Friday Full-Length: Ancient Warlocks, Ancient Warlocks

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 25th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


This album turns a decade old this Fall, but the truth is I’ve been wanting to revisit it for like two years, so whatever on album anniversaries. But Seattle heavy rockers Ancient Warlocks released their self-titled debut (review here) in Nov. 2013 — issuing first through Lay Bare Recordings and then in 2014 on STB Records, the latter of which made them labelmates to the likes of Spelljammer, Curse the Son, Druglord and Geezer, and Ancient Warlocks had some elements in common with those and others in the ouevre. Like Curse the Son, they had an obviously-sought fuzz delivering choice riffs. Like Geezer they had swing and jammy groove. Like Druglord they weren’t afraid of bring cast in their genre. But because they were young, they could be from Seattle and not have to play grunge, and Ancient Warlocks most represented a boom in Pacific Northwestern heavy rock that was taking place from about 2010-2014 — as much as it ever stopped — and brought a generational shift of bands picking up in the wake of acts like Red Fang or Earthless (not that the latter are PNW, just very influential), and they did it with style.

With the lineup of lead guitarist/vocalist Aaron Krause, guitarist Darren Chase, bassist Anthony “Oni” Timm and drummer Steve Jones, Ancient Warlocks had made their presence felt with their 2011 7″, Into the Night b/w Super Wizard (review here), which was pressed following their first demo in 2010, “Killer’s Moon.” They had a split with Mos Generator — as every up and coming heavy rock act from the state of Washington should at some point or other — and with their own Jones at the helm to engineer, mix and master at Big Sound in Seattle, they unfurled eight songs in a tight 33 minutes on their self-titled with no pretense, unforced good times, dynamic shifts in mood and approach, and fuzz. Oh, the fuzz.

It was a record you knew was going to be good going in that turned out, yes, to indeed be good. Ancient Warlocks weren’t a stylistic revelation, but they did manage to pull ideas from the bluesier end of the aesthetic spectrum and work that into some of the guitar and vocals, and “Lion Storm” swings with a looseness and underlying drive that reminds me now of North Carolina’s Caltrop. It was easy then to peg them as a straightforward band, and that’s what they were. Verses, choruses. Guitars, bass, drums, vocals. The latter, from Krause, were not entirely untreated, effects-wise, and on a song like the ultra-Queens of the Stone Age-circa-1998 “Sweet’s Too Slow,” that helps enhance some of the garage-y looseness that complements the fuzz established at the outset with “Into the Night” — that first single being placed to open side A while “Super Wizard” starts side B; “Killer’s Moon” resurfaces here as well, with its shuffling procession and thick boogie putting emphasis on live energy. As regards vocals, the thicker Fu Manchu-style riffing of “Cactus Wine” comes accompanied by a melody later that showed the potential for growth in arrangement and delivery, but Krause wasn’t coming out of the gate here trying to Ancient Warlocks Ancient Warlockssound like James LaBrie, and it wouldn’t have worked if he was.

Being rockers suited Ancient Warlocks well. “Super Wizard” followed the drums into a rawer shove with a bit of feedback before the verse kicks in. At the end of side B, the finale “Sorcerer’s Magician” is the longest cut at 5:27, but “Super Wizard” is the shortest at 3:09 and it’s a burner, with rhythmic shove like Sasquatch, lyrics that know they’re dopey, and a casual feel to its sound overall, not looking to make trouble, but doing so, and with charm. The subsequent “White Dwarf” has an immediate push as well and brings that momentum to a riff structure that feels somehow like it’s working off Elder circa Dead Roots Stirring (remember, this was 2013), but does so without departing structurally from what Ancient Warlocks have been doing up to that point. It’s a stylistic niche that’s become something of a microgenre in the last few years. Proto-heavy prog? I don’t know.

As they make their way through, “Killer’s Moon” locks into the aforementioned boogie, and “Sorcerer’s Magician” ups the doom factor by announcing itself with a riff that’s slow-Slayer, but slower, before breaking to near-silence and putting the vocals over an open-spaced verse peppered with bluesy guitar licks, the use of silence and empty space calling back to ’90s Clutch, maybe, and that self-titled, but as with the rest of this self-titled, Ancient Warlocks made these parts and these themes their own, showed themselves to be a multifaceted band interested in growing, and laying out a range of contexts for their craft. That is, while consistent largely in tone and in possession of an abiding organic feel, Ancient Warlocks — the album — is not the work of a band doing the same thing over and over. They’re trying new ideas, laying out a swath of options for future exploration, establishing the ground that their next, oh, four or five records would no doubt continue to develop.

Sadly that turned out not to be the case, however. Ancient Warlocks released their second long-player, appropriately titled II (review here), in June 2016, and by that time, Krause and Timm were already out of the band despite appearing on the record. The band continued with Chris Mathews Jr. on vocals and lead guitar and Stu Laswell on bass. The Live LP followed quickly behind the sophomore album, and already in announcing the new lineup, Ancient Warlocks were talking about making a third studio offering. Didn’t happen. They seem last to have been doing shows in late 2017, which is how it goes sometimes, and Ancient Warlocks were a band whose potential never really got to see realization. They had two cool records, seemed like they were moving forward, then nothing. When you look out into the abyss of bands who did and could’ve written more cool riffs in their time and didn’t, does the abyss stare back?

Almost certainly. And Ancient Warlocks may a decade later be a footnote in that generational turnover moment in heavy rock, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of what they did here or on the second record, and like the best of heavy fried heavy (think of it like chicken fried chicken), the work holds up regardless of the passage of years. So yeah, the anniversary doesn’t matter after all.

As always, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy.

‘Fun week’ is a week wherein there’s no camp and The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan and I do fun stuff and hang out before school starts and so on you get the idea. We went to the Natural History Museum. We went to see family in Connecticut. I bought Halloween jack-o-lantern Peeps. The fun never stops.

Having been in Portugal two or three weeks ago and experienced that, this week has been a bit of the opposite, and I find myself flailing for the balance between the two sides that commonly exists. Because The Obelisk gets the shaft, no doubt about it. What, I’m gonna give up time with my family that I’ll never get back to run a blog about music for no money and also that takes a whole lot of time? Of course not, but I do it.

We had a Dio dance party this week, though, and that was pretty rad. The house was lagging on Wednesday and it kind of picked up the room as The Last in Line is wont to do. Beyond that, we’ve been swimming at a pool at relatives’ house — my sister’s husband’s mother and father’s house; they made the mistake of an open invite — reading lots of books and trying to deal with nerves about starting kindergarten. Like she’s not going to go, immediately catch a cold, and have to stay home for three days.

Though I say that and I have to acknowledge that maybe there’s a bit of wishful thinking in there, and that along with the adjustments my wife is making to a new semester at a job she finds increasingly dissatisfying and demeaning, and that my kid is making to starting kindergarten and being out of the house more than she has in her life, I’ll be making an adjustment after five-plus years to being on my own for a longer portion of my day than I’m used to. Empty nester.

Next week, an Acid Magus premiere on Monday, an Aiwass premiere on Wednesday, a The Silver Linings premiere on Friday, and I have stuff I want to write about to fill those other open days. Might try to review Slomatics one day and Domkraft the other, which would be a fun pairing in my nerd brain for their new albums since the bands are coming off that split they did last year that was so wonderful. We’ll see if I get there.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, watch your head, get your back to school shopping done, shoe measuring and all that crap. The sun’s coming up so I’m calling it quits. My absolute best to you and yours.


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Joseph Schafer of Colony Drop

Posted in Questionnaire on August 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

COLONY DROP Live 3 by Chris Schanz

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Joseph Schafer of Colony Drop

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

I don’t try to define what I do, personally.

As a kid, I wanted to be a “Writer” – whatever that means these days. I must thank my excellent High School teachers, Ms. Forte, Mr. Kinkaid and Mr. Broadway, for fostering that talent in me. I should also thank my writing professor in college, Diane Suess (Pulitzer Prize Winner), for training me.

I don’t think people need to be just “one thing” anymore. Idris Elba is an actor and a rapper, for example. Rhianna is a CEO of a clothing company as much as she is a pop star. Frances Ford Coppola probably makes more money as a wine mogul than as a film director. If all those folks can do many things, why not me, too? The only limitations are my willpower and my circumstances, though those are both significant limitations.

Besides writing, everything else that I now do began by accident. As an events promoter, I just wanted to put a half-decent show on and wound up running a small business. As a musician, I just wanted to yell in a room with my friends, and now I’m in a band, and in that band, I often manage our analytics and booking, so as a band member, my role is much larger than only “musician” and that’s true of every member of Colony Drop. Creativity and enterprise are simply about doing things.

Describe your first musical memory.

My earliest musical memory is being a five-year-old child and going with my parents to see Jurassic Park. I recall being strongly affected by John Williams’ theme in that film. Maybe that’s a bit basic. The first song I remember wanting to hear a second time was “Be Prepared” in the Lion King a year later. That soundtrack was the first cassette I begged my mother for. We wore it out. Pop music, rock music, and extreme metal all came later.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It’s difficult to pick a ‘best,’ however, in 2005, I saw Nine Inch Nails play the Toledo Sports Arena on the With Teeth tour. That was my first genuinely massive show. I got into the mosh pit as a scrawny teen and was totally ripped away from my friends and thrown way far near the front of the crowd. I was totally alone and could not find them (no cell phones!). I recall I had a sunburn, so the bodies around me were kind of uncomfortable. I had no choice but to give myself up to the stimulation of the lights and sounds and Trent Reznor’s music. That was the first time I truly went into a transcendental or sublime surrender state while seeing live music. I still have a bootleg CD of that show – it was a great set. They played “Dead Souls”!

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

When I was a kid, my parents went all out for Christmas. They were really into making Santa Claus real for me. Dad would get his boots muddy and track them through the house at 4 AM – the works. As a result, I believed in Santa for a while longer than my friends. When I confronted the fact that Santa wasn’t real, that led to an immediate test of my juvenile religious beliefs. Jesus and God went in the trash can probably minutes after that. My apostasy was fast and brutal. Black Sabbath came into my life soon thereafter!

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Bankruptcy. But if you’re doing it right, it also leads to community, friendship, and solidarity. Maybe even love – I met my wife through metal.

How do you define success?

Success is when something you’ve taken part in has a tangible effect on someone else’s life. Even if you only bring a spark to one person’s life, that justifies all the labor involved in creative expression. The only value in trying to do music, writing, or art on any kind of large scale is that it gives you the opportunity to have a tangible effect on people more often and more regularly – everything else is just a hoop to jump through.

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

I spent too much time on the Something Awful forums in High School; let’s leave it at that. I’m thankful I never followed any of those random acquaintances to 4chan.

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

I have an as-yet unproduced complete screenplay for a feature-length horror film, as well as a complete manuscript for an epic fantasy novel. I’d love to see those two pieces published.

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

I subscribe to the theory of creative expression put forth by playwright Lajos Egri – I’m not sure if his theory has a formal name or school of thought, but his basic premise is that art exists to express a worldview and put it up for an audience’s evaluation.

So, for example, the worldview expressed by Metallica on Master of Puppets is “life cannot have value while you’re being controlled by an outside force.” Each song explores one outside force that sucks value out of your life: narcotic addiction, religion, wartime conflict, mental institutions, and so on. The album is such a success because it expresses that worldview so completely without talking down to the audience.

Egri argues for this theory in his excellent books On Dramatic Writing and On Creative Writing. They’re great resources even for songwriters, musicians, or painters. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

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

I’m getting married next month. I’m looking forward to the wedding, but I’m also looking forward to the wedding being over so I can finally get some sleep. Haha!

Colony Drop, Brace for Impact (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Khanate, Space Queen, King Potenaz, Treedeon, Orsak:Oslo, Nuclear Dudes, Mycena, Bog Monkey, The Man Motels, Pyre Fyre

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Ah, a Quarterly Review Wednesday. Always a special occasion. Monday starts out with a daunting look at the task ahead. Tuesday is all digging in and just not trying to repeat myself too much. Wednesday, traditionally, is where we hit the halfway point. The top of the hill.

Not the case this time since I’ll have 10 records each written up next Monday and Tuesday, but crossing the midpoint of this week alone feels like an accomplishment and you’ll pardon me if I mark it as such. If you’re wondering how the rest of the week will go, tomorrow is all-business and Friday’s usually a party one way or the other. My head gets so in it by the middle of next week I’ll be surprised not to be doing this anymore. So it goes.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khanate, To Be Cruel

Khanate To Be Cruel

Who among mortals could hope to capture the horrors of Khanate in simple words? The once-New York-based avant sludge ultragroup end a 14-year hiatus with To Be Cruel, a fourth album, comprising three songs running between 19-21 minutes each that breed superlative hatefulness. At once overwhelming and minimalist, with opener “Like a Poisoned Dog” placing the listener in a homemade basement dungeon with the sharp, disaffection-incarnate bark of Alan Dubin (also Gnaw) cutting through the weighted slog in the guitar of Stephen O’Malley (also SunnO))), et al), the bass of James Plotkin (more than one can count, and he probably also mastered your band’s record) and the noise free-jazz drumming of Tim Wyskida (Blind Idiot God, etc.), they retain the disturbing brilliance last heard from in 2009’s Clean Hands Go Foul (discussed here) and are no less caustic for the intervening years. “It Wants to Fly” is expansive and wretched death poetry set to drone doom, a ritual made of its own misery, and the concluding title-track goes quiet in its midsection as though to let every wrenching anguish have its own space in the song. There is no one like them, though many have tried to convey some of what apparently only Khanate can. As our plague-infested, world-burning, war-making, fear-driven species plunges further into this terrible century, Khanate is the soundtrack we earn. We are all complicit. All guilty.

Khanate on Facebook

Sacred Bones Records store


Space Queen, Nebula

Space Queen Nebula EP

Though plenty atmospheric besides, Vancouver heavy fuzz rockers Space Queen add atmosphere to their nine-song/26-minute Nebula EP through a series of four interludes: the a capella three-part harmonies of “Deluge,” the acoustic-strummed “Veil” and “Sun Interlude,” and the finishing manipulated space-command sample in “End Transmission” after the richly melodic doom rock of “Transmission/Lost Causemonaut.” That penultimate inclusion is the longest at 6:14 and tells a story in a way that feels informed by the three-piece of drummer/vocalist Karli MacIntosh, guitarist/vocalist Jenna Earle and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Seah Maister‘s past in the folk outfit Sound of the Sun, but transposes its melodic sensibility into a heavier context. It and the prior garage-psych highlight “When it Gets Light” — a lighter initial electric strum that arrives in willful-seeming contrast to “Darkest Part” immediately preceding — depart from the more straight-ahead push of opener “Battle Cry” and the guitar-screamer “Demon Queen” separated from it by the first interlude. Where those two come across as working with Alice in Chains as a defining influence — something the folk elements don’t necessarily argue against — the Nebula EP grows broader as it moves through its brief course, and flows throughout with its veering into and out of songs and short pieces. This is Space Queen‘s second EP, and if they’re interested in making a full-length next, they sound ready.

Space Queen on Facebook

Space Queen on Bandcamp


King Potenaz, Goat Rider

king potenaz goat rider

Fasano, Italy’s King Potenaz debut on Argonauta Records with Goat Rider, which conjures raw fuzz, garage-doom atmospherics, and vocals that edge toward aggression and classic cave metal, early Venom or Celtic Frost having a role to play even alongside the transposition of Kyuss riffing taking place in the title-track, which follows “Among Ruins” and “Pyramids Planet,” both of which featured on the trio’s 2022 Demo 6:66, and which set a tone of riff-led revelry here with a sound that reminds of turn-of-the-century era stoner explorations, but grows richer as it moves into “Pazuzu (3:33)” — it’s actually 5:18 — with guest vocals from Sabilla and the quiet three-minute instrumental “Cosmic Voyager” planet-caravanning into the 51-minute album’s second half, where “Moriendoom (La Ballata di Ippolita Oderisi)” and the even doomier “Monolithic” dig into cultish vibes and set up the bleak shuffle of nine-minute closer “Dancing Plague,” departing from its central ’90s-heavy riff into a mellow-psych movement and then returning from that outward stretch to end. Even at its most familiar, Goat Rider finds some way to harness an individual edge, cleverly using the mix itself as an instrument to create the space in which the songs dwell. It may take a few listens to sink in, but there’s real potential in what they’re doing.

King Potenaz on Facebook

Argonauta Records store


Treedeon, New World Hoarder

Treedeon New World Hoarder

With the release of their third album, New World Hoarder, German art-sludgers Treedeon celebrate their first decade as a band. The combined vinyl-with-CD follows 2018’s Under the Manchineel (review here) and proffers raw cosmic doom in “Omega Time Bomb,” crossing the 10-minute line for the first time after the particularly-agonized opener “Nutcrème Superspreader” and before the title-track’s nodding riff brings bassist Yvonne Ducksworth to the fore vocally, trading off with guitarist Arne Heesch as drummer Andy Schünemann crashes cyclically behind. “New World Hoarder” gives over to side B opener “Viking Meditation Song,” which rolls like an evil-er version of Goatsnake, and “RHV1,” on which Heesch and Ducksworth share vocal duties, as they also do in 12-minute closer “Läderlappen” — a shouting duet in the first half feels long in arriving, but that’s how you know the album works — as the band cap with more massive chug following an interplay of melody and throatier fare. They’re right to ride that groove, as they’re right about so much else on the record. Like much of what Exile on Mainstream puts out, Treedeon are stylistically intricate and underrated in kind.

Treedeon on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream site


Orsak:Oslo, In Irons

Orsak Oslo In Irons

There are a couple different angles of approach one might take in hearing Orsak:Oslo‘s In Irons full-length. The Norway/Sweden-based instrumental troupe have been heretofore lumped in with heavy post-rock and ambient soundscaping, which is fair enough, but what they actually unveil in “068 The Swell” (premiered here), is a calming interpretation of space rock. With experimentalism on display in its late atmospheric drone comedown, “068 The Swell” moves directly into the more physical “079 Dutchman’s Wake (Part I),” the languid boogie feeling modern in presentation and classic in construction and the chemistry between the members of the band. The drums sit out much of the first half of “069 In What Way Are You Different,” giving a sense of stillness to the drone there, but the song embraces a bigger feel toward its finish, and that sets up the feedback intro to “078 The Mute (Part II),” which veers dreamily between amplifier drone and complementary melodic guitar flourish. Taking 17 minutes to do it, they close with “074 Hadal Blue,” which more broadly applies the space-chill of “068 The Swell” and emphasizes flow and organic changes from one part to the next. Immersive, it would be one to get lost in if it weren’t so satisfying to pay attention.

Orsak:Oslo on Facebook

Vinter Records website


Nuclear Dudes, Boss Blades

Nuclear Dudes Boss Blades

Fuck. Yes. As much grind as sludge as electronics-infused hardcore as it is furious, unadulterated noise, the 12-song/50-minute onslaught that is Boss Blades arrives via Modern Grievance at the behest of Jon Weisnewski, also of Sandrider, formerly of Akimbo. If Weisnewski‘s name alone and the fact that Matt Bayles mixed the self-recorded debut LP aren’t enough to pull you into the tornado of violence and maddening brood that opener “Boss Blades” uses to open — extra force provided by one of two guest vocal spots from Dave Verellen of Botch; the other is on “Lasers in the Jungle” later on — then perhaps the seven-minute semi-industrial march of “Obsolete Food” or the bruising intensity of “Poorly Made Pots” or the minute and a half of sample-topped drone psych in “Guitart,” the extreme prog metal of “Eat Meth” or “Manifest Piss Tape” will do the trick, or the nine-minute near-centerpiece “Many Knives” (which, if there’s a Genghis Tron influence here generally — and there might be — is more the last record than the older stuff) with its slow keyboard unfolding as a backdrop for Dust Moth‘s Irene Barber to make her own guest appearance, plenty of post-everything cacophony mounting by the end, grandiose and consuming. I could go on — every track is a new way to die — but suffice it to say that this is what my brain sounds like when my kid and my wife are talking to me about different things at the same time and it feels like my skull is on fire and I have an aneurysm and keel over. Good wins.

Nuclear Dudes on Instagram

Modern Grievance Records website


Mycena, Chapter 4

mycena chapter 4

Sometimes harsh but always free, 2022’s Chapter 4 from Croatian instrumentalist double-guitar five-piece Mycena — guitarists Marin Mitić and Pavle Bojanić, bassist Karlo Cmrk, drummer Igor Vidaković and synthesist/noisemaker Aleksandar Vrhovec — brings three tracks that are distinct unto themselves but listed as part of the same entirety, dubbed “Dissolution” and divided into “Dissolution Part 1” (17:49), “Dissolution Part 2” (3:03), and “Dissolution Part 3” (18:11), and it may well be that what’s being dissolved is the notion that rock and roll must be confined to verse/chorus structuring. Invariably, Earthless are a comparison point for longform instrumental heavy anything, and given the shred in “Dissolution Part 1” around five minutes deep and the torrent rockblast in the first half of “Dissolution Part 3” before it melts to near-silence and quietly noodles its way through its somehow-dub-informed last 11 or so minutes, building in presence but not actually blowing up to full volume as it caps. While totaling a manageable 39 minutes, Chapter 4 is a journey nonetheless, with a scope that comes through even in “Dissolution Part 2,” which may just be an interlude but still carries a steady rhythm that seems to reorient the band ahead of their diving into the extended final part, the band sounding natural in making changes that would undo acts with less chemistry.

Mycena on Facebook

Mycena on Bandcamp


Bog Monkey, Hollow

bog monkey hollow

Filthy tone. Just absolutely nasty. Atlanta’s Bog Monkey tracked Hollow, their self-released debut LP, with Jay Matheson at The Jam Room in South Carolina, and if they ever go anywhere else to try to capture their sound I’d have to ask why. With seven cuts totaling 33 minutes play-time and fuzz-sludge blowouts a-plenty in “Facemint,” the blastbeaten “Blister” and the heads-down largesse-minded shove-off-the-cliff that is “Slither” at a whopping 2:48, Hollow transposes Conan-style shouted vocals on brash, thickened heavy, the bass in “Tunnel” and forward-charging leadoff “Crow” with its thrash-riffing hook is the source of the heft, but it’s not alone. Spacious thanks to echoes on the vocals, Hollow crushes just the same, and as the trio plunder toward the eight-minute “Soma” at the end, growing intense quickly out of a calmer intro jam and slamming their message home circa 3:40 with crashes that break to bass and guitar noise to establish the nod around which the ending will be based, all you can really do is look forward to the bludgeoning to come and be glad when it arrives. Don’t be fooled by their generic name, or the silly stoner rock art (which I’m not knocking; it being silly is part of the point). Bog Monkey bring together different styles in a way that’s thoughtful and make songs that sound like they just rose out of the water to fucking obliterate you. So go on. Be obliterated.

Bog Monkey on Facebook

Bog Monkey on Bandcamp


The Man Motels, Dead Nature

The Man Motels Dead Nature EP

Punkish in its choruses like the title-track or opener “Sports,” the four-song Dead Nature EP from South Africa’s The Man Motels is the latest in a string of short releases and singles going back to their 2018 full-length, Quit Looking at Me!, and they temper the urgency of their speediest parts with grunge-style melody and instrumental twists. Bass and drums at the base of “Young Father” set up the sub-three-minute closer as purely punk, but sure enough the guitar kicks in coming out of the verse and one can hear the Nirvana effect before it drops out again. Whether it’s a common older-school hardcore influence, I don’t know, but “Sports” and “Young Father” remind of a rawer Fu Manchu with their focus on structure, but “The Fever” is heavier indie rock and culminates in a tonally satisfying apex before cutting back to the main riff that’s led the way for… oh, about three minutes or so. All told, The Man Motels are done in 15 minutes, but they pack a fair amount into that time and they named the release after its catchiest installment, so there. Maybe not the kind of thing I’d always reach for in my own listening habits, but I’m not about to rag on a band for being good at what they do or showcasing their material with the kind of energy The Man Motels put into Dead Nature.

The Man Motels on Facebook

Mongrel Records website


Pyre Fyre, Pyre Fyre

pyre fyre pyre fyre

With a couple short(er) outings to their credit, Bayonne, New Jersey, three-piece Pyre Fyre present seven songs in the 18 minutes of their self-titled, which just might be enough to make it a full-length. Hear me out. They start raw with “Hypnotize,” more of a song than an intro, punkish and the shortest piece at 1:22. From there, the Melvins meet Earthride on “Flood Zone” and the range of shenanigans is unveiled. Produced by drummer/noisemaker Mike Montemarano, with Dylan Wheeler on guitar, Dan Kirwan on bass and vocals from all three in its hithers and yons, it is a barebones sound across the board, but Pyre Fyre give a sense of digging in despite that, with the echo-laced “Wyld Ryde” doled out like garage thrash, while “Dungeon Duster/Ice Storm” sounds like it was recorded in two different sessions and maybe it was and screw you if that matters, “Don’t Drink the Water” hits the brakes and dooms out with stoner-drawl vocals later, “Arachnophobia” dips into a darker, somehow more metal, mood, and the fuzzy “Cordyceps” ends with swagger and noise alike in just under two and a half minutes. All of this is done without pretense, without the band pausing to celebrate themselves or what they just accomplished. They get in, kick ass, get out again. You don’t want to call it an album? Fine. I respectfully disagree, but we can still be friends. What, you thought because it was the internet I was going to tell you to screw off? Come on now.

Pyre Fyre on Instagram

Pyre Fyre on Bandcamp


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Quarterly Review: Bell Witch, Plainride, Benthic Realm, Cervus, Unsafe Space Garden, Neon Burton, Thousand Vision Mist, New Dawn Fades, Aton Five, Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to day two of the Summer 2023 Quarterly Review. Yesterday was a genuine hoot — I didn’t realize I had packed it so full of bands’ debut albums, and not repeating myself in noting that in the reviews was a challenge — but blah blah words words later we’re back at it today for round two of seven total.

As I write this, my house is newly emerged from an early morning tornado warning and sundry severe weather alerts, flooding, wind, etc., with that. In my weather head-canon, tornados don’t happen here — because they never used to — but one hit like two towns over a week or so ago, so I guess anything’s possible. My greater concern would be flooding or downed trees or branches damaging the house. I laughed with The Patient Mrs. that of course a tornado would come right after we did the kitchen floor and put the sink back.

We got The Pecan up to experience and be normalized into this brave new world of climate horror. We didn’t go to the basement, but it probably won’t be the last time we talk about whether or not we need to do so. Yes, planet Earth will take care of itself. It will do this by removing the problematic infection over a sustained period of time. Only trouble is humans are the infection.

So anyway, happy Tuesday. Let’s talk about some records.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Bell Witch, Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate

bell witch future's shadow part 1 the clandestine gate

Cumbersome in its title and duly stately as it unfurls 83 minutes of Billy Anderson-recorded slow-motion death-doom soul destroy/rebuild, Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate is not the first longform single-song work from Seattle’s Bell Witch, but the core duo of drummer/vocalist Jesse Shreibman and bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond found their path on 2017’s landmark Mirror Reaper (review here) and have set themselves to the work of expanding on that already encompassing scope. Moving from its organ intro through willfully lurching, chant-topped initial verses, the piece breaks circa 24 minutes to minimalist near-silence, building itself back up until it seems to blossom fully at around 45 minutes in, but it breaks to organ, rises again, and ultimately seems to not so much to collapse as to be let go into its last eight minutes of melancholy standalone bass. Knowing this is only the first part of a trilogy makes Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate feel even huger and more opaque, but while its unrelenting atmospheric bleakness will be listenable for a small percentage of the general populace, there’s no question Bell Witch are continuing to push the limits of what they do. Loud or quiet, they are consuming. One should expect no less in the next installment.

Bell Witch on Facebook

Profound Lore Records website


Plainride, Plainride

plainride self titled

Some records are self-titled because the band can’t think of a name. Plainride‘s Plainride is more declarative. Self-released ahead of a Ripple Music issue to accord with timing as the German trio did a Spring support stint with Corrosion of Conformity, the 10-song outing engages with funk, blues rock, metal, prog and on and on and on, and feels specifically geared toward waking up any and all who hear it. The horns blasting in “Fire in the Sky” are a clear signal of that, though one should also allow for the mellowing of “Wanderer,” the interlude “You Wanna…” the acoustic noodler “Siebengebirge,” or the ballady closer “The Lilies” as a corresponding display of dynamic. But the energy is there in “Hello, Operator,” “Ritual” — which reminds of Gozu in its soulful vocals — and through the longer “Shepherd” and the subsequent regrounding in the penultimate “Hour of the Mûmakil,” and it is that kick-in-the-pants sensibility that most defines Plainride as a realization on the part of the band. They sound driven, hungry, expansive and professional, and they greet their audience with a full-on “welcome to the show” mindset, then proceed to try to shake loose the rules of genre from within. Not a minor ambition, but Plainride succeed in letting craft lead the charge in their battle against mediocrity. They don’t universally hit their marks — not that rock and roll ever did or necessarily should — but they take actual chances here and are all the more invigorating for that.

Plainride on Facebook

Ripple Music store


Benthic Realm, Vessel

Benthic Realm Vessel

Massachusetts doomers Benthic Realm offer their awaited first full-length with Vessel, and the hour-long 2LP is broad and crushing enough to justify the wait. It’s been five years since 2018’s We Will Not Bow (review here), and the three-piece of bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave, ex-Curse the Son, etc.), guitarist/vocalist Krista Van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) conjure worthy expanse with a metallic foundation, Van Guilder likewise effective in a deathly scream and melodic delivery as “Traitors Among Us” quickly affirms, and the band shifting smoothly between the lurch of “Summon the Tide” and speedier processions like “Course Correct,” the title-track or the penultimate “What Lies Beneath,” the album ultimately more defined by mood and the epic nature of Benthic Realm‘s craft than a showcase of tempo on either side. That is, regardless of pace, they deliver with force throughout the album, and while it might be a couple years delayed, it stands readily among the best debuts of 2023.

Benthic Realm on Facebook

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp


Cervus, Shifting Sands

Cervus Shifting Sands

Cervus follow 2022’s impressive single “Cycles” (posted here) with the three-song EP Shifting Sands, and the Amsterdam heavy psych unit use the occasion to continue to build a range around their mellow-grooving foundation. Beginning quiet and languid and exploratory on “Nirvana Dunes,” which bursts to voluminous life after its midpoint but retains its fluidity, the five-piece of guitarists Jan Woudenberg and Dennis de Bruin, bassist Tom Mourik, keyboardist/guitarist Ton van Rijswijk and drummer Rogier Henkelman saving extra push for middle cut “Tempest,” reminding some of how The Machine are able to turn from heavy jams to more structured riffy shove. That track, shorter at 3:43, is a delightful bit of raucousness that answers the more straightforward fare on 2021’s Ignis EP while setting up a direct transition into “Eternal Shadow,” which builds walls of organ-laced fuzz roll that go out and don’t come back, ending the 16-minute outing in such a way as to make it feel more like a mini-album. They touch no ground here that feels uncertain for them, but that’s only a positive sign as they perhaps work toward making their debut LP. Whether that’s coming or not, Shifting Sands is no less engaging a mini-trip for its brevity.

Cervus on Facebook

Cervus on Bandcamp


Unsafe Space Garden, Where’s the Ground?

Unsafe Space Garden Where's the Ground

On their third album, Where’s the Ground?, Portuguese experimentalists Unsafe Space Garden tackle heavy existentialist questions as only those truly willing to embrace the absurd could hope to do. From the almost-Jackson 5 casual saunter of “Grown-Ups!” — and by the way, all titles are punctuated and stylized all-caps — to the willfully overwhelming prog-metal play of “Pum Pum Pum Pum Ta Ta” later on, Unsafe Space Garden find and frame emotional and psychological breakthroughs through the ridiculous misery of human existence while also managing to remind of what a band can truly accomplish when they’re willing to throw genre expectations out the window. With shades throughout of punk, prog, indie, sludge, pop new and old, post-rock, jazz, and on and on, they are admirably individual, and unwilling to be anything other than who they are stylistically at the risk of derailing their own work, which — again, admirably — they don’t. Switching between English and Portuguese lyrics, they challenge the audience to approach with an open mind and sympathy for one another since once we were all just kids picking our noses on the same ground. Where’s the ground now? I’m not 100 percent, but I think it might be everywhere if we’re ready to see it, to be on it. Supreme weirdo manifestation; a little manic in vibe, but not without hope.

Unsafe Space Garden on Instagram

gig.ROCKS on Bandcamp


Neon Burton, Take a Ride


Guitarist/vocalist Henning Schmerer reportedly self-recorded and mixed and played all instruments himself for Neon Burton‘s third full-length, Take a Ride. The band was a trio circa 2021’s Mighty Mondeo, and might still be one, but with programmed drums behind him, Schmerer digs in alone across these space-themed six songs/46 minutes. The material keeps the central duality of Neon Burton‘s work to-date in pairing airy heavy psychedelia with bouts of denser riffing, rougher-edged verses and choruses offsetting the entrancing jams, resulting in a sound that draws a line between the two but is able to move between them freely. “Mother Ship” starts the record quiet but grows across its seven minutes to Truckfighters-esque fuzzy swing, and “I Run,” which follows, unveils the harder-landing aspect of the band’s character. The transitions are unforced and feel like a natural dynamic in the material, but even the jammiest parts would have to be thought out beforehand to be recorded with just one person, so perhaps Take a Ride‘s most standout achievement — see also: tone, melody, groove — is in overcoming the solo nature of its making to sound as much like a full band as it does in the 10-minute “Orbit” or the crescendo of “Disconnect” that rumbles into the sample-topped ambient-plus-funky meander at the start of instrumental closer “Wormhole,” which dares a bit of proggier-leaning chug on the way to its thickened, nodding culmination.

Neon Burton on Facebook

Neon Burton on Bandcamp


Thousand Vision Mist, Depths of Oblivion

Thousand Vision Mist Depths of Oblivion

Though pedigreed in a Maryland doom scene that deeply prides itself on traditionalism, Laurel, MD, trio Thousand Vision Mist mark out a progressive path forward with their second full-length, Depths of Oblivion, the eight songs/35 minutes of which seem to owe as much to avant metal as to doom and/or heavy rock. Opener “Sands of Time” imagines what might’ve been if Virus had been raised in the Chesapeake Watershed, while “Citadel of Green” relishes its organically ’70s-style groove with an intricacy of interpretation so as to let Thousand Vision Mist come across as respectful of the past but not hindered by it creatively. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon (ex-Life Beyond, Indestroy, etc.), bassist/backing vocalist Tony Comulada (War Injun, Outside Truth, etc.) and drummer Chris Sebastian (ex-Retribution), the band delves into the pastoral on “Love, the Destroyer” and the sunshine-till-the-fuzz-hits-then-still-awesome “Thunderbird Blue,” while “Battle for Yesterday” filters grunge nostalgia through their own complexity and capper “Reversal of Misfortune” moves from its initial riffiness — perhaps in conversation with “We Flew Too High” at the start of what would be side B — into sharper shred with an unshakable rhythmic foundation beneath. I didn’t know what to expect so long after 2018’s Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow (review here), which was impressive, but there’s no level on which Thousand Vision Mist haven’t outdone themselves with Depths of Oblivion.

Thousand Vision Mist on Facebook

Thousand Vision Mist on Bandcamp


New Dawn Fades, Forever

New Dawn Fades Forever

Founded and fronted by vocalist George Chamberlin (Ritual Earth), the named-for-a-JoyDivision-tune New Dawn Fades make their initial public offering with the three-songer Forever, which at 15 minutes long doesn’t come close to the title but makes its point well before it’s through all the same. In “True Till Death,” they update a vibe somewhere between C.O.C.‘s Blind and a less-Southern version of Nola-era Down, while “This Night Has Closed My Eyes” adds some Kyuss flair in Chamberlin‘s vocal and the concluding “New Moon” reinforces the argument with a four-minute parade of swing and chug, Sabbath-bred if not Sabbath-worshiping. If the band — whose lineup seems to have changed since this was recorded at least in the drums — are going to take on a full-length next, they’ll want to shake things up, maybe an interlude, etc., but as a short outing and even more as their first, they don’t necessarily need to shock with off-the-wall style. Instead, Forever portrays New Dawn Fades as having a clear grasp on what they want to do and the songwriting command to make it happen. Wherever they go from here, it’ll be worth keeping eyes and ears open.

New Dawn Fades on Facebook

New Dawn Fades on Bandcamp


Aton Five, Aton Five

aton five self titled

According to the band, Aton Five‘s mostly-instrumental self-titled sophomore full-length was recorded between 2019 and 2022, and that three-year span would seem to have allowed for the Moscow-based four-piece to deep-dive into the five pieces that comprise it, so that the guitar and organ answering each other on “Danse Macabre” and the mathy angularity that underscores much of the second half of “Naked Void” exist as fully envisioned versions of themselves, even before you get to the 22-minute “Lethe,” which closes. With the soothing “Clepsydra” in its middle as the only track under eight minutes long, Aton Five have plenty of time to develop and build outward from the headspinning proffered by “Alienation” at the album’s start and in the bassy jabs and departure into and through clearheaded drift-metal (didn’t know it existed, but there it is), the work they’ve put into the material is obvious and no less multifaceted than are the songs, “Alienation” resolving in a combination of sweeps and sprints, each of which resonates with purpose. That one might say the same of each of the three parts that make up “Lethe” should signal the depth of consideration in the entirety of the release. I know there was a plague on, but maybe Aton Five benefitted as well from having the time to focus as they so plainly did. Whether you try to keep up with the turns or sit back and let the band go where they will, Aton Five, the album, feels like the kind of record that might’ve ended up somewhere other than where the band first thought it would, but is stronger for having made the journey to the finished product.

Aton Five on Facebook

Aton Five on Bandcamp


Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes, In a Sandbox Full of Suns

Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes In a Sandbox Full of Suns

Their second LP behind 2020’s Everwill, the five-song In a Sandbox Full of Suns finds German four-piece Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes fully switched on in heavy jam fashion, cuts like “Love Story” and “In a Sandbox Full of Suns” — both of which top 11 minutes — fleshed out with improv-sounding guitar and vocals over ultra-fluid rhythms, blending classic heavy blues rock and prog with hints and only hints of vintage-ism and letting the variety in their approach show itself in the four-minute centerpiece “Dead Urban Desert” and the suitably cosmic atmosphere to which they depart in closer “Time and Space.” Leadoff “Coffee Style” is rife with attitude, but wahs itself into an Eastern-inflected lead progression after the midpoint and before turning back to the verse, holding its relaxed but not lazy feel all the while. It is a natural brand of psychedelia that results throughout — an enticing sound between sounds; the proverbial ‘not-lost wandering’ in musical form — as Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes don’t try to hypnotize with effects or synth, etc., but prove willing to take a walk into the unknown when the mood hits. It doesn’t always, but they make the most of their opportunities regardless, and if “Dead Urban Desert” is the exception, its placement as the centerpiece tells you it’s not there by accident.

Giants Dwarfs and Black Holes on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records store


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Sorcia West Coast Tour Starts July 28; Lost Season Out July 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Nice when a plan comes together. Seattle three-piece Sorcia will head out on a West Coast run just one week after the release of their second full-length, Lost Season (review here), which is out July 21 through Desert Records. The route will head south down the Pacific Coast and loop back north inland, hitting Denver and Salt Lake City en route to a still to-be-announced date in Boise that will close. If you’re in Boise, you could be a hero. Yes, booking shows is largely thankless work and the second you become a ‘promoter’ you sign up for at least 75 different shades of bullshit to hit you all at once, but, you know, heroism.

No doubt you’ll note their appearance at Burque Rock City Fest in Albuquerque on Aug. 5. There they’ll share the bill with the likes of WeedeaterMatt PikeBrant BjorkFatso JetsonBelzebong and many others. Sure to be a highlight of the run, though that’s not taking away from the rest of the shows, which I’m sure will also be cool. This tour was first announced with the review/track premiere linked above, but the venue seems to have dropped out of that Boise show, so an update seemed reasonable. If you didn’t check out the single from Lost Season, “Miss Ann Thrope,” it’s on the Bandcamp player below, where you can also preorder the album.

From the PR wire:

sorcia tour

SORCIA Announce West Coast Tour!

Lost Season pre-order on Bandcamp:

In support of their new album ‘Lost Season’ Sorcia hit the road on a summer west coast tour with a stop at Burque Rock City Festival!

Supporting their highly anticipated new album Lost Season, Sorcia embark on their biggest your yet hitting 12 major cities of Western US. Lost Season is the bands their heaviest and most eclectic offering to date and they are ready to unleash it in a live setting.

As part of their tour, Sorcia will take the stage at Burque Rock City Festival. They will play along side some of the Titans of Stoner and Doom, Weedeater, Matt Pike, Dead Meadow, Brant Bjork Trio, Yawning Balch and so many more.

Lost Season will be available July 21st through Desert Records!

07.28 Seattle WA Substation
07.29 Portland OR Kenton Club
07.30 Eugene OR Old Nick’s Pub
07.31 Eureka CA Siren’s Song Tavern
08.01 Oakland CA Golden Bull
08.02 Los Angeles CA Knucklehead
08.03 San Diego CA Til Two Club
08.04 Tempe AZ Yucca Tap Room
08.05 Albuquerque NM Burque Rock City Fest
08.06 Denver CO The Crypt
08.07 Salt Lake City UT Aces High Saloon
08.08 Boise ID TBD

Neal De Atley – Guitar, Vocals
Jessica Brasch – Bass, Vocals
Bryson Marcey – Drums

Sorcia, Lost Season (2023)

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Sandrider to Reissue Armada in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

sandrider (Photo by John Malley)

Seattle heavy noise trio Sandrider already have one of the best albums of 2023 under their collective belt in Enveletration (review here), which came out in early March and is their fourth album overall and first for Satanik Royalty Records. That same label signed the band in 2021 at its launch and has been working through reissuing their back catalog. 2022 brought new pressings for their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and 2013’s Godhead (review here), and to follow Enveletration because what is time anyway is 2018’s Armada (review here).

I actually revisited Armada ahead of reviewing Enveletration, and, well, it’s held up. I mean, that should be about as much a surprise as the sun rising on a given morning, but it was somewhat reassuring all the same. The more people who hear this band, the better, so whether that’s the new album, the third, second or first, whatever. Spend your money. The hell are you saving it for? Someday you’re gonna be a billionaire? Fuck that. Never happen. Get that preorder going instead and at least you’ll feel good about it when the package shows up. As regards advice, that’s the best I’ve got.

From the PR wire:

sandrider armada

SANDRIDER: Satanik Royalty Records To Reissue Armada Full-Length From Seattle Loud Rock Trio On Limited Edition Vinyl July 21st; Preorders Available

Satanik Royalty Records will reissue Armada, the third full-length from Seattle loud rock outfit SANDRIDER, on limited edition vinyl on July 21st.

Things move at a different pace in the damp cold of the Northwest. Maybe that’s why Black Flag’s My War-era went over so well in Seattle while the rest of the country was agitated by its menacing crawl. Maybe that’s why the mid-tempo weight of grunge eclipsed Californian thrash metal in the early ’90s. And if it seems that Puget Sound lethargy has yielded too much sad-sucker folk-rock and tween indie pop in recent years, let SANDRIDER remind you of Washington’s long history of crushing thunderhead riffs.

Initially released in 2018 via Good To Die Records, on Armada, SANDRIDER continues to staunchly refuse to be anything other than the fiercest, grittiest, riff-driven rock band possible. Armada is an immaculately rendered documentation of the fury and fortitude of SANDRIDER, and Satanik Royalty is proud to re-release the Matt Bayles (Mastodon, ISIS, The Sword) engineered album to the masses on limited edition vinyl and digital formats.

Find preorders at the Satanik Royalty webshop at THIS LOCATION:
or Bandcamp at THIS LOCATION:

Armada Track Listing:
1. Hollowed
2. Industry
3. Creep
4. Banger
5. Brambles
6. Lineage
7. Lungs
8. Armada
9. AAApe
10. Dogwater

Nat Damm – drums
Jesse Roberts – bass, vocals
Jon Weisnewski – guitar, vocals

Sandrider, Armada (2018)

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Sorcia Premiere “Miss Ann Thrope”; Lost Season Due July 21

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 16th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


With lumber a-plenty rolling behind them, Seattle sludge rockers Sorcia offer five new tracks on their impending second album, Lost Season. Set to release July 21 through Desert Records, the 40-minute long-player unfurls itself with due patience in its slower moments, and remains atmospheric regardless of tempo without dwelling too long in any single space, which is an accomplishment when three of the five inclusions are over eight minutes long. And yeah, you’ve heard similar tales before in other contexts, but let’s just say that since the trio issued their self-titled debut (review here) in mid-March 2020, one hopes the arrival of the follow-up is significantly less tumultuous.

It is their second release through Desert Records behind the 2021 Death by Design EP (discussed here), which featured as a CD bonus track an acoustic take on “Dusty.” That song reappears on Lost Season in fully-plugged form as the penultimate cut, ahead of the nine-plus-minute “Entering the Eighth House,” which lurches in bluesy atmosludge fashion in a final nod to end the procession of barebones-feeling-but-not-actually-barebones tracks, as helmed by Tad Doyle (TADHog MollyBrothers of the Sonic Cloth), with whom the trio of guitarist/vocalist Neal De Atley, bassist/vocalist Jessica Brasch and drummer Bryson Marcey also worked on the self-titled. In part because of that continued collaboration and in part because of the songs themselves, the spirit of Lost Season is very much one of steady and incremental progress.

As De Atley‘s clean vocals seem to move more in the vein of Dax Riggs circa Acid Bath — offset by his own shouts and Brasch‘s backing and lead parts in the speedier “An Axe Named Otis” and elsewhere — on opener “Miss Ann Thrope,” the central verse and chorus riffs move in a build and release of tension, steady in delivery but not staid emotionally. Brasch does appear on “Miss Ann Thrope,” just past the halfway mark, but not much, and her arrival in the call and response in the galloping second half of “An Axe Named Otis” is a jolt. That second track and “Faded Dune,” which follows, are markedly faster than “Miss Ann Thrope” — the first half of “An Axe Named Otis” doesn’t have the same push as the already-noted second, but it’s not far off in the verse with De Atley‘s throaty shouts delivering lyrics — and buried under the dense tone of “Faded Dune” is a classic stoner rock janga-janga swing, which is maintained as De Atley and Brasch come together in the midsection on vocals, lending the feeling of a landmark for the record as a whole right around its halfway point.

Sorcia Lost Season“Faded Dune” ends by shifting into a mellow jam for its final minute, a noodly lead winding out over steady drums and clicked-off clean bass. With the presumption that that’s where the vinyl split is, Lost Season begins side B with the atmospheric unfurling of “Dusty,” the clean-sung verse reminiscent of Ealdor Bealu in parts but still well within the realm of Sorcia‘s own take, Brasch again providing accent lines and adding to the build. The volume kick is at 3:51, and for a brief moment the song is admirably Crowbar-esque, but they’re soon off into the solo section, through a dual-vocal rendition of the hook as a crescendo before ending quieter with Marcey‘s drums the last to go and second to arrive in “Entering the Eighth House” behind the amplifier hum that shortly riff-plods with Sleepy abandon — and, crucially, patience — through the closer’s own movement toward and through an apex, the final arrangement between De Atley and Brasch underscoring how crucial their shared lead-singer duties have been to the record all along.

Lost Season may be taking into account the fact that Sorcia could do precious little to support their first full-length at the time of its release, but it’s no loss itself. They have not reinvented their sound, but there is definite and audible growth in their craft — it’s what I meant by ‘incremental’ above; I’m saying I think they’ll continue to grow as they’ve shown themselves having done here — and the material benefits from what feels like a careful hand in some places and one willing to let some exploration happen in others. Compare the verse/chorus interplay on “Miss Ann Thrope” and the ending of “Dusty,” for example. Or the layering of lines in the emergent nod of the verse to “Entering the Eighth House” and the jam in “Faded Dune.” Part of what makes Lost Season work is that each piece flows into the next and comes to feel like a part of the whole movement, the trio seeming to dig deeper as they go.

And in conjunction with the obvious care put into laying out the vocals in terms of who’s where, doing what, and when, Lost Season shows Sorcia working toward a mature approach that suits them well, somewhat raw instrumentally but able to convey a sense of depth just the same. One would expect them to keep accruing confidence as a result of their efforts here, and that’s only going to make them stronger their next time out. Easy win for all parties involved, including the listener.

If you hadn’t already caught on to their stuff — and I know you had because you’re cool like that; I’m talking to someone else — you’ll find “Miss Ann Thrope” streaming on the player below as the first single from Lost Season. Once again, release date is July 21 through Desert Records. More info, including live dates (click the poster to enlarge, click again to shrink), follows the song on the player below.



“Miss Ann Thrope is the personification of animosity towards humanity.” – Sorcia


Seattle stoner/doom trio SORCIA prepare to unleash their highly anticipated sophomore full-length ‘LOST SEASON’, their heaviest and most eclectic offering to date.

After releasing their debut album just days before the world shut down in March of 2020, things looked bleak for musicians as they were forced to stare into the unknown. During this dark time, Sorcia persevered by pouring themselves into songwriting, accomplishing not only the completion of a challenging EP, but also this brand new full-length they would reflectively come to name ‘Lost Season’.

This album is a continuance of their dynamic and heavy sound, yet showcases a matured evolution in style with a new exploration of influences. Captured by Tad Doyle at Witch Ape Studio in Seattle, WA with original artwork by Mike Hawkins, Sorcia are pleased to be working with Desert Records to release ‘Lost Season’ out into the world on July 21st, 2023.

sorcia tourTracklisting:
1. Miss Ann Thrope
2. An Axe Named Otis
3. Faded Dune
4. Dusty
5. Entering the Eighth House

All music written and performed by Sorcia
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tad Doyle at Witch Ape Studio in Seattle, WA
Original artwork by Mike Hawkins at Human For Now Studio
Layout by Jessica Brasch
Photography by Jessica and Jesse Brasch

Sorcia are:
Neal De Atley – Guitars/Vocals
Jessica Brasch – Bass/Vocals
Bryson Marcey – Drums

Sorcia on Facebook

Sorcia on Instagram

Sorcia on Bandcamp

Sorcia website

Desert Records on Facebook

Desert Records on Instagram

Desert Records on Bandcamp

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Sandrider Premiere “Circles” Video From Enveletration LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Sandrider Circles video

There I was the other day, riding down Rt. 10 in Hanover in the car by myself, bellowing along to what I believe the lyrics are to the crescendo part of Sandrider‘s new album, Enveletration (review here). It had been a frustrating week to that point and something about that buildup in “Grouper” just took hold of my brain stem and told it in no uncertain terms to turn up the volume just as the big riff hit loud enough for me to feel like it was a weighted blanket. It was cathartic. The week was still mostly shit, but at least I had about 40 decent seconds that day.

I’ve talked a fair amount about the electric jolt that Sandrider provide throughout the 10-song/36-minute release, and I think if you read this site on any kind of happens-more-than-once basis you know I have a tendency to read too much into good records. Well, listening to this fourth LP from the Seattle three-piece, who sound utterly at home in their ragers not like they’ve established dominance of their sound in some chestbeating 17th century masculine artistic ideal, but like that running start to “Circles” — there’s a video premiering below; I like the colors and it’s not too manic — is a celebration of itself, of shared creativity, of community, of the energy put into making it. I hate to tie anything to the pandemic or even think about it at this point, but even in comparison to 2018’s Armada (review here), Enveletration sounds like it’s making a break for it. Freedom and revelry. American heavy punk rock. Caustic sometimes, unafraid to be pretty, driven rhythmically as if by a motor.

sandriderAnd as they suggest, maybe part of that comes from being cooped up. Sandrider don’t sound like the kids who sat still, and in these songs — as recorded by the esteemed Matt Bayles, who’s helmed all Sandrider‘s LPs — the sense of ‘play’ is palpable. I haven’t seen a lyric sheet, but I’ve picked up odds and ends just from listening (I’ve never been particularly good at deciphering when left to my own devices), and don’t think the lyrical content is about radical self-affirmation and exploring the value of art as a collective experience, but I do think the end result is fueled as much by joy as aggression, if not more, and hearing that a long half-decade after their last album and three years post-lockdown trauma, it’s genuinely refreshing in a way heavy music can’t always be. Why can’t the next thing be to be happy we made it through?

And not to put too fine a point on it, but “Circles” into “Tourniquet” is also the best one-two punch Enveletration has to offer. Not the only one, either. “Tourniquet” into the taut fuzz and emergent shove of “Weasel,” “Ixian” into the aforementioned “Grouper,” hell, even the stop after opener “Alia” turns to the title-track helps the one flow into the next. Shifting through the melodies of “Slumber” and “Proteus” into the crunch of “Priest” — I swear to you I’m just having fun now. Really. The album is a blast. I don’t know how else to put it or why I’d say it another way. If this post is how you hear it for the first or the 15th time, that’s a win as far as I’m concerned.

The spinning skull goes flying in the clip for “Circles” below. I’ve also included the videos for “Alia” and “Enveletration” — and if they make another video, I’ll probably post it all again, too — and the Bandcamp stream of the full album because damnit I think it’s a thing worth hearing.


Sandrider, “Circles” video premiere

Video Created by Tony Arechiga
Produced by Satanik Royalty Records

Recorded at Litho Studios in Seattle by Matt Bayles (Soundgarden, Mastodon, Botch), Enveletration proves that SANDRIDER’s adrenaline-charged fun and unconquerable spirit is yet again a sonic refuge where you’re temporarily invincible. Across its ten tracks, the record captures the utter relief SANDRIDER – guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski (Akimbo, Nuclear Dudes), bassist Jesse Roberts (The Ruby Doe, Kid Congo Powers, Old Iron), and drummer Nat Damm (Akimbo, Head Like A Kite, Automaton, Tight Bros From Way Back When) – felt when returning to the practice space for the first time after a year of early-pandemic isolation and anxiety. The experience of waking their stacks of amplifiers from their dormancy, feeling the drums rattle their chests and the bass vibrate through the floor, and reveling in the indescribably euphoric return to writing music together in person is palpable. The end result is a nod to Seattle heavy-rock forefathers Soundgarden with their “break my rusty cage and run” attitude, mixed with the unrelenting, stage dive-off-the-bar energy of Refused and noisy noodling of Hot Snakes.

Enveletration is out now on Satanik Royalty Records on vinyl and digital formats. Find ordering options at THIS LOCATION:

Sandrider is Jon Weisnewski (guitar/vox), Jesse Roberts (bass/vox), and Nat Damm (drums).

Sandrider, “Enveletration” official video

Sandrider, “Alia” official video

Sandrider, Enveletration (2023)

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