Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website

 

Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook

 

Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website

 

Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp

 

Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp

 

Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp

 

Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp

 

Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Vintage Caravan to Tour Europe Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the vintage caravan

Fresh off the release this month of their new album, Monuments, Icelandic heavy rockers The Vintage Caravan are looking to return to the road and make it count. The three-piece have newly announced two rounds of touring through Europe that will take place across early Spring and Fall 2022, and neither stint is what you’d call a cheapie. They’re going for it.

Of course, like everyone else, their plans have been usurped by circumstances beyond their control, but The Vintage Caravan have been a hard-touring band for years across Europe, and good for them reclaiming that title and a headliner spot in the early offing of potential live music being on the horizon. If it needs to be said — it doesn’t — no one knows what next year will bring, but god damn, is it so wrong to want to look forward to a thing? Are we allowed to do that? I won’t even see this tour and I’m just looking forward to it happening.

Anyway, the dates follow here, as posted by the band earlier:

the vintage caravan tour

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN – TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT

We are beyond stoked to announce our European headline tour dates for next year! We can’t wait to finally tour again and to play songs of our latest album ‘Monuments’! Tickets: www.thevintagecaravan.eu/tour

Fri, AUG 20 Festival ‘t zeeltje Deest, Netherlands
Sat, FEB 26, 2022 Q-Factory Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sun, FEB 27, 2022 Das Bett Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
Tue, MAR 1, 2022 Cassiopeia Berlin, Germany
Wed, MAR 2, 2022 Headcrash Hamburg, Germany
Thu, MAR 3, 2022 Little Devil Tilburg, Netherlands
Fri, MAR 4, 2022 Poppodium Bolwerk Sneek, Netherlands
Sat, MAR 5, 2022 Ancienne Belgique Brussels, Belgium
Sun, MAR 6, 2022 Artheater Cologne, Germany
Mon, MAR 7, 2022 Backstage Halle Munich, Germany
Wed, MAR 9, 2022 Orpheum Extra Graz, Austria
Thu, MAR 10, 2022 PMK Innsbruck, Austria
Fri, MAR 11, 2022 Spielplatz OKH Vöcklabruck, Austria
Sat, MAR 12, 2022 Papiersaal Zurich, Switzerland
Sun, MAR 13, 2022 CCO Villeurbanne, France
Mon, MAR 14, 2022 Backstage Paris Paris, France
Tue, MAR 15, 2022 Le Grand Mix Tourcoing, France
Wed, MAR 16, 2022 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France
Fri, MAR 18, 2022 O2 Academy Islington London, United Kingdom
Sun, MAR 20, 2022 THE LIVE ROOMS Chester, United Kingdom
Mon, MAR 21, 2022 KK’s Steel Mill Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Tue, MAR 22, 2022 The Globe Cardiff, United Kingdom
Wed, MAR 23, 2022 The Warehouse Leeds, United Kingdom
Thu, MAR 24, 2022 Manchester Academy Manchester, United Kingdom
Wed, SEP 14, 2022 Helitehas Tallinn, Estonia
Thu, SEP 15, 2022 Palladium Riga Riga, Latvia
Fri, SEP 16, 2022 Progresja Warsaw, Poland
Sat, SEP 17, 2022 A2. Sp. z o.o. Wroclaw, Poland
Mon, SEP 19, 2022 Forum Karlín Karlín, Czechia
Tue, SEP 20, 2022 Arena Wien Wien, Austria
Wed, SEP 21, 2022 Barba Negra Budapest, Hungary
Fri, SEP 23, 2022 The Roman Arenas Bucharest, Romania
Sat, SEP 24, 2022 SFC Universiada Sofia, Bulgaria
Mon, SEP 26, 2022 Tvornica kulture Zagreb, Croatia
Tue, SEP 27, 2022 Arcimboldi Theater Milan, Italy
Wed, SEP 28, 2022 Ostia Antica Città Metropolitana Di Roma, Italy

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN is:
Óskar Logi Ágústsson – lead vocals, electric guitar
Alexander Örn Númason – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stefán Ari Stefánsson – drums, percussion

The Vintage Caravan, “Whispers” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

Posted in Questionnaire on April 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alexander Örn Númason of The Vintage Caravan

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I think at some point I would have defined what I do as being a musician but nowadays I don’t really feel like that really covers it. The actual music part of what we do is in some time periods relatively small and there’s a lot of things to be done when you have a band like ours. Lots of jobs to be done and not a lot of budget to do it haha.

Lately I’ve been enjoying learning new skills that I think are useful for all of my musical and personal ventures and I love the idea of not just being one thing. Especially in terms of income it’s very useful to have something going on in all corners.

So best to just leave it somehow undefined but in the category of music!

How I/we got here. Me and the other guys have all been playing music with unrelenting passion and dedication since we were young and you could argue that there is some luck associated with where we are now. But I think the main thing is that we’ve all been working very hard at getting to where we are since our early teens which I feel like would have hopefully brought us to this lifestyle regardless of the small choices we make in our lives. If there is a will, there is a way!

Describe your first musical memory.

The first one I can think of is a weird one and I don’t think I’ve really told anybody this. On Christmas Eve when I was five years old I got as a present from someone a CD with a collection of Disney songs. I was very excited to put it on so later in the evening I went into my room, put it into the stereo and started going through the songs. Track number five was one of the songs from the Aladdin movie and something in this song made my body and mind just resonate in the wildest way. I then learned that the stereo had a repeat button.

The song kept playing again and again and I danced, alone, to the same song, for hours. Afterwards I couldn’t really put my finger on what had happened but this was really a moment that foreshadowed my obsession with music which I still have to this day.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

So many great moments and yet I draw almost a complete blank when asked this. One of the more powerful moments I have experienced was when we did a one-off tribute show for the album Lifun by Icelandic ’70s prog act Trúbrot with one of the original members. We assembled a seven- or eight-piece band and did a festival show. The album is universally loved in Iceland and lot of people in the crowd had grown up with this album. So many beautiful moments which brought members of the band and audience to tears even.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I’m not big on beliefs honestly! I think it’s important to not be stuck in a certain way of thinking and to be able to adapt when situations change. Too many times I’ve fallen on my ass when a thing I thought I “needed” to be part of my life was in all reality just killing me like. I prefer keeping an open mind and always be searching for ways to improve as a person.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

That’s the thing about artistic progression, it leads where it wants to lead. As soon you start to want it to lead somewhere it inhibits creativity. At least for me!

How do you define success?

By individual happiness. I consider a happy individual successful. If you want to think of success, in the music business especially, in terms of money or fame you could go crazy by always trying to compare yourself to the next bigger fish in the pond. Best thing to do is just to be happy for everyone else’s success and focus on what makes you tick!

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

Too many disgusting online videos growing up!

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

More different kinds of music! Recently I’ve been writing music for another project which I’m excited about. Also every now and then I get to do a session with some big name pop/hip-hop artists in Iceland. That’s always a breath of fresh air when all you do is rock and roll haha!

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

To invoke deep seated feelings in people and bring people together in celebration of life!

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

I recently started studying electronics in school. A bit outside the box for me so looking forward to many hours of tinkering and soldering. Especially for audio equipment!

https://www.facebook.com/vintagecaravan
https://www.instagram.com/thevintagecaravan/
https://twitter.com/_vintagecaravan
http://www.thevintagecaravan.eu/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

The Vintage Caravan, “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

The Vintage Caravan to Release Monuments April 16; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

The Vintage Caravan aren’t kids anymore. Monuments will be their fifth album in a tenure that now spans more than a decade, and though their roots are sure enough in the classic heavy rock of yore, it’s hard to listen to the three-part vocal arrangement of “Whispers” and not call it forward-thinking. If the album opener is any kind of portend for what’s to come, then the band — who hereby make the jump from Nuclear Blast to Napalm Records — are going to turn some heads this Spring.

But, on the other hand, they must be so sick of this record already. Recorded before the pandemic hit? So they’ve been sitting on it for a year? Shit. I wonder if they have the next one written yet.

You can check out “Whispers” in the video at the bottom of this post, and Napalm sent copious info down the PR wire:

the vintage caravan monuments

Icelandic Modern Prog-Rockers THE VINTAGE CARAVAN Announce New Album: Monuments, out April 16

Nordic favorites THE VINTAGE CARAVAN are pleased to announce the upcoming release of their new full-length album, Monuments, out April 16, 2021 via Napalm Records! The band incorporates a fountain of modern influences mixed with retro reminiscences to create an addictive sound all their own.

After countless high-voltage live performances at festivals such as Roadburn, Wacken and Hellfest, and touring with Opeth, the Icelandic band’s new full-length impressively demonstrates that they have matured both musically and lyrically, accented by bold, nostalgic nuance. Virtuosic ‘70s-inspired guitar ruminations encounter an irrefutable mixture of fresh elements and psychedelic, progressive and blues rock trademarks on Monuments, radiating the soul of some larger-than-life bands of the past as these youngbloods breathe new life into a classic formula.

Cut from Monuments, their first new single, “Whispers”, showcases the band’s musical progression without sacrificing the retro-inspired staples they’ve become renowned for. The accompanying video takes its viewer straight into the hearts and studio of the band, connecting with lucid live-music vibes. Above all, the performance video also highlights the band’s musical passion and provides an intimate glimpse into their sonic work.

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN on the new single “Whispers”:

“First single is Whispers! It was one of the first things we came up with for the album. We always try to start our albums in a strong and powerful way and it felt fitting as an opener. Hope you like it as much as we do! Enjoy!!”

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN on the new album:
“We are proud to present to you our new album Monuments!! This one has been long in the making and we truly believe this is our best work so far. We went into a legendary Icelandic studio, Hljóðriti, during the stormiest season of last winter and tracked non stop for 22 days, working around the clock to get as much done as possible. Luckily enough we finished tracking just before the pandemic hit.

Having worked with producer Ian Davenport on our previous album Gateways we were comfortable and inspired to take the album to new heights in terms of sound, feel and songwriting. We ended up with quite a diverse set of songs through an interesting and in many ways different process than our usual recording sessions. It was a great feeling to get to experiment more with our sound in so many different ways. We hope you’ll enjoy the journey through Monuments!”

Monuments will be available in North America in the following formats:
Preorder here: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/thevintagecaravan
– 1 CD Digipak
– 2 LP Gatefold Vinyl Black
– 2 LP Gatefold Vinyl Marbled Yellow/Red – limited to 300 copies
– Limited Diehard Edition – 2 LP Gatefold Vinyl Multicolor Splatter + Patch, Slipmat – limited to 200 copies
– Digital Album

Tracklisting:
01. Whispers
02. Crystallized
03. Can’t Get You Off My Mind
04. Dark Times
05. This One’s For You
06. Forgotten
07. Sharp Teeth
08. Hell
09. Torn in Two
10. Said & Done
11. Clarity

Artwork: Sebastian Jerke

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN is:
Óskar Logi Ágústsson – lead vocals, electric guitar
Alexander Örn Númason – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stefán Ari Stefánsson – drums, percussion

https://www.facebook.com/vintagecaravan
https://www.instagram.com/thevintagecaravan/
https://twitter.com/_vintagecaravan
http://www.thevintagecaravan.eu/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

The Vintage Caravan, “Whispers” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

Keep it Low 2020 First Announcement: The Vintage Caravan, Domkraft, Willow Child & The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2020 banner

With early-bird tickets already sold through and regular ol’ two-day tickets on their way out, it’s never too early for the Munich-based Keep it Low Festival to start announcing acts, and the first bunch arrives in a batch of four with The Vintage Caravan, Domkraft, Willow Child and The Heavy Eyes taking part. One assumes that, barring some tradition-defying circumstance, Colour Haze will be confirmed as well sooner or later, but for now it’s these four and that’s a pretty awesome start.

In addition to of course being most righteous fodder for daydreams — Keep it Low has always been a particularly enticing prospect to me, and that’s true of Keep it Low 2020 as well, but I’ve never been able to make the trip — the slow building of festival lineups over the span of months help indicate who’ll be on the road where and when. Seems likely, for example, that The Heavy Eyes will be touring Europe around this appearance, and they might even make other fest appearances at well, whether it’s at the also-Sound of Liberation-presented Up in Smoke in Switzerland, or Desertfest Belgium or anywhere else. These things will all come together over the course of this year as they do, and I always look forward to seeing how it all plays out, who’s doing a one-off and who’s going to be on a weeks-long stretch, etc. I’m a nerd for that kind of stuff, if it wasn’t obvious.

And I think it probably was.

Here’s the announcement, short and sweet, per the social medias:

Keepers,

we wish you all the best for 2020! Today we can finally present you the first bands for Keep It Low Festival 2020:

The Vintage Caravan (Rock, Blues Rock | Iceland)
Domkraft (Psychedelic, Stoner, Doom | Sweden)
The Heavy Eyes (Fuzz Rock, Blues Rock, Stoner Rock | USA)
Willow Child (Retro Rock | Germany)

We’re very happy to welcome these four great acts to our line-up!
The 2-day tickets are already selling very good – so make sure to grab your ticket soon!

Tickets available here:

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/51-tickets-keep-it-low-festival-2020-feierwerk-area-muenchen-am-09-10-2020

https://woolheads.com/product/keep-it-low-festivalticket-weekend-2020

https://www.eventim.de/artist/keep-it-low-festival/

https://www.facebook.com/events/975025036197960/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/
https://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Domkraft, “The Watchers” official video

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Desertfest Berlin 2020: Witchcraft, Amenra, 1000mods, The Vintage Caravan & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

Desertfest Berlin 2020’s second lineup announcement arrives in coordinated fashion with that of Desertfest London 2020, and even so, finds the two festivals beginning to distinguish themselves from each other. Of course, there are shared factors — Witchcraft will play both, as well as Spirit Adrift — but while there’s always a chance some bands from the one will still be added to the other, as of now, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000modsAmenra and The Vintage Caravan are exclusive to the German edition of the festival series. I have zero insight or insider information to offer, so we’ll see if it stays that way, but for now, both Spring Desertfests seem to be growing on their own into something badass, sharing a bit but also having plenty to stand apart.

And Witchcraft headlining certainly doesn’t hurt either. I mean, really.

Here’s the Berlin announcement:

desertfest berlin 2020 poster

WITCHCRAFT, AMENRA, 1000MODS, THE VINTAGE CARAVAN, PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS and SPIRIT ADRIFT confirmed for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020!!!

Friends, here we goooooo!

They belong to the most distinctive bands of the Swedish psychedelic classic rock, their sound influenced the heavy rock scene for decades, but they also rarely appear live on stage: The more we are proud to welcome legendary Witchcraft in 2020! This show will already mark a true milestone and unforgettable highlight in the history of Desertfest.

Joining them on the bill are atmospheric post-metal overlords, Amenra, who will turn the ARENA BERLIN stage into a mesmerizing sound landscape. Putting all their heart and soul into every note, word and visuals, AMENRA change the course of people’s lives everywhere their path leads them. After London and their highly acclaimed show at the Electric Ballroom last year, we’re thrilled to become a part of this path in 2020. And because your wish is our command: They are one of the most beloved and requested bands on our socials – yes, your prayers have been heard!

Greek fuzz rock unit 1000mods, THE hottest band in within the current heavy rock scene, will be finally back at Desertfest Berlin. On this special show you’ll be listening to some amazing new tunes from their upcoming album (which is recorded as we “speak” in Seattle), for the very first time! With an average age of nearly 23 years old, Icelandic rockers The Vintage Caravan show a maturity worthy of any band that has been on the road for decades. When the band got on stage at the 2012 edition of the Icelandic Eistnaflug festival, the trio was only allowed to enter the venue accompanied by their parents. The charismatic band released 3 critically acclaimed records to date, their career has been impressive while they toured the globe with bands alike Europe, Blues Pills, Grand Magus or just currently with Opeth to name just a few. Desertfesters, bring your mums and dads, too, when THE VINTAGE CARAVAN will roll over our beloved Desertfest Berlin in 2020!

Furthermore we will see Newcastle’s maximalists, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last five years, finally bring their mighty tsunami of rancorous riffage and unholy abjection over us in Berlin!

Last but not least, today’s’ second and killer announcement will be rounded up by Phoenix-based, Spirit Adrift, who are carving out a sound now patently its own. Lazily labelled Doom by some, the band is in fact the true representation of what modern Heavy Metal should sound like.? Folks, we hope you dig this second announcement as much as we do, while dozens of bands are still to be announced in the weeks ahead!

Treat yourself or your loved ones with an early X-Mas gift, and purchase your Weekend Ticket now at: www.desertfest.de

We can’t wait to party with ya’ll at our 9th edition, May 1st – 3rd at DesertFest Berlin 2020!

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Witchcraft, Live at Tons of Rock 2018, Norway

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Brant Bjork, Groundhogs, Child, Yawning Man and More Playing Black Deer Festival in London

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

black deer desertscene banner

Desertscene in London — the same good people who put together Desertfest there and have worked to bring it to New York as well — have paired up with the country/Americana/blues Black Deer Festival to present a stage called The Roadhouse that’ll have custom motorcycles hanging around, camping and a lineup that’s pretty kickass front to back. It’s not exactly like they’re sneaking into the bill, but you’ve got Yawning ManAsteroidBrant Bjork and Groundhogs and King Buffalo and Radio Moscow and Duel and Steak and Child and so on bringing their wares to Edridge Park in Kent and it seems to me you could do a hell of a lot worse than kind of having a mini-Desertfest built into another festival. That’s how you reach a broader audience, by playing for people who maybe haven’t already heard you. Seems likely a few heads will be turned across the three-day event.

The PR wire has info:

black deer fest poster

BLACK DEER FESTIVAL REVEAL MORE NAMES FOR 2019

Another round of carefully curated names have been added to the Black Deer Festival lineup today, making for an impressive second year for the award-winning new event. The three-day celebration of Americana and Country, set in the beautiful Eridge Park in Kent, presents a unique experience combining music, food and Americana culture that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK.

Brant Bjork, the member of two of the most influential 90’s stoner rock bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu, whose desert rock and roots style will resonate from The Roadhouse stage in June. Brant Bjork joins the all American heavy blues contingent of previously announced Left Lane Cruiser, Radio Moscow and The Roadhouse ‘house band’ Steak – all curated by Desertscene for Black Deer.

Completing today’s line up is British blues rock band Groundhogs, who are best known for their 70’s single Cherry Red – a name adopted by one of Britain’s longest standing independent record labels – as well as heavy psych-blues trio King Buffalo, Australian blues-rockers Child, 60’s psychedelic songwriter Roxanne De Bastion, California’s experimental rockers Yawning Man, Country preacher Paul Cauthen, larger than life boatman and bluesman Sonic Gypsy and Hertfordshire’s rock band Redwood.

ARTISTS ANNOUNCED TO DATE (A-Z)
Asteroid, Band of Horses, Brant Bjork, Chance McCoy, Child, Daniel Antopolsky, Duel, Fantastic Negrito, Ferris & Sylvester, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Groundhogs, Hayseed Dixie, Irish Mythen, Jerron Blind Boy Paxton, John Butler Trio, John Smith, Justin Townes Earle, King Buffalo, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, Larkin Poe, Left Lane Cruiser, Lucero, Martin Harley, Morganway, Mountains, Neko Case, Paul Cauthen, Radio Moscow, Redwood, Roxanne De Bastion, Ryan Bingham, Sonic Gypsy, Steak, Stubb, The Black Wizards, The Dead South, The Marcus King Band, The Mavericks, The Sheepdogs, The Staves, The Vintage Caravan, The Wandering Hearts, The Trials of Cato, William Crighton, Worry Dolls, Yawning Man.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tier 1 tickets on sale now and are available from https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/
Ticket prices from £105 – subject to booking fees.

Tier 2 tickets will be on sale from 26th February.

https://www.facebook.com/events/342379713221524/
https://facebook.com/blackdeerfest
https://www.instagram.com/blackdeerfest/
https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/

King Buffalo, “Longing to be the Mountain” live in Philadelphia, Nov. 3, 2018

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,