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

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


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

His punishment? That very same Quarterly Review.

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

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Nebula, Livewired in Europe

Nebula Livewired in Europe

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

Nebula on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Mountain of Misery, The Land

mountain of misery the land

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

Mountain of Misery on Facebook

Electric Witch Mountain Recordings on Facebook

Page Williams Turner, Page Williams Turner

page williams turner self titled

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

Page Williams Turner at Opposite Records Bandcamp

Opposite Records website

Almost Honest, The Hex of Penn’s Woods

almost honest the hex of penn's woods

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

Almost Honest on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Buzzard, Doom Folk

buzzard doom folk

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

Buzzard on Facebook

Buzzard on Bandcamp

Mt. Echo, Cometh

mt echo cometh

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

Mt. Echo on Facebook

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

Friends of Hell, God Damned You to Hell

friends of hell god damned you to hell

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

Friends of Hell on Instagram

Rise Above Records website

Red Sun, From Sunset to Dawn

Red Sun From Sunset to Dawn

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

Red Sun on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Wolff & Borgaard, Destroyer

wolff and borgaard destroyer

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

Peter Wolff on Facebook

My Proud Mountain website

Semuta, Glacial Erratic

Semuta Glacial Erratic

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

Semuta on Facebook

Semuta on Bandcamp

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

Red Sun Announce 10th Anniversary Gig with Lo-Pan, Sistered, Mockingbird, Before the Eyewall and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If you’re gonna do it, do it in style. Ohio rockers Red Sun are celebrating 10 years as a band, and along with a good bit of history to catch anyone up who maybe hasn’t been along for the whole ride, they’ve sent over an announcement of their April 20 anniversary show, set to take place across two venues in Columbus and to feature a lineup of Lo-Pan, Mockingbird, Before the Eyewall, Biipiigwaan and Matter of Planets. For a whopping seven bucks, it’s a hell of a lineup.

And it’s a considerable announcement. As you make your way through, you’ll find the poster for the April 20 gig and Red Sun‘s 2011 split with Mockingbird. Dig in:

Red Sun Are Celebrating Ten Years of Poor Life Choices!

Heavy stoner/sludge/doom band Red Sun — founded April 20, 2003 in Warren, Ohio — are celebrating their tenth anniversary by throwing a huge concert in Columbus, OH, on Saturday April 20, 2013.

The band — consisting of Zach Germaniuk (guitar/vocals), Joseph Rosenblum (drums/vocals), and Roger Vincent (bass/vocals) — has come a long way over the past ten years and a lot of stories have come out of that: according to Germaniuk, “We started out as three gawky high school kids growing up in Warren, OH (birthplace of Dave Grohl). We’ve had like 5 bass players through that time and I’d say the fact that we kept the band together for ten years through a lot of personal adversity, overcoming addictions, living and working in different cities and still making time for this particular band is a huge milestone in itself. When we started, we were really the only high school band from our town that was actively playing shows in other cities, and I think we really took it to heart at a very young age. I think we’ve made more mistakes than milestones, honestly, but we’re really trying our best to learn from those mistakes and live up to the expectations of our mentors and ourselves, too.”

Red Sun’s members are currently located across the state of Ohio (in Columbus, Dayton, and Cleveland) but they consider Columbus their home because that’s where they spent most of their formative years as a band, developing their sound, as well as forging a long-term friendship with fellow Columbusites Lo-Pan. Guitarist Germaniuk explains, “They, more than any other band, are probably why Red Sun didn’t break up years ago. They were our guides when we were 19, 20, 21 years old. Playing shows with them, and being as good as they are, you either have to get better or just quit, because they’re going to blow you off stage. Our feeling was, if we could at least be good enough to not look like complete fools in front of them and their audience, we would be OK.”

Some of the band’s more recent highlights include the release of a split 7″ (2011, Innervenus Music) with Mockingbird from Akron, Ohio, as well as a live EP (2012, Innervenus/Unhallowed Records) that was recorded at Carabar (in Columbus) during the band’s summer 2011 tour with Churches Burn (from Columbus) and Pledge of Cain (from France). They later said that drummer Joe Rosenblum’s grandmother died the day that recording was made, and “there was just a lot of anger and frustration and sadness before the show. So to be able to get onstage and let all of that out was an almost spiritual healing for all of us — you can hear the catharsis in the music when you listen to that recording, for sure.”

Given the fact that all three members live in different cities, they have also found time to work on other projects outside of Red Sun: Joe plays in the hardcore band Swarm and the instrumental unit Matter of Planets, while Zach was invited to sit in on guitar on garage/psych band The Wooly Bullies’ last record, which has since developed into a new minimalist, ambient project called Loner (which expects to have a debut record out sometime in fall or winter 2013). However, since all three guys are such close friends that really enjoy making music together, there are no plans for Red Sun to slow down any time soon. In fact, following their anniversary celebration, they will be heading back into the studio in May to record material for another split release, while also working on writing new material for a future full-length studio album. They’ve described the songs as “a mix of probably our most aggressive and also introspective songs to date, [although] we’ve always been a band with dual personality disorder: we still try to keep a lot of that teenage punk rock energy in our music, even as we get older and write heavier music to fit the shits life has taken on all of us.” In addition, details are currently being finalized for summer and fall touring. A decade in and still going strong, 2013 is shaping up to be Red Sun’s biggest year yet!

“Come help us celebrate a decade of lost brain cells, diminished hearing, and blackened lungs!”

The Red Sun Tenth Anniversary Celebration is being held on Saturday, April 20, 2013
at Cafe Bourbon St. (2210 Summit Street, Columbus OH 43201) and The Summit (2216 Summit Street, Columbus OH 43201)

Admission is only $7 for 7 incredible bands (cover charge is good for both locations).
Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 8:30 SHARP at Cafe Bourbon St.
Bands will be performing approximately each half hour, alternating between the two venues.

Scheduled to perform:

Red Sun
Lo-Pan (Columbus, OH)
Mockingbird (Akron, OH)
Before the Eyewall (Columbus, OH)
Biipiigwaan (Ottawa, ON)
Sistered (Pittsburgh, PA)
Matter of Planets (Columbus, OH)

More details on this event can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/events/498162070239852/

Red Sun & Mockingbird, Split (2011)


Tags: , ,

Buried Treasure: The International Market and the Damn Dirty Apes

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 18th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I always try to pay attention to international exchange rates. Aside from being interested in the political implications thereof, it’s interesting to see what our tiny pieces of paper are worth compared to everyone else’s tiny pieces of paper. Occasionally you can get a bargain too, if you play your cards right.

As of today, the euro is worth $1.36, which isn’t bad. Of course, the market is turbulent (if you don’t believe me, search your favorite news site for the words “Greece” and “economy”), but I managed recently to hit up The Stone Circle, the mailorder of Spanish label Alone Records and come out of it on the positive side of the equation. Not financially, of course, but existentially.

It was Fatso Jetson‘s 1999 outing, Flames for All, that hooked me. Aside from being a Man’s Ruin release — anyone who’s been around this site for a while should know of my Kozik fetish — it’s also the only record they did as a four-piece, the lineup including Mario and Larry Lalli, drummer Tony Tornay and, as the fourth for doubles, Gary Arce of Yawning Man. It’s like a desert party pressed to plastic and I had to have it, so after a relatively exhausting search for comparison prices/conditions, The Stone Circle won out.

And I figured, hey, while I’m on the site, might as well see what else they’ve got lying around, right? If you could have just one CD, they wouldn’t have shaped them so similarly to potato chips (krinkle-cut notwithstanding).

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , ,