Year of the Cobra Tour Starts Tonight; Playing Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Seattle’s Year of the Cobra have a slot booked at the first-ever Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn on Nov. 3, and because they’re Year of the Cobra, they’re turning it into a tour of the East Coast and Midwest. The band signed to Prophecy Productions earlier this year after issuing 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here) through Magnetic Eye Records, and they’re set to have their sophomore full-length out in 2019, for which the EP teased multi-directional growth in style and songwriting. The duo have put in massive amounts of road work over the last couple years at home and abroad, and it seems like they’re in a place where they’re ready to step up to the task ahead of them in their next record and see where it takes them. My guess as regards to that? More touring.

They’ll be playing new songs on the tour, and that’s nifty to be sure, but I’m really looking forward to hearing what they might bring to a new record with Jack Endino producing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the album gets here on the earlier end of next year.

From the PR wire:

year of the cobra tour

SEATTLE DOOM DUO, YEAR OF THE COBRA, ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES

*BAND TO PERFORM AT INAUGURAL “PROPHECY FEST USA” IN BROOKLYN ON NOV 3RD*

Seattle’s heavyweight stoner doom duo, Year of the Cobra, has announced they’ll be hitting the road for a North American tour this fall. The band will kick of the excursion with a hometown show in Seattle on October 10th and will wrap up the run in Lawrence, KS on November 6th. The tour will include a performance at the inaugural Prophecy Fest USA, alongside labelmates 1476, Crowhurst, Eye of Nix and Alcest, at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY on November 3rd. Tickets for the fest are available now at http://bit.ly/2OCPQ9P.

Year of the Cobra’s upcoming tour will give fans a taste of music to come from the band’s forthcoming 2nd full-length record that’s due out next year.

“We’ve been hermits since our last U.S. tour this past August and have hunkered down and written a ton of new music… going to road test quite a few new songs on this run. Jack Endino will be producing and engineering the next record, which will come out in 2019 on Prophecy Productions. Tours and other exciting news are in the works. Stayed tuned!” – Year of the Cobra

Formed in 2015, Year of the Cobra became a rapidly ascending, radiant star in the horizon of the doom/stoner-scene for a reason: This powerhouse duo, consisting of Amy Tung Barrysmith (vocals/ bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums), use their limitation in instrumentation to their advantage. Leaving space for every instrument to breathe and to shine, they create a vast, larger than life sound aesthetic. Their songs drift relentlessly from classic epic doom laments into oppressive heavy riff architecture; from catchy, almost upbeat rock moments into transfiguring psychedelia.

Year of the Cobra Tour Dates:
10.10.18 – Seattle, WA. – El Corazon w/ Monster Magnet
10.20.18 – Boise, ID. – The Shredder
10.22.18 – Denver, CO. – Streets of London
10.23.18 – Omaha, NB. – Lookout Lounge
10.24.18 – Oshkosh, WI. – Reptile Palace
10.25.18 – Chicago, IL. – Cobra Lounge
10.26.18 – Toronto, ON. – Coalition: T.O.
10.27.18 – Jewett City, CT. – Altones
10.28.18 – Ottawa, ON. – Cafe Decuf
10.29.18 – Buffalo, NY. – Mohawk Place
10.30.18 – Providence, RI. – Alchemy
11.1.18 – Philadelphia, PA. – Barbary
11.2.18 – Washington D.C. – Altas Brew Works
11.3.18 – Brooklyn, NY. Knitting Factory – Prophecy Fest
11.4.18 – Pittsburgh, PA. – Gooski’s
11.5.18 – Indianapolis, IN. – Black Circle Brewing
11.6.18 – Lawrence, KS. – Replay Lounge

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://twitter.com/yearofthecobra
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

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Kayo Dot Sign to Prophecy Productions; Playing Prophecy Fest in Brooklyn

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

As Prophecy Productions continues its ascent as a US-based entity, one can hardly argue with its selection of targets. The latest pickup from the German-expat imprint is New York’s post-everything avant garde troupe Kayo Dot. Led by founding frontman and principal crafter-of-whatnots Toby Driver, the band is now some 15 years removed from their 2003 debut, Choirs of the Eye — and thank you very much, that’s my “you are old” reminder for the day; gotta have at least one — and continue their commitment for fiercely progressive fare and a will toward experimentation with varying styles and sounds. Their latest album, 2016’s Plastic House on Base of Sky, came out in 2016.

Not sure whether this deal extends as well to Driver‘s solo output. He issued Madonnawhore last year, which collected a series of brooding and ambient tracks that would likewise be a fit on Kayo Dot‘s new label, but either way, Kayo Dot will be appearing at Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn this November, alongside 1476AlcestYear of the Cobra and others. Details on that are here.

And here’s the announcement of Kayo Dot signing, via the PR wire:

kayo dot

AVANT-GARDE POST-ROCK BAND KAYO DOT JOINS PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS

*BAND TO PERFORM AT “PROPHECY FEST USA” IN BROOKLYN, NY IN NOVEMBER*

The critically acclaimed New York based avant-garde post-rock band Kayo Dot has officially joined the roster of Prophecy Productions. The news comes in advance of the band’s upcoming performance at the inaugural 2-day Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn, NY at Knitting Factory on November 2nd. Tickets are available here: https://bit.ly/2M3SpgB

“I’m very happy and optimistic about working with Prophecy going forward. Forming a relationship with Prophecy and also becoming more closely connected with some of the major players in the European metal scene has brought up a lot of feelings that, although I haven’t engaged with in many years, still feel like home and family. We’re extremely excited to have this opportunity to bring our music to a wider audience and contribute to this universe in a positive, unique, and progressive way, and we thank Prophecy and everyone involved for believing in us, and we thank Jonathan at The Flenser for encouraging us to make this move.” – Toby Driver

The endlessly eclectic project, spearheaded by composer and producer Toby Driver, was formed in 2003 by the members of the legendary ethereal metal band, Maudlin of the Well, marking a giant, inspired evolutionary leap. Since then, Kayo Dot’s muse has shown its face through slow and massive cascades of guitars and violins, avant-garde jazz and fusion, post-rock, experimental metal and psychedelia – soaring and exploring through all facets of their music.

Kayo Dot’s members and collaborators come from a huge range of backgrounds; DIY punk kids to the most erudite conservatory-educated New York performing musicians. Frontman Toby Driver’s list of collaborators includes names like Randall Dunn (WITTR, Myrkur, Sunn 0))), Secret Chiefs 3 (Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle), John Zorn, G. Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Asva), among many others. The diversity of collaborators feeds Kayo Dot’s ability to twist and turn, leaving a listener wanting more with no limits on how it will evolve, all the while creating sounds that are both timeless and contemporary.

http://www.kayodot.net/
https://www.instagram.com/kayodotofficial/
https://twitter.com/kayodotofficial
https://www.facebook.com/kayodot.official/
https://kayodot.bandcamp.com/
http://en.prophecy.de/

Kayo Dot, Plastic House on Base of Sky (2016)

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1476 US Tour Starts Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

1476

So, I’m late to the party on this band and I’m not about to pretend otherwise. 1476 released their third album, Our Season Draws Near, this past Spring on Prophecy Productions and they’ll hit the road to support it starting this Friday in Buffalo, New York. Based out of the suitably-witchy goth-tourist-trap known as Salem, Massachsetts — also there are good restaurants and a bitchin’ video game store — the two-piece bridge a gap between progressive melodic rock, post-punk, post-black metal and post-your face, which is not a minor gap indeed, and rather than simply assault listeners they play to multiple sides in memorable songcraft and a varied atmosphere, still keeping in their pocket an all-out burst that surfaces every now and then. You can stream the record at the bottom of this post, and I’m sure you’re already all over this one, because you, like the rest of the planet, are way ahead of me on everything, but even so, it’s there if you want to put it on.

I dig it, I guess is the point.

Tour dates follow:

1476 tour

SALEM’S 1476 EMBARK ON U.S. TOUR THIS MONTH

** OUR SEASON DRAWS NEAR, OUT NOW ON PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS**

Salem’s “hermetic death rock” duo 1476 will hit the road this month for fall tour of the United States in support of their 3rd album, Our Season Draws Near, which is available now from Prophecy Productions. The month-long tour will kick off in Buffalo, NY on August 31st and make its way across the country before wrapping up in their hometown of Salem for a bewitching show on September 28th.

Following the tour the band are confirmed to perform at the inaugural Prophecy Fest USA on November 2nd at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY. The festival will take place on November 2nd and 3rd and will also feature performances by Alcest, Eye of Nix, Volur, Xasthur, Kayo Dot, Novembers Doom, Crowhurst, Year of the Cobra and So Hideous. Tickets are on sale now at http://us.prophecy.de/prophecy-fest/prophecy-fest-us-ticket.html.

The revered atmospheric metal band, consisting of Robb Kavjian and Neil DeRosa, has created a worldwide cult following since their debut in 2010. Following several EP and LP releases, 1476 partnered with Prophecy Productions, who are based in Germany and United States, in 2016 and released their critically heralded album, Our Season Draws Near, mixed by Markus Siegenhort (of post-black metal band Lantlôs,) the subsequent year. The duo’s latest chapter in their dark journey is an amalgam of punk-charged metal and ambient folk that provide a haunting soundtrack for a dreary New England winter.

Tour Dates:
Aug. 31st – Buffalo, NY – Sugar City
Sept. 1st – Detroit, MI – Fireside Inn
Sept. 2nd – Canton, OH @ Buzzbin Art and Music Shop
Sept. 3rd – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewing
Sept. 4th – Chicago, IL – Livewire
Sept. 5th – Madison, WI – The Wisco
Sept. 6th – St. Paul, MN – Caydence Records
Sept. 7th – Sioux Falls, SD @ Big’s Bar
Sept. 8th- Denver, CO @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
Sept. 9th – Kalispell, MT @ Old School Records
Sept. 11th – Seattle, WA @ The Funhouse
Sept. 12th – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Sept. 13th – Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
Sept. 14th – Lakewood, CA @ Regal Inn
Sept. 15th – Tempe, AZ @ TimeOut Lounge
Sept. 16th – Albuquerque, NM – TBA
Sept. 18th – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silver Leaf
Sept. 19th – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well
Sept. 21st – San Antonio, TX – The Guru
Sept. 22nd – Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s Pub
Sept. 23rd – New Orleans, LA – TBA
Sept. 25th – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
Sept. 26th – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Sept. 27th – Philadelphia, PA @ Creep Records
Sept. 28th – Salem, MA @ Koto

http://www.1476cult.com/
https://www.facebook.com/1476cult/
https://1476.bandcamp.com/
http://en.prophecy.de/

1476, Our Season Draws Near (2018)

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Prophecy Productions Announces Prophecy Fest USA 2018 for November in Brooklyn

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

Man, I knew something was up with Prophecy Productions. The fact that Martin Koller, the founder of the long-running German imprint moved to California, is not to be understated in its importance. Prophecy is not a label of minor consideration when it comes to taste on the whole, and as they’ve picked up bands like Khôrada and Year of the Cobra, it not only speaks to those groups’ individual achievements, but the forward-moving nature of the current US heavy underground as a whole. The first-ever Prophecy Fest to be held in America will take place this November at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, with Eye of NixAlcestVolurXasthurKayo DotNovembers DoomYear of the Cobra, 1476 and So Hideous on the bill. Two nights and a pretty unbelievable international assemblage, featuring special sets. It’s the kind of event that you want to get dressed up for. I’m not saying you have to wear a suit, but we do want to make a good impression.

And would it kill you to put on a suit?

Very interested to see where Prophecy‘s US adventure takes the label over the next couple years, and Prophecy Fest, which is presented in conjunction with Stardust NYC, looks like a great place to start to find out.

From the PR wire:

prophecy fest usa 2018 new poster

PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES U.S. EXPANSION & PROPHECY FEST USA

Following two decades of acclaimed success, with revered releases from some of the most prolific and groundbreaking acts in eclectic heavy music, Germany based Prophecy Productions has officially announced their expansion to North America with a division of the label now established in Los Angeles.

Further affirming their presence, Prophecy has unveiled the first edition of Prophecy Fest USA, which will take place at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY on November 2nd and 3rd. The inaugural event will feature performances by Alcest, Xasthur, November’s Doom, So Hideous and more. Those who purchase tickets to the Fest will receive a special edition 2xCD Prophecy Compilation. Two day tickets are available now at http://us.prophecy.de/prophecy-fest/prophecy-fest-us-ticket.html.

Prophecy Productions emerged in 1996, quickly earning worldwide regard for high quality releases and a selective, eclectic roster. Beginning as a self-run mail order, Prophecy owner & founder Martin Koller released Empyrium’s 1996 debut, A Wintersunset… To this day, he has continued to nurture and develop artists he loves, resulting in a staggering roster which sports artist such as Alcest, Khôrada, Bethlehem, Lantlôs, Falkenbach, etc.

With growing awareness of the vast differences and growing possibilities in the US metal community, Koller chose to expand into the US by opening a North American division. In 2017, Koller moved to California to explore new possibilities in the American market, establishing a diverse, talented and dedicated American team, consisting of Rayshele Teige (ex-Century Media and Osmose), Kay Shelton (ex-20 Buck Spin & Wolves in the Throne Room, Northwest Terror Fest), and Matt Bacon (Metal Injection, Dropout Media).

With Prophecy in the USA, this powerhouse team aims to enrich and expand the Prophecy roster, uncovering and cultivating fresh artists and supporting icons alike. So far, the US roster reads eccentric, eclectic and nicely unpragmatic; US black metal pioneers Nachtmystium and Xasthur, highly speculated and anticipated supergroup Khôrada (ex-Agalloch, Giant Squid), blackened-sludge abyss Eye of Nix, Oakland surrealists Silence in the Snow, black metal/noise crossover superstar Crowhurst, and brute-doom experimentalists Year of the Cobra.

To read more about the history and philosophy behind Prophecy Productions, here is an in-depth article by writer Jon Wiederhorn: http://us.prophecy.de/prophecy-productions-philosophy/

http://en.prophecy.de/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://www.instagram.com/prophecypro/
https://twitter.com/ProphecyProd
https://www.youtube.com/user/prophecyBC

Prophecy Fest USA 2018 lineup announcements

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Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Cracked Machine at PsyKA Records webstore

 

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Year of the Cobra Sign to Prophecy Productions for New Album in 2019; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

On the heels of their 2017 EP, Burn Your Dead (review here), Seattle duo Year of the Cobra toured Europe this past Spring, and they must’ve made a hell of an impression, as they’ve newly been picked up by respected German purveyor Prophecy Productions — which this year hosts its first-ever Prophecy Fest US in Brooklyn, which the band will also play — for the 2019 release of a new album to be produced by… wait for it… Jack frickin’ Endino. This after working with Billy frickin’ Anderson. Year of the Cobra certainly know how to pick ’em.

While I take a second to slap Year of the Cobra right into the notes for 2019’s most anticipated releases, I’ll also send heartfelt kudos and congratulations to the two-piece on the signing. Can’t wait to hear their new record as their ongoing ascent is sure to continue.

The PR wire makes it official, and as they will, Year of the Cobra also have tour dates coming up including the Stoned Meadow of Doom Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, on Aug. 12. Dig:

year of the cobra tour

PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES SIGNING OF SEATTLE STONER DOOM DUO YEAR OF THE COBRA

It is with great honor that Prophecy Productions announces the signing of Seattle’s heavyweight stoner doom duo, Year of the Cobra.

Formed in 2015, Year of the Cobra became a rapidly ascending, radiant star in the horizon of the doom/stoner-scene for a reason: This powerhouse duo, consisting of Amy Tung Barrysmith (vocals/ bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums), use their limitation in instrumentation to their advantage. Leaving space for every instrument to breathe and to shine, they create a vast, larger than life sound aesthetic. Their songs drift relentlessly from classic epic doom laments into oppressive heavy riff architecture; from catchy, almost upbeat rock moments into transfiguring psychedelia.

In 2016, just a year and one EP into their career, Year of the Cobra released their full-length debut, …in the Shadows Below. Using the natural, three-dimensional and massively heavy production of Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Sleep) they present themselves as an unbelievably mature and confident band who knows exactly what they want. Following their sophomore EP Burn Your Dead, they had successful tours of Europe and the US, playing a number of well-known festivals along the way, including Psycho Las Vegas, Freak Valley Festival, and Stoned Meadow of Doom. They are currently working on new material for their 2019 follow-up full length with legendary engineer/producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Tad, Soundgarden), and are confirmed to play the inaugural Prophecy Fest USA, taking place this November at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory.

Year of the Cobra Tour Dates:
7/27 – Seattle, WA. – The Funhouse
7/31 – Sacramento, CA. – Blue Lamp
8/1 – San Francisco, CA. – Elbo Room
8/2 – San Jose, CA. – The Caravan
8/3 – Santa Cruz, CA. – Blue Lagoon
8/4 – Los Angeles, CA. Five Star Bar
8/5 – Las Vegas, NV. – Beauty Bar
8/6 – Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
8/7 – Denver, CO. – Bar Bar
8/8 – Kansas City, MO. – Riot Room
8/9 – St. Louis, MO. – Fubar
8/10 – Chicago, IL. – Reggies
8/11 – Springfield, MO. Outland Ballroom
8/12 – Omaha, NB. – STONED MEADOW OF DOOM FEST
8/14 – Bozeman, MT. – Zebra Lounge
8/15 – Spokane, WA. – The Observatory

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://twitter.com/yearofthecobra
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, “Persephone” official video

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Dool Post Video for “The Alpha” from Here Now There Then

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dool

The drama is palpable throughout Dool‘s debut album, Here Now There Then (review here), which came out last year via Prophecy Productions to due acclaim, and the five-piece from the Netherlands dwell within the atmosphere and proffer a fluidity of a much more experienced outfit. One might chalk that up to the pedigree of vocalist and guitarist Ryanne van Dorst (Elle Bandita and many more), guitarists Reinier Vermeulen (The New Media) and Nick Polak (Gold), and the rhythm section of bassist Job van de Zande and drummer Micha Haring, both ex-The Devil’s Blood, but if the end result is clarity of intent as regards aesthetic, they certainly made their sound their own. As demonstrated on cuts like 10-minute opener “Vantablack” and “The Alpha,” the latter of which serves as the vehicle for their new video, they blend that post-Devil’s Blood semi-goth theatricality with a strong undercurrent of hooks and memorable songcraft.

Atmosphere plays a strong role in the video for “The Alpha” as well, which introduces as its central figure a woods-dwelling girl with what look like self-imposed pagan forehead markings preparing for and undertaking various slow-motion rituals and rites. The song earns no less with its linear build and still prevalent chorus, and while it arrives late in the tracklist for Here Now There Then as opposed to songs like “Golden Serpents” and “Works on Paper,” it nonetheless proves worthy of focus as a single and the standout position that the video provides. That is to say, the track holds up. And where on the album it’s surrounded by the prior single “Oweynagat” and the penultimate spacious soloing of “The Death of Love,” its progressive riffing and boldness of execution represent some of what works best about Dool‘s first record overall, and so prove to be something of a subtle highlight all the more brought into focus by the new clip in its honor.

Dool have live dates booked for next month throughout Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary and Poland, and a few shows announced further out, but I wouldn’t be surprised either if there are more summer fest confirmations to come in the next month or two, as the impression left by the debut was significant and the band bring the ethereal chemistry they foster on the album to the stage as well, as I was fortunate enough to see for myself at Roadburn 2016 (review here). The video for “The Alpha” was directed by van Dorst and can be seen below, followed by more info from the PR wire and the band’s upcoming live dates.

Please enjoy:

Dool, “The Alpha” official video

Actress: Demi Norah
Director: Ryanne van Dorst
Assistent Director: Ruben Broekhuis
D.O.P.: Robijn Voshol
D.O.P. Assistent: Jason Hornung
Gaffer: Raymond van der Bas
Best Boy: Francois Nell
Art Director: Angie Korst
Make up & Hair: Joyce Clerkx
Make Up Assistent: Jodie Geskus
Choreography: Marijke de Vos
Edit, VFX & Grading: Eelko Ferwerda & Thomas de Boer for Waanzee

Dool is the fast-rising hard rock band featuring former members of The Devil’s Blood and singer Ryanne van Dorst. The group has become a hotly-tipped buzz band in underground circles on the strength of its celebrated debut album, Here Now, There Then, and eye-opening live performances. Dool has just released a new video for the song “The Alpha”

The video for “The Alpha” is as well a celebration of will power as it is an ode to transformation, in parallel with the lyrics of the song,” comments Ryanne van Dorst. “It has been truly inspiring to work on this video, and we hope it empowers you as much as it empowers us”.

DOOL live:
Mar 02 Turock Essen, Germany
Mar 03 Biebob Vosselaar, Belgium
Mar 05 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France
Mar 06 O’Sullivan’s Backstage by the Mill Paris, France
Mar 07 Le Grillen Colmar, France
Mar 08 Kiff, Foyer Aarau, Switzerland
Mar 09 Dagda Live Club Borgo Priolo, Italy
Mar 10 Revolver San Dona’ Di Piave, Italy
Mar 12 A38 Kulturális Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft. Budapest, Hungary
Mar 13 Klub Zascianek Krakow, Poland
Mar 14 Factory Magdeburg/ Dominion Club Magdeburg, Germany
Mar 15 Club From Hell Erfurt, Germany
Mar 16 Roadrunner’s Paradise Berlin, Germany
Mar 17 Ms Connexion Complex Mannheim, Germany
Mar 18 013 Tilburg, Netherlands
Apr 01 Backstage Munich, Germany
Apr 27 Fryshuset Stockholm, Sweden
May 12 Vienna Arena (Arena Wien) Vienna, Austria
Jun 14 Ferropolis – Stadt Aus Eisen Arena Gräfenhainichen, Germany

Dool on Thee Facebooks

Dool on Bandcamp

Dool at Prophecy Productions

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2017

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-30-of-2017

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

We’re almost at the finish line for 2017, and if I’m honest, it’s not a minute too soon. I think if one more record comes out this year my head is going to explode.

A perpetual onslaught of cool music is, of course, nothing to complain about. It just seemed like every time I thought I had a handle on where the year was going, some other announcement came through and knocked me on my ass. What’s that? The Obsessed are putting out their first album in more than two decades? Oh and Monolord have a new one coming? Radio Moscow just signed to Century Media? Arc of Ascent are back? Samsara Blues Experiment are back? Causa Sui are putting out a live album and a studio album? Sasquatch are going to Europe and sneaking a record along with them? All of a sudden I’m out of breath feeling like I just ran a lap.

It’s been madness this year. Between an emergent neo-psych movement in the wake of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and others, and the ongoing and constant reshaping of doom and heavy rock from practitioners new and old, I don’t know how anyone could ever claim to keep up with any of it.

You know I do the best I can, so when you look through this list, please keep in mind that these are my picks and the result of applying my own standard, which if you’ve ever seen a list on this site before you probably already know is a combination of things like what I view as being important on a critical level and things like what kept me coming back as a listener. What were the year’s biggest releases and what couldn’t I get enough of? Sometimes those two things come together around one record and it’s beautiful. That’s usually your album of the year, or close to, anyhow.

No sense in delaying further. I hope if you haven’t heard some of this stuff you’ll give it a shot, and if you have something you felt strongly about it, you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for keeping it civil, and of course for reading.

Here goes:

30. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
geezer psychoriffadelia

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records. Reviewed May 16.

Coming off of what was their strongest album to-date in their 2016 self-titled (review here), New York heavy psych blues trio Geezer decided it was time to take the groove for a walk. And so they did. Psychoriffadelia is the result — a looser collection of jams and willfully unrefined heavy blues, reveling in the politically incorrect on “Dirty Penny” only after basking in the post-Monster Magnet hypnosis of “Red Hook” and the earlier roll of the more straightforward “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots.” Everything Geezer has done to this point has pushed their sound to new places. Psychoriffadelia is no exception.

29. Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango the mules of nana

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed March 27.

More than a touch of twang on opener “Heartland” sets a tone of Americana-infusion for Orango‘s sixth LP, The Mules of Nana, but the 10-tracker is ultimately much more about harmony-laced classic heavy smoothness than playing to prairie-minded sensibilities, though roots spread wide through a natural, dirty blues just the same. However they get there, “Hazy Chain of Mountains,” the softshoe-ready funk of “Head on Down” and the peacefully progressive finish of “Ghost Rider” bring ’70s-style thrills in songwriting and their precise, gorgeous execution. Underrated record from an underappreciated band.

28. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings

radio moscow new beginnings

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Oct. 6.

Cali boogie kingpins and all-around marvelous frenetic bastards Radio Moscow were in top form on their Century Media debut, and if it was a new beginning they were searching for, they met it head on with a sound as classic and organic as ever. Arguably the most powerful power trio in their game, they tore through cuts like “No One Knows Where They’ve Been” and “Deceiver” while offering flourish in the trip-out “Woodrose Morning” and subdued blues-psych on the penultimate “Pick up the Pieces.” Very much to form, but cast of a form that still manages to outclass all challengers.

27. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma

spaceslug time travel dilemma

Released by Southcave Records, BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

And so here we have the first of what will no doubt be several records about which I’m going to say they should be higher on the list. Poland’s Spaceslug have emerged from the moist ground created by their own tonality and on their sophomore full-length, they proffered warm depth of fuzz and a corresponding melodic and psychedelic reach that was resonant even before they brought in ex-Sungrazer bassist Sander Haagmans for a guest spot on the title-track. It’s been out for 10 months and still delivers every time I put it on, which is often.

26. Mothership, High Strangeness

mothership high strangeness
Released by Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed March 7.

Three albums into a tenure marked by hard-driving riffs, scorching solos and relentless road work, there’s little Texas trio Mothership need to do at this point to prove themselves to their audience. At the same time, High Strangeness brought considerable expansion to their range overall, whether it was the exploratory “Eternal Trip” or the semi-metallic insistence behind “Midnight Express,” while staying tied together with lyrical and instrumental hooks. High Strangeness set a new standard for Mothership, plain and simple, and easily surpassed the considerable accomplishments of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and 2014’s Mothership II (review here).

25. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

eternal black bleed the days

Released by Obsidian Sky Records. Reviewed Aug. 1.

There was a lot about Eternal Black‘s Bleed the Days that chugged its way into the post-Wino oeuvre of US-style trad doom, but the gruff, lumbering and impeccably riffed outing was nonetheless one of 2017’s best debut full-lengths, and it was the songwriting that got it there. Already sounding sure in the vibe captured, cuts like the plodding brooder “Sea of Graves” and “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” showed potential in mood and atmosphere as much as sheer sonic heft — though of course there was plenty of that to go around as well. Doomers missed it at their peril.

24. Kadavar, Rough Times

kadavar rough times

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Sept. 6.

It kind of feels like a slight to have Berlin trio Kadavar appear anywhere outside of at least a top 10 on any kind of list whatsoever, ever, but that’s not my intention at all. Rather, their fourth album and third for Nuclear Blast found them at an important stage in their progression — past the novelty of the vintage feel in their early work, after having proven their songwriting could translate to a modern context, and embarking on a process of expanding their sound. Rough Times, which was as current as current could be, met that goal and beat it easily with a barrage of memorable choruses and a dark streak one could only consider suitable for our age.

23. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

shroud eater strike the sun

Released by STB Records. Reviewed June 28.

The biggest surprise about Shroud Eater‘s long-awaited sophomore long-player was also its most encouraging aspect — namely how it found the Miami trio bringing together various impulses shown on a number of shorter releases over the course of the six years since their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), came out in 2011, and still managed to utterly crush when it so chose. With a swath from sludge to drone and back again, this was no minor feat, and that the songs they brought to bear were so memorable at their heart as well makes me hope all the more it’s not 2023 before their third album arrives.

22. Enslaved, E

enslaved e

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 4.

What’s left to say about Norwegian progressive black metal innovators Enslaved 14 records into their career? Plenty as it turns out. The introduction of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in place of Herbrand Larsen brought a new twist on a signature element of Enslaved‘s approach. Vinje utterly owned his role, and his performance alongside guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold resulted in a fresh urgency that made the band’s sound even more potent and set their ongoing creative evolution on a new branch of its self-directed path.

21. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

arc-of-ascent-realms-of-the-metaphysical

Released by Astral Projection and Clostridium Records. Reviewed April 6.

Some five years on from 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) and seven out from their debut, Circle of the Sun (review here), and with bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson firmly entrenched in his always excellent Lamp of the Universe psych-drone-folk solo-project, I wasn’t sure there would be another offering from New Zealand heavy psych-rock trio Arc of Ascent, but Realms of the Metaphysical took shape from an ether of riffs and echoes atop resilient underlying structures and revitalized the group with new drummer Mark McGeady in the lineup with Williamson and guitarist Matt Cole-Baker. Remains to be seen if this marks a priority shift for Williamson or it’s a one-off, but its arrival was welcome either way.

20. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

causa sui vibraciones doradas

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

With the various glories already offered in 2017 on the Live in Copenhagen (review here) 3LP, one didn’t necessarily expect a new studio outing from Danish instrumental psych masters Causa Sui, but Vibraciones Doradas found them as vibrant as ever, bringing forth a surprising amount of tonal weight on songs like “El Fuego,” warm fuzz for the basking on opener “The Drop” and spaciousness on the closing title-track. Somewhat more straight-ahead in its rocking groove than 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), the five-track/38-minute long-player showed yet again why Causa Sui are always welcome and that any news of a new release from them, live, studio, whatever, is good news. This was the kind of record that could make your day if you let it.

19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

Released by Sump Pump Records. Reviewed April 10.

The Iowa-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer, operating as Telekinetic Yeti, released what I considered to be the debut of the year, both for the fullness of its tonality and the accomplishment in songcraft it already showed. Powered by cuts like its lumbering title-track and the gloriously fuzzed runner “Stoned and Feathered,” it could’ve been another band’s second or third record for the level of cohesion on display and the obvious awareness on the part of the band of what they wanted to do with their sound and the just-as-obvious result of their bringing it to life.

18. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kozmic dust

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Dec. 9, 2016.

While I admit I’m still not 100 percent certain on whether to spell “kozmic” in the title with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’ on the end, that question did nothing ultimately to diminish enjoyment of Denver emergents Cloud Catcher‘s sophomore outing. Topped off by one of the best album covers of the year, the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), took the progressive casting of that record to a place entirely more raw and rock-driven, willfully roughing up the edges even as it showed marked creative growth on a relatively quick turnaround. The must-hear bass tone of “Beyond the Electric Sun” and “Super Acid Magick” was icing on a cake of choice riffing and Hendrixian lead swirl, and the shuffle they elicited was enough to make even the most stubborn of asses (i.e. mine) think about moving.

17. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child

ruby the hatchet planetary space child

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

After the neo-garage manifestations of their 2015 sophomore outing, Valley of the Snake (review here), it was clear Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet were a force when it came to songwriting. What was less obvious was what they’d do with that going forward. On Planetary Space Child, at least, the answer is they’ll take it to Freaktown. The melody-happy, organ-laced swirlmasters conjured presence kosmiche enough to justify the album’s title, and around the cast-in-moon-rock structures of the swinging “Pagan Ritual” and the playfully doomed “Symphony of the Night,” Ruby the Hatchet built a multifaceted weirdoist triumph the likes of which simply doesn’t come along every year, establishing themselves as more reliable and less predictable than ever: an absolute win.

16. Alunah, Solennial

alunah solennial

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 1.

It’s been the case more or less all along with UK forest rockers Alunah that their nature-minded material and heavy rolling grooves have had their haunting aspects, but with the production of Conan‘s Chris Fielding behind it, Solennial — their fourth LP and first on Svart — brought this to new levels entirely. The songs, memorable like footprints in the woods, are somewhat bittersweet in context now, since founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day announced in September she was leaving the band, but as the group will move forward led by guitarist Dave Day and recently acquired new singer Siân Greenaway, intrigue remains high at what the future might bring and the impact of Solennial is undiminished.

15. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream

mindkult-lucifers-dream

Released by Transcending Obscurity Records and Caligari Records.

Virginia-based doomgazing garage cult solo-project Mindkult has thus far managed to keep some of the mystique around its sole inhabitant, Fowst, which is admirable in a way. As the multi-instrmentalist, vocalist and producer this year answered the promise of last year’s Witch’s Oath (review here) debut, he did so around a swath of purposeful miseries, loose devil worship and other dark thematics, casting an atmospheric darkness matched head-on by the tonal murk of his riffs. Through this, however, the songwriting was no less memorable than on the first offering, and as the project moves forward, one can only hope that Fowst will continue to use that as the core aspect buried six feet under his other, formidable stylistic achievements. That certainly was how it worked out on Lucifer’s Dream.

14. Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus from fields of fire
Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Sept. 1.

Behold ye perhaps the most underrated band in heavy metal. Regardless of subgenre, style, strata, whatever, it’s hard to listen to From Fields of Fire and think of Pittsburgh’s Argus as anything else. The five-piece’s fourth album continued to owe part of its sound to doom, but was much more encompassing than simply that, touching on aspects of classic metal with a command that left one wondering how they hadn’t yet been tapped to open for Judas Priest on that band’s next tour. Victory abounds on a per-song basis throughout the nine-tracker, and whether it was the emotional crux of “Hour of Longing” or the catchy fistpump righteousness of “Devils of Your Time” or the 11-minute progressive reach of “Infinite Lives/Infinite Doors,” Argus once again crafted a work nigh-unmatched in poise and class.

13. Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

For the first outing ever to be issued under his real name, Denmark’s Uffe Lorenzen — aka Lorenzo Woodrose of garage-psych pioneers Baby Woodrose — danced between acid folk singer-songwriterisms like “Flippertøs” and more expansive jamming on “På Kanten Af Verden,” all the while retaining his distinct structural and arrangement sensibilities and creating a flowing vibe that was nothing less than a pure joy of classic-form psychedelia. The most serene and pastoral freakout one was likely to witness in 2017, easily, Galmandsværk resounded in the Mellotron-laced “Høj Som Et Højhus” and was no less at home in the acoustic spaciousness of the earlier “Remits Tyranni,” able to wander where it pleased and find steady ground in molten surroundings.

12. The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season

the flying eyes burning of the season

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 11.

A welcome return from a viciously underappreciated band, The Flying EyesBurning of the Season marked the Baltimore four-piece’s first offering for Ripple Music and first since 2013’s Lowlands (review here), a four-year stretch during which the band kept busy touring Europe and South America, the latter also being where they recorded these songs with Gabriel Zander at Estudio Superfuzz in Brazil. The tonal depth resulting from that process was enough to make the collection a highlight, but it was the songs themselves that most stood out, benefiting from the band’s expanded reach and legitimate, hard-won maturity. Especially for a group who’ve done so much work on the road over their years — to be fair, the US has been pretty low priority in that regard — they remain a secret kept too well.

11. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

bell witch mirror reaper

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Dec. 27.

Doomed extremity simply unmatched in its scope. The song of the year for 2017. An accomplishment the likes of which is prone to happen maybe once or twice in a generation. None of this seems to really speak to the entirety of the achievement that is Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper — the single-song, 83-minute full-length issued by the Seattle duo like a challenge in the face of mortality itself. Beautiful, devastating and weighted like the grave, its sprawl utterly consumed the listener, and I firmly believe it will be years before its depths are fully processed. Some offerings are bigger than the year in which they’re released. Mirror Reaper would seem to function on a scale of its own, and though it could easily be read as a litmus test for audience punishment, the truth of the listening experience is both more emotionally complex and more fulfilling than simple hyperbole can capture.

10. Monolord, Rust

monolord rust

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Oct. 26.

The story all along with Gothenburg’s Monolord has been tone. Tone tone tone. Crush crush crush. Riffs riffs riffs. Nothing wrong with any of that, but their third album, Rust, proves once and for all that there’s more to the trio than “cool riffs bro” and post-Electric Wizard nod. Catchy cuts like “Dear Lucifer” and rolling opener “Where Death Meets the Sea” brought a sense of space leading to the later sprawl of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae,” and the band settled into an individualized, lumbering psychedelia that moved forward from 2015’s Vænir (review here), not leaving behind the heft that earned them their reputation, but not at all being limited by it either in scope or overall approach. Three records in, Rust brought forth Monolord‘s greatest sonic expansion yet and gave rise to the feeling that their true potential was just starting to come to fruition. Also, crush crush crush. Cool riffs, bro.

9. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 5.

The Sunken Djinn is Vokonis‘ second full-length in as many years, and in addition to serving as their Ripple debut where 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here) landed via Ozium Records, it was a feast for hungry riff hounds. In defiance of its quick turnaround, it showed a firm evolution taking place within the upstart Swedish trio of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, whose range overall was greater in tracks like “Rapturous” and the torrential “Blood Vortex” while nonetheless controlled in its delivery. Their Sleep-y origins still a factor sound-wise, Vokonis were able just the same to push themselves ahead into new sonic ground in fittingly lumbering fashion, and the character they brought to “The Sunken Djinn,” “Calling from the Core” and the noise-caked “Maelstroem” seemed to speak to a burgeoning sense of atmospheric focus taking hold as well. Still so much potential here.

8. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals

electric moon stardust rituals

Released by Sulatron Records. Reviewed April 7.

Do I even need to remotely justify having Electric Moon‘s first studio album in six years on this list? Was it not just like a love-letter issued by the cosmos itself? What more explanation could possibly be necessary? Not that the German trio haven’t dropped copious, glorious live outings all the while, but to have Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and Marcus Schnitzler follow-up 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here) with four cuts culminating in the 22-minute sprawl of “(You Will) Live Forever Now” was high on the list of the year’s most satisfying psychedelic journeys. Constantly exploring, their methods always seem geared toward finding the molten essence of space rock itself, and though the songs on Stardust Rituals were a little more crafted than some of their straight-up improv jams, they nonetheless showed there are many avenues one might take to get to the heart of the sun.

7. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

Self-released. Reviewed May 1.

This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.

6. The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field

the-atomic-bitchwax-force-field

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Dec. 7.

Songs like “Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” “Humble Brag” and “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be?)” assured that the defining character of Force Field, the sixth album from New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax, was pure scorch. That made the 12-cut outing a more than worthy follow-up for 2015’s  Gravitron (review here), which introduced this more speed-rock-minded, aggressive delivery from the tight-as-nails trio, and while they proved they could still lock in a slower groove on the organ-topped finisher “Liv a Little,” head-spinners like the instrumental “Fried, Dyed and Layin’ to the Side” and “Houndstooth” came across like the fruit of the band pushing themselves to the limits of their physical ability in terms of tempo, and their ride along the edge of that line brought thrills at every turn. And make no mistake, there were a lot of turns. Fortunately, bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella seemingly had a corresponding hook in their pocket for each one of them. This band is a national treasure.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

atavismo inerte

Released by Temple of Torturous. Reviewed Feb. 21.

Warm, fuzzy tones, rhythmic shifts right out of classic progressive rock, melodic intricacy and periodic excursions into glorious psychedelic drift: I’m not sure what wasn’t to like about Inerte, Atavismo‘s second full-length behind 2014’s Desintegración (review here). Comprising five tracks of unmistakable flow and jam-laden fluidity, it was immersive with landmarks along the way to keep the listener from getting too lost, and whether or not one spoke Spanish, the three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) made it easy to follow along their purposefully meandering path, offering guidance no less skillful on the 11-minute fuzz-freaker “El Sueño” than the dream-toned linear build of “Belleza Cuatro.” There were very, very few albums I listened to more this year than this one, which is precisely why it is where it is on this list.

4. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe

Released by Electric Magic Records and Abraxas Records. Reviewed May 4.

Four years between records isn’t at all an unheard of stretch. It’s not the longest on this list by any means. But with Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, it really seemed like the band was done, so to have them come back with such force on One with the Universe was, as I know I said at several points throughout the last 12 months, one of the year’s total highlights. Tracked by former bassist Richard Behrens, the group’s fourth album answered the extended-track spread of 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) with a deeper sense of sonic variety, and while the 15-minute title-cut and opener “Vispassana” still had plenty of room for jamming out and even six-minute centerpiece “Glorious Daze” found room for some flourish of organ and sitar, guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt rightly featured the chemistry they’ve built as a trio live and brought to the songs a renewed sense of vigor, sounding — and hopefully being — truly inspired. Waiting for the Flood capped a period of marked productivity across several years. Fingers crossed One with the Universe begins that cycle anew.

3. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

Elder-Reflections-of-a-Floating-World

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed May 23.

You just can’t consider Elder‘s Reflections of a Floating World outside the context of the progressive achievement that was their prior outing, 2015’s Lore (review here). Where the trio — based now between Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany — took their first two outings, 2008’s self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), to find their sound, which they began to showcase on the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), it was Lore that brought to fruition the potential that had always been waiting to be unleashed by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, and Reflections of a Floating World had the daunting task of being the next further step from that landmark moment. To say the band rose to the occasion is perhaps to undersell the cohesion at work in consuming-but-cohesive pieces like opener “Sanctuary” or “Blind” or “Staving off the Truth,” which brought together clear-headed psychedelia around a wash that seemed to stem as much from rhythm as melody. As they’ve matured stylistically and become a major touring presence, Elder have made themselves perhaps the most pivotal American heavy rock act going, and Reflections of a Floating World brings them to the discovery of yet another apex while at the same time giving zero indication it will be the last one they find.

2. Colour Haze, In Her Garden

colour haze in her garden

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 9.

Of course, the bonus of writing about Colour Haze in just about any context is that you get to put Colour Haze on while you’re doing it, and in the case of the 12th LP from these Munich heavy psych forebears, that’s an even more appealing prospect. After stripping down some of the arrangement flourish with 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the 13-track/73-minute 2LP In Her Garden brought a revitalized sonic expansion, but as ever, it wasn’t just the horns or the strings or the blend of keys and acoustics that made In Her Garden the unbridled joy that it was and continues to be — it was the underlying performance from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald that gave the album the stem on which its garden grew. That’s not to say Jan Faszbender‘s work on modular synth, Rhodes, and Hammond or the arrangements of strings, tuba, bass-clarinet and trombone throughout hurt anything, just that as Colour Haze have grown into incorporating these elements into their groundbreaking aesthetic, they haven’t left behind the organic chemistry and necessary live feel that has helped them influence a generation of followers over their more than 20-year career. One came through as much as the other on In Her Garden, and that balance gave the overarching warmth of their self-recorded tonality yet another level on which to engage their audience. I’ll be a sucker for Colour Haze for as long as I live, and I have absolutely no problem admitting to and owning that.

1. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the war

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Jan. 27.

It was clear early on that Nashville four-piece All Them Witches were contending hard for Album of the Year with Sleeping Through the War, their fourth long-player and second for New West following the mellow vibes of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here). What finally sealed it? The songs. Working with producer Dave Cobb, the each-member-essential lineup of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, key-specialist Allan van Cleave (Rhodes, Mellotron, piano, organ, etc.) and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler solidified their approach in exciting new ways on early cuts like the grunge-crunching “Don’t Bring Me Coffee” and the shuffling “Bruce Lee,” which hit in succession following the fluid lead-in of opener “Bulls,” an introduction of the organic psychedelia and heavy blues that the loose-swinging of “3-5-7″‘s nigh-on-gospel chorus and subsequent, almost maddeningly catchy “Am I Going Up?” would continue to push outward, thereby setting a linear course into a consciousness-capturing side B with “Alabaster” and the jammier “Cowboy Kirk” and “Internet” playing between melodic nuance and mindful, go-with-it drift. The unflinching strength of the material was matched perhaps only by the understatement of its delivery, which was the more staggering considering how easily the arrangements of background vocals on “Am I Going Up?” or  “3-5-7” could have come through as overblown or self-indulgent, and by the time they got down to the light weirdo-bluesy stomp of “Internet” — the key lyric and hook being, “Guess I’ll go live on the internet” — there was no doubting the genuine nature of the realization Sleeping Through the War represented for All Them Witches. Coupling that feeling of achievement with the sheer repeatability of the listening experience itself left no doubt that 2017 belonged to these tracks and the marvelous way the band wove between them, and that whatever other sounds All Them Witches may go on to explore and whatever else they may accomplish as a result, Sleeping Through the War was a truly special moment in their evolution that, as with the best of offerings in any year, will continue to resonate long after the calendar page has turned.

The Next 20

You know, I used to feel like once you got past a top 20, the numbers were arbitrary. Then I felt that way about the top 30. This year, I think I agonized more about what to include in numbers 31-50 than I did between 30 and the album of the year. Put that in your “go figure” file while you chew on these picks:

31. Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cypress Ave.
33. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
34. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
35. PH, Eternal Hayden
36. Sasquatch, Maneuvers
37. Young Hunter, Dayhiker
38. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
39. Ufomammut, 8
40. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
41. Paradise Lost, Medusa
42. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
43. Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages
44. Primitive Man, Caustic
45. Motorpsycho, The Tower
46. Arbouretum, Song of the Rose
47. Hymn, Perish
48. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
49. Pallbearer, Heartless
50. Dool, Here Now There Then

There’s so, so much good stuff here. So much. The Cities of Mars debut was a treasure and the only reason it wasn’t on my top debuts list was because I haven’t had the chance to go back in and put it on. The Young Hunter record? Some of their best work yet. Hell, that Arduini / Balich album alone! Then you’ve got huge releases by Pallbearer, Ufomammut, Paradise Lost, Primitive Man, on and on. Like I said at the outset, one more album and my head was gonna explode this year. Way too much to ever hope to keep up with. One thing though I felt like I really wanted to emphasize including was Dool. They’re in the last spot, but make no mistake, in atmosphere and songwriting that album was something really special and loaded with potential. It’s not there because it came in last. It’s there to highlight the point of how much it should be on this list.

What’s that? More records? Okay…

Honorable Mentions

In case you also weren’t completely overwhelmed this year, maybe another batch of records will do the trick. Here’s some presented alphabetically:

Anathema, The Optimist
Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away
Child, Blueside
Cortez, The Depths Below
Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies
Elbrus, Elbrus
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie
Mirror Queen, Verdigris
The Obsessed, Sacred
T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
Steak, No God to Save
Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
Valborg, Endstrand
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead

Plus: Abronia, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Iron Monkey, Band of Spice, Puta Volcano, Galley Beggar, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, REZN, Green Meteor, Demon Head, Lord, Grigax, The Raynbow, Carpet, Norska, Les Lekin, Slow, Ixion, and I’m sure more that I’ll add as the names continue to pop into my head.

I did this back in June as well, but I also want to draw attention to a swath of quality live albums that came out this year. The top pick should be no surprise if you’ve been hanging around the site of late:

Live Albums:
1. SubRosa, Subdued Live at Roadburn
2. Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
3. Slomatics, Futurians Live at Roadburn
4. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
5. Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion
5. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn

Thank You

It’s been a hell of a year, obviously. Musically and otherwise. As always, I cannot possibly come close to thanking you enough for your incredible and ongoing support of The Obelisk, of what this site is, what it’s become over its nearly nine-year run, what it will continue to become going forward from here. It is astounding to me and deeply humbling that you would possibly take time out of your busy day and your busy life to check out what’s going on here, and words fail me continually when it comes to feeling like I can properly convey my appreciation for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Tattoo it on my forehead.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for understanding how much I need to be doing this, to Slevin for keeping the site running on the technical end, to Behrang Alavi for taking over hosting earlier this year, to my family for their ongoing support, to The Pecan for sleeping late some mornings and giving me time to write, and to everyone who ever shared a link on social media or made a comment on a post or anything like that. To long-time readers and to newcomers alike — thank you so much. This year has seen a fair share of ups and downs, but the support this site gets sustains me in ways I never expected it could, and that would be impossible without you. Please know how crucial that is to me.

Well, that should do it. I know there are probably disagreements about where things landed on the list, what was included, what was left out, etc., as there always are. All comments are of course welcome — only thing I’d ask is you please keep it civil and respectful of the opinions of others. Otherwise, have at it. Please.

And one more time, thank you for reading.

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