-heavy revelers DANAVA announce the release of their “Live” album this June 21st through European powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds and present a thunderous first excerpt with “Shoot Straight With A Crooked Gun”.

Capturing the frenzy of their European tours in 2008 and 2023, this new album from the revered proto-heavy merchants is a must-have for fans old and new! Featuring a live recording from Whelan’s in Dublin and 007 Strahov in Prague, the tracklist is a testament to DANAVA’s prowess on stage. From the hypnotic rhythms of ‘Introduction/Spinning Temple Shifting’ to the raw energy of ‘Let The Good Times Kill,’ each song is a journey through the band’s dynamic universe!

With two decades of relentless dedication, the Portland-based rock’n’roll overlords have endeavored to unleash their authentic and electrifying fusion of hard rock and heavy metal upon a world burdened by strife and turmoil. Their mission is to harness music’s power as a beacon of hope, uniting lives and imaginations as one collective force. Join them on this journey toward a vibrant existence amidst the chaos we never chose to inhabit. Together, we rise. Together, we create. Don’t miss the chance to embark on this exhilarating ride as DANAVA ushers in a new era of fluidity before we vanish into the ether!

Described as a concoction reminiscent of Rainbow, Dio, Thin Lizzy, early Maiden and Judas Priest, DANAVA’s sonic brew promises a bold assertion of dominance in the current rock and roll landscape. As acclaimed musician Mike Scheidt of YOB puts it, Danava has always exemplified excellence in their craft, and this latest release is no exception.

DANAVA – New album “Live”
Out June 21st on Heavy Psych Sounds – PREORDER: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/danava-live

TRACKLIST:
Side A – Recorded at Whelan’s, in Dublin (4/13/08)
1. Introduction/Spinning Temple Shifting 11:59
2. Maudie Shook 8:41
Side B – Recorded at 007 Strahov, in Prague (11/11/23)
1. Shoot Straight With A Crooked Gun 5:57
2. Nothing But Nothing 4:14
3. Longdance 7:55
4. Let The Good Times Kill 3:31

DANAVA is
Gregory Meleney – vocals/guitar
Levi Campbell – vocals
Kerby Strom – guitar
Dominic Casciato – bass
Matt Oliver – drums

https://facebook.com/danava
https://www.instagram.com/danavaband/
https://www.danavaband.com/

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://www.instagram.com/heavypsychsounds_records/

Danava, “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” from Live

Tags: , , , , ,

Semuta to Release Debut LP Glacial Erratic May 24; Title-Track Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

semuta

I don’t know at whose house Semuta filmed the video for the first single and title-track from their upcoming debut album, Glacial Erratic, but with that skate ramp in the back yard, a P.A., and plenty of room for an entire crowd of people — plus at least one chainsaw — to chase some dude out, it looks like a pretty killer spot. “Glacial Erratic” is the first I’ve heard of the two-piece with Benjamin Caragol on guitar/vocals and Ben Stoller on drums, but the reason I’m posting about it is that after hearing it, I’m curious to hear more, so take that as you will. The way the descriptions below align to post-metal with some emotive current through it presents an immediate purpose in aesthetic terms. A goal they’re working toward.

Glacial Erratic is up for preorder from the band on Bandcamp, which I’m sure you know because you probably hang out with these guys and you’re probably in the video because you have friends and aren’t alienated from everyone around you including your family sitting right on the other couch as you beeline on your trajectory to being someone’s divorced asshole dad whose kid never speaks to you again — at least I’m liberal — and the video’s at the bottom of the post. I don’t have anything else to add here that doesn’t round out to hating myself while I wait for the gummy to kick in so I don’t have to think about it anymore or at least not with the words moving so fast in my brain, so here you go. Enjoy:

Semuta Glacial Erratic

SEMUTA: Portland post-metallers debut title track from new album “Glacial Erratic”; official music video features members of Usnea, Dark Castle, more

Preorder: https://semutamusic.bandcamp.com/album/glacial-erratic

Semuta is the duo of guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Caragol and drummer Ben Stoller, former members of noted Rose City bands Burials, Dark Numbers, and more. Together as Semuta, the two summon a mournful strain of sludgy post-metal, marked by enthralling songcraft and passionate execution.

Mixed by Scott Evans at Antisleep Audio (Kowloon Walled City, Great Falls) and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Portrayal of Guilt, Torche), debut full-length Glacial Erratic depicts an ocean of melancholy, punctuated by triumphant swells. Its five songs unfold over the course of 37 minutes, with Caragol’s rich, clean vocals soaring over icy lulls and metallic eruptions. Navigating gentle interludes, tense buildups peppered with odd time signatures, and heroic climaxes, Stoller delivers rock-solid beatings in the Bonham tradition and Caragol unfurls a spectrum of six-string magic, all in service of the songs’ momentum.

Caragol states: “When I was a kid all I really cared about was metal, but around the time I was 15 or 16 I started to branch out. A big moment for me was seeing Radiohead for the first time. I had never seen a group of musicians so willing to dispense with conventions, and explore such a wide array of sounds. After that I was drawn to heavy bands that experimented with sonics, odd times, and emotive melodies; bands like Neurosis, Converge, Godspeed… I really appreciate music that pushes boundaries while maintaining a lot of feeling. I want the music we make to be ambitious, but I also want it to resonate with people emotionally.”

Caragol’s goal, to create music that challenges the mind whilst stirring the soul, has been realized with Glacial Erratic, an album likely to hook the ears of any fan of progressive heavy music, from Russian Circles to Cave In and beyond.

Revealing the themes at play behind the new album, Caragol states: “Most of our songs are about the ways in which human systems are failing us. Governments waging endless war. Corporations hoarding wealth and exploiting natural resources at the cost of an inhabitable planet. The abandonment and persecution of our most vulnerable populations. It’s hard to look at our civilization and not see a gaping wound. And most people bury their heads in the gutter of social media and vapid entertainment; a desperate attempt to hold onto fleeting moments of joy as the world around us falls apart.”

In contrast to the grave messaging, the official music video for the album’s title track sports a lighthearted, B-movie tone. Directed by renowned documentarian of Portland’s metal and punk scenes, Shelby Kray, the video sees a party at a backyard skateboard ramp devolve into hallucinatory horror. Making cameos are a bevy of Semuta’s hometown friends, including members of Usnea, Dark Castle, Armed for Apocalypse, Stoneburner, Nasalrod, and more. “Portland has a pretty thriving music scene,” says Caragol, in regards to the video casting. “There’s a wide variety of bands, and the music community is pretty close knit.”

The Glacial Erratic album artwork was created by Ashleigh Caragol, with design and layout by Justin Cory. The album follows one self-titled EP, released by the band in 2020.

Semuta has announced a string of West Coast dates for the spring, teaming up with such bands as Conan and Heiress along the way.

Apr 18 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios (w/ Conan)
May 31 – Portland, OR @ The High Water Mark (w/ Yellfire)
June 1 – Bellingham, WA @ Make Shift (w/ Melancholia)
June 2 – Seattle, WA @ The Sunset Tavern (w/ Heiress)
June 8 – Santa Rosa, CA @ Shady Oak (w/ Ex Everything)
June 9 – Oakland, CA @ The Stork Club (w/ Ex Everything)

Tracklist:
1) Toeing the Line
2) A Distant Light
3) Glacial Erratic
4) Selective Memory
5) Wounds at the Stem

Lineup:
Benjamin Caragol – guitar, bass, vocals
Ben Stoller – drums

https://www.facebook.com/semutapdx/
https://www.youtube.com/@SEMUTAPDX
https://semutamusic.bandcamp.com/

Semuta, “Glacial Erratic” official video

Semuta, Glacial Erratic (2024)

Tags: , , , , ,

Hippie Death Cult Announce West Coast Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

Surprised that Hippie Death Cult are rolling out this Spring for West Coast dates supporting their 2023 album, Helichrysum (review here), or that they’re heading off anyone who’d do the social media thing where people complain tours aren’t coming to their houses like Amazon deliveries by saying there’s more to come in North America and Europe? Yeah, I’m not really either. Touring is a big part of what they do and remained such as they restructured their lineup around the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Laura Phillips, guitarist Eddie Brnabic and drummer Harry Silvers, and that includes fostering a rawer, more-live-feeling sound on last year’s aforementioned LP.

The news is no less welcome for being not-unexpected, however, as Hippie Death Cult set themselves to hitting stops up and down the Pacific Coastline, dipping inland for Las Vegas, Reno, etc. Having already pulled off the sonic pivot of Helichrysum decisively and with rare freshness of perspective for something that’s not actually a debut, maybe this can be something of a victory lap for that. Or, you know, if not, maybe the next tour, because history paints them as honest when they say there’s more to follow.

In the meantime, this took me a couple days to post because I suck at this whole thing, but here’s what they had to say about it, fancy fonts and all:

hippie death cult west coast 2024

Pacific West Coast !! Get ready⚡️We are kicking off our 2024 tour season with a special run up and down the coast this May & June !! Like always, each n’ every show is a 𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐝 h͎i͎g͎h͎ ͎v͎i͎b͎r͎a͎t͎i͎o͎n͎a͎l͎ ͎m͎o͎j͎o͎ ͎s͎h͎i͎f͎t͎e͎r🫨 See y’all SOON!

Tickets on sale today at 10am PST!! Don’t miss out !!

Get your tix, tag your friends, See y’all soon !!

𝐩คc𝕚𝐟Į𝓬 𝕠Ⓓy𝕤S𝐞𝓎 ŦᗝỮя ➁ʘ2➃
5.16 SAN FRANCISCO, CA – @sfeagle
5.17 COSTA MESA, CA – @wayfarercm
5.18 OCEANSIDE, CA – @pourhouseoceanside
5.19 LOS ANGELES, CA – @permanentrecordsla
5.20 LAS VEGAS , NV – @the_dive_lv
5.21 RENO, NV – @lobarsocial
5.22 BRENTWOOD, CA – @thebrentwoodemporium
5.23 REDDING, CA, – @thedipredding
5.24 CRESENT CITY, CA – Enoteca
5.25 PORTLAND, OR – @coffinclubpdx
6.14 EUGENE, OR – @johnhenryseugene
6.15 SEATTLE, WA – @clockoutlounge

Ticket Links:
https://www.bandsintown.com/a/12709196-hippie-death-cult

More North American, UK & European dates TBA …

HIPPIE DEATH CULT is:
Laura Phillips – Bass/Vocals
Eddie Brnabic – Guitar
Harry Silvers – Drums

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

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://www.instagram.com/heavypsychsounds_records/

Hippie Death Cult, Helichrysum (2023)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Lord Dying, Black Glow, Cracked Machine, Per Wiberg, Swell O, Cower, HORSEN3CK, Troll Teeth, Black Ocean’s Edge, SONS OF ZÖKU

Posted in Reviews on February 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

A word about the image above. ‘AI art’ has become a thing people argue about on the internet. Like everything. Fine. I made the above image with a prompt through whatever Microsoft is calling its bot this week and got what I wanted. I didn’t have to talk to anyone or pay anyone in anything more than the personal data you compromise every time you use the internet for anything, and it was done. I could never draw, but when I finished, I felt like I’d at least taken part in some way in making this thing. And telling a computer what to make and seeing what it gets right and wrong is fascinating. You might feel a bit like you’re painting with words, which as someone who could never draw but could construct a sentence, I can appreciate.

I’m a big supporter of human creativity, and yes, corporations who already hold creative professionals — writers, editors, graphic designers, etc. — in such outward contempt will be only too happy to replace them with robots. I was there when magazines died; I know how that goes. But instead of being reactionaries and calling for never-gonna-happen-anyway bans, isn’t it maybe worth acknowledging that there’s no going back in time, that AI art isn’t going anywhere, and that it might just have valid creative uses? I don’t feel like I need to defend myself for making or using the image above, but I did try to get a human artist first and it didn’t work out. In the hard reality of limited minutes, how much should I really chase when there’s an easier way to get what I want? And how much can people be expected to live up to that shifting moral obligation in the long term?

The future will laugh at us, inevitably, either way. And fair enough with the world we’re leaving them.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Lord Dying, Clandestine Transcendence

Lord Dying Clandestine Transcendence

While bearing the tonal force of their roots in doom, Portland’s Lord Dying have nonetheless willfully become a crucial purveyor of forward-thinking death metal, driven by extremity but refusing to subdue its own impulses to fit with genre. At 12 songs and an hour’s runtime, Clandestine Transcendence neither is nor is supposed to be a minor undertaking, but with a melodic declaration in “Unto Becoming” that’ll elicit knowing nods from Virus fans and a mentality of creative reach that’s worthy of comparison to EnslavedLord Dying showcase mastery of the style the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Erik Olson, guitarist Chris Evans, bassist/vocalist Alyssa Maucere and drummer Kevin Swartz explored with vigilance on 2019’s Mysterium Tremendum (review here), and an ability to depart from aggression without losing their intensity or impact on “Dancing on the Emptiness” or in the payoff of “Break in the Clouds (In the Darkness of Our Minds).” They may be headed toward too-weird-for-everybody megaprogmetal ultimately, but the challenges-to-stylistic-homogeny of their material are only part of what gives Clandestine Transcendence its crux, and in fostering the call-and-response onslaught of “Facing the Incomprehensible” alongside the epic reach of “A Bond Broken by Death,” they cast their own mold as unique within or without of the heavy underground sphere.

Lord Dying on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Black Glow, Black Glow

black glow black glow

The late-2023 self-titled debut from Black Glow marks a new beginning for Monterrey, Mexico, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Gina Rios, formerly of Spacegoat, and something of a creative redirect, taking on a sound that is less indebted to boogie and classic doom but that has clearly learned the lessons of its influences. Also credited with producing (Victor “KB” Velazquez recorded, mixed and mastered, which doesn’t invalidate the credit), Rios is a strong enough performer to carry the five-song EP/short-LP on her own, but thankfully bassist Oscar Saucedo and drummer Octavio Diliegros bring tonal fullness to the breadth of atmosphere in the rolling closer “Obscured Jail,” reaching past seven minutes with fluidity that adds to Black Glow‘s aspects of purpose and craft, which are significant despite being the band’s first outing. As a vehicle for Rios‘ songwriting, Black Glow sound immediately like they can evolve in ways Spacegoat likely couldn’t or wouldn’t have, and that prospect is all the more enticing with the accomplishments displayed here.

Black Glow on Facebook

Black Glow on Bandcamp

Cracked Machine, Wormwood

Cracked Machine Wormwood

Between the leadoff of “Into the Chronosphere” and “The Glowing Sea,” “Return to Antares,” “Burning Mountain” and “Desert Haze,” UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine aren’t short on destinations for the journey that is their fourth full-length, Wormwood, but with more angular texturing on “Eigenstate” and the blend of tonal float — yes, even the bass — and terrestrial groove wrought in the closing title-track, the band manage to emphasize plot as well as a sense of freedom endemic to jam-born heavy psychedelia. That is to say, as second cut “Song of Artemis” gives brooding reply to the energetic “Into the Chronosphere,” which is loosely krautrocky in its dug-in feel and exploratory as part of that, they are not trying to pretend this material just happened. Layers of effects and a purposeful reach between its low and high ends in the solo of “The Glowing Sea” — with the drums holding the two together, as one would hope — and subsequent section of standalone guitar as the start of a linear build that spreads wide sonically rather than overpowering with volume speaks to a dynamic that’s about more than just loud or quiet, and the keyboard holding notes in the culmination of “Burning Mountain” is nothing if not purposeful in its shimmering resonance. They may be headed all over the place, but I think that’s just a sign Cracked Machine know how to get there.

Cracked Machine on Facebook

Cracked Machine on Bandcamp

Per Wiberg, The Serpent’s Here

PER WIBERG The Serpent's Here cover

Currently also of Kamchatka and Spiritual Beggars and maybe Switchblade, the career arc of Per Wiberg (also ex-Opeth, live work and/or studio contributions for Candlemass, Grand Magus, Arch Enemy, mostly on keys or organ) varies widely in style within a heavy sphere, and it should be no surprise that his solo work is likewise multifaceted. Following on from 2021’s EP, All Is Well In the Land of the Living But for the Rest of Us… Lights Out (review here), the six-song and 41-minute (seven/47 with the bonus track Warrior Soul cover “The Losers”) finds cohesion in a thread of progressive styles that allows Wiberg to explore what might be a Gary Numan influence in the verses of “The Serpent’s Here” itself while emerging with a heavy, catchy and melodic chorus marked by a driving riff. The eight-minute “Blackguards Stand Silent” works in movements across a structural departure as the rhythm section of Mikael Tuominen (Kungens Män) and drummer Tor Sjödén (Viagra Boys) get a subtle workout, and “He Just Disappeared” pushes into the cinematic on a patient line of drone, a contemplative departure after the melancholic piano of “This House is Someone Else’s Now” that allows “Follow the Unknown” to cap the album-proper with a return to the full-band feel and a pointed grace of keys and synth, clearly working to its creator’s own high standard.

Per Wiberg on Facebook

Despotz Records website

Swell O, Morning Haze

Swell O Morning Haze

Bremen, Germany’s Swell O released their apparently-recorded-in-a-day debut album, Morning Haze, in Feb. 2023 and followed with a vinyl release this past Fall on Clostridium Records, and if there’s anything clouding their vision as regards songwriting, it didn’t make it onto the record. Proffering solid, engaging, festival-ready desert-style heavy rock, “Hitchhiker” sweeps down the open highway of its own riff while “Black Cat” tips hat to Fu Manchu, the title-track veers into pop-punkish uptempoism in a way “Shine Through” contrasts with less shove and more ambience. The seven-minute “Summit” extrapolates a lean toward the psychedelic from Kyussian foundations, but the crux on Morning Haze is straightforward and aware of where it wants its songs to be aesthetically. It’s not a revolution in that regard, but it’s not supposed to be, and for all its in-genre loyalism, Morning Haze demonstrates an emergent persona in the modernized ’90s fuzz-crunch semi-blowout of “Venom” at the end, which wraps a salvo that started with “Hitchhiker” and lets Swell O make the most of their over-quickly 31-minute first LP.

Swell O on Facebook

Clostridium Records store

Cower, Celestial Devastation

cower celestial devastation

Accounting for everything from goth to post-hardcore to the churn of Godflesh in an encompassing interpretation of post-punk, London outfit Cower could fill this space with pedigree alone and manage to nonetheless make a distinct impression across the nine songs of Celestial Devastation. Organic and sad on “We Need to Have the Talk,” inorganic and sad on “Hard-Coded in the Souls of Men,” electronic anti-chic before the guitar surge in “Buffeted by Solar Winds,” and bringing fresh perspective to Kataonia-style depressive metal in “Aging Stallions,” it’s a album that willfully shirks genre — a few of them, actually — in service to its songs, as between the software-driven title-track and the downer-New-Wave-as-doom centerpiece “Deathless and Free,” Cower embark on an apparent critique of tech as integrated into current life (though I can’t find a lyric sheet) and approach from seemingly divergent angles without losing track of the larger picture of the LP’s atmosphere. Celestial Devastation is the second album from the trio, comprised of Tom Lacey, Wayne Adams (who also produced, as he will) and Gareth Thomas. Expect them to continue to define and refine this style as they move forward, and expect it to become even more their own than it is here. A band like this, if they last, almost can’t help but grow.

Cower’s Linktr.ee

Human Worth on Bandcamp

HORSEN3CK, Heavy Spells

horsen3ck heavy spells

Boston’s HORSEN3CK, who’ve gone all-caps and traded their second ‘e’ for a ‘3’ since unveiling the included-here “Something’s Broken” as a debut standalone single this January, make a rousing four-song statement of intent even as the lineup shifts from piece to piece around the core duo of Tim Catz and Jeremy Hemond, best known together for their work as the rhythm section of Roadsaw. With their maybe-not-right-now bandmate Ian Ross adding guitar to “Something’s Broken” and a different lead vocalist on each song, Heavy Spells has inherent variety even before “Haunted Heart” exalts its darker mood with pulls reminiscent of Alice in Chains‘ “Frogs.” With Catz taking a turn on vocals, “Golden Ghost” is punk under its surface class, and though “Haunted Heart” grows in its crescendo, its greater impact is in the vibe, which is richer for the shift in approach. “Thirst” rounds out with a particular brashness, but nowhere HORSEN3CK go feels even vaguely out of their reach. Alright guys. Concept proved, now go do a full-length. When they do, I’ll be intrigued to see if the lineup solidifies.

HORSEN3CK on Facebook

HORSEN3CK on Bandcamp

Troll Teeth, Sluagh Vol. 1

troll teeth sluagh vol. 1

New Jersey doom rockers Troll Teeth‘s stated goal with Sluagh Vol. 1 was to find a sound the character of which would be defined in part by its rawer, retro-styled recording. The resultant four-song outing, which was their second EP of 2023 behind Underground Vol. 1, doesn’t actually veer into vintage-style ’70s worship, but lives up to the premise just the same in its abiding rawness. “3 Shots for a 6 Shooter” brings a Queens of the Stone Age-style vocal melody over an instrumental that’s meaner than anything that band ever put to tape, while nine-minute opener “1,000 Ton Brick” feels very clearly titled in honor of its own roll. It might be the heaviest stretch on the EP but for the rumbling low distortion spliced in among the psychedelic unfolding of 16-minute closer “Purgatory,” which submerges the listener in its course after “Here Lies” seems to build and build and build through the entirety of its still-hooky execution. With its title referencing the original name of the band and a focus on older material, the rougher presentation suits the songs, though it’s not like there’s a pristine “1,000 Ton Brick” out there to compare it to. Whether there will be at Sluagh Vol. 2 at any point, I don’t know, but even the intentionality of realizing his material in the recording process argues in favor of future revisits.

Troll Teeth on Facebook

Electric Talon Records store

Black Ocean’s Edge, Call of the Sirens

black ocean's edge (Photo by Matija Kasalo)

Celebrating their own dark side in the opener “Wicked Voice,” German heavy rockers Black Ocean’s Edge keep the proceedings relatively friendly on Call of the Sirens, their debut long-player behind 2022’s Dive Deep EP, at least as regards accessibility and the catchiness of their craft. Vibrant and consistent in tone, the Ulm four-piece find room for the classic rock of “Leather ‘n’ Velvet” and the that-might-be-actual-flute-laced prog-psych payoff of “Lion in a Cage” between the second two of the three parts that comprise the title-track, which departs from the heavy blues rock of “Drift” or “Cold Black Water,” which is the centerpiece and longest inclusion at 7:43 and sets its classic-heavy influences to work with a forward-looking perspective. At 42 minutes and nine tracks, Call of the Sirens feels professional in how it reaches out to its audience, and it leaves little to doubt from Black Ocean’s Edge as regards songwriting, production or style. They may refine and sharpen their approach over time, and with these songs as where they’re coming from, they’ll be in that much better position to hit the ears of the converted.

Note: this album is out in April and I couldn’t find cover art. Band photo above is by Matija Kasalo.

Black Ocean’s Edge on Facebook

Black Ocean’s Edge on Bandcamp

SONS OF ZÖKU, ËNDL​Ë​SS

sons of zoku endless

If an album could ask you, musically, why you’re in such a hurry — and not like hurrying to work, really in a hurry, like in how you live — the mellow psych and acid folk proffered by Adelaide, Australia’s SONS OF ZÖKU on their second full-length, ËNDL​Ë​SS, might just be doing that. Don’t take that to mean the album is still or staid though, because they’re not through “Moonlight” after the intro before the bass gets funky behind all that serene melody, and when you’re worshiping the sun that’s all the more reason to dance by the moon. Harmonies resonate in “Earth Chant” (and all around) atop initially quiet guitar noodling, and the adventures in arrangement continue in the various chimes and percussion instruments, the touch of Easternism in “Kuhnoo” and the keyboard-fueled melodic payoff to the pastoralism of “Hunters.” With flute and a rhythmic delivery to its group vocal, “O Saber” borders on the tribal, while “Yumi” digs on cosmic prog insistence in a way that calls to mind the underappreciated Death Hawks and finds its way in a concluding instrumental stretch that doesn’t lose its spontaneous feel despite being more cogent than improv generally comes across. “Lonesome Tale” is a melancholy-vibe-reprise centered around acoustic guitar and “Nu Poeme” gives a sense of grandeur that is unto itself without going much past four minutes in the doing. Such triumphs are rare more broadly but become almost commonplace as SONS OF ZÖKU set their own context with a sound harnessing the inspiration of decades directing itself toward an optimistic future.

SONS OF ZÖKU on Facebook

Copper Feast Records store

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

The Keening to Tour Europe With Bell Witch

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

the keening (Photo by Angela H. Brown)

I said when the Bell Witch European dates went up yesterday that I’d be posting about the tour again, and The Keening are why. The Portland-based dark atmospheric troupe led by Rebecca Vernon, formerly of SubRosa, will support the Seattle death-doom two-piece for three-plus weeks of road time, and as it’s their first trip overseas, it seemed prudent to mark the occasion.

The Keening‘s debut album, Little Bird (review here), came out last Fall through Relapse, and while it’s of course not Vernon‘s first time traveling internationally for shows, it is that for the group she’s assembled around her to bring this material to life on stage, and given the breadth and heart poured into that record, it’s a set I’d like to see. Having Bell Witch on after to turn your melancholy into an abyssal misery is just a bonus.

Oh, and The Keening were also confirmed for Roadburn today playing Little Bird in full. So there’s that, too.

From social media:

bell witch tour

We are beyond thrilled to join Bell Witch on three and a half weeks of their seven-week European tour this April and May.

I’m a longtime fan of Bell Witch, ever since my previous roommate Christian Creek shared their 2011 demo and first album “Longing” with me in 2012 or so. I thought they were one of the most authentic bands I’d ever heard, and seeing them live in Seattle soon after cemented that impression. I was intimidated by the sheer dark power they wielded on stage. Their pain seemed too immense for the room. They were making music to survive. It’s been amazing to see Bell Witch grow and expand over the years into one of the most influential doom bands to grace the metal scene.

From Bell Witch: “In March we embark on an 8 week odyssey across Europe. From the frostbitten North to the Hellenic land of myths in the South, the Emerald Isle to the Balkan states we’re playing many cities for the first time ever…

Along the way we’ll be joined for stretches by friends old & new in FVNERALS, Knoll, Esoteric, Thantifaxath & The Keening. We’re excited to share the stage with bands who bring something truly unique & powerful to their music. Tickets are on sale now at the link in our bio. We can’t wait to see new & familiar faces alike.”

The dates The Keening plays with Bell Witch are below, and the link to tickets is: https://www.bellwitchdoom.net/live

APRIL
23 – Portugalete, ES – Groove #
26 – Madrid, ES – Nazca #
27 – Barcelona, ES – Sala Upload #
28 – Grenoble, FR – Le Ciel #
29 – Martigny, CH – Caves Du Manoir #
30 – Luzern, CH – Sedel #
MAY
2 – Wien, AT – Arena #
3 – Budapest, HU – A38 #
4 – Zagreb, HR – AKC Attack #
6 – Sofia, BG – Clu
7 – Istanbul, TR – Babylon #
9 – Thessalonki, GR – Eightball Club #
10 – Athens, GR – Temple #
11 – Larissa, GR – Skyland #
13 – Caserta, IT – Lizard #
14 – Pescara, IT – Scumm #
15 – Ravenna, IT – Bronson #
16 – Treviso, IT – Altroquando #
17 – Linz, AT – STWST #
18 – Brno, CZ – Kabinet Muz #

Thank you and hope to see you at one of the shows.

https://www.facebook.com/thekeeningmusic
https://www.instagram.com/thekeeningmusic
https://thekeeningmusic.bandcamp.com/
https://linktr.ee/thekeening

http://www.relapse.com
http://www.instagram.com/relapserecords
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
https://relapserecords.bandcamp.com/

The Keening, Little Bird (2023)

The Keening, “Little Bird” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,