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

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


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

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Push

sons of alpha centauri push

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

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream Records website


Doctors of Space, Studio Session July 2021

Doctors of Space Studio Session July 2021

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

Doctors of Space on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


River Flows Reverse, When River Flows Reverse

River Flows Reverse When River Flows Reverse

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

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Kite, Currents

kite currents

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

KITE on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records webstore


Starless, Hope is Leaving You

Starless Hope is Leaving You

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

Starless on Facebook

Starless on Bandcamp


Wolves in the Throne Room, Primordial Arcana

wolves in the throne room primordial arcana

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

Wolves in the Throne Room on Facebook

Relapse Records website


Oak, Fin

oak fin

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

Oak on Facebook

Oak on Bandcamp


Deep Tomb, Deep Tomb

Deep Tomb Deep Tomb

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

Deep Tomb on Facebook

King of the Monsters Records webstore


Grieving, Songs for the Weary

Grieving Songs for the Weary

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

Grieving on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Godz ov War Productions webstore


Djinn, Meandering Soul

Djiin Meandering Soul

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

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website


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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 68

Posted in Radio on September 17th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I try really hard not to make these shows suck. I do. And I think I’m mostly successful in that endeavor, but I tried extra hard this time. With my voice tracks as well as the playlist, which is almost entirely new music apart from the Orange Goblin and Mars Red Sky songs. I wanted to put a little life in my voice and I hope I managed to do so. I know last ep was a special consideration, with the death of Eric Wagner and all, but I’m not trying to be the most softspoken guy on Gimme Metal or anything. I just want to play music that isn’t necessarily aggro all the time. I’m actually pretty excited generally about doing so.

Tried to show that a little bit more. Nobody said anything to me about it or anything. I highly doubt anyone gives a crap. As long as I’m not doing like three-song shows with no voiceovers, Gimme seems content enough to let me do me. But just for myself, I wanted to hopefully convey a little bit of how much I enjoy talking about and sharing music. That’s the point of the whole thing.

Thanks for listening if you do and/or reading. I hope you enjoy.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 09.17.21

Crystal Spiders Septix Morieris
Canyyn Crush Your Bones Canyyn
Orange Goblin Cities of Frost Healing Through Fire
Sonolith Star Worshipers Voidscapes
ASTRO CONstruct Hand Against the Solar Winds Tales of Cosmic Journeys
Slowshine Living Light Living Light
EMBR Born 1021
Vokonis Null & Void Null & Void
Floored Faces Shoot the Ground Kool Hangs
Carcaňo Riding Space Elephants By Order of the Green Goddess
Malady Dyadi Ainavihantaa
River Flows Reverse Final Run When River Flows Reverse
Gondhawa Raba Dishka Käampâla
Mars Red Sky Crazy Hearth The Task Eternal
Terminus The Falcon The Silent Bell Toll
Djiin Black Circus Meandering Soul
Negură Bunget Brad Zau

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Oct. 1 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Bence Ambrus of River Flows Reverse, Lemurian Folk Songs & Psychedelic Source Records

Posted in Questionnaire on September 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

bence ambrus

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Bence Ambrus of River Flows Reverse, Lemurian Folk Songs & Psychedelic Source Records

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I’m a simple semi-musician, who is not talented and diligent enough to live from music. This why I started to collect talented musicians from surrounding bands. I organize jam sessions, where all tunes are recorded. I also play on guitar or bass most of the times. When I work I’m a gardener, so in winter times I do my own projects, like River Flows Reverse and the project under my name. In these days I spend hours in a small dirty shed outside the house, surrounded with funny toy-instruments, boar skulls, candles, banjos and a big picture of Alvin Lee.

Describe your first musical memory.

I was 5-6 years old and my father brought me a Mickey Mouse cap for some children’s day or what, then took me to a gig of his friends in next town. I don’t remember the music, but the Mickey-cap, yes, and that I really liked the blues.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have a lot, almost all are best. I loved the times when around 2015 we lived on the coasts and hills of Andalusia with my girl Kriszti and my dingo Rozi. We played Western-style street music with a guitar and a mandolin, when we had enough gold we continued to walk through. If we made more, we bought ticket to the ferry to Canarian Islands. Then we continued there. It was even the best time in my life. Cave dwelling, busking, spending time stoned only outside in the mountains and seacoast.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

It’s always being tested when you look around in the music business and see the bands, shitty pop stars, radio programs, and realize that, this is really the level what the people need, and you are just a freak with false thinking and feelings, and the real music is there in the TV and radio and giant festivals.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully not back in the ’80s haha.

How do you define success?

If you see there are people who really appreciate and like your work. If there is one guy who says he loved the gig, or if someone who send you an email from the Philippines, that your music has changed his or her life etc. Or when some label ask you if they can print your music to vinyls. These things are enough satisfying for me.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

If you travel on foot with no money, etc., you can see the real face of the world. The most beautiful coasts and mountains, communities, but the other side too. For example, if looking for hidden places to sleep around cities where are less possible that the police or a thief will alarm you, you can find the places where those people used to meet or hide who don’t want you to see them. Suppressed souls on the edge of society. Perverts, prostitutes, killers, thieves. I have seen cabins built by caines with bloody condoms thrown around, 17 year old heroinists who just wanted to have fun in Barcelona, then they stucked on speed and ketamin living in a bush. But the worst thing to see is the youngsters of today (I’m 29). I really feel like 90 percent of them don’t have any sense of life. Only cellphones, Instagram stupid talking taking light drugs. Respect to the exceptions.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

To build a worldwide organization to help poor, and talented musicians with good taste. Organize tours, vinyl releases gigs on the beach like Duna Jam, make small festivals. To give this to someone to work with, and then build my own roadhouse style studio-bar-laboratory by a big lake surrounded big olden pine trees, no neighbours. And just live with the loveds and the banjo.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To realize and manifest spiritual contents, projecting symbols of the sub and superconscious. Help the dying soul. This was the original basis of alchemy not to make material gold. To slowly create a symbol from yourself, a vertical quintessence of all arts in the world. This why I really like the original alchemist art, so concrete and straightforward. For me this old knowledge turned into the music of eternal soul. For example an Øresund or Tia Carrera or Causa Sui jam session is real art, fills more this expression then a million-dollar modern copper statue, etc.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Of course a yellow ’79 Corvette.


Psychedelic Source Records, Nagykör? Sessions (2021)

Bence Ambrus, Gardenside Ambient Sessions I (2021)

River Flows Reverse, When River Flows Reverse (2021)

Lemurian Folk Songs, Logos (2020)

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