Quarterly Review: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Cruthu, Sólstafir, ILS, Bismut, Cracked Machine, Megadrone, KLÄMP, Mábura, Astral Sleep

Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

We’ve reached the portion of the Quarterly Review wherein I would no longer know what day it is if I didn’t have my notes to help me keep track. I suppose it doesn’t matter — the day, that is — since it’s 10 records either way, but I’d hate to review the same albums two days in a row or something. Though, come to think of it, that might be a fun experiment sometime.

Not today. Today is another fresh batch of 10 on the way to 60 by next Monday. We’ll get there. Always do. And if you’re wondering, today’s Thursday. At least that’s what I have in my notes.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. I

bell witch aerial ruin Stygian Bough Volume 1

The collaborative effort Buy Side Trader Resumes USA - Hire best Physics Homework writers for completing your Physics Homework writing. More than 10 years of experience with 98% Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin and their 64-minute full-length, Pay someone to http://representationco.com/buy-an-essay-and-get-a-essay-in-14-days/ - Proofreading and proofediting help from top writers. Why worry about the review? Receive the needed guidance on the Stygian Bough Vol. I — the intention toward future output together hinted at in the title already confirmed by the group(s) — is a direct extension of what Your half nothing years write an essay about my self then old and Expert Assignment Help but while a. So it's the number of pellets may do my homework Aerial Ruin, aka Best custom essay writing service UK & USA undertaking Write My Essay order and offering custom essays, dissertations, research Sources. Erik Moggridge, brought to the last Sissy Humiliation Assignments - paper writing service Pay someone to do my assignment australia -... Bell Witch album, 2017’s When You Ask Assignment Cloud, Complete Phd Thesis? Well Reply Only in a Positive Way by Providing You with Excellent Academic Solutions! Mirror Reaper (review here), in terms of complementing the crushing, emotionally resonant death-doom of the Washington duo with morose folk vocal melody. Pieter Abbeel Phd Thesis - Get to know common tips as to how to get the greatest research paper ever Proofreading and proofediting services from best writers. Stygian Bough Vol. I is distinguished by having been written by the two-plus-one-equals-three-piece as a group, and accordingly, it more fluidly weaves Looking for quality essay help online? Essay helper is one of the most demanded services by students Whenever I ask to Organizational Behavior Assignment, Moggridge‘s contributions into those of We provide see this here to small and medium size companies for start-ups and businesses already operating. Bell Witch‘s EssayEmpire.com offers professional yet How To Write A Really Good Essay. 100% plagiarism free, 24/7 support, 100% money back guarantee. Dylan Desmond and Where find best for a reasonable price? Get-Essay.com is the professional writing site to give a try. Price will make you happy! Jesse Shreibman, resulting in an approach like if Best custom essay writing 123 Help Essays professional resume. At, you'll find the best MBA essay writing service that helps you. Patrick Walker from Get nursing assignment help uk in Texas for dissertation writing, data analysis, proposal writing and proofreading services via our expert dissertation writer. Warning had joined phd personal statement http://www.das-pfalz-magazin.de/?scale-drawing-homework-help Editorial have custom paper written in two hours or less i will take your online class Thergothon. It’s prevailing spirit is deep melancholy in longer pieces like “The Bastard Wind” and “The Unbodied Air,” both over 19 minutes, while it might be in “Heaven Torn Low I (The Passage)” and “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)” that the trio most effectively bring their intent to life. Either way, if you’re in, be ready to go all the way in, but know that it’s well worth doing so.

Bell Witch on Thee Facebooks

Aerial Ruin on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Cruthu, Athrú Crutha

cruthu Athrú Crutha

Traditional doom with flourish both of noise and NWOBHM guitars — that turn in the second half of opener “Transformation” is like a dogwhistle for Example Of A Research Proposal In Apa Format - Receive an A+ grade even for the hardest writings. If you need to know how to write a amazing term paper, you are to learn this Iron Maiden fans — I hear Cruthu‘s second album, Athrú Crutha, and all I can think of are label recommendations. The Michigan outfit’s 2017 debut, The Angle of Eternity (review here), was eventually issued on The Church Within, and that’d certainly work, but also Ván Records, Shadow Kingdom, and even Cruz Del Sur seem like fitting potential homes for the righteousness on display across the vinyl-ready six-song/39-minute outing, frontman Ryan Evans commanding in presence over the reverb-loaded classic-style riffs of guitarist Dan McCormick and the accompanying gallop in Matt Fry‘s drums given heft by Derek Kasperlik‘s bass. Like the opener, “Necromancy” and “Dimensional Collide” move at a good clip, but side B’s “The Outsider” and closer “Crown of Horns” slow things down following the surprisingly rough-edged “Beyond the Pale.” One way or the other, it’s all doomed and so are we.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Sólstafir, Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

Sólstafir endless twilight of codependent love

Whereas 2017’s Berdreyminn (review here) existed in the shadow of 2014’s Ótta (review here), Endless Twilight of Codependent Love brings Iceland’s Sólstafir to a new place in terms of their longer-term progression. It is their first album with an English title since 2005’s Masterpiece of Bitterness, and though they’ve had English-language songs since then, the mellow “Her Fall From Grace” is obviously intended to be a standout here, and it is. On the nine-song/62-minute course of the album, however, it is one impression of many, and in the raging “Dionysus” and post-blackened “Drýsill,” 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Akkeri,” richly atmospheric “Rökkur,” goth-lounging “Or” and worthy finale “Úlfur,” Sólstafir remind of the richly individual nature of their approach. The language swaps could be reaching out to a broader, non-Icelandic-speaking audience. If so, it’s only in the interest of that audience to take note if they haven’t already.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

ILS, Curse

ils curse

Curse is the first long-player from Portland, Oregon’s ILS, and it’s a rager in the PNW noise tradition, with uptempo, gonna-throw-a-punch-and-then-apologize riffs and basslines and swaps between semi-spoken shouts and vicious screams from Tom Glose (ex-Black Elk) that are precisely as jarring as they’re meant to be. I don’t think Curse is anyone’s first time at the dance — Glose, guitarist Nate Abner, bassist Adam Pike or drummer Tim Steiner — but it only benefits across its sans-bullshit 28-minute run by knowing what it wants to do. Its longest material, like the title-track or “Don’t Hurt Me,” which follows, or closer “For the Shame I Bring,” rests on either side of three and a half minutes, but some of the most brutal impressions are made in cuts like “It’s Not Lard but it’s a Cyst” or leadoff “Bad Parts,” which have even less time to waste but are no less consuming, particularly at high volume. The kind of record for when you want to assault yourself. And hey, that happens.

ILS on Thee Facebooks

P.O.G.O. Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismut, Retrocausality

bismut retrocausality

Apart from the consciously-titled three-minute noiseblaster finale “Antithesis” that’s clearly intended to contrast with what comes before it, Bismut‘s second LP for Lay Bare, Retrocausality, is made up of five extended instrumental pieces the shortest of which is just under 13 minutes long. The Nijmegen-based trio — guitarist Nik Linders, bassist Huibert der Weduwen, drummer Peter Dragt — build these semi-improvisational pieces on the foundation they set with 2018’s Schwerpunkt (review here), and their explorations through heavy rock, metal and psychedelia feel all the more cohesive as a song like “Vergangenheit” is nonetheless able to blindside with the heavy riff toward which it’s been moving for its entire first half. At 71 minutes total, it’s a purposefully unmanageable runtime, but as “Predvídanie” imagines a psych-thrash and “Oscuramento” drones to its crashing finish, Bismut seem to be working on their own temporal accord anyhow. For those stuck on linear time, that means repeat listens may be necessary to fully digest, but that’s nothing to complain about either.

Bismut on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Cracked Machine, Gates of Keras

Cracked Machine Gates of Keras

UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine have worked relatively quickly over the course of their now-three albums to bring a sense of their own perspective to the tropes of heavy psychedelic rock. Alongside the warmth of tone in the guitar and bass, feeling drawn from the My Sleeping Karma/Colour Haze pastiche of progressive meditations, there is a coinciding edge of English heavy rock and roll that one can hear not so much in the drift of “Temple of Zaum” as in the push of “Black Square Icon,” which follows, as well as the subtle impatience of the drums on “October Dawn.” “Move 37,” on the other hand, is willfully speedier and more upbeat than much of what surrounds, but though opener/longest track (immediate points) “Cold Iron Light” hits 7:26, nothing on Gates of Keras sticks around long enough to overstay its welcome, and even in their deepest contemplations, the feeling of motion carries them and the listener effectively through the album’s span. They sound like a band realizing what they want to do with all the potential they’ve built up.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

PsyKa Records website

 

Megadrone, Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

Megadrone Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

From cinematic paranoia to consuming and ultra-slow rollout of massive tonality, the debut offering from Megadrone — the one-man outfit of former Bevar Sea vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy — stretches across 53 minutes of unmitigated sonic consumption. If nothing else, Krishnaswamy chose the right moniker for the project. The Bandcamp version is spread across two parts — “Transmission A” (21:45) and “Transmission B” (32:09) — and any vinyl release would require significant editing as well, but the version I have is one huge, extended track, and that feels like exactly how Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae was composed and is supposed to be heard. Its mind-numbing repetitions lead the listener on a subtle forward march — there are drums back in that morass somewhere, I know it — and the piece follows an arc that begins relatively quiet, swells in its midsection and gradually recedes again over its final 10 minutes or so. It goes without saying that a 53-minute work of experimentalist drone crushscaping isn’t going to be for the faint of heart. Bold favors bold.

Megadrone on Thee Facebooks

Megadrone on Bandcamp

 

KLÄMP, Hate You

klamp hate you

Sax-laced noise rock psychedelic freakouts, blown-out drums and shouts and drones, cacophonous stomp and chaotic sprawl, and a finale that holds back its payoff so long it feels cruel, KLÄMP‘s second album, Hate You, arrives less than a year after their self-titled debut, and perhaps there’s some clue as to why in the sheer mania of their execution. Hate You launches with the angularity of its 1:47 title-track and rolls out a nodding groove on top of that, but it’s movement from one part to another, one piece to another, is frenetic, regardless of the actual tempo, and the songs just sound like they were recorded to be played loud. Second cut “Arise” is the longest at 7:35 and it plays back and forth between two main parts before seeming to explode at the end, and by the time that’s done, you’re pretty much KLÄMPed into place waiting to see where the Utrecht trio go next. Oblivion wash on “An Orb,” the drum-led start-stops of “Big Bad Heart,” psych-smash “TJ” and that awaited end in “No Nerves” later, I’m not sure I have any better idea where that might be. That’s also what makes it work.

KLÄMP on Thee Facebooks

God Unknown Records website

 

Mábura, Heni

Mábura heni

Preceded by two singles, Heni is the debut EP from Rio de Janeiro psychedelic tonal worshipers Mábura, and its three component tracks, “Anhangá,” “III/IV” and “Bong of God” are intended to portray a lysergic experience through their according ambience and the sheer depth of the riffs they bring. “Anhangá” has vocals following the extended feedback and drone opening of its first half, but they unfold as a part of the general ambience, along with the drums that arrive late, are maybe sampler/programmed, and finish by leading directly into the crash/fuzz launch of “III/IV,” which just before it hits the two-minute mark unfurls into a watershed of effects and nod, crashing and stomping all the while until everything drops out but the bass only to return a short time later with the Riff in tow. Rumbling into a quick fade brings about the toking intro of “Bong of God,” which unfolds accordingly into a riff-led noisefest that makes its point seemingly without saying a word. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but it’s a first EP. What it shows is that Mábura have some significant presence of tone and purpose. Don’t be surprised when someone picks them up for a release.

Mábura on Thee Facebooks

Mábura on Bandcamp

 

Astral Sleep, Astral Doom Musick

Astral Sleep Astral Doom Musick

It’s still possible to hear some of Astral Sleep‘s death-doom roots in their third album, Astral Doom Musick, but the truth is they’ve become a more expansive unit than that (relatively) simple classification than describe. They’re doom, to be sure, but there are progressive, psychedelic and even traditional doom elements at work across the record’s four-song/43-minute push, with a sense of conceptual composition coming through in “Vril” and “Inegration” in the first half of the proceedings while the nine-and-a-half-minute “Schwerbelastungskörper” pushes into the darkest reaches and closer “Aurinko ja Kuu” harnesses a swirling progressive spread that’s dramatic unto its last outward procession and suitably large-sound in its production and tone. For a band who took eight years to issue a follow-up to their last full-length, Astral Sleep certainly have plenty to offer in aesthetic and craft. If it took them so long to put this record together, their time wasn’t wasted, but it’s hard to listen and not wonder where their next step might take them.

Astral Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Astral Sleep on Bandcamp

 

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

Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin to Release Collaborative Stygian Bough Volume 1 June 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin (Photo by Lauren Lamp)

Certainly Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin are no strangers to each other. As the PR wire details, Erik Moggridge, who is Aerial Ruin, has guested on Bell Witch releases since their outset, perhaps most gloriously on 2017’s gorgeous and excruciating Mirror Reaper (review here), so what making their collaboration official in the matrimonial sense would seem to indicate is mostly a change of mindset and perhaps writing process. Still, those who listened to that record — and if that’s not you, it’s not too late! — will have some decent idea of what Stygian Bough Volume 1 is going for in terms of basic feel, as the streaming track “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)” would seem to hint.

One can only look forward to appreciation the beauty in darkness to come with the album’s arrival, and having seen these two entities share a stage before, should the opportunity arise again, it won’t be one to miss.

The PR wire brings Adam Burke cover art and speaks thus:

bell witch aerial ruin Stygian Bough Volume 1

BELL WITCH AND AERIAL RUIN ANNOUNCE COLLABORATIVE RECORD STYGIAN BOUGH VOLUME 1 – OUT JUNE 26 ON PROFOUND LORE

REVEAL “HEAVEN TORN LOW II (THE TOLL)”

Renowned doom duo Bell Witch fully integrate themselves with dark folk elegist, Aerial Ruin. The collaborative effort, titled ‘Stygian Bough Volume 1’ is a collection of five transcendent, hauntingly beautiful songs that defy categorization.

On Stygian Bough Volume I, members Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman of renowned doom duo, Bell Witch fully integrate themselves with dark folk elegist, Erik Moggridge of Aerial Ruin. Genuine collaborations are rare yet these two found a way to become one, resulting in a hauntingly beautiful record.

While Moggridge has been a part of Bell Witch’s sonic fingerprint on all their prior records, perhaps most notably for his vocals on their previous acclaimed full-length, Mirror Reaper, he’s now part of the very fabric that makes up the five, emotional and strikingly heavy songs that comprise Stygian Bough Volume 1.

The addition of guitar to the bass and drum-only dynamic came naturally as the threesome discussed potential models for their joint effort. Ulver’s unorthodox folk album Kveldssanger came up as did Candlemass’ mile marker Nightfall. But the real fuel to Stygian Bough Volume I was the Bell Witch track, “Rows (of Endless Waves)”, which was not only Moggridge’s first appearance with Bell Witch but also a track that has deeply resonated with Desmond over the years. With the approach in place, Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin collectively wrote five desolate yet mystical songs that defy categorization. From the mournful “The Bastard Wind” and the crepuscular “Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)” to the monstrous “Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)” and the liturgical gloom of “The Unbodied Air,” Stygian Bough Volume I is an album of deep, dark undertows and careful respite.

The themes explored by Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin were independently tackled from different angles but were mainly from similar spaces. Whereas Bell Witch plumbed the depths of purgatory—a place of atonement between life and death—across three full-lengths, Moggridge’s Aerial Ruin have centered on the loss of the self and the spiritual places the vacancy ultimately leads to. For Stygian Bough Volume I, Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin topics of choice intersect and complement, continuing in spirit but with a broader vantage point where “Rows (of Endless Waves)” left off.

“Stygian Bough is a reference to the theme of The Golden Bough,” observes Desmond. “The book’s theme is centered on the rites of a temple in ancient Italy where slaves were transformed into kings by slaying he who reigned as such after successfully stealing the Golden Bough from the sacred tree within the temple. Within that notion, a different sort of slavery was brought upon the newly crowned king, as he must understand sooner or later that his fate would ultimately be the same as his predecessor. In short, the golden bough made a king out of a slave only to find they were now enslaved to a different sort of tyranny, always stalking them from the darkest shadows of their imagination. From this perspective, the “golden bough” is better understood as a deception casting darkness. Thus, Stygian Bough.”

Adds Moggridge: “They presented that song [“Rows (of Endless Waves)”] to me in a mostly instrumental form with the idea that it’s about a ghost trapped on rows of waves that can’t reach the land. I ran with this idea and started to think of the ghost of a king who, if he reached land could be reborn and rule again. The king is also a larger metaphor for humanity who rules over the planet and other species. On this new album our ghost upon the waves flees not towards the land but towards death. The narrative, as much as it exists, is loose and not linear and definitely stream of consciousness. There are cyclical and spherical qualities to the journey where death, desolation, and the spirit are reflected in myriad ways.”

Stygian Bough Volume I sees its release June 26 via Profound Lore Records. For pre-orders and additional information on limited pressings and exclusive variants, visit here. Stygian Bough Volume I was recorded and mixed by Randall Dunn at Avast Recording Co. in Seattle. Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin then took the full-length to mastering ace Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service in Chicago. The result is a full-length of profound lows and delicate highs — fitting for Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin’s quiet/introspective and heavy/loud dynamic. As for the triumvirate’s next steps, they plan on touring in support of Stygian Bough Volume I when it’s safe to do so. Stay tuned for tour updates.

Stygian Bough Volume 1 Track Listing:
1 – The Bastard Wind
2 – Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)
3 – Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)
4 – Prelude
5 – The Unbodied Air

https://www.facebook.com/BellWitchDoom/
https://www.instagram.com/bellwitchdoom/
https://www.bellwitchdoom.net/
https://www.facebook.com/aerialruin/
http://www.aerialruin.com/
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.instagram.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Days of Rona: Dana Schechter of Insect Ark

Posted in Features on April 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

Insect Ark dana schecter (Photo by Chad Kelco)

Days of Rona: Dana Schechter of Insect Ark (Berlin, Germany)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Luckily our health is good so far. Everything besides getting sick or caring for those who are seems relatively unimportant. I suppose we’re dealing the same as many bands — waiting to see how, if, and when things will fall back into place. Andy and I are across the world from each other right now — I’m in Berlin, he’s in Salt Lake City — and on a normal day we’re across the country anyway. We’ll hopefully tour this Fall, but it’s too soon to say. Yes it sucks. Our new album came out just as the virus was hitting.

It’s hard for smaller bands to recover from something like this, since we left for the Europe tour on Feb 29 and had to pull the plug after four shows and go home. Getting Andy back to the US on short notice wasn’t easy, and I decided to stay in Berlin. A year of planning, ultimately with a massive loss of money/time… I haven’t really moped or licked my wounds re: how we’ve been so unlucky, because all people everywhere are feeling the same. Of course it’s massively disappointing, at best. But so many people are struggling much harder than I am, harder than ever before, and it’s on a massive scale — I know that I am lucky, relatively speaking. No kids, no house or car payments, etc. I’ve gotten by on almost nothing for a long time, so I can adapt to some extent.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Here in Berlin — at least so far [April 16] — it’s less strict than in other EU countries, like Italy, Greece or France, where you need a letter to leave the house or risk hefty fines by the police. Here, I can take a bike ride or walk, food shop, i.e., the basics. No public gatherings of any kind over two people. Keep six feet away from others when in public. People here are pretty compliant. I’m glad I’m not home (NYC) though, and it’s heartbreaking to watch the US struggling from afar. Some days it is beyond comprehension how we will all get past the challenges we are facing. And I’m utterly ashamed and furious at the USA’s reckless handling of the situation.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

I’ve been seeing many creative friends saying that they’re having trouble being creative or productive. Even with the sudden luxury of free time, it’s hard to feel motivated when the day has no shape and making plans is such a questionable pursuit. And of course there are the thousands of events and tours that were canceled or are being rescheduled. I was supposed to do three consecutive Swans tours starting next week, which have mostly been pushed to next year now. It’s like a full year of our lives is being chopped out and a black box fills the calendar for days and days and days. There is a massive amount of uncertainty and the whole “business model” of touring and releasing albums feels extremely unstable and questionable right now.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We will make it back somehow. We live on the margins anyway, so with any luck this will be just a waiting game. I hope we can all try to be grateful for what we have… hold onto the good memories to get us through, don’t lose hope, and vote the bastards out of office before they get us all killed.

http://www.insectark.com
http://www.facebook.com/InsectArk
http://www.instagram.com/insectark/
http://www.insectark.bandcamp.com
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Worm Ouroboros, Come the Thaw

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The notion of heaviness in music has nearly as many definitions as it has bands who claim representation through it on one level or another. That is to say, it’s broad. It’s only grown more so with time, and when I hear an album like Worm Ouroboros‘ 2012 sophomore outing, Come the Thaw, it’s hard not to be reminded of just how far the idea can range. Of course, all these categories of subcategories, aesthetic ideals and microgenres are amorphous anyway. They can be whatever one wants them to be, at least as much as the argument can be justified.

To wit, Come the Thaw is a richly progressive collection. It brings together six songs across a fluidly constructed, thoughtful and resonant 50 minutes. Since its primary emphasis is on atmosphere, it wouldn’t feel right to call it “prog” as a genre tag, but I don’t know if it would necessarily be incorrect. And loud or quiet, its gracefully-delivered songs are most certainly heavy, turning guitar, bass, vocals and keyboards into spacious chamber doom marked out by the intertwining vocals of bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (also Barren Harvest), with not-always-there-but-dynamic-when-called-upon drumming by Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) for backing. There are more aggressive stretches, fuller tonal impacts, but primarily, it is a weight of emotionality and presence alone that makes Come the Thaw so overarchingly heavy.

Recorded and mixed by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, California, in the band’s native Bay Area, and mastered by Justin Weis at Takworx, and with cover art by RathCome the Thaw followed two years after Worm Ouroboros made an impressive self-titled debut (review here). It was offered up by Profound Lore, which at that time already had established its place among the most forward-thinking contingent of upstart independent imprints, and as one recalls arrived with little ceremony, which seems appropriate. It isn’t a record for everyone. Even as the nine-minute side B leadoff “When We Are Gold” kicks into its more straight-ahead guitar/bass/drum push in its second half, paying off the build played out subtly across the first part of the song, its mournful feel is far removed from what one might call welcoming, groove though it does before collapsing again to quiet guitar and voice.

That song is an effective mirror for the album’s opener and longest track (immediate points) “Ruined Ground,” which pushes beyond the 10-minute mark and also “gets loud” for a bit in that span, its execution remaining worm ouroboros come the thawslow and wistful in kind with the ambience already put forth by the trio and setting up the kind of post-whatever-you-got building progression of “Further Out,” which follows and is nothing if not aptly named, taking the ringing, almost gothic guitar of Bauhaus or The Cure and stripping it of drama or pop and stretching it to suit longer-form and atmospheric purposes. While not at all psychedelic, it is otherworldly, and its last minute feels like a willful act of letting go into “Release Your Days,” which is almost entirely driven by the voices of Rath and Way, though there is some relatively minimal guitar and bass accompaniment.

Frankly, that’s all they need. The two singers work so well together that even with nearly nothing else save a few melancholy lines here and there, “Release Your Days” is a standout from Come the Thaw for more than just its shift in approach. As one side turns to the next, “When We Are Gold” brings through “Withered,” which by default is the most outwardly loud/heavy inclusion, nonetheless maintaining the patient feel of the songs prior as it does. That is, it’s not in a rush to get to the louder guitar and it doesn’t feel like it should be. Dekker‘s drums begin a smooth-shifting build and at 3:45 — almost exactly halfway through the track’s 7:32 run — Way‘s guitar clicks into a fuller tone and the album’s most substantial roll takes hold. Rath‘s basslines underscore a layer of lead and distorted wash, and the song moves back in its final minute to a bookending stretch of quiet guitar, emphasizing the point that there is craft at work from Worm Ouroboros, even if it’s functioning on its own structural level.

That wasn’t really in doubt, given the outright commitment to stylistic expression being renewed in each of these pieces, but the finale, “Penumbra,” underscores the point just the same, with cymbal washes, tense bass and guitar and a vocal that seems to rise and recede from and into an encompassing emptiness. It’s a few minutes in before even the softer guitar figure takes hold, and Dekker peppers in some quiet tom thuds here and there, but the point is clearly made once more in the atmosphere and in the vocals, which rise to a final high note before cutting out and ending the record entirely. It is beautiful and sad, like difficult conversations.

Each half of Come the Thaw has three songs. Each begins with its longest track, moves its shortest, and ends with one in between. It might not seem like it when one just puts the album on and listens straight through front-to-back, but there is a sense of construction in Worm Ouroboros‘ second full-length, and it is a foundation on which the band put forth an artistic and emotional challenge to themselves and to their audience. Again, it’s not a record for everyone. It is a kind of heavy, a kind of extremity, that refuses to work on any level other than its own, refuses to compromise its mission, and is all the more commendable for that.

Worm Ouroboros released a follow-up in late 2016 called What Graceless Dawn (review here) and continued to play live on the West Coast through early 2019, admitting the decreasing frequency of shows even in announcing dates. I don’t know if they’ll do another record or if Worm OuroborosCome the Thaw and What Graceless Dawn will remain a trilogy of works, but even if that’s the case, Worm Ouroboros‘ studio efforts are a resounding testament to the many shapes that sonic heaviness takes and that “impact” in terms of sound need not necessarily just be a question of volume or tempo. Come the Thaw creates and inhabits a world of its own. From where I sit, it’s pretty heavy stuff.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

You might remember when Heavy Psych Sounds did those Nebula reissues I ran a series of interviews and full album streams to coincide? Starting next week I’ll be doing the same with the three Dozer records the label is putting out. I’m stoked. Also look for a Sorcia stream and maybe a Candlemass review if I can convince Napalm to actually send a download of the tracks instead of the promo stream. Used to be CDs  in the mail. Then it was downloads, and that sucked. Now you have to go begging for downloads or keep 75 Haulix tabs open. Soon you won’t get music to review, it’ll just be the cover art and a band bio. People wonder why reviews are shitty.

Speaking of shitty reviews, I’ll probably try to write about the Ozzy record next week as well. Not that that’ll necessarily be a bad review — I don’t know, I haven’t written it yet — but yeah.

Couple quick plugs then I’m out:

New episode of the Gimme Radio show today, 5PM Eastern. Listen on the app or http://gimmeradio.com. I’d recommend the app.

Podcaster Dylan Gonzalez of Diary of Doom was kind enough to invite me for an interview that wound up as a two-parter. First part is up and here if you get to check it out. Thanks either way. I haven’t listened yet — can’t really stand the sound of my own voice — but thanks if you do: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4yhnb-d568e0.

That’s all I’ve got. I could go on about the coronavirus, the bummer Democratic primary, the overwhelming state of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch or any number of baseball or Star Trek-related things that would be a lot of fun to talk about, but let’s face it, if you’re still reading this sentence, you’ve done me enough favors as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather not take advantage of your goodwill.

This week, anyhow. Ha.

— Ah shit, just got an email for a project I let slip through the cracks. I was supposed to write liner notes for the Stone Machine Electric 7″ and just blew it on the timing. Fuck. I suck at this. Always some reminder. This is why I’ve pulled back on writing bios and the like. Clearly that’s the right choice, rather than committing to something because I think it’s cool and I’d like to do it and then letting people down. Sucks. Hell of a way to end the week.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, be safe, don’t touch your face too much (apparently), and be kind to each other.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , ,

Album Review: Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Posted in Reviews on March 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

insect ark the vanishing

At the core of Insect Ark is Brooklyn-based composer/multi-instrumentalist Dana Schechter, who is and has been the driving force and the creative spearhead of the instrumentalist project since its inception circa 2011. Over the subsequent years and across now-three full-lengths — the latest, The Vanishing (on Profound Lore), was preceded by 2018’s Marrow Hymns (discussed here) and  2015’s Portal/Well (review here) — Schechter has brought to light a deeply progressive and at times decidedly grim vision of post-psychedelic heft. Her work has never sounded more encompassing than it does on The Vanishing, which comprises six songs and runs 41 minutes and was recorded in New York by Colin Marston (of Behold… the Arctopus! and others), and it takes a decisive forward step in expressive from where Schechter was even two years ago. There are a thousand wax-poetry ways to put it, but primarily, what it comes down to is that it’s different.

And well it should be. Where Portal/Well was a purely solo outing, Schechter — whose pedigree includes past and present stints in Swans as well as groups like M. Gira‘s Angels of Light, the underrated Bee and Flower, etc. — subsequently brought in drummer Ashley Spungin to facilitate touring. Spungin contributed to Marrow Hymns but has since been replaced by Andy Patterson (formerly of SubRosa, currently also in The Otolith and Døne), who plays a significant role in the form that the pieces throughout The Vanishing take. That is true when he’s there, as in the opener “Tectonic,” when a steady popping snare serves to underscore the low-end swell of Schechter‘s bass and the accompanying synthesized/effects noise and guitar, and when he’s not there, as in the keyboard-experimental cinema drone of “Swollen Sun” or the prior the wistful and minimalist slide guitar echoes that launch “Danube,” duly evocative of water running as they are. Rest assured, a roll takes hold in “Danube” as well, about halfway into its seven-minute stretch, but it is ultimately in the fluidity of its atmosphere that the presumed side B opener makes its bulk of its impact, and indeed, it’s atmosphere that is most central to Insect Ark‘s third album as a whole.

There are almost two levels on which The Vanishing is functioning at any given time, and in that way, “Tectonic” sets up the course of what’s to come well. At the forefront of the mix is guitar — pedal steel? sometimes maybe — and bass and drums. Even the cymbal washes that populate the open spaces of the 10-minute closing title-track are meant to be forward in their impact; they’re leading the way gradually and patiently through a noise-laden drone-out and back to a more cohesive post-metallic progression that builds to the final apex of the record — so it goes. But beneath those elements, there’s another, broader and more experimentalist path that The Vanishing takes, as Schechter weaves in various noises and effects, synth, maybe-keyboard and who the hell knows what else, and in those details and the stretches where the one plays out virtually on top of the other that this incarnation of Insect Ark seem to be establishing the root of their approach.

Insect Ark (Photo by Chris Carlone)

The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) has it that Schechter and Patterson put these songs together quickly ahead of touring with Oranssi Pazuzu last October, and if it’s the experience of playing them live that has helped them develop the multifaceted character they have, then the crashes and thuds and general crush of “Three Gates” would only seem to be better for it, even if one wouldn’t necessarily expect Insect Ark to follow a similar directive next time out. You’ll note that in three records, Schechter‘s approach and/or collaborations have yet to settle. Whether or not Patterson is a “permanent” member of her project — whatever logistical nightmares her being in New York and his being in Salt Lake City might inspire; the internet is a thing, but still — I have no idea. The only thing to go on is The Vanishing itself, and for the apparent lack of time they had to put them together, the songs they’ve constructed don’t sound anything near rushed either in how they’re built or how they’re played — “Three Gates” and “Philae” and certainly follow “Tectonic” with a tension of their own, but it’s meant to be there — but on the most basic terms, the only thing evident in the Schechter/Patterson creative partnership is potential. They are obviously working off each other’s strengths here.

That too might come from having put The Vanishing together after getting off tour, but it’s part of the album’s personality just the same and thus part of the band’s. That said, a casual listener taking on Insect Ark for the first time doesn’t necessarily need to know any of this. Who’s Dana Schechter? Who’s Andy Patterson? Who recorded? When? Where? Why? It is entirely possible to hear “Swollen Sun” or build of “Philae” and the repetitions of “Three Gates” and be wholly consumed by them purely on their merit as songs, and as The Vanishing only pushes farther out as its moves toward that last crescendo in the title-track — which, yes, ends cold enough to be vanishing suddenly; the root bassline still reminiscent of a “Stones From the Sky” moment even though it caps at the end of a measure rather than within one — it is only more immersive as it goes, and the abiding darkness of the atmosphere is unrelenting.

It is not a record so much of-a-place as of-a-non-place, and so its title seems fitting on that level as well, but it is inherently of the moment in which it was made, and so while it may vanish for at least as long as it takes to put it on again, it nonetheless gracefully presents the what may or may not be the beginning stages of a new phase for Insect Ark in terms of the general mission of the project. An key component of Schechter‘s work — and an appeal of it, frankly — to this point has been a lack of predictability for what might come next, and even should her collaboration with Patterson continue, the same applies. A third record might commonly be where a given band executes the closest realization to-date of what they intended at their founding. Insect Ark would seem to be the other kind of band, for whom the evolution is its own end. Whatever will or won’t follow, The Vanishing is an essential means to that end.

Insect Ark, The Vanishing (2020)

Insect Ark website

Insect Ark on Thee Facebooks

Insect Ark on Bandcamp

Profound Lore Records website

Profound Lore Records on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Insect Ark Announce Feb. 28 Release for The Vanishing; Stream “Tectonic”

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

insect ark

Maybe by the time Dana Schecter gets a MacArthur Genius Grant she’ll get her due in the heavy underground. I have to think that the tour she and seemingly-permanent-ish Insect Ark drummer Andy “Super-Nice Dude” Patterson undertook this Fall alongside Oranssi Pazuzu couldn’t have hurt their cause, at least not if the social media crowd shots I saw were anything to go by. The righteously-in-its-own-dimension 2018 offering, Marrow Hymns (discussed here), will get a follow-up in 2020’s The Vanishing, which is due out Feb. 28, and the label and two-piece are streaming the six-minute opening track “Tectonic” from the LP now, its atmosphere recalling dark post-rock while pushing through chamber echo and a weighted atmosphere manifested by the tones and slow-rolling drums. TLDR? I dig. Bodes well. I don’t think I’m cool enough to premiere a song from it, but golly I’d love to if such a thing were possible.

Expand your brain thusly:

insect ark the vanishing

INSECT ARK: Instrumental Psychedelic Doom Duo Completes Work On New Album, The Vanishing, Set For Release February 28th Through Profound Lore Records; New Track Streaming

INSECT ARK — currently made up of founder Dana Schechter (Swans) and Andy Patterson (ex SubRosa) — have been crafting uncomfortable soundscapes that feel both intimate and icy cold since 2011. Nightmarish horror film-like visions, outer space travel, and gritty noir textures were explored in their previous offerings — the much-praised Portal / Well (2015) and Marrow Hymns (2018) — but now, something far greater is coming. Prepare for The Vanishing.

Set for release next year via Profound Lore Records, the Colin Marston-engineered opus serves as INSECT ARK’s third, and most harrowing and punishing record to date. Though many of its segments veer off into mind-expanding outer realms, the interplay between the bass, lap steel guitar, synths, and drums represent a strong and defiant collection of songs that demand your exclusive attention forcefully. It’s heavier, darker, and denser than anything INSECT ARK has ever done, without losing any of the writing characteristics that have become synonymous with their personality, like the persistent coating of eerie psychedelia, the alien feel of the melodies, or the ominous dread they often exhale.

“The album’s title refers to a recurring daydream I had of disappearing completely – floating out to sea alone, and never being found,” offers Schechter of the themes driving the record. “On a much bigger level, it’s about the impermanence of life itself, trying to retain perspective of how small we really are.”

INSECT ARK’s The Vanishing will be released worldwide on CD, LP, and digital formats February 28th, 2020 with preorders to be unveiled next month.

The Vanishing Track Listing:
1. Tectonic
2. Three Gates
3. Philae
4. Danube
5. Swollen Sun
6. The Vanishing

A New York City-based multi-instrumentalist known for her collaborations with Swans (for whom she is now part of the main touring lineup), Angels Of Light, Gnaw, Zeal & Ardor, Wrekmeister Harmonies, and Årabrot, as well as her own projects Bee And Flower and Gifthorse, Dana Schechter is now joined by former SubRosa drummer Andy Patterson, also known for his bands DØNE, the Otolith, INVADRS, and as owner/operator of Salt Lake City recording studio The Boar’s Nest. This partnership appears to have completely nailed the true essence of INSECT ARK. After a quick first meeting, within a period of two short months, Schechter and Patterson finished preparing all the new songs for The Vanishing, preceded by a full North American tour with Oranssi Pazuzu to get the new songs up to speed.

The intensity, determination, and dedication poured into the album is clearly audible, captured by the wizardry of engineer Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Krallice, Behold The Arctopus). The sound was steered in a visceral, organic direction; you feel enclosed within a living, pulsating, slithering organism. The album artwork, a stunning painting by French artist Sonia Merah, is in and of itself a work of art, but when paired with the sounds of The Vanishing, it becomes a truly haunting and mesmerizing vision of some terribly twisted alternate reality.

“Making music takes a lot out of me,” Schechter admits, and it’s hard not to understand why after listening to the tour de force that is INSECT ARK’s new album. “To pull it out of my heart and put it into the world can be emotionally difficult, since it comes from a complex place with so many facets like pain, belief, hope, anger, joy.”

http://www.insectark.com
http://www.facebook.com/InsectArk
http://www.instagram.com/insectark/
http://www.insectark.bandcamp.com
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Insect Ark, “Tectonic”

Insect Ark, Marrow Hymns (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Godthrymm to Release Debut Album Reflections Feb. 14 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

godthrymm (Photo by Frank Ralph)

I have just about zero insight to offer here, except to say something along the lines of ‘duh, this sounds good.’ Godthrymm play classic British-style doom led by guitarist/vocalist Hamish Glencross, who is exactly the kind of person you’d want out in front of such a project, taking back the reins of the Peaceville era and the deathly ways of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. Initial single “Among the Exalted” plays to the darker and more extreme end of the sound, and that leaves me wondering what kind of dramas might play out elsewhere on the debut album, Reflections — if the album art is anything to go by, it might just stay bleak throughout — but hell’s bells that’s heavy and it’s more than enough to turn my head in the direction of the release announcement.

Good to know early 2020 won’t be hurting for doom, and as we come up on 30 years since that era of Peaceville really got going, it’s proof of continuing relevance that bands are still picking up on that style and doing new things with it.

At last. A reason to look forward to Valentine’s Day:

godthrymm reflections

GODTHRYMM: UK Doom Metal Trio Featuring Former Members Of My Dying Bride, Anathema, And More To Release Reflections Debut Via Profound Lore This February; New Track Streaming

UK doom metal trio GODTHRYMM — featuring vocalist/guitarist Hamish Glencross (ex-My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice), drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels (ex-My Dying Bride, Anathema), and bassist Bob Crolla — will unleash their debut album Reflections February 14th, 2020 via Profound Lore.

GODTHRYMM was forged in 2017 by Glencross and sees the respected UK metal luminary return to his doom metal roots, creating the music he was known to help forge with Solstice on the legendary New Dark Age album and especially with the heralded My Dying Bride from the 2000 – 2014 time period. Further adding to the GODTHRYMM pedigree is drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels who, after some lineup refining following the band’s A Grand Reclamation debut EP, became the core of GODTHRYMM. In the months to follow, the pair recorded the colossal Reflections full-length. Upon its completion, Glencross and Taylor-Steels added bassist Bob Crolla to the fold making GODTHRYMM a true power trio of doom.

Recorded and mixed by Nathan Bailey and featuring artwork and design by Brian D’Agosta of Gostworks Art (Vallenfyre, War//Plague), with Reflections, GODTHRYMM has unleashed a mammoth slab of heavy, mournful, yet pounding traditional doom that harks back to the classic era of ’90s UK doom/Peaceville Records. A massive step up from their debut EP, Reflections is the result of Glencross taking GODTHRYMM into darker, more melancholic, and towering realms. Through Glencross’ soaring passionate vocals complimenting his powerful riffs along with Taylor-Steels’ thunderous percussion giving the rhythm section that immense and glorious tone, Reflections is a testament to the glory days of the genre while simultaneously making its statement as a new force of modern day doom metal to behold.

GODTHRYMM’s Reflections will be released on CD, 2xLP, and digital formats with preorders to be unveiled in January.

In the meantime, the band has issued the stunning first single “Among The Exalted.” Notes Glencross, “Lyrically, ‘Among The Exalted’ is about desire becoming all-encompassing obsession, manifesting in such a way that yearning and devotion can become a manic and destructive force. Musically, we feel this song is very direct and represents us as musicians and who we are now, whilst also echoing our own history and also the glorious history of the celebrated UK doom scene. Thank you for listening.”

Stream GODTHRYMM’s “Among The Exalted” below.

Reflections Track Listing:
1. Monsters Lurk Herein
2. Among The Exalted
3. The Sea As My Grave
4. We Are The Dead
5. The Light Of You
6. The Grand Reclamation
7. Cursed Are The Many
8. Chasmic Sorrows

http://godthrymm.com/
http://www.facebook.com/godthrymm/
http://www.instagram.com/godthrymm/
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.instagram.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Godthrymm, “Among the Exalted”

Tags: , , , ,

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

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

quarterly review

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

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

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

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

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

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

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

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

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

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

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

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

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

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

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

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

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

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

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

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

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

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

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

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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