Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as De Doorn marks their first offering through Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

Amenra on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

Liquid Sound Company on Facebook

Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp

 

Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

Iceburn on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

Gods & Punks on Facebok

Abraxas on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website

 

Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

Heathen Rites on Facebook

Svart Records website

 

Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website

 

Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website

 

Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

 

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Gods & Punks Premiere New Single Dimensionaut / Eye in the Sky

Posted in audiObelisk on April 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

gods and punks

Brazilian heavy rockers Gods & Punks are working toward the release of their impending fourth full-length. Titled The Sounds of the Universe and set to issue through respected countryman purveyor Abraxas as well as the US-based Forbidden Place Records, the new LP is preceded April 23 by the two-songer single Dimensionaut / Eye in the Sky, about which the band has provided extensive notes and perspective. Each single comes with its own artwork and the first of them, “Dimensionaut” purport to summarize the narrative that’s taken place on the across the band’s to-date offerings, presumably to that “Eye in the Sky” and the other pieces of the album can pick up from there and continue to unfold and conclude what they call the ‘Voyage Series.’

“Eye in the Sky” picks up where late-2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) left off, and also calls back to the band’s 2016 debut EP, The Sounds of the Earth — as several of the new album songs will — its languid, jammed-out foundation providing a spacious counterpoint to its more driving predecessor. Gods & Punks count “Dimensionaut” among the most intense material they’ve put together, and fair enough. They recorded at Estúdio MATA, in Niterói, part of Rio de Janeiro, and Kleber Mariano and André Leal at Estúdio Jukebox — the same locale and team behind the last outing — and though not lacking push, the sound is duly lush when they want it to be, the organ expanding their already atmospheric basis of guitar atop the fluid grooves of drums and bass in “Eye in the Sky.” It’s a nine-minute sampling, all told, and the band clearly picked the two tracks in order to establish the dynamic they’re working with throughout the album, one end of the spectrum to the other, as well as the ways all the songs tie together.

I haven’t heard the full record yet, but they sound firmly in command throughout both “Dimensionaut” and “Eye in the Sky” as you can hear below, and one should expect no less for a band who are engaging their past in order to tie up a narrative they’ve stretched across multiple releases at this point. What does the saga’s final moments hold? Well, you’d probably need a lyric sheet to figure that out, but Gods & Punks make an enticing argument for engaging with their storyline’s final chapter in these songs, and even if you don’t know how they got to this point — the Bandcamp is right there if you’re up for digging back — Dimensionaut / Eye in the Sky readily demonstrates that it’s not too late to get on board whatever kind of ship it is they’re taking beyond the stratosphere. There’s room for any and all.

Comment from the band follows. Please enjoy:

Gods & Punks on Dimensionaut / Eye in the Sky:

We chose to release two singles on the same day to represent what will be The Sounds of the Universe, the last release of the Voyage Series, which began in 2017 with Into the Dunes of Doom and featured Enter the Ceremony of Damnation, 2018, and And the Celestial Ascension, from 2020. We have been telling a story for 4 years that will finally be finished, in a representative way to the narrative.

Dimensionaut was the last song composed in the cabin, with the 5 members who recorded the other Voyage Series records. Eye in the Sky brings a finalized and reimagined version of the very first track of our first EP, The Sounds of the Earth, in 2016. One demonstrates where we are now, the other demonstrates how we would do today, something we did when we had just started play together.

The Sounds of the Universe will deal with a total of 9 songs: 5 tracks from our debut EP in new, revamped versions, and another 4 completely new tracks, composed between 2019 and 2020. The album is the last release of the Voyage Series, but the first chapter of history. And whoever takes the time to listen to the songs in the correct order of the story, will understand why we did it. And with these two tracks, you will have an idea of the album that we will release soon.

Gods & Punks on Thee Facebooks

Gods & Punks on Instagram

Gods & Punks on Bandcamp

Abraxas on Thee Facebooks

Abraxas on Instagram

Abraxas on YouTube

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Quarterly Review: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Cruthu, Sólstafir, ILS, Bismut, Cracked Machine, Megadrone, KLÄMP, Mábura, Astral Sleep

Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

We’ve reached the portion of the Quarterly Review wherein I would no longer know what day it is if I didn’t have my notes to help me keep track. I suppose it doesn’t matter — the day, that is — since it’s 10 records either way, but I’d hate to review the same albums two days in a row or something. Though, come to think of it, that might be a fun experiment sometime.

Not today. Today is another fresh batch of 10 on the way to 60 by next Monday. We’ll get there. Always do. And if you’re wondering, today’s Thursday. At least that’s what I have in my notes.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. I

bell witch aerial ruin Stygian Bough Volume 1

The collaborative effort Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin and their 64-minute full-length, Stygian Bough Vol. I — the intention toward future output together hinted at in the title already confirmed by the group(s) — is a direct extension of what Aerial Ruin, aka Erik Moggridge, brought to the last Bell Witch album, 2017’s Mirror Reaper (review here), in terms of complementing the crushing, emotionally resonant death-doom of the Washington duo with morose folk vocal melody. Stygian Bough Vol. I is distinguished by having been written by the two-plus-one-equals-three-piece as a group, and accordingly, it more fluidly weaves Moggridge‘s contributions into those of Bell Witch‘s Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman, resulting in an approach like if Patrick Walker from Warning had joined Thergothon. It’s prevailing spirit is deep melancholy in longer pieces like “The Bastard Wind” and “The Unbodied Air,” both over 19 minutes, while it might be in “Heaven Torn Low I (The Passage)” and “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)” that the trio most effectively bring their intent to life. Either way, if you’re in, be ready to go all the way in, but know that it’s well worth doing so.

Bell Witch on Thee Facebooks

Aerial Ruin on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Cruthu, Athrú Crutha

cruthu Athrú Crutha

Traditional doom with flourish both of noise and NWOBHM guitars — that turn in the second half of opener “Transformation” is like a dogwhistle for Iron Maiden fans — I hear Cruthu‘s second album, Athrú Crutha, and all I can think of are label recommendations. The Michigan outfit’s 2017 debut, The Angle of Eternity (review here), was eventually issued on The Church Within, and that’d certainly work, but also Ván Records, Shadow Kingdom, and even Cruz Del Sur seem like fitting potential homes for the righteousness on display across the vinyl-ready six-song/39-minute outing, frontman Ryan Evans commanding in presence over the reverb-loaded classic-style riffs of guitarist Dan McCormick and the accompanying gallop in Matt Fry‘s drums given heft by Derek Kasperlik‘s bass. Like the opener, “Necromancy” and “Dimensional Collide” move at a good clip, but side B’s “The Outsider” and closer “Crown of Horns” slow things down following the surprisingly rough-edged “Beyond the Pale.” One way or the other, it’s all doomed and so are we.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Sólstafir, Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

Sólstafir endless twilight of codependent love

Whereas 2017’s Berdreyminn (review here) existed in the shadow of 2014’s Ótta (review here), Endless Twilight of Codependent Love brings Iceland’s Sólstafir to a new place in terms of their longer-term progression. It is their first album with an English title since 2005’s Masterpiece of Bitterness, and though they’ve had English-language songs since then, the mellow “Her Fall From Grace” is obviously intended to be a standout here, and it is. On the nine-song/62-minute course of the album, however, it is one impression of many, and in the raging “Dionysus” and post-blackened “Drýsill,” 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Akkeri,” richly atmospheric “Rökkur,” goth-lounging “Or” and worthy finale “Úlfur,” Sólstafir remind of the richly individual nature of their approach. The language swaps could be reaching out to a broader, non-Icelandic-speaking audience. If so, it’s only in the interest of that audience to take note if they haven’t already.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

ILS, Curse

ils curse

Curse is the first long-player from Portland, Oregon’s ILS, and it’s a rager in the PNW noise tradition, with uptempo, gonna-throw-a-punch-and-then-apologize riffs and basslines and swaps between semi-spoken shouts and vicious screams from Tom Glose (ex-Black Elk) that are precisely as jarring as they’re meant to be. I don’t think Curse is anyone’s first time at the dance — Glose, guitarist Nate Abner, bassist Adam Pike or drummer Tim Steiner — but it only benefits across its sans-bullshit 28-minute run by knowing what it wants to do. Its longest material, like the title-track or “Don’t Hurt Me,” which follows, or closer “For the Shame I Bring,” rests on either side of three and a half minutes, but some of the most brutal impressions are made in cuts like “It’s Not Lard but it’s a Cyst” or leadoff “Bad Parts,” which have even less time to waste but are no less consuming, particularly at high volume. The kind of record for when you want to assault yourself. And hey, that happens.

ILS on Thee Facebooks

P.O.G.O. Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismut, Retrocausality

bismut retrocausality

Apart from the consciously-titled three-minute noiseblaster finale “Antithesis” that’s clearly intended to contrast with what comes before it, Bismut‘s second LP for Lay Bare, Retrocausality, is made up of five extended instrumental pieces the shortest of which is just under 13 minutes long. The Nijmegen-based trio — guitarist Nik Linders, bassist Huibert der Weduwen, drummer Peter Dragt — build these semi-improvisational pieces on the foundation they set with 2018’s Schwerpunkt (review here), and their explorations through heavy rock, metal and psychedelia feel all the more cohesive as a song like “Vergangenheit” is nonetheless able to blindside with the heavy riff toward which it’s been moving for its entire first half. At 71 minutes total, it’s a purposefully unmanageable runtime, but as “Predvídanie” imagines a psych-thrash and “Oscuramento” drones to its crashing finish, Bismut seem to be working on their own temporal accord anyhow. For those stuck on linear time, that means repeat listens may be necessary to fully digest, but that’s nothing to complain about either.

Bismut on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Cracked Machine, Gates of Keras

Cracked Machine Gates of Keras

UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine have worked relatively quickly over the course of their now-three albums to bring a sense of their own perspective to the tropes of heavy psychedelic rock. Alongside the warmth of tone in the guitar and bass, feeling drawn from the My Sleeping Karma/Colour Haze pastiche of progressive meditations, there is a coinciding edge of English heavy rock and roll that one can hear not so much in the drift of “Temple of Zaum” as in the push of “Black Square Icon,” which follows, as well as the subtle impatience of the drums on “October Dawn.” “Move 37,” on the other hand, is willfully speedier and more upbeat than much of what surrounds, but though opener/longest track (immediate points) “Cold Iron Light” hits 7:26, nothing on Gates of Keras sticks around long enough to overstay its welcome, and even in their deepest contemplations, the feeling of motion carries them and the listener effectively through the album’s span. They sound like a band realizing what they want to do with all the potential they’ve built up.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

PsyKa Records website

 

Megadrone, Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

Megadrone Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

From cinematic paranoia to consuming and ultra-slow rollout of massive tonality, the debut offering from Megadrone — the one-man outfit of former Bevar Sea vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy — stretches across 53 minutes of unmitigated sonic consumption. If nothing else, Krishnaswamy chose the right moniker for the project. The Bandcamp version is spread across two parts — “Transmission A” (21:45) and “Transmission B” (32:09) — and any vinyl release would require significant editing as well, but the version I have is one huge, extended track, and that feels like exactly how Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae was composed and is supposed to be heard. Its mind-numbing repetitions lead the listener on a subtle forward march — there are drums back in that morass somewhere, I know it — and the piece follows an arc that begins relatively quiet, swells in its midsection and gradually recedes again over its final 10 minutes or so. It goes without saying that a 53-minute work of experimentalist drone crushscaping isn’t going to be for the faint of heart. Bold favors bold.

Megadrone on Thee Facebooks

Megadrone on Bandcamp

 

KLÄMP, Hate You

klamp hate you

Sax-laced noise rock psychedelic freakouts, blown-out drums and shouts and drones, cacophonous stomp and chaotic sprawl, and a finale that holds back its payoff so long it feels cruel, KLÄMP‘s second album, Hate You, arrives less than a year after their self-titled debut, and perhaps there’s some clue as to why in the sheer mania of their execution. Hate You launches with the angularity of its 1:47 title-track and rolls out a nodding groove on top of that, but it’s movement from one part to another, one piece to another, is frenetic, regardless of the actual tempo, and the songs just sound like they were recorded to be played loud. Second cut “Arise” is the longest at 7:35 and it plays back and forth between two main parts before seeming to explode at the end, and by the time that’s done, you’re pretty much KLÄMPed into place waiting to see where the Utrecht trio go next. Oblivion wash on “An Orb,” the drum-led start-stops of “Big Bad Heart,” psych-smash “TJ” and that awaited end in “No Nerves” later, I’m not sure I have any better idea where that might be. That’s also what makes it work.

KLÄMP on Thee Facebooks

God Unknown Records website

 

Mábura, Heni

Mábura heni

Preceded by two singles, Heni is the debut EP from Rio de Janeiro psychedelic tonal worshipers Mábura, and its three component tracks, “Anhangá,” “III/IV” and “Bong of God” are intended to portray a lysergic experience through their according ambience and the sheer depth of the riffs they bring. “Anhangá” has vocals following the extended feedback and drone opening of its first half, but they unfold as a part of the general ambience, along with the drums that arrive late, are maybe sampler/programmed, and finish by leading directly into the crash/fuzz launch of “III/IV,” which just before it hits the two-minute mark unfurls into a watershed of effects and nod, crashing and stomping all the while until everything drops out but the bass only to return a short time later with the Riff in tow. Rumbling into a quick fade brings about the toking intro of “Bong of God,” which unfolds accordingly into a riff-led noisefest that makes its point seemingly without saying a word. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but it’s a first EP. What it shows is that Mábura have some significant presence of tone and purpose. Don’t be surprised when someone picks them up for a release.

Mábura on Thee Facebooks

Mábura on Bandcamp

 

Astral Sleep, Astral Doom Musick

Astral Sleep Astral Doom Musick

It’s still possible to hear some of Astral Sleep‘s death-doom roots in their third album, Astral Doom Musick, but the truth is they’ve become a more expansive unit than that (relatively) simple classification than describe. They’re doom, to be sure, but there are progressive, psychedelic and even traditional doom elements at work across the record’s four-song/43-minute push, with a sense of conceptual composition coming through in “Vril” and “Inegration” in the first half of the proceedings while the nine-and-a-half-minute “Schwerbelastungskörper” pushes into the darkest reaches and closer “Aurinko ja Kuu” harnesses a swirling progressive spread that’s dramatic unto its last outward procession and suitably large-sound in its production and tone. For a band who took eight years to issue a follow-up to their last full-length, Astral Sleep certainly have plenty to offer in aesthetic and craft. If it took them so long to put this record together, their time wasn’t wasted, but it’s hard to listen and not wonder where their next step might take them.

Astral Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Astral Sleep on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Rona: Alexandre Canhetti of Gods & Punks

Posted in Features on May 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

gods and punks Alexandre Canhetti

Days of Rona: Alexandre Canhetti of Gods & Punks (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

In the beginning, we were worried about the new album we had just finished writing. We were in a tight schedule since Pedro, our lead guitar, is gonna move to Barcelona in August. Not only that, but we’re currently without a permanent drummer so Andre Leal, from fellow Brazilian stoner rock band Stone House on Fire, offered to record the drums on this next one. And we still had to rehearse all of the songs before recording them. So, that’s probably not gonna happen and Pedro might have to record his parts from Barcelona so this might be our first album recorded in the traditional click-track studio style.

The second step, as a band, was putting all that behind for a while and thinking of what we could do at the moment. So we recorded an EP with four acoustic versions of our past singles, mixed it, and mastered it in two days, and released it as a way to raise money to help people that are in extreme poverty here in Brazil. That’s because, when you live in Rio, you know that a there’s quite a portion of the population that barely has any access to information, basic sanitation and a decent place to live. And now those people would have to stay home and possibly starve during this pandemic. So yeah, we thought it would be a good idea to help out by having 100 percent of the money we got from that EP go to those people through a local charity foundation. And that’s what we did. Now, we’re trying to get more donations while trying to find a way to get ready, so, whenever this shit ends, we can record the new album.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Well, in that aspect, there’s basically two types of people here: those that support the president, and those who don’t. Those who do, are often against social distancing measures as they think the impact on the economy would be worse than the corona virus itself. Meanwhile, those who either didn’t support the president before, or no longer support him, think we need to prioritize our lives and health, and follow the guidelines suggested by the WHO. However, while politicians debated, the numbers here have risen exponentially, and we now have an average of 800 deaths a day by coronavirus, and a sum of about 15k deaths, while public and private hospitals in all major capitals are reaching their maximum capability and the government does not have tests for everyone. Basically, we’re in deep shit. There’s no other way to put it. Plus, there’s a huge corruption scandal involving the president and his family, in the middle of it all, too. So, yeah. My main concern in terms of what I’ve heard is the huge amount of fake news people are believing. From pointless health measures to dangerous self-medication suggestions people are sharing online. Plus, there are also those who believe it’s all a huge conspiracy for whatever reason, and end up spreading false information.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

I feel like the international community is doing its part and is as active as ever. Bandcamp is still on fire, I get new music suggestions every day from people I follow, and I see this beautiful movement of people supporting the musicians they love and it’s fucking amazing. However, here in Brazil, I think many bands who have always been both politically and socially active, have gone kinda quiet. I don’t know why. I expected something completely different. The local psychedelic rock community here feels kind of faded. That’s a bit sad and disappointing, to say the least. Me? There’s days and days. Some days I wake up inspired and energetic, other days get me down, with absolutely no energy for anything, creatively speaking. I’ve been trying my best to maintain a steady routine, though.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

Yeah. How important is art? I mean… Music, literature, movies… That is what’s been keeping me sane, basically. Where the fuck would we be without it? So, yeah, I feel grateful that I can discover new bands and sounds every day and get away from all of this even if it’s for 40 minutes or so, thanks to artists from all around the world. And that’s possible because fans support these artists. And I’m so grateful for that. Plus, I want to thank everyone who downloaded Different Dimensions on Bandcamp. The minimum price tag was 1$ but the average amount you guys spent on the EP was $4.20. That’s so awesome. As Brazilian money is really devalued right now compared to USD, you guys have no idea how many families you guys helped. Thanks so much. And, as a final message, if you haven’t listened to our new acoustic EP, Different Dimensions, check it out on Bandcamp! Cheers!

http://facebook.com/godsandpunks
http://instagram.com/gods_and_punks
https://godsandpunks.bandcamp.com/

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Gods & Punks Release New Album And the Celestial Ascension This Friday; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian heavy psych rock five-piece Gods & Punks will issue their third full-length at the end of this week. Normally this is the point where I’d probably tell you how bad I feel about being so behind on the news and all that, but they just put up preorders like two days ago, so actually I’m not that far off the mark. The short notice comes with preorders being up and the streamable track “Ascension,” which opens the record and pairs an initially Sleepy riffing modus with some broad-sounding Hammond and a multi-layered vocal, boding well at least for how the rest of the outing might unfold. At least we won’t have to wait long to find out how it does.

That’s me, always looking at the bright side.

They have the album info up on Bandcamp like this. I’m just going to go on a limb and assume the record wasn’t actually put to tape in 1975:

gods and punks and the celestial ascension

And the Celestial Ascension by Gods & Punks

“And the Celestial Ascension” closes a cycle that begins with the “The Sounds of the Earth” and passes through both “Into the Dunes of Doom” and “Enter the Ceremony of Damnation”. Our third full-length release in three years straight, and – by far – our most complex and experimental one until now.

Following the final dates of the Damnation tour, we had to leave the attic indefinitely, and we were left with no place to rehearse or compose. We spent some time trying to find somewhere else that could take us in with no success but then Arthur, our drummer, found a place. The shack. We moved all our stuff and settled in, made it our home. It was when the magic happened. That vibe, in the middle of the jungle got to us, and made everything we wrote even more psychedelic and strange-sounding. At times, we had to try not to let ourselves overdo it.

These six songs wrote themselves. They tell the story right where we left off, after “Damnation”, and leaves us right where we began all the way back with “Sounds”. We highly recommend you take the time to appreciate these six tracks. There’s a lot more going on this time. Some will instantly blow you away, some will grow on you. We hope you’ll like ‘em as much as we do.

Tracklisting:
1. Ascension
2. Crowns on Fire
3. Infinite Hourglass
4. Escape to the Stars
5. The Rift
6. Dying Planet

Music by Gods & Punks
Lyrics by Alexandre Canhetti
Edited by Arthur Rodrigues
Mixed and Mastered by André Leal and Kleber Mariano at Estúdio Jukebox
Recorded live in Estúdio MATA in August the 12th, 1975
Artwork by Cristiano Suarez

Gods & Punks live:
Nov 08 LAPA IRISH PUB Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nov 14 Aparelho Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nov 29 Soma+Lab Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil

Gods & Punks are:
Alexandre – Vocals
Pedro – Lead Guitar
Danilo – Bass
Psy – Rhythm Guitar
Arthur – Drums

http://facebook.com/godsandpunks
http://instagram.com/gods_and_punks
https://godsandpunks.bandcamp.com/

Gods & Punks, And the Celestial Ascension (2019)

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Psilocibina Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

psilocibina

Brazilian instrumentalists Psilocibina issued their self-titled debut album (review here) last year through Abraxas in South America and Electric Magic in Europe. Neither is a minor affiliation to have, frankly, and the European tour they’ll undertake beginning next month to support the album is likewise not-minor. The three-piece hit the road in Germany and finish off in Germany — as European tours will these days — but in between, they’ll be there for the entire month of October and then some on a significant run that includes drives across the continent, festival stops, and the full Euro-tour experience all packed into a matter of weeks. Simply put, this is the kind of tour that changes a band. This isn’t just hitting the grindstone — it’s making music your entire life for more than a month. I can’t imagine they’re not excited.

I won’t get to see any of these shows, but what I look forward to is what Psilocibina will learn about themselves as a unit on this run and how it might play into their songcraft on their next release, because it almost invariably will. How could it not, unless they already have a record written? You can hear in the stream of their self-titled, they were already deft of boogie and fleet of rhythm — that bass — but just imagine where they’ll be after this tour. Shit. Never mind their excitement. I’m excited for them. This is how great bands are made.

Dates were posted on social media thusly:

psilocibina poster

PSILOCIBINA – Euro Tour 2069

Taking off for our first European tour next month. We can’t wait to perform live for you!

Thank you Jonas Gonçalves from Ya Ya Yeah for the invitation and our labels Abraxas and Electric Magic for all the support always.

See you soon!!

SEP 27 – STONED MOUNTAIN – PASSAU, DE
SEP 28 – MUSHROOM GARDEN FESTIVAL CHEMNITZ, DE
SEP 29 – TIEF – BERLIN, DE
SEP 30 – BOSS BAR – PODERBRADY, CZ
OCT 2 – PILSEN BUSKING FEST – PILSEN, CZ
OCT 3 – PILSEN BUSKING FEST – PILSEN, CZ
OCT 4 – ŽiŽKOVŠiŠKA – PRAGUE, CZ
OCT 5 – HEXENHAUS – ULM, DE
OCT 7 – LE CIRCUS – CAPBRETON, FR
OCT 8 – VOID – BORDEAUX, FR
OCT 9 – ROCK BEER THE NEW – SANTANDER, ES
OCT 10 – AVENIDA – AVEIRO, PT
OCT 11 – CARPE DIEM – SANTO DIEGO, PT
OCT 12 – SABOTAGE CLUB – LISBOA, PT
OCT 13 – BARRACUDA – PORTO, PT
OCT 16 – GOLYA – BUDAPEST, HU
OCT 17 – GRAND CAFÉ – SZEGED, HU
OCT 18 – ROCK PE PAINE FESTIVAL – CLUJ-NAPOCA, RO
OCT 19 – MIXTAPE 5 – SOFIA, BU
OCT 23 – SECRET SHOW – VERONA, IT
OCT 24 – RED DOG – REZZATO, IT
OCT 25 – ALBATROS CAFÉ – PISA, IT
OCT 26 – CIRCOLO GAGARIN – BUSTO ARSIZIO, IT
OCT 29 – LE BUNKER – BRUSSELS, BE
OCT 31 – ART CAFÉ KALAMBUR – WRACKLOW, PL
NOV 1 – KUNSTBAUERKINO – GROBHENNERSDORF, DE
NOV 2 – COSMIC DAWN – JENA, DE
NOV 3 – SCHLACHTHOF – WEISBADEN, DE

Psilocibina is:
Alex Sheeny – guitar / synth
Lucas Loureiro – drums / percursion
Rodrigo Toscano – bass

https://www.facebook.com/psilocibinamusic/
https://psilocibina.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.abraxas.fm/
http://www.abraxas.shop/
https://www.facebook.com/electricmagicrecords/
http://www.electricmagicrecords.com/

Psilocibina, Psilocibina (2018)

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Abraxas Fest Set for Oct. 13 & 14 in Brazil; Eyehategod, Samsara Blues Experiment and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A heartfelt happy fifth anniversary to Abraxas Events in Brazil. For the last half-decade, brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano have worked diligently and passionately to both bring outside heavy to Brazil and to foster their national scene, making an impact almost immediately with their first tour having been Mars Red Sky, who’d wind up recording their second album while they were in the country. That kind of work has only continued since then, and from bands like Radio Moscow to Neurosis, to the founding of Abraxas Records as a natural extension of their booking arm, the company keeps growing while remaining true to its core principles.

Five years will be marked with a two-night Abraxas Fest in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Both nights are headlined by Eyehategod and Samsara Blues Experiment, showcasing the reach to established US and European acts, while support will be from Noala and ITD (aka Into the Dust) the first night and Pantanum and Jupiterian the second, highlighting the domestic underground of Brazil.

Seems like a killer time either way, and many more to Abraxas, in terms of both years and festivals:

abraxas fest 2018 poster

ABRAXAS FEST – Eyehategod & Samsara Blues Experiment

In October we will celebrate our 5TH ANNIVERSARY. We have prepared a special celebration and we have already called our audience for this great party! We will have the legendary North American band eyehategod for the first time in Brazil, and also the German power trio samsara blues experiment, plus two local opening bands in each of the shows (Noala and itd, day 13/10 in São Paulo and jupiterian And pantanum day 14/10 in Rio de Janeiro!

See you soon!

Art: Victor Bezerra

Abraxas was founded in September 2013 by the brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano, debuting with the tour of the French band Mars Red Sky. Focusing on an audience whose taste transits between rock and roll and classical psychedelia from the 60s and 70s and more modern strands like Stoner, Doom and Sludge, but still without an identity or even a scene established in Brazil, Abraxas quickly became a benchmark in the national circuit by successfully promoting not only the circulation of foreign bands throughout the country, but also a constant and growing movement of local bands themselves.

Tickets: https://www.sympla.com.br/abraxas-fest-2018—5-anos—rio-de-janeiro__279932

https://www.facebook.com/events/428628674243793/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1925147550842727/

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://www.instagram.com/abraxasfm/
https://www.abraxas.fm/

Eyehategod, Live in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 22, 2018

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Psilocibina, Psilocibina

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psilocibina psilocibina

[Click play above to stream Psilocibina’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out in August on Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records.]

Scorching leads, a popping snare and the kind of bass that’s funky enough to make you go all bobble-head — the self-titled debut album from Brazilian three-piece Psilocibina has it all if by “all” you mean a truckload of classic psych-tinged heavy rock boogie. And of course you do, because duh.

The instrumentalist power trio of guitarist Alex Sheeny, bassist Rodrigo Toscano and drummer Lucas Loureiro gave an initial showing in the early hours of 2018 with an initial single LSD / Acid Jam, and with backing from Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records, they’ve made a quick turnaround on an initial long-play offering of seven tracks in a crisp, manageable 36 minutes, covering classic 12″ length and asking nothing more of their audience than some companionship as they shuffle their way out of the atmosphere. From the already-going movement that begins opener and longest track (immediate points) “2069” through the outer reaches of past-asteroid belt side B in “Trópicos” and the reappearing “LSD,” which rounds out, Psilocibina hold true to right-on momentum and a sense of direction that’s heavy ’70s in brand but comes streamed through a filter of frenetic modern interpretation à la Radio Moscow. That ultra-boogie. It’s there in the seven-minutes of “2069,” and that sense of danger flows from the opener through everything that follows. It may be Psilocibina‘s debut, but the band make it clear quickly they know what they’re doing.

Tempo shifts abound and are fluid and guitar leads take the place of vocals not necessarily in “singing” out the lines of verses, but in leading the forward charge of jams that sound vibrant and energetic to their very core. From the start, Toscano‘s bass is a must-hear for anyone prone to grooving on heavy bottom end, and Loureiro is adaptable to the turns happening to the point of being no less molten than Sheeny‘s guitar. I don’t know when the album was actually recorded, but it sounds like it was a hot day in Rio, and as “2069” struts to its finish, the guitar dropping out and the bass and drums continuing to hold the progression for another measure or two until they too let it go, “Galho” picks up with a noise-laden wash that hits high and low as the drums thud out behind. At 6:07, it’s the second longest song on Psilocibina (double points? why not?) and it steps easily into a sleek groove after its introduction — still vital but not rushed. Sheeny starts into a solo and then rejoins Toscano and Loureiro on a classically progressive descent before noodling his way outward again. He’s dug in his heels by the time they’re passing the halfway point, and a change just before the four-minute mark brings not only more highlight basslines but a quicker tempo, a guitar solo that’s nigh on surf rock in its intricacy, and builds in its electricity as it plays out the rest of the song.

PSILOCIBINA

It would be almost too easy to tag Psilocibina as a guitar band and move on. And surely, Sheeny has a propensity for tearing into a lead — he’s a spontaneous player and I’ve known a few on stage who seem to step into the half-stack itself as though it’s the portal to another dimension — but that’s only part of the dynamic the band is working with, and such a designation undercuts the contributions of Loureiro and Toscano both, which are considerable throughout and on the side A closer “Supernova 3333” in particular, in which the bass and steady snare act as an anchor for the guitar to let it wander in the sky above for a while as if to say, “No sweat, we got this. You go have fun.” In in that getting-of-this, the rhythm section utterly shines. This is a showing of chemistry no less classic than the aesthetic it’s being used to harness, but of course the one feeds into the other when it comes to the style and substance of what Psilocibina is, and through the finish of “Supernova 3333,” with its bouncing course and deceptively tight ending, the vibe is set. By the time they get there, it’s easy to trust the band. They’ve done nothing to that point but deliver.

That routine continues throughout the longer side B portion of their self-titled, which also opens with its longest track (triple points?) in the 6:02 “Na Selva Densa,” a fervent gallop riding outward in the bass while blues licks lay over top and the drums punctuate with what seems to be an extra layer of percussion added for good measure. If this is to be the personality Psilocibina set about developing as they move forward, that’s only a win for those who’d take them on, as the performance aspect of “Na Selva Densa” is so crucial. The drums and percussion take the fore late in the track and solo toward a finish that that the eponymous “Psilocibina” enters from silence with its pastoral guitar intro. The first two minutes or so build on that progression, sweetly melodic and classic in structure, but soon enough the bassline comes forward to drive the turn to speedier fare. It’s back to the boogie from there, and they jam it till the wheels fall off, which is fair enough. With “Trópicos” following just behind — the shortest inclusion at just over two minutes and an absolute brain-winder — there’s just about no other way to go.

“Trópicos” digs back to the momentum of the opener, but delivers it in an even tighter way. It feeds into “LSD” as though stopping for a measure and picking back up on the beat, and Psilocibina give one last manic go at softshoe-worthy heavy, crashing and ringing out with amp noise behind to once more underscore the live feel that’s been so much of a presence throughout the album. That is essential to the success of Psilocibina and its component tracks, as the rawness of their presentation — raw, not under-produced or under-recorded — only seems to bolster the energy with which the material so readily shines. They are brash, they are forward, and they sound utterly on fire on what one has to keep reminding oneself is their first record. Can’t help but look forward to more after such a promising first round.

Psilocibina on Thee Faccebooks

Psilocibina on Bandcamp

Abraxas Records website

Abraxas Records webstore

Electric Magic Records on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

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