Review & Full Album Premiere: Bottenhavet, Ljud i Tysta Rum

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Bottenhavet Ljud i tysta rum

Stockholm’s Bottenhavet make their full-length debut this week with Ljud i Tysta Rum on Fuzzorama Records. And yes, it’s in Swedish; titles and lyrics. I’ll spare you Anglicizing the songs or words — part out of respect to what feels like an aesthetic choice on the part of the four-piece, part just because there’s only so much room to go around and I’d rather talk about the music — and the truth of the matter is that while I don’t doubt the band have something to say, there’s plenty that gets posted around here in English that’s even less decipherable. If you find yourself wanting to sing along, swept up perhaps by opening cut “Våg” as it moves into its soaring chorus driven by a duly-fuzzed surge from Andreas Bohman‘s guitar, David Lecander‘s bass and Marcus Wigren‘s drums with the vocals of Kim Minkkinen, especially to my fellow Americans reading this sentence, I’ll just remind you that nobody’s gonna yell at you if you get the accent wrong in following the melody. We’re all friends here.

Its eight songs split in half such that the cyclical hum of interlude “Frågor Utan Svar” feeds into the start of “Jord” on side B — obviously in CD/DL, that’s a direct shift — Ljud i Tysta Rum (‘sound in quiet rooms’) plays out its 36 minutes with hook-minded accessibility, hitting hard at the outset with the aforementioned “Våg” to make sure all who are getting on board have good reason, before letting a more spacious verse hint at some of the progressive aspects that underscore “Bränn Broar” or the piano-inclusive “I Skuggan” in the shimmering, patient solo that matches the soulful vocal atop its post-Soundgarden nodding fluidity, and the twisting stylizations of guitar leading through vibrant closer “Hennes Liv.” To complement this emergent nuance, the big-riff ideology of “Talar Miljon,” the space cast in “Motorväg” to follow that of “Våg,” and even the drop to strum and vocals at the culmination of “Jord” — just talking about the last 20 seconds of the song, never mind what’s before that — offer character and craft alike, resulting in anBottenhavet across-album flow that is neither hurried nor content to dwell in one place in terms of sound.

These elements seem to have been there at the band’s beginnings in 2021’s Ett Hav av Tå​rar EP, which was answered over the next year by a trio of standalone singles, but Ljud i Tysta Rum is clear in its intention to continue to move forward along its varied course. What draws the individual pieces that comprise the record together are the tones, the vocals and the commitment to traditional heavy rock verse/chorus structures — “Frågor Utan Svar” notwithstanding — that make “Våg,” “Talar Miljon” and “Bränn Broar” with its furiously-drummed intro such an effective opening salvo. And while the dynamic at root in Bottenhavet‘s sound lets them explore the reaches and breadth in the payoff of the latter there before side A ends with its guitar almost solely focused on atmosphere is surely bolstered through the production of Robert Pehrsson, the immediacy of those initial moments never dissipates, even as the melancholic blues of “I Skugget” set out on their linear building course soon followed by . That is to say, in the foundations of the songs, Bottenhavet capture and maintain a live energy and momentum front-to-back, and the audience’s listening experience feels like a consideration in that balance.

And balance is a big part of by Ljud i Tysta Rum works so well and holds such promise. Regardless of the language barrier, it is thoroughly Swedish in style, and whether it’s a flash of Skraeckoedlan‘s melodiousness or Truckfighters‘ shove, Graveyard‘s soul or a Dozerian charge — and don’t make me namedrop November for classic prog; I’m just crazy enough to do it — a rich history and tapestry of Bottenhavet‘s native underground influences can be felt throughout, even as the band begin to distill them into the persona that they will hopefully carry ahead on subsequent offerings. To present thrills and optimistic futures, then. Skål.

Ljud i Tysta Rum streams in its entirety below. Bottenhavet have dates coming up in Sweden, Poland and Finland, and you’ll find those along with more PR wire background and the video for “Våg” after the YouTube embed.

Happy trails:

Bottenhavet, Ljud i Tysta Rum album premiere

Preorder link:

Bottenhavet (translates to ’The Bothnian Sea’) was originally formed in 2020 by Marcus Wigren, Kim Minkkinen and Charlie Karlsson (2020-2023), and later joined by Andreas Bohman (2021). All being musicians with various musical backgrounds adding their skills and preferences to the mix that together creates the ”Bothnian sound”. To add another layer of uniqueness to the music, the songs are sung in their native language, Swedish. After gaining a steadily increasing following with their initial four track EP release “Ett hav av tårar” (released March 19th 2021) as well as follow up singles “När tiden dör”, “Faller” (released summer and autumn of 2021) and “Allt på svart” (released spring of 2022), the band knew it was about time to start working on their debut album.

The writing process started late 2022. And in mid April 2023 Bottenhavet entered Studio Humbucker, owned and run by the legendary Robert Pehrsson (known from Robert Pehrsson Humbucker, Death breath, Dundertåget, Imperial state electric etc), to record drums. Vocals and guitars were recorded by the band themselves before Pehrsson later mixed and mastered the album. In the summer of 2023 Bottenhavet signed a record deal with Fuzzorama Records, run by none less than the masterminds behind fuzz rock giants Truckfighters, Oskar Cedermalm and Niklas Källgren. The album ‘Ljud i tysta rum’ is to be released on Fuzzorama Records in early 2024.

In 2023 the band played the 4th edition of Fuzz Festival in Stockholm and David Lecander joined the band.

‘Ljud i tysta rum’ album tracklisting:
1. Våg
2. Talar miljon
3. Bränn Broar
4. Frågor Utan Svar
5. Jord
6. Motorväg
7. I Skuggan
8. Hennes Liv

Touring coming up as well, don’t miss out:

APR 13 – LATITUDE 59 – Uppsala, SWE
APR 18 – UTOPIA – Turku, FIN
MAY 4 – TBA – Stockholm, SWE
MAY 16 – 2PROGI – Poznan, PL
MAY 17 – PROXIMA – Warzawa, PL

Get tickets HERE:

Kim Minkkinen – Vocals
Marcus Wigren – Drums
Andreas Bohman – Guitar
David Lecander – Bass

Bottenhavet, “Våg” official video

Bottenhavet on Facebook

Bottenhavet on Instagram

Bottenhavet on YouTube

Bottenhavet on Bandcamp

Bottenhavet website

Fuzzorama Records website

Fuzzorama Records on Facebook

Fuzzorama Records on Instagram

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

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Full Album Stream & Track-by-Track: Esben Willems, Glowing Darkness

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on March 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

esben willems glowing darkness

This Friday, Esben Willems will make his solo debut with the full-length Glowing Darkness on Majestic Mountain Records, and I won’t mince words in telling you that for some of the built-in audience who know him only from his output as the drummer of Swedish riff magnates Monolord, it’s going to seem like a pretty stark departure. The path of influence that’s brought Willems to this nine-song, 33-minute long-player is more complex than a simple ‘band wasn’t on tour so I made a record by myself’ narrative one might try to impose on it, and from the insistent weirdo-pop urgency of “Cabaret Street” — as if to jolt one awake at the outset — through the guitar-led bounce of the title-track and the finale “Across the Everything,” which presents a sound that is full and atmospheric while still not tying itself to this or that microgenre, the personality of the procession becomes like a series of experiments brought to fruition in order to actively work against the generic in and around heavy music.

Recording himself on all instruments at Studio Berserk in Gothenburg, where there’s at least a 30 percent chance he also mastered your album, Willems runs through a succession of cuts that seems to owe its core ethic of creative freedom to Talking Heads no less than Masters of Reality, with “Dear Demon” and “Carte Blanche” building on the catchy structure of “Cabaret Street” in a way that allows Glowing Darkness to remain cohesive as it chasing down different ideas. Would it be a shock if I told you it’s well produced?

Those who’ve perhaps followed Willems through his various collaborations in recent years — lest we forget the “here’s some beats have fun” drum patterns he posted during the covid pandemic that led to his ‘guesting’ on releases from all over the world — or who even took on the earlier-this-year self-titled debut from doom-does-Slayer covers project Slower (review here), might be better set up to follow where Glowing Darkness is headed, but one way or the other, the reward is there for the open-minded, and the palpable defiance of expectation brims with purpose. As the standalone layered vocals and last guitar noodle of “Carte Blanche” give over to the more sauntering groove of “Embrace the Fall,” daring a bit of funk in the nuanced pattern of the verse before opening to the rolling chorus, Willems feels strikingly clearheaded in his arrangements and the balance of the mix.

And while mostly traditionalist in verse/chorus structures, the material is all the more able to explore and expand stylistically for that sure footing, but it’s also concise enough that only “Cabaret Street” and “Across the Everything” push beyond a four-minute runtime, the latter serving as the longest inclusion at 5:01. It may be that Willems sat down and plotted out measure by measure, layer by layer, waveform by waveform, the various reaches into which Glowing Darkness delves — I honestly don’t know and I don’t have the track-by-track yet, so maybe we’ll find out together — but whatever the initial spark might have been for the minimalist-Nirvana-meets-cavernous-nod centerpiece “Slow Rain,” the feeling of spontaneity, and of a creative chase, of an artist figuring out in real-time who they are and how they want to bring the songs in their head to life, remains amid the tight and Esben Willemshammered-out spirit of the finished LP.

Tucked away cozily in the procession of side B, “Space Bob” leans percussive intricacy on a fuzzy riff that’s simpler but sturdy enough to support all the activity and finds Willems repeating the lines, “I had to save myself/This head/Caught fire,” as the guitar grows more fervent before receding. It’s three minutes long and doesn’t come anywhere near summarizing Glowing Darkness as a whole — it’s not trying to — but it does capture a specific portrait of creative urgency. Have you ever felt like your head’s on fire? Like there’s something you need to get out, to express, to say or do or share and you’re consumed by that thing until you actually make it happen? I do, often. In that way, “Space Bob” feels like it’s about its own making, the way it’s built up to what Willems wanted it to be or until he was satisfied enough with what it became to say it’s done. Isn’t that what being an artist is like? Your head’s just on fire all the time? Maybe Willems intended the metaphor and maybe not, but the notion of artistic expression being what ‘saves’ you from the fire resonates. Sometimes it’s like that.

What Willems in the track-by-track/interview that follows refers to as “limitations” become quirks in craft and style. The way the vocals are layered and patterned. The stops in the guitar of “Fortune Teller” that bounce while feeling intimate and personal like some lost McCartney-era experiment, or the way “Across the Everything” lets itself submerge in the wash of tone and space before Glowing Darkness ends with drums and voice alone, heavy in tone and presence but still very much its own take. One could hardly ask a more fitting resolution, not the least because it also doesn’t attempt to summarize so much as to keep adding to the breadth of the whole album while staying grounded in structure. That duality becomes crucial throughout.

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview Willems a few times over the last several years, and probably could’ve fired up Zoom to make an ass out of myself for a video chat. But since the album’s streaming in full, you’re not likely to watch a video at the same time you’re listening to the record, and I think there’s something appealing about reading an artist’s view of their work while you listen to the work itself; a multi-sensory immersion. One way or the other, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Glowing Darkness can be heard in its entirety on the player below, followed by the track-by-track:

Glowing Darkness track-by-track with Esben Willems

When did Glowing Darkness start to come together? How far back do these songs go, and at what point did you know you wanted to make an album under your own name as opposed to starting another band?

It’s been lingering for a long time, I wanted to get back to writing and recording music on the side again. I love side-projects and how they fuel the creativity in unexpected ways, I’ve always had the need to create in multiple different directions. The journey we’ve made with Monolord the past decade has been overwhelmingly amazing; the effect of that has also been that between tours, behind the scenes admin work and most important of all family, I haven’t had the time to explore much else. In 2019, we decided to take one season off from touring with the band – simply to recharge – and shortly after that the pandemic hit, so all that combined was the perfect opportunity to play around with these song ideas, some of them probably about 15 years old, I don’t really remember. Misfit, maladjusted little nuggets that didn’t really fit in any other project along the way, but all of them ideas I returned to when rummaging through the digital archives, as one does every now and then.

I figured that if these songs made me smile, there should be at least a handful of people on this planet that are wired the same way I am and would feel the same, so I started reworking them and rewriting most of the lyrics to what felt relevant in my life now. Also, I’ve often preached to people around me that they should embrace their limitations and create regardless of them, instead turning those limitations into creative tools, but I have been really bad at adapting that mindset myself, so I felt that this would be a great way to give myself a Henry Rollins asskicking to get going. So, that’s the reason this is not a new band and it’s also the reason that I’m playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals, warts and all, just to see what I could accomplish with the quite substantial limitations I have outside of the drumkit. And inside of it, for that matter. Incredibly scary, which also fueled the inspiration even further.

What do you most want people who only know you from Monolord to know about these songs? Imagine someone is about to put it on for the first time. What should their mindset be?

That it’s not Monolord, at all. I don’t want to deceive anyone into expecting that this will be a rumble fest in a slightly different direction. I love that and those projects of mine will also be recorded and released, but this one is a ticket to somewhere else. Speaking of describing music, I love how we all perceive music so differently. We can love the same thing, but most likely from entirely different perspectives and we can hate something the same way. I’ve seen this described as some sort of post-punk several times now and that is not even remotely close to what I hear myself. Which is really cool, it’s all been mentioned as a compliment and I’ll take it, regardless of whatever genre this might be considered as.

Let’s go through the tracks. “Cabaret Street”:

I was frustrated about how so much of my surroundings and even my own behaviour revolved around the insatiable search for validation. It might sound like a “social media is bad and I’m afraid of wifi” statement, but I feel that blaming social media only is a bit one-dimensional and lazy, to me this virus culture is equally fueled by how our society is constructed. Social media is just a tumorous result of that, I think. Social media is also an amazing tool, if used right.

If this song is anti- anything, it would be anti-capitalism.

“Dear Demon”

I guess many of us have that head demon that never sleeps, that beast who’s never out of energy to remind you that you’re not good enough, that your desperate attempts to matter are nothing more than embarrassingly transparent and laughable theatrics. This is my love letter to my own demon, just to confuse it. I know it won’t confuse it for long, it will be back with full force tomorrow. But so will I and my coffee is both stronger and real.

“Carte Blanche”

It seems to be a permanent human flaw that we in the bigger picture never – or very rarely – really learn from our mistakes. When a relationship, a job, any human interaction goes wrong we tend to just end it without reflection, replace it with something similar and repeat the process elsewhere with someone else, naively hoping that this utopia will be different. We start things the same way and we end things the same way, rinse and repeat. Denial is an addictive spice.

“Embrace the Fall”

Speaking of denial, the collective version of that in the shape of the silently socially accepted self medication is peak tragicomedy to me. Or rather, the tragicomedy lies in it’s collective denial, not the actual numbing by beers, by I’m-not-addicted-I-can-quit-anytime-there-are-no-side-effects-420brah weed or whatever your preferred sedative might be. Not saying that I don’t embrace the buzz of my gentrified hazy IPA – I really do – I just find some kind of dark humor in that I also participate in that game of pretending.

“Slow Rain”

A deliberately slow one about the process of breaking on the inside, over and over, but still keep functioning on the outside, no matter what. The constant battle between strength and fragility.

“Glowing Darkness”

Even though life can feel bleak and uphill, there are always bright spots in the darkness. They might be small and seemingly insignificant, but they sometimes shines a brighter light than you’d maybe expect.

“Space Bob”

I think and hope this one is self-explanatory. If not, it might be because you didn’t save yourself when your head caught fire. You have to.

“Fortune Teller”

This is to my life companion, what we have is incredible to me. Through all the bumps and twists and turns, we have the best of rides. I love her.

“Across the Everything”

I love playing live and being able to travel the world to do so. But it comes at the expense of deeply missing my loved ones, especially my kid as a parent. Not being there in the flesh is heartbreaking and something I always struggle with when I tour. This is to my son, my promise that I will always come home.

Now that Glowing Darkness is coming out – and releasing it has been in the works for a while, right? – how are you feeling about the release? Are you relieved to have it out in the world (almost), inspired to move forward as a songwriter, tired of the whole idea? What comes next?

It’s indeed been in the works for quite a while, yes, so it feels really good to finally have it out. Also, as with every new release, nervous. I hope that people that are into this kind of music will enjoy it.

I’m always inspired to move forward, to make new music. More projects are already in the works, both solo type stuff and projects with others. Regarding writing music, I’m finally getting back to it, having been away from it for almost a decade. I’m rusty, but I’m having tons of fun in the process.

Anything else you want to say about the record, or anything else generally?

Listen to music, a lot of music, as far and wide in genres and cultures as you can. Don’t limit yourself with predefined taste. Puritanism is boring. Curiosity is not.

Esben Willems, “Dear Demon” official video

Esben Willems, “Cabaret Street” official video

Esben Willems on Facebook

Esben Willems on Instagram

Esben Willems on Bandcamp

Studio Berserk

Majestic Mountain Records on Instagram

Majestic Mountain Records on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store

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Greenleaf to Release The Head and the Habit June 26; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Greenleaf (photo by Mats Ek)

Well, the album was the missing piece to Greenleaf spending much of the rest of 2024 on tour supporting a new album, so this little bit of paperwork takes care of that. The announcement just came through and brings the first single “Breathe, Breathe Out” from the record in question, titled The Head and the Habit and due June 26 through Magnetic Eye Records, which I haven’t even had time yet to hear owing to the domestic whathaveyou of a given morning. I’ll get there as soon as possible, to be sure. [EDIT: Got there. The video is charming and the song feels right on. Duh, I’m stoked for the record.]

Expect summer and autumn tours around the fest appearances listed below, more to come on the album, and, well, probably a lot of me nerding out about Greenleaf coinciding with all of it. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band a couple times in the last few years, and in addition to being gentlemen of the highest order, they’re brilliant on stage. Catch them if you can.

More later. This now:

Greenleaf the head and the Habit

GREENLEAF release first video single ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ and details of new album “The Head & The Habit”!

Swedish heavy rockers GREENLEAF release the tongue-in-cheek video clip and super catchy tune ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ as the first driving single taken from their forthcoming full-length “The Head & The Habit”, which is slated for release on June 26, 2024 via Magnetic Eye Records!

The album pre-sale has just started at

The video ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ combines the struggles of great parenting with social commentary on the generational gap and film directing.

“The first single ‘Breathe, Breathe Out’ conveys a message of self-reflection and resilience”, explains vocalist Arvid Hällagård. “The repetition of the chorus emphasizes the importance of taking a moment to relax and let go of negative emotions. The overall theme encourages embracing one’s current state, appreciating what you have, and navigating through life with a sense of control and acceptance. I’ve had to teach these things to myself during the last couple of years. This is also the overall theme of the album, the head and its habits.”

With their ninth full-length “The Head & The Habit”, GREENLEAF have reached the pinnacle of a long evolution. The musical handwriting and well-honed mastery of guitarist Tommi Holappa, who has been a pioneer and pillar of the European stoner rock scene for more than 25 years, shines clearly through. This is perfectly complemented by the soulfulness, intuitive sense of melody, and depth of character that the vocals of classically-trained singer Arvid Hällagård brings to the sound of GREENLEAF.

Apart from world-class vocal lines and massive riffs with electric fuzz-power, GREENLEAF have put extra thought into the themes of “The Head & The Habit”, which lift its lyrics far above much of the often cliché-ridden genre. As the album title implies, the new songs resemble symbolic short stories that revolve around emotional struggles and even mental illness. Written by the vocalist, the lyrics reflect real life experience as Hällagård works with people who suffer from problems with drug abuse and psychological health.

1. Breathe, Breathe Out
2. Avalanche
3. Different Horses
4. A Wolfe in My Mind
5. That Obsidian Grin
6. The Sirens Sound
7. Oh Dandelion
8. The Tricking Tree
9. An Alabastrine Smile

2 APR 2024 Barcelona (ES) BCN @ Sala Upload
3 APR 2024 Bilbao (ES) Bullitt Groove Club
04 APR 2024 Avilés (ES) Factoria Sound
05 APR 2024 Porto (PT) Hard Club
06 APR 2024 Madrid (ES) Wurlitzer Ballroom
05 JUN 2024 London (UK) Stoomfest
12 June 2024 Erfurt (DE) Stoned from the Underground
31 AUG 2024 Aarschot (BE) Down the Hill
12 OCT 2024 München (DE) Keep It Low

Recording with Karl Daniel Lidén at Studio Gröndahl, Stockholm (SE)
Additional vocals recorded by Arvid Hällagård at Studio Baking Cabin
Mix by Karl Daniel Lidén in Tri-lamb Studios, Stockholm (SE)
Mastering by Karl Daniel Lidén in Tri-lamb Studios, Stockholm (SE)

Artwork by Arvid Hällagård
Layout by Arvid Hällagård & Lili Krischke

Arvid Hällagård – vocals
Tommi Holappa – guitars
Sebastian Olsson – drums
Hans Fröhlich – bass

Greenleaf, “Breathe, Breathe Out” official video

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Skraeckoedlan Premiere Vermillion Sky LP in Full; Out Wednesday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Skraeckoedlan Vermillion Sky

This Wednesday, March 27, Swedish heavy and progressive rockers Skraeckoedlan return with their fourth full-length, Vermillion Sky. It is their second LP through Fuzzorama Records behind the sprawling realization of 2019’s Eorþe (review here), with the years between finding the Borlänge/Norrköping four-piece reissuing their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here) and its 2015 follow-up, Sagor (review here), through The Sign Records, and its arrival has been anticipated since the band unveiled “The Vermillion Sky” as a standalone single over half a year ago.

Vermillion Sky is a multifaceted project even before one gets to the rhythmic twists and melodic reaches, the grandiosities and quiet moments offered in its component eight tracks and 47 minutes, and if part of either that span of months or the not-accounted-for-by-plague portion of the five years it’s been since Eorþe comes from lining up logistics on either the video game or English-language novel intended to be released to complement the music, fair enough, though it was four between Sagor and that record as well, so it’s not an outlandish dearth of activity by any means. The novelization of Vermillion Sky, reportedly broken into chapters around each song, will perhaps be of particular interest to that non-Swedish-speaking contingent of their listenership who’ve maybe not been curious enough to run their lyrics through a translation matrix to get a semblance of the themes out of science-fiction, daikaiju, and so on.

To wit, “The Vermillion Sky,” caps an expansive A-side that begins with the drone-backed staticky dialogue in the two-minute intro “Cosmic Dawn” from whence a Devin Townsendy prog flow emerges with the anchoring fuzz on Erik Berggren‘s bass and fluid drumming of Martin Larsson‘s drums complemented by shimmer of synth and the guitars of Robert Lamu and Henrik Grüttner in a showcase of maturity and (condensed) patience that serves as preface to the stately composition of the title-track and others here. That obscured speech, mixed low enough that you genuinely might not hear it the first time through, ties into the escape-from-earth — and no, it’s not lost on me that their last record was ‘earth’ in translation — narrative of “The Vermillion Sky,” and while they seem to work in as well as around this thematic and it might at first be unclear how the hooky repetitions of the in-English title lyric to second single “Night Satan” fit in, the concept remains present for the lines, “Så lägg din hand i min och visa mig bland stjärnorna/Jag la min hand i din och du visa mig oändlighet” (“So put your hand in mine and show me the stars/I put my hand in yours and you show me infinity,” according to the internet), so those connections are there if not always obvious. One assumes the same applies for the likes of “Starsquatch,” “Metagalactic Void Honcho,” who sounds as burly as one might expect given the title, “Meteorb” or “Astronautilus” as well.

But even if you as the listener don’t take Vermillion Sky on for its storyline at all or if scrolling shooter games aren’t your thing, the songs are enough to carry you through. “Starsquatch” enters with a burst, resets in an open expanse of keyboard and sweeps in the first of a vast collection of massive grooves, characteristic in its adherence to fuzzier tonality and arrangement depth evident even just in the space between the guitar and drums, never mind the e-bow or whatever effect it is or the arrangement of lead and backing vocals in the rolling chorus. Hitting a stop at 4:40 into its 7:58, they break to echoing vocals and standalone guitar before surging forward again in a pointed wash of distortion that turns out to be a misdirect as they cut to clearer-sounding dual-guitar leads and a faster tempo verse ahead of the actual solo. Of course the riff comes back, bigger and more consuming, and the pattern of side A is set when “Mysteria” takes its turn riff-punching through the wall with dense low end and purposeful shove — the first half of the album trading shorter-to-longer pieces starting with “Cosmic Dawn” and the second half switching that to its own two longer tracks bookending the relative brevity of “Night Satan” and “Meteorb.”


So Skraeckoedlan are playing with time as well as space on Vermillion Sky, and the level of composition and nuance with which they do so shouldn’t be understated. Lamu‘s vocal melodies — and I’m sorry, I don’t know every detail on who’s doing what vocally here, but there are voice-swaps enough to make me think it’s multiple singers — go beyond following the riffs, which are occasionally busy enough that that would be a challenge anyway, and feel like part of the atmosphere along with the Mellotron and Rhodes (or some such) that further distinguish “Mysteria” after the push through its first half has already brought intense strikes of piano as part of its culminating build just before the two-and-a-half-minute mark.

That holds true in rougher-delivered or shoutier stretches like the end of “Mysteria,” or the gutted-out verses of “Metagalactic Void Honcho” surrounded by what sounds like duly gravitational destruction that dares some hope in its lead-topped final nod before it cuts to far-back guitar echoes and thud to end, or the galloping midsection of “Meteorb,” wherein even the air-tight structure and quick 3:38 runtime are enough for the band to use vocals as an instrument corresponding to the mood of a given part. The scorch of keyboard in that song’s charge, the way the drums open up the groove in the last hook, the details and nuance of the keys, synth, guitar, effects, whatever, in the mix — it all comes together as a complete representation of craft from Skraeckoedlan that feels deeper and more dug into its own processes than they’ve been before, but at the same time is more engaging and outward-reaching for that. If that’s a mature Skraeckoedlan self-producing and wielding their own sound, cognizant of their dynamic and the physicality of the material they’re writing, I’ll take it happily. They always feel like they’re ready to break out and run. That catch-up-to-this energy is always there, pulling the audience forward.

At the same time, their sense of control is palpable, whether it’s the look-what-we-can-do-with-a-stoner-riff mid-tempo chug in the verses of “Night Satan” — lest we forget their tonal and recording tutelage under Truckfighters (who also run Fuzzorama Records) — or the furies manifest in dramatic style on “Metagalactic Void Honcho” just before, but detracts neither from the energy in their delivery or their willingness to go all-in on an arrangement like “Astronautilus,” mellowing after its verse for a moment of proggy, key-topped exploration as it circles around and builds tension for its flowing, deceptively graceful emergence, leading into a solo and chorus that reinforce notions of structure even as they adrenaline-boost Vermillion Sky out of the atmosphere and into the resonant float of its comedown, some staticky layer there calling back to the opening of “Cosmic Dawn” as that structural cohesion finds its own meta level on which to operate.

Each album Skraeckoedlan have released has been an incremental step forward creatively from the one before it, and that applies to Vermillion Sky even as the band further define and distinguish an idea of their individual sound. That they recorded and mixed it themselves (Magnus Lindberg mastered) is also a crucial consideration — not because of any kind of down-scaling in production value; there isn’t one — but as another way to continue to grow as a unit and a means of more directly bringing their music to life. And whatever else is happening around them in various media, whatever apocalypses they’re conveying in the world they’ve conjured, these songs feel utterly alive.

The album streams in full below. Please enjoy:

Skraeckoedlan, Vermillion Sky album premiere

Order link:

In short, this is a sci-fi themed concept piece that screams DIY, having been entirely written, recorded, produced and mixed by the band themselves. A huge undertaking, especially considering one of the first steps in the process was basically to google: “how to properly mic a snare drum”. Mastering however has been beautifully done by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna), which as always has yielded fantastic results.

Speaking of DIY and huge undertakings, Vermillion Sky will also be available as a novel (date to come), where each chapter corresponds to a track on the album. The story has been written by the band and is for those that want to take a real deep dive into the concept and join the crew of the Vermillion Sky as they unravel a mystery with galactic consequences. Contrary to the signature Swedish lyrics of the songs, the novel is in English.

An even more active way to interact with the release is to play the Vermillion Sky computer game the band has helped create. It’s an 8-bit style point chaser, where you travel through the Void as the ship, collecting upgrades to survive the multitude of enemies trying to put an end to your journey. If you want the absolute best experience of the game, make sure to come to one of the release tour shows, where Skraeckoedlan’s very own Vermillion Sky-arcade machine will be featured.

Live long and prosper!

Vermillion Sky tracklist
1. Cosmic Dawn (2:42)
2. Starsquatch (7:58)
3. Mysteria (5:21)
4. The Vermillion Sky (7:10)
5. Metagalactic Void Honcho (8:07)
6. Night Satan (4:53)
7. Meteorb (3:38)
8. Astronautilus (7:50)

Robert Lamu – Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar, Vocals
Erik Berggren – Bass, Vocals
Martin Larsson – Drums, Vocals

Skraeckoedlan, Vermillion Sky game preview

Skraeckoedlan’s website

Skraeckoedlan on Instagram

Skraeckoedlan on Facebook

Fuzzorama Records website

Fuzzorama Records on Facebook

Fuzzorama Records on Instagram

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

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Terra Black to Release All Descend on Bonebag Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

terra black

With an atmospheric immersion bolstered through its structural movement and heft of tone, with groove enough to stand up to its melodic reach, Terra Black‘s June 2023 debut, All Descend (review here), will see physical release this year on Bonebag Records. The Swedish imprint founded by Max Malmer, also of deep-cavern doomers Cavern Deep (see what I did there?), offered its first not-by-that-band release in early February’s Cataclysm by Troy the Band, and seems to be building gradually around projects it’s passionate about, which is the ideal. If you want to take a listen to All Descend on the player below — shades of Brume in “Ashes and Dust” and the nodding-huge “Spawn of Lyssa,” and so on —  I wouldn’t hesitate unless you’re trying to save money by not ordering the LP. Which you can’t do yet anyway, so you’re safe.

No reason not to dive in, then. No word yet on a release date or preorders or all that stuff, but it’ll come. The PR wire brought the signing announcement to start the process:

Terra Black All Descend

Gothenburg Occult Rockers Terra Black Sign with Bonebag Records for Physical Release of Debut Album

Swedish label Bonebag Records is thrilled to announce the signing of rising Gothenburg rockers Terra Black for the official release of their 2023 debut, All Descend.

Invoking dark atmospheres and Dante-esque soundscapes upon its digital release last year, All Descend roused many a sleeping stoner from their slumber with lyrics and themes focused on the Devil, demons, Wicca lore, and celestial destiny. Coupled with cosmic vocals, sullen yet melodious choruses and heavy doom drenched passages, the band’s sound and self-confidence has grown immeasurably since their formation in 2020.

Featuring singer/guitarist Ezgi, drummer Sophie, bassist Denice and guitarist Isak, Terra Black are also something of a coup for the self-proclaimed “murky label from Northern Sweden”, having been huge followers of the band since the release of their early singles ‘Triple Goddess’ (2021) and ‘Capra’ (2022).

“We finally got to see them live at House of Metal in Umeå and were immensely impressed by their sound and stage presence,” explains Bonebag Records owner, Max Malmer. “We’re excited to be able to give their debut album an official physical release and can’t wait to work closely with them on their follow-up, which they’re recording later this year.”

Details about the physical release of Terra Black’s All Descend (including pre-order) will be confirmed in due course by Bonebag Records but in the meantime, you can stream the album in full now at

Terra Black, All Descend (2023)

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Långfinger Premiere New Album Pendulum in Full; Out Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Langfinger Pendulum

Tomorrow, March 15, is the release date of the fourth Långfinger full-length, Pendulum. It’s the Gothenburg, Sweden, classic heavy rock trio’s first long-player since 2016’s Crossyears (review here), which, if you live in an anachronistic time bubble as I do, I’ll remind you was eight years ago. Even with their 2019 live album, aptly-titled Live (review here), and a concurrent split shared with countrymen JIRM, plenty of live work in the intervening time and guitarist Kalle Lilja‘s involvement with Wolves in HazeToad Venom and Welfare Sounds Studio, the latter being where Pendulum and Crossyears and a whole bunch of stuff for other bands have been recorded over that span of time, it’s probably been long enough. Comprised of 10 tracks — the player on their Bandcamp lists “Towering” twice, so shows 11 — the well-appreciated check-in from Lilja, vocalist/bassist Victor Crusner, who caps the aforementioned track with Mellotron as well, and drummer Jesper Pihl reminds of their foundation vintage-style heavy songcraft while expanding on the modern sound with which the album prior presented it.

Offered with a clarity of vision and sharp, clever twists of craft across its 36 minutes, Pendulum has no time to waste at its outset as “A Day at the Races” all but dispenses with intro formalities to start with its verse. That makes the trip to the chorus that much more efficient, and with a Spidergawdian electric surge in its hook and a quick glimpse in the bridge at some of the bluesy Greenleafery to come as “Dead Cult” caps side A and answers back to the strut and clearly purposeful kick-in-the-pants momentum-gathering of “A Day at the Races” and the subsequent “Cycles,” which is more brash as it proceeds through a still-efficient three-plus minutes, as well as some of the moodier Graveyard-style groove of “Arctic” before that song’s especially fervent payoff, with a full tonal push, lead notes in the chorus, and an adrenaline-bent last course of riffing. “Arctic” makes it clear that Långfinger are doing more on Pendulum than straight-ahead rocking, but in both that and “Towering,” which starts out mellower and lets its chorus largesse rear up from the verse with unhurried-but-not-lifeless guidance — also a ripping solo just past the middle before Lilja breaks out the Mellotron near the end; a stark change but well in line with both the traditions Långfinger are playing toward and the flow of the track itself — PihlCrusner and Lilja resonate with a command over their twisting grooves, melodies and structures that they’re not the same kids who put out Skygrounds in 2010, though even that debut knew where it wanted to be sound-wise.

And to that, weren’t Långfinger a boogie band? Retro ’70s vintage heavy? Wasn’t that the thing? Yeah, that’s part of it, but it’s hard to ignore Pendulum swinging like some kind of summary of the last two decades of pan-Scandinavian heavy highlights or the manner in which the three-piece place themselves in that same sphere. If they’re playing classic heavy, they are the classic heavy ideal they’re working toward. Side B rolls out with the two-minute instrumental “Observationsnivåer,” which meets its early drum gallop with a slap of Iommic shred — and did I actually hear piano flourish in that transition after? — and the saunter of “Team Building” that becomes a light lumber as the second verse sets up the solo turn at 2:05. Do they bring back the chorus of course they bring back the chorus. How do you think teams are built? “Orbiter,” which follows, is the longest inclusion on Pendulum at 4:33, and is more charged than “Team Building” while working in a similar atmosphere early on, bringing together some of the impulses from side A and finding its own balance. A brief moment of heavier pummel gives over to a psychedelic wash of effects and toe-tapper shimmer-prog, but by this point the listener can readily trust Långfinger won’t lose the thread, and indeed they don’t.

The arrival of the organ that leads into the penultimate title-track stands it out from its surroundings, but becomes a grounding element for a song that seems to find the farthest points of shove and drift on the album that shares its name. As they have all the while, Långfinger demonstrate a particular attention to endings, and “Pendulum” races to its own to let closer “Skuggornas Hov” stand apart with the returning Mellotron and what I’m pretty sure are the first in-Swedish lyrics they’ve ever had for a song. Led by acoustic guitar with its vocals sounding farther off the mic and loosely folkish, “Skuggornas Hov” is no less considered in not kicking into full-weight tone and half-shouted urgency than “Towering” or “Pendulum” were in doing so. It’s been a hell of an eight years for just about everybody on the planet one way or the other, and Långfinger — who were actively tracking a follow-up to Crossyears in 2021 — are no exception, but the maturity that bleeds through Pendulum‘s component material delivers the record as a whole with a firm sense of intention, and however much went into its construction over whatever stretch of that time, it was anything but wasted.

Pendulum premieres in its entirety below, followed by the album info unceremoniously hoisted from Bandcamp.

Please enjoy:

Stalwarts of the underground rock scene in Sweden for the better part of two decades, Långfinger is set to release their fourth album “Pendulum”. An album that is as much of a retrospective as it covers new methods of noise as the band reemerges for the first time since 2016’s LP “Crossyears”.

“Pendulum” delivers direct, intense and playful rock music in an immersive long play format which might not make sense in the grown-up digital age, but for Långfinger, rock n roll is not about growing up, or making sense for that matter. It’s about the exploration and continuum of all things related to their sound that was, is and will be.

1. A Day at the Races
2. Cycles
3. Arctic
4. Towering
5. Dead Cult
6. Observationsnivåer
7. Team Building
8. Orbiter
9. Pendulum
10. Skuggornas hov

Produced by Olle Björk, Johan Reivén & Per Stålberg
Recorded at Welfare Sounds by Olle Björk, Johan Reivén, Per Stålberg & Kalle Lilja
Mixed by Olle Björk at Welfare Sounds
Mastered by Johan Reivén at Audiolord Mastering
Additional Engineering & Editing by Kalle Lilja
Artwork: Tage Åsén
Cover Design: Emma Lilja

Långfinger are:
Kalle Lilja – guitar/backing vocals
Victor Crusner – vocals/bass/keys
Jesper Pihl – drums

Långfinger on Facebook

Långfinger on Instagram

Långfinger on Bandcamp

Långfinger website

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Walk Through Fire Premiere “Fall I Glömska”; Till Aska Due April 12

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 13th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Walk Through Fire

Swedish gruel-sludgers Walk Through Fire will self-release Till Aska on April 12. And, I mean, you can like the record if you want, but they’re not gonna take it easy on you. By design, Till Aska is extreme in sound and intense of purpose, with quiet stretches throughout like the intro to its opening title-track (and thus the record as a whole) and the first-five-minutes dirge reply of the finale “Rekviem” that are creepier than they are bludgeoning, but still carry a violent threat. With Andreas Olsson‘s low end punching you repeatedly about the head as the four-piece slog through churning wretched miseries made all the more monolithic by virtue of the lyrics being in Swedish — that is, the language barrier becomes part of the heavy — and delivered at the fore of the mix in harsh, mid-range, nodule-forming post-hardcore barks.

I’ll spare you the Ingmar Bergman comparisons, but yes, Till Aska‘s 53-minute/five-song stretch is plodding of tempo and seems to drain all the color from the world surrounding. It is either the band’s fourth or fifth album, depending on whom you ask, and follows the live-recorded 2020 outing Vår Avgrund, which, guess what, was also really, really fucking heavy and miserable, with longer songs and more noise. Lineup changes between the two releases have seen the band go from two guitars to just that of Ufuk Demir — who’s also the one self-flagellating those vocals — and brought Esaias Järnegard in on organ, while Olsson and drummer Juliusz Chmielewski give shape to the sad motion of the down, down, downer riffs in “Fall I Glömska” as the band conjure visions of being buried alive after tree roots pull you under the dirt by your ankles.

With the guitar so densely distorted, the bass Walk Through Fire Till Askachucking concrete throughout most of the proceedings and Demir‘s unipolar viciousness as a defining element, there are times like in the later reaches of centerpiece/shortest-track “Genom Sår” where Järnegard‘s organ is the only thing coming close to some kind of melody, and as that takes the form of sad notes floating and drawn out over the measures, even the idea of hope seems distant. They very clearly made it to be unsettling, and it is.

Till Aska is my first experience with Walk Through Fire — though they appeared here when announced for Desertfest London 2015, then supporting 2014’s Hope is Misery and sharing a stage with (among others) Noothgrush, which fits — and the spaces they leave open in the material, whether loud or subdued as they are building into the lurch of “Självförintelse,” are like traps for the listener. Some bands hook you with catchy choruses and uptempo movement, etc. Walk Through Fire, with an abiding bleakness of atmosphere and roiling aggression, feels as it plays out like you’re sinking deeper. The crash and feedback and scathe of “Självförintelse” gives way shortly before the nine-minute mark to a drone that’s not actually a sample of a cardiac monitor flatlining, but is evocative of one all the same, and it’s from there that “Rekviem” begins its instrumental course, mournful and disdaining.

Yeah, I was being glib above with ‘you can like it if you want,’ blah blah, but the truth is that Till Aska comes across as being precisely what Walk Through Fire wanted to make it, even unto the way the songs are laid out with the two longest pieces bookending and the others working toward the shortest in the middle. The seething, low, slow grind feels born of sludge but is darker, less punk and leant an almost gothic presence at times by the organ, and like a lot of extreme music across a spectrum of microgenres heavy or not, it’s not the kind of fare every listener is going to call accessible. That’s probably putting it mildly. “Resonates omnidirectional disgust” might be a better way to phrase.

But you know, sometimes that’s just what you need.

“Fall I Glömska” premieres below, followed by the preorder link and more info from the PR wire:

Walk Through Fire on “Fall I Glömska”:

This song was written on a piano and had the working title Nortt (referring to the Danish artist). The lyrics are a mantra repeating, “fall i glömska, fall isär, fall på plats” — “fall into oblivion, fall apart, fall into place.”

Walk Through Fire – Till Aska

Out on April 12, 2024 | Pre-order:

The Swedish avant-garde doom/sludge stalwarts Walk Through Fire are releasing their fourth full-length Till Aska on April 12, 2024. A monolithic portrayal of loss and grief, Till Aska – “To Ashes” in English – will first debut only on digital formats and streaming platforms. While physical releases aren’t currently planned, the band are open to label collaborations should the opportunity arise.

Representing the finest edge that their respective genres can offer on a global scale, Walk Through Fire has been steadily cementing themselves as a notable phenomenon over the past seventeen years. Blending down-tuned oppressive soundscapes with contemporary and classical music, the sonically unrelenting act has crafted a unique appearance for itself by means of uncompromisingly expanding the perimeters found in the more common understanding of what heavy music can be, resulting in an annihilating force to be reckoned with. Whether the black metal tendencies of their debut Furthest From Heaven or the dirges for life tones of Vår Avgrund, Walk Through Fire’s musical focal point has always been to become an aural catharsis – Till Aska being perhaps the most potent and poignant example of reaching that exact state.

From the most profound hellish depths to the soaring heights, the five tracks of Till Aska contain the very essence of Walk Through Fire while stretching the spectrum wider than ever before. The over fifty-minute endeavour is equally captivating as it is difficult, guaranteeing an immersive and rich experience to anyone willing to place themselves under its crushing weight. Walk Through Fire are no strangers to the transcendence of dread and its multiple manifestations, and while Till Aska crawls around its listener’s spine as a fiery serpent, it also offers resolve and spiritual consummation unlike ever heard before.

Walk Through Fire – Till Aska
1. Till aska (11:39)
2. Fall i glömska (10:50)
3. Genom sår (7:24)
4. Självförintelse (11:43)
5. Rekviem (12:09)

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Linus Andersson at Elementstudio, Gothenburg
Original artwork Frau mit totem kind (1903) by Käthe Kollwitz

Ufuk Demir — Guitars & Vocals
Andreas Olsson — Bass
Juliusz Chmielewski — Drums
Esaias Järnegard — Organ

Walk Through Fire on Facebook

Walk Through Fire on Bandcamp

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Cavern Deep Post “The Peeler” Video and Confirm New Lineup

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

cavern deep the peeler

As they’ve now established their own label in Bonebag Records and overseen the release of last year’s sophomore LP, Part II – Breach (review here), as well as an outing from Troy the Band and one impending from Terra Black — the news of which I haven’t even had a second to post here yet — it likely won’t be super-duper long before Swedish conceptualist epic doomers Cavern Deep start the gears grinding to issue their next album. Since their 2021 self-titled debut (review here), they have shown a creative urgency well-suited to the increasingly DIY ethos with which they operate.

Nonetheless, whatever shape their next record takes — and the reason I’m even talking about such a thing is because they finished recording it a month ago — in continuing the creepy, dark and engrossing narrative, there’s a decent chance it could be out before the end of 2024. You wouldn’t hear me complain. Likely recorded during those same recent album-three sessions, “The Peeler” arrives as a standalone single with an accompanying stop-motion animated video by Bob in Dope — might be like a stoner-doom Flat Stanley, if you have any idea what that is? — and is duly unsettling in its vibe. Stately in the manner of traditional doom, Cavern Deep‘s sound resonates an exploratory feel all the more as the band introduces Johannes Behndig (Sarcophagus Now) as their now-full-time synthesist.

You can certainly hear Behndig adding to the drama as “The Peeler” culminates, finding new breadth in the grim surroundings of the atmosphere cast around it, pushing deeper into the subsurface-horror narrative that has threaded through Cavern Deep‘s work to-date (a couple of covers notwithstanding). Behndig played on Part II – Breach as well, but it seems reasonable to expect him to become more of a presence in the songs by virtue of, you know, he’s actually in the band now rather than doing a guest spot. Being in the room when the song is written makes a difference.

I wouldn’t call myself early on posting it by any stretch, but if you haven’t seen it out there yet on the big wide internet, enjoy the “The Peeler” clip below. PR wire info follows after:

Cavern Deep, “The Peeler” official video

Swedish Doomsters CAVERN DEEP Hunt Monsters on Gripping New Single ‘THE PEELER’

Hailing from Umeå in Northern Sweden, the trio have carved out a name for themselves in recent years with hulking doom that has got the underground listening… ‘The Peeler’, the brand-new single from Cavern Deep is out now via Bonebag Records

Founded in 2019 by Max Malmer and former members of Swedish death metallers, Zonaria, and retro rockers, Gudars Skymning; Sweden’s Cavern Deep has established itself as one of the Scandinavia’s finest new doom metal bands.

Having released their first album in 2021 on the Polish label Interstellar Smoke Records, the band has since formed and issued music under their own Bonebag Records imprint, most recently releasing their latest record, Part II – Breach, to critical acclaim across Europe.

Returning this month for a one-off release, new single ‘The Peeler’ was originally intended to be a bonus track on the band’s forthcoming album. But while all good things come to those who wait, some things are too awesome to not share immediately. For those impatient souls itching for new material from the Umeå trio, this sleeping giant of a track focuses its attention on a lost mythical monster who resides in the deep cavernous realms of a long-lost civilisation. A hideous beast that hypnotises and oozes slime from its jaws, peeling skin from its still-stirring victims, and feeding off them piece by piece.

Towering guitars and drums soundtrack the ensuing chaos and seek to capture the creature using stark riffs and crushing strokes of colossal doom metal. Coupled with fantastic stop motion footage – assembled, and animated by artist, “Bob” – for the single’s visualiser video, ‘The Peeler’ is out now via Bonebag Records –

Cavern Deep is:
Kenny-Oswald Duvfenberg – Guitars and Vocals
Max Malmer – Bass and Vocals
Dennis Sjödin – Drums, Backup Vocals and Keys
Johannes Behndig – Synth

Cavern Deep, “The Peeler” (2024)

Cavern Deep, Part II – Breach (2023)

Cavern Deep on Facebook

Cavern Deep on Instagram

Cavern Deep on Bandcamp

Cavern Deep website

Bonebag Records on Facebook

Bonebag Records on Instagram

Bonebag Records website

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