Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as De Doorn marks their first offering through Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

Amenra on Facebook

Relapse Records website


Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

Liquid Sound Company on Facebook

Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp


Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

Iceburn on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website


Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

Gods & Punks on Facebok

Abraxas on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website


Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website


Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

Heathen Rites on Facebook

Svart Records website


Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website


Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp


Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website


Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp


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Bobby Liebling & Dave Sherman: Pentagram and Earthride Members Team for Nite Owl Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

What started out in 2009 as a limited CDR from Bobby Liebling’s Ram Family is now being given the moniker Bobby Liebling & Dave Sherman Basement Chronicles and released under the title Nite Owl on LP and CD through Svart Records. If you recall the Liebling documentary Last Days Here (review here), some of this music was featured. It was pretty raw then and is now as well, but you know, you bring together two of Maryland/D.C. doom’s most celebrated figures in Sherman and Liebling — not to mention Gary Isom and Russ Strahan, who both also add guitar and songwriting — there’s going to be some manner of continued interest.

Liebling earlier this year released the debut from The Limit, also through Svart. He’s about as close to ‘canceled’ as I’ve seen anyone in the doom community come — if the sexual-harassment-on-tour allegations didn’t do it, the assault on his mother seemed to — but remains a figurehead in Chesapeake heavy, and so yeah, putting this stuff out makes sense. Don’t be surprised if Pentagram makes a comeback either. That’s how it goes.

Release here is Oct. 29. Info follows:

nite owl basement chronicles

Nite Owl by Bobby Liebling and Dave Sherman Basement Chronicles

Preorder LP: https://svartrecords.com/product/bobby-liebling-dave-sherman-nite-owl-album/

Nite Owl by Bobby Liebling and Dave Sherman Basement Chronicles is a set of doom bangers, fuzz rockers and meditative late night boogie finally made available to a wider audience.

In the early years of the new millennium doom metal legend Bobby Liebling was going through a quieter period after the Pentagram lineup that had brought us the album Show ‘Em How had disbanded. Dave Sherman, Liebling’s longtime friend and a renowned doom metal musician (Earthride, Spirit Caravan) started hanging out with Bobby more regularly and eventually the duo decided it’s time to record something and see what it would bring. “After having crashed my car”, Sherman recounts, “I was regularly packing my 4 track into a backpack, saddling up on my iron horse and riding over in the dead of night to visit Bobby. He was in sore spirits and solitary at the time so I’d started going over to keep him company, thumb through his record collection, talk music and party. These hang sessions inspired us both, so I ended up writing some riffs. With the lights of the recorder lit, these night songs effortlessly flowed out of us and were chronicled in one take.”

The Nite Owl album is the first time these recordings, a snippet of which can be heard in the cult classic documentary Last Days Here, are made available officially apart from CD-r “I Plead The Fifth” of which just a handful of copies were made by the artists. The Svart version is also remastered and partially remixed at Noise For Fiction studios, for a slightly more amplified and less lo-fi experience.

I’m Takin’ No More (Liebling / Isom)
Drop The Gun (Liebling / Sherman)
You’re Like The Wind (Liebling)
All Lit Up (Liebling / Sherman)
Last Call (Liebling / Sherman)
Space Marshall (Liebling / Sherman)
Sweet Street Cheater (Liebling / Sherman)
Nite Owl (Liebling / Sherman)
South Of The Swamp (Liebling / Strahan)

Russ Strahan – Guitars (lead, slide)
Dave Sherman – Guitars (rhythm), Bass, Drums, Percussion
Gary Isom – Guitars (rhythm, harmony)
Bobby Liebling – Vocals, Guitars (lead, rhythm), Bass, Percussion


Bobby Liebling & Dave Sherman Basement Chronicles, “South of the Swamp”

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Yakuza Begin Recording New Album; Back Catalog Being Reissued

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Chicago experimentalist-in-form metallers Yakuza always seemed to suffer the fate of those whose sound lie between styles. They reaped plenty of critical praise each time out, but as it goes with bands who challenge convention one way or another, their songs’ willfully jarring turns and shifting atmospheres set themselves beyond kneejerk accessibility and, well, there you go. By the time their next record comes out, it will have been 10 years since Beyul (review here) was issued through Profound Lore, and that album, along with 2002’s Way of the Dead — imagine this band on Century Media for a minute; it was a different age — and presumably the rest of their catalog, will be reissued through War Crime Recordings, which is the label Yakuza frontman/saxophonist Bruce Lamont runs alongside Sanford Parker, who’s also producing the new Yakuza album. Keeping it all in the family, as it were.

Of course, Lamont has hardly been idle in the last decade. In addition to founding War Crime — who were also kind enough to publish a collection of short stories by yours truly in 2016, thereby earning eternal gratitude — and taking part in Corrections House again alongside Parker and members of Neurosis and Eyehategod, he’s released solo work and an album with Bloodiest, and so on. Last year, he took part in a quarantine-era socially-distant cover of Trouble‘s “The Tempter” (posted here) with Parker and members of Snow Burial and Pelican. So yeah, dude gets around.

Looking forward to this though. Should be like a coming home, oddly shaped as that home may be.

From the PR wire:

YAKUZA (photo by Sonya Siedlaczek)

YAKUZA To Begin Recording First New Studio Album In Ten Years; Back Catalog To See Reissue On Vinyl Via War Crime Recordings!

Chicago’s YAKUZA will begin recording their long-awaited, as-yet-untitled new studio album!

The band will enter Palisades Studio with engineer Sanford Parker (Yob, Voivod) later this month. The recording will be completed and mixed at Parker’s own Hypercube Studios. Set for worldwide release in the Spring of 2022, the record follows their critically lauded Beyul full-length (2012) and marks YAUKZA’s first official studio output in ten years!

Offers vocalist/saxophonist Bruce Lamont, “Ten years! You would think that a bunch has changed, Well, some has and some hasn’t. The shronky, heavy, hairpin tempo shifts are still there, now add more bottom end thanks to current bassist Jerome Marshall. This new batch of tunes is a nice mix of weird and riffy and we couldn’t be happier with how everything has come together.”

Adds bassist Jerome Marshall, “It’s a return to form from the origins of where the band began. A return to post-metal, avant-garde jazz-influenced heavy chaos with the structural balance of intrinsic order.”

The record will be released in North America via Lamont and Parker’s joint imprint, War Crime Recordings, with Svart Recordings handling Europe and beyond.

In related news, War Crime Recordings will reissue the YAKUZA back catalog on a limited-edition LP throughout the coming months. First up is 2012’s Beyul which has never before been available on vinyl.

Comments Lamont, “We over at War Crime Recordings have had a plan for a number of years to reissue all the YAKUZA LPs that haven’t seen the light day and then reissue the ones that have. Beyul was an obvious first choice. Originally released back in 2012 through Profound Lore, this reissue is a single LP gatefold edition. The mastering for the LP was done back in 2012 by Colin Jordon and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Next up…Way Of The Dead!”

Limited to 200 copies on translucent brown vinyl, order Beyul at THIS LOCATION: https://yazkua.bandcamp.com/album/beyul

James Staffel – drums
Matt Mcclelland – guitar, vocals
Jerome Marshall – bass, vocals
Bruce Lamont – vocals, saxophones


Yakuza, Beyul (2012)

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Mat McNerney & Kimmo Helén of Hexvessel to Release A Fire in the Cold Season Soundtrack

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Neither Mat McNerney nor Kimmo Helén has anything to prove in terms of atmosphere building. The two are bandmates in Hexvessel and have a number of other projects going at any given moment, so a film soundtrack feels like an organic-enough extension of what they’ve done in the past to make sense. You’ll note the director here is Justin Oakey as well, with whom the pair has worked before in and out of the context of Hexvessel and who has helmed videos in the past as well for Ulver, Godstopper and others. A Fire in the Cold Season is Oakey‘s second feature film behind 2016’s Riverhead, and it was nominated in 2019 for a Canadian Screen Award in best cinematography, which, you know, feather in the cap and all that.

Svart Records will release the soundtrack to the film in October, and there’s a snippet up now. I don’t know if the movie is on — INSERT SERVICE HERE — at the moment or not, but if you made it this far into the bowels of the internet you’re obviously a resourceful sort and I’m sure you can figure out a way to see the thing. I think I might try to chase it down as well. Maybe my Netflix is up to date? I don’t know.

In any case, prepare thyself for minimalism on signed vinyl!

From the PR wire:

mat mcnerney and kimmo helen a fire in the cold season

A Fire In The Cold Season Original Soundtrack – Mat McNerney & Kimmo Helén

A Fire In The Cold Season, soundtrack to rural noir thriller from Newfoundland, Canada, scored by Mat McNerney and Kimmo Helén of the Finnish folk band Hexvessel.

McNerney (Hexvessel, Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures, Carpenter Brut, Me & That Man, ex-Code, ex-DHG) and multi-instrumentalist Helén have collaborated with director Justin Oakey before on a short film, but A Fire In The Cold Season marks their first full feature length soundtrack composition; a wild and evocative cross-pollination of Finnish and Newfoundland spirit. A Fire In The Cold Season is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s western narratives (No Country for Old Men, The Road, Blood Meridian, The Counselor), with a realistic, heavy paced mood where nothing is certain but the promise of despair in a violent world. McNerney and Helén’s soundtrack is signature ritualistic Hexvessel, straining violins and rustic guitars, but also a new and mature flourish of restraint and minimalist beauty where disparate piano and solemn voices echo through the wilderness.

Inspired by Newfoundland folk music, Philipp Glass, Shigeru Umebayashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, A Fire In The Cold Season is an elegant, romantic and suspenseful score which is as much a homage to the harsh and stunning nature witnessed in Oakey’s visual landscape as Hexvessel’s inherent nature mystic themes. Fans of Hexvessel’s work will find much to delight in A Fire In The Cold Season’s occult and noirish atmospheres, and new-comers to McNerney and Helén’s work will enjoy being transported from shamanic transcendence to heart-aching romantic mountain melancholy. With an international premiere of A Fire in a Cold Season in Iceland, nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and featured on Netflix internationally, McNerney and Helén creep out from outsider fringes of their humble underground origins to show their looming talents for commanding a vastly evocative and haunting cinematic story.

Released on vinyl in an exclusive run of 250 limited edition signed black LPs and digitally everywhere from 22nd of October 2021.


Mat McNerney & Kimmo Helén, “Romance of Mystery” official video

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Green Lung Announce New Album Black Harvest Available to Preorder; Out Oct. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

If you, like me, have been waiting for news of the follow-up to Green Lung‘s 2019 debut, Woodland Rites (review here), pretty much since the needle stopped on that record, today’s the day. The Londoners will make release their second album and first for Svart Records, titled Black Harvest, later this year, and preorders are up as of today. The band has deluxe, signed vinyl and all that good stuff, and Svart has the CD and whatnot. It’s out Oct. 22.

Green Lung have tour dates currently booked that have already been rescheduled once or twice, but you’ll find those below, along with the album info, which comes courtesy of the label, along with the cover art by Richard Wells. Oh and there’s a streaming track too, because, you know.

I feel like it goes without saying I’m hoping to have more to come on this ahead of the release. I don’t think I’m cool enough to do a premiere at this point if I ever was — nothing against anyone, I know my place; that’s not something I say with bitterness — but I’ll probably ask anyhow. In any case, the sooner I hear it, the better.

Info follows:

green lung black harvest

Green Lung – Black Harvest

In four short years of existence, Green Lung have risen from the murk of the UK heavy underground to become a true cult band with a devoted following. Debut album Woodland Rites, released independently in early 2019, quickly garnered attention, resulting in a single being named ‘Track of the Week’ in the Guardian, plays on Daniel P. Carter’s Radio One Rock Show, a tour with fellow UK heavies Puppy and festival appearances across Europe.

This brought the band to the attention of the wider music industry, and after multiple offers from a variety of labels, the band decided to stay true to their roots and sign with the Finnish audio wizards at Svart Records, home to several of their doomy inspirations including Reverend Bizarre and Warning. Svart’s deluxe reissue of the album, and the preceding EP Free the Witch, sold out several pressings.

Two years later, the folk horror-obsessed fivesome have re-emerged from their mulchy catacombs armed with dozens of freshly-whittled riffs. Black Harvest, the sequel to Woodland Rites, is a more colourful reimagining of the band’s sound – Dawn of the Dead to green lung tourits predecessor’s Night of the Living Dead.

Recorded at Giant Wafer Studios in rural mid-Wales over the course of two weeks with longtime producer Wayne Adams (Petbrick, Big Lad), it’s a more expansive and textured record than anything the band have done before, boasting a cinematic quality and more attention to detail. All samples were sourced from the local countryside and from instruments found in the studio, including the haunting opening vocal of ‘The Harrowing’ which was recorded on a whim after the band broke into the local church (the organ can be heard creaking in the background). The album was recorded in late autumn, and the seasonal atmosphere seeped into the music, which is redolent of mists, falling leaves, and the crumbling glory of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries of London, the city the band call home.

The album also soaks in new sonics beyond the ‘Black Sabbath meets Brian May’ blueprint of what went before. ‘The Harrowing’ takes the band’s tradition of instrumental opening tracks to dizzy new heights, like Atomic Rooster jamming with Boston, while ballad ‘Graveyard Sun’, based on the folklore around the ‘Highgate Vampire’, adds gothic synth lines that would give Type O Negative pangs of jealousy. That’s not to say the hooks n’ heaviness approach that made the band’s name isn’t here in abundance, as the Sabbath-meets-Purple chug and groove of revolutionary lead single ‘Leaders of the Blind’ and the Hammer Horror riff frenzy of ‘Upon the Altar’ prove. Closer ‘Born to a Dying World’ is unlike anything the band have written before; an endtimes ballad with an almost gospel feel, tying the band’s omnipresent nature themes to the Anthropocene.

Mastered by John Davis at Metropolis (Led Zeppelin, Royal Blood), Black Harvest comes packaged in stained glass artwork by renowned artist Richard Wells (Doctor Who, Dracula, Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth), and is available in gatefold vinyl and CD formats.

The Harrowing
Old Gods
Leaders Of The Blind
Reaper’s Scythe
Graveyard Sun
Black Harvest
Upon The Altar
You Bear The Mark
Born To A Dying World

Tom Templar – Vocals
Scott Masson – Guitar
Andrew Cave – Bass
Matt Wiseman – Drums
John Wright – Organ


Green Lung, Black Harvest (2021)

Green Lung, Woodland Rites (2019)

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Skepticism to Release Companion Sept. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


This rules. I don’t have the record yet, but I didn’t know a new Skepticism was coming, and I’m very glad one is. The long-running Finnish funeral-doom innovators’ last release was 2015’s Ordeal, and I can’t help but think of Companion in terms of the idea of walking with death all throughout our lives. Whether or not that’s what they’re going for, I don’t know, but they’ve got a track from the album posted now, and if you’ve been missing a bit of the surge of quality death-doom fare that 2020 bought — a comfort in dark times as it was — then I’ll direct you immediately to “Calla” at the bottom of this post to check that particular box. I was fortunate enough to see Skepticism in 2016 (review here) and the experience was resonant enough that if you’d asked me, I would’ve said it was three years later.

Fingers crossed I’ll have more to come before the release. For now, the PR wire has preorder options:

skepticism companion

SKEPTICISM – “Companion” – 24th September 2021

Finnish Funeral Doom pioneers Skepticism celebrate their 30th anniversary with the release of their sixth full length album “Companion”. Released on the 24th of September 2021 via Svart Records, “Companion” takes the listener on a journey from Skepticism’s gloomy past through to a monument of a band that has weathered their liturgy for 3 decades of mournful service.

On “Companion”, Skepticism further refine their signature sound to engulf the listener in a cavernous heavy wall of organ and guitars laid to rest under an ominous cascade of hammering drums.

“Companion” was recorded and mixed at Sonic Pump Studios with Nino Laurenne. The way Skepticism works is set in stone, like a monument, with every album recorded the same way. The base tracks are laid down with the full band playing in free tempo, feeling every beat and crushing chord together. The atmosphere at the studio helped tremendously in capturing the essence of the songs in the recording of “Companion” and one that culminated in a very unique set of songs. The band is very satisfied with the result, with even Laurenne experiencing something new in the process.

“Companion”, holds the tradition of all Skepticism albums, containing six songs which draw from the deep well of the band’s history of songwriting, as well as introducing and incorporating some new elements.

On recording “Companion”, and introducing some rather unconventional techniques, engineer Nino Laurenne explains: “It took a while to get used to some of the unusual details on how the band plays and sounds. One such detail is the snare drum without the snares. Once I got used to them it became obvious that I should refrain from using some of the techniques I normally use when mixing. The drums for example retain the feel of the recorded performance very closely – and definitely have the longest reverbs I have ever used! A band with such a long history and a sound of their own is best presented in its natural form, even when it departs from common practices.”

The first single from “Companion” is “Calla”. “Calla” is a story of longing and closure told in the language of Skepticism’s sorrowful and lamenting vocabulary. Let the bells toll and the ceremony begin.

First single “Calla” is out from the 4th of July 2021. The “Companion” album is out on the 24th of September 2021.

Listen to “Calla” here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4KCIuNdKxIxgOVog40VTPa?si=doj9fbZrSYOJMoCep0Pxow

Pre-order “Companion” here: https://svartrecords.com/product/skepticism-companion-album/


Skepticism, “Calla”

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Heathen Rites: Debut LP Heritage Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

heathen rites

Not too long ago I was thinking about Burning Saviours as kind of the unsung heroes of Swedish retro doom. For nearly 20 years, the Örebro-based outfit have in one form or another have paid homage to the riffage of yore, and as founding guitarist/vocalist Michael Monks steps out to make a debut with the solo-project Heathen Rites, the thread of doom is modernized some in sound but no less resonant. The album runs a tidy seven tracks and 35 minutes, and must’ve been announced a few weeks back and maybe I missed it, but the promo caught my eye ahead of the Aug. 27 release, and as an update for the doom metal of yore, Heritage works on multiple levels, digging into Scandinavian-ism — the Doom in the North! — and elder metal in kind. Those already among the converted will find “Midnight Sun” — streaming below — easy to dig on, and I’m not hearing anything elsewhere in the offering to contradict. Even the birdsong, ringing voice of the concluding “Kulning” is consistent in intent if not actual doomly lumber.

Info and song follow here for your perusal:


Heathen Rites – Heritage

Svart Records

Release: 27 August 2021

Preorder: https://svartrecords.com/product/heathen-rites-heritage-lp-yellow/

Burning Saviours doom-monger spreads his wings into the northern darkness with his new project Heathen Rites. Heaving earthy Doom, inspired by nordic folklore and ancient landscapes, Heritage is an epic and melodic hymn to northern nature and history. Formed in Sweden in 2018 by Mikael Monks, Heathen Rites create A-level, brooding, lingering, godless doom perfection, that swells from ornamental euphony to rousing, up-tempo doom rock with a Scandinavian flair.

Lovers of nostalgic proto-metal, funeral doom and blues Americana will revel in the dark folk setting of Heritage, where tone-full riffs echo across the hoof-thundering wilderness. Beautiful droning passages and punishing sermons to please fans of classics like Candlemass and Pentagram but with a decidedly modern nordic folk-horror flavour. Dig into Heritage and discover your dark and gloomy roots.

01 Eternal Sleep
02 Midnight Sun
03 Autumn
04 Gleipner
05 Here Comes The Night
06 The Sons Of The North
07 Kulning


Heathen Rites, “Midnight Sun”

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Dust Mountain Set Oct. 8 Release for Hymns for Wilderness

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

dust mountain

You wouldn’t be wrong to think of Dust Mountain as a ‘feat. members of…’ kind of band, given the collective pedigrees involved, from Oranssi Pazuzu to Cats of Transnistria to Hexvessel and Death Hawks and Vuono, but as long as you weren’t necessarily expecting them to sound like any of those others, that’s fine. Dust Mountain, who premiered as a part of Roadburn Redux in April, bring new vigor to classic Brit-style progressive/psychedelic folk on “Village on Fire,” which is the first single from their coming Oct. 8 release, Hymns for Wilderness.

Not a surprise that the record is showing up through Svart — their Roadburn appearance was part of the label’s showcase — but nice to have a confirmed date just the same, and while I wouldn’t imagine this one song speaks for the entirety of the band’s stylistic reach given the number of players involved and their backgrounds, let alone anyone else who might show up, what I’m hearing in “Village on Fire” only seems appropriate for autumn. Might fly under the radar of some more rock-minded heads, and that’s fine. I look forward to hearing more just the same.

I assume more complete album info, tracks, etc., will be along sometime between now and October. The PR wire has this announcement for now:

dust mountain hymns for wilderness

Dust Mountain – “Hymns for Wilderness” – October 8th 2021

Svart Records is proud to release Dust Mountain’s new album “Hymns For Wilderness” on the 8th of October 2021. First single “Village on Fire” out now!

Dust Mountain was founded in 2016 by siblings Toni Hietamäki (Oranssi Pazuzu, Waste of Space Orchestra) and Henna Hietamäki (Cats of Transnistria, Henna & Houreet), accompanied by an exceptional band: drummer Jukka Rämänen (Hexvessel, Dark Buddha Rising) bassist Riku Pirttiniemi (Death Hawks) and guitarist/backing vocalist Pauliina Lindell (Vuono). Having brewed their musical magic potions for an eternity, Dust Mountain are now finally ready to share the fruits of their joined forces with the world, resulting in their debut album “Hymns For Wilderness”.

In April 2021 Dust Mountain performed their international live debut at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Redux edition as part of the Svart Sessions, and instantly captivated audiences around the globe with their shimmering, otherworldly harmonies. Inspired by 1960’s and 1970’s acts such as Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Jefferson Airplane, Coven and Linda Perhacs, with a soft touch of doom riffs and distortions, Dust Mountain’s joyous pagan gospel seeks pieces of a world hidden but not lost.

Their stories celebrate the connection to nature and ancient rituals, moving between fictional fantasies and true, close-to-heart beliefs, making “Hymns For Nature” a startling and outstanding debut record. The mandolin riff driven “Village On Fire” is a powerful theme for burning down unjust kingdoms, so kick back and let Dust Mountain blow their magic breath of fiery air through your mind now!

Village on Fire:
Song & lyrics: Hietamäki & Hietamäki
Lead vocals: Henna Hietamäki
Mandolin & organ: Toni Hietamäki
Guitar & vocal harmonies: Pauliina Lindell
Bass: Riku Pirttiniemi
Drums: Jukka Rämänen
Percussion: Jaakko Niemelä
Recording: Tom Brooke at Tonehaven Studio
Mixing: Niko Lehdontie
Mastering: Jaime Gomez
Cover art: Tekla Valy


Dust Mountain, “Village on Fire”

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