Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split: Finding a Place

Posted in Reviews on May 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug split

They come from Lublin, from Wroclaw, and from Warsaw, and they bring riffs in bulk, but what’s even more striking about the four-way split from Polish heavyweights Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong and Spaceslug — in that order — is the level of diversity between the bands and just how much of their own personality each one brings to the proceedings. These are four of Poland’s best, to be sure, but by no means representative of the entire underground in the country — that is, they’re not Poland’s only four heavy bands, nor do they represent the entire stylistic swath of their compatriots (Sunnata and Belzebong walk by and wave) — but in terms of groups who’ve emerged over the past five-plus years in order to make an impact on the wider European sphere, they’re a suitable representation, and with an exclusive cut from each act involved, the self-released CD and LP makes an all the more fitting sampler of what Poland’s long underrated scene has to offer. It’s telling that 4-Way Split is a DIY release, and it’s also telling that, having come out in February, most of the LP editions and CDs are mostly if not entirely sold out.

The underlying message would seem to be that Polish heavy deserves a broader look it hasn’t yet gotten, and the audio from each of these bands lives up to that narrative. They each have their own measure of accomplishments and have developed an identity of their own, whether that comes in the form of Dopelord‘s tonal largesse or the grunge-infused melodic wash of Spaceslug, and as this release demonstrates, the bands aren’t so much united by a singular approach — they don’t all sound the same — as they are by the fact that each one has embarked on finding its own place in terms of sound. Some of this can be related to geographic spread, with Lublin, which is home to Major Kong in the west, while Spaceslug‘s native Wroclaw is further east and Warsaw, from whence come Dopelord and Weedpecker is a bit further north on the eastern side of the country. But the diversity of influence would seem to speak more to a general creative will than the fact that these acts simply represent different scenes within the country.

Even just Dopelord and Spaceslug, in opening and closing the release and both representing the capital, have markedly different approaches. It’s the former’s “Toledo” that provides the seven-minute leadoff/longest track (immediate points), and Dopelord, who’ve kicked around since the 2012 release of their debut, Magick Rites (discussed here), show that they, almost in parallel to a band like Monolord have managed to carve an identity for themselves out of a core Electric Wizard influence. There is perhaps a bit of subtle commentary as a sample tops the initial bassline saying, “A city of the dead… the living dead” as “Toledo” gets started, but while what ensues may be informed by zombie horror, its procession is nonetheless emblematic of the band’s reaching toward an international aesthetic, taking something from outside and making it their own. This is essentially the story of how any “scene” organically develops, and as Poland’s scene has over the course of this decade, like Greece or even Australia, Dopelord have helped pave the way for others to follow.

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug vinyl

One might say the same for Weedpecker, who by now have become a progressive enough group that some part of them probably wishes they had a different moniker. 2018’s III (discussed here) was their label debut for Stickman Records, and their “Rise Above” inclusion on 4-Way Split would seem even to push past that offering’s gorgeous melodic wash. Still holding to the weighted tones of their early work, they too would seem to have found their niche in terms of style, and at just five and a half minutes, “Rise Above” conveys that achievement with telling efficiency. It’s at least a minute shorter than anything they had on III, so it might be indicative of some tightening of their craft in the future, or it could just be a one-off. Either way, the flow Weedpecker hone in that relatively brief time is essential to understanding where they come from as a unit and what they bring to this release and Polish heavy as a whole, so mission well accomplished.

Side B leads off with the instrumentalist Major Kong, who bring forth the 6:11 “The Mechanism” and tap into a core modus of riffing that would seem to know no borders. Theirs might be the least nuanced of the four cuts here, but even for the lack of vocals there are backing swirls deep amid low end and other bits of sonic detailing, bass runs, etc., to dig into, and they demonstrate that if you’ve got groove, you’ve got everything. Some of Major Kong‘s work in the past has tended toward a burlier plod — the trio’s last LP was 2017’s Brace for Impact — but “The Mechanism,” while still out to leave a bruise or two, doesn’t want for melody. It is a clear-headed take on instrumental heavy rock that is pulled off with a live-feeling energy and finds the band able to portray a sense of structure even without the use of traditional verses and choruses. No doubt it should, as Major Kong have been at it for the better part of a decade, but the firmness of their purpose is refreshing and shows yet another side of Polish heavy.

Speaking of, I’m not sure another Polish band have come along in this decade who’ve been able to make a mark as quickly as Spaceslug. The three-piece have worked quickly to issue three full-lengths since 2016 — 2018’s Eye the Tide (review here) was among the year’s essential releases — and the 4-Way Split capstone “Ahtmosphere” underscores their ongoing creative growth, with laid back push into a tonal and melodic wash that, even as the central line becomes, “The atmosphere is gone,” indeed wants nothing for ambience. A solo takes hold in the last minute to bring the track toward its drawn-out conclusion — things fall apart, or maybe just roll to a stop — and “Ahtmosphere” rings out to 6:53 to bookend with Dopelord‘s “Toledo” and further highlight the sense of identity so crucial in what these bands are doing.

Each one has their root influences, and each one has done the work necessary to push past them and discover who they really are as a band. That’s not necessarily a process with a solid ending — who they are will inevitably continue to change — but this split feels like a declarative moment on the part of some of Poland’s strongest acts, telling those who care enough to hear them that their home country deserves consideration as a significant contributor to the greater European underground. They make the case well, and loud.

Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split (2019)

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Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

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Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

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Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

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1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

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Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

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Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

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Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

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Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

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Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

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Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

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Nasoni Records website

 

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Godmaker & Somnuri, Split LP: Excerpts and Edges

Posted in Reviews on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

godmaker somnuri split

Madness ensues. Some splits seem like a nightmare to set up. Bands are on opposite sides of the planet, have disparate sounds, there are different labels involved, all this extra whatnot before anyone actually gets to the process of writing songs. I’d imagine Godmaker and Somnuri getting together for a split LP released through The Company was easier. Like sending a text: “So, split?” “Sure.” Followed by the booking of studio time. The two bands, both of whom are based in Brooklyn, tap into a progressive take on New York’s long-established concrete-crunch noise rock, and both bands showcase considerable forward-forward-forward aesthetic ambition in their two included songs on this 30-minute offering. But even more than whatever commonalities exist in terms of geography, sound and intent, these dudes know each other. They’re not strangers assembled together haphazardly.

Check the lineups. Godmaker is guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross (ex-Cleanteeth) and Carmine Laietta (ex-Hull), bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Andrew Archey (Fashion Week) and drummer Jon Lane (ex-Bröhammer), and their 13-minute “An Excerpt” features guest vocals from Kurt Applegate (Family). Meantime, Somnuri are guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (ex-Bezoar, Blackout), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (ex-Family). If you took everyone’s bands and put them all on a bill together you could have a festival at the Saint Vitus Bar. Granted you’d have to get a couple reunions going, but I think the point stands; it isn’t exactly anyone’s first time at the dance. And frankly, both Godmaker and Somnuri sound like it.

Godmaker released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2014, and Somnuri had their own (review here) last year, but regardless of the timing, the two bands both inhabit the modern sphere of New York noise, informed not only by the likes of Unsane, but by sludge and post-metal, by sundry other genres and experiences. The result is a sense of atmosphere to complement the aggressive push in both acts that remains coherent from one to the next, and as Godmaker‘s cover of Portishead‘s “Over” gives way to Somnuri‘s “Over and Out,” the ties there seem to extend beyond the title similarities.

So okay, they fit well together. Fair enough. Actually makes a lot of sense they’d get together for a joint release. As for the madness noted at the outset, that’s really more down to the audio itself. The chief impression I carried out of Godmaker‘s self-titled four years ago was one of scathe. It was skin-peelingly abrasive, but their “An Excerpt” hones a more patient delivery, unfolding with a buzzing tension beneath a steady guitar line and nonetheless enacting a fluidity around this darker theme. Recorded and mixed by Tom Tierney at Spaceman Sound, when it kicks in with a full-toned nod at about 90 seconds, barking vocals over top for a first verse that soon shifts into a chorus that reminds of Meatjack taking on the Melvins — that’s pretty specific, so I’m going to guess it’s sonic coincidence — it makes a return to the verse and the chorus for a second runthrough before shifting into the more complex aspects of its structure, introducing cleaner vocals amid screams and a chugging instrumental surge that gives way to winding triumph and, right about at the halfway mark, a falling apart of the proceedings entirely.

They crash out to near-silence with quiet bass and guitar setting the stage for the build back up — one can’t help but be reminded of Hull‘s layered-vocal victories here — as they shove toward and through the apex and set themselves on the final outward march that consumes the last two minutes, dedicating the final of them to sustained crashes and noise. After that, I’d question the necessity of the Portishead cover, but it’s listed as a “bonus track,” and I guess if you’ve got the space on the record, use it. They bring a beefed-up arrangement to “Over,” which appeared on Portishead‘s 1997 self-titled full-length, and include samples and a current of foreboding that comes through the cleaner vocals early and the later screams the accompany. It’s a welcome enough touch and shows a breadth of influence on the part of Godmaker, which is no doubt part of the reason it’s there, but “An Excerpt” is the highlight without question.

Somnuri answer back with two originals of their own in “Over and Out” and “Edge of the Forest,” neither of which hits the runtime of Godmaker‘s “An Excerpt,” but both of which find the trio building on the promise of their first record and bringing together a dynamic that benefits from the chemistry burgeoning among the players. Sherrell, who drummed in Bezoar and plays bass in Blackout, seems to be the kind of player who can handle just about any task he might take on in a band. Vocallly he’s in easy command in switching between clean and harsh lines, and his tone and that of Mack are both righteously thick without being indistinguishable from each other — Jeff Berner recorded at Studio G, while SanGiacomo mixed. “Over and Out” moves in its second half to a tight chug and weaves a lead line overhead to give a tonal contrast, and concludes with a full-brunt crush that’s absolutely punishing.

“Edge of the Forest” is longer by nearly three full minutes at 7:21, and uses some of that time to set up a more patient buildup à la Godmaker earlier with the crash-in happening right around the two-minute mark with far-back clean vocals reminding of the last Akimbo (yes, I know: wrong coast, but they were writing about New Jersey, so eat me) before the slow roars and screams drop in the midsection to atmospheric guitar leading not to a build, but a sudden slam forward that is propelled by the drums through a fierce but still controlled crescendo given vicious screams before a final return to the chug that first enveloped after that midsection quiet part gives a last-minute sense of symmetry and the piece ends on a notably progressive assault. The temptation with a split is to think of the bands involved in competition with each other, and maybe that’s what’s happening with Godmaker and Somnuri here, but the fact of the matter is both offer an intricacy of style that adds depth to their raw and sometimes angular heaviness. They work better together than they do as adversaries, in other words, and the aim in this split seems not to be to find them pitted against each other, but acting in unison toward their shared goal of conveying some of the best aspects on New York’s modern noise movement. It’s a thoughtful madness.

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Review & Track Premiere: Vinnum Sabbathi & Cegvera, The Good Earth is Dying Split

Posted in audiObelisk on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

vinnum sabbathi cegvera the good earth is dying split cover

[Click play above to hear the premieres of ‘Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying)’ and ‘Arrival/Colonia’ from Vinnum Sabbathi and Cegvera’s The Good Earth is Dying split. LP, CD and DL are released Dec. 10 on Stolen Body Records.]

For as long as humanity has been willing to acknowledge its existence — a substantially shorter amount of time than humanity has known about it — space has represented a reason to hope. The question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe — spoiler alert: nope — and whether we might someday wander among the stars has been a central fuel burnt by science and science-fiction alike. But nothing is apolitical, and with their new split release, Vinnum Sabbathi and Cegvera remind that at best, interplanetary exploration and even colonization can only be a temporary fix without real, substantive changes to what it means to be human. The five-track/33-minute The Good Earth is Dying paints a grim picture that only seems suitable when one looks at shifting weather patterns, melting permafrost, rising sea levels, floating garbage islands and dying coral reefs, and though there are no lyrics, in the titles of its instrumental pieces, the offering brings the two bands together to work around the common theme. A narrative arc is followed that takes human beings deeper into space than we’ve ever gone before, only to find, colonize and destroy yet another world, having learned nothing from the collapsing of earth’s ecosystem that caused us to leave in the first place.

Samples from NASA documentaries pervade Vinnum Sabbathi‘s “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre,” and the transition with “Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying)” involves both bands before Cegvera — who also see Vinnum Sabbathi drummer Gerardo Arias move to guitar to play on their portion — get underway with “Arrival/Colonia,” before moving into “Depletion/Overshoot” and the inevitable-seeming “Collapse/Aftermath.” The ease with which the two lineups come together emphasizes a central characteristic of The Good Earth is Dying, which is just how much the two bands are working toward the same ends, toward telling the same story instrumentally. Granted, the Mexico City and Bristol, UK, outfits have their sonic disparities, with Vinnum Sabbathi centering more on crunching riffage and Cegvera shifting from sludge into most post-metallic fare, but this split was born earlier in 2018 following a tour the two groups did together in Mexico, and rather than play in competition with each other as so many splits see groups do, The Good Earth is Dying — recorded, mixed and mastered by KB at Testa Studio in León, Guanajuato — demonstrates just how much the two bands work together.

Granted, for Vinnum Sabbathi, the 13-minute “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” continues a live-recorded, should-be-compiled-into-an-LP-at-some-point-how-about-now series of tracks that has also had two prior installments on their April 2018 split with Owain and began on 2015’s split with Bar de Monjas (review here), but that song’s relation to ideas about overpopulation tie directly into the destruction of natural resources characterized in Cegvera‘s three tracks. And there’s precious little to argue with in terms of delivery from Vinnum Sabbathi either, as the band fluidly bring their stage-hewn chemistry to the studio as one would expect. Their commitment to recording live extends back through their awaited 2017 full-length debut, Gravity Works (review here), and their earlier work, and at this point it’s their standard modus. Adding samples after the fact lends further depth to the proceedings, and a studio feel is enhanced as well through the sampling on “Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying),” which ends with a recording of people laughing amid the sound of bagpipes before shifting into the quiet opening lines of “Arrival/Colonia” that soon give way to such heavy nod on the five-minute track.

Arriving on this foreign world seems to be the easy part, and things are rolling along well enough on a heavy groove as Cegvera unfold their portion of the outing, but the atmosphere only grows darker with time, and “Depletion/Overshoot” finds them exploring textures out of mournful heavy blues and airy post-rock alike before turning again to heavier riffing — some prime fuzz, that — and in what’s presumably the “Overshoot” portion in the second half of the song, an increasingly intense forward pummel. By the time they’re into the last minute, cacophony has taken full hold of the song, and they leave a final note out to hang in open space as a transition into the organ-laced final statement, “Collapse/Aftermath,” which indeed feels suitably mournful as regards humanity’s prospects for a better existence. Fair. The floating guitars that showed up in “Depletion/Overshoot” make a return over a gradually-unfurled progression that, at 90 seconds into its total 6:35, turns to a build that brings it to more densely-weighted riffing. If that’s the collapse, then the aftermath is no less engaging or heavy in its execution, and one is reminded of the ambience that Vinnum Sabbathi are able to so naturally conjure on “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” with echoing guitars and such heft of tone.

That Cegvera would seem to be so much in conversation with “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” — whether the songs were written out or the concept decided before the tour or not — is emblematic of how well the two groups sit alongside each other. With the bulk of the time belonging to the latter, there’s nonetheless room for both to offer a suitable glimpse at their overall approach while staying on-message in terms of the plotline being followed. I guess the only shame is they didn’t have it to take on tour earlier this year, but these things have a way of working out, whether Cegvera — now a duo down from the three/four-piece they are here — return to Mexico or bring Vinnum Sabbathi to the UK in a show-trade. Either way, the split stands as a document of their time on the road and what they were able to construct in terms of song and theme alike. There may or may not be hope for the future of humanity — again, spoiler alert: nope — but no one other than the willfully blind can say we didn’t see it coming, and though the future they’re imaging isn’t particularly bright, that they’re imagining it at all speaks to one aspect of our species most worth preserving.

Vinnum Sabbathi on Thee Facebooks

Vinnum Sabbathi on Bandcamp

Cegvera on Thee Facebooks

Cegvera on Bandcamp

Stolen Body Records webstore

Stolen Body Records on Instagram

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The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee & the Motherless Children Announce Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You on board for a split between The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children? I am. The two Baltimorean outfits have teamed up for a single to be released in August via H42 Records. I guess the news I’m waiting for on this one is that the release coincides with a tour of one sort or another — as that’s generally how it goes with The Flying Eyes. They’ve spent the last however many years kicking around between Europe and South America — I think they might’ve even been to Australia at one point? — as they’ve moved further away from their last proper studio album, 2013’s Lowlands (review here).

The implication there of course is that they’re due for a follow-up album, and so they are, but if it’s a single in the meantime with some buddies, that’s hardly something to hold against them.

No art or audio or preorders yet, but the PR wire brings an initial announcement:

The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee announce new Split 7″ this August!

We are happy to announce new cooperation of The Flying Eyes and LAZLO LEE & THE MOTHERLESS CHILDREN.

Baltimore’s best rock’n roller will fight against each other on a new 7″ in form of covering a song of their opponent! Who will win? Without giving too much, two intense tracks from two extraordinary bands will await you. The 7″ will be released in Europe from H42 Records and there will also be a US Edition from our friends Ripple Music.

The Baltimore Competition will be released this august!

From Baltimore, USA, the psychedelic blues quartet, THE FLYING EYES, is placed in Machart & instrumental cast between The 13th Floor Elevators, the Doors & Retro Rock.
In addition to the expressive & distinctive vocals, which often recalls Glen Danzig, the music of the FLYING EYES possesses intensity and melody, ranging from spherical, gloomy balladesque passages to wild, hypnotic improvisations.

Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children are a blues/garage rock-n-roll band out of Baltimore City. Lazlo, with his howling vox and guitar, front this two-piece band that was named after the old blues traditional ‘Motherless Children’. With the fast, heavy hitting Cocaine Jim on the drums, this act thrives on their energetic live preformance with catchy riffs and the ability to turn on any crowd.

https://www.facebook.com/theflyingeyes/
https://www.facebook.com/lazloleeandthemotherlesschildren/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records/
https://twitter.com/H42Records

The Flying Eyes, Live in Germany 2016

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Hangman’s Chair and Greenmachine Issue Split LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Okay, so this one apparently came out earlier this month, because apparently it’s late-March, and apparently it’s 2017 and I don’t know about you but I feel like maybe I got stuck mentally somewhere back around 2014 and everything since then has just kind of been a blaze with which I’ve been completely inept at keeping up. Sorry, what were we talking about?

Right. Split. Hangman’s Chair. Greenmachine. France and Japan, respectively. Doom on sludge. Music Fear Satan and Daymare Recordings. Tits and bondage on the cover. Blah on that. Pretty sure those are the basics.

Those of you with tabs on such things might recall Greenmachine are veterans of Man’s Ruin Records once upon a time, which is about as close as a band can come in my book to automatic cred. They’ve split up and reformed a few times since and had an EP out last year. Hangman’s Chair, meanwhile, issued their most recent full-length, This isn’t Supposed to be Positive, back in 2015, and it seems pretty fair to assume it lived up to its title.

The PR wire has release details and a video from Hangman’s Chair. Dive in:

hangmans-chair-photo-fredb-art

greenmachine

HANGMAN’S CHAIR/GREENMACHINE split VINYL LP, new MUSIC FEAR SATAN release

The new Music Fear Satan release : a split record featuring the heavy weight french doom metal band HANGMAN’S CHAIR and the famous japanese stoner band GREENMACHINE.

“After their last acclaimed full-length record “This is not supposed to be positive” (2015), HANGMAN’S CHAIR is back and teams up with the stoner japanese veterans GREENMACHINE for a split LP. We can easily recognize the HANGMAN’S CHAIR style along their two new songs with this mix of heavy guitar parts and melodic vocals. GREENMACHINE offers us a new long track divided in multiple parts. The split is released on CD via the japanese label Daymare Recordings and on vinyl through Musicfearsatan (700 copies, 300 on pink and 400 on black)”

tracklisting :
SIDE A
1. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – give and take
2. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – can’t talk

SIDE B
1. GREENMACHINE – red eye (pt.1.2.3.4.5)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/GREENMACHiNE/480031285391295
https://www.facebook.com/hangmanschair/
www.musicfearsatan.com
www.musicfearsatan.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN/173432646328
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN-LABEL/276530999081207

Hangman’s Chair, “Can’t Talk” official video

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Bible of the Devil & Leeches of Lore Split Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Chicago heavy rockers Bible of the Devil, now five years removed from their last full-length, which was 2012’s For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), have confirmed that the new track they’re planning to include on an upcoming split with hiatus-bound New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore is currently in the mixing stage. They’ve made the 7″ available to preorder directly from them — as in, send-us-an-email-and-we’ll-get-one-to-you — and among the easier arguments one might endeavor to make in a given afternoon is they’re a cause worth supporting through that or whatever other means. Good band, pairing with another good band, and all that.

They sent along a winter newsletter that you can see below, including a couple live dates coming up in Wisconsin and their hometown. Dig it:

bible of the devil

BOTD Winter Update 2017

We have just finishing mixing our 7″ track for our split with Albuquerque’s own Leeches of Lore to be self-released later this spring. This is another classic in the making for BOTD and we are sure you will be humming along to it soon! Pre-orders can be taken via PayPal at botdmusic@gmail.com for $6 plus $3 shipping anywhere in the US. For European orders or anywhere else, please email for pricing first. We all had a blast making this and can’t wait to make the push to get the next record done. Don’t snooze on getting a copy as this is a limited run!

BOTD also will be making two appearances this spring:

March 25th Sat. Kenosha, WI @ Hattrix w/The Miners (record release), Amulance, Burn The Witch

and then…

RAWfest!!!

RAWfest began in Chicago in 2005 as a vehicle to showcase the best of underground rock. While it has sat dormant over a decade (sometimes you get busy, you know?), we have decided to bring it back for a second edition for maximum fun. This is an incredible lineup and it’s highly suggested you buy a ticket. Poster made by Austin’s own Burger Ben.

June 3rd Sat. Chicago, IL @ Township RAWfest 2 Doors 4pm $10 adv/$12 dos w/The Safes, The Vibrolas, Buzzzard, The Evictions, Beggars, City Slang

Finally, a much anticipated tour of the south in July is being finalized as we speak. Texas, we had some weather trouble last time and will not be denied this time around! Dates coming soon.

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
www.bibleofthedevil.net

Bible of the Devil, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (2012)

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Bible of the Devil to Release Split 7″ with Leeches of Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

They should call it the Bands Who are Way Better than People Know split. The Bands You’d Probably Really Dig split. At very least the Bands I Really Dig split. It’s been since 2012 that Chicago’s Bible of the Devil last released an album. That record, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), followed four years after 2008’s Freedom Metal and felt late at the time, so yeah, they’re due. No word on solid release date for a next full-length, but the metal/rock genrehoppers will issue a split 7″ in the fine company of Albuquerque weirdos Leeches of Lore, whose Toshi Kasai-helmed Motel of Infinity (review here) came out in 2015. There will be a new song on that, and at this point, I’m inclined to take what I can get.

To go with a handful of shows around the Midwest this summer/fall, Bible of the Devil are set to play Alehorn of Power IX (info here) on Nov. 12 at Reggies in Chicago. Full lineup and set times can be found with the split announcement below:

bible-of-the-devil

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL UPDATE + ALEHORN OF POWER IX @ REGGIES NOV. 12TH SAT.!!

BOTD has had quite a busy fall so far with successful October dates in Indianapolis and Columbus. They are now gearing up for the next installment of Alehorn of Power in two weeks with the mighty THOR headlining! Details with set times are listed below and tickets are only $20 to witness this barrage of heavy rock! BOTD will also return to the studio in December to continue working on its new album while recording a new track to be released as a 7″ with Albuquerque’s own LEECHES OF LORE. Look for it late spring next year along with some very special road dates in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

Slated for Saturday, November 12, 2016 at Reggies in Chicago, this year’s Alehorn of Power features an eclectic and formidable lineup of bands with one thing on their minds: exceptional heavy metal entertainment from the independent realm.

Alehorn of Power IX
Set Times
THOR 11:50-???
Professor Black 10:55-11:35pm
Argus 10:00-10:40pm
Bible of the Devil 9:05-9:45pm
The Lurking Corpses 8:10-8:50pm
Seamstress 7:25-7:55pm

Saturday November 12, 2016
Doors 7 PM / $20 / Ages 17+
Reggies, 2101 S. State, Chicago IL USA

Long-running Chicago act BIBLE OF THE DEVIL is not only Alehorn’s spiritual guidepost but also its musical cornerstone. The band’s unmistakable brand of heavy metal rock and roll embodies every bit the twin-guitarred, big-chorused, epic FM sound perhaps most associated with the festival’s history. This year’s set will include a selection of new material alongside hits from the band’s vast catalog.

Bible of the Devil is:
Nathan Perry: Vocals, Guitars
Greg Spalding: Drums, Loathing
Darren Amaya: Bass, Vocals
Chris Grubbs: Guitars

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
http://bibleofthedevil.net/
http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/

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