Puta Volcano Post Full-Set Livestream Video From An Club in Athens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Puta Volcano (Photo by Pinelopi Gerasimou)

I know everybody’s sad there are no live shows. Believe me, I know it. I know it every day, over and over again. I miss concerts like I miss the members of my family whose house I haven’t been in for a year. But can we pause all that misery for a second and appreciate the absolute age of wonders in which we live?

I’ve never been to An Club in the anarcho-refuge of Exarchia. I’ve never seen Puta Volcano live. And but for financial constraints, neither is an impossibility in a (more) perfect world, but I watch the Athenian four-piece’s recorded live set to support last year’s AMMA (discussed here), and with the pro-shop sound and video, I wish I could go back and deliver an “it gets better” message to my teenage bootleg-loving self. I imagine going back in time and saying that there will come a day when all these bands will basically start issuing their own soundboard recordings and not only will videos and audio like this exist, but it’ll be free to stream. Of course, there’s a cost when one considers what’s been given up in order to usher this age of alt-experience live music, but I’m just trying to look on the bright side here. I know lives have been lost. I get it. I check the numbers every day.

You want the truth? I’m tired. I’m tired of the whole thing. I’m tired of masks. I’m tired of social distancing, restricted travel. I’m even tired of Anthony “The Fauch” Fauci. I’m tired of pretending each loss of life is a tragedy or like I can imagine the scale of loss. I’m so tired. Tired of the secret thanatos in all of us rooting for the virus. I was tired of 2020 and I’m already tired of 2021. I want real life back.

The corresponding truth? None of that matters. Me being sick of the plague has no bearing on the increase or decline in new cases, new mutations, any of it. Could not be less consequential.

Take what you can get. That’s the moral of the story. I wish like hell I had some pseudo-zen social media bullshit wisdom to share with you about living through this time, like it’s some learning experience from which to draw strength. It isn’t, and that toxic-ass selfishness is part of why we’re in such a fucking mess. I wish I could believe any of that, like I look at the bear in Grizzly Man and see a friend when Werner Herzog sees boredom and a vague interest in food. I don’t. That guy got eaten by the fucking bear and it’s not supposed to make sense. Carl Sagan said that the universe does not owe us conformity to our expectations of it. It ain’t about you and it ain’t about me. Don’t look for answers.

So take what you can get. Eat what you can eat, drink what you can drink, fuck when you can fuck. None of it means anything anyway and sooner or later whether it’s the plague or you’re hit by a bus you’re gonna be fucking dead and it won’t matter anymore. You might as well enjoy good music while you can. In four billion years the sun will swallow the planet and everything that was ever done by our pitiful species in its probably-embarrasingly-short run will be burned away. Blow off work — shit, quit your job — watch Puta Volcano for an hour, and if you can escape the volume of your own thoughts by giving it some competition through the volume of your headphones, do it. That’s paradise, that hour.

That’s all I’ve got. AMMA ruled. This is a good band playing a cool room and putting on a killer show to an imaginary crowd (what seems to have been a substantial crew notwithstanding). Enjoy it while you can.

Puta Volcano, Live at An Club, Athens

Puta Volcano on ‘Live at An Club’:

Transforming a legendary venue, one that has nurtured the musical underground scene of downtown Athens, into a starship sailing towards an event horizon. Instead of focusing on the undeniable bleakness of our present, we’d like to think that initiatives like this hint at an evolved meta-gig. One where in the future, we can connect people moshing in the venue with people all over the world streaming it at home.

PUTA VOLCANO at AN CLUB | STAGES A/LIVE

STAGES A/LIVE, a series of concerts in support of the independent Greek music scene, presents Puta Volcano on the stage of AN Club, the legendary basement club of Athens, with an explosive digital live show.

The essence of Puta Volcano, a band with a powerful stage presence and crystalline sound, lies not in appearances but in the very being of their sound, created collaboratively by four fanatical bandmates: Steve S. on drums, Alex Pi on guitar, Bookies on bass, and Anna on vocals.

Turn the volume up and tune in Sunday, February 14, at 9 pm (EET) at the Onassis Foundation YouTube Channel. Until we can all be together again at a live concert, music will be bringing us closer, even if we’re far apart.

Concept & Curation: Christos Sarris
Production Coordinators: Smaragda Dogani, Elena Choremi
Production: Onassis Stegi

PUTA VOLCANO
Anna Papathanasiou: vocals
Alex Pi: guitar
Steve Stefanidis: drums
Bookies: bass
Management: Mihalis Kaloudis
Anna Papathanasiou’s styling: Philippe G.Missas

AN CLUB
Location Manager: Panagiotis Kaparidis
Art Direction: Eva Kolomvou
F.O.H Sound Engineer: Tasos Malliouras (aka. Anastasios Tsompanis)
Electrician: Charalampos Tsimpanis
PRODUCTION EXECUTION
Production: Marina Danezi
Production Manager: Steven Elpiziotis

FILMING
Director – Camera: Christos Sarris
Director of Photography: Evan Maragkoudakis
Cameras: Dimitris Zivopoulos, Orfeas Kalafatis, Filippos Zamidis, Koralia Dogani
Lighting Technician: Menelaos Orfanos
Recording Engineer – Mixing Engineer: Jacopo Focas
Editor: Tryfon Karatzinas
Colorist: Manthos Sardis
Photography: Pinelopi Gerasimou

ONASSIS STEGI
Technical Manager: Lefteris Karabilas
Technical Director & Project Support: Phil Hills
Lighting Technicians: Pavlos Pappas, Giorgos Tsitsigos
Stage Technicians: Panos Koutsoumanos, Platonas Tsamados
Production Manager – Production Management Consultant: Dimitra Dernikou
Production Coordinators: Smaragda Dogani, Elena Choremi
Line Production: Irilena Tsami, Ioulia Stamouli

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Instagram

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

Puta Volcano website

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ukmedsnorx.com/zopiclone
ukmedsnorx.com/zolpidem

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

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

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

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

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

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

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

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

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

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

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

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

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

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

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

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

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

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

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

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

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

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

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

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

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

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

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

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

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

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

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

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

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

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

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

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

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

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

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

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

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

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

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

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

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

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

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

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

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

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

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

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

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

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

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

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

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

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

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

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

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

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

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

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

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

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

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

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

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

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

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

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

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

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

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

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

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

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

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

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

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

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

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

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

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

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

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

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead to 2021

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

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

Thank You

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

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

More to come.

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Days of Rona: Alex Pi of Puta Volcano

Posted in Features on April 13th, 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

puta volcano alex pi

Days of Rona: Alex Pi of Puta Volcano (Athens, Greece)

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?

We are a few days away from when we would be embarking on our European tour to promote our new album, had this crisis not landed on us. It’s not something we’re happy about, however, we are not alone in this predicament. And this transcends music, it’s a global situation that encompasses everything and brings along an awkward numbness. As a band, we are behaving the same way we behave as units, we are isolated in our homes and trying to make the best out of this situation and thankfully all of us are healthy so far.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

We have been in lockdown for over a week [as of March 30], here in Athens, and are only allowed to go out after notifying the government via SMS. Even then, groups of more than two people are not allowed. Shopping takes a long time because supermarkets have to monitor the number of customers in the shop, which results in long lines waiting outside. No complaints there however, it is the least we can do to make sure “the curve is flattened.”

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

The word “around” has an ominous sound to it these days. I suddenly feel that everyone has a new appreciation of personal space and people are trying to fight the instinct of human contact that we’ve abided by all our lives. As far as music is concerned, this really feels like an apocalypse, not knowing what the landscape will look like after we emerge. Not saying that I expect to see mutants and dune buggies modded with spikes running around, but I’m really curious about how the concept of a packed venue will be interpreted on the other side of this. On the bright side, we are firmly in the information age and it’s a chance for us all to catch up with all sorts of personal backlogs, be it music, movies, practicing an instrument or even picking up new skills. It’s also very optimistic that a lot of bands were quick to adapt, streaming shows, or even just the sharing of riffage online, seems to create a sense of camaraderie.

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

This is a time for us to think and act with the collective good in mind. We need to protect ourselves and protect others from ourselves. As a band, we can only promise that we will come out even more passionate about our music and willing to hop in a tour van to play as much as we can. In the meantime, let’s twist this restrictive period around into a productive self-introspection and come out wiser.

https://www.facebook.com/putavolcanoband/
https://www.instagram.com/putavolcano/
https://www.youtube.com/user/putavolcano
https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/
http://putavolcano.com/

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Puta Volcano Post “Black Box” Video from AMMA LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

puta volcano (photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou)

I can imagine few showers have ever been as satisfying as that which Puta Volcano vocalist Anna Papathanasiou likely took after filming the band’s new video for “Black Box.” Their second album, AMMA, is due out March 13 through The Orchard, and in the clip, Papathanasiou strides head-on toward the camera, presumably on a treadmill or some such, and is pummeled with all manner of stuffs — food, various liquids, wigs, plastic bags; at one point I’m pretty sure a triangular slice of pizza bounces off her shoulder — and yes, they’re making a statement, but that doesn’t make that slice of pizza any less greasy. So yeah, glitter, flour, milk, paint, god knows what else. You’d probably want to hose off afterward.

That, of course, is the visual metaphor at play throughout “Black Box,” which sets its prog-metal riff to work behind the vocal melody which is delivered purposefully even as this assault is taking place. The band generalize just a bit — and fair enough for not wanting to limit their audience — but it’s pretty clearly about a woman’s experience of modern life. Not that we’re not all assaulted at all times, but there remains a definite gradient difference in the uphill courses that those with varying gender identities are running, and as dolls and wigs and sundry powders and whatnots and maybe-glitter pound her, the message isn’t exactly subtle. And not that it’s my place to say so, but it’s not wrong either. There’s a key change in the vocals in the second half of the song — it’s actually bassist Bookies taking lead, but Papathanasiou continues to mouth the words in the video — that coincides with a greater intensity of riff, and then, when it’s over, she stops running, straightens her shoulders and lets out a breath. Fair enough.

Life is a big mess, and life is hard.

At least good music makes it better.

Enjoy the video:

Puta Volcano, “Black Box” official video

Greek hard rock, post-grunge, desert quartet PUTA VOLCANO has revealed the first video, “Black Box,” from their upcoming album, AMMA.

Watch the video for “Black Box” today via the band’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/Ye-4slpAHVk. Directed by Nick Kouros & Anna Papathanasiou.

Lyrically “Black Box” challenges the constant struggle to become something more, against all odds and against adversity. The song’s video provides a visualization of this struggle.

“The concept of the ‘Black Box’ music video is a metaphorical depiction of the struggles a contemporary individual, and more specifically a woman, goes through,” the band explains. “A literal battlefield of symbolism and stereotypes thrown against us daily, formed by societal norms and fixed gender roles. We all have encountered these as we run closer to our own finishing lines, minute by minute.”

Musically, “Black Box” is a heavy, bound-to-the-ground track, with a new flair for the band in the form of dimensional layers of backing vocals. The slow, Tool-style backbone of the song continues to build right up to the epic finish, when the tempo changes and bassist Bookies takes over with wailing vocal lines.

The “Black Box” single is available for streaming and download at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_blackbox.

AMMA, PUTA VOLCANO’s third album, will be released March 13 via The Orchard. Pre-order AMMA on limited gold/black vinyl, CD and limited t-shirt bundles at https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/. Pre-save on Spotify and all digital platforms at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_amma.

PUTA VOLCANO is:
Anna Papathanasiou – Vocals
Alex Pi – Guitar
Steve Stefanidis – Drums
Bookies – Bass, Backing Vocals

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Instagram

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

Puta Volcano website

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Desertfest Berlin 2020: Lowrider, Puta Volcano, Big Business & Temple Fang Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

Five new names out of the Desertfest Berlin 2020 camp, and they’re good ‘uns at that. Seeing Lowrider get tapped for a return to the Desertfest stage makes sense, since it’s kind of where the reunion really kicked off, and Big Business always seem to make themselves welcome wherever they end up, so right on there too.

Those two and MaidaVale will be shared with Berlin’s sister festival in London, which nine years later remains an amazing cooperation between the two events, but I’m also stoked to see Greek rockers Puta Volcano getting the nod here, as their new album most definitely earns it. And likewise, having been fortunate enough to catch Temple Fang live in addition to appreciating their lineage through Mühr and Death Alley, it’s only good news as far as I’m concerned they’re starting to get out of their home turf. I’m dying for that band to put out a record.

So not that you or anyone asked, but it’s a thumbs up from me on this one, I guess. Again, no one asked. I know this.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2020 poster

DESERTFEST BERLIN CONFIRMS BIG BUSINESS, LOWRIDER, MAIDAVALE, TEMPLE FANG & PUTA VOLCANO FOR 2020!

Kicking off into the new year in glorious style, DESERTFEST BERLIN has announced 5 new names for their 2020- edition, taking place between May 1st – 3rd at the Arena Berlin. The leading cult, fuzz and all that is heavy sounds festival will be celebrating their 9th year with high class acts such as the already announced WITCHCRAFT, MASTERS OF REALITY, BRANT BJORK, AMENRA, 1000MODS, ORANGE GOBLIN, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, THE VINTAGE CARAVAN aside many more, and has just confirmed to welcome BIG BUSINESS, LOWRIDER, MAIDAVALE, TEMPLE FANG as well as PUTA VOLCANO to their eclectic line-up in May 2020.

There’s plenty of volume and feelings for party screaming, solo screaming, or just getting through what you’re going through. Desertfest means business, so they will bring you Big Business! The two-piece rock band from Los Angeles, CA, is known for their bombastic and frantic low end attack, marked by a signature vocal delivery. The creative duo, longtime friends and touring mates of The Melvins, began in Seattle, WA in 2003, and released 6 full length albums to date. Their latest output, The Beast You Are, was released in the Spring of 2019, and what a beast of a record it is! Big Business are currently writing new music, touring the world, and will be coming for YOU at Desertfest Berlin 2020!

This year will also see the long awaited return of Sweden’s Lowrider! Blues Funeral Recordings releases the searing new album “Refractions” in February 2020 – the band’s first in 20 years!

Lowrider’s debut EP and seminal album “Ode to Io” were foundational slabs at the dawn of stoner rock, which grew into a worldwide phenomenon with Lowrider clearly established as one of its trailblazers. Their new record will explode with all the churning fuzz and expansive riff-heaviness for which the band is known and loved for, shot through with a re-energized purpose and maturity. The grooves swing, the bottom end rumbles, and the melodies growl and soar, delivering at long last on Lowrider’s longing-to-be-fulfilled promise. Finally, the undisputed kings of the Swedish fuzz rock scene are back to deliver on their undeniably deserve mythic status, live at Desertfest Berlin 2020!

As one of the most prominent acts in the new generation of psych music, Swedish four piece MaidaVale create a reckless and experimental rock that keeps diverging from what’s expected. After first emerging on the live rock scene in 2014, followed by two highly acclaimed albums, MaidaVale currently belong to one of the most promising new bands of the scene. The band is exstensively touring Europe, and known for their musicality and the electric connection between both musicians and audience, their reputation has grown with each show. MaidaVale are showcasing their experimental and dynamic sound in a very special way, that confirmed their place in the psych rock scene. Aside mesmerizing festival appearances at such as Freak Valley or Duna Jam, Desertfest Berlin is psyched to welcome them again!

Rising from the ashes of Death Alley, bassist Dennis Duijnhouwer and guitarist Jevin de Groot put together their new band, Temple Fang, with guitarist Ivy van der Veer and drummer Jasper van den Broeke, combining the wild rock-abandon of their former outfit but with deeper, more cosmic leanings. Rock n’ Roll as a means to attaining spiritual freedom, but one is sure, this will be a wild ride!

Amidst the continuous and enjoyable struggle the survivor of an indie rock n’ roll band has become, Puta Volcano are building up their legacy and fanbase, one gig, one album, one song at the time. Being a significant cog in the acknowledged machine that Greek heavy rock is, they keep pushing forward what was set in motion back in 2012, when their debut EP was released.

2017 was the year that Puta Volcano planted their feet firmly to the ground and today, the band has a new album titled ‘Amma’ ready, a ton of confident excitement for it and a series of plans to back it up among which a 25-dates European tour mapped out, which will include Desertfest Berlin in May 2020!

DESERTFEST BERLIN is known for the best band line- ups of the entire heavy psych underground as well as its unique atmosphere and surroundings visited by desert rock fans from all over the globe, directly located at the riverside in the heart of Berlin, the Arena. After last year’s changes of a new sound system, the ‘Black Box’, that got high praise from both guests and critics alike finding themselves back at an intimate, high-energy underground club show, the festival will provide many more specials, space, and again a chill- party – AND live zone on the popular Hoppetosse boat! Don’t miss the fuzz and haze rock party of the year, at the capitol of the almighty riffs: The 9th edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020, presented by Greyzone Concerts and cult live institution Sound of Liberation, who will be celebrating their 15th anniversary at the same year, is ready to take over Berlin this May!

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

Puta Volcano, “Primitive Data”

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Puta Volcano to Release AMMA March 13; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

puta volcano

I guess if you’re the Spotify type, a pre-save is the same as a preorder. Whatever, if that’s your thing, or if actual preorders are your thing, they’re both available now for Puta Volcano‘s AMMA. And I gotta say, as a dude who’s listening to the album for the first time as he writes this very sentence, you might want to seriously consider spending your money ahead of time and save yourself the trouble of spending it later. What a fucking pleasure it is to see the Greek heavy rock scene blossom as it has over the last couple years and continues to do already in 2020. Wow. A whole swath of bands coming of age at the same time, finally getting some attention from the broader European sphere. It’s awesome. Puta Volcano‘s kind of moody take on progressive heavy riffing has never sounded so sure of itself or its own forward-thinking intentions as it does in these songs, and I was all about 2017’s Harmony of Spheres (review here).

No audio yet from the record, but I’ve already put in my bid to host a track so hopefully that comes together. Here’s album info from the PR wire in the interim:

puta volcano amma

Puta Volcano – Amma – March 13th, 2020

While nobody argues the importance of a debut album in setting the ground rules of existence for a rock band and the absolute necessity of a solid sophomore follow up record to establish their presence, it’s the third art installment that will either make, or break them. Puta Volcano, after a number of active years, a larger number of adrenaline-high live shows and an even larger number of loyal supporters, have come to the moment that will define their longevity. “AMMA” is the latest offering from the Athens, Greece based quartet and finds them in a deeply reconciling phase between the introspective artistry and the energetic riffage delivery that both have been trademarks of their sound.

This collection of songs reflects the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft and simultaneously branches out to new territories, using bits and pieces of novelties, that make the exploration of this album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

No one in their right minds would fix what isn’t broken, so the already known Mediterranean mixture of heavy alternative tunes, enhanced with forward thinking american desert classic rock sounds is loudly present once again. Now, if the elitist listener might consider that the scale is somewhat tipped more towards the Tool side of the uplifting harmonies in contrast to the traditional Soundgarden straight forwardness, “AMMA” wouldn’t be a record to argue with that.

Produced by Johnny Tercu and recorded at Unreal Studios in Athens, Greece, by Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis, “AMMA” captures the moment for one of the most stand-out Greek rock bands, through the heavy and clear sound mastering by Alex Ketenjian.

A series of EU tour dates is planned out for the spring of 2020, bringing the volcanic rock n roll on the road.

Tracklist

1. Re-Entry
2. Entropica
3. Venus Lullaby
4. First Light
5. Black Box
6. Sugar Cube
7. Echoing Icons
8. Primitive Data
9. Apnea
10. Torus
11. Space Blanket
12. Kassandra’s Gift

Puta Volcano are:
Anna Papathanasiou
Alex Pi
Steve Stefanidis
Bookies

Pre-order on limited Gold/Black Vinyl, CD and limited T-shirt bundles: https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/

Pre-order / Pre-save Link: https://orcd.co/putavolcano_amma

https://www.facebook.com/putavolcanoband/
https://www.instagram.com/putavolcano/
https://www.youtube.com/user/putavolcano
https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/
http://putavolcano.com/

Puta Volcano, “Dune”

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1000mods, Naxatras, Nightstalker and More Feature in Greek Rock Revolution Documentary

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Well this looks fucking awesome. No question that the rise of the Greek heavy rock scene over the course of the last decade has been a boon to the European underground. Greece can now stand toe to toe with Germany, Sweden or any of the other continental hotbeds of heavy, and along with Italy, has become essential the character worldwide of heavy rock and roll. The feature-length documentary Greek Rock Revolution puts this emergence in the context of the country’s social condition, the effect that austerity and rampant unemployment has had on the art being made, as well as the prejudice of those outside not caring about the scene or the important work being done there by bands covered in the trailer at the bottom of this post like 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus and the elder statesmen in Nightstalker. There seems to be plenty of concert and interview footage, and yeah, it looks fucking awesome. I’d spend 95 minutes watching this thing, happily. I hope I get to review it.

As a side note while we’re on the topic of Greek heavy, I’ve got a track premiere for BUS going up tomorrow from their new album that marks their debut on RidingEasy Records, so that release will be another fascinating instance of a Greek band reaching a wider international audience.

Greek Rock Revolution is directed by Miguel Cano. Here’s the press release that came with the trailer:

greek rock revolution banner

The official trailer for the upcoming Greek Rock Revolution movie is now live! The documentary film will have a length of 95 minutes, featuring 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus & Nightstalker
In the recent years these bands have gained a massive support in Greece and global recognition elsewhere, with circles in Europe and North America starting to speak very seriously about the Greek Rock Scene.

Last September, Spanish Film Director Miguel Cano interviewed all bands and filmed their live concerts and rehearsals in Thessaloniki, Chania, Serres, Athens, Patras, Chiliomodi and Ioannina. The Filmmaker sees in Greece resemblances with historical cultural momentum in Mississippi back when the blues was born or in Seattle when the grunge flourished: a long-lasting unstable social situation boosting artistic expression through a common feeling of non-conformity.

As the Director of Metal Hammer Greece, Kostas Chronopoulos states in the film, “it’s not easy to fight all for your own, you need to feel part of something which is there for you. And rock ‘n roll is here for us.”

Greek Rock Revolution is now on its last phases of post-production and it is expected to be released in March of this year. The goal is set first on screening the film in International Film Festivals, and then bring it to the wide audience in TV, cinemas and online platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/GreekRockRevolutionMovie/
http://mrchallengefilms.com/documentaries/Greek-Rock-Revolution

Greek Rock Revolution trailer

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Puta Volcano & Purple Dino Tour Starts Tonight

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

By the time this post goes live, Puta Volcano and Purple Dino should be well on their way to Romania to begin their tour together tonight at the SoundArt Festival in Timisoara. The two Greek outfits both go supporting 2017 releases — Harmony of Spheres (review here) in the case of Puta VolcanoAnd Now What?! (review here) for Purple Dino — and in the case of the former, it’s to herald a second vinyl pressing behind a first one that’s long since sold out. You can hear both albums at the bottom of this post, because one likes to be thorough, and while I don’t know how many people who see this will happen to be in Romania or Hungary and able to make it out to the shows — if you’re there, leave a comment and let me know — but it’s still cool to see these guys all getting out together on a trip that’s certain to be a blast.

Dates and info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

Puta Volcano + Purple Dino Tour Poster

Puta Volcano to tour Europe with Purple Dino, announce “Harmony of Spheres” 2nd vinyl pressing

After releasing their second full length album in April 2017, entitled “Harmony of Spheres”, Puta Volcano are ready to tour for the first time outside of their country. ?y their side, Purple Dino, another upcoming hard-rock quartet from Greece, with their newly released album “And Now What?!”. The tour includes dates in Austria, Romania, Serbia, Hungary & Bulgaria.

Puta Volcano’s “Harmony of Spheres” was highly acclaimed from media and listeners across the world, selling out its first vinyl pressing in less than 10 months. Luna’s ecstatic vocals, Bookies’ cement-like bass lines, Alex Pi’s captivating riffs and Steven’s dynamic drum hits enrich the band’s sound with disparate and highly interesting elements, always paying tribute to the desert rock and Seattle ’90s influences on which they grew up, shaping their personal “volcanic rock” sound.

The second pressing comes on white vinyl and is already available for pre-order on their Bandcamp page: https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/
Listen to the album here: http://radi.al/HarmonyOfSpheres

Greek heavy rock’n’roll newcomers Purple Dino are back in the game with their best endeavour to date! “And Now What?!” is the band’s sophomore full length album and it successfully combines a large palette of influences, varying from the glorious 90’s grunge rock scene and the late 90’s stoner rock movement to Clutch’s boogie / groovy rock’n’roll or even to the haunting -and sometimes bizarre- grooves of bands such as Tool. Being very active tour-wise as well as huge admirers of physical format (the album has already been released in transparent magenta and black LP), Purple Dino not only seem to be in a great shape, but having been scheduled to tour Europe extensively, also seem willing to take their effort to the next level, whatever it may take.

Order your copy here: https://purpledinoband.bandcamp.com/
Listen to the album here: http://radi.al/PurpleDinoAndNowWhat

Tour dates
10/5 SoundArt Festival, Timisoara (RO)
11/5 SoundArt Festival, Cluj (RO)
13/5 SoundArt Festival, Bucharest (RO)
16/5 Music House, Graz (AT)
17/5 Robot, Budapest (HU)
18/5 SKC Fabrika, Novi Sad (RS)
19/5 Live n Loud, Sofia (BG)

Tour powered by Ouga Booga & The Mighty Oug & Crazy Tube Circuits

https://www.facebook.com/putavolcanoband/
https://www.facebook.com/purpledinoband/
https://www.facebook.com/tours/465511563852256/

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres (2017)

Purple Dino, And Now What? (2017)

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