Ruff Majik Tease New Single “What a Time to Be a Knife”; European Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

With just a bit less than a month to go before it’s released, no one will be able to say they weren’t warned about the new Ruff Majik single, “What a Time to Be a Knife.” The South African heavy rockers will release the new track on June 7 — it’s available now to pre-save through the usual-suspect digital outlets — and no, there isn’t even a snippet of audio to go on yet, but one assumes that will follow.

Why put word out early? Maybe it’s because the band are gearing up to travel from South Africa to Europe for a second tour supporting their most righteous 2023 long-player, Elektrik Ram (review here), and wanted to be sure they got the news out before the run started May 16, not the least since they’re on the continent until the song actually arrives. One more thing to tick off your to-do list ahead of getting on the plane. There’s a lot to be said for that.

And a lot to be said about “What a Time to Be a Knife” as well. I’ll skip playing coy and tell you outright I’ve had the chance to hear the song, and if the middle-fingery vibe of “Hillbilly Fight Song” from Elektrik Ram or the charge of “All You Need is Speed” from 2020’s The Devil’s Cattle (review here) did you right, you’ll probably want to keep an eye out. As one would both expect and hope, attitude abounds in the song, which also features a guest spot from Reegan du Buisson (Facing the Gallows, Evergloom), and by the time you feel like you can keep up with the first listen, it’s already over.

The European dates (yeah, I already posted them; bite me) follow here, as well as the knife-emoji-heavy save-the-date note and link they put out on socials. Have at it:

ruff majik what a time to be a knife

RUFF MAJIK – 🔪What A Time To Be A Knife🔪

⚔️07.06.2024⚔️

feat. Reegan du Buisson

Pre-save: https://orcd.co/xqy6d0b

Illustration by Llewellyn Van Eeden
Design by Johni Holiday
Mix and master by Justin Bernardo
via Sound of Liberation

Ruff Majik :

16.5 – Cottbus (DE) @comicaze_cb , HEADLINE
17.5 – Dresden (DE) Gockelscream Festival
18.5 – Cologne (DE) @clubvolta_cologne , Siena Root + Dirty Sound Magnet
19.5 – Den Bosch (NL) W2, Monkey3
20.5 – Ede (NL) @astrant_ede , HEADLINE
21.5 – TBA
22.5 – Luxembourg (LUX) @mkbarbelval , with @uncle.leaf.band
23.5 – Aarau, @kiffaarau (CH), Brant Bjork
24.5 – München (DE), @feierwerk_ , Brant Bjork
25.5 – Erfurt (DE), VEB Kultur , Brant Bjork
26.5 – @desertfest_berlin (DE)
28.5 – Prague (CZ), @underdogsprague , Headline
29.5 – Nürnberg (DE), @musikzentrale_nuernberg , Headline
30.5 – TBA
31.5 – Esbjerg (DK), @esbjerg_fuzztival
1.6 – TBA
2.6 – Düsseldorf (DE), @pitcherrocknrollhq , Headline
4.6 – Lille (FR), @labullecafe
5.6 – Würzburg (DE), @immerhin.wuerzburg , Monkey3
6.6 – Biberach (DE), @abdera.bc , Monkey3
7.6 – Münster (DE), @rare_guitar , Headline
8.6 – TBA

Ruff Majik are:
Johni Holiday (vocals & guitar)
Cowboy Bez (guitar & vocals)
Jimmy Glass (bass)
Steven Bosman (drums)

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Ruff Majik Announce European Tour Starting May 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

This tour marks the second time in the last year that South African heavy rockers Ruff Majik have hit Europe for shows. I was lucky enough to see them at SonicBlast Fest 2023 (review here) in Portugal last August, and they were set to be back on the continent for a Fall run alongside heavy riffing Israeli party-in-a-can trio The Great Machine before war — as it apparently will unceasingly until we’ve finally eradicated our own species, no doubt to the planet’s general benefit — broke out. Thus ‘the second coming’ on the poster below, which also serves as a lyrical reference to the moment where the title-track of their 2023 album, Elektrik Ram (review here), turns downerism into a willful triumph.

I was doing a bit of travel myself last week and as I have everywhere I’ve gone for well over a year now — admittedly easier to do in the digital age — I brought that record along for the journey. No, I’m still not quite over it, even as the four-piece have threatened multiple outings to follow this and perhaps more realistically next year. As Elektrik Ram so deftly paired stylistic scope with pinpoint efficiency in its songwriting across a succession of memorable, varied tracks, I’ll go ahead and count their next anything among my most anticipated whatevers of whenever. Screw you, I’m allowed to have favorites.

The tour below finds them meeting up with desert rock pioneer/ambassador Brant Bjork, as well as Monkey3Siena Root and others, along with appearances at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, Desertfest Berlin 2024 and, the first of them, Gockelscream in Dresden, which as I understand it is somewhere between a heavyfest and a birthday party. Either way, sounds like a rad time.

From socials:

Ruff Majik euro tour

Here it is folks, our wildest tour announcement to date!

We’re hitting Gockelscream, Desertfest Berlin and Esbjerg Fuzztival!

More surprises in store too, with four more dates left to fill up!

All this brought to you by the good folks at @soundofliberation !

Artwork by the amazing @llewellynvaneeden !

Schedule:

16.5 – Cottbus (DE) @comicaze_cb , HEADLINE
17.5 – Dresden (DE) Gockelscream Festival
18.5 – Cologne (DE) @clubvolta_cologne , Siena Root + Dirty Sound Magnet
19.5 – Den Bosch (NL) W2, Monkey3
20.5 – Ede (NL) @astrant_ede , HEADLINE
21.5 – TBA
22.5 – Luxembourg (LUX) @mkbarbelval , with @uncle.leaf.band
23.5 – Aarau, @kiffaarau (CH), Brant Bjork
24.5 – München (DE), @feierwerk_ , Brant Bjork
25.5 – Erfurt (DE), VEB Kultur , Brant Bjork
26.5 – @desertfest_berlin (DE)
28.5 – Prague (CZ), @underdogsprague , Headline
29.5 – Nürnberg (DE), @musikzentrale_nuernberg , Headline
30.5 – TBA
31.5 – Esbjerg (DK), @esbjerg_fuzztival
1.6 – TBA
2.6 – Düsseldorf (DE), @pitcherrocknrollhq , Headline
4.6 – Lille (FR), @labullecafe
5.6 – Würzburg (DE), @immerhin.wuerzburg , Monkey3
6.6 – Biberach (DE), @abdera.bc , Monkey3
7.6 – Münster (DE), @rare_guitar , Headline
8.6 – TBA

See you there!

Ruff Majik are:
Johni Holiday (vocals & guitar)
Cowboy Bez (guitar & vocals)
Jimmy Glass (bass)
Steven Bosman (drums)

http://www.ruffmajik.com
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089579216305&mibextid=ZbWKwL
http://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik
https://www.tiktok.com/@ruffmajik

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

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

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Ruff Majik Premiere Ruff Majik vs. The World Covers

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik (photo by Christelle Duvenge Photography)

To be sure, Ruff Majik don’t owe 2023 any favors. The South African four-piece released their third full-length, Elektrik Ram (review here), through Mongrel Records and toured in a place I was. Word is they’ll be back out next year, too. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all paid up. But there’s no rest for the restless, and as the year begins to conceive of winding down, the band have two covers taken from the soundtrack of the 2010ruff majik threshold film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, based on Brian Lee O’Malley‘s graphic novel series, pretty much for the hell of it. There’s a Netflix show coming out this month. Fine. I still count fun as the primary motivator.

No, I mean that. Granted, in the ‘age of content’ and active social media engagement, one is driven — in part because it makes other people money — to create something new, something fun, something sharable every two to three minutes. That aside, I take guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday — joined by bassist Jimmy Glass, guitarist/backing vocalist Cowboy Bez and drummer Steven Bosman in the endeavor — at his word when he says he’s a fan of the movie and the franchise built up around it. And if you don’t know the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, it’s got a ton of songs by Beck — who even if you don’t dig his aesthetic, you know can write a song — and Frank Black, along with Emily Haines and James Shaw of Broken Social Scene and a bunch of others. “Black Sheep” is by the latter two, “Threshold” is by Beck, and there are Rolling Stones and T-Rex covers, so it’s not material thought up by writers sitting around a table working on a screenplay, which, yes, does happen, but part of the experience of the film. The music is essential and a very specific kind of cool.

Elektrik Ram has been the soundtrack to much of my 2023, and pretty essential in its own right, and though I don’t have info on when these recordings were done, Ruff Majik have established that in any given album cycle they might make a comic book or somesuch. And in acknowledgement of how hot-iron-being-struck they are in the studio and on stage, I’m not going to complain with more recorded material from this band right now. Further, RUFF MAJIK BLACK SHEEPeven if the concept hits you flat — you never saw the movie, you don’t care about it — “Threshold” is a sub-two-minute careen that spends its second half in a hooky wormhole to proto-punk triumph, and “Black Sheep” is a quirky piano ballad with purposefully grandiose keyboard string sounds, and it’s still done in less than three minutes, so nobody’s trying to take up your whole day here.

If you dug Elektrik Ram, though, think of these arrangements as complements for songs like “She’s Still a Goth” and the title-track or “Chemically Humanized.” Similarly honed edges. “Black Sheep” doesn’t go quite as dark lyrically as the latter, but it’s not far off, and the charge in “Threshold” is by now a Ruff Majik signature. I felt extraordinarily lucky to see this band play this year. I’d feel even luckier if I got to again in 2024, and while I won’t profess the same attachment to the Scott Pilgrim source material as Holiday, I get it. You can enjoy and/or make music your whole life, but some part of you will always be chasing the dragon of that feeling of how things hit when you were young discovering it for the first time. Paying tribute to that, giving a little insight and nuance into the story of where Ruff Majik are coming, and heavy besides. There you go. Content delivered.

“Black Sheep” and “Threshold” both stream below — I don’t know if they’re pressing a 7″ or not, but they probably should — followed by some comment from Holiday and more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Ruff Majik, “Black Sheep” track premiere

Ruff Majik, “Threshold” track premiere

South African Stoner Rock Firebrands Ruff Majik Pay Homage to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World With Two Exclusive Cover Releases

STREAM ➤ https://orcd.co/-blacksheep

STREAM ➤ https://orcd.co/-threshold

Ruff Majik, the notorious heavy stoner rock band known for their thunderous riffs and explosive performances, release their tribute to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World today. The band, led by the indomitable Johni Holiday, have recorded versions of Threshold and Black Sheep, two iconic tracks from the movie’s soundtrack in anticipation of the new Netflix series launching on November 17th.

Johni has long been an ardent fan of both the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie and the original graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley. These influences played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s identity and musical direction from the very beginning.
Commenting on the project, Holiday expressed his deep connection to the source material “I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World at the tender age of 18 – a high school loser with high hopes for getting my band out of the garage one day. My teenage mind completely missed the plot of the movie (or the fact that there was even any graphic novels before it) and just cared about the gnarly garage rock emanating from the soundtrack, thanks to fictional bands ‘Sex-bob-omb’ and ‘The Clash At Demonhead’. My fate was pretty much sealed after that, as I dug into every last piece of novelisation and memorabilia, I could get my hands on. Weird as it may be to say, I think the soundtrack of Scotty P. is one of my greatest influences of all time – we still say “we gotta play now & LOUD!” to each other before Ruff Majik takes the stage. So here you go, a love letter to my favourite fictional universe.”

The release features Ruff Majik’s unique take on two tracks that have become anthems in their own right.

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – guitar/vocals
Cowboy Bez – guitar/backing vocals
Jimmy Glass – bass
Steven Bosman – drums

Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

Ruff Majik website

Ruff Majik on Facebook

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Mongrel Records website

Mongrel Records on Facebook

Mongrel Records on Instagram

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Roelof Van Tonder of Acid Magus

Posted in Questionnaire on October 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Roelof Van Tonder of Acid Magus

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Roelof Van Tonder of Acid Magus

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

Simply put, I’m an aspiring musician, heavy emphasis on aspiring. I’ve always been in love and obsessed with music and I’ve dabbled here and there but never committed fully. I fucked around a lot in my early years, had way too much fun (if you know what I mean) and I also thought being like the musicians I admired wasn’t attainable for me. During lockdown I lost my job, and some other stuff happened that threw me into a deep depression. Music is what got me out of bed, practicing for hours every day gave me a sense of purpose and achievement that got me through a really tough time. My friend Keenan started a new project, and was in need of a drummer. I said fuck it and threw in my lot although I could barely play a single song. I realized how happy playing music made me and I should take this chance. I don’t think Keenan imagined anything to come from it at that point, but I was hell bent on proving myself. Many hours of practice, often without a working drum kit I managed to get to a point where my playing was passable. Since then I’ve moved to bass, it was another instrument I had which I could play when I didn’t have a drum kit, and I ‘ve just focused on getting this project to be successful. What I do is very much what is required at the moment, be it play a different instrument, do social media, organize shows or fill in a questionnaire. My journey is my own and I find that pretty cool now.

Describe your first musical memory.

Well… there’s many but one that I’ll never forget is listening to my dad’s Chris de Burgh CD, Spanish Train. The title track if you don’t know is a story of God and the Devil playing a game of cards for the souls of dead, on a train to the afterlife. The combination of storytelling, philosophy and music was just the coolest. I listened to that song many times, sometimes singing along other times thinking about life. I was a very broody child if you can tell!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Frist show I played with Acid Magus on drums. We all played well, and it was just simply exhilarating! Felt like I was leading a charge into battle, hacked my way through some songs and it was over. Pure bliss!

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

The depression I went through during lockdown had me reevaluating life, it really confronted me with a lot of my beliefs of what a worthy life is and what a successful future looks like.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Art and expression usually are synonymous, and I agree but really dedicating yourself to an instrument, craft or art requires a shit ton of discipline in many aspects of your life not only the time spent practicing. To be able to express yourself effectively, honestly and with confidence you need to get a lot of things right outside of your craft, and you need to find balance and purpose in your daily life. So I think artistic progression stems from the full spectrum of life, knowledge, relationships, philosophy, experiences, and honest hard work. Seeking your inner voice and expressing it is good and all, but I think we overemphasize creativity and art. Life imitates art as they say so stop trying so hard and just live. I say this like I do it with ease, but it’s hard trust me!

How do you define success?

Being able to pivot and do what you desire without having to worry about what you’re leaving behind. And simply, being worthy of happiness, emphasizing appreciation. If you can do that every day, you’re a success.

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

It’s morbid but I saw my cat Charlie get run over by a car right in front my eyes. She was emotional crutch during lockdown, and got me through a really tough time.

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

I study history, and I think anyone who has read about South Africa’s early frontier history would agree it’s just waiting to be told in a spaghetti western style movie. My sisters are in the film industry, check out Acid Magus’ music videos for some of their work, and I’ve always wanted to write a historically accurate, narrative script set in South Africa’s frontier and make a movie with them.

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

Catharsis and documentation or immortalizing memories. Not always to the degree of processing something heavy like trauma, or something official like painting a president’s portrait. It can be something simple like doodling when bored or taking a picture of a friend. We live life and find moments that need processing and art naturally lends itself to this, just as it documents these moments that are important to us. I often think of cave drawings in this sense. People painted what they held dear or had value, but also express tumultuous times or experiences that people should remember and learn from.

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

Getting old, I’m curious where life will take me and where the world will go.

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
https://mongrelrecords1.bandcamp.com/

Acid Magus, Hope is Heavy (2023)

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Shameless Post “Victim of Data” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

shameless

If you want to suppress a population, take away free access to information. The notion that Shameless‘ new single, “Victim of Data,” is about the high cost of data plans in the band’s native South Africa, but the truth is that issue goes right to deeper infrastructure issues. Corporate, capitalist greed, lack of investment in public goods and services — these things should be familiar to people in many places of the world.

With its punk-metal bookends repeating the title-line, swapping between pronouncing it day-ta and dah-ta, which is kind of fun, a hook is cast forth in the three-minute track with a bruiser’s subtlety. The idea here is brash. ‘Get up’ as conveyed through rhythmic urging, and with the social message underpinning, it seems clear the trio are trying to shake things up, to fight complacency, apathy. Doing so may sometimes be like throwing rocks at a mountain, but the aim is noble and every little bit counts.

And while the front and back are heavier, with a noise rock riff that reminds of Helmet circa 1991, and the visuals are suitably in-your-face, “Victim of Data” also breaks in its midsection to a stretch of dub guitar and cymbals. It soon enough circles back around to the distortion, crunch and urgent shove, but that momentary departure does a lot of work in conveying the multi-tiered style of the band, and especially as a quick sampling ahead of a to-be-revealed debut release, every little bit counts there too.

“Victim of Data” follows here, with copious PR wire background beneath.

Please enjoy:

Shameless, “Victim of Data” official video

Shameless are a trio from Soweto, South Africa, where they are one of a few rock/alternative bands. Their music is influenced by the music they grew up with, they have dubbed their sound Nkabi Rock / I Rock Yase Kasi (Assassin Rock / Rock from The Township, in isiZulu).

They describe their sound as “an extension of rock” which fuses metal, blues, kwaito, mbaqanga, isigxaxa and a smattering of jazz. On the first of September they will release the first single from their upcoming album (to be officially announced soon).

Victim of Data begins with the hook & chorus line “I am a Victim of Data!” as the band explode into action at full tempo. The song is characterised by Musa’s screeching guitars, Thabang’s intricate and groove-filled bass, and Rock’s thundering drums.

It is a multi-genre song with its roots in punk & heavy-rock, complimented by a controlled breakdown in the middle of the song which acts as a mood-setter for a manic guitar. All this is made more impressive by the fact that the band recorded the song live in a single take.

The inspiration for Victim of Data came during the pandemic’s extended lockdowns in South Africa. When the world moved online, it became very clear that lower income communities were excluded because of the cost of data which results in low internet access rates.

According to Musa “We have the most expensive data plans in the whole of Africa so when we wrote the song, we really felt victimised by the cost of information.” The result is an undeniably political statement and song; to which Musa adds “Just like when the Sex Pistols sang “God Save the Queen”.

Similarly to their sound, the recording process was far from conventional. It was done at DiscovrTV’s studios in Johannesburg with owner Julian von Plato and his team filming the sessions, and producer Hugh Davidson recording the audio. All instrument were recorded together, live, which gives the song their massive energy.

While the band felt some pressure with the cameras in and the sweat from the South African summer pouring down their faces. The band thought they were doing a warm-up take – little did they know Hugh and Julian were rolling. And just like that, in one take the song was recorded. One and done, as they say.

At the end of the recording you can hear some laughter from the band as they found out that the practice take was not for practicing, and that the song was done. The footage (of this recording session and all others for the album) will be released in various projects, music videos and BTS clips as the release-cycle continues.

“We have come a long way as a band – from not believing one bit that what we do is unique or even good, to playing 78 shows in one year” – Musa Zwane

The single is accompanied by a music video, directed by Julian von Plato and shot at DiscovrTV’s studios, it is a frantic play-through styled video with visual glitches and spasms. These visual tropes make the viewer feel like they can’t quite see the full picture – not dissimilar to the feeling many South Africans get when they are excluded from the online world because of the price of data.

The band have come a long way since their very DIY beginnings; recording their debut EP “Impicabadala” and playing every small stage or room that they could find. They have now signed an exclusive deal with von Plato’s DiscovrMe (DiscovrTV’s indie label) which is underwritten by Tic Tic Bang.

The combination of these two organisations and the producer means that three big fans of the band – Hugh Davidson, Finn MacKinnon and Julian von Plato – have stepped into management, production and label roles with the combined goal of growing Shameless’ audience both in South Africa and in international territories.

According to Musa “This year was a year of getting our shit together. We’re slowly getting there and looking forward to getting back on stage to celebrate the release of the new music.” Their first show after the release of “Victim of Data” is Boogy Central’s “That Spring Fest” at Sognage on September the 9th.

Shameless on Facebook

Shameless on Instagram

Shameless on YouTube

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Acid Magus Premiere “Dead Weight” Video Feat. Johni Holiday of Ruff Majik

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Acid Magus (Photo by Christelle Duvenge)

Pretoria, South Africa’s Acid Magus released their second album, Hope is Heavy, through Mongrel Records in July as the follow-up to their 2021 debut Wyrd Syster (review here). The rolling, loosely hip-hop-informed “Dead Weight” is the third single from the six-track/43-minute long-player, preceded by “Caligulater” (posted here) and “Demon Behemoth” (posted here). Diverging from the band’s general methodology as it appears here, the penultimate cut features a guest appearance from Johni Holiday — whose band Ruff Majik released their excellent Elektrik Ram (review here) album earlier this year; you may have heard me drone on about how perfect it is — and wraps itself around the hook that begins with the line, “Twelve gauges to waste you,” and elephantine-fuzz marches through with due nod until the dreamy midsection, from whence it moves into a slower solo before rallying for a final chorus. Catchy, bouncing in its lumber-prone way, with Acid Magus vocalist Anrico Jeske reminding of Sasquatch during the verse with Holiday joining in effectively for the chorus and introducing the song.

Jeske is new to the band as of Hope is Heavy, as is guitarist/vocalist Brendon “Cowboy Bez” Bezuidenhout (also of Ruff Majik), who take the places respectively of former vocalist Christiaan Van Renen and nobody. Returning players Keenan Kinnear (guitar, songwriting), Jarryd Wood (bass) and Roelof van Tonder (drums on the album, now bass) are fairly consistent in tone and purpose from where Acid Magus was on Wyrd Syster, putting marked heft and fuzz behind heavy psychedelic liquidity with melody over top and an exploratory foundation. But there’s no question Acid Magus are a different band on Hope is Heavy, the title evoking a sense of ‘daring to hope,’ positing perhaps that it’s easier to be hopeless, whereas in order to have any kind of optimism for the future is harder work. I have little doubt this is true, and if you like heavy music named after heavy things, 10-minute LP closer “Trillion Tonne Sun” should satisfy nicely, but the change in the group is almost immediate as opener and previously mentioned single “Demon Behemoth” winds in on feedback and crashes to announce the arrival of its central riff and moves into its first verse.

Placed at the presumed end of side A, “Caligulater” gets a little rougher edged in its middle, but the melodic serenity of “Demon Behemoth” and the subsequent “Progeneration” — Acid Magus Hope is Heavylight touches of guitar there floating over the bassline and a chorus emerging that’s all the more a triumph because it stays slow — is maintained and a fluidity results as “Caligulater” picks up the tempo in seeming response to the song before it, keeping the airiness of guitar but setting it to swing along with the drums. Side B’s “A Planet, a Deathstar” is the shortest inclusion at 4:33, and it uses that time to begin a classic second-half-of-the-record expansion of style, with a spoken vocal over the early, resonant à la All Them Witches, acoustic-inclusive, low-key galloping verse, and a groove that holds as the fuller-toned fuzz unveiled and the grittier voice returns, suitable to the pulses that punctuate the riff, fading out to let Holiday mark the arrival of “Dead Weight.” And there is no level on which Hope is Heavy‘s penultimate track isn’t play. It’s cheeky, its groove is downright arrogant and the Jeske/Holiday tradeoffs make it a party, even if the video is set in an office with a surprising amount of longhairs in lower management.

It’s a blowout, if a somewhat different kind than “Caligulater,” but ends up in a not entirely dissimilar place following its two-minute intro, shimmering with heavy prog tonality and filled out beneath by denser low-end fuzz, opening for the verse like older-school European heavy rock and touching on ’90s-style alternative, but Acid Magus are clearly aware they’re at the end, and after reaffirming the semi-psych liquidity of side A, they use the final chorus of “Trillon Tonne Sun” for a crescendo with an epilogue of quiet guitar bookending the start of the song. The last purposeful move on the album but by no means the first, Hope is Heavy would feel like a second debut if the band hadn’t put so much detail and depth into the recording. Setting a broad context for themselves, they introduce listeners to their new lineup with intentional creative reach and a sound and style more cohesive than it was two years ago, despite the personnel shifts. And in some ways subtle and some ways not, they put a focus on songwriting that, whether it’s “Dead Weight” or “Progeneration” or “Demon Behemoth,” produces memorable results.

They were a band with potential, and so they remain. They don’t at all sound like they’re done growing, but Hope is Heavy does benefit from lessons gleaned from Wyrd Syster, and in thinking about where they might go for a third long-player, one hopes nothing so much as that Acid Magus continue to develop on the path they’ve set for themselves. That would be the best-case scenario, and they seem to know it, having come into a make-or-break moment for the band with a collection of songs ready to answer the question in decisive fashion: make.

“Dead Weight” video premieres below. Hope is Heavy is out now. More info follows from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Acid Magus, “Dead Weight (Feat. Johni Holiday)” video premiere

Buy / Stream Hope Is Heavy:
https://orcd.co/hope-is-heavy
https://acidmagus.bandcamp.com/album/hope-is-heavy

Get ready to be entranced by the dark, thought-provoking soundscape as South Africa’s own progressive doom virtuosos Acid Magus unleash their latest masterpiece — a riveting music video for their track Dead Weight from their critically acclaimed new album Hope Is Heavy out now on Mongrel Records. This release delves into the heart of modern popular culture’s relentless imitation game, challenging conventions and inviting viewers to question the status quo. To amplify the impact, the track features a captivating guest vocals appearance from none other than the esteemed frontman Johni Holiday from prominent South African stoner rock sensations Ruff Majik.

Johni takes on a dual role, gracing the track with his unmistakable voice while also embodying the main antagonist in the music video. In a stunning visual portrayal, he assumes the role of a vampire, reigning as a corporate overlord in a dystopian, cutthroat business environment.

Featuring 6 tracks, the album explores themes of existentialism, introspection, and the human condition. The band’s poetic lyrics delve into profound and introspective territories, inviting listeners to explore the depths of their own psyche.

“As time passed and I grew older, I found myself becoming depressed for no reason other than for the fact that I was becoming a bitter cynic. ‘Hope is Heavy’ is me trying to find that elusive light at the end of the ever present, gloomy tunnel.” – Keenan Kinnear, guitarist/songwriter.

Track Listing:
1. Demon Behemoth
2. Progeneration
3. Caligulater
4. A Planet, A Deathstar
5. Dead Weight (ft. Johni Holiday)
6. Trillion Tonne Sun

Line Up:
Keenan Kinnear: guitar
Jarryd Wood: bass guitar
Roelof van Tonder: drums
Anrico Jeske: vocals
Brendon Bezuidenhout: guitar, vocals

Acid Magus, Hope is Heavy (2023)

Acid Magus, “Caligulater”

Acid Magus, “Demon Behemoth”

Acid Magus on Facebook

Acid Magus on Instagram

Acid Magus on Bandcamp

Mongrel Records website

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Ruff Majik Post “Delirium Tremors” Video; European Tour on Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Ruff Majik at SonicBlast 2023 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

How good were Ruff Majik at SonicBlast this past weekend? Well, I could tell you they were pretty good, and that would be true. I could do a swan dive (again) into grandiose, lavish plaudits about the soul of heavy rock and roll, stupidly long run-on sentences about the songs, the band’s energy, and so on. That would be true too.

But I’ll tell you what, today is Monday. I originally had no posts planned for today. I was traveling all day yesterday, and since I generally work a day ahead at least on reviews and as much as I can overall, there just wasn’t space to put anything together — that’s aside from giving myself a god damned day off from this every now and then, not that I’d ever admit to myself that I might need or even want one let alone actually benefit from it in some way — and then along came this Ruff Majik video. And you know what? They were so fucking awesome at SonicBlast that I’m posting this today instead of tomorrow.

“Delirium Tremors,” free of that triangle ting-ting-ting in its live presentation — you’ll hear it in the video — closed their set at the pre-party for the fest (review here), and the singalong to the ending riff is among the memories I’ll carry with me in the years to come from the weekend, not the least because it kept going after the song was over, after the set was over, and while they were taking the ceremonial post-show pic in front of the crowd (which ended up being a video), finally dying out as they left the stage.

They posted that video — as one would hope, honestly — on the ol’ socials, and that’s down near the bottom of this post, where you’ll also find the stream of Elektrik Ram, because if I haven’t gotten the point across yet this year, I think this is an album that should be heard. A testament to the quality of the songs, “Delirium Tremors” is the fifth single from the record, and you’ll note the guest appearance from All This for Nothing‘s Paul Gioia in the corporate-riff-rock spoken intro. You know the type. Big plans. Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday talked about that and a whole bunch of stuff in this interview.

From the thing, to the thing. They should put this out as a cassingle with a live version or an outtake for a B-side like it’s 1992. Here’s hoping. Happy Monday:

Ruff Majik, “Delirium Tremors” official video

STREAM ➤ https://orcd.co/elektrik_ram
BANDCAMP ➤ https://ruffmajik.bandcamp.com/album/elektrik-ram

Delirium Tremors serves as a testament to Ruff Majik’s unyielding dedication to their craft and their distinctive ability to push the boundaries of stoner rock. The track encapsulates the raw energy, captivating riffs, and evocative lyrics that have earned the band widespread acclaim and a devoted global following. With its hypnotic groove and powerful melodies, Delirium Tremors promises to be an anthem that resonates deeply with both longtime fans and new listeners alike.

The accompanying music video showcases the band’s live energy and elevates the song’s impact to new heights.

Ruff Majik Europe Tour 1500x1200Ruff Majik European tour (remaining dates):
15/8 DE Berlin – Urban Spree with Sasquatch
17/8 DE Hannover – Faust with Sasquatch
18/8 DE Cottbus – Blue Moon
19/8 PL Kozmin Wielkopolski – Rifffields
20/8 CZ Prague – Nová libeňská Synagoga
22/8 DE Frankfurt – Zoom with Greenleaf
23/8 NL EDE – Astrant
24/8 NL Eindhoven – Effenaar with Acid King
25/8 DE Dresden – Ostpol
26/8 DE Siegen – Vortex

PHOTOGRAPHERS
Christelle Duvenage Photography
By Evan Captures
Shutterbug Photography
Schutte
Henry Engelbrecht
Anika De Lange
Iggy Band Pics

VIDEOGRAPHERS
Slade Durandt
Schutte
Thugnifficent Tattoo Tucker

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – guitar/vocals
Cowboy Bez – guitar/backing vocals
Jimmy Glass – bass
Steven Bosman – drums

 

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Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

Ruff Majik website

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Mongrel Records website

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Quarterly Review: Khanate, Space Queen, King Potenaz, Treedeon, Orsak:Oslo, Nuclear Dudes, Mycena, Bog Monkey, The Man Motels, Pyre Fyre

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Ah, a Quarterly Review Wednesday. Always a special occasion. Monday starts out with a daunting look at the task ahead. Tuesday is all digging in and just not trying to repeat myself too much. Wednesday, traditionally, is where we hit the halfway point. The top of the hill.

Not the case this time since I’ll have 10 records each written up next Monday and Tuesday, but crossing the midpoint of this week alone feels like an accomplishment and you’ll pardon me if I mark it as such. If you’re wondering how the rest of the week will go, tomorrow is all-business and Friday’s usually a party one way or the other. My head gets so in it by the middle of next week I’ll be surprised not to be doing this anymore. So it goes.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khanate, To Be Cruel

Khanate To Be Cruel

Who among mortals could hope to capture the horrors of Khanate in simple words? The once-New York-based avant sludge ultragroup end a 14-year hiatus with To Be Cruel, a fourth album, comprising three songs running between 19-21 minutes each that breed superlative hatefulness. At once overwhelming and minimalist, with opener “Like a Poisoned Dog” placing the listener in a homemade basement dungeon with the sharp, disaffection-incarnate bark of Alan Dubin (also Gnaw) cutting through the weighted slog in the guitar of Stephen O’Malley (also SunnO))), et al), the bass of James Plotkin (more than one can count, and he probably also mastered your band’s record) and the noise free-jazz drumming of Tim Wyskida (Blind Idiot God, etc.), they retain the disturbing brilliance last heard from in 2009’s Clean Hands Go Foul (discussed here) and are no less caustic for the intervening years. “It Wants to Fly” is expansive and wretched death poetry set to drone doom, a ritual made of its own misery, and the concluding title-track goes quiet in its midsection as though to let every wrenching anguish have its own space in the song. There is no one like them, though many have tried to convey some of what apparently only Khanate can. As our plague-infested, world-burning, war-making, fear-driven species plunges further into this terrible century, Khanate is the soundtrack we earn. We are all complicit. All guilty.

Khanate on Facebook

Sacred Bones Records store

 

Space Queen, Nebula

Space Queen Nebula EP

Though plenty atmospheric besides, Vancouver heavy fuzz rockers Space Queen add atmosphere to their nine-song/26-minute Nebula EP through a series of four interludes: the a capella three-part harmonies of “Deluge,” the acoustic-strummed “Veil” and “Sun Interlude,” and the finishing manipulated space-command sample in “End Transmission” after the richly melodic doom rock of “Transmission/Lost Causemonaut.” That penultimate inclusion is the longest at 6:14 and tells a story in a way that feels informed by the three-piece of drummer/vocalist Karli MacIntosh, guitarist/vocalist Jenna Earle and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Seah Maister‘s past in the folk outfit Sound of the Sun, but transposes its melodic sensibility into a heavier context. It and the prior garage-psych highlight “When it Gets Light” — a lighter initial electric strum that arrives in willful-seeming contrast to “Darkest Part” immediately preceding — depart from the more straight-ahead push of opener “Battle Cry” and the guitar-screamer “Demon Queen” separated from it by the first interlude. Where those two come across as working with Alice in Chains as a defining influence — something the folk elements don’t necessarily argue against — the Nebula EP grows broader as it moves through its brief course, and flows throughout with its veering into and out of songs and short pieces. This is Space Queen‘s second EP, and if they’re interested in making a full-length next, they sound ready.

Space Queen on Facebook

Space Queen on Bandcamp

 

King Potenaz, Goat Rider

king potenaz goat rider

Fasano, Italy’s King Potenaz debut on Argonauta Records with Goat Rider, which conjures raw fuzz, garage-doom atmospherics, and vocals that edge toward aggression and classic cave metal, early Venom or Celtic Frost having a role to play even alongside the transposition of Kyuss riffing taking place in the title-track, which follows “Among Ruins” and “Pyramids Planet,” both of which featured on the trio’s 2022 Demo 6:66, and which set a tone of riff-led revelry here with a sound that reminds of turn-of-the-century era stoner explorations, but grows richer as it moves into “Pazuzu (3:33)” — it’s actually 5:18 — with guest vocals from Sabilla and the quiet three-minute instrumental “Cosmic Voyager” planet-caravanning into the 51-minute album’s second half, where “Moriendoom (La Ballata di Ippolita Oderisi)” and the even doomier “Monolithic” dig into cultish vibes and set up the bleak shuffle of nine-minute closer “Dancing Plague,” departing from its central ’90s-heavy riff into a mellow-psych movement and then returning from that outward stretch to end. Even at its most familiar, Goat Rider finds some way to harness an individual edge, cleverly using the mix itself as an instrument to create the space in which the songs dwell. It may take a few listens to sink in, but there’s real potential in what they’re doing.

King Potenaz on Facebook

Argonauta Records store

 

Treedeon, New World Hoarder

Treedeon New World Hoarder

With the release of their third album, New World Hoarder, German art-sludgers Treedeon celebrate their first decade as a band. The combined vinyl-with-CD follows 2018’s Under the Manchineel (review here) and proffers raw cosmic doom in “Omega Time Bomb,” crossing the 10-minute line for the first time after the particularly-agonized opener “Nutcrème Superspreader” and before the title-track’s nodding riff brings bassist Yvonne Ducksworth to the fore vocally, trading off with guitarist Arne Heesch as drummer Andy Schünemann crashes cyclically behind. “New World Hoarder” gives over to side B opener “Viking Meditation Song,” which rolls like an evil-er version of Goatsnake, and “RHV1,” on which Heesch and Ducksworth share vocal duties, as they also do in 12-minute closer “Läderlappen” — a shouting duet in the first half feels long in arriving, but that’s how you know the album works — as the band cap with more massive chug following an interplay of melody and throatier fare. They’re right to ride that groove, as they’re right about so much else on the record. Like much of what Exile on Mainstream puts out, Treedeon are stylistically intricate and underrated in kind.

Treedeon on Facebook

Exile on Mainstream site

 

Orsak:Oslo, In Irons

Orsak Oslo In Irons

There are a couple different angles of approach one might take in hearing Orsak:Oslo‘s In Irons full-length. The Norway/Sweden-based instrumental troupe have been heretofore lumped in with heavy post-rock and ambient soundscaping, which is fair enough, but what they actually unveil in “068 The Swell” (premiered here), is a calming interpretation of space rock. With experimentalism on display in its late atmospheric drone comedown, “068 The Swell” moves directly into the more physical “079 Dutchman’s Wake (Part I),” the languid boogie feeling modern in presentation and classic in construction and the chemistry between the members of the band. The drums sit out much of the first half of “069 In What Way Are You Different,” giving a sense of stillness to the drone there, but the song embraces a bigger feel toward its finish, and that sets up the feedback intro to “078 The Mute (Part II),” which veers dreamily between amplifier drone and complementary melodic guitar flourish. Taking 17 minutes to do it, they close with “074 Hadal Blue,” which more broadly applies the space-chill of “068 The Swell” and emphasizes flow and organic changes from one part to the next. Immersive, it would be one to get lost in if it weren’t so satisfying to pay attention.

Orsak:Oslo on Facebook

Vinter Records website

 

Nuclear Dudes, Boss Blades

Nuclear Dudes Boss Blades

Fuck. Yes. As much grind as sludge as electronics-infused hardcore as it is furious, unadulterated noise, the 12-song/50-minute onslaught that is Boss Blades arrives via Modern Grievance at the behest of Jon Weisnewski, also of Sandrider, formerly of Akimbo. If Weisnewski‘s name alone and the fact that Matt Bayles mixed the self-recorded debut LP aren’t enough to pull you into the tornado of violence and maddening brood that opener “Boss Blades” uses to open — extra force provided by one of two guest vocal spots from Dave Verellen of Botch; the other is on “Lasers in the Jungle” later on — then perhaps the seven-minute semi-industrial march of “Obsolete Food” or the bruising intensity of “Poorly Made Pots” or the minute and a half of sample-topped drone psych in “Guitart,” the extreme prog metal of “Eat Meth” or “Manifest Piss Tape” will do the trick, or the nine-minute near-centerpiece “Many Knives” (which, if there’s a Genghis Tron influence here generally — and there might be — is more the last record than the older stuff) with its slow keyboard unfolding as a backdrop for Dust Moth‘s Irene Barber to make her own guest appearance, plenty of post-everything cacophony mounting by the end, grandiose and consuming. I could go on — every track is a new way to die — but suffice it to say that this is what my brain sounds like when my kid and my wife are talking to me about different things at the same time and it feels like my skull is on fire and I have an aneurysm and keel over. Good wins.

Nuclear Dudes on Instagram

Modern Grievance Records website

 

Mycena, Chapter 4

mycena chapter 4

Sometimes harsh but always free, 2022’s Chapter 4 from Croatian instrumentalist double-guitar five-piece Mycena — guitarists Marin Mitić and Pavle Bojanić, bassist Karlo Cmrk, drummer Igor Vidaković and synthesist/noisemaker Aleksandar Vrhovec — brings three tracks that are distinct unto themselves but listed as part of the same entirety, dubbed “Dissolution” and divided into “Dissolution Part 1” (17:49), “Dissolution Part 2” (3:03), and “Dissolution Part 3” (18:11), and it may well be that what’s being dissolved is the notion that rock and roll must be confined to verse/chorus structuring. Invariably, Earthless are a comparison point for longform instrumental heavy anything, and given the shred in “Dissolution Part 1” around five minutes deep and the torrent rockblast in the first half of “Dissolution Part 3” before it melts to near-silence and quietly noodles its way through its somehow-dub-informed last 11 or so minutes, building in presence but not actually blowing up to full volume as it caps. While totaling a manageable 39 minutes, Chapter 4 is a journey nonetheless, with a scope that comes through even in “Dissolution Part 2,” which may just be an interlude but still carries a steady rhythm that seems to reorient the band ahead of their diving into the extended final part, the band sounding natural in making changes that would undo acts with less chemistry.

Mycena on Facebook

Mycena on Bandcamp

 

Bog Monkey, Hollow

bog monkey hollow

Filthy tone. Just absolutely nasty. Atlanta’s Bog Monkey tracked Hollow, their self-released debut LP, with Jay Matheson at The Jam Room in South Carolina, and if they ever go anywhere else to try to capture their sound I’d have to ask why. With seven cuts totaling 33 minutes play-time and fuzz-sludge blowouts a-plenty in “Facemint,” the blastbeaten “Blister” and the heads-down largesse-minded shove-off-the-cliff that is “Slither” at a whopping 2:48, Hollow transposes Conan-style shouted vocals on brash, thickened heavy, the bass in “Tunnel” and forward-charging leadoff “Crow” with its thrash-riffing hook is the source of the heft, but it’s not alone. Spacious thanks to echoes on the vocals, Hollow crushes just the same, and as the trio plunder toward the eight-minute “Soma” at the end, growing intense quickly out of a calmer intro jam and slamming their message home circa 3:40 with crashes that break to bass and guitar noise to establish the nod around which the ending will be based, all you can really do is look forward to the bludgeoning to come and be glad when it arrives. Don’t be fooled by their generic name, or the silly stoner rock art (which I’m not knocking; it being silly is part of the point). Bog Monkey bring together different styles in a way that’s thoughtful and make songs that sound like they just rose out of the water to fucking obliterate you. So go on. Be obliterated.

Bog Monkey on Facebook

Bog Monkey on Bandcamp

 

The Man Motels, Dead Nature

The Man Motels Dead Nature EP

Punkish in its choruses like the title-track or opener “Sports,” the four-song Dead Nature EP from South Africa’s The Man Motels is the latest in a string of short releases and singles going back to their 2018 full-length, Quit Looking at Me!, and they temper the urgency of their speediest parts with grunge-style melody and instrumental twists. Bass and drums at the base of “Young Father” set up the sub-three-minute closer as purely punk, but sure enough the guitar kicks in coming out of the verse and one can hear the Nirvana effect before it drops out again. Whether it’s a common older-school hardcore influence, I don’t know, but “Sports” and “Young Father” remind of a rawer Fu Manchu with their focus on structure, but “The Fever” is heavier indie rock and culminates in a tonally satisfying apex before cutting back to the main riff that’s led the way for… oh, about three minutes or so. All told, The Man Motels are done in 15 minutes, but they pack a fair amount into that time and they named the release after its catchiest installment, so there. Maybe not the kind of thing I’d always reach for in my own listening habits, but I’m not about to rag on a band for being good at what they do or showcasing their material with the kind of energy The Man Motels put into Dead Nature.

The Man Motels on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Pyre Fyre, Pyre Fyre

pyre fyre pyre fyre

With a couple short(er) outings to their credit, Bayonne, New Jersey, three-piece Pyre Fyre present seven songs in the 18 minutes of their self-titled, which just might be enough to make it a full-length. Hear me out. They start raw with “Hypnotize,” more of a song than an intro, punkish and the shortest piece at 1:22. From there, the Melvins meet Earthride on “Flood Zone” and the range of shenanigans is unveiled. Produced by drummer/noisemaker Mike Montemarano, with Dylan Wheeler on guitar, Dan Kirwan on bass and vocals from all three in its hithers and yons, it is a barebones sound across the board, but Pyre Fyre give a sense of digging in despite that, with the echo-laced “Wyld Ryde” doled out like garage thrash, while “Dungeon Duster/Ice Storm” sounds like it was recorded in two different sessions and maybe it was and screw you if that matters, “Don’t Drink the Water” hits the brakes and dooms out with stoner-drawl vocals later, “Arachnophobia” dips into a darker, somehow more metal, mood, and the fuzzy “Cordyceps” ends with swagger and noise alike in just under two and a half minutes. All of this is done without pretense, without the band pausing to celebrate themselves or what they just accomplished. They get in, kick ass, get out again. You don’t want to call it an album? Fine. I respectfully disagree, but we can still be friends. What, you thought because it was the internet I was going to tell you to screw off? Come on now.

Pyre Fyre on Instagram

Pyre Fyre on Bandcamp

 

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