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

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

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

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

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

Quarterly Review #51-60:

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

the pilgrim from the earth to the sky and back

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

There is an undercurrent of extremity to the debut release from dissertation writing for payment results section on our Writing Service MBA that youll be proud to submit at really low prices. Become our regular customer and enjoy fine discounts on Polymoon, who hail from the psychedelic hotbed that is Tampere, Finland. The six-song/42-minute Just Documentz Terms & Conditions for our Business Document & Thesis / http://www.maps.upc.edu/write-3-paragraph-essay/. Caterpillars of Creation turns in opener “Silver Mt.” to fervent guitar push or from freaked-out cosmic prog into drifting post-universe exploration, setting the stage for the dynamic that unfolds throughout. The wash early in the second half of “Lazaward” is glorious, and it’s not the first or the last time Need dissertation Help? Don't worry let the best Dissertation Editing Services writing service help you in UK, Our UK professional dissertation Writers will guide you. Polymoon go to that adrenaline-pumping well, but the serenity that caps that song and seems to continue into “Malamalama” in closing side A is no less effective. “Helicaling” mounts tension in its early drumming but finally releases it later, and “Neitherworld” gives Caterpillars of Creation‘s most fervent thrust while closer “Metempsychosis” rounds out with a fitting sense of dissipation. As a first album/first release, it is particularly stunning, and to make it as plain as possible, I will think less of any list of 2020’s best debut albums that leaves out Polymoon.

Polymoon on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Doctors of Space, First Treatment

doctors of space first treatment

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

Doctors of Space on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Merlock, That Which Speaks

merlock that which speaks

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

Merlock on Thee Facebooks

Merlock on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition

sun dial mind control

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

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Saturn’s Husk, The Conduit

Saturns Husk The Conduit

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

Saturn’s Husk on Thee Facebooks

Saturn’s Husk on Bandcamp

 

Diggeth, Gringos Galacticos

diggeth gringos galacticos

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

Diggeth on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records website

 

Horizon, The White Planet Patrol

horizon the white planet patrol

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

Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine + 2

Limousine Beach Stealin Wine

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

Limousine Beach on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies

the crooked whispers satanic melodies

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

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The Crooked Whispers on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Cruthu, Sólstafir, ILS, Bismut, Cracked Machine, Megadrone, KLÄMP, Mábura, Astral Sleep

Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

We’ve reached the portion of the Quarterly Review wherein I would no longer know what day it is if I didn’t have my notes to help me keep track. I suppose it doesn’t matter — the day, that is — since it’s 10 records either way, but I’d hate to review the same albums two days in a row or something. Though, come to think of it, that might be a fun experiment sometime.

Not today. Today is another fresh batch of 10 on the way to 60 by next Monday. We’ll get there. Always do. And if you’re wondering, today’s Thursday. At least that’s what I have in my notes.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. I

bell witch aerial ruin Stygian Bough Volume 1

The collaborative effort Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin and their 64-minute full-length, Stygian Bough Vol. I — the intention toward future output together hinted at in the title already confirmed by the group(s) — is a direct extension of what Aerial Ruin, aka Erik Moggridge, brought to the last Bell Witch album, 2017’s Mirror Reaper (review here), in terms of complementing the crushing, emotionally resonant death-doom of the Washington duo with morose folk vocal melody. Stygian Bough Vol. I is distinguished by having been written by the two-plus-one-equals-three-piece as a group, and accordingly, it more fluidly weaves Moggridge‘s contributions into those of Bell Witch‘s Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman, resulting in an approach like if Patrick Walker from Warning had joined Thergothon. It’s prevailing spirit is deep melancholy in longer pieces like “The Bastard Wind” and “The Unbodied Air,” both over 19 minutes, while it might be in “Heaven Torn Low I (The Passage)” and “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)” that the trio most effectively bring their intent to life. Either way, if you’re in, be ready to go all the way in, but know that it’s well worth doing so.

Bell Witch on Thee Facebooks

Aerial Ruin on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Cruthu, Athrú Crutha

cruthu Athrú Crutha

Traditional doom with flourish both of noise and NWOBHM guitars — that turn in the second half of opener “Transformation” is like a dogwhistle for Iron Maiden fans — I hear Cruthu‘s second album, Athrú Crutha, and all I can think of are label recommendations. The Michigan outfit’s 2017 debut, The Angle of Eternity (review here), was eventually issued on The Church Within, and that’d certainly work, but also Ván Records, Shadow Kingdom, and even Cruz Del Sur seem like fitting potential homes for the righteousness on display across the vinyl-ready six-song/39-minute outing, frontman Ryan Evans commanding in presence over the reverb-loaded classic-style riffs of guitarist Dan McCormick and the accompanying gallop in Matt Fry‘s drums given heft by Derek Kasperlik‘s bass. Like the opener, “Necromancy” and “Dimensional Collide” move at a good clip, but side B’s “The Outsider” and closer “Crown of Horns” slow things down following the surprisingly rough-edged “Beyond the Pale.” One way or the other, it’s all doomed and so are we.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Sólstafir, Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

Sólstafir endless twilight of codependent love

Whereas 2017’s Berdreyminn (review here) existed in the shadow of 2014’s Ótta (review here), Endless Twilight of Codependent Love brings Iceland’s Sólstafir to a new place in terms of their longer-term progression. It is their first album with an English title since 2005’s Masterpiece of Bitterness, and though they’ve had English-language songs since then, the mellow “Her Fall From Grace” is obviously intended to be a standout here, and it is. On the nine-song/62-minute course of the album, however, it is one impression of many, and in the raging “Dionysus” and post-blackened “Drýsill,” 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Akkeri,” richly atmospheric “Rökkur,” goth-lounging “Or” and worthy finale “Úlfur,” Sólstafir remind of the richly individual nature of their approach. The language swaps could be reaching out to a broader, non-Icelandic-speaking audience. If so, it’s only in the interest of that audience to take note if they haven’t already.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

ILS, Curse

ils curse

Curse is the first long-player from Portland, Oregon’s ILS, and it’s a rager in the PNW noise tradition, with uptempo, gonna-throw-a-punch-and-then-apologize riffs and basslines and swaps between semi-spoken shouts and vicious screams from Tom Glose (ex-Black Elk) that are precisely as jarring as they’re meant to be. I don’t think Curse is anyone’s first time at the dance — Glose, guitarist Nate Abner, bassist Adam Pike or drummer Tim Steiner — but it only benefits across its sans-bullshit 28-minute run by knowing what it wants to do. Its longest material, like the title-track or “Don’t Hurt Me,” which follows, or closer “For the Shame I Bring,” rests on either side of three and a half minutes, but some of the most brutal impressions are made in cuts like “It’s Not Lard but it’s a Cyst” or leadoff “Bad Parts,” which have even less time to waste but are no less consuming, particularly at high volume. The kind of record for when you want to assault yourself. And hey, that happens.

ILS on Thee Facebooks

P.O.G.O. Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismut, Retrocausality

bismut retrocausality

Apart from the consciously-titled three-minute noiseblaster finale “Antithesis” that’s clearly intended to contrast with what comes before it, Bismut‘s second LP for Lay Bare, Retrocausality, is made up of five extended instrumental pieces the shortest of which is just under 13 minutes long. The Nijmegen-based trio — guitarist Nik Linders, bassist Huibert der Weduwen, drummer Peter Dragt — build these semi-improvisational pieces on the foundation they set with 2018’s Schwerpunkt (review here), and their explorations through heavy rock, metal and psychedelia feel all the more cohesive as a song like “Vergangenheit” is nonetheless able to blindside with the heavy riff toward which it’s been moving for its entire first half. At 71 minutes total, it’s a purposefully unmanageable runtime, but as “Predvídanie” imagines a psych-thrash and “Oscuramento” drones to its crashing finish, Bismut seem to be working on their own temporal accord anyhow. For those stuck on linear time, that means repeat listens may be necessary to fully digest, but that’s nothing to complain about either.

Bismut on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Cracked Machine, Gates of Keras

Cracked Machine Gates of Keras

UK instrumentalists Cracked Machine have worked relatively quickly over the course of their now-three albums to bring a sense of their own perspective to the tropes of heavy psychedelic rock. Alongside the warmth of tone in the guitar and bass, feeling drawn from the My Sleeping Karma/Colour Haze pastiche of progressive meditations, there is a coinciding edge of English heavy rock and roll that one can hear not so much in the drift of “Temple of Zaum” as in the push of “Black Square Icon,” which follows, as well as the subtle impatience of the drums on “October Dawn.” “Move 37,” on the other hand, is willfully speedier and more upbeat than much of what surrounds, but though opener/longest track (immediate points) “Cold Iron Light” hits 7:26, nothing on Gates of Keras sticks around long enough to overstay its welcome, and even in their deepest contemplations, the feeling of motion carries them and the listener effectively through the album’s span. They sound like a band realizing what they want to do with all the potential they’ve built up.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

PsyKa Records website

 

Megadrone, Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

Megadrone Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae

From cinematic paranoia to consuming and ultra-slow rollout of massive tonality, the debut offering from Megadrone — the one-man outfit of former Bevar Sea vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy — stretches across 53 minutes of unmitigated sonic consumption. If nothing else, Krishnaswamy chose the right moniker for the project. The Bandcamp version is spread across two parts — “Transmission A” (21:45) and “Transmission B” (32:09) — and any vinyl release would require significant editing as well, but the version I have is one huge, extended track, and that feels like exactly how Transmissions From the Jovian Antennae was composed and is supposed to be heard. Its mind-numbing repetitions lead the listener on a subtle forward march — there are drums back in that morass somewhere, I know it — and the piece follows an arc that begins relatively quiet, swells in its midsection and gradually recedes again over its final 10 minutes or so. It goes without saying that a 53-minute work of experimentalist drone crushscaping isn’t going to be for the faint of heart. Bold favors bold.

Megadrone on Thee Facebooks

Megadrone on Bandcamp

 

KLÄMP, Hate You

klamp hate you

Sax-laced noise rock psychedelic freakouts, blown-out drums and shouts and drones, cacophonous stomp and chaotic sprawl, and a finale that holds back its payoff so long it feels cruel, KLÄMP‘s second album, Hate You, arrives less than a year after their self-titled debut, and perhaps there’s some clue as to why in the sheer mania of their execution. Hate You launches with the angularity of its 1:47 title-track and rolls out a nodding groove on top of that, but it’s movement from one part to another, one piece to another, is frenetic, regardless of the actual tempo, and the songs just sound like they were recorded to be played loud. Second cut “Arise” is the longest at 7:35 and it plays back and forth between two main parts before seeming to explode at the end, and by the time that’s done, you’re pretty much KLÄMPed into place waiting to see where the Utrecht trio go next. Oblivion wash on “An Orb,” the drum-led start-stops of “Big Bad Heart,” psych-smash “TJ” and that awaited end in “No Nerves” later, I’m not sure I have any better idea where that might be. That’s also what makes it work.

KLÄMP on Thee Facebooks

God Unknown Records website

 

Mábura, Heni

Mábura heni

Preceded by two singles, Heni is the debut EP from Rio de Janeiro psychedelic tonal worshipers Mábura, and its three component tracks, “Anhangá,” “III/IV” and “Bong of God” are intended to portray a lysergic experience through their according ambience and the sheer depth of the riffs they bring. “Anhangá” has vocals following the extended feedback and drone opening of its first half, but they unfold as a part of the general ambience, along with the drums that arrive late, are maybe sampler/programmed, and finish by leading directly into the crash/fuzz launch of “III/IV,” which just before it hits the two-minute mark unfurls into a watershed of effects and nod, crashing and stomping all the while until everything drops out but the bass only to return a short time later with the Riff in tow. Rumbling into a quick fade brings about the toking intro of “Bong of God,” which unfolds accordingly into a riff-led noisefest that makes its point seemingly without saying a word. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but it’s a first EP. What it shows is that Mábura have some significant presence of tone and purpose. Don’t be surprised when someone picks them up for a release.

Mábura on Thee Facebooks

Mábura on Bandcamp

 

Astral Sleep, Astral Doom Musick

Astral Sleep Astral Doom Musick

It’s still possible to hear some of Astral Sleep‘s death-doom roots in their third album, Astral Doom Musick, but the truth is they’ve become a more expansive unit than that (relatively) simple classification than describe. They’re doom, to be sure, but there are progressive, psychedelic and even traditional doom elements at work across the record’s four-song/43-minute push, with a sense of conceptual composition coming through in “Vril” and “Inegration” in the first half of the proceedings while the nine-and-a-half-minute “Schwerbelastungskörper” pushes into the darkest reaches and closer “Aurinko ja Kuu” harnesses a swirling progressive spread that’s dramatic unto its last outward procession and suitably large-sound in its production and tone. For a band who took eight years to issue a follow-up to their last full-length, Astral Sleep certainly have plenty to offer in aesthetic and craft. If it took them so long to put this record together, their time wasn’t wasted, but it’s hard to listen and not wonder where their next step might take them.

Astral Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Astral Sleep on Bandcamp

 

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Friday Full-Length: Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (1981)

Nostalgia, plain and simple. I have a lot of positive associations with Diary of a Madman, as I do with other early Ozzy Osbourne solo works like 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1983’s Bark at the Moon, as well as the 1987 Tribute live album honoring guitarist Randy Rhoads, who passed away on tour in 1982. Diary of a Madman, then, is the last record Rhoads also played on, and it’s also the last Ozzy album to feature drummer Lee Kerslake, who passed died of cancer last month and was also a former member of Uriah Heep.

Of course, bassist Bob Daisley and Kerslake were thoroughly screwed over first when not initially given credit for appearing and writing on the album and then in 2002 when their bass and drum tracks were re-recorded by then-Ozzy band members Robert Trujillo (now Metallica) and Mike Bordijn (Faith No More). Might be heresy to say it, but I thought Trujillo‘s punchy bass worked well behind the sharp cut-through of Rhoads‘ guitar tone, though of course the contractual disagreement, lawsuit (which Kerslake and Daisley won) and questionable business ethics involved in replacing those parts of the original LP tally up to a conclusion of “probably never should’ve happened in the first place.” In any case, it wasn’t Trujillo or Bordijn‘s fault.

But the original Diary of a Madman remains a special beast. Released in Nov. 1981, it is an album I associate with the end of summer and the coming of Fall — something about the crispness of its production. Its title-track gives it a somewhat darker atmosphere, building on the inclusion of classical acoustic guitar of “Revelation: Mother Earth” from the album prior, but the rockers-up-front momentum established with “Over the Mountain” and “Flying High Again” is quintessential Ozzy and arguably the best one-two punch he’d offer in his now-40-year-long solo career.

That’s not to take away from “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” at the outset of Blizzard of Ozz — I’d never recommend consuming one album and totally ignoring the other; they’re both pivotal documents of heavy metal, in the ’80s and more generally — but the purpose is so clear on Diary of a Madman, the engagement with the audience so direct, and where Blizzard was casting an identity for who Ozzy Osbourne would be as a frontman after being unceremoniously dismissedozzy osbourne diary of a madman from Black Sabbath following 1978’s Never Say Die!, the shift from 1980 and 1981, the time on tour, meant that identity was set and Diary of a Madman could be approached with confidence, with character and with a feel that would continue to define Osbourne‘s work on various levels throughout the rest of his career to-date.

It is unmistakably a classic.

And maybe for that reason, and the fact that I have a strong personal association with these songs — I remember riding around with older friends before I had a drivers license of my own, absolutely blasting the album, 20-odd years ago — it’s harder to think objectively or write about, but that’s always been part of the appeal of Ozzy‘s solo work as well. He’s never been a critical success in the moment. It’s been through hindsight and audience response/loyalty that he and his band have most made their mark over time.

To an extent, one might say the same of Black Sabbath, though I’d put that group’s influence in a greater echelon at this point — notably, one might not have said the same thing before Osbourne reunited with Sabbath in 1997 and thereby introduced an entirely new generation (mine, for what it’s worth) to the experience of that band on stage. Even Osbourne‘s 2020 studio album, Ordinary Man (review here), which is his first in a decade, featured a host of guests, ace, energetic songwriting, and was came along with the news of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease on the part of the metallic godfather himself was greeted with a collective critical shrug. So it goes, and while I doubt Ordinary Man will have the lasting impact of Diary of a Madman or other early Ozzy LPs — because how many times can you really ask lightning to strike? — the point stands.

Dig further into Diary of a Madman and you’ll find more atmosphere and little dip in quality from its outset. “‘You Can’t Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll,” at six and a half minutes, is a glorious showcase for Rhoads and what seems to be an attempt to out-Rainbow Rainbow — keyboardist Don Airey played in both groups, Johnny Cook played on this album because Airey was on tour — and feels absolutely written for the stage, while “Believer” and “Little Dolls” offer sneaky hooks and more further air-tight performances by the trio being Osbourne himself. Tucked away neatly on side B, “Tonight” flirts effectively with more commercial fare, and it’s contrasted by the album’s hidden gem in the more chaotic “S.A.T.O.,” on which Kerslake shines in manic fashion, Rhoads indulges a bit of noise, Daisley holds it all together and Osbourne still manages to sneak in a chorus.

Somewhat overshadowed by the closing title-track that follows, “S.A.T.O.” carries a proto-thrash spirit and is about as dirty as Diary of a Madman gets, the usual poised stateliness of Rhoads‘ playing — recall that at this point, heavy metal was largely questing for legitimacy as a genre — let loose a bit over the charging progression of the central groove. Slower, and with a more dramatic, narrative spirit — the string and choral arrangements help — “Diary of a Madman” rounds out with a willful delve into grandiosity that the rest of the album has largely avoided and works all the more for that. It is distinct among Osbourne‘s output before or since, and I’ll gladly place it among the most important heavy metal songs ever written.

At this point, Diary of a Madman and the era of Ozzy Osbourne‘s career it represents have a legacy all their own, apart from what came before or after. Maybe you have your own memories tied to it, or maybe not. Either way, the accomplishments of craft and performance it carries remain vital. To call it a landmark doesn’t suffice, but it is that anyhow.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Rainy Friday morning. Blah. Maybe I’ll get to run later. It’s been a while since I did so during daylight hours, might be interesting. Might not. I should’ve gone yesterday AM but wanted to finish writing and was beat besides.

Up and down week. Yesterday was brutal, and I’m not just talking about how metal the Enslaved stream was. The morning went relatively quick, but I’d swear the seven hours between 11AM-6PM were some of the longest I’ve ever had. Dead on my feet. Just totally dead. And I made the mistake of letting The Pecan stay downstairs and hang out rather than go up for nap since I knew he’d just run in his closet and poop and need to be changed then not sleep anyway. No right answer there, it seems.

And the rest of the week before that? I don’t know. Busy, maybe? Grocery shopping? Being worried about the election? Looking at construction equipment with The Pecan? I know I ate too much nut butter (made a hazelnut/salted macadamia combo that was facemeltingly good) and felt bad about that, if that helps. And I wanted to cook chicken and make pesto all week and didn’t have the energy to do it. So there’s life as it is, I guess. Today’s my day. Spaghetti squash awaits. Tanner Olson from Across Tundras was kind enough to send me some garlic from his farm in Nebraska and I intend to put it to use.

His new album is out today. It’s Bandcamp Friday. I posted a few links to stuff on Thee Facebooks, but if you didn’t see, it was Kind, White Canyon & the 5th Dimension, REZN, Revvnant and Changeörder. Support.

New Gimme show at 5pm today.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I have no idea how I’ll get through it but what else is new.

Alright, that’s enough for me. Be safe, hydrate. Have fun. All that.

FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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Anathema Announce “Indefinite Hiatus”

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Anathema hit 30 years of existence in 2020, and apparently they’ve seen enough. And while there’s a part of me that definitely began the first draft of this post by asking “what’s the point of anything anymore?,” I get it. Over the course of their decades together after being founded in 1990 by brothers Vincent and Danny Cavanagh, the band evolved from death-doom to moody post-goth dark heaviness and came out the other side with an increasingly progressive and melodic reach. They never put out the same record twice — all the more of a feat because their last album, 2017’s The Optimist (review here), was a sequel to 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit — and they never lost their commitment to genuine expression of where they were at the time.

I can only speak as a fan. They were among the first truly underground bands that resonated with me. First exposure was 1998’s Alternative 4 (discussed here), and that, along with 1999’s Judgement, A Fine Day to Exit and 2003’s A Natural Disaster (reissues reviewed here), remain essential works to which I return with fair regularity. Long years between A Fine Day to Exit and 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here (discussed here) brought stark changes in perspective — they “got happy,” to put it as simply as possible — but their identity as a group was still intact.

And the decade that followed with releases on Peaceville Records imprint Kscope, whether it was 2012’s Weather Systems (review here), 2014’s Distant SatellitesThe Optimist or various live outings, compilations and redux works like 2011’s Falling Deeper (review here) — a follow-up to 2008’s Hindsight — offered riches of its own for those with minds willing to make the journey with the band. Fans had their favorite eras. I know a few who swear by their first three records — 1993’s Serenades, 1995’s The Silent Enigma and 1996’s Eternity — and nothing else. As one looks back on the arc of their now-apparently-ended career, I’m not sure it matters.

For what it’s worth, Vincent Cavanagh appears on the new Crippled Black Phoenix record, and this is an “indefinite hiatus,” so if they’re able to tour again, they might pick up a few years down the line, but if they’re taking the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the creative world as a whole and on them as people as a cue to make their own exit, well, they do so with no less grace than one would have to expect.

Their announcement follows:

anathema done

www.facebook.com/anathemamusic
www.instagram.com/anathemamusic.com
www.twitter.com/anathemamusic
www.anathema.ws

Anathema, “A Natural Disaster” from A Sort of Homecoming

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My Dying Bride to Release Macabre Cabaret EP Nov. 20; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

By way of a bit of a mishap, the original promo version of My Dying Bride‘s 2020 album, The Ghost of Orion (review here), that went out not-cool-enough-to-get-it-when-the-print-mags-do press such as myself contained three extra tracks, and those three, “Macabre Cabaret,” “A Secret Kiss” and “A Purse of Gold and Stars,” happen to be the three songs now listed on the forthcoming Macabre Cabaret EP. As someone who’s heard them, I’ll say there’s no real dip in quality from the album. The songs shift arrangements, but the record was just too long with everything on there and they (whether it was band or label) were right to hold some of it back for a release such as this.

And not that My Dying Bride were about to hit the road for an 18-month touring cycle anyway, but in a year with virtually no touring — also the advent of “virtual touring,” just ask Nuclear Blast labelmates Enslaved — a roughly concurrent outing makes sense to keep momentum from the full-length going as year-end whatnot begins to be considered.

The cover below is for the single “A Secret Kiss,” which you can hear in the lyric video below. For what it’s worth, I have no idea what the “hidden gem” might be on the physical editions that the PR wire discusses. Live track, maybe? Another holdover? Acoustic version? The possibilities are as limitless as My Dying Bride‘s own melancholy.

Info follows:

my dying bride a secret kiss

MY DYING BRIDE ANNOUNCE NEW EP “MACABRE CABARET,” OUT ON NOVEMBER 20TH

WATCH LYRIC VIDEO FOR NEW SINGLE “A SECRET KISS”

No rest for one of Britain’s most melancholic exports: Just half a year after MY DYING BRIDE returned from their break with their haunting and successful (German Album Charts #12) masterpiece “The Ghost Of Orion”, the kindred of Yorkshire raise the curtains to the “Macabre Cabaret” – their new MLP that will be released on November 20th via Nuclear Blast.

The new EP of the band offers three new songs (plus a hidden gem on the physical editions) – dark luscious Death Doom ear candies that will dive their victim into a sensual world of darkness and temptation and conceal the borders between sweet pain and destructive illusion.

Order “Macabre Cabaret” here:
http://nblast.de/MDB-MacabreCabaret

Singer Aaron Stainthorpe states:
“’Macabre Cabaret’ delves into the shadow empire of dark love and the consequences of unchecked sexuality. The deep passion of physical desire and its all-conquering rage over pure love is written bleakly here. A destructive essence within the soul can’t help but rear its ugly head.

‘A Secret Kiss’ is the final and lasting mark on the soul any human will feel when the lights have dulled and nothing meaningful remains for them. All religion features a shadow creature who arrives at the point of extinction and the release of the human soul, to either guide them to majesty or allow them do fall eternally into the ether.

‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’ is where we keep our hopes and desires and affection, perhaps in a dreamlike state, unattainable yet we still reach out for them. The trinkets and shiny baubles we call happiness and love are what we try so hard to keep close and protect. But it is never quite like that in real life and is often a struggle tainted with sadness but still, we hold the purse close and in tight cold hands.”

The EP was produced mixed and mastered by maestro Mark Mynett and crowned with a beautiful and sinister artwork from Bunker Artworks.

It comes as:
– Jewelcase CD, digital version
– Black Gatefold LP, Black And Blue Splatter LP [US exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– Blue Sparkle LP [Mailorder Exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– White and Grey Splatter [Mailorder and Wholesale Exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– Marigold LP [EMP Exclusive – limited to 300 p]
– White LP [US – Revolver Magazine Exclusive – limited to 300 p].

www.mydyingbride.net
https://www.facebook.com/MyDyingBrideOfficial/
https://www.instagram.com/mydyingbride_official/
www.nuclearblast.de/mydyingbride
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

My Dying Bride, “A Secret Kiss” lyric video

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Mugstar Stream “Zeta Potential”; GRAFT LP Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you listen to and then whole bunches of other bands make sense. Like The Heads. See also, Mugstar. The Liverpudlian troupe have been in the spacefaring business for nigh on 17 years, which if you’re keeping track, puts them well ahead of the current wave of what’s being kinda-laughably called neo-psych. Their new album, GRAFT, will see issue through Centripetal Force and Cardinal Fuzz Records on Oct. 30, and to go with preorders, they’re currently streaming the track “Zeta Potential,” which you can hear below.

To go with that, you’ll also find the collaborative outing the four-piece put out earlier this year with Damo Suzuki of progressive rock legends Can through Weird Beard Records. Different vibe, obviously, but it’s another chance to bliss out for 40 minutes and I don’t really see where you’d lose.

Okeydokey:

mugstar graft

MUGSTAR – GRAFT LP

Presale Date: September 25, 2020
Release Date: October 30, 2020

Centripetal Force (North America) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK/Europe) are excited to announce the upcoming release of Mugstar’s GRAFT, the follow up album to their much-lauded live collaboration with Can’s Damo Suzuki released earlier this year. The album is being presented in a 600 copy vinyl pressing, 250 of which will be on deep red vinyl and made available for preorder on September 25th. GRAFT’s release date is October 30th.

UK space rockers Mugstar have been hurtling through the sonic multiverse since 2003 and have left an extensive discography in their wake. Early on, the band caught the attention of the late John Peel, taking part in one of the last editions of his famed Peel Sessions. From there, the band has compiled an impressive run of releases and solidified their reputation for powerfully hypnotic live performances.

After experimenting with longer form compositions on 2016’s Magnetic Seasons (Rock Action Records), GRAFT’s six song journey sees Mugstar return to a more focused work ethic, a move resulting in a sound that is fraught with tension and caters to one of their biggest strengths, the ability to consistently create, sustain, and, ultimately, diffuse drama. This is an effect well-executed on tracks like “Zeta Potential” and “Star Cage.” And even on an album where a tighter approach was a priority, Mugstar still finds plenty of room to improvise and allow for creative exploration, as illustrated on “Ghost of a Ghost” and “Low, Slow Horizon.” Looking back at Mugstar’s catalog, it is remarkable to see the path they have travelled and how GRAFT continues their bold advance into the future. We think you’ll agree.

https://www.facebook.com/MUGSTAR-127591997334111/
https://mugstar.bandcamp.com/
http://www.mugstar.com/
https://www.facebook.com/centripetalforcerecords
https://www.instagram.com/centripetalforcerecords/
https://www.centripetalforcerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzz/
cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/

Mugstar, GRAFT (2020)

Mugstar & Damo Suzuki, Live at the Invisible Wind Factory (2020)

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Wolftooth and Psychlona Vinyl Represses Coming Soon from Cursed Tongue Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

There was some drama or some shit this week on the social medias about Cursed Tongue Records. Someone on the label — I honestly don’t even remember who it was; it was the kind of thing where I rolled over in the middle of the night and dicked around on my phone for probably longer than I needed to before falling asleep again — was unsatisfied with the level of promotion or whatever. Whatever it was. I don’t think you can do what any record label does and not have someone gripe along the way, that’s the nature of the business and you’re never, ever, ever going to meet everyone’s expectations, but as someone who’s watched this imprint grow from its inception to where now they’re sharing releases with Ripple Music and selling out quality vinyl pressings on preorders, I’ll throw in my two cents to say I respect their work.

Obviously my dealings with them aren’t the same as someone putting out music through them, but for what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of them ripping anyone off, and they’ve always seemed like passionate, forward-looking individuals to me. Whoever that was might have a legit argument to make, again, I don’t remember and don’t really care enough to go back and search out that post from the depressing miasma of misinformation that is my Facebook feed at this time — once it’s gone, it’s lost — but if I was putting 0ut a record, I’d be stoked to work with them.

I’m not putting out a record, but you know what I mean.

Couple represses coming up for Wolftooth and Psychlona, and I’ll have a new signing announcement from Cursed Tongue next week too, so keep an eye out for that:

psychlona venus skytrip lp

wolftooth valhalla lp

WOLFTOOH – ‘VALHALLA’ AND PSYCHLONA – ‘VENUS SKYTRIP’ VINYL REPRESSES ON CURSED TONGUE RECORDS RELEASES WORLDWIDE NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Cursed Tongue Records is super pleased to announce the repressing of two of 2020’s best performing releases, name Richmond, IN based riff-welding behemoth Wolftooth and Bradford, UK kebab-slinging, fuzz-riff, space-traveling stoner desert rockers Psychlona.

Earlier this year both Wolftooth and Psychlona released their sophomore album that both were immediate barnburners, and both vaporized from the record store shelves and online stores quite rapidly.

We thus look forward to the repressing of ‘Valhalla’ and ‘Venus Skytrip’ and to be able to bring both albums out again on premium, heavyweight 180 grams coloured vinyl and get it into the hands of the fans that missed out on the first pressing. Vinyl pre-orders start from the label’s webstore October 2nd at 6PM CET: https://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

WOLFTOOTH – ‘VALHALLA’ REPRESS OUT NOVEMBER 27, 2020 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOCER 2ND]

On their sophomore album Wolftooth has truly upped the ante, expanded on their already tested and tried formula, added more layers of sound and variation in the song writing and overall musical execution. The production has improved markedly and the tracks oozes of the much attention that has gotten into capturing both detail, feel and vibe during the recording. As the band members, they express it: “We started work on this album back in August 2019; it is our masterpiece haha”

‘Valhalla’ is everything you would come to expect from a follow-up album to Wolftooth’s über popular self-titled debut album – and then some! And even more! Seriously, we have been heavy-nodding, headbanging and fist pumping on a daily basis since these four hoosiers submitted their new stellar opus. God damn ‘Valhalla’ is great, oh yeah! As if there would ever be a more suiting set of rock hymns to accompany the Aesir Gods to their sacred halls at Asgard after having slain all giants (Jætter, ed.) at the battlefield it has to be ‘Valhalla.’

PSYCHLONA – ‘VENUS SKYTRIP’ REPRESS OUT NOVEMBER 27, 2020 [VINYL PRE-ORDER OCTOCER 2ND]

With ‘Venus Skytrip’ Psychlona has truly taking everything they have come to stand for and kicked it to a whole new level of fuzzy stoner rock space ecstacy. Standing on the pedigree the foursome gained with their critically acclaimed ‘Mojo Rising’ album they have build an entire new spaceship of might and power, but also of bloody coherent beauty and memorability. There’s no escaping from the hum-worthy refrains and hypnotic grooves.

Behold eight tracks of new Psychlona, and as the band expresses it themselves: “When the fog receded from our scorched minds it appeared we’d taken a year long ride through space taking in Venus and Mars before doing a quick lap of the Sun (Blast Off), encountered 27 club rock ‘n’ roll tragedy (Star), drifted around in a smoke fuelled beachside dream (Resin) before taking a lengthy acid trip courtesy of The Owl himself. We’re beyond proud of this album. Comments we hear regularly at live shows mention the power of the sound and the energy in the performance. We believe we’ve captured that power and energy in this record. Oh yeah – we’re still space truckin’ desert rockin’ kebab eating mofos so no change there.” So get your trip on and head for Venus…

http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtongue/

Psychlona, Venus Skytrip (2020)

Wolftooth, Valhalla (2020)

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LOOP to Record New Studio Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

If anyone had ‘new LOOP record’ on their 2020 Bingo card, kudos. I sure didn’t, and yet of all the truly horrible shit that’s gone down and continues to go down this year, a new LOOP offers promise of shimmer to come. The pioneering Britpsych outfit have put out word that their Array series — begun with the release of the Array 1 EP some five years ago now — is dead-dead-deadski, but that they’ll instead embark on putting together a new long-player which will, as the headline below says, be their first since 1990. That album was A Gilded Eternity. Put it on and it still sounds ahead of its time, but yeah, three decades later is probably fitting enough for a follow-up.

Not so much with the release dates or anything like that, but hell, what’re you gonna do, complain if it’s late? Get over yourself. It’s frickin’ new LOOP. If you say you knew it was happening at all three days ago, and you’re not, like, related to Robert Hampson or whatever, then you’re probably just lying.

Here’s what the esteemed Mr. Hampson himself had to say:

loop

LOOP CONFIRM FIRST ALBUM SINCE 1990…

2020… ?

It’s been quite a while since a full length LOOP album release.

Perhaps too long?

Perhaps not long enough?

It’s possible to list an encyclopaedia’s worth of content of what has transpired since A GILDED ETERNITY in this battered and bewildering world of Prime Ministers / Leaders and the odd Demagogue here and there, who refuse to curtail their excesses until everything around them is completely shit and we are at each other’s throats over a piece of land or the colour of skin and a belief.

And then there’s just general bad behaviour by people who really should make way for others in their self serving lives and get with the fucking program.

Your liberty is not at risk for wearing a face covering.

Perhaps look at who you are voting for if you feel something like liberty is at risk first, then perhaps a bit of cloth might not seem so threatening.

Anyhoo…

Perhaps… nothing really changes?

Forever changes.

“Always Forward” pretty much has been my motto for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes, you have to go in reverse, to manoeuvre around the odd thing here and there.

Bringing LOOP back into life has had its trials and tribulations as much as anything you can figure on as it had back in the day, but the desire to explore further hasn’t left me…yet.

So, back in the studio then.

Can’t tell you what it’s all about just yet, apart from the fact it’s a blast of high octane guitars, rattling drums and low frequency bass.

To clear the air, sadly the Array project has been shelved indefinitely.

It seems pertinent to think on new projects than ones that didn’t get finished.

This is NOT ARRAY 2 & 3

We’re working with our man Joe Garcia in his smart studio on cooking something righteous and I’m sure I’ll be allowed to spill the beans here and there in how it’s all going.

So, it is what it is, and once it is out there, it’ll be tangible and then maybe I can talk on it further.

Until then, we all have to wait and see on where it goes and where it’ll end up

RH x

LOOP is:
Robert Hampson (vocal, guitar)
Hugo Morgan (bass)
Dan Boyd (guitar)
Wayne Maskell (drums)

https://www.facebook.com/loopbandofficial
https://www.instagram.com/loopbandofficial/
http://soundheads.org/

LOOP, “Radial”

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