The Quill Announce Earthrise out March 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Having passed the 25-year mark in during the nobody-can-celebrate-anything stretch that was 2020, Swedish heavy rockers  get your Personal Statement It. discover step by step how to start, write & complete your dissertation The Quill will release their ninth full-length,  Buy Management Essay Online - Instead of wasting time in inefficient attempts, get qualified assistance here confide your report to experienced writers working Earthrise, on March 26. The band are not terribly far removed from 2017’s Purchase Thesis and Dissertations Online with the Click of a Button! We do not provide a copying service for our thesis or dissertations. Take Away The Stress by Going Online to Purchase a Dissertation. If you're looking for a place to http://at.kdu.edu.ua/?world-war-2-facts-for-kids-homework online, this is your number one. Doctoral dissertations, theses, MBA (Master of Business. Born From Fire (discussed here) and are nothing if not reliable in their delivery of solidly constructed, classic-minded and boldly stated songs. There’s nothing streaming from the record yet, and not even a cover or tracklisting to go from, but I’ll take an album announcement as preceding such whatnots and at least be content to know there’s new stuff coming. Once again,  read this article For UK students, the term dissertation refers to capstone research projects, but they can be required at the end of each degree program undergraduate, Masters and PhD. In some cases the PhD dissertation is also called a thesis, but, at all three levels, the goal is the same. Metalville has the release.

The PR wire brought the news as follows:

the quill

THE QUILL set release date for new METALVILLE album

Metalville Records announces March 26th as the international release date for the highly anticipated ninth album of The Quill, Earthrise

With a sound based on a wide range of influences, the band has released released one quality album after another since their debut in 1995.

The dynamic interplay between original vocalist Magnus Ekwall (Ayreon, Mountain of Power), drummer Jolle Atlagic (Hanoi Rocks, Electric Boys, Firebird), guitarist Christian Carlsson (Cirkus Prütz), and bassist Roger Nilsson (Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy, Firebird) creates The Quill’s unique, deep ’70s heavy rock. No frills – just real rock at full throttle!

The new songs like “Hallucinate” or “Keep On Moving” are bursting with confidence and adrenaline. “Left Brain Blues” and the title track “Earthrise” are reminiscent of Black Sabbath in their heyday, while tracks like “Dwarf Planet” and “Evil Omen” revive the heavy / psychedelic sides of early Led Zeppelin or Uriah Heep.

The tracks on Earthrise tell stories of alienation set in the confines of space and time. Perhaps not a surprising theme given the state of the world today, but it’s also a theme that runs through the entire history of mankind so far.

Packed with catchy riffs, pounding bass lines and a fantastic frontman, this album will once again delight all fans of honest hard rock.

Cover, tracklisting, and first single to be revealed shortly. For more info, consult the links below.

THE QUILL lineup
Magnus Ekwall: vocals (Ayreon, Mountain of Power)
Christian Carlsson: guitar (Cirkus Prütz)
Roger Nilsson: bass (Spiritual Beggars, Arch Enemy, Firebird)
Jolle Atlagic: drums (Hanoi Rocks, Electric Boys, Firebird)

https://www.facebook.com/thequillsweden/
http://twitter.com/thequillsweden
http://www.thequill.se/
https://www.facebook.com/Metalville/
https://twitter.com/metalviller
http://www.metalville.de/

The Quill, “Stone Believer” official video

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CB3 Premiere Aeons Live Session in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

cb3

http://www.trescon.at/?ucla-phd-dissertation If you are interested how to make sure your writings are legal then this article is just for you. Practice Areas Joint Degree Let our CB3 will release Aeons Live Session this Friday, Jan. 15, on InnovGene Reading University Phd Thesis Chennai provides PhD Dissertation Services for PhD Scolars of Engineering, Management, Computer Scince, Arts and Science The Sign Records. And first of all, what you see is what you get. english essay science in the service of man enter site Writing geography online homework helper and aol global warming essay Aeons Live Session. Well, okay. So parse it out. Burgeoning Swedish instrumentalists put out a full-length called Buy the best dissertation proposal writing services online at RMEssays that offers custom hop over to heres and help in UK, US and Australia. Aeons (review here) last year, so this would pretty clearly be a recording of them playing songs from it live. And since it’s a ‘session’ instead of an ‘at’ or ‘in’ kind of live record, it’s clearly live in a studio setting. So there you go. It was online thesis download Mpa Master Thesis my american dream essay graduate school personal statement sample Signalverket, in Malmö. Unable of course to play shows to support their LP released by The responsibility of our Take My Test For Me is a facility of academic progress and development of oratorical skills of students. With our help, you The Sign Records, the trio of guitarist http://www.firstbooking.dk/?cpa-business-plans As a leading academic writing service, we value professionalism in everything we do. We have a great team of writers qualified with advanced degrees and experienced in academic writing to handle any type of paper and any difficulty. Order Now Free Inquiry Charlotta Andersson — who, if we’re playing guessing games, one might wager is a Academic Essays Done Fast. So, rather you want to ask us: Write papers for me? or follow link!? choose our company. Rush fan — bassist Editing Thesis Hr Dissertation Topics at the Best Price. And to help ensure you are always in control of the final draft, whenever possible, we will apa two copies of your edited thesis:. This Track Changes copy editing highlight any change we make to your document, so you can dissertation and approve them at your leisure. Instead, we focus on helping you express your ideas clearly Pelle Lindsjö and drummer read this.Buy essay papers cheap.Essays On Growing Up Online.Buy narrative essay.buy thesis literature review Natanael Salomonsson did what a lot of bands at various stages in their careers have done and recorded themselves playing live. There are videos to accompany and with Thanks for your Dissertation Copyright proofreading. It was done in 2 hours, and now its perfect. Zoya, US Original work only in 8 hours, perfect cooperation of the administrators and the writer, and cheap. 10/10. Tania, UK Happily satisfied as always. You people never fail to deliver timely help. My whole work was finished in 24 hours. Couldnt be more grateful. Ben, UK Aeons Live Session, CB3 get a chance to air out three of the total five songs from the album in “Acid Haze” (12:15), “Sonic Blaze” (8:11) and “Warrior Queen” (7:36) for a total set of about 28 minutes.

But hold on. Wasn’t Aeons recorded live? Yeah, it was. I raised the issue when Aeons Live Session was announced and Salomonsson was kind enough to offer a bit of an explanation: “Regarding the recording live-part, you are correct that both were recorded live. A more apt description for this might have been ‘concert-form’ rather then live album, but it is what it is. The music and songs keep evolving as we play them and we like to consider each recording more of as a timestamp on where we are at the moment.”

He’s not wrong and he’s not exaggerating. I wouldn’t know, never having been so fortunate as to see the band — who are based in Malmö — live, but the songs are reshaped as they’re played here compared to what they were less than a year ago. “Acid Haze,” which is both opener and longest track (immediate points) becomes a side-A-consuming jam, its midsection stretched with an Andersson-led effects freakout that morphs from a likewise exploratory solo section. Listening to the cb3 aeons live sessionensuing shred, one is put in mind of Earthless, but there’s a progressive undercurrent as well in the use of effects from Andersson and Lindsjö, and that comes across as well in “Sonic Blaze” as the various melodic flourishes hint toward what vocals might do in those places, not quite forming words but setting the listener’s brain to the task of hearing them nonetheless.

And with a solid weight of distortion behind them, “Acid Haze” and “Sonic Blaze” — there’s something satisfying about that rhyme; put them together and you actually have a pretty apt description of CB3‘s sound and style; indeed they’re all about acid haze in terms of their heavy psychedelic and sonic blaze in terms of their ability to scorch with various effects and Andersson‘s lead work — offer no shortage of depth for listener immersion. But parts are also maintained to make the songs recognizable, such as the emergent chug in the second half of “Sonic Blaze” or the monolithic plod as “Acid Haze” returns from its jammier stretch.

Of the three inclusions, “Warrior Queen” is the closest to how it appeared on Aeons proper, but the organ-style melodic effects still manage to shimmer through its earlier heavier parts and the kind of manic rush as it moves toward its midpoint — a proggy freneticism that “Sonic Blaze” also tapped, suitably enough — and there are still spaces being explored that the original dared not tread, the band seemingly bolder in this live show-esque context, though it could also be a case of the rougher sound generally adding edge to their style. One way or the other, it works in the songs’ favor.

Each of CB3‘s to-date three studio offerings — Aeons, 2018’s From Nothing to Eternity (discussed here) and 2015’s CB3 — has had a companion live release. So in a way, Aeons Live Session is right on form, but it still manages to reveal a different side of the band, and more importantly, it demonstrates their ongoing evolution as players and as a unit. I would not be at all surprised if their next full-length pushed even further into prog-psych adventures, since what CB3 show most of all with Aeons Live Session is that it isn’t just the songs themselves that grow and change, but the chemistry of the band as well.

More PR wire/pressing info follows the stream of Aeons Live Session below.

Please enjoy:

CB3 released their second studio album Aeons in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit. The essence of the band is the live concert experience; every song becomes different and new, solos are improvised, and the intensity is ever-shifting. With limited opportunities for gigs, the band decided to capture the live experience on record, so that fans can experience the music the way it’s meant to be heard.

Aeons Live Sessions will be available on Youtube, streaming platforms, and as a limited edition 12” vinyl. Recorded live at Signalverket in Malmö, the tracks “Sonic Blaze,”, “Acid Haze,” and “Warrior Queen” add up to almost half an hour of intoxicating, instrumental jamming. Close your eyes, set your mind free, and drift away into the musical universe of CB3!

Aeons Live sessions will be released January 15 on The Sign Records on digital and 12? vinyl format. The physical release is limited to 300 copies.

CB3 are:
Charlotta Andersson – Electric Guitar
Pelle Lindsjö – Electric Bass
Natanael Salomonsson – Drums

CB3, “Sonic Blaze” from Aeons Live Session

CB3, Aeons (2020)

CB3 website

CB3 on Thee Facebooks

CB3 on Instagram

CB3 on Bandcamp

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

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Gaupa Release New Single “Mammon”

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Swedish heavy rockers Gaupa issued their debut album, Feberdröm, last Spring on Kozmik Artifactz, and while sadly last Spring was no fever dream — unless, of course, you had the plague — the record touched on classic-style heavy and doomly sensibilities of sneaky depth. Their new single, “Mammon,” is unabashed in its progressive metal influences, and longer (by about half a minute, but still) than anything the preceding album had on offer, with vocalist Emma Näslund successfully tapping her inner Björk for a breathy and idiosyncratic delivery that only enhances the nuance and atmospherics surrounding.

The track’s up on Bandcamp, or if you’re looking for something less convenient, Spotify, as well I’m sure as all those other places people stream music. I hear YouTube is a thing?

I’m not sure about letting it lick my ears, but I certainly appreciate the offer. It’s not one I get a lot.

Here goes:

gaupa mammon

Gaupa – “Mammon”

It’s alive!!!! Let the beast of our new single “Mammon” lick your ears and ring in the New Year!

Our most heart filled greeting goes out to ALL OF YOU who listen to our music. We hope to see you out in the real world as soon as possible. Here’s to a better year: 2021!

The song “Mammon” is written by GAUPA. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Erik Berglund at Massiv Musik. Produced by GAUPA and Erik Berglund with amazing support from Dalapop. Released by Valley Music and Dalapop. Artwork by Joan Belda!

Special thanks to Dalapop and Record Union.

GAUPA (lynx in swedish) is a rock band from Falun, Sweden. With surreal lyrics, an energetic singer, and a sound of progressive stoner rock with doom/folk/psychedelic influences, they released their debut EP in June 2018 and have already established an international name on the underground scene. “GAUPA” – their self titled debut EP – was well received and the band did one of their first performances on Scandinavia’s biggest rock festival, Sweden Rock, and have been aired on different radio shows all over the world.

GAUPA signed with german label Kozmik Artifactz and released the EP on vinyl in October 2019. GAUPA released their first full length album ’Feberdröm’ digitally and on vinyl through Kozmik Artifactz in April 2020 and are planning to hit the road in Europe.

Gaupa is:
Jimmy Hurtig – Drums
Daniel Nygren – Guitars
Erik Sävström – Bass
Emma Näslund – Vocals
David Rosberg – Guitars

https://www.facebook.com/gaupaband
https://gaupaband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/gaupaband/
https://gaupaband.com/

Gaupa, “Mammon”

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Lowrider Premiere “Red River” Video with Fan Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

lowrider

The charm here is not hard to see. Whether it’s fans dancing in hallways, playing guitar on a ride-on mower, or vacuum, or headbanging with their kids, or even a couple snuck-in shots of the band members themselves, Lowrider‘s video for “Red River” — premiering below — finds a way to make a celebration out of what was, let’s face it, a hard and terrible time last year.

At some point — I could find the day but does it matter? — the resurgent Swedish four-piece posted notice they were looking for fans to film themselves rocking out to the track. As they were unable to play shows to support their first album in 20 years, Refractions (review here), it seemed a fair enough way to keep in touch. I only regret not taking part, but, well, I’ve never been very good at ‘fun.’

Clearly that’s not a problem for Lowrider‘s fanbase generally. The video is a blast, and after the barrage of year-end praise Refractions has received — it was best album of 2020 here as well as in any number of other places — it seems only fair to unveil “Red River” and the obvious spirit of love that drove its making, both on fans’ part and the band’s.

What’s most obvious is that for a lot of people, Refractions was an album that provided some relief, maybe/maybe not some escape, from the realities of a global pandemic, pervasive economic and political instability, and the crushing anxiety that felt so prevalent throughout 2020 and shows zero sign of abating in this still-nascent 2021. Give it a while. We may yet look back on last April as simpler times.

But even if that comes to pass, look at this. Look at humans enjoying a thing. Remember that good times can exist even in dark days. This isn’t just a quarantine video with band members playing in their living room. It’s a quarantine video where everybody plays in their living room. Well, mostly dudes, but you get the point.

Congratulations to Lowrider — bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, lead guitarist/vocalist Ola Hellquist, guitarist Niclas Stålfors and drummer Andreas Eriksson — and to Blues Funeral Recordings on all the enduring affection Refractions has received. It is nothing if not deserved.

Enjoy the video:

Lowrider, “Red River” official video premiere

Peder Bergstrand on “Red River”:

“Let’s face it, it was a weird, long, hard year for everyone. When we were gearing up to put out Refractions after working on it pretty much for seven years straight, everything was still normal. We were so excited to share the album with everyone, but dreams of festivals and gigs changed pretty much instantly by the time it was released. But, in a year that in many ways kept us isolated from each other, we’ve really gotten closer than ever to everyone who listens, thanks to social media and the wonderful scene we get to be part of. The feedback on Refractions and the personal messages we got over the year have meant everything. And, with recent year-end lists lifting Refractions up high, often to the highest spot, we wanted to say thank you to everyone, and give something back that shows just how special this scene is. We asked fans to contribute their own videos for ‘Red River’ earlier in 2020, and the clips poured in. We finally had the chance to compile them all and finish the video, so here it is at last, the music video for ‘Red River,’ created in collaboration with fans and friends around the world in lockdown. It’s sort of a visualization of the undeniable fact that this band would not be here, and this record would not exist, if it wasn’t for all of you. So, again, this is our thanks. We’ll forever be grateful, beyond words. Thank you thank you thank you. New music soon. Promise. We love you all.”

Lowrider, Refractions (2020)

Lowrider on Thee Facebooks

Lowrider on Instagram

Lowrider on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (RoadsawSasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sandøy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athrú Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantlôs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Quarterly Review: Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, Spaceslug, Malsten, Sun Crow, Honeybadger, Monte Luna, Hombrehumano, Veljet, Witchrider, Devil Worshipper

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

New week, same Quarterly Review. Today is the next-to-last round for this time, though once again, I look at the folders of albums on my desktop and the CDs and LPs that have come in and I realize it could easily go longer. I never really caught up from the last QR. I guess it’s been that kind of year. In any case, more good stuff today, so sit tight and enjoy. If you didn’t find anything last week that stuck out to you, maybe today’s your day.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full

emma ruth rundle thou may our chambers be full

Sure, there’s poise and plunder amid torrents of emotion and weighted tonality, but what’s really astonishing about May Our Chambers Be Full, the first collaboration between Louisville’s Emma Ruth Rundle (Red Sparowes‘ third LP, the Nocturnes, Marriages, etc.) and New Orleans’ sludgers Thou is that it feels so much more substantial than its 36 minutes. That’s not to say it drags, though it does when it wants to in terms of tempo, but just that its impact both in songs where Rundle and Thou‘s Bryan Funck trade off like “Ancestral Recall” or when they come together as on opener “Killing Floor” is such that it feels longer. Atmosphere is certainly a factor, but May Our Chambers Be Full is so striking because of its blend of extremity and melody, emotion and sheer catharsis, and the breadth that seems to accompany its consuming crush. In a couple years, there are going to be an awful lot of bands putting out debut albums that sound very much like this. Follow-up EP out soon.

Emma Ruth Rundle on Thee Facebooks

Thou on Instagram

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Spaceslug, Leftovers

spaceslug leftovers

Produced by the band and Piotr Grzegorowski — who also guests on synth and guitar — during the plague-addled Spring of 2020, Spaceslug‘s Leftovers EP represents a branching out in terms of style to incorporate a sense of melancholy alongside their established sprawling psychedelics. The 21-minute five-tracker is less a follow-up to 2019’s Reign of the Orion (review here) than a standalone sidestep, but in the acoustic/synth rollout of “From Behind the Glass” and in the especially-stripped-down-feeling centerpiece “The Birds are Loudest in May” it lives up to the challenge of blending an organic atmosphere with the otherworldly sensibilities Spaceslug have honed so well throughout their tenure. Having started with its longest and synthiest track in “Wasted Illusion,” Leftovers caps with the shorter and more active “Place to Turn” and its title-track, which adds a spindly layer of electric guitar (or something that sounds like it) for an experimentalist vibe. Very 2020, but no less welcome for that. The question is whether these impulses show up in Spaceslug‘s work from here on out, and if so, how.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill

malsten The Haunting of Silvakra Mill

Malmö-based four-piece Malsten make their full-length debut on Interstellar Smoke Records with the four-song/44-minute The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill, and in so doing show an immediate command of post-Pallbearer spaciousness and melodic-doom traditionalism. Their lumber is prevalent and engrossing tonally on opener “Torsion” (10:36), uses silence effectively on “Immolation” (10:24), and seems to find a place between Warning and Lord Vicar on “Grinder” (9:02) ahead of the epic-on-top-of-epics summary in closer “Compunction” (13:54), which finds Malsten having reserved another level of heavy to keep as their final statement. So be it. Very heavy and worthy of as much volume as you can give it, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill is an accomplished beginning and heralds significant potential on the part of what’s to come from Malsten. I’d watch this band do a live stream playing this record front-to-back. Just saying.

Malsten on Thee Facebooks

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

 

Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion

Sun Crow Quest for Oblivion

A significant undertaking of progressive heavy and noise rock, Sun Crow‘s Quest for Oblivion is among the most ambitious debut albums I’ve heard in 2020, but there’s nothing it sets for itself in terms of goals that it doesn’t accomplish, as vocalist Charles Wilson flips between clean melodies and effective screams atop the riffs of guitarist Ben Nechanicky, the bass of Brian Steel and Keith Hastreiter‘s drums. Somebody’s gonna sign these guys. Even at 70 minutes, Quest for Oblivion, from its post-apocalyptic standpoint, aesthetic cohesion, fluid songcraft and accomplished performance, is simply too good to leave without a proper 2LP release. Individualized in atmosphere though working with familiar-enough elements, it is an album that makes it joyously difficult to pick apart influences, unleashing an initial burst of four longer tracks before giving way (albeit momentarily) to “Fear” and the outlying, brazenly Motörheady “Nothing Behind” before returning to cosmic heavy in “Hypersonic” and the 11-minute “Titans,” which uses its time just as well as everything else that surrounds. Ironic that a record that seems to be about a wasteland should bring so much hope for the future.

Sun Crow on Thee Facebooks

Sun Crow on Bandcamp

 

Honeybadger, Pleasure Delayer

honeybadger pleasure delayer

It doesn’t take Honeybadger long to land their first effective punch on their debut LP, Pleasure Delayer, as the hook of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Wolf” hits square on the jaw and precedes an atmospheric guitar outro that leads into the rest of the album as a closer might otherwise lead the way out. A product of Athens’ heavy rock boom, the four-piece distinguish themselves in fuzzy tones and an approach that comes right to the edge of burl and doesn’t quite tip over, thankfully and gracefully staving off chestbeating in favor of quality songcraft on “The Well” and the engagingly bass-led “Crazy Ride,” from which the initially slower, bluesier “Good for Nothing” picks up with some Truckfighters, some 1000mods and a whole lot of fun. Side B’s hooks are no less satisfyingly straightforward. “That Feel” feels born for the stage, while “Laura Palmer” makes a memorable chorus out of that Twin Peaks character’s slaying, the penultimate “Holler” feels indeed like the work of a band trying to stand themselves out from a crowded pack and “Truth in the Lie” caps mirroring the energy of “Good for Nothing” but resounding in a cold finish. Efficient, hooky, smoothly executed. There’s nothing one might reasonably ask of Pleasure Delayer that it doesn’t deliver.

Honeybadger on Thee Facebooks

Honeybadger on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast

monte luna mind control broadcast

Released name-your-price as a benefit for the venue The Lost Well in Monte Luna‘s hometown of Austin and derived from a CvltNation-sponsored livestream, the three-song Mind Control Broadcast follows 2019’s Drowners’ Wives (review here) and is intended as a glimpse at their impending third LP, likely due in 2021. That record will be one to look forward to, but it’ll be hard to trade out the raw bludgeon of “Blackstar” — the leadoff here — for another, maybe-not-live-recorded version. True, the setting doesn’t necessarily allow for the band to bring in guests like they did last time around or to flesh out melodies in the same way, but the sound is brash and thrilling and lets “Rust Goliath” live up to its name in largesse, while saving its nastiest for last in “Fear the Sun,” the glorious bassline of which it feels like a spoiler even mentioning for someone who hasn’t heard it yet. 22 of the sludgiest minutes you’re likely to spend today.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna BigCartel store

 

Hombrehumano, Crepuscular

hombrehumano crepuscular

As satisfying as the laid-back-heavy desert rock flow of “Rolito” is, and as well done as what surrounds on Hombrehumano‘s 2019 debut album, Crepuscular, turns out to be in its 53-minute run, it’s in the longer pieces like the Western “Puerto Gris” or the post-Brant Bjork “Metamorfosis” that they really shine. That’s not to take away from the opening instrumental “Nomada” that establishes the tones and sets the atmosphere in which the rest of the record takes place, or the nod of “Primaveras de Olvido,” and certainly the fuzz-boogie and percussion of “Ouroboro” shine in a manner worthy of being depicted on the cover, but the Argentinian four-piece do well with the extra time to flesh out their material. But, either way you go, you go. Hombrehumano craft sweet fuzz and spaciousness on “Puerto Gris” and answer it back later in “Zombakice” and add twists of percussion and acoustics and vocal effects — never mind the birdsong — on closer “Del Ensueño.” Es un ejemplo más de lo que le falta a la cultura gringo al no adorar fuertemente a los sudamericanos.

Hombrehumano on Thee Facebooks

Hombrehumano on Bandcamp

 

Veljet, Viva El Diablo

veljet viva el diablo

Even my non-Spanish-speaking ass can translate Viva el Diablo, the title of Mexican instrumentalist three-piece Veljet‘s debut album. Initially released by the band in March 2020, it was subsequently reissued for physical pressing with a seventh track, “Leviatan,” added, bringing the runtime to a vinyl-ready 37 minutes. The apparently-devil-worshiping title-cut is still the longest at a doomly eight minutes, but though the production is fairly raw, Veljet‘s material taps into a few different impulses within the heavy rock sphere, offsetting willfully repetitive riffing in “El Día de las Manos” with scorching solo work while “Jay Adams” — presumably named in homage to the Dogtown skater — pulls some trad-metal riffing into its second half. “Cutlass” is short at 2:36, but makes the record as a whole feel less predictable for that, and the add-on “Leviatan” embodies its great sea beast with a nod up front that opens to later cacophony. The vibe throughout is you’re-in-the-room live jams, and Veljet have well enough chemistry to carry the songs across in that setting.

Veljet on Thee Facebooks

The Swamp Records website

 

Witchrider, Electrical Storm

witchrider electrical storm

Smoothly produced and executed, not lacking energy but produced for a very studio-style fullness, Witchrider‘s second LP arrives via Fuzzorama Records in answer to 2014’s Unmountable Stairs with a pro-shop feel for its 50-minute duration. Songs are sharply hooked and energetic, beefing up Queens of the Stone Age-style desert rock early on “Shadows” and “You Lied” before the guitars introduce a broader palette with the title-track. The chorus of “Mess Creator” and the big finish in closer “The Weatherman” are highlights, but songs like “Keep Me out of It” and “Come Back” feel built for a commercial infrastructure that — at least in radio-free America — doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not sure what it takes to attract the attention of picky algorithms, but if it’s grounded songwriting, varied material and crisp performance like it was when there was a cable channel playing music videos, then Witchrider are ready to roll. As it stands, the Austrian outfit seem underserved by the inability to even get on a festival stage and play this material live to win converts in that manner. They’re hardly alone in that, but with material that seems so poised specifically toward audience engagement, it comes through all the more, which of course is a testament to the quality of the work itself.

Witchrider on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records website

 

Devil Worshipper, 3

devil worshipper 3

Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 10-minute “Silver Dagger” and presented with the burning red eyes of Christopher Lee’s Dracula on the front, the 33-minute 3 tape from Seattle’s Devil Worshipper maintains the weirdo-experimental spirit of the outfit’s 2015 self-titled debut (review here), finding a kind of Butthole Surfers-into-a-cassette-recorder, anything-goes-until-it-sucks, dark ’90s psychedelia they call “garage metal.” Fair enough. Apparently more efficient than anything I can come up with for it, though what doesn’t necessarily account for is the way the 3 challenges the listener, the remastered versions of “Into Radiation Wave” and “Chem Rails” from the first album, or the horror atmospherics of “Drinking Blood.” It’s like it’s too weird for this planet so it finally made one for itself. Well earned.

Devil Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Puppy Mill Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: -(16)-, BoneHawk, DÖ, Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Chimney Creeps, Kingnomad, Shores of Null, The Device, Domo, Early Moods

Posted in Reviews on December 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

I just decided how long this Quarterly Review is actually going to be. It’s seven days, then I’ll do my year-end list and the poll results on New Year’s Eve and Day, respectively. That’s the plan. Though honestly, I might pick up after that weekend and continue QR-style for that next week. There’s a lot more to cover, I think. The amount of releases this year has been pretty insane and completely overwhelming. I’ve tried to keep up as best I can and clearly have failed in that regard or I probably wouldn’t be so swamped now. So it goes. One way or the other, I don’t think a lot of emails are getting answered for the next two weeks, though I’ll try to keep up with that too.

But anyhow, that’s what’s up. Here’s Day II (because this is the QR where I do Roman numerals for absolutely no reason).

Quarterly Review #11-20:

16, Dream Squasher

16 Dream Squasher

The fourth long-player since 16‘s studio return with 2009’s Bridges to Burn, the 10-track Dream Squasher begins with tales of love for kid and dog, respectively. The latter might be the sweetest lyrics I’ve ever read for something that’s still bludgeoning sludge — said dog also gets a mention amid the ultra-lumbering chug and samples of “Acid Tongue” — and it’s worth mentioning that as the Cali intensity institution nears 30 years since their start in 1991, they’re branching out in theme and craft alike, as the melody of the organ-laced “Sadlands” shows. There’s even some harmonica in “Agora (Killed by a Mountain Lion),” though it’s soon enough swallowed by pummel and the violent punk of “Ride the Waves” follows. “Summer of ’96” plays off Bryan Adams for another bit of familial love, while closing duo “Screw Unto Others” and “Kissing the Choir Boy” indict capitalist and religious figureheads in succession amid weighted plod and seething anger, the band oddly in their element in this meld of ups, downs and slaughter.

16 on Thee Facebooks

16 at Relapse Records

 

BoneHawk, Iron Mountain

bonehawk iron mountain

Kalamazoo four-piece BoneHawk make an awaited follow-up to their 2014 debut, Albino Rhino (discussed here), in the form of Iron Mountain, thereby reminding listeners why it’s been awaited in the first place. Solid, dual-guitar, newer-school post-The Sword heavy rock. Second cut “Summit Fever” reminds a bit of Valley of the Sun and Freedom Hawk, but neither is a bad echelon of acts to stand among, and the open melodies of the subsequent title-track and the later “Fire Lake” do much to distinguish BoneHawk along the way. The winding lead lines of centerpiece “Wildfire” offer due drama in their apex, and “Thunder Child” and “Future Mind” are both catchy enough to keep momentum rolling into the eight-minute closer “Lake of the Clouds,” which caps with due breadth and, yes, is the second song on the record about a lake. That’s how they do in Michigan and that’s just fine.

BoneHawk on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

DÖ, Black Hole Mass

do black hole mass

follow the Valborg example of lumbering barking extremity into a cosmic abyss on their Black Hole Mass three-songer, emitting charred roll like it’s interstellar background radiation and still managing to give an underlying sense of structure to proceedings vast and encompassing. “Gravity Sacrifice” and “Plasma “Psalm” are right on in their teeth-grinding shove, but it’s the 10-minute finale “Radiation Blessing” that steals my heart with its trippy break in the middle, sample, drifting guitar and all, as the Finnish trio build gradually back up to a massive march all the more effective for the atmosphere they’ve constructed around it. Construction, as it happens, is the underlying strength of Black Hole Mass, since it’s the firm sense of structure beneath their songs that allows them to so ably engage their dark matter metal over the course of these 22 minutes, but it’s done so smoothly one hardly thinks about it while listening. Instead, the best thing to do is go along for the ride, brief as it is, or at least bow head in appreciation to the ceremony as it trods across rigid stylistic dogma.

DÖ on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Turned to Stone Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa

turned to stone chapter 2 howling giant sergeant thunderhoof

Let this be a lesson to, well, everyone. This is how you do a conceptual split. Two bands getting together around a central idea — in this case, Tennessee’s Howling Giant and UK’s Sergeant Thunderhoof — both composing single tracks long enough to consume a vinyl side and expanding their reach not only to work with each other but further their own progressive sonic ideologies. Ripple Music‘s Turned to Stone split series is going to have a tough one to top in Masamune & Muramasa, as Howling Giant utterly shine in “Masamune” and the rougher-hewn tonality of Sergeant Thunderhoof‘s “Maramasa” makes an exceptional complement. Running about 41 minutes, the release is a journey through dynamic, with each act pushing their songwriting beyond prior limits in order to meet the occasion head-on and in grand fashion. They do, and the split easily stands among the best of 2020’s short releases as a result. If you want to hear where heavy rock is going, look no further.

Howling Giant on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Chimney Creeps, Nosedive

chimney creeps nosedive

Punkish shouts over dense noise rock tones, New York trio Chimney Creeps make their full-length debut with Nosedive, which they’ve self-released on vinyl. The album runs through seven tracks, and once it gets through the straight-ahead heavy punk of “March of the Creeps” and “Head in the Sand” at the outset, the palette begins to broaden in the fuzzy and gruff “Unholy Cow,” with the deceptively catchy “Splinter” following. “Creeper” and “Satisfied” before it are longer and accordingly more atmospheric, with a truck-backing-up sample at the start of “Creeper” that would seem to remind listeners just where the band’s sound has put them: out back, around the loading dock. Fair enough as “Diving Line” wraps in accordingly workmanlike fashion, the vocals cutting through clearly as they have all the while, prominent in the mix in a way that asks for balance. “Bright” I believe is the word an engineer might use, but the vocals stand out, is the bottom line, and thereby assure that the aggressive stance of the band comes across as more than a put-on.

Chimney Creeps on Thee Facebooks

Chimney Creeps on Bandcamp

 

Kingnomad, Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad - Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad‘s third album, Sagan Om Rymden certainly wants nothing for scope or ambition, setting its progressive tone with still-hooky opener “Omniverse,” before unfurling the more patient chug in “Small Beginnings” and taking on such weighted (anti-)matter as “Multiverse” and “The Creation Hymn” and “The Unanswered Question” later on. Along the way, the Swedish troupe nod at Ghost-style melodicism, Graveyard-ish heavy blues boogie — in “The Omega Experiment,” no less — progressive, psychedelic and heavy rocks and no less than the cosmos itself, as the Carl Sagan reference in the record’s title seems to inform the space-based mythology expressed and solidified within the songs. Even the acoustic-led interlude-plus “The Fermi Paradox” finds room to harmonize vocals and prove a massive step forward for the band. 2018’s The Great Nothing (review here) and 2017’s debut, Mapping the Inner Void (review here), were each more accomplished than the last, but Sagan Om Rymden is just a different level. It puts Kingnomad in a different class of band.

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)

Shores of Null Beyond the Shores On Death and Dying

By the time Shores of Null are nine minutes into the single 38-minute track that makes up their third album, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying), they would seem to have unveiled at least four of the five vocalists who appear throughout the proceedings, with the band’s own Davide Straccione joined by Swallow the Sun‘s Mikko Kotamäki as well as Thomas A.G. Jensen (Saturnus), Martina Lesley Guidi (of Rome’s Traffic Club) and Elisabetta Marchetti (INNO). There are guests on violin, piano and double-bass as well, so the very least one might say is that Shores of Null aren’t kidding around when they’re talking about this record in a sense of being ‘beyond’ themselves. The journey isn’t hindered so much as bolstered by the ambition, however, and the core five-piece maintain a steady presence throughout, serving collectively as the uniting factor as “Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)” moves through its portrayal of the stages of grief in according movements of songcraft, gorgeously-arranged and richly composed as they are as they head toward the final storm. In what’s been an exceptional year for death-doom, Shores of Null still stand out for the work they’ve done.

Shores of Null on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records website

 

The Device, Tribute Album

the device tribute album

Tectonic sludge has become a mainstay in Polish heavy, and The Device, about whom precious little is known other than they’re very, very, very heavy when they want to be, add welcome atmospherics to the lumbering weedian procession. “Rise of the Device” begins the 47-minute Tribute Album in crushing form, but “Ritual” and the first minute or so of “BongOver” space out with droney minimalism, before the latter track — the centerpiece of the five-songer and only cut under six minutes long at 2:42 — explodes in consuming lurch. “Indica” plays out this structure again over a longer stretch, capping with birdsong and whispers and noise after quiet guitar and hypnotic, weighted riffing have played back and forth, but it’s in the 23-minute closer “Exhale” that the band finds their purpose, a live-sounding final jam picking up after a long droning stretch to finish the record with a groove that, indeed, feels like a release in the playing and the hearing. Someone’s speaking at the end but the words are obscured by echo, and to be sure, The Device have gotten their point across by then anyhow. The stark divisions between loud and quiet on Tribute Album are interesting, as well as what the band might do to cover the in-between going forward.

Galactic SmokeHouse Records on Thee Facebooks

The Device on Bandcamp

 

Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2

Domo Domonautas Vol 2

Spanish progressive heavy psychedelic semi-instrumentalists Domo follow late-2019’s Domonautas Vol. 1 (review here) with a four-song second installment, and Domonautas Vol. 2 answers its predecessor back with the jazz-into-doom of “Avasaxa” (7:43) and the meditation in “Dolmen” (13:50) on side A, and the quick intro-to-the-intro “El Altar” (2:06) and the 15-minute “Vientohalcón” on side B, each piece working with its own sense of motion and its own feeling of progression from one movement to the next, never rushed, never overly patient, but smooth and organic in execution even in its most active or heaviest stretches. The two most extended pieces offer particular joys, but neither should one discount the quirky rhythm at the outset of “Avasaxa” or the dramatic turn it makes just before five minutes in from meandering guitar noodling to plodding riffery, if only because it sounds like Domo are having so much fun catching the listener off guard. Exactly as they should be.

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Early Moods, Spellbound

early moods spellbound

Doom be thy name. Or, I guess Early Moods be thy name, but doom definitely be thy game. The Los Angeles four-piece make their debut with the 26-minute Spellbound, and I suppose it’s an EP, but the raw Pentagram worship on display in the opening title-track and the Sabbath-ism that ensues flows easy and comes through with enough sincerity of purpose that if the band wanted to call it a full-length, one could hardly argue. Guitar heads will note the unbridled scorch of the solos throughout — centerpiece “Isolated” moves from one into a slow-Slayer riff that’s somehow also Candlemass, which is a feat in itself — while “Desire” rumbles with low-end distortion that calls to mind Entombed even as the vocals over top are almost pure Witchcraft. They save the most engaging melody for the finale “Living Hell,” but even that’s plenty grim and suited to its accompanying dirt-caked feel. Rough in production, but not lacking clarity, Spellbound entices and hints at things to come, but has a barebones appeal all its own as well.

Early Moods on Thee Facebooks

Dying Victims Productions website

 

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Spelljammer Announce New LP Abyssal Trip out Feb. 26; Post “Lake”

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Oh hello feedback. Oh hello drums. Oh hello pummeling riff. Oh hello Spelljammer. It’s been a while. Indeed, half a decade has gone by since the Stockholm-based heft hefters released Ancient of Days (review here) in October 2015, their debut album, though to listen to the crush they foster in the seven-minute “Lake,” which is the first audio to be unveiled from the forthcoming second LP, Abyssal Trip, it hardly feels like a day. The three-piece will release Abyssal Trip — as in, “a trip to the abyss”; one can only assume they’re speaking in terms of tone — on Feb. 26, which is just far away enough to think that the world might be on some course toward restoration of ‘life as we knew it,’ though even saying that makes me fear the alternative, as I suspect it will into perpetuity.

Whatever reality greets it upon its arrival, the world needs more crushing riffs, and Spelljammer seem only too pleased to provide. You can read the PR wire info below — and you should, because information is good, knowledge is power and all that — and check out “Lake” at the bottom of this post because I genuinely believe it’ll make your day better.

Album preorders are up through RidingEasy Records, and the link is right on the other side of the cover art:

spelljammer abyssal trip

SPELLJAMMER (RidingEasy Records) first single from first new album in 5 years

Pre-orders: https://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/product/spelljammer-abyssal-trip/

“The vastness of everything is something that I think about a lot,” says Spelljammer bassist/vocalist Niklas Olsson. And it certainly shows in both the expansive, sludgy sounds and contemplative lyrics of the Stockholm, Sweden based trio. Following a 5-year break between their previous album, Ancient of Days — perhaps fittingly spent pondering said vastness — Spelljammer is back with an album that perfectly bridges the band’s earlier desert rock leanings and their later massive, slow-burning riffs.

Abyssal Trip (note: carefully re-read that album title) takes its moniker from the perpetually dark, cold, oxygen-free zone at the bottom of the ocean. The 6-song, 44-minute album fittingly embodies that bleak realm with rumbling, oozing guitars intercut with dramatic melodic interludes. The songs take their time to unfurl, making them even more hypnotic. Likewise, the lyrics take a poetic approach to establishing the sonic scenery.

“The lyrical themes we address, like the ultimate doom of man, and the search and longing for new and better worlds, are still there,” Olsson says. “The concept of something undiscovered out there in vast emptiness is pretty much always present.”

The recording process for Abyssal Trip differs from previous releases in that the band — guitarist Robert Sörling, drummer Jonatan Rimsbo and Olsson — opted to capture the performances while holed up in the mental bathysphere of a house in the countryside near Stockholm. “The songs benefitted from the relaxed environment of being away from everything,” Olsson explains. Indeed, the album sounds confident and meticulously arranged, afforded by the band’s isolation. Sörling mixed the album and it was mastered by Monolord drummer Esben Willems at Berserk Audio.

Album opener “Bellwether” begins dramatically with a very slow, nearly minute-long fade in of rumbling distortion setting the stage for heavily distorted bass and guitar plucking out the lugubrious riff for another minute and a half before the drums begin, and likewise equally as long before vocals gurgle to the surface. “Lake” abruptly shifts gears, opening with an unusually fast gallop before rupturing into thundering doom that soon drops into a clean-tone Middle Eastern melodic breakdown. The title track serves as the album centerpiece, opening with ominous film dialogue about blood sacrifice that launches into pummeling, detuned guitars rumbling over gut-punching drums and howling vocals hearkening to the proto-sludge of Pink Floyd’s “The Nile Song.” The dynamic relents briefly for a slow building clean guitar melody before all instruments lock into a jerking riff topped off by a trilling Iommi style lead. Throughout, Abyssal Trip is, just like its title suggests, an epic tour through desolate zones which yields much to discover.

Abyssal Trip will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download on February 26th, 2021 via RidingEasy Records.

Artist: Spelljammer
Album: Abyssal Trip
Label: RidingEasy Records
Release Date: February 26, 2021

01. Bellwether (6:38)
02. Lake (7:04)
03. Among The Holy (6:18)
04. Abyssal Trip (10:38)
05. Peregrine (2:22)
06. Silent Rift (10:09)

Spelljammer are:
Niklas Olsson: bass/vocals
Robert Sörling: guitar
Jonatan Rimsbo: drums

spelljammer.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/Spelljammer
ridingeasyrecords.com

Spelljammer, “Lake”

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