Quarterly Review: Fuzz, Crippled Black Phoenix, Bethmoora, Khan, The Acid Guide Service, Vexing Hex, KVLL, Mugstar, Wolftooth, Starmonger

Posted in Reviews on December 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Day III of the Inexplicably Roman Numeralized Winter 2020 Quarterly Review, commence! I may never go back to actual numbers, you should know. There’s something very validating about doing Day I, Day II, Day III — and tomorrow I get to add a V for Day IV! Stoked on that, let me tell you.

You have to make your own entertainment these days, lest your brain melt like wax and drip from your nostrils.

Plurp.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Fuzz, III

fuzz iii

Plenty of heavy rockers can come across sounding fresh. Most of the time all it takes is being young. In the case of III, the third long-player from FuzzCharles Moothart, Ty Segall and Chad Ubovich — they sound like they just invented it. Dig the hard-Bowie of “Time Collapse” or the made-for-the-stage opener “Returning,” or the surf-cacophony of “Mirror.” Or hell, any of it. The combination of this band and producer Steve Albini — aka the guy you go to when you want your album to sound like your live show — is correct. That’s all you can say about it. From the ’70s snarl in “Nothing People” to the triumphant melody in the second half of “Blind to Vines” and the back and forth between gritty roll and fragile prog of “End Returning,” it’s an energy that simply won’t be denied. If Fuzz wanted to go ahead and do three or four more albums with Albini at the helm in the next five years, that’d be just fine.

In the Red Records on Thee Facebooks

In the Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst

crippled black phoenix ellengaest

The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) goes that when after lineup shifts left Crippled Black Phoenix without any singers, founder Justin Greaves (ex-Iron Monkey, Earthtone9, Electric Wizard, etc.) decided to call old mates. Look. I don’t care how it happened, but Ellengæst, which is the likewise-brilliant follow-up to the band’s widely-lauded 2018 outing, Great Escape, leads off with Anathema‘s Vincent Cavanagh singing lead on “House of Fools,” and, well, there’s your new lead singer. Anathema‘s on hiatus and a more natural fit would be hard to come by. Ryan Patterson (The National Acrobat, a dozen others), Gaahl (Gaahls Wyrd, ex-Gorgoroth), solo artist Suzie Stapleton and Jonathan Hultén (Tribulation) would also seem to audition — Patterson and Stapleton pair well on the heavy-Cure-style “Cry of Love” — and there are songs without any guests at all, but there’s a reason “House of Fools” starts the record. Make it happen, Crippled Black Phoenix. For the good of us all.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Bethmoora, Thresholds

Bethmoora Thresholds

Copenhagen’s Bethmoora served notice in a 2016 split with Dorre (review here) and their debut full-length, Thresholds hone destructive lumber across four low-toned tracks that begin with “And for Eternity They Will Devour His Flesh” and only get nastier from there. One imagines being in a room with this kind of rumbling, maddeningly repetitive, slow-motion-violence noise wash and being put into a flight-or-fight panic by it, deer in doomed headlights, and all that, but even on record, Bethmoora manage to cull, and when their songs explode in tempo, as the opener does late in its run, or “Painted Man” does, that spirit is maintained. Each side of the LP is two tracks, and all four are beastly, pile-driver-to-the-core-of-the-earth heavy. “Keeper”‘s wash of noise has willful-turnoff appeal all its own, but the empty space in the middle of “Lamentation” is where they go in for ultimate consumption. And yeah. Yeah.

Bethmoora on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Khan, Monsoons

khan monsoons

Khan‘s second album, Monsoons is a departure in form from 2018’s Vale, if not necessarily in substance. Heavy, psychedelic-infused post-rock is the order of business for the Melbourne trio either way, but as guitarist Josh Bills gives up playing synth and doing vocals to embark on an instrumental approach with bassist Mitchell Kerr (also KVLL) and drummer Beau Heffernan on this four-track/31-minute offering, the spirit is inescapably different. Probably easier to play live, if that’s a thing that might happen. Monsoons still has the benefit, however, of learning from the debut in terms of the dynamic among the three players, and Bills‘ guitar reaches for atmospheric float in “Orb” and attains it easily, as the midsection rhythm of the closing title-track nods at My Sleeping Karma and the back end of the prior “Harbinger” manages to shine and not sound like Earthless in the process, and quite simply, Khan make it work. The vocals/synth might be worth missing — and they may or may not be back — but to ignore the breadth Khan harness in little over half an hour would be a mistake.

Khan on Thee Facebooks

Khan on Bandcamp

 

The Acid Guide Service, Denim Vipers

the acid guide service denim vipers

Jammy, psychedelic in parts, Sabbathian in “Peavey Marshall (and the Legendary Acoustic Sunn Band)” and good fun from the doomly rollout of 11-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “In the Cemetery” onward, the second full-length from Idaho’s The Acid Guide Service, Denim Vipers, brings considerable rumble and nod, but these guys don’t want to hurt nobody. They’ve come here to chew bubblegum and follow the riff, and they’re all out of bubblegum. Comprised on average of longer songs than 2017’s debut, Vol. 11 (review here), the four-tracker gives the trio room to branch out their sound a bit, highlighting the bass in the long middle stretch of the title-track while the subsequent “Electro-Galactic Discharge” puts its guitar solo front and center before sludge-rocking into oblivion, letting “Peavey Marshall (and the Legendary Acoustic Sunn Band)” pick up from there, which is as fine a place as any to begin a gallop to the end. Genre-based shenanigans ensue. One would hope for no less.

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Vexing Hex, Haunt

vexing hex haunt

Based in Illinois, Vexing Hex make their debut on Wise Blood Records with Haunt, and yes, playing catchy, semi-doomed, organ-laced cult rock with creative and melodic vocal arrangements, you’re going to inevitably run into some Ghost comparisons. The newcomer three-piece are distinguished by a harder edge to their impact, a theremin on “Planet Horror” and a rawer production sensibility, and that serves them well in “Build Your Wall” and the buildup of “Living Room,” both of which play off the fun-with-dogma mood cast by “Revenant” following the intro “Hymn” at the outset of Haunt. Not quite as progressive as, say, Old Man Wizard, there’s nonetheless some melodic similarity happening as bell sounds ensue on “Rise From Your Grave,” the title of which which may or may not be purposefully cribbed from the Sega Genesis classic Altered Beast. There’s a big part of me that hopes it is, and if Vexing Hex are writing songs about retro videogames, they sound ready to embark on a Castlevania concept album.

Vexing Hex on Thee Facebooks

Wise Blood Records on Bandcamp

 

KVLL, Death//Sacrifice

kvll death sacrifice

Proffering grueling deathsludge as though it were going out of style — it isn’t — the Melbourne duo KVLL is comprised of bassist/vocalist/guitarist Mitchell Kerr (also Khan) and drummer Braydon Becher. It’s not without ambient stretches, as the centerpiece “Sacrifice” shows, but the primary impression KVLL‘s debut album, Death//Sacrifice makes is in the extremity of crash and heavy landing of “The Death of All That is Crushing” and “Slow Death,” such that by the time “Sacrifice” ‘mellows out,’ as it were, the listener is punchdrunk from what’s taken place on the prior two and a half songs. There’s little doubt that’s precisely KVLL‘s intention here, as the cavernous screams, mega-lurch and tense undercurrent are more than ably wielded. If “Sacrifice” is the moment at which Death//Sacrifice swaps out one theme for another, the subsequent “Blood to the Altar” and nine-minute closer “Beneath the Throne” hammer the point home, the latter with an abrasive noise-caked finale worthy of standard-bearers Primitive Man.

KVLL on Thee Facebooks

KVLL on Bandcamp

 

Mugstar, GRAFT

mugstar graft

Not that the initial droning wash of “Deep is the Air” or the off-blasted “Zeta Potential” and warp-drive freneticism in “Cato” don’t have their appeal — oh, they do — but when it comes to UK lords-o’-space Mugstar‘s latest holodeck-worthy full-length, GRAFT, it’s the mellow drift-jazz of the 12-minute “Ghost of a Ghost” that feels most like matter dematerialization to me. Side B’s “Low, Slow Horizon” answers back later on ahead of the motorik linear build in the finale “Star Cage,” but the 12-minute vibe-fest that is “Ghost of a Ghost” gives GRAFT a vastness to match its thrust, which becomes essential to the space-borne feel. It’s 41 minutes, still ripe for an LP, but the kind of album that has a genuine affect on mood and mindset, breaking down on a molecular level both and remolding them into something hopefully more evolved on some level through cosmic meditation. Fast or slow, up or down, in or out, it doesn’t ultimately matter. Nothing does. But there’s a moment in GRAFT where the one-skin-on-another thing becomes apparent and all the masks drop away. What’s left after that?

Mugstar on Thee Facebooks

Centripetal Force Records website

Cardinal Fuzz Records BigCartel store

 

Wolftooth, Valhalla

Wolftooth Valhalla

Hooks abound in power-stoner fashion throughout Indiana four-piece Wolftooth‘s second album, Valhalla, which roughs up NWOBHM clarity in early-Ozzy fashion without going overboard to one side or the other, riffs winding and rhythms charging in a way not entirely unlike some of Freedom Hawk‘s more recent fare, but with a melodic reach of its own and a dynamism of purpose that comes through in the songwriting. Grand Magus‘ metallic traditionalism might be an influence on a song like “Fear for Eternity,” but “Crying of the Wolfs” has a more rocking swagger, and likewise post-intro opener “Possession.” With tightly constructed songs in the four-to-five-minute range, Valhalla never feels stretched out more than it wants to, but “Molon Labe” pushes the vocals deeper into the mix for a bigger, more atmospheric sound, and subtle shifts like that become effective in distinguishing the songs and making them all the more memorable. Recently signed to Napalm after working with Ripple, Ice Fall, Cursed Tongue and Blackseed, they seem to be poised to pay off the potential here and in their 2018 self-titled debut (review here). So be it.

Wolftooth on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store

Ice Fall Records BigCartel store

 

Starmonger, Revelations

starmonger revelations

Parisian riff-blaster trio Starmonger have been piecemealing tracks out for the last five years as a series of EPs titled Revelation, and the full-length debut, Revelations, brings these nine songs together for a 49-minute long-player that even in re-recorded versions of the earliest cuts like “Tell Me” and “Wanderer” show how far the band has come. It’s telling that those two close the record out while “Rise of the Fishlords” and “Léthé” from 2019’s Revelation IV open sides A and B, respectively, but older or newer, the band end up with a swath of stylistic ground covered from the more straightforward and uptempo kick of the elder tracks to the more progressive take of the newer, with plenty of ground in between. Uniting the various sides are strong performances and strong choruses, the latter of which would seem to be the thread that draws everything together. Whether or not it takes Starmonger half a decade to put out their next LP, one can hardly call their time misspent while listening to Revelations.

Starmonger on Thee Facebooks

Starmonger on Bandcamp

 

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Starmonger Premiere “Rise of the Fishlords” Video; Revelations Out Nov. 27

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

starmonger (Photo by Pierre-Emannuel Leydet)

Parisian heavy rockers Starmonger will release their debut full-length, Revelations, on Nov. 27. I am on record many, many times as saying there’s no substitute for charm, and when I watch their video for “Rise of the Fishlords” and see the three-piece dressed up like the Creature From the Black Lagoon or like something out of a bound-to-be-on-MST3K Roger Corman black and white movie, that particular axiom comes directly to mind. Amid the start-stop riff and a lyrical tale of global warming apparently giving rise to a race of malevolent sea monsters who attack the unsuspecting populace, the clip plays out in a spirit of good fun, if one underpinned by the very real climate crisis unfolding before our very eyes, melding ice-caps, increased wildfire and storm intensity, and record-setting temperatures.

starmonger revelationsYou know. All that stuff.

Starmonger aren’t exactly making light of any of that — and if they are, so what? what else is there to do? — but the classic sci-fi setting is apt, since the track works from a lyrical place not at all dissimilar from Cold War-era paranoia concerning the effects of nuclear fallout and the doomsday scenarios that pervaded that time. How many movie monsters were made through the dropping/testing of nuclear material? Well, the biggest one that comes to mind is Godzilla, but of course there are tons of other examples that followed that example. The aesthetic synergy between aural and visual components here isn’t to be ignored and doesn’t feel happenstance — especially since drummer Seb Antoine directed — and it’s worth noting that Revelations will follow a set of four EPs released under the Revelation banner. “Rise of the Fishlords” appeared on Revelation IV (discussed here), so it’s entirely possible the record will be culled from the preceding series.

One way or the other, at least it goes to show Starmonger are no strangers to working on a theme.

Enjoy the video:

Starmonger, “Rise of the Fishlords” official video premiere

Starmonger is proud to present its new music video, 1 year after the occult summonings in “Dark and Gloomy” : “Rise of the Fishlords” pictures a near future (set in the 1950’s) when sea monsters take their revenge on mankind…

Directed & edited by Seb Antoine (www.sebantoine.com)
DOP : Pierre-Emmanuel Leydet
Monsters & costumes created by Julien Gerner – Frozen Joke Creation

Starring :
Anne-Sophie Picard
Anouk
Clement-Charles
Marie Valentin
Chryssa Floru
Grégory Dreyfus
Matthias Friedman
Maxime Le Metayer
Pierre-Gérard David
Blanche Loreleï

The Fislords :
Arthur Desbois
Steve Faussier
Palem Candillier
Yann Ulloa
Rudy Maman
Seb Antoine

2nd camera operator : Pascal Kardou
3rd camera operator : Maxime Le Metayer
Production Manager & Photographer : Arnaud Vaillant

Thanks to :
Julien Legal
Mairie de Lognes

“Rise of the Fishlords” is featured on Starmonger’s upcoming first LP, “Revelations”, coming November 27th.

Starmonger are :
Steve Faussier: bass & vocals
Arthur Desbois: guitars
Seb Antoine: drums

Starmonger, Revelation IV EP (2019)

Starmonger on Thee Facebooks

Starmonger on Instagram

Starmonger on Bandcamp

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Starmonger Release Revelation IV EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

starmonger

Look, we’ve been worried. Your mother and I have been talking — oh, you didn’t know your mother and I spoke? well, we do, regularly — and we just thought that your life had already gone on far too long without a song called “Rise of the Fishlords” in it. I’m not saying you have to live a certain way, but wouldn’t you rather have “Rise of the Fishlords” in your life? I think you would. I think it might make you a better person. I think it might make us all better people. We’ll grow — together. That’s what it’s all about. Your mom told me to say that.

Okay so maybe your mom and I don’t chat on the regular. I don’t even have her number, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be bothering her about stuff like fishlords, but Parisian trio Starmonger have a another in their series of two-songer Revelation EPs out — Revelation IV, which reportedly will be the last one — and I thought maybe it was worth your time, not the least for the winning title of its opener. Just having a little fun.

I hear tell there’s a Starmonger compilation/LP in the works of all these Revelations, so that’ll be worth keeping an eye out for, but in the meantime, Revelation IV is name-your-price on Bandcamp, so have at it:

starmonger revelation iv

Starmonger – Revelation IV

In 2015, Steve (bass) and Arthur (guitar) began incorporating modern stoner rock influences and orientations to their jams. They quickly recorded their first homemade demo, “Revelation”, and after offering several drummers in ritual sacrifices, they were joined by Seb in 2017 on heavy-drumming duty.

With their next EPs, “Revelation II” and “III”, Starmonger continued its search for expanding and thickening its own sound. As they refuse to stay stuck with the same old recipe, Steve, Arthur and Seb keep experimenting with old school 70s rock and mesmerizing, fuzz-soaked stoner rock beats, while adding a progressive dimension to the raw power and efficiency of a power-trio format. Throughout their songs, the band evoke strange and phantasmagoric B-movies and pulp stories, from post-apocalyptic deserts to unfathomable beasts from the abyss.

2019 is packed with promises, along with multiple gigs around Paris in April and May, and a new self-produced EP “Revelation IV”.

“Revelation IV” was written, recorded and home produced in Paris, France. No human was actually drowned or murdered by sea monsters during production. All tracks written and performed by Starmonger.

1. Rise Of The Fishlords 07:57
2. Lethe 06:11

Starmonger is:
Steve : Bass & Vocals
Arthur : Guitars
Seb : Drums

https://www.facebook.com/starmonger.official/
https://starmonger.bandcamp.com/

Starmonger, Revelation IV (2019)

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Starmonger Premiere “Dark and Gloomy” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

starmonger

The video for Starmonger‘s “Dark and Gloomy” does well in terms of living up to its name. It starts out with a creepy kind of Gollum/mystic/zombie guy in a room with some tarot cards, taxidermy, flashing lights, wallpaper that needs replacing and other freaky bric-a-brac, and then, after the riff kicks in and the leather-jacket-clad Parisian three-piece start whipping out dirtied up Red Fang melody delivered with post-Baroness harmonies from bassist Steve and guitarist Arthur while Seb pounds away on drums, Mr. Grey — gotta call him something — pukes up some rubber cement, makes a paper mache mask out of the cards, and interpretative dance performance art ensues. I don’t mind telling you it’s fucking weird. It’s also dark. And gloomy. So, mission accomplished. Also, the song rules.

“Dark and Gloomy” appears on Starmonger‘s third EP, Revelation III. You can probably guess what its two predecessors were called, and they were released in 2017 and 2015, respectively. The trio did a video last Fall for the other song on Revelation III, “Rust to Dust,” and the vibe was totally different. No leather jackets, no creepy rubber cement vomit, just some old public domain footage of race cars and the band in their rehearsal space mixed together. Fair enough to go for something else this time around, but it really draws a line atmospherically between the two songs, when essentially the components that make them up are similar in terms of melody, tone, groove, etc. Something to be said perhaps for the power of suggestion in thinking “Dark and Gloomy” is dark and gloomy, but it’s to the band’s credit either way that they’re able to manipulate their approach to convey multiple atmospheres even just on a two-song release. Of course, it’s their third one — actually, Revelation II had three songs — so take that as you will.

Reportedly — and by that I mean going from what they say below — there’s another EP in the works. I can only think that Starmonger have made a purposeful choice not to put out a full-length at this point. Not that it’s been so long — four years since the first EP is nothing on the grand cosmic scale — but I don’t think you can listen to “Dark and Gloomy” or “Rust to Dust” and think of them as a new band searching for their sound. They’ve clearly got it down. So maybe the shorter releases are a way to build up to an eventual compilation? If so, they’re just about there. But that seems like an easy answer. I wonder what the reasoning is for a fourth EP instead of an LP, that’s all. I’m not criticizing it or saying it’s a bad choice or it’s wrong somehow — if it’s what they want to do and they know that, then it’s very much the right choice — I’m just curious, that’s all.

Something to think about while you’re watching Mr. Grey regurgitate adhesives. Gross. Ha.

These guys know what they’re doing. Enjoy the clip:

Starmonger, “Dark and Gloomy” official video premiere

Psychic, seer, fortune-teller…? Starmonger gives glimpses of their divinations through spellbinding melodies and rhythms, occult revelations and fantastic, extravagant stories.

In 2015, Steve (bass) and Arthur (guitar) began incorporating modern stoner rock influences and orientations to their jams. They quickly recorded their first homemade demo, “Revelation”, and after offering several drummers in ritual sacrifices, they were joined by Seb in 2017 on heavy-drumming duty.

With their next EPs, “Revelation II” and “III”, Starmonger continued its search for expanding and thickening its own sound. As they refuse to stay stuck with the same old recipe, Steve, Arthur and Seb keep experimenting with old school 70s rock and mesmerizing, fuzz-soaked stoner rock beats, while adding a progressive dimension to the raw power and efficiency of a power-trio format. Throughout their songs, the band evoke strange and phantasmagoric B-movies and pulp stories, from post-apocalyptic deserts to unfathomable beasts from the abyss.

2019 is packed with promises, with a new music video for “Dark & Gloomy” (from “Revelation III”) along with multiple gigs around Paris. Starmonger is also polishing their new songs for another homemade, self-produced EP. Stay tuned…

Their 3 self-produced EPs are available on bandcamp: https://starmonger.bandcamp.com/

Next live gigs :
23 May 2019 : le Klub, Paris (with Stoned Void, Dead Acid People, Qilin)

Starmonger are :
Steve : bass & vocals
Arthur : guitars
Seb : drums

Starmonger, Revelation III EP (2018)

Starmonger on Thee Facebooks

Starmonger on Bandcamp

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