Album Review: Savanah, Olympus Mons

Posted in Reviews on February 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

savanah olympus mons cover

Structure reveals itself over time to be of significant importance to Graz, Austria’s Savanah, even if that doesn’t always show itself in the most obvious of ways. Those, I suppose, would be predictable verse/chorus turns, A/B rhyme patterns and other such accessible and no-less-valid modes of expression, and that’s not what Savanah have ever really been about from their first EP, 2015’s Deep Shades, through 2017’s The Healer (review here) and now their second album, Olympus Mons. Issuing through reliable Austrian imprint StoneFree Records, the trio of bassist/vocalist Benjamin Schwarz, guitarist Jakob Gauster and drummer Felix Thalhammer clearly prefer a melding of aesthetics and ideas. And yet, to look back at The Healer, it was an album that purposefully saved its most forward-thinking material for its final two tracks, longer and of greater reach as they were. They were the destination toward which the album was building.

Olympus Mons seems to pick up that journey where it left off. True, it also ends with its two longest cuts in “1872” (9:11) and “Olympus Mons” (13:04), but the distinction is less immediate between those songs and the opening pair of “Kaleidoscopia” and “Velvet Scarf,” both of which run eight minutes long. Of further interest, the three-minute instrumental “Tharsis” divides these two sections. Doubtless it’s included on side A of the vinyl version of Olympus Mons with the opening duo before it, but its positioning can only be intentional and it speaks to the level of consideration Savanah are putting into their work and and their engagement of the listener overall. I would argue that this purposefulness no less represents their status as a progressive unit than the total five tracks/42 minutes of Olympus Mons itself, which sees them port such a level of intention to their songwriting, continuing the trail that The Healer and Deep Shades — which, though shorter, mirrors the structure of Olympus Mons more directly than the LP that followed — set out, while moving decidedly further along the same path of meeting cohesive songcraft with riffs that blur the line between rock and metal and find a place between sounds and styles that is their own.

All well and good, but what does it sound like? Well, if you’re going to name your record after the tallest mountain in the solar system, you should probably pack in some sense of largesse, and Savanah most certainly do that. Guitar, bass and drums are all geared toward being heard with whatever volume can be spared for the cause, and Schwarz‘s echoing vocals add to the cavernous feel throughout. Much of what one needs to know on the most basic level about Olympus Mons can be heard in “Kaleidoscopia.” A righteous and no doubt purposefully-placed opener, it brings a defining hook for what follows and starts with a near-immediate groove, the drums quickly giving way to the central riff, delivered with metallic surety and a crisp separation between the guitar and bass. The production style — the album was recorded by Hannes Mottl Audioproductions — might link Olympus Mons to the post-Mastodon school of big-bigger-biggest groovers, but like the rest of what they do, they seem to pull from varying influences what works for them and translate it toward their own purposes.

savanah olympus mons full art

In that way, “Kaleidoscopia” represents well what follows, since one might think of a kaleidoscope itself using different angles and colors to give a similar impression. Olympus Mons, then, is telling the listener about itself. As the song moves through its quiet and semi-psych midsection, there’s shades of later, proggier Truckfighters — partially in the vocals — but once the riff kicks back in, Savanah are again steering their own course. “Velvet Scarf” changes methods, opening quiet and hypnotic before hitting into its main progression, which then moves into a chugging semi-chorus, mellowing and building once more toward a bigger, solo-topped apex. The two songs are just different enough despite their similar runtime and the obvious consistency of production to keep the listener aware of the possibility of change, and that’s fortunate as “Tharsis” takes hold with its condensed run through multiple parts, here led by guitar, there bass, always with the drums keeping it steady. It’s too brash and lumbering to be graceful, but neither do Savanah make a misstep along the way.

As noted, The Healer also capped with its two longest songs. The difference is one that only a few years could bring in terms of the band’s growth. The vocal melody in “1872” is offered with a confidence that could only be born of having the experience of the first album and EP behind the band, and the smoothness which which the song moves through its nine minutes only adds to the demonstration, including trades back and forth of volume late and the rumbling noise that leads directly into “Olympus Mons” itself. At 13 minutes, the title-track consumes a not insignificant portion of the album’s runtime, but fair enough again for the subject matter. And to their credit, Savanah make it a journey, touching on modern heavy psychedelia, rolling doom and classic metallic force that summarizes the case they began to make with “Kaleidoscopia” even as it evidences potential still to flourish in their sound.

Whatever Savanah may or may not do from here, the still-somehow-jammy ending of Olympus Mons — with bass so rich you can practically see the strings vibrating in your mind’s eye beneath a triumphant final riff, wide-open drums and a vocal taking flight overtop — makes it clear that if the band are interested in climbing mountains, they’re still looking for higher ones to take on. That is to say, as much as Olympus Mons distinguishes them in style and purpose, as well as songwriting, it does not sound like the work of a group who have no interest in pushing further. A third album is a crucial moment for a band, and as their second, Olympus Mons not only satisfies in its own right, but holds promise for the next steps of their creative pilgrimage still to come. Immersive and progressive, engaging genre but not beholden to it, and clear in its mission, Savanah‘s Olympus Mons is an adventure in the listening guided by the steady presence of its makers.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

Savanah on Instagram

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Savanah website

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Mothers of the Land Stream Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio Session in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on February 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mothers of the land session

Austrian double-guitar instrumentalists Mothers of the Land found themselves in what will by now be a familiar pickle circa last summer. They had their sophomore full-length, Hunting Grounds (review here), set to release on June 19, and there was of course no way to make a release gig or any others supporting it happen. They did what a lot of those in similar situations did — they went into a studio and recorded themselves playing live. You’ve heard this story before? Good. Like I said, it should be familiar by now.

That doesn’t however, change just how much 2020 absolutely blew ass for bands, big and small. Consider a group like Mothers of the Land. Their debut album, Temple Without Walls, came out in 2016, and got a favorable response. So the entire planet shuts down just as you’re putting together the follow-up for release, and what the hell do you do? Shows are out, but do you even bother issuing the album? Should you wait, and until when? Facing the situation of not knowing when the pandemic was going to end, Mothers of the Land — like many others — put out their record. mothers of the land live at deer in the headlightsAnd to listen to Hunting Grounds, its heavy NWOBHM-inspired grooves are delivered with an energy that deserves to be heard.

But putting the album out could only replace one frustration with another, because you can’t go and put it in a crowd’s ears directly anymore. Here we are, going on eight months later, and Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio, which brings three songs from Hunting Grounds and one from its predecessor, is being issued, not to take the place of live shows — how could it? — but at least to give some representation of the band’s dynamic in that setting. As “Queen of the Den” flows into the guitarmonized unfolding of “Harvest,” the nobility of their intent is plain to hear and their melodies engage with a spirit of triumph through adversity. If you can relate to such a thing, chances are you’re a human being and alive.

“Nightwalk Blues” is the only cut included from Temple Without Walls and it soars in classic form, giving way to “Showdown,” which capped Hunting Grounds, as if to bring to emphasis the progression the years between the two LPs brought forth in their dynamic and style. Fret not, there’s still plenty of groove to go around, and go around it does.

Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio was recorded by Markus Matzinger (who also mixed) and Paul Bacher. You’ll find it streaming in full below, followed by the story as told by the band.

Please enjoy:

„Live Session at Deer In The Headlights Studios 2020“
We had a new album coming in mid June and there was no chance to play any shows to promote „Hunting Grounds“ due to the lockdown measures in Austria. So we did what we thought would be the closest thing to a live show – a live session.

“Deer In The Headlights Studio” has a tradition to do live sessions and have an amazing team of sound engineers. They told us we could only do three songs, but luckily we could convince them to add another one, since one of them was so short – like just three minutes or so.. The only criterium for choosing the songs was the amount of fun we have playing them – we hope you enjoy it as much as we did and still do!

The recording took place at “Deer In The Headlights Studios” Linz, Austria on May 30, 2020.
Engineering: Markus Matzinger and Paul Bacher
Mix: Markus Matzinger

Tracklisting:
1. Queen of the Den 05:04
2. Harvest 03:48
3. Nightwalk Blues 05:11
4. Showdown 09:17

Mothers Of The Land:
Georg Pluschkowitz (guitar)
Jack Jindra (guitar)
Johannes ‘Jon’ Zeininger (bass)
Jakob Haug (drums)

Mothers of the Land, Harvest (2020)

Mothers of the Land website

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Mothers of the Land on Bandcamp

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Mothers of the Land Stream Hunting Grounds in Full; Out Tomorrow on StoneFree Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mothers of the land

Vienna-based instrumentalists Mothers of the Land will release their second album, Hunting Grounds, tomorrow through StoneFree Records. The vinyl arrives as the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Temple Without Walls, and brings six tracks across 37 minutes of dual-guitar-led heavy rock and roll, mostly straightforward particularly in its early going until it gets to the longer pair of cuts across side B in the two eight-minute tracks “Sanctuary” and “Showdown.” Even there, however, there’s little by way of pretense or masking of intention, and one finds likeness to what might happen if Karma to Burn had at some point joined forces with Valkyrie, though whether it’s the lead-in given to the record by opener “Harvest” or the swaggering title-track that takes hold from there, the material contains a good bit of NWOBHM influence as well, more Iron Maiden gallop and Priestly chug than Thin Lizzy swing, despite the decided foundation in classic heavy rock.

There are a number of general modes in which an instrumental act might operate, and as one might expect with the two guitars of Jack Jindra and Georg Pluschkowitz as forward in the sound as they are ahead of Johannes Zeininger‘s bass and Jakob Haug‘s drums, the method of choice for Mothers of the Land is to fill the space where vocals would otherwise be with leads and standout riffs. No complaints there, as “The Beast” shows them all the more able to twist around dynamic changes in volume and mothers of the land hunting groundsmeter and melody without having to adhere to the inherent structure of lyrics. At the same time, each of these songs is working according to a plan, and where so much of the current instrumental heavy wave is based around jamming and improvisation — especially but not exclusively throughout Europe — Mothers of the Land go another way and instead make a showcase of their craft, so that when “The Beast” returns to its central progression to finish out, the listener is able to follow along with the change and internalize it as all the more memorable.

Hunting Grounds is traditionalist enough to be readily familiar to heavy rock heads who might take it on, but it’s not at all void of personality, and the stomp and strut of “Queen of the Den” gives a fittingly regal impression as though to underscore the point, with the bass jutting out from beneath the winding guitars punctuated by the snare and crash in a build of tension that settles into more harmonized leads acting in a semi-chorus fashion. At just under four and a half minutes, “Queen of the Den” makes a relatively quick impression and then ends quietly in a shift to the soft and relatively patient start of “Sanctuary,” which takes hold with a more linear feel in its construction, not just enacting a build from quiet to loud necessarily, but using that as part of a greater expressive ideal. “Showdown” might be titled for the battling solo lines that take place as and after it passes the midpoint, but whether it’s that or there’s some other narrative at work across Hunting Grounds, the central purpose in summarizing what’s come before and expanding on it comes through with no less clarity than the notes themselves.

The upfront nature of their style might give one a superficial first impression of what Mothers of the Land are doing on their second album, and to a point, it’s hard to argue with that. It’s double-guitar instrumentalist heavy rock — not reinventing the form, but making it their own. Fine. But subsequent listens unveil changes and shifts in mood and/or approach that do affect a sense of atmosphere that, while straightforward, seems to be working toward finding its own place within the established aesthetic grounds it occupies. Ultimately, for the minute indulgence asked on the part of the band, the reward is plenty substantial.

You can hear for yourself with the full premiere of Hunting Grounds below, ahead of the release tomorrow.

Please enjoy:

Mothers of the Land, Hunting Grounds official premiere

Riff-Smiths “Mothers of the Land” are an instrumental Heavy Psych Rock band from Vienna, Austria founded in 2012. Known for crafting powerful vintage rock epics, centered around the spiraling psychedelia of their twin lead guitars. In June 2016, they released their live recorded DIY Debut-Album ‚Temple Without Walls‘ and gained a great international reception from listeners, artists and bloggers, resulting in fruitful collaborations around the globe.

Introducing a new era of 70‘s inspired Rock, they deliver heavy twin guitars mounted on a protometal body, rejuvenated by numerous influences reaching from NWOBHM to Stoner Rock. Having played dozens of concerts with international headliner acts like Asteroid, Elder or Red Fang, the band provides powerful performances that lure in the audiences deeply through the surreal worlds they create.

All those experiences were used to forge the new material, which finally formed their second album. “Hunting Grounds” will be released physical and digital via StoneFree Records on June 19th pressed by the state of the art pressing plant “Austrovinyl”.

Recorded and Mixed by Nino Del Carlo
Mastering by Lukas Wiltschko at LW Sonics

Members
Georg Pluschkowitz (Guitar)
Jack Jindra (Guitar)
Johannes Zeininger (Bass)
Jakob Haug (Drums)

Mothers of the Land on Bandcamp

Mothers of the Land on Thee Facebooks

Mothers of the Land on Instagram

Mothers of the Land website

StoneFree Records on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

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Weddings Release Debut Album Haunt This Week; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

weddings

Fair enough for the Vienna-based three-piece Weddings calling their first album Haunt, since they’ve pretty obviously named it after the atmosphere they’re shooting for. The trio have already posted the record for streaming, and you’ll find that below, but they’ll also have vinyl out with a slightly different version of the cover at the end of the week through StoneFree Records, which is also behind the CD pressing for those of you (I think it’s me and Jose Humberto, probably one or two others) who still like discs in compact form. Any format you go with, the spaciousness comes across as a key component of what Weddings do, and to read that the band members’ origins go back to Spain, Canada and Sweden is fascinating. Wonder how they all wound up in Austria in the first place.

They’ve got a few dates in Austria and Germany lined up, and you’ll see those here courtesy of their Bandcamp, along with some background and the release info.

Dig it:

weddings haunt

Weddings – Haunt – StoneFree Records

Weddings is an explosive and moody rock power trio indebted in equal parts to grunge, desert rock, psych rock, punk and doom. The brainchild of Canadian Jay Brown (Vocals/Guitars), Spaniard Elena Rodriguez (Vocals/ Drums) and Swede Phil Nordling (Bass), the band was created in 2017 after the 3 met while living in Salzburg, Austria.

The band member’s cultural differences helped to forge and fuel Weddings’ uniqueness. Brown’s upbringing on the prairies of Canada, Rodriguez’ childhood in southern Spain and Nordling’s experiences in Gothenburg, Sweden have contributed an impressive diversity to the distinctive songs. A mutual love of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Monster Magnet and Alice in Chains helped to unify their creative direction – one that takes many left turns away from conventional rock trappings, while in pursuit of fearless creativity.

Their first single Labyrinth showcases all of their strengths – male/female vocal harmonies, powerful riffs, propulsive bass and pounding drums.

Getting caught in this maze of mesmerizing chord structures and tempo changes is equally adrenalizing and haunting. A fitting lead off for the band’s upcoming debut album entitled Haunt released digitally on Bandcamp February 20th, 2020. Vinyl and CDs available Feb. 28th on StoneFree Records.

Weddings signed with Austria’s respected rock label StoneFree in early 2020. Their album release tour will take them through Austria and Germany in Feb/March opening for heavy-hitters like Swan Valley Heights, Great Rift and Vodun.

They’ll perform almost anywhere.. except weddings.

Tracklisting:
1. Pyramids 03:20
2. Acid Heart 02:58
3. Labyrinth 04:10
4. Broken Bones 04:10
5. Trail of Blood 03:56
6. I Can’t Say No To You Anyway 04:31
7. Laughing Our Way To The Grave 04:04
8. Hidden Message 04:18

Weddings live:
Feb 28 Rockhouse Salzburg, Austria
Feb 29 Kramladen Vienna, Austria
Mar 02 Sixty Twenty Innsbruck, Austria
Mar 03 Kulturlounge Leipzig, Germany
Mar 04 Goldener Salon Hamburg, Germany
Mar 06 Tief Berlin, Germany

http://www.facebook.com/weddingstherockband
https://www.instagram.com/weddingstherockband
https://weddingstherockband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.weddingstherockband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/stonefree.co.at/
http://www.stonefree.co.at/

Weddings, Haunt (2020)

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Tentacula Sign to StoneFree Records; Tentaculove out This Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tentacula

StoneFree Records aren’t messing around here. No time to waste. They’ve picked up Tentaculove, the sweet and yet horrifyingly forebodingly titled debut EP from Linz-based five-piece Tentacula for release, and they’re putting it out this month. Boom. There you go. No three-month lead-time, no “cover art reveal” milking every announcement, just here’s-a-thing-that’s-happening and then it happens. Done. I respect that.

For what it’s worth, I respect the other way too. Much respect all around.

The good news though is it means that there won’t be a long wait before anyone curious to do so can hear what Tentacula are all about. They’ve got the opening track of the record, “It’s Only a Dream,” streaming now, and with a release date purportedly before the end of the month, there’s more to come, I’m sure. The band also have a variety of shows over the next couple months, including an appearance at a “very secret festival, somewhere in Upper Austria.” How could you not be curious about that? I certainly am.

Here’s StoneFree Records‘ announcement of the pickup:

tentacula tentaculove

TENTACULA – !! BAND ANNOUNCEMENT !!

We’re lucky to add TENTACULA, a psych/surf/garage quintet from Linz to our roster.

Their first EP “TENTACULOVE” was recorded in January and February 2019 by Tom Wrench at the KAPU AUDIO SOLUTIONS Studio in Linz. All instrumental tracks were recorded live to capture the band’s raw power and dynamics. What they accomplished is an honest and pure piece of music rich in variety yet very catchy. The lyrics invite to dive down into the abyss , into the big unknown. The vastness of the sea: full of life, full of secrets – where you have to face desire and your deepest fear and might as well find clarity, enlightenment or even the perfect wave.

“TENTACULOVE” will be released by the end of August, more informations and pre-order to be announced next week.

Catch ’em live:

16.08.19. Seek Nificance Festival, Salzburg (AUT)
17.08.19 w. Minus Green & Anstaltskinda at MINOR PARTY, Böllerbauer, Haag (AUT)
23.08.19 Very Secret Festival, somewhere in Upper Austria (AUT)
10.09.19 w. Holy Serpent & Sativa Root at Venster 99, Vienna (AUT)
31.10.19 w. The Vampyres at Kramladen, Vienna (AUT)
22.-23.11. w. 10 000 Russos, Melt Downer, FVZZ POPVLI, High Brian, more tba., at KAPU, Linz (AUT)

In their own words:
“While the band’s name leaves space for interpretation it is also clearly their program! And this mystical neologism keeps its promise: dark, reverb-drenched melodies and haunting riffs create a refreshing blend, somewhere between dreamy psychedelic- and dirty garage-rock. Spiced up with a very distinct female voice that might come from the queen of darkness herself who summons the gods of Liquid Thunder together with her fellow cultists.”

Members:
Penny Slick Perry – Vocals
Markus Kapeller – Guitars & Vocals
Michael Falkner – Drums
Paul Eidenberger – Guitars
Chri Zao – Bass

https://tentacula.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TENTACULA
https://www.instagram.com/tentacula_official/
https://www.facebook.com/stonefree.co.at/
http://www.stonefree.co.at/tentacula.html

Tentacula, Tentaculove (2019)

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The Heavy Minds Stream New Album Second Mind in Full; Out Tomorrow on StoneFree Records

Posted in audiObelisk on July 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the heavy minds

The garage rock sneer really comes through on the bouncing second cut “Footpath to Fortress,” with its bluesy riff and overarching sense of attitude driving the vocals, but it’s there throughout Second Mind in some measure just about anywhere one might look for it. The seven-track/43-minute album is the sophomore effort from Austrian three-piece The Heavy Minds, and it sees release through StoneFree Records tomorrow, July 12. It follows behind 2015’s Treasure Coast (review here) and has apparently been in the works for some time, as the aforementioned track was released as a single in 2016. Fair enough. Launching with “Second Mind,” the songs feel duly worked on and take an immediately raw character without being abrasive, so that even as they build into the fuzzy roll of the title-track, its warmth is more welcoming than off-putting, and the bluesier, slightly slower “Footpath to Fortress” and the eight-minute “Heavy Load of Fools,” which is the only cut not in the five-to-six-minute range and spends much of its “extra” runtime doling out satisfying fuzz in the guitar of Lukas (also vocals) and the gotta-hear-it bass of Tobias in an instrumental jam held together by Chris‘ drumming.

I know it’s their second record and all, and especially with the four years between the two it’s not unreasonable to think The Heavy Minds would have a decent sense of what they’re doing in these tracks, but it’s striking just how purposeful even their most languid moments seem. That jam in “Heavy Load of Fools,” for example, ties perfectly into the proto-new wave rhythm the heavy minds second mindof “Spheres,” which touches on krautrocking prog without losing its funky underlying groove — again, that bass — and thereby shifts somewhat the narrative of Second Mind up to that point, adding character to the proceedings that make it all the more dynamic feeling when “Trip Tide” unveils its classic heavy rock swagger, tapping Stooges-via-Radio Moscow vibes with periodic echo bursts that call back to “Second Mind” and “Footpath to Fortress” while also setting up a dive into a bit of instrumental meandering that, unlike “Heavy Load of Fools,” makes its way back to the central riff before rounding out and swinging into the mix of the penultimate “Dystopia,” which boasts yet another smooth-rolling nodder groove with ambitions not toward the frenetic realms of boogie, but to a kind of nefarious intent just the same — it ain’t “lock up yer daughters” sleazy, but when Lukas breaks out the line “Welcome to my nightmare” late in the track, he’s definitely aware that he’s not the first person to say that.

And that awareness serves him and the rest of the three-piece well as they make their way into closer “Flight / Future Days,” which touches on ’60s it’s-gonna-be-alright optimism before making its way into subtly winding garage-isms, not quite a grand, overblown finale, which wouldn’t fit on an LP so otherwise given to a natural, live sound, but still with a due conclusive feeling in its melody. The bottom line there is the same message as much of the rest of Second Mind, and that’s that The Heavy Minds know what they’re doing. They’ve done the legwork in terms of songwriting, they’re properly schooled and properly driven to their craft. They’ve streamlined somewhat, pulling away from some of the more psychedelic aspects of Treasure Coast in its use of effects and percussion, etc., but being so grounded suits them well and still gives them plenty of space to explore. Second Mind finds them sounding like a band growing in complexity, and whether it’s four more years before they put out a third one or, in true garage fashion, they find a speedier release rate, The Heavy Minds give a clear sense of their direction in these songs, which are only more encouraging for that.

Full album is streaming below.

Please enjoy:

The Heavy Minds are a Garage-Psych–Band based in Upper Austria. Even though the idea of genre-boundaries is quite meaningless for the band, it would probably be most appropriate to claim that the boys are influenced by a huge musical melting pot of sounds of the late 60’s ‘n 70’s, Garage/Prog/Krautrock, Lo-Fi, Neo-Psychedelia and all sorts of underground rawness.

“Second Mind” was recorded between July and November 2018 somewhere in the outback of Upper Austria as well as in Vienna during some hot summer days. We tried to accomplish an honest, raw but also vital piece of music that speaks for itself.

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Intra Premiere “Storm” Video; Debut Album The Contact out March 1

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

intra (photo by Petra Nagy NPP Photography)-1400

The new video below arrives as the third and likely final song to lead the way into the release of Austrian trio Intra‘s debut full-length, The Contact. Set for official issue on March 1 through StoneFree Records, the long-player follows behind a 2016 self-titled EP, and “Storm” — the aforementioned video premiering here — answers back the immediate thrust of first single “Uninvited Roomer” and the melo-grunge thickness of “Spiral Down” with a broader sense of mood, digging into prog-metal starts and stops in its second half after a more traditional-sounding hook is established early on.

The Contact, in its nine-song totality, likewise has no trouble playing to multiple sides or sounds. Songwriting is a focus — as far out as “Storm” goes, it returns to the hook — and whether it’s the gruff opening they give with “You Had Better Take Care” or the touch on beefed-up power-pop in centerpiece “F.d.i.K” or the bright-toned grand finale of “Point of View,” the three-piece maintain a consistent quality of work that challenges the notion of The Contact as a debut.

intra the contact-1400They rock like professionals, to put it another way. Bassist Bianca Ortner holds a strong vocal presence in the material, making the most of each chorus while backed by Hannes Pröstler, also guitar, and drummer Lukas Aichinger. The latter’s performance is especially telling because he comes across very clearly as a precision drummer in how he plays. Having also released an album last year with jazz trio Znap, one can hear some of that style of intricacy brought to bear throughout The Contact as well, up to and including the tension builds on toms and the deft cymbal work in the bridges of “Storm.”

Pröstler and Ortner have no trouble keeping up, of course, and Intra sound nothing if not ready to hit the road across The Contact‘s span. They’ve got a collection of well-crafted, well-executed tracks behind them, an accessible sound that borders on commercial without losing its edge, and the ability to tap into a feeling of urgency seemingly at will. As they bridge between metal, punk, rock and wider-reaching outside-genre fare through cuts like the mid-energy “Homebound” and the more brash finish of “Illusion,” there doesn’t seem to be any of it that threatens the sureness of their grasp.

It’s a first record, so their style might branch into any number of directions ultimately, but The Contact is an interesting mix of sounds, and their ability to manifest such a range of ideas bodes as well as the results they get from doing so.

PR wire info follows the “Storm” video below.

Enjoy:

Intra, “Storm” official video premiere

The official music video for “Storm” of the upcoming debut album “The Contact” (2019) by INTRA.

Director & Editor: Michael Winiecki
1st AD: Sonja Aberl
Cinematography: Cornelia Ohnmacht
1st AC: Markus Wastl
Gaffer: Christopher Eberle
Set & Costume Design: Michael Winiecki

It was obvious from the get-go that INTRA were here to stay. After dropping their first self-titled EP in 2016, the band celebrated immediate success playing close to 100 club shows, winning the Austrian Newcomer Award, and releasing their highly acclaimed debut music video “Down the Roof” all in the same year.

The Austrian Power-Trio is on a mission to break musical boundaries, open up and explore new territory, while still honoring the true grit of the Stoner-Rock legacy. Deep, dirty superfuzz, bone-dry rock punch, intricate yet catchy songwriting, and a sweet pinch of pop.

Members:
Bianca Ortner – Lead Vocals, Bass
Hannes Pröstler – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Lukas Aichinger – Drums

Intra on Thee Facebooks

Intra on Instagram

Intra website

Intra on Bandcamp

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StoneFree Records website

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High Brian Premiere “Cpt. Zepp” Video; Brian Air out March 16

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

high brian

The thing about High Brian is there’s no Brian. Brian’s made up. He doesn’t exist. I’m mean, I’m sure he exists somewhere — dudes named Brian abound! — just not in High Brian. The Austro-German-Swedish four-piece are set to release their second album, Brian Air, through StoneFree Records on March 16 as the follow-up to 2017’s Hi Brain (review here) — note that’s “Brain” not “Brian” — and guess what? There’s no airline either.

All the same, High Brian fly some pretty friendly skies with Brian Air, the album’s eight component tracks purposefully tapping into classic post-Beatles psychedelic bounce even as they play through the concept/theme of an outbound flight. The opener, “Welcome to Brian Air,” is an introduction from Captain Zepp himself, and though there isn’t a destination named, the shimmering guitar and airborne drift that follows in “Ikarus” is enough to get the point across. It’s a journey being undertaken. A quick 41-minute flight to who knows where, and as High Brian tip the wing toward krautrock and heavier progressive vibes, there’s little to no actual turbulence to be found on the route, even as “Sth. Odd” engages full-on boogie and the seven-and-a-half-minute side Ahigh brian brian air closer “Frightening Lightning” starts with another message from the good Captain warning of roughness ahead.

“Cpt. Zepp” gives him his own feature moment, and if ‘Brian’ is their Sgt. Pepper, maybe “Cpt. Zepp” is more akin to Col. Mustard. Either way, the track arrives to to start side B after the slowed-down Hawkwindian harmonies of “Frightening Lightning” have subsided, and move from a little bit of rounded-edge Iron Maiden — only appropriate, since we’re talking about a pilot — into a break of smoother, floating guitar and easy rhythmic swing. The fistpump chug comes back, providing symmetry, and if the title “Cpt. Zepp” wasn’t enough Led Zeppelin nod for you, surely the Robert Plant-style “Oooh, baby, baby, babe” that ends that song and feeds directly into “Uhh Baby” will drive the point home. A surprising bit of surf rock actually shows up late in the guitar for “Uhh Baby,” but just when High Brian seem to have gotten off track from their stated theme, the fuzzy “Slow Flight” brings them back to ground — or, you know, not — ahead of 7:36 closer “Strangest Kraut (Brian Air),” which shuffles through its opening into a sax-laced midsection and a seats-and-tray-tables-upright final message from the captain before dual-layers of guitar lead finish “Brian Air” with a last bit of vocal harmony. I kept waiting for the equivalent of “Her Majesty,” but alas.

I’m a perennial sucker for charm, and a video that’s also instructions for making paper airplanes given by one of the band members in stewardess drag, to coincide with a concept album based around flying — well yeah, that qualifies. Plus, in the “Cpt. Zepp” video, it’s a really complex paper airplane being made, so if you’re thinking about trying along with the clip you’ll probably have to watch it through a couple times and pause it along the way. That might not be best for hearing the song, so make sure you do that too. And don’t try to bring a water bottle.

Liftoff:

High Brian, “Cpt. Zepp” official video premiere

“Brian Air” by High Brian is out on March 16th via StoneFree Records.

“Writing an inspired concept album” usually ranks pretty high on a Rock musician’s bucket list. And how could it not? Records like The Who’s “Tommy” or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” catapulted their creators into the stratospheres of music superstardom. Their creation processes, however, usually involved rather grounding experiences. “Brian Air”, High Brian’s follow-up to 2016’s “Hi Brain”, is no exception: The band ingested near-lethal doses of jet fuel, slaved away under inhumane working conditions to pay for studio fees, and was fired and re-hired by fictional band member Brian.

The end result, however, invites you on board for a very merry ride on the fuzz-plane. Formed in the autumn of 2013, the band’s members hail from Stockholm (Sweden), Hamburg (Germany), Graz, and Linz (Austria). One might be tempted to attribute the different influences that make up “Brian Air” to this amalgamation of backgrounds, but when it comes to High Brian, any conventional reasoning just won’t do. After all, the record feels like a well-crafted, dirty inside joke between the band and the audience.

Their third publication comes along much more progressive and varied than its predecessor, which the band ascribes to working on their airworthiness and swapping their mothers’ basements for an actual studio: “Boarding our previous album ‘Hi Brain’ doesn’t exactly make you feel like you’re taking to the skies, so we practiced like crazy and developed a healthy appetite for Kraut in the process.”

And it shows: If you pay a close listen to the band’s tongue-in-cheek vocal stylings and tasty bass lines, the self-described “heavy-trippy-krauty-quirky sound mix“ will press your body into the seat and make your ears pop with the spirit of psychedelic Rock. “We want people to choose our album over some seats on a cheap flight. After all, ‘Brian Air’ has a lot more legroom!“

TRACK LIST:
1. Welcome To Brian Air
2. Ikarus
3. Sth. Odd
4. Frightening Lightning
5. Cpt. Zepp
6. Uhh Baby
7. Slow Flight
8. Strangest Kraut (Brian Air)

High Brian is:
Benedikt Brands (Guitar, Vocals)
Nils Meyer-Kahlen (Guitar)
Patrick Windischbauer (Bass, Vocals)
Paul Berghold (Drums)

High Brian website

High Brian on Instagram

High Brian on Thee Facebooks

Stone Free Records website

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