Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Spaceslug, Lie Heavy, Burning Realm, Kalac, Alkuräjähdys, Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Amigo, The Hazytones, All Are to Return

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Alright, back at it. Putting together yesterday over the weekend was more scattershot than I’d prefer, but one might say the same of parenting in general, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, as happens with Quarterly Reviews, we got there. That my wife gave me an extra 40 minutes to bang out the Wizzerd video premiere was appreciated. As always, she makes everything possible.

Compared to some QRs, there are a few ‘bigger’ releases here. You’ll note High on Fire leading off today. That trend will continue over this and next week with the likes of Pallbearer, Uncle Acid, Bongripper, Harvestman (Steve Von Till, ex-Neurosis), Inter Arma, Saturnalia Temple spread throughout. The Pelican two-songer and My Dying Bride back to back a week from today. That’ll be a fun one. As always, it’s about the time crunch for me for what goes in the Quarterly Review. Things I want to cover before it’s too late that I can fit here. Ain’t nobody holding their breath for my opinion on any of it, or on anything generally for that matter, but I’m not trying to slight well known bands by stuffing them into what when it started over a decade ago I thought would be a catchall for demos and EPs. Sometimes I like the challenge of a shorter word count, too.

And I remind myself here again nobody really cares. Fine, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Cometh the Storm

high on fire cometh the storm

What seems at first to be business as usual for High on Fire‘s fourth album produced by Kurt Ballou, fifth for MNRK Heavy (formerly E1), and ninth overall, gradually reveals itself to be the band’s tonally heaviest work in at least the last 15 years. What’s actually new is drummer Coady Willis (Big Business, Melvins) making his first studio appearance alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (Sleep, Pike vs. the Automaton) and long-tenured bassist/backing vocalist Jeff Matz (also saz on the instrumental interlude-plus “Karanlik Yol”), and for sure Willis‘ thud in “Trismegistus,” galloping intensity in the thrashy and angular “The Beating” and declarative stomp beneath the big slowdown of 10-minute closer “Darker Fleece” is part of it, but from the way Pike and Matz bring “Cometh the Storm’ and “Sol’s Golden Curse” in the record’s middle to such cacophonous ends, the three-and-a-half-minute face-kick that is “Lightning Beard” and the suckerpunch that starts off with “Lambsbread,” to how even the more vocally melodic “Hunting Shadows” is carried on a wave of filthy, hard-landing distortion, their ferocity is reaffirmed in thicker grooves and unmitigated pummel. While in some ways this is what one would expect, it’s also everything for which one might hope from High on Fire a quarter-century on from their first demo. Triumph.

High on Fire on Facebook

MNRK Heavy website

Spaceslug, Out of Water

spaceslug out of water

A release concurrent to a remastered edition of their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here), only puts into emphasis how much Spaceslug have come into their own over eight productive years. Recorded by drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziółkowski (also Mountain of Misery), with guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka dug into familiar tonal textures throughout five tracks and a quick but inevitably full-length-flowing 32 minutes, Out of Water is both otherworldly and emotionally evocative in the rollout of “Arise the Sun” following the intertwined shouts of opener “Tears of Antimatter,” and in keeping with their progression, they nudge toward metallic aggression as a way to solidify their heavy psychedelic aspects. “Out of Water” is duly mournful to encapsulate such a tragic notion, and the nod of “Delusions” only grows more forcefully applied after the return from that song’s atmospheric break, and while they depart with “In Serenity” to what feels like the escapism of sunnier riffing, even that becomes more urgent toward the album’s finish. The reason it works is they’re bending genre to their songs, not the other way around, and as Spaceslug mature as a group, they’ve become one of Poland’s most essential heavy acts.

Spaceslug on Facebook

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Lie Heavy, Burn to the Moon

lie heavy burn to the moon

First issued on CD through JM Records in 2023, Lie Heavy‘s debut album, Burn to the Moon, sees broader release through Heavy Psych Sounds with revamped art to complement the Raleigh, North Carolina, four-piece’s tonal heft and classic reach in pieces like “In the Shadow” and “The Long March,” respectively. The band is fronted by Karl Agell (vocalist for C.O.C.‘s 1991 Blind album and now also in The Skull-offshoot Legions of Doom), and across the 12-song/51-minute run, and whether it’s the crunch of the ripper “When the Universe Cries” or the Clutch-style heavy funk of “Chunkadelic” pushing further from the start-stops of “In the Shadow” or the layered crescendo of “Unbeliever” a short time later, he and bassist/vocalist TR Gwynne, guitarist/vocalist Graham Fry and drummer/vocalist Jeff “JD” Dennis deliver sans-pretense riff-led fare. They’re not trying to fix what wasn’t broken in the ’90s, to be sure, but you can’t really call it a retread either as they swing through “Drag the World” and its capstone counterpart “End the World”; it all goes back to Black Sabbath anyway. The converted will get it no problem.

Lie Heavy on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Burning Realm, Face the Fire

Burning Realm Face the Fire

Dublin, Ireland, trio Burning Realm mark their first release with the four-song Face the Fire EP, taking the cosmic-tinged restlessness of Wild Rocket and setting it alongside more grounded riffing, hinting at thrash in the ping ride on “From Beyond” but careening in the modern mode either way. Lead cut “Homosapien” gives Hawkwindian vibes early — the trap, which is sounding like Slift, is largely avoided, though King Gizzard may still be relevant as an influence — but smoothly gives over to acoustics and vocal drone once its urgency has bene vaporized, and spacious as the vocal echo is, “Face the Fire” is classic stoner roll even into its speedier ending, the momentum of which is continued in closer “Warped One (Arise),” which is more charged on the whole in a way that feels linear and intended in relation to what’s put before it. A 16-minute self-released introduction to who Burning Realm are now, it holds promise for how they might develop stylistically and grow in terms of range. Whatever comes or doesn’t, it’s easy enough to dig as it is. If you were at a show and someone handed you the tape, you’d be stoked once you put it on in the car. Also it’s like 1995 in that scenario, apparently.

Burning Realm on Facebook

Burning Realm on Bandcamp

Kalac, Odyss​é​e


Offered through an international consortium of record labels that includes Crême Brûlée Records in the band’s native France, Echodelick in the US, Clostridium in Germany and Weird Beard in the UK, French heavy psych thrusters Kalac‘s inaugural full-length, Odyss​é​e — also stylized all-caps — doesn’t leave much to wonder why so many imprints might want some for the distro. With a focus on rhythmic movement in the we-gotta-get-to-space-like-five-minutes-ago modus of current-day heavy neo-space-rock, the mostly instrumental procession hypnotizes even as it peppers its expanses with verses here or there. That might be most effectively wrought in the payoff noiseblaster wash of “II,” which I’m just going to assume opens side B, but the boogie quotient is strong from “Arguenon” to “Beautiful Night,” and while might ring familiar to others operating in the aesthetic galaxial quadrant, the energy of Kalac‘s delivery and the not-haphazard-but-not-always-in-the-same-spot-either placement of the vocals are enough to distinguish them and make the six-tracker as exciting to hear as it sounds like it probably was to record.

Kalac on Facebook

Crême Brûlée Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

Weird Beard Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

Alkuräjähdys, Ehdot.

Alkurajahdys ehdot

The live-tracked fourth outing from Helsinki psych improvisationalists Alkuräjähdys, the lowercase-stylized ehdot. blends mechanical and electronic sounds with more organic psychedelic jamming, the synth and bassier punchthrough in the midsection of opening piece “.matriisi” indeed evocative of the dot-matrix printer to which its title is in reference, while “központ,” which follows, meanders into a broader swath of guitar-based noise atop a languidly graceful roll of drums. That let’s-try-it-slower ideology is manifest in the first half of the duly two-sided “a-b” as well, as the 12-minute finale begins by lurching through the denser distortion of a central riff en route to a skronk-jazz transition to a tighter midtempo groove that I’ll compare to Endless Boogie and very much intend that as a compliment. I don’t think they’re out to change the world so much as get in a room, hit it and see where the whole thing ends up, but those are noble creative aims in concept and practice, and between the two guitars, effects, synth and whathaveyou, there’s plenty of weird to go around.

Alkuräjähdys on Instagram

Alkuräjähdys on Bandcamp

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister, Tarot Pt. 1

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister tarot pt. 1

Already a significant undertaking as a 95-minute 2LP running 11 tracks themed — as the title(s) would hint — around tarot cards, the mostly serene sprawl of Magick Brother & Mystic Sister‘s Tarot Pt. 1 is still just the first of two companion albums to be issued as the follow-up to the Barcelona outfit’s 2020 self-titled debut (discussed here). Offered through respected Greek purveyor Sound Effect Records, Tarot Pt. 1 gives breadth beyond just the runtime in the sitar-laced psych-funk of “The Hierophant” (swap sitar for organ, synth and flute on “The Chariot”) and the classic-prog pastoralia of closer “The Wheel of Fortune,” and as with the plague-era debut, at the heart of the material is a soothing acid folk, and while the keys in the first half of “The Emperor” grow insistent and there’s some foreboding in the early Mellotron and key lines of “The Lovers,” Tarot Pt. 1 resonates comfort and care in its arrangements as well as ambition in its scope. Maybe another hour and a half on the way? Sign me up.

Magick Brother & Mystic Sister on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store

Amigo, Good Time Island

Amigo Good Time Island

The eight-year distance from their 2016 debut long-player, Little Cliffs, seems to have smoothed out some (not all, which isn’t a complaint) of the rough edges in Amigo‘s sound, as the seemingly reinvigorated San Diego four-piece of lead guitarist/vocalist Jeff Podeszwik (King Chiefs), guitarist Anthony Mattos, bassist Sufi Karalen and drummer Anthony Alley offer five song across an accessible, straightforward 17 minutes united beneath the fair-enough title of Good Time Island. Without losing the weight of their tones, a Weezery pop sensibility comes through in “Dope Den” while “Frog Face” is even more specifically indebted to The Cars. Neither “Telescope Boy” nor “Banana Phone” lacks punch, but Amigo hold some in reserve for “Me and Soof,” which rounds out the proceedings, and they put it to solid use for an approach that’s ’90s-informed without that necessarily meaning stoner, grunge or alt, and envision a commercially relevant, songwriting-based heavy rock and roll for an alternate universe that, by all accounts here, sounds like a decent place to be.

Amigo on Facebook

Roosevelt Row Records store

The Hazytones, Wild Fever

The Hazytones Wild Fever

Culminating in the Sabbathian shuffle of “Eye for an Eye,” Wild Fever is the hook-drenched third full-length from Montreal fuzzbringers The Hazytones, and while they’ve still got the ‘tones’ part down pat, it’s easy to argue the eight included tracks are the least ‘hazy’ they’ve been to-date. Following on from the direction of 2018’s II: Monarchs of Oblivion (review here), the Esben Willems-mixed/Kent Stump-mastered 40-minute long-player isn’t shy about leaning into the grittier side of what they do as the opening title-track rolls out a chorus that reminds of C.O.C. circa In the Arms of God while retaining some of the melody between the vocals of Mick Martel (also guitar and keys) and Gabriel Prieur (also drums and bass), and with the correspondingly thick bass of Caleb Sanders for accompaniment and lead guitarist John Choffel‘s solo rising out of the murk on “Disease,” honing in on the brashness suits them well. Not where one might have expected them to end up six years later, but no less enjoyable for that, either.

The Hazytones on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

All Are to Return, III

All Are To Return III

God damn that’s harsh. Mostly anonymous industrialists — you get F and N for names and that’s it — All Are to Return are all the more punishing in the horrific recesses and engulfing blasts of static that populate III than they were in 2022’s II (review here), and the fact that the eight-songer is only 32 minutes long is about as close as they come to any concept of mercy for the psyche of their audience. Beyond that, “Moratorium,” “Colony Collapse,” the eats-you-dead “Archive of the Sky” and even the droning “Legacy” cast a willfully wretched extremity, and what might be a humanizing presence of vocals elsewhere is screams channeled through so much distortion as to be barely recognizable as coming from a human throat here. If the question being posed is, “how much can you take?,” the answer for most of those brave enough to even give III a shot will be, “markedly less than this.” A cry from the depths realizing a brutal vision.

All Are to Return on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records store

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kamil Ziólkowski of Mountain of Misery, Spaceslug, O.D.R.A., Etc.

Posted in Questionnaire on January 3rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Kamil Ziółkowski of Mountain of Misery

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: Kamil Ziółkowski of Mountain of Misery, Spaceslug, O.D.R.A., Palm Desert, Etc.

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

When it comes to issues related to playing music, which is probably what the question is about, I define myself as, on the one hand, a drummer in several bands, but also a creator of music, and the creation of music, the creative process itself, is what I like the most. The symbiosis between several people functioning as a band is something wonderful and the resultant of their actions creating a common creation gives great satisfaction. The love for playing and creating music began when I was 16 years old and that’s when I started playing bass, a year later I switched to drums and it stayed that way, it’s what I identify with the most.

Describe your first musical memory.

It’s hard to single out any specific memory, music has basically always accompanied me. I was lucky that my father listened to broadly understood rock music, and this type of sounds accompanied me from childhood. Bands like Black Sabbath, TOTO, Marillion, Genesis and so on, they shaped me as a person and as a guy who would play music in the future. I started collecting music on physical media when I was 7, back then it was still cassette tapes, first it was… Roxette (!), then things like Def Leppard, and finally grunge, mainly Pearl Jam, then Soundgarden and this was the time I consider it “forming me” as a listener. I love and listen to these bands to this day.

Describe your best musical memory so far.

As a listener, it’s a concert by The Cure, which I love and was at in concert years ago. As a musician, it’s probably the entire period since 2008, when I finally managed to create good things, then the bands I was in were formed and their functioning gave me a lot of fun, I’m talking about Palm Desert and O.D.R.A, and a few years later Spaceslug appeared, the band from which I am probably best known on the broadly understood underground scene.

When was a strongly held belief tested?

You’re asking if I ever doubted playing music. If so, the years between 2006 and 2008 were such a dead period that I was seriously considering selling the drums and calling it quits. Then there was a big revival, as I mentioned above, from that moment on I can’t imagine the moment when I would stop doing it. I would feel an incredible emptiness inside myself if that happened.

Where do you think artistic progress is leading?

Progress can only be assessed from the perspective of time, 50 years ago everyone could also be surprised and announce the end of something when it turned out that progress contributed to something good. I think that artistic progress always goes in the right direction, after all, it is art, right?

How do you define success?

Success is doing something for a long time that gives you satisfaction.

If we evaluate it in hindsight and are satisfied with it, then we can say that we have achieved it.

The scale of success depends, of course, on our expectations and perspective, and is different for everyone.

Have you seen something you wish you hadn’t seen?

Yes, the internet is terrible. I won’t go into details, but I didn’t realize how far can go people to satisfy their sexual “needs” ;)

Describe something you haven’t created yet but would like to create.

Simple, something original enough to take your breath away… And on a more down-to-earth level, in strictly musical terms, I would like to create rock music supported by string instruments, specifically violins.

What do you think is the most important function of art?

Bringing beauty and happiness to everyone who wants to interact with it.

Something non-musical you’re looking forward to?

I can’t wait for my first trip to the United States in next month (January) . Although I’m going there to play a concert with Spaceslug, I also treat it as a journey to the big world, to the place from which I have drawn culture since I was a child, the world with which I was so fascinated, and finally, after many years, such an opportunity arose for the first time.




Mountain of Misery, In Roundness (2023)

Mountain of Misery, Anthem of Sadness (2023)

Spaceslug, Memorial (2021)

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Planet Desert Rock Weekend IV: Second Lineup Announcement

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

I’m late to the party as ever, but Planet Desert Rock Weekend IV — set for Jan. 25-28  as a probably-warmer-than-where-you-are winter getaway in Las Vegas, Nevada — has added more bands to its lineup, including SpaceslugBeastmaker and Flames of Durga. Curated by Vegas Rock Revolution‘s John Gist, the bill already featured the likes of a Spiralarms reunion, Italy’s Black Elephant, Sasquatch and Freedom Hawk, along with Sun CrowBorracho and Scorpion ChildMezzoa and Sonolith. Approached from any angle, this is a rocker’s lineup, and you could probably even do it without feeling like you’re drowning considering the evening starts for each of the four nights. Bonus!

There are more announcements to come as I understand it, and I will expect one about five minutes after this finally gets posted, because that’s just how on top of my game I am.

From social media:

Planet Desert Rock Weekend iv banner 2
Planet Desert Rock Weekend is ready to unleash the next band for Vegas Rock Revolution’s Planet Desert Rock Weekend IV – January 25-26-27, 2024 in Las Vegas…. It is the mighty Beastmaker! Out of the grave they are back with a vengeance !

Will be cool to have my buddy Trevor William Church back to Vegas for a show and first time with Beastmaker!

In case you hadn’t heard … here is the lineup so far with just two bands left to announce.

Spaceslug (Poland) / Sasquatch / Freedom Hawk / Scorpion Child / Beastmaker / Spiralarms (reunion show) / Borracho / Sandveiss (Canada) / Black Elephant (Italy) / Sun Crow / Mezzoa/ Sonolith / Flames Of Durga

Tickets available here -> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/711681026107

PDRW are setup so that you can enjoy your days in Vegas and have curated intimate shows each evening. 3 nights of heavy rock from around the world. Always a friendly crowd and one helluva party! Go alone and immediately will make new friends. Our community is like that!

John Gist

Facebook Event –> https://www.facebook.com/events/271023039042876

Planet Desert Rock Weekend IV
January 25-26-27 , 2024
Las Vegas
Nights 1 +2 at Count’s Vamp’d
Night 3 at The Usual Place (Downtown)

The first round of band announcements are:

Freedom Hawk
Scorpion Child
Spiralarms (Reunion Show)
Black Elephant


Planet Desert Rock Weekend IV teaser

Sasquatch, Live in Tilburg, NL, Aug. 20, 2023

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Quarterly Review: Yakuza, Lotus Thrones, Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, High Priest, MiR, Hiram-Maxim, The Heavy Co., The Cimmerian, Nepaal, Hope Hole

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Coming at you live and direct from the Wegmans pharmacy counter where I’m waiting to pick up some pinkeye drops for my kid, who stayed home from half-day pre-k on Monday because the Quarterly Review isn’t complicated enough on its own. It was my diagnosis that called off the bus, later confirmed over telehealth, so at least I wasn’t wrong and shot my own day. I know this shit doesn’t matter to anyone — it’ll barely matter to me in half an hour — but, well, I don’t think I’ve ever written while waiting for a prescription before and I’m just stoned enough to think it might be fun to do so now.

Of course, by the time I’m writing the reviews below — tomorrow morning, as it happens — this scrip will have long since been ready and retrieved. But a moment to live through, just the same.

We hit halfway today. Hope your week’s been good so far. Mine’s kind of a mixed bag apart from the music, which has been pretty cool.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Yakuza, Sutra

Yakuza sutra

Since it would be impossible anyway to encapsulate the scope of Yakuza‘s Sutra — the Chicago-based progressive psych-metal outfit led by vocalist/saxophonist Bruce Lamont, with Matt McClelland on guitar/backing vocals, Jerome Marshall on bass and James Staffel on drums/percussion — from the transcendental churn of “2is1” to the deadpan tension build in and noise rock payoff in “Embers,” the sax-scorch bass-punch metallurgical crunch of “Into Forever” and the deceptively bright finish of “Never the Less,” and so on, let’s do a Q&A. They still might grind at any moment? Yup, see “Burn Before Reading.” They still on a wavelength of their own? Oh most definitely; see “Echoes From the Sky,” “Capricorn Rising,” etc. Still underrated? Yup. It’s been 11 years since they released Beyul (review here). Still ahead of their time? Yes. Like anti-genre pioneers John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann turned heavy and metal, or like Virus or Voivod with their specific kind of if-you-know-you-know, cult-following-worthy individualist creativity, Yakuza weave through the consuming 53-minute procession of Sutra with a sensibility that isn’t otherworldly because it’s psychedelic or drenched in effects (though it might also be those things at any given moment), but because they sound like they come from another planet. A welcome return from an outfit genuinely driven toward the unique and a meld of styles beyond metal and/or jazz. And they’ve got a fitting home on Svart. I know it’s been over a decade, but I hope these dudes get old in this band.

Yakuza on Facebook

Svart Records website


Lotus Thrones, The Heretic Souvenir

Lotus Thrones The Heretic Souvenir

The second offering from Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Heath Rave (Altars of the Moon, former drums in Wolvhammer, etc.) under the banner of Lotus Thrones, the seven-song/38-minute The Heretic Souvenir (on Disorder and Seeing Red) draws its individual pieces across an aural divide by means of a stark atmosphere, the post-plague-and-the-plague-is-capitalism skulking groove of “B0T0XDR0NE$” emblematic both of perspective and of willingness to throw a saxophone overtop if the mood’s right (by Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont, no less), which it is. At the outset, “Gore Orphanage” is more of an onslaught, and “Alpha Centauri” has room for both a mathy chug and goth-rocking shove, the latter enhanced by Rave‘s low-register vocals. Following the Genghis Tron-esque glitch-grind of 1:16 centerpiece “Glassed,” the three-and-a-half-minute “Roses” ups the goth factor significantly, delving into twisted Type O Negative-style pulls and punk-rooted forward thrust in a highlight reportedly about Rave‘s kid, which is nice (not sarcastic), before making the jump into “Autumn of the Heretic Souvenir,” which melds Americana and low-key dub at the start of its 11-minute run before shifting into concrete sludge chug and encompassing trades between atmospheric melody and outright crush until a shift eight minutes in brings stand(mostly)alone keys backed by channel-swapping electronic noise as a setup for the final surge’s particularly declarative riff. That makes the alt-jazz instrumental “Nautilus” something of an afterthought, but not out of place in terms of its noir ambience that’s also somehow indebted to Nine Inch Nails. There’s a cough near the end. See if you can hear it.

Lotus Thrones on Facebook

Seeing Red Records store

Disorder Recordings website


Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, Doom Sessions Vol. 7


Realized at the formidable behest of Heavy Psych Sounds, the seventh installment of the Doom Sessions series (Vol. 8 is already out) brings together Sweden’s strongly cinematic sludge-doomers Endtime with fire-crackling North Carolinian woods-doomers Cosmic Reaper. With two songs from the former and three from the latter, the balance winds up with more of an EP feel from Cosmic Reaper and like a single with an intro from Endtime, who dedicate the first couple of minutes of “Tunnel of Life” to a keyboard intro that’s very likely a soundtrack reference I just don’t know because I’m horror-ignorant before getting down to riff-rumble-roll business on the righteously slow-raging seven minutes of “Beyond the Black Void.” Cosmic Reaper, meanwhile, have three cuts, with harmonized guitars entering “Sundowner” en route to a languid and melodic nod verse, a solo later answering the VHS atmosphere of Endtime before “Dead and Loving It” and “King of Kings” cult-doom their way into oblivion, the latter picking up a bit of momentum as it pushes near the eight-minute mark. It’s a little uneven, considering, but Doom Sessions Vol. 7 provides a showcase for two of Heavy Psych Sounds‘ up-and-coming acts, and that’s pretty clearly the point. If it leads to listeners checking out their albums after hearing it, mission accomplished.

Endtime on Facebook

Cosmic Reaper on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


High Priest, Invocation

High Priest Invocation

Don’t skip this because of High Priest‘s generic-stoner-rock name. The Chicago four-piece of bassist/vocalist Justin Valentino, guitarists Pete Grossmann and John Regan and drummer Dan Polak make an awaited full-length debut with Invocation on Magnetic Eye Records, and if the label’s endorsement isn’t enough, I’ll tell you the eight-song/44-minute long-player is rife with thoughtful construction, melody and heft. Through the opening title-track and into the lumber, sweep and boogie of “Divinity,” they incorporate metal with the two guitars and some of the vocal patterning, but aren’t beholden to that anymore than to heavy rock, and far from unipolar, “Ceremony” gives a professional fullness of sound that “Cosmic Key” ups immediately to round out side A before “Down in the Park” hints toward heavygaze without actually tipping over, “Universe” finds the swing buried under that monolithic fuzz, “Conjure” offers a bluesier but still huge-sounding take and 7:40 closer “Heaven” layers a chorus of self-harmonizing Valentinos to underscore the point of how much the vocals add to the band. Which is a lot. What’s lost in pointing that out is just how densely weighted their backdrop is, and the nuance High Priest bring to their arrangements throughout, but whether you want to dig into that or just learn the words and sing along, you can’t lose.

High Priest on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store


MiR, Season Unknown

mir season unknown

Its catharsis laced in every stretch of the skin-peeling tremolo and echoing screams of “Altar of Liar,” Season Unknown arrives as the first release from Poland’s MiR, a directly-blackened spinoff of heavy psych rockers Spaceslug, whose guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka feature along with guitarist Michał Zieleniewski (71tonman) and drummer Krzystof Kamisiński (Burning Hands). The relationship to Janik and Rutka‘s other (main?) band is sonically tenuous, though Spaceslug‘s Kamil Ziółkowski also guests on vocals, making it all the more appropriate that MiR stands as a different project. Ripping and progressive in kind, cuts like “Lost in Vision” and the blastbeaten severity of “Ashen” are an in-genre rampage, and while “Sum of All Mourn” is singularly engrossing in its groove, the penultimate “Yesterday Rotten” comes through as willfully stripped to its essential components until its drifting finish, which is fair enough ahead of the more expansive closer “Illusive Loss of Inner Frame,” which incorporates trades between all-out gnash and atmospheric contemplations. I won’t profess to be an expert on black metal, but as a sidestep, Season Unknown is both respectfully bold and clearly schooled in what it wants to be.

MiR on Facebook

MiR on Bandcamp


Hiram-Maxim, Colder

Hiram-Maxim Colder

Recorded by esteemed producer Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth, Unsane, etc.) in 2021-’22, Colder is Hiram-Maxim‘s third full-length, with hints of Angels of Light amid the sneering heaviness of “Bathed in Blood” after opener/longest track (immediate points) “Alpha” lays out the bleak atmosphere in which what follows will reside. “Undone” gets pretty close to laying on the floor, while “It Feels Good” very pointedly doesn’t for its three minutes of dug-in cafe woe, from out of which “Hive Mind” emerges with keys and drums forward in a moody verse before the post-punk urgency takes more complete hold en route to a finish of manipulated noise. As one would have to expect, “Shock Cock” is a rocker at heart, and the lead-in from the drone/experimental spoken word of “Time Lost Time” holds as a backdrop so that its Stooges-style comedown heavy is duly weirded out. Is that a theremin? Possibly. They cap by building a wall of malevolence and contempt with “Sick to Death” in under three minutes, resolving in a furious assault of kitchen-sink volume, that, yes, recedes, but is resonant enough to leave scratches on your arm. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t extreme music just because some dude isn’t singing about killing some lady or quoting a medical dictionary. Colder could just as easily have been called ‘Volcanic.’

Hiram-Maxim on Facebook

Wax Mage Records on Facebook


The Heavy Co., Brain Dead

The Heavy Co Brain Dead

Seeming always to be ready with a friendly, easy nod, Lafayette/Indianapolis, Indiana’s The Heavy Co. return with “Brain Dead” as a follow-up single to late-2022’s “God Damn, Jimmy.” The current four-piece incarnation of the band — guitarist/vocalist Ian Daniel, guitarist Jeff Kaleth, bassist Eric Bruce and drummer TR McCully — seem to be refocused from some of the group’s late-’10s departures, elements of outlaw country set aside in favor of a rolling riff with shades of familiar boogie in the start-stops beneath its solo section, a catchy but largely unassuming chorus, and a theme that, indeed, is about getting high. In one form or another, The Heavy Co. have been at it for most of the last 15 years, and in a little over four minutes they demonstrate where they want their emphasis to be — a loose, jammy feel held over from the riffout that probably birthed the song in the first place coinciding with the structure of the verses and chorus and a lack of pretense that is no less a defining aspect than the aforementioned riff. They know what they’re doing, so let ’em roll on. I don’t know if the singles are ahead of an album release or not, but whatever shows up whenever it does, The Heavy Co. are reliable in my mind and this is right in their current wheelhouse.

The Heavy Co. on Facebook

The Heavy Co. on Bandcamp


The Cimmerian, Sword & Sorcery Vol. I

the cimmerian sword and sorcery vol i

The intervening year since L.A.’s The Cimmerian made their debut with Thrice Majestic (review here) seems to have made the trio even more pummeling, as their Sword & Sorcery Vol. I two-songer finds them incorporating death and extreme metal for a feel like a combined-era Entombed on leadoff “Suffer No Guilt” which is a credit to bassist Nicolas Rocha‘s vocal burl as well as the intensity of riff from David Gein (ex-The Scimitar) and corresponding thrash gallop in David Morales‘ drumming. The subsequent “Inanna Rising” is slower, with a more open nod in its rhythm, but no less threatening, with fluid rolls of double-kick pushing the verse forward amid the growls and an effective scream, a sample of something (everything?) burning, and a kick in pace before the solo about halfway into the track’s 7:53. If The Cimmerian are growing more metal, and it seems they are, then the aggression suits them as the finish of “Inanna Rising” attests, and the thickness of sludge carried over in their tonality assures that the force of their impact is more than superficial.

The Cimmerian on Facebook

The Cimmerian on Bandcamp


Nepaal, Protoaeolianism

Nepaal Protoaeolianism

Released as an offering from the amorphous Hungarian collective Psychedelic Source Records, the three-song Protoaeolianism arrives under the moniker of Nepaal — also stylized as :nepaal, with the colon — finding mainstay Bence Ambrus on guitar with Krisztina Benus on keys, Dávid Strausz on bass, Krisztián Megyeri on drums and Marci Bíró on effects/synth for captured-in-the-moment improvisations of increasing reach as space and psych and krautrocks comingle with hypnotic pulsations on “Innoxial Talent Parade” (9:54), the centerpiece “Brahman Sleeps 432 Billion Years” (19:14) and “Ineffable Minor States” (13:44), each of which has its arc of departure, journey and arrival, forming a multi-stage narrative voyage that’s as lush as the liquefied tones and sundry whatever-that-was noises. “Ineffable Minor States” is so serene in its just-guitar start that the first time I heard it I thought the song had cut off, but no. They’re just taking their time, and why shouldn’t they? And why shouldn’t we all take some time to pause, engage mindfully with our surroundings, experience or senses one at a time, the things we see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Maybe Protoaeolianism — instrumental for the duration — is a call to that. Maybe it’s just some jams from jammers and I shouldn’t read anything else into it. Here then, as in all things, you choose your own adventure. I’m glad to be the one to tell you this is an adventure worth taking.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Hope Hole, Beautiful Doom

Hope Hole Beautiful Doom

There is much to dig into on the second full-length from Toledo, Ohio, duo Hope Hole — the returning parties of Matt Snyder and Mike Mulholland — who offer eight originals and a centerpiece cover of The Cure‘s “Sinking” that’s not even close to being the saddest thing on the record, titled Beautiful Doom presumably in honor of the music itself. Leadoff “Spirits on the Radio” makes me nostalgic for a keyboard-laced goth glory day that never happened while also tapping some of mid-period Anathema‘s abiding downer soul, seeming to speak to itself as much as the audience with repetitions of “You reap what you sew.” Some Godflesh surfaces in “600 Years,” and they’re resolute in the melancholy of “Common Sense” until the chugging starts, like a dirtier, underproduced Crippled Black Phoenix. Rolling with deceptive momentum, the title-track could be acoustic until it starts with the solo and electronic beats later before shifting into the piano, beats, drift guitar, and so on of “Sinking.” “Chopping Me” could be an entire band’s sound but it’s barely a quarter of what Hope Hole have to say in terms of aesthetic two records deep. “Mutant Dynamo” duly punks its arthouse sludge and shreds a self-aware over-the-top solo in the vein of Brendan Small, while “Pyrokinetic” revives earlier goth swing with a gruff biker exterior (I’d watch that movie) and a moment of spinning weirdo triumph at the end, almost happy to be burned, where the seven-minute finale “Cities of Gold” returns to beats over its gradual guitar start, emerging with chanting vocals to become its own declaration of progressive intent. Beautiful Doom ends with a steady march rather than the expected blowout, having built its gorgeous decay out of the same rotten Midwestern ground as the debut — 2021’s Death Can Change (review here) — but moved unquestionably forward from it.

Hope Hole on Facebook

Hope Hole on Bandcamp


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MiR: New Project Feat. Spaceslug Members Releasing Season Unknown This Week; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

There are two songs streaming now from Season Unknown, the debut album of Polish progressive black metallers MiR, who feature in their ranks Spaceslug guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka as well as guitarist Michał Zieleniewski of 71tonman and drummer Krzystof Kamisiński of Burning Hands. The first is raging, squibbly-inflected opener “Altar of Liar,” which duly scorches the earth so that it can be repainted in the greys and blacks one finds similarly manifested on the album’s cover, and the penultimate “Yesterday Rotten,” which departs in its second half toward more subdued and melodic fare, with Rutka and Kamil Ziółkowski (also Spaceslug) contributing vocals, and between the two, something of an atmospheric impression representing the record as a whole comes through.

It’s not the full story — MiR‘s Season Unknown runs eight songs and 43 minutes and puts that time to expansive use — but in severity and sprawl, a picture emerges. The best advice I can give is do go in with an open mind and don’t go in expecting Spaceslug. If you caught wind of 2021’s Memorial (review here), you know that outing had its moments of char as well, so MiR aren’t completely out of context, but it’s a purposeful step away from heavy psych, even if some cosmic aspects speak to the reach of a band like Oranssi Pazuzu in their furious churn en route to the sum-of-all that is seven-minute Season Unknown closer “Illusive Loss of Inner Frame.”

The project has been in the works for about half a decade, apparently, which explains the cohesion in the material throughout Season Unknown, but this is still a first release, and part of the impression it makes is for sure in the potential for MiR to reach deeper into the abyss they’re conjuring here, finding a place for themselves in post-black metal that’s neither lost the intensity of the root genre nor forsaken ambience in service to that.

A bit of info follows, culled from Bandcamp and social media, blah blah, and there’s the info for the release party on April 1, which is like this weekend or something, but consider the audio and just-posted video — directed and shot by Janik — the real point here, especially if you’re feeling like something that’s a little (okay a lot) out of the norm around these parts. Any and all opinions welcome either way in the comments:

mir season unknown

Second single from upcoming full length just landed.

This time we brought Kamil and Jan from Spaceslug for special featuring and collaboration on vocal parts to complete this track and its dark essence.

Enjoy eternity.

-CD/Vinyl/Merch coming soon-

MiR – Season Unknown LP
Release date: 31.03.2023
Album recorded at Perlazza Studio 4.04-15.04.2022
Mixed and mastered by Perła from Perlazza Studio and MiR

1. Altar of Liar
2. In the Stones
3. Lost in Vision
4. Sum of all Mourn
5. Moonlight Fever
6. Ashen
7. Yesterday Rotten
8. Illusive Loss of Inner Frame

Season Unknown” LP release party
Event: https://fb.me/e/3vX1xXsE7?mibextid=RQdjqZ

MiR is:
Bartosz Janik – Vocals, Guitars
Michał Zieleniewski – Guitars
Jan Rutka – Bass
Krzystof Kamisiński – Drums


MiR, “Altar of Liar” official video

MiR, Season Unknown (2023)

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Friday Full-Length: Spaceslug, Lemanis

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Recorded over the course of two days in Oct. 2015 and released in Feb. 2016, the seven-song/43-minute debut album from Wrocław, Poland, heavy psych rockers Spaceslug, dubbed Lemanis (review here), is an album that still feels new in my mind. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziółkowski offered it through Oak Island/Kozmik Artifactz on vinyl, BSFD Records on CD and Southcave Records on tape, and it almost immediately put them at the forefront of their country’s heavy underground for the richness of its tone, the languid nature of its groove and the flowing, laid back delivery of its vocal melodies that corresponded.

With headphone-ready depth in their mix — handled by the band with Jacek Maciołek, who also helmed the recording — and no wrong answer to either way of hearing them, Spaceslug‘s songs could either be experienced with glossed-over eyes or mined for details like the dual layers of feedback ringing out circa 4:30 into “Grand Orbiter” (with its sample of American president JFK at the start talking about going to the moon), 0r the particularly Sleepy riff that pays off the aptly-titled eight-minute side A capper “Supermassive,” slowing with classic stoner rock righteousness into a churn like the black holes at the center of the galaxies slowly sucking the cosmos into oblivion. By no means is that the only in-genre dogwhistle on Lemanis, either, but the fact that Spaceslug were conscious of what tropes they wanted to celebrate in their work — and which ones they didn’t — was a part of what made the songs feel so aesthetically complete.

Take the manner in which opener “Proton Lander” — one of the longer cuts at 7:45, with just “Supermassive” and the album-closing instrumental title-track (9:17) surpassing — comes apart at the finish. By the time the three-piece get there, they’ve built the song up from nothing, an initial hum fading gently in over some ambient noise, bass and guitar seeming to yawn themselves awake before the drums — who’ve already been up for a while and seem to have had their first cup of coffee — join in the procession. By the one-minute mark, they’re already rolling, but the abiding vibe is warm, cozy and easy to engage, and that remains true as they as volume and meter, shift into through verses, grow bigger in sound and seem to spaceslug lemanisfind multiple next-levels of density to their rich, lush fuzz. But after the six-minute mark, “Proton Lander” takes kind of a meandering turn, and rather than fading out the comedown, they jam through it and present the full ending of the song. They’re letting the listener in the room with them until there’s nothing but some noodling guitar left and the track ends organically, fluidly, decisively small after having been so grand and consuming only a few minutes before.

This is emblematic of what Lemanis accomplished across its whole span in terms of bringing to life a genuine sense of mellow-heavy. Spaceslug were by no means static in tempo either within or between their tracks, but even as “Hypermountain” picks up from that ending of “Proton Lander” and invigorates with a more directly forward movement, or as “Grand Orbiter” pushes through its open, half-time drum hook and surrounding effects swirl on vocals and guitar alike, the band remains steady in their presence. The vocals — the arrangements of which would flesh out and broaden in scope over the next several years with more aggressive takes sneaking in gradually and naturally — are never too far forward in the mix as to dominate the tones surrounding, and their placement is key and perfectly suited to the wall-o’-fuzz largesse being conveyed.

As the mostly-instrumental “Galectelion” (just a spoken part in the midsection) follows “Supermassive” as the centerpiece of the record and the start of side B — again carrying echoes of Sleep‘s riff worship but set to the band’s own earthier psychedelic intention, moving at a decent clip but consistent with the flow of its surrounding cuts — the affect is hypnotic in highlighting their jammier side, expanding on that impression at the end of “Proton Lander,” fleshing out the vibe on the whole in a way that makes the more lumbering bass and guitar effects barrage in the hooky “Grand Orbiter” stand out that much more. The 1:36 penultimate interlude “Quintessence” works in not entirely dissimilar fashion, picking up from the cold-cut feedback of “Grand Orbiter” with guitar floating in space before “Lemanis” announces its arrival with a distinct and welcome initial thud.

About that thud. While a large part of the impression Lemanis made and still makes seven years later comes from the mellow-heavy mood, the tones of the guitar and bass, and the laid back delivery of the vocals, even Ziółkowski‘s kick drum is worth mentioning in so clearly serving their purpose. It has a kind of muffled tone, the edges of the hammer’s impact rounded off and smooth in the recording, and where there’s a risk that the drums on the whole could detract from the liquidity of the material, they instead become the calming pulse at the core of it, definitely there but somehow gentle in how they punctuate the songs; one more aspect of craft that makes Spaceslug‘s debut such a standout even as they cap with the further trance induction of “Lemanis” itself, summarizing the abiding roll that has carried them and their audience through a deceptively cohesive breadth of turns and volume dynamics.

Spaceslug quickly affirmed the strengths of Lemanis with 2017’s sophomore LP, Time Travel Dilemma (review here), and set themselves on a course of progression across EPs and LPs that continues today — 2021’s Memorial (review here) was their fifth full-length and crowning achievement to-date; they’ll play Desertfest London this Spring and Høstsabbat in October, perhaps by then supporting or heralding a new release — and while they’ve added new elements to their style, they’ve never quite let go of the soothing nod of Lemanis. At the time, I couldn’t get away from a Sungrazer comparison, and I can still hear what in the songs put me in that place — worth noting that Spaceslug brought in former Sungrazer bassist for a guest spot on Time Travel Dilemma, so there’s some acknowledgement of the influence there — but listening to Lemanis seven years after the fact, it’s plain to hear even more just how much this record is the beginning of the band searching out their identity as a group, finding the niche they’d occupy and from which they’d grow and flourish as, fortunately, they have in the years since.

This is a pretty special record, and maybe that’s part of why it still feels new, because even looking back at it in hindsight, it’s so easy to lose oneself in the potential for expansion in its songs. As far as I’m concerned, that they’ve brought and are still bringing that potential to realization only makes it more of a landmark.

If you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks — and if you haven’t, it’s okay — I’ve been doing kind of an unofficial miniseries in these posts of Polish bands, with Sunnata last weekElvis Deluxe the week beforeDopelord before that, and Tortuga starting off. Over a decade ago, I did a similar look at a few Polish acts in a category of posts called ‘On the Radar’ that I don’t really do anymore, and this has been a follow-up to that at least for me if not anyone else, and it’s been interesting to hear the various paths that these groups have taken, those who’ve come and gone, etc. Whether you’ve followed along or not, I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing Lemanis again, and I thank you as always for reading.

The Pecan opened his door at 4:30AM, and while I love him dearly, my heart sank thinking of the morning’s productivity evaporating in the face of demands for yogurt and more Sesame Street. I put him back to bed before he even started down the stairs, and he was willing to go, with was something of a surprise. It’s 5:57 now and that’s already later than he’s slept all week.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping as well. Wednesday was probably as bad as it’s gotten; I woke up at 1AM and never really fell back out, got up and decided to get to work at about 2:30. Yesterday was 3:30-ish, which felt like a gift as I also wasn’t really up overnight rolling over or needing to go to the bathroom like the old man I am. Today was 3AM. Generally speaking, my days don’t really need to be longer than they already are when the alarm goes off at 4. I’ve been pretty wrecked by the time the kid goes to bed around 7:30PM, and even last night was nodding off watching Star Trek: Picard bring back Worf in violent fashion. Ups and downs.

Ups and downs to everything, I guess. Yesterday started out awesome as I had a total blast writing that Enslaved review — so, so much fun; I don’t usually get much of a response when I write about that band, but I always enjoy doing so and that makes it worth it — and went swimming and that felt good in my body and the kid and I had a decent morning without really butting heads on random bullshit as we so often do. But then the driver and aide on his morning bus let me know he’s been yelling and generally being a jerk on the ride to school, which is kind of part of broader ongoing behavioral concerns — transitions, always a challenge, probably always will be to some yet-unsettled extent — and it just flattened the whole day.

By the time The Patient Mrs. got back from getting her haircut, which of course looks lovely, I was in a hole compared to where I’d started out. It sucked, in short. And the day never really found that groove again. He came home from school and was difficult, and I got mad, and The Patient Mrs. tried to be a go-between, and it’s just a shitty dynamic that doesn’t really make anyone feel good and I don’t know what to do about any of it. I ate a gummy and got stoned and at least that helped calm me down, but golly, it would be nice to get through a day without feeling like an absolute garbage parent. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll keep you in the loop if I ever get there.

He starts kindergarten in the Fall, which will be a sea change as the first time he’ll be out of the house on more of a full-time basis. The beginning of a new era of school, basically. I’ve been considering trying to find part-time work outside the house (or in it, remotely) when he goes. Not that I can’t busy myself with domestic concerns or more writing — there’s never enough time for either — but I can’t help but wonder if after nearly six years of being completely out of the labor force, some part of me isn’t missing feeling like I’m contributing to something beyond poisoning my family by being a miserable piece of shit.

I’ve never enjoyed jobs, but money’s been tighter than tight, and even if it’s just money for music and/or weed that I don’t have to take out of the familial coffers, that’s not nothing. I don’t know, but I’m thinking about it. I won’t pretend to have any clue what I need or want. I open my mouth and hear my father’s voice, which crushes me. I look in the mirror and see his stiff lumbering. I have felt a bit haunted, perhaps, by vague and unresolved trauma from that relationship, and I am in terror of paying forward the shitty emotional abuse to which I was treated as a child to my own kid. Already it is glaringly obvious to me that I am the problem. I would not mind dying in my sleep and thereby removing that problem.

6:22 and he’s up and down the stairs on the quick, crying that it’s starting to get light. I tell him it’s part of the coming Spring, that the sun is coming up earlier. I’m fucking trying. Every day, I’m fucking trying. Moments of okay amid continual failure are godsends. I need to buy yogurt today.

Next week is full streams of REZN, Sandrider and Stoned Jesus — three of the best records I’ve heard so far in 2023.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, watch your head, hydrate, all that stuff. Monday is a Desert Storm video premiere and it’s a banger so keep an eye out.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch


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Høstsabbat 2023: Spaceslug Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

This is maybe even the third time Spaceslug have been confirmed for Høstsabbat, though one wonders at this point if anything that happened in 2020 either was real or counted. In any case, the Polish progressive heavy psychedelic rockers are slated for the 10th anniversary of the venerable Oslo-based festival after originally being announced last year and ultimately unable to make the trip. They go in support of late 2021’s Memorial (review here), which further thickened the plot of their aesthetic with deeper turns into darker and more metal-derived divergences. They are one of the best bands Poland has produced in the last decade-plus, and I very, very much hope to be in Norway this October when they play the church. It is a fitting space for a sound that’s as much a tapestry as theirs.

As I said last week when Black Rainbows was announced, I’m going to try to keep up with the Høstsabbat 10th anniversary lineup as bands are announced over the next however-many weeks. I’ve got a lot of love for the people who put it together and make it go, and when the pickups are as good as theirs have been so far for 2023, it’s that much more fun to follow along.

They put the following on socials this morning:



Høstsabbat has been lucky over the years, with very few cancellations all together. Last year, however, it happened to us as well.

Many of you were eagerly awaiting, and rightfully so, the magic of Spaceslug, and we knew we had to give them another chance. This year, the Polish wizards are coming to church with a vengeance.

That Polish doom scene, peeps? It’s so lush and vital it’s ridiculous, and our love for it is absolutely no secret. The soulful music this country keeps pouring out is beyond. The heavy and deeply melodic presence sets its scene apart, in the richest and most enchanting of ways.

To stand out amongst their peers, SPACESLUG have carved their own path. A path of riffs. Here they can wander between sabbathian swing and the darker complexity of the post-metal world without looking back, and with the greatest of ease. On top of this, they manage to add melody, harmonies even, resulting in a unique, spellbinding mix of SPACESLUG mastery.

Please welcome SPACESLUG to our ten-year anniversary!





Høstsabbat Spotify Playlist

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Desertfest London 2023 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Some considerable names in the first announcement for Desertfest London 2023. The festival set for next May 5-7 in Camden Town will be kind of the first to be removed from the effects of pandemic delay — many artists who played earlier this year had been originally booked for 2020. Seeing them move forward is encouraging.

All the more so given the bands playing, from Uncle Acid and Kadavar to High Desert Queen and Plainride. With Mars Red Sky, Ecstatic Vision and Gaupa included, Blood Ceremony, Spaceslug and a ton of others in just this first round, it looks like Desertfest is ready to throw down after a few rough years, now a survivor event hopefully that much stronger for the experience as it moves past its first decade into the next.

Announcement follows, as seen on social media:

Desertfest London 2023 first poster


Tickets via www.desertfest.co.uk

Returning stronger than ever thanks to the unyielding support of our steadfast fan base, Desertfest is now entering its eleventh year next May. Kicking off the initial 2023 announcement, we welcome cult heroes Uncle Acid and the deadbeats to headline the Roundhouse for the very first time. As one of the most widely-requested bands in the Desertfest-sphere, the Uncle Acid amalgamation of riff-driven hard-rock & trippy melodic weavings has allowed a uniquely original, yet utterly timeless beast to form.

Swedish heavy-blues maestros Graveyard join once again, eliciting raw emotion with their lyrical prowess & introspective compositions. One of the greatest live acts of all time, German groovers KADAVAR and worshippers of vintage occult folklore Blood Ceremony, all of whose boundary pushing retro-rock sounds make a gratifying return.

For those with a heavier appetite, macabre Japanese doom legends Church of Misery, genre-bending nihilists INTER ARMA & London’s own gloom heroes Grave Lines should be a delectable entrée to proceedings.

Ukraine’s Somali Yacht Club will undoubtedly meet a rapturous reception when their flawless musicianship makes its long awaited Desertfest debut. Dynamic US rockers Valley of the Sun will also make their first DF appearance, as they quickly propel themselves onto ‘must see’ lists across the globe.

Poland’s own Spaceslug will bring revellers into a world of atmospheric sci-fi influenced proto-doom, whilst the unique sounds of Mars Red Sky, GAUPA & Ecstatic Vision also up the ante with their progressive fusions of stoner & psychedelia.

Rounding off this first announcement, we also warmly welcome Celestial Sanctuary, High Desert Queen, Plainride, Everest Queen, Venomwolf & Margarita Witch Cult.

Weekend tickets for Desertfest London 2023 are on sale now, with much more still to be announced – www.desertfest.co.uk

Artwork by Callum Rooney


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