BleakHeart to Release Silver Pulse May 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

If you, like me, found dark-times comfort in BleakHeart‘s Fall-2020 debut, Dream Griever (discussed here), then word of an impending follow-up will no doubt be likewise well received. The band expanded to a five-piece for the 2022 two-songer, Twilight Visions, and bring breadth and depth to melancholy cuts like the string-laced “Sinking Sea” and the soulfully spacious “Where I’m Disease,” the latter of which serves as the goth-tinged first single from Silver Pulse, due out May 24 on Seeing Red Records. Minimal in “Let Go” and heavy with more-than-obligatory purpose as “Weeping Willow” culminates, the album reaches farther in sound and emotive expression, and while I’m just getting to know the songs, the space provided feels sympathetic in a way that not a lot of even tangentially-heavy anything is willing to be.

For more, the “Where I’m Disease” video is under the PR wire info following here. See where it takes you:

Bleakheart silver pulse

New album from Gloom Rockers BLEAKHEART launches today!

To make sense of a senseless world, the crux behind BleakHeart’s second full length album, Silver Pulse, expands beyond the mourning of Dream Griever (2020) into a lush melancholic personal telling of cellular decay and the wish to understand and break down powers outside of our control. It both expresses the pain felt within the wake of disease, loss, and the unknown, as well as surrendering to its taking.

“Once you have grappled with the sheer physicality that your body will have to be in, and go through for the rest of your life,” explains backing vocalist, lyricist, synth player Kiki GaNun about her experience with dynamic disability, “then comes the waves of emotions, and the reality that although this is not a fully inclusive and complete identity, it absolutely will color every part of you and your experience.”

Sonically, BleakHeart intertwines raw, rich interweaving guitars with string quartets, pulsating bass, and celestial synths and pianos, all beautifully blended as the underbelly for emotive, ethereal vocals. Produced by Pete de Boer of World Famous Studios, the all analogue production amplifies BleakHeart’s expansive sound and somber songwriting, inviting the listener in for a heart wrenching, intimate experience.

Vinyl / CD / Digital
Seeing Red Records:

Lyrics written by Kiki GaNun and Kelly Schilling. String quartet written and arranged by Kelly Schilling.

Performed by:
Violin – Amy Rosenberg
Violin – Ciarra Denman
Viola – Anthony Limon
Cello – Ron Schilling III
Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Pete de Boer at World Famous Studios April 2023
Cover art by Brian d’Agosta of Gostworks Art

Bleakheart is:
JP Damron – guitars
Mark Chronister – guitars
Kiki GaNun – vocals, synth
Kelly Schilling – vocals, keys, synth, bass guitar
Joshua Quinones – drums (album)
Garrett B Jones – drums (live)

BleakHeart, “Where I’m Disease” official video

BleakHeart, Silver Pulse (2024)

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Guhts Announce East Coast Tour Supporting Regeneration LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Following on from the late-January release of their debut album, Regeneration (review here), New-York-and-then-some-based post-metallic earthscorchers Guhts today announce a round of Spring touring to support the record. The East Coast run takes begins in Philadelphia April 15 and concludes on a back-northbound swing April 24 after a drive from Richmond (not nothing; hope you like I-95), hitting Arlene’s Grocery the final night. There’s one TBA, and I’m honestly not sure if they have a show for it or not, but if you’re somewhere between Birmingham and Richmond — Charlotte, NC, maybe? Knoxville, TN? — and you’ve got a stage and can put the band up for an evening, you could tick your I-did-a-good-thing-today box early by at least asking if you can help out. I’ve talked to Scott Prater and Amber Burns before. They’re pretty friendly.

The record, on the other hand, tends the other way. Channeling its emotive crux in the latter’s vocals as well as the sometimes willfully caustic, weighted-even-in-its-quiet-parts sprawl behind her, Regeneration gets furious but isn’t reliant on anger or aggression at its core. And where 2021’s debut Blood Feather EP (review here) felt like the beginning of an exploration because it very definitely was, the sense of command throughout Regeneration — even unto those parts where they seem to be letting the songs go where the songs want instead of where they want them to go, maybe especially in those parts — is striking. Guhts know what they want to do sound-wise, likewise raw and mindful. They did it in the studio (with Andy Frickin’ Patterson, no less). Now they’ll do it at shows in cities most of which they haven’t hit before. If still reading and you’re the type to show up, it would be advisable.

Dates follow:

guhts regeneration spring tour

GUHTS – Regeneration Spring Tour 2024
April 15 Century Philadelphia, PA
April 16 The Crown Baltimore, MD
April 17 Monstercade Winston Salem, NC
April 18 The Odd Asheville, NC
April 19 Atlanta Utility Works Atlanta, GA
April 20 Muddy River Madness Vicksburg, MS
April 21 True Story Brewing Birmingham, AL
April 22 TBA
April 23 Banditos Richmond, VA
April 24 Arlene’s Grocery New York, NY

GUHTS are:
Amber Burns – Vocals
Scott Prater – Guitar & Synth
Daniel Martinez – Bass
Brian Clemens – Drums

Guhts, Regeneration (2024)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Bill Kielty of O Zorn!

Posted in Questionnaire on February 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

O ZORN! @twistedtripodphotography

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: Bill Kielty of O Zorn!

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

When I first heard the band Electric Wizard in like 2001/2002, I thought wow, this sounds amazing. I want to do something like that. The band I was in at the time was kinda rock, kinda emo. Just kinda lame. I was sick to death of it. When that band broke up, I formed a band called Who Rides The Tiger, and started exploring the darker sound. Tuned down. Got heavy. That band disbanded in 2008 or so. A couple years later, I formed O ZORN! and went even heavier with it. Not sure I can define exactly what we’re doing at the moment, but I feel like we’re progressing.

Describe your first musical memory.

My family went to some folk festival at the University of Riverside in California. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. My memory of it is super spotty, but the picture in my head has stuck with me my entire life. The venue was called “The Barn” and throughout all my twenties and early thirties, it was THE local venue for all things punk, metal and hardcore. Saw a shitload of bands roll through there and took the stage myself a bunch. It’s still there. Place went soft years ago. Mostly cover and tribute bands these days.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

The Ramones and Murphys Law at the Palladium in 1989. It was the Pet Cemetery tour. I was really young. My best friend’s older brother drove us to Hollywood, which was a first. It was the loudest thing I’d ever heard. The pit was the scariest thing I’d ever seen. My ears were ringing for three days after. It was fuckin awesome.

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

For years, I firmly believed that I could control my drinking. Turns out, after years of trying, I cannot. I tried REALLY hard though.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

For me, artistic progression simply leads to and justifies me continuing to create.

How do you define success?

Seeing something through, no matter the task, as long as there’s some sense of accomplishment.

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

Many years ago, I spotted Kerry King (Slayer) buying a scented candle in Things Remembered at The Galleria Mall in Riverside. I’ve never looked at him the same since.

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

I’d like to start painting someday. Maybe a large oil painting. I feel like I’d be pretty good at it.

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

I think there’s many functions but for me, Art allows my brain some escape from my daily bullshit. Temporarily of course. Most of us don’t have enough of it weaved into our lives.

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

I’m looking forward to the day where the last of the boomers are out of office.

[Photo credit: @Twistedtripodphotography]

O Zorn!, “Slow Mood” from Vermillion Haze (2024)

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Album Review: Guhts, Regeneration

Posted in Reviews on February 5th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

guhts regeneration

After a well-received 2021 EP, Blood Feather (review here), announced their arrival, New York’s Guhts offer post-metallic cohesion and emotive visceralia throughout their debut album at a level such that they might need to add another ‘g’ to their name: “Gughts.” At 46 minutes and seven songs, with “White Noise” (8:24) and “The Wounded Healer” (10:13) bookending the ambitious collection, Regeneration arrives scorching the ground behind and/or in front of it, a willful kitchensinkery of piano, strings and synth from guitarist Scott Prater finding a balance between conveying overwhelm and actually being overwhelming. The album immediately puts vocalist Amber Burns in a class of singer able to be emotive, harsh or gentle in her delivery, the gnashing and screaming of one measure often giving over a melodic croon or some semi-spoken poetry recited with marked force and presence. With Brian Clemens on drums and Daniel Martinez on bass, Regeneration casts Guhts as all-in.

There’s very little that feels like it’s being held back throughout, and that too is on purpose, but it’s not to say Guhts want for dynamic. The fact that the band traveled to Salt Lake City to work with producer Andy Paterson (The OtolithIota, ex-SubRosa, and so many others but those would be enough) feels emblematic generally of their commitment to the sonic progression being set forth in “White Noise” as Guhts position themselves in aesthetic conversation specifically with the Julie Christmas-fronted Battle of Mice, who put out one of post-metal’s best records ever in 2006’s A Day of Nights (discussed here) before dissolving, and SubRosa, whose final two albums found a balance between heft and float, beauty and darkness, that seems to inform Regeneration all the more with Paterson helming. Not so much in the airy guitar and half-whispers of “Til Death,” which feels more Honor Found in Decay-era Neurosis in its not-languid gradualism. Through “White Noise” and “Til Death,” which is about half as long, as well as the subsequent “The Mirror,” which like “Handless Maiden” and “Eyes Open” still to come is a redux from the EP.

Fewer experiments could be more revealing as regards the jump Guhts have made from Blood Feather to Regeneration than to listen to “Eyes Open” from the former and the latter back to back. What the band now calls a demo was made with the lineup of BurnsPrater and guitarist/synthesist Dan Shaneyfelt before the live incarnation of Guhts existed is cast as primitive by the fully realized churn of Regeneration‘s “Eyes Open,” keyboard bringing melodic punctuation to a progression that reveals itself as born out of Panopticon-style Isis but full in its arrangement in a way that band could never have been thanks in no small part to the all-over-it performance throughout from Burns. If the aforementioned Julie Christmas and Rebecca Vernon (now of The Keening, ex-SubRosa) are stylistic progenitors here, Burns takes up that physically-exhausting-sounding mantle — I mean that literally; her vocals come across like the kind of full body delivery that would make you tired after; need to go sit somewhere quiet when the set’s done and that kind of thing — with due passion and what Sourvein once called a ‘will to mangle.’


It is a stunning effort specifically for Burns, but her voice is just a part of the world being made throughout these songs, and even as “White Noise” shifts into its sweeter hook line about something keeping you from yourself (I took the ‘white’ in “White Noise” to be a kind of antifascist stance, and right on, but I realize in saying that I haven’t seen a lyric sheet to conform that or not), or the three-and-a-half-minute string-laced centerpiece “Handless Maiden” brings Guhts to perhaps their most weighted, impact-rumbling churn in the dug-in intensity of its first minute-plus, only to reveal at that point a backed-off-whatever-ribbon-mic-was-used-probably-so-it-didn’t-break, blown-out vocal from Burns that helps move the track from what might’ve been another part of a longer piece like “The Wounded Healer” into a standout in its own right that offers something distinct from the rest of the album at whose core it rests. It becomes crucial to the proceedings and an important part of the atmosphere on the whole, its structural shift serving notice of Guhts‘ expanded and hopefully still expanding creative reach while staying consistent in tone and general volatility of mood in volume.

The tremolo in “Handless Maiden” is well suited to the harsher spirit of the song, and “Eyes Open” brings another change with a more open feel en route to “Generate,” the semi-title-track, which feels willing to be hypnotic, to reside in its component sections, in a way that feels like growth. Textures of guitar and a more straightforward melodic vocal give the listener a sense of peace, however momentary in the song’s seven-minute run, maybe with Prater backing on vocals (?) as it moves into the shouts and intensity of the build across its second half, the noisy finish fading to silence ahead of chimes (or synth, etc.) to note the arrival at “The Wounded Healer.” A mellower verse reveals the transitional nature of “Generate,” though the tension holds firm throughout the first minute and a half before the explosion hits at 1:52, the band smoothly shifting to more consuming volume and crash — the cymbals on Regeneration want to eat you — before the march through the middle around the melancholy lead guitar and midtempo lumber take over, vocals restrained and brooding for now, waiting to lash out as they inevitably do.

“The Wounded Healer,” like “Generate” before it, splits at the halfway point and finishes with memorable repetitions of the phrase “Silence my heart” that build up, are complemented by percussion/strings making them feel that much rawer by comparison, caustic and insular, an implosion collapse. It’s a grand, final letting-loose, Burns‘ vocals owning the foreground with willfully unbridled layering adding to chaotic feel of culmination, the crashing behind almost cinematic. Peaking around 6:30, they finish in a sustained wash with a return to melody (ultimately partial), the message coming through that they haven’t revealed totality of their sound yet and that, ambitious as Regeneration is, their creative drive is growing no less than their sound. I won’t hazard to predict Guhts‘ future or how their personality and individualism might continue to manifest in their output — where they’re headed, in other words — but Regeneration is noteworthy for the clarity of its vision and the abiding sense of purpose brought to its expression and urgency. which are particularly resonant from a debut but would be impressive in any context.

Guhts, Regeneration (2024)

Guhts on Facebook

Guhts on Instagram

Guhts on Bandcamp

Guhts website

Seeing Red Records on Bandamp

Seeing Red Records on Instagram

Seeing Red Records on Facebook

Seeing Red Records website

New Heavy Sounds on Facebook

New Heavy Sounds on Instagram

New Heavy Sounds on Bandcamp

New Heavy Sounds website

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Shadow Limb Premiere “To Reclaim”; New Album Reclaim Out March 29

Posted in audiObelisk on January 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

shadow limb

Chico, California-based atmospheric sludgers Shadow Limb will release their second album, Reclaim, on March 29 through Seeing Red Records. The four-piece of guitarist/vocalists Adam Scarborough and Chris Roberts, Mike Crew on bass VI and the programmed drums, and Dan Elsen on the I guess organic drums debuted in 2017 with their The King is Dead three-songer EP, and they followed that with Reclaim‘s predecessor, the 2019 long-player debut Burn Scar with its thoughtful, rawer post-metallic approach from which one might hear “To Reclaim” (premiering below) as an outgrowth. I don’t think that’s coincidence.

Reclaim is Shadow Limb‘s second album (they also had the “Soon” single out this past Fall), but RobertsScarboroughCrew and Elsen mark a decade together in this incarnation despite their history going further back to La Fin Du Monde, who got their start in 2006 and released three albums and an EP, the last, Embers, arriving in 2012 after 2009’s Monolith (review here), their debut having been 2007’s Life as it Should Be.

That tongue-in-cheek sneer has been a common thread across both bands — La Fin du Monde had “Nascar Santa Claus,” “Accidentally About Sharks” and “Castle Greyskull,” and with “Snake Mountain” and the Conan-referential title “Ridde of Steel,” as well as an apparent title-track for the debut at its finish, Reclaim positions Shadow Limb in a present informed by their past but not aping it. It’s been five years since Burn Scar, so fair enough to move forward. Maturity? Maybe. I haven’t heard the full album, so can’t really comment either way.

shadow limb reclaim “To Reclaim” will lead off the LP that shares most of its name, and it begins with a tense build around a central drone before the undulations of hard-distorted riffing and the gutturalisms begin. The sense of churn is almost immediate, and the sphere Shadow Limb are (mostly) in is heavy in its influence from Neurosis and Isis, the latter showing itself particularly in the drop and sudden change to melodic singing from Scarborough and Roberts, though there’s a folkish spin on the guitar there that’s metal-rooted but reaching toward an almost Celtic vibe. It’s a brief break and the onslaught resumes, claustrophobic in a familiar-feeling manner but presented with its own expressive intent.

They crunch toward the finish with due intensity, bringing back the guitar solo near the finish to tie it all together with a subtlety that fills out underneath the outward crash and bash of aggro, barebones atmospheric sludge. The guitar steps back for a bit to give the vocals more room near the end, and the surge in the last minute is no less satisfying because you see (hear) it coming. Think of it as laying on the tracks. You know a train will be by eventually.

I don’t know that “To Reclaim” speaks to everything Reclaim has to offer sound-wise in its six tracks (though if it was, that’d probably work), but if you imagine yourself in the unknowable future that is the Spring to come, taking on the duly-mud-coated record amid the gorgeous rebirth of life that of course comes also mostly from mud, “To Reclaim” will at very least be the point at which your immersion begins. I hope you enjoy it on that level and in the spirit of more-to-follow.

Info under the player below. Dig:

Mike Crew on “To Reclaim”:

“To Reclaim” is one of those songs that came together pretty organically from a riff our guitarist/vocalist, Adam, just started playing out of nowhere at practice. It can be refreshing when an idea comes up like that and you leave with a good song skeleton at the end of the night. Lyrically, the song addresses the rebuilding of our hometown Paradise, CA, after the devastating Camp Fire in 2018. Our last album was called Burn Scar, but none of the songs were actually about the fire. This album has two songs that address it pretty directly. Chris Roberts (guitar/vocals) and I have been working as carpenters in the area for several years and it’s been nice to be a small part of the rebuilding process. So far over 2,000 homes have been rebuilt.

Stoked to share the album art for our upcoming album “Reclaim”! Huge thanks to our very talented friend @davesurrealneal for these rad paintings!!! And our other very talented friend @loomsville for the lettering!!! “Reclaim” will be released on March 29th on digital and vinyl by @seeing_red_records

1. To Reclaim
2. Snake Mountain
3. Destitute
4. The Maneuver
5. Riddle of Steel
6. Burn Scar

Shadow Limb are:
Mike Crew – Bass VI and drum programming
Dan Elsen – Drums
Chris Roberts – Guitar and vocals
Adam Scarborough – Guitar and vocals

Shadow Limb on Facebook

Shadow Limb on Instagram

Shadow Limb on Bandcamp

Shadow Limb Linktree

Seeing Red Records website

Seeing Red Records on Bandamp

Seeing Red Records on Instagram

Seeing Red Records on Facebook

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Guhts to Release Debut Album Regeneration Jan. 26; “Til Death” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


The coming of a debut album by partially-New York-based outfit Guhts has been long foretold by, well, the band, for one. Begun as a pandemic-born offshoot of Witchkiss, the 2021 EP Blood Feather (review here) provided an introduction to the new project’s heavier-than-you-usually-think-of-heavygaze and industrial-informed nod, and as they’ve undertaken a couple tours in the time since, they’re only more ready in my mind for the task ahead of them. Regeneration is out Jan. 26 through New Heavy Sounds and a US CD issue on Seeing Red Records.

You can — and if you’re still reading, you probably should — stream the first single, “Til Death,” at the bottom of this post. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of why you (by which I mean I) have been looking forward to this album for the last two-plus years. The cover art and the song are below, along with the tracklisting and preorder links, because that’s how we do on a Monday. We do thoroughly.

From the PR wire, or socials, or somewhere:

guhts regeneration

New York-based GUHTS (pronounced ‘guts’) declare themselves to be an ‘avant-garde post-metal project, delivering larger than life sounds through, deeply emotional music’. For sure those aspirations are amply delivered in the form of their debut album ‘Regeneration’

Musically ‘Regeneration’ is a powerful and intense series of songs, topped off by some seriously powerhouse and expressive vocal performances.

It’s slow-moving chords, moving like sheets through sludge.

High guitar lines above, ranging from piercing and shimmering to nasty. Drums pound but not without groove.

There are strings, pianos and synths widening the palette.

Atmospheric sludge, Metalgaze, maybe, but there’s also that link to the New York Noise lineage from The Velvets and Sonic Youth, becoming a type of post-hardcore in the process, while gaining a connection to metal partly due to the sheer heaviness. A raft of creative experimentation that pushes beyond the realm of post-metal.

And then of course, the very first thing that hits you is Amber Gardner’s unbelievable, hypnotising vocals – as scary as a banshee while also intimate and persuasive.

Of the album, vocalist Amber says, ‘Regeneration symbolizes the power of self-renewal. Through regeneration, change becomes empowering, allowing new facets to emerge. It’s a courageous, transformative process, inspiring others to overcome fear.’

In short ‘Regeneration’ is a bold and startling debut, that will reward and enthral listeners the deeper they delve into its many layers.

Preorder link:

For “Regeneration” on CD in USA & Canada

1. White Noise
2. Til Death
3. The Mirror
4. Handless Maiden
5. Eyes Open
6. Generate
7. The Wounded Healer

GUHTS are:
Amber Burns – Vocals
Scott Prater – Guitar & Synth
Daniel Martinez – Bass
Brian Clemens – Drums

Guhts, Regeneration (2024)

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Quarterly Review: Yakuza, Lotus Thrones, Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, High Priest, MiR, Hiram-Maxim, The Heavy Co., The Cimmerian, Nepaal, Hope Hole

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Coming at you live and direct from the Wegmans pharmacy counter where I’m waiting to pick up some pinkeye drops for my kid, who stayed home from half-day pre-k on Monday because the Quarterly Review isn’t complicated enough on its own. It was my diagnosis that called off the bus, later confirmed over telehealth, so at least I wasn’t wrong and shot my own day. I know this shit doesn’t matter to anyone — it’ll barely matter to me in half an hour — but, well, I don’t think I’ve ever written while waiting for a prescription before and I’m just stoned enough to think it might be fun to do so now.

Of course, by the time I’m writing the reviews below — tomorrow morning, as it happens — this scrip will have long since been ready and retrieved. But a moment to live through, just the same.

We hit halfway today. Hope your week’s been good so far. Mine’s kind of a mixed bag apart from the music, which has been pretty cool.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Yakuza, Sutra

Yakuza sutra

Since it would be impossible anyway to encapsulate the scope of Yakuza‘s Sutra — the Chicago-based progressive psych-metal outfit led by vocalist/saxophonist Bruce Lamont, with Matt McClelland on guitar/backing vocals, Jerome Marshall on bass and James Staffel on drums/percussion — from the transcendental churn of “2is1” to the deadpan tension build in and noise rock payoff in “Embers,” the sax-scorch bass-punch metallurgical crunch of “Into Forever” and the deceptively bright finish of “Never the Less,” and so on, let’s do a Q&A. They still might grind at any moment? Yup, see “Burn Before Reading.” They still on a wavelength of their own? Oh most definitely; see “Echoes From the Sky,” “Capricorn Rising,” etc. Still underrated? Yup. It’s been 11 years since they released Beyul (review here). Still ahead of their time? Yes. Like anti-genre pioneers John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann turned heavy and metal, or like Virus or Voivod with their specific kind of if-you-know-you-know, cult-following-worthy individualist creativity, Yakuza weave through the consuming 53-minute procession of Sutra with a sensibility that isn’t otherworldly because it’s psychedelic or drenched in effects (though it might also be those things at any given moment), but because they sound like they come from another planet. A welcome return from an outfit genuinely driven toward the unique and a meld of styles beyond metal and/or jazz. And they’ve got a fitting home on Svart. I know it’s been over a decade, but I hope these dudes get old in this band.

Yakuza on Facebook

Svart Records website


Lotus Thrones, The Heretic Souvenir

Lotus Thrones The Heretic Souvenir

The second offering from Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Heath Rave (Altars of the Moon, former drums in Wolvhammer, etc.) under the banner of Lotus Thrones, the seven-song/38-minute The Heretic Souvenir (on Disorder and Seeing Red) draws its individual pieces across an aural divide by means of a stark atmosphere, the post-plague-and-the-plague-is-capitalism skulking groove of “B0T0XDR0NE$” emblematic both of perspective and of willingness to throw a saxophone overtop if the mood’s right (by Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont, no less), which it is. At the outset, “Gore Orphanage” is more of an onslaught, and “Alpha Centauri” has room for both a mathy chug and goth-rocking shove, the latter enhanced by Rave‘s low-register vocals. Following the Genghis Tron-esque glitch-grind of 1:16 centerpiece “Glassed,” the three-and-a-half-minute “Roses” ups the goth factor significantly, delving into twisted Type O Negative-style pulls and punk-rooted forward thrust in a highlight reportedly about Rave‘s kid, which is nice (not sarcastic), before making the jump into “Autumn of the Heretic Souvenir,” which melds Americana and low-key dub at the start of its 11-minute run before shifting into concrete sludge chug and encompassing trades between atmospheric melody and outright crush until a shift eight minutes in brings stand(mostly)alone keys backed by channel-swapping electronic noise as a setup for the final surge’s particularly declarative riff. That makes the alt-jazz instrumental “Nautilus” something of an afterthought, but not out of place in terms of its noir ambience that’s also somehow indebted to Nine Inch Nails. There’s a cough near the end. See if you can hear it.

Lotus Thrones on Facebook

Seeing Red Records store

Disorder Recordings website


Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, Doom Sessions Vol. 7


Realized at the formidable behest of Heavy Psych Sounds, the seventh installment of the Doom Sessions series (Vol. 8 is already out) brings together Sweden’s strongly cinematic sludge-doomers Endtime with fire-crackling North Carolinian woods-doomers Cosmic Reaper. With two songs from the former and three from the latter, the balance winds up with more of an EP feel from Cosmic Reaper and like a single with an intro from Endtime, who dedicate the first couple of minutes of “Tunnel of Life” to a keyboard intro that’s very likely a soundtrack reference I just don’t know because I’m horror-ignorant before getting down to riff-rumble-roll business on the righteously slow-raging seven minutes of “Beyond the Black Void.” Cosmic Reaper, meanwhile, have three cuts, with harmonized guitars entering “Sundowner” en route to a languid and melodic nod verse, a solo later answering the VHS atmosphere of Endtime before “Dead and Loving It” and “King of Kings” cult-doom their way into oblivion, the latter picking up a bit of momentum as it pushes near the eight-minute mark. It’s a little uneven, considering, but Doom Sessions Vol. 7 provides a showcase for two of Heavy Psych Sounds‘ up-and-coming acts, and that’s pretty clearly the point. If it leads to listeners checking out their albums after hearing it, mission accomplished.

Endtime on Facebook

Cosmic Reaper on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


High Priest, Invocation

High Priest Invocation

Don’t skip this because of High Priest‘s generic-stoner-rock name. The Chicago four-piece of bassist/vocalist Justin Valentino, guitarists Pete Grossmann and John Regan and drummer Dan Polak make an awaited full-length debut with Invocation on Magnetic Eye Records, and if the label’s endorsement isn’t enough, I’ll tell you the eight-song/44-minute long-player is rife with thoughtful construction, melody and heft. Through the opening title-track and into the lumber, sweep and boogie of “Divinity,” they incorporate metal with the two guitars and some of the vocal patterning, but aren’t beholden to that anymore than to heavy rock, and far from unipolar, “Ceremony” gives a professional fullness of sound that “Cosmic Key” ups immediately to round out side A before “Down in the Park” hints toward heavygaze without actually tipping over, “Universe” finds the swing buried under that monolithic fuzz, “Conjure” offers a bluesier but still huge-sounding take and 7:40 closer “Heaven” layers a chorus of self-harmonizing Valentinos to underscore the point of how much the vocals add to the band. Which is a lot. What’s lost in pointing that out is just how densely weighted their backdrop is, and the nuance High Priest bring to their arrangements throughout, but whether you want to dig into that or just learn the words and sing along, you can’t lose.

High Priest on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store


MiR, Season Unknown

mir season unknown

Its catharsis laced in every stretch of the skin-peeling tremolo and echoing screams of “Altar of Liar,” Season Unknown arrives as the first release from Poland’s MiR, a directly-blackened spinoff of heavy psych rockers Spaceslug, whose guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka feature along with guitarist Michał Zieleniewski (71tonman) and drummer Krzystof Kamisiński (Burning Hands). The relationship to Janik and Rutka‘s other (main?) band is sonically tenuous, though Spaceslug‘s Kamil Ziółkowski also guests on vocals, making it all the more appropriate that MiR stands as a different project. Ripping and progressive in kind, cuts like “Lost in Vision” and the blastbeaten severity of “Ashen” are an in-genre rampage, and while “Sum of All Mourn” is singularly engrossing in its groove, the penultimate “Yesterday Rotten” comes through as willfully stripped to its essential components until its drifting finish, which is fair enough ahead of the more expansive closer “Illusive Loss of Inner Frame,” which incorporates trades between all-out gnash and atmospheric contemplations. I won’t profess to be an expert on black metal, but as a sidestep, Season Unknown is both respectfully bold and clearly schooled in what it wants to be.

MiR on Facebook

MiR on Bandcamp


Hiram-Maxim, Colder

Hiram-Maxim Colder

Recorded by esteemed producer Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth, Unsane, etc.) in 2021-’22, Colder is Hiram-Maxim‘s third full-length, with hints of Angels of Light amid the sneering heaviness of “Bathed in Blood” after opener/longest track (immediate points) “Alpha” lays out the bleak atmosphere in which what follows will reside. “Undone” gets pretty close to laying on the floor, while “It Feels Good” very pointedly doesn’t for its three minutes of dug-in cafe woe, from out of which “Hive Mind” emerges with keys and drums forward in a moody verse before the post-punk urgency takes more complete hold en route to a finish of manipulated noise. As one would have to expect, “Shock Cock” is a rocker at heart, and the lead-in from the drone/experimental spoken word of “Time Lost Time” holds as a backdrop so that its Stooges-style comedown heavy is duly weirded out. Is that a theremin? Possibly. They cap by building a wall of malevolence and contempt with “Sick to Death” in under three minutes, resolving in a furious assault of kitchen-sink volume, that, yes, recedes, but is resonant enough to leave scratches on your arm. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t extreme music just because some dude isn’t singing about killing some lady or quoting a medical dictionary. Colder could just as easily have been called ‘Volcanic.’

Hiram-Maxim on Facebook

Wax Mage Records on Facebook


The Heavy Co., Brain Dead

The Heavy Co Brain Dead

Seeming always to be ready with a friendly, easy nod, Lafayette/Indianapolis, Indiana’s The Heavy Co. return with “Brain Dead” as a follow-up single to late-2022’s “God Damn, Jimmy.” The current four-piece incarnation of the band — guitarist/vocalist Ian Daniel, guitarist Jeff Kaleth, bassist Eric Bruce and drummer TR McCully — seem to be refocused from some of the group’s late-’10s departures, elements of outlaw country set aside in favor of a rolling riff with shades of familiar boogie in the start-stops beneath its solo section, a catchy but largely unassuming chorus, and a theme that, indeed, is about getting high. In one form or another, The Heavy Co. have been at it for most of the last 15 years, and in a little over four minutes they demonstrate where they want their emphasis to be — a loose, jammy feel held over from the riffout that probably birthed the song in the first place coinciding with the structure of the verses and chorus and a lack of pretense that is no less a defining aspect than the aforementioned riff. They know what they’re doing, so let ’em roll on. I don’t know if the singles are ahead of an album release or not, but whatever shows up whenever it does, The Heavy Co. are reliable in my mind and this is right in their current wheelhouse.

The Heavy Co. on Facebook

The Heavy Co. on Bandcamp


The Cimmerian, Sword & Sorcery Vol. I

the cimmerian sword and sorcery vol i

The intervening year since L.A.’s The Cimmerian made their debut with Thrice Majestic (review here) seems to have made the trio even more pummeling, as their Sword & Sorcery Vol. I two-songer finds them incorporating death and extreme metal for a feel like a combined-era Entombed on leadoff “Suffer No Guilt” which is a credit to bassist Nicolas Rocha‘s vocal burl as well as the intensity of riff from David Gein (ex-The Scimitar) and corresponding thrash gallop in David Morales‘ drumming. The subsequent “Inanna Rising” is slower, with a more open nod in its rhythm, but no less threatening, with fluid rolls of double-kick pushing the verse forward amid the growls and an effective scream, a sample of something (everything?) burning, and a kick in pace before the solo about halfway into the track’s 7:53. If The Cimmerian are growing more metal, and it seems they are, then the aggression suits them as the finish of “Inanna Rising” attests, and the thickness of sludge carried over in their tonality assures that the force of their impact is more than superficial.

The Cimmerian on Facebook

The Cimmerian on Bandcamp


Nepaal, Protoaeolianism

Nepaal Protoaeolianism

Released as an offering from the amorphous Hungarian collective Psychedelic Source Records, the three-song Protoaeolianism arrives under the moniker of Nepaal — also stylized as :nepaal, with the colon — finding mainstay Bence Ambrus on guitar with Krisztina Benus on keys, Dávid Strausz on bass, Krisztián Megyeri on drums and Marci Bíró on effects/synth for captured-in-the-moment improvisations of increasing reach as space and psych and krautrocks comingle with hypnotic pulsations on “Innoxial Talent Parade” (9:54), the centerpiece “Brahman Sleeps 432 Billion Years” (19:14) and “Ineffable Minor States” (13:44), each of which has its arc of departure, journey and arrival, forming a multi-stage narrative voyage that’s as lush as the liquefied tones and sundry whatever-that-was noises. “Ineffable Minor States” is so serene in its just-guitar start that the first time I heard it I thought the song had cut off, but no. They’re just taking their time, and why shouldn’t they? And why shouldn’t we all take some time to pause, engage mindfully with our surroundings, experience or senses one at a time, the things we see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Maybe Protoaeolianism — instrumental for the duration — is a call to that. Maybe it’s just some jams from jammers and I shouldn’t read anything else into it. Here then, as in all things, you choose your own adventure. I’m glad to be the one to tell you this is an adventure worth taking.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Hope Hole, Beautiful Doom

Hope Hole Beautiful Doom

There is much to dig into on the second full-length from Toledo, Ohio, duo Hope Hole — the returning parties of Matt Snyder and Mike Mulholland — who offer eight originals and a centerpiece cover of The Cure‘s “Sinking” that’s not even close to being the saddest thing on the record, titled Beautiful Doom presumably in honor of the music itself. Leadoff “Spirits on the Radio” makes me nostalgic for a keyboard-laced goth glory day that never happened while also tapping some of mid-period Anathema‘s abiding downer soul, seeming to speak to itself as much as the audience with repetitions of “You reap what you sew.” Some Godflesh surfaces in “600 Years,” and they’re resolute in the melancholy of “Common Sense” until the chugging starts, like a dirtier, underproduced Crippled Black Phoenix. Rolling with deceptive momentum, the title-track could be acoustic until it starts with the solo and electronic beats later before shifting into the piano, beats, drift guitar, and so on of “Sinking.” “Chopping Me” could be an entire band’s sound but it’s barely a quarter of what Hope Hole have to say in terms of aesthetic two records deep. “Mutant Dynamo” duly punks its arthouse sludge and shreds a self-aware over-the-top solo in the vein of Brendan Small, while “Pyrokinetic” revives earlier goth swing with a gruff biker exterior (I’d watch that movie) and a moment of spinning weirdo triumph at the end, almost happy to be burned, where the seven-minute finale “Cities of Gold” returns to beats over its gradual guitar start, emerging with chanting vocals to become its own declaration of progressive intent. Beautiful Doom ends with a steady march rather than the expected blowout, having built its gorgeous decay out of the same rotten Midwestern ground as the debut — 2021’s Death Can Change (review here) — but moved unquestionably forward from it.

Hope Hole on Facebook

Hope Hole on Bandcamp


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Lotus Thrones Post “Roses” Video; The Heretic Souvenir Due April 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

lotus Thrones

Philadelphia’s Lotus Thrones, who now have a full live lineup behind founding auteur Heath Rave (above), will release their second full-length, The Heretic Souvenir, on April 7 through Seeing Red Records. “Roses” is the third single from the record, which follows a series of seasonally themed EPs, some by-the-by covers and the 2021 debut, Lovers in Wartime, and in listening to the album for the first time yesterday, I was pretty blown away start to finish. Rave puts bands and entire styles through an individualized filter and comes out with something likewise fresh and familiar, and gothic metal and rock is a big part of it — lots of Sisters of Mercy vibes at the foundation — but not necessarily all that’s happening at any given moment.

“Roses” is a rocker, and more so than some of the other inclusions surrounding — you can also see clips below for opener “Gore Orphanage” and the abidingly cynical “B0T0XDR0NE$,” which follows directly on The Heretic Souvenir — but keep an ear out for when the organ slides in alongside the guitar and the track goes full-on Type O Negative for its second half. As someone who’s missed Lotus Thrones‘ work to this point, that was a delightful blindside, and one of many placed throughout a record that genuinely comes across as more focused on its own expression than stylistic confirmity.

Not gonna be an album for everyone, but there will be plenty who worship at its feet. I need to listen a few more times to be sure, I might be one among the converted.

From the PR wire:

Lotus Thrones The Heretic Souvenir

LOTUS THRONES Releases Gothic Industrial Rocker “Roses”

New Album, “The Heretic Souvenir,” Out April 7th

With less than a month to go until the release of the project’s highly anticipated second album, riff-laden industrial, post-punk outfit LOTUS THRONES has released a goth rocking new single titled “Roses.” Watch the accompanying music video here.

“‘Roses’ is inspired by my love for my daughter and the journey we’ve been and since she came into the world. While many roads have changed and the map is more complex, the most important thing in my day to day life is her and she made me want to write a big goddamn rock song.” – Heath Rave

Helmed by multi-instrumentalist Heath Rave (ex-WOLVHAMMER, ex-ACROSS TUNDRAS), LOTUS THRONES will release it’s sophomore record, “The Heretic Souvenir,” on April 7th, 2023 via Disorder Recordings (CD/Digital) and Seeing Red Records (Vinyl).

Pre-Order “The Heretic Souvenir” on Vinyl:

“The Heretic Souvenir” Tracklisting:
1. Gore Orphanage
2. B0T0XDR0NE$
3. Alpha Centauri
4. Glassed
5. Roses
6. Autumn Of The Heretic Souvenir
7. Nautilus

Lotus Thrones, “Roses” official video

Lotus Thrones, “BOTOXDRONE$” official video

Lotus Thrones, “Gore Orphanage” official video

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