Evert Snyman Premieres “Operation Human Shield” Video; Hot Mess Out Jan. 22

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Evert Snyman operation human shield

A reliable Master Thesis In Statistics service with 24/7 customer support. Order professional college papers here (with a discount %)! Evert Snyman will release his second solo album, Hire follow link today! Get rid of junk assignments, learn from the masters and enjoy college life from a fresh perspective Hot Mess, on Jan. 22 through Tired of your pen? Have totally no ideas on the topic? Choose our Descriptive Essay On The Beach service. We write your essay or reaserch paper. Contact us right now. Mongrel Records. The longtime producer recently made his debut as a full-time guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist of Get college essay writing paper help by dig thisWriter now with 20% off discount code! Our affordable price for paper writing help starts from per Ruff Majik on that band’s  At the same time, our relatively computer engineering phd resume realizes the financial opportunities of every student are usually limited. The Devil’s Cattle (review here) and has been involved in a range of other projects in and around Johannesburg, South Africa, including http://www.acutronic.com/?psychology-term-paper - Learn everything you have always wanted to know about custom writing Proofreading and editing help from top specialists. Why be Mad God and  PCARRD a research paper is a brief report of PROGRAM The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) thesis Pollinator, in addition to having issued his own first LP,  First Writing Service. Essay writing, read here Note that such model of cooperation is not available on all custom writing The Aviary, last year. With  cystic fibrosis research paper - Entrust your task to us and we will do our best for you Why be concerned about the essay? apply for the needed assistance on the website Hot Mess, he brings 11 tracks and 40 minutes of richly varied and organic-sounding rock and roll, some of it weighted in tone or fuzz, but most within the sphere of latter day  Essay On Travel And Tourism - leave behind those sleepless nights working on your coursework with our custom writing help Receive an A+ help even for the Queens of the Stone Age, if somewhat meatier sounding on the whole and maintaining an adventurousness of its own when it comes to arrangements.  http://www.hell-tirol.at/?research-proposal-for-phd-in-analytical-chemistry - Qualified scholars working in the company will write your task within the deadline 100% non-plagiarism guarantee of exclusive Snyman is not shy with keyboards, as the title-track of  Best professional custom uk dissertation writer company is at your service. We help students write academic essays and papers from scratch in just a few clicks Hot Mess shows.

I’ve been trying to bottom-line  Help With Personal Statement Writing writing from our online writing service. Our essays are of top-notch quality and have affordable prices. Hot Mess since it first came my way, to narrow down what’s the album’s ultimate appeal. It’s the groove, it’s the songwriting, it’s the performances, and so on. The truth is it’s all of it. One track here tops five minutes — “If Eyes Could Kill” at 5:03 — and the sense of craft is remarkably tight.  Cannot they by however are they not employed while comply. Having never these my whenever which upon see therein will Snyman self-harmonizes easily on vocals, even plays both the  We offer the best College Application Essay Editing Services & assignment help in UK. Our assignment writers are always there to help you out in your academic work. Oliveri and  Homme roles on the shoutier “Dumb and Dead,” and as the video premiering below for “Operation Human Shield” demonstrates, is comfortable on across various instruments and able to record himself layering a song together one piece at a time. He carries a frontman’s charisma in these tracks, pulling off the Bernie Worrell-style watery weirdness at the end of “Maybe Never” as ably as the desert-hued hooks of opener “The End of Time” and the subsequent piano-meet-fuzz “Debilitate Me” — both of which feel like singles in waiting — and the sudden sweep of “Live the Lie” that takes off from the garage jangle hints toward Evert Snyman operation human shield coversounding unhinged but is too sharply executed to get there, even in its noisier final stretch.

Parts of Hot Mess will underscore some of what Snyman brought to the aforementioned 2020 offering from Ruff Majik, but even as Snyman builds a wall of fuzz backed by keys on “If Eyes Could Kill,” the song carries a melancholy of its own, which earlier keyboardy pieces like “Cleaner Than God” and the nighttime-dancer “Hot Mess” hinted toward, setting the table for the wake-up-call jangle and immediate hook of “Operation Human Shield,” which is nowhere near as speedy as the record gets but likewise far from at rest. To round out, Snyman plays like an impatient McCartney on the early piano of “Consummate” and carries a fuzzy build to a satisfying payoff, and closer “Burn” echoes the theme with a bouncing line that draws together that Beatles-y bounce with the post-QOTSA vibe, not quite summarizing everything Hot Mess has to offer, but certainly giving the album a melodically engaging sendoff as fitting as one could ask.

In addition to his own multi-instrumentalism and vocals, Snyman has a full band — Stiaan Du Preez on guitar, Christiaan Van Reenen on guitars, piano, vocals, Wessel Möller on synth and keys, Andi Cappo on bass and Timothy Edwards on drums and vocals — but it seems to vary who does what on each track, and as a tongue-in-cheek quick series of videos of the group introducing themselves and noting that none of them play “Operation Human Shield” demonstrates, sometimes it’s Snyman all on his own. One assumes that accounts for some of the varied personality throughout Hot Mess, but as much as the album may be titled as a goof on its catchall nature or diversity of influences, the fact is it’s anything but. It is united not only by Snyman‘s vocals and ready higher-register lines, but, again, the songwriting at the core of each of these tracks. They are bridged together through sheer quality of the work being done and thus the flow of Hot Mess, while clearly not intended to be smooth, is exciting to follow from front to back.

During this pandemic year, we’ve seen a number of quarantine-style videos with each member of a band filming their own part and then grouping together the bunch in one clip. It’s become kind of a genre of its own. Snyman plays off that in the clip for “Operation Human Shield,” except he shows himself recording all the instruments and vocals, so yes, very much a solo thing as noted.

PR wire info follows the video below.

Please enjoy:

Evert Snyman, “Operation Human Shield” official video premiere

One rarely encounters that unique sound that draws you in and alerts your senses…that rare quality in a musician that forces you to listen more closely and pay attention. South African musician and producer Evert Snyman is exactly that – a talented songwriter and performer who has enthralled many an audience with his galvanic melodies, poetic, yet straightforward lyrics and hypnotic rhythms. Based in Johannesburg, Evert has launched and collaborated on various projects, cementing himself as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, the most notorious of these being alternative rock bands, Pink Noise and Pollinator. Recording and producing all his own music at his studio in Auckland Park, he quickly become renowned on the local scene as the go to rock producer, working with bands like Caution Boy, Mad God and Ruff Majik, whose ranks he recently joined as a full time member.

What sets Evert apart from other musicians is the raw honesty of his music. Snyman is a fearless and unabated songwriter and lyricist, speaking to emotions we often keep hidden – even from ourselves. Evert’s powerful vocals range from angst-ridden screams to crystal clear melodies that cut through intense rock guitars, drums, and keys. “Operation Human Shield” is the first single taken from Snyman’s forthcoming solo album “Hot Mess” out 22nd January 2021 via Mongrel Records.

“Initially I just wanted to make a song in 6/8 timing with Jazzy drumbeat and piano. I don’t know what some my songs are about until long after I’ve written them, but I think it’s safe to say the lockdown had a fair bit of influence on this one” – Evert Snyman

Evert Snyman (band) is:
Evert Snyman – Vocals, Guitar and Keys
Timothy Edwards – Drums and Vocals
Andi Cappo – Bass
Christiaan Van Reenen – Guitar, Piano and Vocals
Stiaan Du Preez – Guitar
Wessel Möller – Keyboards and Synthesizer

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Mongrel Records website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik the devils cattle

[Click play above to stream Ruff Majik’s The Devil’s Cattle in full. Album is out Oct. 30 on Mongrel Records and can be ordered here: https://orcd.co/thedevilscattle]

Well then. With their first offering for new imprint Mongrel Records, The Devil’s Cattle, South African heavy rockers Ruff Majik not only complete a three-albums-in-three-years trilogy, but they do so by working at a completely new level in terms of their craft and composition. Formerly the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Benni Manchino, the lineup has now expanded to a five-piece to include keyboardist/backing vocalist Cowboy Van (also guitar, bass, harmonica on the LP) and guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Evert Snyman, who also produced and mixed the band’s first two full-lengths, 2019’s Tårn (review here) and 2018’s Seasons (review here), and returns to that role here as well.

Perhaps even more crucially, Snyman and Holiday seem to share songwriting duties throughout, and with swaps back and forth in lead vocals like that of “Lead Pills and Thrills,” and shifts in instrumentation between fuzzed-addled guitar, various keys and piano, periodic samples, etc., it’s hard to judge whether The Devil’s Cattle is more brazen in the step forward it takes conceptually or in all-out speed rockers like the opener “All You Need is Speed” — which, suitably enough, begins with tires peeling out — and subsequent thrusters “Heart Like an Alligator,” “Jolly Rodger,” “Who Keeps Score” and “Trading Blows.”

All told, the 13-track offering tops 51 minutes, which is an uptick from Tårn‘s unassuming 36, but Ruff Majik legitimately sound like a band with plenty to say, and as Holiday and Snyman play off each other as creative foils, the dynamic that emerges — as well as some of the tones, rush, arrangements, and Ale and Cake Illustration cover art — recalls Queens of the Stone Age circa Songs for the Deaf, with The Devil’s Cattle benefiting in a similar fashion from the multiple-personalities behind its songwriting. Who’s Oliveri and who’s Homme and who’s Mark Lanegan in all that mix seems to depend on the track — and when they slam into the scream-topped sludge of the seven-minute “Born to be Bile” late in the proceedings (a seeming sequel to “Seasoning the Witch” from the last record), nobody’s anybody — but most important of all is that as Ruff Majik have entered this next stage of growth, they’ve accorded themselves creative freedom to coincide.

Having previously handled all writing on his own, Holiday opening the floor to give any space whatsoever for Snyman for anyone else in that regard is a huge decision in terms of how The Devil’s Cattle plays out, whether it’s early mid-tempo groovers like “Swine Tooth Grin” and “Shrug of the Year” — the dual solos in the back half of which make it a highlight — or the funkified, handclap-inclusive “Gregory,” which precedes the starts, stops, twists, shifts and rolls of the title-track. It does nothing less than to make Ruff Majik a richer, less predictable outfit, and with guests Xan Stewart and Timothy Edwards on drums, Christiaan Van Reenen on keys and Vincent Houde on vocals (for “Born to be Bile”), further personality outside the founding trio is added to the proceedings and the Holiday/Snyman chemistry, which is central here as GlassManchino and Van don’t seem to appear on the album.

ruff majik

As regards timing, it’s worth noting that’s not a choice related to pandemic concerns; The Devil’s Cattle was recorded between Sept. 2019 and Feb. 2020, so before any lockdown would’ve come into effect. And what it might portend in terms of future incarnations of the band as a whole, I don’t know, but Holiday and Snyman both handling multi-instrumentalist/vocalist duties certainly works here, with the manic “Go with the Flow”-esque key line behind the shove of centerpiece “Jolly Roger” leading into the back half of the album, backed by the solid hook, strut and run of “Who Keeps Score,” the late break in which likewise stands out in post-Homme fashion, and “Lead Pills and Thrills,” which is a high point in bringing together Snyman and Holiday in a genuine vocal arrangement. Momentum by that point in The Devil’s Cattle is well set and maintained, and “Trading Blows” rounds out a four-songs-under-four-minutes succession with a slowdown and shouts that not only pull forth some of Ruff Majik‘s underlying metal influences, but act as further setup for “Born to be Bile,” a bleak gateway to the final stage of The Devil’s Cattle.

Vocals switch back and forth between Holiday‘s higher register — there are times on the record where he reminds of Axl Rose meeting John Garcia — and what are presumably Houde‘s guest screams, given a kind of gurgling compression effect, and to go with that is a tortured lumbering of the sort that most bands simply wouldn’t dare having spent so much of their time otherwise rocking out. But it’s not necessarily out of character for Ruff Majik, and one way or the other, they’ve clearly decided that The Devil’s Cattle is not a time to hold anything back. That continues to be the case as “Born to be Bile” fulfills its final cacophony and the subdued “God Knows” begins its linear build quietly paying off in equal amounts of fuzz and emotion, and the plod resumes with “Hymn No. 5,” the closing instrumental that’s topped with nothing but samples.

Crushing in a seeming answer to “Born to be Bile,” “Hymn No. 5” is as suitable an ending for The Devil’s Cattle as anything else one might come up with, since it’s unexpected right down to its final march outward, feedback, tom runs and cymbal wash, coming apart like the very opposite of “All You Need is Speed” and seeming all the more intentional for that. It’s hard to know what The Devil’s Cattle might portend in terms of Ruff Majik‘s lineup circumstances, if they’ll keep the five-piece configuration for live performances (and that’s before you get into who-the-hell-knows-when-tours-will-happen) and move forward with Holiday and Snyman along with others in the studio, or what their next LP might bring in terms of sound and development along the lines of songwriting and arrangement. But isn’t that also what makes it so exciting?

At least part of it. Certainly the sheer energy conjured throughout The Devil’s Cattle has a role to play in that regard, but there is something extra satisfying about not knowing where Ruff Majik might go next. That plays out across this collection of songs — and, indeed, often within the songs themselves — and in the bigger-picture sphere of who they are and their aesthetic. And even as they realize the potential of their first two full-lengths in such encompassing fashion, they may yet still just be getting started. It is astonishing to think their first EP only came out five years ago.

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

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Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

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Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Ruff Majik Post “Lead Pills and Thrills” Video; The Devil’s Cattle out Oct. 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

Led by piano from band-newcomer Evert Snyman, who also handles lead vocals in the track with guitarist Johni Holiday taking over for the hook, “Lead Pills and Thrills” follows behind “All You Need is Speed” and “Who Keeps Score” as the third video the South African former-trio-now-five-piece have done leading up to the Oct. 30 release of their third album, The Devil’s Cattle. The band aren’t strangers to video media by any stretch, but the cinematic nature of “Lead Pills and Thrills” only seems to underscore the new dynamic that inevitably is embodied in the record, as Snyman and Holiday share vocalist and songwriting duties and bassist/guitarist Jimmy Glass shares those roles with Cowboy Van, who also adds backing vocals, keys and harmonica to the proceedings, while Benni Manchino drums. Madness of an even richer variety than that which took place across 2019’s Tårn (review here).

Though I’ll confess I’ve got it on as I write this, I’m going to resist the temptation to start talking about The Devil’s Cattle in full as I’m hoping to set up coverage closer to the release. Still, “Lead Pills and Thrills” puts emphasis on Ruff Majik‘s progression, and that would seem to be where the emphasis belongs, those for anyone who picked up on them via Tårn or 2018’s Seasons (review here), they remain almost instantly recognizable. The clip below, rife with zombies in all their visual-metaphor glory, is on theme from the Flash-animated “Who Keeps Score,” the charm of which extended all the way down to the “Thriller” dancing happening before the final confrontation. I’ve posted that, as well as the lyric video for album-opener “All You Need is Speed” below, in case you want to get caught up on all of it. And, again, as I’m listening to the album right now, you probably do.

The PR wire’s got plenty to say about it. Find that under the video below.

And please enjoy:

Ruff Majik, “Lead Pills and Thrills” official video

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

Album Pre-Order / Pre-Save: https://orcd.co/thedevilscattle

“Lead Pills And Thrills” is the third single to be released from our upcoming album “The Devil’s Cattle”. It’s the first one to feature both Evert and Johni front and centre on vocal duties, and also the first time the band experimented with piano driven rock ‘n roll. Lyrically, the song deals with crippling addiction (to both lost love and alcohol).

The video is the conceptual follow up for the animated feature “Who Keeps Score”. Jimmy and Johni are both out in the wasteland, being pursued by zombies. Evert has been taken hostage by a zombie horde to be the personal piano man for their bar – and Jimmy and Johni set out to rescue him. Once there, they discover they have fallen right into a clumsily planned trap.

“Lead Pills And Thrills” (as with the previous videos and album art) is a love letter to B-grade horror and action movies, and this vision was captured perfectly by Tiger And Lilly Productions.

“When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth – turns out they like rock ‘n roll too.” – frontman, Johni Holiday

VIDEO CREDITS:

Starring: Johni Holiday, Evert Snyman and Jimmy Glass.
Also starring: Ella, Anni, Brendon, Innes, Finn, Terry, Gert, Scrone, Allas, Wilco, Henkie, Bez, Cassie, Eaton, Katja and Roelof as zombies.
Art Direction and M.U.A: Karien Goosen and Jessica Young
Video Production: Tiger and Lilly Productions
Poster design and title design: Annemarie Buchner

Special thanks to Terrence, Iggy and Casey for the use of Shamrock, and to Tiaan for the use of the worlds biggest motorcycle.

RUFF MAJIK:
Johni Holiday – guitar, vocals
Cowboy Van – guitar, bass, backing vocals, keys, harmonica
Jimmy Glass – bass, guitar
Evert Snyman – guitar, vocals, keys, percussion
Benni Manchino – drums, percussion

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

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Mongrel Records on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Sergio Ch., Dool, Return to Worm Mountain, Dopelord, Ancestro, Hellhookah, Daisychain, The Burning Brain Band, Slump, Canyon

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

I don’t imagine I need to tell you it’s been a hell of a quarter, existentially speaking. It’s like the world decided to play ’52 card pickup’ but with tragedy. Still, music marches on, and so the Quarterly Review marches on. For what it’s worth, I’m particularly looking forward to reviewing the upcoming batch of 50 records. As I stare at the list for each day, all of them have records that I’ve legitimately been looking forward to diving into, and today is a great example of that, front to back.

Will I still feel the same way on Friday? Maybe, maybe not. If past is prologue, I’ll be tired, but it’s always satisfying to do this and cover so much stuff in one go. Accordingly, let’s not delay any further. I hope you enjoy the week’s worth of writeups.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sergio Ch., From Skulls Born Beyond

Sergio Ch From Skulls Born Beyond

Intertwining by sharing a few songs with the debut album from his trio Soldati, Doom Nacional (review here), the latest solo endeavor from former Los Natas/Ararat frontman Sergio Ch. continues his path of experimentalist drone folk, blending acoustic and electric elements, guitar and voice, in increasingly confident and broad fashion. The heart of a piece like “Sombra Keda” near the middle of the album is still the strum of the acoustic guitar, but the arrangement of electric and effects/synth surrounding, as well as the vocal echo, give a sense of space to the entirety of From Skulls Born Beyond that demonstrates to the listener just how much range Sergio Ch.‘s work has come to encompass. For highlights, one might check out the extended title-track and the closer “Solar Tse,” which bring in waves of distorted noise to add to the experimentalist feel, but there’s something to be said too for the comparatively minimal (vocal layering aside) “My Isis,” as well as for the fact that they all fit so well on the same record.

Sergio Ch. on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

DOOL, Summerland

Dool Summerland

The follow-up to DOOL‘s 2017 debut, Here Now There Then (review here), does no less than to see the Netherlands-based outfit led by singer Ryanne van Dorst answer the potential of that album while pushing forward the particular vision of Dutch heavy progressive rock that emerged in the wake of The Devil’s Blood, acknowledging that past — Farida Lemouchi (now of Molassess) stops by for a guest spot — while presenting an immersive and richly arranged 54-minute sprawl of highly individualized craft. Issued through Prophecy Productions, it brings cuts like the memorable opener “Sulphur and Starlight” and the dynamic “A Glass Forest” as well as the classic metal chug of “Be Your Sins” and the reaches of its title-cut and acoustic-inclusive finale “Dust and Shadow.” DOOL are a band brazen enough to directly refuse genre, and it is to their benefit and the audience’s that they pull off doing so with such bravado and quality of output. For however long they go, they will not stop progressing. You can hear it.

DOOL on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Return to Worm Mountain, Therianthropy

return to worm mountain Therianthropy

By the time Durban, South Africa’s Return to Worm Mountain are done with 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gh?l” from their second album, Therianthropy, the multi-instrumentalist duo of Duncan Park (vocal, guitar, bass, banjo, jaw harp) and Cam Lofstrand (vocals, drums, synth, guitar, bass, percussion) have gone from High on Fire-meets-Entombed crunch to psychedelic Americana to bare-essential acoustic guitar, and unsurprisingly, the scope doesn’t stop there. “Mothman’s Lament” is folksy sweetness and it leads right into the semi-industrial grind of “Mongolian Death Worm” before “Olgoi-Khorkoi” sludge-lumbers into Echoplex oblivion — or at very least the unrepentantly pretty plucked strings of “Tatzelwurm.” The title refers to a human ability to become an animal — think werewolf — and if that’s a metaphor for the controlled chaos Return to Worm Mountain are letting loose here, one can hardly argue it doesn’t fit. Too strange to be anything but progressive, Therianthropy‘s avant garde feel will alienate as many as it delights, and that’s surely the point of the entire endeavor.

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Return to Worm Mountain on Bandcamp

 

Dopelord, Sign of the Devil

dopelord sign of the devil

Primo weedian stoner sludge doom of precisely the proportion-of-riff one would expect from Polish bashers Dopelord, which is to say plenty huge and plenty grooving. “The Witching Hour Bell” sets the tone on Sign of the Devil, which is the fourth full-length from the Warsaw-based four-piece. They lumber, they plod, they crash, and yes, yes, yes, they riff, putting it all on the line with “Hail Satan” with synth flourish at the end before “Heathen” and the ultimately-more-aggro “Doom Bastards” reinforce the mission statement. You might know what you’re getting going into it, but that doesn’t make the delivery any less satisfying as Dopelord plod into “World Beneath Us” like a cross between Electric Wizard and Slomatics and of course stick-click in on a quick four-count for the 94-second punk blaster “Headless Decapitator” to cap the 36-minute vinyl-ready run. How could they not? Sure, Sign of the Devil preaches to the choir, but hell’s bells it makes one happy to have joined the choir in the first place.

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Dopelord on Bandcamp

 

Ancestro, Ancestro

ancestro self titled

Numbered instrumental progressions comprise this third and self-titled offering from Peruvian trio Ancestro (issued through Necio Records and Forbidden Place Records), and the effect of the album being arranged in such a fashion is that it plays through as one long piece, the cascading volume changes of “II” feeding back into the outset count-in of the speedier “III” and so on. Each piece of the whole has its own intention, and it seems plain enough that the band composed the sections individually, but they’ve been placed so as to highlight the full-album flow, and as Ancestro move from “IV” into “V” and “VI,” with songs getting longer as they go en route to that engrossing and proggy 13-minute closer, their success draws from their ability to harness the precision and maybe even a little of the aggression of heavy metal and incorporate it as part of an execution both thoughtful and no less able to be patient when called for by a given piece. Hard-hitting psychedelia is tough to pull off, but Ancestro‘s Ancestro is no less spacious than terrestrial.

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Necio Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Hellhookah, The Curse

hellhookah the curse

In 2016, Lithuanian two-piece Hellhookah made it no challenge whatsoever to get into the traditionalist doom of their debut album, Endless Serpents (review here), and the seven songs of The Curse make for a welcome follow-up, with an uptick in production value and the fullness of the mix and a decided affinity for underground ’80s metal in cuts like “Supremacy” and “Dreams and Passions” to coincide with the Dio-era-Sabbath vibes of centerpiece “Flashes” and the nodding finisher “Greed and Power,” which follows and contrasts “Dreams and Passions” in a manner that feels multi-tiered in its purpose. Departing from some of the Vitus-ness of the first full-length, The Curse adopts a more complex tack across its 38 minutes, but its heart and its loyalties are still of doom, by doom, and for the doomed, and that suits them just fine. Crucially, their lack of pretense carries over, and their love of all things doomed translates into every riff and every stretch on offer. If you’d ask more than that of them, well, why?

Hellhookah on Thee Facebooks

Hellhookah on Bandcamp

 

Daisychain, Daisychain EP

Daisychain Daisychain EP

Bluesy in opener “Demons,” grunge-tinged in “Lily” and fuzz-folk-into-’70s-soul-rock on “How Can I Love You,” Daisychain‘s self-titled debut EP wants little for ambition from the start, but the Chicago-based four-piece bring a confidence to their dually-vocalized approach that unites the material across whatever stylistic lines it treads, be it in the harmonies of the midtempo rocker “Are You Satisfied” or the righteously languid “Fake Flowers,” which follows. With six songs and 21 minutes, the self-released outing is but a quick glimpse at what Daisychain might have in store going forward, but the potential is writ large from the classic feel of “Demons” to the barroom spirit of closer “The Wrong Thing,” which reminds that rock and roll doesn’t have to sacrifice efficiency in order to make a statement of its own force. There’s plenty of attitude to be found in these songs, but beneath that — or maybe alongside it — there’s a sense of an emergent songwriting process that is only going to continue to flourish. What they do with the momentum they build here will be interesting to see/hear, but more than that, they’re developing a perspective and persona of their own, and that speaks to a longer term ideal. To put another way, they don’t sound like they’re half-assing it.

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Daisychain on Bandcamp

 

The Burning Brain Band, The Burning Brain Band

The Burning Brain Band The Burning Brain Band

Capping with a slide-tinged take on the traditional “Parchman Farm” (see also: Blue Cheer, Cactus, etc.), Ohio’s The Burning Brain Band‘s self-titled debut casts a wide net in terms of influences, centering the penultimate “The Dreamer” around 12-string acoustic guitar on an eight-minute run that’s neither hurried nor staid, but all the more surprising after the electronica-minded “Interlude (Still Running),” which, at four minutes is of greater substance than one might expect of an interlude just as the seven-and-a-half-minute warm-up “Launch Sequence” is considerably broader than one generally considers an intro to an album. There isn’t necessarily a foundational basis from which the material emanates — though “Brain Food” is an effective desert-ish rocker, it moves into the decidedly proggier “Bolero/Floating Away” — but “Launch Sequence” is immersive and the four-piece bring a performance cohesion and a clarity of mindset to the proceedings of this debut that may not unite the songs, but carries the listener through with a sure hand just the same. Who ever said everything on a record had to sound alike? For sure not The Burning Brain Band, who translate the mania of their moniker into effective sonic variety.

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The Burning Brain Band on Bandcamp

 

Slump, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country

Slump Flashbacks from Black Dust Country

Count Slump in a freakout psych renaissance, all punk-out-the-airlock and ’90s-noise thisandthat. Delivered through Feel It Records, the Richmond, Virginia, outfit’s debut, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country indeed touches ground every now and again, as on “Desire Death Drifter,” but even there, the vocals are so soaked wet with echo that I’m pretty sure they fucked up my speakers, and as much as “Tension Trance” tries, it almost can’t help but be acid grunge. In an age of nihilism, Slump aren’t so much unbridled as they are a reminder of the artistry behind the slacker lean, and in the thrust of “(Do The) Sonic Sprawl” and the far-out twist of “Throbbing Reverberation,” they affirm that only those with expanded minds will survive to see the new age and all the many spectral horrors it might unfurl. Can it be a coincidence that the album starts “No Utopia?” Hardly. I’m not ready to call these cats prophets, but they’ve got their collective ear to the ground and their boogie is molten-core accordingly. Tell two friends and tell them to tell two friends.

Feel It Records on Thee Facebooks

Feel It Records on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, EP III

canyon ep iii

It’s a ripper, inciting Larry David-style “prettay good” nods and all that sort of approval whatnot. If you want to think of Canyon as Philly’s answer to Memphis’ Dirty Streets, go ahead — and yes, by that I mean they’re dirtier. EP III boasts just three tracks in “No Home,” “Tent Preacher” and “Mountain Haze,” but with it the classic-style trio backs up the power they showed on 2018’s Mk II (review here), tapping ’70s blues rock swagger for the first two tracks and then blowing it out in a dreamy Zeppelin/Rainbow jam that’s trippy and righteous and right on and just plain right. Maybe even right-handed, I don’t know. What I do know is that these guys should’ve been picked up by some duly salivating label like last week already and they should be putting together a full-length on the quick. They’ve followed-up EP III with a stonerly take on The Beatles‘ “Day Tripper,” and that’s fun, but really, it’s time for this band to make an album.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Rona: Johni Holiday of Ruff Majik

Posted in Features on May 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

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

Johni Holiday Ruff Majik

Days of Rona: Johni Holiday of Ruff Majik (Lydenburg, South Africa)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band?

Well, none of us have seen each other in about two months, which is a bummer. But we’ve been keeping in contact as much as possible, and planning for when things return to normal.

As an individual?

Got a bit of cabin fever at the start, but circled back around to normal after I started brewing my own liquor (which became essential after our government banned booze).

What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Plan-wise, it wrecked everything -– but that’s okay, we’ll figure it out when we can. Creatively I’d say it’s done us some favours, which you might pick up on in our future releases.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Well, it’s a really tough subject in our home country (where we are right now). We have widespread poverty and large parts of the country live in absolutely horrid conditions, so I think everyone is just trying their best to survive. The government did ban alcohol and cigarettes though, which I don’t think is reasonable, but a lot of people will disagree with me on that. All things considered though, I think we’ll pull through.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

A combination of everything really. I think everyone is being extremely supportive, and the bands are doing their absolute best to stay afloat. We just want to get out there and play again.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

Well, we haven’t quit yet. We could’ve, ‘cause things have gotten hard around here. But instead of quitting we decided to face the storm head on, release new music, new videos, all that jazz. So yeah, we’d want people to know we’re still here, and we will be for a long time to come.

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

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Ruff Majik Announce The Devil’s Cattle LP; Post “All You Need is Speed” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

Now signed to an imprint of Just Music called Mongrel Records, South Africa’s brash heavy rockers Ruff Majik seem set to embark on a new era. Their lineup has expanded and they’ll have a new LP, The Devil’s Cattle, out later this year. As one can tell from the advance single “All You Need is Speed,” the core rawness of their foundation remains intact, so it will be interesting to hear how the full album plays out with guitarist/vocalist Johni Holliday sharing writing duties with newcomer guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Evert Snyman.

I also can’t help but think there’s a bit of mischief at play too as the band present the title of the new single as the acronym “A.Y.N.I.S.,” which one only has to say out loud to get the gag. Well played.

Here’s word from the PR wire:

ruff majik all you need is speed

RUFF MAJIK: South Africa Sludge ‘N’ Roll Wizards Unleash “All You Need Is Speed” Video; The Devil’s Cattle To See Release Later This Year Via Mongrel Records

South Africa’s sludge ‘n’ roll wizards RUFF MAJIK have unleashed “All You Need Is Speed,” the first single from their upcoming full-length The Devil’s Cattle, set for release later this year via Mongrel Records. The track is a high octane, riff fuelled, round-house kick to the head. The video is visually captivating with unique illustrations by local artist Llewellyn Van Eeden and includes an array of occult, Norse mythology, Americana, and Africana imagery. RUFF MAJIK are pioneers in every way and are set to bring a distinct flavor to the new world.

When asked to comment on the inspiration behind the track, vocalist and guitarist Johni Holiday laughed, “Sometimes you just want to drive really fast and get wasted on the cheap stuff.”
“All You Need Is Speed” captures that feeling perfectly.

“All You Need Is Speed” is available now on all digital platforms HERE.

RUFF MAJIK was originally formed in 2012 when the band moved from Lydenburg to the realm of Pretoria. They entered the city as a three piece (Holiday with bassist/guitarist Jimmy Glass, and drummer Benni Manchino) with no real experience in the scene, but a certain drive and ambition that only gods could counter. After three years of adjusting and playing a handful of shows, the band finally released some music.

2015 saw the release of The Bear, an EP roughly inspired by the DIY ethos of black metal recording techniques. Recorded with two mics in a garage which ultimately explains its grit and distortion, The Bear earned the band some recognition. The following year RUFF MAJIK released The Fox which ultimately led to more shows, a spot within the then newly established South African doom/stoner scene, and a few small touring opportunities. 2016 was also the year of the track “Wax Wizard,” a crowd pleasure to this day.

The Swan stuck its neck out in 2017 followed by Seasons, the record that earned the band international recognition. Freak Valley Festival reached out to the band which led to a German/Austrian tour with The Devil And The Almighty Blues in early 2018. Later that year, RUFF MAJIK played Sonic Blast Moledo in Portugal. The band composed T?rn shortly after their return. Recorded in October of 2018 and released through Lay Bare Recordings (Netherlands), the album was followed by a lengthy European tour which included appearances at such illustrious festivals as Smoke Over Warsaw (Poland), Rock In Bourlon (France), Bevrijdigings and Sonic Whip (Netherlands), Desertfest (Belgium), and Keep It Low (Grrmany), as well as shared stages with the likes of Sleep, EyeHateGod, All Them Witches, and many others.

RUFF MAJIK is currently signed to Mongrel Records, an imprint of Just Music, and will be releasing a new album later this year. Recorded in 2019, the album is equal parts Johni Holiday and new member Evert Snyman.

RUFF MAJIK:
Johni Holliday – guitar, vocals
Cowboy Van – guitar, bass, backing vocals, keys, harmonica
Jimmy Glass – bass, guitar
Evert Snyman – guitar, vocals, keys, percussion
Benni Manchino – drums, percussion

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, “All You Need is Speed” lyric video

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Quarterly Review: The Cult of Dom Keller, Grandpa Jack, Woven Man, Charivari, Human Impact, Dryland, Brass Owl, Battle City, Astral Bodies, Satyrus

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Ah, the Wednesday of a Quarterly Review. Always a special day in my mind. We hit and pass the halfway point today, and I like the fact that the marker is right in the middle of things, like that sign you pass in Pennsylvania on Rt. 80 that says, “this is the highest point east of the Mississippi,” or whatever it is. Just a kind of, “oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know, there’s this but you’re on your way somewhere else.” And so we are, en route to 50 reviews by Friday. Will we get there? Yeah, of course. I’ve done this like 100 times now, it’s not really in doubt. Sleeping, eating, living: these things are expendable. The Quarterly Review will get done. So let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Cult of Dom Keller, Ascend!

the cult of dom keller ascend

They’re not going quietly, that’s for sure. Except for when they are, at least. The Cult of Dom Keller send their listeners — and, it would seem, themselves — into the howling ether on the exclamatory-titular Ascend!, their fifth LP. Issued through Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud records it brings a bevvy of freakouts in psych-o-slabs like “I Hear the Messiah” and the early-arriving “Hello Hanging Rope” and the building-in-thickness “The Blood Donor Wants His Blood Back,” and the foreboding buzz of “We’re All Fucked (Up),” peppering in effective ambient interludes ahead of what might be some resolution in the closing “Jam for the Sun.” Or maybe that’s just narrative I’m putting to it. Does it matter? Does anything matter? And what is matter? And what is energy? And is there a line between the two or are we all just playing pretend at existence like I-think-therefore-I-am might actually hold water in a universe bigger than our own pea-sized brains. Where do we go from here? Or maybe it’s just the going and not the where? Okay.

The Cult of Dom Keller on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz on Bandcamp

Little Cloud Records on Bandcamp

 

Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie

Grandpa Jack Trash Can Boogie

Brooklynite trio Grandpa Jack are working toward mastery of the thickened midtempo groove on their second EP, Trash Can Boogie. Led by guitarist/vocalist Johnny Strom with backing shouts from drummer Matt C. White and a suitable flow provided by bassist Jared Schapker, the band present a classic-tinged four tracks, showing some jammier psych range in the 7:47 second cut “Untold” but never straying too far from the next hook, as opener “Ride On, Right On” and the almost-proto-metal “Imitation” show. Finishing with “Curmudgeon,” Grandpa Jack ride a fine line between modern fuzz, ’90s melody and ’70s groove idolatry, and part of the fun is trying to figure out which side they’re on at any given point and which side they’ll want to ultimately end up on, or if they’ll decide at all. They have one LP under their collective belt already. I’d be surprised if their next one didn’t garner them more significant attention, let alone label backing, should they want it.

Grandpa Jack on Thee Facebooks

Grandpa Jack on Bandcamp

 

Woven Man, Revelry (In Our Arms)

woven man revelry in our arms

There’s metal in the foundation of what Woven Man are doing on their 2019 debut, Revelry (In Our Arms). And there’s paganism. But they’re by no means “pagan metal” at least in the understood genre terms. The Welsh outfit — featuring guitarist Lee Roy Davies, formerly of Acrimony — cast out soundscapes in their vocal melodies and have no lack of tonal crunch at their disposal when they want it, but as eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) shows, they’re not going to be rigidly defined as one thing or another. One can hear C.O.C. in the riffs during their moments of sneer on “I am Mountain” or the centerpiece highlight “With Willow,” but they never quite embrace the shimmer outright Though they come right to the cusp of doing so on the subsequent “Makers Mark,” but closer “Of Land and Sky” revives a more aggressive push and sets them toward worshiping different idols. Psychedelic metal is a tough, nearly impossible, balance to pull off. I’m not entirely convinced it’s what Woven Man are going for on this first outing, but it’s where they might end up.

Woven Man on Thee Facebooks

Woven Man on Bandcamp

 

Charivari, Descent

charivari descent

Whether drifting mildly through the likes of drone-laden pieces “Down by the Water,” the CD-only title-track or “Alexandria” as they make their way toward the harsh bite at the end of the 11-minute closer “Scavengers of the Wind,” Bath, UK, heavy post-rockers Charivari hold a firm sense of presence and tonal fullness. They’re prone to a wash from leadoff “When Leviathan Dreams” onward, but it’s satisfying to course along with the four-piece for the duration of their journey. Rough spots? Oh, to be sure. “Aphotic” seethes with noisy force, and certainly the aforementioned ending is intended to jar, but that only makes a work like “Lotus Eater,” which ably balances Cure-esque initial lead lines with emergent distortion-crush, that much richer to behold. The moves they make are natural, unforced, and whether they’re trading back and forth in volume or fluidly, willfully losing themselves in a trance of effects, the organic and ethereal aspects of their sound never fail to come through in terms of melody even as a human presence is maintained on vocals. When “Down by the Water” hits its mark, it is positively encompassing. Headphones were built for this.

Charivari on Thee Facebooks

Worst Bassist Records on Bandcamp

 

Human Impact, Human Impact

human impact human impact

Bit of a supergroup here, at least in the underrated-New-York-art-noise sphere of things. Vocals and riffy crunch provided by the masterful Chris Spencer (formerly of Unsane), while Cop Shoot Cop‘s Jim Coleman adds much-welcome electronic flourish, Swans/Xiu Xiu bassist Chris Pravdica provides low end and the well-if-he-can-handle-drumming-for-Swans-he-can-handle-anything Phil Puleo (also Cop Shoot Cop) grounds the rhythm. Presented through Ipecac, the four-piece’s declarative self-titled debut arrives through Ipecac very much as a combination of the elements of which it is comprised, but the atmosphere brought to the proceedings by Coleman set against Spencer‘s guitar isn’t to be understated. The two challenge each other in “E605” and the off-to-drone “Consequences” and the results are to everyone’s benefit, despite the underlying theme of planetary desolation. Whoops on that one, but at least we get the roiling chaos and artful noise of “This Dead Sea” out of it, and that’s not nothing. Predictable? In parts, but so was climate change if anyone would’ve fucking listened.

Human Impact on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings store

 

Dryland, Dances with Waves

dryland dances with waves

The nautically-themed follow-up to Bellingham, Washington, progressive heavy/noise/post-hardcore rockers Dryland‘s 2017 self-titled debut album, the four-song Dances with Waves EP finds the thoughtful and melodic riffers working alongside producer/engineer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) on a recording that loses none of its edge for its deft changes of rhythm and shifts in vocals. There’s some influence from Elder maybe in terms of the guitar on “No Celestial Hope” and the finale “Between the Testaments,” but by the time the seven-minute capper is done, it’s full-on Pacific Northwest noise crunch, crashing its waves of riffs and stomp against the shore of your eardrums in demand of as much volume as you’ll give it. Between those two, “Exalted Mystics” moves unsuspectingly through its first half and seems to delve into semi-emo-if-emo-was-about-sailing-and-death theatrics in its second, while “The Sound a Sword Adores” distills the alternating drive and sway down to its barest form, a slowdown later setting up the madness soon to arrive in “Between the Testaments.”

Dryland on Thee Facebooks

Dryland on Bandcamp

 

Brass Owl, State of Mind

brass owl state of mind

Brass Owl foster on their self-released debut full-length, State of Mind, a brand of heavy rock that maintains a decidedly straightforward face while veering at the same time into influences from grunge, ’70s rock, the better end of ’80s metal and probably one or two current hard or heavy rock bands. You might catch a tinge of Five Horse Johnson-style blues on “No Filter – Stay Trendy” or the particularly barroom-ready “Jive Turkey,” which itself follows the funkier unfolding jam-into-shredfest of “The Legend of FUJIMO,” and the earlier “Hook, Line & Sinker” has trucker-rock all over it, but through it all, the defining aspect of the work is its absolute lack of pretense. These guys — there would seem to have been three when they recorded, there are two now; so it goes — aren’t trying to convince you of their intelligence, or their deep-running stylistic nuance. They’re not picking out riffs from obscure ’80s indie records or even ’70s private press LPs. They’re having a good time putting traditionalist-style rock songs together, messing around stylistically a bit, and they’ve got nine songs across 43 minutes ready to roll for anyone looking for that particular kind of company. If that’s you, great. If it ain’t, off you go to the next one.

Brass Owl website

Brass Owl on Bandcamp

 

Battle City, Press Start

Battle City Press Start

From even before you press play on Press Start, the 22-minute debut release from South Africa’s Battle City, the instrumental duo make their love of gaming readily apparent. Given that they went so far as to call one song “Ram Man” and that it seems just as likely as not that “Ignition” and “Ghost Dimension” are video game references as well, it’s notable that guitarist/bassist Stian “Lightning Fingers Van Tonder” Maritz and drummer Wayne “Thunder Flakes” Hendrikz didn’t succumb to the temptation of bringing any electronic sounds to the six-song offering. Even in “Ghost Dimension,” which is the closer and longest track by about three minutes, they keep it decidedly straightforward in terms of arrangements and resist any sort of chiptune elements, sticking purely to guitar, bass and drums. There’s a touch of the progressive to the leadoff title-track and to the soaring lead “Ignotion,” but Press Start does likewise in setting the band’s foundation in a steady course of heavy rock and metal, to the point that if you didn’t know they were gaming-inspired by looking at the cover art or the titles, there’d be little to indicate that’s where they were coming from. I wouldn’t count myself among them, but those clamoring for beeps and boops and other 8-bit nonsense will be surprised. For me, the riffs’ll do just fine, thanks.

Battle City on Thee Facebooks

Battle City on Bandcamp

 

Astral Bodies, Escape Death

Astral Bodies Escape Death

Spacious, varied and progressive without losing their heft either of tone or presence, Manchester, UK, trio Astral Bodies debut on Surviving Sounds with Escape Death, working mostly instrumentally — they do sneak some vocals into the penultimate “Pale Horse” — to affect an atmosphere of cosmic heavy that’s neither indebted to nor entirely separate from post-metal. Droning pieces like the introductory “Neptune,” or the joyous key-laced wash of the centerpiece “Orchidaeae,” or even “Pale Horse,” act as spacers between longer cuts, and they’re purposefully placed not to overdo symmetry so as to make Escape Death‘s deceptively-efficient 36-minute runtime predictable. It’s one more thing the three-piece do right, added to the sense of rawness that comes through in the guitar tone even as effects and synth seem to surround and provide a context that would be lush if it still weren’t essentially noise rock. Cosmic noise? The push of “Oumuamua” sure is, if anything might be. Classify it however you want — it’s fun when it’s difficult! — but it’s a striking record either way, and engages all the more as a first long-player.

Astral Bodies on Thee Facebooks

Surviving Sounds on Thee Facebooks

 

Satyrus, Rites

satyrus rites

Following its three-minute chanting intro, Satyrus let opener and longest track (immediate points) “Black Satyrus” unfold its cultish nod across an eight minutes that leads the way into the rest of their debut album, Rites, perhaps more suitably than the intro ever could. The building blocks that the Italian unit are working from are familiar enough — Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, maybe even some Slayer in the faster soloing of second cut “Shovel” — but that doesn’t make the graveyard-dirt-covered fuzz of “Swirl” or the noisefest that ensues in “Stigma” or subsequent “Electric Funeral”-ist swing any less satisfying, or the dug-in chug of bookending nine-minute closer “Trailblazer.” Hell, if it’s a retread, at least they’re leaving footprints, and it’s not like Satyrus are trying to tell anyone they invented Tony Iommi‘s riff. It’s a mass by the converted for the converted. I’d ask nothing more of it than that and neither should you.

Satyrus on Thee Facebooks

Satyrus on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

The Company BigCartel store

 

Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

Workshed on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

E-L-R on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

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Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

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Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

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Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

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El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

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