Review & Full Album Stream: Acid Magus, Wyrd Syster

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

acid magus

Acid Magus release Wyrd Syster July 30 on Mongrel Records. Hardly a year after unveiling their first single and thereby exposing the lizard people of their native Pretoria, South Africa, heavy psychedelic four-piece Acid Magus bring forth Wyrd Syster as their debut full-length through countryman imprint Mongrel Records. It is duly tripped out, putting modern psych and garage-style heavy in a nebular swirl and sculpting the results into songs of varying length and intent, sometimes headed ‘out there’ in a fashion that reminds of Black Rainbows — looking at you, “Conscientious Pugilist” and “She is the Night” — and offering more weighted blowout heavy ethereality in its closing pair “Evil” and “Red Dawn,” the latter of which answers the shouts of “Rituals” earlier on as though to confirm that, no, their arising from all that wash of fuzz was not a dream, but a reality altered by the molten churn bent to the band’s will. Garage doom is a factor — WitchUncle Acid‘s melodious threat, etc. — but so is grunge, and there’s depth of mix to account for all of it as made earthbound by guitarist Keenan Kinnear, bassist Jarryd Wood, drummer Roelof van Tonder and vocalist Christiaan Van Renen. One way or the other, Wyrd Syster is the stuff of run-on sentences and mixed metaphor, clearly.

True, all things are fleeting, ephemeral, mortal, and some day the sun will swell to however many times its size, burn away the oceans and the atmosphere and eventually the rest of the planet itself. Nothing we as a species do or have ever done can possibly last or matter into such a scale of time. Can’t argue. Sooner or later, the bubble that is the universe itself may simply pop. But in the meantime, Acid Magus cull 44 minutes of deep-dive-ready, headphones-on fuzz-o-buzz, the riffs of the title-track leading the way with echo-drenched leads and a laid back hook delivery from Van Renen. The rhythm is a subtle charge, but it’s intermittent, coming and going amid drifting guitar and a more open verse, and spaciousness and atmosphere feel as much an essential facet of the band’s execution as does the lattice from which they launch, but “Wyrd Syster” is also only half a tell.

acid magus wyrd sisterAs the shortest inclusion — the interlude “Virgo” notwithstanding — on the album that bears its name, “Wyrd Syster” is as much a tease as it is an introduction to what follows, and there’s a marked shift as “Rituals” takes hold with riffage hypnotic and more patient in its flow, the rolling groove that starts out receding behind the central guitar line only to emerge again, massive, powerful, as the procession hits its payoff. For all the space the band have covered, they’ve only just begun, and “Conscientious Pugilist” follows with samples, a spaced-out wacky solo backed by room-emphasis drums leading to Sabbath crunch, start-stop-then-all-start shove and echoing screams and suddenly you get a better sense of why one might call the band “experimental.” It’s not so much about them playing their instruments upside down or making noise for noise’s sake — nothing wrong with that if that’s your thing — but there’s a sense of adventure in “Conscientious Pugilist” as the longest track on Wyrd Syster, and even in the moment to recover that the subsequent quiet stretch of “Virgo” represents as the record’s centerpiece, the impact of Acid Magus‘ outbounding is not to be understated. No lack of exploration for their carrying structure with them.

I’ll make it easy for you: If you’re not on board by the time they ooze into “She is the Night,” the rest will only be a slog, but for those who can get to it and those to whom it gets, side B of Wyrd Syster has plenty more delights of its own to offer, mirroring the shortest-to-longest setup of “Wyrd Syster,” “Rituals” and “Conscientious Pugilist,” but with “She is the Night” setting out from a place less initial than the opener (duh), benefiting from the altitude adjustment already wrought by Acid Magus on the tracks preceding. Like the title-track, “She is the Night” has a standout delivery of its titular lyric, and its guitar rings in ambient fashion, but the joy is the nod and layered movement that takes hold at the end, rumbling out to stillness eventually as all things must, but leaving that resonant guitar behind as an epilogue. “Evil” churns and writhes and seeps and careens through dynamic turns, coalescing around its groove as much as anything, and cutting off cold ahead of “Red Dawn” at the finish. I don’t think the closer is about the Patrick Swayze movie, but I’ve certainly been wrong before. The fuzz and the hey-man-what’s-wrong-aren’t-you-coming shove are reaffirmed early alongside a melodic highlight and given counterpoint in the slower march that arises, spaceborne and elephantine, to lead into the last fadeout with silence to spare at the end, more cosmic than kosmiche, but unfurling in the vacuum either way.

Whether or not you take the journey out the airlock with Acid Magus is ultimately up to you, but Wyrd Syster provides more than enough reach and breadth and resonance to justify the minimal effort in doing so. As their debut — if in fact it is — it shows a distinct chemistry taking shape within the familiar aspects of genre, and sees the band honing their persona out of the various elements and tropes with which they’re working. Consider yourself dared to give it a shot and see where it takes you.

Enjoy:

Acid Magus, Wyrd Syster album premiere

DOWNLOAD / STREAM: https://orcd.co/acidmagus_wyrdsyster

Impassioned, epic, slow, and heavy; it’s all here as Acid Magus present their finest work to date.

In the faint light that separates dreams from reality, lies from truth and heaven from hell, lives the Acid Magus. Meditating, surrounded by darkness and light, energising the air with electric anticipation. Come forward and listen, stay awhile, there are no sins.

“For the first time the band have experimented with some low tuning, so expect octave drops and tempo changes. All the psych/stoner/doom vibes to be expected but once again, that alt rock accessibility lingers.” Comments guitarist Keenan Kinnear

Line Up:
Keenan Kinnear: guitars
Jarryd Wood: bass guitar
Roelof van Tonder: drums
Christiaan Van Renen: vocals

Acid Magus on Facebook

Acid Magus on Instagram

Acid Magus on Bandcamp

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Facebook

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: King Woman, Mythic Sunship, Morningstar Delirium, Lunar Funeral, Satánico Pandemonium, Van Groover, Sergio Ch., Achachak, Rise Up Dead Man, Atomic Vulture

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Hey, how was your weekend? You won’t be surprised to learn mine was full of tunes, which I mark as a win. While we’re marking wins, let’s put one down for wrapping up the longest Quarterly Review to-date in a full 11 days today. 110 releases. I started on July 5 — a lifetime ago. It’s now July 19, and I’ve encountered a sick kid and wife, busted laptop, oral surgery, and more riffs than I could ever hope to count along the way. Ups, downs, all-arounds. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

This day was added kind of on an impulse, and the point I’m looking to emphasize is that you can spend two full weeks reviewing 10 albums a day and still there’s more to be had. I’ve learned over time you’re never going to hear everything — not even close — and that no matter how deep you dig, there’s more to find. I’m sure if I didn’t have other stuff scheduled I could fill out the entirety of this week and then some with 10 records a day. As it stands, let’s not have this Quarterly Review run into the next one at the end of September/beginning of October. Time to get my life back a little bit, such as it is.

Quarterly Review #101-110:

King Woman, Celestial Blues

king woman celestial blues

After the (earned) fanfare surrounding King Woman‘s 2017 debut, Created in the Image of Suffering, expectations for the sophomore outing, Celestial Blues, are significant. Songwriter/vocalist Kris Esfandiari meets these head-on in heavy and atmospheric fashion on tracks like the opening title-cut and “Morning Star,” the more cacophonous “Coil” and duly punishing “Psychic Wound.” Blues? Yes, in places. Celestial? In theme, in its confrontation with dogma, sure. Even more than these, though, Celestial Blues taps into an affecting weight of ambience, such that even the broad string sounds of “Golgotha” feel heavy, and whether a given stretch is loud or quiet, subdued like the first half of “Entwined” or raging like the second, right into the minimalist “Paradise Lost” that finishes, the sense of burden being purposefully conveyed is palpable in the listening experience. No doubt the plaudits will be or are already manifold and superlative, but the work stands up.

King Woman on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Mythic Sunship, Wildfire

Mythic Sunship Wildfire

Mythic Sunship are a hopeful vision for the future of progressive psychedelic music. Their fifth album and first for Tee Pee Records, Wildfire offers five tracks/45 minutes that alternates between ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime via emitted subspace wavelengths of shredding guitar, sax-led freakouts, shimmer to the point of blindness, peaceful drift and who the hell knows what else is going on en route from one to the other. Because as much as the Copenhagen outfit might jump from one stretch to the next, their fluidity is huge all along the course of Wildfire, which is fortunate because that’s probably the only thing stopping the record from actually melting. Instrumental as ever, I’m not sure if there’s a narrative arc playing out — certainly one can read one between “Maelstrom,” “Olympia,” “Landfall,” “Redwood Grove” and “Going Up” — and if that’s the intention, it maybe pulls back from that “hopeful vision” idea somewhat, at least in theme, if not aesthetic. In any case, the gorgeousness, the electrified vitality in what Mythic Sunship do, continues to distinguish them from their peers, which is a list that is only growing shorter with each passing LP.

Mythic Sunship on Facebook

Tee Pee Records website

 

Morningstar Delirium, Morningstar Delirium

Morningstar Delirium Morningstar Delirium

I said I was going to preorder this tape and I’m glad I did. Morningstar Delirium‘s half-hour/four-song debut offering is somewhere between an EP and an album — immersive enough to be the latter certainly in its soothing, brooding exploration of sonic textures, not at all tethered to a sonic weight in the dark industrial “Blood on the Fixture” and even less so in the initial minutes of “Silent Travelers,” but not entirely avoiding one either, as in the second half of that latter track some more sinister beats surface for a time. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists/vocalist Kelly Schilling (Dreadnought, BleakHeart) and Clayton Cushman (The Flight of Sleipnir), the isolation-era project feeds into that lockdown atmosphere in moments droning and surging, “Where Are You Going” giving an experimentalist edge with its early loops and later stretch of ethereal slide guitar (or what sounds like it), while closer “A Plea for the Stars” fulfills the promise of its vocalists with a doomed melody in its midsection that’s answered back late, topping an instrumental progression like the isolated weepy guitar of classic goth metal over patiently built layers of dark-tinted wash. Alternating between shorter and longer tracks, the promise in Morningstar Delirium resides in the hope they’ll continue to push farther and farther along these lines of emotional and aural resonance.

Morningstar Delirium on Instagram

Morningstar Delirium on Bandcamp

 

Lunar Funeral, Road to Siberia

lunar funeral road to siberia

Somewhere between spacious goth and garage doom, Russia’s Lunar Funeral find their own stylistic ground to inhabit on their second album, Road to Siberia. The two-piece offer grim lysergics to start the affair on “Introduce” before plunging into “The Thrill,” which bookends with the also-11-minute closer “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” and gracefully avoids going full-freakout enough to bring back the verse progression near the end. Right on. Between the two extended pieces, the swinging progression of “25th Hour” trades brooding for strut — or at least brooding strut — with the snare doing its damnedest by the midsection to emulate handclaps could be there if they could find a way not to be fun. “25th Hour” hits into a wash late and “Black Bones” answers with dark boogie and a genuine nod later, finishing with noise en route to the spacious eight-minute “Silence,” which finds roll eventually, but holds to its engaging sense of depth in so doing, the abiding weirdness of the proceedings enhanced by the subtle masterplan behind it. Airy guitar work winding atop the bassline makes the penultimate “Your Fear is Giving Me Fear” a highlight, but the willful trudge of “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” is an all-too-suitable finish in style and atmosphere, not quite drawing it all together, but pushing it off a cliff instead.

Lunar Funeral on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

Satánico Pandemonium, Espectrofilia

satanico pandemonium espectrofilia

Sludge and narcosadistic doom infest the six-track Espectrofilia from Mexico City four-piece Satánico Pandemonium, who call it an EP despite its topping 40 minutes in length. I don’t know, guys. Electric Wizard are a touchstone to the rollout of “Parábola del Juez Perverso,” which lumbers out behind opener “El Que Reside Dentro” and seems to come apart about two minutes in, only to pick up and keep going. Fucking a. Horror, exploitation, nodding riffs, raw vibes — Satánico Pandemonium have it all and then some, and if there’s any doubt Espectrofilia is worthy of pressing to a 12″ platter, like 2020’s Culto Suicida before it, whether they call it a full-length or not, the downward plunge of the title-track into the grim boogie of “Panteonera” and the consuming, bass-led closer “La Muerte del Sol” should put them to rest with due prejudice. The spirit of execution here is even meaner than the sound, and that malevolence of intent comes through front-to-back.

Satánico Pandemonium on Facebook

Satánico Pandemonium on Bandcamp

 

Van Groover, Honk if Parts Fall Off

Van Groover Honk if Parts Fall Off

Kudos to Van Groover on their know-thyself tagline: “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we let it roll.” The German trio’s 10-track/51-minute debut, Honk if Parts Fall Off, hits its marks in the post-Truckfighters sphere of uptempo heavy fuzz/stoner rock, injecting a heaping dose of smoke-scented burl from the outset with “Not Guilty” and keeping the push going through “Bison Blues” and “Streetfood” and “Jetstream” before “Godeater” takes a darker point of view and “Roadrunner” takes a moment to catch its breath before reigniting the forward motion. Sandwiched between that and the seven-minute “Bad Monkey” is an interlude of quieter bluesy strum called “Big Sucker” that ends with a rickity-sounding vehicle — something tells me it’s a van — starts and “Bad Monkey” kicks into its verse immediately, rolling stoned all the while even in its quiet middle stretch before “HeXXXenhammer” and the lull-you-into-a-false-sense-of-security-then-the-riff-hits “Quietness” finish out. Given the stated ambitions, it’s hard not to take Honk if Parts Fall Off as it comes. Van Groover aren’t hurting anybody except apparently one or two people in the opener and maybe elsewhere in the lyrics. Stoner rock for stoner rockers.

Van Groover on Facebook

Van Groover on Bandcamp

 

Sergio Ch., Koi

Sergio Ch Koi

There is not much to which Buenos Aires-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sergio Chotsourian, aka Sergio Ch., is a stranger at this point. In a career that has spanned more than a quarter-century, he’s dipped hands in experimentalist folk and drone, rock, metal, punk, goth and more in varying prolific combinations of them. Koi, his latest full-length, still finds new ground to explore, however, in bringing not only the use of programmed drum beats behind some of the material, but collaborations with his own children, Isabel Ch., who contributes vocals on the closing Nine Inch Nails cover, “Hurt,” which was also previously released as a single, and Rafael “Raffa” Ch., who provides a brief but standout moment just before with a swirling, effects-laced rap tucked away at the end of the 11-minute “El Gran Chaparral.” If these are sentimental inclusions on Chotsourian‘s part, they’re a minor indulgence to make, and along with the English-language “NY City Blues,” the partial-translation of “Hurt” into Spanish is a welcome twist among others like “Tic Tac,” which blend electronic beats and spacious guitar in a way that feels like a foreshadow of burgeoning interests and things to come.

Sergio Ch. on Facebook

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

Achachak, High Mountain

Achachak High Mountain

Less than a year removed from their debut full-length, At the Bottom of the Sea, Croatian five-piece Achachak return with the geological-opposite follow-up, High Mountain. With cuts like “Bong Goddess,” “Maui Waui,” they leave little to doubt as to where they’re coming from, but the stoner-for-stoners’-sake attitude doesn’t necessarily account either for the drifty psych of “Biggest Wave” or the earlier nod-out in “Lonewolf,” the screams in the opening title-track or the follow-that-riff iron-manliness of “”Mr. SM,” let alone the social bent to the lyrics in the QOTSA-style “Lesson” once it takes off — interesting to find them delving into the political given the somewhat regrettable inner-sleeve art — but the overarching vibe is still of a band not taking itself too seriously, and the songwriting is structured enough to support the shifts in style and mood. The fuzz is strong with them, and closer “Cozy Night” builds on the languid turn in “Biggest Wave” with an apparently self-aware moody turn. For having reportedly been at it since 1999, two full-lengths and a few others EPs isn’t a ton as regards discography, but maybe now they’re looking to make up for lost time.

Achachak on Facebook

Achachak on Bandcamp

 

Rise Up, Dead Man, Rise Up, Dead Man

Rise Up Dead Man Rise Up Dead Man

It’s almost counterintuitive to think so, but what you see is what you get with mostly-instrumentalist South African western/psych folk duo Rise Up, Dead Man‘s self-titled debut. To wit, the “Bells of Awakening” at the outset, indeed, are bells. “The Summoning,” which follows, hypnotizes with guitar and various other elements, and then, yes, the eponymous “Rise Up, Dead Man,” is a call to raise the departed. I don’t know if “Stolen Song” is stolen, but it sure is familiar. Things get more ethereal as multi-instrumentalists Duncan Park (guitar, vocals, pennywhistle, obraphone, bells, singing bowl) and William Randles (guitar, vocals, melodica, harmonium, violin, bells, singing bowl) through the serenity of “The Wind in the Well” and the summertime trip to Hobbiton that the pennywhistle in “Everything that Rises Must Converge” offers, which is complemented in suitably wistful fashion on closer “Sickly Meadow.” There’s some sorting out of aesthetic to be done here, but as the follow-up just to an improv demo released earlier this year, the drive and attention to detail in the arrangements makes their potential feel all the more significant, even before you get to the expressive nature of the songs or the nuanced style in which they so organically reside.

Rise Up, Dead Man on Facebook

Rise Up, Dead Man on Bandcamp

 

Atomic Vulture , Moving Through Silence

Atomic Vulture Moving Through Silence

Yeah, that whole “silence” thing doesn’t last too long on Moving Through Silence. The 51-minute debut long-player from Brugge, Belgium, instrumentalists Atomic Vulture isn’t through opener “Eclipse” before owing a significant sonic debt to Kyuss‘ “Thumb,” but given the way the record proceeds into “Mashika Deathride” and “Coaxium,” one suspects Karma to Burn are even more of an influence for guitarist Pascal David, bassist Kris Hoornaert and drummer Jens Van Hollebeke, and though they move through some slower, more atmospheric stretch on “Cosmic Dance” and later more extended pieces like “Spinning the Titans” (9:02) and closer “Astral Dream,” touching on prog particularly in the second half of the latter, they’re never completely removed from that abiding feel of get-down-to-business, as demonstrated on the roll of “Intergalactic Takeoff” and the willful landing on earth that the penultimate “Space Rat” brings in between “Spinning the Titans” and “Astral Dream,” emphasizing the sense of their being a mission underway, even if the mission is Atomic Vulture‘s discovery of place within genre.

Atomic Vulture on Facebook

Polderrecords on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Howling Giant, Rose City Band, The Tazers, Kavrila, Gateway, Bala, Tremor Ama, The Crooked Whispers, No Stone, Firefriend

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You know what? We’re through the first week of the Quarterly Review as of this post. Not too bad. I feel like it’s been smooth going so far to such a degree that I’m even thinking about adding an 11th day comprised purely of releases that came my way this week and will invariably come in next week too. Crazy, right? Bonus day QR. We’ll see if I get there, but I’m thinking about it. That alone should tell you something.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Day five commence.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

Let the story be that when the pandemic hit, Nashville’s Howling Giant took to the airwaves to provide comfort, character and a bit of ‘home’ — if one thinks of live performance as home — to their audience. With a steady schedule of various live streams on Twitch, some playing music, some playing D&D, the band engaged their listenership in a new and exciting way, finding a rare bright point in one of the darkest years of recent history. Alteration, a crisp four-song/20-minute EP, is born out of those streamed jams, with songs named by the band’s viewers/listeners — kudos to whoever came up with “Luring Alluring Rings” — and, being entirely instrumental from a band growing more and more focused on vocal arrangements, sound more like they’re on their way to being finished than are completely done. However, that’s also the point of the release, essentially to showcase unfinished works in progress that have emerged in a manner that nobody expected. It is another example from last year-plus that proves the persistence of creativity, and is all the more beautiful for that.

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

 

Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

Vaguely lysergic, twanging with a non-chestbeating or jingoistic ’70s American singer-songwriter feel, Rose City Band‘s Earth Trip brings sentiment without bitterness in its songs, engaging as the title hints with nature in songs like “Silver Roses,” “In the Rain,” “Lonely Planes,” “Ramblin’ with the Day,” “Rabbit” and “Dawn Patrol.” An outlet for Ripley Johnson, also of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, the “band” isn’t so much in Rose City Band, but there is some collaboration — pedal steel here and there, as on “Ramblin’ with the Day” — though it’s very much Johnson‘s own craft and performance at the core of this eight-song set. This is the third Rose City Band long-player in three years, but quickly as it may have come about, the tracks never feel rushed — hushed, if anything — and Johnson effectively casts himself in among the organic throughout the proceedings, making the listener feel nothing if not welcome to join the ramble.

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

Johannesburg, South Africa’s The Tazers are suited to a short-release format, as their Dream Machine EP shows, bringing together four tracks with psychedelic precociousness and garage rock attitude to spare, with just an edge of classic heavy to keep things grooving. Their latest work opens with its languid and lysergic title-track, which sets up the shove of “Go Away” and the shuffle in “Lonely Road” — both under three and a half minutes long, with nary a wasted second in them, despite sounding purposefully like tossoffs — and the latter skirts the line of coming undone, but doesn’t, of course, but in the meantime sets up the almost proto-New Wave in the early going on “Around Town,” only later to give way to the band’s most engaging melody and a deceptively patient, gentle finish, which considering some of the brashness in the earlier tracks is a surprise. A pleasant one, though, and not the first the three-piece have brought forth by the time they get to the end of Dream Machine‘s ultra-listenable 16-minute run.

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud

 

Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

Pressed in an ultra-limited edition of 34 tapes (the physical version also has a bonus track), Kavrila‘s Rituals III brings together about 16 minutes of heavy hardcore and post-hardcore, a thickened undertone giving something of a darker mood to the crunch of “Equality” as guitars are layered in subtly in a higher register, feeding into the urgency without competing with the drums or vocals. Opener “Sunday” works at more of a rush while “Longing” has more of a lurch at least to its outset before gradually elbowing its way into a more careening groove, but the bridge being built is between sludge and hardcore, and while the four-piece aren’t the first to build it, they do well here. If we’re picking highlights, closer “Elysium” has deft movement, intensity and atmosphere in kind, and still features a vocal rawness that pushes the emotional crux between the verses and choruses to make the transitions that much smoother. The ending fades out early behind those shouts, leaving the vocals stranded, calling out the song’s title into a stark emptiness.

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp

 

Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

Brutal rebirth. Robin Van Oyen is the lone figure behind Bruges, Belgium-based death-doom outfit Gateway, and Flesh Reborn is his first EP in three years. Marked out with guest guitar solos by M., the four-track/25-minute offering keeps its concentration on atmosphere as much as raw punishment, and while one would be correct to call it ‘extreme’ in its purpose and execution, its deathliest aspects aren’t just the growling vocals or periods of intense blast, but the wash of distortion that lays over the offering as a whole, from “Hel” through “Slumbering Crevasses,” the suitably twisting, later lurching “Rack Crawler” and the grandeur-in-filth 12-minute closing title-track, at which point the fullness of the consumption is revealed at last. Unbridled as it seems, this material is not without purpose and is not haphazard. It is the statement it intends to be, and its depths are shown to be significant as Van Oyen pulls you further down into them with each passing moment, finally leaving you there amid residual drone.

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website

 

Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

Admirably punk in its dexterity, Bala‘s debut album, Maleza, arrives as a nine-track pummelfest from the Spanish duo of guitarist/vocalist Anx and drummer/vocalist V., thickened with sludgy intent and aggression to spare. The starts and stops of opener “Agitar” provide a noise-rock-style opening that hints at the tonal push to come throughout “Hoy No” — the verse melody of which seems to reinvent The Bangles — while the subsequent “X” reaches into greater breadth, vocals layered effectively as a preface perhaps to the later grunge of “Riuais,” which arrives ahead of the swaggering riff and harsh sneer of “Bessie” the lumbering finale “Una Silva.” Whether brooding in “Quieres Entrar” or explosive in its shove in “Cien Obstaculos,” Maleza offers stage-style energy with clarity of vision and enough chaos to make the anger feel genuine. There’s apparently some hype behind Bala, and fair enough, but this is legitimately one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2021.

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website

 

Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

French prog-fuzz five-piece Tremor Ama make a coherent and engaging debut with Beneath, a first full-length following up a 2017 self-titled EP release. Spacious guitar leads the way through the three-minute intro “Ab Initio” and into the subsequent “Green Fire,” giving a patient launch to the outing, the ensuing four songs of which grow shorter as they go behind that nine-minute “Green Fire” stretch. There’s room for ambience and intensity both in centerpiece “Eclipse,” with vocals echoing out over the building second half, and both “Mirrors” and “Grey” offer their moments of surge as well, the latter tapping into a roll that should have fans of Forming the Void nodding both to the groove and in general approval. Effectively tipping the balance in their sound over the course of the album as a whole, Tremor Ama showcase an all-the-more thoughtful approach in this debut, and at 30 minutes, they still get out well ahead of feeling overly indulgent or losing sight of their overarching mission.

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp

 

The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

Delivered on multiple formats including as a 12″ vinyl through Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, the bleary cultistry of The Crooked Whispers‘ two-songer Dead Moon Night also finds the Los Angeles-based outfit recently picked up by Ripple Music. If it seems everybody wants a piece of The Crooked Whispers, that’s fair enough for the blend of murk, sludge and charred devil worship the foursome offer with “Hail Darkness” and the even more gruesome “Galaxy of Terror,” taking the garage-doom rawness of Uncle Acid and setting against a less Beatlesian backdrop, trading pop hooks for classic doom riffing on the second track, flourishing in its misery as it is. At just 11 minutes long — that’s less than a minute for each inch of the vinyl! — Dead Moon Night is a grim forecast of things to come for the band’s deathly revelry, already showcased too on last year’s debut, Satanic Whispers (review here).

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

Schooled, oldschool doom rock for denim-clad heads as foggy as the distortion they present, No Stone‘s debut album, Road into the Darkness, sounds like they already got there. The Rosario, Argentina, trio tap into some Uncle Acid-style garage doom vibes on “The Frayed Endings,” but the crash is harder, and the later 10-minute title-track delves deeper into psychedelia and grunge in kind, resulting in an overarching spirit that’s too weird to be anything but individual, however mmuch it might still firmly reside within the tenets of “cult.” If you were the type to chase down a patch, you might want to chase down a No Stone patch, as “Devil Behind” makes its barebones production feel like an aesthetic choice to offset the boogie to come in “Shadow No More,” and from post-intro opener “Bewitched” to the long fade of “The Sky is Burning,” No Stone balance atmosphere and songcraft in such a way as to herald future progress along this morose path. Maybe they are just getting on the road into the darkness, but they seem to be bringing that darkness with them on the way.

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp

 

Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

Dead Icons is the sixth full-length from Brazilian psychedelic outfit Firefriend, and throughout its 10 songs and 44 minutes, the band proffer marked shoegaze-style chill and a sense of space, fuzzy and molten in “Hexagonal Mess,” more desert-hued in “Spin,” jangly and out for a march on “Ongoing Crash.” “Home or Exile” takes on that question with due reach, and “Waves” caps with organ alongside the languid guitar, but moments like “Tomorrow” are singular and gorgeous, and though “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” and “666 Fifth Avenue” border on playful, there’s an overarching melancholy to the flow, as engaging as it is. In its longest pieces — “Tomorrow” (6:05) and “One Thousand Miles High” (5:08) — the “extra” time is well spent in extending the trio’s reach, and while it’s safe to assume that six self-recorded LPs later, Firefriend know what they want to do with their sound, that thing feels amorphous, fleeting, transient somehow here, like a moving target. That speaks to ongoing growth, and is just one of Dead Icons‘ many strengths.

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website

 

Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook

 

Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website

 

Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp

 

Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp

 

Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp

 

Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp

 

Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook

 

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Ruff Majik Post “Swine Tooth Grin” Video; Announce Pulp Singles & Comic Project

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Stay with me here, because this is a lot of info. First, South African heavy rockers Ruff Majik — whose own Johni Holiday has taken it upon himself to curate a series of recommendations of bands from his home country in The Obelisk Collective; thanks much to him for that — have a new video up for “Swine Tooth Grin.” Track comes from their Fall 2020 full-length, The Devil’s Cattle (review here), which is a thing you should hear if you haven’t. Album stream and new video both included at the bottom of this post. The other three videos the band has done for the record and a recent interview with Holiday are here.

Second, they’re kicking off a new series of singles and comics called Pulp. This is ultimately leading to a next long-player/graphic novel/video series in 2022, but the comics are set to come out monthly along the way (which seems ambitious), and they’re going to be doing a Kickstarter for the whole thing because, well, yeah, I should hope so.

Third, there’s another video coming out on July 30 for “Heart Like an Alligator.” That’s easy, right? Seems they’re wasting no time.

Holiday was pretty tight-lipped on upcoming projects when we did that interview, and I guess now we know why. Patience is a virtue. I look forward to seeing the comic and being a little disappointed when I don’t get to be in it.

The PR wire has all the relevant details. Here’s to the heavy lifting:

ruff majik

Ruff Majik and announce PULP, their new single and comic series of releases

There is no white magic, there is no black magic, there is only Ruff Majik. Pulp Rock fandom, here we come.

Ruff Majik has never been a band to do the same thing twice. From trying out different production styles for every release, playing mixtures of genres ranging from soul to black metal, to releasing a season-based EP series (later compiled into a full album), the band has always strived to keep themselves (and their fans) on their toes.

It should come as no surprise then that Johni Holiday has dreamt up yet another mad hatter type plan for their upcoming release.

After the release of The Devil’s Cattle in October 2020, the band found themselves at a crossroads. Ruff Majik had just increased their membership to a five piece, the album was well received critically, and sold well in terms of vinyl, but didn’t reach the lofty heights the band were aspiring to. As fate would have it, the band pressed for their first breakout release just as COVID-19 hit the world.

Says Johni: “It’s a bummer you know. We had just singed to Mongrel Records and had this festival ready album, with the best production value we’ve ever attempted, big eye-catching music videos, everything. And then the world stopped. I guess you could argue that we had a captive audience, hahaha, but I don’t think that’s completely true. The world was so oversaturated with online activity that everything just became engulfed. Too much news to follow, too many amazing artists releasing amazing productions due to their newly found time off. Just too much of everything. Being able to tour would have made a world of difference.”

The band needed to make a plan to ensure their future endeavours would generate some heat. So, what then? What is the logical step forward for a small South African band, still hell bent on world domination, but humbled by a global pandemic? Enter PULP – Ruff Majik’s rebirth, re-brand, and singles campaign. Based on the idea of early 1900’s pulp fiction magazines, which are described as:

“A genre of racy, action-based stories published in cheaply printed magazines from around 1900 to the 1950s. It got its name from the paper it was printed on. Magazines featuring such stories were typically published using cheap, ragged-edged paper made from wood pulp. These magazines were sometimes called pulps.”

Says Johni: “So then the idea hit me. I’m a consumer of all things crazy, b-grade and wonderful. Our band name even came from a failed pilot for a b-grade adaption of an H.P. Lovecraft story (Rough Magik). One thing I’ve always been very invested in was the history of pulp fiction, not the Tarantino film, but where it actually got its name from. Just these crazy stories that were printed in mass on terrible, low grade paper, that gave rise to many different genres of fiction, and were even the ancestors of comic books. I always kind of felt like that was what Ruff Majik was doing with our music, we were always playing ‘pulp rock’. It just didn’t come out regularly enough and lacked the storytelling capacity that a short novel would. So, then I thought, why not have comics? Why not have animated features to go along with the singles and give us a sense of the world around the music? Why not turn us into an animated band, like Dethklok or Gorillaz?”

Therefore, Johni set forth to create a universe of pulp literature, to go along with their music, old and new.

The new PULP series kicks of today with a web comic telling the story between their videos “Who Keeps Score” and “Swine Tooth Grin”, along with a visualizer video for “Swine Tooth Grin.” The single is the second to last to be released from their album “The Devil’s Cattle”, and features undertones of the blues with battering heavy riffs. It will also be the final single to feature a non-animated video (at least for a while).

Read first issue here: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/pulp/who-keeps-score/viewer?title_no=657983&episode_no=1

This will be followed up on the 30th of July with another interim comic and an animated music video for their single “Heart Like An Alligator”.

From there, the band plan to start releasing a monthly issue of “PULP”, which will chronicle stories from their past and future discography, released along with a range of animated music videos. The comics will feature the band, including all members and recording members, some other South African musicians, and even musicians in the greater stoner/desert/doom/rock scene.

The newest singles will form part of a full album set for release in 2022 and will be released on a monthly basis along with videos, short online comics and exclusive merch. A release date has been set for June 2022, and announcements thereof and a pre-order are said to follow “soon” (along with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign). What we do know is that the full vinyl/CD release will include multitudes of artwork, as well as a full print version of PULP with all the monthly online comics compiled into one.

If you want to keep up with the PULP chronicles, follow Ruff Majik on Webtoons, Facebook and Instagram, or check out their website for all relevant links. You can also buy merch for the current singles, with artwork centred around new PULP characters, monthly from the band’s Big Cartel storefront.

If you want to contribute to the creation of PULP, you can keep an eye out for their Kickstarter campaign which is launching soon.

If you want to contribute or assist in any other way, you can contact the band at: ruffmajik@gmail.com

The Devils Cattle is out now on Mongrel Records, available on 140g vinyl (single gatefold with splattered coloured vinyl and a pull out A2 poster) and Digipak CD via Just Direct (South Africa) and Black Farm Records (Europe / North America)
Buy // Stream The Devils Cattle: https://orcd.co/thedevilscattle

http://www.ruffmajik.com
http://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle (2020)

Ruff Majik, “Swine Tooth Grin” official video

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Acid Magus Set July 30 Release for Debut LP Wyrd Syster

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Look, just stream the track. I could go on here about Acid Magus taking grunge rock and blasting it into a spaced-out shoegaze oblivion on Wyrd Syster, or talk about mountains and sunrise or whatever the hell, but I won’t pretend anyone gives a crap. What you need to know is that “Wyrd Syster” opens the four-piece’s debut album and sets the vibe tonally and melodically, but that in subsequent jams like “Rituals” or the particularly consuming “Conscientious Pugilist,” they get jammier, more cosmic and more daring, so that by the time “Red Dawn” quiets down in its second half, you just know that hit is coming back and then it does and it rules because glory glory rock and roll and all that happy mountain stuff. I can’t tell you how to live your life. I can tell you that if you track down this record when it comes out it’ll make your day better. What you do with that is up to you.

From the PR wire:

acid magus wyrd sister

Acid Magus – Wyrd Syster – RELEASE DATE 30th JULY 2021

In the faint light that separates dreams from reality, lies from truth and heaven from hell, lives the Acid Magus. Meditating, surrounded by darkness and light, energising the air with electric anticipation. Come forward and listen, stay awhile, there are no sins…

Acid Magus is an experimental rock outfit from Pretoria, South Africa. Doom, stoner, punk, psych, and classic rock are all common themes. As huge fans of the rock greats (Zeppelin, Sabbath), stoner/desert rock behemoths (Kyuss, Sleep) as well as the tripped out psychedelic stylings of modern “psych” bands like Slift. Acid Magus take inspiration from all kinds of great music, spanning the entire gamut from 60s Hendrix/The Doors to Hawkwind and Scorpion at their heaviest, all the way to pretty much everything inspired by Black Sabbath today. All this with maybe a little Alt Rock sensibility thrown in for good measure. With an uncompromising, DIY approach to writing, Acid Magus promises to offer up only the best, most impassioned musical works. Long, slow, heavy, soft, it’s all there, and it comes from the heart…

Track Listing:
1. Wyrd Syster
2. Rituals
3. Conscientious Pugilist
4. Virgo
5. She Is The Night
6. Evil
7. Red Dawn

Line Up:
Keenan Kinnear: guitars
Jarryd Wood: bass guitar
Roelof van Tonder: drums
Christiaan Van Renen: vocals

https://www.facebook.com/acidmagus
https://www.instagram.com/acidmagus/
https://acidmagus.bandcamp.com/
http://mongrelrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/mongrelrecords
http://www.instagram.com/mongrel_records

Acid Magus, “Wyrd Syster” (2021)

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Video Interview: Johni Holiday of Ruff Majik on Making Records, Brewing Pandemic Beer & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

Who’s in Ruff Majik? According to Johni Holiday, founding guitarist/vocalist of the Lydenburg, South African rockers Ruff Majik, it kind of depends on the day. He definitely is. And longtime producer Evert Snyman — whose name I almost learned to pronounce correctly in the interview below — is a pretty reliable presence one way or the other. The latter was never more present than on the band’s 2020 third album, The Devil’s Cattle (review here), released last Fall, contributing to songwriting and piano and vocals as well as production, working alongside Holiday at a time when usual compatriots Jimmy Glass (bass) and Benni Manchino (drums) were separated by a strict pandemic lockdown. Somehow during this process, Ruff Majik became the five-piece you see above: HolidaySnymanGlassManchino and keyboardist/guitarist/etc.-ist Cowboy Van, and there were other players involved as well, such as Vincent Houde of Montreal’s Dopethrone turning in a guest appearance on “Born to be Bile.”

That, ultimately, is the ‘majik’ of The Devil’s Cattle — you never know quite where it’s going to head next. With influences that span decades and continents as well as styles and multiple songwriters, Ruff Majik‘s sound has never come across as broader than it does on The Devil’s Cattle, and as with many excellent albums released in the last year-plus, it’s a record that’s had to go largely unsupported. Sure, they’ve put out videos — there’s another one coming in June, so heads up on that — but to hear Holiday talk about tour plans that, in addition to Europe, might’ve brought them to the US for the first time, well, that’s a bummer. It’s a global pandemic, you feel for everybody. I tend to specifically feel for bands who put out killer records and didn’t get to hand-deliver them to audiences on tour. The truth of the matter is people are going to spend years mining stuff they missed in 2020, myself included.

Holiday talks a bit about the pandemic, including the South African government’s banning of alcohol and cigarettes during heavy lockdown — that led to him brewing his own beer, as he mentioned here last Spring — and the possibility of another wave hitting the country. But he also talks about writing the band’s next record, including with some varied points of inspiration and, yes, personnel, as well as bringing Snyman into the band itself for The Devil’s Cattle, also playing on Snyman‘s 2021 solo album, Hot Mess (review here), needing to quit smoking — c’mon, man — and more.

Though we’ve been in touch before, this was the first time Holiday and I have spoken face-to-face (as it were), and it was a good chat. I’ll look forward to talking with him about going goth next time out.

Enjoy:

Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle Interview with Johni Holiday, May 20, 2021

Ruff Majik‘s The Devil’s Cattle is out now through Mongrel Records. You can see the videos from it so far as well as stream it below.

Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle (2020)

Ruff Majik, “Lead Pills and Thrills” official video

Ruff Majik, “Who Keeps Score” official video

Ruff Majik, “All You Need is Speed” lyric video

Ruff Majik website

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Thee Facebooks

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Ethyl Ether Premiere “Voodoo” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

ethyl ether

One might find Ethyl Ether‘s third album, Chrome Neon Jesus, surprisingly clearheaded in its purposes for an offering that begins with a song called “The Smoke Waits for No Man.” That may or may not be — about the smoke, that is — but the South African heavy rockers unfurl a steady presence and sense of control with their songwriting, launching with some atmospherics deriving from late-’80s nighttime-on-wet-pavement dramas and earlier ’70s rock for a sound that’s coherently modern and becomes less predictable as they go on. To wit, the shouts in the subsequent “Ode” or the proggier wash in “Under the Milky Way” as Chrome Neon Jesus moves fluidly along its course each carry an underlying semblance of order even as they set up turns like the more brash stomping of “Therapy” or the all-go motor riffing of “Voodoo,” which (presumably) ends side A and for which you can see a tripped out video premiering blow.

The vibes continue to get richer as Ethyl Ether proceed into the Cantrell-ian guitars of “Diamonds” and the willfully punkier push of “Cold Black Soul,” tapping into dreamy pop grunge on “Faces” ahead of the spacious “Is Anybody Different” and “Higher Than Drugs,” which rounds out, again surprisingly lucid, with a melodic hook worthy of mid-’90s radio even unto its handclaps and gang-chant chorus finish. Self-awareness on the band’s part extends to them referring to themselves as pop, and that assessment is fair insomuch as it extends to the accessibility of what they’re doing and the obvious care they put into making it. While the vocals sometimes drawl out and tempo gets languid, there may be “happy accidents” that happened in the studio, but nothing across the songs is more out of place than it wants to be, and mix is impeccable. In this way, yeah, Chrome Neon Jesus is pop, if you’re using that word as a stand-in for “professionalism.”

And maybe they are — admittedly “pro” is a bit drier and arrogant in terms of self-applied tags for a band. One way or the other, their sound may prove too clean for some, but I suspect those who continue to dig into the tracks will find something to latch onto that justifies the effort. They know what they’re doing, and if you like songwriting, they’re songwriters.

“Voodoo” doesn’t represent the whole of Chrome Neon Jesus — I’d be hard-pressed to pick a single that does — but if you haven’t had a chance to plunge into the full-length, the Bandcamp stream is at the bottom of this post as well, courtesy of Mongrel Records.

Enjoy the video:

Ethyl Ether, “Voodoo” official video premiere

Drawing from a deep well of musical inspiration that blends blues, psychedelia and rock n roll, South African heavy rockers Ethyl Ether have released a video for their latest single Voodoo. The track is taken from the bands well received 2020 release Chrome Neon Jesus.

“Voodoo is a psychedelic trip that takes you back to the good ol’days of rock n roll. No frills, no fancy, just a song to lose your shit to. And then play it all over again.” Comments Pabs (bass/vocals)

DOWNLOAD / STREAM ‘VOODOO’: https://orcd.co/ethyl_ether_voodoo?
DOWNLOAD / STREAM ‘CHROME NEON JESUS’: https://orcd.co/chromeneonjesus

Vocals,Guitar – Andrew Paine
Bass/Vox – Pabs
Drums – Patrick Naidoo
Lead Guitar – Mornay Carstens

Album Produced by Ethyl Ether

Ethyl Ether, Chrome Neon Jesus (2020)

Ethyl Ether on Thee Facebooks

Ethyl Ether on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Thee Facebooks

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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