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

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


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

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

Happy Thursday.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Nell’ Ora Blu

uncle acid and the deadbeats nell ora blu

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

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Facebook

Rise Above Records website

Dopethrone, Broke Sabbath

Dopethrone Broke Sabbath

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

Dopethrone on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

Anandammide, Eura


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

Anandammide on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Tigers on Opium, Psychodrama

tigers on opium psychodrama

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

Tigers on Opium on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Bill Fisher, How to Think Like a Billionaire

Bill Fisher How To Think Like A Billionaire

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

Bill Fisher on Facebook

Bill Fisher website

Ascia, The Wandering Warrior

ascia the wandering warrior

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

Ascia on Bandcamp

Perpetual Eclipse Productions store

Cloud of Souls, A Constant State of Flux

Cloud of Souls A Constant State of Flux

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

Cloud of Souls on Facebook

Cloud of Souls on Bandcamp

Deaf Wolf, Not Today, Satan

Deaf Wolf Not Today Satan

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

Deaf Wolf on Facebook

Deaf Wolf on Bandcamp

Alber Jupiter, Puis Vient la Nuit

Alber Jupiter Puis Vient la Nuit

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

Alber Jupiter on Facebook

Foundrage Label on Bandcamp

Up in Her Room Records on Bandcamp

Araki Records on Bandcamp

Cleen, Excursion

cleen excursion

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

Cleen on Facebook

Electric Desert Records website


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Quarterly Review: Saturnalia Temple, Dool, Abrams, Pia Isa, Wretched Kingdom, Lake Lake, Gnarwhal, Bongfoot, Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on May 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Today is Wednesday, the day we hit and pass the halfway mark for this week, which is a quarter of the way through the entirety of this 100-release Quarterly Review. Do you need to know that? Not really, but it’s useful for me to keep track of how much I’m doing sometimes, which is why I count in the first place. 100 records isn’t nothing, you know. Or 10 for that matter. Or one. I don’t know.

A little more variety here, which is always good, but I’ve got momentum behind me after yesterday and I don’t want to delay diving in, so off we go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call

saturnalia temple paradigm call

For the band’s fourth album, Paradigm Call, founding Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson leads the newcomer rhythm section of drummer Pelle Åhman and bassist Gottfrid Åhman through eight abyss-plundering tracks across 48 minutes of roiling tonal mud distinguished by its aural stickiness and Eriksson‘s readily identifiable vocal gurgle. The methodology hasn’t changed much since 2020’s Gravity (review here) in terms of downward pull, but the title-track’s solo is sharp enough to cut through the mire, and while it’s no less harsh for doing so, “Among the Ruins” explores a faster tempo while staying in line with the all-brown psychedelic swirl around it, brought to fruition in the backwards-sounding loops of closer “Kaivalya” after the declarative thud of side B standout “Empty Chalice.” They just keep finding new depths. It’s impressive. Also a little horrifying.

Saturnalia Temple on Facebook

Listenable Records website

Dool, The Shape of Fluidity

dool the shape of fluidity

It’s easy to respect a band so unwilling to be boxed by genre, and Rotterdam’s Dool put the righteous aural outsiderness that’s typified their sound since 2017’s Here Now There Then (review here) to meta-level use on their third long-player for Prophecy Productions, The Shape of Fluidity. Darkly progressive, rich in atmosphere, broad in range and mix, heavy-but-not-beholden-to-tone in presentation, encompassing but sneaky-catchy in pieces like opener “Venus in Flames,” the flowing title-track, and the in-fact-quite-heavy “Hermagorgon,” the record harnesses declarations and triumphs around guitarist/vocalist Raven van Dorst‘s stated lyrical thematic around gender-nonbinaryism, turning struggle and confusion into clarity of expressive purpose in the breakout “Self-Dissect” and resolving with furious culmination in “The Hand of Creation” with due boldness. Given some of the hateful, violent rhetoric around gender-everything in the modern age, the bravery of DoolVan Dorst alongside guitarists Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr, bassist JB van der Wal and drummer Vincent Kreyder — in confronting that head-on with these narratives is admirable, but it’s still the songs themselves that make The Shape of Fluidity one of 2024’s best albums.

Dool on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Abrams, Blue City

abrams blue city

After releasing 2022’s In the Dark (review here) on Small Stone, Denver heavy rockers Abrams align to Blues Funeral Recordings for their fifth album in a productive, also-touring nine years, the 10-track/42-minute Blue City. Production by Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Converge, etc.) at GodCity Studio assures no lack of impact as “Fire Waltz” reaffirms the tonal density of the riffs that the Zach Amster-led four-piece nonetheless made dance in opener “Tomorrow,” while the rolling “Death Om” and the momentary skyward ascent in “Etherol” — a shimmering preface to the chug-underscored mellowness of “Narc” later — lay out some of the dynamic that’s emerged in their sound along with the rampant post-hardcore melodies that come through in Amster and Graham Zander‘s guitars, capable either of meting out hard-landing riffs to coincide with the bass of Taylor Iversen (also vocals) and Ryan DeWitt‘s drumming, or unfurling sections of float like those noted above en route to tying it all together with the closing “Blue City.” Relatively short runtimes and straightforward-feeling structures mask the stylistic nuance of the actual material — nothing new there for Abrams; they’re largely undervalued — and the band continue to reside in between-microgenre spaces as they await the coming of history which will inevitably prove they were right all along.

Abrams on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Pia Isa, Burning Time

pia isa burning time

Superlynx bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen made her solo debut under the Pia Isa moniker with 2022’s Distorted Chants (review here), and in addition to announcing the SoftSun collaboration she’ll undertake alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce (who also appeared on her record), in 2024, she offers the three-song Burning Time EP, with a cover of Radiohead‘s “Burn the Witch” backed by two originals, “Treasure” and “Nothing Can Turn it Back.” With drumming by her Superlynx bandmate Ole Teigen (who also recorded), “Burn the Witch” becomes a lumbering forward march, ethereal in melody but not necessarily cultish, while “Treasure” digs into repetitive plod led by the low end and “Nothing Can Turn it Black” brings the guitar forward but is most striking in the break that brings the dual-layered vocals forward near the midpoint. The songs are leftovers from the LP, but if you liked the LP, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Pia Isa on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Wretched Kingdom, Wretched Kingdom

Wretched Kingdom Wretched Kingdom

A late-2023 initial public offering from Houston’s Wretched Kingdom, their self-titled EP presents a somewhat less outwardly joyous take on the notion of “Texas desert rock” than that offered by, as an example, Austin’s High Desert Queen, but the metallic riffing that underscores “Dreamcrusher” goes farther back in its foundations than whatever similarity to Kyuss one might find in the vocals or speedier riffy shove of “Smoke and Mirrors.” Sharp-cornered in tone, opener “Torn and Frayed” gets underway with metered purpose as well, and while the more open-feeling “Too Close to the Sun” begins similar to “You Can’t Save Me” — the strut that ensues in the latter distinguishes — the push in its second half comes after riding a steady groove into a duly bluesy solo. There’s nothing in the material to take you out of the flow between the six component cuts, and even closer “Deviation” tells you it’s about to do something different as it works from its mellower outset into a rigorous payoff. With the understanding that most first-EPs of this nature are demos by another name and (as here) more professional sound, Wretched Kingdom‘s Wretched Kingdom asks little in terms of indulgence and rewards generously when encountered at higher volumes. Asking more would be ridiculous.

Wretched Kingdom on Facebook

Wretched Kingdom on Bandcamp

Lake Lake, Proxy Joy

lake lake proxy joy

Like earlier Clutch born out of shenanigans-prone punk, Youngstown, Ohio’s Lake Lake are tight within the swinging context of a song like “The Boy Who Bit Me,” which is the second of the self-released Proxy Joy‘s six inclusions. Brash in tone and the gutted-out shouty vocals, offsetting its harder shoving moments with groovy back-throttles in songs that could still largely be called straightforward, the quirk and throaty delivery of “Blue Jerk” and the bluesier-minded “Viking Vietnam” paying off the tension in the verses of “Comfort Keepers” and the build toward that leadoff’s chorus want nothing for personality or chemistry, and as casual as the style is on paper, the arrangements are coordinated and as “Heavy Lord” finds a more melodic vocal and “Coyote” — the longest song here at 5:01 — leaves on a brash highlight note, the party they’re having is by no means unconsidered. But it is a party, and those who have dancing shoes would be well advised to keep them on hand, just in case.

Lake Lake on Facebook

Lake Lake on Bandcamp

Gnarwhal, Altered States

Gnarwhal Altered States

Modern in the angularity of its riffing, spacious in the echoes of its tones and vocals, and encompassing enough in sound to be called progressive within a heavy context, Altered States follows Canadian four-piece Gnarwhal‘s 2023 self-titled debut full-length with four songs that effectively bring together atmosphere and impact in the six-minute “The War Nothing More” — big build in the second half leading to more immediate, on-beat finish serving as a ready instance of same — with twists that feel derived of the MastoBaroness school rhythmically and up-front vocal melodies that give cohesion to the darker vibe of “From Her Hands” after displaying a grungier blowout in “Tides.” The terrain through which they ebb and flow, amass and release tension, soar and crash, etc., is familiar if somewhat intangible, and that becomes an asset as the concluding “Altered States” channels the energy coursing through its verses in the first half into the airy payoff solo that ends. I didn’t hear the full-length last year. Listening to what Gnarwhal are doing in these tracks in terms of breadth and crunch, I feel like I missed out. You might also consider being prepared to want to hear more upon engaging.

Gnarwhal on Facebook

Gnarwhal on Bandcamp

Bongfoot, Help! The Humans..

bongfoot help the humans

Help the humans? No. Help! The Humans…, and here as in so many of life’s contexts, punctuation matters. Digging into a heavy, character-filled and charging punkish sound they call “Appalachian thrash,” Boone, North Carolina, three-piece Bongfoot are suitably over-the-top as they explore what it means to be American in the current age, couching discussions of wealth inequality, climate crisis, corporatocracy, capitalist exploitation, the insecurity at root in toxic masculinity and more besides. With clever, hooky lyrics that are a total blast despite being tragic in the subject matter and a pace of execution well outside what one might think is bong metal going in because of the band’s name, Bongfoot vigorously kick ass from opener “End Times” through the galloping end of “Amazon Death Factory/Spacefoot” and the untitled mountain ramble that follows as an outro. Along the way, they intermittently toy with country twang, doom, and hardcore punk, and offer a prayer to the titular volcano of “Krakatoa” to save at least the rest of the world if not humanity. It’s quite a time to be alive. Listening, that is. As for the real-world version of the real world, it’s less fun and more existentially and financially draining, which makes Help! The Humans… all the more a win for its defiance and charm. Even with the bonus tracks, I’ll take more of this anytime they’re ready with it.

Bongfoot on Facebook

Bongfoot on Bandcamp

Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Ateş

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans Ateş

It’s interesting, because you can’t really say that Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans‘ second LP, Ateş isn’t neo-psychedelia, but the eight tracks and 38 minutes of the record itself warrant enunciating what that means. Where much of 2020s-era neo-psych is actually space rock with thicker tones (shh! it’s a secret!), what Greenwood — AKA Thomas Mascheroni, also of Bergamo, Italy’s Humulus) brings to sounds like the swaying, organ-laced “Sleepwalker” and the resonant spaciousness in the soloing of “Mystic Sunday Morning” is more kin to the neo-psych movement that began in the 1990s, which itself was a reinterpretation of the genre’s pop-rock origins in the 1960s. Is this nitpicking? Not when you hear the title-track infusing its Middle Eastern-leaning groove with a heroic dose of wah or the friendly shimmer of “I Do Not” that feels extrapolated from garage rock but is most definitely not that thing and the post-Beatles bop of “Sunhouse.” It’s an individual (if inherently familiar) take that unifies the varied arrangements of the acidic “When We Die” and the cosmic vibe of “All the Lines” (okay, so there’s a little bit of space boogie too), resolving in the Doors-y lumber of “Crack” to broaden the scope even further and blur past timelines into an optimistic future.

Thomas Greenwood and The Talismans on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Djiin, Mirrors

djiin mirrors

As direct as some of its push is and as immediate as “Fish” is opening the album right into the first verse, the course that harp-laced French heavy progressive rockers Djiin take on their third album, Mirrors, ultimately more varied, winding and satisfying as its five-track run gives over to the nine-minute “Mirrors” and uses its time to explore more pointedly atmospheric reaches before a weighted crescendo that precedes the somehow-fluidity in the off-time early stretch of centerpiece “In the Aura of My Own Sadness,” its verses topped with spoken word and offset by note-for-note melodic conversation between the vocals and guitar. Rest assured, they build “In the Aura of My Own Sadness” to its own crushing end, while taking a more decisively psychedelic approach to get there, and thereby set up “Blind” with its trades from open-spaces held to pattern by the drums and a pair of nigh-on-caustic noise rock onslaughts before 13-minute capstone “Iron Monsters” unfolds a full instrumental linear movement before getting even heavier, as if to underscore the notion that Djiin can go wherever the hell they want and make it work as a song. Point taken.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

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Djiin Announce Spring Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Djinn (Photo by Maureen Piercy)

Having been fortunate enough to see French heavy psychedelic rockers Djiin at last year’s Freak Valley Festival (review here) in Germany as they took to the stage in support of their 2021 album, Meandering Soul (review here), I’ll tell you first-hand that they put on a hell of a show. Yes, part of that is the distinguishing visual presence of a harp up there with them — never mind the corresponding aural distinction when vocalist Chloé Panhaleux actually starts to play the thing — but by no means all of it. Their sound is particularly rich, classic in an of-genre kind of way and fluid even at its heaviest moments. They are a full-range band, the quiet and loud stretches of their work are pulled together by the chemistry of the players and the overarching flow of their grooves.

In other words, cool band, worth catching if you can. They’ll be on the road in France, Germany and Belgium this April, with some slots still open, joined by Decasia in the going. There are some ticket links below — probably more available by now, honestly; the tour was announced a few days ago — and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re playing some new material on the run, which if you’re looking for added incentive to get out of the house, well, there you go.

Info follows from the old-style social media:

Djinn tour


We’re excited to reveal the dates of our next tour! Looking forward to getting back on the road alongside our friends at DECASIA with whom we’ll be sharing most of the shows (#129304#)

Big thanks to More Fuzz Booking ❤

(#127912#) Artwork by Lise Goujon

05/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Ty Anna, Rennes
06/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at le lezard bar , Le Mans
07/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at L’INTERNATIONAL, Paris https://fb.me/e/2FDOuJtW8
08/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at La Taverne Elektrik, Amiens
09/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA, Lille
11/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Maboel in ‘t Gildenhuis , Zottegem
12/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Local Autogéré du Borinage – LAB , Mons https://fb.me/e/2C1enDNrc
13/04 (#127463#)(#127466#) at Café Central, Bruxelles
14/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at FZW, Dortmünd https://fb.me/e/5XVgVUrBm
15/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Oetinger Villa, Darmstadt
16/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Zollkantine, Bremen https://wanderlust.ticket.io/4ttnehy4/
17/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Bar 227, Hamburg https://fb.me/e/3eb2Uhv3F
18/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Loophole Berlin, Berlin https://fb.me/e/2FJFc2j4z
20/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at Vinyl-Reservat, Göttingen
21/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) OPEN SLOT !
22/04 (#127465#)(#127466#) at P8, Karlsruhe !
23/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
24/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
28/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) TBA
29/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Salem Bar, Bordeaux
30/04 (#127467#)(#127479#) at Barberousse Nantes, Nantes

Djiin are:
Chloé PANHALEUX – Singer / Electric Harp
Allan GUYOMARD – Drums / Backing vocals
Tom PENAGUIN – Guitar / Backing vocals
Charlélie PAILHES – Bass / Backing vocals



Djiin, Meandering Soul (2021)

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Quarterly Review: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Doctors of Space, River Flows Reverse, Kite, Starless, Wolves in the Throne Room, Oak, Deep Tomb, Grieving, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Today we pass the halfway point of the Fall 2021 Quarterly Review. It’s mostly been a pleasure cruise, to be honest, and there’s plenty more good stuff today to come. That always makes it easier. Still worth marking the halfway point though as we move inexorably toward 70 releases by next Tuesday. Right now, I just wish my kid would take a nap. He won’t.

That’s my afternoon, I guess. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Push

sons of alpha centauri push

Never ones to tread identical ground, UK outfit Sons of Alpha Centauri collaborate with Far/Onelinedrawing vocalist Jonah Matranga and Will Haven drummer Mitch Wheeler on Push, their material given relatively straight-ahead structural purpose to suit. I’m a fan of Sons of Alpha Centauri and their willingness to toss out various rulebooks on their way to individualized expression. Will Push be the record of theirs I reach for in the years to come? Nope. I’ve tried and tried and tried to get on board, but post-hardcore/emo has never been my thing and I respect Sons of Alpha Centauri too much to pretend otherwise. I admire the ethic that created the album. Deeply. But of the various Sons of Alpha Centauri collaborations — with the likes JK Broadrick of Godflesh or Gary Arce of Yawning Man — I feel a little left out in the cold by these tracks. No worries though. It’s Sons of Alpha Centauri. I’ll catch the next one. In the meantime, it’s comforting knowing they’re doing their own thing as always, regardless of how it manifests.

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream Records website


Doctors of Space, Studio Session July 2021

Doctors of Space Studio Session July 2021

The programmed drums do an amazing amount to bring a sense of form to Doctors of Space‘s ultra-exploratory jamming. The Portugal-based duo combining the efforts of guitarist/programmer Martin Weaver (best known for his work in Wicked Lady) and synthesist/keyboardist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective (and many others) have been issuing jams by the month during a time largely void of live performances, and their get-together on July 30 resulted in seven pieces, four of which make up the 62 minutes of Studio Session July 2021. It’s hard to pick a highlight between the mellower, almost jazzy flow and cosmic wash of the 19-minute “Nighthawk,” and the more urgent setting out that “They Are Listening” provides, the more definitively space-rocking “Spirit Catcher” closing and “Bombsheller” with what feels like layers upon layers of swirl with keyboard lines cutting through, capping with a mellotron chorus, but any one of them is a worthy pick, and that’s a good problem to have.

Doctors of Space on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


River Flows Reverse, When River Flows Reverse

River Flows Reverse When River Flows Reverse

In its readiness to go wherever the spirit of its eight included pieces lead, as well as in its openness of arrangement and folkish foundation, River Flows Reverse‘s first offering, the semi-eponymous When River Flows Reverse, reminds of Montibus Communitas. That is a compliment I don’t give lightly or often. The hour-long 2LP sees issue as part of the Psychedelic Source Records collective — Bence Ambrus and company — and with members of Indeed, Lemurian Folk Songs, Hold Station, on vocals and trumpet and banjo, etc., and a variety of instruments handled by Ambrus himself, the record is serene and hypnotic in kind, finding an outbound pastoralism that is physical as much as it’s swirling in mid-air. “Oriental Western” taps 16 Horsepower on the shoulder, but it’s in a meditation like “At the Gates of the Perennial” or the decidedly unraging “Rain it Rages” that the Hungarian outfit most seem to find themselves even as they get willfully lost in what they’re doing. Beautiful.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Kite, Currents

kite currents

Even amid the lumbering noise rock extremity of the penultimate “Heroin,” Kite manage to work in a willfully lunkheaded Melvins riff. Cheers to the Oslo bashers-of-face on that. The second long-player from the Oslo-based trio featuring members of Sâver, Dunderbeist, Stonegard and others sets out in moody form with “Idle Lights” building to a maddening tension that “Turbulence” hits with a brick. Though not void of atmosphere or complexity in its construction, the bulk of Currents is harsh, a punishment derived from sludge-thickened post-hardcore evidenced by “Ravines” stomping into the has-clean-vocals centerpiece title-track, but it’s also clear the band are having fun. Closer “Unveering Static” brings back the non-screaming shouts, but it’s the earlier longest track “Infernal Trails” that perhaps most readily encapsulates their work, variable in tempo, building and crashing, chaotic and raging and lowbrow enough to be artsy, but still given an underpinning of heft to match any and all aggression.

KITE on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records webstore


Starless, Hope is Leaving You

Starless Hope is Leaving You

A sophomore full-length from the Chicago-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jessie Ambriz and Jon Slusher, bassist/vocalist Alan Strathmann and drummer/vocalist Quinn Curren, StarlessHope is Leaving You runs a melancholy gambit from the prog-metal aggression of “Pendulum” to “Forest” reimagining Alice in Chains as a post-rock band, to soaring escapist pastoralia in “Devils,” to the patient psychedelic unfurling of “Citizen,” all the while remaining heavy of one sort or another; sonic, emotional, whatever it might be. Both. Cellist Alison Chesley (Helen Money) guests on “Forest” and the devolves-into-chaotic-noise closer “Hunting With Fire,” and Sanford Parker produced, but the band’s greatest strengths are the band itself. Hope is Leaving You isn’t going to be the feel-good hit of anyone’s summer in terms of general mood or atmosphere, but it’s the kind of release that’s going to hit a particular nerve with some who take it on, and I think I might be one of them.

Starless on Facebook

Starless on Bandcamp


Wolves in the Throne Room, Primordial Arcana

wolves in the throne room primordial arcana

Some 15 years on from their landmark first album, Olympia, Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room make their debut on Relapse Records with duly organic stateliness on Primordial Arcana, bringing their particular and massively influential vision of American black metal to bear across tracks mostly shorter than those of 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here) — exceptions to every rule: the triumphant 10-minute “Masters of Rain and Storm” — as drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Aaron Weaver, guitarist/vocalist Nathan Weaver, guitarist/vocalist Kody Keyworth and guest bassist/vocalist Galen Baudhuin readily draw together ripping blasts with cavernous synth, acoustic guitar, percussion and whatever the hell else they want across eight songs and 49 minutes (that includes the ambient bonus track “Skyclad Passage,” which follows the also-ambient closer “Eostre”) for an immersive aesthetic victory lap that’s all the more resonant for being the first time they’ve entirely produced themselves. One hopes and suspects it won’t be the last. Their sixth or seventh LP depending on what one counts, Primordial Arcana sounds like the beginning of a new era for them.

Wolves in the Throne Room on Facebook

Relapse Records website


Oak, Fin

oak fin

London heavy rockers Oak perhaps ultimately did themselves a disservice by not putting out a full-length during their time together. Fin, like the end screen of a fancy movie, arrives as their swansong EP, their fourth overall in the last six years, and is made up mostly of two five-plus-minute tracks in “Beyond…” and “Broken King,” with the minute-long intro “Bells” at the start. With the soaring chorus of “Beyond…” led by vocalist Andy Valiant with the backing of bassist/mellotronist Richard Morgan and guitarist/synthesist Kevin Germain and the shove of Alex De La Cour‘s drums at their foundation, the clarity of production by Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse (Green Lung, Terminal Cheesecake, etc.) and the gang shouts that rouse the finish of “Broken King,” Oak end their run sounding very much like a band who had more to say. If their breakup really is permanent, they leave a lot of potential on the proverbial table.

Oak on Facebook

Oak on Bandcamp


Deep Tomb, Deep Tomb

Deep Tomb Deep Tomb

By the time Los Angeles’ Deep Tomb get into the stomp of the 12-minute finishing track on their four-song/29-minute self-titled, they’ve already well demonstrated their propensity for scathing, harsh sludge. Opener “Colossus” has some percussion later in its seven minutes that sounds like something falling down stairs — maybe those are just the toms? — but it and the subsequent “Ascension From the Devoured Realm” aren’t exactly shy about where they’re coming from in their pummel and fuckall, and even though “Endless Power Through Breathless Sleep” starts out mellow and ends minimalist, in between it sounds like a they’re trying to use amps to remove limbs. And how much of “Lord of Misery” is song and how much is noisy chaos anyway? I don’t know. Where’s the line from one to the other? When does the madness end? And what’s left when it does? The broken glass from tube amps and soured everything.

Deep Tomb on Facebook

King of the Monsters Records webstore


Grieving, Songs for the Weary

Grieving Songs for the Weary

A band that, sooner or later, somebody’s going to refer to as “heavyweights.” Perhaps it’s happened already. Justifiably, in any case, given the significant heft Poland’s Grieving bring to their riff-led fare on their first LP, built on a foundation of traditionalist doom but not necessarily eschewing modern methods in favor thereof throughout its six component tracks — the three-piece of vocalist Wojciech Kaluza, guitarist/bassist/synthesist Artur Ruminski and drummer Bartosz Licholap are willfully Sabbathian even in the shuffle of “This Godless Chapel” but neither are they shy about engaging more psychedelic spaces on “Foreboding of a Great Ruin,” however grounding the clear-headed melodies of the vocals might be, and the riff at the core of the hard-hitting “A Crow Funeral” would in another context be no less at home on a desert rock record. Especially as their debut, Songs for the Weary sounds anything but.

Grieving on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Godz ov War Productions webstore


Djinn, Meandering Soul

Djiin Meandering Soul

Heavy blues is at the core of Djiin‘s second album, Meandering Soul, but the Rennes, France, four-piece meet it head-on with both deeper weight and broader atmospherics, and lead vocalist Chloé Panhaleux owes as much to grunge as to post-The Doors brooding, her voice admirably organic even unto cracking in “Red Desert.” With the backing of guitarist Tom Penaguin, bassist Charlélie Pailhes and drummer Allan Guyomard, Djiin are no less at home in the creeping lounge guitar stretches of “Warmth of Death” than in the bursts of volume in opener “Black Circus” or the what-the-hell-just-happened-to-this-song prog jam out that caps the erstwhile punk of finale “Waxdoll.” Clearly, Djiin go where they want, when they want, from the folkish harmonies of “The Void” to the far-less-hinged crushing aggro “White Valley,” each piece offering something of its own on the way while feeding into the immersion of the whole.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website


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Djiin to Release Meandering Soul Oct. 15; “Black Circus” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Heavy blues atmosphere oozes, creeps out of the opening track of Djiin‘s new long-player, Meandering Soul, and it’s striking in its volatility in a way that begs further investigation. The Rennes, France, four-piece — don’t try writing their moniker on your phone unless you want to spend some time running in circles of autocorrect — released their debut, The Freak, in 2019 and offer “Black Circus” as a first impression of their second album, which will see release through Klonosphere on Oct. 15 and which is up for preorder now through Bandcamp.

There’s a video to coincide — maybe NSFW? hard to tell — but the song is also streaming if you’re not feeling the visuals, and I think its starker aspects come across well even without the band-and-ritual-in-woods accompaniment. Pick your poison, I guess. In any case, the vibe here was enough to hook me, and since that’s exactly what an opener should be doing, if you’ll pardon, I’ll just go ahead and dig into the rest of the album. Got a Quarterly Review coming up, you know. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find this one in there.

PR wire info follows:

Djiin Meandering Soul

Djiin – French Psychedelic-Stoner Rockers Announce New Album “Meandering Soul”

Reveal New Video For “Black Circus”

French psychedelic/stoner-rock four-piece band Djiin will release their third full-length album “Meandering Soul” on October 15 via Klonosphere Records/Season of Mist.

The follow-up to 2019’s “The Freak” album was recorded by Justin Nicquevert at The Blue Anvil Sound and mixed and mastered by Pierre Le Gac and Nicolas Moreau at Le Garage Hermétique, and features six new songs replete with powerful and fuzzy riffs, thunderous and soulful beats, psychedelic melodies and the enchanting vocals of Chloé Panhaleux.

Meandering Soul is a concept album that presents the story of a tortured mind being and his evil fiends. The listener is going through a trip where he/she will meet many characters and will be surrounded sometimes by dark and frozen landscapes, other times by a hot and mesmerizing desert, or otherwise by oppressing and sensual places. All these elements are sailing on various musical influences.

Influenced by 70’s progressive rock and krautrock bands, doom scene and heavy rock from the glory days of the early Sabbath, as well as other modern references based on the diversity between western and traditional eastern sounds, Djiin crafted a sound of their own, a truly captivating and other-worldly musical universe that will impress fans of Kadavar, Blue Pills and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats. Pre-orders are now available at this location: https://djiin.bandcamp.com/album/meandering-soul-2

Meanwhile, a music video for leading single “Black Circus” is now playing here.

1. Black Circus
2. The Void
3. Red Desert
4. Warmth of Death
5. White Valley
6. Wax Doll

Engineered by Justin Nicquevert (The Blue Anvil Sound). Mixed and Mastered by Pierre Le Gac and Nicolas Moreau (Le Garage Hermétique).

Djiin are:
Chloé PANHALEUX – Singer / Electric Harp
Allan GUYOMARD – Drums / Backing vocals
Tom PENAGUIN – Guitar / Backing vocals
Charlélie PAILHES – Bass / Backing vocals


Djiin, Meandering Soul (2021)

Djiin, “Black Circus” official video

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Hermit’s Weedsom Release New Album As Above, So Below

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

While I admit I wasn’t expecting a new Hermit’s Weedsom album to drop today — kudos to the Rennes, France-based duo on the oldschool-style Tuesday release day — neither am I sorry to see it. Or to hear it, for that matter. The instrumentalist two-piece impressed late last year with their have-apparently-intended-to-review-it-for-the-last-seven-months debut, He Who Sees in the Dark, and the new offering dives further into weedian nod and fervent push, a song like “Empress Crown” clocking in at just under nine minutes with a hard-hitting forward drive while the earlier “Emperor’s Fall” is pure nodding delight topped with spacious soloing.

They start at a rush with the drum fill at the head of opener “Wheel of Fortune” — and you’ll pardon me if the Karma to Burn comparison feels overly timely, it fits just the same — and hold that momentum all the while, twisting and turning as they go until just-over-nine-minute closer “Luna” rounds out with their most atmospheric stretch. Not a minor journey along the way and clearly not intended to be.

It’s streaming up on their Bandcamp — which I guess is ‘above’ since the player is also ‘below’ at the bottom of this post — and available in a digipak CD with the following nifty art:

hermits weedsom as above so below

As the Emerald Tablet says: “As Above, So Below”.

Guided by the arcane, Hermit’s Weedsom delivers a second stoner/doom prog-infused metal album.

“Follow the cards toward the absolute consciousness point”

The band says: “Hi everyone, 7 months after the release of our 1st album, we are back with a new one. Still instrumental, still self-produced. We put in this record and its 8 tracks, a mix of everything we like to listen to and we hope you will like it too. Take care of yourself! See you soon.”

1. Wheel of Fortune 07:31
2. End of Cycle 07:29
3. Broken Chariot 08:08
4. Emperor’s Fall 06:58
5. Hierophant’s Rule 07:40
6. Empress Crown 08:55
7. Eliphas Synthesis 08:30
8. Luna 09:02

Drums : Robin Leplumey
Guitar / Bass : Valentin Cabioch


Hermit’s Weedsom, As Above, So Below (2021)

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Orgöne Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Mos/Fet Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Those seeking a preview of the kosmiche shenanigans to which French outfit Orgöne get up on their upcoming Heavy Psych Sounds label debut would do well to check out their 2018 live release, Anubis Rising (Live at Ubu Club 5/5/2018). It’s my first time hearing the band, and they sound like total noised-out freaks — or is that freaked-out noise? — so issuing the forthcoming Mos/Fet 2LP and bringing a bit of the weird to Heavy Psych Sounds makes sense. The PR wire lists it as their first record, but on their social media, the band notes one in 2016 called Hällo Späce Tertön and Anubis Rising (Live at Ubu Club 5/5/2018) both as “albums,” so I don’t really know what’s counting as what here. Sometimes when things get all spaced and avant-this-and-that, it happens on multiple levels and facets of existence. Dimensional planes, you know. There are a few of those around.

Album’s up for preorder and will be out on May 29. To the PR wire:

orgone mos fet


Oh La La!! “MOS/FET” … what an album … 80 minutes of pure craziness: you can feel the flow of many different genres. The geniality and the genuineness of this band pop up really soon after the beginning of the first notes and riffs. There’s a background path made of prog-rock mixed with space-rock, avant garde and heavy psych. Everything is melted together with the wonderful vocals of the lead singer Olga. The french based band released four massive suites of 20 minutes each, made of different movements, this is absolutely a non-conventional debut album… that’s why HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS was so astonished to release this incredible project. Heavy organs, synthesizers, hypnotic bass lines, gurgling, Arabian melodic lines… and much much more to discover inside this MONSTERPIECE!

2015 saw the meeting of Nick Le Cave (bass) and Marlen Stahl (guitar), veterans of numerous Indie-Rock, Free Rock and Rock In Opposition/Avant-Garde french bands. Together with Mat La Rossa on drums, they decided to create a « back to basics » rock band, in their hometown of Rennes (Brittany). This led to the birth of Orgöne in 2016, with the arrival of the wild French-Polish Olga Rostropovitch on lead voice.

Orgöne began to experiment and to explore many territories, mixing stoogian rock, noise-rock, krautrock « motorik » tracks, long impros… Those experiments led to a specific sound tainted more and more with psychedelic textures, space rock and noise elements, with progish hints.

Then in 2018, the departure of Mat La Rossa, who disagreed with the idea of long, epic tracks led to a radical but natural change : with the arrival of Allan Barbarian on drums and Tom Angelo on keyboards (both are also playing with the stoner band Djiin, who shared the stage with Orgöne), the band went almost back to zero and was then able to focus on long « Suites », with movements, in a prog-rock way, allowing the band to mix elements of tribal, arabic sounds, motorik rythms, organic space rock wall of sound and much more, in a very specific way. “MOS/FET”, their first double album, reflects all those experiments, in 80 epic minutes.


Side A : Erstes Ritual
Side B : Soviet Suit
a/ Requiem For A Dead Cosmonaut
b/ Soviet Hot Dog (Le Tombeau de Laïka)
c/ East Song
Side C : Anubis Rising
a/ Ägyptology
b/ Mothership Egypt
c/ Rhyme Of The Ancient Astronaut
Side D : Astral Fancy

1/ Erstes Ritual
2/ Soviet Suit
a/ Requiem For A Dead Cosmonaut
b/ Soviet Hot Dog (Le Tombeau de Laïka)
c/ East Song
3/ Anubis Rising
a/ Ägyptology
b/ Mothership Egypt
c/ Rhyme Of The Ancient Astronaut
4/ Astral Fancy

Allan Barbarian: drums & percussions, backing vocals
Nick Le Cave: bass, backing vocals
Tom Angelo: electric organ, synths, pianet t, mandolin, clarinet, recorder
Marlen Stahl: guitar, cello, violin, backing vocals
Olga Rostropovitch: lead voice


Orgöne, Anubis Rising (Live at Ubu Club 5/5/2018) (2018)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Huata, Lux Initiatrix Terrae

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

huata lux initiatrux terrae cover

[Click play above to stream Huata’s Lux Initiatrix Terrae in full. Album is out Nov. 23 on Sludgelord Records, Seeing Red Records and Musicfearsatan.]

Songs become grandiose riff ceremonies and the album as a whole becomes a ritual rooted in harmonized meditations and weighted progressive instrumentalism. Atmosphere is paramount. Texture is everywhere. And if it’s a ritual, then despite their penchant for donning a robe or two, France’s Huata bring a feeling of celebration to their second album, Lux Initiatrix Terrae, and that pushes beyond horror-minded cultish tropes. Those themes may be somewhere in 15-minute opener “Mythical Beast of Revelations,” to be sure, but they’re buried so deep beneath organ and the vocal work of Ronan Grall, who also handles drums and is joined in the band by guitarist/bassist Benjamin Moreau, that they’re harder to discern in the first place. The Brittany duo work primarily in longform stretches across the willfully unmanageable 68-minute runtime, with five tracks over 10 minutes long and two interludes under three, and Moreau and Grall bring in a host of outside players — presumably to contribute vocals and keys, etc. — to help them flesh out the ensuing complexity of the material. Five other names are credited: Gurvan Coulon, David Barbe, Alexis Degrenier, Laetitia Jehano, Marion Le Sollier, but as to who does what, it’s unclear.

In any case, the resulting contributions of all parties are wildly immersive, as between the bookends of “Mythical Beast of Revelations” and 16-minute closer “Third Eyed Nation,” the band unfolds a perpetually widening cascade of moods and sounds, such that the eerie organ and synth in the closer are consistent in approach with what’s preceded even as they seem to reach further into a kind of colorful abyss — Huata‘s sound too rich and too vibrant to simply conjure images of light-absent emptiness. Theirs is the proverbial shining void, and their material finds them churning this multi-hued, potent cauldron of sound with witchy glee, even as their overarching direction seems to be intent on taking them downward into it.

There’s a dichotomy there, and it’s brought to life in the recording and mix of Cyrille Gachet (Year of No Light, Chaos Echoes, The Great Old Ones), which allows for a broad reach between the Electric Wizard-gone-interstellar start of “Child of the Cosmic Mind,” samples and organ and low riffs all circling around each other in slowly building wash, but it’s elements like the tone of the guitar and bass, the compression effects on the oft-harmonized vocals and the inclusion of various keys — church organ among them and feeling particularly appropriate, given the overall aesthetic — that tie everything together and make Lux Initiatrix Terrae so fluid. The distorted heft comes and goes, but so do nearly all the other elements at work throughout, as nothing seems to be permanent or beyond the band’s reach. A slow march in “The Solar Work” picks up where “Child of the Cosmic Mind” leaves off, and might be the closest thing to a title-track present on the album, the first and last word of which are Latin for “light” and “world” and the middle which puts together ideas of beginnings and so that it’s something like light begetting the world — “The Solar Work” doesn’t seem so far off from that.

huata lux initiatrux terrae

Either way, in the second half of the 10:35 piece, the vocals give way to melodic shouts in a kind of relative apex, but by then the idea is made plain that repetition is a key part of this ritual. Huata‘s songs — reminiscent of more recent Ancestors in their vocal approach and progressive lean — are mantras. It’s not going to be about hooks or about roping the listener in with a catchy solo or sharp rhythmic turn. The three-song salvo tops 36 minutes and is an album unto itself, let alone the second LP that follows it as the 2:50 “Part I – Gathering in Sin Wur” makes its way via organ and soft guitar toward the lung-crushing weight — worthy of whatever comparisons to Slomatics or Conan or Ufomammut one might want to draw — and ranging scale-work melody of “The Golden Hordes of Kailash,” which furthers the thread of a purposeful delve into hypnotics, a post-midsection break meshing together different layers of keys in order to set the stage for a return to the nodding, lumbering push that draws the listener back into the multi-tiered wash of distortion and melody before what even after 10-plus minutes feels like a sudden stop.

The second interlude, “Part II – The IXth Arch Assembly” follows the diversionary modus of its predecessor, drifting with soft guitars and underlying keys that resolve in wistful notes ahead of the arrival of “Third Eyed Nation,” which makes its way in gradually — of course — with complementary ambience before the vocals start less than a minute in. Those expecting a grand finale after what’s already been an hour-long listen should be sated by “Third Eyed Nation,” which even in its first half seems to signal its spot as culmination of the proceedings, though after seven minutes, the drums cut out and a stretch of spoken samples and almost siren-esque synth sounds in a high frequency and others in a lower frequency take hold before guitar sneaks back in to signal the return of the tonal onslaught and the beginning of the real apex.

They get there, in other words, and frankly, if one is making the journey through Lux Initiatrix Terrae and gets as far as “Third Eyed Nation,” the expectation that Huata are going to take their time getting to where they want to go should be well ingrained. It’s hard to imagine making it across the songs otherwise, since that head-down, prog-tinged dirge vibe is so writ large and so consistent throughout the material. That’s not to say Moreau and Grall don’t make efforts to change their approach in terms of surroundings, personnel and mood, but the aspects of their sound that they carry with are what enable them to create the world that one seems to inhabit while listening. And one of Lux Initiatrix Terrae‘s greatest strengths stems from the band’s ability to put the listener in the mindset they intend, the place they intend. That world may be created by light, I don’t know, and it may certainly be chaotic, but Huata guide their audience through it with a sure hand that’s well evocative of the dogma they’ve envisioned.

Huata on Thee Facebooks

Huata on Bandcamp

Musicfearsatan on Thee Facebooks

Musicfearsatan webstore

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Seeing Red Records on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

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