The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mythic Sunship (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Questionnaire on March 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

MYTHIC SUNSHIP

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Frederik Denning & Rasmus Cleve Christensen of Mythic Sunship

Clicking Here Online is rated 4.9 /5 based on 137 customer reviews. Want your voice to count in? Send us your review with all the details. Meyoung035 (7 orders) This was my first experience with Paperell.com. The managers are very cooperative and regularly update upon work progress. My essay was well researched, structured and acceptable. Thank You team Paperell and best of luck! May 13 How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

Need to buy dissertation? Then apply to see posts and get a qualified help from experts. They know everything about academic preparation. Frederik Denning: One word comes to mind: Exploration. The foundation of Mythic Sunship is our love for music of all kinds. Be it early heavy rock, japanese noise or 60’ies free jazz. We don’t really have any limits to how we play and what we play, and I honestly feel extremely privileged to play with that kind of freedom and still have people enjoying what we’re doing. I think it’s fundamentally because our love for all kinds of music shines through in what we’re doing. We don’t really discriminate, so we find inspiration in Coltrane, Black Sabbath, Lana Del Ray, Run The Jewels and Robert Hood equally. Yeah, sometimes we try something out and figure: ‘You know, this isn’t really what Mythic Sunship is about”, but we never shy away from trying out new stuff, and we’re always actively trying to evolve. The first three records are sorta grouped together, then Another Shape of Psychedelic Music and Changing Shapes, and now: It’s time for something else.

Where Students and Parents normative moral thesis Go do http://www.metropole-habitat.fr/?bestessayservice-coms To View Their Teacher's Website. If homework seems do my homework websites too Rasmus Cleve Christensen: As Frederik hints to, Mythic Sunship is very much about exploring musical creation through collective improvisation. Those are some expensive words, but it’s quite basic really. It’s just playing music without setting up a lot of boundaries for ourselves. And whatever musical ideas or ideals we share then shape what comes out of it. We don’t have one favorite sound or genre or artist we can all agree on, but there are many overlaps in our tastes within the band. And that tension, I guess, is what drives the music forward.

We provide professional official sites, that will help correct errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Any paper from academic to business! Describe your first musical memory.

We guarantee high-quality papers of all types to everyone who orders from My Essay On Executive Pay. Contact our support team to know more. Frederik Denning: When I played the 3-tone keyboard part of a song for the school’s spring concert at age 8, I knew at that specific point that music would be an integral part of my life until the day I die.

Sociology Homework Help from our essay writing service anytime you need. We help your academic papers on any topic, any discipline, any academic level, and any Rasmus Cleve Christensen: Dancing around to Michael Jackson or The Beach Boys in my parents’ living room (both were early favorites, can’t remember which came first). Playing actual music myself wasn’t a thing until much later in my life.

Dissertation writing is something which can't be ignored during your Degree and that’s why we are here to help you. We are into http://www.nutritiamea.ro/?fraction-problem-solving service for a decade assisting students who are looking for online dissertation help.Our dissertation writing help in UK gives you a100% plagiarism free and well-written dissertation papers at a reasonable price. Describe your best musical memory to date.

Sample Startup Business Plan - Exciting discounts and always quick delivery. Most trusted drugstore online welcomes you. efficient drugs with fast delivery. Frederik Denning: That is a pretty tough question to answer, because there have been more mindblowing experiences than I can count. In a Mythic Sunship context, playing Roadburn was an incredible experience.

Introducing The Number One http://visioservices.franche-comte.fr/?term-paper-about-global-warming Writing Service. At eWritingService.com, we pride ourselves in offering the highest quality research paper Rasmus Cleve Christensen: So many great memories from recording and touring with these guys! Playing and just being at Roadburn was definitely a highlight. Also mindblowing concert experiences with Boredoms, Sun Ra, Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet and Grouper spring to mind.

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My http://www.mcmp.cz/?resume-writing-for-high-school-students-4od is my short trip to the day, when I was happy. I keep it in my memory carefully. Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

creative ways to start an essay blog link For Uc custom thesis theme design how to write a character analysis essay ppt Rasmus Cleve Christensen: Not sure I quite get this question. Whenever I feel like we evolve as a band it leads to many new experiences and realisations about what music can be. When you put yourself out there, you get so much back.

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CustomThesis.org offers Best Thesis Writing Services & Best here UK at affordable price. We provide professional Frederik Denning: By the quality of the music we make. Another Shape of Psychedelic Music saw a fair amount of commercial success, considering the content of the album, but the real success is the material on that record. Regardless of how Wildfire will be received, I also consider that album to be a success.

Rasmus Cleve Christensen: Doing something you believe in and then have it acknowledged by your surroundings.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Frederik Denning: Plenty of things in the past four years, but I prefer not to mix art and politics.

Rasmus Cleve Christensen: There was this roadside restroom in Slovenia… that I prefer not to talk about.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Frederik Denning: At some point we will do a sick Mythic Sunship Astral Family record. We’ve experimented with it live, playing with a ton of amazing artists, and at this point I can’t even point to one performance I prefer over the other. If you’re interested you can find some of the performances on YouTube. I know there are recordings from Le Guess Who, Festival of Endless Gratitude and our residency at ALICE CPH. At some point we’ll do this in the studio, and it will be absolutely killer.

Rasmus Cleve Christensen: I sometimes dream of a Mythic Sunship record with really slick production, and I don’t know why, ’cause it’s really not in the cards with our kind of music, but I just imagine it to my inner ear sometimes.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Frederik Denning: Art should push the mind to be able to reflect without the barriers of language. In turn philosophy (or the language) should then reflect over the art, moving the barriers further. And that’s kind of the endless dynamic between art and philosophy.

Rasmus Cleve Christensen: Definitely that experience which can’t be confined by language, as Frederik points to. That experience can be utter catharsis, a questioning of your whole existence or a feeling of inner peace or unity.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Frederik Denning: COVID-19 being history.

Rasmus Cleve Christensen: The end of world hunger, inequality, climate issues, racism etc., but yeah springtime and a shot of covid vaccine are also high on the list.

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Mythic Sunship, “Going Up” track premiere

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Mythic Sunship Announce Wildfire out April 2; Stream “Maelstrom”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

This news came in just before the weekend, and I’d been expecting it, as word of new Mythic Sunship was making the rounds on social media. The Copenhagen unit’s jump from El Paraiso Records to Tee Pee is notable, but more than that, I put on the track, “Maelstrom,” which opens the new record Wildfire that’s coming out April 2 with preorders up now, and holy god damn, man, the thing just blazes. The PR wire below talks about scorched-earth, and yeah, I don’t even know. It’s like scorched-genre. Free jazz meets extreme, frenetic space rock. It’s the musical equivalent of trying to imagine a million of something. Picture a million people in your mind. You can’t do it. That’s how I feel trying to figure out what’s happening in “Maelstrom.”

I’ve got the record, I won’t lie to you, but it might honestly be until April that I feel like I have any kind of grip on what Mythic Sunship are doing on it. Bright light right in your ears. Or wild fire. Fair enough.

Here’s art, info, audio:

Mythic Sunship Wildfire

Psychedelic Rockers MYTHIC SUNSHIP To Release ‘Wildfire’ on April 2nd via Tee Pee Records

Copenhagen-based quintet MYTHIC SUNSHIP have established themselves among Europe’s finest purveyors of psychedelic music; bridging the gap between heavy riff worship and expansive, free-jazz experimentation.

With their sixth studio album ‘Wildfire’ due for release this April – their first on New York’s legendary underground label, Tee Pee Records – Denmark’s most experimental sons simultaneously open a new chapter on their journey, while razing the foundations on which their previous albums were built. Recorded over the course of four intense days in Stockholm’s vintage RMV Studio, the album documents the erratic, visceral, untameable musical singularity that Mythic Sunship becomes once unleashed in improvisatory interplay.

Working with legendary Danish punk Per Buhl Acs behind the mixing desk, the group has reinvented itself to produce an album which showcases that essence, in its most primal form, is rare. Fusing together raw, kinetic outbursts, Wildfire takes the listener from groovy fuzz rock and cosmic jams into newer territories centered around crunched melodies, uncanny harmonies, turbulent rhythms, and ecstatic walls of guitar insanity. As best exemplified on the new single “Maelstrom” and its frenzied wails of electric dissonance, as their self-proclaimed “anaconda rock” collides with furious freak-outs and lysergic saxophony.

As exhilarating and electrifying as psychedelic records come, ‘Wildfire’ showcases Mythic Sunship’s scorched-earth approach in the search for new ideas, and will be released on April 2nd, 2021 via Tee Pee Records.

Pre-order HERE: https://orcd.co/mythicsunship

‘Wildfire’ Tracklisting:
1. Maelstrom
2. Olympia
3. Landfall
4. Redwood Grove
5. Going Up

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Mythic Sunship, “Maelstrom”

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Worshipper Live Set From Mutants of the Monster II Streaming

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

worshipper

Let me preface this post by saying three things.

1. You should watch this entire video. It’s badass, and the bands it has performing are badass. Along with Worshipper, there’s Rebreather, Temptress, Telekinetic Yeti and a bunch of others. There’s also the video from the first night, which had Boozewa and more. You should watch that too.

2. I acknowledge that that’s about six hours of footage to sit down with altogether and not everyone has that kind of time to work with, even (or especially) in quarantine. If you do, fuckin’ congrats on your life. Or not.

3. Mutants of the Monster III — formerly put on by CT from Rwake and others in Little Rock, Arkansas, as an actual fest, but now streaming for everybody — is happening in February.

Okay.

It was New Year’s weekend that Boston melodic heavy rockers Worshipper took part in Mutants of the Monster II: Inverted Atomic Lore, the digital festival put together presumably to promote good bands, fight pandemic restlessness, extend the brand and work against the general shittyness that is existence without live shows. For two nights, the fest streamed groups from hither and yon, and watching Worshipper particularly was a reminder of just how killer a live act they are. Granted, they’re in a studio here with no less than Chris Johnson (he recorded the last Worshipper LP, plays in Summoner, Deafheaven and Doomriders, does live sound, and so on) at the helm, but they’re still playing live — and masked, for the most part — and even after the better part of a year of no gigs, they sound tight as hell.

You miss live shows? Shit, me too. Have I mentioned that lately? Well, everything is fucked. It’s a new year and we’re supposed to be filled with hope. I’m not. But you know what’s worth hanging onto? Music. Music still sounds good. While music still sounds good, you’ve still got something. Worshipper‘s set is five songs — they dig into stuff they know well, which is fair enough given the fact that who the hell wants to rehearse when we’re supposed to limit exposure — and the clip below cues up to it. But again, even if you skim through and check out a song here and a song there, the whole thing is worth your perusal. I’m just trying to make life easier.

Worshipper guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse offers some comment under the video below.

Please enjoy:

Worshipper, Live at Mutants of the Monster II: Inverted Atomic Lore

John Brookhouse on Mutants of the Monster II:

We recorded our set with only a couple practices under our belts after not playing for quite a long time. This whole time has been so nebulous, not knowing what the future holds, etc., it was just nice to have a project to do together. We recently moved to our new practice space at SUM Studios in Malden, MA, and they actually fast-tracked finishing a big live room in there so we could have a space to do this recording. (Thank you, Bob Logan!!) We pooled all of our technology – gopros, phones, cameras, lights, etc. to get the right look and have enough camera angles to be visually appealing.

Chris Johnson totally knocked it out of the park with the audio, and he even brought a nice camera to do some handheld shots while we played. We love working with him, but it was also great to just be able to hang out with him and see him again. Alex did an amazing job putting all of the footage together. Bob and I are usually the ones tasked with the visual aspects of the band, but Alex wanted to take a crack and it, and he totally nailed it. He definitely had a vision for how he wanted it to come across, and we think he did a spectacular job with it.

After a pretty long year that put a lot of us through the ringer, it was a blast putting something out there into the world again and interacting with people during the premiere. It was also cool for us to feel like part of a musical scene again with all of the other bands (who killed it!). We hope we get to do more stuff like this in the near future.

Filmed Live at Sum Studios, Malden, MA, Nov. 28, 2020. Engineered and mixed by Chris Johnson at The Electric Bunker.

Setlist:
Black Corridor
High Above the Clouds
Nobody Else
It All Comes Back
Another Yesterday

Worshipper is:
John Brookhouse: guitar/vocals
Alejandro Necochea: lead guitar/synth
Dave Jarvis: drums
Bob Maloney: bass/vocals

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

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

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

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

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

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

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

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

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

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

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

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

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

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

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

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

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

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

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

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

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

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

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

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

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

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

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

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

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

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

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

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

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

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

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

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

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

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

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

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

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

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

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

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

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

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

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

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

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

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

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

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

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

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

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

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

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

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

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

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

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

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

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

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

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

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

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

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

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

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

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

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

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

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

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

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

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

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

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

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

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

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

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

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

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

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

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

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead to 2021

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

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

Thank You

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

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

More to come.

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Electric Hydra Premiere “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

electric hydra

Sweden’s Electric Hydra will make their self-titled debut with the backing of Majestic Mountain and Tee Pee Records on Nov. 27. That’s still more than a month away, if you don’t have your calendar handy, and yet “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” is the third and apparently final single/video being released from the 35-minute 10-tracker. Think maybe the band are eager to get their music out there? Well, take that kind of restless, shoving energy, transpose it onto careening heavy riffs and uptempo grooves, big hooks topped with classic melodic vocals, and Electric Hydra‘s Electric Hydra will probably start making sense.

The opening track of the album, and what was the first single released, is called “It Comes Alive,” and if that’s what the album is doing at that point, it’s born running. The dual guitars now handled by Peter Söderberg and Jonas StĂ„lhammar (the latter also of At the Gates and a noted record collector) have no time to waste between them, and amid the rumble of Ellinor Andersson‘s bass, drummer Dennis Åhman finds a natural-feeling propulsion that continues well into “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” and the added breadth of “Blackened Eyes,” both of which are early highlights of the proceedings as the record heads into the lumbering stomp — still pretty upbeat, but a definite uptick in heft — of “Grab What’s Yours” and the songs begin to flesh out beyond the opening salvo. If there was any doubt of a metallic underpinning beneath the rocking craft of Electric Hydra — and really, from “It Comes Alive” onward, there wasn’t — “Grab What’s Yours” dismisses it outright, Mellotron and spoken break and all.

To back up a second: What we have so far on Electric Hydra‘s first LP is unflappable songwriting, modern sound, un-winded push and engaging performances. They do not represent an aesthetic revolution, but neither are they called upon to do so, especially on their debut. If you’re listening to Electric Hydra and you find you’re not on board by the end of “Grab What’s Yours,” the only thing to do is rethink your position. electric hydra electric hydraDoing so will surely head off feeling like a dope as “Iron Lung” — probably not a tribute to the former Scissorfight frontman, but one never knows — flips the switch, mellows the tempo and adds dual-vocal arrangements to a classically stonerized rollout, only getting more and more massive as it goes on to round out the record’s first half. I’m just trying to save you some trouble.

Side B of the album follows a mirror course but is perhaps even more fierce in its execution as “The Betrayal” and “1,000 Eyes” — watch out for the bass intro to the latter; it is quick, but it is a monster and it will eat you — and though they sound no less full than “It Comes Alive” or “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” back on side A, the fact that they’re speedier, shorter and even more straight-ahead-all-go-no-stop plays up the direct ’90s-style heavy rock riffing serving as their foundation. Maybe also some Motörhead for good measure. One would hardly call “End of Days” a departure from that method, but it does take a brief detour in its second half for a quiet stretch before surging toward its last chorus, so that’s a differentiating factor, and the penultimate “Rebel” showcases again the arrangement style of “Iron Lung” earlier, but in a harder-driving context.

That leaves “Rise From Below” to close out with its own mellower-start-into-increasing-largesse progression, and there’s even some key work to accompany, though it’s organ and not Mellotron as on “Grab What’s Yours.” The mirrored structure of the LP speaks to intent on the part of Electric Hydra, but to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t even need to because the songs themselves do that so clearly. They may be a new-ish band putting out their first record, but they’re by no means fumbling in terms of their style or the substance of their material. Or the production, for that matter. Particularly as a record made during firelung quarantine, Electric Hydra reaches out to its audience with passion and force and only proves more inviting as it moves through, grabbing, going, coming alive and rising all the while.

Still a month-plus before the release, but you can stream the premiere of the video for “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” below. I’ll spare you the pontificating on the novelty of seeing a band sharing a space with each other, and just note that quotes from Andersson and Karlsson follow, as well as more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Electric Hydra, “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)” official video premiere

Ellinor Andersson on “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)”:

“‘Won’t Go to War (With Myself)’ was the very last to be written for the album and came to life quickly, just as we were about to start recording the album. Dennis was doing his final drum recordings for pre-production on some of the other songs and inspiration struck. The song almost wrote itself. Sanne wrote her parts during the actual recording and the lyrics are about how you should not compromise yourself just to fit in with how other people expect you to act.”

Sanne Karlsson on “Won’t Go to War (With Myself)”:

“The video is once again recorded by Max Ljungberg, who also did the video for our first single, ‘It Comes Alive’. We did the recording in a really cool skatepark called ‘Bunkeberget’, which is actually located inside a mountain in Gothenburg. Working with him is always super smooth and easy, and we’re all really satisfied with the end result. This is also our last single before the album is released too so… time for champagne!”

Electric Hydra’s self-titled debut album is released 27th November on Majestic Mountain Records (EU, Scandinavia) and Tee Pee Records (USA, Rest of the World)

Pre-order here – https://linktr.ee/majesticmountain

Following the announcement of Electric Hydra’s conscription to Majestic Mountain Records, the band is thrilled to announce that they band will also be backed stateside by legendary US independent rock label, Tee Pee Records.

Formed on the windswept West Coast of Sweden, amid the dark forests of SmĂ„land, Electric Hydra – formed by Sanne Karlsson, Ellinor Andersson, Jonathan Möller and Jonny Petterson – first met on an impromptu night in late 2017. In doing so they discovered a connection; a newfound friendship through a shared of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Entombed and Black Sabbath, and decided to book a rehearsal room the very next morning.

Known for delivering high energy shows, the band has played live at Sweden Rock Festival and Malmöfestivalen; toured Europe and shared stages with Lucifer, Monolord, Truckfighters and Greenleaf, among many others.

With Dennis Åhman being brought in to replace Petterson on drums, work on their debut began in early 2020 and continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic at Shimmer Studios, Studio BO and Welfare Studios. Further reinforced with new recruits in Peter Söderberg and At the Gates/Bombs of Hades’ Jonas StĂ„lhammar (following the departure of Jonathan Möller) the quintet is keen to prove exactly why they are considered one of the most exciting new acts on the Swedish rock scene.

ELECTRIC HYDRA is:
Sanne Karlsson – Vocals
Ellinor Andersson – Bass
Dennis Åhman – Drums
Jonas StĂ„lhammar – Guitar
Peter Söderberg – Guitar

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Quarterly Review: The Pilgrim, Polymoon, Doctors of Space, Merlock, Sun Dial, Saturn’s Husk, Diggeth, Horizon, Limousine Beach, The Crooked Whispers

Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Well, the weekend’s over and it’s time to wrap up the Quarterly Review. Rest assured, I wrote the following during my copious weekend leisure time, resting on the side of a heated Olympic-size pool with a beverage nearby. It definitely wasn’t four in the morning on a Sunday or anything. If I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I hope you’ve found something amid this massive swath of records that has resonated with you. By way of a cheap plug, I’ll be featuring audio from a lot of these bands on the Gimme Metal show this Friday, 5PM Eastern, if you’re up for tuning in.

Either way, thanks for reading and for being a part of the whole thing. Let’s wrap it up.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back

the pilgrim from the earth to the sky and back

Lest he be accused of laziness, Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows, Killer Boogie and the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label, booking agency and festival series — made his solo debut as The Pilgrim with Spring 2019’s Walking into the Forest (review here). Joined by Black Rainbows drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, Fiori ups the scale of the journey with the second The Pilgrim LP, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back. Richer in arrangement, bolder in craft and more confident in performance, the album runs 14 songs and 50 minutes still largely based around an acoustic acid rock foundation, but with a song like “Riding the Horse” tapping ’70s singer-songwriter vibes while “Cuba” touches on Latin percussion and guitar and “Space and Time” journeying out near the record’s end with waves of synthesizer, it seems The Pilgrim isn’t so willing to be pigeonholed. So much the better.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

There is an undercurrent of extremity to the debut release from Polymoon, who hail from the psychedelic hotbed that is Tampere, Finland. The six-song/42-minute Caterpillars of Creation turns in opener “Silver Mt.” to fervent guitar push or from freaked-out cosmic prog into drifting post-universe exploration, setting the stage for the dynamic that unfolds throughout. The wash early in the second half of “Lazaward” is glorious, and it’s not the first or the last time Polymoon go to that adrenaline-pumping well, but the serenity that caps that song and seems to continue into “Malamalama” in closing side A is no less effective. “Helicaling” mounts tension in its early drumming but finally releases it later, and “Neitherworld” gives Caterpillars of Creation‘s most fervent thrust while closer “Metempsychosis” rounds out with a fitting sense of dissipation. As a first album/first release, it is particularly stunning, and to make it as plain as possible, I will think less of any list of 2020’s best debut albums that leaves out Polymoon.

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Svart Records website

 

Doctors of Space, First Treatment

doctors of space first treatment

The two-piece comprised of Martin Weaver (ex-Wicked Lady) and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, etc.) position First Treatment as their proper studio debut, and it certainly hits its marks in galaxial adventuring well enough to qualify as such, but the duo have been on a creative splurge throughout this year — even in lockdown — and so the six songs here are also born out of the work they’ve been doing since releasing their debut single “Ghouls ‘n’ Shit” (video premiere here) late last year. The album launches with “Journey to Enceladus,” which boasts drum programming by Weaver and though one of the movements in the 21-minute “Into the Oort Cloud” is based around beats, the bulk of First Treatment is purely a work of guitar and synth, and it basks in the freedom that being so untethered inherently brings. Running an hour long, it’s improvisational nature isn’t going to be for everyone, but Heller and Weaver make a strong argument that maybe it should be.

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Space Rock Productions website

 

Merlock, That Which Speaks

merlock that which speaks

Who’s ready for a New Wave of PNW Fuckery? That’s right folks, the NWOPNWF has arrived and it’s Spokane, Washington’s Merlock leading the sometimes-awfully-punk-sometimes-awfully-metal-but-somehow-also-always-sludge charge. Aggressive and damning in lyrics, swapping between raw screams, grows, shouts and cleaner vocals and unhinged in terms of its genre loyalties, That Which Speaks seems to find the “melt faces” setting wherever it goes, and though there’s a sense of the four-piece feeling out what works best for them stylistically, the sometimes frantic, sometimes willfully awkward transitions — as in second cut “Prolapse” — serve the overall purpose of undercutting predictability. Eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Idolon” stomps and shoves and gnashes and nasties its way through, and that’s the modus across what follows, though the scream-along headbanger “Vessel” somehow seems even rawer, and though it ends by floating into oblivion, the start of “Condemnation” heavy fuckin’ metal to me. You never know quite where Merlock are going to hit next, and that’s the joy of the thing. May they remain so cacophonous.

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Sun Dial, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition

sun dial mind control

Long-running UK psychedelic rockers Sun Dial — led by founding guitarist/vocalist Gary Ramon — released Mind Control in 2012. Sulatron Records picked it up in 2015, and now, five years after that, the same label presents Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition, a 2CD version of the original LP-plus-bonus-tracks reissue that brings the total runtime of the release to a well-beyond-manageable 98 minutes of lysergic experimentation. A full 20 tracks are included in the comprehensive-feeling offering, and from early mixes to alternative takes and lost tracks, and if this isn’t the ‘ultimate’ version of Mind Control, I’m not sure what could be, notwithstanding a complete-studio-sessions box set. Perhaps as a step toward that, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition gives an in-depth look at a vastly underappreciated outfit and is obviously put together as much for the label as by it. That is to say, you don’t put out a reissue like this unless you really love the original record, and if Sulatron loving a record isn’t enough endorsement for you, please turn in your mushrooms on your way out the door.

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Sulatron Records webstore

 

Saturn’s Husk, The Conduit

Saturns Husk The Conduit

Immersion is the goal of Saturn’s Husk‘s third long-player, The Conduit, and the Riga, Latvia, instrumentalist trio accomplish it quickly with the fluid riffs that emerge from the drone-based intro “Death of Imaginary Lights” and the subsequent 10-minute opener “Black Nebula.” At nine songs and 63 minutes, the album is consuming through the welcome nodder “The Heavenly Ape,” the especially-doomed “The Ritual” and the more mellow-float centerpiece “Spectral Haze,” while “Mycelium Messiah” brings more straight-ahead fuzz (for a time) and drones on either side surround the 10:35 “Sand Barrows,” the latter serving as the finale “A Shattered Visage” quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley and the former “City of the Djinn” running just a minute-plus but still doing enough to reset the brain from where “Mycelium Messiah” left it. Almost functioning as two albums side-by-side with “Spectral Haze” as the dividing point, The Conduit indeed seems to join various sides together, with a depth to coincide that invites the listener to explore along with it.

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Diggeth, Gringos Galacticos

diggeth gringos galacticos

Landing a punch of classic metal to go along with its heavy-bottomed groove, Diggeth‘s Gringos Galacticos — one supposes the title ‘Spacecrackers’ was taken — was released by the Dutch trio in 2019 and receives a US limited vinyl edition thanks to Qumran Records. One finds some similar guitar heroics to those of Astrosoniq‘s more straightforward moments, but Diggeth‘s focus remains on hookmaking for the duration, offering hints of twang and acoustics in “In the Wake of Giants” and tipping a hat southwestward in “Three Gringos,” but “Straight-Shooter” is willfully breaks out its inner Hetfield and even as the penultimate “Unshackled” departs for a quieter break, it makes its way back in time for the big finish chorus, adding just a touch of Candlemass grandiosity for good measure before the harmonica-laced closing title-track rounds out with its dynamic spacey weirdness, the name of the album repeating itself in an answer to the Stephen Hawking sample that started the voyage on its way.

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Qumran Records website

 

Horizon, The White Planet Patrol

horizon the white planet patrol

Cursed Tongue Records has the vinyl here, and Three Moons the tape, and the CD will arrive through Aladeriva Records, La Rubia Producciones, Aneurisma Records, Surnia Records and Violence in the Veins — so yes, Horizon‘s third album, The White Planet Patrol is well backed. Fair enough for the Kyuss-via-BlackRainbows vibes of “End of Utopia” or the initial charge and flow of “The Backyard” that sets the Alicante, Spain, trio on their way. “King Serpent” and “Death & Teddies” bring well-crafted fuzz to bear, and “Blind World” effectively layers vocals in its chorus to coincide, but the more laid back roll of the title-cut is an unmistakable highlight. Shades of mid-paced Nebula surface in “Meet the Forest” later on, but Horizon are part of a tradition of heavy bands in Alicante and they know it. The smoothness of their tone and delivery speaks volumes on its own in that regard, never mind the actual songwriting, which also leaves nothing to be desired.

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Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine + 2

Limousine Beach Stealin Wine

Debut EP from Limousine Beach out of Pittsburgh, and if the three guitars involved don’t push it over the top, certainly the vocal harmonies get that particular job done. You got six minutes for three songs? Yeah, obviously. They scorch through “Tiny Hunter” to close out, but it’s in the leadoff title-track that Stealin’ Wine + 2 sees the Dave Wheeler-fronted outfit land its most outrageous chorus, just before they go on to find a middle-ground between KISS and Thin Lizzy on “Hear You Calling.” The harmonies open and are striking from the outset, but it’s in how they’re arranged around the standalone parts from Wheeler (also Outsideinside, ex-Carousel) that the outfit’s truest potential is shown. Issued through Tee Pee Records, Stealin’ Wine + 2 is the kind of thing you’d pick up at a show in a normal year and then feel way ahead of everyone else when the LP finally hits. Not a normal year, obviously, but Limousine Beach are serving due notice just the same. In six minutes, no less.

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The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies

the crooked whispers satanic melodies

I’m sure a lot of records show up at Satan’s door with notes, like, “Dear sir, please find the enclosed submitted for your approval,” but it’s not hard to imagine Beelzebub himself getting down with the filth-coated sludge and rolling doom unfurled across The Crooked Whispers‘ debut offering, Satanic Melodies, marked by hateful, near-blackened screams from Anthony Gaglia and the plodding riffs of Chad Davis (Hour of 13, et al). The title-track is longest at 8:23 and in addition to featuring Ignacio De Tommaso‘s right-on bass tone in its midsection, it plays out early like Weedeater sold their collective soul, and drifts out where earlier pieces “Sacrifice” and “Evil Tribute” and “Profane Pleasure” held their roll for the duration. Stretches of clean-vocal cultistry add to the doomier aspects, but The Crooked Whispers seem to care way less about genre than they do about worshiping the devil, and that unshakable faith behind them, the rest seems to fall into place in accordingly biting fashion.

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Review & Full Album Premiere: The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

[Click play above to stream The Atomic Bitchwax’s Scorpio in its entirety. It’s out Friday on Tee Pee Records.]

Some 21 years ago in 1999, New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax made one of the most striking impressions on their self-titled debut album (discussed here) with “Hope You Die,” a song that takes its wishing-ill title and turns it into a call and response vocal hook and makes it mischievously fun. “I hope you hate this shit/I hope your clothes don’t fit,” etc. In 2020, “Hope You Die” leads off. It has been pushed to the forward position on Scorpio, which is the trio’s eighth album, issued like their debut through Tee Pee Records. Scorpio is a landmark by default for the band from Neptune, in that it finds them on the other side of their first record’s 20th year — no small feat for an underground act — and it marks the introduction of their third guitarist, Garrett Sweeny. Sweeny took up the position in early 2019 following the departure of Finn Ryan (also ex-Core) late in 2018, and the band — completed by drummer Bob Pantella and founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik — proceeded onward with another following in a series of years with a busy touring schedule, then in support of 2017’s Force Field (review here).

Not to discount Ryan‘s work in The Atomic Bitchwax, as he brought shred worthy of filling founding guitarist Ed Mundell‘s rather sizable shoes and a melodic vocal that worked well in offsetting Kosnik‘s more shouted approach, could carry a song when asked to do so or follow the rhythm section on any number of whirlwind progressions, but his departure (somewhat surprisingly) hardly caused the group to lose a step. Kosnik, who joined Monster Magnet in 2013, and Pantella, who joined Monster Magnet in 2004, snagged Sweeny from that band’s lineup and The Atomic Bitchwax continued on. Scorpio, recorded this past January at Sound Spa in Edison, NJ, with Stephen DeAcutis, benefits markedly from the relative smoothness of that lineup transition and the chemistry the semi-revamped three-piece were able to build on the road last year, touring with Conan and Black Label Society, among others, and couples this with the well established penchant for speedy heavy rock songcraft that has been largely consistent in their work over the last two decades-plus. Momentum, then, is a key element to both the style and the substance of the band. Like their songs, they move forward.

“Hope You Die” serves as the blastoff and the longest track (immediate points) on Scorpio at 4:36, but it’s just one of the bunch when it comes to hooks. Sweeny and Kosnik share vocals, their styles similar in a manner that’s complementary, and throughout the 10-song/37-minute offering, the guitarist acquits himself well in terms of ripping into a barrage of solos and setting the course through Kosnik‘s winding style of riffs, tapping classic rock heroics and translating it into a methodology that’s long since become identifiable as The Atomic Bitchwax‘s own. They follow “Hope You Die” with the aptly-titled “Energy,” a cut that earlier incarnations of the tracklist had swapped with the here-penultimate “Betting Man” as a late surge, but that works no less well in answering the opener with another fervent shove — “Betting Man,” meanwhile, serves basically the same function where it is — and soon enough turns over to the first of three included instrumentals, “Ninja.”

the atomic bitchwax

As one might expect, it is a blurry whirlwind of punches and kicks, drawing on another time-tested aspect of the band’s overarching modus. They kill. In dizzying fashion. 2008’s TAB4 (review here) departed for more mid-paced fare on the whole, but since 2011’s instrumental, single-song LP, The Local Fuzz (review here) and through 2015’s Gravitron (review here) and Force Field, the band has been on a tear in terms of energy. The title-track of Scorpio, also one of its shortest pieces at 3:22, epitomizes this, and is all the more a fitting example for how memorable it is despite being shot from a cannon. The possibly self-referential stomper “Easy Action,” which presumably closes side A and brings a more restrained pace with Pantella marking time on the snare, seems to nod to “So Come On” from 2006’s Jack Endino-produced Boxriff EP (discussed here), and asks the question, “Do you want to live forever?” as if already knowing the answer is no. Tambourine behind the chorus and timed to the snare cleverly keeps the motion of Scorpio going while likewise speaking to the band’s periodic pop flirtations. Unsurprisingly, it works well.

A quick count-in and “Crash” is off; an instrumental lead-in for the second half of Scorpio that hearkens to the riff of the title-track and runs elsewhere with it, taking its own path to its careening stop ahead of “Super Sonic,” which stands just 3:14 but features some highlight bass work from Kosnik and a stripped-down feel compared to the three tracks prior. Perhaps that’s The Atomic Bitchwax introducing the album’s final movement in some way, or just throwing something different in on side B. Either way, it serves its purpose and shifts to “You Got It” with little fanfare, the latter with not only a return of tambourine, but handclaps as well. “You Got It” is quintessential Bitchwax and fits alongside “Scorpio” and “Easy Action” and the subsequent “Betting Man” as some of the strongest material they bring to the outing, but it’s a high standard across the board: the fuzzy riffing, the subtle vocal shifts, the sheer push of the thing.

This is what The Atomic Bitchwax make sound simple and no one else seems to be able to do in quite the same way. See also “Betting Man” and “Instant Death,” the closing duo that sums up Scorpio in suitably concise and direct fashion with one more hook and one last instrumental thrust. It would be hard for a band like The Atomic Bitchwax to be a completely unknown quantity eight records into their career, but part of what makes Scorpio so much their own is its reflection on what they’ve done before. In light of the advent of Sweeny on guitar and the inevitable change to the band’s personality as a result — swapping members in a power trio is never a simple matter — the band’s claim on who they are feels nothing if not purposeful, and at the core of Scorpio is Kosnik‘s songwriting, which is seemingly unshakable. All the better. They’re of course underserved by not being able to tour immediately to support the release, like so many others, but The Atomic Bitchwax nonetheless remain vital and kinetic.

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The Atomic Bitchwax Post “You Got It” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the atomic bitchwax

The band from Neptune returns! A new Bitchwax video is, generally speaking, cause to celebrate, and the new one for “You Got It” heralds the upcoming LP, Scorpio, with a due showcase of that pivotal balance between forward drive and weight-of-groove that is so much the band’s own. Claiming that sonic space as their own, which, yes, it is, feels all the more purposeful given that with this record founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella introduce guitarist Garrett Sweeny to the fold.

And yes, all three of them are also in Monster Magnet, but more importantly, all three of them are in The Atomic Bitchwax. The new video does more than hint toward social commentary with its central lead character, a young woman, walking down the street in the city facing harassment and catcalls as so many do. I can’t help but feel there’s an edge of irony in that it’s a band called The Atomic Bitchwax taking this progressive stance, but there’s nothing to say one’s thinking about these issues can’t evolve over a span of decades, though the woman-as-scorpion cover art of the new album seems to contrast, even if intended as a message of authority or power. In any case, the image of the three-piece in and alongside a speeding subway train could hardly be more fitting, and also being from New Jersey, I’m reminded of the particular relationship that those of my beloved Garden State have with NYC, the much-maligned Bridge and Tunnel Crowd who in large part make the thing go.

So I guess there’s more to unpack here than it might at first seem when one sees the phrase “new Bitchwax video,” but one would hardly begrudge the band either the message or the depth. And, as one would figure, the song rules. Always helps.

Enjoy:

The Atomic Bitchwax, “You Got It” official video

New Jersey-based rock n’ roll trio THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX are set to release their new studio album, ‘Scorpio’, August 28th release via Tee Pee Records. The group, which originally formed in the mid-90s, consists of lead vocalist/bassist Chris Kosnik, drummer Bob Pantella, and guitarist Garrett Sweeny, all of whom are past or present members of the band Monster Magnet. Scorpio is the follow up to the group’s 2017 full-length ‘Force Field’, and their eighth studio LP overall spanning more than two decades.

Today the band releases their video for the second single from the album “You Got It.”

The Atomic Bitchwax, “Scorpio” official video

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