Merlock Announce May Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

In addition to the dates the Spokane, Washington-based trio Merlock will do in April — including a stopthrough at Rocky Mountain Riff Fest in Kalispell, Montana — this May tour sees them dig deeper into the Midwestern region and follows a West Coast tour last summer in support of their debut LP, Onward Strides Colossus (review here). They’re calling it the ‘Calamities Tour,’ and as they note below, it’s the longest stretch of road time they’ve yet undertaken. I’m pretty sure that’s how ‘touring bands’ happen — by bands touring — so right on.

The tour is 16 dates with two days off. I don’t know that they have any intention of doing so, but between this and the prior July excursion, they’ll have covered the West Coast and Midwest, which leaves the eastern portion of the US as the last region to cover — unless you want to count Texas as its own region, which I think at least Texas probably does — in heralding their first record. Not a minor trip for a DIY band, even after a tour like this, but if you’re wondering what’s next, that doesn’t seem the least likely among the infinite possibilities.

Their announcement follows, as seen on social media:

Merlock may tour

Tour Announcement!

Proud to announce our upcoming conquest: The Calamities Tour this May. We’ll be heading through the Mid-US and a bit of the Mountains on our biggest tour to date. We’re also proud to have the support of some of our favorite brands on this one — lots of love and prep went into this and we’re so excited to be venturing forth. Thanks to everyone who has helped get this tour put together and we can’t wait to get out and meet y’all.

We’ve also got some rad stuff in April you won’t wanna miss. We’ve got a weekend with the mighty @empress_bc and an appearance and @rockymtnrifffest

Taylor D. Waring – Guitar / Vox
Andrew Backes – Bass
Lucas Barrey – Drums

Merlock, Onward Strides Colossus (2023)

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Kadabra Announce European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


I saw Kadabra one time a couple years ago, and you know what my first thought was when their set was finished? “Wow, I need to see this band again.” That was Psycho Las Vegas, and the Washington trio were supporting their first album, Ultra (review here), which came out on Heavy Psych Sounds in 2021.

Last year’s follow-up, Umbra (review here, also discussed here), outdid its predecessor on just about all fronts, sharpening the songcraft while expanding the sound, touching on garage doom and psych and stoner rock and cult horror and so on with a clarity of purpose in the mood of the material that was even more their own. It was number seven in my 2023 top 10, and it hasn’t gotten any less repeat-listenable since then in my experience.

This tour draws together previously announced confirmations for Maximum Festival, Desertfest Oslo, Desertfest London, and the two-night Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in Trieste and Bologna, Italy, and there are still some open dates if you can help out.

Dates as per the label’s socials:

kadabra euro tour 2024

*** KADABRA – European Tour 2024 ***

Hey all, we are stoked to announce that our fuzznrollerz KADABRA will tour Europe in May !!! STILL FEW OPEN SLOTS

*** KADABRA European Tour 2024 ***
TH. 02.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT
SU. 05.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
MO.06.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
TU. 07.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
SA. 11.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
MO. 13.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
TH. 16.05.24 UK LEEDS – BOOM
SA. 18.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
TU. 21.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
WE. 22.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
TH. 23.05.24 ***OPEN SLOT***
SU. 26.05.24 IT ROMA – GLITCH

Kadabra formed during the dark days of 2020 and were quickly signed by Heavy Psych Sounds, who released Ultra in the fall of 2021 and established the band’s penchant for delivering crushing doom riffs and haunting vocals accentuated by bursts of psychedelic flair and swampy Americana swagger. And while the chemistry of long-time friends Garrett Zanol (guitar/vocals), Ian Nelson (bass) and Chase Howard (drums) was apparent upon listening to their debut, their bond was further strengthened by relentlessly touring the western United States and completing a month-long tour of Europe.

The trio almost immediately began looking forward, road-testing and crystalizing the songs that would comprise their follow-up, which found the band reuniting with Ultra producer Dawson Scholz. The result is Umbra: a singular statement that is more focused and cohesive than its predecessor, while managing to capture the immersive, free-flowing experience of their live show. Umbra was released on October 6 via Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Garrett Zanol (Vocals/Guitar)
Ian Nelson (Bass)
Chase Howard (Drums)

Kadabra, Umbra (2023)

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Kadabra Post “The Serpent” Video; Haunt Consciousness With Umbra LP

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


As evidenced by the ‘review here’ parenthetical I’m about to put behind the album’s title, I did in fact review Kadabra‘s second album, Umbra (review here), which came out last month on Heavy Psych Sounds, and you know what? I stand by that review. Maybe I was feeling a little cheeky at the time, but if you’re going to do this thing — to hone a sound that’s sharp in its execution and clever in its turns, but carries both memorable melodicism and an overarching groove — this is the way to do it. “The Serpent,” the video for which premiered sometime in the past few weeks, brings this into clearest emphasis. Songwriting is first but the performances throughout are stellar, and in the Washington trio’s skillful hands, choruses gain persona and Umbra builds an atmosphere not only through the strut of instrumental opener “White Willows” or in the organ-laced midsection of the later “Mountain Tamer” or in acoustic finale “The Serpent II,” which reprises the central melody of “The Serpent” — that clip below — and gives the record a sense of completion beyond 2021’s Ultra (review here).

“I’m at the altar/Dagger in hand” is a key line in conveying the song’s ritual-sacrifice theme. Of course, the “serpent” itself — the image — is rooted in religious dogma and aligned with malevolence. The serpent is Satan. It creeps. It bites. It poisons. Etc. The snake that, by its very nature, betrays you. On the record, “The Serpent” arrives after the volleys of “High Priestess” and “Midnight Hour” have picked up and added to the momentum coming off “White Willows,” bringing the sense of threat that “The Serpent” makes plain lyrically and fostering a similarly rich blend of thickened, doomly tones, classic heavy rock manifest via organ, rampant melodic hooks and choice riffs. Kadabra — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Garrett Zanol, bassist Ian Nelson and drummer Chase Howard — established this in the first record as the core of their methodology and the backdrop against which their development as a group would take place. In short, Umbra is the manifestation of that growth, both in its air-tight A side — looking at you, “High Priestess” and in the movement through “The Devil” into the pre-closer pair of longer tracks “Battle of Avalon” (7:26) and “Mountain Tamer” (8:03).

Kadabra UmbraThose two are an immersion unto themselves, and Kadabra deftly draw the listener there with “The Serpent” and “The Devil” beginning a shortest-to-longest procession that will continue until the acoustic redirect of “The Serpent II” rounds out, sort of booking an album that break down to more than just one side and the other. “Battle of Avalon” is full in its movement but has dreamier stretches in its second half atop the declarative toms of Howard and some militaristic snare soon to take hold. “Mountain Tamer”  –presumably not named in honor of the Californian band but you never know — flows with an easy nod at its outset and gives an addled sway until a crescendo of layered melodic vocals on the line, “In your eyes…” and a wah-soaked solo provide the album’s peak stretch and a righteous if momentary jam as they bring it back around to that hook before the fadeout on the long-held organ note and residual rumble, some sparse aftermath noise setting up “The Serpent II” in its own place, a kind of perch, from which it looks down and folkishly recalls recent horrors.

As a matter of principle, I don’t know shit about shit. As a human being, I’m largely incapable of handling even the basic functions and interactions one needs to get through a day — yesterday I joked about getting “JOMO” tattooed across my next in olde English letters because that’s how committed to my own misery I apparently am. But I’ll tell you something else. This record has burrowed its way into my fucking head such that even after a month and a half I decided to write about Umbra again. Whatever one might think of its themes, this is one of 2023’s best heavy rock offerings. The songs are inarguable. I’m putting this year to tell you that if you haven’t heard it, you should, and to give a heads up for a third Kadabra record hopefully sometime in the next couple years, because if they take a step from here like they did from Ultra to Umbra, then everything they will have done leading to it will have been a show of potential not to be missed and instructive for bands in their wake. It ain’t a secret and it ain’t easy. Write songs.

Or, to put it another way: This is how you fucking do it.

Here’s a video from the internet. I hope you enjoy:

Kadabra, “The Serpent” official video

The song “The Serpent” details the internal battle of temptation the continually rears it’s head. “The Witch” refers to somewhat of a paralysis figure the constantly holds me back from progression. The Witch is described as being defeated by the serpent aka myself. – Garrett Zanol

Music Video produced by Mothpowder Light Show !!

Garrett Zanol – Vocals/Guitar
Ian Nelson – Bass
Chase Howard – Drums

Kadabra, Umbra (2023)

Kadabra, “The Devil” official video

Kadabra, “High Priestess” visualizer

Kadabra on Instagram

Kadabra on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Album Review: Kadabra, Umbra

Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Kadabra Umbra



Thanks for reading.

Kadabra, Umbra (2023)

Kadabra, “The Devil” official video

Kadabra, “High Priestess” visualizer

Kadabra on Instagram

Kadabra on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Kadabra to Release Umbra Oct. 6; “The Devil” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


I was hoping we’d get a Kadabra record this year after seeing the Washington-based trio were announced as support for the upcoming West Coast tour of their Heavy Psych Sounds labelmates Bongzilla. The new album is called Umbra — following on from their debut, 2021’s deserved-more-hype-than-it-got Ultra (review here) — and will see release once again via Heavy Psych Sounds on Oct. 6. Preorders are up at the link below, if you’re the type to handle these things early.

A first single called “The Devil” arrives with a video accompanying, and it just straight up rules. I’m not sure any more complex analysis than that is needed. Like the first record, it sees the band cherry-picking aspects of modern heavy to suit the needs of their songwriting. I’d have to check to be certain, but I’m fairly sure this isn’t the first rock song ever written about the devil, even as a metaphor, but Kadabra aren’t trying to tell you otherwise. They revel in the bleak vibe as much as the central riff of the song — and you know there’s some reveling going on there — and a seeming uptick in production clarity and the separation of the instruments seems to be a factor as well, though I’m saying that as I’ve seen the video once and I’m standing on the line for a kiddie rollercoaster at Six Flags on a Wednesday afternoon, so maybe not the best place to really dig in. I guess what I’m saying is if that’s wrong, don’t hold it against me, because I might be talking out of my ass. Which should be a disclaimer for this entire site, come to think of it.

Either way, I’m stoked. Also note that two of the names of songs here, “Mountain Tamer” and “High Priestess,” are also West Coast band names. Put all three acts on a bill and it’d be a fucking killer show. From the PR wire:

Kadabra Umbra

KADABRA to release new album “Umbra” on Heavy Psych Sounds this fall; preorder and “The Devil” video available!

Spokane, Washington heavy psychedelic rockers KADABRA announce the release of their new album “Umbra” this October 6th on Heavy Psych Sounds, and unleash their badass new video for “The Devil” right now!

KADABRA formed during the dark days of 2020 and were quickly signed by Heavy Psych Sounds, who released Ultra in the fall of 2021 and established the band’s penchant for delivering crushing doom riffs and haunting vocals accentuated by bursts of psychedelic flair and swampy Americana swagger. And while the chemistry of long-time friends Garrett Zanol (guitar/vocals), Ian Nelson (bass) and Chase Howard (drums) was apparent upon listening to their debut, their bond was further strengthened by relentlessly touring the western United States and completing a month-long tour of Europe.

The trio almost immediately began looking forward, road-testing and crystalizing the songs that would comprise their follow-up, which found the band reuniting with “Ultra” producer Dawson Scholz. The result is “Umbra”: a singular statement that is more focused and cohesive than its predecessor while managing to capture the immersive, free-flowing experience of their live show. For fans of Dead Meadow, The Black Angels, All Them Witches.

New album “Umbra”
Out October 6th on Heavy Psych Sounds – PREORDER:

1. White Willows
2. High Priestess
3. Midnight Hour
4. The Serpent
5. The Devil
6. Battle of Avalon
7. Mountain Tamer
8. The Serpent II

Garrett Zanol (Vocals/Guitar)
Ian Nelson (Bass)
Chase Howard (Drums)

Kadabra, “The Devil” official video

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Merlock Announce West Coast Tour With Robots of the Ancient World

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I guess if you don’t follow Merlock on the social medias — and I would encourage you to do so — you might look at the below all about ‘tru zoinked warriors’ and a crusade against ‘Big Riff,’ and have no idea what’s going on. The best advice I can give you is roll with it. The band, and particularly founding guitarist/vocalist Taylor D. Waring, have dug out a kind of niche-language about cranked mids — I actually had to look up what that means, it’s a guitar-recording thing — and I tried to join their Facebook group but I think they called me a cop, so I left because I’m insecure. Whatever ‘Big Riff’ is, I have no doubt I’m more part of the problem than the solution. So it goes.

But, Merlock released their debut album, Onward Strides Colossus (review here), earlier this year, and it remains among the best first-records I’ve heard in 2023, so their doing a West Coast tour to support it is right on, regardless of my constabular status (still testing negative for being a cop, by the way). If you didn’t hear that mids-cranked sludgebeast of a long-player, it’s down below because you can do that in the future — used to be way less of an option; ask me about it sometime and I’ll tell you a grandpa story about physical media — and because it’s worth hearing if you haven’t. If you can make it to a show, so much the better. They’ll be out with Robots of the Ancient World, who are also awesome.

From Facebook:

Merlock robots of the ancient world shows

Tru Z0inked Warriors!!! Soon, we ride again to crank our mids and battle the sound-cops in YOUR town (assuming you live in one of nine West Coast locations).

But wait, there’s more! We’ll be joined by fellow warriors Robots of the Ancient World in our CRUSADE against Big Riff.

We trust we will see you there.

07/15 Olympia WA Cryptatropa
07/16 Eureka CA Sirens Song
07/17 TBA
07/18 Las Vegas NV The Griffin
07/19 Tempe AZ Yucca Tap Room
07/20 Oceanside CA Pour House
07/21 San Francisco CA Thee Parkside
07/22 Crescent City CA Enoteca

Taylor D. Waring – Guitar / Vox
Andrew Backes – Bass
Lucas Barrey – Drums

Merlock, Onward Strides Colossus (2023)

Merlock, You Cannot Be Saved performance video

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Twin Void & Tigers on Opium Tour to Rocky Mountain Riff Fest Starts Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

No, this is not the first post I’ve done with dates lined up around a band or bands playing Rocky Mountain Riff Fest 2023 this weekend. You know what? I don’t give a shit. Maybe I believe very, very strongly in the heavy of the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwestern regions. Maybe I want to go to Montana some day because Wyoming is the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen and I think Montana might stand a chance of beating it in that regard. Maybe I dig underground heavy rock and roll and if I post this and share it then it’s one more thing they can post and that’s how you catch eyes and man we’re all just trying to hit that algorithm right isn’t that what life is now? Maybe?

Portland, Oregon’s Tigers on Opium, who have attitude the way major urban centers have electricity, and Twin Void, whose Free From Hardtimes was killer enough that even though I didn’t get to review it I snuck in a video premiere with Nathan Bidwell‘s Obelisk Questionnaire — that’s a good way to know I’m desperate to cover something — set out tomorrow together from the latter’s native Spokane, Washington, and will proceed through the aforementioned Rocky Mountain Riff Fest and on from there, doing three more shows in Montana because, and this is my own understanding, Montana is fucking huge, and looping back around through Idaho and Utah to finish in WA.

It’s a tidy tour worth taking the week off and making a thing out of it. If you get to see it, good on yas:


Tigers on Opium and Twin Void hit the road for a week of face smashing riff carnage. Peep the dates/locations below and get ready to come out and party with us. This will be an absolute ripper!

4/21 Spokane, WA Mootsys Bar
4/22 Kalispel, MT Rocky Mountain Riff Fest
4/23 Bozeman, MT Haufbrau House
4/24 Bozeman, MT The Filling Station
4/25 Missoula, MT Monks Bar
4/26 SLC, UT Aces High Saloon
4/27 Boise, ID Neurolux
4/28 Pullman, WA Another Round Brewing

Twin Void, Free From Hardtimes (2022)

Tigers on Opium, 503.420.6669.vol_two (2022)

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Album Review: Merlock, Onward Strides Colossus

Posted in Reviews on February 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Merlock onward strides colossus

Spokane, Washington’s Merlock tell the listener early to keep an open mind on “Sovereign Throne,” the opening track of their self-released debut album, Onward Strides Colossus. That four-and-a-half-minute leadoff is one of two songs under five minutes on the six-track/40-minute long-player, and it moves from dreamy guitar float and open crash into minimal vocals-and-bass verse lines before the swirl revives, solidifies, and moves into more fervent push in its midsection, solo layers spread overtop and feedback held as Lucas Barrey‘s drums shift into speedier, more particularly Sabbathian push. Founding guitarist/vocalist Taylor D. Waring gives hints of some of the post-Mike Scheidt soulful belting-out of vocals to come in the later reaches of second cut “Sunnbarrenn” (9:18) as well as in the penultimate “Somniloquy” (3:51) and the closing title-track (10:02), if not the harsher, sludgier barks that offset, and it’s in Andrew Backes‘ raw punch and rumble of low end on bass that the song’s weight comes from.

This is a kind of transposed take on classic power trio methodology that Merlock employ as they follow their two prior EPs, 2021’s You Cannot Be Saved EP (review here) and 2020’s That Which Speaks EP (review here), and set themselves to the task of crafting a style that is malleable enough to border on caustic at times while holding a steady commitment to atmosphere, Waring‘s guitar all the more able to work around and outside the Sleep-y march at the beginning of “Sunnbarrenn” for the strong foundation of groove in the drums and bass and the breadth that resides in the recording/mix by Nic Wilbur (indie weirdos Slashed Tires, moody punks Alien Boy, and so on), not necessarily playing to largesse as much as they could as it is creating the space in which immersion can happen and letting the layers captured ensure that it does. It’s almost not until the drums and bass drop out, the guitar sets up the next riff and Waring breaks into the album’s first real harsher post-metallic roar that one realizes just how successful they’ve been in that immersive task.

Rawness becomes an essential part of Onward Strides Colossus‘ character. As “Sunnbarrenn” proceeds with a chug like earliest High on Fire and an echoing mid-register growl from Waring to suit it, the nod shifts, flows from one part to the next with purposefully over-the-top squeals and crash, resolving in an especially stomping roll before beginning the cycle anew, clearing the air as it hits into its seventh minute and finding Backes‘ bass leading the transition into the more open payoff, Waring going back to cleaner singing before the upward swirl of the final solo, preceding an even more fervent delivery in the last verse and a few measures of comedown before a short wind-noise transition into “Behold! The Sword of Lock,” which is more immediately nasty and cavernous, clearly picking up the more aggressive aspects of “Sunnbarrenn” and pushing them further in its five-and-a-half minutes, the back and forth pattern of shorter and longer songs established for those listening digitally or on CD while the two-sided experience (currently tape, presumably modeled as well for vinyl at some point) finds the brashness of “Behold! The Sword of Lock” at the end of side A, lending it a personality perhaps more immediate than that of the second half of Onward Strides Colossus to come, although at a certain point it all might start to feel like being bashed over the head by fog, which I think is the point.

Nonetheless, “Behold! The Sword of Lock” twists and gnashes at its outset, darkly thrash but consistent with the ambience Merlock have thus far honed in the use of guitar and vocal effects, etc. At two minutes in, it slams on the brakes and nods out only to find itself winding and careening again as the vocals turn declarative over what in many contexts would be black metal, until the tension finally gives out after about another two minutes, vocals turning melodic, drums and bass stretching wider, the delay guitar casting itself into the open to close, pretty as it is punishing and delivering the listener directly into “Where No One Goes” (7:44), which is more directly post-metal and cosmic doom at once, layered vocals a part of the churning fray before the chug-march turns more brutal and makes its way toward and through the midsection.

Merlock (Photo by Adam Darling)

Just past the five-minute mark, “Where No One Goes” finds its own release, echoing into the void it’s made with a return of melody as setup for a shining solo which in turn sets up the next verse lines of the payoff before the extended slowdown finish, like earliest YOB in its sheer revelry for that which is sonically massive and planetary. To complement, “Somniloquy” is more substantial than an interlude, but with the drums resting at the outset and a patient unfurling over its span, gives the listener a moment to breathe early before building into a more intense midsection with the vocals serene overhead, a wave cresting and soon enough to recede into more sublime guitar on its way out and a stretch of silence before the drone marks the turn into “Onward Strides Colossus” itself, the only piece of the record that shares its name to top 10 minutes and a song clearly positioned as a culmination of aural themes.

Like much of what precedes, the title-track feels nascent in terms of an overarching and hopefully ongoing progression, but is of marked depth, some low-register brooding vocals obscured by drones over the first couple minutes before more terrestrial guitar rises up and the slow roll begins in earnest. As with “Sunnbarrenn,” and to some extent “Behold! The Sword of Lock,” “Onward Strides Colossus” signals its changes in pace and is led by the guitar, but moves fluidly through a faster middle before at 5:40, it crashes to silence, guitar ambience and the bass once more tasked with holding it together, which it does ably. They’ll come back — they know it and you know it — but the build to get there is the point, and with a deep figurative inhale, “Onward Strides Colossus” rears up at 6:50 and transitions into its last wash of psychedelic sludge, almost encouraging the listener to dig through and find the different elements at play, whether it’s the layers of rhythm guitar under the solo or the somewhat buried tom runs from Barrey, and so on. The last procession is duly doomed, and even as “Onward Strides Colossus” ends in feedback and residual noise, the impression is both that it’s complete — nothing is missing — but that it still doesn’t necessarily want to go. It is the longest song Merlock have written to-date. Much as I hesitate at predictions, I do not think it will be their last time in the wilds north of the 10-minute mark.

And that they perhaps have more to say in “Onward Strides Colossus” is emblematic of the band on the whole at this point. As much as the soul of Onward Strides Colossus works to make the recording a part of its story, the underlying sound of Merlock is more nebulous, and that’s a big part of why it’s exciting since it seems to incorporate much without either pretense or self-ceremony. On their face, the six tracks here are as dense as they are willfully dissolute, and the impression they give is that as they continue to grow and move forward from prior lineup changes and so on, much of what’s contained in this material will be the foundation of their progress in a way not unlike how the drums and bass groove on the ground while the guitar soars over. It is a fascinating first chapter, reminiscent of much but not entirely loyal to any single microgenre, and the potential is there for Merlock over time to carve a niche of their own within the various strains of capital ‘h’ Heavy. If Onward Strides Colossus is a beginning for that process, so much the better.

Merlock, “Where No One Goes” official video

Merlock, Onward Strides Colossus (2023)

Merlock on Facebook

Merlock on Instagram

Merlock on TikTok

Merlock on Bandcamp

Merlock website

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