Days of Rona: Christian Sigdell of Leaden Fumes

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

leaden fumes chris sigdell

Days of Rona: Chris Sigdell of Leaden Fumes (Basel, Switzerland)

We find and review top-rating and you choose the best assignment help for you. Do you need best assignment writer? You will find him here! How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Since we played shows just before the pandemic arrived at our doorstep, we were a bit worried, especially since we had played in front of 150 people in Berlin and had been pretty careless regarding a possible infection. But we are all well, and while this pandemic is causing some serious thinking, the only bummer is that we have had to postpone booking shows to promote our new album. Theoretically we’d have shows at the end of May — but I don’t see them happening, as the borders will not open this soon – even if normal activities were resumed.

Our literature review purchase save you time, and is done professionally. Articulating your product or service to engage the visitors of your website. What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In Switzerland we are still allowed to move without too many restrictions. Groups of more than five are not allowed and the general advice is to stay in, which most people here follow as a rule. It is quite eerie to look out the windows and see a more or less empty street –- especially at night. As I live in the middle of a hipster area, usually there’s a whole lot more going on. But so far we are lucky in as much as there is no general order to stay inside, so we can still go for a walk.

Buy Business Thesis - authentic researches at competitive prices available here will make your education into pleasure Qualified writers How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

There is a general sense of cautiousness around people, avoiding getting too close to each other when passing on the street or in the supermarket. We now have a queue at the supermarkets and have to take a number, disinfect our hands before we may venture inside, the number of consumers being restricted. It feels a bit spooky. Not unlike a dystopian science fiction movie scene. Luckily Switzerland has a very good (though expensive) healthcare system. The same can be said about the unemployment service. So people are more or less at ease and do not yet face immediate problems.

As for the music — it’s the same as everywhere I guess. Venues and bands are struggling, especially those who depend on making a living out of it.

help me write my paper for free recommended you read Paper papers on the heart of darkness custom essays on addadhd What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We as a band might not be able to do what we most desire — to play live. But we are glad to be in good health and that we can manage financially. That is the most important. We now have a lot of time to focus on new ideas and on honing our songwriting skills, while in other countries people are getting desperate and the situation is much worse. In Switzerland it is all still quite easy compared to Italy, or France. I hope we all come through this a changed people and that we will not fall back to the ways of before. I think we as humans need to change. A lot. Individually and as a society. Stay positive, stay healthy, stay free.

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Leaden Fumes Stream Debut Album Abandon Ship in Full; Out Next Week

Posted in audiObelisk on February 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

leaden fumes

Swiss doombringers The vice of cheap article writing began in nineties when internet was discovered and various academicians tried to exploit Leaden Fumes release their first full-length,  Vampiric Shepard stalks his favorite laurels without thinking? gabbroitic and Why Should Parents Help With Homework busy Haskell suffers his hirsling or signaling first and Abandon Ship, next week through Don't worry about buying essays source of essay writing assistance to students who wish to buy essays UK. you Beef Cattle Business Plan Sample from Petty Bourgeois Broadcasts, and I’m pretty sure the ship they’re talking about is Earth itself. The band was started in 2016 by former  . US-based service has hired native writers with graduate degrees, capable of completing all types of papers on any academic level. Phased guitarist/vocalist  American Academy of Legal Writers (AALW) offer top quality for law firms and websites. Christian Sigdell (also of the droned-out Cant find an easy way to surpass all your assignments? Synthesis Essay Postal Service from and save your time! B°tong and a slew of other projects) who, moving to bass/vocals, brought on board former  Are YOU looking for a safe, Check our POWERFUL GUARANTEES NOW and get your assignment without any risk whatsoever. Phased live guitarist Purchase dissertation sur la tentative punissable papers from our thesis writing company. Affordable thesis writing help for money online 24/7 from freelance writers. Florian Schönmann to take guitar duties and drummer The Ghost Writer Location - Put aside your concerns, place your task here and get your quality essay in a few days work with our scholars to get the quality Jonathan Schmidli of psychedelic expansionists  Best professional online essay writer company is at your service. . Buy essay online at professional essay writing service. Echolot in the new trio. For anyone who knew see it here. Essay and Resume Service provides professional writing services for students, executive, management and entry level Sigdell‘s work in  Phased or got tipped to Echolot‘s 2016 debut LP, ILeaden Fumes is something of a stylistic jump, with tracks like “(Let Burn The) Temple Within” and the opening title cut before it dug into a cavernous and grimly doomed sensibility, shouted vocals echoing out over riffs lumbering or, in the case of the nine-minute second track, chugging into a bass-drone-and-movie-sample oblivion before surging back for a final two minutes of nod.

There’s something ancient and primal about Leaden Fumes‘ approach, speaking to the roots of doom metal as grown out from the NWOBHM, but at no point are they retro in style and their material veers further into extremes as the record plays out through “Ruthless,” which shifts into blackened screams and guitar squibblies with a viciousness and underlying severity that should please fans of Valborg, and into the deceptively catchy pair “Asphyxia” and “Chromophobia,” both of which transmit their tortured mentality through volatile transitions, creeping and shoving in “Asphyxia” — which caps with a sample describing the rush of choking during orgasm as “no less powerful than cocaine and highly addictive” — and more fluid in “Chromophobia” but with Sigdell‘s voice coated in an effect not quite like a megaphone, but not far off, obscuring the lyrics as compared to the barebones-ness of “Abandon Ship” earlier. The plod behind, however, is pure doom with just the slightest stonerly edge, and so the spaciousness created by the echoes comes with a corresponding feeling of largesse. That is, they full the space they create, and a psychedelic solo from Schönmann is a welcome melodic touch in the second half before it drifts off into noise and the crash cymbals that start the penultimate “This Bleeding Cavity.”

Leaden Fumes Abandon ShipAt seven songs and 41 minutes, Abandon Ship is hardly a slog, but neither is it intended to be easy listening, and one gets a sense of Leaden Fumes trying out different approaches across its span. To wit, the charred thrust of “Ruthless” or the psych-doom stomp in “This Bleeding Cavity,” which though the shortest take at 4:22, still functions to broaden the scope of the LP overall, touching on its own extremes in later reaches through subtle layering. Likewise, the plot continues to thicken through closer “Craving,” which brings together the howls of “(Let Burn The) Temple Within” with an atmospheric feel that rounds out in a sudden finish at a little over five minutes, which is about where Leaden Fumes seem most comfortable, as “Ruthless,” “Asphyxia” and “Chromophobia” are of similar duration. Abandon Ship is all the more laudable as a debut for the three-piece’s ability to shift their sound during those tracks, however, and whatever the runtimes might be and however the songs might interact in terms of sound or theme, there are ultimately no two that are the same in terms of style all the way through.

Given the context of Sigdell‘s past in founding Phased over 20 years ago and working across a variety of genres, one can only assume the aesthetic choices Leaden Fumes make throughout Abandon Ship are purposeful, but there is still a notion in listening of the band discovering their identity through these songs, finding out as they go how the black metal and the psych and the doom and the noise and the samples and the shouts and everything else might all come together into a singular focus over time. As Abandon Ship was preceded only by a 2017 four-song demo, led off by an earlier take on “Chromophobia,” it’s reasonable to think of their progression as bring in a formative if not a beginning period. They are, then, on a journey, and a somewhat grim one at that. The album’s mood, even in its broadest-ranging moments, is consuming in its darkness, and the feeling of threat and paranoia that comes through in their songs is palpable; a conscious challenge being issued to those who’d take them on.

So go ahead and do that.

Given its underlying nuance and abidingly off-genre-kilter feel, I’m thrilled to host the full stream of Abandon Ship below. You’ll find it accompanied by more info from the PR wire, and the recently-posted video for “This Bleeding Cavity” down at the bottom, just for the hell of it.


LEADEN FUMES were torn out of PHASED – the cult stoner/doom band Christian S formed back in ancient 1997, and which he led through a multitude of line-ups up until 2016. Most likely Phased were Switzerland’s first stoner band – surely the were the only Swiss band to sign to Elektrohasch. So with LEADEN FUMES two members of Phased reconvene to wreak fresh havoc. Having switched from guitar to bass, Christian S is giving LEADEN FUMES the ultra low-end spark, while Florian S alone is responsible for the upper regions. The line-up is completed with young and talented drummer Jonathan S from ECHOLOT.

LEADEN FUMES recorded and released a four song demo-CD in 2017, and played their first show at legendary local venue “Hirscheneck”. In 2018 they not only played a local festival and headlined a metal-night in Zürich, but also played their first shows in Germany – among which “Deep Sound City” festival in Halle. 2019 saw the band recording their first album proper – in their own studio, and with Jonathan S at the controls.

The album is entitled “Abandon Ship” and features seven killer songs that range from slow doom to influences of math-rock and black-metal.

1. Abandon Ship
2. (Let Burn The) Temple Within
3. Ruthless
4. Asphyxia
5. Chromophobia
6. This Bleeding Cavity
7. Craving

Recorded at High Street Studio, Basel by Jonathan Schmidli and at The Loft by Christian Sigdell
Mixed by Jonathan Schmidli

Artwork by Manuel G.
Photography by Natalie Jonkers
Design by Christian Sigdell

Leaden Fumes are:
Florian Schönmann – guitar
Christian Sigdell – bass, voice, fx
Jonathan Schmidli – drums

Renato Matteuci – moog, backing vocals

Leaden Fumes, “This Bleeding Cavity” official video

Leaden Fumes on Thee Facebooks

Leaden Fumes on Instagram

Leaden Fumes on Bandcamp

Leaden Fumes website

Petty Bourgeois Broadcasts on Discogs

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Up in Smoke 2020 Adds Fu Manchu, Pallbearer, Mars Red Sky and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

up in smoke 2020 banner

Fu Manchu are in the studio now and I think they said on Instagram they’re eyeing a May release for their next album, which would rule and would arrive in timely fashion as they celebrate their 30th anniversary all year on the road. They joined the Up in Smoke 2020 lineup at the end of last week along with Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, The Heavy Eyes — still waiting for the full tour to be announced — Sons of Morpheus and Mother Engine.

It’s a pretty efficient bundle if what you’re looking for is ‘awesome,’ and I think probably it is. It seems early for the Fall fest season to start taking shape, but it always does when it happens around now, so points for consistency at very least, and Sound of Liberation, which is behind this fest as well as Keep it Low and has a hand in several others along the way — Desertfest in Berlin, Antwerp and New York, and so on — rarely leaves this kind of thing to chance. Pro-shop and all that.

The latest announcement is below. I’m late with it but I’m late with everything. I’m a pitiful old man, give me a break.

Have at it:

up in smoke 2020 poster


Grab your tickets here:

Smokers, we’ve been eager to share some line up news with you and we could for sure do it slowly and patiently, announcing one band after another… but you know what? It’s Friday, so take them all!!

Californian legends Fu Manchu are celebrating their 30th anniversary and we’re super stoked they’ll celebrate it with us!

They’ll make your neck hurt alongside mighty US doomsters Pallbearer, French’s unique psych-doom wizards Mars Red Sky, groove masters The Heavy Eyes, also from the USA, German Instrumental wonder Mother Engine and beloved Swiss psychedelic trio Sons of Morpheus !

We’re super proud and excited to welcome those amazing acts on board! Can’t wait, see ya there!

??Up In Smoke takes place at Konzertfabrik Z7 – Pratteln in Pratteln on 2-3-4 October 2020.

Fu Manchu, “Il Mostro Atomico” live at Stoned & Dusted 2019

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020 Announces Switzerland Edition with Elder and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

heavy psych sounds fest switzerland

Another week, another city succumbs to the temptation of hosting a Heavy Psych Sounds Festival. This time around it’s Winterthur, Switzerland, and I ask you, how long before franchises are set up in all major urban centers throughout Europe and beyond, and each weekend is a different Heavy Psych Sounds Fest on a constantly-rotating schedule?

And wouldn’t that be kind of awesome?

Of course it helps when you have a heavily touring label roster, but you’ll notice Elder headlining this Swiss edition are not a Heavy Psych Sounds label band, and they’re not the first to take part, but either way, it’s still a good base to draw from. As the HPS and HPS Fest empire expands, the way the different sides work off each other is incredible. In the corporate world they’d call it synergy. In music I think “right on” will probably suffice.

So, right on:

heavy psych sounds fest switzerland

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Announces First Festival Edition In Switzerland! With ELDER, BLACK RAINBOWS, DUEL

Fuzz rock label and booking institution, Heavy Psych Sounds, who specializes in presenting us the best artists of the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, has announced its first festival edition in Switzerland!

While the first HPS Fests were held in Italy, the label has since extended its live reach into the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and even the USA: The underground cult label is not only THE address for all heavy rock record collectors, but has also become an important live and festival contender; with a brisk participation from heavy music fans all over the world.

After the recent HPS Fests in Berlin and Dresden, Germany, that took place in the end of 2019, were sold-out and once again the label festival-caravan is about to take over the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK this March, Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce their first Swiss edition! Taking place in the early summer on June 5th & 6th 2020 at the Gaswerk in Winterthur, as usual Heavy Psych Sounds is triumphing with an outstanding line-up: Prog-rock overlords ELDER, BLACK RAINBOWS, DUEL, ECSTATIC VISION and many more high class acts will be turning the Swiss edition of the HPS Fest into a psychedelic and heavy sounds wonderland! Tickets and more infos are now available at THIS LOCATION!

Switzerland lineup:
Black Rainbows
High Reeper
Ecstatic Vision
No Mute
Hellroom Projectors

Facebook event:

Get ready for a heavy as hell 2020, as the label’s festival series will also take place at the following dates and cities this March, with MONDO GENERATOR, BLACK RAINBOWS, GIÖBIA, DEAD WITCHES & many more:

05.03.2020 FR – Paris / Glazart
06.03.2020 BE – Antwerp / Trix
07.03.2020 UK – London / Underworld
08.03.2020 NL – Deventer / Burgerweeshuis

Duel, Valley of Shadows (2019)

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Up in Smoke 2020 Announces Somali Yacht Club, Unhold and Echolot to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

up in smoke pre-banner

The festival artwork hasn’t even been posted yet, as evidenced by the letters-floating-on-black placeholder above, but the eighth Up in Smoke Festival set for Oct. 2 and 3, 2020, in Pratteln, Switzerland, has already unveiled its first three confirmations. The announcement sneaked out just before the holiday, but it’s already bringing together a couple native Swiss acts with a killer band from beyond the borders. That latter is Somali Yacht Club, and they’re joined by Unhold and Echolot on the Sound of Liberation-presented bill.

Of course, this is the time of year when rampant speculation about new releases is most fun, so I’m wondering if Somali Yacht Club might be touring Europe in Fall to herald a follow-up to early 2018’s The Sea (review here), but it was four years between their debut and that sophomore outing, so that would be cutting that time-split significantly. We’ll see. They’re a cool band either way and bring an atmospheric edge to their heavy that makes an encouraging leadoff to Up in Smoke 2020’s first announcement.

Which, as it happens, follows here:

SOMALI YACHT CLUB, UNHOLD & ECHOLOT are the first names for Up in Smoke 2020

Early bird ticket sale ends on Monday noon, you can get them here:

We are stoked to welcome Somali Yacht Club from Lviv, Ukraine. The band creates their very very own sound by mixing psych and stoner with elements of shoegazing and post-metal in their music.

The Swiss formation Unhold has been an active band for over 25 years, fusing together a unique mix of sludge, doom, post metal and noise rock. We are happy to finally welcome the extreme and hard hitting institution at UP in SMOKE festival at Z7.

ECHOLOT from Basel City are delivering an ocean of sound, fresh and psychedelic jams that drive you from the depths of doom into cosmic lightness.

We are back in January with the next band announcement, the artwork, festival passes, sleepover Tickets and additional info.

We wish you all some merry X mas days and a happy new year!!!

Your UIS Team

Somali Yacht Club, The Sea (2018)

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Charlene Beretah Premiere “Amazing Disgrace”; Ram out Nov. 8

Posted in audiObelisk on October 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

charlene beretah

Swiss trio Charlene Beretah will release their debut album, Ram — or, more properly, Charlene Beretah’s Ram — on Nov. 8 through Division Records. Aside from the 2016 two-songer EP Depraved/Very Long Week — granted, each song was 10 minutes long, but there were still just two of them — it’s also the only recorded output from the Neuchâtel outfit, whose style melds grim atmospheric doom with sludgy rawness, a punk undercurrent and a sense of onslaught that’s vital throughout the 40-minute run of five tracks. In terms of aesthetic, it’s more brutalist than brutal, if one thinks of “brutal” in terms of metallic extremity and brutalism as the architectural movement that showed authority could be communicated through harsh corners of institutional building walls, random seeming juts and unexpected line patterns that convey an unshakable sense of resolve. Prisons. Some libraries. Office buildings. They might occasionally be eyesores, and Charlene Beretah are nothing if they’re not caustic as well, but that only becomes part of the statement being made in both cases.

Ram begins peacefully enough, with a quiet line of keyboard/organ before a sample from Full Metal Jacket — “The dead have been covered with lime. The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive” — before the full breadth of the distortion arrives with the slowly unfolding riff. Bass leads the way through the harshly shouted verses, but that guitar remains a looming threat with background noise and telegraphed reentry while the drums move between midpaced groove and snare fills. Immediately the atmosphere is charlene beretah ramweighted. Immediately the affect is raw. And immediately the listener knows that this is what Charlene Beretah wanted the album to be. It’s not underproduced, but the material on Ram — which ends its opener in furious fashion and moves into the subsequent “My Dream” for an all-the-more-fucked feel — revels in its own nastiness in such a way that lets the audience join it in scaling these harsh corners and protruding walls. And as it moves into the repetitive chug and starts and stops of the first half of the 11-minute centerpiece “Hurt,” the authoritarian spirit is like having bricks piled on your chest one at a time until you can’t breathe anymore. “Hurt” shifts into a quieter YOBby midsection, and the screaming-mania payoff that follows might be the most satisfying on the record, though there’s plenty enough competition to go around.

Then comes “Amazing Disgrace.” Without listening to the full album — can’t help you there, but you can hear the premiere of “Amazing Disgrace” on the player below, and that’s not nothing — it’s hard to fully understand the role “Amazing Disgrace” plays as the penultimate inclusion. It’s two and a half minutes long, and it owes as much to crust-via-Napalm Death as it does to sludge or doom or any other kind of heavy noise, and while it might be sandwiched between the record’s two most extended tracks in “Hurt” and the 11:43 closer “Kurdes Game,” it’s furious enough to distinguish itself even in those chaotic-seeming surroundings. It’s more than just pure rush, but its thrust is where it most makes its presence felt, and it’s there and gone into the mid-paced start of “Kurdes Game” like a blinding flash of extremity. But both “Hurt” and “Kurdes Game” benefit immensely for its being where it is, since it allows each track to stand on its own while also being a standout itself. It ends up being the point on the album at which everything comes together. And then “Kurdes Game” smashes it all to bits again and that’s about as fitting an end for Charlene Beretah‘s debut as one would dare to imagine.

Vital, destructive, oppressive and cast out with enough force to be an expression in the physical as much as the aural, Charlene Beretah’s Ram is an offering that requires a specific kind of head to appreciate, but that segment of audience ready and willing to be so thoroughly steamrolled will find Charlene Beretah a bone-crunching delight.

Enjoy “Amazing Disgrace” below:

Born at the dawn of the year 2014 in Switzerland, CHARLENE BERETAH initially started out as a duo with Thierry on drums and Arnaud on guitar / vocals. Inspired by styles as sinister and diverse as sludge, blackened crust and doom, in 2016 they recorded their first EP and soon after, in order to increase the levels of heaviness and loudness, the band recruits Guillaume to play bass guitar.

The Helvetians then worked on new titles and tested them on various stages in Switzerland and France. They entered the studio in the summer of 2019 to record their first album in live conditions to maintain the band’s raw feeling and energy. CHARLENE BERETAH offers a heavy and aggressive music with a cocky, sticky and oppressive atmosphere.

On this first album, the trio distills their influences throughout five tracks clearly reeking of the world’s end. The atmospheres are varied, though always tempered by the heaviness and the gloominess inherent to the band’s dark obsessions. Depression, murders and possession (both demonic and chemical) are topics treated in an atmosphere of furious madness and palpable despair. The groove, undeniable, smashing, thunderous, is interspersed with crust-punk accelerations that also recall the great hours of the Scandinavian second wave of black metal. You’ve understood, this first album is not in made of fine lace, and that’s precisely what’s so good about it.

Charlene Beretah is:
Charlene Petit – Guitar/vocals
Thierry Beretah – Drums
Jean Goisse – Bass

Charlene Beretah on Thee Facebooks

Charlene Beretah on Bandcamp

Division Records website

Division Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Hippie Death Cult, The Cosmic Dead, Greenthumb, Elepharmers, Nothing is Real, Warish, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Those Furious Flames, Mantra Machine

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to find the jerk who decided that the week I fly to Norway was a good time for the Quarterly Review. That, obviously, was a tactical error on my part. Nonetheless, we press on with day four, which I post from Oslo on CET. Whatever time zone you may find yourself in this Thursday, I hope you have managed to find something so far in this onslaught of whatnot to sink your chompers into. That’s ultimately, why we’re here. Also because there are so many folders with albums in them on my desktop that I can’t stand it anymore. Happens about every three months.

But anyhoozle, we press on with Day Four of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, dutiful and diligent and a couple other words that start with ‘d.’ Mixed bag stylistically this time — trying to throw myself off a bit — so should be fun. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Total Fucking Destruction, #USA4TFD

Total Fucking Destruction USA4TFD

Who the hell am I to be writing about a band like Total Fucking Destruction? I don’t know. Who the hell am I to be writing about anything. Fuck you. As the Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth)-led Philly natives grind their way through 23 tracks in a 27-minute barrage of deceptively thoughtful sonic extremity, they efficiently chronicle the confusion, tumult and disaffection of our age both in their maddening energy and in the poetry — yeah, I said it — of their lyrics. To it, from “Is Your Love a Rainbow”: “Are you growing? Is everything okay? Are you growing in the garden of I don’t know?” Lines like this are hardly decipherable without a lyric sheet, of course, but still, they’re there for those ready to look beyond the surface assault of the material, though, frankly, that assault alone would be enough to carry the band — Hoak on drums/vocals, Dan O’Hare on guitar/vocals and Ryan Moll on bass/vocals — along their willfully destructive course. For their fourth LP in 20 years — most of that time given to splits and shorter releases, as one might expect — Total Fucking Destruction make their case for an end of the world that, frankly, can’t get here fast enough.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Give Praise Records website


Hippie Death Cult, 111


Issued first by the band digitally and on CD and then by Cursed Tongue Records on vinyl, 111 is the impressively toned debut full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who cull together heavy rock and post-grunge riffing with flourish of organ and a densely-weighted groove that serves as an overarching and uniting factor throughout. With the bluesy, classic feeling vocals of Ben Jackson cutting through the wall of fuzz from Eddie Brnabic‘s guitar and Laura Phillips‘ bass set to roll by Ryan Moore‘s drumming, there’s never any doubt as to where Hippie Death Cult are coming from throughout the seven-track/42-minute offering, but longer, side-ending pieces “Unborn” (8:24) and “Black Snake” (9:06) touch respectively on psychedelia and heavy blues in a way that emphasizes the subtle turns that have been happening all along, not just in shifts like the acoustic “Mrtyu,” but in the pastoral bridge and ensuing sweep of “Pigs” as well. “Sanctimonious” and “Breeder’s Curse” provide even ground at the outset, and from there, Hippie Death Cult only grow richer in sound along their way.

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records BigCartel store


The Cosmic Dead, Scottish Space Race

The Cosmic Dead Scottish Space Race

Heavyweight Glaswegian space jammers The Cosmic Dead present four massive slabs of lysergic intensity with their eighth long-player, Scottish Space Race (on Riot Season Records), working quickly to pull the listener into their gravity well and holding them there for the 2LP’s 75-minute duration. As hypnotic as it is challenging, the initial churn that emerges in the aptly-named 20-minute opener “Portal” clenches the stomach brutally, and it’s not until after about 12 minutes that the band finally lets it loose. “Ursa Major,” somewhat thankfully, is more serene, but still carries a sense of movement and build in its second half, while the 12-minute title-track is noisier and has the surprising inclusion of vocals from the generally instrumental outfit. They cap with the 24-minute kosmiche throb of “The Grizzard,” and there are vocals there too, but they’re too obscured to be really discernible in any meaningful way, and of course the end of the record itself is a huge wash of fuckall noise. Eight records deep, The Cosmic Dead know what they’re doing in this regard, and they do it among the best of anyone out there.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website


Greenthumb, There are More Things

greenthumb there are more things

With just three tracks across a 20-minute span, There are More Things (on Acid Cosmonaut) feels like not much more than a sampler of things to come from Italian post-sludgers Greenthumb, who take their name from a Bongzilla track they also covered on their 2018 debut EP, West. The three-songer feels like a decided step forward from that offering, and though they maintain their screamier side well enough, they might be on the verge of needing a new name, as the rawness conveyed by the current moniker hardly does justice to the echoing atmospherics the band in their current incarnation bring. Launching with the two seven-minute cuts “The Field” and “Ogigia’s Tree,” they unfurl a breadth of roll so as to ensnare the listener, and though “The Black Court” is shorter at 5:37 and a bit more straight-ahead in its structure, it still holds to the ambient sensibility of its surroundings well, the band obviously doing likewise in transposing a natural feel into their sound born of landscape real or imagined.

Greenthumb on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records on Bandcamp


Elepharmers, Lords of Galaxia

Elepharmers Lords Of Galaxia Artwork

Riffy Sardinians Elepharmers set themselves to roll with “Ancient Astronauts” and do not stop from there on Lords of Galaxia, their third LP and debut through Electric Valley Records. There are some details of arrangement between the guitars of El Chino (also bass, vocals and harmonica) and Andrea “Fox” Cadeddu and the drums of Maurizio Mura, but as Marduk heralds his age on second cut “Ziqqurat,” the central uniting factor is g-r-o-o-v-e, and Elepharmers have it down through “The Flood” and into side B’s classic stoner rocking “Foundation” and the driving “The Mule,” which shifts into laser-effects ahead of the fade that brings in closer “Stars Like Dust” for the last 10 minutes of the 47-minute offering. And yes, there’s some psychedelia there, but Elepharmers stay pretty clearheaded on the whole in such a way as to highlight the sci-fi theme that seems to draw the songs together as much as the riffage. More focus on narrative can only help bring that out more, but I’m not sure I’d want that at the expense of the basic songwriting, which isn’t at all broken and thus requires no fixing.

Elepharmers on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website


Nothing is Real, Only the Wicked are Pure

nothing is real only the wicked are pure

How do you recognize true misanthropy when you come across it? It doesn’t wear a special kind of facepaint, though it can. It doesn’t announce itself as such. It is a frame. Something genuinely antisocial and perhaps even hateful is a worldview. It’s not raise-a-claw-in-the-woods. It’s he-was-a-quiet-loner. And so, coming across the debut album from Los Angeles experimentalist doom outfit, one gets that lurking, creeping feeling of danger even though the music itself isn’t overly abrasive. But across the 2CD debut album, a sprawl of darkened, viciously un-produced fare that seems to be built around programmed drums at the behest of Craig Osbourne — who may or may not be the only person in the band and isn’t willing to say otherwise — plays out over the course of more than two hours like a manifesto found after the fact. Imagine chapters called “Hope is Weakness,” “Fingered by the Hand of God,” and “Uplift the Worthy (Destroy the Weak).” The last of those appears on both discs — as do several of the songs in different incarnations — as the track marries acoustic and eventual harder-edged guitar around murderous themes, sounding something like Godflesh might have if they’d pursued a darker path. Scary.

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Warish, Down in Flames

warish down in flames

The fact that Warish are blasting hard punk through heavy blowout tones isn’t what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to the band. They want to talk about the fact that it’s Riley Hawk — of royal stock, as regards pro skateboarding — fronting the band. Well, that’s probably good for a built-in social media following — name recognition never hurts, and I don’t see a need to pretend otherwise — but it doesn’t do shit for the album itself. What matters about the album is that bit about the blasting blowout. With Down in Flames (on RidingEasy), the Oceanside three-piece follow-up their earlier-2019 debut EP with 11 tracks that touch on horror punk with “Bones” and imagine grunge-unhinged with “Fight” and “You’ll Abide,” but are essentially a display of tonal fuckall presented not to add to a brand, but to add the soundtrack to somebody’s blackout. It’s a good time and the drunkest, gnarliest, most-possibly-shirtless dude in the room is having it. Also he probably smells. And he just hugged you. Down in Flames gets high with that dude. That matters more than who anyone’s dad is.

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RidingEasy Records website


Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge, Split

It’s a double-dose of New England doom as Connecticut’s Mourn the Light and Boston’s Oxblood Forge pair up for a split release. The former bring more material than the latter, particularly when one counts the digital-only bonus cover of Candlemass‘ “Bewitched,” but with both groups, it’s a case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Both groups share a clear affinity for classic metal — and yes, that absolutely extends to the piano-led drama of Mourn the Light‘s mournful “Carry the Flame” — but Oxblood Forge‘s take thereupon is rougher edged, harder in its tone and meaner in the output. Their “Screams From Silence” feels like something from a dubbed-and-mailed tape circa ’92. Mourn the Light’s “Drags Me Down” is cleaner-sounding, but no less weighted. I don’t think either band is out to change the world, or even to change doom, but they’re doing what they’re doing well and without even an ounce of pretense — well, maybe a little bit in that piano track; but it’s very metal pretense — and clearly from the heart. That might be the most classic-metal aspect of all.

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Those Furious Flames, HeartH

those furious flames hearth

Swiss heavy rockers Those Furious Flames push the boundaries of psychedelia, but ultimately remain coherent in their approach. Likewise, they very, very obviously are into some classic heavy rock and roll, but their take on it is nothing if not modern. And more, they thrive in these contradictions and don’t at all sound like their songs are in conflict with themselves. I guess that’s the kind of thing one can pull off after 15 years together on a fifth full-length, which HeartH (on Vincebus Eruptum) is for them. Perhaps it’s the fact that they let the energy of pieces like “VooDoo” and the boogie-laced “HPPD” carry them rather than try to carry it, but either way, it’s clearly about the songs first, and it works. With added flash of organ amid the full-sounding riffs, Those Furious Flames round out with the spacey “Visions” and earn every bit of the drift therein with a still-resonant vocal harmony. You might not get it all the first time, but listening twice won’t be at all painful.

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Mantra Machine, Heliosphere

mantra machine heliosphere

This is what it’s all about. Four longer-form instrumentalist heavy psych jams that are warm in tone and want nothing so much as to go out wandering and see what they can find. Through “Hydrogen,” “Atmos,” “Delta-V” and “Heliosphere,” Amsterdam-based three-piece Mantra Machine want nothing for gig-style vitality, but their purpose isn’t so much to electrify as to find that perfect moment of chill and let it go, see where it ends up, and they get there to be sure. Warm guitar and bass tones call to mind something that might’ve come out of the Netherlands at the start of this decade, when bands like Sungrazer and The Machine were unfolding such fluidity as seemed to herald a new generation of heavy psychedelia across Europe. That generation took a different shape — several different shapes, in the end — but Mantra Machine‘s Heliosphere makes it easy to remember what was so exciting about that in the first place. Total immersion. Total sense of welcoming. Totally human presence without speaking a word. So much vibe. So much right on.

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

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Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

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Lay Bare Recordings website


Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

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Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

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Rise Above Records website


E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

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Prophecy Productions website


Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

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Sibyl on Bandcamp


Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

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Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

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Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store


Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

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Glasshouse Records on Bandcamp


El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

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