Friday Full-Length: Pilgrim, Misery Wizard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

There can be no doubt youth was a factor on Pilgrim‘s side when they made their debut with 2012’s Misery Wizard. Their first long-player was released in January of that year through Metal Blade following a just a demo and a 2011 split with fellow New Englanders Ice Dragon, and from the opening strains of “Astaroth” across the album’s willfully cumbersome 55-minute span, it was pure doom traditionalism with the kind of refresh that only a new generation could provide. Pilgrim — then the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi, bassist Eric “Count Elric the Soothsayer” Dietrich and drummer Nick “Krolg, Slayer of Men” Nosach — were kids and they looked like kids, but with Rossi‘s skullet and mournful voice, the band’s downcast image, depressive tonality, slow-rolling tempos and spacious mix, they tapped into the spirit of earliest The Gates of Slumber in their “true doom” sensibility. Misery Wizard was both the altar of worship and the paean itself when it came to doom for doomers by doomers.

So much of what you need to know is in the slowdown at the end of “Astaroth.” At six and a half minutes, the opener is among the shortest tracks on Misery Wizard — only the brazen, galloping penultimate cut, “Adventurer,” is shorter at 4:29 — and it’s a slog already by the time they’re five minutes in, but as the procession continues toward its inevitable conclusion, the trio bring it slower, slower, and slower until finally it crashes out. It’s not that they were the first doom band ever to stick a slowdown at the finish of a given track, but Pilgrim execute that moment with rare grace from one measure to the next, so that it happens gradually, not in jumps, and lets itself go into the fading feedback ahead of Misery Wizard‘s 10-minute title-track as if it’s opening a gate to the record itself. And, of course, it is.

“Misery Wizard” leads even further down into the D&D-pit-of-despair that Pilgrim craft atmospherically — so much fog and lurk and rolling-of-ones to be had — and arrives as the first of three more extended tracks that comprise the meat of the album, along with “Quest” (9:52) and “Masters of the Sky.” By the time it’s done, “Misery Wizard” is righteously torturous, and “Quest” at first continues the thread, but picks up the tempo shortly before the halfway point, feeling like something of a lifeline thrown to the listener making their way through the dense humidity of the record as a whole, and though it doesn’t last but for a few minutes and the song ends with the album’s loudest ring of feedback, that stretch serves its purpose well. I’ll take “Masters of the Sky” as the highlight of the album, Rossi‘s voice reaching desperately upward through the mix in the early going, layered in the second half and more forward, but still morose and placed well in the raw crash that surrounds ahead of another noisy finish.

Given its speedier shift, there’s really nowhere else to stick “Adventurer” but ahead of 12-minute closer “Forsaken Man.” It never gets quite to High on Fire-level brash, but it’s not far off, and in a different pilgrim misery wizardcontext — and a much smoother production — that main riff wouldn’t have been out of place on a record by The Sword. In Pilgrim‘s hands, the groove is fervent but the tailspin is more dangerous, and the cymbal wash and noise that consumes the better part of the last 40 seconds feels earned in a ringing-out kind of fuckall topped with more feedback.

And speaking of feedback — have I mentioned feedback? — the launch of “Forsaken Man” is like slamming headfirst into a wall of it before the band enact their lurchiest of lurches. The culmination of Misery Wizard hits into another level of grueling, cracking itself open after seven minutes to obscure gurgling, chanting or whatever it is before surging back somewhat to its zombified post-Saint Vitus march, which caps of course in suitably miserable fashion and yet more feedback. Pilgrim having established the method and unfurled their aural punishment at will throughout, it’s only fair they should underscore the point in the album’s final seconds. You wouldn’t call it brutal in the death metal sense, but it’s far from friendly.

I was lucky enough to see Pilgrim three times during this era. The first time was at a show in Brooklyn with Windhand and Magic Circle (review here) and the second time was Stoner Hands of Doom XII in Connecticut (review here), where they were slotted among the headliners and indeed pulled one of the weekend’s best crowds as I recall, and the third time was again in Brooklyn (review here). For such sonically downtrodden fare, the excited vibe around their set at the latter venue was palpable. People were into it. The hype was real and justified. They seemed like a band ready to hit the road, and they were, and they did, touring with Windhand, Heavy TempleAge of Taurus and Spirit Caravan, among others during their time.

A follow-up to Misery Wizard arrived in March 2014’s II: Void Worship (review here), which found Rossi all the more stepped into his role as frontman as the band tightened their songwriting and explored new reaches of melody that they would seem to have discovered on tour. They’d been to Roadburn 2013 (review here) by then and were no longer kids getting their feet under them as a touring band or playing to genre so much as looking to make their mark on it. One recalls their video for “The Paladin” (posted here) as being particularly emblematic of their aesthetic and putting Rossi at the fore.

His death on Oct. 26, 2017, was the end of the band. By then, Pilgrim was him, Dietrich and Brad “Bradoc the Thunderer” Richardson on drums, and though he was only 26 years old, he’d already had significant impact on the doom underground and an influence on how the up and coming generation of riffers interacted with what had come before them. In my experience with him, he was a shy but friendly enough guy. His loss was deeply felt.

And that’s a sad note to end on, but I can’t help think of the potential Pilgrim had for a longer-term progression that never got to play out. Nine years after their debut, who knows what they might’ve accomplished by this time. Maybe nothing else. Maybe they would’ve broken up — their long tour with Spirit Caravan was a big disillusion moment for them, as well as a fiscal drain — or maybe their third album would’ve been their best yet. We’ll never get to know. What’s important to keep in mind with that is that not knowing doesn’t undercut the value or achievement that was either Misery Wizard or the sophomore outing, and that just because the potential didn’t have the chance to be fulfilled doesn’t mean it wasn’t there in the first place.

This was a good band.

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

Another week.

This week I got to live one of my true parenting nightmares: poop in the bathtub. I’ve been in charge of The Pecan’s bathtime since before he could sit up. Three and a half years and counting, bathtime has been my purview. He’s always hated the bath, even though he’s got toys galore that live in the tub, bubblebath, the whole nine. He doesn’t want water in his face and I do my best to see that he doesn’t get it.

Because he’s so miserable going in his diaper at this point and yet terrified of the toilet because he’s not already completely mastered using it — or, in fact, using it at all — he holds in his poop. For, like, two days before he can’t anymore. That moment came yesterday while he was taking a bath. He was duly horrified. I had to dig through bubbles to find poop nuggets, staying calm and saying it was okay, it was an accident, accidents happen, and all that. I’d always dreaded poop in the tub. I guess it says something about the mundane horrors of parenting that by the time it actually happened, all that shit wasn’t shit, as it were.

Our next door neighbors have a newborn. You can see the drawn look in their faces. I think the guy’s a cop? I don’t know. We’re wave-to-each-other cordial. Every now and again The Patient Mrs. has a conversation. We went out when they brought the kid home. He was squidgy as newborns are. I like that age well enough. They just need you and sleep intermittently. I’ve been thinking about that time — end of 2017 — a lot as a result. I was pretty much dying. I found a picture of myself the other day from a month before he was born. I look sick and I was. Full on bulimic. What’re you gonna do. There’s a big part of me that misses that. The feeling of control. Shrug. Xanax to shut the ol’ brain up.

The weekends are hard lately, no break. I don’t remember what’s up for Monday but I know the week is full. Hang on. Yeah. Yo No Se video premiere Monday. Tuesday Mourn the Light. Wednesday Melissa. Thursday Wytch and Bottomless. Friday I’m gonna review something. Maybe Heavy Temple or Stöner, depending on my mood. Shrug again.

Alright, I think we’re all caught up. New Gimme show today, 5PM, and I still don’t know if I’m posting this before or after the Jack Harlon thing. I think before, because technically in Australia that post will be for Saturday morning? I don’t know. I’ll think about it while I dick around at Wegmans and look at food I’m not gonna let myself eat. It goes like that sometimes.

Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. Hydrate. Watch your head. Do what you need to do to get through the day. Go buy some Obelisk shorts from David at MIBK. He’s a great guy.

FRM.

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Quarterly Review: Steve Von Till, Cyttorak, Lambda, Dee Calhoun, Turtle Skull, Diuna, Tomorrow’s Rain, Mother Eel, Umbilichaos, Radar Men From the Moon

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Oh hi there. It’s Quarterly Review time again, and you know what that means. 50 records between now and Friday — and I may or may not extend it through next Monday as well; I think I have enough of a backlog at this point to do so. It’s really just a question of how destroyed I am by writing about 10 different records every day this week. If past is prologue, that’s fairly well destroyed. But I’ve yet to do a Quarterly Review and regret it when it’s over, and like the last one, this roundup of 50 albums is pretty well curated, so it might even be fun to go through. There’s a thought. In any case, as always, I hope you find something you enjoy, and thank you for reading if you do or as much as you do.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough

steve von till no wilderness deep enough

Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till seems to be bringing some of the experimentalism that drives his Harvestman project into the context of his solo work with No Wilderness Deep Enough, his fifth LP and first since 2015’s A Life unto Itself (review here). Drones and melodic synth backs the deceptively-titled “The Old Straight Track,” and where Von Till began his solo career 20 years ago with traditional folk guitar, if slower, on these six tracks, he uses that meditative approach as the foundation for an outward-reaching 37-minute run, incorporating ethereal strings among the swirls of “Shadows on the Run” and finishing with the foreboding hum of “Wild Iron.” Opener “Dreams of Trees” establishes the palette’s breadth with synthesized beats alongside piano and maybe-cello, but it’s Von Till‘s voice itself that ties the material together and provides the crucial human presence and intimacy that most distinguishes the offerings under his own name. Accompanied by Von Till‘s first published book of poetry, No Wilderness Deep Enough is a portrait of the unrelenting creative growth of its maker.

Steve Von Till on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Cyttorak, Simultaneous Invocation of Apocalyptic Harbingers

Cyttorak Simultaneous Invocation of Apocalyptic Harbingers

Take a breath before you hit play only to have it punched right out from your solar plexus by the brutalist deathsludge Cyttorak cleverly call “slowerviolence.” Dominated by low end and growls, screams, and shouts, the lumbering onslaught is the second standalone EP for the three-piece who hail from scenic Pawtucket, Rhode Island (former home of the PawSox), and throughout its six-track run, the unit conjure an unyieldingly punishing tonal morass set to aggressive purpose. That they take their name from the Marvel Universe character who controls X-Men villain Juggernaut should not be taken as coincidence, since their sound indeed seems intended to put its head down and smash through walls and/or anything else that might be in its path in pursuit of its quarry. With Conan-esque lyrical minimalism, the songs nonetheless give clues to their origins — “Royal Shokan Dismemberment” refers to Goro from Mortal Kombat, and finale “Domination Lord of Coldharbour” to Skyrim (which I still regret not playing) — but if you consider comics or video games to be lighter fare, first off, you’re working with an outdated mentality, and second, Cyttorak would like a bit of your time to smother you with volume and ferocity. They have a new split out as well, both on tape.

Cyttorak on Thee Facebooks

Tor Johnson Records website

 

Lambda, Heliopolis

lambda heliopolis

Also signified by the Greek letter from which they take their moniker, Czech four-piece Lambda represent a new age of progressive heavy post-rock. Influences from Russian Circles aren’t necessarily surprising to find coursing through the instrumental debut full-length, Heliopolis, but there are shades of Elder as well behind the more driving riffs and underlying swing of “Space Express,” which also featured on the band’s 2015 EP of the same name. The seven-minute “El Sonido Nuevo” did likewise, but older material or newer, the album’s nine-song procession moves toward its culminating title-track through the grace of “Odysea” and the intertwining psychedelic guitars of “Milkyway Phaseshifter” with an overarching atmosphere of the journey to the city of the sun being undertaken. And when they get there, at the closer, there’s an initial sense of peace that gives way to some of the most directly heavy push Heliopolis has to offer. Payoff, then. So be it. Purposeful and somewhat cerebral in its execution, the DIY debut brings depth and space together to immersive effect.

Lambda on Thee Facebooks

Lambda on Bandcamp

 

Dee Calhoun, Godless

dee calhoun godless

Following his 2016 debut, Rotgut (review here) and 2018’s Go to the Devil (review here), Godless is the third full-length from former Iron Man and current Spiral Grave frontman Dee Calhoun, and its considerable 63-minute runtime finds him working in multiple directions while keeping his underlying roots in acoustic-based heavy metal. Certainly “To My Boy” — and Rob Calhoun has appeared on his father’s releases before as well — has its basis in familial expression, but its pairing with “Spite Fuck” is somewhat curious. Meanwhile, “Hornswoggled” cleverly samples George W. Bush with a laugh track, and “Here Under Protest,” “The Greater Evil,” “Ebenezer” and “No Justice” seem to take a worldly view as well. Meanwhile again, “Godless,” “The Day Salvation Went Away” and “Prudes, Puritanicals and Puddles of Piss” make their perspective nothing if not plain for the listener, and the album ends with the two-minute kazoo-laced gag track “Here Comes the Bride: A Tale From Backwater.” So perhaps scattershot, but Godless is nonetheless Calhoun‘s most effective outing yet in terms of arrangements and craft, and shows him digging further into the singer-songwriter form than he has up to now, sounding more comfortable and confident in the process.

Dee Calhoun on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Turtle Skull, Monoliths

Turtle Skull Monoliths

Melodic vocal lines weave together and float over alternately weighted and likewise ethereal guitars on Turtle Skull‘s second album, Monoliths. The percussion-inclusive (tambourine, congas, rain stick, etc.) Sydney-based heavy psychedelic outfit create an immersive wash that makes the eight-song/55-minute long-player consuming for the duration, and while there are moments of clarity to be found throughout — the steady snare taps of “Why Do You Ask?” for example — but the vast bulk of the LP is given to the overarching flow, which finds progressive/space-rock footing in the 11-plus minutes of finale “The Clock Strikes Forever” and is irresistibly consuming on the drifting wash of “Rabbit” or the lysergic grunge blowout of “Who Cares What You Think?,” which gives way to the choral drone of “Halcyon” gorgeously en route through the record’s back half. It’s not the highest profile heavy psych release of 2020, but neither is it to be overlooked for the languid stretch of “Leaves” at the outset or the fuzz-drenched roll in the penultimate “Apple of Your Eye.”

Turtle Skull on Thee Facebooks

Art as Catharsis on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Diuna, Golem

diuna golem

In some ways, the dichotomy of Diuna‘s 2019 sophomore full-length, Golem, is set by its first two tracks, the 24-second intro “Menu” and the seven-minute “Jarmark Cudów” that follows, each longer song throughout is prefaced by an introduction or interlude, varying in degrees of experimentation. That, however, doesn’t cover the outsider vibes the Polish trio bring to bear in those longer songs themselves, be it “Jarmark Cudów” devolving into a post-Life of Agony noise rock roll, or the thrust in “Frank Herbert” cut into starts and stops and shouting madness. Heavy rock, noise, sludge, post-this-or-that, it doesn’t matter by the end of the 12-track/44-minute release, because Diuna establish such firm control over the proceedings and make so clear the challenge to the listener to keep up that it’s only fun to try. It might take a couple listens to sink in, but the more attention one gives Golem, the more one is going to be rewarded in the end, and I don’t just mean in the off-kilter fuckery of closer “Pan Jezus Idzie Do Wojska.”

Diuna on Thee Facebooks

Diuna on Bandcamp

 

Tomorrow’s Rain, Hollow

tomorrows rain hollow

“Ambitious” doesn’t begin to cover it. With eight songs (plus a bonus track) and 11 listed guest musicians, the debut full-length, Hollow, from Tel Aviv-based death-doomers Tomorrow’s Rain seems to be setting its own standard in that regard. And quite a list it is, with the likes of Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride, Greg Mackintosh of Paradise Lost, Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell, Mikko Kotamaki of Swallow the Sun, and so on, it is a who’s-who of melodic/gothic death-doom and the album lives up to the occasion in terms of the instrumental drama it presents. Some appear on one track, some on multiple tracks — Ribeiro and Kotamaki both feature on “Misery Rain” — and despite the constant shifts in personnel with only one of the eight tracks completely without an outside contributor, the core six-piece of Tomorrow’s Rain are still able to make an impression of their own that is bolstered and not necessarily overwhelmed by the extravagant company being kept throughout.

Tomorrow’s Rain on Thee Facebooks

AOP Records website

 

Mother Eel, Svalbard

mother eel svalbard

Mother Eel‘s take on sludge isn’t so much crushing as it is caustic. They’re plenty heavy, but their punishment isn’t just meted out through tonal weight being brought down on your head. It’s the noise. It’s the blown-out screams. It’s the harshness of the atmosphere in which the entirety of their debut album, Svalbard, resides. Five tracks, 33 minutes, zero forgiveness. One might be tempted to think of songs like “Erection of Pain” as nihilistic fuckall, but that seems incorrect. Nah, they mean it. Fuckall, yeah. But fuckall as ethos. Fuckall manifest. So it goes through “Alpha Woman” and “Listen to the Elderly for They Have Much to Teach,” which ends in a Primitive Man-ish static assault, and the lumbering finish “Not My Shade,” which assures that what began on “Sucking to Gain” half an hour earlier ends on the same anti-note: a disaffected malevolence writ into sheer sonic unkindness. There is little letup, even in the quiet introductions or transitions, so if you’re looking for mercy, don’t bother.

Mother Eel on Thee Facebooks

Mother Eel on Redbubble

 

Umbilichaos, Filled by Empty Spaces

Umbilichaos Filled by Empty Spaces

The four-song/39-minute atmospheric sludge long-player Filled by Empty Spaces is listed by Brazilian solo outfit Umbilichaos as being the third part of, “the Tetralogy of Loneliness.” If that’s the emotion being expressed in the noise-metal post-Godflesh chug-and-shout of “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 02,” then it is loneliness viscerally presented by founding principal and multi-instrumentalist Anna C. Chaos. The feel throughout the early going of the release is plodding and agonized in kind, but in “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 01” and “Filled by Empty Spaces Pt. 03” there is some element of grim, crusted-over psychedelia happening alongside the outright dirge-ism, though the latter ultimately wins out in the four-minute instrumental capper “Disintegration.” One way or the other, Chaos makes her point through raw tonality and overarching intensity of purpose, the compositions coming across simultaneously unhinged and dangerously under control. There are many kinds of heavy. Filled by Empty Spaces is a whole assortment of them.

Umbilichaos on Thee Facebooks

Sinewave website

 

Radar Men From the Moon, The Bestial Light

radar men from the moon the bestial light

Fueled by avant grunge/noise impulsion, Radar Men From the Moon‘s latest foray to Planet Whothefuckknows arrives in the eight-song/41-minute The Bestial Light, a record alternately engrossing and off-putting, that does active harm when the sounds-like-it’s-skipping intro to “Piss Christ” comes on and then subsequently mellows out with psych-sax like they didn’t just decide to call the song “Sacred Cunt of the Universe” or something. Riffs, electronics, the kind of weirdness that’s too self-aware not to be progressive, Radar Men From the Moon take the foundation of experimentation set by Astrosoniq and mutate it via Swans into something unrecognizable by genre and unwilling to compromise its own direction. And no, by the time “Levelling” comes on to round out, there is no peace to be found, though perhaps a twisted kind of joy at the sheer postmodernism. They should score ballets with this stuff. No one would go, but three centuries from now, they’d be worshiped as gods. Chance of that anyway, I suppose.

Radar Men From the Moon on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Club Records on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

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Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

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Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

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Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

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

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

quarterly review

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

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

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

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

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

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Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

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

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DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

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

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Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

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

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Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

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

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Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

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

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Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

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

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Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

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

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Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

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

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zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

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

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Churchburn Post Video for “The Misery Hymns”; Album Release Show Set for Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn

Churchburn make an awful lot of sense in a world utterly rife with daily horrors and panic. The deathly Providence, Rhode Island, sludge extremists are rearing back to unleash their second LP, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery (review here), via Armageddon Shop this weekend at a show at their hometown venue Dusk alongside DropdeadConclave and High Command, and to further herald the record’s arrival, they’ve teamed with Chariot of Black Moth to release a new video for the semi-titled-track “The Misery Hymns.” Appropriately enough, its imagery is dark, full of stark and dense grays and sudden flashing lights, and it seems to begin by dragging the viewer through a black hole. If it sounds severe, it is.

The album, which follows 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins (review here), toys throughout with the balance between death metal and sludge riffing, delighting in the wretchedness it conjures while it obliterates that genre line. In songs like “Lines of Red” and “The Misery Hymns,” it is unbridled in its heft, but there’s a pervasive sense of atmosphere as well, and Churchburn never seem to lose sight of that underlying purpose, as brutal as they might and do get. The result is a record the weight of which stems from more than just its tones. The sound of it is menacing in the moment and haunting after, and its sense of punishment is likewise multi-tiered.

It goes without saying the release show will be completely ridiculous. An absolute onslaught and one that, should you be in the area, you’ll want to hit up even if you don’t know you want to hit it up.

The video follows here. Please enjoy:

Churchburn, “The Misery Hymns” official video

Huge Thanks to Jakub of Chariot Of Black Moth for making this video for us… for the song, “Misery Hymns”. New album out July, Friday the 13th, on Armageddon Shop Label…”None Shall Live…The Hymns of Misery”

Churchburn live:
07.14 Dusk Providence RI – Record Release Show w/ Dropdead, High Command & Conclave
10.05 Geno’s Portland ME – Into the Aether II Festival

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Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery: Vita ex Mortis

Posted in Reviews on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn none shall live the hymns of misery

It’s a different Churchburn on the second album than it was on the first. The core duo of guitarist/vocalist Dave Suzuki (formerly of Vital Remains) and drummer Ray McCaffrey (formerly of Sin of Angels and Grief) are joined by guitarist Timmy St. Amour (ex-Howl) and bassist/vocalist Derek Moniz (ex-HeadRot), as well as guests Andy Grant adding noise/ambience and ex-member Mike Cordoso contributing backing vocals, for None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery, and as the follow-up to 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins (review here), the new outing immediately has a high standard to live up to in brutality and atmosphere alike. That challenge is met with a gleefully extreme seven-track/45-minute run that takes the basic model of the first album, which bridged together the often disparate styles of death metal and sludge, and makes the sound even more cohesive and individualized as the band’s own.

From the opening minute-long feedback introduction in “Vexare” through the chugs, shouts, nods and viciousness that follows until the acoustic notes that precede the ultra-slowdown roll of closer “Kaustos,” Churchburn conjure a vision of lumbering madness that, despite its bite and general abrasiveness, succeeds in its mission to cull together the multiple styles by which it’s influenced into a single impression. That is, where The Awaiting Coffins set death metal and sludge against each other on a collection drawn from the band’s original demo and two more recent recordings, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery feels more like a complete album, but one that unquestionably benefits from the experience of its predecessor. It brings its tectonic deathsludge together with a smashing weight worthy of inclusion in conversations alongside acts like Primitive Man, but also uses that as a foundation to branch out in different directions, showing some YOB influence on centerpiece “Authorized to Cleanse” — sonically if not in philosophy — and still finding room stomach-turning tension in the rhythm of the penultimate “Relieved by Burning Lead.”

What’s important to understand — and one can hear it in the eight-plus-minute second cut “Lines of Red,” on which Suzuki‘s blown-out vocals call to mind the heyday of Maryland’s Swarm of the Lotus, as well as the brazen lead guitar melodies and deft rhythmic turns of “Before the Inferno” — is that none of this has happened by mistake. There’s consciousness at work behind these songs, and while I’m not sure I’d call the material progressive, it has progressed from where Churchburn were four and five years ago. A solidified full lineup is likely to have something to do with that, but even in the sense of menace that marks the sample at the start of “Relieved by Burning Lead” or the build into the churning highlight and semi-title-track, “The Misery Hymns,” it is a willful execution of creative intent at work, not happenstance of throwing together riffs and seeing what happens. And with Suzuki and McCaffrey both still present as the driving force behind the group, Churchburn seem just to have begun a new stage of their overarching growth. The interplay of rhythm and lead layers on “Authorized to Cleanse,” which gives way to a blastbeat-laden attack that’s both one of the most poised and most outwardly searing on the record, speaks to the capacities of the new lineup, but at the same time, it’s clear that the moves Churchburn are making are the result of lessons learned from the debut.

churchburn

While almost a first offering unto itself for being the premiere with this lineup, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is very much a second full-length, and one that only pushes further along the encouraging lines of its predecessor. To wit, the shifting pace of “Before the Inferno,” which moves fluidly from sharp-edged twists through sections of faster chugging into more drawn out and doomed atmospheric roll, marks the kind of execution that, however much experience the players might have in previous bands, would be incredibly rare on a debut. McCaffrey‘s double-kick, Suzuki‘s distorted screams at the apex and the thud that finishes all delve deeper into the consuming aspects of the album as a whole listening experience, and while there are no shortage of headbang-worthy — let’s say, in your kitchen, 5AM, through laptop speakers headbanging, or, you know, at a show — moments of raw punishment, Churchburn have as much to say in ambience as they do in onslaught.

But here too the story is one of cohesion, and like the haunting grin of the horned figure on the Nestor Avalos cover art, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery casts much of its violence in subtlety. Even beneath the lurch of “Vexare” at the outset, one can hear in the low end of bass and guitar a push that seems to move downward and downward, not just following the march of the drums into the rest of the album that follows, but gradually leading the listener out of the light and into the manifestations of darkness to come. And at the end, the nylon-string guitar introducing “Kaustus” would seem to offer a moment of hope or respite, but the lumber that ensues and the panicking screams at the end provide one last look at the terrors already witnessed; a final reminder of the power Churchburn seem to find in the murk of their own creation.

Though it sounds insane, it’s methodical, so maybe psychopathic is a better term for what’s happening throughout these tracks, but in any case, by realizing this merciless intent, the band leaves no question as to the success of the album. It has been made with the intention to damn the spirit as well as the eardrums, and while there are stretches for which there will never seem to be enough volume — again, “Lines of Red” — None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is more than just aural sadism. It is crafted dark art and a work of precise concept that leaves more in its wake than simple bruises. If it is foreshadow, it portends utter devastation should Churchburn be able to continue along its line of progress, and if it is an ultimate expression, its triumph is writ large in every destructive second of its passing.

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Ayahuasca Dark Trip to Release Upaya on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

By the time multinational psychedelic exploratory conglomerate Ayahuasca Dark Trip got around to releasing their second album last year, the title had changed from its original II (discussed here) to Upaya, but whatever you want to call it, the thing is an exercise in tripped-out worldbuilding, the continent-spanning lineup offering primo doom/drone trippery and lysergic technicolor expanse. They let it get weird in other words, and for a band based in the US, in Europe and in South America, they sounded remarkably cohesive in doing so.

Not a huge surprise that Argonauta Records would pick them up given their connections to Queen Elephantine, who are also on the Italian label, but either way, Ayahuasca Dark Trip deserves to be heard by as many ears as possible, and if releasing Upaya in physical form on June 29 is a step toward that, all the better.

Seriously. It’s streaming at the bottom of this post. Dig in. If you’re still reading this, I can hands-down promise you that you will not regret it:

Ayahuasca Dark Trip

U.S. psychonauts AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP sign to Argonauta Records

ARGONAUTA Records is thrilled to announce the deal with US psychonauts AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP.

Uncompromising and fearless in its approach, the band creates hypnotic music that combines doom metal, acid psychedelia and ritual drone into an intense and explosive trip.

The multinational project was formed in 2010 by prolific Peruvian musician Brayan Anthony (Montibus Comunitas) and Buddy van Nieuwenhoven from Netherlands (Cosmic Nod). The group soon expanded with Indrayudh Shome (USA/India, Queen Elephantine), Pedro Ivo Arau?jo (Brazil, Necro), Sifis Karadakis (Greece), Floris Moerkamp and Robin van Rooy (Netherlands). AYAHUASCA DARK TRIP blasted off to explore revolutionary new possibilities of fluid musical collaboration across great physical and cultural distances.

“We’re very excited to join Argonauta, which has shown its solid support for bands like Suma that push boundaries beyond one realm. And we’re always glad to work with Gero, one of the most hardworking people in the community.” — Indrayudh Shome, lead singer of ADT as well as Queen Elephantine, whose last album was also on Argonauta Records.

The album “Upaya” will be released on physical format, for the first time on CD, and available from June 29th, 2018.

www.facebook.com/ayahuascadarktrip
https://ayahuascadarktrip.bandcamp.com
http://www.ayahuascadarktrip.com/
www.argonautarecords.com

Ayahuasca Dark Trip, Upaya (2017)

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Churchburn Announce None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery out July 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn

It’s been a minute, but if you recall Churchburn‘s 2014 debut album, The Awaiting Coffins (review here), then chances are you remember it devouring the line between death metal and doom, the shredding leads and vicious chug of Dave Suzuki, also of a friendly little outfit called Vital Remains. And by friendly I mean visceral. In any case, though it wasn’t without its atmospheric/ambient stretches, it was a record worthy of opening with a song called “Embers of Human Ash.” Put it that way.

Four years later, there’s a new Churchburn coming from a new, expanded lineup of the band, Suzuki and fellow founder Ray McCaffrey joined by former Howl guitarist Timmy St. Amour and bassist Derek Moniz, who’s been in many, many bands. Due out July 18 via the much-respected Armageddon Shop, the record is called None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery, and I have little doubt that once again the band will live up to their slaughter-filled expectations.

The PR wire sent info. Preorders start June 1:

churchburn none shall live the hymns of misery

CHURCHBURN – None Shall Live… The Hymns Of Misery LP/CD/CASSETTE/Digital
Armageddon Shop AS-013
Release date: July 13, 2018
Preorders up: June 1, 2018

It’s been 4 years since “The Awaiting Coffins” was released. Churchburn is proud to finally unveil the new album: “None Shall Live…The Hymns of Misery”. To be released once again via the Armageddon Shop store label.

Recorded, engineered and mixed at Machines With Magnets by Seth Manchester: machineswithmagnets.com

Mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright for maximum hearing damage: audiosiege.com

We’re proud to feature the artwork by the dark mind of Nestor Avalos. He went above and beyond our highest expectations to create this sick piece of art for us: nestoravalosofficial.com

For added discomfort within the music, we had two special guests: Andy Grant of The Vomit Arsonist for his black ambience. Our metal brother, former member Mike Cardoso on backing vocals. Churchburn have also brought on two new members, both of whom have already made their own marks in previous R.I. bands: Timmy St. Amour (Howl) on guitar and Derek Moniz (Headrot, Wreak, Black Acid Prophecy…too many to mention) on bass. Their input and musicianship really show on the new songs and recording.

All photos for the new album shot by Mike St Onge.

Thank you to those who helped in funding some of the studio cost by buying merch and your continued support of Churchburn. We hope you dig this album as much as we do.

Churchburn 2018

BAND: Churchburn
ALBUM TITLE: None Shall Live… The Hymns Of Misery

TRACKLIST FOR CD/DIGITAL:
1. Vexare
2. Lines Of Red
3. Misery Hymns
4. Authorized to Cleanse
5. Before The Inferno
6. Relieved By Burning Lead
7. Kaustos

TRACKLIST FOR VINYL/CASSETTE:
Side A 21:24
1. Vexare 4:45
2. Lines Of Red 8:41
3. Misery Hymns 7:58

Side B 25:45
4. Authorized to Cleanse 6:02
5. Before The Inferno 7:00
6. Relieved By Burning Lead 5:49
7. Kaustos 4:54

Churchburn live:
May 28 Geno’s Rock Club Portland, ME
Jun 07 Northside Festival Brooklyn, NY
Jun 08 Brighton Music Hall Allston, MA
Jun 09 Upstate Music Hall Clifton Park, NY

Churchburn is the musical collaboration between two of the undergrounds masters of misery. Dave Suzuki, best known for his mesmerizing guitar work and brutal drumming in Vital Remains and Ray McCaffrey, who carved out sonic drum patterns for Sin Of Angels and Grief. The two have set out to share with the world their love of the riff. Not only the heaviest but also the most haunting. Each song is crafted with the most sinister of intent. Churchburn want the listener to feel a true sense of dread as each song progresses. Revamped 2017 Line up includes Timmy St. Amour (guitar) ex-Howl, and Derek Moniz (bass) ex-Headrot and many others.

https://www.facebook.com/CHURCHBURNDOOM/
https://churchburn.bandcamp.com/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/4XVE0BFa4oxWDyYdEdUFOH
http://armageddonshop.com/
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

Churchburn, The Awaiting Coffins (2014)

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