Sun Years Announce April/May Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Also set to appear among the multitudes on the bill for this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in June, Richmond, Virginia’s Sun Years will undertake a round of touring in the Northeast (plus Ohio) starting later this month. The band, which draws together members of Smoke and Alabama Thunderpussy, among others, released their lone studio offering to-date in a raw-grooving self-titled two-songer demo (review here) from 2022, but in real life that’s not actually that long ago, so fair enough. Touring DIY-style to play with a bunch of other killer bands, including Slow Wake and Trash Mountain (the latter twice) in Ohio, The Company Corvette in Philly, Afghan Haze in CT, Problem with Dragons in MA and Holy Fingers in Baltimore — at a matinee, no less! — could hardly be considered time misspent, even if I am curious to hear more from them.

If you’ve either heard the demo before or hear it now and find yourself feeling similarly, the obvious solution is to get out to a gig if you can. These aren’t the first dates they’ve done and likely won’t be the last.

From Instagram, etc.:

Sun years tour sq

Appreciate the folks who helped pull this northeast run together. See you soon!

Dig it!
4/26- Philadelphia PA- Keystone State Cycles w/ Company corvette and Terroreign
4/27- Worchester Mass- Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Tears from a Grieving Heart, Sliimo
4/28- Bristol CT- Bleechers w/ Killer Kin, Other Nerve, Afghan Haze
4/29- East Hampton Mass- The OHM w/ Problem with Dragons
4/30- New Bedford Mass- The dNB w/ TBD
5/1- Troy NY- El Dorado w/ The Scurves, Lungbuster
5/2- Youngstown OH- Westside Bowl w/ Trash Mountain +1
5/3- Akron OH- Musica w/ Trash Mountain, Slow wake
5/4- Baltimore MD- The Metro Gallery (matinee show! Doors at 4:30pm) w/ Holy Fingers, Scrylops
5/5- Harrisonburg VA- The Golden Pony w/ Heemeyer, Taffy

Sun Years:
Asechiah Bogdan – Guitar
Buddy Bryant – Bass
Dalton Huskin – Guitar / Vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo) (2022)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Dalton Huskin of Smoke & Sun Years

Posted in Questionnaire on March 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Dalton Huskin of Smoke

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Dalton Huskin of Smoke & Sun Years

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

In its simplest form, I create. Anything I can build, make, paint, or design, I’m in. Building a fantasy world within the confines of the physical reality around us, that’s my whole goal; to play an exaggerated character of myself. I spent a lot of time in my own worlds as a kid, and I don’t think I ever stopped doing that. I think I just have a better ability now to make the world around me seem like my childhood dreams through creating, building, painting, and music. I still haven’t figured out making dragons yet, though.

Describe your first musical memory.

Listening to “These Eyes” by The Guess Who in my mom’s car. Every time I hear it I play air keyboard and push a fake button when that little guitar clank hits at the end of each phrase.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I was playing in a metalcore band when I was 18-ish at this little coffee shop venue. It’s the middle of the afternoon, so people are just walking around the stores of the strip mall. This kid sticks his face through the gate of where we were playing and he just goes totally wide eyed, and we kind of see each other looking at each other. I like to think that was his first musical memory and he grew up to be Uli Jon Roth or something. He might have just thought we sucked and he knew he never wanted to do that, either way it’s great.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Recording the latest Smoke single, I realized that I didn’t have to fight myself if something was just coming easily. I always had this concept that to make something worthwhile, it took hours of over thinking and work, but I had to take a step back and tell myself that simplicity is equally valid.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

For me it’s just being able to laugh at yourself and never taking what you did, or do, too seriously. I have developed what I’ll call “Bagger Vance Syndrome”. If you’ve seen the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance you know it’s an absurd plot but still a tear jerker… great actors doing a transcendental film about golf, set in the great depression era south, where this guy teaches life lessons to a World War I vet through the beauty of the game. At first watch, it’s a great underdog story, but when you take a step back it’s just gobbledigook. I always had that fear when it came to my own art… that someone would see it as shallow attempts at saying something profound, or worse, it’s seen as the gobbledigook it truly is. My own personal artistic progression is being able to say that yes, The Legend of Bagger Vance is a truly great heartfelt film, but also a shallow attempt at saying something profound, and gobbledigook. Being able to take a step back from something and laugh at how serious it is has been my great revelation. Make the profound, pompous claims of your art being great and important, and then laugh at how ridiculous it is to attempt to make those claims. You gotta be able to be so far up your own ass that you giggle at all the shit in there.

How do you define success?

My father and I have a running joke about how I would say, “I just want to sit in a field and be, man.” through the clouds of teenage dirt weed smoke. I didn’t realize then that I’m too manic to just sit in a field and be, but I think having the option to turn the ol’ brain off for a day and just be present without worry is my form of success. That, and a Harley pan head chopper, those are rad.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

The Legend of Bagger Vance. I can’t sleep at night. Is he a ghost? An angel? Some sort of astral projection of Peter J. Carrol, come to ramble the hidden knowledge behind Liber Null? Who knows.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I’ve been working on songs with a new project called Sun Years, and I’m really excited about the direction that’s going. Smoke has another concept album I’m working on, so the nights of yelling nonsense in my basement and writing are always something I look forward to, too. I plan on making a lot of music this year. The feeling of staring at the rabbit hole and knowing I’m about to jump makes me happier than a pig in shit.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

I’m not sure that there is one. I mean no offense to the question when I say this, but when I’m asked a question like this I want to give some lofty answer, or at least something meaningful, but I’m not sure I’m the person that could do that. This question made me think a lot about what function art serves me. Creating art is just a way for me to escape the fact that I’m going to die, and there is eternal nothingness at the end. You fight to make something meaningful, something that will live on past your death, something that says, “I was here and I mattered! It wasn’t meaningless!”. I put on my music hat and do my little dance, playing a character of myself. I get wrapped up in this fantasy world of being a great artist, and jump down the rabbit hole. Do the bit so long you forget it’s a bit, lose yourself to it entirely and then laugh at the end of it.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I’m getting married in October and I’m really looking forward to being at that place, at that time with everyone that I love in my life.

Smoke, “Scavenger” (2023)

Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo) (2022)

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Quarterly Review: Astrosaur, Kvasir, Bloodshot, Tons, Mothman & The Thunderbirds vs. World Eaters, Deer Lord, IO Audio Recordings, Bong Voyage, Sun Years, Daevar

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

quarterly-review-winter 2023

There was some pretty good stuff this week, I gotta say. Feels self-congratulatory to be like, ‘hey good job slating reviews, me!’ but there it is. I don’t regret hearing anything I have thus far into the Winter 2023 Quarterly Review, and sometimes that’s not the case by the time we get to Friday.

Of course, there’s another week to go here as well. We’ll pick it back up on Monday with another 10 records and proceed from there. If you’ve been following along, I hope you’ve found something you dig as well.

Winter 2023 Quarterly Review #41-50:

Astrosaur, Portals


This is what happens when you have virtuoso players writing songs rather than paeans to their own virtuosity. Led by founding guitarist Eirik Kråkenes, with drummer Jonathan Eikum (also Taiga Woods) and bassist Steinar Glas (also Einar Stray Orchestra), Astrosaur are blindingly progressive on their third full-length, Portals (on Pelagic), operating with post-metallic atmospheres as a backdrop for stunning instrumental turns, builds and crashes, willful repetition and the defiant denial of same. There’s more scope in the intro “Opening” than on some entire albums, and what “Black Hole Earth” begins from there is a dizzying array of sometimes cosmic sometimes earthborn riffing, twisting bass and mindfully restless drums. “The Deluge” hitting into that chase after four minutes in, that seemingly chaotic swirling noise suddenly stopping “Reptile Empire” and the false start to the 23-minute epic “Eternal Return” — these details and many besides give the overarching weight of Portals at its heaviest a corresponding depth, and when coupled with the guitar’s ability to coast overhead, they are genuinely three-dimension in their sound. You’d be right to want to hear Portals for “Eternal Return” alone, but there’s so much more to it than that.

Astrosaur on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp


Kvasir, Sagittarius A* Star

Kvasir Sagittarius A Star

Kvasir‘s Sagittarius A* Star is named for the black hole at the center of the galaxy, and the 21-minute single-song EP is the follow-up to their 2021 debut album, 4 (review here), a dug-in proto-metallic exploration composed in movements that flow together as a whole organic work. The Portland-based four-piece of guitarists Christopher Lee (also vocals) and Gabriel Langston, bassist Greg Traw and Jay Erbe work on either side between traditional metal and heavy rock riffing, inhabiting both here as “Sagittarius A* Star” launches into its initial verses over the first four minutes, a solo emerging after 5:30 to set the pattern that will hold for the remaining three-fourths of the song. A slowdown takes hold about a minute later and grooves until at about nine minutes in when the bass comes forward and things get funkier. The vocals return at about 11:30 to complement a galloping riff that’s fleshed out until just after the 14-minute mark, when a jazzier instrumental movement begins and the band makes it known they’re going out and not coming back, the swaying finish with more insistent guitar, first interjecting then satisfyingly joining that sway, capping with a (still plotted) jammier feel. If that’s the Milky Way succumbing to ultragravity and being torn apart molecule by molecule en route to physics-defying oblivion, then fair enough. Worse ways to go, certainly.

Kvasir on Facebook

Kvasir on Bandcamp


Bloodshot, Sins of the Father

Bloodshot Sins of the Father

Though the leadoff Sins of the Father gets reminds of circa-’90s noise metal like Nailbomb, Marylander four-piece Bloodshot lean more into a hardcore-informed take on heavy rock with their aggressively-purposed debut album. Comprised of vocalist Jared Winegardner, guitarist Tom Stacey, bassist Joe Ruthvin (ex-Earthride) and drummer JB Matson (ex-War Injun, organizer of Maryland Doom Fest, etc.), the band push to one side or the other throughout, as on the more rocking “Zero Humility” and the subsequent metallic barker “Uncivil War,” the mid-period Megadeth-style riffer “Beaten Into Rebellion,” the brooding-into-chugging closing title-track and “Fyre,” which I’m pretty sure just wants to kick my ass. The 10-track entirety of the album, in fact, seems to hold to that same mentality, and there’s a sense of trying to recapture something that’s been lost that feels inherently conservative in its theme — “Faded Natives,” “Visions of Yesterday,” the speedier “Worn and Torn,” and so on — but gruff though it is, Sins of the Father offers a pissed-off-for-reasons take on heavy that’s likewise intense and methodical. That is to say, they know what they’re doing as they punch you in the throat.

Bloodshot on Facebook

Half Beast Records on Bandcamp

Nervous Breakdown Records store


Tons, Hashension

Tons Hashension

A second release through Heavy Psych Sounds and Tons‘ third full-length overall, Hashension wears its love of all things cannabian on its crusty stoner sludge sleeve throughout its six-track/39-minute run, begun with the riffnotic “Dope Dealer Scum” before “A Hash Day’s Night” introduces the throatripper vocals and backing growls and a more heads-down, speedier tempo that hits into a mosh of a slowdown. “Slowly We Pot” — a play on Obituary‘s Slowly We Rot — to go along with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd (and Gummo) titular references — follows in a spirit as angry as one imagines Bongzilla might be if someone un-freed their weed. Yes, “Hempathy for the Devil” and “Ummagummo” precede the sample-topped slamming march of “Hashended,” and lo, the well-baked extreme sludge they’ve wrought rumbles and thuds its way out, not so much gnashing in the way of “A Hash Day’s Night” or the roll after the midpoint in “Ummagummo” — though the lyrics there seem to be pure weed-worship — but lumbering in such a way as to ensure the point gets across anyhow. I’m not going to tell you you should be stoned listening to it, because I don’t know, maybe you’re driving or something, but I doubt Tons would argue if you brought some edibles to the gig. Enough to share, perhaps.

Tons on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds store


Mothman & the Thunderbirds vs. World Eaters, Split

Mothman and the Thunderbirds vs World Eaters Split

In the battle of Philly solo-project Mothman and the Thunderbirds vs. Ontario-based duo World Eaters, the numbers may be on the side of the latter, but each act offers something of its own on their shared 18-minute EP. Presenting two tracks from each band, the outing puts Mothman and the Thunderbirds‘ “Rusty Shackleton” and “Nephilim” up front, the latter particularly reinforcing the Devin Townsend influence on the part of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Alex Parkinson, while “Flash of Green” and “The Siege” from World Eaters — drummer Winter Stomp and guitarist/bassist/vocalist/synthesist David Gupta — present an atmospheric death metal, more than raw bludgeoning, but definitely that as well. As a sampler platter for both bands, there’s more time to get to know World Eaters since their songs are markedly longer, but the contrast from one to the other and the progression into the mire of “The Siege” gives the split an overlaid personality, almost a narrative, and the melodies in Parkinson‘s two cuts have a lingering presence over the masterful decay that follows in World Eater‘s material. One way or the other, these are both relatively upstart projects and their will toward progression is clear, as pummeling as its form may be. Right on.

Mothman & The Thunderbirds on Bandcamp

World Eaters on Bandcamp


Deer Lord, Dark Matter Pt. 1

Deer Lord Dark Matter Pt 1

Preceded by the two-song single Witches Brew/Psychedelic Roadkill, the six-song/24-minute Dark Matter Pt. 1 is short but feels nonetheless like a debut album from Sonoma County, California (try the cabernet), three-piece Deer Lord, who present adventures like getting stoned with witches on a mountaintop, riding free with an out-on-bail “Hippie Girl” in the backseat of presumably some kind of roadster, going down the proverbial highway and, at last, welcoming you to “Planet Earth” after calling out and casting off any and all “Ego” along the way. It is a modern take on stonerized heavy, starting off with “Witches Brew” as the opener/longest track (immediate points) with a languid flow and psychedelic underpinnings that flesh out even amid the apex soloing of “Planet Earth” or the fervent push of the earlier “Ride Away,” that tempo hitting a wall with the intro of “Ego” (don’t worry, it takes off) so as to support the argument in favor of Dark Matter Pt. 1 as an admittedly brief full-length, the component tracks working off each other to enhance the entirety. The elements beneath are familiar enough, but Deer Lord put an encouraging spin of their own on it, and especially as their debut, it’s hard to imagine some label or other won’t get on board, if not for pressing this, then maybe Pt. 2 to come. Perhaps both?

Deer Lord on Facebook

Deer Lord on Bandcamp


IO Audio Recordings, Awaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK

IO Audio Recordings Awaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK

Compiling two 2022 EPs into a single LP and releasing through a microcosm of underground imprints in various terrestrial locales, IO Audio RecordingsAwaiting the Elliptical Drift & VVK is my first exposure to the Orange, CA, out-there-in-space unit, and from the blower kosmiche rocking “Awaiting the Elliptical Drift” to the sitar meditation “Luminous Suspension,” and the hazy wash of “Sunrise and Overdrive” (that’s side A) to the experimentalist consumption of “VVK” and “Gramanita” rounding out with its heartbeat rhythm giving over to a hardly-flatlined drone after shuffling cool and bassy and fuzzy with jangly jam strum overtop, I tell you in all sincerity it won’t be my last. There’s a broad cross-section stylistically, which suits a compilation mindset, but I get the feeling that if you called it an album instead, the situation would be much the same thanks to an underlying conceptualism and the adventuring purpose beneath the open-structured fluidity. That’s just fine, as IO Audio Recordings‘ sundry transformations only enhance the anything-that-works-goes and shelf-your-expectations listening experience. Not that there’s no tension in their groovy approach, but the abiding sensibility advises an open mind and maybe a couple deep breaths in and out before you take it on. But then definitely take it on. If you need me, I’ll be spending money I don’t have on Bandcamp.

The Weird Beard Records store

Fuzzed Up and Astromoon Records on Bandcamp

We Here & Now on Bandcamp

Ramble Records on Bandcamp

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp


Bong Voyage, Feverlung

Bong Voyage Feverlung

While “bong” in a band name usually connotes dense sludge in my head, Oslo four-piece Bong Voyage defy that stereotype with their Dec. 2022-released second single, “Feverlung” — the first single was October’s “Buzzed Aldrin” — and no, the song isn’t about the pandemic, it’s about getting high. The six-minute rocker hoists jammy flourish mostly in its second half, in a break that, in turn, shifts into uptempo semi-space rock post-Slift pulsations atop a progression that, while I’ll readily admit it sounds little like the song on the whole still puts me in mind of Kyuss‘ “Odyssey” in its vocal patterning and melody. That ending is a step outward from the solidified early verses, which are more straight ahead heavy rock in the vein of Freedom Hawk or a less-directly-Ozzy take on Sheavy, and while one listening for them to bring it back around to the initial riff will find that they don’t, the band’s time isn’t necessarily misspent in terms of serving the song by letting it push beyond exospheric traps. They won’t catch me by surprise next time aesthetically, and it wouldn’t be a shock to find Bong Voyage in among the subset of up and coming heavy rockers that’s put Norway on the underground radar so much these last couple years. Either way, I’ll look forward to more here.

Bong Voyage on Facebook

Bong Voyage on Bandcamp


Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo)

IMGSun years demo

In its early going, Sun Years‘ “Codex” stagger-sludges like Eyehategod with guitarist Dalton Huskin‘s shouty echoing vocals on top, but as it moves into its second half, there’s a pickup in tempo and a bit of swirling lead guitar emerges in the 4:37 song’s closing stretch as Asechiah Bogdan (ex-Windhand, ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) makes his presence felt. Alongside bassist Buddy Bryant and drummer Erik Larson (once-and-again guitarist for Alabama Thunderpussy, drummer of Avail, Omen Stones, ex-Backwoods Payback, the list goes on), Bogdan and Huskin explore mellower and more melodic reaches the subsequent “Teeth Like Stars,” still holding some of their demo’s lead track’s urgency as a weighted riff takes hold in trade with the relatively subdued verse. That’s a back and forth they’ll do again, moving the second time from the more weighted progression into a solo and build into a return of the harsher vocals, some double-kick drumming and a last shove that lasts until everything drops out except one guitar and that riffs for a few seconds before being cut off mid-measure. Well, that’s a band with more dynamic in their first two tracks than some have in their entire careers, so I guess it’s safe to say it’ll be worth following the Richmond, Virginia, foursome to see where they end up next time out.

Sun Years on Bandcamp

Minimum Wage Recording on Facebook


Daevar, Delirious Rites

Daevar Delirious Rites Cover

Recorded by Jan Oberg (Grin, Slowshine, EarthShip) at Hidden Planet Studio in Berlin, Daevar‘s five-track/32-minute 2023 debut album, Delirious Rites, arrives likewise through Oberg‘s imprint The Lasting Dose Records and finds the man himself sitting in for guest vocals on the 10-minute “Leviathan” alongside the band’s own bassist/vocalist Pardis Latif, who leads the band from the depths of the rhythm section’s lurch on the gradually unfolding Windhand-vibing leadoff “Slowshine,” the particularly Monolordian “Bloody Fingers” with Caspar Orfgen‘s guitar howling over a marching riff, and “Leila” where Moritz Ermen Bausch‘s drums offer a welcoming grounding to Electric Wizardly nod and swirl. Thus, by the time his spot in the aforementioned “Leviathan” rolls (and I do mean rolls) around, just ahead of closer “Yellow Queen,” the layers of growling and screaming he adds to the procession are a standout shift well placed to play off the atmosphere established by the previous tracks. Shortest at 5:10, “Yellow Queen” lumbers through more ethereal doom and hints at a psychedelic current that might continue to develop in a midsection drifting break that builds back into the catchy plod from whence it came. Not necessarily innovative at this point — they’re a new band — but they seem to know what they want in terms of sound and style, and that only ever bodes well.

Daevar on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp


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