Quarterly Review: Celestial Season, Wren, Sumokem, Oginalii, Völur, Wedge, SpellBook, Old Blood, Jahbulong, Heavy Trip

Posted in Reviews on December 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

The end of the week for the Quarterly Review is a special time, even if this particular QR will continue into next Monday and Tuesday. Also apparently today is Xmas? Okay. Whatever, I’ve got writing to do. I hope you’re safe and not, say, traveling out of state to see family against the urging of the CDC. That would be incredibly irresponsible, etc. etc. that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me started.

However you celebrate or don’t, be safe. Music will help.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings

celestial season the secret teachings

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Burning World Records website

 

Wren, Groundswells

wren groundswells

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Wren on Thee Facebooks

Gizeh Records website

 

Sumokem, Prajnaparadha

sumokem prajnaparadha

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Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Oginalii, Pendulum

Oginalii Pendulum

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Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods on Bandcamp

 

Völur, Death Cult

Völur death cult

Toronto’s Völur offer their third album, Death Cult, in cooperation with Prophecy Productions, and it comes in four string-laced tracks that waste little time in pushing genre limits, bringing folk influences in among doom, blackened metallurgy and more ethereal touches. Arrangements of violin, viola, cello, double-bass, keys, and the shared vocals of Laura Bates and Lucas Gadke (the latter also of Blood Ceremony) give a suitably arthouse feel to the proceedings rounded out by the drums and percussion of Justin Ruppel, and it’s far from unearned as the four songs play out across 37 minutes, “Dead Moon” veering into lumbering death-doom in its apex ahead of the jazz-into-choral-into-drone-into-freer-jazz-into-progressive-black-metal of the 11-minute “Freyjan Death Cult,” subsequent closer “Reverend Queen” leaving behind the chaos in its last few minutes for an epilogue of mournful strings and drums; a dirge both unrepentantly beautiful and still in keeping with the atmospheric weight throughout. Bands like this — rare — make other bands better.

Volur on Thee Facebooks

Volur at Prophecy Productions

 

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow

wedge like no tomorrow

Bursting with enough energy to make one miss live music, Wedge‘s third album, Like No Tomorrow, transcends vintage-ism in its production if not its overall mindset, bringing clarity to Deep Purple organ-tics on opener “Computer” while keeping the lyrics purposefully modern. Bass leads the way in “Playing a Role” and the spirit is boogie fuzz until the jam hits and, yeah, they make it easy to go along for the ride. “Blood Red Wine” has arena-rock melody down pat while centerpiece and likely side A closer “Across the Water” at last lets itself go to that place, following the guitar until the surge that brings in “Queen of the Night” indulges purer proto-metal impulses, still accomplished in its harmonized chorus amid the charge. Is that the guitar solo in “U’n’I” panning left to right I hear? I certainly hope so. The shortest cut on Like No Tomorrow feels like it’s in a hurry to leave behind a verse, and sets up the surprisingly modestly paced “At the Speed of Life,” which is lent a cinematic feel by the organ and layered choral vocals that bolsters yet another strong hook, while the nine-minute “Soldier” is bluesier but still sounds like it could be the live incarnation of any of these tracks depending on where a given jam takes Wedge on any given night. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Wedge on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

SpellBook, Magick and Mischief

SpellBook Magick and Mischief

About a year and a half after issuing Otherworldly (review here), their third album under the moniker Witch Hazel, the dukes of York, PA, are back with a new name and a refreshed sound. As SpellBook, vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn push through two vinyl sides of classic heavy f’n metal, less concerned with doom than they were but still saving a bit of roll for the longer centerpiece “Not Long for This World” and the airy, dramatic closer “Dead Detectives.” Elsewhere, “Black Shadow” brings a horns-at-the-ready chorus, “Motorcade” reminds that the power of Judas Priest was always in the basslines (that’s right, I said it), and “Ominous Skies” brims with the vitality of the new band that SpellBook are, even as it benefits from the confidence born of these players’ prior experience together.

SpellBook on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Old Blood, Acid Doom

old blood acid doom

Kudos to L.A.’s Old Blood for at least making the classification part easy when it comes to their debut album, conveniently titled Acid Doom, though that category hardly accounts for, say, the piano stretch of second cut “Bridge to Nowhere,” or the heavy rock theatricality in “Heavy Water” or the horn sounds of “Slothgod” a few songs later, but I suppose one has to start somewhere, and ‘acid doom’ is fair enough when it comes to accounting for the sleekery in the vocals of Lynx, the weight of the riffs of C. Gunner, the roll of bassist Octopus and drummer Diesel and the classic-style organ work of J.F. Stone. But if Old Blood want to unfurl something deceptively complex and stylistically intricate on their debut, that’s certainly cool as far as I’m concerned. Production is a strong presence throughout in a way that pulls a bit from what the impact of the songs might be on stage (remember stages?), but the songwriting is there, and Lynx‘s voice is a noteworthy presence of its own. I’m not sure where they’ll end up sound-wise, but at the same time, Acid Doom comes across like nothing else in the batch of 70 records I’m doing for this Quarterly Review, and that in itself I find admirable.

Old Blood on Thee Facebooks

Metal Assault Records on Bandcamp

DHU Records webstore

 

Jahbulong, Eclectic Poison Tones

JAHBULONG ECLECTIC POISON TONES

Just because you know the big riff is going to kick in about a minute into opening track “Under the Influence of the Fool” on Jahbulong‘s tarot-inflected stoner doom four-songer Eclectic Poison Tones doesn’t make it any less satisfying when it happens. The deep-rolling three-piece from Verona make their full-length debut with the 45-minute offering through Go Down Records, and the lurching continues in “The Tower of the Broken Bones” and “The Eclipse of the Empress,” which is the only cut under 10 minutes long but still keeps the slow-motion Sabbath rolling into the 15-minute closer “The Eremite Tired Out (Sweed Dreams)” (sic), which plays off some loud/quiet changes fluidly without interrupting the nod that’s so central to the entirety of the album. Look. These guys know the gods they’re worshiping — Sleep, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard maybe, etc. — and they’re not trying to get away with saying they invented any of this. If you can’t get down with 45 minutes of slower-than-slow grooves, maybe you’re in the wrong microgenre. For me, it’s the lack of pretense that makes it.

Jahbulong on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip

heavy trip heavy trip

Heavy Trip. Four songs. Two sides. Three dudes. Instrumental. Accurately named. Yeah, you’ve heard this story before, but screw it. They start out nice and spacious on “Hand of Shroom” and they finish with high-speed boogie in the 13-minute “Treespinner,” and all in between Heavy Trip make it nothing less than a joy to go along wherever it is they’re headed. The Vancouver three-piece make earlier Earthless something of an elephant in the room as regards influences, but the unhurried groove in second cut “Lunar Throne” is a distinguishing factor, and even as “Mind Leaf” incorporates a bit more shove, it does so with enough righteousness to carry through. As a debut, Heavy Trip‘s Heavy Trip might come across more San Diego than Vancouver, but screw it. Dudes got jams like Xmas hams, and the chemistry they bring in holding listener attention with tempo changes throughout here speaks to a progressive edge burgeoning in their sound.

Heavy Trip on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

 

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Switchblade Jesus & Sumokem LP Preorders Start This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

I cannot imagine what it’s like to press a record right now, other than ‘pain in the ass.’ I mean, the vinyl resurgence has been going on long enough now that there are certainly more than the three people in the universe making it that there were like six years ago or whatever, but still, like everything else, it’s gotta be even more complicated in 2020, and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of stuff coming out despite the fact that touring is barely happening anywhere in any context. I would think even normally-backed-up plants and manufacturers are abnormally backed up.

That doesn’t preclude preorders, though. Cursed Tongue Records has new LPs on the way from Sumokem — whose Prajnaparadha is already streaming in full — and Switchblade Jesus, who recently premiered the single “Red Plains” from their upcoming album, Death Hymns. Both are out Jan. 29 in that increasingly dim future known as 2021, and both are going live with preorders on Friday at 6PM CET, which is noon Eastern US.

Info came down the PR wire:

Switchblade Jesus Death Hymns preorder

sumokem prajnaparadha preorder

SUMOKEM – ‘PRAJNAPARADHA’ AND SWITCHBLADE JESUS – ‘DEATH HYMNS’ DOUBLE VINYL PRE-ORDER LAUNCHES THIS FRIDAY OCTOBER 30, 2020

Cursed Tongue Records is stoked to announce the launching one of this autumn’s most anticipated double vinyl pre-orders going down on October 30, 6PM CET (Central European Time) from their Big Cartel Store LINK HERE: http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/products

With honor can we disclose the vinyl releases of ‘Prajnaparadha’ from Sumokem and ‘Death Hymns’ from Switchblade Jesus and with confidence state that this is truly two smashing albums that’s being offered up.

Both bands have outdone themselves and have definitively delivered some of their most creative, crushing, diverse and intriguing material to date. We are very proud to be presenting both vinyl releases and thank the bands for their trust in Cursed Tongue Records on bringing the HEAVY goods.

CTR-034: SUMOKEM (LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS) THIRD ALBUM ‘PRAJNAPARADHA’ VINYL RELEASE OUT JANUARY 29, 2021 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOBER 30]

SUMOKEM hailing from the melting doom-hot-spot pot that is Little Rock, AR are back with their best and most focused effort to date. Their new album ‘Prajnaparadha’ (once again a concept album) comes almost three years after their last giant ‘The Guardian of Yosemite’ (released by Cursed Tongue Records on vinyl January 2018) and the time in between releases has been well spent mining their unique sound and style.

SUMOKEM’s third album ‘Prajnaparadha’ was released digitally on Bandcamp and all major streaming outlets on September 4, 2020. On January 29, 2021, the world sees the release of the album on, the optimal of all tangible formats, 180 grams vinyl via Cursed Tongue Records – Come take the journey with us and discover why SUMOKEM right now is one of the bands out there, doing what they do!

CTR-035: SWITCHBLADE JESUS (CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS) SOPHOMORE ALBUM ‘DEATH HYMNS’ VINYL RELEASE OUT JANUARY 29, 2021 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOBER 30]

On ‘Death Hymns’ the Texan trio has turned every knob well passed 11, tuning down, speeding-up, getting noisy as fuck and more heavy than a convoy of lead-loaded lorries. Switchblade Jesus has decided to throw away the whisky-soaked, southern-blues stoner doom swagger that so gloriously served them well on their 2015 debut in favor of a way more aggressive, contemporary sludgy-thrash noise metal approach – and it freaking works. Not even a wee bit farfetched ‘Death Hymns’, sounds like the evil amalgamation of High On Fire, Kylesa and Black Sabbath with a few proggy and industrial elements tossed in the mix to create a deadly brew all of their own.

Switchblade Jesus’ second full-length album ‘Death Hymns’ releases digitally on Bandcamp and all major streaming outlets on November 20, 2020. On January 29, 2021, the world sees the release of the album on, the optimal of all tangible formats, 180 grams vinyl via Cursed Tongue Records – Prepare yourself for the heavy impact!

https://www.facebook.com/SUMOKEM/
https://www.instagram.com/sumokem/
https://sumokem.bandcamp.com/album/the-guardian-of-yosemite

https://www.facebook.com/SwitchbladeJesus
https://www.instagram.com/switchbladejesus/
http://switchbladejesus.bandcamp.com/
https://switchbladejesus.net/

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Sumokem, Prajnaparadha (2020)

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