Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Insect Ark, Heath, The Cosmic Dead, The Watchers, Juke Cove, Laurel Canyon, Tet, Aidan Baker, Trap Ratt

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Good morning and heavy riffs. Today is day 7 of the Quarterly Review. It’s already been a lot, but there are still 30 more releases to cover over the next three days, so I assure you at some point I’ll have that nervous breakdown that’s been ticking away in the back of my brain. A blast as always, which I mean both sincerely and sarcastically, somehow.

But when we’re done, 100 releases will have been covered, and I get a medal sent to me whenever that happens from the UN’s Stoner Rock Commission on Such Things, so I’ll look forward to that. In the meantime, we’re off.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Ufomammut, Hidden

ufomammut hidden

Italian cosmic doomers Ufomammut celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2024, and as they always have, they do so by looking and moving forward. Hidden is the 10th LP in their catalog, the second to feature drummer Levre — who made his debut on 2022’s Fenice (review here) alongside bassist/vocalist Urlo and guitarist Poia (both also keyboards) — and it was preceded by last year’s Crookhead EP (review here), the 10-minute title-track of which is repurposed as the opener here. A singular, signature blend of heft and synth-based atmospherics, Ufomammut roll fluidly through the six-tracker check-in, and follow on from Fenice in sounding refreshed while digging into their core stylistic purposes. “Spidher” brings extra tonal crush around its open verse, and “Mausoleum” has plenty of that as well but is less condensed and hypnotic in its atmospheric midsection, Ufomammut paying attention to details while basking in an overarching largesse. The penultimate “Leeched” was the lead single for good reason, and the four-minute “Soulost” closes with a particularly psychedelic exploration of texture and drone with the drums keeping it moving. 25 years later and there’s still new things to discover. I hear the universe is like that.

Ufomammut website

Supernatural Cat website

Neurot Recordings website

Insect Ark, Raw Blood Singing

insect ark raw blood singing

Considering some of the places Dana Schechter has taken Insect Ark over the project’s to-date duration, most of Raw Blood Singing might at times feel daringly straightforward, but that’s hardly a detriment to the material itself. Songs like “The Hands” bring together rhythmic tension and melodic breadth, as soundscapes of drone, low end chug and the drumming of Tim Wyskida (also Khanate, Blind Idiot God) cast a morose, encompassing atmospheric vision. And rest assured, while “The Frozen Lake” lumbers through its seven minutes of depressive post-sludge — shades of The Book of Knots at their heaviest, but still darker — and “Psychological Jackal” grows likewise harsher and horrific, the experimentalist urge continues to resonate; the difference is it’s being set to serve the purposes of the songs themselves in “Youth Body Swayed” or “Cleaven Hearted,” which slogs like death-doom with a strum cutting through to replace vocals, whereas the outro “Ascension” highlights the noise on its own. It is a bleak, consuming course presented over Raw Blood Singing‘s 45 minutes, but there’s solace in the catharsis as well.

Insect Ark website

Debemur Murti Productions website

Heath, Isaak’s Marble

Heath Isaak's Marble

Laced through with harmonica and organic vibes, Netherlands-based five-piece Heath make their full-length debut with the four extended tracks of Isaak’s Marble, reveling in duly expansive jams keyed for vibrancy and a live sound. They are somewhat the band-between as regards microgenres, with a style that can be traced on the opening title-cut to heavy ’70s funk-boogie-via-prog-rock, and the harmonica plays a role there before spacing out with echo over top of the psychedelia beginning of “Wondrous Wetlands.” The wetlands in question, incidentally, might just be the guitar tone, but that haze clears a bit as the band saunters into a light shuffle jam before the harder-hitting build into a crescendo that sounds unhinged but is in fact quite under control as it turns back to a softshoe-ready groove with organ, keys, harmonica, guitar all twisting around with the bass and drums. Sitar and vocal harmonies give the shorter-at-six-minutes “Strawberry Girl” a ’60s psych-pop sunshine, but the undercurrent is consistent with the two songs before as Heath highlight the shroomier side of their pastoralism, ahead of side B capper “Valley of the Sun” transitioning out of that momentary soundscape with clear-eyed guitar and flute leading to an angular progression grounded by snare and a guitar solo after the verse that leads the shift into the final build. They’re not done, of course, as they bring it all to a rousing end and some leftover noise; subdued in the actual-departing, but still resonant in momentum and potential. These guys might just be onto something.

Heath website

Suburban Records store

The Cosmic Dead, Infinite Peaks

The Cosmic Dead Infinite Peaks

The Cosmic Dead, releasing through Heavy Psych Sounds, count Infinite Peaks as their ninth LP since 2011. I’ll take them at their word since between live offerings, splits, collections and whatnot, it’s hard sometimes to know what’s an album. Similarly, when immersed in the 23-minute cosmic sprawl of “Navigator #9,” it can become difficult to understand where you stop and the universe around you begins. Rising quickly to a steady, organ-inclusive roll, the Glaswegian instrumental psilocybinists conjure depth like few of their jam-prone ilk and remain entrancing as “Navigator #9” shifts into its more languid, less-consuming middle movement ahead of the resurgent finish. Over on side B, “Space Mountain” (20:02) is a bit more drastic in the ends it swaps between — a little noisier and faster up front, followed by a zazzy-jazzy push with fiddle and effects giving over to start-stop bass and due urgency in the drums complemented by fuzz like they just got in a room and this happened before the skronky apex and unearthly comedown resolve in a final stretch of drone. Ninth record or 15th, whatever. Their mastery of interstellar heavy exploration is palpable regardless of time, place or circumstance. Infinite Peaks glimpses at that dimensional makeup.

The Cosmic Dead website

Heavy Psych Sounds website

The Watchers, Nyctophilia

The Watchers Nyctophilia

Perhaps telegraphing some of their second long-player’s darker intentions in the cover art and the title Nyctophilia — a condition whereby you’re happier and more comfortable in darkness — if not the choice of Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Death Angel, etc.) to produce, San Francisco’s The Watchers are nonetheless a heavy rock and roll band. What’s shifted in relation to their 2018 debut, Black Abyss (review here), is the angle of approach they take in getting there. What hasn’t changed is the strength of songwriting at their foundation or the hitting-all-their-marks professionalism of their execution, whether it’s Tim Narducci bringing a classic reach to the vocals of “Garden Tomb” or the precise muting in his and Jeremy Von Epp‘s guitars and Chris Lombardo‘s bass on “Haunt You When I’m Dead” and Nick Benigno‘s declarative kickdrum stomping through the shred of “They Have No God.” The material lands harder without giving up its capital-‘h’ Heavy, which is an accomplishment in itself, but The Watchers set a high standard last time out and Nyctophilia lives up to that while pursuing its own semi-divergent ends.

The Watchers on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Juke Cove, Tempest

juke cove tempest

Leipzig’s Juke Cove follow a progressive course across eight songs and 44 minutes of Tempest, between nodding riffs of marked density and varying degrees of immediacy, whether it’s the might-just-turn-around-on-you “Hypnosis” early on or the shove with which the duly brief penultimate piece “Burst” takes off after the weighted crash of and ending stoner-rock janga-janga riff of “Glow” and precedes the also-massive “Xanadu” in the closing position, capping with a fuzzy solo because why not. From opener “The Path” into the bombast of “Hypnosis” and the look-what-we-can-make-riffs-do “Wait,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mateusz Pietrzela, bassist/vocalist Dima Ogorodnov and drummer Maxim Balobin mine aural individualism from familiar-enough genre elements, shaping material of character that benefits from the scope wrought in tone and production. Much to its credit, Tempest feels unforced in speaking to various sides of its persona, and no matter where a given song might go — the watery finish of “Wait” or the space-blues drift that emerges out of psych-leaning noise rock on “Confined,” for example — Juke Cove steer with care and heart alike and are all the more able to bring their audience with them as a result. Very cool, and no, I’m not calling them pricks when I say that.

Juke Cove on Facebook

Juke Cove on Bandcamp

Laurel Canyon, East Side EP

laurel canyon east side

A little more than a year out from their impressive self-titled debut LP (review here), Philly three-piece Laurel Canyon — guitarist/bassist/vocalist Nicholas Gillespie, guitarist/vocalist Serg Cereja, drummer Dylan DePice — offer the East Side three-songer to follow-up on the weighted proto-grunge vibes therein. “East Side” itself, at two and a half minutes, is a little more punk in that as it aligns for a forward push in the chorus between its swaggering verses, while “Garden of Eden” is more directly Nirvana-schooled in making its well-crafted melody sound like something that just tumbled out of somebody’s mouth, pure happenstance, and “Untitled” gets more aggressive in its second half, topping a momentary slowdown/nod with shouts before they let it fall apart at the end. This procession takes place in under 10 minutes and by the time you feel like you’ve got a handle on it, they’re done, which is probably how it should be. East Side isn’t Laurel Canyon‘s first short release, and they’re clearly comfortable in the format, bolstering the in-your-face-itude of their style with a get-in-and-get-out ethic correspondingly righteous in its rawness.

Laurel Canyon on Facebook

Agitated Records website

Tet, Tet

tet tet

If you hadn’t yet come around to thinking of Poland among Europe’s prime underground hotspots, Tet offer their four-song/45-minute self-titled debut for your (re-)consideration. With its lyrics and titles in Polish, Tet draws on the modern heavy prog influence of Elder in some of the 12-minute opener/longest track (immediate points), “Srebro i antracyt,” but neither that nor “Dom w cieniu gruszy,” which follows, stays entirely in one place for the duration, and the lush melody that coincides with the unfolding of “Wiosna” is Tet‘s own in more than just language; that is to say, there’s more to distinguish them from their influences than the syllabic. Each inclusion adds complexity to the story their songs are telling, and as closer “Włóczykije” gradually moves from its dronescape by bringing in the drums unveiling the instrumentalist build already underway, Tet carve a niche for themselves in one of the continent’s most crowded scenes. I wonder if they’ve opened for Weedpecker. They could. Or Belzebong, for that matter. Either way, it will be worth looking out for how they expand on these ideas next time around.

Tet linktr.ee

Tet on Bandcamp

Aidan Baker, Everything is Like Always Until it is Not

aidan baker Everything is Like Always Until it is Not

Aidan Baker, also of Nadja, aligns the eight pieces of what I think is still his newest outing — oh wait, nope; this came out in Feb. and in March he had an hour-long drone two-songer out; go figure/glad I checked — to represent the truism of the title Everything is Like Always Until it is Not, and arranges the tracks so that the earlier post-shoegaze in “Everything” or “Like” can be a preface for the more directly drone-based “It” “Is” later on. And yes, there are two songs called “Is.” Does it matter? Definitely not while Baker‘s evocations are actually being heard. Free-jazz drums — not generally known for a grounding effect — do some work in terms of giving all the float that surrounds them a terrestrial aspect, but if you know Baker‘s work either through his solo stuff, Nadja or sundry other collaborations, I probably don’t need to tell you that the 47 minutes of Everything is Like Always Until it is Not fall into the “not like always” category as a defining feature, whether it’s “Until” manifesting tonal heft in waves of static cut through by tom-to-snare-to-cymbal splashes or “Not” seeming unwilling to give itself over to its own flow. I imagine a certain restlessness is how Aidan Baker‘s music happens in the first place. You get smaller encapsulations of that here, if not more traditional accessibility.

Aidan Baker on Facebook

Cruel Nature Recordings on Bandcamp

Trap Ratt, Tribus Rattus Mortuus

Trap Ratt Tribus Rattus Mortuus

Based in the arguable capitol of the Doom Capitol region — Frederick, Maryland — the three-piece Trap Ratt arrive in superbly raw style with the four-song/33-minute Tribus Rattus Mortuus, the last of which, aptly-titled “IV,” features Tim Otis (High Noon Kahuna, Admiral Browning, etc.), who also mixed and mastered, guesting on noise while Charlie Chaplin’s soliloquy from 1940’s The Dictator takes the place of the tortured barebones shouts that accompany the plod of 13-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Sacred Skunk,” seemingly whenever they feel like it. That includes the chugging part before the feedback gets caustic near the song’s end, by the way. “Thieving From the Grieving” — which may or may not have been made up on the spot — repurposes Stooges-style riffing as the foundation for its own decay into noise, and if from anything I’ve said so far about the album you might expect “Take the Gun” to not be accordingly harsh, Trap Ratt have a word and eight minutes of disaffected exploration they’d like to share with you. It’s not every record you could say benefits aesthetically from being recorded live in the band’s rehearsal space, but yes, Tribus Rattus Mortuus most definitely does.

Trap Ratt on Facebook

Trap Ratt on Bandcamp

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Nebula and Black Rainbows Announce In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal Split LP Out June 28; Premiere Nebula’s “Acid Drop”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

nebula black rainbows In Search of the Cosmic Tale Crossing the Galactic Portal

Not that you need one in the first place, but if you would look for an excuse as to what might bring SoCal heavy psychedelic rock forebears Nebula and Italian cosmosblasters Black Rainbows together, both will be on tour in Europe in the coming months, Nebula are well documented heroes of founding Black Rainbows guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, and the split is listed as #300 in the catalog of Fiori‘s label, Heavy Psych Sounds, which has also stood behind Nebula‘s two post-resurgence LPs, 2022’s Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here) and 2019’s Holy Shit (review here).

Each act contributes three songs for a short but full-length-enough runtime of 32 minutes. Black Rainbows‘ tracks, as noted below, come from the sessions for their latest album, 2023’s Superskull (review here), while Nebula‘s side is newly recorded. Led off by Nebula‘s “Acid Drop” as the first single — it premieres below — the outing has been given the cumbersome title In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal, which I have no doubt it has absolutely earned.

And if you’ve already stopped reading at the mention of the premiere below, or you skipped outright to the player, you won’t hear me argue. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition to bring these two together, however winding and/or spaced the course of the actual music may turn out to be, and something of a no-brainer to keep on your radar as summer starts to heat up. Nebula were in Europe last Fall as well, so I don’t know whether they’ll make the return trip to meet up with Black Rainbows at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Germany, but it’s a universe of infinite possibility.

The raw crunch-punk fuckery of “Acid Drop,” with its blown-out vocals and swirling jam into the fade, follows on the player below. Beyond that, the PR wire takes over.

Dig if you dig:

Nebula, “Acid Drop” track premiere

HPS300 – NEBULA / BLACK RAINBOWS – In Search Of The Cosmic Tale: Crossing The Galactic Portal

There’s not much to add, two of the greatest Heavy Psych bands of the scene join the forces to give birth to an incredible Split Album.

Packed with 32 minutes of the highest quality heavy rock you can find out there; a joint venture which can happen only once every 100 years!!

Heavy Psych king-pioneers Nebula bring to life three brand new songs, recorded expressly for this incredible project. Three new gems which follow their latest “Holy Shit” and “Transmission….”

Black Rainbows add in three songs of their own, handpicked from the recording session of their latest success “Superskull”, released back in 2023. Delivering two Stoner in-your-face Heavy Fuzz pieces and one Heavy Space tune to celebrate this awesome collaboration!!

The cover art pairs perfectly with the vision and vibe of the album and is credited to the mighty Simon Berndt.

1. Acid Drop
2. Eye of the Storm
3. Ceasar XXXIV

Recorded at “High Desert Sound Studios “ Spring Equinox 2024.
Produced and Mixed by Nebula
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio 

Eddie Glass : Guitars, Vocals, Drums
Ranch Sironi : Bass, Vocals, Mix Down
Warzone Speedwolf : Drums 

1. The Secret
2. Thunder Lights on the Greatest Sky
3. Dogs of War

Recorded 11-12-13 May 2022 at Forward Studio, Rome, Italy by Fabio Sforza and Andrea Secchi
Vocals, Synths, Overdubs Recorded in November and December 2022
At Forward Studios and Channel 5 Studio by Andrea Secchi and Gabriele Fiori
Mixed and Engineered by Fabio Sforza
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio
All Songs, Music and Lyrics written by Gabriele Fiori

Gabriele Fiori — Guitars & Vocals
Edoardo “Mancio” Mancini — Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni — Drums

BLACK RAINBOWS European shows 2024
03.05 – Barcelona (SP) 62 Club
04.05 – Vidiago (SP) Vidiago Rock Fest
07.06 – Winterthur (CH) Gaswerk – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
14.06 – Genova (ITA) TBA
28.06 – Clisson (FR) Hellfest
29.06 Passau (DE) Blackdoor Fest
13.07 – Trieste (IT) TBA
10.08 – Bagnes (CH) Palp Fest
12/13.10 – Berlin (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
27/28.10 – Dresden (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest

NEBULA European Tour 2024
SU. 09.06.24 IT ***OPEN SLOT***
FR. 14.06.24 DE ***OPEN SLOT***
SA. 22.06.24 FR ***OPEN SLOT***
WE. 03.07.24 UK ***OPEN SLOT***




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Ufomammut Announce Hidden LP Out May 17; “Leeched” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Italian cosmic doom progenitors Ufomammut have always believed presentation matters and they’ve got the closely-associated Malleus visual arts studio to prove it, but I can’t remember them ever quite going so deep into that notion as to manifest an album’s concept in the actual piece of plastic to which it’s pressed. Yeah, they’ve done special editions and on-theme colors, but Hidden takes that another step as you can read in the just-got-here PR wire info below. See also the sense of crushing weight and consuming atmosphere that’s defined most of their output over the course of the last two-and-a-half-plus decades. That seems to be well intact too, as demonstrated in their new animated video for “Leeched,” the first single from what will be their 10th full-length, out May 17 through Neurot Recordings and their own Supernatural Cat imprint.

Newfomammut is always good news as far as I’m concerned. Last Fall, they offered a sneak peak at Hidden‘s direction in the Crookhead EP (review here), the title-track from which features as the new record’s opener. “Leeched” finds the three-piece digging into the heart of their approach with clarity and efficiency across its five minutes, but if the other nine Ufomammut albums — the last of which was Fenice (review here), released just in 2022 — have taught us anything, it’s that you never know all the places the band will explore until you’re actually in the whole record itself. Even then sometimes you might lose track of where you’re at. Don’t worry, that’s part of the thing too.

Something to look forward to:

ufomammut hidden

UFOMAMMUT: Italian Psychedelic Doom Trio To Release Tenth Album, Hidden, On Neurot Recordings/Supernatural Cat Records On May 17th; Animated Video For “Leeched” + Album Details And Preorders Posted

Italian psychedelic doom metal trio UFOMAMMUT celebrates their 25th Anniversary in 2024 including the release of their massive tenth studio full-length, Hidden. Today, the band confirms the album for May release on Neurot Recordings/Supernatural Cat Records, unveiling the cover art, track listing, preorders, and an animated video for the song “Leeched.”

Rising from the ashes of their prior band Judy Corda, UFOMAMMUT formed in the late 1990s by Poia (guitars, effects) and Urlo (bass, vocals, effects, synths), together with Vita (drums). With Levre taking over on drums in 2021, the band has undergone a rebirth, culminating in the release of the 2022-released Fenice LP, and on Halloween 2023, the Crookhead EP.

Over the course of two-and-a-half decades, UFOMAMMUT has developed a unique sound that combines heavy, dynamic riff worship with a deep understanding of psychedelic tradition in music, which has resulted in a cosmic, futuristic, and technicolor sound that fully immerses listeners. They’ve produced a wide spectrum of albums, EPs, live albums, a box set, compilation tracks, and covers – including a track on the Superunknown Redux Soundgarden tribute album.

Now, in 2024, as they celebrate their quarter-century milestone, UFOMAMMUT is set to release their tenth LP, Hidden. This album marks a shift in the band’s musical composition, aiming for a more intense and heavy sound, as they have displayed over the prior two releases. The title, Hidden, reflects the concept of the presence of everything in our existence and the ability to bring to light what lies within us. With Hidden, the band delves into a sonic journey that traverses vast expanses of space and time. From the crushing heaviness to the hauntingly melodies, from the textured compositions to the otherworldly atmospheres, Hidden testifies to the never-ending evolution of UFOMAMMUT and their mastery of creating immersive sonic experiences: a fitting celebration of their 25 years of sonic exploration and experimentation.

Like any good psychedelic trip, the music of UFOMAMMUT has always been inextricably intertwined with visual art. Poia describes longer compositions, “like a painting,” as if to reinforce the relevance and importance of visual art in their music. And as always, the artwork, videos, and all visuals/graphics for Hidden were created by Malleus Rock Art Lab, the rock/music graphic design collective of which Poia and Urlo are part of with Lu.

Hidden was recorded at Flat Scenario Studio in Piemonte, Italy, with Lorenzo Stecconi handling the mixing and mastering, and Luca Grossi overseeing vocal tracking.

With the lead single, Poia writes, “‘Leeched,’ the first song from the new full-length album Hidden, perfectly represents the new direction of UFOMAMMUT, which began with the album Fenice and continued with the EP Crookhead and reiterates once again that there are no failures or hesitations in our sonic research.

The fusion between heaviness and psychedelia, an obsession of the band since the beginning, takes on a new, changing form in ‘Leeched.’”

Hidden will be released on CD, LP, and digital on May 17th, in North America through Neurosis’ Neurot Recordings, the vinyl pressed on a Silver Nugget variant in a gatefold jacket. In Europe, the band’s Supernatural Cat Records will release it, a standard version on 180-gram Marbled Purple And Black variant, and a limited version of 500 copies on 180-gram Crystal Clear variant crafted by hand using photosensitive colors that are activated by sunlight, bringing the concept of the album to life, with multiple bundles and options.

Find US preorders/presaves at Neurot Recordings HERE: https://music.neurotrecordings.com/hidden.OPR

EU preorders at Supernatural Cat HERE: https://www.supernaturalcat.com/home/hiddenpreorder/

Hidden Track Listing:
1. Crookhead
2. Kismet
3. Spidher
4. Mausoleum
5. Leeched
6. Soulost

UFOMAMMUT will be touring regularly in support of Hidden, with a long list of tour dates already announced across Europe and the UK through all of May and into June, with much more being plotted. See the current 25 Years Anniversary Tour listings at the band’s website HERE: https://www.ufomammut.com/site/

Poia – guitars
Urlo – bass, vocals, effects, synths
Levre – drums
Ciccio – soundlord




Ufomammut, “Leeched” official video

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L’Ira del Baccano Winter Tour Starts Feb. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

l'ira del baccano

Anybody remember November? Yeah, me neither. It’s the end of January, the start of February this week, so November might as well have been 1922 it was so long ago. That said, there was something distinctly familiar about the list of tour dates from L’Ira del Baccano as the Italian Subsound Records denizens set forth to promote their ’23 LP, Cosmic Evoked Potentials (review here), and indeed, some of them were announced last Fall. I didn’t figure anybody would be yelling at me for getting them up again — some of the TBD dates have filled in, which is nice to see — and perhaps snag an ear or two who missed the album when that came through because, well, it might make your day better. Ain’t no mystery to what we’re doing here these days.

Maybe they’ll announce a summer tour next week and I can post that and then do it again in June, just keep a thread going. Would you notice? Of course not.

Dates from social media:


L’IRA DEL BACCANO official artworks for our Tour created by Michele Carnielli a.k.a. @visione444 . See you on the road!!


L’IRA DEL BACCANO Feb/March Tour 2024
17-02 Rome Defrag
27-02 Verona Fine Di Mondo
28-02 Bolzano @pippostage
29-02 Altotting Plattenzimmer e.V.
01-03 Nuremberg Kunstverein Hintere-Cramergasse e.V. with @j.ø.t.u.
02.03 Schmalkalden Kulturverein Villa K with GODDYS
03-03 Würzburg Immerhin Würzburg
04-03 NEED..BOOK US!!
05-03 Weimar C.Keller & Galerie Markt 21 e. V.
06-03 Dresden Chemiefabrik Dresden (Chemo) with Methadone Skies
07-03 Prague @klubmodravopice Těžká psychedelika
08-03 Bayreuth Glashaus Bayreuth
09-03 Heidelberg Yolo Hof
10-03 Salzburg Rockhouse Bar with Humulus


SUBSOUND: https://subsoundrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/l-ira-del-baccano
BANDCAMP: https://liradelbaccanoofficial.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-evoked-potentials

L’Ira del Baccano:
Alessandro Drughito Santori: Guitars, Loops , Production
Roberto Malerba: Lead Guitar, Guitar FX, Synth, Loops
Gianluca Giannasso: Drums
Ivan Contini: Bass



L’Ira del Baccano, Cosmic Evoked Potentials (2023)

L’Ira del Baccano, “The Strange Dream of My Old Sun” official video

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The Black Flamingo Stream Debut Album An-nûr in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 30th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Roman instrumentalist trio The Black Flamingo will release An-nûr through Subsound Records on Feb. 2, which, if you’re playing along at home, is this Friday. The six-song collection follows behind 2018’s Mictlan EP and shows an early penchant for atmosphere at the start of opener “Selk’nam,” which soon unfurls its central motion in a running bassline and corresponding drum pattern, the guitar stepping into the forward position as the piece begins to take shape. Over the course of the full-length, guitarist/synthesist Mattia Lolli, drummer Tiziano Giammichele and bassist Matteo Nuccetelli build and expand on the palette they set forth in the leadoff, but at about three minutes in when “Selk’nam” locks into that payoff groove, that’s most of what you actually need to know right there.

Samples at the outset of “An-nûr” places the record in the current Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people — sorry to call it what it is; genocide happened to Jews too and security is important, but that doesn’t make it right — and the three-piece allow for some meditative moments after to digest the obviously-clueless/obviously-white interviewer talking to some representative of Palestine and asking horrible, racist questions like, “Why don’t you just stop fighting?” I assume as a tank rolls over the guy’s grandmother in the background or some shit and the world pretends to care in only the most tsk-tsk’ing of fashions. The title-track moves in its second half to a breakout of noisier crashing, as it should, and thereby hints at some of the prog-metal aspects of songs like “Tredici” still to come, the samples there leading into a linear build resolved by Tool-circa-’98-ish start-stops.

Between those, “Due” lets loose with a more ruffled-sounding distortion — it’s not so much fuzzier as hairier — and shifts into its own purposeful ending as a payoff for what came before. Ambient transitions, the samples, etc., build character around “Tredici,” but it’s the percussion at the start of the penultimate “Solaris” that fades in to set the mood. Synth, or keyboard, lend a science-fiction drone to coincide melodically with the rhythmic pattern being laid out, but the jump to dreamier guitar brings a different spirit, something more serene if still otherworldly. It’s not the last rug pull, as The Black Flamingo turn shortly after three minutes into the song’s total six to a fuzzier riff that’s both twisting and more grounded than the place from which the band just came, and that sets “Solaris” on its own building course, hints of post-metal in the intensity of the wash still not giving up their heavy rock foundations.

The culmination of “Solaris” leaves only 13-minute closer “Ayahuasca,” which offers another multi-tiered build and takes the time to work from the ground up in making it. Samples throughout unite “Ayahuasca” with “Tredici” or “Selk’nam” at the outset, but The Black Flamingo are also clearly playing to the ‘big finish’ as an element of genre as well and listening to the actual unfolding of “Ayahuasca” — which, golly, I’d love to try, though I hear it very definitely makes you puke before it melts your brain — which gets heavier so that you go, “okay that’s the payoff” like three times before they’re actually there, it makes sense on the album where it is as an encapsulation of what’s been accomplished across the preceding span, which is to establish the tones, atmospheres and methods along whose lines The Black Flamingo will likely look to develop their sound going forward (some more drastic revamp notwithstanding; one never knows), speaking to something essential in groove now and informing any and all among the converted who’d take them on of their potential for more. This is, as regards hearing them, only good news.

Album stream for An-nûr follows here with more info underneath from the PR wire.

Tell two friends:

‘An-nûr’, ‘light’ in arabic language, is The Black Flamingo’s first LP. Six tracks that go across obsessive rithms, lysergic journey and stoner blows. ‘An-nûr’ is also the title of the single, a long trip of black holes and solidarity with Palestinian people. The LP has been recorded in Rome, in the ‘Cinque Quarti’ studio, under the patient supervision of Lorenzo Amato (Max Carnage), that took care of mixing and mastering. The vinyl mastering has been done by Lorenzo Stecconi (Lento).

Subsound Records will release ‘An-nûr’ on LP and digital on February 2nd, 2024.

1. Selk’nam
2. An-nûr
3. Due
4. Tredici
5. Solaris
6. Ayahuasca


The Black Flamingo is a stoner-psych instrumental trio, which vibes among space and desert, with a rotten attitude. The band is formed in Rome, literally in the spaces of 30 Formiche club, by Erio Destratis (guru and housekeeper), Tiziano Giammichele (Camion, Cielo Drive) and Mattia Lolli (the Whirlings). Erio soon leaves for a nomad life and his bass is taken by Matteo Nuccetelli (Mad Roller).

The Black Flamingo are:
Tiziano Giammichele – Drums
Matteo Nuccetelli – Bass
Mattia Lolli – Guitar, Synth

The Black Flamingo on Facebook

The Black Flamingo on Instagram

The Black Flamingo on Bandcamp

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L’Ira del Baccano Announce Early 2024 Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Supporting their 2023 album, Cosmic Evoked Potentials (review here), on Subsound Records, Italian heavy psychedelic rockers L’Ira del Baccano will head out on a round of European touring starting at the end of February. There are dates to be filled in — I also don’t have venue info, so I guess there’s that as well — here and there as the band courses mostly through Germany, with some shows in Italy and a date in Prague for good measure. They’re hoping to tag a couple more shows onto the end as well, and I’d assume there’s some flex there geographically, since they can head in whatever direction might make sense and then just turn back home after. If all comes together as planned, it’ll be a solid two weeks of shows without a day off. Not insignificant.

The following was posted on socials. If you can help out, do. If you missed the record, you’re never too late no matter what internet fomo tells you. Good music is never irrelevant, especially not for having been out for several months already.



Doomdelic Instrumental Space Prog Rockers @L’IRA DEL BACCANO will be on tour in Germany next March promoting the last album Cosmic Evoked Potential. Few slots are still to be filled. Any suggestion is much appreciated!! (better contacts/names of promoter/booker of course ). Below list of dates, Links. DM the band or Alessandro Drughito Santori for info. Free dates : MARCH 3rd -4th ( 2nd we will be in Schmalkalden and 5th in Weimar)- MARCH 10th & 11th South Germany/Switzerland

L’IRA DEL BACCANO Feb/March Tour 2024

17-02 Rome
27-02 Verona
28-02 Bolzano
29-02 Altotting
01-03 Nuremberg
02.03 Schmalkalden
03-03 NEED..BOOK US!!
04-03 NEED..BOOK US!!
05-03 Weimar
06-03 Dresden
07-03 Prague
08-03 TBA
09-03 Heidelberg
10-03 NEED..BOOK US!! ( South Germany, Switzerland, South France)
11-03 NEED..BOOK US!! ( South Germany, Switzerland, South France


SUBSOUND: https://subsoundrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/l-ira-del-baccano
BANDCAMP: https://liradelbaccanoofficial.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-evoked-potentials

L’Ira del Baccano:
Alessandro Drughito Santori: Guitars, Loops , Production
Roberto Malerba: Lead Guitar, Guitar FX, Synth, Loops
Gianluca Giannasso: Drums
Ivan Contini: Bass



L’Ira del Baccano, Cosmic Evoked Potentials (2023)

L’Ira del Baccano, “The Strange Dream of My Old Sun” official video

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Ufomammut Premiere Crookhead EP in Full; Out on Halloween

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 27th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ufomammut crookhead

Italian cosmos compilers Ufomammut will celebrate Halloween 2023 with the release of Crookhead, a new three-song EP. Releasing through their own Supernatural Cat imprint and of course handling the artwork in-house through their (partial) visual arts alter ego Malleus as per standard operating procedure, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Poia, bassist/vocalist/synthesist Urlo (also The Mon) and still-recent-but-has-an-album-under-his-belt-now drummer Levre — all of whom make a great deal of noise — revel in raw spaces across the 17-minute outing, which serves triple duty as the follow-up to 2022’s Fenice (review here), a preface to their 10th album next year, and a solid merch-table feature for the Fall tour they’re about to start this weekend ahead of the EP’s actual release. No sweat to those in Maastricht and Munich, though. I’m sure they’ve got you covered as regards vinyl.

Also crush. Crookhead begins its offload with the title-track and works righteously longest to shortest through “Crookhead” (8:59), “Supernova” (5:12) and “Vibrhate” (3:35), and wholly justifies its release in about the first 15 seconds. “Crookhead” quickly establishes itself as a physical force of tonality. There’s historical context as regards the trajectory of their growth, but in order to make this sentence shorter than the actual EP, I’ll spare you some of it.

Suffice it to say that Ufomammut have never stopped seeking new dimensions within the void. Their heavycraft, which as the PR wire notes is nearly 25 years on from its initial manifestations, is singularly identifiable and constantly evolving Ufomammut (Photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni)within its sphere. When Poia and Urlo (both founding members) brought Levre on as drummer in 2021, coming back from a hiatus announced in Jan. 2020, the result on Fenice was reorientation of principles.

Crookhead shares with Fenice a play between the expansive and the claustrophobic. Ufomammut craft huge spaces and drop them on your bones with all due gravity, and Crookhead effectively and efficiently showcases the various sides of their methodology, from the title-cut’s ultra-low distortion rumbling at a mean clip into the sampled-speech-topped central riff.

They ride that current of aural concrete to a stop at 1:50 and kick back in with Levre setting the slow march on hi-hat, as the speech echoes, complemented by grunts or effects-twists, whatever it might be — since it’s technology I don’t understand I’ll just call it magic — and pummel themselves into a break after four minutes in with a pinging sound like the construction across the street from where I live when they pull out rebar (it’s not the same sound, I checked), and a creeping melody of mosquito-buzz synth to bolster the tension ahead of the smooth return to full volume. Onward they roll, to victory, death, or that spot on an accretion disk where you might get a bit of both at once as the light bends around you and you watch the universe’s entire future unfurl in whacked-out spacetime.

It’s a build, and they’re galloping by the finish, but because it’s Ufomammut, “Crookhead” is as much an expression of ambience as heft. With a memory-wipe 30 seconds of drone/synth noise, “Supernova” soon enough meets “Crookhead” on its own level of impossibly-dense noise riffing, but the turn toward atmospherics happens sooner, and is more patient, more willfully psychedelic.

Interesting to note that the vocals are spoken there too, but it’s a short stretch as Poia soon draws a solo over the soundscape, and a few more words lead into to a full-bore layered melodic verse before opening again to the speech and cycling through one more time. As will certainly happen, the vocals are in part consumed by the surrounding instruments, but that’s part of the immersion; the sense that all things are being consumed and so you are too. This is who they are.

They’re also the quiet psychedelics and the furious bludgeoning, and however fuck-yes-this-is-what-my-brain-needs the heaviest moments of Crookhead might be, dynamic is essential to the character of Ufomammut new or old. They have purposefully stripped down their style, but “Crookhead” and “Supernova” and “Vibrhate,” which also opens synthy and runs that thread alongside the relatively uptempo push of the guitar, bass and drums. For them, it’s a departure in structure and among the most straightforward, ‘traditional’-style metal songs they’ve ever done, but it’s neither out of place in style nor sound next to the other two, and the defined verses help ground the proceedings ahead of the last shove. In the spirit of the EP as a whole, I’ll call it ‘brutiful.’

And I’ll leave it there so you can actually hear the thing. You know the drill. Tour dates, preorder link and whatnot follow the EP premiere on the player below, courtesy of the aforementioned PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Ufomammut, Crookhead EP premiere

UFOMAMMUT presents a brand new EP, Crookhead, with three new songs that continue the expansion of the band’s sonic vision. The EP was recorded at Flat Scenario Studio in Italy by Lorenzo Stecconi in July 2022, and was mixed and mastered at Triple Sun by Stecconi. The artwork, as with all of the band’s releases, was designed and printed in Italy by Malleus Rock Art Lab, the graphic design collective of which Poia and Urlo are both founding members. The artwork, with its handprinted and numbered silkscreened cover, adds an artistic touch to the EP. Crookhead is a foretaste of the band’s impending tenth album, which will be released when the band celebrates their 25th anniversary in 2024.

The band reveals, “Crookhead is the Middle Earth, the gateway to something that lies within us and has yet to come, a bridge connecting our rebirth place called Fenice and the incoming journey. These three pieces perfectly represent how the new UFOMAMMUT form takes definitive shape and unfolds its fangs towards space, towards the unknown lands that await each of us. Crookhead is simply the final result of the urge to write new music, the natural introduction of our next record.”

UFOMAMMUT’s Crookhead EP will be released on Halloween, October 31st. The EP will released digitally and in a limited edition vinyl version of 500 copies: 200 on Marble Red Vinyl, 200 in Marble Gold Vinyl, and 100 in clear transparent vinyl which will be available only on the band’s fall tour. Preorders are now live at the Supernatural Cat shop HERE: https://www.supernaturalcat.com/home/?s=crookhead

UFOMAMMUT has booked a Fall tour across Europe in conjunction with the release of Crookhead, with dates running from October 29th through December 3rd. See the confirmed dates below and expect new tours to be announced into the new year.

10/29/2023 Samhain Festival – Maastricht, NL
10/30/2023 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
11/04/2023 Sonic Rites – Helsinki, FI
11/15/2023 Mostovna – Nova Gorica, SLO
11/16/2023 Arena – Wien, AT
11/17/2023 Turbina – Budapest, HU
11/18/2023 Stadtwerkstatt – Linz, AT
11/19/2023 Kamienna – Krakow, PL
11/20/2023 Hydrozagadka – Warsaw, PL
11/21/2023 Kabinet Muz – Brno, CZ
11/22/2023 Club 007 Strahov – Prague, CZ
11/23/2023 Cassiopeia – Berlin, DE
11/24/2023 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
11/25/2023 4AD – Diksmuide, BE
11/26/2023 GeBAude 9 – Koln, DE
11/27/2023 P8 – Karlsruhe, DE
11/29/2023 Effenaar – Eindhoven, NL
11/30/2023 Le Bulle – Lille, FR
11/01/2023 Petit Bain – Paris, FR
11/02/2023 La Poudriere – Belfort, FR
11/03/2023 Old Capitol – Langenthal, CH

Poia – guitars, effects
Urlo – bass, vocals, effects, synths
Levre – drums, effects
Ciccio – soundlord

Ufommammut website

Ufomammut on Facebook

Ufomammut on Instagram

Supernatural Cat website

Supernatural Cat on Facebook

Supernatural Cat on Instagram

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

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

the obelisk winter quarterly review

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

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

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

Quarterly Review #41-50:

AAWKS & Aiwass, The Eastern Scrolls

AAWKS & Aiwass The Eastern Scrolls

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

AAWKS on Facebook

Aiwass on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

Surya Kris Peters, Strange New World

Surya Kris Peters Strange New World

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

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Evert Snyman, All Killer Filler

evert snyman all killer filler

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

Evert Snyman on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

Book of Wyrms, Storm Warning

book of wyrms storm warning

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

Book of Wyrms on Facebook

Desert Records store

Burning Sister, Get Your Head Right

burning sister get your head right

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

Burning Sister on Facebook

Burning Sister on Bandcamp

Gévaudan, Umbra

Gévaudan UMBRA

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

Gévaudan on Facebook

Meuse Music Records website

Oxblood Forge, Cult of Oblivion

Oxblood Forge Cult of Oblivion

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

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

High Brian, Five, Six, Seven

High Brian Five Six Seven

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

High Brian on Facebook

StoneFree Records website

Búho Ermitaño, Implosiones

Búho Ermitaño Implosiones

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

Búho Ermitaño on Facebook

Buh Records on Bandcamp

Octonaut, Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

Octonaut Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

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

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