Shadow Witch Seeking Drummer; New Album to be Recorded

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an odd situation for Shadow Witch, but Shadow Witch are kind of an odd band, and that’s part of their appeal. The Kingston, New York, four-piece are getting ready to record the follow-up to their sophomore full-length, Disciples of the Crow (review here). They’ve given the new album the title Under the Shadow of a Witch, and they’ll record with drummer Doug “Beans” Thompson, but then after that, Thompson‘s leaving the band and they’re looking to bring someone else in.

So what Shadow Witch need is a drummer not to play on the album, but to pick up with live shows thereafter and, presumably, record with them next time around. If you’re a drummer, that gives you the chance to get to know the other guys in the band before rather than stepping into a situation where they have a bunch of completed songs and you have to catch up to them. It’ll require learning the material, but it would anyway. Like a lot of what Shadow Witch does, it makes a weird kind of sense.

Replacing Thompson in the lineup won’t be easy, but as fascinating a band as Shadow Witch are, especially live, I have no doubt they’d be able to find someone.

Here’s their announcement:

shadow witch

New York’s SHADOW WITCH are sadly on a search for a new drummer. Doug “BEANS” Thompson (MURPHY’S LAW, BROOKLYN) with whom the band recorded and toured their second release DISCIPLES OF THE CROW, is having to leave the band for personal/family reasons.

The band is currently working on their next release “UNDER THE SHADOW OF A WITCH,” an album singer/lyricist Earl Walker Lundy says was written during an intense and torrid affair.

“All the songs are thematically tied to love as witchcraft, with obsession, addiction and loss as the outcome. We’re recording the album with Doug, but are in need of a replacement of his caliber to follow up with touring, and to move forward with the band. It’s an enormous challenge.”

SHADOW WITCH is:
David Pannullo (bass)
Doug “Beans” Thompson (drums)
Earl Walker Lundy (vocals, mellotron, samples)
Jeremy H. Hall (guitars)

https://www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band/
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www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Shadow Witch, Disciples of the Crow (2017)

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Thunderbird Divine Announce Debut Album Title Magnasonic; Post “Madras Blue” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Tomorrow night, Philadelphia four-piece Thunderbird Divine take the stage at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan atop the bill for the latest installment of the Ode to Doom show series. The band is only just now announcing the title of their Salt of the Earth Records debut album will be Magnasonic and that it will be released in the coming months via Salt of the Earth Records. To lead the way into the record, Thunderbird Divine — who first made their presence known in Spring 2017 and confirmed the album being through Salt of the Earth earlier this year — have a new video.

Does the track come from the album? No. It doesn’t. Why not? I think because, at least in part, that would be predictable. You’d see that coming. A band who are about to put out their debut LP? Well of course they have a video, probably for the catchiest cut on the thing. Thunderbird Divine? Their video is for an off-album instrumental weirdo exploration piece called “Madras Blue,” because screw expectation. One can only hope the entire full-length is so willing to follow its own impulses.

And yeah, that means I haven’t heard it yet. Hopefully sooner than later. I watch my email like a hawk these days. Like the sleepiest motherfucking hawk you ever saw in your life.

But that’s a matter for a different discussion. Here’s the latest from Salt of the Earth, as well as the “Madras Blue” video, which is down at the bottom:

thunderbird divine in studio

Thunderbird Divine Reveals Debut Album Title “Magnasonic,” Releases Promotional Video for “Madras Blue”

Philly’s crew of psychedelic riffologists, Thunderbird Divine, has revealed the title of its first recording. Titled Magnasonic, meaning “great sounds” in Latin, the 30-plus-minute album will be released in both CD and digital download formats via Connecticut’s Salt of the Earth Records (https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/) in late Summer/early Fall.

“The rough mixes I’ve heard thus far are next-level,” says Scott Harrington, president of Salt of the Earth Records. “Nobody we know has a record like this. With Thunderbird Diviine’s Magnasonic, Salt of the Earth Records is going to have a landmark release. It’s heavy, it’s psychedelic, it’s layered… it’s really like nothing else out there right now.”

Produced by musician/songwriter LD Beghtol (Flare/Moth Wranglers/Magnetic Fields), the sounds on the upcoming release offer a different flavor from past projects made by this conglomeration of musicians. The quartet, which coalesced in March of 2017 from the remains of Wizard Eye (vocalist/guitarist Erik Caplan) and Skeleton Hands (drummer Mike Stuart, bassist Adam Scott and guitarist Flynn Lawrence), is open to experimentation.

“We all wanted to stretch out and try some different things with our first record,” Caplan says. “It’s not like we abandoned the idea of big riffs, but we went for some progressive moments and embraced the idea of embroidering the songs with textures you don’t tend to hear in heavy music. LD certainly encouraged and instigated this kind of behavior.”

For a band holding a straightforward stoner and riff-rock pedigree, the inclusion of varied textures like piano, sitar, pump organ, bouzouki, marxophone, mandolin, synths and choral voices may seem disparate, or, more damnably, weird for the sake of being weird.

“We were aware this album might be perceived as an attempt to do too much or cram a square peg into a round hole,” Caplan says. “I think the heart of this collection is a solid, heavy band playing good rock songs, and the additional instrumentation takes the music to a fully realized place with the textures the songs need to make them complete. When you’re a musician imagining a piano in one of your songs, for example, it makes sense to get that piano part into the recording of that song if at all possible. The recording will be around forever.”

In keeping with the band’s promise to offer fresh, non-album tracks with promotional videos, Thunderbird Divine’s newest video track, “Madras Blue,” is a trippy intergalactic foray into a realm of swirling electric sitars, pulsing beats and staggered drones. The self-recorded song was set to video by drummer/percussionist Stuart.

“The narrative here follows the story we set in motion with ‘Quaalude Thunder,'” Stuart explains. “There was an arrival in the first video. Now there’s a celebration of that arrival and a birth. We can’t wait to continue telling this tale.”

Check out Thunderbird Divine at New York’s Ode to Doom at Arlene’s Grocery July 18: https://www.facebook.com/events/138916263419072/

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Thunderbird Divine, “Madras Blue” official video

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Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

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Shadow Witch at Salt of the Earth Records

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Thunderbird Divine Sign to Salt of the Earth Records; Premiere Video for “Quaalude Thunder”

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

First discussed here last May, Philadelphia four-piece Thunderbird Divine have signed on to release their debut album through Salt of the Earth Records. Inking the deal makes them labelmates to the likes of EarthrideScissorfight and Atala, though if their first public audio in the track “Quaalude Thunder” premiering in the video at the bottom of this post is anything to go by, they’re way dug into their own wavelength. All the better for the group, which features guitarist/vocalist/thereminist Erik Caplan, formerly of Wizard Eye and guitarist Flynn Lawrence, bassist Adam Scott and drummer Mike Stuart, all of whom used to play in Skeleton Hands.

I’d doubt “Quaalude Thunder” speaks for the whole of Thunderbird Divine‘s aesthetic, but it’s a pretty engaging introductory sampling, and one hopes it’s not too long before they dole out a follow-up ahead of the yet-untitled first long-player.

Salt of the Earth made the signing official by sending over the following announcement. Stoked on this one. Expect more to come:

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

Thunderbird Divine Signs With Salt of the Earth Records for First Album, Releases Exclusive Video Track

Colchester, Connecticut-based label, Salt of the Earth Records, has inked a contract with Philadelphia’s Thunderbird Divine for its first, as-yet unnamed album due late Summer 2018. The band, comprising former members of the now-defunct bands Skeleton Hands and Wizard Eye, formed in March 2017 and is presently wrapping up the recording process.

“I couldn’t be more psyched, nor could I be prouder to be able to announce the signing of Thunderbird Divine to Salt Of The Earth Records,” says label president, Scott Harrington. “These guys are doing something truly interesting, different and exciting–make no mistake, this is definitely a heavy record, but there are complex elements of psychedelia and weird, wild textures mixed with classic riffing. This thing has class, style and balls. That’s a rare combination.”

Thunderbird Divine, featuring guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan, bassist Adam Scott, drummer Mike Stuart and guitarist Flynn Lawrence, is extremely pleased to be working with Salt of the Earth Records as well, a label featuring releases from the likes of Scissorfight, Atala and Earthride.

“I knew Scott very well from his work with my last project, and he did some wonderful stuff for that band,” says Caplan. “I have always considered him to be a solid, stand-up guy who shoots straight and makes things happen, and we’re proud to join the Salt of the Earth Records roster of talented, creative artists who feel the same way about Scott and his work ethic. We’re in good company.”

The band has been recording in both New York and Philadelphia, at TedAudio with Ted Richardson and Mother West with Charles Newman, respectively. The foursome also chose to work with a producer for its first release, landing Caplan’s longtime friend, composer/multi-instrumentalist/artist/producer LD Beghtol. Beghtol, known for his solo music as well as work with Flare, Magnetic Fields and various other ventures, is not the typical choice as producer for music on the heavier side of the music spectrum.

“I’ve known LD for 20 years or so, and he’s a great friend as well as a ridiculously talented person,” says Caplan. “He’s always been an excellent touchstone and confidante for me, and I knew he would bring a fresh mindset to our sound. I think it would have been easy to approach one of the usual sludge or stoner/doom producers with our music, and I think the result would have been a really strong but typical album. Working with LD has really expanded our horizons and made this into something extraordinary.”

Thunderbird Divine has also created a series of advance self-produced non-album tracks with video treatments to herald this release. The first of these, an instrumental called “Quaalude Thunder,” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the way the late, great Frank Zappa described self-indulgent drumming.

“We have the capability to create our own recordings and make our own videos, so we wanted to offer some appetizers before we served up the main course,” says Stuart. “Every one of these tracks is a short teaser related to something you’ll hear on the album–variations on themes we’ve explored. ‘Quaalude Thunder’ certainly could have been a section of an album track, but we decided to give it a home of its own as an advance video track. The videos offer glimpses into the kinds of things we embrace as visual inspiration. Expect more as we get closer to the release date for the album.”

Photo credit: Dante Torrieri
(l-r) Erik Caplan, Flynn Lawrence, Adam Scott, Mike Stuart

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Thunderbird Divine, “Quaalude Thunder” official video premiere

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Scissorfight Premiere “Unfinished Business” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

scissorfight

They’ve made it clear they ain’t leavin’. They’ve warned of the dangers of drinking downstream from where the beavers live. They’ve reminisced about how much better the ’70s were. They’ve even had the devil’s shingle — and I have no idea what that means nor desire to know. Now, with their new single, reactivated New Hampshire plunderers Scissorfight call out their “Unfinished Business.” As to what that business might be, it’s something of a mystery, because frontman Doug Aubin gets pretty growly sometimes, but if I had to guess, I’d say it probably involves riffs, beer, kicking ass and, I don’t know, more riffs? Dudes have plenty of riffs to go around.

“Unfinished Business” is one of several songs the Granite State Destroyers laid down at Converse Rubber Tracks‘ studio last year. “Devil’s Shingle” was another, and they’re Scissorfight - Unfinished Businessbeing put out one at a time in order to keep momentum up between the band’s holy-shit-Scissorfight-are-back 2016 return EP, Chaos County (review here), and their next full-length, which they’ll reportedly get to recording in May. That will mark the first new Scissorfight long-player in 12 years since 2006’s Jaggernaut — not to mention their first with Aubin on the mic and Rick Orcutt on drums alongside original members guitarist Jay Fortin and bassist Paul Jarvis. If the four-piece have shown anything about themselves in the last two-plus years that they’ve been around again, however, it’s that they haven’t forgotten how to kick ass. Their stomp remains incredibly, incredibly mean.

I’m not sure whether “Unfinished Business” will end up on the next Scissorfight record or not — that would make its own business unfinished — but its video is charming and raises some interesting points. Consider that when Scissorfight faded out circa ’06, the “hipster” thing was just really getting started. That generation was just beginning to turn over. Now, “those people” have been going to shows for over a decade — is it really fair to think of them as tourists at this point? They’re the ones buying shirts. Just something to keep in mind as you see the cartoon version of the band — adorable — chase down PBR-snagging fashionistas in a giant, antler-laden monster truck that should be well familiar to any longtime fan. Hell’s bells, maybe they just wanted to start a conversation.

Either way, bonus points for the use of the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter. Gabe Kaplan. Boom-Boom Washington. Classic.

The single is out tomorrow, March 23. Enjoy the video below, followed by a few words from the band:

Scissorfight, “Unfinished Business” official video premiere

Scissorfight on “Unfinished Business”:

These singles we are releasing are kinda one-offs that we recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio last year. Right now we are working out the songs for our next full-length which we go into the studio in May. The video idea has been thrown around for a long time and I finally had some time to pull it off.

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Atala Post “Tabernacle Of” Video; Labyrinth of Ashmedai out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

atala jenifer stratton

Atala kicking ass in the desert. Very much an imaginable scenario, as far as scenarios go, and it’s how it goes in the post-sludgers’ new video for ‘Tabernacle Of’ from their just-issued new long-player, Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here), which came out last week on Salt of the Earth Records. At this point I’ve been through the album I don’t know how many times and between that and the recent interview posted with Atala guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Kyle Stratton, it doesn’t take me much more than seeing the title “Tabernacle Of” to have the opening lines of the song stuck in my head, let alone the shoutier hook of its chorus.

That’s not me trying to be like “I’m Mr. Dude-Really-Knows-this-Album” or anything or be like I have some special fucking connection with how Atala work. If anything, I think the clumsiness of my Six Dumb Questions in the above-linked interview proves very much the opposite, but just serves to show how god-damn catchy “Tabernacle Of” actually is. Very much part of the full-LP flow of Labyrinth of Ashmedai, it nonetheless stands out from its surroundings, and in so doing represents the record well as a whole, as one could easily say the same of accompanying cuts like “Death’s Dark Tomb” or “Grains of Sand.” Whole damn thing is full of highlights, I guess is what I’m saying.

Video is loaded with a sense of disaffection, and the groove is undeniable. If you need to know anything else about it — oh wait, you don’t.

PR wire info follows. Enjoy:

Atala, “Tabernacle Of” official video

Twentynine Palms, CA-based sludge/doom metal group ATALA just released their upcoming full-length concept album, Labyrinth of Ashmedai, via Salt of the Earth Records. Labyrinth of Ashmedai can be ordered now via https://saltoftheearthrecords.com/salt-of-the-earth-records-store.

As a follow up to their most recent music video for the sludge metal anthem “Wilted Leaf”, ATALA has just revealed another sweltering desert-based music video for the track “Tabernacle Of”.

The “Tabernacle Of” music video was filmed by Brooke Valls, edited by Konrad Pagdilao, and produced by Brooke Valls, Konrad Pagdilao and Kyle Stratton.

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Six Dumb Questions with Atala

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on January 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

atala photo jenifer stratton

One needs only to examine the purposeful creative growth undertaken over the last couple years by Atala to get a sense of the focus and intensity that drives guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton. The Twentynine Palms, California-based trio have, in the course of three full-lengths and as many years, developed and begun to refine an aesthetic as much dedicated to the individualism heralded by the Southern CA desert’s stand-apart-ness as it is distinct from the genre fare commonly associated with the region. Moving from their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) through 2016’s Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (review here) and the forthcoming Labyrinth of Ashmedai (review here) — which releases Jan. 26 via Salt of the Earth Records — Atala have worked diligently to find a sonic place of their own, and never has that been more manifest than in the crisp, mindful execution of post-sludge they proffer in the latest collection.

Produced like its predecessor by Billy Anderson (as in, yes, that Billy Anderson; he of manning the board for Sleep, the MelvinsNeurosisAcid King, so many more), Labyrinth of Ashmedai showcases its progression in the melody of “Infernal” and “I am Legion” as well as in the raw scathe of songs like “Death’s Dark Tomb” and “Wilted Leaf,” and through both, Atala have only become more recognizable as a unit. With Stratton at the forward position backed by bassist John Chavarria — since replaced by Dave Horn — and secret-weapon-until-you-actually-hear-him-play-then-way-too-loud-to-be-a-secret-anymore-weapon drummer Jeff Tedtaotao, the band present an atmospheric and conceptual reach that’s mirrored in the leanness of the songwriting and how little there actually seems to be to spare in their material. Labyrinth of Ashmedai is just under 36 minutes long. Not one minute of that time is wasted.

Likewise, Stratton does not mince his words in the interview that follows here, and I very much consider that another example of the forward-directed impulse that fuels his work with his band. Life is too short for bullshit. And it’s a fair enough argument. In talking about the album, Stratton — also a noted tattoo artist responsible for the cover art designs on Atala‘s records — relays his thoughts on the conditions of the world around him, his personal relationships, the status of the group moving into the New Year (and beyond), and more.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

atala labyrinth of ashmedai

Six Dumb Questions with Kyle Stratton of Atala

Tell me about choosing the title Labyrinth of Ashmedai. What’s the significance for you of Asmodeus and what does the use of that figure represent? Are you working with any kind of mysticism themes in the lyrics? How does the album art tie in, or does it?

The meaning behind the title Labyrinth of Ashmedai was quite simple: I wanted to use this fictional character as a way to conceal my truths in a metaphor. I wanted to vent my frustration towards the ludicrousy of anglo Saxon culture. I find it hilarious that our society is 70 percent people who believe in fairytales.

They use these fairytales to condemn others with different cultures, beliefs or even disbeliefs. At the same time using their religious beliefs, condoning their own horrible behaviors. I thought it would be interesting to wrap my frustrations up on a metaphor about raising the 72 legions of Hell and using the occult to damn souls for eternity. It was fun.

As far as the artwork, it is based off the three-headed demon Ashmedai; it is definitely meant to tie in. I prefer to use the original Hebrew name Ashmedai over the Roman copy Asmodeous. The religious texts were originally written in the Middle East not Europe.

In terms of following up Shaman’s Path of the Serpent, was there anything you knew you specifically wanted to do differently this time around? What lessons were you able to take from making that album and bring into the writing and recording processes for this one?

Truth is I wanted to drive more and be more aggressive both musically and vocally. I held back a lot on Shaman’s Path. I get bored with that stuff. It’s to blah… I want to be more honest in my art and I felt like we did that. I am not always sad or soft spoken. I can be. But, I am also at times aggressive and very vocal. Well, let’s face it: I am super bipolar.

Tell me about recording with Billy Anderson. This was your second time with him. What was the vibe in the studio like and what did he end up contributing to the record in terms of noise? How big a role has he played in how your sound has developed so far?

Most of the vibe and feedback is my guitar sounds, he contributed to the noise at the end of “Death’s Dark Tomb,” which was genius. As far as vibe in the studio. There was a whole lot of tension between John, the former bass player, and I. Our lifestyles were beginning to clash. Lots of tensions. I am a family man; he is something else.

That was something everyone in the studio had to deal with. I thought Billy was really good at channeling it, using the tension for the good of the record. He has helped mold us in as far as ironing out a few wrinkles but ultimately it is our songwriting. He is great at capturing it.

I was fortunate enough to see Atala play at Roadburn in 2017. How was that experience for you guys as a band? Will you look to get back to Europe in support of Labyrinth of Ashmedai?

It was a lot of fun. Especially with my hand-picked lineup. Playing with Jeff and Dave is my ideal lineup, I loved when Dave was in Rise of the Willing. We had a killer connection. Jeff, he is a rock, such a solid drummer and stable person. Holland was smooth and we were treated very well by the Roadburn crew.

I was proud of what we presented. Especially getting Dave prepared to play an hour set of material in just seven weeks. He and Jeff both did great. I am not sure if we are getting back to Europe this year but I am told it is in the works.

What’s the status of Atala overall going into the album release? You had put up a pretty frustrated-seeming post about dealing with making music and preferring graphic art and tattoo culture specifically. Will the band continue? What is the relationship for you between working in design and writing songs?

The band will definitely continue, with a team who wants to push forward in a more professional manner. I like the tattoo industry because I am responsible for my own art. Most artist in the community grind to pay bills and work as a means to earn a living with hard work and focus. My frustration, it was personal. I am tired of the elitism and the whole party scene, I don’t party anymore, so I don’t fit in well.

I am at point where I want to show my family and children you can play music as a career. Not just surround yourself with shitbags who will never amount to anything. I love Pentagram musically but I think characters like Bobby Liebling being marketed as “rock and roll” is embarrassing. I don’t want to be part of that. I would not be able to handle a person like that around me. I would be like, dude, get your shit together. I mean this is what we are told rockers are. Yuck. I don’t want to be that at all.

I just watched a good friend, a brother throw his fucking life away to drugs. That is some hard shit to see. I personally had to step away. In design I don’t focus too heavily on my own head – I draw what others want — whereas in songwriting it is very internal. Getting that far in my own mind is very dangerous.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

You can be cool without being a junkie. We all make mistakes and fall short at times. Just try and live the best way you can.

Atala, “Grains of Sand” official video

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Quarterly Review: Godflesh, Serpents of Secrecy, Vymaanika, Zong, Vitriol, Pillars, Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Azonic, Thousand Vision Mist, Arcadian Child

Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today is the last day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, and it’s kind of hard to believe it’s gone so fast. Before I put the Big Boot to the proceedings like Hulk Hogan getting ready to call it a day with an elbow drop at Wrestlemania — yup, just like that — I have to take a special moment to thank The Patient Mrs. for allowing me the time this week to bang out all of these reviews and get everything sorted on the back end, etc., for these posts. She, of course, as always, perpetually, has been unbelievable, and especially with The Pecan to manage, she’s earned her title more than ever. It is thoroughly, deeply, appreciated. Much love, baby. Thank you.

Okay, Big Boot time. Let’s do this thing.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Godflesh, Post Self

godflesh post self

Guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick and bassist BC Green return with Post Self, their second post-reunion full-length behind 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here) and a collection of churning electro-noise hymnals that work in a sphere that should by now be well familiar to their multi-generational fanbase. The groundbreaking industrial pioneers sound decidedly led by the guitar on the chugging “Parasite” and the airy, almost Jesu-style wash of “The Cyclic End,” but the intensity of the beat behind “No Body,” bass and noise onslaught of “Be God” and synth-driven soundscaping of “Mortality Sorrow” recall the sonic diversity that’s always been as much a part of Godflesh’s approach as their signature cyclical rhythmic style. More perhaps than ever, Broadrick and Green seem to be aware of what defines Godflesh as a band in terms of sound, and as they make the crucial move from a “reunion” band to a working one, they seem as glad as ever to push those boundaries once more.

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Serpents of Secrecy, Uncoiled: The Singles

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This two-song single may end up bring the only offering Serpents of Secrecy ever make public, and it was years in coming together. In December, the Chesapeake region group with members of Foghound, Borracho and King Giant suffered the loss of bassist Jim Forrester, who was murdered in Baltimore, and while a debut long-player was in discussion, to-date the five-piece have only issued “Warbird’s Song” and “The Cheat” as Uncoiled – The Singles, and obviously now any kind of follow-up is in question. Whether it’s the raucous burl of “Warbird’s Song” or the bluesy, organ-topped fluidity of “The Cheat,” the J. Robbins-produced tracks demonstrate the potential at heart from the lineup of vocalist Mark Lorenzo – who wound up in the role after members of Alabama Thunderpussy and Mister Bones vacated – guitarists Steve Fisher and Todd Ingram, Forrester and his former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Chuck Dukehart III. The only question at this point is whether that potential will ever see further realization. Right on as these songs are, I’m torn on the idea, to be honest.

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Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Vymaanika, Spectroscope

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Multinational space rockers Vymaanika debut with the 20-minute two-songer Spectroscope EP, comprised of its 10-minute opening title-track and the subsequent “Golden Void,” which may or may not be named in honor of the side-project of Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell. I’d believe it either way. The band comprises members from Catalan – guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Carles Esteban and bassist Andrés Paniagua, Chile in drummer/synthesist Jose Jünemann, and the US in guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Benjamin Mahoney, but they all seem to have come together to record in Barcelona, and the breadth of “Spectroscope” and serene psychedelic mantra-making of “Golden Void” benefit from that band-in-the-room vibe. Especially so the latter, which touches early on vocal harmonies over drifting guitar strum, steady synth drone and percussive pulsations before building to a more active apex in its second half. After the cacophony taking hold in the back end of “Spectroscope,” it’s a clear demarcation of a varied sonic persona, and while I don’t know how often Vymaanika will be able to get everyone together with the geographic spread, it’s easy to be glad they did it for this first EP.

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Zong, Zong

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Flowing arrangements abound on Zong’s self-titled four-track debut full-length. The Brisbane, Australia-based heavy psych three-piece are well within their genre sphere, but from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Embryo” (13:00) through “Arcane Sand” (8:10), the perhaps-Zardoz-referential “Giant Floating Head” (11:48) and closer “Return of the Alien King” (10:32), they demonstrate a natural chemistry, patience and warmth of tone that is no less comfortable in the march and lurch of its penultimate cut than in dug-in repetition-born hypnosis of the leadoff. Deceptively weighted from almost its beginning point with the low end of Michael Grinstead’s bass and the rolling drums of Henry Bennett, there’s also a balance of airiness from guitarist Adam Anderson that adds nuance when called upon to do so, though there are plenty of moments where Zong’s Zong seems perfectly content to cave-jam its far-out atmospheric fluidity. Not an ethic and not a result you’re going to hear me complain about.

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Praying Mantis Records on Bandcamp

 

Vitriol, Pain Will Define Their Death

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Brutal tech-death pervades Vitriol’s first EP, Pain Will Define Their Death – a three-song onslaught the violence of which is writ large over every minute of its total 12. Sharing a penchant for opening to bigger-sounding choruses like that of its opening title-cut with peak-era Hate Eternal, the pummel factor, ultra-tense push and unmitigated viciousness eschews some of the more machine-like aspects of such technically-minded fare, and while Vitriol’s overarching groove, gutturalist execution and hammer-swing breakdowns are casting out their own assault on the aforementioned opener as well as the subsequent blast-laden “Victim” and “Violence, a Worthy Truth,” they’re working in service to songcraft much more than to an indulgent showcase of prowess, and that makes all the difference in terms of the material’s ultimate impact. That impact? When was the last time you were actually kicked in the face? Nothing if not aptly named, Vitriol’s death metal seethes and rages in kind and bodes remarkably well for future manifest devastation.

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Pillars, Pyres and Gallows

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Hailing classic doom and darker atmospheres, French four-piece Pillars debut on Seeing Red Records via the Pyres and Gallows EP. Its four songs run a gamut of traditional grooves, but lumber with a balance between their rawness and a spirit of underlying riffy nuance that adds texture beneath the gruff, dudely vocals of frontman Klem, the tones of guitarist Djé and bassist Disaster well suited to the plodding companionship of drummer JJ on a song like the problematically-titled second cut “Dirty Whoreshippers” or the 10-minute title-track that rounds out. At 33 minutes, I’m not sure what’s stopping Pyres and Gallows from being a full-length, but if that’s a hint that Pillars have more to say going forward, then fair enough. They may be preaching to the converted in these tracks, but they’re doing so in righteous fashion and with a sense of their own identity under development. Doom on? Yeah, totally doom on. By all means. Please do.

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Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Split

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Among the fascinating factors at work on this cross-continental Clostridium Records split release between long-running New Zealand acid folk outfit Lamp of the Universe and Austrian psychedelic fuzz purveyor Kanoi is the fact that both parties involved are solo-projects. For Lamp of the Universe’s Craig Williamson (also Arc of Ascent), he brings three tracks of his signature drenched-wet lysergism in “In the Beginning,” “The Cosmic Body Track,” “Father” and “Space Chant,” while Kanoi’s Benjamin Kantschieder revisits two cuts from 2016’s Mountains of the Sun full-length in the extended “I’m Gone (I’m Gone)” and “Mountains of the Sun” itself. The novelty of having two single parties match wits on such fluid arrangements – my head always begs for collaboration in these instances – is offset by the quality of their work itself. Neither is new to their sphere, but both seem keen to continue to experiment and explore, and it’s from that commonality that the split most benefits.

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Azonic, Prospect of the Deep Volume One

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The first Azonic offering since the mid-‘90s finds Brooklyn-based experimentalist Andy Hawkins reviving the project alongside his Blind Idiot God bandmate Tim Wyskida as a melding of drone/noise and percussive ideas. Released through Hawkins’ own Indivisible Music, Prospect of the Deep Volume One – pretty ambitious to put a “volume one” in the title of your first record in 20-plus years – presents two expansive works in “Oblivion of the Deep” (18:53) and “The Argonauts Reckoning” (18:42) as well as the CD bonus track “Voices of the Drowned” (10:12) that brim with atmospheric intent and have an underlying sense of control on the part of Hawkins that speaks to some measure of steering what might in other hands simply feel like sonic chaos. You can hear it early into “The Argonauts Reckoning,” as the layered wash seems to want to fly off the rails and swell and Hawkins’ guitar simply doesn’t let it go, but it’s true elsewhere on Prospect of the Deep Volume One as well, and in listening, it’s the difference between the album being a joy in the immersion, which it is, and a self-indulgent misfire, which it very much is not.

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Thousand Vision Mist, Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow

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Named for the lone 2002 full-length from Maryland doomers Life Beyond, in which guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon also featured, newcomer trio Thousand Vision Mist debut with the progressive-leaning edge of Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow, a 52-minute 10-tracker. Yes, Rush are a factor in terms of influence. However, propelled by the drumming of Chris Sebastian, whose frenetic snare adds a Mastodonic feel to “Headstones Throw,” the otherwise classic-vibing “Final Flight of Fall” and the later “Darklight,” among others, the cumbersomely-titled offering sets its balance between modern prog metal, doom and classic heavy rock, with bassist Tony Comulada adding vocal harmonies alongside Kenyon and providing a needed anchor to keep songs like the penultimate “Skybound and Beyond” from actually taking off and leaving their audience behind. Reportedly long in the works, Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow isn’t a minor digestion process at its busy and extended runtime, but while the recording is raw, there’s no shortage of fodder for engagement throughout its swath of choruses and head-spinning turns.

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Arcadian Child, Afterglow

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Though not at all without its more driving aspects, some of the most satisfying moments on Arcadian Child’s debut album, Afterglow, come from a soothing hook like that of “Rabbit Hole,” which finds the Cypriot four-piece more fully embodying a laid back desert rock atmosphere that underpins the Fatso Jetson-esque opener “She’s on My Mind” and subsequent “Little Late for Love.” As the feels-short-at-29-minutes record unfolds, “Electric Red” blends fuzz and Mediterranean rhythmic push, “Irresistible” toys with layered swirl beneath a solidly-weighted verse and chorus, “Run” makes itself a highlight around a post-Lullabies to Paralyze atmospheric lead and start-stop riff, and the title-track casts momentum in melody and groove into closer “Used,” which pays one more welcome visit to the more serene side of their personality before they’re done. It might be a sleeper, but I’d be surprised if someone didn’t pick Afterglow up for a vinyl release sooner or later; the songwriting, performance, presentation and potential for future growth are all there waiting to be found by the right ears.

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