The Hypnagogics Release Endless Nights March 20; Streaming “Darkest Night”

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the hypnagogics

Cool vibe in the lead single from The Hypnagogics‘ upcoming debut album, Endless Nights, that will see release March 20 through a new alliance with Majestic Mountain Records for vinyl. The long-player follows behind two getting-their-feet-under-them EPs from 2016 and 2017, and “Darkest Night” keeps easy-to-dig tone at the center amid an unpretentious groove and blend of traditional and modern rock impulses. You know, somewhere between 50 years ago and today and tomorrow. Ha.

There’s some nuance to it, but it’s the chorus that got a hold on me, and you’ll find it streaming below in case you’d like to let it do the same. I’m not saying it’s a revolution — though this is the second band in a week’s time I’m posting about from Kristianstad, Sweden (the other was Sleepwulf); so maybe that’s something to keep an eye on — but it rolls out a combination of brashness and laid back mood that makes a welcome introduction.

The PR wire brings release details and, of course, the song:

the hypnagogics endless nights

The Hypnagogics – Endless Nights

The new album ‘Endless Nights’ is out March 20th 2020.
Vinyl release by Majestic Mountain Records

Majestic Mountain Records welcomes The Hypnagoics to the ever growing rooster of killer bands. MMR-007 will be the debut album ‘Endless Nights’. A contemporary heavy rock album that will blow your mind! Not many bands can come up with a debut album this impressive. ‘Endless Nights’ is an album full of riffs, emotions and with a fantastic vocal performance by Lina Paasijoki. 2020 will belong to The Hypnagogics!
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‘Endless Nights’ drops on March the 20th and expect a vinyl pre-order in the beginning of March!

The Hypnagogics formed in 2015 in southern Sweden. They have since then released an EP and a single. They found their sound during the recording of the single “Death Trip” (2017) and decided to keep up with that in their next recording. In 2019 it was time to make their debut album, “Endless Nights”, and they started to record earlier that year. Most of the songs were already written, but some of the songs came along during the recording process.

The result was a dynamic album with a dark vibe to it, with hypnotic and heavy riffs and lyrics about paranoia, dysfunctional relationships and inner demons.

The Band:
Lina Paasijoki – Vocals
Henrik Edqvist – Guitar
Frida Johannesson – Guitar
Oskar Jönsson – Bass
Victor Granqvist – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/TheHypnagogics/
https://www.instagram.com/thehypnagogics/
https://thehypnagogics.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/majesticmountainrecords
https://www.instagram.com/majesticmountainrecords/
https://majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com/

The Hypnagogigs, “Darkest Night”

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Sleepwulf Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sleepwulf

I have to say, there’s a piece of me that kind of feels like Michael Corleone in the third Godfather flick when it comes to retro heavy at this point. How could it not be surpassing salty fish among Swedish exports? I don’t have the figures to back that supposition up, but if you’re coming here for hard economic data, you’re on the wrong site. I’m the “likes riffs” guy.

So anyway, I’m all, “Just when I think I’m out…” and then Sleepwulf come along with their super-organic, live recorded, sleek-ass riffing on “Lucifer’s Light” and their self-titled debut pulls me right back in. Clocks in at nine songs/36 minutes, wants nothing more than to toss in a bit of boogie with the First Daze Here vibes and god damn, I’m into it. There ain’t much mystery to the thing on paper — it is what it is — but there’s character here and no pretense and I dig it, I dig it, I dig it. This sound has become a microgenre unto itself, and I am sucker for it.

Maybe this kind of thing has fallen out of favor with whoever decides which brand of heavy rock is hip this week, I don’t give a shit, and I take the fact that Cursed Tongue Records has picked up Sleepwulf for a vinyl release of the album only as affirmation that I’m right not to. They’ve got the vibe nailed and the songs to back it up. Sold.

LP is out April 10. Preorders and digital release March 6.

To the PR wire:

Sleepwulf Sleepwulf

SLEEPWULF – CURSED TONGUE RECORDS

EARLY DOOM ROCK QUARTET SLEEPWULF SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A GLOBAL VINYL RELEASE OF SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM APRIL 10 2020.

Cursed Tongue Records is very happy to announce the signing of Kristianstad, SE based quartet Sleepwulf and look forward to release their self-titled debut album on premium vinyl. This album will kick down the door to the Heavy Underground as it will, by ways of the old, bring new and fresh songs that will appeal to any fan of late 60’s / early 70’s doom rock. Brace yourself for all retro, organic and vintage!

When we first heard Sleepwulf’s first single ‘Lucifer’s Light’ back in July last year it instantaneously wormed its way into our mind and soul and left us humming the chorus for a week. Cause that was about the time span before the band decided to drop their second single ‘Misty Mountain’. And if the first single was a cracking example on how to bring new life into a proved and tested formula of early doom rock, it was little compared with the full-fledged doom rock riff fest that the second single demonstrates. There’s no denying that a possible third single or even a full-length album would be any less excellent nor relevant to today’s doom rock scene.

With these two first singles the three Swedes and a Scot proved that they fully understand how to utilize the wisdom and strength of the old titans like Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Leaf Hound and Cream all while keeping it fresh and present. There were no doubt in the cave of the Cursed Tongue that a new doom child had emerged on the international heavy underground scene and it was one we could not miss.

The self-titled debut album is a tour de force in retro-tinged, organic played vintage sounds that take you right back to the late 60’s where British band Earth transformed into its latter and more known constellation. At play on Sleepwulf’s debut are blues-rooted, doom-flavored, riff-based rock of the absolute highest order. Musicianship on par with the contemporary scene’s greats such as Dunbarrow, Graveyard, Asteroid, Burning Saviours, Clan, Demon Head, Doublestone. In fact, we have little trouble comparing the quality of Sleepwulf’s debut album with Witchcraft’s ‘Alchemist’ album. Yup, it’s that good.

Sleepwulf’s debut album releases digitally on Bandcamp and all major streaming outlets on March 6 2020.

Track listing:
1. Wizard Slayer
2. Beasts of Collision
3. Lucifer’s Light
4. Standing Stones
5. God of the Gaps
6. Tumbling Towers
7. Misty Mountain
8. Wicked Man
9. One Eyed Jailor

Inspired heavily from the work of renowned occultist John Dee, this album attempts to rekindle his vision of a united cosmos. “The moon and sun of our monad desire their elements, in which the Denarian proportion will rule, to be separated, and this is to be done with the ministry of fire.” From conception, every aspect of this album is routed in these core principles and can be traced back to each of these foundations.

The entire album was recorded live in the studio, no overdubs or retakes!

The front cover artwork is drawn by the singer’s father Iain Robertson while living in the forest near Loch Ness. It’s likely influenced by numerous mushroom journeys.

It is with much joy, that Cursed Tongue Records can roll out the red carpet and give this early doom rock inspired album a dire needed vinyl treatment. We open the doors for the vinyl pre-order on March 6 with official vinyl release April 10 2020.

Sleepwulf is:
Carl Lindberg – Drums
Owen Robertson – Vocals
Sebastian Ihme – Guitar
Viktor Sjöström – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/sleepwulf
https://www.instagram.com/sleepwulf/
https://sleepwulf.bandcamp.com/
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/

Sleepwulf, “Misty Mountain”

Sleepwulf, “Lucifer’s Light”

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Review & Track Premiere: Lowrider, Refractions

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Lowrider Refractions

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Red River’ from Lowrider’s Refractions. Album is out Feb. 21 on Blues Funeral Recordings with preorders here.]

Peder Bergstrand on “Refractions”:

“’Red River’ has been with us since maybe 2001-2002… It’s the first riff we wrote for our second album, we even recorded it in 2003 — but it just one of those songs that needed to mature to become what it was intended to be. It feels so right that it’s the first one out of the gate from this forever-in-the-making album, and it couldn’t feel more like the perfect amalgamation or Lowrider then and Lowrider now. Absolutely STOKED to share it with you.”

Then and now, it is an elite class to which Lowrider‘s work belongs. Few single albums have helped steer the course of the European heavy underground to the degree of their MeteorCity-issued 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). Along with fellow Swedes Dozer, as well as Colour Haze, Orange Goblin and a select group of others from around the continent, they helped pave the path of the emergent stoner rock scene at the turn of the century, taking lessons from California desert heavy and inherently bringing something of their own to the creative process that more than a generation of bands has learned from in their wake. Two key differences between Lowrider and those other bands who made such a mark at the time: they were very young and they only did the one record. Both are crucial when it comes to understanding how their first full-length in 20 years, Refractions — released through Blues Funeral Recordings — manages to sound so vibrant in its 41-minute front-to-back.

Comprised of bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, lead guitarist/vocalist Ola Hellquist, guitarist Niclas Stålfors and drummer Andreas ErikssonLowrider‘s youth gave Ode to Io an imitable energy, and with Refractions, in “Red River” and “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” that original, vital spark is honored and expanded upon in a way that’s mature but by no means “old-sounding.” That is, as much as one might and probably should consider Refractions a “comeback” album, Lowrider do not come across in pieces like the organ-laced second cut “Ode to Ganymede,” the eight-minute side A finale “Sernanders Krog” and the 11-minute closer “Pipe Rider” like old men trying to recapture past glories.

Rather, the great triumph of Refractions, which also saw limited issue last year through Blues Funeral‘s Postwax vinyl subscription service (and for which I had the honor of doing liner notes), is to acknowledge the accomplishments Lowrider made two decades ago but not be restrained by them. This is where the fact of their only having been one prior full-length comes most into play. Lowrider had a couple other releases — a 1997 split with Sparzanza (discussed here), their 1998 split with Nebula (discussed here) — but their legacy and influence was localized almost entirely in Ode to Io, and that essentially set that record up as a monolith in time.

One record. And they were basically kids. Bergstrand was a teenager.

It doesn’t even seem fair. How could a modern incarnation of Lowrider possibly be expected to live up to such a standard? Refractions meets this question head-on. It does not shirk the responsibility Lowrider have in following their debut — and that may have something to do with why it’s coming out now when their reunion began at Desertfest some seven years ago — but it shows that Lowrider are different people than they were at 17 or in their early 20s, etc., and it brings new character and breadth to their craft that is more progressive than one could have reasonably hoped.

lowrider (Photo by Anna Liden Wiren)

In particular, Bergstrand‘s time fronting the pop-tinged melodic rock outfit I are Droid — whose underrated 2013 second LP, The Winter Ward (review here), still resonates — doesn’t seem to be forgotten, and even as “Pipe Rider” builds its forward wash of fuzz leading to the jam that will carry Refractions to its finish, its vocals deep in the mix bask in a melody more complex than anything Lowrider have done previously. That song is twice-over pivotal to Refractions, since its lyrics directly acknowledge the central task of the album in carrying forward what the band were into what they are: “Give me something new…Fragments from our youth,” and so on (that’s a point I raised in the liner notes as well, but it applies just the same).

And preceded by the instrumental pair “Sun Devil/M87,” the finale’s arrival is all the more an occasion on a side B, expanding on the lushness of “Ode to Ganymede” in tone and depth while finding its own course much as Lowrider themselves do all across the album, whether it’s the hooky nod and crash — I’ll just say outright that Eriksson‘s drums are a highlight unto themselves across the entire span of the record both in what he’s playing and the production value — of “Red River” or “Ol’ Mule Pepe” with Hellquist taking the lead vocal spot on the latter. At five minutes long, that brash rocker is paired well as the side B leadoff counterpart to “Red River” opening Refractions as a whole, but its vibe is even more of a standout for drawing the clearest line between the stoner rock of Lowrider‘s past and the heavy rock of their present, manifesting the Kyuss idolatry that fueled the band’s early work into a shuffling riff that’s righteous in its genre familiarity even as they take ownership of it.

Especially with the turn into “Sun Devil/M87” afterward, one gets the impression that even as Lowrider know the formidable task they’re facing, they’re still unafraid to have a good time here. It doesn’t all need to be a serious we-put-out-a-very-important-record-20-years-ago museum piece. It’s still rock and roll. “Sun Devil” is a wah-solo-topped blast, and “M87” picks up at the divide with a bassline from Bergstrand that sets a fuzzy course of pulled notes hypnotic in their repetition that end up a perfect lead-in for the closer, which again serves to mirror its side A counterpart in “Sernanders Krog” while at least in part telling the story of what Refractions is intended to be and what it means to the band. These are central moments for Lowrider, and they make it obvious on all six tracks that, while they know that Ode to Io means a lot to a lot of people, the best justice they can do to that album is to leave it in its place. So that’s what they do. Beautifully.

Refractions has been thus far received with a considerable amount of album-of-the-year-type hyperbole. Though it’s early in 2020 for such assignations and with the prior Postwax release, I admit I’m not sure if it counts as 2019 or not (or if it matters), but as a fan of Lowrider‘s past accomplishments, I can’t disagree with the excited sentiment around these songs. The album succeeds in every way in bringing Lowrider into the present and finds them indeed reflecting on the past, but refusing to lose themselves in it. As an entire generational shift has taken place in terms of audience over the last 10, let alone 20, years, Lowrider reestablish their place among heavy rock’s most momentous purveyors. If their new album is an occasion, it is one to which on every level they live up.

Recommended.

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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Huanastone Sign to Argonauta Records; Third Stone From the Sun Due in Spring; New Song Streaming

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

Yeah, that’ll do nicely, thanks. Checking out the new track from Sweden’s Huanastone, it’s little mystery why a label like Argonauta Records would want to pick them up, with their modern, open feeling tones reminiscent of some of Lowrider‘s original purposes, but set to more psychedelic reaching, an edge of post-rock coming through in the patience and jammier aspects enough to make “Bad Blood” suitably fluid. It’s the only thing I’ve heard from the upcoming Third Stone From the Sun album that Huanastone will issue through Argonauta this Spring, but it bodes well. I know Swedish heavy bands aren’t exactly a rarity these days — Huanastone hometown of Malmö makes me think immediately of Deville, with whom they’re playing this weekend as it happens — but pound for pound I don’t know if there’s another single nation on earth that delivers so much quality heavy rock and roll per capita. Germany? Argentina? I’d have to look at respective proportions of population vs. kickassery. I’ll get back to you once I’ve properly analyzed census data.

Point is the track is cool, so before you play the cynical, “Oh hey another band from Sweden bet they sound like Graveyard,” thing — they don’t, at all — take a couple minutes and listen to the track. You might dig it.

I hope you do, anyhow. That’s kind of the point.

From the PR wire:

huanastone

Swedish Stoner Rockers HUANASTONE Sign With Argonauta Records And Reveal First Album Details + Brand New Song!

Malmö, Sweden, based stoner and fuzz rock unit, HUANASTONE, has announced their worldwide signing with Argonauta Records – joining the label’s eclectic artist roster for an album release in the Spring of 2020!

Each of HUANASTONE’s records tells a new story and opens up new opportunities for exploration, while the band is creating an authentic, heartfelt and ominous sound backed up by steady riffs, big fuzz and heavy grooves. Following their critically acclaimed debut EP and first full-length album, HUANASTONE emphasize the importance of live studio recordings, and so it goes for their upcoming, sophomore album titled Third Stone from the Sun.

Says the band: “After years of hard work, Huanastone finally achieved something not many bands gets to experience. We’ve landed a record-deal! We are excited to inform you that we will be working with the one and only, Argonauta Records. Housing some mad bands like Suma, Wasted Theory and Kal-El, we know that we’re in good hands.

Before the full release of the album, we will release 2 singles that will be on all your usual streaming platforms.”

Recorded at Studio Möllan in their hometown of Malmö, today HUANASTONE are already sharing with us a first album appetizer to the heavy stoner juggernaut Bad Blood, listen to the track right HERE!

With many more details and tunes from their upcoming Spring release to follow in the weeks ahead, HUANASTONE will be playing a show in support of DEVILLE on January 18th at Kulturbolaget in their hometown Malmö, a heavy touring schedule with many more dates will be revealed soon.

HUANASTONE is:
Filip Larsson – Bass
Tobias Gonzalez – Vocals/Guitar
Carl Lambertus Olofsson – Guitar
Victor Hansson – Drums

www.facebook.com/Huanastone
https://www.instagram.com/huanastone/
www.huanastone.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

Huanastone, “Bad Blood”

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Review & Video Premiere: Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on January 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

yuri gagarin the outskirts of reality

[Click play above to see the premiere of Yuri Gagarin’s new video for ‘QSO.’ The Outskirts of Reality is out Jan. 31 on Kommun 2 and Sound Effect Records.]

One tends to think of the motorik beat and the notion of the kosmiche in terms of kraut- and progressive space rock as being ideas drawing from influences half a century ago, but Yuri Gagarin readily demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be so. The Gothenburg-based troupe realize a modernist vision of krautrocketing hypnosis on their third long-player, The Outskirts of Reality, and drill to the molten core of a planetoid all their own with an approach that, far from reckless, approaches grandeur as though wielding a cosmic hammer, ready to smash the last vestiges of the reality in its title to shards floating in the sonic ether. Instrumental and running over a stretch of 44 minutes that begins with the ultra-fueled 10-minute blaster “QSO” and follows immediately with the 13-minute dimension-bending immersion of “Oneironaut,” resulting in a side A that seeks to pummel brain cells through the subspace barrier, never to be seen or heard from again. But the important thing to remember amid all this we’re-all-star-stuff-so-let’s-start-acting-like-it aural going-boldly is that Yuri Gagarin, in following up late-2015’s sophomore LP, At the Center of All Infinity — which was also recorded with Linus Andersson — is that Yuri Gagarin manage to pull together this sound of such a vast range and atmospheric willfulness without simply repeating the past. The Outskirts of Reality isn’t classic space rock. At least not yet. It’s forward thinking. It’s urgent and it’s energetic and it’s not just about who plays to what time or what stylistic rules are being followed. It’s about rewriting those rules to suit its own purposes.

And what are those purposes? What is it that Yuri Gagarin seek there in the outskirts? If the synth-laden closing title-track — which follows the delightfully airy “Crystal Dunes” and the even-more-experimentalist “Laboratory 1” on side B — has secrets to unveil, it’s doing so in the wash of guitar and keyboard creating melodic instrumentalist surges setting themselves to convey a feeling of “The Outskirts of Reality” as a point of arrival rather than a place of departure. That is, if we’re buying into the cliché of the album as a journey — and hell yes, we most certainly are — then ‘the outskirts’ is clearly the place we’re headed. The positioning of the title-track last speaks to this, as does the progression of the song itself, which one might think of as answering the liftoff-ignition-blast of “QSO” with a last, consuming wash of noise. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I don’t think so, because while Yuri Gagarin are jamming here in the sense of following instrumental paths of their songs to the places they might naturally lead — linear builds, ebbs and flows, and so on — the dynamic the Swedish outfit bring to space rock has so much intentionality behind it that to give anything less than full consideration to its complexity feels half-assed. Even as the push-push-push of “QSO” departs and the song’s last two minutes or so are given to a stretch of quiet guitar fade that lead directly into “Oneironaut,” there’s a plan at work, if not a direct narrative. This isn’t just about self-indulgence or a showcase of effects wash. There’s more to it.

yuri gagarin the outskirts of reality

Certainly Yuri Gagarin are aware of space rock’s past glories. Almost 50 years later, Hawkwind looms over the entire genre as much as ever, but there’s a significant difference between being aware of something and beholden to it and it seems to be the latter where the band draw the line. It isn’t just a question of having modern production or a sleek gatefold by Påhl Sundström — though neither hurts in terms of presentation — but about the forward push in the material itself. To wit, the winding guitar of “Crystal Dunes” and how that song touches on Middle Easternism or Mediterranean folk without fully abandoning the overarching outward thrust of The Outskirts of Reality‘s entirety, instead bringing those elements into the context of the song and the record as it moves ahead toward the track’s emergent wash and eventual dissolution around a final resonant hum and strum. That this happens en route to the time-warp manipulations of “Laboratory 1” likewise isn’t a coincidence. Aside from being a fit in terms of runtime, the otherwise-interlude is a readjustment of mentality that sets up and reinforces the spirit of arrival at “The Outskirts of Reality” itself. And while the title-track doesn’t hit 13 minutes like “Oneironaut” or even the 10 of “QSO” back on side A, it doesn’t need to.

Rather, the point comes across in the encompassing effects and keys and the scorching guitar soloing, as undulations and surges of melodies take hold and recede and return in nigh-on-maddening fashion. They’re five minutes in before you realize what’s happened, and by then, you couldn’t get out if you wanted to. The shift to the final progression is subtle, but there, and soon Yuri Gagarin are engulfed in a last wash of noise that takes hold despite the ongoing and adjoining loops. If you’re wondering who wins, the answer is noise. Noise wins. The band doesn’t so much deconstruct the piece as let it drift off into the crushing vacuum, and as harsh as the noise is, it fades out in surprisingly gentle fashion. Perhaps there’s room for sentiment in the cosmos after all. One way or the other, Yuri Gagarin‘s The Outskirts of Reality portrays space rock as a reinvigorated aesthetic in such a way as to make it exciting not just to established fans of the style, but those who might be taking it on for the first time. It’s a rare sense of outreach in terms of audience-building, and thus something of a gamble on the part of the band, but in terms of world-building and making its own impression, it is likewise resonant and organic: An ultrasonic blowout for all tomorrow’s todays. Sometimes with records that see envelopes as things to push there is purist backlash as a result, and maybe Yuri Gagarin are at least potentially exposing themselves to that, but there’s much work being done on The Outskirts of Reality to open the minds of those who take it on, and those willing to meet the band on their level will find doing so all the more rewarding.

Yuri Gagarin on Thee Facebooks

Yuri Gagarin on Instagram

Yuri Gagarin on Bandcamp

Yuri Gagarin BigCartel store

Kommun 2 Records website

Sound Effect Records website

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Quarterly Review: Dommengang, Ice Dragon, Saint Karloff, Witch Trail, Love Gang, Firebreather, Karkara, Circle of Sighs, Floral Fauna, Vvlva

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

We begin Day Two of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. Snow on the ground fell overnight and the day ahead looks as busy as ever. There’s barely time to stop for sips of coffee between records, but some allowances must be made. It’s Tuesday after all. There’s still a lot of week left. And if we can’t be kind to ourselves in the post-holiday comedown of wintry gray, when can we?

So yes, pause, sip — glug, more likely — then proceed.

I don’t usually play favorites with these things, but I think today’s might have worked out to be my favorite batch of the bunch. As always, I hope you find something that speaks to you.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Dommengang, No Keys

dommengang no keys

Driving heavy psych and rock meet with spacious Americana and a suburbanite dreaminess in Dommengang‘s No Keys, the now-L.A. trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Love Jail (review here). It is a melting pot of sound, with emphasis on melting, but vocal harmonies and consistently righteous basslines like that in “Stir the Sea” act to tie the nine component tracks together, making Dommengang‘s various washes of tone ultimately the creation of a welcoming space. Early cut “Earth Blues” follows opener “Sunny Day Flooding” with a mindful far-outbound resonance, and the later “Arcularius – Burke” finds itself in a linear building pattern ahead of “Jerusalem Cricket,” which reimagines ’70s country rock as something less about nostalgia than forward possibility. Having come far on their apparently keyboard-less journey, from the breadth-casting verses of “Stir the Sea” to the doomy interlude “Blues Rot,” they end with “Happy Death (Her Blues II)” which sure as hell sounds like it has some organ on it. Either way, whether they live up to the standard of the title or not is secondary to the album’s actual achievements, which are significant, and distinguish Dommengang from would-be peers in atmosphere, craft and melody.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Ice Dragon, Passage of Mind

ice dragon passage of mind

Though they don’t do it nearly as often as they did between 2012 and 2015, every now and then Boston’s Ice Dragon manage to sneak out a new release. Over the last few years, that’s been a succession of singles, but Passage of Mind is their first LP since 2015’s A Beacon on the Barrow (review here), and though they’ll always in some part be thought of as a doom band, the unassuming organic psychedelia of “Don’t Know Much but the Road” reminds more of Chris Goss‘ work with Masters of Reality in its acoustic/fuzz blend and melody. The experimentalism-prone outfit have been down this avenue before as well, and it suits them, even as members have moved on to other projects (Brass Hearse among them), with the seven-minute “One of These Days” basing itself around willfully simplistic-sounding intertwining lines of higher and lower fuzz. There are moments of serenity, like closer “Dream About You” and “Sun in My Eyes,” but “The Sound the Rain Makes” is more of a blowout, and even the darker vibe of “Delirium’s Tears” holds hits melody as top priority. Hey guess what? Here’s an Ice Dragon album that deserves more attention than it’s gotten. I think it’s the 12th one.

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff, Interstellar Voodoo

Saint Karloff Interstellar Voodoo

Oslo’s Saint Karloff squash the high standard they set for themselves on their 2018 debut, All Heed the Black God (review here), with the 41-minute single-song long-player Interstellar Voodoo, basking in bluesy Sabbathian grandeur and keeping a spirit of progressive adventuring beneath without giving over entirely to self-indulgent impulses any more than one could as they careen from one movement to the next in the multi-stage work. With vinyl through Majestic Mountain Records, tape on Stoner Witch Records and CD through Ozium Records, they’re nothing if not well represented, and rightly so, as they veer in and out of psychedelic terrain in exciting and periodically elephantine fashion, still making room for classic Scandi-folk boogie on side A before the second half of the track stomps all over everything that’s come before it en route to its own organ-laced jammy meandering, Iommi shuffle and circa-’74 howl. As a new generation of doom rock begins to take shape, Saint Karloff position themselves well as earlier pursuers of an individualist spirit while still drawing of course on classic sources of inspiration. The first record was encouraging. The second is more so. The third will be the real tell of who they are as a band.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records webstore

 

Witch Trail, The Sun Has Left the Hill

witch trail the sun has left the hill

The jangling guitar strum in centerpiece “Lucid” on Witch Trail‘s The Sun Has Left the Hill (Consouling Sounds) has the indelible mark of classic rock and roll freedom to it. One wonders if Pete Townshend would recognize it, or if it’s too far blasted into oblivion by the Belgian trio’s aesthetic treatment across The Sun Has Left the Hill‘s convention-challenging 29-minute span, comprising seven tracks that bring together a heavy alternative rock and post-black metal vision marked by spacious echoes and cavern screams that are likewise tortured and self-assured. That is to say, there’s no mistaking the intent here. In the early intensity of “Watcher” or the shimmering and more patiently unfolding “Silent Running,” the Ghent three-piece mark out their stylistic terrain between bursts of noisy chaotic wash and clearheaded execution. The six-minute “Afloat” hisses like a lost demo that would’ve rewritten genre history some 25 years ago, and even in closer “Residue,” one can’t help but feel like Witch Trail are indeed looking to leave some lasting effect behind them with such forward-thinking craft. Sure to be a shock for those who take it on with no idea of what to expect.

Witch Trail on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game

love gang dead mans game

Shortly before Love Gang are halfway through the opening title-track of their debut album, Dead Man’s Game, just when you think you might have their blend of organ-laced Radio Moscow and Motörhead figured out, that’s when Leo Muñoz breaks out the flute and the whole thing takes a turn for the unexpected. Surprises abound from the Denver foursome of Muñoz (who also handles organ and sax), guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentworth, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, who find room for psychedelic airiness amidst the gallop of “Addiction,” which doesn’t seem coincidentally paired with “Break Free,” though the two don’t run together. Love Gang‘s 2016 self-titled EP (review here) had a cleaner production and less aggro throb, and there’s some of that on Dead Man’s Game in the peaceful melody of “Interlude,” but even seven-minute closer “Endless Road” makes a point of finishing at a rush, and that’s ultimately what defines the album. No complaints. Love Gang wield momentum as another element of inventive arrangement on this encouraging first long-player.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

 

Firebreather, Under a Blood Moon

firebreather under a blood moon

‘Tis the stuff of battle axes and severed limbs, but it’s worth noting that three of the six inclusions on Firebreather‘s second LP and first for RidingEasy Records, Under a Blood Moon, have some reference to fire in their title. The follow-up to their brazen 2017 self-titled debut (review here) starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the nine-minute “Dancing Flames,” then follows immediately with “Our Souls, They Burn” and launches side B with the eponymous “Firebreather,” as the Gothenburg trio of Mattias Nööjd, Kyle Pitcher and Axel Wittbeck launch their riffy, destructive assault with urgency that earns all that scarred land left in its wake. The High on Fire comparison remains inevitable, perhaps most of all on “Firebreather” itself, but Firebreather have grown thicker in tone, meaner in approach and do nothing to shy away from the largesse that such a sound might let them convey, as “Our Souls, They Burn” and in the volume surges of closer “The Siren.” Under a Blood Moon is a definite forward step from the first LP, showing an evolving sound and burgeoning individuality that one hopes Firebreather continue to hunt down with such vigilance.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

Karkara, Crystal Gazer

karkara crystal gazer

Presented through Stolen Body Records, the debut long-player from French trio Karkara purports to be “Oriental psych rock,” which accounts for an Eastern influence in the overall sound of its seven-track/41-minute run, but there are perhaps some geographical questions to be undertaken there, as “Camel Rider” and others show a distinctive Mideastern flair. Whatever works, I guess. At its core, Crystal Gazer is a work of psychedelic space rock, brought to bear with a duly open sensibility by guitarist/vocalist Karim Rihani (also didgeridoo), bassist Hugo Olive and drummer/vocalist Maxime Marouani as seemingly the beginning stages of a broader sonic adventure. That is to say, the stylistic aspects at play here — and they are very much “at play” — feel purposefully used, but like the foundation of what will be future growth on the part of Karkara as a unit. Will they progress along a more patient and meditative path, as “The Way” hints in some of its early roll, or will the frenetic winding of closer “Jedid” set their course for subsequent freakouts? I don’t know, but Karkara strike as a band who won’t see any point to standing still creatively any more than they do to doing so rhythmically.

Karkara on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

Circle of Sighs, Desolate

circle of sighs desolate

Information is limited on Circle of Sighs, and by that I primarily mean I don’t have any. They list their point of origin as Los Angeles, so there’s that, but as to the whos and whats, wheres and so on, it’s a mystery. Something tells me that suits the band, whose four-track debut EP, Desolate, gracefully executes a blend of melodic downerism with more extreme elements at play, melodic vocal arrangements offset by screams in the closing title-track after the prior rolling groove of “Burden of the Flesh” offered a progressive and synth-laden take on Pallbearer-style emotive doom. Acoustics, keyboard, and a clear use of multiple singers give Circle of Sighs‘ first outing a kitchen-sink feel, but one can only admire them for trying something new at their (presumed) outset, and the catchy chug of “Hold Me, Lucifer” speaks to more complex aesthetic origins than the simplistic subject matter might lead one to believe. The outlier is the penultimate nine-minute cut “Kukeri,” which broods across its first three minutes in a manner that would make Patrick Walker proud before unfolding the breadth of its lumber and arrangement, harmonies and screams and the first real showcase of more extreme impulses taking hold in its second half — plus strings, maybe — which “Desolate” itself will build upon after a bookending acoustic close. There’s some sorting out to do in terms of sound, but already they show a readiness to push in their own direction, and that’s more than it would seem reasonable to ask.

Circle of Sighs on Thee Facebooks

Circle of Sighs on Bandcamp

 

Floral Fauna, Pink and Blue

floral fauna pink and blue

Way out west, Chris Allison of the band Lord Loud is taking on psychedelic shimmer under the ostensible solo moniker of Floral Fauna, but the situation of the project’s 11-tracker debut LP, Pink and Blue is more complicated in personnel and style than that, melding fuzzy presence, classic ’60s surf-tone, rampant hooky melody and ready-to-go-anywhere-as-long-as-it-works pop experimentalism together in a steaming lysergic cauldron of neo-yourface-ism that’s ether blissed enough to tie funk and ancient R&B to cosmic flow together in a manner that feels like an utter tossoff, like, hey, yeah man, this kind of thing just happens all the time here. You know, no big deal on this wavelength. Mellow dreams in “Great White Silence,” a spacey ramble in “Velvet and Jade” and the echoing leadwork of “Red Anxiety” continue the color theme from the opening title-track, and the record caps with “Herds of Jellyfish,” which at last brings forward the vocal harmony that the whole album seems to have been begging for. Cool debut? Shit, man. It’s 36 minutes of straight-up psych joy just waiting to bring you on board. Legal psilocybin now.

Floral Fauna on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Vvlva, Silhouettes

vvlva silhouettes

There are a couple things you can figure on in this wacky universe, and one of them is that German imprint World in Sound knows what it’s doing when it picks up a classic heavy rock band. Silhouettes is the second long-player the label has released from woefully-monikered Aschaffenburg-based four-piece Vvlva, and indeed in the upfront boogie of “Cosmic Pilgrim” or the more progressive unfolding of pieces like “Tales Told by a Gray Man,” the centerpiece “Gomorrah,” or the longer “Night by Night/The Choir” and “Dance of the Heathens,” which seem to bring the two sides together, there’s enough vintage influence to make the case once again. Like the more forward thinking of their contemporaries, Vvlva have brought this modus into the present when it comes to production value and clarity, and rather than sound like it’s 1973, they would seem to be making 1973 sound like them. Whether one dives in for the early hooks in “Cosmic Pilgrim” or “What Do I Stand For?” or the fuzzy interplay between the solo and organ in the maddeningly bouncing “Hobos,” there’s plenty in Silhouettes to demonstrate the vitality and continued evolution of the style.

Vvlva on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

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Kungens Män Releasing Trappmusik 2LP Feb. 10; Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Kungens Män

Sincere and heartfelt congratulations to you if you can keep up with Swedish improv specialists Kungens Män. I seem to be at this point unable. The psychedelic collective offered up Hårt som ben in late 2019 as the follow-up to earlier-in-the-year’s Chef (review here), and before I even got to review that, here’s the announcement that preorders are open for their next outing — a 2LP due out Feb. 10 through Adansonia Records called Trappmusik that, at least from the description as I haven’t actually heard it, sounds right up my alley. Kungens Män will be at Roadburn in the Netherlands, and so will I, so maybe I can hit them up at their merch table or something and ask them to give a dude a break with all the quality off-the-cuff psych they’re putting out, but somehow that seems like shooting myself in the ass. Maybe I’ll just buy all the records instead. Yeah. That’s always the right impulse to follow.

Album info follows, courtesy of the label:

Kungens Män trappmusik

Kungens Män – Trappmusik – DLP 2020 – Adansonia Records

Playing improvised music is a gift. It’s alchemy, chemistry, interlocking heartbeats and sometimes a struggle. A lot of it is about ambience. The legendary Silence studio in the deep woods of Värmland is a perfect example of how much setting actually effects the music made.

Kungens Män usually record at home, in busy Stockholm, coming directly from the Underground, rolling escalators, the everyday stress latent in the back of the mind. We rumble for about two-three hours, mirroring frustration and built up energy from the work week we just left behind.

This session was different. Silence is a place for contemplation. It was the end of May, the sun was shining, the grass was green and we took walks to the lake in between takes. We recorded 13 hours of music at a quite slow pace over the course of three days. Every moment of the record isn’t perfect, even sloppy sometimes, but we’re not in a competition.

”Trappmusik” is the Kungens Män chill out album. It has its peaks, but the overall vibe is calm, introspective and vibing off the fantastic recording room that has hosted so many giants. ”Främmande i tillvaron” is a nod and celebration of one of the masters of Swedish music, Bo Hansson, who was the spark that made Silence happen in the seventies together with Anders Lind who actually rigged the equipment for our session. What’s also interesting from a historical point of view is that the recording engineer we brought with us, our friend Isak Sjöholm, is the son of Jakob Sjöholm from Träd, Gräs och Stenar, who were also really important for the community around Silence.

Use this music however you want. Play it loud or put it on as background music. Lie down on the floor or dance to it. The woods are singing.

Details:
– 350 x yellow (side A/B), orange (side C/D) vinyl, 180g, hand-numbered, inlay, 30€
– 150 x orange/yellow split vinyl, hand-numbered, hand-printed inlay, 39€*
*Adansonia mailorder edition

Mastering by DJM.
LP’s are coming in fully-laminated thick matte sleeves and black padded inner sleeves.
Any vinyl purchase includes a high-quality download.

+ + + Release date: 10 Feb. 2020 + + +

You can place your order at: https://www.adansoniarecords.de/shop/

kungensman.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/bandetkungensman
instagram.com/kungensmanband
kungensman.tumblr.com
https://www.facebook.com/adansoniarecords/
https://www.adansoniarecords.de/

Kungens Män, Hårt som ben (2019)

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Deville Announce March & April Australian Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deville

A 15th anniversary only happens once, and Swedish heavy rockers Deville will celebrate theirs in style with their first-ever run of Australian tour dates. Presented by Beats Cartel, the run will find them supporting their 2018 outing, Pigs with Gods (review here) — though I wouldn’t be surprised either if they had something new in the works or at least a few new songs to play at the shows — and paired up with Sydney duo Astrodeath, who this winter will release their debut album through Black Farm RecordsDeville‘s last offering came out through Fuzzorama, and they also toured Europe in 2019 to back it. Whether or not they have new material to offer up is somewhat beside the point, considering the anniversary noted above. Think about dedicating 15 years of your life to a creative project. It’s not easy. It’s worth a trip to Australia, as far as I’m concerned.

They’ll play Mojo Burning and Germanium Daze festivals while they’re there, and do two nights in Melbourne to lead off, with a couple days off after the first fest that I’m just going to assume will be dedicated to the requisite sightseeing and having-your-picture-taken-with-a-koala-or-kangaroos, etc. How my heart longs have a picture taken with a koala or a kangaroo. I can’t begin to tell you. I’d spend 20-odd hours on a plane for that.

From the PR wire:

deville australian tour

SWEDISH RIFF LORDS DEVILLE MAKE FIRST TRIP TO AUSTRALIA

Swedish riff lords Deville make their first trip to Australia next year having today announced plans for an extensive national tour on the back of multiple festival appearances.

Born in 2004, Deville have developed through a haze of Rock, Stoner and Metal sounds, creating something unique which has seen them support the likes of Red Fang, Torche, Fu Manchu, Truckfighters and tour the US, UK and Europe many times over, playing a host of the world’s best venues and festivals.

With albums signed to Heavy Psych Sounds, Buzzville Records, Small Stone Records and Sweden’s Fuzzorama Records, the band have given 15 years of service to Rock’n’Roll, a feat rarely realised in today’s music business. This tour will celebrate the milestone.

March/April 2020 sees the Swedes travel to Australia for their first ever tour of the country. Presented by Beats Cartel, the tour racks up eight dates in four states/territories and will see the band play with the likes of Germany’s Kadavar and appear at annual boutique guitar fest Mojo Burning in Brisbane along with new offering Germanium Daze in Perth.

Lead singer Andreas Bengtsson says of the upcoming tour “Touring Australia for the first time is of course a huge thing for us and doing it when the band is turning 15 years old makes it even better. We’re thrilled to share the stage during this run with bands such as Kadavar, Nebula and Temples and not to forget our touring partners Astrodeath. This will be a good one, hope to see you all at a show.”

In support of the tour nationally are high energy Sydney heavy duo Astrodeath, who have themselves had an amazing drop into the scene having supported the likes of 1000mods, Nick Oliveri and Batpiss along with also landing festival slots at Mojo Burning (QLD) and Germanium Daze (WA) in what is a very short time at the fray.

Catch Deville this Autumn, making their way across the country coast to coast for what will be a fun and energetic display of European hard Rock. Tickets are onsale now through www.beatscartel.com.

Beats Cartel Presents: DEVILLE 2020 AUSTRALIAN TOUR – “15 Years of Rock’n’Roll”
Touring with ASTRODEATH
Thursday March 26 MELBOURNE The Tote
Friday March 27 MELBOURNE Cherry Bar
Saturday March 28 BRISBANE MOJO BURNING FESTIVAL Feat. Temples (UK), Kadavar (GER), Steve Smyth and many more
Wednesday April 01 CANBERRA The Basement
Thursday April 02 SYDNEY Frankies Pizza
Friday April 03 NEWCASTLE Stag and Hunter
Saturday April 04 SCARBOROUGH GERMANIUM DAZE *Feat Kadavar (GER), Nebula (USA), The Floors and many more
Sunday April 05 PERTH Lucy’s Love Shack

https://www.facebook.com/tours/541947679989599/

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

http://deville.nu/
https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama

Deville, Sunnanå Studios live session

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