Review & Full Album Stream: Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay forever never or whenever

[Click play above to stream Devil to Pay’s Forever, Never or Whenever in full. Album is out Nov. 8 on Ripple Music with preorders here.]

Devil to Pay have come to chew bubblegum and play hooks. And while I don’t know the status of their Watermelon Bubble-Yum supply, they’ve definitely got enough hooks for everyone at the bank. The Indianapolis four-piece have riffed and riffed and riffed their way to a well-earned veteran status, and throughout the 10 tracks of Forever, Never or Whenever, which is their 44-minute sixth long-player — third for Ripple Music, behind 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here) and 2013’s Fate is Your Muse (review here) — they prove to be comfortable in their core processes while willing to expand their sound in some new ways, fleshing out aesthetic turns that might surprise some longtime followers and even just finding more ways to add character to their songs, whether it’s the mini-funk-jam on “Imminent Demise” or the moodier and more patient rollout of the earlier “The Cautionary Tale of Yen Sid,” a moody bit of philosophizing that serves as a reminder that guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak splits his time between Devil to Pay and doom outfit Apostle of Solitude (and now the reunited The Gates of Slumber as well).

Between that song — which may or may not actually be about Walt Disney and/or his fictional sorcerer representation throughout the Mickey Mouse canon — the subtle vocal layering in “Light Sentence” and the spacious echoes in the penultimate “The Pendulum,” Janiak, fellow guitarist Rob Hough, bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Prifogle bring a fair amount of variety to Forever, Never or Whenever, and six albums deep into a tenure that covers the better part of the last 20 years, there’s just about no way it’s a coincidence. Rather, it’s Devil to Pay refusing to stagnate in terms of style and pushing themselves toward fresh-sounding avenues of expression even as they maintain the focus on songwriting that has carried them since their inception. At their heart, they’ve always been a band about the songs.

You’d think that would be every band, right? Why be a band who writes songs if you’re not going to be about writing the songs? Truth is there are plenty of reasons. Sometimes the song is an excuse to have a solo, or to jam, or it’s a stand-in for some broader message. All of those and a 100,000 more can potentially work, but with Devil to Pay, it’s always been the song itself that has come first. Their style has never been overly flashy, and one supposes it still isn’t, though neither would I call the production on Forever, Never or Whenenever flat. Instead, in the initial salvo of “Heave-Ho,” “The Devil’s Barking Up Your Tree” — which delightfully shares a similar staccato cadence to the second half of “I’m Tired” as performed by Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles —  “The Cautionary Tale of Yen Sid” and the driving fuzz of “Get on Down” shove the way through the album’s first half with due energy and a sense of the dynamic that Devil to Pay share on stage.

As it passes its midsection, “Get on Down” slows down and Janiak‘s vocals echo a bit, leading to a winding rhythm that builds its way toward a solo and a final few vocal lines. The presumed side A finale, “Tap Dancing on Your Grave,” is more melancholy as its title might suggest, and sees Hough and Janiak part ways on guitar, one holding down a steady chug while the other complements with a more open, winding line and some foreshadow of the percussive element in the (relatively brief) jam in the subsequent “Imminent Demise” is given. Very much in the spirit of classic heavy rock methodology, side B pushes further stylistically as songs expand on ideas presented in the earlier cuts — “Imminent Demise” taking the percussion aspect of “Tap Dancing on Your Grave” and running with it is perhaps the clearest example, but it’s true throughout in mood and arrangement. This too might be considered the band benefiting from their experience, at least on the most basic level of how they present the material, since their central philosophy remains intact wherever they might veer sound-wise. They’re always about the song.

devil to pay

Forever, Never or Whenever isn’t the first time Devil to Pay have offered variety in their craft, either. Indeed, in its structure, the album seems to be directly building off of what A Bend Through Space and Time brought together in terms of its general modus and range, but it does legitimately push farther. “Imminent Demise” leads to the tense verse and release chorus of “37 Trillion,” a song right in Devil to Pay‘s wheelhouse when it comes to structure and tone. The standout line, “Say you’re a bucket of blood,” would seem to remind of a human’s place in the universe, but the track is quick and doesn’t hang around long enough for much philosophizing. As noted, it’s in “Light Sentence” that the band once again dives into more brooding fare, with Janiak‘s croon answering itself at the end of verse lines, a far-back background layer adding to the atmosphere.

That’s a suitable transition into “The Pendulum,” which follows that path deeper into echoing reaches and an emergent metallic riffing in its second half, threatening to break out in a way it never lets itself do, instead shifting into the dual-leads and more fervent popping snare of “Anti-Gravity Depravity,” a title which hints at a more lighthearted spirit than either of the songs prior. Also the longest cut at 6:26, the closer indeed brings about another turn of vibe, but the track is hardly a goofball ending or anything like that. It calls back to some of the catchier songs early on without being a total redux, and effectively uses lead guitar to offset its deceptively nuanced chug, ending in a last build with Prifogle railing on his crash cymbals before a few last hits around a quick reprise of the track’s opening caps with a duly symmetrical spirit.

Whatever Devil to Pay might be or might do stylistically, they’re a heavy rock band, and an underrated one at that. They bring more character to the production of Forever, Never or Whenever than they’ve ever had before, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it suits them and enriches the material itself. Perhaps most fortunate of all, none of the growth of method the band have undertaken in the last five-plus years has pulled them away from the foundation of their songwriting. It is that which ultimately allows them to flourish as they do, and the ground beneath their feet is as solid as it could possibly be here. A balance of consistency and growth after more than 15 years together? I think maybe it’s time more people started paying attention to and learning lessons from this band.

Devil to Pay on Thee Facebooks

Devil to Pay BigCartel store

Devil to Pay website

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Devil to Pay Post Lyric Video for “37 Trillion” from Forever, Never or Whenever

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay

I’m going to review it properly sometime in the coming weeks, but the new Devil to Pay record? Man, that shit is catchy. The album is called Forever, Never or Whenever, and it’s out Nov. 8 through a longstanding alliance with Ripple Music, collecting 10 tracks of no-nonsense heavy rock and roll. That’s been Devil to Pay‘s stock and trade for the past 15-plus years — their debut, Thirty Pieces of Silver, was released in 2004; Forever, Never or Whenever is their sixth long-player — and they’ve only grown better at it with time. They’ve never been overly fancy in terms of production or presentation, but the tradition they serve is one of putting songwriting at the forefront, and they’re better at it than most who would dare to try.

“37 Trillion,” which appears on the second half of the new outing, takes a decidedly more political bent, and fairly enough so. Their home state of Indiana is considered a right-wing stronghold in terms of its voting history. Donald Trump won with 56.47 percent of the vote, and the governor and supermajorities of both legislative houses are Republicans, so yes, one would say they’re decidedly “en rouge.” In the current sociopolitical moment, an important one, it’s hard for one who, say, isn’t insane, to look around and wonder how we got here, how people we might otherwise respect or love could be so taken in, and how fragile American democracy truly is and whose interests it’s intended to serve when we’ve been told by our leaders for so many years the state of our union is strong and are still told that on the regular.

One could go on on the subject — and people do, as the entirety of the internet/social media sphere readily demonstrates — but I won’t. Take Devil to Pay‘s reminder that we’re, on average, 37 trillion cells however you will, and enjoy the track on whichever level you choose. If you’re apolitical — what’s your secret? — or you disagree where where they seem to be coming from, well, hooks are hooks and Devil to Pay‘s got a million of ’em, so dig in anyhow and maybe that self-victimization go for a minute or two.

Ah hell there I go again.

Enjoy:

Devil to Pay, “37 Trillion” official lyric video

DEVIL TO PAY – “37 Trillion” Lyric Video. from the album “Forever, Never or Whenever” (11/8/19 via Ripple Music) filmed live at the Green Lantern, Lexington, KY 07/27/19. Edited by S Janiak. Motion Graphics by Ron Coy.

order “Forever, Never or Whenever” via Ripple Music at https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/artist/devil-to-pay

Devil to Pay is:
Steve Janiak – guitars/vocals
Matt Stokes – bass
Chad Prifogle – drums
Rob Hough – guitars

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Devil to Pay website

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Forming the Void Tour with Witch Ripper Starts Tonight; Playing Heavy Mash Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

This very evening marks the beginning of Forming the Void‘s West Coast-bound latest round of tour dates. Joining them in the endeavor are Witch Ripper, from Seattle, and of particular note is the appearance this weekend at Heavy Mash in Arlington, which is co-presented by this site and for which I can only recommend attendance. Make a day of it. Make two days of it. Do whatever you want. Follow the bands on tour. But you know, tell them you’re doing that. Don’t just randomly show up and lurk at each gig. I think at that point you could probably say hi and it’d be cool.

Forming the Void were originally slated and I think I mentioned around here at some point — yup, sure did — that they had studio time booked to record their next album. Well, plans change. They’ll reportedly knuckle down after this run and get to work on the thing, but in the meantime will take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Alice in Chains, the Dirt [Redux], as part of a busy slate next year that will also see them play their first show on the other side of the Atlantic, appearing at Edinburgh’s Red Crust Festival in May (info here). Should make a day of that too, maybe. Or three.

Current tour dates follow. Go see this band:

forming the void tour

Forming the Void & Witch Ripper – Void Ripper Tour Dates

We’re heading out west with Witch Ripper! Let’s hang!

10/18 Baton Rouge, LA – Phil Brady’s
10/19 Arlington, TX – Heavy Mash at Division Brewing
10/20 Wichita, KS – Elbow Room
10/21 Denver, CO – Tooey’s
10/22 Salt Lake City, UT – Greek Station
10/23 Boise, ID – The Olympic Venue
10/24 Spokane, WA – Red Room *
10/25 Seattle, WA – Funhouse *
10/26 Olympia, WA – Le Voyeur *
10/27 San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge *
10/29 Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon *
10/30 Los Angeles, CA – Redwood *
10/31 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar*
11/1 El Paso, TX – RCBG @ Thunderbird
11/1 Berkeley, CA – The Five and Dime +
11/2 San Antonio, TX – Faust
11/2 Eureka, CA – Sirens’s Song Tavern +
11/3 Portland, OR Twilight +

*w/ Witch Ripper
+ No Forming the Void

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Luke Baker – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://www.instagram.com/forming_the_void/
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Forming the Void, Rift (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hazemaze Hymns of the Damned

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Shadow in the Night’ from Hazemaze’s Hymns of the Damned. Album is out November 22 through Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music.]

Vinyl preorders for Hazemaze‘s Hymns of the Damned start Nov. 1 through Cursed Tongue Records for a Nov. 22 LP/DL release. Ripple Music is putting the Swedish troupe’s second album out on CD as well, and the band have announced two release shows that are six days apart from each other, so one way or another, you might say the new record from Hazemaze is coming soon and choose your angle of approach accordingly. While there may be several threads involved in the arrival of the eight-track/41-minute follow-up to the Stockholm trio’s 2018 Kozmik Artifactz-delivered self-titled debut (discussed here), the LP itself is a heavy amalgam much easier to process in its garage-doom churn and dug-in riffage, informed by heavy blues but not beholden to them and bearing a persistent atmosphere of threat that speaks to an affinity for classic doom, particularly in songs like “Green River” (premiered here) and the subsequent weighted boogie of the penultimate “Reverend Death.” Those two cuts, as well as the raucous finisher “Forever Trapped in Hell” are shorter, in the three-to-four-minute range, than the five cuts prior that make up side A and the start of side B, and the effect is almost like Hazemaze have reversed the plot of many LPs and put the opening salvo in the closing position and turned the B side into the A side and the A side into the B side. The bottom line? If the release dates don’t disorient you, they’re going to get you one way or the other.

Actually, when it comes to what’s going to “get you,” it’s probably the songwriting. Hazemaze — guitarist/vocalist Ludvig Andersson, bassist Estefan Carrillo and drummer Nils Arkitekten Einéus — might not be revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but what they do, they do well and with the confidence of a band of much longer standing. There’s some element of Monolord-style atmospherics to the vocals on “Shadow in the Night,” the opening track and new single premiering above, but though certainly riffy, Hazemaze‘s trip is rawer in form and more about roll than crush. What “Shadow in the Night” sets in motion continues through the end of Hymns of the Damned in terms of forward momentum and classic affinity. There’s plenty of nod-fodder, to be sure, but as Hazemaze lead the way into “Morbid Lust” on a swinging bassline, there’s no question that movement is a focal point for the band and crucial to their approach. Einéus is duly beastly on his crash cymbal, adding uptempo flair to Andersson‘s riffing and languid vocals, while Carrillo‘s low end lurks beneath the distortion, carrying the weight that is so essential to the proceedings in mood and the sheer delivery. By the time they’re into “Thrill Seeker,” the course is set in terms of overarching groove and the sound and general spirit of the offering, which is ultimately to the band’s credit in terms of their efficiency conveying the grim (but still kind of a good time) ambience through the early tracks.

hazemaze (Photo by Magnus Nicander)

That might be an effect of the noted A/B swap method, or it might just be a consequence of knowing what they want out of their material more generally, but on either level, it only makes Hymns of the Damned more immersive and engaging on the whole for those willing to take it on. “Thrill Seeker” brings chug and violent threat in its verse alike in the Uncle Acid spirit with Andersson touching on layered self-harmony in the vocals, and “Lobotomy” stands among the most outwardly catchy of the inclusions as it rounds out the first half of the tracklist with a hook that continues the momentum set up on the first several tracks. Hazemaze‘s sense of movement might be subtle — that is, it doesn’t feel like they’re shoving you through one track to the next — but it’s there if not brazen in its intensity. They set a balance between atmosphere and push that works well across the span and, again, highlights the contributions particularly of Einéus and Carrillo to the songs on the whole. And though I haven’t seen a lyric sheet, even “Solicitor of Evil” — the longest cut at 6:56 and the presumed side B leadoff — doesn’t seem to be explicitly about killing women, so that’s a plus too if we’re thinking in the sphere of post-Uncle Acid garage doom. Certainly not every band can say the same. I like to think of “Solicitor of Evil” like a devilish attorney, but I’ll say again, I haven’t seen a lyric sheet to confirm that. Would be fun though.

On a lot of records, “Solicitor of Evil,” with its late wah bass and ultra-swing, would be the grand finale, but on Hymns of the Damned it’s just an introduction to the next stage, with “Green River,” “Reverend Death” and “Forever Trapped in Hell” reigniting the riffy momentum — and cowbell — of “Shadow in the Night” and bringing about a more bounding conclusion. In terms of general sound, there’s isn’t so much of a radical shift, but especially across multiple listens, the change is evident as “Solicitor of Evil” gives way to “Green River,” the storytelling aspect of which — “Walking down that dusty road…,” etc. — likewise signals a change of angle. Like the structure of the album generally, it’s not a move a less confident band could pull off, but Hazemaze do it by simply doing it, and that in itself is a statement of who they are as a group. As their second album careens to its brash finish with “Forever Trapped in Hell,” the more active and tightened craft only seems to underscore the point of Hazemaze‘s momentum earlier on the LP, their last hook giving way to a winding charge with a solo in the last minute and a series of hits that uses every single one of the track’s four minutes and 11 seconds. It is righteous and portentous in kind, since Hazemaze come across in the end like a band that still has much more to say; “leave ’em wanting more,” and all that. They do, even with the rest of Hymns of the Damned leading into “Forever Trapped in Hell,” and one can’t help but think that whatever the three-piece do from here, they’ll only have benefited from being so sure and so correct in the decisions they made with and within this material.

Hazemaze on Bandcamp

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Hazemaze on Instagram

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Horseburner Touring the Midwest and West Coast in November

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

horseburner

West Virginia’s Horseburner made a suitably barnstorming label debut on Ripple Music a couple months back with The Thief (review here), and in November, they’ll be heading out westward to support the album, aligning with Boston’s Worshipper and of course a host of others for shows along the way. Sound cool? It is. Horseburner have a few tours under their collective belt at this point, but they go with a new and marked level of accomplishment following the issue of their second album, and increasingly their reputation is preceding them. This is the kind of thing that only continues a band’s forward momentum, and Horseburner have plenty of that, in sound and circumstance alike.

If the style of the poster looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve been staring at Lo-Pan artwork. It’s Pittsburgh-based Chris Smith behind the design, and it rules in such a way as to wonder what it would cost to ask for a t-shirt design for this site. Probably more than I’ve got, but still. Might be worth finding that out.

Anyway, here are the dates:

horseburner tour

We are pleased as can be to announce the entirety of our November tour. We’re hitting a ton of places we’ve never played before, so we’re looking forward to getting out there and meeting you. Yes, you.

Even more stoked to be meeting up with our brothers in the mighty Worshipper for the west coast dates!

As always, we’ll see you on the road. Stay dirty.

11-1: Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
11-2: Bloomington, IL – Nightshop
11-3: Rock Island, IL – RIBCO
11-5: Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge
11-6: Denver, CO – HI DIVE
11-7: Cheyenne, WY – Ernie November
11-8: Salt Lake City, UT – The Greek Station
11-9: Seattle, WA – Substation**
11-10: Portland, OR – High Water Mark**
11-11: Eugene, OR – Luckey’s**
11-13: San Francisco, CA – The Elbo Room**
11-14: Las Vegas, NV – Count’s Vampd**
11-15: Los Angeles, CA – The Lexington**
11-16: Oceanside, CA – The Pourhouse**
11-17: Albuquerque, NM – Moonlight Lounge
11-18: El Paso, TX – Neon Rose
11-19: Fort Worth, TX – Main at South Side
11-20: Austin, TX – Lost Well
11-21: Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
11-23: Nashville, TN – Cobra
11-29: Marietta, OH – The Adelphia

** with Worshipper **

Poster by Chris Smith/Grey Aria Design Studio

Horseburner:
Adam Nohe – Drums/Vocals
Jack Thomas – Guitar/Vocals
Matt Strobel – Guitar
Seth Bostick – Bass

https://www.horseburner.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Horseburner/
https://horseburner.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/horseburner/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Horseburner, The Thief (2019)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Stew, People

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stew people

[Click play above to stream Stew’s People in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow on Ripple Music. Preorder here.]

Dig into the speed-shuffle vibes and overlaid bluesy overtones of sub-three-minute centerpiece “Play the Fool” and all questions about what Stew are up to should be summarily put to bed. There are few name brands as reliable these days as Swedish Boogie Rock, and while the country and the greater European underground has seen no shortage thereof over the course of this decade, the heavy ’10s round out in strong fashion with Stew‘s Ripple Music-delivered debut album, People. They tip the balance to one side or another in terms of mood and tempo, as one would hope, over the course of the 11-tracker — really 10 and the 32-second “Intro” that starts off — but what makes the crisp 37-minute offering so distinct is the momentum that carries the Lindesberg three-piece through and in particular how much guitarist Nicklas Jansson is responsible for that.

Of course, guitar leading the way through what’s essentially a riff-driven style of heavy rock isn’t so much a surprise as it is a tenet of the genre — and indeed, Stew‘s work will be readily familiar in its ’70s-worship purposes to the converted — but even with that in consideration, the way Jansson interacts musically with bassist/vocalist Markus Åsland and drummer Nicklas Dahlgren proves fascinating and is something that stands the band out among their many bluesy peers. Solos and lead lines periodically step forward to do the work of riffs, as in side B’s “Sweet and True” or the earlier title-track, with its subtly winding progression during the verse and nigh-on-hypnotic jam in its second half (the song, by the way, is under four minutes long, so take “jam” relative to that), and that gives Stew an all the more dynamic sound as they move through more straightforward fare like “Newborn” at a comfortable mid-paced sleek, dropping hooks as they go as trailmarkers for those making their way through an album that still somehow feels light on flourish.

Åsland‘s performance on vocals as well is worth specific note, as the character he brings to a song like “Endless Journey,” finds him settled into a niche somewhere between Chris Cornell and Robert Plant as the track careens between volume changes. From the outset of post-“Into” opener “Right on Time,” through “People” and the slower turn of “Newborn” after the opening salvo is concluded, Åsland is in command of the proceedings vocally and he remains so for the duration. Between his presence and Jansson‘s standout guitar work, Stew hone the very classic-power-trio impression they would so much seem to be shooting for — and in righteous fashion, most especially for the spirited edge they bring to the style. That is, they’re playing to genre, no question, but they’re bringing a sense of who they are as artists to that. It can be heard in a track like “Fruits,” which delves into more spacious fare pushed forward by Dahlgren‘s drumming, the swing of which is a somewhat understated but ultra-necessary anchor for the proceedings as a whole, and it’s their burgeoning identity that helps them stave off stylistic redundancy.

stew

And it is burgeoning. One should know going in that Stew seem by no means to be a finished product on their first album, but what they do throughout People, all the way down to the birdsong-laced acoustic closer “Morning Again,” is to give an initial showcase from which to build as they move forward. They’re working to establish themselves within a crowded subset of heavy rock that has been largely abandoned by its foremost champions, and while they bring classic ideas to bear with a modern production style and clarity, their purposes remain fluid throughout in songwriting and their ability to shift between various vibes, from the smooth semi-psych melodies of “Goddess” and the mellow blues in the first half of “Afraid of Getting Nowhere” to the rock ‘n’ riot of “Play the Fool” and the earlier one-two punch in “Right on Time” and “People,” they’re only bolstered by the obvious strength that comes from such flexibility.

When it comes to getting on board, they make it easy. People isn’t about issuing challenges to its audience so much as bidding welcome, and of course the familiarity at play in their sound is a part of that. They’re using the more established aspects of their sound — their direct influence from modern takes on vintage heavy — as a way of connecting with a specific listener, who knows what they’re doing and appreciates it, but the whole thing would fall flat were it not for the songwriting and performance underlying. It’s easy enough — if potentially expensive — to fire up the right gear and roll out a bit of boogie here and there, but to do so while leaving behind memorable tracks marked by highlight interplay between the members of the band is something else and something worth celebrating. As People plays out across its tight 37-minute run, it’s no challenge to discern where the band are coming from, but especially in considering it as their debut LP, even that fact says something positive about how they’re able to bring their stylizations to bear in such an effective way.

I don’t necessarily think Stew are setting out to rewrite the script when it comes to how boogie jams happen, and frankly, they don’t need to be. The only real shame about People is that it’s coming out as the air is getting colder and the nights are getting longer, instead of the opposite. Maybe it’s perfect Australian summer album. It’s not so much that its centered around tonal warmth, but there is something wholesome and sincere about its bluesy execution that seems just made for the outdoors, for sunshine, for some small “festival” happening on a stage outside in a Swedish forest with good friends and copious coolers of beer, maybe. I’m sure a given listener can paint their own scenario, but inspiring that too stands as one of Stew‘s marked strengths. There are more than a few throughout People, and they all tend to bode well for the band’s future prospects.

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Arcadian Child Announce Nov. Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

arcadian child

Do I think that everybody reading this is going to be able to catch Cyprus-based heavy psych rockers Arcadian Child as they head out on a week-plus of European tour dates next month in support of their second album, Superfonica (review here)? No. No, I don’t. And I know I’m right about that, because I’m reading this as I write it — one likes to czech spelling — and I won’t be able to see them, but posting the tour dates allows me not only to have the info later if I need it, which believe it or not I might, but also to post the stream of the album again, because one or two other people who see this might dig into that at the bottom of this post and find it cool enough to warrant further investigation. Either way, even though I — and you, if the same applies — won’t make it out, it’s a win.

The run is nine shows — including two in the Check Republic! — starting on Nov. 6 in Hungary and heading from there into Austria and Poland with a few inevitable stops in Germany for good measure. Gotta go to Germany. It’s like where tours happen in Europe these days.

So here’s a tour happening these days:

arcadian child tour banner

Arcadian Child – European Fall Tourné

We are sailing from the warm shores of Cyprus to raise fire in the urban maze of central Europe. Setting foot in Budapest, we march on to Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Germany to initiate people across Europe to our psychedelic rituals. From far, for the wild.

#RaisingFire

06.11 • Három Holló / Drei Raben, Budapest HU
07.11 • Kramladen Vienna AT
08.11 • Schlot, Linz AT
09.11 • Soulstone Gathering, Krakow PL
10.11 • Club Vagon, Prague CZ
11.11 • Fuzzy Room, Auerbach DE
12.11 • MOSKVA BÍLINA, Bílina CZ
13.11 • Dots, Göttingen DE
14.11 • TIEF Berlin DE

Powered by A map constellation.
Art direction by Bewild Brother

Psyched, potent and intoxicating, Arcadian Child deliver resonating psychedelia blended with ambience, hallucinogenic patterns and cathartic eruptions. With sounds rivaling the squealing sirens of the Mediterranean up to the dark bellows of the West, Arcadian Child convey their psychedelic ritual in their jam-filled live shows where they spread their hypnotic vibrations. Their sophomore studio set “Superfonica” was released in November 2018 through Ripple Music reaching multiple year-end lists.

https://www.facebook.com/arcadianchildband/
https://arcadianchildband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Roguewaverecords/
http://roguewaverecords.bigcartel.com/

Arcadian Child, Superfonica (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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