Desertfest Berlin 2020: First Lineup Announcement: Masters of Reality, Brant Bjork, C.O.C., Orange Goblin & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

I admit, I’m going to miss seeing the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2019 around thee social medias, but if there’s one thing that eases that loss, it’s the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2020. It’s like something out of a cel-shaded JRPG, but, you know, awesome, and an airship is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Will this be the year I finally get my ass to Berlin? I’d be lying if I said that their having Masters of Reality — who’ll also be in London — on the bill wasn’t a significant draw in my head. I’d wonder if they won’t do New York as well, but they don’t do a lot of shows at all, so I’m not going to bank on that. Of course, having Corrosion of ConformityBrant BjorkOrange GoblinPapirMinami DeutschSÅVER, Earth Tongue and Dhidalah certainly doesn’t hurt the argument either, but it’s just the beginning of Spring fest-announcement season, and so there’s much more to get all giddy-hyperbole about to come in the next few months. Hell, they haven’t even held Desertfest Belgium yet.

Bottom line: expect this airship to circle around many more times before May 1.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2020 first poster

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/

MASTERS OF REALITY | CORROSION OF CONFORMITY | BRANT BJORK | ORANGE GOBLIN | MINAMI DEUTSCH | EARTH TONGUE | PAPIR | DHIDALAH | SÂVER confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2020!!!

Tickets now on sale at: www.desertfest-tickets.de

Finally, we are thrilled to announce the first batch of (outstanding!) acts for our 9th edition, taking place at the ARENA BERLIN May 1st – 3rd 2020. You may not believe your eyes, but it’s a dream come true: Palm Desert scene icons, Masters Of Reality – Official, are finally playing Desertfest! Fronted by Chris Goss, renowned producer of legendary bands such as Kyuss, Queen of the Stone Age and many more, with their Black Sabbath-inspired sound MASTERS OF REALITY will take you on an unforgettable trip through the desert. A true milestone in the eclectic live history of Desertfest Berlin!

It’s been a dozen years since Southern Rock legends, Corrosion Of Conformity, would reunite with Pepper Keenan to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup DOWN, Keenan reconnected with the core C.O.C. trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard. And the long wait is over, we will give them a warm and heavy rocking welcome in 2020!

The Godfather of Desert Rock, Brant Bjork, will return to the Desertfest Berlin stage and revive your spirit! Brant has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity. Expect timeless classics and a new album next Spring, and lay back to get into the groove with the one & only, Mr. BRANT BJORK live at the Arena Berlin!

Widely admired as one of the most ludicrously thunderous and entertaining live bands on the planet, longtime Desertfest comrades Orange Goblin, are on their unstoppable mission to bring us joyous, blood ’n’ thunder metal! With a steady stream of critically acclaimed albums that boldly and gleefully blurred the lines between stoner, doom, black, crust and southern rock, while always fervently saluting the old school heavy metal flag and the sacred Sabbathian code. 2020 will celebrate their 25th anniversary, still ORANGE GOBLIN is an inspiration, full of power and ready to unleash their thunder over Berlin!

Hailing from Japan, kraut rock masters Minami Deutsch have been finally confirmed for the Berlin edition of Desertfest! After their highly acclaimed show at Desertfest Belgium two years ago, desert festers in Berlin will be finally able to witness their unique, mesmerizing live performance. Kraut rock may be alive heavier than ever, but this Tokyo trio proves they are way more than just a revival act. Don’t miss this EXCLUSIVE show of the fantastic MINAMI DEUTSCH!

Sometimes music is supposed to feel weird and indescribable. It’s the moments of clarity within the dense, sonic mess that often feels the most satisfying. That’s the space that New Zealand prog-rockers Earth Tongue occupy. With their 2016- debut EP and a just released full-length album, these guys quickly became one of NZ’s most exciting underground live acts and it wasn’t long until they were playing alongside international touring bands like Red Fang, Beastwars or
Monolord. We are thrilled to welcome EARTH TONGUE live in 2020, taking us all on raw and fuzzy journey into psych-rock with a sound that weaves between melodic and jarring, with unexpected turns leaving us in a disoriented, euphoric haze.

Copenhagen trio, Papir, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize you at the Arena Berlin; PAPIR are the real deal for fans of bands alike Causa Sui, and could easily become the showboats of the scene!

Dhidalah burst into the fuzz rock scene in 2013, and has hailed from the Tokyo underground as a space rock power trio. The band name derives from the Japanese legend of the Giant Gods — known as the creaters of mountains, lakes and islands. DHIDALAH plays improvisational music performances inspired by various genres from stoner and doom to kraut rock. Give these Japanese Giant Gods a very warm welcome next Spring, when the Arena will be turned into a psychedelic wonderland!

Norway’s hottest underground act, SÂVER, is the new project of Ole Christian Helstad, Ole Ulvik Rokseth and Markus Støle of TOMBSTONES and HYMN. The band delivers an astounding sound of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, abrasive vocals and a devastating, gnarly bass. SÂVER’s tunes can be characterized by a strong component of apocalyptic synths and textural electronics hovering above the base of heavy guitars and bass – a mélange that works incredibly well, and has seen SÂVER rising up and being no longer just one of the world’s best kept music secrets!

Friends, we hope you enjoy this first round of bands as much as we do, with many more killer names to come. After last year’s changes of a new sound system, the “Black Box“, that many of you seem to appreciate, we will also again provide a lot more specials, space, and again a chill- and live zone on the ubercool Hoppetosse boat! Don’t miss THE fuzz rock party of the year, at the capitol of the almighty riffs: DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020 is ready to roll!

Tickets & more infos are now available at:
www.desertfest.de

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Masters of Reality, “Dreamtime Stomp”

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SÂVER Announce October European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Saver (Photo by Mikkel Fykse Engelschion)

You know, I get why they didn’t, because the band has a direct relation to the festival itself and that’s always awkward because it’s not like you want to book your own band twice in a row, but there’s a big part of me just the same that wishes SÂVER were playing Høstsabbat in their native Oslo again this year. And it’s a selfish part. I’d heard their debut album, They Came with Sunlight (review here), before I saw them there last October, but I feel like I know the record much better now, and so would the rest of the crowd. And now there’s the news that basically right after the fest, the three-piece are taking off on a tour that starts on a run with Høstsabbat headliners Ufomammut, so really, one way or another, it would make sense to find them once again on that festival bill. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll get brought over for Desertfest New York next September.

I count They Came with Sunlight pretty high on the list of the year’s best debuts so far, and there have been more than a couple of winners in that regard. If you haven’t heard it — and I know you have, but just roll with me — it’s down below in full, courtesy of Pelagic Records on Bandcamp. The band, also among the last confirmations at Desertfest Belgium, will play there as well as Into the Void in the Netherlands and alongside the soon-to-be-legendary SteakElephant Tree and Lo-Pan tour in Germany.

They posted the dates as follows:

SÂVER tour

We are touring Europe in October!

Stoked to join UFOMAMMUT, BONGRIPPER, Lo-Pan, Elephant Tree, Steak and more.

See you on the road!

Thanx to Hartwien Stein for the killer poster.

DATES:
08.10.19 – On the Rocks, Helsinki (FIN) – w/ Ufomammut
09.10.19 – Von Krahl, Tallin (EE) – w/ Ufomammut
10.10.19 – Melna Piektdiena, Riga (LV)- w/ Ufomammut
11.10.19 – Narauti, Vilnius (LN) – w/ Ufomammut
12.10.19 – Hydrozagadka, Warsaw (PL) – w/ Ufomammut
13.10.19 – Zet Pe Te, Krakow (PL) – w/ Ufomammut
15.10.19 – Peter-Weiss-Haus, Rostock (DE)
16.10.19 – Loppen, Copenhagen (DK) – w/ Bongripper
17.10.19 – Zollkantine, Bremen (DE) – w/ Lo-Pan, Elephant Tree, Steak
18.10.19 – TBC
19.10.19 – Neushoorn, Leeuwarden (NL) – Into The Void Fest
20.10.19 – Trix, Antwerp (BE) – Desertfest
24.10.19 – John Dee, Oslo (NO) – w/ Sibiir

SÂVER is:
Markus Støle
Ole Ulvik Rokseth
Ole C Helstad

https://www.facebook.com/saveroslo/
https://saeverband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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Desertfest Belgium 2019 Completes Lineup; SÂVER, Crowhurst & Bismut Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2019 banner

From Sleep, Ty Segall and Zeal & Ardor to Swan Valley Heights, Lucy in Blue and Ungraven, the Desertfest Belgium 2019 lineup is now complete. The final three additions are Oslo sludge destroyers SÂVER, a special drone set from Crowhurst and Dutch instrumentalists Bismut, who between them emphasize what would seem to have been the point of Desertfest Belgium 2019 all along, which is that there’s all kinds of heavy out there and it’s all welcome in Antwerp. That a lineup should be so diverse in sound and still universally definable one way or the other as “heavy” is an impressive point to make, frankly, and whether that was a conscious thing on the part of the people putting the festival together or just how it all kind of worked out, seeing Nebula and Inter Arma and Yatra and Fireball Ministry all sharing space is only a boon to those lucky enough to actually do so.

Here’s the last announcement from the fest:

desertfest belgium 2019 final poster

Last Tickets! DFBE 2019 Line-up now complete

As the last Friday tickets are going out the door, you all are probably left wondering what names will complete this year’s festival line-up. So let us fill you in on the final acts:

With an impossibly extensive release catalogue, Jay Gambit has turned his collaborative project Crowhurst into a firm cult favorite. At this year’s Desertfest he will present us with a special drone set. Misanthropic extreme metal at its finest, let’s see if you all have the stomach for this…

On a lighter note, Bismut from Holland have made a name for themselves with energetic instrumental jam workouts. A heavy trio that works tight as a clockwork – a perfect fit for the Desertfest crowd we should think! And last but not least, SÂVER made a splash this year with their debut album ‘They Came With Sunlight’. Hypnotic post-doom veering between melody and brutality.

Like we said: the festival is nearly sold out, and could very well be full by the time you read this. Some day tickets for Friday is all we have left, but that’s still a quality line-up so you might as well consider it! Otherwise, please watch out for ticket scalpers – purchase safely.

And to all of you who already have their ticket in the pocket and nothing left to fear: YES! We are counting the days just as eagerly as you are! This year’s gonna be EPIC…

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/2260579413999993/

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 18

Posted in Radio on June 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Before I get started, I want to say thanks to Mark Kitchens from Stone Machine Electric for the artwork above. He did the platypus design and I added the blue background and yellow text kind of thinking it would be like one of those old title cards from David Letterman or something. I love it, so yeah. Thanks, Mark.

Like the prior episode, this one was themed around a playlist of some of the best of 2019 so far. I actually didn’t get to hear the whole show because I was at Maryland Doom Fest this past weekend, but I did check in on it while doing other stuff in Frederick. One way or the other, the playlist starts with Holy Grove and has Yawning ManMagic CircleDuelNebulaRoadsawEarth and Across Tundras on it, so you know it’s going to be killer. Really, the only thing I’d have listened for was to make sure I didn’t ruin it with my own derpy derp derp.

I wanted to include some lesser-known stuff here too, so check out the Cosmic Fall, SÂVEREaldor Bealu and Mount Saturn tracks if you haven’t, and that Centrum at the end I really dig a lot. Hell, the whole thing is great. You really can’t go wrong when your operating theme is “stuff that’s awesome.”

Thanks if you got to check it out.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.21.19

Holy Grove Valley of the Mystics Holy Grove II 0:10:37
Duel Drifting Alone Valley of Shadows 0:04:27
The Well Death Song Death and Consolation 0:04:48
BREAK
Across Tundras The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds 0:06:58
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines 0:07:21
Cosmic Fall Lackland Lackland 0:08:32
Lamp of the Universe Rite of the Spheres Align in the Fourth Dimension 0:05:12
SÂVER Dissolve to Ashes They Came with Sunlight 0:07:43
Atala Upon the Altar The Bearer of Light 0:06:06
Magic Circle I’ve Found My Way to Die Departed Souls 0:05:11
BREAK
Mount Saturn Idol Hands Kiss the Ring 0:04:11
Nebula Man’s Best Friend Holy Shit 0:04:56
Ruff Majik Seasoning the Witch Tårn 0:06:31
Earth An Unnatural Carousel Full Upon Her Burning Lips 0:06:51
Ealdor Bealu Smoke Signals Spirit of the Lonely Places 0:07:32
BREAK
Roadsaw Under the Devil’s Thumb Tinnitus the Night 0:03:54
Centrum Sjön För Meditation 0:08:39

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is July 5. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Video Premiere: SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saver they came with sunlight

[Click play above to play ‘Dissolve to Ashes’ from SÂVER’s debut album, They Came with Sunlight. Album is out March 8 on Pelagic Records.]

They Came with Sunlight isn’t just the first full-length from Oslo three-piece SÂVER, it’s their first offering of any kind as a band. Released through Pelagic Records, it runs a punishing and atmospheric 51 minutes through six tracks of extreme and densely atmospheric sludge that, despite being so dig into the dirt, nonetheless maintains a progressive spirit in both composition and presentation. That SÂVER would know what they’re doing shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise, though, as the members are all pretty well familiar with each other. Markus Støle (drums) and Ole C. Helstad (bass) shared tenure in the also-crushing Tombstones before Støle and guitarist/vocalist Ole Ulvik Rokseth put out an album as the duo Hymn in 2017. As SÂVER brings together all three parties, the new group unquestionably benefits from that familiarity. In nuanced moments like the far-back shouts that offset the chugging central riff of lead single “I, Vanish,” or the maddening tension cast as “How They Envisioned Life” crosses its halfway point, they demonstrate a clearheadedness to their approach and a dynamic that’s new in this form but well established sounding.

They put it to use, primarily, to punish everyone and everything in their path. With opener “Distant Path” (11:03) and closer “Altered Light” (12:34) bookending They Came with Sunlight as its two longest inclusions and the first of them exploding to life after more than 90 seconds of quiet tension-building, SÂVER quickly put the challenge to the listener. Rokseth‘s vocals enter over massively weighted tonality like Neurosis at their most belligerent, and the intensity is striking particularly in the context of the band having just spent over a minute and a half with quiet amp noise setting up the suckerpunch of that first jolt. Patience and intensity, working together toward an end of extreme atmospheric purpose. It is brutal, and gorgeous as well, as “Distant Path” hits its late slowdown in excruciating feedback and lumber, devolving to noise as “I, Vanish” immediately jolts into its prog-metal-style chug.

Rest assured, I don’t mean gorgeous like floaty post-rock guitars or warm low end. SÂVER‘s craft is no less greyscale and freezing than their promo photo, but there’s a beauty to that as well, and “I, Vanish” reminds of the hard edges and distinct angles of brutalist architecture once brought to bear sonically by Meshuggah, though the three-piece never lose their central groove on “I, Vanish” or elsewhere in the name of rhythmic experimentation. Still, that mechanized churning finds its footing in the seven-minute track and is joined by an overwhelming push of screams and crashing drums, a version of noise methodical but still feeling chaotic before it drops to the drums and bass in the midsection in order, presumably, to catch its breath before the next assault. When that comes, it’s shouts that lead the way back into the central riff, which in turn gives way to mountainous low end and crash and screams at the finish, a full assault of volume through which the guitar is still able to cut with a lead line that seems to pull up just as everything else ends.

Saver (Photo by Mikkel Fykse Engelschion)

Since the first half of the tracklist runs from longest song to shortest and the second half from shortest to longest, one might call it a ‘U’ shape, but the linear motion of the 5:55 “Influx” is pivotal anyway. Essentially a soundscape, it gradually builds from an initial drone to crashes that are a whole different shape of punishment, essentially leaving the listener waiting for a payoff that, given the runtime, it’s obvious isn’t coming. That’s a play, of course, but even the fact that SÂVER would be bold enough to use six minutes of atmospherics for such a purpose speaks to the intent at work behind They Came with Sunlight. When the second half of the album opens with “How they Envisioned Life,” it does so at their slowest pace yet, and the crawl only makes their sound that much more malevolent. There’s a chug-and-hold modus at work, but it doesn’t matter, because by the time they’re past halfway through, the level of violence is so high whatever they’re doing it’s all directed toward that end. With “Dissolve to Ashes” and “Altered Light” still to come, I won’t call it an apex for the album, but just before “How They Envisioned Life” hits its sixth minute, there’s a kind of last shove before it starts to fracture en route to the slowdown that ends it, and it so clearly conveys the idea of total human exertion — that moment when a person has pushed out their last breath and has to double-over from the effort — that it’s hard to think of it in any other way.

Accordingly, “Dissolve to Ashes” couldn’t possibly be better timed. With a line of effects/keys/something woven through, the penultimate inclusion starts relatively mellow and stays that way for some time, delivering the album’s title line as its opening lyric in the first non-harsh vocals of the outing. There’s madness to come, rest assured, and it is all the more a cacophony for that quiet moment preceding — the power of contrast — but even that later barrage is indicative of the control SÂVER exert over their material and the willful nature of their conjuring. With just “Altered Light” as the finale and longest track, They Came with Sunlight ends on perhaps its most ambitious note and after quiet/loud trades, it is once more the tension that seems to be at the core of what they’re doing. After a long stretch of bass and drums at the outset, the guitar picks up to lead the way into the first heavier section, with screams cutting through as the song passes its halfway point, and there’s a receding after seven minutes in as SÂVER regroup for the last movement.

There’s a surge of volume, sure enough, but it’s restrained compared to some of the others throughout, and instead, at about 10 minutes in, the three-piece introduce a winding chug that will carry them out. They top it with shouts and screams, but it’s the tension that ultimately holds sway, not a payoff, and they end cold, as if the dead silence after was no less an element at their disposal than the guitar, bass and drums. As I’ve been writing this review, I’ve had to go back and check how many times I’ve used the word “excruciating” for the level of cruelty with which SÂVER execute their grim, concrete vision, but it’s worth emphasizing that They Came with Sunlight offers more than just noise or aggression for their own sake. There is a conscious underpinning at work and as these three players take on this new progression, even at its beginning stages, the potential is writ large across the devastated landscape they convey.

SÂVER, “I, Vanish” official video

SÂVER on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records website

Pelagic Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 10

Posted in Radio on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

Yeah, this episode was cool except for the goober hosting it. I recorded the voice breaks pretty early in the day on Friday, and I don’t know if I wasn’t awake or what, but I just couldn’t get it together. I think I did the middle break in two takes and that was about as good as it got. I’d still like to go back and get another shot at the opening one. And by the time I actually got to the end of the show, I was so damned afraid of screwing it up again that I basically sprinted for the stop button to finish recording. They can’t all be gold, I guess.

The good news is the playlist itself was awesome. As I tried repeatedly and failed to explain during the show itself, this episode wound up being a pretty vast international swath of acts, and that was something that just happened out of the blue. I didn’t even realize it until afterward. Sweden, Greece, the US, Italy, Norway, Australia, Germany. It’s a broad mix of stuff from a variety of places, and I like that. it’s a lot of new music and I like that too. Really, it’s just the sound of my own voice I could do without. Ha.

I’ll get ’em next time, or something.

Playlist follows. Thanks for reading and/or listening.

The Obelisk Show – 02.17.19

Warp Out of My Life Warp*
Automaton Talos Awakens TALOS*
The Munsens Dirge (For Those to Come) Unhanded*
BREAK
Vokonis Grasping Time Grasping Time*
Terras Paralelas Bom Presságio Entre Dois Mundos*
The Pilgrim Peace of Mind Walking into the Forest*
SÂVER I, Vanish They Came with Sunlight*
REZN Quantum Being Calm Black Water*
BREAK
Colour Haze Love Colour Haze
Aver Disorder Orbis Majora*
Troll Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell Legend Master*
BREAK
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard The Spaceships of Ezekiel Yn Ol I Anwnn*
Monovine Throw Me a Bone D.Y.E.*
Demon Head The Night is Yours Hellfire Ocean Void*
Old Mexico Past the Western Wall Old Mexico*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is March 3. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2018 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 10.05.18

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2018 poster

I can’t remember the last time I went 24 hours without coffee, but here in Oslo, the morning after the first night of Høstsabbat 2018, I’m pretty sure I’m at that mark. Thursday evening I flew out of Boston, got into Copenhagen yesterday morning, connected to Norway and took the Flytoget train into Oslo Central Station and walked from there to the Anker Hotel where I’m staying, about a block and a half away from the Kulturkirken Jakob, where the fest is being held. All that time, no caffeine. Haven’t really had five minutes to get any. I don’t know if there’s coffee at the show. I was too busy yesterday to ask.

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Høstsabbat at the Vulkan Arena. That was crazy. This is another level. Kulturkirken Jakob is literally a church — it is accurately-enough depicted on the festival poster that I recognized it looking out the window of the hotel room — and a large one at that with high ceilings, big altar, a raised pulpit, wood floors, etc. And downstairs, a basement that’s essentially the opposite: low ceiling, cobwebs, concrete supports for the massive structure overhead. And the fest is both aware of and reveling in the difference. With a stage upstairs and a stage downstairs, they’re playing to both ends of the spectrum between grandiosity and no frills volume-assault basement gigs, and with the mix of bands across a range of styles, it totally works. I spoke to fest organizers Ole C. Helstad and Jens Andreas Storaker yesterday, and they both seemed really pleased with how everything has turned out. As well they should be.

It was eight bands, four on each stage rotating back and forth between them. Downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, and so on. No crossovers in the lineup though, so if you wanted to, you could see everything. That was my goal and I’m happy to say it worked out. It went like this:

hostsabbat art

SÂVER

Saver (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The all-caps post-noise sludgers SÂVER announced earlier this week that they will issue their debut LP, They Came with Sunlight, early next year on Pelagic Records. It was far away from a release party, then, but their set in the basement — the Crypt Stage, as it’s being called — was kind of a preview of what’s in store. In the tight space downstairs, the Oslo-native trio unfurled the first of the night’s several genuine volume blasts, a crunch and lurch and Neurosis-style tension cut through only by Markus Støle‘s drums and the shouts of bassist Ole C. Helstad and guitarist Ole Ulvik Rokseth. They were loud enough to shake the floor and packed enough low-end punch to vibrate the plugs in your ears, but there was a cohesive sense of atmosphere as well, and that extends to the album as well. They could be and often were brutally heavy, but there was a depth to that heft as well, so that it wasn’t an all out assault without purpose. It was an early start at 5PM on a workday, but the room was still decently packed, and they gave all present a reason to look out for They Came with Sunlight‘s impending release. I know I will, anyhow.

Hällas

Hallas (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Høstsabbat‘s throwing the doors open as regards vibe was evident from the moment Sweden’s Hällas took the stage. Glammed-out to the point of bassist/vocalist Tommy Alexandersson wearing a cape and metallic-shining boots, the five-piece nonetheless brought classic progressive-edged boogie to life in a way that immediately answered any and all questions about the vitality of retroism in heavy rock. Alexandersson, guitarists Alexander Moraitis and Marcus Pettersson and drummer Kasper Eriksson played down on the stage while keyboardist Nicklas Malmqvist took to the raised pulpit and even worked in a little ultra-appropriate church organ to the proceedings. They came supporting their 2018 full-length, Excerpts from a Future Past, and handled the big stage like absolute professionals. Lush as their sound was, it was an immediate contrast to the rawness of SÂVER back downstairs, and as the evening went on, that only more clearly came into focus as being precisely the intent. Heavy isn’t just dark, or catchy, or loud. Hällas opened the upstairs stage with uptempo kick, danceable groove and a classic feel that seems to become all the more crucial as time goes on.

Krokofant

Krokofant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

And if Hällas made the point, Krokofant only confirmed it with their go-anywhere doom jazz. With Jørgen Mathisen on saxophone, clarinet and keys, Tom Hasslan on guitar and Axel Skalstad on drums, the well-named trio were a gleeful excursion into the outer reaches of weird. There were moments where they reminded my East Coast US ears of Stinking Lizaveta for their ability to keep an overarching groove locked in while also running circles around it in intricate scales, but Krokofant were by and large more angular and mathy-sounding, giving the feeling they were crunching numbers as much as riffs, and still being an awful lot of fun. Whether it was Skalstad looking like his drumkit was his favorite playground or Hasslan every now and again stepping to the fore with a spacious lead, they were an outlier who served that necessary function well, giving yet another definition of “heavy” for the fest’s ongoing creative statement on the subject. I knew nothing about them going into the set and still had fun watching them play, and I was by no means the only one.

Lonely Kamel

Lonely Kamel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you can see Lonely Kamel, do it. That’s the message plain and simple of their live set. I had a feeling Lonely Kamel were going to kick ass, and they did. Four years after putting out Shit City via Napalm Records, the Oslo heavy rockers took the altar supporting this year’s Death’s Head-Hawkmoth (review here) on Stickman, and in so doing gave a reminder that sometimes all you need is songwriting and performance. I don’t mean to make that sound easy, because it isn’t — though Lonely Kamel made it look that way — but it’s true. They’re not a niche band. They’re not really trying to innovate in terms of aesthetics. But they’re excellent at what they do, and they’re tight enough that anything else they did would seem superfluous anyway. They don’t need it. They have songs and they have performance. “Evil Man” from 2011’s Dust Devil (review here) was a highlight, and the hook of “Inebriated” from the new record was recognizable as soon as they hit into it, while “Fascist Bastard” brought an edgier groove to the set. They were locked in, on fire, and whatever other cliche you’d want to put to it, and they too were a lot of fun, but you could also hear their experience in how they played. Their straightforward approach was an excellent grounding point for the rest of the night to come, but also, another distinguishing factor that made them different from everyone else who played. It was that kind of night. Right on.

Domkraft

Domkraft (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Stand and watch and hear Domkraft play for any given three minutes of their set and you might come away with a completely different impression of what they do. Over here, the Swedish trio are digging into post-Monolord nod-of-riff largesse, over there they’re pulling off a Hawkwindian push through the cosmos, and even further on, they’re shouting out aggro noise-laced heavy rock. The key aspect of all of it is that they tie it together. It’s fluid. They make it all theirs. That’s true even more on their impending second record, Flood, which is out Oct. 19 on Blues Funeral Recordings as the follow-up to 2016’s The End of Electricity (review here), which was issued by Magnetic Eye Records, though “Sandwalker” and “Dead Skies Red Eyes” from the new album matched up pretty well down in the Kulturkirken Jakob basement with the punch of “Meltdown of the Orb” and “The Rift” from its predecessor. The three-piece capped off with “The Watchers” and “Landslide,” a reverse ordering of the opening salvo of Flood, and demonstrated all the more their progressive will and encompassing vision of heavy, which they matched with a fervently aggressive lumber and depth of fuzz. They had been one of the bands I was most looking forward to on the night’s bill, and they absolutely delivered.

Spurv

Spurv (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not going to claim to know what night two of the festival will bring or anything, but there’s a good chance that Spurv had the entire weekend’s only trombone. Even Krokofant didn’t have one, jazzy as they were, but as Oslo instrumentalist post-rockers Spurv were playing earlier 2018’s Myra LP in full, trombone and the violin on the other side of the stage were both essential along with the three guitars, bass and drums. There was some kind of metallic underpinning to the material — especially in the drums — but my bottom line in watching their set was there’s very little in this world that can make you want an album you don’t have as much as seeing that album played live. As Spurv ran through their tracks, their energy made so much of post-rock seem silly, as though they were asking, “why would I be gazing at my shoes when I’m making such cool sounds?,” and I found I had no answer for that question. With more than a hint of prog and post-black metal wash, Spurv engulfed the church with a fitting spaciousness and seemed to be ecclesiastic in just the right way for the setting. It was gorgeous. I already regret not buying the record when they finished.

Eagle Twin

Eagle Twin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Certainly the loudest band in the basement. Upstairs was working on a different scale, but I think if you took volume in per-capita measure, they were probably the loudest band of the night overall. I also didn’t realize just how much blues there is in Eagle Twin‘s sound. Their 2018 album, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn) review here, is the occasion for their being in Europe for the next couple weeks, and as they hop from fest to fest to fest, they left no shortage of footprint in Oslo. Even before they started, drummer Tyler Smith‘s line-checking his snare drum required earplugs just to take it, and guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley plugged into every amp and cabinet in the downstairs backline, so yes, much volume there as well. And it’s easy to lose in all that volume, in the riffing and throat-singing and crash, but year, there’s an awful lot of blues to what they do. It was a welcome discovery for one such as myself, who is years late on seeing Eagle Twin live, and I feel like finally doing so has genuinely helped me better understand where their albums are coming from. Time for a revisit to The Thundering Heard, I think.

Toner Low

Toner Low (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I have no problem admitting that by the time Toner Low went on, I felt beat to hell. It had been a long day of travel and riffs, and I had one of those ultra-tired headaches that neither water nor riffs was going to cure. Still, how are you not going to watch Toner Low? The most stoned of the stoner bands, hailing from the Netherlands, essentially played in the dark, as is their wont, and what light there was was tinted weedian green to match their hyperdense riffing and overarching plod. I said it on on the social medias, but it bears repeating: All your tone worship, amp worship, riff worship bands: Toner Low destroys them all and they’ve been doing it for a long time now. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live before, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with what was coming, but to hear that low end bounce off the vaulted ceiling was more than its fair share of incredible, and even exhausted as I was, Toner Low made themselves absolutely indispensable with their chest-rattling lumber and ultra-languid flow. I’ll go ahead and take a new album whenever it’s ready, please. The sooner the better.

Can’t even tell you how much I’ve been falling asleep while putting this together. Because I’ve been too unconscious to know. Sorry for typos, wrong or missing words, etc.

Night two kicks off in a few hours, so I’m going to crash back out and see if I can revive myself at least enough to open both eyes at the same time.

Until then, enjoy the pics after the jump below:

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SÂVER Sign to Pelagic Records; They Came with Sunlight Due Early 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Okay, stay with me. First, drummer Markus Støle and bassist Ole C. Helstad were two-thirds of the trio Tombstones on Soulseller Records. After that band broke up following their last album in 2015, Støle and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Ole Ulvik Rokseth released the debut album from their prior-formed two-piece Hymn on Svart in 2017. Now, Støle, Rokseth and Helstad have come together as the all-caps noisemakers SÂVER, signed to Pelagic Records, and will release their first full-length through the label in early 2019, only after playing it in full this coming weekend in their native Oslo, Norway, at the Høstsabbat festival. It’s a humdinger of a narrative, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it right — reasonably certain I’m reasonably certain — and either way, the album, dubbed They Came with Sunlight, is already in the can and punishing in heft and atmosphere alike. I’ll hope to have more on it, especially after I head to Norway and see them play it in a couple days.

The PR wire simplifies the announcement thusly:

saver

We’re happy to announce the signing of SÂVER from Oslo, whose debut album ‘They Came With Sunlight’ will be released in early 2019… we are looking forward to an album of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, fiery vocals and a really gnarly bass tone. Fans of Breach, The Old Wind, Cult Of Luna, listen up!

SÂVER is the new project of Ole Christian Helstad, Ole Ulvik Rokseth an Markus Støle of TOMBSTONES and HYMN. “The idea of starting SÂVER was a consequence of ending something“, comments Helstad. “In the beginning it was a good mix of loss, in a way, and the excitement of a blanc canvas. In hindsight, we shared a feeling of longing for an escape, getting away from the known, and immersing ourselves into something completely different… which is scary and exciting at the same time. It mirrors the band both in a literary sense, as well as the general mood during the writing process.“

Oslo fans can get a sneak preview, as the band will be performing the album in its entirety at their own Høstsabbat festival in Oslo this coming weekend. Other bands on the bill include Amenra, Asteroid, Toner Low and others.

SÂVER is:
Markus Støle
Ole Ulvik Rokseth
Ole C Helstad

https://www.facebook.com/saveroslo/
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight teaser

SÂVER, rehearsal room footage

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