Quarterly Review: Slift, Grin, Pontiac, The Polvos, The Cosmic Gospel, Grave Speaker, Surya Kris Peters, GOZD, Sativa Root, Volt Ritual

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Admittedly, there’s some ambition in my mind calling this the ‘Spring 2024 Quarterly Review.’ I’m done with winter and March starts on Friday, so yeah, it’s kind of a reach as regards the traditional seasonal patterns of Northern New Jersey where I live, but hell, these things actually get decided here by pissing off a rodent. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so rigidly defined after all.

After doing QRs for I guess about nine years now, I finally made myself a template for the back-end layout. It’s not a huge leap, but will mean about five more minutes I can dedicate to listening, and when you’re trying to touch on 50 records in the span of a work week and attempt some semblance of representing what they’re about, five minutes can help. Still, it’s a new thing, and if you see ‘ARTIST’ listed where a band’s name should be or LINK where ‘So and So on Facebook’ goes, a friendly comment letting me know would be helpful.

Thanks in advance and I hope you find something in all of this to come that speaks to you. I’ll try to come up for air at some point.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Slift, Ilion

Slift Ilion

One of the few non-billionaire groups of people who might be able to say they had a good year in 2020, Toulouse, France, spaceblasters Slift signed to Sub Pop on the strength of that wretched year’s Ummon (review here) and the spectacle-laced live shows with which they present their material. Their ideology is cosmic, their delivery markedly epic, and Ilion pushes the blinding light and the rhythmic force directly at you, creating a sweeping momentum contrasted by ambient stretches like that tucked at the end of 12-minute hypnotic planetmaker “The Words That Have Never Been Heard,” the drone finale “Enter the Loop” or any number of spots between along the record’s repetition-churning, willfully-overblown 79-minute course of builds and surging payoffs. A cynic might tell you it’s not anything Hawkwind didn’t do in 1974 offered with modern effects and beefier tones, but, uh, is that really something to complain about? The hype around Ilion hasn’t been as fervent as was for Ummon — it’s a different moment — but Slift have set themselves on a progressive course and in the years to come, this may indeed become their most influential work. For that alone it’s among 2024’s most essential heavy albums, never mind the actual journey of listening. Bands like this don’t happen every day.

Slift on Facebook

Sub Pop Records website

Grin, Hush

grin hush

The only thing keeping Grin from being punk rock is the fact that they don’t play punk. Otherwise, the self-recording, self-releasing (on The Lasting Dose Records) Berlin metal-sludge slingers tick no shortage of boxes as regards ethic, commitment to an uncompromised vision of their sound, and on Hush, their fourth long-player which features tracks from 2023’s Black Nothingness (review here), they sharpen their attack to a point that reminds of dug-in Swedish death metal on “Pyramid” with a winding lead line threaded across, find post-metallic ambience in “Neon Skies,” steamroll with the groove of the penultimate “The Tempest of Time,” and manage to make even the crushing “Midnight Blue Sorrow” — which arrives after the powerful opening statement of “Hush” “Calice” and “Gatekeeper” — have a sense of creative reach. With Sabine Oberg on bass and Jan Oberg handling drums, guitar, vocals, noise and production, they’ve become flexible enough in their craft to harness raw charge or atmospheric sprawl at will, and through 16 songs and 40 minutes (“Portal” is the longest track at 3:45), their intensity is multifaceted, multi-angular, and downright ripping. Aggression suits this project, but that’s never all that’s happening in Grin, and they’re stronger for that.

Grin on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp

Pontiac, Hard Knox

pontiac hard knox

A debut solo-band outing from guitarist, bassist, vocalist and songwriter Dave Cotton, also of Seven Nines and Tens, Pontiac‘s Hard Knox lands on strictly limited tape through Coup Sur Coup Records and is only 16 minutes long, but that’s time enough for its six songs to find connections in harmony to Beach Boys and The Beatles while sometimes dropping to a singular, semi-spoken verse in opener/longest track (immediate points, even though four minutes isn’t that long) “Glory Ragged,” which moves in one direction, stops, reorients, and shifts between genres with pastoralism and purpose. Cotton handles six-string and 12-string, but isn’t alone in Pontiac, as his Seven Nines and Tens bandmate Drew Thomas Christie handles drums, Adam Vee adds guitar, drums, a Coke bottle and a Brita filter, and CJ Wallis contributes piano to the drifty textures of “Road High” before “Exotic Tattoos of the Millennias” answers the pre-christofascism country influence shown on “Counterculture Millionaire” with an oldies swing ramble-rolling to a catchy finish. For fun I’ll dare a wild guess that Cotton‘s dad played that stuff when he was a kid, as it feels learned through osmosis, but I have no confirmation of that. It is its own kind of interpretation of progressive music, and as the beginning of a new exploration, Cotton opens doors to a swath of styles that cross genres in ways few are able to do and remain so coherent. Quick listen, and it dares you to keep up with its changes and patterns, but among its principal accomplishments is to make itself organic in scope, with Cotton cast as the weirdo mastermind in the center. They’ll reportedly play live, so heads up.

Pontiac on Bandcamp

Coup Sur Coup Records on Bandcamp

The Polvos!, Floating

the polvos floating

Already fluid as they open with the rocker “Into the Space,” exclamatory Chilean five-piece The Polvos! delve into more psychedelic reaches in “Fire Dance” and the jammy and (appropriately) floaty midsection of “Going Down,” the centerpiece of their 35-minute sophomore LP, Floating. That song bursts to life a short time later and isn’t quite as immediate as the charge of “Into the Space,” but serves as a landmark just the same as “Acid Waterfall” and “The Anubis Death” hold their tension in the drums and let the guitars go adventuring as they will. There’s maybe some aspect of Earthless influence happening, but The Polvos! meld that make-it-bigger mentality with traditional verse/chorus structures and are more grounded for it even as the spaces created in the songs give listeners an opportunity for immersion. It may not be a revolution in terms of style, but there is a conversation happening here with modern heavy psych from Europe as well that adds intrigue, and the band never go so far into their own ether so as to actually disappear. Even after the shreddy finish of “The Anubis Death,” it kind of feels like they might come back out for an encore, and you know, that’d be just fine.

The Polvos! on Facebook

Surpop Records website

Smolder Brains Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

The Cosmic Gospel, Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

The Cosmic Gospel Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

With a current of buzz-fuzz drawn across its eight component tracks that allow seemingly disparate moves like the Blondie disco keys in “Hot Car Song” to emerge from the acoustic “Core Memory Unlocked” before giving over to the weirdo Casio-beat bounce of “Psychrolutes Marcidus Man,” a kind of ’60s character reimagined as heavy bedroom indie, The Cosmic Gospel‘s Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love isn’t without its resentments, but the almost-entirely-solo-project of Mercata, Italy-based multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Medina is more defined by its sweetness of melody and gentle delivery on the whole. An experiment like the penultimate “Wrath and Gods” carries some “Revolution 9” feel, but Medina does well earlier to set a broad context amid the hook of opener “It’s Forever Midnight” and the subsequent, lightly dub beat and keyboard focus on “The Richest Guy on the Planet is My Best Friend,” such that when closer “I Sew Your Eyes So You Don’t See How I Eat Your Heart” pairs the malevolent intent of its title with light fuzzy soloing atop an easy flowing, summery flow, the album has come to make its own kind of sense and define its path. This is exactly what one would most hope for it, and as reptiles are cold-blooded, they should be used to shifts in temperature like those presented throughout. Most humans won’t get it, but you’ve never been ‘most humans,’ have you?

The Cosmic Gospel on Facebook

Bloody Sound website

Grave Speaker, Grave Speaker

grave speaker grave speaker

Massachusetts garage doomers Grave Speaker‘s self-titled debut was issued digitally by the band this past Fall and was snagged by Electric Valley Records for a vinyl release. The Mellotron melancholia that pervades the midsection of the eponymous “Grave Speaker” justifies the wax, but the cult-leaning-in-sound-if-not-theme outfit that marks a new beginning for ex-High n’ Heavy guitarist John Steele unfurl a righteously dirty fuzz over the march of “Blood of Old” at the outset and then immediately up themselves in the riffy stoner delve of “Earth and Mud.” The blown-out vocals on the latter, as well as the far-off-mic rawness of “The Bard’s Theme” that surrounds its Hendrixian solo, remind of a time when Ice Dragon roamed New England’s troubled woods, and if Grave Speaker will look to take on a similar trajectory of scope, they do more than drop hints of psychedelia here, in “Grave Speaker” and elsewhere, but they’re no more beholden to that than the Sabbathism of capper “Make Me Crawl” or the cavernous echo of “Earthbound.” It’s an initial collection, so one expects they’ll range some either way with time, but the way the production becomes part of the character of the songs speaks to a strong idea of aesthetic coming through, and the songwriting holds up to that.

Grave Speaker on Instagram

Electric Valley Records website

Surya Kris Peters, There’s Light in the Distance

Surya Kris Peters There's Light in the Distance

While at the same time proffering his most expansive vision yet of a progressive psychedelia weighted in tone, emotionally expressive and able to move its focus fluidly between its layers of keyboard, synth and guitar such that the mix feels all the more dynamic and the material all the more alive (there’s an entire sub-plot here about the growth in self-production; a discussion for another time), Surya Kris Peters‘ 10-song/46-minute There’s Light in the Distance also brings the former Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist closer to uniting his current projects than he’s yet been, the distant light here blurring the line where Surya Kris Peters ends and the emergently-rocking Fuzz Sagrado begins. This process has been going on for the last few years following the end of his former outfit and a relocation from Germany to Brazil, but in its spacious second half as well as the push of its first, a song like “Mode Azul” feels like there’s nothing stopping it from being played on stage beyond personnel. Coinciding with that are arrangement details like the piano at the start of “Life is Just a Dream” or the synth that gives so much movement under the echoing lead in “Let’s Wait Out the Storm,” as Peters seems to find new avenues even as he works his way home to his own vision of what heavy rock can be.

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Gozd, Unilateralis

gozd unilateralis

Unilateralis is the four-song follow-up EP to Polish heavydelvers Gozd‘s late-2023 debut album, This is Not the End, and its 20-plus minutes find a place for themselves in a doom that feels both traditional and forward thinking across eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points, even for an EP) “Somewhere in Between” before the charge of “Rotten Humanity” answers with brasher thrust and aggressive-undercurrent stoner rock with an airy post-metallic break in the middle and rolling ending. From there, “Thanatophobia” picks up the energy from its ambient intro and explodes into its for-the-converted nod, setting up a linear build after its initial verses and seeing it through with due diligence in noise, and closer “Tentative Minds” purposefully hypnotizes with its vague-speech in the intro and casual bassline and drum swing before the riff kicks in for the finale. The largesse of its loudest moments bolster the overarching atmosphere no less than the softest standalone guitar parts, and Gozd seem wholly comfortable in the spaces between microgenres. A niche among niches, but that’s also how individuality happens, and it’s happening here.

Gozd on Facebook

BSFD Records on Facebook

Sativa Root, Kings of the Weed Age

Sativa Root Kings of the Weed Age

You wouldn’t accuse Austria’s Sativa Root of thematic subtlety on their third album, Kings of the Weed Age, which broadcasts a stoner worship in offerings like “Megalobong” and “Weedotaur” and probably whatever “F.A.T.” stands for, but that’s not what they’re going for anyway. With its titular intro starting off, spoken voices vague in the ambience, “Weedotaur”‘s 11 minutes lumber with all due bong-metallian slog, and the crush becomes central to the proceedings if not necessarily unipolar in terms of the band’s approach. That is to say, amid the onslaught of volume and tonal density in “Green Smegma” and the spin-your-head soloing in “Assassins Weed” (think Assassins Creed), the instrumentalist course undertaken may be willfully monolithic, but they’re not playing the same song five times on six tracks and calling it new. “F.A.T.” begins on a quiet stretch of guitar that recalls some of YOB‘s epics, complementing both the intro and “Weedotaur,” before bringing its full weight down on the listener again as if to underscore the message of its stoned instrumental catharsis on its way out the door. They sound like they could do this all day. It can be overwhelming at times, but that’s not really a complaint.

Sativa Root on Facebook

Sativa Root on Bandcamp

Volt Ritual, Return to Jupiter

volt ritual return to jupiter

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mateusz, bassist Michał and drummer Tomek, Polish riffcrafters Volt Ritual are appealingly light on pretense as they offer Return to Jupiter‘s four tracks, and though as a Star Trek fan I can’t get behind their lyrical impugning of Starfleet as they imagine what Earth colonialism would look like to a somehow-populated Jupiter, they’re not short on reasons to be cynical, if in fact that’s what’s happening in the song. “Ghostpolis” follows the sample-laced instrumental opener “Heavy Metal is Good for You” and rolls loose but accessible even in its later shouts before the more uptempo “Gwiazdolot” swaps English lyrics for Polish (casting off another cultural colonialization, arguably) and providing a break ahead of the closing title-track, which is longer at 7:37 and a clear focal point for more than just bearing the name of the EP, summarizing as it does the course of the cuts before it and even bringing a last scream as if to say “Ghostpolis” wasn’t a fluke. Their 2022 debut album began with “Approaching Jupiter,” and this Return feels organically built off that while trying some new ideas in its effects and general structure. One hopes the plot continues in some way next time along this course.

Volt Ritual on Facebook

Volt Ritual on Bandcamp

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Karkara Announce Spring Tour Plans; All is Dust Out March 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Heading out from their home in Toulouse, France, on March 13 puts Karkara a little more than a week ahead of the arrival of their new album, All is Dust, which is out March 22. The record brings together heavy psych rock and classic impulses born of kraut and space rock(s) that feels current-gen in its expanded mindset, digging less into Easternism in terms of balance than did 2020’s Nowhere Land (review here), but still showing that dug-in side somewhat on the advance track “Anthropia” that you can stream below. Progressive in its texturing, it is nonetheless an easy, and pleasurable, ride to take into a communal unconscious.

Though some of the shows are split up — that is, the chunk of dates below isn’t all concurrent — gives a chance to see further ahead to the band’s summer plans, as they’ll make stops at Rabastock in July and Krach am Bach in August. They call this ‘the first round,’ so it wouldn’t be a surprise if a second one followed in summer, or certainly a stint through sundry Fall fests would be a possibility and will be all the more after the record, which is Karkara‘s third overall, lands next month. In the meantime, intermittent teaming with spacey spearheads Slift feels appropriate. You’ll find those dates noted below among the others in Europe and the UK.

Right under the poster, in blue. Can’t miss ’em:

Karkara tour

Hello friends 🖤

We’re thrilled to announce the first round of the ALL IS DUST tour.

We’re sharing gigs with SLIFT on this so dig in 🖖✨

Can’t wait to see you all 👇

🇫🇷 13.03 – Toulouse, Le Bikini | w/ SLIFT
🇫🇷 29.03 – Ventabren, Secret Place
🇫🇷 30.30 – Marseille, L’Intermediaire Live
🇫🇷 31.03 – Chambery, Brin de Zinc
🇫🇷 02.04 – Dijon, Singe en Hiver Asso Mondofuzz
🇳🇱 03.04 – Luxembourg, Rockhal | w/ SLIFT
🇨🇭 04.04 – Zurich, Mascotte Club Zürich | w/ SLIFT
🇫🇷 05 .04 – Lyon, L’Épicerie Moderne / salle musiques actuelles | w/ SLIFT
🇫🇷 06.04 – Paris, La Mécanique Ondulatoire
🇫🇷 10.04 – Rouen, Le 3 Pièces Muzik’Club
🇫🇷 11.04 – Lille, La Bulle Café – Maison Folie Moulins
🇫🇷 12.04 – Ardres, Le saxhorn
🇧🇪 13.04 – Bruxelles, Cheval Marin Brussels
🇫🇷 15.04 – Vannes, Le barailleur
🇬🇧 16.05 – London, Strongroom
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 17.05 – Edinburgh, Bannermans Live
🇬🇧 19.05 – Newcastle, Star and Shadow. Wandering Oak
🇬🇧 21.05 – Leicester, The Musician
🇬🇧 23.05 – Lancaster, The kanteena
🇬🇧 24.05 – Bristol, The Lanes
🇬🇧 25.05 – Cambridge, TBA
🇧🇪 22.06 – Namur, Ramd’Âm
🇫🇷 20.07 – Rabastock Festival
🇩🇪 02.08 – Krach am Bach

Stolen Body Records | EXAG’ Records | Le Cèpe Records | Bullet Seed | NRV Promotion

Karim Rihani – Guitar , Vocals , Didgeridoo
Hugo Olive – Bass
Maxime Marouani – Drums , Vocals



Karkara, All is Dust (2024)

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Quarterly Review: David Eugene Edwards, Beastwars, Sun Dial, Fuzzy Grass, Morne, Appalooza, Space Shepherds, Rey Mosca, Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Dune Pilot

Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Well, this is it. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do Monday and Tuesday, or just Monday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or the whole week next week or what. I don’t know. But while I figure it out — and not having this planned is kind of a novelty for me; something against my nature that I’m kind of forcing I think just to make myself uncomfortable — there are 10 more records to dig through today and it’s been a killer week. Yeah, that’s the other thing. Maybe it’s better to quit while I’m ahead.

I’ll kick it back and forth while writing today and getting the last of what I’d originally slated covered, then see how much I still have waiting to be covered. You can’t ever get everything. I keep learning that every year. But if I don’t do it Monday and Tuesday, it’ll either be last week of December or maybe second week of January, so it’s not long until the next one. Never is, I guess.

If this is it for now or not, thanks for reading. I hope you found music that has touched your life and/or made your day better.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

David Eugene Edwards, Hyacinth

David Eugene Edwards Hyacinth

There are not a ton of surprises to behold in what’s positioned as a first solo studio offering from David Eugene Edwards, whose pedigree would be impressive enough if it only included either 16 Horsepower or Wovenhand but of course is singular in including both. But you don’t need surprises. Titled Hyacinth and issued through Sargent House, the voice, the presence, the sense of intimacy and grandiosity both accounted for as Edwards taps acoustic simplicity in “Bright Boy,” though even that is accompanied by the programmed electronics that provides backing through much of the included 11 tracks. Atop and within these expanses, Edwards broods poetic and explores atmospheres that are heavy in a different way from what Wovenhand has become, chasing tone or intensity. On Hyacinth, it’s more about the impact of the slow-rolling beat in “Celeste” and the blend of organic/inorganic than just how loud a part is or isn’t. Whether a solo career under his name will take the place of Wovenhand or coincide, I don’t know.

David Eugene Edwards on Instagram

Sargent House website

Beastwars, Tyranny of Distance

beastwars tyranny of distance

Whatever led Beastwars to decide it was time to do a covers EP, fine. No, really, it’s fine. It’s fine that it’s 32 minutes long. It’s fine that I’ve never heard The Gordons, or Julia Deans, or Superette, or The 3Ds or any of the other New Zealand-based artists the Wellington bashers are covering. It’s fine. It’s fine that it sounds different than 2019’s IV (review here). It should. It’s been nearly five years and Beastwars didn’t write these eight songs, though it seems safe to assume they did a fair bit of rearranging since it all sounds so much like Beastwars. But the reason it’s all fine is that when it’s over, whether I know the original version of “Waves” or the blues-turns-crushing “High and Lonely” originally by Nadia Reid, or not, when it’s all over, I’ve got over half an hour more recorded Beastwars music than I had before Tyranny of Distance showed up, and if you don’t consider that a win, you probably already stopped reading. That’s fine too. A sidestep for them in not being an epic landmark LP, and a chance for new ideas to flourish.

Beastwars on Facebook

Beastwars BigCartel store

Sun Dial, Messages From the Mothership

sun dial messages from the mothership

Because Messages From the Mothership stacks its longer songs (six-seven minutes) in the back half of its tracklisting, one might be tempted to say Sun Dial push further out as they go, but the truth is that ’60s pop-inflected three-minute opener “Echoes All Around” is pretty out there, and the penultimate “Saucer Noise” — the longest inclusion at 7:47 — is no less melodically present than the more structure-forward leadoff. The difference, principally, is a long stretch of keyboard, but that’s well within the UK outfit’s vintage-synth wheelhouse, and anyway, “Demagnitized” is essentially seven minutes of wobbly drone at the end of the record, so they get weirder, as prefaced in the early going by, well, the early going itself, but also “New Day,” which is more exploratory than the radio-friendly-but-won’t-be-on-the-radio harmonies of “Living for Today” and the duly shimmering strum of “Burning Bright.” This is familiar terrain for Sun Dial, but they approach it with a perspective that’s fresh and, in the title-track, a little bit funky to boot.

Sun Dial on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Echodelick Records website

Fuzzy Grass, The Revenge of the Blue Nut

Fuzzy Grass The Revenge of the Blue Nut

With rampant heavy blues and a Mk II Deep Purple boogie bent, Toulouse, France’s Fuzzy Grass present The Revenge of the Blue Nut, and there’s a story there but to be honest I’m not sure I want to know. The heavy ’70s persist as an influence — no surprise for a group who named their 2018 debut 1971 — and pieces like “I’m Alright” and “The Dreamer” feel at least in part informed by Graveyard‘s slow-soul-to-boogie-blowout methodology. Raw fuzz rolls out in 11-minute capper “Moonlight Shades” with a swinging nod that’s a highlight even after “Why You Stop Me” just before, and grows noisy, expansive, eventually furious as it approaches the end, coherent in the verse and cacophonous in just about everything else. But the rawness bolsters the character of the album in ways beyond enhancing the vintage-ist impression, and Fuzzy Grass unite decades of influences with vibrant shred and groove that’s welcoming even at its bluest.

Fuzzy Grass on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

Morne, Engraved with Pain

Morne Engraved With Pain

If you go by the current of sizzling electronic pops deeper in the mix, even the outwardly quiet intro to Morne‘s Engraved with Pain is intense. The Boston-based crush-metallers have examined the world around them thoroughly ahead of this fifth full-length, and their disappointment is brutally brought to realization across four songs — “Engraved with Pain” (10:42), “Memories Like Stone” (10:48), “Wretched Empire” (7:45) and “Fire and Dust” (11:40) — written and executed with a dark mastery that goes beyond the weight of the guitar and bass and drums and gutturally shouted vocals to the aura around the music itself. Engraved with Pain makes the air around it feel heavier, basking in an individualized vision of metal that’s part Ministry, part Gojira, lots of Celtic Frost, progressive and bleak in kind — the kind of superlative and consuming listening experience that makes you wonder why you ever listen to anything else except that you’re also exhausted from it because Morne just gave you an existential flaying the likes of which you’ve not had in some time. Artistry. Don’t be shocked when it’s on my ‘best of the year’ list in a couple weeks. I might just go to a store and buy the CD.

Morne on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website

Appalooza, The Shining Son

appalooza the shining son

Don’t tell the swingin’-dick Western swag of “Wounded,” but Appalooza are a metal band. To wit, The Shining Son, their very-dudely follow-up to 2021’s The Holy of Holies (review here) and second outing for Ripple Music. Opener “Pelican” has more in common with Sepultura than Kyuss, or Pelican for that matter. “Unbreakable” and “Wasted Land” both boast screams worthy of Devin Townsend, while the acoustic/electric urgency in “Wasted Land” and the tumultuous scope of the seven-plus-minute track recall some of Primordial‘s battle-aftermath mourning. “Groundhog Days” has an airy melody and is more decisively heavy rock, and the hypnotic post-doom apparent-murder-balladry of “Killing Maria” answers that at the album’s close, and “Framed” hits heavy blues à la a missed outfit like Dwellers, but even in “Sunburn” there’s an immediacy to the rhythm between the guitar and percussion, and though they’re not necessarily always aggressive in their delivery, nor do they want to be. Metal they are, if only under the surface, and that, coupled with the care they put into their songwriting, makes The Shining Son stand out all the more in an ever-crowded Euro underground.

Appalooza on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Space Shepherds, Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

Space Shepherds Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

An invitation to chill the beans delivered to your ears courtesy of Irish cosmic jammers Space Shepherds as two longform jams. “Wading Through the Infinite Sea” nestles into a funky groove and spends who-even-cares-how-much-time of its total 27 minutes vibing out with noodling guitar and a steady, languid, periodically funk-leaning flow. I don’t know if it was made up on the spot, but it sure sounds like it was, and though the drums get a little restless as keys and guitar keep dreaming, the elements gradually align and push toward and through denser clouds of dust and gas on their way to being suns, a returning lick at the end looking slightly in the direction of Elder but after nearly half an hour it belongs to no one so much as Space Shepherds themselves. ‘Side B,’ as it were, is “Void Hurler” (18:41), which is more active early around circles being drawn on the snare, and it has a crescendo and a synthy finish, but is ultimately more about the exploration and little moments along the way like the drums decided to add a bit of push to what might’ve otherwise been the comedown, or the fuzz buzzing amid the drone circa 10 minutes in. You can sit and listen and follow each waveform on its journey or you can relax and let the whole thing carry you. No wrong answer for jams this engaging.

Space Shepherds on Facebook

Space Shepherds on Bandcamp

Rey Mosca, Volumen! Sesion AMB

rey mosca volumen sesiones amb

Young Chilean four-piece Rey Mosca — the lineup of Josué Campos, Valentín Pérez, Damián Arros and Rafael Álvarez — hold a spaciousness in reserve for the midsection of teh seven-minute “Sol del Tiempo,” which is the third of the three songs included in their live-recorded Volumen! Sesion AMB EP. A ready hint is dropped of a switch in methodology since both “Psychodoom” and ” Perdiendo el Control” are under two minutes long. Crust around the edge of the riff greets the listener with “Psychodoom,” which spends about a third of its 90 seconds on its intro and so is barely started by the time it’s over. Awesome. “Perdiendo el Control” is quicker into its verse and quicker generally and gets brasher in its second half with some hardcore shout-alongs, but it too is there and gone, where “Sol del Tiempo” is more patient from the outset, flirting with ’90s noise crunch in its finish but finding a path through a developing interpretation of psychedelic doom en route. I don’t know if “Sol del Tiempo” would fit on a 7″, but it might be worth a shot as Rey Mosca serve notice of their potential hopefully to flourish.


Rey Mosca on Bandcamp

Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Vestigial Spectra

Fawn Limbs & Nadja Vestigial Spectra

Principally engaged in the consumption and expulsion of expectations, Fawn Limbs and Nadja — experimentalists from Finland and Germany-via-Canada, respectively — drone as one might think in opener “Isomerich,” and in the subsequent “Black Body Radiation” and “Cascading Entropy,” they give Primitive Man, The Body or any other extremely violent, doom-derived bludgeoners you want to name a run for their money in terms of sheer noisy assault. Somebody’s been reading about exoplanets, as the drone/harsh noise pairing “Redshifted” and “Blueshifted” (look it up, it’s super cool) reset the aural trebuchet for its next launch, the latter growing caustic on the way, ahead of “Distilled in Observance” renewing the punishment in earnest. And it is earnest. They mean every second of it as Fawn Limbs and Nadja grind souls to powder with all-or-nothing fury, dropping overwhelming drive to round out “Distilled in Observance” before the 11-minute “Metastable Ion Decay” bursts out from the chest of its intro drone to devour everybody on the ship except Sigourney Weaver. I’m not lying to you — this is ferocious. You might think you’re up for it. One sure way to find out, but you should know you’re being tested.

Fawn Limbs on Facebook

Nadja on Facebook

Sludgelord Records on Facebook

Dune Pilot, Magnetic

dune pilot magnetic

Do they pilot, a-pilot, do they the dune? Probably. Regardless, German heavy rockers Dune Pilot offer their third full-length and first for Argonauta Records in the 11-song Magnetic, taking cues from modern fuzz in the vein of Truckfighters for “Visions” after the opening title-track sets the mood and establishes the mostly-dry sound of the vocals as they cut through the guitar and bass tones. A push of voice becomes a defining feature of Magnetic, which isn’t such a departure from 2018’s Lucy, though the rush of “Next to the Liquor Store” and the breadth in the fuzz of “Highest Bid” and the largesse of the nod in “Let You Down” assure that Dune Pilot don’t come close to wearing down their welcome in the 46 minutes, cuts like the bluesy “So Mad” and the big-chorus ideology of “Heap of Shards” coexisting drawn together by the vitality of the performances behind them as well as the surety of their craft. It is heavy rock that feels specifically geared toward the lovers thereof.

Dune Pilot on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

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Slift Announce 2024 UK/European Tour Dates Supporting New Album Ilion

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Should probably go without saying that this won’t be the last tour French heavy space rockers Slift announce supporting their upcoming label debut for Sub Pop Records, Ilion, or the last region. The record is set to release on Jan. 19, and from the looks of the below and the band’s ethic of hard touring up to this point, it seems likely they’re entering a genuine album cycle. They’ll do these dates in Western Europe and then likely run down a checklist of various other parts of Europe, North America, maybe South America, Australia/New Zealand. Wouldn’t be surprised if they popped up in Japan or Egypt or South Africa. The demand seems to be there, and the trio up to this point have been ready to go just about anywhere they’re asked. They’ve got a long road and a lot of work ahead of them.

The tradeoff, I suppose, is entering the next phase of their tenure as their exit-velocity ascent to the forefront of the international heavy underground has now led to things like listener expectations and the inevitable internet reactionary I-don’t-see-what-the-big-deal-is shrugs and shit-talking. That’s how you know they’re popular. But even my couchlocked ass got to see them this year, so if you haven’t sit tight and I’m sure they’ll get there faster than social media can complain about their not.

Speaking of socials, that’s where this comes from:

slift poster

Oï !

Thrilled to announce that we’ll be on tour next year, starting with Europe & UK !

There’s some crazy venues, we can’t wait to see ya’ll during this new trip around the sun.

Tickets available via the farcaster portal : sliftrock.com

Peace (#128406#)(#128420#)✨
Poster by Caza
Radical Production

SLIFT live:
23.02 Brighton UK Chalk
24.02 Manchester UK Gorilla
25.02 Dublin IE Whelan’s
27.02 Leeds UK Brudenell
28.02 London UK Electric Ballroom
29.02 Lille FR L’Aeronef
01.03 Paris FR Cigale
02.03 Saint-Malo FR Route du Rock Hiver
13.03 Toulouse FR Le Bikini
15.03 Nantes FR Stereolux
18.03 Bruselles BE Ancienne Belgique
19.03 Utrecht NL Tivolirendenburg
20.03 Köln DE Club Volta
21.03 Groningen NL Vera
22.03 Hamburg DE Gruenspan
24.03 Kobenhavn DK Loppen
25.03 Gothenburg SE Pustervik
26.03 Oslo NO John Dee
27.03 Stockhom SE Hus 7
30.03 Berlin DE Lido
01.04 Leipzig DE UT Connewitz
02.04 Stuttgart DE Im Wizemann
03.04 Esch sur Alzette LUX Rockhal
04.04 Zurich CH Mascotte
05.04 Lyon FR L’Epicerie Moderne
06.04 Marseille FR Espace Julien

SLIFT are:
Jean Fossat : guitar, vocals, synth
Rémi Fossat : bass
Canek Flores : drums



Slift, Ilion (2024)

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Slift to Release Ilion Jan. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

So the title of the next Slift record is Ilion. The triumph-wielding heavy space rock trio from Toulouse, France, whose 2020 LP, Ummon (review here), ignited such a fervent crossover response across the underground cosmos that the band are now signed to Sub Pop Records. In other words, they’re about to get even bigger.

Kudos to the band on the eternal indie cred that signing to Sub Pop gleans them, and to the label for still picking up a heavy band every now and again the better part of 40 years later. The hype machine had already started — the first single can stream now and the press release was calling the album structure Homeric, so yes, superlatives will be bandied about for the next few months. The only reason that’s different from the last three years is it’s a different record everybody and their cousin is drooling over.

I’m not posting that PR, because I’m getting too old for that kind of hyperbole even though I understand its function, but here’s what the band had to say on socials with the tracklisting:

Slift Ilion

Oï !

Today’s the day ! We’re beyond excited to announce that our new album, ILION, will be out on Sub Pop Records the 19th January.
You can now listen to the opening track, using your favorite web sonic dealer : https://music.subpop.com/slift_ilion

The preorders are open ! Check it out there’s some cool wax for ya’ll vinyl lovers.

Preorders shipped from France, by yours truly : sliftrock.com

US & UK/EU Sub Pop preorders : https://music.subpop.com/slift_ilion

We soon gonna announce the tour dates, can’t wait to see old and new friends in the pit, we’ll see space again together.

Thank you very much for your support, to everyone involve in the making of this record, to every past, present and futur listeners, and to everyone who’s gonna experienced it live with us !

Artwork by the mighty Caza.

1. Ilion
2. Nimh
3. The Words That Have Never Been Heard
4. Confluence
5. Weavers’ Weft
6. Uruk
7. The Story That Has Never Been Told
8. Enter The Loop

SLIFT are:
Jean Fossat : guitar, vocals, synth
Rémi Fossat : bass
Canek Flores : drums



Slift, Ilion (2024)

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Witchthroat Serpent Premiere “The House That Dripped Blood” Video; Trove of Oddities at the Devil’s Driveway Coming March 3

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 7th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Toulouse, France-based cult doom rollers Witchthroat Serpent have set a March 3 release for their fourth album, Trove of Oddities at the Devil’s Driveway, through foremost purveyor Heavy Psych Sounds. The band made their debut on the label last year as part of HPSDoom Sessions split series, pairing well with Dead Witches for a 12″ vinyl, and the new six-song/41-minute LP follows behind 2018’s Swallow the Venom, which was released through Svart.

Crucially, Trove of Oddities at the Devil’s Driveway is their first outing with second guitarist Djé Cndrs (also of Pillars) alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Bolzann (also Deathbell), bassist Ügo Greifengeier (who made his first appearance on the split last year) and founding drummer Niko Lass, and from 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Multi-Dimensional Marvelous Throne” onward, the march into the abyss is that much more doomed for the added distorted lumber. Taking cues from horror flicks and general anti-everything nod, the now-four-piece stir a cauldron of riffs with the steady hands of masters, their dark arts and atmospheres duly ceremonial to suit their horror-minded themes.

From the weighted stomp in Lass‘ drums that marks every step along the path of the lead track to the languid swirling solos that cut through the clouds of churning molasses smoke, the lead cut sets the tone figuratively and literally, and its side B counterpart, “The House That Dripped Blood” (video premiering below) mirrors many of its methods with perhaps a heavier crash as the lead single.

witchthroat serpent Trove of Oddities at the Devil's DoorwayThe video takes clips from the 1971 film of the same name — you’ll see Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nyree Dawn Porter, etc. — and though it hits arguably the heaviest for following the three-minute noise-laced night-terror interlude that is “The Gorgon,” “The House That Dripped Blood” does well to encapsulate much of what works best throughout this Trove, with a feedback start and foreboding drums that unfold in their own damn time to big, lumbering headpunch of a riff, meaner even than that of the opener or “Nosferatu’s Misery,” which follows.

Some Electric Wizard vibe in the lead guitar feels pushed into dreamier tonality, and a sample marks the way into the verse, duly cavernous and crushing of spirit and heft alike. There’s another solo late, but they cap with feedback before the faster, crashier “Yellow Nacre” and the likewise woeful and woefully catchy “Mountain Temple in Bleakness” round out side B, the latter giving the bass a well deserved moment in the limelight en route to its own feedback-bedded excruciation of a finish, organ and vague vocals underscoring the otherworldly-then-gone nature of the drawdown.

You like heavy? Shit, here’s some Heavy. I guess this was supposed to be the album announcement and I kind of just reviewed it, but whatever. Brave new world, and you’ll be ready when this thing lands in March. If you’re the type to take care of things ahead of time, you know Heavy Psych Sounds has preorders ready.

Those links, some comment from the band, and more info follow the video premiere below, courtesy of the PR wire.


Witchthroat Serpent, “The House That Dripped Blood” video premiere

Witchthroat Serpent on “The House That Dripped Blood”:

The House That Dripped Blood is a song about the 1971 British anthology horror film directed by Peter Duffell. Made up of four stories about Vampires, Voodoo, Vixens and Victims! Also the cover of the album was inspired by this movie…

You can hear the voice of Nyree Dawn Porter and Christopher Lee at the beginning of the song.

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is the first single taken from WITCHTHROAT SERPENT upcoming new album “Trove of Oddities at the Devil’s Driveway”.

The release will see the light March 3rd via Heavy Psych Sounds.



1. Multi-dimensional Marvelous Throne
2. Nosferatu’s Mastery
3. The Gorgon
4. The House That Dripped Blood
5. Yellow Nacre
6. Mountain Temple In Bleakness

Witchthroat Serpent are:
Fredrik Bolzann – guitar/vocals
Niko Lass – drums
Ügo Greifengeier – bass
Djé Cndrs – guitar

Witchthroat Serpent on Facebook

Witchthroat Serpent on Instagram

Witchthroat Serpent on Bandcamp

Witchthroat Serpent on Spotify

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Slift Announce First US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Slift live

Ostensibly, French uptempo heavy psych/space rockers Slift will be coming to the US to support 2020’s Ummon (review here), and fair enough. That record landed with an immediate impact crater and I’m already hearing bands working off their influence in trying to make the cosmos dance to their righteous interstellar punk.

Given these dates are in the Fall, and that Slift were playing new material live this Spring, it’s that much easier to wonder if a new album announcement is coming. Feasibly an LP could arrive in late September in time for the tour to start, and with momentum from pre-album hoopla on their side, they’d be that much better off, but they’re hardly short on hype as it is, so maybe the right move for them is hold the next record back until 2023 and give it its due. If past is prologue with things like this, they’ll announce the record, like, tomorrow and I’ll feel like a dope for having just posted about the tour.

But that will happen when it happens. Or doesn’t. Or whatever. Slift coming to the States feels like a big deal, in no small part because they don’t seem like the kind of band who are only going to do so on a one-and-done basis, and at very least it’s an occasion worth marking. Dear posterity: this was the first time Slift played in the US. Their coming was anticipated.

From social media, this:

Slift tour

Oï !

STOKED to announce that we’ll be playing in the US for the very first time this fall !!!

TICKETS at bit.ly/SLIFT-USTour

We never thought we would ever cross an ocean to play music when we started this band but hey, here we are !

Thank you very much to all the people involved in this tour, and to you all for your continuated support. It’s gonna be loud !

See you on the other side.

Hellfest Extended 2022
Clisson, France

Rock In Bourlon 2022
Bourlon, France

SonicBlast Fest 2022
Viana Do Castelo, Portugal

Check-In Party 2022
Saint-Laurent, France

Motocultor Festival 2022
Saint-Nolff, France

The Echo
Los Angeles (LA), CA, US

Desert Daze Festival
Palm Springs, CA, US

Brick & Mortar Music Hall
San Francisco, CA, US

The Crocodile
Seattle, WA, US

Doug Fir Lounge
Portland, OR, US

The Shredder
Boise, ID, US

The HQ
Denver, CO, US

The Bottleneck
Lawrence, KS, US

Reggie’s Rock Club
Chicago, IL, US

Rumba Cafe
Columbus, OH, US

The Bug Jar
Rochester, NY, US

Cambridge, MA, US

Brooklyn, NY, US

Metro Gallery
Baltimore, MD, US

Asheville Music Hall
Asheville, NC, US

The Earl
East Atlanta, GA, US

The Abbey
Orlando, FL, US

Poster art by CAZA.

SLIFT are:
Jean Fossat : guitar, vocals, synth
Rémi Fossat : bass
Canek Flores : drums



Slift, “Heavy Road” Levitation Session

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Quarterly Review: SOM, Dr. Space, Beastwars, Deathbell, Malady, Wormsand, Thunderchief, Turkey Vulture, Stargo, Ascia

Posted in Reviews on January 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to Day Four of the Jan. 2022 Quarterly Review. Or maybe it’s the other half of the Dec. 2021 Quarterly Review. Or maybe I overthink these things. The latter feels most likely. Inanycase, welcome. If you’ve been keeping up with the records as they’ve been coming in 10-per-day batches over the course of this week, thanks. If not, well, if you’re interested, it’s not like the posts disappeared. Just keep scrolling, then I think click through. One of these days I’ll get an infinite scroll plug-in. Those are for the cool kids.

Also, ‘Infinite Scroll’ is, as of right now, the name of my ’90s-style pixel-art role playing game. Ask me about the plot when these reviews are done.

For now…

Quarterly Review #31-40:

SOM, The Shape of Everything

SOM The Shape Of Everything

Working from a foundation in heavy post-rock, Connecticut’s SOM soar and float like so many shoreline seagulls over the Long Island Sound on the eight-song/34-minute The Shape of Everything, which would call to mind the melancholy of Katatoniia were its sadness not even more shimmering. Early pieces “Moment” and “Animals” build a depth of modern progressive metal riffing beneath only the airiest of guitar leads, a wash of distortion meeting a wash of melody, and with guitarist/vocalist/producer Will Benoit helming, his voice rings through clear in melody and still somewhat ethereal, calling to mind a more organically-constructed Jesu in poppier as well as some heavier stretches. The penultimate “Heart Attack” tips into heavier fare with a steady bassline and bursts of crunching guitar, and the finale “Son of Winter” answers back with a (snow)blinding spaciousness and an entrancing last buildup. There’s enough room here to really get lost, and SOM are too mindful of their craft to let it happen.

SOM website

Pelagic Records webstore


Dr. Space, Muzik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn

Dr. Space Musik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn

Alright, I admit it. I went to “Icy Flatulence” first. Even before “Cyborgian Burger Hut” or “Euphoric Nostril.” Scott Heller, otherwise known as Dr. Space of Øresund Space Collective and any number of other outfits on a given day, is as-ever exploring on Muzik 2 Loze Yr Mynd Inn, and the results are hypnotic enough that they might leave you using the kind of spelling on the album’s title, but even in the relatively serene “Garden of Rainbow Unicorns” there’s a forward keyline — and actually, in that song, an undercurrent of horror soundtracking that makes me think the unicorn is about to eat me; could happen — and the extended pair of “T-E-T” and “Ribbons in Time” are marked by ’80s sci-fi beeps and boops and a kind of electronic shuffle, respectively, though the latter is probably as close as the 54-minute six-songer comes to soundscaping. Which is like landscaping only, in this case, happening in another galaxy somewhere. And there they call it jazz as they should and all is well. In all seriousness, I keep a running list in my brain of bands who should ask Dr. Space to guest on their records. Your band is probably on it. It’s pretty much everybody.

Dr. Space on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


Beastwars, Cold Wind / When I’m King

beastwars cold wind when im king

Here’s some context you probably don’t need: “Cold Wind” and “When I’m King” were written around the time of Wellington, New Zealand’s Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here). They may even have been recorded — I could’ve sworn “When I’m King” popped up somewhere at some point — but they’ve now been redone from the ground up and they’re pressed to a limited 7″ as part of the 10th anniversary celebration that also saw the self-titled get a new vinyl issue. Now, is it helpful knowing that? Yeah, sure. If I came at you instead and said, “Hey, new Beastwars!” though, it’d probably be more of a draw, and whatever gets Beastwars in as many ears as possible is what should invariably be done. “When I’m King” is a banger (bonus points for gang shouts), “Cold Wind” a little more seething, but both tracks harness that peculiarly sludged tonality that the band has owned for more than a decade now, and the guttural delivery of Matthew Hyde is only more resonant for the years between the writing and the execution of these songs. That execution is beheading by riffs, by the way.

Beastwars on Facebook

Beastwars on Bandcamp


Deathbell, A Nocturnal Crossing

deathbell a nocturnal crossing

A Nocturnal Crossing, the second album from Toulouse, France’s Deathbell and their first for Svart Records, can come at you from any number of angles seemingly at any point. Which thread are you following? Is it the soaring, classic-feeling occult rock melodies of Lauren Gaynor, or her organ work that, at the same time, adds gothic drama to so much of the material on the six-songer? Is it the lumbering groove of “Shifting Sands” and the doomed fuzz of “Devoured on the Peak” earlier, speaking to entirely different traditions? Or maybe the atmosphere in “Silent She Comes,” which is almost post-metallic in its shining lead guitar? Or perhaps, and hopefully I think, it’s all of these things as skillfully woven together as they are in these tracks. Opener “The Stronghold and the Archer” and the closing title-track mirror each other in their underlying metallic influence, but that too becomes one more texture at Deathbell‘s disposal, brought forward in such a way as to emphasize the unity of the whole work as much as the individual progressions.

Deathbell on Facebook

Svart Records website


Malady, Ainavihantaa

Malady Ainavihantaa

After debuting on Svart with 2018’s Toinen Toista (review here), sax-laced Helskini classic prog pastoralists Malady offer Ainavihantaa (‘all the time’) across a lush and welcoming six tracks and 37 minutes. The flow is immediate and paramount on opener “Alava Vaara” and through the flute/sax tradeoff in “Vapaa Ja Autio,” which follows, and though it’s heady fare, somehow the “Foxy-Lady”-if-KingCrimson-wrote-it strut-into-meander of “Sisävesien Rannat” skirts a line of indulgence without fully toppling over. Side B is jazzy and winding across “Dyadi” and “Haavan Väri” ahead of the title-track, but the human presence of vocals, even in a language I don’t speak, does wonders in keeping the proceedings grounded, right up to the Beatlesian finish of “Ainavihantaa” itself. This was on a lot of best-of-2021 lists and it’s not a challenge to see why.

Malady on Facebook

Svart Records website


Wormsand, Shapeless Mass

Wormsand Shapeless Mass

The Earth, ecologically devastated by industrialization and the wastefulness of humans — capitalism, in other words — becomes a wasteland. A few billionaires, who’ve been playing around with laughably-phallic rockets anyway, decide they’re going to escape out into space and leave the rest of the species, which they’ve destroyed, to suffer. It would be — and used to be — the stuff of decent science fiction were it not basically what homo sapiens are living through right now. A mass extinction owing to climate change the roots of which are in anthropocene action and inaction alike. French outfit Wormsand tell this utterly-plausible story in cascading doom riffs that reminds at once of Pallbearer and Forming the Void, keeping an edge of modern heavy prog to their plodding and accompanying with clean vocals and some more gutty shouts. As one might expect, things get pretty grim by the time they’re down to “Carrions,” “Collapsing” and “Shapeless Mass” near the album’s end, but the trio get big, big points for not trying to offer some placating “you can avoid this future” message of hope at the end, instead highlighting the final message, “The oracles warned us long ago/That a huge mass would swallow us all.” Ambitious in narrative concept, expertly conveyed.

Wormsand on Facebook

Stellar Frequencies on Bandcamp

Saka Čost on Bandcamp


Thunderchief, Synanthrope

Thunderchief Synanthrope

I hate to call out a falsehood, but Virginia duo Thunderchief‘s claim that, “No fucks were used, or given, on this recording,” just isn’t the case. I’m sorry. You don’t rip the fuck out of your throat like Rik Surly does on “Aiboh/Phobia” without a clear intent. That intent might be — and would seem to be — fuckall, but fuckall’s way different from ‘no fucks.’ If they didn’t give a fuck, Synanthrope could hardly come across as furious as it does in these seven tracks, totaling a consuming, gruff, sludged 39 minutes, marked out by centerpiece “King of the Pleistocene” fucking with your conception of desert rock, the second part of “Aiboh/Phobia” — the part named after a grind band, oddly enough — and “Toss Me a Crumb” fucking around with some grind, and closer “Paw” trodding out its feedback-laden course with Erik Larson‘s drums marching in crash with Surly‘s riffs. Hell, you got Mike Dean to record the thing. That’s giving a fuck all by itself. This kind of heavy and righteous, purposeful aural cruelty doesn’t happen by mistake. It’s too good to be fuckless. Sorry.

Thunderchief on Facebook

Thunderchief on Bandcamp


Turkey Vulture, Twist the Knife

turkey vulture twist the knife

No lyric sheet necessary to get that the longest song on Turkey Vulture‘s Twist the Knife EP, the three-minute “Livestock on Our Way to Slaughter,” is based lyrically on the ever-relevant film They Live. The married Connecticut duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jessie May and drummer Jim Clegg (also in charge of visuals), find thrashy release on the four-song release, which totals about eight minutes and in opener “Fiji,” “Where the Truth Dwells,” as well as “Livestock on Our Way to Slaughter,” they rip with surprising metallic thrust. The closing “She’s Married (But Not to Me)” is something of a further shift, and had me searching for an original version out there somewhere thinking it was a cover either of Buddy Holly or some wistful punk band, but no, seems to be an original. So be it. Clearly, at this point, May and Clegg are finding new modes of sonic catharsis that even a couple years ago they likely wouldn’t have dared. They’re a stronger band for their readiness to follow such whims.

Turkey Vulture on Facebook

Turkey Vultre on Bandcamp


Stargo, Dammbruch

Stargo Dammbruch

In Stargo‘s Dammbruch, I hear a signal back to European heavy rock’s prior instrumentalist generation, the Dortmunder three-piece not completely divorced from the riffy progressions that drove the warmth creating heavy psychedelia in the first place, even as the four-part, 14-minute title-track of the EP shifts between those impulses and more progressive, weighted, extreme or airy movements before its eerily peaceful conclusion. “Copter,” which could be titled after its wub-wub-wub effect early and the guitar chug that takes hold of it, and the closer “Bathysphere,” with its outward reach of guitar telegraphed in the first half but still resonant at the end, bring likeminded breadth in shorter bursts, but the abiding story of the EP is what the band — who made their full-length debut with 2020’s Parasight — might continue to offer as their style continues to develop. 35007, My Sleeping Karma, The Ocean, Pelican and Russian CirclesStargo‘s sound is a melting pot of ideas. They only need to keep exploring.

Stargo on Facebook

Stargo on Bandcamp


Ascia, Volume II

Ascia Volume II

Fabrizio Monni, also of Black Capricorn, issues a second EP from the solo-project Ascia following up on Sept. 2021’s Volume I (review here) with the marauding lumber of Dec. 2021’s Volume II, bringing his axe down across five tracks in a sub-20-minute run that’s been compiled onto a limited CD with the first release. Makes sense. The two outings share an affinity for the running megafuzz of earliest High on Fire and showcase the emerging personality of the new outfit in the melodies of “The Will of Gods” and the untempered doom of the later slowdown in “Thousands of Ghosts.” The instrumental “A Night with Shahrazad” closes, and feels a bit like a piece of a song — it crashes out just when you think the vocals might kick in — but if Monni‘s leaving his audience wanting more, well, he also seems quick enough to provide. “Eternal Glory” and “Ruins of War” will remind you what you liked about the first EP, and the rest will remind you why you’re looking forward to the next one. Mark it a win.

Ascia on Bandcamp

Black Capricorn on Facebook


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