Healthyliving Post “Until” Video; Until / Below Single out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

healthyliving (Photo by Sandrina Schwarz)

Running about seven and a half minutes between its two tracks, the debut release, Until / Below, from multinational trio Healthyliving was released in late June. So about a month ago. I missed it coming in at the time, because blah blah suck at life, but the group based in Scotland and Germany — who stylize their name all-lowercase with spaces between the letters: h e a l t h y l i v i n g — are working their way toward a first full-length next year, and have a new video up for “Until,” the three-minute lead cut from the outing, and I’m happy to take it as a means of getting caught up.

The sonic foundation here is in heavy post-rock, and even in its comparative crunch when set against the subsequent “Below,” “Until” holds its atmospheric focus. Vocalist Amaya López-Carromero — also of Maud the Moth and operating as Amaya López-C. — is forward in the mix and as the chorus of “Until” pushes ahead in its layers, her voice is right there with the insistent rhythm behind, but the track is by no means overselling its hook. A straightforward structure underlieshealthyliving until below, but any pop elements are transmuted to suit Healthyliving‘s purposes. “Below,” a video for which came out at the time of the two-songer’s release and can be found near the bottom this post — which is not to say “below” — is calmer and moves deeper into ambience, with the striking addition of Stefan Pötzsch‘s spacious drums late along the contemplative noodling of guitar and vocal melody as a reminder of the heft that might resurface at any point. The wash that “Below” enacts in its midsection is immersive and brooding in kind, too short to really fully hypnotize, but willful-seeming in its lull and minimal in spite of its fullness, quiet in spite of its loud, expertly presented through the recording by guitarist/bassist Scott McLean.

I’ve included the full PR wire info about the release in no small part so that it’s there when inevitably I write about the band again and want to look back on it without digging through my emails. That’s just me being honest. If you take anything away from it, though, take the fact that one might already be thinking about “the next time” when it comes to Healthyliving as a sign of the potential for where the project might go on future offerings. Or, you know, just check out the video and dig a riff or whatever. Either way, you’re not gonna lose.

And in addition to both videos, you’ll find the Bandcamp stream of Until / Below too, for good measure.

However you go, enjoy:

Healthyliving, “Until” video

healthyliving is the project of long-time collaborators and friends Scott McLean (Falloch) on bass, guitars, and production, Stefan Pötzsch on drums, and Amaya López-C (Maud the moth) on voice and lyric writing. The shoegaze/alternative trio released their two-track release, until / below, last month on digital/streaming platforms.

“‘until’ was the first track written for the band, this was before we had any defined idea of what we were going to be doing as we hadn’t discussed the direction of the band before we had any music; it was informed on reacting to each other’s expression rather than a fixed direction,” shares Scott (bass, guitars). “Although ‘until’ is very different from ‘below’ they are both developed in the same emotive world but we are just responding to it in a different way, with ‘until’ being far more aggressive and ‘below’ having a much more introverted feel.”

“For this video I tried the same approach as for ‘below’, but things got a bit out of hand given my video-making limitations, so I needed help finishing it,” informs Amaya (vocals). “My friend Ana López, who made a video for Maud the moth, did most of the heavy lifting – editing and adding her amazing personal touch and vision which was a perfect match for this song. I somehow find it very aggressive visually which was super fun to do under a symbolic approach and resorting to movement and colour to convey this rather than more explicit imagery.”

until / below is now available on DSPs, access it RIGHT HERE:

After working on music together for years, healthyliving members’ artistic and personal connection coalesced naturally into what is now a small transnational collective and scene across Scotland and Germany. The group emerges to honour this connection which is reflected in the simplicity, rawness, and immediateness of both the compositions and the performances. With a stripped-down approach to instrumentation and visual universe, healthyliving draws from the beauty and horror of the mundane.

until / below, their first release is formed by two tracks — “until” and “below” — which work back to back like two extremely distanced sides narrating the same story. The trio is currently working on their debut album.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Scott McLean at Fry the rich studio

Scott McLean: Guitar+bass
Stefan Pötzsch: Drums
Amaya López-Carromero: Vocals

Healthyliving, “Below” official video

Healthyliving, Until/Below (2021)

Healthyliving on Facebook

Healthyliving on Instagram

Healthyliving on Twitter

Healthyliving on Bandcamp

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

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


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

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

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

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

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website


Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

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

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website


The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

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

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud


Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

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

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp


Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

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

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website


Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

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

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website


Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

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

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp


The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

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

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp


No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

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

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp


Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

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

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store


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Quarterly Review: Papir, Kosmodemonic, Steve Von Till, Sex Blender, Déhà, Thunder Horse, Rebreather, Melmak, Astral Magic, Crypt Monarch

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Day two already, huh? It’s a holiday week here in the States, which means people are on vacation or have at least enjoyed a long weekend hopefully without blowing any body parts off with fireworks or whatnot. For me, I prefer the day on rather than the day off, so we proceeded as normal yesterday in beginning the Quarterly Review. “We now return to our regularly scheduled,” and so on.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, as one would hope, and since we’re still basically at the start of this doublewide edition of the Quarterly Review — 10 down, 90 to go — I won’t delay further. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Papir, Jams

papir jams

Two sessions, three days apart, three pieces from each, resulting in six tracks running just about 80 minutes that Papir are only within their rights to have titled simply as Jams. With this outing, the Copenhagen-based psychedelic trio present their process at its most nakedly exploratory. I don’t know if they had any parts pre-planned when they went into the studio, but the record brims with spontaneity, drums jazzing out behind shimmering guitar and steadily grooving basslines. Effects are prevalent and add to the spaciousness, and the sessions from whence these songs came, whether it’s the key-led four-minute “20.01.2020 #2” or the 20-minute opener “17.01.2020 #1” — all tracks sharing the same date-and-number format as regards titles — feel vibrant and fluid in a way that goes beyond even the hazy hypnotics of “20.01.2020 #3.” Papir‘s instrumental dynamic is of course a huge part of what they do anyway, but to hear their chemistry come through in freer fashion as it does here can only be refreshing. I hope they do more like this.

Papir on Facebook

Stickman Records website


Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light

Kosmodemonic Liminal Light

Brooklyn outfit Kosmodemonic exist almost exclusively within genre border regions. Their second album, Liminal Light, fosters an approach that’s too considered not to be called progressive, but that owes as much to the cosmic doom of YOB as to black metal as to noise rock as to Voivod as to any number of other various ores in the metallic sphere. In their sprinting moments or in the consuming dark grandeur of centerpiece “Ipomoea,” they are pointedly individual, and cuts like “Drown in Drone” and the later slammer “Brown Crown” owe much to sheer impact as to the cerebral underpinnings of their angularity. Liminal Light is vicious but methodical, and feels executed with a firm desire to catch the audience sleeping and then blindside them with a change, be it in moving from one song to another or within one song itself, like when the penultimate “Chains of Goddess Grove” rears back from its lurching movement and spews thrashier fire in its final minute. Put these moments together and you get a record that challenges on multiple levels and is unflinchingly worth the effort of close engagement.

Kosmodemonic on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp


Steve Von Till, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Steve Von Till A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

The sixth solo offering from Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till is a first for being completely instrumental. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — goes that Von Till wrote the music for 2020’s No Wilderness Deep Enough (review here) late during jetlagged nights alone on his wife’s family’s property in Germany, where her family has lived for 500 years, only to later be convinced by producer Randall Dunn to write lyrics and record vocals for the songs. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, as the title hints, pulls those vocals back out of these re-named pieces, allowing elements like the quiet textures of keyboard and piano, horns and mellotrons to shine through in atmospheric fashion, layers of drone intertwining in mostly peaceful fashion. It is the least guitar-based record Von Till has ever done, and allows for a new kind of minimalism to surface along with an immersive melodic hum. Subdued, meditative, exploratory, kind of wonderful.

Steve Von Till website

Neurot Recordings store


Sex Blender, Studio Session I

Sex Blender Studio Session I

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, instrumentalist krautrock bizarros Sex Blender have two full-lengths behind them, and Studio Session I takes the consumingly fuzzed “Diver” from 2018’s Hormonizer and three cuts from 2020’s The Second Coming and turns them into a stirring 44-minute set captured on video for a livestream. Reportedly some of the arrangements are different, as will certainly happen, but as someone being introduced to the band through this material, it’s easy to be struck by the palpable sense of glee with which Sex Blender present their songs. “Crimson Master” is the shortest of the bunch at just over six minutes — it’s the only one under 11 — but even there, the manipulated keyboard sounds, drum fluidity and undercurrent of rumbling distortion push Sex Blender into a place that’s neither doom nor prog but draws from both, crawling where the subsequent “Rave Spritz” can’t help but bounce with its motorik drums and intertwined synth lines. May just be a live session, but they shine all the same.

Sex Blender on Facebook

Drone Rock Records website


Déhà, Cruel Words

Déhà Cruel Words

Déhà‘s third long-player Cruel Words was originally issued in 2019 and is seeing a first vinyl pressing on Burning World Records. The Brussels solo outfit has released no fewer than 17 other full-length outings — possibly more, depending on what counts as what — in the two years since these songs initially surfaced, but, well, one has to start someplace. The 2LP runs 75 minutes and includes bonus tracks — an acoustic version of opener “I Am Mine to Break,” a cover of The Gathering‘s “Saturnine” and the piano-into-post-metal “Comfort Me II” — but the highlights are on the album itself, such as the make-Amenra-blush 12-minute crux of “Dead Butterflies,” wherein a lung-crushing weight is given patient drama through its prominent keyboard layers, or the goth early going of “Pain is a Wasteland,” which seems to brood until it finally can’t take it anymore and bashes its head (and yours) into the wall. Surprisingly methodical for the manic pace at which Déhà (né Olmo Lipani) works, it makes artistry of its arrangement as well as performance and is willfully overwhelming, but engaging in that.

Déhà on Facebook

Burning World Records website


Thunder Horse, Chosen One

Thunder Horse Chosen One

Big riffs, big grooves, big hooks, Thunder Horse‘s second long-player, Chosen One, sees the San Antonio, Texas, outfit inherit some aspects from the members’ past outfits, whether it’s the semi-industrial vocal style of Stephen Bishop on “Among the Dead” or the classically shredding solo work of Todd Connally. With Dave Crow on bass and Jason “Shakes” West on drums, Thunder Horse elbow their way into a nod quickly on Chosen One and hold their ground decisively, with Dehumanizer-esque tones and flourish of keys throughout that closes in lead position on the outro “Remembrance” in complement to the strumming, whistling “Texas” a short while earlier. Even when they shuffle, as on the second half of “Song for the Ferryman,” Thunder Horse do it heavy, and as they did with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they make it hard to argue, either with the atmosphere or the sheer lumber of their output. An easy record to dig for the converted.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website


Rebreather, Pets / Orange Crush

Rebreather Pets Orange Crush

Heads up children of — or children of children of — the 1990s, as Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather effectively reinterpret and heavy up two of that decade’s catchiest hooks in Porno for Pyros‘ “Pets” and R.E.M.‘s “Orange Crush.” Taking songs that, if they ever left your head from rock radio, will certainly be right back in there now, and trying to put their own spin on them is ambitious, but Rebreather have no trouble slowing down the already kinda languid “Pets” or emphasizing the repetitive urgency of “Orange Crush,” and the tonal weight they bring to both honors the original versions as well as who Rebreather are as a band, while showcasing the band’s heretofore undervalued melodies, with call and response vocal lines in both cuts nodding to their sludge/noise rock roots while moving forward from there. They chose the songs well, if nothing else, and though it’s only about 10 minutes between the two cuts, as the first new Rebeather material since their 2018 self-titled EP (discussed here), I’ll take the two covers happily.

Rebreather on Facebook

Aqualamb Records website


Melmak, Down the Underground

Melmak Down the Underground

Spanish duo Melmak — guitarist/vocalist Jonan Etxebarria and drummer/vocalist Igor Etxebarria — offer an awaited follow-up to their 2016 long-player Prehistorical (review here) and demonstrate immediately that five years has not dulled their aggressive tendencies. Opener “Black Room” is a minute-long grindfest, and though “Scum” finds its way into a sludgy groove, it’s not far behind. “Poser” starts out as a piano ballad but turns to its own crushing roll, while “The Scene” rumbles out its lurch, “You Really Don’t Care” samples a crying baby over a sad piano line and “Ass Kisser” offers knee-to-the-face bruiser riffing topped with echoing gutturalism that carries the intensity into the seven-minute, more spacious “Jaundiced,” which gives itself over to extremity in its second half as well, and the closing noise wash of “The Crew.” What we learn from all this is it would seem Melmak find the heavy underground wanting in violent terms. They answer that call in bludgeoning fashion.

Melmak on Facebook

Melmak on Bandcamp


Astral Magic, Visions of Infinity

Astral Magic Visions of Infinity

Ostensibly a solo-project from Dark Sun bassist Santtu Laakso, Astral Magic‘s debut LP, Visions of Infinity, features contributions from guitarist Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Doctors of Space) and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Doctors of Space, Øresund Space Collective), as well as Samuli Sailo on ukulele, and has been mixed and mastered and released by Heller, so perhaps the plot thickens as regards just how much of band it is. Nonetheless, Astral Magic have all the cosmos to work with, so there’s plenty of room for everybody, as Visions of Infinity harnesses classic Hawkwindian space rock and is unafraid to add droning mysticism to the ever-outward procession on “Ancient Mysteries” or “Onboard the Spaceship,” to grow playful on “I Was Abducted” or bask in cosmic serenity on “Winds of Time” and “Wizards.” Off we go, into the greater reaches of “out there.” It’s a fun ride.

Astral Magic on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website


Crypt Monarch, The Necronaut

Crypt Monarch The Necronaut

Costa Rican trio Crypt Monarch offer their debut full-length in the form of the three-song/36-minute The Necronaut, the sound of which makes the claim on the part of the band — bassist/vocalist Christopher De Haan, guitarist Jose Rodriguez, drummer/vocalist J.C. Zuñiga — that it was made live in a cabin in the woods easy enough to believe. Though mixed and mastered, the 15-minute opener “Morning Star Through Skull” (15:41) and ensuing rollers “Rex Meridionalis” (10:12) and “Aglaphotis” (10:08) maintain a vigilant rawness, laced with noise even as De Haan and Zuñiga come together vocally on the latter, clean singing and gurgles alike. It is stoner metal taken to a logical and not entirely unfamiliar extreme, but the murk in which Crypt Monarch revel is dense and easy to get lost within. This, more than any single riff or lumbering groove, speaks to the success of the band’s intention in crafting the record. There is no clearly marked exit.

Crypt Monarch on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website


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Special Feature: Track-by-Track Through Grados. Minutos. Segundos. Pt. 1

Posted in Features on June 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Various artists Grados Minutos Segundos

Grados. Minutos. Segundos. is a multi-volume compilation assembled at the behest of Spinda Records, highlighting the label’s native Spanish underground scene across a series of 12 split seven-inch vinyls. Set for release between last Friday and next Spring, the pressing is one-time-only, limited to 240, hand-numbered and though I generally don’t post sale links like, available right here:

I’m not the type to tell you outright to spend your money. I know everyone works hard and cash is hard to come by and capitalism is terrible, etc., but the reason that link is there is because I respect the living shit out of this project and the obvious love that birthed it. Spinda Records is no slouch when it comes to promoting Spanish heavy anyhow, but Grados. Minutos. Segundos. brings that to a different level entirely. Consider — it could’ve probably just been a 3LP box. Or a double-CD or something like that. But the focus here is so much on the lushness of presentation, and on highlighting the work of the bands. Every act is given their own space. It’s a beautiful concept, and if you snag one of these, consider yourself lucky.

My hope is that as each installment of Grados. Minutos. Segundos. comes out, I’ll have a corresponding track-by-track from the bands. You’ll find the first one below. My sincere thanks to Berto Cáceres from the label for putting it — and the compilation — together.


Grados. Minutos. Segundos. Track-by-Track Pt. 1

MOURA – “Muiñeira da Maruxaina”

“[…] The “muiñeira” is one of the most popular Galician traditional music genres and we wanted to make an approach to it from “krautrock” and psychedelic perspective, respecting some of its characteristics. Lyrically, the song is about the folktale of the Maruxaina, a mermaid who lives in a cave in an island in San Cibrao (north coast of Galicia) and helps or confuse sailors by playing a horn or with her singing, depending on different versions of the tale. Galician traditional percussions were heavily used in the song and an arpeggiator to keep the pulse of the trance along with the guitar riff […]”

ROSY FINCH – “Black Lodge”

“[…] As a big fan of ‘Twin Peaks’, I always had the idea of turning into Laura Palmer and living inside a dark song. In “Black Lodge” you can see many references and symbology of Lynch’s universe. We tried to reflect the anguish but also the seduction undertaken by the characters. But not only the video has been inspired by the TV series; lyrics describe some moments and iconic quotes of the show but always through Laura Palmer’s voice […]”

ADRIFT – “Abracadabra”

“[…] On this track we don’t play around with long progressions as we are used to. Instead we play heavily from the very first second and there’s no time to relax at all. Going against our usual way of writing songs, we chose a couple of riffs and wrote the whole song around them without thinking too much and having fun trying not to get complicated. The lyrics talk about the current situation and how some media and “important” people manipulate the reality in order to control the people and do what they want with them. They’re kind of magicians doing tricks to make you think as they want you to think […]”

ADRIFT – “Lush Lands”

“[…] Inspired by the book ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad, this tracks talks about a situation in which you decide to go to the deepest darkness looking for somebody and how you can finish feeling attracted by the horror you see on your way to that person. This track stars as a good exercise of space rock, full of delays and reverb, to finish as a huge and repetitive wall of noise. It’s like a mantra to get into trance […]”

MONDO INFIEL – “Estigmas”

This track talks about those close-minded-people who are not able to see further than their own shoes, not being even able to question their way of thinking or understanding that not everyone else will think the same way. This can continue for years and makes them feeling attacked by others just for the fact of them having a different point of view about religion, politics or culture. Type O Negative and Killing Joke inspired the song a lot, although it doesn’t sound to those bands at all – I wish Pete Steele or Jaz Coleman took care of the vocals in the song.


From the deepest and darkness roots of heavy psych and the most powerful ’70s hard rock, this track emerges like a cathartic experience, where frustration and hope return to our reality transformed into an authentic iron fist, ready to take you to another dimension.


This songs talks about the uncertainty and anxiety caused when things are out of your hands. This can happen on any aspect of your life. We do not attach to any sound in particular when writing but this reminds me to Steve Albini and Big Black.

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Rosy Finch Premiere Video for “Black Lodge”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

rosy finch

Tomorrow, June 10, marks the release of the first installment of Grados. Minutos. Segundos., a massive undertaking done at the apparently masochistic behest of Spinda Records. Four installments are being made, each comprising three split seven-inch records, two bands on each, and the releases happen between now and next March. Spinda is only making 240 of them, and they’re bringing in 24 of the best acts from the Spanish underground, including newcomers like Moura and the megagroup Mondo Infiel, as well as more established acts like Rosy Finch, Arenna and Atavismo.

Take a second and imagine the passion inevitably driving such an endeavor. It has e’er been Spinda Records‘ project to capture the Iberian psych, prog, heavy scene in a bottle, but never all at once like this. Grados. Minutos. Segundos., a one-time-pressing box set being released over the course of nine months, is the very essence of a labor of love.

Grados. Minutos. Segundos.And the bands involved have been doing it up accordingly. To wit, Rosy Finch today premiere their video for “Black Lodge,” which takes its visual and sonic theme from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks with frontwoman Mireia Porto in the role of Laura Palmer. Porto here handles bass, guitar and vocals, while Lluís Mas drums — this is contrary to the single they released in Feb., on which Óscar Soler plays bass and J.F. Rojo drums; both were involved with the production here on one level or another — and the recording took place between 2018 and last year across three different cities, finally mixed together by J.F. Rojo in 2020.

True to Rosy Finch‘s aesthetic, “Black Lodge” brings together ’90s riot grrrl influences with modern atmospheric sludge. Some of the visuals and brooding-into-screams here remind distinctly of Hole, but that’s more a credit to the team behind the video for capturing the post-Lynch visual landscape that was rock on MTV in the 1990s. Porto warns at the outset that she’ll see us in 25 years. As the chugging, gleefully repetitive central riff meets with the foreboding melody and delivery of the lyrics, creating a world that song, video and idea all inhabit together cohesively, one can only hope it’s not actually that long.

More info on the clip and on Grados. Minutos. Segundos. follows here, courtesy of Spinda Records.


Rosy Finch, “Black Lodge” official video premiere

Rosy Finch on “Black Lodge”:

As a big fan of ‘Twin Peaks’ I’ve always had the idea of turning into Laura Palmer and living inside a dark song. In “Black Lodge” you can see many references and symbology of the Lynch’s universe. We try to reflect the anguish but also the seduction undertaken by the characters. Not only the video has been inspired in the TV Series, the lyrics describe some moments and iconic quotes but always through the Laura Palmer’s voice.”

Baja Fidelidad Producciones
Directed by Marcos Bañó & Mireia Porto.
Filmed by Marcos Bañó & Mireia Porto.
Edited by Marcos Bañó.
Produced by Monty Peiró & Mireia Porto.
Assistants: Rafa Fernández & Óscar Soler.
Stylism & Makeup: Monty Peiró & Mireia Porto.
Starring: Sofía Martínez as “Kitty Grrrl”, Clio Candela as “Bunny Grrrl” and Mireia Porto as “Laura Finch”.

Song performed by Rosy Finch, 2020
Recorded and mixed by J.F. Rojo at Red Records, San Isidro, Spain.
Mastered by Furinyaki Records Studio, Barcelona, Spain.

‘Grados. Minutos. Segundos.’ is a no-return trip around the four cardinal points of the deepest underground music scenes in Spain. Thanks to a boxset full of previously unreleased tracks of 24 indie Spanish bands you’ll have the chance to understand how’s the sound of this new generation of independent musicians. You don’t want to be told about it, you want to be part of it.

‘Grados. Minutos. Segundos.’ will be made of 12x 7″ vinyl records (to be released in 4 batches from June 2021 to March 2022), being each of them shared by 2 bands with apparently no connection at all.

‘Grados. Minutos. Segundos.’ works as a subscription, which means that music fans will get both digital and physical releases in 4 batches: June, September and December 2021; and March 2022. With the pre-order kicking-off on 5th May 2021, the boxset will be for sale as from 10th June 2021 exclusively at and

The project is limited to 240 hand-numbered boxsets, designed by The Braves Church and including 12x 7″ vinyl records, booklet, download code and stickers, as well as a tee-shirt and tote bag on its deluxe and freak editions. There won’t be reissues, so when they’re gone, they’re gone!

But in this limited-edition boxset you won’t only find bands coming from Spinda Records roster as it is also open to others in order to get a solid project for the fans to enjoy. From the psychedelia of Acid Mess, Atavismo, Arenna or The Soulbreaker Company to the heavier sounds of Rosy Finch, Adrift, Domo or Santo Rostro; without forgetting the alternative rock of Medicina, Habitar La Mar, The Dry Mouths and Laverge; the hard rock of Partícula, Saturna or Kabbalah; the progressive rock of Moura, Pyramidal, Híbrido or Cró!; as well as new bands such us Cemënteri, Here The Captain Speaking The Captain Band, Battosai, Mía Turbia or Mondo Infiel. Fitting 24 bands in the same project can be tricky, and it is; but Spinda Records are here to have fun… Spinda Records is here for “fiesta”.

Rosy Finch on “Black Lodge” are:
Mireia Porto: voces, guitarras, bajo
Lluís Mas: batería

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Mondo Infiel Announces Lineup for Debut Album Poliedros

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

There’s no audio yet, so don’t ask. I got a quick listen to some of Mondo Infiel‘s Poliedros album, and given some of the personnel involved in its making — members of Arenna, Atavismo, friggin’ Isaiah Mitchell from Earthless popping in because I guess why not, and so on — the sound is maybe surprisingly terrestrial. Earthy more than cosmic. Still one you want to watch for, however, and something of an achievement in logistics even before you get to factors like songwriting, performance, and so on.

The great irony of Mondo Infiel, of course, is that even though the list of personnel surrounding apparent-spearhead Adolfo Alcocer runs 17 strong, this is still a quarantine-era project, and something that probably wouldn’t have come about in this way if there had never been a pandemic lockdown to force the hand of creativity in such a way. I’m not saying the pandemic’s effect on 2020 was a good thing, just that the concept and execution of Mondo Infiel and the resulting Poliedros LP stand as another example of the persistence of art, such that even in enforced isolation, one can and will still find a way to reach out and speak creatively through collaboration. Do you understand how fucking beautiful that is? I hope so.

I don’t have a release date on the record, but I’ll hope to have more on it before it’s out. Spinda Records is standing behind the release, as one would hope.

Here’s the lineup:

mondo infiel

Mondo Infiel – Poliedros

Happy to announce the line-up of MONDO INFIEL’s debut album. Adolfo Alcocer (Electric Riders, Pow Pows) is surrounded by a network of luxury collaborators, including members of Electric Riders, Arenna, Atavismo, Híbrido, The Soulbreaker Company, The Black Crowes, Por Pow Pows, Viaje a 800, R.O.L.F., Earthless, Medicina and some special guests.

Ander Cisneros
Andoni Ortiz
Andrés Tomás Rodriguez
Arrate Morales
Curro Ureba
Guille Colás
Illán Arribas
Isaiah Mitchell
Javier Barbería
Javier Indurain
Joaquin Uriol
Jose Angel Galindo
Matthew Perez
Look Martirena
Jose “Pot” Moreno
Sandra “Pow” Hidalgo

More fresh news coming soon…

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Beatriz Castillo of Cruzeiro & Misty Grey

Posted in Questionnaire on March 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan


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: Beatriz Castillo of Cruzeiro & Misty Grey

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

I am a singer. Since I was a child I sang when I was in bed instead of sleeping and my mother scolded me for it. I guess it is something natural for me, progressively I was doing things related to music, because it has always been something that has made me fell good, it was not something decided, it just happened.

In school and high school I joined the choirs. After that, in the following years I stopped practicing music for a long time, although I never stopped attending, I followed numerous shows, dedicated myself to writing records reviews and concert chronicles as well as being a photographer covering those events.

A few years later I started with a friend to do music sessions as a DJs set under the name of Vinuum Sabati, later it turned into a series of mini underground festivals in Madrid, Spain, giving a place for national bands to which we wanted to give support and visibility.

After that, I started with a small music distribution and event promoter, I created the idea of a record-store day for extreme music in Madrid and also began to be an important promoter of underground shows in the city, always in communion with my friends. We supported each other since we did not do it selflessly, we did not earn a penny with it, it was just for fun.

At the end of 2014 I joined as singer of the Classic Doom Metal band Misty Grey . This past November 2020,the label Interstellar Smoke Records released the last work of the band called Chapter II on vinyl.

At the same time Barren Plains born, it was a BlackenedDeathMetalPunk band, where I played the bass and sang too, The band split off in 2016 after recording our first album never released. During the confinement I decided to release four of the six recorded songs, the idea consist in a recycled cassettes on a DIY edition that came out last November 2020.

Little over two years ago I moved from Madrid to Galicia and I have been here since then. I left Misty Grey in 2019 and soon began as a singer in CRUZEIRO, Doom / Stoner band from A Coruña, in the North of Spain. We recorded our first album in September 2020 and now we are looking for a label to release it.

I collaborated with Rockin´Ladies photographic project, with the objective of manifesting, visualizing and normalizing the high number of women in punk, rock and metal in Spain and also did the picture for the cover of Pillars of Salt LP, released by Balmog.

So I don’t really know how I got here, but I think there is no return.

Describe your first musical memory.

It is not easy to specify… I remember that in my house always sounded a lot of music but I remember that Pink Floyd caught my attention since I was a little child, my father was a fan of theirs of music.

Perhaps the most marked thing was when we visited relatives, my cousin Oscar was a super fan of Iron Maiden, I was about six years old and his music caught my attention, it was like a ritual when he went to the bathroom and played the Iron Maiden Music on the cassette at full volume, my cousin Cris and I (she is her sister) took the opportunity to go to her room, which we were forbidden to enter, that made me feel even more curious every time I went inside. Every time we did that expedition I was freaking out with all the flags and posters of Eddie in his room… my cousin Cris stayed at the door crying (she’s a year younger than me, poor Cris), she was afraid to enter the room with so much monster. I guess if that prepared me because after being a teenager about 11 I asked him to loan me the Iron Maiden LPs.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Probably people who I have shared stage with, specially when Misty Grey shared stage with Manilla Road, we were their opening act in Madrid, after finishing our performance Mark “The Shark” Shelton was waiting at the foot of the stage. When I came down from the stage he was talking to me, and he left me a few words that I will always carry with me.

And watching concerts, whenever I have been able to be in the front row watching an Iron Maiden concert, I always end up crying with emotion when I see them and sing their songs live.

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

I thought for a long time that I did not like cats, that they were an evil and conspiratorial being who dominated human beings in order to enjoy their indifference towards us, I love animals, but I do not know why I was so suspicious of them, perhaps by ignorance.

One day some friends asked me the favour of letting me their two cats because they went to work to London for a month, and they had no one to leave them with, I accepted and for a month I was with my dog and their cats… at first I did not know how they worked and how I should act with them, but they made it very easy for me and I had a great time discovering that new world that opened before my eyes, also one of the cats and I established a bond very quickly and very strong.

I realized that I was totally wrong and shortly after that I adopted a kitten that came from the south of Spain and now we are a very happy roommates.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

As long as something enjoyed will lead to good things with your bandmates and even to new experiences, but if it becomes a career of goals in which enjoying or doing what you really like does not matter.

I guess it becomes something that is not progress or at least as I see it.

How do you define success?

When you do what you propose, you are satisfied with it, everything flows, and you do not get bored or tired.

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


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

My own personal project alone. A photography lab in my house and a random craft workshop, I like to be entertained with that kind of thing, but I don’t have space at home or have time, now with the COVID-19 I just need space.

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

It is another language, another way of expressing and communicating, spitting and letting go from within, I think it is something healing as a therapy that we need to do to a greater or lesser extent.

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

Right now freedom, go out to the mountains / fields for days (we have perimeter closure since October).

Return soon to see my friends and family spend hours talking, touching, hugging, kissing yours (culturally, and emotionally we are like that, and it is a necessity for many) I have not seen my people for more than a year.

Cruzeiro, “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”

Misty Grey, “Frenzy”

Barren Plains, Demo/Anti-Demo (2020)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Kabbalah, The Omen

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

kabbalah the omen

[Click play above to stream Kabbalah’s The Omen in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 15 on Rebel Waves Records.]

Though they’ve been brewing potent etherealities in the Kingdom of Navarre for the better part of a decade, it was not until 2017 that Spanish trio Kabbalah made their full-length debut with Spectral Ascent. That album, released through Twin Earth Records, solidified the first-name-only — Alba on vocals and guitar, Marga on bass, Carmen on drums — three-piece’s approach around classic proto-heavy and cult rock, not quite bent as closely to pop as Ghost, but ready and able with a waiting supply of hooks for those willing to be indoctrinated. The Omen is the follow-up. Its eight tracks arrive through Ripple imprint Rebel Waves Records without pretense — which is no small feat considering the inherent theatricality of the witchy, be-robbed aesthetic — and run a tight-knit 29 minutes, showcasing growth in melody and construction generally while digging further into a classic-minded near-doom style of heavy rock, most typified by the ’70s tapes of Pentagram but by no means exclusive to that or strictly vintage in sound.

Unlike the first LP, there is no intro on The Omen, which begins with the creeper riff of your fuzzy Halloween daydreams, set to an immediately accessible pace that tells you plenty but still only a piece of what you need to know about the record that ensues. At 3:57, lead cut “Stigmatized” is second in length only to closer “Liturgy,” which is the only song here over four minutes long. Kabbalah are traditionalists in structure, and though their cultish take draws on the heavy ’70s as it almost invariably would, their tones are not purely vintage and particularly the manner in which vocal melodies/harmonies are layered is a giveaway of their modernity. Not that they’re trying to hide it. Rather, these melodies, beginning in “Stigmatized” but perhaps even more so in the catchier second track “Ceibas,” become a crucial aspect of the band’s approach. I don’t know if it’s only Alba singing or if Marga or Carmen add their voices, but as The Omen begins to unfold, the vocals help set the atmosphere no less than any of the other instruments being played, even the church organ that takes hold as the first track fades out ahead of the grungy-strummed start of the second.

So if the first song establishes the mood and the second reaffirms the trio’s penchant for hookmaking, its chanting final chorus likewise peppered with organ lines and vocal bounce, then the subsequent “Night Comes Near” brings a greater sense of complexity in progression and arrangement, vocal parts woven over each other in a pace that’s deceptive only for how unhurried it actually is while sounding more intense and busier than the previous two songs. As side A finishes with “The Ritual,” the fuzz thickens, the bell ride tolls your march, and the flow resimplifies without giving up the impression of a proggy undertone. The guitar solo is short but effective and sets a bed for the vocals to rejoin the apex of the song in a chorus return, bringing to light the sheer efficiency of Kabbalah‘s work here. It’s not that they’re restrained in some way, just that they’ve come to a place of knowing what they want these songs to do — or sounding that way, anyhow — and making them do that. Lessons understood from prior experience; this is why it can take a band five years to put out a debut album and several more for a follow-up. Because there’s genuine growth taking place.


“Lamentations” begins side B with the bulk of its first minute dedicated to a gradually unfolding riff, but when the drums kick in, they’re double-timed on the hi-hat to bring some feeling of urgency, even if the following first verse oozes out smoothly in dynamic, harmonized fashion. A play on structure, “Lamentations” doesn’t have a chorus as such, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do in leading off the second half of the record with a purpose that mirrors that of “Stigmatized” at the outset. It’s not quite Kabbalah looking to knock their listener off balance — which they never really do — but hinting that the whole story of The Omen hasn’t yet been told. Distant echoes in the verses “Labyrinth” and a more forward chorus would seem to confirm this, making the track a highlight in the process as it willfully marches into highlight bass tone at its pulled-apart finish. Feedback. Darker atmospherics. Still, Kabbalah aren’t offering any drama that feels unearned by the music itself, and in traditional LP form, the penultimate “Duna” returns the album to ground ahead of the aforementioned finale in “Liturgy.”

In another context one might call “Duna” a kind of heavy post-rock, but after its first minute, a weightier riff serves as a kind of instrumental chorus and offsets the garage doom of the verse before they make the interesting turn of finishing the track without a final return to that same verse. It’s too short to really be a jam, but Alba‘s guitar is tasked with leading the outward movement of “Duna,” which it does ably, bringing the song to a close ahead of the actual march rhythm that begins “Liturgy” and the guitar, bass and drums soon join. More spacious in the guitar and vocals initially, “Liturgy” does have a kind of chanting verse, but it never quite gives up that beginning rhythm, which of course doubles as an ending for the record after the closing solo finishes. Even there, Kabbalah‘s melodic intent holds firm and is the essential component.

It’s not, however, the only one to which due attention has been paid, and the recording — the production style — of The Omen helps too in bringing a vitality that underscores the songwriting shown throughout. Kabbalah emerge somewhat out of place and out of time, but no more than they would seem to want to be, and there is no point at which their devotionalism overwhelms their craft. A burgeoning individuality holds further promise for growth, but one would be remiss not to note the confidence and righteous poise with which this material is — still organically — delivered.

Kabbalah, “Ceibas” official video

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