Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are read this article FOR CHEAP? If you do not want to spend all your savings on homework, ask us for help. We set reasonable prices. Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With outline for college essay List Of My Homework Buddy online phd programs my dog ate my homework Aaron Turner ( as level ict coursework help - Stop receiving bad grades with these custom essay recommendations receive a 100% authentic, non-plagiarized dissertation you could Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Where can i Writing A Proposal Paper - Dissertations and essays at most attractive prices. Entrust your task to us and we will do our best for you receive Brian Cook ( masters thesis education Support Best Writing Service buying a dissertation harvard writing essay for scholarship application contests Russian Circles) on bass and We are an in-house Master Thesis On Strategy catering to businesses and agencies of all sizes. Our expert copywriters will create stunning, fully optimized Nick Yacyshyn ( There are enough Writing A Discussion For A Dissertations around the web. If you are wondering why you should choose our website to assist you in studying - click here! Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Breast Cancer Phd Thesis - counterculturalschool.com Love in Shadow (on http://ekoporadna.tisnovsko.eu/?real-estate-company-business-plan uk - Best pharmacy waiting for you to buy drugs. Amazing discounts that will make your medications even more affordable. Buy Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which cervantes dissertation phd http://www.blessgans.de/?jane-eyre-essays resume writing service denver writing good essays for college applications Sumac follow-up 2016’s Did we spoil it? There are. We have brought dissertation writing Goverment Homework Help service for the college and university students What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, Are you seeking for I Have Not Done My Homework Yet services? EssayGator serve as the best platform for students who need assistance from highly skilled experts. The Deal (review here), refine the sound Adj 255 Assignment Help online for your research project. Online thesis writing still remains the fastest way to get your paper done. Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Want to get a degree? Resume Writing For High School Students Zone writing services and start working on your own projects! Writing is no more a problem for you. Call us now and get Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

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Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Buy low-priced essays from our The easiest way to buy cheap essays the best decision for you is to Best Buy 30 60 90 Day Business Plan for cheap from a Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

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Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

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The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

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Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

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Grime on Bandcamp

 

URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

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Blood Music website

 

Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

Earthling Society on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

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Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

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Grand Reunion on Bandcamp

 

Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

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Pledge on Bandcamp

 

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Cortez and Wasted Theory Join Forces for The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter IX

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It is really, really hard to put together a split release. Getting one band to have their shit together enough to hit the studio and record is hard enough. But two? Or more? It is not an enviable task in the slightest. Sometimes acts have songs leftover from other sessions, and even that is hard to work with. It’s to Ripple Music‘s eternal credit that the label’s The Second Coming of Heavy series has not only made it this far without missing a beat between its chapters, but that it will finish its 10LP run having highlighted killer heavy rock and roll from the US and Europe in defiance of logistics and with a firm commitment to quality in presentation and curation alike. I know that sounds like I’m blowing smoke up the label’s ass. I’m not. If you’ve never coordinated this kind of thing, it’s fucking impossible. Every time it happens, it’s a miracle. And from what I understand, when The Second Coming of Heavy ends, that’s still just the beginning. More power to them.

Chapter IX gets down to the series’ roots with top grade heavy rock from Boston’s long-underrated practitioners Cortez and the pride of Bear, Delaware, Wasted Theory, who will follow their appearance here up with a new full-length in October. Both bands have tracks streaming at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire brings preliminaries:

the second coming of heavy chapter ix

Ripple Music announce the penultimate instalment in their Second Coming of Heavy Series | Split album from Cortez and Wasted Theory

The Second Coming of Heavy; Chapter IX is released on vinyl on 21st September 2018

Pre-order now at www.ripple-music.com

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of their most ambitious projects to date, The Second Coming of Heavy Series.

Serving as a showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each instalment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multi-coloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, much like a fine anthology of books. When the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

Bands that have already featured in the series include Geezer, Borracho, Supervoid, Red Desert, Kingnomad, Bonehawk, Red Mesa, Blue Sanggletooth, Fuzz Evil, Switchblade Jesus plus a whole host of others. For this latest instalment it’s the turn of Boston-based, fuzzed out rock and rollers Cortez and American Weed Rock supremos, Wasted Theory.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IX will get an official vinyl release on 21st September 2018 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

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Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven: Mountains and Cupids

Posted in Reviews on December 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

switchblade jesus fuzz evil second coming of heavy chapter seven

Ripple Music‘s ongoing series of split releases, The Second Coming of Heavy, has become an essential documentary project on the state of (mostly American) heavy rock and roll. Though cumbersomely and — arguably — historically inaccurately named, in pairing acts together on vinyl like Geezer and Borracho (review here), Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), Kingnomad and BoneHawk (review here), Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth (review here), Chiefs and Desert Suns (discussed here), and Kayleth and Favequaid (review pending), the label has not only given its own acts a chance to shine in a special showcase, but expanded its reach and broadened its audience base while furthering the development of a straightforward heavy rock aesthetic that has helped define not only the imprint’s path, but that of many acts as well working under their influence.

For The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven, Texas and Arizona trios Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil are added to this esteemed cadre of groups, each one bringing new material to mark the occasion. In the case of Switchblade Jesus, who released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013, only to have it snagged first in 2014 for vinyl release via Bilocation Records and then a reissue by Ripple in 2015, it’s been somewhat longer than it might seem since they had anything out and they’ve been through enough changes to prove it. For Fuzz Evil, the Sierra Vista, AZ, three-piece made their own self-titled debut (review here) through Battleground Records in the second half of 2016, the turnaround is somewhat quicker, but they too have had a lineup change, bringing in Orgo Martinez, who is at least their third drummer in the last three years.

Those shifts notwithstanding, what is even more remarkable about The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven, and indeed about the series as a whole, is the diversity of sound between the two groups, both of whom function without question under the umbrella category of “heavy rock.” With three cuts from Switchblade Jesus and four from Fuzz Evil, each band gets about 20 minutes to showcase their wares on a vinyl side, and though the samplings are quick, the point of sonic variety is underscored.

It’s not that they don’t fit together — quite the opposite; they make a surprisingly complementary pair — but that they represent starkly different interpretations of what “heavy” is and does. In “Snakes and Lions,” “Wet Lungs” and the highlight chorus and chug of “Heavy is the Mountain,” Switchblade Jesus present a dudely, burly vision of riff-led semi-metallic vibing, with guitarist Eric Calvert taking over the role of vocalist and proffering an approach very much in the spirit of Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward.

With bassist Chris Black and drummer Jon Elizondo, what was once a five-piece is now a power trio, and their sound is duly crisp as “Snakes and Lions” (5:17) leans into the forward momentum it will build over the course of its first minute. “Snakes and Lions” is ultimately Switchblade Jesus‘ most straight-ahead inclusion, and “Wet Lungs,” which is the longest track on The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven at 9:42, begins with samples of, among other things, The Louvin Brothers‘ “Satan is Real,” takes a more patient and rolling route, riding its riff comfortably while relying less on its hook than its immediate predecessor.

switchblade jesus fuzz evil

That leaves “Heavy is the Mountain” (7:38) as the proverbial just-right bowl of riffly porridge, which is just what it turns out to be. Taking the slick, well-paced nod of “Wet Lungs” and giving it just a bit of the energy “Snakes and Lions” brought to bear, as well as the most memorable chorus of the release as a whole — the title-line shouted upward from the mix amid suitable largesse for the subject matter — it’s enough to make one anticipate a future outing from Switchblade Jesus in this incarnation on its own, never mind the album-style flow the band conjures across just these three tracks and the fluidity with which they nestle into that groove.

The Rudell brothers — Wayne (vocals/guitar) and Joseph (bass/vocals/graphics) — who, again, aren’t that far removed from their debut album, continue forward in the spirit of that release across their four tracks, beginning with the post-Songs for the Deaf push of “Better off Alone,” which gives “Heavy is the Mountain” a run for its money in terms of the strength of its hook while also completely revamping the direction of the release overall, pulling away from whiskey-drenched dudery and more toward traditionalist desert fuzz.

But for jammier closer “Flighty Woman,” which reaches over the six-minute mark, Fuzz Evil‘s inclusions are shorter and more upfront in their structures, though still plenty weighted as “Better off Alone” gives way to the bass at the start of “Graves and Cupids.” Some talkbox/wah makes an appearance in Wayne‘s lead as they head toward the midsection and surfaces again in the second half, standing the track out even more than its chorus already did owing to the confidence in its vocal delivery and the flourish of soul emergent there.

Comprising the last 10-plus minutes of the outing between them, “If You Know” and “Flighty Woman” round out with a due focus on songcraft, calling to mind the sense of individually-focused tracks that one found on their self-titled as well — each piece standing out on its own rather than feeding as directly into an overarching whole as, say, Switchblade Jesus do on side A here. That disparity of style is no less a distinction for Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil than the burl vs. the fuzz, but as the insistent rhythm of “If You Know” shifts into the thickened boogie of “Flighty Woman,” Wayne‘s vocals echoing out just a bit in a trippier fashion before the jam really takes hold and Fuzz Evil go exploring, there’s little to argue that either tack doesn’t produce success here.

As has been the case all along with The Second Coming of Heavy, this latest chapter serves this essential function in demonstrating just how far heavy rock and roll has come and the many forms it can take and still find a path to righteousness. With two separate takes, Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil both resound with potential in their songwriting and in the execution of their material, and one is only left hoping it won’t be long before either is heard from again. The mission is accomplished and the mission, no doubt, will continue. Right on.

Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven (2017)

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Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus Team up for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

This news came in and I realized that somewhere in there I missed a chapter of Ripple Music‘s ongoing The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits. I’ve done my best to cover all of them — been late on almost every one, but still, I’ve gotten there eventually — but when I saw word that Chapter Seven was set to feature Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus my joy at the prospect of some quality rock and roll was tempered by the question nagging at the back of my mind: Hey wait a second, what happened to Chapter Six?

I don’t have the promo for it in my email, which is kind of a bummer, but I’ll assume I did at one point or another or that it got lost in the transition between laptops from the one I called Ol’ Dusty to the one I use now, Big Red. In any case, if I can, I might try to sneak that Kayleth and Favequaid shared offering in at some point while also doing my best to cover Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil, whose installment is set to arrive on Dec. 8, of course on Ripple.

The PR wire has it like this:

the second coming of heavy chapter 7

Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” out on December 8 via Ripple Music

Ripple Music sets December 8th, 2017 as official release date for Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” split!

Formed in 2014, Fuzz Evil is a chug-heavy 3 Piece that tames the fuzziest guitar and bass tones on the planet and wields them to blast a monolithic speaker-ripping fuzzapocaplyse for your ears and soul. Raw and dirty in “Stooges-like” fashion with soaring soulful vocals. Fuzz Evil released their first single, “Glitterbones” on a 7” split with the California trio Chiefs on Battleground records in 2014. In 2016 they followed up the single with a full self-titled debut release on Battleground records. In the past few year they have gone through a few line-up changes.. The current line-up is Orgo Martinez on drums, Wayne Rudell on guitar and vocals, and his brother Joey Rudell on bass and vocals.

From the depths of Texas, Switchblade Jesus returns with a heaviness and deep grooves that succeed their previous recordings. Mixing southwestern boogie, desert-worn blues, retro-metal assault and fierce rocking into a sound that screams Texas–at times sanguine and starkly beautiful, at others full of damn sexy groove and assaulting violence can only describe the music of Texan power rocking, fuzzed out stoner blues trio, Switchblade Jesus.

Consisting of Eric Calvert (Vox/Guitar) Jon Elizondo (Drums) and new comer Chris Black (bass) to the fold to create a new chapter in Switchblade Jesus, more Doom and Gloom but no lack of the groove that the Texan’s brought in the beginning.

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http://www.ripple-music.com

Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy Chapter Six (2017)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

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Boris at Sargent House’s website

 

Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website

 

Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-5-desert-suns-chiefs

Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

 

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The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The beat rolls on, the bands play on, and Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five lands on March 24, bringing new tracks with it from Desert Suns and Chiefs. This latest installment of the ongoing and deeply admirable series of split LPs marks the first of 2017, arriving just a few months after Chapter Four (review here) brought together the colorful pairing of Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth. One has to wonder at this point what will happen when Ripple gets to Chapter 10 — we’re halfway there — and whether the label will issue a box set of all of these together in celebration of the scope of the project. Even if they made 20 or something and charged $150-$200 for them, it seems like a worthy endeavor, particularly as all the art ties together and whatnot.

My two cents, anyhow.

The PR wire has background and audio for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five. I’ve got a pretty good track record at this point of reviewing these, and I’ll hope to maintain that with this one as well, so please keep an eye out. Till then:

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The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V | Split album from Desert Suns and Chiefs

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V is released on vinyl on 24th March 2017

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

DESERT SUNS – In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock and doom coalesce, it’s there you’ll likely find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian quartet demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ and by that same summer had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds. Released in 2014, their self-titled debut reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, Desert Suns peddle an addictive and atmospheric energy of heavy rock familiar to fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer.

CHIEFS – Having originally begun life as a two-piece back in January of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, after years of releasing demos, touring and playing around Phoenix Valley the duo made the decision to relocate to San Diego, CA. Shortly after, they released a four-song demo entitled Buffalo Roam, and did numerous short West Coast tours to support it. Eventually the group became a three-piece with the permanent addition of bassist Jeff Podeszwik, who filled out the low-end of the band and transformed their sound. Hot off the heels of releasing a split 7″ with Fuzz Evil through Battleground Records, Chiefs released their debut full-length album Tomorrow’s Over and are now the latest addition to Ripple Music’s much coveted SCoH’s “Hall of Fame”.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V will get an official vinyl release on 24th March 2017 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd/
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wearechiefs/
https://twitter.com/chiefsphx

http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

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Red Mesa & Blue Snaggletooth, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four: Deserts and Mystic Waters

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-4-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth

One can’t help but wonder if, when Ripple Music first announced their The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits in early 2015, the California-based imprint had any idea what they were getting into. They committed at the outset to make it 10 releases, each one dubbed a “Chapter,” and aside from the logistical nightmare of coordinating such a thing from recordings to cover art to pressing and the invariable presence of bands outside their window in long jackets holding boomboxes over their heads playing their own songs to try to be a part of it, even timing out the arrival of each subsequent LP seems daunting. There’s a reason most “series” of splits or comps don’t get past their first installment, and it’s because they’re a monumental pain in the ass to put make happen.

After bringing together Borracho and Geezer (review here), Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), and BoneHawk and Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four highlights two more acts from the American underground in desert-is-as-desert-does Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor, Michigan, power rockers Blue Snaggletooth. As has been the custom of the series, each band gets a side on the limited edition vinyl to work with — Red Mesa‘s is about 22 minutes, Blue Snaggletooth‘s about 19 — and an opportunity to ply their wares to a wider audience and collectors alike by teaming up. Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth do this while at the same time complementing each other’s style and, ultimately, adding to the breadth of The Second Coming of Heavy as a whole, underscoring the core belief of the project that heavy rock and roll knows no boundaries or other limits of any kind. It can, and does, emerge from anytime, anyplace.

The first line of the release tops a speedy motor riff. It’s Red Mesa‘s “Cactus Highway,” one of their four inclusions, and the lyric is “Let’s go to the desert/Leave it all behind.” Immediately, the impression is straightforward, somewhere between a vocalized Karma to Burn and Kyuss, and through that opener and “Low and Slow,” which follows, it seems like that’s going to be the course of the thing. Nothing wrong with that. “Cactus Highway” has a touch of shuffle in the drumming of Duane Gasper, and the tone of guitarist/vocalist Brad Frye is well-suited to the Motörhead-style thrust of the track, on which he’s backed by bassist Shawn Wright, but particularly the second half of “Low and Slow” begins to hint at a broader approach. Slower overall as one would hope based on the title, it opens to a wider feel under the solo and then gets even more spacious after its final chorus. This makes it an even more jarring turn when Red Mesa shift into the jangly-party-time strum of “Goin’ to the Desert,” with its handclaps and howls and intentional barroom blues, vaguely countrified but only lasting about 90 seconds of the song’s seven minutes before thunder crashes, a cymbal washes and the three-piece shift into minimalist psychedelia, vocals and guitar gradually returning, leading to a crash-in at the midpoint of heavier riffing and subsequent build of Monster Magnet-esque heavy space rock noise wash, the apex of which gradually fades out over the last minute with more thunder and rain sounds remaining.

It’s a sudden, somewhat odd turn for “Goin’ to the Desert” to make — seeming to present people’s ideas about actually doing so measured against the terrifying reality of the ecosystem — and it completely shatters the expectation for what “Utopia,” which closes Red Mesa‘s side, might present. As plausible as it seemed going into “Cactus Highway” to get a handle on their aesthetic of dudely desertism, coming out of “Goin’ to the Desert” renders most guessing irrelevant. They finish over the course of the 6:51 track by trading volume back and forth between “Planet Caravan” impulses filtered through Southwestern nighttime skies and harder riffing, but shift into an acoustic-led psychedelic bridge in the midsection that acts as the foundation for their last build, setting up a return to the chorus that highlights the notion of just how much Red Mesa‘s side flows across its abbreviated course, and the outward progression the band effectively sets up. It feels way more like an EP than a split side simply bringing songs together — a genuine mini-album to follow their self-released 2014 self-titled debut — and hopefully speaks to where they’re headed in terms of sound overall.

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-four-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth-lp-700

Comparatively, Blue Snaggletooth have the benefit of experience over Red Mesa. With frontman and founder Chris “Box” Taylor at the fore, Blue Snaggletooth debuted in 2011 with Dimension Thule (review here) and followed that with 2014’s Beyond Thule (discussed here) and last year’s The Last Voyage of Amra EP, settling in the meantime on a formidable lineup with Taylor working alongside guitarist Casey O’Ryan (also Bison Machine), bassist Joe Kupiec (also Wild Savages) and drummer Mike Popovich, which is the four-piece present on these three tracks as well. Beginning with the 8:30 “Sand Witch,” an opener and longest inclusion (immediate points), Blue Snaggletooth reinforce the classic heavy basis from which modern riffery stems, all the while refusing to give into cliché vintage-ism or sacrifice a modern tonal presence in the name of worshiping at the altar of their forebears. Across “Sand Witch,” “Crystal’s Gaze” and “Mystic Waters,” they demonstrate a wah-prone take that owes more to 1972 than 1968, but takes the lessons of psychedelia and suits them to their straight-ahead, mostly structured purposes.

Some echo in the chorus of “Mystic Waters” goes a long way, for example, and the swirl of intertwining guitar leads with what may or may not be Deep Purple-style organ underneath the peak of “Sand Witch” makes for an exciting stretch worthy of any size stage that thinks it could contain it. Updating that classic heavy grandeur by blending it with a humbler semi-desert fuzz is a major factor in making “Sand Witch” work so well, but Blue Snaggletooth tie their three inclusions together through a consistency of songwriting that makes each chorus a standout, and whether it’s “Sand Witch” pushing out into that dual-guitar mythology creation, or “Crystal’s Gaze” calling to mind the early fuzz triumphs of Sasquatch and drenching them in wah, or “Mystic Waters” bringing the whole thing together and making it boogie, the four-piece hold firm to their own processes and thus their identity, executing their material with confidence and a fluidity that contrasts the linear outward course of Red Mesa, emphasizing a different manner of stylistic blend in the process.

As though in conversation with their side A companions, Blue Snaggletooth start at their farthest-out point and seem to work their way back in, and while that gives The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four an overarching progression through its two sides, it’s worth noting that, like all of the offerings thus far issued as a part of the series, this LP draws strengths as much from the differences between the players involved as from the similarities. I don’t think I’ve let a review pass yet without noting my issue with the number in the name — that is, that “heavy” has had more than two comings at this point in its span of generations — but as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four clearly demonstrates, Ripple and the bands it’s selected to be a part of this increasingly pivotal project are less about looking back at history than casting a new place within it.

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Blue Snaggletooth website

Blue Snaggletooth on Twitter

Blue Snaggletooth on Instagram

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Red Mesa & Blue Snaggletooth to Feature on The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Four Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Ripple Music‘s steady ascent continues with the next edition of the label’s dubiously-titled The Second Coming of Heavy series of limited split LPs. After broadening the reach to international terrain the last time out in bringing together Michigan’s BoneHawk with Sweden’s Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Four once again pairs two US bands — Red Mesa from New Mexico and Blue Snaggletooth from Michigan — in keeping with earlier chapters that highlighted the work of Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here). As with the entire series, cover art is supplied by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and the release date is set for Dec. 9.

Each band has a song streaming now that you can check out under the PR wire info below:

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-4-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV | New split album from Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV is released on vinyl on 9th December 2016

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

Following on from the series’ first installment released in 2015 featuring Geezer and Borracho; Chapter II’s split between Supervoid and Red Desert earlier this year and last June’s BoneHawk and Kingnomad offering, the latest installment brings you brand new music from Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor quartet Blue Snaggletooth.

RED MESA – Coming at you from yonder, down the mountain atop the deserted mesas of New Mexico, like their name suggests Red Mesa instill a sense of desert haze. Touting a varied psychedelic-stoner sound that begs for maximum volume with a high octane, pedal to the metal attitude, the Albuquerque trio – consisting of vocalist/guitarist Brad Frye, bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper – will take you on a vivid journey. Utilizing elements of doom, punk rock and psychedelic fuzz, Red Mesa are the living embodiment of hard riffing hallucinogens.

BLUE SNAGGLETOOTH – If anyone is proving that you can honor hard rock’s past while pumping fresh blood into its future, it’s Blue Snaggletooth. Billing themselves as purveyors of “Psychedelic D&D Rock & Roll,” the Ann Arbor, Michigan quartet combine elements of hard rock, heavy metal, and psychedelia (all pre-1975), and fuse those styles with lyrics inspired by classic sci-fi and fantasy. While the results are likely to please anyone into stoner rock, Blue Snaggletooth have no truck with irony or tongue-in-cheek glances at the past, and instead embrace their classic influences to build a sound that’s physically powerful but with plenty of sinewy groove.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV will get an official vinyl release on 9th December 2016 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

Track Listing:
1. ‘Cactus Highway’ by Red Mesa
2. ‘Low And Slow’ by Red Mesa
3. ‘Goin’ To The Desert’ by Red Mesa
4. ‘Utopia’ by Red Mesa
5. ‘Sand Witch’ by Blue Snaggletooth
6. ‘Crystal’s Gaze’ by Blue Snaggletooth
7. ‘Mystic Waters’ by Blue Snaggletooth

https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband
http://www.bluesnaggletoothmusic.com/
https://twitter.com/BSnaggletooth
https://www.instagram.com/bluesnaggletoothmusic/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

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