Our Man in the Bronze Age Premiere “Midnight Lovers” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

our man in the bronze age

Doubly-drummed, doubly-guitarred, quadruply-vocalized UK heavy rock five-piece Our Man in the Bronze Age will release their second album, Hexed Endeavours, on Oct. 8 through Fr33zehead Records. Vinyl, uh, later. The first single is the all-kindsa-catchy “Midnight Lovers,” and that’s out tomorrow, July 30. As somebody who’s a sucker for two-drummer bands in general, and a sucker for melody and songwriting just about all the time, I’ll note outright that those boxes are thoroughly ticked, and since Hexed Endeavours is the band’s first offering since 2015’s Habanero EP, they’re certainly due.

As to what’s behind the delay? Beats me. As to what the rest of Hexed Endeavours sounds like? Also beats me. With drummer/vocalist Tom Platt doubling (tripling?) as recording engineer alongside Angus Wallace, as well as doing the mix and master, our man in the bronze age Hexed Endeavours“Midnight Lovers” wastes little time in getting down to the business of establishing its riff and rhythmic foundation. In that, and in the Queens of the Stone Age-style hookmaking and age-being-in, the band would seem not to have missed a beat since the four-song EP six years ago. There, on the appropriately preaching “Pastor” or the opening title-track, they give due shove, while “Go Play in the Road” brings a more mellow, almost “Wanna Make it Wit Chu”-esque vibe before its concluding surge, and the finisher “Dos Amigos” puts its two drums to use in brasher form, giving an edge to which Habanero is well suited.

A clash of melody and rhythm? Yeah, but maybe without the “clash” part since they go so well together. Whether familiar or not with Habanero or the prior 2012 debut long-player, The Gallows Tree — less refined in its approach, but still plenty atmospheric with piano and arrangements, flowing on its title-track, crunching hardest on “The Other I,” and so on — “Midnight Lovers” speaks for itself and bodes well for Hexed Endeavours to come, which, duh, is what a lead single should do.

Also, if you find the video somewhat disorienting, twisting around and splashing color here and there in fractal patterns and whatnot as it does, I think that’s the idea too. These guys don’t seem to do much by happenstance.

Dig on this:

Our Man in the Bronze Age, “Midnight Lovers” video premiere

Single pre-save: https://linktr.ee/ourmaninthebronzeage

Formed in Milton Keynes in 2007 by five friends, sonic rockers Our Man in the Bronze Age opted a long-time ago to leave behind the cut and thrust of everything that wasn’t music made exclusively on their own terms.

Tired of all that had gone before, forming a brotherly pact the quintet chose to channel crackling riffs, wizened bones and a dry wit into a cosmic vessel that has strutted its stuff from day one. Year to year, gig to gig, from early releases all the way up to their forthcoming album, Hexed Endeavours, which will receive an official worldwide release this October.

Pouring thirteen tracks of cinematic adventure into a ‘Bronze void, their sound boasts many tentacles, each waving prog, doom, alternative, sludge, stoner and post-rock. From wistful piano to apocalyptic swells of sheer dynamism, Hexed Endeavours is a hugely immersive experience and triumphant return for Our Man in the Bronze Age.

1. Intro (The Rise of Bronze)
2. The Fall of Athens
3. Midnight Lovers
4. Cramphands
5. Black Widow
6. Ramblings
7. Brutus
8. Bill Odyssey
9. Hexed Endeavour
10. Coma Haircut
11. Out of The Beginning
12. Two Square Meals
13. She

Video Produced by Chiba Film – http://www.chibafilm.com
Shot by Dan Gibling & Lawrence Wheeler
Directed & Edited by Dan Gibling
Animated Effects by G.Hulbert

Music by Our Man In The Bronze Age
Lyrics by T.Platt and G.Hulbert

Our Man in the Bronze Age:
Graham Hulbert – Vocals/Guitars
Tom Platt – Drums/Vocals
Andi Jackson – Bass/Vocals
Jonathan Muston – Drums/Keys/Vocals
Justin Hodges – Guitars

Our Man in the Bronze Age on Facebook

Our Man in the Bronze Age on Instagram

Our Man in the Bronze Age on Twitter

Our Man in the Bronze Age on Bandcamp

Fr33zehead Records on Instagram

Fr33zehead Records on Bandcamp

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Alunah to Reissue Amber & Gold on Majestic Mountain Records

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

UK doom-rocker four-piece Alunah recently reissued their 2018 Amber & Gold EP (review here) on CD through Solitude Productions, and word has come of Majestic Mountain Records following up with a corresponding vinyl issue due out at the end of next month. Preorders soon, so hold your doomly horses. This was of course the release that saw the band introduce Siân Greenaway on vocals, her striking first impression made across three originals and a cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” that has become something of a landmark for this version of Alunah, who have also already been confirmed for Desertfest London 2022.

Way back in 2019 — which somehow seems longer ago than 2018; go figure — Alunah offered up Violet Hour (review here) on Heavy Psych Sounds as their full-length answer to Amber & Gold, and you’ll find both EP and LP streaming at the bottom of this post, because, well, one likes to be thorough. And one likes Alunah. So there.

One, in this case, is me. If that wasn’t clear.

Okay. Good talk. Here’s PR wire:

Alunah

The Majestic Mountain Newswire is at it again with a truly scintillating treat for you all!

It is our great pleasure to announce a Majestic Mountain Records re-issue of Alunah’s stunning, long sold out 2018 EP, ‘Amber & Gold.’

The re-release will be very limited to 300 copies in two editions of 150 copies each. The pre-order will take place in August with details soon to come- the test pressing is already approved on this so vinyl will be shipping at the end of the month!

‘Amber & Gold’ is a beautifully captivating, four track EP full of spellbinding, impactful lyricism and melancholic tension communicated by vocalist Siân Greenway who gives an incredibly soulful and commanding, yet fluidly sensual performance. Her vocals ring ethereally forward, crystal clear and melodically mesmerizing through a richly woven and hook laden tapestry of primal, crunchy, chugging riff mastery, thick, burly bass tones and thundering drums. This ep is a treasure trove of highly emotive and groove laden doom sauce poured on thick and in the highest quality with a cavernous grandiosity that almost sounds live from the heart of some ancient druidess’s temple and is capped off by a brooding cover of the classic track “Wicked Game” by the one and only Chris Isaak.

Yes, you know the one.

Keep an eye out for more info about the presale to come as this release without question will not stick around long once it hits the ground in August.

Amber & Gold CD edition: https://solitude-prod.com/releases/solitude-productions/alunah-amber-and-gold/
https://alunah.uk/

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk
http://majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com
http://facebook.com/majesticmountainrecords
http://instagram.com/majesticmountainrecords

Alunah, Amber & Gold (2018)

Alunah, Violet Hour (2019)

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Review & Track Premiere: Green Lung, Black Harvest

Posted in audiObelisk on July 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

green lung black harvest

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Reaper’s Scythe’ by Green Lung. Black Harvest is available to preorder here.]

Green Lung on “Reaper’s Scythe”:

Some key elements of ‘Reaper’s Scythe’ were actually written when we were putting together our first EP Free the Witch, but we couldn’t quite find a way to bring them together. Soon after Woodland Rites came out we were playing around in our studio and added a sinister intro and an epic King Diamond-esque middle 8, and suddenly it all clicked. It’s the first song we’ve written with that old school Maiden gallop, and horror fans will spot lots of references in the lyrics, from the familiar (Stephen King’s Children of the Corn) to the obscure (Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home). It’s fast becoming our favourite song to play in the practice space. We can’t wait to unleash it live!

London’s Green Lung return on Oct. 22 with Black Harvest, their second full-length and label-debut for Svart Records. It is an especially pivotal moment for the UK five-piece, arriving after pandemic-delay as the follow-up to 2019’s Woodland Rites (review here), which was the finest debut album released that year, fueled by massive choruses and an underlying classicism of approach blending organ and guitar lines, thoughtful melodies and arrangements, and an on-the-beat vitality that spoke of the live experience even through the clarity and fullness of its studio presentation. Black Harvest, in that regard, does not attempt to fix the unbroken in Green Lung‘s approach.

The band — guitarist Scott Masson, vocalist Tom Templar, bassist Andrew Cave, organist John Wright and drummer Matt Wiseman — continue in this crisp 10-song/43-minute collection their collaboration with Wayne Adams as producer, and the overarching presentation they concoct together builds on what they began to offer with 2018’s Free the Witch EP (review here), digging into various metals and heavier rocks such that Masson‘s solo in “Leaders of the Blind” can soar like, suitably enough, Blind Guardian, even as Tom Templar‘s vocals find their way into a post-Sabbathian niche while feeding into the semi-cult, goth-tinged atmosphere and horror/folk-derived themes. An October release is only appropriate for a record of such rich, earthy hues and dappled light, and across two clearly delineated sides, Green Lung not only justify the hype that’s surrounded them since before their first record, but demonstrate their readiness to push themselves as songwriters and performers in order to best serve their songs.

Even on a record that boasts hooks like those of “Old Gods,” “Reaper’s Scythe,” “You Bear the Mark” and “Doomsayer” — see also: the rest — atmosphere plays a central role in Green Lung‘s craft. Each half of the LP begins with an intro, with the call-to-ritual “The Harrowing” jumping headfirst into organ-led theatrics at the outset met by side B’s foreboding chant in “Black Harvest,” which gives way to a momentary shred-fest surge before receding again into softer spaces agead of “Upon the Altar.” This balance, between Masson on guitar and Wright on organ, is crucial to Black Harvest and to Green Lung‘s execution of their songs overall. Within solidified structures of verses, choruses — have I mentioned the choruses yet? good — solos, etc., the back and forth dance between guitar and keys becomes a central defining factor no less than Templar‘s vocals.

That would seem to put Cave and Wiseman in supporting roles on bass and drums, but the classic truth of heavy rock holds firm as “Old Gods” unfurls its first thuds, crashes, and thickened groove; heavy is born in the low end and the punctuation is its essence and its volume. “Old Gods” is a well-chosen post-intro opener — everything here is well-chosen, and the mix is gorgeous — and as the band builds Jerusalem on English ground, there’s boogie and momentum immediately on their side, the sing-along-ready hook just the first of more to come as “Leaders of the Blind,” “Reaper’s Scythe” and “Graveyard Sun” follow on the first half of Black Harvest, with the last of them seeming to acknowledge its own autumnal nature, in conversation with mid-period and later Type O Negative without trying to sound like that band or anything so much as itself, again adjusting that balance between guitar and organ to get there as it reaches toward 5:42, the longest cut on the record.

green lung (Photo by Ester Segarra Photography)

“Doomsayer” and “Born to a Dying World” likewise top five minutes, and like so much else throughout Black Harvest, that would seem to be by design in terms of their serving as a formidable closing pair, which they do. Before they get there, though, Green Lung answer the momentary shove of the title-track with “Upon the Altar,” a worthy companion-piece to “Old Gods” in theme and delivery alike, with a festival-ready payoff in its second half bringing on “You Bear the Mark” in one of several one-sided conversations with a lyrical “girl,” as in, “Girl, you bear the mark” or the “autumn girl” from “Graveyard Sun.” So be it.

Speedier than the song before it, “You Bear the Mark” is a beginning point for the outward journey the band make with their final tracks, a grounding that shifts into the longer-and-still-maddeningly-catchy “Doomsayer” and the broader-reaching “Born to a Dying World,” still memorable in both its burst of life and its quieter stretches, but making the conscious choice to pull back from trying to give a grand finale in its last moments as so many of Black Harvest‘s tracks have done to this point, instead letting its concluding minute-plus resolve in soft organ and vocal, folkish if not hymnal, raising the question if nature is the church, is there really a difference between the two? Given the largesse of “Doomsayer” — that stretch before it loops back around to the chorus — and, for that matter, any number of other stretches throughout, the decision to end atmospheric makes a bookend with how they started on “The Harrowing,” and that too would seem to be something of which Green Lung are cognizant.

Given that and the level of work they’ve done in the constructing and recording of this material, it’s hard to think of Black Harvest as anything other than masterful. It has a grandiose instrumental sensibility, to be sure, but still manages to offset that with its organic style and themes, and it engages the audience without capitulating to genre-based expectation, outdoing its predecessor while reaffirming the band’s strengths and forward potential to continue to develop these textures, atmospheres, and to toy with the balances at the core of their sound. From here, they wouldn’t be any more out of place in acoustic-based English folk than in full-on traditional doom riffing or psychedelic expanse. That they’ve chosen most to embody an aesthetic of their own, born of familiar elements and shaped as they will it, is perhaps an even greater strength than their songwriting. It has helped make Black Harvest one of 2021’s finest releases.

Green Lung, Black Harvest (2021)

Green Lung on Facebook

Green Lung on Instagram

Green Lung website

Green Lung on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Facebook

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Orange Goblin Reissuing Healing Through Fire Aug. 20; More Live Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

orange goblin (Photo by Tina Korhonen, all rights reserved)

As I recall, Orange Goblin‘s 2007 offering, Healing Through Fire, went through copious shenanigans before finally seeing US release through Sanctuary Records. Great record. And it never really got its due, at least in the States. “Cities of Frost,” “The Ballad of Solomon Eagle,” “They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls,” on and on. This is Orange Goblin at their most fuckin’ doom, and I’ll put it against anything in their catalog before or after. The Sanctuary version originally came as a CD/DVD with this Mean Fidder show from 2006 as a video, but, well, I don’t think they even make DVD players at this point, so doing it as a live album is probably a better call. For me, I’ll take the BBC live tracks and the demos as well, thank you kindly.

There’s a bevvy of Orange Goblin news as they look to break out post-COVID and start to play shows — their first is next weekend — with new bassist Harry Armstrong. Live dates have been announced for a Scandinavian tour, and they’re headlining the Uprising fest on Sept. 11, and they’ve still got their holiday tour this December as well. Much going on.

The following is culled from their social medias:

orange goblin healing through fire

We’re re-issuing the ‘Healing Through Fire’ album as a deluxe 2CD set featuring 27 tracks and a wealth of bonus material via our friends Dissonance Productions and Cherry Red Records !!!

Pre-order: http://cherryred.co/OGHealingThroughFire

Disc 1 features the original album, remastered, and adds four BBC Radio One Rock Show Session tracks, as well as three demos from 2006, including a raucous cover of The Damned’s ‘New Rose’.

Disc 2 contains a full 11 track live set recorded at the Mean Fiddler in London in 2006, showcasing the Orange Goblin live experience in all its high volume high octane glory.

Boasting updated artwork with liner notes from the guys, and housed in a deluxe double digipack, the new edition of ‘Healing Through Fire’ is considered by the band to be the definitive version

Track Listing:

CD 1 – HEALING THROUGH FIRE
1. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle
2. Vagrant Stomp
3. The Ale House Braves
4. Cities of Frost
5. Hot Knives and Open Sores
6. Hounds Ditch
7. Mortlake (Dead Water)
8. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)
9. Beginners Guide to Suicide
10. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle (Radio One Rock Show 17.08.07)
11. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls) (Radio One Rock Show 17.08.07)
12. Scorpionica (Radio One Rock Show 17.08.07)
13. Blue Snow (Radio One Rock Show 17.08.07)
14. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle (2006 Demo)
15. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls) (2006 Demo)
16. New Rose (2006 Demo)

CD 2 – LIVE AT THE MEAN FIDDLER, LONDON, DECEMBER 16, 2006
1. Intro
2. Some You Win, Some You Lose
3. Quincy the Pig Boy
4. Getting High on the Bad Times
5. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle
6. Hot Magic, Red Planet
7. Round Up the Horses
8. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)
9. Your World Will Hate This
10. Blue Snow
11. Scorpionica

**ORANGE GOBLIN TO HEADLINE UPRISING FESTIVAL**

We are delighted to announce that Orange Goblin will headline this awesome bill at Uprising, to be held at the o2 Academy, Leicester UK on Saturday 11th September 2021. Also joining us there across the weekend of the 10th-12th September will be Raging Speedhorn, Heart of A Coward, Diamond Head, Ingested, Mage, Shrapnel, Divine Chaos and many more.

**ORANGE GOBLIN – SCANDINAVIAN TICKETS ON SALE NOW!**

Tickets for our ‘The Cold North’ Scandinavian Tour in November 2021 are on sale NOW from the link below:

Support on all dates comes from Swedish rockers Bürner.

https://routeonebooking.tourlink.to/TheColdNorthScandinavianTour

Full set of dates as follows:
NOVEMBER 2021
THU 11 – BETA, COPENHAGEN, DK
FRI 12 – PLAN B, MALMO, SE
SAT 13 – THE CRYPT, LINKOPING, SE
MON 15 – JOHN DEE, OSLO, NO
TUE 16 – FRIHAMNEN, GOTHENBURG, SE
WED 17 – DEBASER, STOCKHOLM, SE
FRI 18 – KLUBI, TAMPERE, FI
SAT 19 – KORJAAMO, HELSINKI, FI

Orange Goblin live:
Sat 31 Jul – The Yard, Cornwall, UK
Sun 15 Aug – Bloodstock Open Air (Main Stage), UK
Sunday 22 Aug – Dynamo Metalfest, Eindhoven, NL
Sat 02 Oct – Headbangers Balls Festival, Izegem, BE
Fri 05 Nov – Night of Salvation (Damnation Fest), Leeds, UK
Sat 04 Dec – Dome of Rock Festival, Salzburg, AT
Wed 08 Dec – The Booking Hall, Dover, UK
Thu 09 Dec – The Tivoli, Buckley, UK
Fri 10 Dec – Limelight 2, Belfast, UK
Sat 11 Dec – Grand Social, Dublin, IRE
Mon 13 Dec – King Tuts, Glasgow, UK
Tue 14 Dec – Gorilla, Manchester, UK
Wed 15 Dec – Asylum, Birmingham, UK
Thu 16 Dec – The Globe, Cardiff, UK
Fri 17 Dec – The Underworld, London, UK
Sat 18 Dec – The Underworld, London, UK

Orange Goblin is:
Ben Ward – Vocals
Joe Hoare – Guitar
Harry Armstrong – Bass / Backing vocals
Christopher Turner – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial/
https://twitter.com/OrangeGoblin1
https://www.instagram.com/orangegoblin1/
http://www.orange-goblin.com/
https://www.cherryred.co.uk/
http://facebook.com/cherryredrecords
https://www.dissonanceproductions.co.uk/

Orange Goblin, Healing Through Fire (2007)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Tom Blyth of Blind Monarch

Posted in Questionnaire on July 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Tom Blyth of Blind Monarch

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Tom Blyth of Blind Monarch

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

I’m a lyricist, a vocalist and general contributor to all things related to Blind Monarch.

I began playing in bands in around 2004, when my brother Adam asked me to front a band he was starting and I told him I’d do it until he found someone more suitable. Early on the focus was on playing fast and technical death metal but at a certain point our attention was drawn to slower sub genres and bands, hearing Asunder for the first time had a particularly strong influence on us. Gradually we began to incorporate slower, grander sections into our songs, although the style of drumming in that band was too relentless to really let any of them breathe or function as they were intended.

When that band ended in the early 2010’s Adam and I were ready to start a new project based heavily on slower, more atmospheric influences while maintaining an abrasive, caustic element and so Blind Monarch was born.

Describe your first musical memory.

I’m not able to pinpoint exactly what my first musical memory is but I can narrow it down to about three possibilities. I’m either in my Dad’s car, a white or red boxy-shaped ’80s BMW 3 series or a black Opel Manta, and he’s playing No Jacket Required by Phil Collins or Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. Or I’m in a bed with my brother in a caravan near Scarborough, my parents are still up playing scrabble and “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks is playing on Yorkshire Coast Radio.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I’m not really one for favourites or bests, for one thing my memory is unreliable and on top of that I tend not to find it useful to try to rank things I enjoy or find meaningful. That said, I have really fond memories of recording What Is Imposed Must Be Endured, as uncomfortable a process that was at the time. We’ve spoken about it at length elsewhere for anyone who is interested but briefly, the album was recorded in freezing temperatures in a huge derelict building. There was no heating or lighting and we had to run electricity from the church adjacent to us, needless to say much of the record was tracked in the dark and in a state of discomfort but I wouldn’t change anything about the experience.

Off the top of my head, I also have great memories of seeing Bolt Thrower play at Damnation a few years ago, that may even have been their last gig but I’m not sure about that… Seeing Entombed play Left Hand Path live, also at Damnation, is another standout, as is seeing Graves at Sea at the Lughole in Sheffield.

Now I’m thinking about it, getting pinned and unable to even move my head in the front row at Cannibal Corpse in Sheffield in around 2010, a short conversation my brother and I had with David Berman when The Silver Jews played in Leeds and watching my friend Sam manage to throw a joint onstage and directly into Wino’s outstretched hand without him having to so much as reach for it, when Spirit Caravan played at Desertfest all seem worth a mention.

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

I think strongly held beliefs and faith are highly overrated, dangerous concepts and as such I try not to become overly attached to ideas. I strive to always be open to new evidence and a change of opinion when the body of evidence begins to point away from what I thought I knew.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

A sense of fulfilment.

How do you define success?

The ability to build and sustain an ethically sound means of living by ones own terms, based in creativity rather than drudgery. I have a long way to go…

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

I saw a woman die on a transatlantic flight once while her husband stalked up and down the isle of the plane praying for her. I was flying home from a long trip on my birthday, where there was a surprise party waiting for me, that was my day. At the same time a woman’s life was ending a few feet away while a helpless man, trapped in a box over an ocean, begged to a higher power while his entire life fell apart in front of hundreds of strangers. While I wouldn’t say I wish I hadn’t seen it, it was a profoundly affecting experience in empathy, I certainly wish that couple had not had to endure that suffering.

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

I’ve toyed with the idea to write a screenplay one day, although I don’t know if I ever will. I’m also learning to play guitar so it would be nice to reach a state of proficiency that allowed for a project with that.

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

To act as a means for living rather than merely existing. It’s a cliché but I can’t think of a better answer.

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

Getting older with the people I care about.

https://www.facebook.com/blindmonarchband/
https://www.instagram.com/blind_monarch/
https://blindmonarch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.drycoughrecords.com/
http://facebook.com/DryCoughRecords
http://instagram.com/dry_cough_records
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.blackbowrecords.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/

Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Per Wiberg, Body Void, Ghorot, Methadone Skies, Witchrot, Rat King, Taras Bulba, Opium Owl, Kvasir, Lurcher

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

In my hubris of adding an 11th day to this Summer 2021 Quarterly Review — why not just do the whole month of July, bro? what’s the matter? don’t like riffs? — I’ve rendered today somewhat less of a landmark, but I guess there’s still some accomplishment to be felt in completing two full weeks of writing about 10 records a day, hitting triple digits and all that. Not that I doubted I’d get here — it’s rare but it’s happened before — and not that I doubt I’ll have the last 10 done for Monday, but yeah. It’s been a trip so far.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Per Wiberg, All Is Well In the Land of the Living But for the Rest of Us… Lights Out

per wiberg all is well in the land of the living but for the rest of us lights out

The cumbersome-seeming title of Per Wiberg‘s new solo EP derives from its four component tracks, “All is Well,” “In the Land of the Living,” “But for the Rest of Us…” and “Lights Out.” The flow between them is largely seamless, and when Wiberg (whose pedigree as an organist/keyboardist includes Opeth, Candlemass, Big Scenic Nowhere and more others than I can count) pauses between tracks two and three, it feels likewise purposeful. It’s a dark mood inflected through the melodies of the opener and the atmospheric piano lines of “But for the Rest of Us…,” but Wiberg offers a driving take on progressive heavy rock with “In the Land of the Living” and the build in the subsequent “Lights Out” is encompassing with the lead-in it’s given. Wiberg sounds more comfortable layering his voice than even on 2019’s Head Without Eyes, and his arrangements are likewise expressive and fluid. Dude is a professional. I think maybe that’s part of the reason everybody wants to work with him.

Per Wiberg on Facebook

Despotz Records website

 

Body Void, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth

Body Void Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth

Massive, droning lurch, harsh, biting screams and lumbering, pummeling weight, Body Void‘s third album and first for Prosthetic, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth, boasts feelgood hits like “Wound” and “Laying Down in a Forest Fire,” bringing cacophonous, Khanate-style extremity of atmosphere to willfully, punishingly brutal sludge. It is not friendly. It is devastating, and it is the kind of record that sounds loud even when you play it quietly — and that’s before you get to “Pale Man”‘s added layers of caustic noise. Front to back in the four songs — all of which top 12 minutes — there’s no letup, no moment at which the duo relent in order to let the listener breathe. This is intentional. A conjuring of aural concrete in the lungs coinciding with striking lines like “Your compromises are hollow monuments to your cowardice” and other bleak, throatripping poetry of dead things and our complicity in making them. Righteous and painful.

Body Void on Facebook

Prosthetic Records website

 

Ghorot, Loss of Light

ghorot loss of light

Ghorot is the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Carson Russell (also Ealdor Bealu), drummer/vocalist Brandon Walker and guitarist Chad Remains (ex-Uzala), and Loss of Light is a debut album no less gripping for its push into darkness, whether it’s the almost-toying-with-you Sabbath-style riff of “Harbinger” or the tortured atmospherics in the back end of “Charioteer of Fire,” which follows. Competing impulses result in a sense of grueling even through the barks and faster progression of “Woven Furnace,” while “Dead Gods” offers precious little mourning in its charred deathsludge, saving more ambience for the 12-minute closer “In Endless Grief,” which not only veers into acoustics, but nods toward post-metal later on, despite holding firm to cavernous growls and wails. Obscure? Opaque? There isn’t a way in which Loss of Light isn’t heavy. Everywhere they go, Ghorot carry that weight with them. It is existential.

Ghorot on Facebook

Transylvanian Recordings on Bandcamp

Inverse Records on Bandcamp

 

Methadone Skies, Retrofuture Caveman

methadone skies retrofuture caveman

Lush from the outset and growing richer in aural substance as it plays out, the 17:56 longest/opening (immediate points) title-track of Methadone Skies‘ latest work, Retrofuture Caveman, is an obviously intended focal point, and a worthy one at that. Last heard from with 2019’s Different Layers of Fear (review here), the Romanian four-piece break down walls across the bulk of this fifth full-length, with “Retrofuture Caveman” itself setting the standard early in moving instrumentally between warm heavy psychedelia, prog, drone, doom and darker black metal. It’s prog heavy that ultimately wins the day on the subsequent linear build of “Infected by Friendship” and centerpiece “The Enabler,” but there’s room for more lumber in the 11-mminute “Western Luv ’67” and closer “When the Sleeper Awakens” offers playful shove riffing in its midsection before a final stretch of quiet guitar leads to a last-minute volume burst, no less consuming or sprawling than anything before, even if it feels like it finishes too soon.

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Witchrot, Hollow

witchrot hollow

Stood out by the gotta-hear bass tone of Cam Alford, the ethereal-or-shouting-and-sometimes-both vocals of Lea Reto, the crash of Nick Kervin‘s drums and the encompassing wah of Peter Turik‘s guitar, Toronto’s Witchrot offer a striking debut with their awaited first full-length, Hollow, oozing out through opener/longest track (immediate points) “Million Shattered Swords” before the stomping wash of “Colder Hands” sacrifices itself on an altar of noise, leading to the more directly-riffed “Spiral of Sorrow,” which nonetheless maintains the atmosphere. Things get noisier and harsher in the second half of Hollow, which is presaged in the plod of “Fog,” but as things grow more restless and angrier after “Devil in My Eyes” and move into the pair “Burn Me Down” and “I Know My Enemy,” both faster, like blown-out Year of the Cobra toying with punk rock and grunge, Witchrot grow stronger for the shift by becoming less predictable, setting up the atmospheric plunge of the closing title-track that finishes one of 2021’s most satisfying debut albums.

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Fuzzed and Buzzed Records website

DHU Records store

 

Rat King, Omen

Rat King Omen

Omen is the first long-player from Evansville, Indiana, four-piece Rat King, who use rawness to their advantage throughout the nine included tracks, at least one of which — “Supernova” — dates back to being released as a single in 2017. With manipulated horror samples and interludes like the acoustic “Queen Anne’s Revenge” and “Shackleton” and the concluding “Matryoshka” spliced throughout the otherwise deep-toned and weighted fare of “Capsizer” and the chugging, pushing, scream-laced “Druid Crusher,” Omen never quite settles on a single approach and is more enticing for that, though the eight-minute “Vagrant” could well be a sign of things to come in its melodic reach, but the band revel in the grittier elements at work here as well — the thunderplod of “Glacier,” the willful drag of “Nepenta Divinorum,” and so on — and the ambience they create is dreary and obscure in a way that comes across as purposeful. Is Omen a foreshadow or just the name of a movie they dig? I don’t know, but I hope it’s not too long before we find out.

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Taras Bulba, Sometimes the Night

Taras Bulba Sometimes the Night

What was Earthling Society continues to evolve into Taras Bulba at the behest of Fleetwood, UK’s Fred Laird. Sometimes the Night (on Riot Season) is a mostly solo affair, and truth be told, Laird doesn’t need much more than his own impulses to conjure a full-sounding record, as he quickly shows on the acid lounge opener “The Green Eyes of Dragon,” but the guest vocals from Daisy Atkinson bring echoing presence to the subsequent “Orphee” and Mike Blatchford‘s late-arriving sax on “The Sound of Waves,” “The Big Duvall” and “House in the Snow” highlight the jazzy underpinnings of the organ-laced “Night Train to Drug Town” and the avant, anti-anything guitar strum and piano strikes of “One More Lonely Angel.” No harm done, in any case, unless we’re talking about the common conception of what a song is, and hey, if it didn’t need to happen, it wouldn’t have. An experiment in vibe, perhaps, in psychedelic brooding, but evocative for that. Laird‘s no stranger to following whims. Here they lead to moodier space.

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Riot Season Records website

 

Opium Owl, Live at Hodila Records

Opium Owl Live at Hodila Records

I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that, when “Intro” hits its sudden forward surge, kind of wishes Opium Owl had kept it mellow. Nonetheless, the Riga, Latvia-based double-guitar (mostly) instrumental heavy psych four-piece offer plenty of serenity throughout the four-song live set Live at Hodila Records, and the back and forth patterning of the subsequent “Echo Slam” is all the more effective at winning conversion, so fair enough. “Stone Gaze” dips into even bigger riffage, while “Tempest Double” dares vocals over its quieter noodling, dispensing with them as it pushes louder toward the finish. For a live recording, the sound is rich enough to convey what would seem to be the full warmth of Opium Owl‘s tonality, and in its breadth and its impact, there’s no lack of studio-fullness for the session-style presentation. Live at Hodila Records may be formative in terms of establishing the methods with which the band — who formed in 2019 — will continue to work, but showcases significant promise in that.

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Hodila Records on Facebook

 

Kvasir, 4

kvasir 4

Doled out with chops to spare and the swagger to show them off, Kvasir‘s eight-song debut LP, 4, puts modern heavy rock riffing in blender and sets it on high. Classic, epic heavy in “Where Gods to to Pray” and a more nodding groove in “Authenticity & the Illusion of Enough” meet with the funkier starts-stops of “Slow Death of Life” and the languid Sabbathism of “Earthly Algorithms.” “Chill for a Church” opens side B with trashier urgency and suitable rhythmic twist, and “The Brink” sets its depressive lyric to a ’70s boogie swing, not quite masking it, but working as a flowing companion piece for “The Black Mailbox,” which follows in like-minded fashion, letting closer “Alchemy of Identity” underscore the point with a rawer take on what once made The Sword so undeniable in their groove. There’s growing to do, patience to learn, etc., but Kvasir make it easy to get on board with 4 and their arguments for doing so brook little contradiction. Onto the list of 2021’s best debut albums it goes.

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Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Lurcher, Coma

lurcher coma

Lurcher might go full-prog before they’re done, but they’re not their yet on their four-song debut EP, Coma, and the songs only benefit from the band’s focus on impact and lack of self-indulgence. The leadoff title-track has an immediate hook that brings to mind an updated, tonally-heavier version of what Cave In innovated for melodic post-hardcore, and the subsequent “Remove the Myth From the Mountain” follows with a broader-sounding reach in its later solo that builds on the heavy rock foundation the first half of the song put forth. Vocalist/guitarist Joe Harvatt — backed by the rhythm section of bassist Tom Shortt and drummer Simon Bonwick — is prone, then, to a bit of shred. No argument as that’s answered with the Hendrix fuzz at the outset of “All Now is Here,” which both gets way-loud and drones way-out in its seven minutes, in turn setting up the lush-and-still-hard-hitting capper “Cross to Bear,” which rounds off the 26-minute release with all the more encouraging shifts in tempo, flowing melody, and mellotron sounds to add to the sweeping drama. I know the UK underground is hyper-crowded at this point, but consider notice served. These cats are onto something.

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Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Paradise Lost, Alastor, Zahn, Greynbownes, Treebeard, Estrada Orchestra, Vestamaran, Low Flying Hawks, La Maquinaria del Sueño, Ananda Mida

Posted in Reviews on July 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

The days grow long, but the Quarterly Review presses onward. I didn’t know when I put this thing together that in addition to having had oral surgery on Monday — rod in for a dental implant, needs a crown after it heals but so far no infection; penciling it as a win — this second week of 10 reviews per day would bring my laptop breaking and a toddler too sick to go to camp for three hours in the morning. If you’re a fan of understatement, I’ll tell you last week was easier to make happen.

Nevertheless, we persist, you and I. I don’t know if, when I get my computer back, it will even have all of these records on the desktop or if the hard-drive-bed-shitting that seems to have taken place will erase that along with such inconsequentials as years of writing and photos of The Pecan dating back to his birth, but hey, that desktop space was getting cleared one way or the other. You know what? I don’t want to think about it.

Quarterly Review #81-90:

Paradise Lost, At the Mill

Paradise Lost At the Mill

If Paradise Lost are trying to hold onto some sense of momentum, who can blame them? How many acts who’ve been around for 33 years continue to foster the kind of quality the Yorkshire outfit brought to 2020’s studio outing, Obsidian (review here)? Like, four? Maybe? So if they want to put out two live records in the span of three months — At the Mill follows March’s Gothic: Live at Roadburn 2016, also on Nuclear Blast — one isn’t inclined to hold a grudge, and even less so given the 16-song setlist they offer up in what was the captured audio from a livestream last Fall, spanning the bulk of their career and including requisite highlights from ’90s-era landmarks Gothic and Icon as well as Obsidian features “Fall From Grace,” “Ghosts” and “Darker Thoughts,” which opened the studio LP but makes a rousing finisher for At the Mill.

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Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Alastor, Onwards and Downwards

alastor onwards and downwards

The second long-player from Sweden’s Alastor is a surprising but welcome sonic turn, pulling back from the grimness of 2018’s Slave to the Grave (review here) in favor of an approach still murky and thick in its bottom end, but sharper in its songwriting focus and bolder melodically right from the outset on “The Killer in My Skull.” They depart from the central roll for an acoustic stretch in “Pipsvängen” after “Nightmare Trip” opens side B and just before the nine-minute title-track lumbers out its descent into the deranged, but even there the four-piece hold the line of obvious attention to songcraft, instrumental and vocal phrasing, and presentation of their sound. Likewise, the spacious nod on “Lost and Never Found” caps with a shorter and likewise undeniable groove, more Sabbath than the Queens of the Stone Age rush of “Death Cult” earlier, but with zero dip in quality. This takes them to a different level in my mind.

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RidingEasy Records website

 

Zahn, Zahn

Zahn Zahn

Its noise-rock angularity and tonal bite isn’t going to be for everyone, but there’s something about Zahn‘s unwillingness to cooperate, their unwillingness to sit still, that makes their self-titled debut a joy of a run. Based in Berlin and comprised of Felix Gebhard (Einstürzende Neubauten keyboards) as well as drummer Nic Stockmann and bassist Chris Breuer (both of HEADS.), the eight-tracker shimmers on “Tseudo,” punkjazzes on lead cut “Zerrung,” goes full krautrock drone to end side A on “Gyhum” and still has more weirdness to offer on the two-minute sunshine burst of “Schranck,” “Lochsonne Schwarz,” “Aykroyd” and finale “Staub,” all of which tie together in one way or another around a concept of using space-in-mix and aural crush while staying loway to the central pattern of the drums. “Aykroyd” is brazen in showing the teeth of its guitar work, and that’s a pretty solid encapsulation of Zahn‘s attitude across the board. They’re going for it. You can take the ride if you want, but they’re going either way.

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Crazysane Records website

 

Greynbownes, Bones and Flowers

Greynbownes bones and flowers

Bones and Flowers is a welcome return from Czech Republic-based heavy rockers Greynbownes, who made their debut with 2018’s Grey Rainbow From Bones (review here), and sees the trio foster a progressive heavy flourish prone to Doors-y explosive vocal brooding tempered with Elder-style patience in the guitar lines and rhythmic fluidity while there continues to be both an underlying aggressive crunch and a sense of Truckfighters-ish energy in “Dream Seller,” some blues there and in “Dog’s Eyes” and opener “Wolves” besides, and a willful exploratory push on “Burned by the Sun and Swallowed by the Sea,” which serves as a worthy centerpiece ahead of the rush that comprises much of “Long Way Down.” Further growth is evident in the spaciousness of “Flowers,” and “Star” feels like it’s ending the record with due ceremony in its largesse and character in its presentation.

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Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

Treebeard, Nostalgia

Treebeard Nostalgia

One can’t argue with Melbourne heavy post-rockers Treebeard‘s impulse to take the material from their prior two EPs, 2018’s Of Hamelin and 2019’s Pastoral, and put it together as a single full-length, but Nostalgia goes further in that they actually re-recorded, and in the case of a track like “The Ratchatcher,” partially reworked the songs. That makes the resultant eight-song offering all the more cohesive and, in relation to the prior versions, emphasizes the growth the band has undertaken in the last few years, keeping elements of weight and atmosphere but delivering their material with a sense of purpose, whether a give stretch of “8×0” is loud or quiet. Nostalgia effectively pulls the listener into its world, duly wistful on “Pollen” or “Dear Magdalena,” with samples adding to the breadth and helping to convey the sense of contemplation and melodic character. Above all things, resonance. Emotional and sonic.

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Treebeard on Bandcamp

 

Estrada Orchestra, Playground

Estrada Orchestra Playground

Estonian five-piece Estrada Orchestra recorded Playground on Nov. 21, 2020, and while I’m not 100 percent sure of the circumstances in which such a recording took place, it seems entirely possible given the breadth of their textures and the lonely ambience that unfurls across the 22-minute A-side “Playground Part 1” and the gradual manner in which it makes its way toward psychedelic kraut-drone-jazz there and in the more “active” “Playground Part 2 & 3” — the last part chills out again, and one speaks on very relative terms there — it’s entirely possible no one else was around. Either way, headphone-ready atmosphere persists across the Sulatron-issued LP, a lushness waiting to be closely considered and engaged that works outside of common structures despite having an underlying current of forward motion. Estrada Orchestra, who’ve been in operation for the better part of a decade and for whom Playground is their fifth full-length, are clearly just working in their own dimension of time. It suits them.

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Sulatron Records webstore

 

Vestamaran, Bungalow Rex

Vestamaran Bungalow Rex

Even in the sometimes blinding sunshine of Vestamaran‘s debut album, Bungalow Rex, there is room for shades of folk and classic progressive rock throughout the summery 10-tracker, which makes easygoing vibes sound easy in a way that’s actually really difficult to pull off without sounding forced. And much to Vestamaran‘s credit, they don’t. Their songs are structured, composed, engaging and sometimes catchy, but decidedly unhurried, unflinchingly melodic and for all their piano and subtle rhythmic intricacy, mostly pretense-free. Even the snare sound on “Grustak” feels warm. Cuts like “Risky Pigeon” and “Cutest Offender” are playful, and “Solitude” and closer “Only for You” perhaps a bit moodier, but Vestamaran are never much removed from that central warmth of their delivery, and the abiding spirit of Bungalow Rex is sweet and affecting. This is a record that probably won’t get much hype but will sit with dedicated audience for more than just a passing listen. A record that earns loyalty. I look forward to more.

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Apollon Records website

 

Low Flying Hawks, Fuyu

low flying hawks fuyu

Three records in, to call what Low Flying Hawks do “heavygaze” feels cheap. Such a tag neither encompasses the post-rock elements in the lush space of “Monster,” the cinematic flourish of “Darklands,” nor the black-metal-meets-desert-crunch-riffing-in-space at the end of “Caustic Wing” or the meditative, post-Om cavern-delia in the first half of closer “Nightrider,” never mind the synthy, screamy turn of Fuyu‘s title-track at the halfway point. Three records in, the band refuse to let either themselves or their listenership get too comfortable, either in heavy groove or march or atmosphere, and three records in, they’re willfully toying with style and bending the aspects of genre to their will. There are stretches of Fuyu that, in keeping with the rest of what the band do, border on overthought, but the further they go into their own progressive nuance, the more they seem to discover they want to do. Fuyu reportedly wraps a trilogy, but if what they do next comes out sounding wildly different, you’d have to give them points for consistency.

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Magnetic Eye Records store

 

La Maquinaria del Sueño, Rituales de los Alucinados

la maquinaria del sueno rituales de los alucinados

Cult poetry on “Enterrado en la Oscuridad,” garage rock boogie “Ayahuasca” and classic, almost-surf shuffle are the first impressions Mexico City’s La Maquinaria del Sueño make on their debut full-length, Rituales de los Alucinados, and the three-piece only benefit from the push-pull in different directions as the seven-song LP plays out, jamming into the semi-ethereal on “Maldad Eléctrica” only to tip hat to ’60s weirdo jangle on “Mujer Cabeza de Cuervo.” Guitars scorch throughout atop swinging grooves in power trio fashion, and despite the differences in tone between them, “Enterré mis Dientes en el Desierto” and “Ángel de Fuego” both manage to make their way into a right on haze of heavy fuzz ahead of the motoring finisher “La Ninfa del Agua,” which underscores the live feel of the entire procession with its big crashout ending and overarching vitality. Listening to the chemistry between these players, it’s not a surprise they’ve been a band for the better part of a decade, and man, they make their riffs dance. Not revolutionary, but cool enough not to care.

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LSDR Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Karnak

Ananda Mida Karnak

A three-tracker EP issued through drummer Max Ear‘s (also of OJM) own Go Down Records, Karnak features an instrumental take on a previously-vocalized cut — “Anulios,” from 2018’s Anodnatius (review here) — an eight-minute live jam with Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man sitting in on guitar, and a live version of the Conny Ochs-fronted “The Pilot,” which opened 2019’s Cathodnatius, the cover of which continues to haunt one’s dreams, and which finds the German singer-songwriter channeling his inner David Byrne in fascinating ways. An odds-and-ends release, maybe, but each of these songs is worth the minimal price of admission on its own, never mind topped as they are together with the much-less-horrifying art. If this is a reminder to listen to Anada Mida, it’s a happy one.

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Go Down Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as De Doorn marks their first offering through Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

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Relapse Records website

 

Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

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Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp

 

Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

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Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

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Forbidden Place Records website

 

Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website

 

Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

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Svart Records website

 

Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website

 

Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

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Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website

 

Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

 

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