Quarterly Review: Howling Giant, Rose City Band, The Tazers, Kavrila, Gateway, Bala, Tremor Ama, The Crooked Whispers, No Stone, Firefriend

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


You know what? We’re through the first week of the Quarterly Review as of this post. Not too bad. I feel like it’s been smooth going so far to such a degree that I’m even thinking about adding an 11th day comprised purely of releases that came my way this week and will invariably come in next week too. Crazy, right? Bonus day QR. We’ll see if I get there, but I’m thinking about it. That alone should tell you something.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Day five commence.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

Let the story be that when the pandemic hit, Nashville’s Howling Giant took to the airwaves to provide comfort, character and a bit of ‘home’ — if one thinks of live performance as home — to their audience. With a steady schedule of various live streams on Twitch, some playing music, some playing D&D, the band engaged their listenership in a new and exciting way, finding a rare bright point in one of the darkest years of recent history. Alteration, a crisp four-song/20-minute EP, is born out of those streamed jams, with songs named by the band’s viewers/listeners — kudos to whoever came up with “Luring Alluring Rings” — and, being entirely instrumental from a band growing more and more focused on vocal arrangements, sound more like they’re on their way to being finished than are completely done. However, that’s also the point of the release, essentially to showcase unfinished works in progress that have emerged in a manner that nobody expected. It is another example from last year-plus that proves the persistence of creativity, and is all the more beautiful for that.

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website


Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

Vaguely lysergic, twanging with a non-chestbeating or jingoistic ’70s American singer-songwriter feel, Rose City Band‘s Earth Trip brings sentiment without bitterness in its songs, engaging as the title hints with nature in songs like “Silver Roses,” “In the Rain,” “Lonely Planes,” “Ramblin’ with the Day,” “Rabbit” and “Dawn Patrol.” An outlet for Ripley Johnson, also of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, the “band” isn’t so much in Rose City Band, but there is some collaboration — pedal steel here and there, as on “Ramblin’ with the Day” — though it’s very much Johnson‘s own craft and performance at the core of this eight-song set. This is the third Rose City Band long-player in three years, but quickly as it may have come about, the tracks never feel rushed — hushed, if anything — and Johnson effectively casts himself in among the organic throughout the proceedings, making the listener feel nothing if not welcome to join the ramble.

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website


The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

Johannesburg, South Africa’s The Tazers are suited to a short-release format, as their Dream Machine EP shows, bringing together four tracks with psychedelic precociousness and garage rock attitude to spare, with just an edge of classic heavy to keep things grooving. Their latest work opens with its languid and lysergic title-track, which sets up the shove of “Go Away” and the shuffle in “Lonely Road” — both under three and a half minutes long, with nary a wasted second in them, despite sounding purposefully like tossoffs — and the latter skirts the line of coming undone, but doesn’t, of course, but in the meantime sets up the almost proto-New Wave in the early going on “Around Town,” only later to give way to the band’s most engaging melody and a deceptively patient, gentle finish, which considering some of the brashness in the earlier tracks is a surprise. A pleasant one, though, and not the first the three-piece have brought forth by the time they get to the end of Dream Machine‘s ultra-listenable 16-minute run.

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud


Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

Pressed in an ultra-limited edition of 34 tapes (the physical version also has a bonus track), Kavrila‘s Rituals III brings together about 16 minutes of heavy hardcore and post-hardcore, a thickened undertone giving something of a darker mood to the crunch of “Equality” as guitars are layered in subtly in a higher register, feeding into the urgency without competing with the drums or vocals. Opener “Sunday” works at more of a rush while “Longing” has more of a lurch at least to its outset before gradually elbowing its way into a more careening groove, but the bridge being built is between sludge and hardcore, and while the four-piece aren’t the first to build it, they do well here. If we’re picking highlights, closer “Elysium” has deft movement, intensity and atmosphere in kind, and still features a vocal rawness that pushes the emotional crux between the verses and choruses to make the transitions that much smoother. The ending fades out early behind those shouts, leaving the vocals stranded, calling out the song’s title into a stark emptiness.

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp


Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

Brutal rebirth. Robin Van Oyen is the lone figure behind Bruges, Belgium-based death-doom outfit Gateway, and Flesh Reborn is his first EP in three years. Marked out with guest guitar solos by M., the four-track/25-minute offering keeps its concentration on atmosphere as much as raw punishment, and while one would be correct to call it ‘extreme’ in its purpose and execution, its deathliest aspects aren’t just the growling vocals or periods of intense blast, but the wash of distortion that lays over the offering as a whole, from “Hel” through “Slumbering Crevasses,” the suitably twisting, later lurching “Rack Crawler” and the grandeur-in-filth 12-minute closing title-track, at which point the fullness of the consumption is revealed at last. Unbridled as it seems, this material is not without purpose and is not haphazard. It is the statement it intends to be, and its depths are shown to be significant as Van Oyen pulls you further down into them with each passing moment, finally leaving you there amid residual drone.

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website


Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

Admirably punk in its dexterity, Bala‘s debut album, Maleza, arrives as a nine-track pummelfest from the Spanish duo of guitarist/vocalist Anx and drummer/vocalist V., thickened with sludgy intent and aggression to spare. The starts and stops of opener “Agitar” provide a noise-rock-style opening that hints at the tonal push to come throughout “Hoy No” — the verse melody of which seems to reinvent The Bangles — while the subsequent “X” reaches into greater breadth, vocals layered effectively as a preface perhaps to the later grunge of “Riuais,” which arrives ahead of the swaggering riff and harsh sneer of “Bessie” the lumbering finale “Una Silva.” Whether brooding in “Quieres Entrar” or explosive in its shove in “Cien Obstaculos,” Maleza offers stage-style energy with clarity of vision and enough chaos to make the anger feel genuine. There’s apparently some hype behind Bala, and fair enough, but this is legitimately one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2021.

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website


Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

French prog-fuzz five-piece Tremor Ama make a coherent and engaging debut with Beneath, a first full-length following up a 2017 self-titled EP release. Spacious guitar leads the way through the three-minute intro “Ab Initio” and into the subsequent “Green Fire,” giving a patient launch to the outing, the ensuing four songs of which grow shorter as they go behind that nine-minute “Green Fire” stretch. There’s room for ambience and intensity both in centerpiece “Eclipse,” with vocals echoing out over the building second half, and both “Mirrors” and “Grey” offer their moments of surge as well, the latter tapping into a roll that should have fans of Forming the Void nodding both to the groove and in general approval. Effectively tipping the balance in their sound over the course of the album as a whole, Tremor Ama showcase an all-the-more thoughtful approach in this debut, and at 30 minutes, they still get out well ahead of feeling overly indulgent or losing sight of their overarching mission.

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp


The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

Delivered on multiple formats including as a 12″ vinyl through Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, the bleary cultistry of The Crooked Whispers‘ two-songer Dead Moon Night also finds the Los Angeles-based outfit recently picked up by Ripple Music. If it seems everybody wants a piece of The Crooked Whispers, that’s fair enough for the blend of murk, sludge and charred devil worship the foursome offer with “Hail Darkness” and the even more gruesome “Galaxy of Terror,” taking the garage-doom rawness of Uncle Acid and setting against a less Beatlesian backdrop, trading pop hooks for classic doom riffing on the second track, flourishing in its misery as it is. At just 11 minutes long — that’s less than a minute for each inch of the vinyl! — Dead Moon Night is a grim forecast of things to come for the band’s deathly revelry, already showcased too on last year’s debut, Satanic Whispers (review here).

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp


No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

Schooled, oldschool doom rock for denim-clad heads as foggy as the distortion they present, No Stone‘s debut album, Road into the Darkness, sounds like they already got there. The Rosario, Argentina, trio tap into some Uncle Acid-style garage doom vibes on “The Frayed Endings,” but the crash is harder, and the later 10-minute title-track delves deeper into psychedelia and grunge in kind, resulting in an overarching spirit that’s too weird to be anything but individual, however mmuch it might still firmly reside within the tenets of “cult.” If you were the type to chase down a patch, you might want to chase down a No Stone patch, as “Devil Behind” makes its barebones production feel like an aesthetic choice to offset the boogie to come in “Shadow No More,” and from post-intro opener “Bewitched” to the long fade of “The Sky is Burning,” No Stone balance atmosphere and songcraft in such a way as to herald future progress along this morose path. Maybe they are just getting on the road into the darkness, but they seem to be bringing that darkness with them on the way.

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp


Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

Dead Icons is the sixth full-length from Brazilian psychedelic outfit Firefriend, and throughout its 10 songs and 44 minutes, the band proffer marked shoegaze-style chill and a sense of space, fuzzy and molten in “Hexagonal Mess,” more desert-hued in “Spin,” jangly and out for a march on “Ongoing Crash.” “Home or Exile” takes on that question with due reach, and “Waves” caps with organ alongside the languid guitar, but moments like “Tomorrow” are singular and gorgeous, and though “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” and “666 Fifth Avenue” border on playful, there’s an overarching melancholy to the flow, as engaging as it is. In its longest pieces — “Tomorrow” (6:05) and “One Thousand Miles High” (5:08) — the “extra” time is well spent in extending the trio’s reach, and while it’s safe to assume that six self-recorded LPs later, Firefriend know what they want to do with their sound, that thing feels amorphous, fleeting, transient somehow here, like a moving target. That speaks to ongoing growth, and is just one of Dead Icons‘ many strengths.

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store


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Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan Sign to DHU Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

desert druid and the acid caravan

Ably-monikered Brazilian trio Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan have signed on to release their debut EP, The VVitch, through DHU Records. The cover art and info for the release are below, and I don’t have a release date as yet, but you the video for the title-track was posted here earlier and you can see it below as well — isn’t that convenient — and the four songs will come on a one-sided 12″ mastered by Tony Reed with art on the B-side. For a second there, I looked at the press release and thought they had a 20-minute track called “Silkscreen,” which would be fun, but alas. Probably etched? I don’t know. Sounds neato either way. And by “neato” I mean heavy and doomed and “that way lies madness” and all that kind of fun stuff.

You might recall Ruidoteka Records had the tape of The VVitch out. So far as I know that’s still happening as well.


desert druid and the acid caravan the vvitch

New Signing to DHU Records: Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan

DHU Records is excited to announce the signing of Brazilian Doomers DESERT DRUID AND THE ACID CARAVAN!

“Formed in early 2020 in the city of Sorocaba / SP by three musicians who have known each other for over a decade, the band Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan seek to bring to their sonority elements of classic bands from the Heavy Metal and Doom Metal genre, adding a few splashes of Stoner Rock.

Recorded at Covil Studio in Sorocaba in 2020, “The VVitch” is the Debut EP of the trio formed by F. Klinger (bass / vocals), P. Nass (guitar) and E. Lisboa (drums) and consists of four tracks where 70s Hard Rock, Doom Metal and Stoner intertwine in an atmosphere of dark and the obscure, inviting the listener on a journey through dense riffs coupled with clean & ethereal vocals, lyrically tapping into occult & horror movie themes and aesthetics. The title track can be streamed at Bandcamp and the video can be seen at YouTube”

DHU Records will release The VVitch on a Single Sided 12″ record w/ silkscreened B side. Pre orders + release date to be confirmed.

The VVitch is mastered for vinyl by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co.

Test Press, DHU Exclusive & Band Editions will be available


Side A:
A1. The VVitch
A2. Total Madness
A3. Mistress of the Black Heart
A4. Witching Hour

Side B: Silkscreen

Recorded at Covil Studio in Sorocaba in 2020
Produced and mixed by F. Klinger
Mastered for vinyl by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Company
Artwork by Desert Druid

Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan
F. Klinger (bass / vocals)
P. Nass (guitar)
E. Lisboa (drums)


Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, “The VVitch” official video

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Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan to Release Debut EP The VVitch; Title-Track Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian doom rockers Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan have signed to Ruidoteka Records to release the cassette version — remember “k7” equals “cassette” — of their debut EP, The VVitch. The title-track is streaming now as a single and I don’t think you call your band something like Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan because you’re trying to be subtle, so it’s in accordance with that kind of mindset that the first track from the impending however-many-songer comes through with a pretty good idea of where it’s headed style-wise. It’s headed into that cloud of smoke. Also possibly the cloud is sentient and eats ladies or something, I’m not sure.

I haven’t heard the whole tape yet, but the digital release is later this month or early next and that’ll do just fine, though if you were up to chasing down a purple-and-black tape for yourself, you wouldn’t get a fight from me on principle.

Info came down the PR wire:

desert druid and the acid caravan

DESERT DRUID AND THE ACID CARAVAN – Brazilian heavy/doom rock trio release debut single and announce EP “The VVitch”

The brazilian heavy/doom rock band Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, new and promising name of the national heavy music scene, released in April, 30 their first single. The track “The VVitch” was officially released on streaming via Dopesmoke Heavy Music Productions and also in Bandcamp, and a lyric video was made too pay homage to some Horror movies centered on mystical and witchcraft themes.

The trio is referenced in powerful names from Heavy Metal, Doom and Stoner as Uncle Acid, Pentagram and Electric Wizard, based on clean and ethereal vocals, in an unmistakable rawness and very solid riffs with a mystical and occult theme. After the release of the single “The VVitch” the band has already prepared the way for the release of their first EP, also bearing the name “The VVitch” and scheduled to be released digitally towards the end of May/beginning of June. In parallel the band already announced a partnership with the argentinian label Ruidoteka Records for a k7 release, and more news are coming soon.

“The VVitch” is available in the streaming, Youtube and Bandcamp.

F.Klinger – bass/vox
P.Nass – guitar
E.Lisboa – drums


Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, “The VVitch”

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