The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 58

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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I’m trying to break my own rules a little bit. Every now and again, it’s a decent exercise to try to change things up. I kind of did the same last ep, by starting out with a bunch of classic doom. There’s still a lot of new music here — the Snail is out today, and that and The Black Heart Death Cult and Howling Giant are all new too, as well as the Conclave, PapirWitchrot and, relatively speaking, Dopelord. So yeah, plenty of new stuff there.

But there were a couple other things I wanted to talk about — PostWax is one, Maryland Doom Fest is another. So you get Dopelord for that, as they were recently announced for PostWax, and SubRosa, whose offshoot The Otolith will also feature in the vinyl subscription service. And in addition to Howling Giant, there’s the block that starts with Conclave you can see in the playlist — YatraMolasses BargeHorseburner and Sasquatch — all of whom have been confirmed for MDDF this Halloween weekend. Sadly not Papir, though that would also rule.

And between those, I guess I just had Goatsnake and Truckfighters on my mind and decided to throw them in. Who’s gonna argue? I suppose I’ll find out in the Gimme chat later on.

Thanks for listening and/or reading. As always, I hope you enjoy.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.30.21

Snail Draining White Fractal Altar
The Black Heart Death Cult Goodbye Gatwick Blues Sonic Mantras
Howling Giant Understudy Alteration
VT
Dopelord Dark Coils Reality Dagger
Goatsnake What Love Remains 1
Truckfighters Con of Man Mania
Witchrot Million Shattered Swords Hollow
SubRosa Despair is a Siren For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
VT
Conclave Haggard Dawn of Days
Yatra Blood Will Flow Blood of the Night
Molasses Barge Holding Patterns A Grayer Dawn
Horseburner The Oak The Thief
Sasquatch Just Couldn’t Stand the Weather Maneuvers
VT
Papir 01.20.2020 #3 Jams

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is May 14 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Review & Video Premiere: Snail, Fractal Altar

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on April 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

snail fractal altar

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Snail’s video for ‘Mission From God.’ New album, Fractal Altar, releases April 30 on Argonauta Records. Video edited by Matt Lynch with footage by Kevin Spencer, Jennifer Hendrix-Johnson, Weston Radcliffe, and Laura Chavez and art by Ella Lynch.]

It is fitting and perhaps not coincidental that Snail‘s fifth album, Fractal Altar, should arrive on the cusp of the band celebrating their 30th anniversary next year, since it is arguably most the work they’ve done since to harken back to their beginnings as a band. Their 1993 self-titled debut (review here) and 1994’s All Channels Are Open EP document those early days and even as its Seldon Hunt/Ella Lynch front and back covers embrace a yet-unseen complexity of design, the eight songs of the release itself work to in part to pare down some of the layering aspects and push the buzz tone of Mark Johnson‘s guitar to the fore with Matt Lynch‘s bass and Marty Dodson‘s drums accompanying with punkish speed on opening duo “Mission From God” and the righteously Fu Manchu-y “Nothing Left for You” — the latter also previously released as a single — before “Not Two” urges with proto-grunge-meets-desert-rock backing, “Bring your appetite/And we’ll devour each other.”

Of course, Fractal Altar, which is released through Argonauta Records some six years after Feral (review here) came out on Small Stone, has its dynamic and still finds the band trying new things. With recording by Lynch at All Welcome Records in Inglewood, California, and mixing/mastering at his own Mysterious Mammal studio, as well as some home recording by Jennifer Hendrix-Johnson in Seattle, and Lynch‘s daughter handling the back cover, Fractal Altar is nothing if not a family affair, but that perhaps emphasizes how much the band itself has become a kind of family, if one spread between Los Angeles (Lynch), San Diego (Dodson) and Seattle (Johnson), and it makes the elements of growth they showcase in their songwriting, be it in more nuanced arrangements of backing vocals from Lynch in “Hold On” or the subsequent “The False Lack,” or the rhythmic patience that allows for a sense of space in the latter there without resorting to an effects barrage, feel suitably homegrown.

No doubt part of the idea that Snail have stripped down somewhat on Fractal Altar comes from the fact that, at eight tracks and 37 minutes, the record is a full 10 minutes shorter than was Feral, but it’s also the band’s second long-player since returning to a three-piece configuration, their lineup having included guitarist Eric Clausen for their 2009 return-from-ether second album, Blood (review here) and its 2012 follow-up, Terminus (review here). To listen to the relative sprint with which they execute “Mission From God” at the outset or the later mellow-Nirvana-into-rolling-nod of the penultimate “Draining White,” Snail don’t sound like anything so much as themselves, and they sound free in terms of their craft. On their fourth release since coming back from a 16-year break, the most immediate attitude one can glean from listening is that they’re doing what they want to do.

snail fractal altar back

It’s not necessarily a turn toward the humble, but as the video for “Mission From God” finds Johnson playing the lead role of someone having taken enough acid to meet with the divine, the band come across as both willing to have fun — see also the Queens of the Stone Age-style handclaps and strum as “Not Two” approaches its midpoint and the all-out low-end-showcase lumber of the eight-plus-minute closing title-track, on which no less than Ed Mundell turns in a guest appearance on backward guitar — and aware of what they want to do and who they want to be as songwriters. “When the Tree Spoke,” which follows “The False Lack” and opens side B, is elemental Snail through and through. Johnson‘s vocals are melodic and laid back, topping a fervent but not necessarily aggressive groove, and the tones are subtly rich without being overdone. There’s flourish of keys and backward sampling and a call and response hook, but nothing that couldn’t be reproduced faithfully on stage, and they bring it all back around to the chorus in a way that’s atmospheric without veering into such overly cerebral fare as to be inconsistent with earlier pieces.

Further evidence that Snail know exactly what they’re doing here? The progression of the album. Even Feral, which was their most accomplished record to this point, didn’t draw the listener in with as much clarity of purpose as does Fractal Altar, and speaking as a fan of the band, these songs are a trip that’s a pleasure to take, from the hestitate-to-call-them-“simple”-bit-will-anyway-for-the-turn-of-phrase simple pleasures of the choruses in “Mission From God” and “Nothing Left for You,” down through the slowdown in “Not Two” and the bit of Pacific Northwest that shows up in “Hold On” (that main riff calling to mind earlier Red Fang all the more with the backing vocal treatment) ahead of “The False Lack” and “When the Tree Spoke” setting up the longer-unfolding “Draining White” and “Fractal Altar” itself, which, true to classic LP structure, prove to be as stratosphere-bound as Snail push on the album.

Lynch, who you’ll recall also mixed, seems to have been saving his bass punch for the start of the title cut, and fair enough. If the band are in direct conversation with Feral anywhere on Fractal Altar, it’s in the song that shares the release’s name, but they’re more willing to freak out in the apex here than they were on, say, “Thou Art That” or the similarly-extended thudder “Psilocybe” from the prior record. Ed Mundell shredding guitar in another dimension is never going to hurt either as regards setting that mood, and it’s as fitting as anything could hope to be that they end the lysergic march with a sudden stop as though, having finally tipped off the end of the world, there’s nothing left to greet them but vacuum. One wonders how long that section actually went, but cutting it cold serves its purpose, and perhaps the last message they’re sending to their audience is that Snail realize that too. Fractal Altar is the offering through which they are most themselves in songwriting and performance. They may dip here and there in terms of influences or pick out aspects and vibes as they go from others — hello, Blues Brothers — but there is no master being served here more than the songs, and that is as emblematic of their work on the whole as anything could be. Far out.

Snail, Fractal Altar (2021)

Snail on Thee Facebooks

Snail on Twitter

Snail’s website

Argonauta Records website

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Snail Sign to Argonauta Records; Fractal Altar Due This Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

West Coast fuzz heavies Snail will release their new album, Fractal Altar, through Argonauta Records. The announcement and pickup comes after the Spring 2020 unveiling of the single “Nothing Left for You” (posted here), which will also feature as the second cut on the eight-song long-player. The Los Angeles and Washington-based trio’s last full-length was 2015’s Feral (review here), so they’re well enough due an album, particularly as they’re approaching the 30th anniversary of their originally getting together in 1992 — their self-titled debut (review here) came out in ’93, the All Channels are Open EP (review here) followed in ’94 and then they disbanded until 2009’s Blood (review here; discussed here) — and as a fan of their work across the board, news of a fifth full-length is only welcome as far as I’m concerned.

Spring release, so maybe April? May? Whenever it arrives, it will be greeted as a fuzzy liberator.

From the PR wire:

snail

SNAIL Signs Worldwide Deal With Argonauta Records! New album “Fractal Altar” due out in Spring 2021!

Six years since their last album, heavy psych prophets SNAIL have announced the worldwide signing with Argonauta Records for the release of a new and hotly-anticipated full-length studio album!

Entitled “Fractal Altar” and slated for a release in the Spring of 2021, SNAIL’s forthcoming, fifth record picks up where their last LP “Feral” left off — heavy, fuzzy melodic tunes with floating harmonies and lyrics that explore both inner and outer space. But this time, the band comes recharged and rejuvenated, enthusiastically triumphing over their dark side and reveling in their power trio roots.

Six years in gestation, recording for “Fractal Altar” led all three original SNAIL members Marty Dodson, Mark Johnson and Matt Lynch to convene the brotherhood to record their new album at All Welcome Records in Inglewood, CA. Since the members are spread out all over the West Coast ranging from Seattle to Los Angeles and San Diego, the proceedings took on the air of an astrological event. SNAIL in the studio is a celebration of both sonics and friendship, and after 30 years of playing together, it didn’t take long to lock in and feel the synergy ignite.

During the last year, the masters of heavy slowness have already shared a sneak peak of the fruits of their labors, but showcasing faster driving rhythms and Stooges-style leads with the track “Nothing Left for You”.

“We are very excited to be working with Argonauta and feel honored to be a part of their amazing roster of talent.” SNAIL comments. “Their enthusiasm and dedication to realizing our vision for this release means so much to us and we can’t wait to deliver this new record to our fans all over the world.”

Dropping the needle on the LP’s opening track “Mission from God”, the listener gets a nod to the Blues Brothers, while the song turns the line on its head with a hard rocking tune about going “far out” to bring back the psych knowledge for the less experienced masses. After ranging from poppy jangle to fuzzy singalongs and Camaro rocking proto-metal, the record closes with the album’s title song, “Fractal Altar”, a nine minute sludge behemoth that will leave listeners renewed and satisfied that they sat down to commune with the elders.

Welcome back the kings of fuzz, and stay tuned for many more details and new tracks to follow in the weeks ahead!

Snail is:
Matt Lynch (Bass/Vocals)
Marty Dodson (Drums)
Mark Johnson (Lead Vocals/Guitar)

www.snailhq.com
www.facebook.com/snailhq
https://www.instagram.com/snail_hq/
https://snailhq.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

Snail, Nothing Left for You / Fearless (2020)

Snail, “Nothing Left for You” official video

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 34

Posted in Radio on May 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I did the voice tracks for this episode yesterday sitting on the wood edge of a large sandbox in a closed public park in Morris Plains, NJ, while my son played with the various digger trucks that adorn the place. Fitting that I should be here now too, writing this. He loves it here. Did last summer too, but is now capable of a bunch more imaginative play than he was a few months ago. Pandemic boredom and being stuck at home has expanded his capacity in that regard notably.

That’s life I guess.

While I’m thinking about it, I don’t really explore it in the show, but I’m continually fascinated by the perceived dichotomy between art and “real life,” as though the function of your day should be menial and any creative endeavor hidden away like a secret masturbatory fetish. No. The art is life. They go together. If you need the one, you need to make it part of the other or you’re sunk. Even if you create alone, you don’t do it in a vacuum and to pretend otherwise is just dumb.

Anyway, the show. It’s good and you should check it out. Will you? Probably not, but if you like lists of bands, here’s one. If you do listen, I kind of go on about music as an escapist trance in the second voice break. Again, while my son digs in the sand. That’s life.

Thanks for listening if you do.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 05.15.20

Faith in Jane The Well Mother to Earth*
Geezer Groovy Groovy*
Red Mesa Desert Moon The Path to the Deathless*
Kryptograf The Veil Kryptograf*
BREAK
Snail Nothing Left for You Nothing Left for You / Fearless*
Frank Sabbath Les Trois Petits Pochons Compendium*
Vestjysk Ørken Forbidden Planet Full Dark No Stars*
Tia Carrera Layback Tried & True*
Daisychain How Can I Love You? Daisychain*
Alain Johannes Hum Hum*
BREAK
Comacozer Sun of Hyperion Here & Beyond Split w/ Vinnum Sabbathi*
The Shell Collector Raw, Improvised and Live from a Studio in Nalepastrasse Raw, Improvised and Live from a Studio in Nalepastrasse*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is May 29 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Snail Post “Nothing Left for You” Video; New Single out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

snail

New Snail video, you say? Don’t mind if I do, thanks. The timing certainly works, as the Pacific Coast — Seattle-ish and Los Angeles — three-piece have newly issued the single Nothing Left for You/Fearless, with the second cut being a cover of Meddle-era Pink Floyd and the first cut being their first recording since later-2015’s Feral (review here). They hit the studio in January to get going on their next long-player, and while “Nothing Left for You” will feature on that album, it’s hard to know how representative it might be of the upcoming-at-some-point batch of material either way, but it does find them making some interesting turns in sound, with some of the raw buzz one might find in their 1993 self-titled debut (review here) resurfacing along with the speedier groove than one has come to expect. It’s also catchy as hell, so if I haven’t said this before about it — and I’m pretty sure I have — I’m glad to take it as it comes.

They are right at home in “Fearless” as well, with guitarist Mark Johnson‘s dreamy vocal melody floating out over his own watery effects, backed by bassist/recording engineer Matt Lynch with drummer Marty Dodson keeping the groove grounded and rolling forward. As much as “Nothing Left for You” is about shove — and particularly ‘shove-away,’ in terms of its lyrical theme — Snail make “Fearless” into a deep-dive melodic showcase, emphasizing not only the influence of Pink Floyd, but the grittier, and weightier edge they bring to what was already there. Both songs end with a fadeout, and the underlying message of the release is clearly that there’s more to follow, and as a fan of the band, I can only look forward to the next album whenever it might arrive. Everyone’s plans being shot as they are this year, I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to when something might manifest, but in the interim, the video for “Nothing Left for You” has some fun with being stuck at home during quarantine, and again, I’ll take it as it comes.

And it bears mentioning that Lynch mixed and mastered Nothing Left for You/Fearless at his Mysterious Mammal Recordings in L.A. (they tracked at All Welcome Records) and as discussed in his days of rona, he’s up for mixing whatever you’ve got and is looking for remote clients. When I finally get to recording that spoken word/keyboard drone album, I’ll definitely be sending it to him to edit out the burps.

Enjoy the video:

Snail, “Nothing Left for You” official video

From the single Nothing Left For You / Fearless released 5/1/2020. Get your copy here: https://snailhq.bandcamp.com/

Video edited and produced by Matt Lynch. Music by Snail (Mark Johnson, Matt Lynch, Marty Dodson)

Recorded by Matt Lynch at All Welcome Records, Los Angeles USA. Mixed and mastered by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal Recordings Los Angeles. Additional recording by Mark Johnson at home in Seattle. Engineered by Jennifer Hendrix.

Snail is:
Matt Lynch (Bass/Vocals)
Marty Dodson (Drums)
Mark Johnson (Lead Vocals/Guitar)

Snail, Nothing Left for You / Fearless (2020)

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Snail to Issue Nothing Left for You / Fearless Single This Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

snail

The new original track buzzes with a neo-psych edge that Snail‘s never quite shown in this way before, and the B-side is a take on Meddle-era Pink Floyd, so yes, the first new music from Snail in a whopping half-decade is welcome. Nothing Left for You / Fearless comes topped off with artwork by Sean “Skillit” McEleny and is intended as something of a precursor to the next Snail long-player, which the band reports is already mostly done. That’s good news too, frankly, since it’s going on five years since 2015’s Feral (review here) and that means they’re certainly due. “Nothing Left for You” bodes well of what that album might portend tonally — it doesn’t quite drift, but the guitars seem to have loosed some heft in favor of shimmer and that’s interesting to hear from a band whose trade has been psych-through-lumber for so long.

Fascinating, as Spock would say.

He’d also say you should check it out on Friday when it’s released. No, I don’t know what day it is, but I know it’s not Friday because the song isn’t on their Bandcamp yet. That’s all I’ve got to go on.

Well, that and this from the PR wire:

snail nothing left for you fearless

Snail to Release First New Music in Six Years

Snail will release their first new music since 2014’s Feral on May 1, 2020. “Nothing Left For You,” the advanced single from their forthcoming as-yet-untitled LP, will be accompanied by a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless”. This is only the second time Snail has recorded a cover song in its 27-year existence. The two songs will be available as a digital-only download from Bandcamp. “Nothing Left For You” will appear on the LP in physical form in the future, but “Fearless” will be an exclusive digital release.

“Nothing Left For You” is a particularly vicious rant against an unnamed entity. It’s fuzzy, driving, and pissed off.

Says Snail: “We’ve all had someone or something in our lives that were just toxic, and no amount of expended energy could turn that around. This song is a final kiss-off; a cathartic, scathing take down that is sometimes necessary to move past a relationship and regain a sense of self and power.”

Why cover “Fearless”? “Having been Floyd fans forever, we have been talking about doing that tune for 25 years. It’s a great song, and seemed open for a heavy interpretation. When writing “Nothing Left For You,” I actually used some characters from “Fearless” in the lyrics, so it only made sense to pair these two and finally realize the vision,” says Matt Lynch, bassist/producer.

Snail’s full length LP is currently in the overdub and mixing stage, and should be ready for release in the summer. The band recorded enough material back in January to complete an EP as well, so watch the newswire for updates.

SNAIL:
Marty Dodson – Drums and Percussion
Mark Johnson – Guitar and Lead Vocals
Matt Lynch – Bass, Keys and Vocals

Artwork by Skillit.

www.snailhq.com
www.facebook.com/snailhq
https://www.instagram.com/snail_hq/
https://snailhq.bandcamp.com/

Snail, “Nothing Left for You” drum recording

Snail, Feral (2015)

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Days of Rona: Matt Lynch of Snail & Mysterious Mammal Recording

Posted in Features on April 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

snail matt lynch

Days of Rona: Matt Lynch of Snail & Mysterious Mammal Recording (Los Angeles, California)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

So far everyone’s health is good. Mark is convinced that he and his wife had it in late January in Seattle. Of course, this is conjecture but the symptoms matched up. This was before it was even on our radar and no testing but Seattle was the first place it showed up in the States. They are okay now though. I’m in Los Angeles, Mark is in Seattle and Marty is in San Diego, so we don’t play live that often and didn’t have any tour plans yet. We were already in the middle of recording our record and Mark is in the overdub phase up in Seattle so fortunately we are in a good place there. I edit and mix and overdub once Mark is done, so luckily this is something we can continue to do in isolation. I am going to have more time to do this now because I have been laid off from my day job at a travel marketing agency. Not a lot of work going on there, so I’m freed up for mixing and mastering the Snail stuff and finishing Collyn’s Diesel Boots record as well as projects for other artists.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

We are in a shelter-in-place here in Los Angeles. We go out for groceries and to walk our dogs. All non-essential businesses are closed, which means everything except medical, grocery, and media. All the beaches and parks are shut down, including bike and walking paths. They tried to keep them open but there are just too many people here in general and we aren’t great at following rules apparently.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Everything is closed except to get groceries. My job is gone, at least for the time being. Gigs are all cancelled. There have been a lot of cool live streams happening with music though, and the time to enjoy them. A lot of people are coming together virtually in my community, sharing information, helping each other with groceries and where to find them, trading food items among neighbors for recipes. People are cooking more again, playing music as a family – a bit of the old ways are creeping back in, which is a nice positive. It seems that musicians, or the musicians I know anyway, are generally into cooking. I think there is a parallel there of putting individual elements together to make a whole that is stronger than its parts that appeals to musicians.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

I think the most important takeaway from this for me is that this has proven just how fast society can change. We are going to come out on the other side of this to a new normal — it won’t be the same — so now is the time to take stock and decide for yourself what you want that new normal to look like, and work towards making it happen.

https://mysteriousmammal.com/
www.snailhq.com
www.facebook.com/snailhq
https://www.instagram.com/snail_hq/
www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

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Friday Full-Length: Snail, Blood

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

snail blood

At the core of the album, the lessons of Snail‘s Blood (review here) are relatively straightforward: rhythm and melody. The mostly languid grooves and the overlaid stoner drift from the originally-Seattle-based then-four-piece came across as revelatory in 2009, but their roots of course went back much further in that Blood was the first Snail record in 16 years. That time differential, and the fact that most the 11 songs on the 57-minute offering dated back that far — only opener “Mental Models,” “Underwater” and “Via/Penny Dreadful” don’t appear on Snail‘s The ’93-’94 Blood Demos collection released in 2012 (the band talk about their demo process here) — are important for understanding where the album was coming from at the time of its release. Indeed, 16 years before 2009 was 1993, and that was when Snail issued their self-titled debut (review here), following the next year with the All Channels are Open EP (review here) before the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson called it quits, leaving the demos for what would’ve been Blood at the time unrealized.

When they came back and finally recorded the album proper, JohnsonLynch and Dodson recruited second guitarist Eric Clausen, who fleshed out the riffs and leads fluidly, meshing well with the founding members. Really though, the overarching atmosphere of Blood is so laid back that, even 11 years after its release, it still feels like all are welcome. True, Blood‘s just-under-an-hour runtime feels honest to its CD-era origins and borders on unmanageable by today’s standards, but they use the vast majority of that time well, setting up immersive tonality and an underlying psych-grunge atmosphere that permeates “Relief” and the speedier, hookier second track “Sleep” — originally “Sleepshit” on the demos — as well as the later push of “Cleanliness” and the nonetheless-airy “Not for Me” which appears ahead of the predominantly-mellow-but-still-volatile eight-minute closer “Blacklight,” itself a testament to Snail‘s ability to change up their songwriting approach while staying united by tone and general sonic resonance, the use of effects and so on. Even now, the depth of mix Blood conjures draws the listener in, and the strength of the underlying structures in place — the verses and choruses to songs like “Underwater” or the especially-blissed “Relief” — gave Snail the ground on which to build this towering sound. The initial surge and chug of “Mental Models,” following a quick intro, is righteous, but doesn’t by any means tell the whole story of the album. It really does require the time it takes to flesh out.

And the patience of Snail‘s tempos when they’re not meting out punkish rush is especially noteworthy. Dodson sets a march in “Mental Models” and a push in “Sleep” and a crash and thud and shuffle in “Underwater” and a pull-back, in-pocket riff-surfing progression in “Committed” that could easily serve as a clinic in heavy rock drumming, and while Johnson‘s vocals and riffs, Clausen‘s leads and Lynch‘s oh-hell-yes bass tone are of course no less crucial, the drums are somewhat understated but accomplished in their versatility and able to find just what the song most needs at any given time, whether it’s the rim hits in “Cleanliness” like a ticking clock counting down to the next explosion of soloing and Johnson repeatedly urging “get high! get high!” or the masterful roll in “Via/Penny Dreadful” and “Screen” that becomes a defining element of Blood as a whole. With the shifts in tempo and style, it’s the tone and songwriting that bring cohesion, and Snail‘s consistency in that regard is at a high level from front to back, and they use that diversity in their approach as an asset in shifts like those between the nodder “Blood” and the more upbeat “Cleanliness,” which on vinyl would probably be side C of a 2LP version that, frankly, feels like it’s ripe for some label to get behind.

Blood appeared during an era of rebirth for MeteorCity after original owners Jadd Shickler (now of Blues Funeral Recordings) and Aaron Emmel sold it, Stonerrock.com and the All That is Heavy webstore to Dan Beland and Melanie Streko (now of Hellmistress Records). Along with Snail, releases from Let the Night RoarLeeches of LoreHumo del CairoFreedom Hawk — not to mention the first Elder record — helped reestablish the label’s presence in the heavy underground, so in that regard, Blood was all the more a good fit for the label, given that it was essentially a rebirth for the band as well.

It’s worth noting in listening to Johnson‘s wailing on “Screen” just how dated Blood doesn’t sound. To give some context to revisiting the album, I went back and listened again to the self-titled as well as The ’93-’94 Blood Demos and it’s kind of astonishing how much the songs hadn’t changed when one considers the modern feel of Blood as a whole. The production is more fleshed out, certainly clearer, etc., but the underlying method is largely intact. Its grunge-era origins aren’t forgotten — Seattle? yup. early ’90s? yup. — but the band succeeded in drawing a line to the past while representing a forward potential as well, and one that, thankfully, they’d go on to realize on subsequent offerings.

By the time Clausen left the band in 2013, they had already put out the follow-up CD, Terminus (review here), and they signed to Small Stone for Feral (review here) in 2015, which subsequently saw them come to the East Coast for the first time in 2016 to play The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn and other shows around that, as well as do Psycho Las Vegas and more besides. They’ve never been a heavily touring band whether a four-piece or trio, but they bring a chemistry to the stage just the same that, from my own experience as a fan of their work, adds another layer of enjoyment to the proceedings. Some bands work together. Snail come across more like a family, eyes rolling at each other and all.

They reportedly have a new album in the works — they’re recording — that will see release this year, and that’s only good news as far as I’m concerned. Feral was their best work to-date, and five years after that and some 27 years after their debut, it’ll be exciting to hear where they take what has become their signature style. You can dig on Snail or don’t, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.

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

New episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio today. 1PM. It’s moving to 5PM and will be on every week at that time with new episodes every other week. That’s starts Valentine’s Day. Because love.

Next week is totally full. I can’t talk about some of it yet, but holy shit it’s gonna be awesome. Cool streams, cool announcements. Couple good reviews thrown in. Really, stay tuned.

The week after already has reviews and premieres booked too. And the Monday and Wednesday after that. And shit is happening today like Elder announcing their record and Candlemass announcing an EP. What’s a boy to do about trying to keep up? Even if I had a staff of 20 writers they’d look at my notes and tell me to kiss my ass.

Oh my poor notes.

I went to the doctor this morning, got a flu shot. I needed to update my prescriptions since I ran out of refills from my primary care doctor in Massachusetts, and hell, Boston’s a long way to go for pills. There was a whole hullabaloo with switching insurance plans. I take 40mg of Citalopram a day for depression, and I have off and on for the better part of a decade. At this point it’s been at least the last three years? Something like that. When I think about it I find it amazing I still manage to be such a miserable bastard on the regular. Nothing like overachieving.

There was a lag of about 10 days between running out of one supply of pills though and convincing our insurance to give us the month we were still owed — I’d be totally lost without The Patient Mrs.; imagine a human being, but like, actually competent; she’s like a higher lifeform — and in that time, if I’m totally honest, I could feel it. The first couple days were fine, but there’s a kind of severity that emerges in my framing of myself and what’s around me. I can feel it. It’s hard to explain, but I know when it’s there. They call it a weight — that’s a whole different issue for me, of course — and that’s fair, but it’s like if your blood got more viscous.

I also mentioned the doc some trouble I’ve been having with anxiety, and contrary to my being anxious about mentioning it — dude knows my history; he was my doctor when we lived in NJ previously and treats most of my family — and I thought maybe it was time to do something about it. The way I’ve seen it manifest is big-time reticence to go to shows at unknown venues. I’ve been to Saint Vitus Bar a few times, and Ode to Doom at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan, but social anxiety and the thought of being in a new place and a strange place, even at a gig, right now already I can feel the hair on my arms stand on end. I’ve missed several good gigs. I didn’t go see Om in New York.

So yeah. Try something out to help. We’ll see how it goes.

Maybe I’ll be a little easier to live with.

I am going out tomorrow though. It’s Warhorse at Saint Vitus Bar with Yatra and Green Dragon. I’ve never seen Green Dragon and I like their recorded stuff a lot, so that’s a bonus, and I know Yatra and Warhorse will destroy. I expect it to be crowded. Hydration, as ever, will be key. As will earplugs.

Review of that on Monday.

The Pecan started preschool this week, which I’ll note mostly for self-posterity — I might happen upon this post years from now writing about Snail and appreciate seeing the memory; to that end, I was also reminded of feeding him off my finger when he was super-little. He’ll go Wednesday and Thursday to a place about 10 minutes from my ancestral homestead for four hours each day. He apparently got frustrated and tried to bite another kid (or two, ugh) on his first day, but he sat at the table for lunch, which he never does with me. You take the bad with the good. Some you win, some you lose.

Alright, this post has already gone on longer than I’ve intended. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, be kind. Please don’t forget The Obelisk Show is on at 1PM Eastern (which is coming right up). Thanks if you check it out.

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