WyndRider to Release Revival LP June 7 on Electric Valley Records; “Motorcycle Witches” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Timing is everything. Mere minutes after I took the dog out the other day and got the mail that happened to have the t-shirt I preordered from Tennessee heavy rollers WyndRider a while back in it, I sat back down in front of the laptop and lo, the algorithm saw fit to put the announcement of the band’s signing to Electric Valley Records in front of my eyeballs. I’m not saying it’s anything more than a fun coincidence — I don’t think social media tracking cookies can get in your actual, physical mailbox… yet — but it most certainly was that, and I look forward to hearing how the four-piece will follow-up their well received 2023 self-titled debut (review here), which they subsequently announced they’ll do with Revival on June 7.

To advance and coincide with the release, WyndRider are keeping busy this spring and summer with live shows, headed to Texas in May for Gravitoyd Doom Fest, to Maryland in June for the esteemed Maryland Doom Fest, and to Kentucky in July for the Holler of Doom, all with shows around them sharing the stage with names familiar and righteous. They’ve also posted the single “Motorcycle Witches” as an initial public offering from Revival, readily affirming the clarion-for-the-converted riffery and swing from the debut are well intact. Makes it even less of a challenge to look forward to the album.

The announcement from socials and live dates follow:

wyndrider revival

We are over the moon that we will be releasing our new album with Electric Valley Records ! More info coming real soon. Don’t blink or ya just might miss it.

From EVR: “Electric Valley Records is proud to announce that heavy riffers WyndRider have just signed for their brand new album🔥”

Motorcycle Witches is out now on all music platforms! Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, you name it: https://lnkfi.re/wyndrider_motorcyclewitches

Pre-order for REVIVAL goes live with Electric Valley Records on 4/24 or on the WyndRider Bandcamp page on 4/25.

Stay Doomed💀”

WyndRider live:
5/2 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone
5/3 – Arlington, TX – GROWL
5/4 – Houston, TX – Gravitoyd Doomfest
5/5 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia
5/24 – Knoxville, TN – BrickYard Bar & Grill
5/26 – Charlotte, NC – TBA
6/8 – Johnson City, TN – The Hideaway
6/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle
6/21 – Akron, OH – Buzzbin
6/22 – Frederick, MD – The †maryland DOOM† Fest
6/23 – New York, NY – The Bowery Electric
7/5 – Asheville, NC – The Odd
7/11 – Nashville, TN – Springwater Supper Club and Lounge
7/12 – London, KY – Holler of Doom
7/13 – Cincinnati, OH – THE COMET

WyndRider are:
Robbie Willis (Guitar)
Chloe Gould (Vocals)
Josh Brock (Drums)
Joshuwah Herald (Bass)



WyndRider, “Motorcycle Witches”

WyndRider, WyndRider (2023)

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Robby Staebler Leaves All Them Witches

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

all them witches robby (Photo by Dylan Handley)

Not the kind of announcement you expect to see on a given morning, but founding drummer Robby Staebler has announced his departure from Nashville’s All Them Witches. What you see in blue text below was sent out in an update to Bandcamp followers, and it comes as the four-piece are (were?) set to begin a tour through the southeastern US following their appearance this weekend at Austin Psych Fest. Comprised until today of Staebler, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod and Rhodes pianist/violinist/keyboardist Allan Van Cleave, the band also have European shows ahead of them this summer, including a stop at Hellfest in France and other festivals besides. I have no idea what the status is of any of those shows, and the best I can tell you is to keep an eye on the band’s social media, which is where any further update is likely to come from.

Staebler, with a restless energy on stage that gave movement to even the band’s most minimalist moments, brought fluid energy and expansive creativity to All Them Witches across their six to-date full-lengths — the latest, 2020’s Nothing as the Ideal (review here), featured drones and tape loops that as I understood it were in no small part his contribution — and non-LP releases like the Baker’s Dozen singles series (posted here) that carried them through the end of the pandemic on 2022 en route to a 2023 spent mostly on the road for whole-album performances and other shows. Since Van Cleave rejoined in 2021 after quitting the band following 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), they’ve wanted nothing for momentum. I guess maybe when you’re done you’re done.

But in addition to drumming and other sundry noisemaking, Staebler has also served as the primary visual artist for All Them Witches since their inception. And like his playing, his painting style is not something that will be easily replaced. I have no info on what his departure means for All Them Witches as regards the dates in the two posters below — maybe he’ll play them and leave after, for all I know — but Staebler will continue with the experimental audio/visual project Uvways, as he says below, and if All Them Witches do keep going, there’s no question any new player brought in will be a marked change in dynamic.

My best to Staebler and to ParksMcLeod and Van Cleave, whatever the future brings. If I hear more I’ll post it:

[UPDATE April 24: Guitarist Ben McCleod posted the following in the band’s Facebook group a short time ago:

Hello everyone. ATW will be making an official post later today, however I wanted everyone to know the shows are not canceled. We have a replacement drummer for the time being and will be fulfilling all these shows.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We will see you soon.
Best of luck to Robby and his future endeavors. He has been an asset to this band and he will be missed.

The band followed up with a collective statement, specifically addressing the coming shows and their plans going forward:

all them witches statement on robby staebler leaving

So there you go. Staebler‘s original announcement and All Them Witches‘ tour dates still follow below, but it’s encouraging to have some clarity and to know that the band will keep going.]

All good things must come to an end.
At this time I’ve decided to step back from ATW and put
my energy into other music and projects that I love.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me and the band I created
and labored over. The fans have made my dreams comes true
in every way and I’m extremely grateful for you all.
I put every ounce of energy and resources I had towards
building something truly unique and honest that I could stand behind.
Moving forward I feel it’s important to follow my intuition and inspiration.
I’ll be releasing two new albums this year under UVWAYS
with faces you know and some you don’t.
If you want to follow what I’m doing I set up a Patreon
where I’ll be doing everything from drum videos to live chats as well as
monthly art and merch deliveries. Check out patreon.com/UVWAYS,
visit www.uvways.com for paintings and prints.
Follow @uultrasoundss for new music
and @ultraafree for my merch company that promotes unity and freedom
in the tune of rock and roll. The world is a vampire. Stay awake.

[Photo by Dylan Handley.]



Uvways, Moses Lynx (2020)

All Them Witches, Baker’s Dozen playlist

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Howling Giant Post “Juggernaut” Video; Tour w/ The Obsessed & Gozu Starts March 13

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Howling Giant four-piece

Oh, alright, I guess we can talk again about how much Howling Giant outdid themselves with this past Fall’s Glass Future (review here). It’s been about 10 minutes. The Nashville-based outfit appear in the photo above in their recently-announced four-piece incarnation, making it official with James Sanderson on guitar and vocals, who has contributed to their records and songwriting before — as well as, apparently, DM’ing — but their new video for “Juggernaut” still features them as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler and bassist/vocalist Sebastian Baltes, who it would appear is also in charge of the hot sauce.

And of course Howling Giant have hot sauce. They had coffee at one point too (review here), so it’s only fair game for a band who so obviously put hot sauce in their coffee in order to obtain their particular melodic consciousness, poppy in a get-off-your-ass kind of way, Glass Future retains substance even in its showy style, with hook after hook after hook and a momentum not at all undercut by the fact that they’re also dynamic and not just doing the same thing all the time. Really, give me two seconds to put the record on and we could take the whole afternoon to talk about it even before we get to the persona on display in the songs manifest in the video as an infomercial for, duh, the hot sauce.

Casting puts Wheeler and Polzine as the salesmen, and with performance footage interspliced, they send up outdated notions of advertising and maybe even a bit themselves. After all, they’re making a joke of selling the hot sauce on tv and joking about torturing Baltes as a captive chef to eventually make it from… his… life force?, but I bet if you put yourself in front of the merch table on the band’s upcoming tour with The Obsessed and Gozu — both also with new records out, the former the most recent of them — that hot sauce will be there waiting for you. Not sure they’ll push it quite as vigorously as they do in the video, but that’s probably fine too.

As for the track itself, it joins Glass Future‘s title-track and “Aluminum Crown,” the clips for which you can see below, and if Howling Giant wanted to bang out three or four more videos before they move on from the record to whatever’s next, I’ll gladly post those too. Few bands who can write songs at their level either do or put the work in afterward to let people know about it as well as Howling Giant — also on their side is the fact that they’re fun but not dicks about it — who also toured Europe this past Fall in the company of Philadelphian labelmates Heavy Temple and will no doubt be headed back that way before too long.

Video’s below, tour dates under that. You know the drill. PR wire and such:

Howling Giant, “Juggernaut” official video

HOWLING GIANT dish out a jar full of spicy news today. First helping is a hot sauce-filled video clip for the yummy track ‘Juggernaut’ taken from the band’s current album “Glass Future”, released in October 2023 through Magnetic Eye Records (order at http://lnk.spkr.media/glass-future). Next on the menu is a tasty US tour in spring 2024 in support of THE OBSESSED, find all dates listed below!

HOWLING GIANT will embark on an extended US tour as direct support for THE OBSESSED in March and April this spring. The now quartet from Nashville, TN will hit the roads in support of their highly acclaimed current album “Glass Future”, which is also the official introductory round for new rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist James Sanderson.

HOWLING GIANT welcome their new member: “James started working with us while we were writing ‘Masamune’, helping break down lyrical barriers and working on song arrangements, and followers of our online shenanigans might recognize him as the Dungeon Master in our streamed D&D campaigns”, drummer and vocalist Zach Wheeler reveals. “We are stoked to welcome James officially into the Howling Giant fold, and can hardly wait to show off the four-piece fury that we’ll be bringing forth on our upcoming run with The Obsessed and Gozu. See you all on the road!”

13 MAR 2024 Philadelphia, PA (US) Milk Boy
14 MAR 2024 Baltimore, MD (US) Metro Gallery
15 MAR 2024 Richmond, VA (US) Cobra Cabana
16 MAR 2024 Wilmington, NC (US) Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
17 MAR 2024 Asheville, NC (US) The Odd
19 MAR 2024 Atlanta, GA (US) Boggs Social & Supply
20 MAR 2024 New Orleans, LA (US) Siberia
22 MAR 2024 Fort Worth, TX (US) Tulips
23 MAR 2024 Austin, TX (US) The Lost Well
25 MAR 2024 Albuquerque, NM (US) Launchpad
26 MAR 2024 Mesa, AZ (US) The Nile Underground
27 MAR 2024 Los Angeles, CA (US) Resident
28 MAR 2024 Palmdale, CA (US) Transplants Brewing
29 MAR 2024 San Diego, CA (US) Brick By Brick
30 MAR 2024 Las Vegas, NV (US) The Usual Place
31 MAR 2024 Salt Lake City, UT (US) Aces High Saloon
01 APR 2024 Denver, CO (US) Hi-Dive
03 APR 2024 Chicago, IL (US) Reggies
04 APR 2024 Lakewood, OH (US) The Foundry
05 APR 2024 New Kensington, PA (US) Preserving Underground
06 APR 2024 Rochester, NY (US) Montage Music Hall
07 APR 2024 Brattleboro, VT (US) The Stone Church
09 APR 2024 Cambridge, MA (US) Sonia
10 APR 2024 Portland, ME (US) Geno’s Rock Club
11 APR 2024 Hamden, CT (US) Space Ballroom
12 APR 2024 Brooklyn, NY (US) The Meadows

Recording line-up
Tom Polzine – guitar, vocals
Zach Wheeler – drums, vocals
Sebastian Baltes – bass, vocals

Guest musicians
Drew David Harakal II – organ, piano, synths
James Sanderson – additional vocals on ‘Siren Song’, ‘Hawk in a Hurricane’, and ‘There’s Time Now’

Current line-up
Tom Polzine – guitar, vocals
Zach Wheeler – drums, vocals
Sebastian Baltes – bass, vocals
James Sanderson – rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Howling Giant, “Glass Future” official video

Howling Giant, “Aluminum Crown” official video

Howling Giant, Glass Future (2023)

Howling Giant on Facebook

Howling Giant on Instagram

Howling Giant on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings on Instagram

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Wicked Trip Release Cabin Fever Tape

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Tennessee-based acid scuzz rockers Wicked Trip‘s second full-length, Cabin Fever (review here), has been issued on tape through Saturn Eye Records. I don’t know about you, but I think that works. They put it out on CD too, which is always great, don’t get me wrong, though especially for something that’s so raw and that rawness becomes part of the aesthetic, something that doesn’t feel like it was made for everybody, I think the format works especially well. Maybe it’s compression, maybe it’s placebo; I won’t claim to know and it doesn’t really matter. But I always feel like I need to justify posting about something coming out on tape as news, when no, I almost certainly don’t.

There’s vinyl coming in April through DHU Records, if that’s your format preference — no judgment either way; life is short and difficult, love what you love — and there are still both CDs and of course an infinite supply of .zip files in various bitrates and digital compressions, so Wicked Trip have you covered in any case. Saturn Eye sent the following down the PR wire:

wicked trip cabin fever

Now on cassette is the paranoia-inducing doom opus CABIN FEVER, from Tennessee burnouts @thewickedtrip. This album was digitally released last October but hasn’t seen a physical edition until now.

CABIN FEVER is a 46 minute long acid-fried journey of soul crushing psychosis-riffing and sampling. Listeners be advised – your mental state may be adversely affected… But if you follow this label then you’re probably already fried. So grab a cassette and do a little more damage!


1. Introduction 01:03
2. Cabin Fever 03:16
3. Hesher 08:01
4. Night of Pan 11:07
5. Black Valentine 05:12
6. Evils of the Night 08:51
7. No Longer Human 08:38

Art/design by @zz_corpse
Mixed and mastered by @lucafrizza.rec
Promo gfx by @deepfriedfx
Vinyl is on the way in April from our friends @dhu_records
Stream it from wickedtrip.bandcamp.com

Introduction by Gabriel Jahr
Lyrics by Sam Daniels
Mixing/Mastering by Luca Frizza
Artwork by ZZ Corpse

Wicked Trip are:
Sam Daniels – Guitars/Vocals/Keys
Joseph Metler – Bass/WAH
Troy Walker – Drums/Synth




Wicked Trip, Cabin Fever (2023)

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The Obsessed Announce US Tour With Gozu and Howling Giant; Gilded Sorrow Out Feb. 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

As ever fronted by founding guitarist/vocalist Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich — who makes ready to embark on a stint of solo acoustic shows in Europe even as their announcement arrives — The Obsessed have announced the first US run of headlining touring they’ll undertake to support the Feb. 16 release of their first album in seven years and first with the current lineup, Gilded Sorrow. Joining the doom legends in the endeavor are Boston’s Gozu and Nashville’s Howling Giant, who both issued their own stellar LPs in 2023, be it the former’s Remedy (review here) or the latter’s breakout, Glass Future (review here), which they’ve newly revamped their own lineup to support, adding a second guitarist to play as a four-piece.

The Obsessed, who for most of their decades have been a trio, have also been working with two guitars the last couple years, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt them any. They note below they’re about to put out a new single from Gilded Sorrow later this week, so that’ll be something to look out for, and you can find their comment, what Gozu and Howling Giant also had to say about it, and the dates, below, along with far too many links and videos from all involved parties, cobbled together from hither and yon across various social media outlets and so on. Who the hell doesn’t like a package tour?

Have at it:

the obsessed tour

Says The Obsessed: “Hitting the American highways with our friends Howling Giant and GOZU this March/April. Let’s see y’all out there! We will have our new record, Gilded Sorrow, on the merch table at all these shows. Stay tuned for another new single THIS FRIDAY!!”

Says Gozu: “2024 looking good! Who will we see?”

Says Howling Giant: “Back on the road we go! Very excited to be heading out with The Obsessed and GOZU this March/April. We’ve got James locked and loaded for a set chock full of tunes from Glass Future, we can’t wait to see everyone!”

3/13 Philadelphia, PA – Milk Boy
3/14 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
3/15 Richmond, VA – Cobra Cabana
3/16 Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
3/17 Asheville, NC – The Odd
3/19 Atlanta, GA – Boggs Social & Supply
3/20 New Orleans, LA – Siberia
3/22 Fort Worth, TX – Tulips
3/23 Austin, TX – The Lost Well
3/25 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
3/26 Mesa, AZ – The Nile Underground
3/27 Los Angeles, CA – Resident
3/28 Palmdale, CA – Transplants Brewing
3/29 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
3/30 Las Vegas, NV – The Usual Place
3/31 Salt Lake City, UT – Aces High Saloon
4/1 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
4/3 Chicago, IL – Reggies
4/4 Lakewood, OH – The Foundry
4/5 New Kensington, PA – Preserving Underground
4/6 Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall
4/7 Brattleboro, VT – The Stone Church
4/9 Cambridge, MA – Sonia
4/10 Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club
4/11 Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom
4/12 Brooklyn, NY – The Meadows

Chris Angleberger – bass and vocals
Jason Taylor – guitar and vocals
Brian Costantino – drums
Scott “Wino” Weinrich – guitar and vocals

GOZU is:
Marc Gaffney – guitar and vocals
Joe Grotto – bass
Doug Sherman – lead guitar
Seth Botos – drums

Howling Giant are:
Tom Polzine – Guitar and Vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums and Vocals
Sebastian Baltes – Bass and Vocals
James Sanderson – Guitar and Vocals







The Obsessed, “It’s Not OK” live at Freak Valley Festival 2023

Gozu, “Tom Cruise Control” official video

Howling Giant, “Glass Future” official video

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Howling Giant Add Second Guitarist/Vocalist James Sanderson

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Of course there’s always the risk of a band trying to fix something that isn’t broken, and Howling Giant‘s dynamic and approach on 2023’s Glass Future (review here) had not-broken as a defining characteristic, but listening to the record, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they’d look to bring in a second guitar for live shows. There’s enough depth of layering there, then you get into keys, which having another guitar adds more flexibility for, and it makes sense. Their sound is getting bigger and they’re nothing if not focused on how they present their material to an audience, so yeah, second guitar, more vocals to add to the mix for harmonies. No problem trusting this is a win.

And I guess that’s the power of what putting out one of the best albums of the year gets you: trust. What, you think Howling Giant — who just went to Europe for the first time in Heavy Temple this Fall and you know are looking to go back — are going to try to screw up the momentum they just spent four years working to build, half during a global lockdown? If they were that dumb they wouldn’t be where they are in the first place.

I hope I get to see them live soon. I’ve watched a bunch of videos and all that, but this set is something I want to be in a room with. Would also accept the out of doors, weather providing.

From their socials:

howling giant four piece

Happy New Year to all and thank you for an amazing 2023! Releasing Glass Future, touring with the likes of Elder, Ruby the Hatchet, Heavy Temple, and Restless Spirit, and finally getting over to Europe was a true pleasure.

We’ve got dates coming very soon for this spring to continue the Glass Future release tour, and we will also be bringing a familiar face into the HG fold as a full-fledged member of the band. Everyone welcome James Sanderson, guitarist/lyricist/merchboi to the stars! He had his first performance with us in town at the Glass Future release show and he passed his final exam with flying colors. See y’all out there

Howling Giant are:
Tom Polzine – Guitar and Vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums and Vocals
Sebastian Baltes – Bass and Vocals
James Sanderson – Guitar and Vocals



Howling Giant, “Glass Future” official video

Howling Giant, “Aluminum Crown” official video

Howling Giant, Glass Future (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Primordial, Patriarchs in Black, Blood Lightning, Haurun, Wicked Trip, Splinter, Terra Black, Musing, Spiral Shades, Bandshee

Posted in Reviews on November 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Day two and no looking back. Yesterday was Monday and it was pretty tripped out. There’s some psych stuff here too, but we start out by digging deep into metal-rooted doom and it doesn’t get any less dudely through the first three records, let’s put it that way. But there’s more here than one style, microgengre, or gender expression can contain, and I invite you as you make your way through to approach not from a place of redundant chestbeating, but of celebrating a moment captured. In the cases of some of these releases, it’s a pretty special moment we’re talking about.

Places to go, things to hear. We march.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Primordial, How it Ends

primordial how it ends

Excuse me, ma’am. Do you have 66 minutes to talk about the end of the world? No? Nobody does? Well that’s kind of sad.

At 28 years’ remove from their first record, 1995’s Imrama, and now on their 10th full-length, Dublin’s Primordial are duly mournful across the 10 songs of How it Ends, which boasts the staring-at-a-bloodied-hillside-full-of-bodies after-battle mourning and oppression-defying lyricism and a style rooted in black metal and grown beyond it informed by Irish folk progressions but open enough to make a highlight of the build in “Death Holy Death” here. A more aggressive lean shows itself in “All Against All” just prior while “Pilgrimage to the World’s End” is brought to a wash of an apex with a high reach from vocalist Alan “A.A. Nemtheanga” Averill, who should be counted among metal’s all-time frontmen, ahead of the tension chugging in the beginning of “Nothing New Under the Sun.” And you know, for the most part, there isn’t. Most of what Primordial do on How it Ends, they’ve done before, and their central innovation in bridging extreme metal with folk traditionalism, is long behind them. How it Ends seems to dwell in some parts and be roiling in its immediacy elsewhere, and its grandiosities inherently will put some off just as they will bring some on, but Primordial continue to find clever ways to develop around their core approach, and How it Ends — if it is the end or it isn’t, for them or the world — harnesses that while also serving as a reminder of how much they own their sound.

Primordial on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website

Patriarchs in Black, My Veneration

Patriarchs in Black My Veneration

With a partner in drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Danzig, etc.), guitarist/songwriter Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Vessel of Light, Cassius King, etc.) has found an outlet open to various ideas within the sphere of doom metal/rock in Patriarchs in Black, whose second LP, My Veneration, brings a cohort of guests on vocals and bass alongside the band’s core duo. Some, like Karl Agell (C.O.C. Blind) and bassist Dave Neabore (Dog Eat Dog), are returning parties from the project’s 2022 debut, Reach for the Scars, while Unida vocalist Mark Sunshine makes a highlight of “Show Them Your Power” early on. Sunshine appears on “Veneration” as well alongside DMC from Run DMC, which, if you’re going to do a rap-rock crossover, it probably makes sense to get a guy who was there the first time it happened. Elsewhere, “Non Defectum” toys with layering with Kelly Abe of Sicks Deep adding screams, and Paul Stanley impersonator Bob Jensen steps in for the KISS cover “I Stole Your Love” and the originals “Dead and Gone” and “Hallowed Be Her Name” so indeed, no shortage of variety. Tying it together? The riffs, of course. Lorenzo has shown an as-yet inexhaustible supply thereof. Here, they seem to power multiple bands all on one album.

Patriarchs in Black on Instagram

MDD Records website

Blood Lightning, Blood Lightning

Blood Lightning self titled

Just because it wasn’t a surprise doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best debut albums of 2023. Bringing together known parties from Boston’s heavy underground Jim Healey (We’re All Gonna Die, etc.), Doug Sherman (Gozu), Bob Maloney (Worshipper) and J.R. Roach (Sam Black Church), Blood Lightning want nothing for pedigree, and their Ripple-issued self-titled debut meets high expectations with vigor and thrash-born purpose. Sherman‘s style of riffing and Healey‘s soulful, belted-out vocals are both identifiable factors in cuts like “The Dying Starts” and the charging “Face Eater,” which works to find a bridge between heavy rock and classic, soaring metal. Their cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Disturbing the Priest,” included here as the last of the six songs on the 27-minute album, I seem to recall being at least part of the impetus for the band, but frankly, however they got there, I’m glad the project has been preserved. I don’t know if they will or won’t do anything else, but there’s potential in their metal/rock blend, which positions itself as oldschool but is more forward thinking than either genre can be on its own.

Blood Lightning on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Haurun, Wilting Within

haurun wilting within

Based in Oakland and making their debut with the significant endorsement of Small Stone Records and Kozmik Artifactz behind them, atmospheric post-heavy rock five-piece Haurun tap into ethereal ambience and weighted fuzz in such a way as to raise memories of the time Black Math Horseman got picked up by Tee Pee. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. With notions of Acid King in the nodding, undulating riffs of “Abyss” and the later reaches of “Lost and Found,” but two guitars are a distinguishing factor, and Haurun come across as primarily concerned with mood, although the post-grunge ’90s alt hooks of “Flying Low” and “Lunar” ahead of 11-minute closer “Soil,” which uses its longform breadth to cast as vivid a soundscape as possible. Fast, slow, minimalist or at a full wash of noise, Haurun‘s Wilting Within has its foundation in heavy rock groove and riffy repetition, but does something with that that goes beyond microniche confines. Very much looking forward to more from this band.

Haurun on Facebook

Small Stone Records website

Kozmik Artifactz website

Wicked Trip, Cabin Fever

wicked trip cabin fever

Its point of view long established by the time they get around to the filthy lurch of “Hesher” — track three of seven — Cabin Fever is the first full-length from cultish doomers Wicked Trip. The Tennessee outfit revel in Electric Wizard-style fuckall on “Cabin Fever” after the warning in the spoken “Intro,” and the 11-minute sample-topped “Night of Pan” is a psych-doom jam that’s hypnotic right unto its keyboard-drone finish giving over to the sampled smooth sounds of the ’70s at the start of “Black Valentine,” which feels all the more dirt-coated when it actually kicks in, though “Evils of the Night” is no less threatening of purpose in its garage-doom swing, crash-out and cacophonous payoff, and I’m pretty sure if you played “No Longer Human” at double the speed, well, it might be human again. All of these grim, bleak, scorching, nodding, gnashing pieces come together to craft Cabin Fever as one consuming, lo-fi entirety, raw both because the recording sounds harsh and because the band itself eschew any frills not in service to their disillusioned atmosphere.

Wicked Trip on Instagram

Wicked Trip on Bandcamp

Splinter, Role Models

Splinter Role Models

There’s an awful lot of sex going on in Splinter‘s Role Models, as the Amsterdam glam-minded heavy rockers follow their 2021 debut, Filthy Pleasures (review here), with cuts like “Soviet Schoolgirl,” “Bottom,” “Opposite Sex” and the poppy post-punk “Velvet Scam” early on. It’s not all sleaze — though even “The Carpet Makes Me Sad” is trying to get you in bed — and the piano and boozy harmonies of “Computer Screen” are a fun departure ahead of the also-acoustic finish in closer “It Should Have Been Over,” while “Every Circus Needs a Clown” feels hell-bent on remaking Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Medicine Man” and “Forbidden Kicks” find a place where garage rock meets heavier riffing, while “Children” gets its complaints registered efficiently in just over two boogie-push minutes. A touch of Sabbath here, some Queens of the Stone Age chic disco there, and Splinter are happy to find a place for themselves adjacent to both without aping either. One would not accuse them of subtlety as regards theme, but there’s something to be said for saying what you want up front.

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Terra Black, All Descend

Terra Black All Descend

Beginning with its longest component track (immediate points) in “Asteroid,” Terra Black‘s All Descend is a downward-directed slab of doomed nod, so doubled-down on its own slog that “Black Flames of Funeral Fire” doesn’t even start its first verse until the song is more than half over. Languid tempos play up the largesse of “Ashes and Dust,” and “Divinest Sin” borders on Eurometal, but if you need to know what’s in Terra Black‘s heart, look no further than the guitar, bass, drum and vocal lumber — all-lumber — of “Spawn of Lyssa” and find that it’s doom pumping blood around the band’s collective body. While avoiding sounding like Electric Wizard, the Gothenburg, Sweden, unit crawl through that penultimate duet track with all ready despondency, and resolve “Slumber Grove” with agonized final lub-dub heartbeats of kick drum and guitar drawl after a vivid and especially doomed wash drops out to vocals before rearing back and plodding forward once more, doomed, gorgeous, immersive, and so, so heavy. They’re not finished growing yet — nor should they be on this first album — but they’re on the path.

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Musing, Somewhen

musing somewhen

Sometimes the name of a thing can tell you about the thing. So enters Musing, a contemplative solo outfit from Devin “Darty” Purdy, also known for his work in Calgary-based bands Gone Cosmic and Chron Goblin, with the eight-song/42-minute Somewhen and a flowing instrumental narrative that borders on heavy post-rock and psychedelia, but is clearheaded ultimately in its course and not slapdash enough to be purely experimental. That is, though intended to be instrumental works outside the norm of his songcraft, tracks like “Flight to Forever” and the delightfully bassy “Frontal Robotomy” are songs, have been carved out of inspired and improvised parts to be what they are. “Hurry Wait” revamps post-metal standalone guitar to be the basis of a fuzzy exploration, while “Reality Merchants” hones a sense of space that will be welcome in ears that embrace the likes of Yawning Sons or Big Scenic Nowhere. Somewhen has a story behind it — there’s narrative; blessings and peace upon it — but the actual music is open enough to translate to any number of personal interpretations. A ‘see where it takes you’ attitude is called for, then. Maybe on Purdy‘s part as well.

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Spiral Shades, Revival

Spiral Shades Revival

A heavy and Sabbathian rock forms the underlying foundation of Spiral Shades‘ sound, and the returning two-piece of vocalist Khushal R. Bhadra and guitarist/bassist/drummer Filip Petersen have obviously spent the nine years since 2014’s debut, Hypnosis Sessions (review here), enrolled in post-doctoral Iommic studies. Revival, after so long, is not unwelcome in the least. Doom happens in its own time, and with seven songs and 38 minutes of new material, plus bonus tracks, they make up for lost time with classic groove and tone loyal to the blueprint once put forth while reserving a place for itself in itself. That is, there’s more to Spiral Shades and to Revival than Sabbath worship, even if that’s a lot of the point. I won’t take away from the metal-leaning chug of “Witchy Eyes” near the end of the album, but “Foggy Mist” reminds of The Obsessed‘s particular crunch and “Chapter Zero” rolls like Spirit Caravan, find a foothold between rock and doom, and it turns out riffs are welcome on both sides.

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Bandshee, Bandshee III

Bandshee III

The closing “Sex on a Grave” reminds of the slurring bluesy lasciviousness of Nick Cave‘s Grinderman, and that should in part be taken as a compliment to the setup through “Black Cat” — which toys with 12-bar structure and is somewhere between urbane cool and cabaret nerdery — and the centerpiece “Bad Day,” which follows a classic downer chord progression through its apex with the rawness of Backwoods Payback at their most emotive and a greater melodic reach only after swaying through its willful bummer of an intro. Last-minute psych flourish in the guitar threatens to make “Bad Day” a party, but the Louisville outfit find their way around to their own kind of fun, which since the release is only three songs long just happens to be “Sex on a Grave.” Fair enough. Rife with attitude and an emergent dynamic that’s complementary to the persona of the vocals rather than trying to keep up with them, the counterintuitively-titled second short release (yes, I know the cover is a Zeppelin reference; settle down) from Bandshee lays out an individual approach to heavy songwriting and a swing that goes back further in time than most.

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Album Review: Howling Giant, Glass Future

Posted in Reviews on October 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Howling Giant Glass Future

Thoughtful and clever, Howling Giant‘s Glass Future demonstrates its consideration of craft even in its choice of samples, as intro “Hourglass” begins with a sample of Burgess Meredith in The Twilight Zone talking about how he has time to read because everyone else is dead — “there’s time enough at last” — and the 10-track/41-minute album closes with “There’s Time Now,” bookend-referencing the same soliloquy. The Nashville trio have put in as much work as possible over the years since their debut, 2019’s The Space Between Worlds (review here), and the songs of Glass Future would seem to reap the benefit of that experience in positioning the band to make a record that sets high goals for itself and meets them, not just tightening the melodies and harmonies of the vocals — to which guitarist Tom Polzine, drummer Zach Wheeler and bassist Sebastian “Seabass” Baltes all contribute — but enabling Howling Giant to hone a sound at once informed by progressive heavy rock and pop-punk.

“Siren Song” tells the tale. At five minutes, it’s longer than the brooding “Aluminum Crown” or the rush of sample-topped instrumental “First Blood of Melchior” — Frankenstein isn’t quite on theme with the apocalyptic sci-fi being engaged elsewhere in the lyrics (also debatable whether the apocalypse is fiction), but the dialog fits the mood and is timed well to the mosh riff in its second half — or the penultimate rush of “Juggernaut,” and “Siren Song” has a hook of the caliber of that song or “Glass Future” itself, or “Sunken City,” or even the suitably mournful and slow “There’s Time Now,” but its structure is different. Where even the verse of “Hawk in a Hurricane” is a hook, and “Sunken City” wants so badly to get to its next chorus that it barely ends the first, “Siren Song” holds back slightly, at least on relative terms. To be sure, the initial flurry of riff, Elderian verse/bridge spaciousness and even the earlier stage of the chorus make a positive impression, but they’re playing for the blindside when “Siren Song”  opens up at 2:34 and unveils the first of Glass Future‘s made-for-the-stage megahooks. And the play works. All of a sudden, the end of the world is a party.

And one could rail on and on about the post-modernism of that point of view and I’m sure that that would be a whole lot of fun for my brain and typing fingers and for exactly nobody else. More important is that between “Hourglass” and “Siren Song,” Howling Giant are telling you much of what you need to know in terms of how to read Glass Future. Before the album hits six minutes, they’ve given a sense of atmosphere and dropped hints of melancholy that will flesh out further on “Aluminum Crown,” “Tempest and the Liar’s Gateway” and “There’s Time Now,” established the tones and the righteous punch of the Kim Wheeler production and mix, reminded handily of the difference talking out melodies and vocal arrangements can make, and began the impeccable construction of the whole album from the first of the songs around which its overarching flow is based. “Siren Song” represents multiple sides there as well, and it’s worth emphasizing that Howling Giant are not simply unipolar fast in “Hawk in a Hurricane” — its ambient finish is a purposeful comedown ahead of “First Blood of Melchior” — or slow in “Aluminum Crown,” which answers its more languid roll with later push, but that the material included here has functional intent behind it.

This dynamic extends to what each track brings to the record, and involves the interplay of one piece into the next. Side A builds momentum as “Aluminum Crown” gives over to “Hawk in a Hurricane,” which plays midtempo through tis chorus complemented as many of the songs are here by the organ of Drew David Harakal II (also synth/piano), who’s already bolstered “Siren Song” and “Aluminum Crown” and soon takes a solo on the title-track that reminds me of Amorphis and is thus endeared forever, the keys adding depth to the arrangements, variety to the sound and reach to the melodies. As Polzine and Wheeler‘s voices pair (James Sanderson also contributes to “Siren Song,” “Hawk in a Hurricane” and “There’s Time Now), so too do Polzine‘s guitar and Harakal‘s keys, and the level of detail and consideration in those arrangements shouldn’t be understated. With “Glass Future” capping side A through a lyrical narrative around an asteroid smashing into the planet — the first verse begins with the image, ‘Flashing lights race on monitors lining the wall’; we’re already running, grounded in the human experience of watching a mass extinction not in slow motion — the speed and twisting course come around to preface the sharpening of focus across side B.

howling giant (Photo by Mollie Crowe)

“Tempest and the Liar’s Gateway” begins a succession of four tracks of unflinching poise and mastery. Slow, Fast, Fast, Slow, if you want the basic pattern, with “Tempest and the Liar’s Gateway” expanding on the quieter delivery of “Aluminum Crown” and a hook about death waiting up ahead before “Sunken City” and “Juggernaut” comprise a one-two punch of two of the sharpest heavy rock songs one might hear in 2023. In their energy, lyrical themes, catchiness and the exquisiteness of the performances captured, “Sunken City” and “Juggernaut” feel like a realized version of the pop-heavy that was promised with Torche but which Torche never had much interest in being. Howling Giant could hardly make it easier for a heavy rock audience to get on board. After years of willful progression live and in the studio, they come bearing gifts, which are the songs themselves, and where the first half of Glass Future had “Hourglass” and “First Blood of Melchior” and the end of “Hawk in a Hurricane” for atmospheric sprawl, that side B’s softer or more contemplative moments occur within “Tempest and the Liar’s Gateway” and “There’s Time Now” lend an even more focused feel. “Sunken City” and “Juggernaut” would be frontloaded on a lot of records. Howling Giant are smarter than that.

On an album of lyrical highlights, “There’s Time Now” is nonetheless a standout, and its storyline of living in apocalyptic aftermath is well told, whether it’s the notion of “Walking on top of abandoned cars” or stars “blinking out one by one” before they at last lay it all on the proverbial table, “It’s the end of the world.” The second verse utilizes a favorite metaphor of nature’s persistence in “Green pushing through all the grey cement” as a reminder Earth will go on regardless of what happens to humans, and similar to the mirror of the title and the Twilight Zone sample earlier, in “There’s Time Now” they’ve arrived at a point where, “The siren’s still singing, there’s no one to hear,” harmonized for emphasis calling back of course to “Siren Song.” The first verse of “There’s Time Now” repeats as a third, with a key change that underscores the band’s background in theory as well as their knowledge of how to push emotion in a song; it’s one more level on which Glass Future is a model of what a modern heavy rock record can be. The kind of lessons that, especially backed by the efforts of Howling Giant on tour, lead an act to become influential.

Rife with personality, wit, care and heart, Glass Future lets the diverse aspects of Howling Giant‘s sound find coherent existence as a single thing — see “Howling Giant‘s sound” — as the band maintain the high level of craft they’ve fostered in The Space Between Worlds and codify the epic nature of their breakout contribution to the 2021 split with Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (review here), while effectively translating it into shorter, tighter material. This they deliver with class and distinct vitality, everything symmetrical, in its place, serving a purpose, but not hackneyed or forced or cloying. It is an ambitious culmination of the work they’ve done to-date — they might need a full-time keyboardist/organist for live shows — and a step forward on a path they’ll continue to walk. I don’t think they’ve peaked or stopped growing, but they’re going to have a challenge in topping the defining statement they make here. One would hardly call it optimistic, but Glass Future holds nothing but promise to that end.

Howling Giant, “Aluminum Crown” official video

Howling Giant, “Glass Future” official video

Howling Giant, Glass Future (2023)

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Magnetic Eye Records store

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