Sun Years Announce April/May Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Also set to appear among the multitudes on the bill for this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in June, Richmond, Virginia’s Sun Years will undertake a round of touring in the Northeast (plus Ohio) starting later this month. The band, which draws together members of Smoke and Alabama Thunderpussy, among others, released their lone studio offering to-date in a raw-grooving self-titled two-songer demo (review here) from 2022, but in real life that’s not actually that long ago, so fair enough. Touring DIY-style to play with a bunch of other killer bands, including Slow Wake and Trash Mountain (the latter twice) in Ohio, The Company Corvette in Philly, Afghan Haze in CT, Problem with Dragons in MA and Holy Fingers in Baltimore — at a matinee, no less! — could hardly be considered time misspent, even if I am curious to hear more from them.

If you’ve either heard the demo before or hear it now and find yourself feeling similarly, the obvious solution is to get out to a gig if you can. These aren’t the first dates they’ve done and likely won’t be the last.

From Instagram, etc.:

Sun years tour sq

Appreciate the folks who helped pull this northeast run together. See you soon!

Dig it!
4/26- Philadelphia PA- Keystone State Cycles w/ Company corvette and Terroreign
4/27- Worchester Mass- Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Tears from a Grieving Heart, Sliimo
4/28- Bristol CT- Bleechers w/ Killer Kin, Other Nerve, Afghan Haze
4/29- East Hampton Mass- The OHM w/ Problem with Dragons
4/30- New Bedford Mass- The dNB w/ TBD
5/1- Troy NY- El Dorado w/ The Scurves, Lungbuster
5/2- Youngstown OH- Westside Bowl w/ Trash Mountain +1
5/3- Akron OH- Musica w/ Trash Mountain, Slow wake
5/4- Baltimore MD- The Metro Gallery (matinee show! Doors at 4:30pm) w/ Holy Fingers, Scrylops
5/5- Harrisonburg VA- The Golden Pony w/ Heemeyer, Taffy

Sun Years:
Asechiah Bogdan – Guitar
Buddy Bryant – Bass
Dalton Huskin – Guitar / Vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo) (2022)

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Inter Arma Releasing New Heaven April 26; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

 inter arma (photo by Jonah Livingston)

There isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve seen the below announcement, or at least the gist thereof, around by this point. I was fully embroiled in the Quarterly Review when word came through of Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma setting an April 26 release for their awaited new album, titled New Heaven and led off by its discordant and deathly not the least for its cohesiveness title-track, which is streaming now. I’m playing catchup, I guess, but as this is a record I’ll probably write about at some point, I want the info here. Is it weird that I’ve started to think of this kind of thing as archival? I guess spending the last 15 years going back to chase down old links will do that.

I’m sure there’s a story behind “Forest Service Road Blues” and one could only call “The Children the Bombs Overlooked” relevant, what with the US’ ongoing material and moral support for genocide in the Middle East, but as a first impression, “New Heaven” finds Inter Arma stately at the center of the seven-and-a-half-minute tumultuous progression. The band made their 2019 release, Sulphur English (review here), a statement of intent in terms of extremity and atmosphere, and discuss below how the last several years have factored into their work this time around.

Here’s how the PR wire put it, along with the preorder link and the single for good measure. As noted, they were confirmed to play the album in full at Roadburn in the Netherlands even before the title was officially announced:

inter arma new heaven





New Heaven, Inter Arma’s anticipated new album, is a compelling testament to perseverance, top to bottom. Its thicket of ever-dense layers of doom, death, and black metal occasionally let bits of light slip in, fleeting reminders to keep going amid the tumult. The record marks a sharp turn for Inter Arma, showcasing some of the most extreme and angular songwriting the band has ever laid bare. Known for their cinematic take on sludgy, extremely cavernous and borderline psychedelic Metal, the Richmond band broadens their dynamics by seesawing between piledriving momentum and swirling oblivion. New Heaven crushes and conquers, and illustrates what Inter Arma can truly be.

Take the title track— which premieres today— with its hair-raising lead riff stemming from drummer/songwriter TJ Childers’ challenge to himself to write a nonsensically dissonant part that he ended up loving. Meanwhile, vocalist Mike Paparo’s enraptured earsplitting bellows bludgeon above an impossibly complicated web of riffs and rhythms. From the get go, New Heaven and the opening title track eschews any restraint; Inter Arma is completely unchained.

Though New Heaven is indeed another triumph for the band, it is not a triumphant album, meant to offer some glib or naïve assurance that everything will be fine.

They call it the ‘Inter Arma Curse’: for nearly two decades, the band has emerged as one of the most inspired and fearless acts in or around American metal. They’ve also endured an endless parade of complications, hurdles, and slights: visa problems in Russia, stolen passports in Europe, unexpected member turmoil in their ranks, accidents and near death experiences, and a pervasive paradoxical sense that they have either been too metal or not metal enough. It’s been forever Sisyphean, except that Inter Arma has sporadically crested the hill to make a series of visionary albums.

As New Heaven started to take shape, the curse roared to life. Worldwide pandemic that squashed tours and writing sessions aside, Inter Arma churned through four bassists before finding salvation in Joel Moore, a guitar-and-engineering whiz who had never before played bass in a band. With the addition of Moore, drummer T.J. Childers admits that New Heaven features some of the kind of music Inter Arma could have never executed. Listen for the uncanny keyboards wedged between Paparo and the band, for the ways Steven Russell and Trey Dalton coil and collide with Moore, for Childers’ way of slipping some Southern soul into what borders on truly brutal prog. Paparo’s keen and empathetic lyrics explore arduous facets of the human experience, from innocent victims of war, to addiction, and social apathy. New Heaven is a record about enduring brambles and curses and lasting long enough to make something profound, honest, and even affirming about it all every now and again..

Childers comments, “New Heaven is the culmination of four years worth of adversity ranging from near death experiences, multiple member changes and of course a global pandemic. It marks a new chapter for us musically as we feel we’ve taken our songwriting to places we’ve never explored before. We’re excited to have come out of the madness relatively unscathed and feel as though we’ve created something completely unique that will stand apart in the sometimes homogenous extreme music community.” Guitarist Trey Dalton continues, “This record, maybe more than our previous efforts, more fully represents what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s still very much us – you know, music made by dudes coming from disparate musical backgrounds and perspectives, but with a more collective and defined sense of purpose. Clarity in direction, maybe. Your mileage may vary, but we like it a lot, and we hope you do too.”

Catch Inter Arma at this year’s Roadburn Festival on April 18th performing New Heaven in its entirety. Pre-order New Heaven here:
or direct from Relapse Records here:
and look for more news from Inter Arma to surface in the near future.

New Heaven, track listing:
1. New Heaven
2. Violet Seizures
3. Desolation’s Harp
4. Endless Grey
5. Gardens in the Dark
6. The Children the Bombs Overlooked
7. Concrete Cliffs
8. Forest Service Road Blues

Inter Arma is:
T.J. Childers – Drums, Percussion, guitars, lap steel, piano, noise
Trey Dalton – Guitar, synthesizers, mellotron, vocals
Joel Moore – Bass, synthesizers, tape loops, samples, and noise
Mike Paparo – Vocals
Steven Russell – Guitars

Inter Arma, New Heaven (2024)

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Quarterly Review: AAWKS & Aiwass, Surya Kris Peters, Evert Snyman, Book of Wyrms, Burning Sister, Gévaudan, Oxblood Forge, High Brian, Búho Ermitaño, Octonaut

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Last day, this one. And probably a good thing so that I can go back to doing just about anything else beyond (incredibly) basic motor function and feeling like I need to start the next day’s QR writeups. I’m already thinking of maybe a week in December and a week or two in January, just to try to keep up with stuff, but I’m of two minds about it.

Does the Quarterly Review actually help anyone find music? It helps me, I know, because it’s 50 records that I’m basically forcing myself to dig into, and that exposes me to more and more and more all the time, and gives me an outlet for stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have mental or temporal space to cover, so I know I get something out of it. Do you?

Honest answers are welcome in the comments. If it’s a no, that helps me as well.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

AAWKS & Aiwass, The Eastern Scrolls

AAWKS & Aiwass The Eastern Scrolls

Late on their 2022 self-titled debut (review here), Canadian upstart heavy fuzzers AAWKS took a decisive plunge into greater tonal densities, and “1831,” which is their side-consuming 14:30 contribution to the The Eastern Scrolls split LP with Arizona mostly-solo-project Aiwass, feels built directly off that impulse. It is, in other words, very heavy. Cosmically spaced with harsher vocals early that remind of stonerkings Sons of Otis and only more blowout from there as they roll forth into slog, noise, a stop, ambient guitar and string melodies and drum thud behind vocals, subdued psych atmosphere and backmasked sampling near the finish. Aiwass, led by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Blake Carrera and now on the cusp of releasing a second full-length, The Falling (review here), give the 13:00 “The Unholy Books” a stately, post-metallic presence, as much about the existential affirmations and the melody applied to the lyrics as it moves into the drumless midsection as either the earlier Grayceon-esque pulled notes of guitar (thinking specifically “War’s End” from 2011’s All We Destroy, but there the melody is cello) into it or the engrossing heft that emerges late in the piece, though it does bookend with a guitar comedown. Reportedly based around the life of theosophy co-founder and cult figure Madame Helena Blavatsky, it can either be embraced on that level or taken on simply as a showcase of two up and coming bands, each with their own complementary sound. However you want to go, it’s easily among the best splits I’ve heard in 2023.

AAWKS on Facebook

Aiwass on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

Surya Kris Peters, Strange New World

Surya Kris Peters Strange New World

The lines between projects are blurring for Surya Kris Peters, otherwise known as Chris Peters, currently based in Brazil where he has the solo-project Fuzz Sagrado following on from his time in the now-defunct German trio Samsara Blues Experiment. Strange New World is part of a busy 2023/busy last few years for Peters, who in 2023 alone has issued a live album from his former band (review here) and a second self-recorded studio LP from Fuzz Sagrado, titled Luz e Sombra (review here). And in Fuzz Sagrado, Peters has returned to the guitar as a central instrument after a few years of putting his focus on keys and synths with Surya Kris Peters as the appointed outlet for it. Well, the Fuzz Sagrado had some keys and the 11-song/52-minute Strange New World wants nothing for guitar either as Peters reveals a headbanger youth in the let-loose guitar of “False Prophet,” offers soothing and textured vibes of a synthesized beat in “Sleep Meditation in Times of War” (Europe still pretty clearly in mind) and the acoustic/electric blend that’s expanded upon in “Nada Brahma Nada.” Active runs of synth, bouncing from note to note with an almost zither-esque feel in “A Beautiful Exile (Pt. 1)” and the later “A Beautiful Exile (Part 2)” set a theme that parts of other pieces follow, but in the drones of “Past Interference” and the ’80s New Wave prog of the bonus track “Slightly Too Late,” Peters reminds that the heart of the project is in exploration, and so it is still very much its own thing.

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Evert Snyman, All Killer Filler

evert snyman all killer filler

A covers record can be a unique opportunity for an artist to convey something about themselves to fans, and while I consider Evert Snyman‘s 12-track/38-minute classic pop-rock excursion All Killer Filler to be worth it for his take on Smashing Pumpkins‘ “Zero” alone, there is no mistaking the show of persona in the choice to open with The Stooges‘ iconic “Search and Destroy” and back it cheekily with silly bounce of Paul McCartney‘s almost tragically catchy “Temporary Secretary.” That pairing alone is informative if you’re looking to learn something about the South African-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. See also “The Piña Colada Song.” The ’90s feature mightily, as they would, with tunes by Pixies, Blur, Frank Black, The Breeders and Mark Lanegan (also the aforementioned Smashing Pumpkins), but whether it’s the fuzz of The Breeders’ 1:45 “I Just Wanna Get Along,” the sincere acoustic take on The Beatles “I Will” — which might as well be a second McCartney solo cut, but whatever; you’ll note Frank Black and Pixies appearing separately as well — or the gospel edge brought to Tom Waits‘ “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” Snyman internalizes this material, almost builds it from the ground up, loyal in some ways and not in others, but resonant in its respect for the source material without trying to copy, say, Foo Fighters, note for note on “The Colour and the Shape.” If it’s filler en route to Snyman‘s next original collection, fine. Dude takes on Mark Lanegan without it sounding like a put on. Mark Lanegan himself could barely do that.

Evert Snyman on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

Book of Wyrms, Storm Warning

book of wyrms storm warning

Virginian heavy doom rockers Book of Wyrms have proved readily in the past that they don’t need all that long to set up a vibe, and the standalone single “Storm Warning” reinforces that position with four-plus minutes of solid delivery of craft. Vocalist/synthesist Sarah Moore Lindsey, bassist Jay “Jake” Lindsey and drummer Kyle Lewis and guitarist Bobby Hufnell (also Druglord) — the latter two would seem to have switched instruments since last year’s single “Sodapop Glacier” (premiered here) — but whatever is actually being played by whoever, the song is a structurally concise but atmospheric groover, with a riff twisting around the hook and the keyboard lending dimension to the mix as it rests beneath the guitar and bass. They released their third album, Occult New Age (review here), in 2021, so they’re by no means late on a follow-up, and I don’t know either when this song was recorded — before, after or during that process — but it’s a sharp-sounding track from a band whose style has grown only  more theirs with time. I have high expectations for Book of Wyrms‘ next record — I had high expectations for the last one, which were met — and especially taken together, “Storm Warning” and “Sodapop Glacier” show both the malleable nature of the band’s aesthetic, the range that has grown in their sound and the live performance that is at their collective core.

Book of Wyrms on Facebook

Desert Records store

Burning Sister, Get Your Head Right

burning sister get your head right

Following on from their declarative 2022 debut, Mile High Downer Rock (review here), Denver trio Burning Sister — bassist/vocalist Steve Miller (also synth), guitarist Nathan Rorabaugh and drummer Alison Salutz — bring four originals and the Mudhoney cover “When Tomorrow Comes” (premiered here) together as Get Your Head Right, a 29-minute EP, beginning with the hypnotic nod groove and biting leads of “Fadeout” (also released as a single) and the slower, heavy psych F-U-Z-Z of “Barbiturate Lizard,” the keyboard-inclusive languid roll of which, even after the pace picks up, tells me how right I was to dig that album. The centerpiece title-track is faster and a little more forward tonally, more grounded, but carries over the vocal echo and finds itself in noisier crashes and chugs before giving over to the 7:58 “Looking Through Me,” which continues the relatively terrestrial vibe over until the wall falls off the spaceship in the middle of the track and everyone gets sucked into the vacuum — don’t worry, the synthesizer mourns us after — just before the noted cover quietly takes hold to close out with spacious heavygaze cavern echo that swells all the way up to become a blowout in the vein of the original. It’s a story that’s been told before, of a band actively growing, coming into their sound, figuring out who they are from one initial release to the next. Burning Sister haven’t finished that process yet, but I like where this seems to be headed. Namely into psych-fuzz oblivion and cosmic dust. So yeah, right on.

Burning Sister on Facebook

Burning Sister on Bandcamp

Gévaudan, Umbra

Gévaudan UMBRA

Informed by Pallbearer, Warning, or perhaps others in the sphere of emotive doom, UK troupe Gévaudan scale up from 2019’s Iter (review here) with the single-song, 43:11 Umbra, their second album. Impressive enough for its sheer ambition, the execution on the extended titular piece is both complex and organic, parts flowing naturally from one to the other around lumbering rhythms for the first 13 minutes or so before a crashout to a quick fade brings the next movement of quiet and droning psychedelia. They dwell for a time in a subtle-then-not-subtle build before exploding back to full-bore tone at 18:50 and carrying through a succession of epic, dramatic ebbs and flows, such that when the keyboard surges to the forefront of the mix in seeming battle with the pulled notes of guitar, the ensuing roll/march is a realization. They do break to quiet again, this time piano and voice, and doom mournfully into a fade that, at the end of a 43-minute song tells you the band could’ve probably kept going had they so desired. So much the better. Between this and Iter, Gévaudan have made a for-real-life statement about who they are as a band and their progressive ambitions. Do not make the mistake of thinking they’re done evolving.

Gévaudan on Facebook

Meuse Music Records website

Oxblood Forge, Cult of Oblivion

Oxblood Forge Cult of Oblivion

In some of the harsher vocals and thrashy riffing of Cult of Oblivion‘s opening title-track, Massachusetts’ Oxblood Forge remind a bit of some of the earliest Shadows Fall‘s definitively New Englander take on hardcore-informed metal. The Boston-based double-guitar five-piece speed up the telltale chug of “Children of the Grave” on “Upon the Altar” and find raw sludge scathe on “Cleanse With Fire” ahead of finishing off the four-song/18-minute EP with the rush into “Mask of Satan,” which echoes the thrash of “Cult of Oblivion” itself and finds vocalist Ken McKay pushing his voice higher in clean register than one can recall on prior releases, their most recent LP being 2021’s Decimator (review here). But that record was produced for a different kind of impact than Cult of Oblivion, and the aggression driving the new material is enhanced by the roughness of its presentation. These guys have been at it a while now, and clearly they’re not in it for trends, or to be some huge band touring for seven months at a clip. But their love of heavy metal is evident in everything they do, and it comes through here in every blow to the head they mete out.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

High Brian, Five, Six, Seven

High Brian Five Six Seven

The titular rhythmic counting in Austrian heavy-prog quirk rockers High Brian‘s Five, Six, Seven (on StoneFree Records, of course) doesn’t take long to arrive, finding its way into second cut “Is it True” after the mild careening of “All There Is” opens their third full-length, and that’s maybe eight minutes into the 40-minute record, but it doesn’t get less gleefully weird from there as the band take off into the bassy meditation of “The End” before tossing out angular headspinner riffs in succession and rolling through what feels like a history of krautrock’s willful anti-normality written into the apocalypse it would seemingly have to be. “The End” is the longest track at 8:50, and it presumably closes side A, which means side B is when it’s time to party as the triplet chug of “The Omni” reinforces the energetic start of “All There Is” with madcap fervor and “Stone Came Up” can’t decide whether it’s raw-toned biker rock or spaced out lysergic idolatry, so it decides to become an open jam complete people talking “in the crowd.” This leaves the penultimate “Our First Car” to deliver one last shove into the art-rock volatility of closer “Oil Into the Fire,” where High Brian play one more round of can-you-follow-where-this-is-going before ending with a gentle cymbal wash like nothing ever happened. Note, to the best of my knowledge, there are not bongos on every track, as the cover art heralds. But perhaps spiritually. Spiritual bongos.

High Brian on Facebook

StoneFree Records website

Búho Ermitaño, Implosiones

Búho Ermitaño Implosiones

Shimmering, gorgeous and richly informed in melody and rhythm by South American folk, Búho Ermitaño‘s Implosiones revels in pastoralia in opener “Herbie” before “Expolosiones” takes off past its midpoint into heavy post-rock float and progressive urgency that in itself is more dynamic than many bands even still is only a small fraction of the encompassing range of sounds at work throughout these seven songs. ’60s psych twists into the guitar solo in the back half of “Explosiones” before space rock key/synth wash finishes — yes, it’s like that — and only then does the serene guitar and, birdsong and synth-drone of “Preludio” announce the arrival of centerpiece “Ingravita,” which begins acoustic and even as it climbs all the way up to its crescendo maintains its peaceful undercurrent so that when it returns at the end it seems to be home again at the finish. The subsequent “Buarabino” is more about physical movement in its rhythm, cumbia roots perhaps showing through, but leaves the ground for its second half of multidirectional resonances offered like ’70s prog that tells you it’s from another planet. But no, cosmic as they get in the keys of “Entre los Cerros,” Búho Ermitaño are of and for the Earth — you can hear it in every groove and sun-on-water guitar melody — and when the bowl chimes to start finale “Renacer,” the procession that ensues en route to the final drone is an affirmation both of the course they’ve taken in sound and whatever it is in your life that’s led you to hear it. Records like this never get hype. They should. They are loved nonetheless.

Búho Ermitaño on Facebook

Buh Records on Bandcamp

Octonaut, Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

Octonaut Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

In concept or manifestation, one would not call Octonaut‘s 54-minute shenanigans-prone debut album Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod a minor undertaking. On any level one might want to approach it — taking on the two-minute feedbackscape of “…—…” (up on your morse code?) or the 11-minute tale-teller-complete-with-digression-about-black-holes “Octonaut” or any of their fun-with-fuzz-and-prog-metal-and-psychedelia points in between — it is a lot, and there is a lot going on, but it’s also wonderfully brazen. It’s completely over the top and knows it. It doesn’t want to behave. It doesn’t want to just be another stoner band. It’s throwing everything out in the open and seeing what works, and as Octonaut move forward, ideally, they’ll take the lessons of a song like the mellow linear builder “Hypnotic Jungle” or nine-minute capper “Rainbow Muffler Camel” (like they’re throwing darts at words) with its intermittent manic fits and the somehow inevitable finish of blown-out static noise. As much stoner as it is prog, it’s also not really either, but this is good news because there are few better places for an act so clearly bent on individualism as Octonaut are to begin than in between genres. One hopes they dwell there for the duration.

Octonaut on Facebook


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Alabama Thunderpussy Announce December Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Next week, Alabama Thunderpussy travel abroad for their first run of European touring since the album cycle for 2007’s Open Fire, which if you missed the year there I’ll just tell you was so long ago this site didn’t even exist yet, and I can barely remember fuggin’ anything before The Obelisk got going. You mean I wasn’t doing this when I was 10? Why the hell not?

To follow-up on this, the favored sons of Riffmond, Virginia, are today putting out word that after they return from the two-week stint on the continent — where they’ll play Up in Smoke, Into the Void, Keep it Low and more besides — they’ll do a three-show run of shows in North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. You can see the dates below, but I’ll point out that the lineups for all three shows are pretty stellar. Having been fortunate enough to see ATP and Suplecs sharing a stage this past December, I’ll recommend the experience without reservation. Those two work well together and have for some time. Former labelmates, you know, in the Man’s Ruin days.

But let us not wax nostalgic, for this is rock and roll and nobody has time for that shit — except, apparently, everybody — the real question here is whether or not Alabama Thunderpussy are going to get back to the studio end of their business (which is rockin’) and do another record. Do I know? Nope. Do I want to hazard a guess? Not particularly. Prolific as guitarist Erik Larson (also drums in Thunderchief, Avail, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist for solo stuff, guitar hither and yon and so forth) is, there’s more to the band doing another album than just that. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. In the meantime, they’ll share stages with Lie Heavy, Crystal Spiders, Order of the Owl, Suplecs, Insomniac and Total Hell, and a ton more in Europe beforehand. If, as a group, you’re trying to get your feet under you, keeping good company is always a way to go.

Dates magically appeared out of the ether on the PR wire, which happens from time to time. Also be sure to check out ATP moving into the age of social media ‘content creation’ below, just for fun:

alabama thunderpussy dec shows

Alabama Thunderpussy – December Live Dates

Local bands for the ATP December shows:
12/7-Raliegh NC @ Chapel of Bones w/ Lie Heavy, Crystal Spiders
12/8- Atlanta GA @ Boggs Social w/ Order of the Owl, Insomniac
12/9- New Orleans LA @ Gasa Gasa w/ Suplecs, Total Hell

ATP European Tour:
Tickets are available here:
29.09 – Up In Smoke Festival, Pratteln, CH
30.09 – Into The Void Festival, Leeuwarden, NL
01.10 – Indra Club, Hamburg, DE
02.10 – Rahuset, Copenhagen, DK
03.10 – Cassiopeia, Berlin, DE
04.10 – Mephisto (@ Faust), Hannover, DE
05.10 – Bauhaus, Erfurt, DE
06.10 – Keep It Low Festival, Munich, DE
07.10 – Altoquandro, Zerobranco, IT
08.10 – Splinter, Parma, IT
09.10 – Channel Zero, Ljubljana, SLO
10.10 – Blah Blah, Turin, IT
11.10 – Caves du Manoir, Martigny, CH (co-headline W/ -16-)
12.10 – Glazart, Paris, FR
13.10 – Zappa, Antwerp, BE

Alabama Thunderpussy:
Bryan Cox-Drums
Sam Krivanec- Bass
Ryan Lake- Guitar
Erik Larson- Guitar
Kyle Thomas- Vocals

Alabama Thunderpussy, Open Fire (2007)

Alabama Thunderpussy, tour promo

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Book of Wyrms to Release “Storm Warning” Single Sept. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

It’s one of my bigger regrets for 2023 that I didn’t get to tag along with Richmond, Virginia’s Book of Wyrms and New York’s Geezer for the trio of Canadian shows they did this past Spring. I was all about it and then there was stuff and that was it. I could go on, would prefer not, so won’t, but yeah.

You might recall the band premiered their 2022 single “Sodapop Glacier” here and their new single is “Storm Warning.” It’ll be out Sept. 13, which is, uh, less than a week from now. So heads up on that. They’ll be playing a gig alongside Thunderchief and Red Beard Wall (from Texas) on the 16th at Banditos in Richmond. If you’re in the area or headed that way, the event page is here and I happened to be invited coincidentally as I was putting this very paragraph together, because timing is everything:

And here’s the PR wire info on the single:

book of wyrms storm warning

Richmond, Virginia’s BOOK OF WYRMS announce new single “Storm Warning” to release on September 13th via Desert Records.

It’s melodic, driving heavy metal that’s still weird and spacey. Moody female vocals ride on fuzz bass and razor-sharp Marshall leads, as flying saucer synths lurk in the back. The song is about the destructive prowess of weather, and what happens when humans seize that power.

SW was mastered by Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) and features blacklight art by Stephen Krakow (Plastic Crimewave). If you dig doom, psych, or space rock but can’t spare 20 minutes, this jam’s for you.

“Storm Warning” lands somewhere between 80’s Priest and Lemmy’s Hawkwind.

This will be the band’s third release on Albuquerque’s Desert Records.

In 2021, BOW’s third full length “Occult New Age” was released worlwide on LP, CD, Cassette, digital download, and on streaming platforms.

In 2022, a stand alone single (and extended version) called “SodaPop Glacier” was released on streaming platforms and Bandcamp.

An incredibly hardworking band full of wonderful individuals, Book of Wyrms has a rapidly growing fan base. The band took their music to Canada for the first time in May of 2023.

This is a band to watch, as they continue to rise to the top of the heavy underground.

Book of Wyrms, “Sodapop Glacier” (2022)

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Quarterly Review: Monolord, Somnuri, Void King, Inezona, Hauch, El Astronauta, Thunder Horse, After Nations, Ockra, Erik Larson

Posted in Reviews on July 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


That’s it. End of the Summer 2023 Quarterly Review and the last round of this kind of thing until, I don’t know, sometime here or there in late September or early October. I feel like I say this every time out — and I readily acknowledge the possibility that I do; I’ve been doing this for a while, and there’s only so much shit to say — but it is my sincere hope you found something in this round of 70 records that hits with you. I did, a couple times over at least. One of the reasons I look forward to the Quarterly Review, apart from clearing off album-promo folders from my desktop, is that my end-of-year lists always look different coming out of one than they did going in. This time is no different.

But, you know, if you didn’t get there this time, that’s okay too. There’s always the next one and one of the fortunate things about living in a time with such an onslaught of recorded music is that there’s always something new to check out. The Quarterly Review is over for a couple months, yeah, but new music happens every day. Every day is another chance to find your new favorite album, band, video, whatever. Enjoy that.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Monolord, It’s All the Same

Monolord It's All the Same

After nearly a decade of hard, album-cycle-driven international touring and standing at the forefront in helping to steer a generational wave of lumbering riffage, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord might feel stuck, and “Glaive (It’s All the Same)” seems to acknowledge that. Stylistically, though the lead and partial title-track on the roller trio’s new EP, It’s All the Same, is itself a way forward. It is more spacious than crushing, and they fill the single out with guitarist Thomas V. Jäger‘s sorrowful vocal delivery and memorable early lead lines, a steady, organic rhythm from drummer/engineer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki — worth noting that all three have either released solo albums or otherwise explored solo work in the last two years — and Mellotron that adds a classically progressive flair and lets the guitar focus on mood rather than stomp, though there’s still plenty of that in “Glaive (It’s All the Same)” and is more the focus of “The Only Road,” so Monolord aren’t necessarily making radical changes from where they were on 2021’s Your Time to Shine (review here), but as there has been all along, there’s steady growth in balance with the physicality of tone one has come to anticipate from them. After scaling back on road time, It’s All the Same feels reassuring even as it pushes successfully the boundaries of their signature sound.

Monolord on Facebook

Relapse Records store


Somnuri, Desiderium

Somnuri Desiderium

Raging not at all unthoughtfully for most of its concise-feeling but satisfying 38 minutes, Somnuri‘s third album and MNRK Heavy label debut, the nine-song Desiderium, is a tour de force through metallic strengths. Informed by the likes of Death, (their now-labelmates) High on Fire, Killswitch Engage, Gojira (at whose studio they recorded), thick-toned and swapping between harsh shouts, screams and clean-sung choruses — and yes, that’s just in the first three minutes of opener “Death is the Beginning” — the Brooklynite trio of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell, bassist Mike G. and drummer Phil SanGiacomo brazenly careen and crash through styles, be it the lumbering and impatiently angular doom “Paramnesia,” the rousing sprint “What a Way to Go,” the raw, vocals-rightly-forward and relatively free of effects “Remnants” near the end, or the pairing of the fervent, thrashy shove in “Flesh and Blood” with the release-your-inner-CaveIn “Desiderium,” the overwhelming extremity of “Pale Eyes” or the post-hardcore balladeering that turns to djent sludge largesse in closer “The Way Out” — note the album begins at “…the Beginning” and ends at an exit; happy accident or purposeful choice; it works either way — Somnuri are in the hurricane rather than commanding from the calm center, and that shows in the emotionalism of prior single “Hollow Visions,” but at no point does Desiderium collapse under the weight of its ambitions. After years of touring and the triumph that was 2021’s Nefarious Wave (review here) hinting at what seems in full bloom here, Somnuri sound ready for the next level they’ve reached. Time to spend like the next five years straight on tour, guys. Sorry, but that’s what happens when you’re the kick in the ass heavy metal doesn’t yet know it needs.

Somnuri on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website


Void King, The Hidden Hymnal

Void King The Hidden Hymnal

Densely distorted Indianapolis heavybringers Void King have stated that their third full-length, the burly but not unatmospheric 36-minute The Hidden Hymnal, is the first of a two-part outing, though it’s unclear whether both parts are a concept record or these six tracks are meant to start a storyline, with opener “Egg of the Sun” (that would happen if it spun really fast) and closer “Drink in the Light” feeling complementary in their increased runtime relative to the four songs between. Maybe it’s an unfinished narrative at this point, or no narrative at all. Fine. Approaching it as a standalone outing, the four-piece follow 2019’s Barren Dominion (review here) with more choice riffing and metal-threatening, weighted doom, “The Grackle” breaking out some rawer-throat gutturalism over its big, big, big tone. The bassline of “Engulfed in Absence” (tell people you love them) caps side A with a highlight, and “When the Pinecones Close Up” (that means it’s going to rain) echoes the volatility of “The Grackle” before “Brother Tried” languidly swings until it’s time for a 100 meter dash at the end, and the aforementioned “Drink in the Light” rounds out mournful and determined. If there’s more to come, so be it, but Void King give their listeners plenty to chew on in the interim.

Void King on Facebook

Void King on Bandcamp


Inezona, Heartbeat

Inezona Heartbeat

At the core of ostensibly Switzerland-based Inezona is multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ines Brodbeck, and on Heartbeat — the fourth LP from her band and the follow-up to 2019’s Now, released as INEZ, and last year’s sans-vocals A Self Portrait — the sound is malleable around its folkish melodicism, with Brodbeck, guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Sullivan, bassist/synthesist Fabian Gisler and drummer Eric Gut comfortably fleshing out atmospheric heavy psychedelia more about mood than effects but too active and almost too expressive to be post-rock, though it kind of is anyhow. Mellow throughout, “Sea Soul” caps side A and meanders into/through a jam building on the smoky vibe in “Stardust” before the title-track strolls across a field of more ’60s-derived folk rock. “Veil” charms with fuzz, while “In My Heart” seems intent on finding the place where Scandinavian folk meets kosmiche synthesizer, and “Midnight Circle” brings Zatokrev‘s Fredryk Rotter for a guest duet and guitar spot that is a whole-album crescendo, with the acoustic-based “Leave Me Alone” and the brief “Sunday Mornings” at the end to manage the comedown. The sound spans decades and styles and functions with purpose as its own presence, and the soothing delivery of Brodbeck throughout much of the proceedings draws Heartbeat together as an interpretation of classic pop ideals with deep roots underground. Proof again that ‘heavy’ is about more than which pedals you have on your board.

Inezona on Facebook

Czar of Crickets Productions store


Hauch, Lehmasche

Hauch Lehmasche

It’s odd that it’s odd that Hauch‘s songs are in German. The pandemic-born Waltrop, Germany, four-piece present their first release in the recorded-in-2021, five-song Lehmasche, and I guess so much of the material coming out of the German heavy underground — and there’s a lot of it, always — is in English. A distinguishing factor for the 31-minute outing, then, which is further marked by an attitudinal edge in hard-fuzz riffers like “Es Ist” and the closer “Tür,” the aesthetic of the band at this (or that, depending on how present-tense we want to be) moment drawing strongly from ’90s rock — and no, that doesn’t necessarily mean stoner — in structure and affect, but presenting the almost-eight-minute leadoff “Wind” with due fullness of sound and ending up not too far in terms of style from Switzerland’s Carson, who last year likewise proffered a style that was straightforward on its face but, like Hauch, stood out for its level of songwriting and the just-right nature of its grooves. Lehmasche, the title translating to ‘clay ash,’ evokes something that can change shape, and the thrust in “Komm Nach Hause” and the hard-landing kick thud of centerpiece “Quelle” bear that out well enough. Keeping in mind it’s their debut, it seems likely Hauch will continue to grow, but they already sound ready to be picked up by some label or other.

Hauch on Facebook

Hauch on Bandcamp


El Astronauta, Snakes and Foxes

el astronauta snakes and foxes

Setting its nod in a manner that seems to have little time to waste on opener “The Mountain and the Feather” before breaking out with the dense, chugging swing of “The Corenne and the Prophecy Fulfilled,” Kentucky heavybringers El Astronauta bring a nuanced sound to what might be familiar progressions, but the mix is set up in three dimensions and the band dwells in all of them, bringing character to the languid reach of the mini-album Snakes and Foxes, bolstered by the everybody-might-sing approach from guitarist/keyboardist Seth Wilson, bassist Dean Collier and pushed-back drummer Cory Link, who debuted in 2021 with High Strangeness and who dude-march through “The Gambler and the General” as if the tempo was impeded by the thickness of the song itself. Through a mere 17 Earth minutes, El Astronauta carve out this indent for themselves in the side of a very large, very heavy style of rock and roll, but “The Axe or the Hammer,” which bookends topping five minutes in answer to “The Mountain and the Feather,” has a more subdued verse to go along with the damn near martial shouts of its impact-minded chorus, and fades out with surprising fluidity to leave off. The one-thing-and-another-thing titles give Snakes and Foxes a thematic feel, but the real theme here is the barebones greed-for-volume El Astronauta display, their material feeling built for beery singalongs.

El Astronauta on Facebook

Snow Wolf Records on Bandcamp


Thunder Horse, After the Fall

Thunder Horse After the Fall

With their third full-length behind 2021’s Chosen One (review here) and their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), Texan riff rollers Thunder Horse grow accordingly more atmospheric in their presentation and are that much more sure of themselves in leaning into founding guitarist/vocalist Stephen Bishop‘s industrial metal past in Pitbull Daycare. The keys give “Requiem” an epic feel at the finish, and even if the opening title-track is like what Filter might’ve been if they’d been awesome and “New Normal” and “Monolith” push further with semi-aggro metallurgical force, the wall-of-tone remains thusly informed until the two-minute acoustic “The Other Side” tells listeners where to go when it’s over (you flip the record, duh). “Monolith” hinted at a severity that manifests in the doomed “Apocalypse,” a preface in its noise and breadth for the finale “Requiem,” finding a momentum that the layered-vocal hook of “Inner Demon” capitalizes upon with its tense toms and that the howls of the penultimate “Aberdeen” expand on with Thunder Horse‘s version of classic boogie rock. They don’t come across like they’re done exploring the balances of influence in what they do — and I hope they’re not — but Thunder Horse have never sounded more certain as regards the rightness of their path.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website


After Nations, Vīrya

After Nations Virya

The title “Vīrya” is Sanskrit and based on the Hindu concept of vitality or energy, often in a specifically male context. Fair enough ground for Kansas instrumentalists After Nations to explore on their single following last year’s impressive, Buddhism-based concept LP, The Endless Mountain (review here). In the four-minute standalone check-in, the four-piece remind just how granite-slab heavy that offering was as they find a linear path from the warning-siren-esque guitar at the start through the slower groove and into the space where a post-metallic verse could reside but doesn’t and that’s just fine, turning back to the big-bigger-biggest riff before shifting toward controlled-cacophony progressive metal, hints of djent soon to flower as they build tension through the higher guitar frequencies and the intensity of the whole. After three minutes in, they’re charging forward, but it’s a flash and they’re dug into the whatever-time-signature finishing movement, a quick departure to guitar soon consumed by that feeling you get when you listen to Meshuggah that there’s a very large thing rising up very slowly in front of you and surely you’ll never get out alive. Precise in their attack, After Nations reinforce the point The Endless Mountain made that technique is only one part of their overarching brutality.

After Nations on Facebook

After Nations on Bandcamp


Ockra, Gratitude

ockra gratitude

There’s some incongruity between the intro “Introspection” (I see what you did there) leading into “Weightless Again” as it takes the mood from a quiet buildup to full-bore tonality and only then gives over to the eight-minute second track, but Ockra‘s Argonauta-delivered debut long-player thrives in that contradiction. Melodic vocals float over energetic riffing in “Weightless Again,” but even that is just a hint of the seven-songer’s scope. To wit, the initially acoustic-based “Tree I Planted” is recognizably parental in its point of view with a guest vocal from Stefanie Spielhaupter, and while centerpiece “Acceptance” is more doomed in its introductory lead guitar, the open strum of its early verses and the harmonies in its second half assure an impression is made. The Gothenburg-based trio grow yet more adventurous in the drone-and-voice outset of “We Who Didn’t Know,” which unfolds its own notions of what ‘heavy prog’ means, with guitarist Erik Björnlinger howling at the finish ahead of the start of the more folk-minded strum of “Imorgon Här,” on which drummer Jonas Nyström (who also played that acoustic on “We Who Didn’t Know” and adds Mellotron where applicable) takes over lead vocal duties from bassist Alex Spielhaupter (also more Mellotron). The German-language closer “Tage Wie Dieser” (‘days like these’) boasts a return from Stefanie Spielhaupter and is both quiet grunge and ambient post-rock before the proggy intensity of its final wash takes hold, needing neither a barrage of effects or long stretches of jamming to conjure a sense of the far out.

Ockra on Facebook

Argonauta Records store


Erik Larson, Fortsett

erik larson fortsett

What’s another 20 minutes of music to Erik Larson, I wonder. The Richmond-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist has a career and a discography that goes back to the first Avail record three decades ago, and at no point in those decades has he ever really stopped, moving through outfits like (the now-reunited) Alabama Thunderpussy, Axehandle, The Mighty Nimbus, Hail!Hornet, Birds of Prey, Kilara, Backwoods Payback, Thunderchief, on and on, while building his solo catalog as well. Fortsett, the 20-minute EP in question, follows 2022’s Red Lines and Everything Breaks (both reviewed here), and features Druglord‘s Tommy Hamilton (also Larson‘s bandmate in Omen Stones) on drums and engineer Mark Miley on a variety of instruments and backing vocals. And you know what? It’s a pretty crucial-sounding 20 minutes. Larson leads the charge through his take that helped define Southern heavy in “Cry in the Wind,” the nodder “My Own,” and the sub-two-minute “Electric Burning,” pulls back on the throttle for “Hounder Sistra” and closes backed by drum machine and keys on “Life Shedding,” just in case you dared to think you know what you were getting. So what’s that 20 minutes of music to Erik Larson? Going by the sound of Fortsett, it’s the most important part of the day.

Erik Larson on Bandcamp


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Erik Larson Releases New Album Fortsett

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

erik larson

Arriving, as these things will, through Bandcamp with notably absent social media fanfare, Erik Larson‘s new solo album, Fortsett, comes at a pretty busy time for the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter. As regards solo work, Fortsett follows 2022’s Red Lines and Everything Breaks (reviews here), and it finds the auteur himself about to tour the Midwest as drummer of the duo Thunderchief, and looking ahead to touring Europe this Fall on guitar with the reunited Alabama Thunderpussy. Plus you never quite know when Avail are gonna do a handful of shows around appearing at some hardcore festival or other. Larson keeps busy. At this point it’s part of who he is.

I haven’t had a chance to dig into Fortsett yet, but I did find lead track “Cry in the Wind” a fascinating reminder of his time in Backwoods Payback. Maybe this will be Larson‘s indie rock album. He’s due, if you believe in due. In any case, it’s out as of yesterday and streaming in full with a download at $5, which seems perfectly reasonable. Next place I’m headed is to get one of those.

So off I go:

erik larson fortsett

ERIK LARSON – Fortsett

Hey Y’all. Just a quick note to let you know I’m putting up a new record titled “Fortsett” Monday June 19th. Hope y’all dig the songs, and if you feel so inclined to purchase a download, it’s a good day to do so since Bandcamp will be donating 100% of their cut to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. I’ll be attending the Maryland Doom Fest again this year and I plan to bring some burned copies of Fortsett for anyone who’s interested. Nothing fancy, they’re just gonna be burned cdrs while they last.

Thanks for giving a hoot!

1. Cry in the Wind 04:28
2. 70’s Kid 03:05
3. My Own 03:44
4. Electric Burning 01:58
5. Hounder Sistra 03:42
6. Life Shedding 03:31

Drums recorded by Tommy Hamilton in the DrugLord Deep-Dark late December 2022
Guitars/Bass/Vocals recorded by Mark Miley at the Ghetto Mansion in and around Feb-April 2023. Mixed by Mark Miley at the Ghetto Mansion in a few days in May 2023.
Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East.
Produced by Erik Larson and Mark Miley

All Words and Music Written and Performed by Erik Larson
Cover illustration by Erik Larson
Art Direction/Layout by Chris Boarts Larson

Erik Larson, Fortsett (2023)

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Thunderchief Announce Midwestern Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Well, that’s a DIY underground tour right there, with Thunderchief heading out from their Richmond home base in order to hit up the Midwest and venues with words like Tavern, bar, pub and, more curiously, skatepark, in their names. The tour runs as far west as Lincoln, Nebraska, and is essentially a loop that will carry the duo of Rik Surly and Erik Larson back toward home by the finish, going in support of their Dekk Meg… release, which compiled a year’s worth of covers released as singles. With one day off on a 16-show stint, one would not accuse them of taking it easy on themselves.

Safe travels to them and a hearty word to bring earplugs if you’re headed out to any of the shows. One doesn’t expect they’ll take it easy on their audience’s hearing either.

The below comes from the PR wire, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone’s anything referred to as a “powerfuck.” To wit:

thunderchief tour poster

THUNDERCHIEF Goes to Nebraska

Richmond, VA’s very own 2-piece powerfuck, THUNDERCHIEF, is heading West in July—to the Midwest, that is. The band will be bouncing around the Heartland, delivering a hodgepodge of songs from “Witchduck EP”, “No Sufferance For Thy Fools”, “Synanthrope”, and their latest release on ASR Records, “Dekk Meg…”, and maybe some new material if time allows.

The tour begins in Harrisonburg, VA, and meanders thru a variety of venues, skateparks & DIY spots, sharing space with a slew of killer bands, including Ommnus, Slow Attack, Crack Mountain, Long Cold Stare, Some Kind of Nightmare, and on the final show of the tour, the band finds themselves in direct support of LIE HEAVY’s Record release show (featuring Karl Agell & crew)

This will be THUNDERCHIEF’s first venture to the Midwest, and the band couldn’t be more excited to celebrate July 4 week in the nation’s Breadbasket!

Tour dates, news and all things THUNDERCHIEF can be found here…

6/28 Harrisonburg, VA — Golden Pony
6/29 Lansing, MI. — Mac Bar
6/30 Kent, OH — Zephyr
7/1 Chicago, IL — Liars Club
7/2 Waukegan, IL — Starlight Skatepark
7/4 St. Joseph, MO — Sk8bar
7/5 Des Moines, IA –Hull Ave. Tavern
7/6 Lincoln, NE — 1867
7/7 Kansas City, MO — Black Tar Pit
7/8 Indianapolis, IN — State St. Pub
7/9 Louisville, KY — Mag Bar
7/10 Murfreesboro, TN — CxR
7/11 Birmingham, AL — Saturn
7/12 Chattanooga, TN — JJs Bohemia
7/13 Atlanta, GA — Star Bar
7/14 Raleigh, NC — Pour House (LIE HEAVY release show)

Thunderchief are:
Rik Surly – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

Thunderchief, Dekk Meg… (2023)

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