The Keening to Tour Europe With Bell Witch

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

the keening (Photo by Angela H. Brown)

I said when the Bell Witch European dates went up yesterday that I’d be posting about the tour again, and The Keening are why. The Portland-based dark atmospheric troupe led by Rebecca Vernon, formerly of SubRosa, will support the Seattle death-doom two-piece for three-plus weeks of road time, and as it’s their first trip overseas, it seemed prudent to mark the occasion.

The Keening‘s debut album, Little Bird (review here), came out last Fall through Relapse, and while it’s of course not Vernon‘s first time traveling internationally for shows, it is that for the group she’s assembled around her to bring this material to life on stage, and given the breadth and heart poured into that record, it’s a set I’d like to see. Having Bell Witch on after to turn your melancholy into an abyssal misery is just a bonus.

Oh, and The Keening were also confirmed for Roadburn today playing Little Bird in full. So there’s that, too.

From social media:

bell witch tour

We are beyond thrilled to join Bell Witch on three and a half weeks of their seven-week European tour this April and May.

I’m a longtime fan of Bell Witch, ever since my previous roommate Christian Creek shared their 2011 demo and first album “Longing” with me in 2012 or so. I thought they were one of the most authentic bands I’d ever heard, and seeing them live in Seattle soon after cemented that impression. I was intimidated by the sheer dark power they wielded on stage. Their pain seemed too immense for the room. They were making music to survive. It’s been amazing to see Bell Witch grow and expand over the years into one of the most influential doom bands to grace the metal scene.

From Bell Witch: “In March we embark on an 8 week odyssey across Europe. From the frostbitten North to the Hellenic land of myths in the South, the Emerald Isle to the Balkan states we’re playing many cities for the first time ever…

Along the way we’ll be joined for stretches by friends old & new in FVNERALS, Knoll, Esoteric, Thantifaxath & The Keening. We’re excited to share the stage with bands who bring something truly unique & powerful to their music. Tickets are on sale now at the link in our bio. We can’t wait to see new & familiar faces alike.”

The dates The Keening plays with Bell Witch are below, and the link to tickets is:

23 – Portugalete, ES – Groove #
26 – Madrid, ES – Nazca #
27 – Barcelona, ES – Sala Upload #
28 – Grenoble, FR – Le Ciel #
29 – Martigny, CH – Caves Du Manoir #
30 – Luzern, CH – Sedel #
2 – Wien, AT – Arena #
3 – Budapest, HU – A38 #
4 – Zagreb, HR – AKC Attack #
6 – Sofia, BG – Clu
7 – Istanbul, TR – Babylon #
9 – Thessalonki, GR – Eightball Club #
10 – Athens, GR – Temple #
11 – Larissa, GR – Skyland #
13 – Caserta, IT – Lizard #
14 – Pescara, IT – Scumm #
15 – Ravenna, IT – Bronson #
16 – Treviso, IT – Altroquando #
17 – Linz, AT – STWST #
18 – Brno, CZ – Kabinet Muz #

Thank you and hope to see you at one of the shows.

The Keening, Little Bird (2023)

The Keening, “Little Bird” official video

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Album Review: The Keening, Little Bird

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

The Keening Little Bird

It’s been nearly half a decade, but I’m not sure I’m completely over SubRosa breaking up yet. That pioneering post-metallic Salt Lake City outfit, fronted by Rebecca Vernon who founded The Keening after as a solo-project, released their final LP in 2016’s For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which was encompassing with a clarity of vision and purpose that pushed even further into the atmospheric textures wrought across 2013’s More Constant Than the Gods (review here), defining a sound that could be dead-minimal or unspeakably heavy, was undeniably Americana, and carried emotional presence and outward purpose in its lyrics and delivery across the board. They announced they were done in 2019. I may never get over it. But I kind of understand a bit more. The Keening‘s debut album, the six-song/51-minute Little Bird — on Relapse — puts some distance between Vernon and a doom underground it’s easy to imagine one might’ve been burnt out on if these were the songs looking to be expressed and one felt obligated to a specific tonal assault.

The other four former members of SubRosa have continued on with The Otolith — their debut album, Folium Limina (review here), surfaced last year via Blues Funeral — and begun a new progression off of some of their former outfit’s heavier aspects. If one wants to relate The Keening to SubRosa — as apparently (this) one does — then Vernon is drawing more from the melancholia and the curtain of ambient sadness of that band’s style, and with a modus that’s still very much hers, offering them recontextualized through varying arrangements of acoustic guitar as on the opener “Autumn,” goth church organ on “Eden,” strings and piano throughout, wisps of violin coming and going, and layers of voices alongside Vernon, who worked with producer Billy Anderson (SleepNeurosis, Acid King, etc.) and Nathan Carson (drummer for Witch Mountain and now the live incarnation of The Keening; also founder of Nanotear Booking) on the recording in Dec. 2020, following the project’s instrumental piano debut earlier that year on Blues Funeral‘s Women of Doom (review here).

So The Keening isn’t interested in being SubRosa, clearly. What takes shape gradually over the course of Little Bird has more in common with SubRosa‘s Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2016 (review here) semi-acoustic reworkings of their material, but is unmistakably heavier in stretches of “Autumn,” “Eden,” the penultimate “The Hunter II” and in the culmination of extended closer “The Truth” — it’s 17:30, but the almost operatic crescendo is voice as much as instrument (also voice-as-instrument) as part of a wash with guitar, bass, drums, strings, maybe some horns, I don’t even know, circa 13 minutes, and it makes its way out gradually there with room for birdsong and a kinda-sorta-secret track of what might be a harp but was definitely made with elven magic in any case — while remaining true to the structural patterns of Vernon‘s craft, poetic in the lyrics and in the instrumental progressions alike, and evocative of doom in some of its tempos certainly, but so much more intent on texture than impact.

The space in the mix, where it isn’t purposefully left open, is filled with mournful melodies and Vernon‘s voice aligning itself with Appalachian folk as well as modern post-heavy with just that ever-present undercurrent of spit-punk, dynamic arrangements and a style that has all the more forward potential for its malleability, but that doesn’t pull pieces of itself in and out for no reason. That church organ on “Eden” and the heavier roll that ensues as Vernon leads the chorus with the repeated line “Eden is receding” before it drops to keys ahead of the three-minute mark, specifically goth as the strings return and the song realigns for its big push — it would be as weighted as The Keening get but for “The Hunter II” mirroring on side B — but the harmonies after four minutes are even more affecting, and they carry to the end of that movement before a meditation of piano and quietest voice cap the song.

the keening (Photo by Angela H. Brown)

But just as one example drawn from the six inclusions, “Eden” is woven. It’s not haphazard or forced in its changes, and even its last shift to the soft ending is made gently, with silence as a place gone to and returned from. With the flowing violins and echoing layers of vocals, to call Little Bird graceful feels superfluous, but it is anyhow, and no less so as the title-track sweeps through a miniature version of its longer build before resetting in a wistful piano piece for which I’d love to see a lyric sheet, and making its way into a wash that’s preface to “The Truth” (which I guess is side C of the vinyl, or left off it), a kind of centerpiece at nine minutes, but more intimate than sprawling, despite that blossom at the finish.

This hint-at-what’s-coming modus applies to “The Hunter I” and “The Hunter II” as well, with the former flashing an edge of distortion in its early choruses while holding back its own payoff to a kind of droning nod before transitioning into “The Hunter II” with a tension of electric guitar that gives over to soothing folkish Mellotron (or -ish sounds) for an initially drumless two minutes, reimagining ’60s crossover folk until about three and a half minutes into the total of just less than five, Little Bird gets its “Stones From the Sky” moment of dense riffing, complemented by violin, layered in vocals, Vernon returning with the line, “I can’t wait until I die so I won’t see you again,” repeated. Richly progressive folk-informed heavy post-rock and a sick burn to boot. That ending is a surprise, and not the first, but its push leaves little room for argument, and by the time you’re there in listening, you’re long since either on board for the go or not. At that point, Vernon can do basically whatever she wants.

Enter “The Truth.” Beginning with standalone piano, “The Truth” unfurls its troubled landscape in its own time, and keeps a chorus based around, “So I ask you baby/Did the truth set you free?” (with changes in who’s being freed), at its core for this first movement before growing quiet at about five minutes and setting forth on its outbound path through the apex and into a staring-at-the-mountains silence. Perhaps a great asset for The Keening and Vernon as she moves forward with the band will be how pointedly heavy metal Little Bird isn’t, how genuinely moving it is, and how the album might appeal to listeners beyond the heavy underground’s subculture. But that’s a concern beyond the album itself, which repositions Vernon on new ground to explore while retaining the strength of songwriting and performance that made this project so anticipated in the first place.

The Keening, Little Bird (2023)

The Keening, “Little Bird” official video

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The Keening’s

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The Keening to Release Little Bird Oct. 6; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The Keening (Photo by Sutras of Light)

An anticipated return for Rebecca Vernon, formerly of SubRosa. Her solo-project, The Keening, has been in the conversation for four years, but aside from one compilation track, there hasn’t been much output until now. Little Bird will be Vernon‘s debut album as The Keening. It’s set to release Oct. 6 through Relapse, and the first single is the title-track; a nine-plus minute excursion with a richly melancholic melody and an arrangement that’s chamber-heavy in a way that’s not entirely dissimilar from some of Crippled Black Phoenix‘s litany of sorrows, but informed of course by Vernon‘s Americana and folk songwriting style.

I went and saw the Indigo Girls a couple months back, after years of my wife telling me how great they are live. They were brilliant, of course. That’s who The Keening should tour with. They’d blow minds. Yeah, I’m sure it’ll go over well at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest, but the folk in “Little Bird” could have a broader reach too. It’s not pop, necessarily, but there’s an accessibility to the sway of “Little Bird,” I think mostly because it’s beautiful, and that goes a long way.

The PR wire had this on the subject:

The Keening Little Bird

The Keening (ex-Subrosa) Announce Debut Album, Little Bird

Watch the music video for the album’s title track now.

Little Bird will be released October 6th via Relapse and the band will play inaugural live performances this fall/winter.

The Keening— the solo music project of Rebecca Vernon (ex-SubRosa)—announce debut album, Little Bird, out October 6, 2023 on Relapse Records. An ultra-melodic foray into haunted bogs, endless wells, secret crimes, jeweled cages and the unenviable curse of being a murder witness abound, Little Bird carries Vernon’s signature sounds throughout— deeply moving passages give away to cinematic, sprawling moments of chambered doom. As dark as this sounds, Little Bird also fills the air with a sense of magic and wonder – there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Keening weaves a web of lush orchestration, American Gothic sensibilities and wintry murder ballads set against a backdrop of dark, shimmering folk. Vernon’s previous band SubRosa echoes in The Keening’s chamber doom, flowing with flute, strings, harp, French horn, piano, organ and hammered dulcimer.

The Keening’s Rebecca Vernon comments: “I’m really excited to finally start releasing this music into the ether, along with the album art, and the music video for single ‘Little Bird.’ I think the film company 10 Seconds to Comply (Ken Whiting, Andrew Bonazelli and Manny OA) and their hired crew did a phenomenal job pulling together this music video and bringing their beautiful vision to light. Thanks to my friend Lucy Sharapata for playing the lead so well, Andrea Morgan and Teresa Byrne for making time to be part of it, and Andrew and his wife Mikki for hosting us at their house! I’m also excited to share the album art – two oil paintings by Lis Pardoe of Portland. Thanks to Relapse Records for making this happen!”

Little Bird, track listing:
Little Bird
The Hunter I
The Hunter II
The Truth

Largely composed at a retreat in Joshua Tree and a friend’s family homestead in Kamas, Utah, Little Bird was recorded in December 2020 at Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon with “Engine-ear” Billy Anderson. Anderson’s long resume includes such luminaries as Melvins, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, High on Fire, Bell Witch, Amenra, Agalloch, Cathedral, Cattle Decapitation, Red House Painters, Sick of it All, Sleep, and Swans.

Anderson collaborated with Vernon and Witch Mountain drummer Nathan Carson as co-producers of the recording of the album. A host of Portland’s finest session musicians lent their talents to Little Bird, including Andrea Morgan (Exulansis) on violin. Little Bird was completed in July 2021, mixed by Billy Anderson and mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx in San Francisco.

See The Keening’s live debut performances this September including headline shows & opening for Agalloch. The Keening will also perform at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest: Denver in December. A full list of announced tour dates is available below.

Pre-Order Little Bird on LP/CD/CS/Digital via Relapse Records here:

Digital Downloads / Streaming available here:

Look for more news soon from The Keening.

The Keening, on tour:
September 15 Bellingham, WA @ Shakedown
September 16 Seattle, WA @ Clock-Out Lounge
September 22 Eugene, OR @ John Henry’s
September 23 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom w/ Agalloch, Thief
December 2 Denver, CO @ Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

The Keening, “Little Bird” official video

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The Keening Signs to Relapse Records; Live Dates Announced

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

The Keening is Rebecca Vernon from SubRosa, and that’s all you really need to know, though I guess the fact that there’s an album, Relapse is releasing it, and a live band will take shape as well featuring, among others, Nathan Carson of Witch Mountain, is useful knowledge as well. You might also note the part below that says the record was produced by Billy Anderson and Carson and that those sessions happened two and a half years ago, im Dec. 2020.

Aside from meaning The Keening‘s debut will be nearly three years old by the time it arrives — which is by no means a detriment; not like it’s going to sound dated — that follows Vernon‘s appearance on the compilation Women of Doom (review here), which came out earlier in that plague year and was a decisively solo outing, a track called “A Shadow Covers Your Face” that you can stream at the bottom of this post.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the one song thus far released by the project is representative of everything Vernon has going on with it, and indeed the PR wire info below describes some not-just-guitar-bass-drums arrangements that would seem to confirm that. I look forward to hearing it myself and seeing where the album goes. The feeling I get is the answer to that is it goes pretty deep.

Here’s info:

the keening (Photo by Angela H. Brown)



THE KEENING —the solo musical project of Rebecca Vernon (SubRosa)—signs to Relapse Records & announces live performances in September!

Rebecca Vernon Comments:

“I’m very excited and honored to join the Relapse family and look forward to the journey ahead with them. This music has been a long time in the making, and a lot of blood, sweat and travail went into it. I hope those who connect with it find it worth the wait. A lot of thanks goes to the many who have helped me along the way, but especially to my family, and Billy Anderson, Andrea Morgan and Nate Carson, who were the most heavily involved in the making of the album.”

THE KEENING weaves a web of lush orchestration, American Gothic sensibilities and wintry murder ballads set against a backdrop of dark, shimmering folk. Vernon’s previous band SubRosa echoes in THE KEENING’s chamber doom, flowing with flute, strings, harp, French horn, piano, organ and hammered dulcimer. Ultra-melodic forays into haunted bogs, endless wells, secret crimes, jeweled cages and the unenviable curse of being a murder witness abound. Dark as this sounds, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Rebecca Vernon was the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Salt Lake City’s acclaimed SubRosa. She ended that 13-year project in 2018 to focus on THE KEENING.

Largely composed at a retreat in Joshua Tree and a friend’s family homestead in Kamas, Utah, THE KEENING’s upcoming album was recorded in December 2020 at Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon with “Engine-ear” Billy Anderson. Anderson’s long resume includes such luminaries as Melvins, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, High on Fire, Bell Witch, Amenra, Agalloch, Cathedral, Cattle Decapitation, Red House Painters, Sick of it All, Sleep, and more.

Anderson collaborated with Vernon and Witch Mountain drummer Nathan Carson as co-producers of the recording of the album. A host of Portland’s finest session musicians lent their talents to the album, including Andrea Morgan of Exulansis on violin.

THE KEENING is primed to release this brand new album via Relapse Records in 2023. More information about the album will be made available in the weeks and months to come.

Fri 9/15 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown
Sat 9/16 – Seattle, WA – Clock-Out Lounge
Fri 9/22 – Eugene, OR – John Henry’s
Sat 9/23 – Portland OR – Crystal Ballroom w/ Agalloch, Thief

The Keening, “A Shadow Covers Your Face”

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Friday Full-Length: SubRosa, More Constant Than the Gods

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

SubRosa aren’t two and a half minutes into the 14-minute “The Usher” on More Constant Than the Gods before they’ve set an atmosphere of intricacy, tension, beauty and sadness. That opener and longest track (immediate points) consumes, explodes, recedes, surges, rolls, runs and flies. It begins with Rebecca Vernon (also guitar) having a duet with Death as played by Jason McFarland and is likewise gorgeous and raw, and then it’s gone, though the poetry of the lyrics continues even after the wash of echoing guitar and strings, the long stretch of stomping hits in the middle and the melancholy melodicism that follows at around seven and a half-minutes in; the payoff in the quiet verse beginning “You’re more constant than the stars…” as the vocals build, adding harmonies in the third of four lines, the last of which is the title-line of the album: “You’re more constant than the gods/Because sometimes when we call they don’t answer at all.” Then, explosion again. Melodic wash, Death returns (I hear that’ll happen), and they ride the descent into a last few minutes of oblivion, getting noisier as they go with violin scathe before the immediate nodding lumber of “Ghosts of a Dead Empire” (11:05) answers back how much the universe mourns our various passings.

Released in 2013 as the band’s second outing through Profound Lore and their third album overall, More Constant Than the Gods was a moment of arrival for the Salt Lake City band. Andy Patterson, who had engineered (and played harmonica on) 2011’s No Help for the Mighty Ones (review here), joined the band as drummer in 2012, and alongside Vernon, bassist Christian Creek (bassists; they had a few), violinist/vocalist Sarah Pendleton and violinist/backing vocalist Kim Pack — also cello on “Ghosts of a Dead Empire” and closer “No Safe Harbor” — proved to be an essential component to the lineup.

The cymbal taps behind that “More constant…” verse in “The Usher” is all you need for an example there, let alone the scope of the recording itself (Magnus “Devo” Andersson mixed and mastered) or the smooth punctuation given the elephantine start of “Ghosts of a Dead Empire,” which has room in its breadth for that as well as the plucked strings behind the chorus that feels so particularly American in its context for the word “slavery,” as well as deep-mixed growls behind the forward melody, guest guitar spot by Bill Frost, and an abiding nod as the cello sounds like a war horn, strings growing airier in the subsequent verse to herald a break to come. Distortion and rising violin notes stretch into the second half until it breaks out at 8:09 and unfolds its crashing realization, resonant in multiple regards.

Comparatively, “Cosey Mo” (7:31) is straightforward and hooky with its promises to dig up every unmarked grave searching for the title character, SubRosa More Constant Than the Godsbut the atmosphere so central to the first two more extended pieces remains and the arrangements are consistent, emphasizing the malleability of SubRosa‘s approach. That underlying Americana in “Ghosts of a Dead Empire” is there in “Cosey Mo” as well; it has a folkish underpinning in its lyrical use of second-person address, but at the same time, it echoes the punk defiance in the verses of “The Usher,” where “Fat of the Ram” (12:18) takes hold, opening with distorted strum and dual vocals specifically placing the proceedings in Salt Lake City (“city by a dead lake”), with some creepy whispers worked into the background before it takes off at around three minutes in with more of a rhythmic push, unfolding.

Shouts, crashes, more whispers, ripping, tearing, existentially brutal, the standout line “There’s no shelter for me in the halls of the righteous” pure in its declaration. It’s not quite a chorus like in “Cosey Mo,” but it comes around again and is welcome next time too amid so much tumult — the song seems twice to fall down a flight of stairs, as regards transitions — and when that stops shortly before the seven-minute mark and they go to ground on standalone guitar and vocals, building gradually, patiently back to a launch point, the over the next two-plus minutes, the harmony is no less spine-shiver than the eventual sway of the heavy return and crescendo that caps.

Transitional noise, a drone and some static, leads out of “Fat of the Ram” and into “Affliction” (9:49), with a siren of guitar at its start and subsequent slog, almost otherworldly in its initial doomed march. The pace picks up after the first verse — the lyrics again tapped into folk balladry; a mournful mother speaking of a cruel husband in the first three verses before the song switches to a more analytical perspective with “There is a darkness born out of time…” in the second half — but the cymbal wash feels especially prevalent.

The song almost breaks in two pieces with feedback bridging the divide, and the post-midpoint adrenaline rush is willfully contrasted with calming strings like someone telling you it’s okay when you know it isn’t and your blood won’t stop boiling and your brain feels like it’s on fire with your own misery and there’s nowhere else to put it but into the air in hopes of getting it out of you. Before hitting eight minutes, it evens out back to the verse plod with the siren guitar behind, the last lines a prayer for death that alludes back to “The Usher” with enough subtlety to call it “mercy” instead of “death” that’s being wished for. If you don’t believe art can be moving, or you don’t know what emotional labor is, here you go.

Piano begins “No Safe Harbor,” with complement from flute by April Clayton and clarinet by David Payne, and the drumless finale of More Constant Than the Gods ends the record by using those keys for rhythm as well as melody behind a vocal highlight, not so much leaving open space where heft and stomp might otherwise be but changing how that space is used while holding to the atmosphere that’s been cast over the album as a whole. VernonPendleton and Pack are together singing by the time the first half is done, and though the threat of heaviness is paid off at 6:41 with the arrival of dense, open-strummed guitar — again declarative, but differently so — and flute setting up a finish relatively subdued (ha) considering some of the surroundings but no less encompassing for that, coming apart around violin and some tapped something-or-other that’s the final element to go, contemplative even as it bounces into nothingness.

I missed More Constant Than the Gods when it was released. I have reasons — excuses, really — for that (I moved, the transition at the time between physical and digital promos, the hype around it, etc.), but the bottom line is the same. The album turns 10 years old in September and was a breakthrough moment for SubRosa that would lead to 2016’s swansong For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which I’ll still put against anything you want to sit next to it as one of the best records of its decade. In light of the band’s dissolution in 2019, the victorious return of PendletonPack, Patterson and later-bassist Levi Hanna in The Otolith for 2022’s best debut album, Folium Limina (review here), the launch of a new exploration that would represent, and the prospect of Vernon‘s The Keening still to manifest, I’m almost glad I hadn’t really dug into this to write about it until now.

It seems like cheating to know how the story ends, maybe, but, well, I feel like hearing these songs with the ears I have today lets me appreciate them more than I might have 10 years ago — I’d probably have said the same thing 10 years ago about listening in the dawn of my 20s, mind you, and been right about that too — which one might read as testament to the power of the release itself to flourish with age. I read it that way, at least.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading.

It’s 5:40AM now. I’ve woken up early enough all week that the thought of sleeping until the alarm goes off at 4AM feels “late,” and I feel like the tradeoff, generally speaking, is in not feeling rushed while I’m writing. That doesn’t account for The Pecan coming downstairs at 5:15 this morning as though shot out of a cannon — the ADHD diagnosis standard is “driven, as if by a motor,” which has become a running gag around the house; emphasis there on ‘running’ — but as expected he’s willing to sit still long enough to eat his regular morning yogurt when Sesame Street is on.

He goes through phases with tv, wants to watch one show or two — right now it’s this and Bluey, which is obnoxious and encourages imitation of its obnoxiousness, but well written and, in the third season, feels as much for parents as kids — but I’m going to be sad when he’s eventually done with Elmo and Cookie Monster and company. I feel like there isn’t enough open advocacy for kindness in children’s media. Everything is the casual violence and franchise indoctrination of Spider-Man or the copaganda of Paw Patrol, both produced to sell toys like so many of the shows I grew up watching. I still miss Peep & The Big Wide World as well. PBS is a fucking treasure and if it had half the funding of the US military there’s no question the world would be a better, kinder place. Alas.

In any case, I finished the above while he plotzed around the living room, making probably enough noise to wake The Patient Mrs. in bed if she wasn’t already up, and that’s how it goes. Yesterday he almost made it to 6AM, and that felt pretty glorious.

He continues to enjoy Tae Kwon Do, this week got a ‘star card’ for being the best in class and he was so excited he ran and jumped in my arms while Master Acevedo, who runs the place and is great with kids, was still talking about what great concentration and attention he had showed. I could live 400 years if I could remember the look on his face of delight, pride, expressive happiness where he’s so often reserved in the sprit of his mother, me, his cousins, etc. I guess we’re not the best at feeling feelings, any of us. I’m pretty good at being miserable, if that counts?

Today is Bandcamp Friday, and there’s a ton of stuff out as a result. If you’re looking for things to spend money on, the playlist for today’s The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal might be a good way to go. That airs at 5PM at

I expect to be in the chat, hopefully stoned as the day rolls into the evening after The Pecan has had dinner and we move toward winding down, so if you’re there, please say hi and I’ll awkwardly say hi back and thanks for listening, etc. It goes like that these days.

Dude is draped across my lap now, smoothed out some after going to the bathroom and having his yogurt, and that’s fine. This is all pretty standard. He’s growing. Yesterday was his last day at speech therapy, which was also emotional, and he did pretty well not beating me up as a result of said emotions, which he generally processes through physicality. Excitement is literally running in circles, and so on.

This week had a couple genuinely awesome records. Sandrider and Stoned Jesus will be in my top 30. Next week has more. Monday is a Child review, and I’m streaming the REZN album in full on Tuesday. Santo Rostro after that and a combined premiere for the Duel and The Atomic Bitchwax live records Heavy Psych Sounds is putting out on Thursday, a cool video from High Noon Kahuna on Friday, and a couple fun announcements along the way. I feel like the site is in a decent place right now, rolling along. I’m overwhelmed, but glad to be writing about what I’m writing about most of the time, and that’s pretty much the standard I go by. If you’re going to be busy, being busy with good music is the way to go. Wednesday this week was frustrating since I kind of meandered away from getting the things done that I needed to, but yesterday I got back on track. The challenge is part of the appeal. Also we’re hanging cabinets in the kitchen. I’ve been enjoying going swimming in the mornings and trying to be mindful of not being psychotic or self-punishing about it as I always am about exercise. Life proceeds.

On that note, and as Mr. Noodle learns what a conga drum is and the episode from season 40 draws close to its finish, I’ll leave it there. I hope you have a great and safe weekend and I hope to see you back on Monday if not before in the Gimme chat. Either way, have fun, be safe, and thanks as always for reading. All the best, and no, I don’t mean that passive-aggressively.


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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 104

Posted in Radio on February 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

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I was sitting on the couch earlier this week, in the usual spot, putting this playlist together and, knowing that I wanted to start with the title-track of the new Mansion album — something about Alma crooning that second death is upon you felt just right — I was immediately stuck. How on earth do you follow that? I was glad that I remembered Samán and could use them to transition to a kind of riffier take, but yeah, in terms of vibe, the severity of that Mansion record is a tough one to answer immediately with something else. Where do you go from there beyond an actual dungeon?

This show kind of divides in half. The first hour is new music. The second hour is a look at some Polish heavy, which if you’ve been paying attention to the last few Friday Full-Lengths (including today’s, which isn’t posted yet), you know has been on my mind. Dopelord, Major Kong, Belzebong, Sunnata and Weedpecker represent Poland well, I thought — Spaceslug are the obvious name left out, but I’m keeping them in reserve for later — and after that I wanted to close with SubRosa just because “Black Majesty” is long, brilliant, not a jam, and something that was in my head. It’s been an up and down couple of weeks, I guess, as regards general well-being.

If you’re unfamiliar, keep an ear out for Moodoom early, plus the tracks from The Machine, Swan Valley Heights, Stoned Jesus and Troll Teeth. The 1782 track isn’t my favorite off their new record — anything about lady-demons is kind of a turnoff for me at this point — but the band is cool and that’s the single from the album, so I wasn’t about to be a jerk and pick something else. And if you didn’t hear the L’Ira del Baccano earlier this week when it premiered, that’s time well spent in instrumental immersion, and makes a great leadoff for that extended block of tunes, I think.

As always, I hope you enjoy the show if you listen. Thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at:

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 02.17.23 (VT = voice track)

Mansion Second Death Second Death
Samán A las puertas II. Monta​ñ​a Roja
1782 Succubus Clamor Luciferi
Moodoom Las maravillas de estar loco Desde el Bosque
L’Ira del Baccano The Strange Dream of My Old Sun Cosmic Evoked Potentials
The Machine Reversion Wave Cannon
Swan Valley Heights The Hunger Terminal Forest
Stoned Jesus Get What You Deserve Father Light
Troll Teeth Garden of Pillars Underground Vol. 1
Dopelord Doom Bastards Sign of the Devil (2020)
Major Kong Fading Memory of the Planet Earth Off the Scale (2020)
Belzebong Roached Earth Light the Dankness (2018)
Sunnata A Million Lives Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth (2021)
Weedpecker Big Brain Monsters IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts (2021)
SubRosa Black Majesty For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is March 3 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 58

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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I’m trying to break my own rules a little bit. Every now and again, it’s a decent exercise to try to change things up. I kind of did the same last ep, by starting out with a bunch of classic doom. There’s still a lot of new music here — the Snail is out today, and that and The Black Heart Death Cult and Howling Giant are all new too, as well as the Conclave, PapirWitchrot and, relatively speaking, Dopelord. So yeah, plenty of new stuff there.

But there were a couple other things I wanted to talk about — PostWax is one, Maryland Doom Fest is another. So you get Dopelord for that, as they were recently announced for PostWax, and SubRosa, whose offshoot The Otolith will also feature in the vinyl subscription service. And in addition to Howling Giant, there’s the block that starts with Conclave you can see in the playlist — YatraMolasses BargeHorseburner and Sasquatch — all of whom have been confirmed for MDDF this Halloween weekend. Sadly not Papir, though that would also rule.

And between those, I guess I just had Goatsnake and Truckfighters on my mind and decided to throw them in. Who’s gonna argue? I suppose I’ll find out in the Gimme chat later on.

Thanks for listening and/or reading. As always, I hope you enjoy.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.30.21

Snail Draining White Fractal Altar
The Black Heart Death Cult Goodbye Gatwick Blues Sonic Mantras
Howling Giant Understudy Alteration
Dopelord Dark Coils Reality Dagger
Goatsnake What Love Remains 1
Truckfighters Con of Man Mania
Witchrot Million Shattered Swords Hollow
SubRosa Despair is a Siren For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
Conclave Haggard Dawn of Days
Yatra Blood Will Flow Blood of the Night
Molasses Barge Holding Patterns A Grayer Dawn
Horseburner The Oak The Thief
Sasquatch Just Couldn’t Stand the Weather Maneuvers
Papir 01.20.2020 #3 Jams

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is May 14 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 43

Posted in Radio on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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A few classics, a lot of new music, and a final half-hour that I’d have a hard time imagining could possibly be better spent. I haven’t been able to spend as much time in the Gimme Metal chat during the shows as I’d like — my duties as dad/house-husband in terms of feeding, bedtime ritual, diapers, dinner and all that clash pretty hard with the 5-7PM timeslot, and it’s important to me to do those things as well as to be visible doing them, especially to my son to teach him that a man can be a caregiver (as much as I’m able) — but I always at least check in and keep half an eye on what’s going on in there.

It’s been cool to see the Gimme community develop over time. There are familiar names in there week after week and others come and go. That’s a special kind of connection Gimme has been able to forge that I feel fortunate to be a part of in some small way. I’ve never been cool enough to be a part of a scene. I’m still not. But it’s fun to watch.

The Pecan does indeed feature in this one. He broke out “Listenin’ to Obeliks Show on Give-Me-Metal!” from the back seat of the car and surprised the hell out of me. I think you can probably hear my smile.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy the show.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 10.02.20

Crystal Spiders Tigerlily Molt
Acid King Silent Pictures Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Year of the Cobra Demons Ash and Dust
Oginalii Pillars Pendulum
Dreadnought Tempered Emergence
Molassess The Devil Lives Through the Hollow
Kariti Kybele’s Kiss Covered Mirrors
CB3 Warrior Queen Aeons
Heavy Temple Hit it and Quit It Split From the Black Hole
Holy Grove Solaris II
The Wounded Kings Consolamentum Consolamentum
Besvärjelsen Past in Haze Frost
Grayceon We Can All We Destroy
SubRosa The Wound of the Warden For This I Fought the Battle of Ages

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Oct. 16 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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