audiObelisk: Stoneburner Premiere New Track “Marriage” From Seventh Rule Recordings Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on May 15th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Not that it’s short on heads-down, crusty sludge pummel, but I’ll allow for the fact that in choosing a track from Portland, Oregon, four-piece Stoneburner‘s Sickness Will Pass, I perhaps didn’t pick the most representative cut of the whole. Part of that is because I just happen to think “Marriage,” which comes from the band’s Seventh Rule Recordings debut — due out for release a week from today — is a killer song, and one that does a good job balancing the sub-psychedelic hypnosis present in the mostly-instrumental two-guitar outfit’s sound with their viscous tonal tsunami. There’s something melodic in it too, but it’s like they buried the melody alive and then dug it back up before putting it on the record. I like that.

And yeah, it may not be as plodding as the malevolent “Run Boy…” or as deranged as “Elesares,” but the band — who opened the Portland date of the Decibel tour and who’ll also be supporting Sleep when they hit Nuemo’s in Seattle on June 4 — don’t just do one thing all the time, and that makes it a little harder to pin down just one track to stream. Of course, that works in the album’s favor, and Sickness Will Pass winds up giving the impression that not only will the sickness not pass, but that it will gradually consume you until your flesh turns to chewed meat and falls from your bones. It’s not what you’d call “uplifting,” unless you’re thinking in the sense of hoisting yourself over the ledge on the roof of a building before jumping off.

The sonic diversity and consistent quality of Portland’s scene continues to impress even someone like myself, who’s about as far as you can get from it while still being in the same country, and being just a week out from Stoneburner dropping the considerable heft of Sickness Will Pass on what are no doubt the soon-to-be-broken toes of unsuspecting sludge-heads everywhere, I’m thrilled to be able to stream the bleak complexity of “Marriage” in all its seven-minute wretched splendor. Please find and enjoy it on the player below:

[mp3player width=460 height=120 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml playlist=stoneburner.xml]

Stoneburner‘s Sickness Will Pass is due May 22 via Seventh Rule Recordings. For more info, check out the band on Thee Facebooks or hit up their Bandcamp page, where you can also stream album opener “Christian’s Charity,” or the Seventh Rule webstore, where one might stumble upon a wide host of goodies, from the Pacific Northwest and otherwise.

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Wizard Rifle Sign to Seventh Rule Recordings

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Congratulations to Portland, Oregon, weirdo duo Wizard Rifle on their signing to Seventh Rule Recordings for the release of their upcoming album. Witch Mountain drummer Nathan Carson sent me an email a while back telling me I should check them out, and I did, and they ruled, so good for Sam Ford and Max Dameron, being the latest in the seemingly continuous streak of worthy bands out of the Pacific Northwest. Kudos.

Here’s the news off the PR wire:

Seventh Rule, home of such forward-thinking amplifier destroyers as Indian, Kongh, Sweet Cobra, Atriarch, and Batillus, is pleased to announce the signing of Portland‘s most wonderfully weird two-piece, Wizard Rifle. The label will be releasing the young band’s debut record, Speak Loud Say Nothing, on CD/digitally on March 13, 2012, with a special edition vinyl version to follow.

In the meantime, Wizard Rifle have posted the first song from their upcoming album, “Tears Won’t Soften Steel,” on their Bandcamp page, as well as ordering info for a brand-new T-shirt (designed by drummer/vocalist and visionary artist Sam Ford). Head on over and prepare to have your mind blown to bits:

The two-man wrecking crew known collectively as Wizard Rifle first came together in the autumn of 2009. Based in Portland, OR, and drawing influences from Black Sabbath, Lightning Bolt, High on Fire, Karp, Sleep, Sonic Youth, Nomeansno, The Stooges, and Danava, Wizard Rifle are as difficult to describe as they are to ignore. Eclectic, innovative, and all-around out there, their sound is a constantly-evolving, always-adapting entity that changes with their moods. Frantic, chaotic, noise rock tempered with dredges of doom, swinging rock’n’roll, grimy grunge, and a heady dose of AmRep skronk — that‘s what Wizard Rifle are made of! The band is comprised of drummer Sam Ford and guitarist Max Dameron, who share vocal duties and down right mesmerize in a live setting.

The interplay between the two is fluid, jarring, mechanical and organic – a jumble of impressions, and a captivating spectacle. Wizard Rifle have done their best to spread their tapestry of noise across the entire continent, completing a full US/Canada tour with Norwegian noiseniks Arabrot alongside festival appearances at SXSW, Fall into Darkness, and PDX Pop Now and gigs supporting the likes of Lightning Bolt, Valient Thorr, Black Cobra, YOB, Agalloch, Witch Mountain, Chinese Stars, Thrones, Atriarch, Rabbits, and more. Be sure to catch them when they come crashing through your burgh, and look out for the release of their debut LP from Seventh Rule!

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The Atlas Moth, Batillus, Kowloon Walled City Book a Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

…Sort of. They’re not exactly sharing a van — or, if they are, it has escape pods out the sides or something (which would rule). What seems to be the case for this run of shows is that The Atlas Moth have two-weeks booked across the US and Kowloon Walled City and Batillus are meeting up with them along the way. It’s a killer package if you have to live somewhere where you can catch all three, but even if not, any of the above makes for some pretty solid destruction.

This came in on the PR wire:

The Atlas Moth have released the album of their careers with An Ache for the Distance, their Profound Lore debut, and Batillus kicked off the year in rare form with their visceral effort Furnace. These bands are undoubtedly some of the most ferocious in today’s metal scene and now they have joined forces for a tour that is sure to leave your city devastated this fall. Joined by Kowloon Walled City, the trek will be one of the most impressive live attacks of the year and you will not want to miss the epic performances of this trio.

The Atlas Moth, Batillus & Kowloon Walled City:
11/09 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry NO KWC
11/10 Fargo, ND The New Direction NO KWC
11/12 Portland, OR East End No Batillus
11/13 Seattle, WA Highline No Batillus
11/14 Boise, ID The Shredder No Batillus
11/15 Las Vegas, NV Yayo Tacos No Batillus
11/16 Phoenix, AZ Yucca Tap Room No Batillus
11/17 Capistrano Beach, CA Coconuts 
11/18 Los Angeles, CA Bow & Sparrow 
11/19 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern No Batillus
11/20 Salt Lake City, UT Burt’s Tiki Lounge NO KWC
11/21 Denver, CO Moe’s NO KWC
11/22 Kansas City, MO Riot Room NO KWC
11/23 Chicago, IL Subterranean NO KWC

Batillus Off Dates:
10/26 Brooklyn, NY Acheron w/ Inter Arma, Belus
11/07 Indianapolis, IN The Vollrath w/ Late August, Chinaski
11/08 Madison, WI Wisco
11/12 Seattle, WA Highline w/ Natür
11/13 Portland, OR The Know w/ Diesto, Natür
11/15 Eugene, OR or Chico, CA TBA
11/16 San Francisco, CA Elbo Room w/ Prizehog
11/19 Las Vegas, NV Yayo Taco

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Atriarch, Forever the End: Meet at the Beginning

Posted in Reviews on August 26th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Oppressive in its atmosphere and crafted with an unrelenting darkness of aesthetic, Forever the End, the Seventh Rule Recordings debut from Portland, Oregon’s Atriarch is an intelligent masterwork that harkens to a very particular sense of drama. In listening to the record, it’s hard to believe the album is only 36 minutes long, because when you’re in it, the sound is so open, so sparse, and the spaces the guitar, bass, drums and vocals occupy so overwhelming, that it seems hard for a band to affect such a mood in so short a time. It’s a grieving, sorrowful atmosphere, playing modern doom tonality off depressive ‘90s-style guitar weeping that’s more Gothic than “gothic,” but owes something to drunken teenage late nights spent hanging out in cemeteries nonetheless. The four mostly-extended tracks of Forever the End keep to linear structures, and the result is they flow together almost as one larger piece. That they’re wrapped around a central and pervasive sonic misanthropy only enhances this feel, and through all of “Plague,” “Shadows,” “Fracture” and “Downfall,” Atriarch balance doomed heaviness with black metal’s cultish sensibility, vocalist Lenny resting far back in the mix for vicious cavern screams or cutting through with a sort of monotonic clean singing.

“Plague,” the tone-setting opener from which no light can escape, does bleed right into “Shadows,” with Brooks’ guitar emitting patient, cyclical patterns that set the stage for Maxamillion’s drums, which have the solemn duty of holding together material that’s both intricate and slow. The production on the whole of Forever the End is raw – the guitar sounds raw, Nick’s bass, though about the only show of warmth Atriarch have on offer, is raw, the vocals are raw – but the drums sound crisp and clear nonetheless. Maxamillion’s snare seems far back as “Shadows” moves into its lumbering heavier section after three minutes in, but the bass drum and toms come across well, and as the song once again shifts to a quieter movement to set up a solo section from Brooks, the hi-hat is bright, but not at all lacking in presence. That helps as the cacophony builds to the track’s apex – some rare double-kick and killer fills there amid Nick’s bass leading the groove – but it’s still the guitar that leaves the most lasting impression as it and some sampled throat singing close out. Atriarch don’t feel too concerned with “the ending” as an essential piece of the structure of their songs (this too helps the “take it as a whole” vibe of Forever the End), but “Shadows” satisfies on that level nonetheless, and as “Fracture” seems to start with a minimalist sparing of guitar and bass, most striking of all about it is the gradualness, the patience with which Atriarch execute the slow march to dominating heaviness.

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Batillus, Furnace: Apply Heat, Apply Pressure

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Big on atmosphere, big on time and big on tone, the first album from Brooklyn doomers Batillus is a bleak, oppressive six-song outing that’s bound to ring their name out among the underground converted. Doom heads, be aware. The band, which formed as an instrumental trio and later added be-dreadlocked vocalist Fade Kainer (Inswarm, Jarboe, occasionally Man’s Gin), have unleashed a monster in Furnace, their Seventh Rule Recordings debut. With one guitar, one bass, one set of drums, one vocalist and a host of effects and synths, they set up posts along a range of heavy-footed doomscapes — which, contrary to the album’s title, actually sound quite cold — managing to incorporate some of post-metal’s progressive ideology while almost completely avoiding the now-clichéd traps of that genre. Fans of Suma, Unearthly Trance, Ufomammut and other drone-conscious neo-doomers will want to take note of the four-piece’s methodology, impressive and punishing in equal measure as it is.

Guitarist Greg Peterson establishes dominance almost immediately with the beginnings of opener “…And the World is as Night to Them,” while Kainer’s tortured vocals – far off, screamed, caked in reverb – slowly unfurl a sort of wretched lyrical poetry. Drummer Geoff Summers and bassist Will Stabenau keep the song grounded through an ambient section, the latter especially and rightly present in the mix throughout most of Furnace. When the song breaks to Summers alone keeping the slow beat, you know it won’t be long before the rest of the band kicks back in, but it’s no less satisfying when they do so, and though “…And the World is as Night to Them” is among the lengthier tracks at 8:53 (only the closer is longer), it nonetheless manages to set the darkened, depressed tone of Furnace well, moving into and out of its heaviest moments with graceful transitions and brutal sonics. “Deadweight,” which follows, begins with synth and the bassline from Stabenau, moving quickly into one of Furnace’s most memorable riffs. At no point is the album really accessible in the sense of being an easy listen or wanting to make friends, but the somewhat quicker pacing of “Deadweight” and the groove Batillus elicit are undeniable.

Another drop out, this time to just Peterson’s guitar and Summers’ drums, is a high point of the record, and Kainer’s repetition of the line “Fall on your knees/Crushed by your soul/Poisoned your mind/That serves you no more” (and variants thereupon) is as close as Furnace gets to a genuine chorus. Of all the songs to stick in the mind after a few preliminary listens to the album, “Deadweight” is the most likely. Batillus follow it with the faster, shorter “Uncreator,” which finds Summers touching on some d-beat drumming in the black-metal-styled intro and Peterson making the most of his inhuman tone as the tempo scales back. That tone is again what allows the feedback-soaked hugeness of “The Division” to carry over at any volume. Kainer’s synth noises are most present here, and there’s plenty of room for them amidst the spaces between riff cycles and general languid movement of the song. Blah blah blah oceans, blah blah blah place tectonics – point is, the thing sounds fucking massive, and though Stabenau’s contribution isn’t to be discounted, for a large part of the affair, it’s Peterson carrying that across.

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Atriarch Signs to Seventh Rule

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

If you’re in a good mood this Friday afternoon, Portland, Oregon, happiness-bashers Atriarch would like to bring you down a peg or two. The depressively ambient foursome (which features bassist Nick Phit, formerly of the much-missed Graves at Sea) have just announced signing to Seventh Rule Recordings for the release of their debut, Forever the End. You can hear the very, very sad “Shadows” on the player below.

The PR wire speaks to you — do you listen?

Hailing from Portland, OR, vocalist Lenny Smith describes Atriarch as “a living entity comprised of four parts, offering catharsis through sonic ritual where there is no god, there is no devil; there is an all encompassing force that connects all living things.”

Comprised of members from Graves at Sea, TreesFinal Conflict, and Get Hustle, Seventh Rule will release Forever the End, the first full-length by Atriarch, in the coming summer months. Forever the End was tracked in Portland with the help of William Holloway then mixed and mastered by Greg Wilkinson (Ludicra, Asunder, Saviours) at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA.

Atriarch‘s current tour dates are as follows:
03/23 Medford, OR Johnny B’s
03/24 San Francisco, CA El Rio w/ Dispirit, Alaric
03/25 Oakland, CA First Church of the Buzzard w/ Embers, Headless Lizzy HIP, Vastum
03/26 San Jose, CA Born Dead House
03/27 Eureka, CA Facement
04/02 Seattle, WA Highline
04/08 Portland, OR Blackwater

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The Swan King, Eyes Like Knives: Building a Noisy Neuschwanstein

Posted in Reviews on March 17th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

They’re the second band I know of to source their moniker from King Ludwig II of Bavaria — the other is the Canadian Madking Ludwig — but The Swan King are going for something entirely different musically than the progressive stonerisms the Montreal outfit emit. On Eyes Like Knives, the Chicago trio’s short Seventh Rule Recordings debut LP, they blend post-hardcore with a kind of brash heaviness, the punkish vocals of guitarist Dallas Thomas serving as the consistent line drawn across eight otherwise deceptively varied tracks. Eyes Like Knives is over in a meager 27 minutes, but feels complete in a musical sense, seems to be a full expression of an idea, rather than something that’s just trying to get the word out. So we’ll call it an album. Honestly, had The Swan King gone all out for another 20 or 25 minutes, Eyes Like Knives probably would have come out really redundant, but the energy they bring to these songs and the crispness with which they’re presented comes across on the record without sounding repetitive.

As noted above, they’re from Chicago, so of course the album was produced by – wait for it – Sanford Parker, who does the job one would expect him to do when it comes to capturing the angular peculiarities of the material on Eyes Like Knives, balancing the jagged riffs that drive the songs without losing track of bassist Jamie Drier’s contributions to the low end or drummer Zafar Musharraf’s placement at the fore. The album is structured into sides for the eight tracks following a five-second “Test Tone” intro. A two-minute song leads to two three-minute songs, then a four-minute song, and the cycle is repeated on the second half of the album. I don’t know if that’s something the trio did on purpose, or if it’s emblematic of their songwriting process or what, but it’s interesting anyway. As to the songs themselves, opening tracks like “Good Deeds” and “Cloaked into the Façade” are chunky and heavy-landing, modern and brash, reminiscent in some ways of earlier Sweet Cobra, but not as outwardly abrasive. “Peace Love Murder” proves a highlight for the subtle inclusion of melody in Thomas’ playing, the punkish side taking a back seat to something more substantial tonally but still upbeat and vibrant.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Two New Batillus Songs Premiered; Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in audiObelisk on March 11th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Oppressive Brooklyn doomers Batillus have set an April 19 release date for their Seventh Rule Recordings debut, Furnace. The destructive, tortured six-track full-length is massive by nearly any standard you want to use to measure, and though I’ll have a full review in the coming weeks, the label was kind enough to allow me permission to premiere album opener “…And the World is as Night to Them” and and blistering third cut “Uncreator” now.

You can stream the two new songs using the player below:

[mp3player width=460 height=120 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml playlist=batillus.xml]

Fucking heavy.

Tonight in Philadelphia, Batillus kick off a tour with fellow Brooklynites Hull that will take them south to SXSW — where they’ll play with the likes of Dark Castle and Grayceon — and back. Here are the dates:

Batillus / Hull 2011 Spring Tour
03/11 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ Ominous Black
03/12 Richmond, VA Strange Matter w/ U.S. Christmas, Balaclava
03/13 Johnson City, TN Hideaway w/ U.S. Christmas
03/14 Little Rock, AR Downtown Music w/ The Body
03/18 SXSW Austin, TX Triple Crown Tattoo w/ Pack of Wolves, Mutilation Rites
03/19 SXSW Austin, TX Lovejoy’s Brooklyn Vegan/Profound Lore Showcase w/ Tombs, Dark Castle, The Body, Castevet, Deafheaven, Grayceon, Wolvhammer, Altaar*
03/19 SXSW Austin, TX Shiner Bar w/ Pack of Wolves
03/21 New Orleans, LA Siberia w/ The Body, Mutilation Rites
03/22 Nashville, TN Little Hamilton Collective w/ Mose Giganticus, Sacaea
03/23 Chapel Hill, NC Reservoir Bar w/ Caltrop
03/24 Baltimore, MD Sidebar w/ Caltrop, Billows
03/25 Montclair, NJ The Meatlocker w/ Caltrop
03/26 New York, NY The Studio at Webster Hall w/ Caltrop
* no Hull

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