Friday Full-Length: Truckfighters, Mania

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

It was a put-up-or-shut-up moment for Sweden’s Truckfighters. Time to show who they really were going to be as a band and what their impact would be over the longer term. Their 2005 debut, Gravity X (discussed here), had certainly produced its share of memorable tracks, including “Gweedo-Weedo,” “Manhattan Project,” “Gargarismo” and its essential leadoff, “Desert Cruiser,” which over the years since would become the band’s signature piece. But 2007’s Phi seemed to be in an awkward place, with the Örebro three-piece adding a second guitarist in an experiment that ultimately wouldn’t last. It had been more than five years since they got their start on a split with bassist/vocalist Oskar Cedermalm‘s prior band, Firestone (discussed here), and as with so many third albums, it was time for Truckfighters to determine the direction they wanted their material to manifest.

On some level, conscious or not, they must have known it, because 2009’s Mania (review here) meets the formidable task before it in a way that’s nothing if not head-on. It’s the release by which I’ve judged every Truckfighters release since, and a significant standard to which a record might live up, taking the fuzz and memorable hooks of Gravity X and the somewhat moodier vibe of Phi and bringing them together is a way that showed heavy rock did not have to just be one thing. It didn’t just have to be out there, cruising in the desert. It could be progressive, heavy and energetic all at the same time. It could be richly melodic. It could be weighted and contemplative feeling. And in a quick turn, it could be fun, catchy, and nonetheless clear in its intention to engage the listener. With ManiaCedermalm, guitarist Niklas Källgren and then-drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson solidified Truckfighters‘ sound around something that could grow in multiple directions, and thereby helped set the stage for what’s come after, both from them and from a generation of heavy rockers who’ve worked to some degree or other under their influence.

It’s debatable whether Truckfighters‘ greater contribution to heavy rock has been on stage or in the studio. Largely self-recorded and self-released, their fuzzy tones have become a signature that’s recognizable in their work as well as in plenty of other acts, but what they do live is perhaps even more immediately striking. Cedermalm and Källgren, as the two founders and essential figures in the band, have a reputation for onstage physicality that is well earned, and I’ve seen them play sets that look as much like an aerobic workout as an artistic performance. Not every band can or wants to do that, of course, but Europe over the last decade has seen a boom of similarly-inclined heavy rock delivery, in the UK, in Germany, in Greece and elsewhere, and certainly Truckfighters have toured enough in that time — including in North America — to spread their influence across borders.

truckfighters mania

But Mania is also dynamic in a way that extends to being more than just a vehicle for a band to run back and forth and jump off drum risers while they play. Songs like the closer “Blackness,” the relatively mellow but still hooky leadoff “Last Curfew” and most especially the 13-minute “Majestic” and the later “Con of Man” actively, willfully push the Truckfighters sound and style to places it hadn’t yet been, reaching a new level of accomplishment as a result. This happened at the same time the early, drum-led “Monte Gargano” reconfirmed their desert rock mindset, and the subsequent “The New High” acted as a bridge from one side to another ahead of the arrival of “Majestic,” still relatively early in Mania‘s eight-song/50-minute run. The album sets up a back-and-forth dynamic, really from the start but especially from “Majestic” onward, that sees them push and pull between more straight-ahead fare and proggier impulses.

“Majestic” — which every bit lives up to its title via a sprawl the band has tried multiple times to recapture — and “Con of Man” are separated by the four-minute “Monster,” which emerges on revisit as a kind of lost standout. Surely overwhelmed by the sweep of what comes directly before and after, as nearly anything would be, its foundation in acoustic and electric guitar blend is itself a forward step for Truckfighters, and Cedermalm‘s laid back vocal there sets gives the song an all the more sunshiny vibe, only emphasizing the contrast in the severity of “Con of Man,” thereby enhancing the effect of both cuts on the audience. This, as well as the penultimate “Loose” — which seems like a direct answer stylistically and thematically to “Desert Cruiser” and is the shortest inclusion at 3:44 — bring a lightness to the end of Mania to keep it from taking itself too seriously. They remind that, hey, we’re all here to have a good time, and speak to a breadth in Truckfighters‘ songcraft that they’ve continued to develop in the years since.

It would be four years before they’d release anything else, but much of that time was spent touring. They came to America for the first time. They had a documentary made about them in 2012. They were on the road again and again in Europe, helping lead the charge of a booming underground heavy festival scene that continues to develop. An EP, The Chairman (discussed here), arrived in 2013, followed the next year by the Universe LP (review here) that seemed to pick up where Mania left off and present Truckfighters‘ growth as an ongoing process, and of course, more heavy road work. A licensing deal through their Fuzzorama Records imprint with Century Media resulted in wider distribution for 2016’s (review here), and they complemented that with the self-released Live in London (review here) that same year, courting controversy as well for their video for “Calm Before the Storm” (discussed here) from the V album. After weathering that and yet more touring, they announced a “long, long” hiatus in 2018 that lasted just about a year before they got back together and decided to hit the road playing Gravity X in full. “You can’t escape from what you are,” their statement said at the time, seeming almost resigned to the fact. Fair enough.

Whatever happens with, to or for them next, Mania 10 years later still holds up as a high point of their output to-date. I won’t take anything away from their other studio releases, but no question this was a special moment, and in a put-up-or-shut-up scenario, they every bit exceeded all expectations and helped reshape what fuzz rock could be.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

That it? Is the week done? Is it ever really over? Nah, not these days.

Whatever.

Life with The Toddlerian Pecan — this strange pain-in-the-ass alien who’s replaced the gorgeous chubby-cheeked baby who was my son mere months ago — continues to provide an assortment of thrills and spills. The Patient Mrs. has had to work all week, as one will when one has, you know, a job — she gotta bring home that bacon to support my ever-expanding blogger-ass — and so it’s been me and him. Me vs. him. I forfeit. He wins. I used to say that if I died in the house by myself, I was cool with The Little Dog Dio eating my face to survive. I don’t know in what scenario it ever would’ve happened like that, but you know, yeah. Well, I’m pretty sure The Pecan is getting ready to eat my face while I’m still alive and then cha-cha-cha stompy-foot dance on my exposed skull. Laughing his adorable laugh all the while.

I’ve never done heroin, but I imagine that laugh is what it’s like.

So it was that kind of week. Especially yesterday morning, which was h-a-r-d. I know I’m not exactly doing the world a favor by having a kid in the first place. Great. One more white dude. That’s bound to make everything better. But man, some days it sure feels like I’m doing him a favor by not opening the door and telling him to go live in the woods. You like squirrels so damn much? Off you go!

He’d go, too. Probably build himself a treehouse, the little fucker.

He’s not yet two. That’s next week.

So. So, so, so.

Speaking of next week, I think I’m gonna go see The Well at the Vitus Bar on Wednesday. Could stand to get out for a bit, and that’s probably just enough traffic to set me right. Also look for reviews of the new Om live LP, an interview with Colour Haze about their new LP (that’s on Monday), a premiere of The Lone Madman and a review of the new Year of the Cobra. That’s your week, right there. I’m sure there will be other stuff. I can’t seem to get through laying out a week on a Friday lately without something changing that day.

Today, for example, my initial plan was the Ogre stream. Then the Bible Black Tyrant premiere came together. Fine. Then last night, the Via Vengeance premiere came together last-minute. Well, okay. So yeah. One day, three premieres, six posts, one of which is this already-gone-on-too-long chicanery. Call it madness, because it is.

Ah shit, Pecan’s awake. 6:20, for the record. I got up at 4, as ever.

Real life.

Not that fake life.

Real life.

Great and safe weekend. Forum and radio. I swear there’s new merch coming soon.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Lucifer Announce Southern Tour; Lucifer III Due in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lucifer

You know, with the reception Lucifer have gotten over their time together, you’d think Nicke Andersson was in The Hellacopters or something. Or that vocalist Johanna Sadonis came out of hotly-tipped but ultimately shortlived cult duo The Oath or whatever. Oh wait. Okay, so maybe it’s not much of a mystery while the heavy underground has embraced them with open arms, but the work they’re doing speaks for itself. First and foremost, they’ve busted their collective ass touring in Europe and North America, and their records — the latest being last year’s Lucifer II (review here) — have only been met with increasing fervor. Gosh. Maybe they’re a good band or something.

New record, Lucifer III, will be out in March 2020 through Century Media, but somehow I’ll always think of them as a Rise Above band. Maybe that’s just me.

Info from the PR wire:

lucifer tour

LUCIFER ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICA PART III HEADLINE TOUR

Heavy-rock band LUCIFER have just announced their third and final leg of their North American headline tour today. The band will hit the road starting on January 15th in Memphis, TN and ending on January 26th in Tampa, FL. For more information and to purchase tickets for the band’s upcoming tour dates, visit LUCIFER’s Facebook page.

LUCIFER has been touring nonstop in support of their recent full-length album Lucifer II. The band recently wrapped a tour with The Hellacopters for select European shows in May and their first two North American headline tours. Additionally, the band has performed at festivals like Metal Days, Bukta Festival, and Beyond The Gates. They have previously performed at KISS Cruise, Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest, Hellfest, Muskelrock, Sweden Rock, and Freak Valley.

The group, led by Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Andersson, celebrated massive success in 2018 with the release of Lucifer II, turning heads with their addictive Sabbath-ian hard rock. The album charted at #40 on the German charts, #1 on the Swedish vinyl and hard rock charts, and #2 on the physical album charts. The record is available on vinyl, CD and digitally HERE.

“Oh my Lord! We are incredibly thrilled to announce that the mighty Philip Shouse (bass for Ace Frehley / guitar for Gene Simmons) will join LUCIFER on bass in the US on our upcoming Southern tour! What a legend! Don’t miss this! Tickets go on sale this Friday.”

LUCIFER have commenced work on Lucifer III, which is set for release March 2020. Stay tuned for more details on the forthcoming release.

LUCIFER NORTH AMERICA PART III TOUR 2019
January 15 – Memphis, TN – The Hi Tone
January 16 – Dallas, TX – Three Links
January 17 – Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live
January 18 – Houston, TX – Secret Group
January 19 – New Orleans, LA – Santos
January 21- Birmingham, AL – The Nick
January 22 – Atlanta, GA – 529
January 23 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
January 24 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
January 25 – Miami, FL – Churchill’s Pub
January 26 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub

LUCIFER is
Johanna Sadonis – vocals
Nicke Andersson – drums
Alexander Mayr – bass
Martin Nordin – guitar
Linus Björklund – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/luciferofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/lucifertheband/
https://kingsroadmerch.com/lucifer/
http://www.centurymedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia

Lucifer, “California Son” official video

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CB3 Sign to The Sign Records; Aeons out Feb. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cb3

Cool band. Swedish trio CB3 have been picked up by The Sign Records — wasn’t it just yesterday I was talking about the label’s reliable taste? well here’s another example of it — to release their second long-player, Aeons, on Feb. 28 as the follow-up to 2018’s From Nothing to Eternity (discussed here) and the subsequent live EP, Cult of the Crystals. The progressive psychedelic instrumental outfit are led by and named for guitarist Charlotta Andersson — they’re Charlotta’s Burning Trio when go long-form — and though February 2020 feels like a great and unknown future somewhere off in the distance, actually it’s only a couple months and the band will unveil the new single “Sonic Blaze” from the five-track offering next week, so you don’t actually have to wait all that long to get at least a quick fix.

Until then, here’s info courtesy of The Sign via the PR wire:

cb3 aeons

CB3 – Aeons – The Sign Records

We welcome CB3 (Charlottas Burning Trio) to The Sign Records! CB3 will release their new album “Aeons” the 28th of February 2020, and next Friday – the 25th of October, you’ll be able to enjoy the first cosmic frequencies of the album as the single “Sonic Blaze” reaches earth after a long journey through outer space.

CB3 is here to bring you on a journey with their explosive rock jams and mind-bending cosmic soundscapes. CB3 brings the spirit of psychedelic music to the 21th century; with a style that ranges from heavy psych rock jams like Jimi Hendrix to delicate atmospheric passages like Pink Floyd and progressive rhythms like King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Close your eyes, set your mind free and drift away into the musical universe of CB3.

The autumn of 2018, CB3 celebrated a five year anniversary as a band in their hometown of Malmö, Sweden. Half a decade of constant exploration of the unconventional way of playing, fusing rock with jazz tonality and experimenting with rhythms, sounds and structures. After two self-released and self-produced albums, multiple collaborative projects and touring, CB3 signed with Lazy Octopus Records and Drone Rock Records for a cassette and vinyl release of their debut album “From Nothing to Eternity” in 2018. It was sold out immediately and received flourishing reviews.

In spring of 2020 they will release their new album “Aeons” on The Sign Records. Charlotta said of the process “It’s been an exciting journey. Me, Pelle and Nate has almost been living, eating and sleeping music, but above all experimenting with the idea of making the most exciting and kickass instrumental album ever.”. Since the beginning the trio has valued and nourished their thriving lust of exploring new ways in composing music and playing live shows.

The album is recorded by Björn Lindberg at Rabbit Holes Studios in Malmö and mixed and mastered by Joona Hassinen at Studio Underjord in Norrköping, Sweden. Björn is a sound engineer that worked with Hey Elbow. Joona is the sought after engineer in the underground scene in Sweden and has worked with bands like MaidaVale and Vokonis. The last track “Apocalypse” features Martin Wirén on saxophones and Charlotta on mellotrones. Artwork by Robin Gnista (Brant Björk, Radio Moscow, Imperial State Electric). Press Photos by Gianluca La Bruna. Video animations by Matteo Nobis Sandén (3D-artist, illustrator).

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

www.charlottasburningtrio.com
https://www.facebook.com/charlottasburningtrio/
https://www.instagram.com/charlottasburningtrio/
https://cb3band.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://www.thesignrecords.com

CB3, “From Nothing to Eternity” (Live 2018)

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Hot Breath Stream Self-Titled Debut EP in Full; Out Friday on The Sign Records

Posted in audiObelisk on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hot breath (Photo by Marcus Eriksson)

Swedish classic style heavy rockers Hot Breath will release their self-titled debut this coming Friday, Oct. 18, through The Sign Records. The conglomerate label has emerged as a home for retro-minded heavy (among other styles), from Hypnos and Heavy Feather to Märvel and MaidaVale, and in aligning with newcomer Göteborg four-piece Hot Breath, they continue the tradition of traditionalism, as well as specifically an association with Jennifer Israelsson and Jimi Karlsson. Both the vocalist and drummer of Hot Breath are former members of Honeymoon Disease, whose sophomore LP and apparent swansong, Part Human, Mostly Beast (discussed here), came out through the label in 2017, and the new outfit brings them together with Hypnos bassist Anton Frick Kallmin as well as guitarist Karl Edfeldt, whose other band, Grand, haven’t actually worked with The Sign (yet), but still, three out of four is a compelling enough statistic to tempt one to call Hot Breath a house band for their label. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and it only makes it more appropriate that as Hot Breath offer up the six tracks/21 minutes of Hot Breath just about a year after forming, they’re playing four dates over the next few weeks as part of The Sign Fest with labelmates in Skraeckoedlan, Vokonis, Children of the Sün, and more. Clearly a family affair.

Super-groovy, as the kids might say, and the same applies to the EP itself, which in a song like “1,000 Miles” careens through speed-at-night winding late-’70s proto-metallic riffing, topped with the vocals of Israelsson (I wonder if she’s any relation hot breath hot breathto Truckfighters drummer Daniel Israelsson), whose melodies fit right in with the hard-corner turns in the guitar and the forward propulsion of the rhythm. Whether it’s the hooky “What You Reap” at the conclusion, the earlier “Maniac” or the build-up back at the start with “Still Not Dead,” Hot Breath bring an infectious sense of energy to their tracks, here and there tapping into some non-glam/non-NWOBHM ’80s worship but as likely to pull influence from Joe Walsh as Scorpions as Electric Citizen as Death Alley, the latter seeming specifically to inform “What You Reap” and “Slight Air” before it, wrapping up the quick offering with some of its most fervent and insistent thrust, though that’s not at all to take away from “Got it All,” which is no less brash when it comes right down to it, and boasts some choice backing vocals in the chorus, adding to the already so prevalent catchiness thereof.

If it needs to be said, songwriting is a feature throughout Hot Breath‘s Hot Breath, and though one has to factor in that they’re still basically a brand new band, it shouldn’t be a mystery as to why they seem to have their wits about them in terms of what they want to be doing. It’s because they do. And whether it’s Israelsson and Karlsson‘s prior experience together in Honeymoon Disease or everyone’s experience more generally heavy rock bands of various stripes, clearly the effect of it all is that Hot Breath hit the ground running on their first outing in terms of style and substance both, with tight, high-quality songcraft and an energetic, natural performance captured that serves these tracks well and gives the listener notice of more to come. I don’t know how long it’ll be before Hot Breath get around to a debut album, but if one takes the Hot Breath EP as an advance warning of that, the heads up is indeed all the more appreciable. The converted will have no trouble digging in, and even those less experienced with Sweden’s classic/boogie set will find plenty to grasp onto in the songwriting and delivery.

So, uh, have at it.

The full stream of Hot Breath‘s Hot Breath is available on the player below, followed by more background from the PR wire and live dates, including those at The Sign Fest in the coming weeks.

Please enjoy:

the sign fest

Hot Breath delivers a six track K.O that is set for release the 18th of October on The Sign Records. Blending that immortal sound of 70s classic rock with their own pure attitude, add a bit of all those influences that you like, and you get Hot Breath’s self titled debut. Guitar solos stand side-by-side with Jennifer Israelsson’s (previously seen fronting Honeymoon Disease) swagger-filled vocals and a brilliant rhythm section in Jimi Karlsson (also ex-Honeymoon Disease) and Anton Frick Kallmin (Hypnos). Every track is a hit of its own accord, and by the time “What You Reap” rolls around, it’s clear that Hot Breath provides the soundtrack to the last drink that never ends.

Recorded and mixed by Jamie Elton (ex-Amulet) in Gothenburg during the summer of 2019. Axel Söderberg (Horisont) helped out on keys on the recording. Mastered by Hans Olsson Brookes at Svenska Grammofon Studion. Artwork by Jimi Karlsson. Cover photo by Marcus Eriksson.

Formed in October 2018 (with members from Honeymoon Disease, Hypnos and Grand) the band wanted to mix their various pasts into one vibrating sound. With a common ground of heavy rock Hot Breath quickly took shape and turned into a wicked animal that will twist your hips.

The release will be available on CD in Digipack, 180g Vinyl and Digital formats. Hot Breath is touring and kicks off their first Swedish tour joining a four-date The Sign Fest throughout Sweden.

Live:
18 October, Skylten, Linköping, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
19 October, Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
25/26 October – Skövde, Sweden, In Rock Festival
8 November – Musikens Hus, Göteborg, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
9 November – Plan B, Malmö, Sweden (The Sign Fest)

Hot Breath are:
Jennifer Israelsson – Vocals and Guitar
Karl Edfeldt – Guitar
Anton Frick Kallmin – Bass
Jimmy Karlsson – Drums

Hot Breath on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

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Asteroid Announce First-Ever South American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

asteroid

Two cryptic posts last week on thee social medias from Swedish heavy psych blues jammers Asteroid. The first: they’d be traveling to a new continent before the end of the year. I’m pretty sure they’ve been to Australia before, and I know they’ve sworn off North America while the current US administration is in power — there are plenty of days I think when a good portion of the country wishes it could do the same — so that led me to speculate South America was their destination, and it turns out, yes, Abraxas Produtura — among others — is bringing the trio from their Swedish home-base to play a set of four exclusive shows capping in Rio de Janeiro on Dec. 7 at the Festa da Firma.

Ending that run in Rio de Janeiro brings me to the second cryptic social medias post, which was that the band has new material in the works. That’s an awfully long way to travel to play four shows, even if one of them is a fest, so I had to wonder if they’d be recording with Gabriel Zander while in Brazil, and the band has yet to confirm anything in that regard. I don’t know if it would be a full album or what, but either way, it’d make for their first offering since 2016’s III (review here), and whatever shape it ultimately takes, there’s just about no way new Asteroid isn’t going to be welcome as far as I’m concerned, whenever it might show up.

Still good news all around and one more perhaps to look forward to in 2020.

Here’s the info:

asteroid south america shows

Asteroid – South America Tour

Asteroid will hit South America this December. See you in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

The legendary Swedish trio comes to review all their discography in a show that promises tons of high-flying fuzz rock, stoner rock and heavy psych on their first visit to South America that will include presentations in Argentina, Uruguay (within the framework from the second edition of the Noiseground Festival in that country) and Brazil.

Their latest album “III” released by Fuzzorama Records, record label commanded by the Truckfighters is considered by the specialized press as one of the most outstanding releases of the last 10 years within the heavy rock scene in Europe.

There will be gems like “Time”, “Doctor Smoke” and “Pale Moon” a traveling and super electric show, you can’t miss it!

Asteroid live:
12/04 Buenos Aires Casa Colombo
12/05 Montevideo Bluzz Live
12/06 Sao Paulo Jai Club
12/07 Rio de Janeiro Festa Da Firma

Asteroid is:
Robin Hirse – Vocals & Guitar
Johannes Nilsson – Vocals & Bass
Jimmi Kohlscheen- Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Asteroidband/
http://www.asteroid.se/
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/bands/asteroid/

Asteroid, “Til’ Dawn” official video

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Review & Track Premiere: Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hazemaze Hymns of the Damned

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Shadow in the Night’ from Hazemaze’s Hymns of the Damned. Album is out November 22 through Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music.]

Vinyl preorders for Hazemaze‘s Hymns of the Damned start Nov. 1 through Cursed Tongue Records for a Nov. 22 LP/DL release. Ripple Music is putting the Swedish troupe’s second album out on CD as well, and the band have announced two release shows that are six days apart from each other, so one way or another, you might say the new record from Hazemaze is coming soon and choose your angle of approach accordingly. While there may be several threads involved in the arrival of the eight-track/41-minute follow-up to the Stockholm trio’s 2018 Kozmik Artifactz-delivered self-titled debut (discussed here), the LP itself is a heavy amalgam much easier to process in its garage-doom churn and dug-in riffage, informed by heavy blues but not beholden to them and bearing a persistent atmosphere of threat that speaks to an affinity for classic doom, particularly in songs like “Green River” (premiered here) and the subsequent weighted boogie of the penultimate “Reverend Death.” Those two cuts, as well as the raucous finisher “Forever Trapped in Hell” are shorter, in the three-to-four-minute range, than the five cuts prior that make up side A and the start of side B, and the effect is almost like Hazemaze have reversed the plot of many LPs and put the opening salvo in the closing position and turned the B side into the A side and the A side into the B side. The bottom line? If the release dates don’t disorient you, they’re going to get you one way or the other.

Actually, when it comes to what’s going to “get you,” it’s probably the songwriting. Hazemaze — guitarist/vocalist Ludvig Andersson, bassist Estefan Carrillo and drummer Nils Arkitekten Einéus — might not be revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but what they do, they do well and with the confidence of a band of much longer standing. There’s some element of Monolord-style atmospherics to the vocals on “Shadow in the Night,” the opening track and new single premiering above, but though certainly riffy, Hazemaze‘s trip is rawer in form and more about roll than crush. What “Shadow in the Night” sets in motion continues through the end of Hymns of the Damned in terms of forward momentum and classic affinity. There’s plenty of nod-fodder, to be sure, but as Hazemaze lead the way into “Morbid Lust” on a swinging bassline, there’s no question that movement is a focal point for the band and crucial to their approach. Einéus is duly beastly on his crash cymbal, adding uptempo flair to Andersson‘s riffing and languid vocals, while Carrillo‘s low end lurks beneath the distortion, carrying the weight that is so essential to the proceedings in mood and the sheer delivery. By the time they’re into “Thrill Seeker,” the course is set in terms of overarching groove and the sound and general spirit of the offering, which is ultimately to the band’s credit in terms of their efficiency conveying the grim (but still kind of a good time) ambience through the early tracks.

hazemaze (Photo by Magnus Nicander)

That might be an effect of the noted A/B swap method, or it might just be a consequence of knowing what they want out of their material more generally, but on either level, it only makes Hymns of the Damned more immersive and engaging on the whole for those willing to take it on. “Thrill Seeker” brings chug and violent threat in its verse alike in the Uncle Acid spirit with Andersson touching on layered self-harmony in the vocals, and “Lobotomy” stands among the most outwardly catchy of the inclusions as it rounds out the first half of the tracklist with a hook that continues the momentum set up on the first several tracks. Hazemaze‘s sense of movement might be subtle — that is, it doesn’t feel like they’re shoving you through one track to the next — but it’s there if not brazen in its intensity. They set a balance between atmosphere and push that works well across the span and, again, highlights the contributions particularly of Einéus and Carrillo to the songs on the whole. And though I haven’t seen a lyric sheet, even “Solicitor of Evil” — the longest cut at 6:56 and the presumed side B leadoff — doesn’t seem to be explicitly about killing women, so that’s a plus too if we’re thinking in the sphere of post-Uncle Acid garage doom. Certainly not every band can say the same. I like to think of “Solicitor of Evil” like a devilish attorney, but I’ll say again, I haven’t seen a lyric sheet to confirm that. Would be fun though.

On a lot of records, “Solicitor of Evil,” with its late wah bass and ultra-swing, would be the grand finale, but on Hymns of the Damned it’s just an introduction to the next stage, with “Green River,” “Reverend Death” and “Forever Trapped in Hell” reigniting the riffy momentum — and cowbell — of “Shadow in the Night” and bringing about a more bounding conclusion. In terms of general sound, there’s isn’t so much of a radical shift, but especially across multiple listens, the change is evident as “Solicitor of Evil” gives way to “Green River,” the storytelling aspect of which — “Walking down that dusty road…,” etc. — likewise signals a change of angle. Like the structure of the album generally, it’s not a move a less confident band could pull off, but Hazemaze do it by simply doing it, and that in itself is a statement of who they are as a group. As their second album careens to its brash finish with “Forever Trapped in Hell,” the more active and tightened craft only seems to underscore the point of Hazemaze‘s momentum earlier on the LP, their last hook giving way to a winding charge with a solo in the last minute and a series of hits that uses every single one of the track’s four minutes and 11 seconds. It is righteous and portentous in kind, since Hazemaze come across in the end like a band that still has much more to say; “leave ’em wanting more,” and all that. They do, even with the rest of Hymns of the Damned leading into “Forever Trapped in Hell,” and one can’t help but think that whatever the three-piece do from here, they’ll only have benefited from being so sure and so correct in the decisions they made with and within this material.

Hazemaze on Bandcamp

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Gaupa Self-Titled Debut EP out on Vinyl Oct. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gaupa
Bookended by two seven-minute sprawlers, Gaupa‘s five-track 2018 self-titled EP is set to see vinyl reissue this month through Kozmik Artifactz. As one might expect, the band give multiple looks throughout the release, from the mystical grunge of “Febersvan” and “Bergatroll” to the strutting “Gryt” and the punkish “The Drunk Autopussy Wants to Fight You.” With “Kartan” in the middle, it seems for a bit like the Swedish outfit are veering into and out of the ethereal — and maybe they are, to a degree — but with vocalist Emma Näslund showcasing a strong Björk influence and a strong sense of weight in the guitar and bass, they seem to have no trouble whatsoever with that complex navigation.

I hadn’t heard the EP before or I’d probably have written about it one way or the other, so if nothing else, I’m glad the news of the reissue gave me a chance to take a listen. I’ve included the Bandcamp stream of the thing — though the vinyl’s been remastered by Tony Reed, so take that into consideration as well — for you to check out in case you’d like to do the same.

Dig:

gaupa gaupa

Gaupa Release Special Edition Debut EP On Vinyl!

GAUPA (lynx in Swedish) is a rock band from Falun, Sweden. With surreal lyrics, an energetic female singer, and a sound of progressive stoner rock with doom/folk/psychedelic influences. GAUPA released their debut EP in June 2018 to much praise and excitement throughout the underground scene.

Now this great five track EP has been spiced up with 2 live tracks which were recorded at Sweden Rock Festival 2018, resulting in a full-length vinyl release carefully remastered by the incredible Tony Reed (Mos Generator) for the best possible sound on heavy wax!

Gaupa will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl on the 25th of October on Kozmik Artifactz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Febersvan
2. The Drunk Autopussy Wants To Fight You
3. Kartan
4. Gryt
5. Bergatroll

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

https://www.facebook.com/gaupaband/
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https://gaupaband.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Gaupa, Gaupa EP (2018)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Stew, People

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stew people

[Click play above to stream Stew’s People in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow on Ripple Music. Preorder here.]

Dig into the speed-shuffle vibes and overlaid bluesy overtones of sub-three-minute centerpiece “Play the Fool” and all questions about what Stew are up to should be summarily put to bed. There are few name brands as reliable these days as Swedish Boogie Rock, and while the country and the greater European underground has seen no shortage thereof over the course of this decade, the heavy ’10s round out in strong fashion with Stew‘s Ripple Music-delivered debut album, People. They tip the balance to one side or another in terms of mood and tempo, as one would hope, over the course of the 11-tracker — really 10 and the 32-second “Intro” that starts off — but what makes the crisp 37-minute offering so distinct is the momentum that carries the Lindesberg three-piece through and in particular how much guitarist Nicklas Jansson is responsible for that.

Of course, guitar leading the way through what’s essentially a riff-driven style of heavy rock isn’t so much a surprise as it is a tenet of the genre — and indeed, Stew‘s work will be readily familiar in its ’70s-worship purposes to the converted — but even with that in consideration, the way Jansson interacts musically with bassist/vocalist Markus Åsland and drummer Nicklas Dahlgren proves fascinating and is something that stands the band out among their many bluesy peers. Solos and lead lines periodically step forward to do the work of riffs, as in side B’s “Sweet and True” or the earlier title-track, with its subtly winding progression during the verse and nigh-on-hypnotic jam in its second half (the song, by the way, is under four minutes long, so take “jam” relative to that), and that gives Stew an all the more dynamic sound as they move through more straightforward fare like “Newborn” at a comfortable mid-paced sleek, dropping hooks as they go as trailmarkers for those making their way through an album that still somehow feels light on flourish.

Åsland‘s performance on vocals as well is worth specific note, as the character he brings to a song like “Endless Journey,” finds him settled into a niche somewhere between Chris Cornell and Robert Plant as the track careens between volume changes. From the outset of post-“Into” opener “Right on Time,” through “People” and the slower turn of “Newborn” after the opening salvo is concluded, Åsland is in command of the proceedings vocally and he remains so for the duration. Between his presence and Jansson‘s standout guitar work, Stew hone the very classic-power-trio impression they would so much seem to be shooting for — and in righteous fashion, most especially for the spirited edge they bring to the style. That is, they’re playing to genre, no question, but they’re bringing a sense of who they are as artists to that. It can be heard in a track like “Fruits,” which delves into more spacious fare pushed forward by Dahlgren‘s drumming, the swing of which is a somewhat understated but ultra-necessary anchor for the proceedings as a whole, and it’s their burgeoning identity that helps them stave off stylistic redundancy.

stew

And it is burgeoning. One should know going in that Stew seem by no means to be a finished product on their first album, but what they do throughout People, all the way down to the birdsong-laced acoustic closer “Morning Again,” is to give an initial showcase from which to build as they move forward. They’re working to establish themselves within a crowded subset of heavy rock that has been largely abandoned by its foremost champions, and while they bring classic ideas to bear with a modern production style and clarity, their purposes remain fluid throughout in songwriting and their ability to shift between various vibes, from the smooth semi-psych melodies of “Goddess” and the mellow blues in the first half of “Afraid of Getting Nowhere” to the rock ‘n’ riot of “Play the Fool” and the earlier one-two punch in “Right on Time” and “People,” they’re only bolstered by the obvious strength that comes from such flexibility.

When it comes to getting on board, they make it easy. People isn’t about issuing challenges to its audience so much as bidding welcome, and of course the familiarity at play in their sound is a part of that. They’re using the more established aspects of their sound — their direct influence from modern takes on vintage heavy — as a way of connecting with a specific listener, who knows what they’re doing and appreciates it, but the whole thing would fall flat were it not for the songwriting and performance underlying. It’s easy enough — if potentially expensive — to fire up the right gear and roll out a bit of boogie here and there, but to do so while leaving behind memorable tracks marked by highlight interplay between the members of the band is something else and something worth celebrating. As People plays out across its tight 37-minute run, it’s no challenge to discern where the band are coming from, but especially in considering it as their debut LP, even that fact says something positive about how they’re able to bring their stylizations to bear in such an effective way.

I don’t necessarily think Stew are setting out to rewrite the script when it comes to how boogie jams happen, and frankly, they don’t need to be. The only real shame about People is that it’s coming out as the air is getting colder and the nights are getting longer, instead of the opposite. Maybe it’s perfect Australian summer album. It’s not so much that its centered around tonal warmth, but there is something wholesome and sincere about its bluesy execution that seems just made for the outdoors, for sunshine, for some small “festival” happening on a stage outside in a Swedish forest with good friends and copious coolers of beer, maybe. I’m sure a given listener can paint their own scenario, but inspiring that too stands as one of Stew‘s marked strengths. There are more than a few throughout People, and they all tend to bode well for the band’s future prospects.

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