Quarterly Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Dopethrone, Anandammide, Tigers on Opium, Bill Fisher, Ascia, Cloud of Souls, Deaf Wolf, Alber Jupiter, Cleen

Posted in Reviews on May 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


It is an age of plenty as regards the underground. Between bands being able to form with members on different continents, to being able to record basically anything anywhere anywhen, the barriers have never been lower. I heard an all-AI stoner rock record the other day. It wasn’t great, but did it need to be?

The point is there’s gotta be a reason so many people are doing the thing, and a reason it happens just about everywhere, more than just working/middle class disaffection and/or dadstalgia. There’s a lot of documentary research about bands, but so far I don’t think anyone’s done a study, book, bio-doc, whatever about the proliferation of heavy sounds across geographies and cultures. No, that won’t be me. “Face made for radio,” as the fellow once said, and little time to write a book. But perhaps some riff-loving anthropologist will get there one day — get everywhere, that is — and explore it with artists and fans. Maybe that’s you.

Happy Thursday.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Nell’ Ora Blu

uncle acid and the deadbeats nell ora blu

My favorite part of the press release for Uncle Acid‘s Nell’ Ora Blu was when founding guitarist/vocalist and apparent-auteur Kevin Starrs said, “I know something like this might have limited appeal, but who cares?” Though it was initially billed as an instrumental record and in fact features Starrs‘ trademark creeper vocal melodies in a few of its 19 tracks, the early “Giustizia di Strada/Lavora Fino Alla Morte” and pretty-UncleAcidic-feeling “La Vipera,” and the later march of the seven-minute “Pomeriggio di Novembre Nel Parco – Occhi Che Osservano,” catchy and still obscure enough in its psychedelia to fit, and “Solo la Morte Ti Ammanetta,” though most of the words throughout are spoken — genre cinephiles will recognize the names Edwige French and Franco Nero; there’s a lot of talking on the phone, all in Italian — as Starrs pays homage to giallo stylization in soundtracking an imaginary film. It’s true to an extent about the limited appeal, but this isn’t the first time Uncle Acid have chosen against expanding their commercial reach either, and while I imagine the effect is somewhat different if you speak Italian, Starrs‘ songwriting has never been so open or multifaceted in mood. Nell’ Ora Blu isn’t the studio follow-up to 2018’s Wasteland (review here) one might have expected, but it takes some of those aspects and builds a whole world out of them. They should tour it and do a live soundtrack, but then I guess someone would also have to make the movie.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Facebook

Rise Above Records website

Dopethrone, Broke Sabbath

Dopethrone Broke Sabbath

If “fuck you” were a band, it might be Dopethrone. With six new tracks spread across a sample-laced (pretty sure Joe Don Baker is in there somewhere; maybe “Truckstop Warlock?”) and mostly-crushing-of-spirit-and-tone 39 minutes, the crusty Montreal trio of guitarist/vocalist Vince, bassist Vyk and drummer Shawn pound at the door of your wellness with their scum-sludge extremity, living up to their reputation in gnash and nastiness for the duration. The penultimate “Uniworse” brings in Weedeater‘s “Dixie” Dave Collins for a guest spot, but by the time they get there, the three-piece have already bludgeoned your bones with album-centerpiece “Shlaghammer” and loosed the grueling breadth of “Rock Slock,” so really, Collins is the gravy on the pill-based bottom-hitting binge. From opening single “Life Kills You” through the final punishing moments of “Sultans of Sins” — presumably a side B mirror in terms of heft to “Slaghammer” — and the choice Billy Madison sample that follows, Dopethrone offer a singular unkindness of purpose. I feel like I need a shower.

Dopethrone on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

Anandammide, Eura


Where even the melancholy progression of “Song of Greed” is marked by the gorgeousness of its dual-vocal melody and flowing arrangement of strings, guitar, and strings, Eura is the second full-length and Sulatron Records label-debut for Parisian psych-folkies Anandammide. At the core of the diverse arrangements is songwriter Michele Moschini (vocals, synth, organ, guitar, drums), who brings purposefully Canterburyian pastoralia together with prog rock tendencies on “Phantom Limb” and the title-track while maintaining the light-touch gentility of the start of “Carmilla,” the later flow between “Lullaby No. 2” and “Dream No. 1,” or the gracefully undrummed “I Am a Flower,” with synth and strings side-by-side. Though somewhat mournful in its subject matter, Eura is filled with life and longing, and the way the lyrics of “Phantom Limb” feel out of place in the world suits the aural anachronism and the escapist drive that seems to manifest in “The Orange Flood.” Patient, immersive, and lovely, it sees ruin and would give solace.

Anandammide on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Tigers on Opium, Psychodrama

tigers on opium psychodrama

An awaited first full-length from Portland, Oregon’s Tigers on Opium, the 10-song/44-minute Psychodrama builds on the semi-sleazed accomplishments of the four-piece’s prior EPs while presenting a refreshingly varied sound. The album begins as “Ride or Die” unfolds with Juan Carlos Caceres‘ vocals echoing in layers over quiet guitar — more of an intro, it is reprised to deliver the title line as a post-finale epilogue — and directly dives into garage-doom strut with “Black Mass” before a Styx reference worked into “Diabolique” makes for an immediate, plus-charm highlight. The parade doesn’t stop there. The Nirvana-ish beginning of “Retrovertigo” soft-boogies and drifts into Jerry Cantrell-style melody backed by handclaps, while Thin Lizzy leads show up in “Sky Below My Feet” and the more desert rocking “Paradise Lost” ahead of the farther-back, open swing and push of “Radioactive” giving over to “Wall of Silence”‘s ’70s singer-songwriterism, communing with the “Ride or Die” bookend but expanded in its arrangement; capper-caper “Separation of the Mind” paying it all off like Queens of the Stone Age finding the Big Riff and making it dance, too. On vocals, guitar and keys, Caceres is a big presence in the persona, but don’t let that undercut the contributions of guitarist Jeanot Lewis-Rolland, bassist Charles Hodge or drummer Nate Wright, all of whom also sing. As complex in intent as Psychodrama is, its underlying cohesion requires everybody to be on board, and as they are, the resulting songs supersede expectation and comprise one of 2024’s best debut albums.

Tigers on Opium on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Bill Fisher, How to Think Like a Billionaire

Bill Fisher How To Think Like A Billionaire

Self-identifying as “yacht doom,” How to Think Like a Billionaire is the third solo full-length from Church of the Cosmic Skull‘s Bill Fisher, and while “Consume the Heart” and “Yell of the Ringman” tinge toward darkness and, in the case of the latter, a pointedly doomly plog, what the “yacht” translates to is a swath of ’80s-pop keyboard sounds and piano rock accompanying Fisher‘s guitar, vocals, bass and drums, a song like “Xanadu” sending up tech-culture hubris after “Ride On, Unicorn” has given a faux-encouraging push in its chorus, rhyming “Ride on, unicorn” with “In the valley of Silicon.” Elsewhere, “Overview Effect” brings the cover to life in imagining the apocalypse from the comfort of a private spaceship, while “Lead Us Into Fire” idolizes a lack of accountability in self-harmonizing layers with the thud that complements “Intranaut” deeper in the mix and the sense that, if you were a big enough asshole and on enough cocaine, it might just be possible Fisher means it when he sings in praise of capitalist hyperexploitation. A satire much needed and a perspective to be valued, if likely not by venture capital.

Bill Fisher on Facebook

Bill Fisher website

Ascia, The Wandering Warrior

ascia the wandering warrior

While one could liken the echo-born space that coincides with the gallop of opening cut “Greenland” to any number of other outfits, and the concluding title-track branches out both in terms of tempo and melodic reach, Ascia‘s debut long-player, The Wandering Warrior follows on from the project’s demoes in counting earliest High on Fire as a defining influence. Fair enough, since the aforementioned two are both the most recent included here and the only songs not culled from the three prior demos issued by Fabrizio Monni (also Black Capricorn) under the Ascia name. With the languid fluidity and impact of “Mother of the Wendol” and the outright thrust of “Blood Bridge Battle,” “Ruins of War” and “Dhul Qarnayn” set next to the bombastic crash ‘n’ riff of “Serpent of Fire,” Monni has no trouble harnessing a flow from the repurposed, remastered material, and picking and choosing from among three shorter releases lets him portray Ascia‘s range in a new light. That may not be able to happen in the same way next time around (or it could), but for those who did or didn’t catch the demos, The Wandering Warrior summarizes well the band’s progression to this point and gives hope for more to come.

Ascia on Bandcamp

Perpetual Eclipse Productions store

Cloud of Souls, A Constant State of Flux

Cloud of Souls A Constant State of Flux

Indianapolis-based solo-project Cloud of Souls — aka Chris Latta (ex-Spirit Division, Lavaborne, etc.) — diverges from the progressive metallurgy of 2023’s A Fate Decided (review here) in favor of a more generally subdued, contemplative presentation. Beginning with its title-track, the five-song/36-minute outing marks out the spaces it will occupy and seems to dwell there as the individual cuts play out, whether that’s “A Constant State of Flux” holding to its piano-and-voice, the melancholic procession of the nine-minute “Better Than I Was,” or the sax that accompanies the downerism of the penultimate “Love to Forgive Wish to Forget.” Each song brings something different either in instrumentation or vibe — “Homewrecker Blues” harmonizes en route to a momentary tempo pickup laced with organ, closer “Break Down the Door” offers hope in its later guitar and crash, etc. — but it can be a fine line when conveying monotony or low-key depressivism, and there are times where A Constant State of Flux feels stuck in its own verses, despite Latta‘s strength of craft and the band’s exploratory nature.

Cloud of Souls on Facebook

Cloud of Souls on Bandcamp

Deaf Wolf, Not Today, Satan

Deaf Wolf Not Today Satan

Not Today, Satan, in either its 52-minute runtime or in the range of its songcraft around a central influence from Queens of the Stone Age circa 2002-2005, is not a minor undertaking. The ambitious debut full-length from Berlin trio Deaf Wolf — guitarist/vocalist Christian Rottstock (also theremin on “Silence is Golden”), bassist/vocalist Hagen Walther and Alexander Dümont on drums and other percussion — adds periodic lead-vocal tradeoffs between Rottstock and Walther to further broaden the scope of the material, with (I believe) the latter handling the declarations of “Survivor” and the gurgle-voice on “S.M.T.P.” and “Beast in Me,” which arrive in succession before “The End” closes with emphasis on self-awareness. The earlier “Sulphur” becomes a standout for its locked-in groove, fuzz tones and balanced mix, while “See You in Hell” finds its own direction and potential in strut and fullness of sound. There’s room to refine some of what’s being attempted, but Not Today, Satan sets Deaf Wolf off to an encouraging start.

Deaf Wolf on Facebook

Deaf Wolf on Bandcamp

Alber Jupiter, Puis Vient la Nuit

Alber Jupiter Puis Vient la Nuit

Five years on from their also-newly-reissued 2019 debut, We Are Just Floating in Space, French instrumentalist heavy space rock two-piece Alber Jupiter — bassist Nicolas Terroitin, drummer Jonathan Sonney, and both of them on what would seem to be all the synth until Steven Michel guests in that regard on “Captain Captain” and the title-track — make a cosmic return with Puis Vient la Nuit, the bulk of which is unfurled through four cuts between seven and 10 minutes long after a droning buildup in “Intro.” If you’re waiting for the Slift comparison somewhat inevitable these days anywhere near the words “French” and “space,” keep waiting. There’s some shuffle in the groove of “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Captain Captain” before it departs for a final minute-plus of residual cosmic background, sure, but the gradual way “Pas de Bol Pour Peter” hits its midpoint apex and the wash brought to fruition in “Daddy’s Spaceship” and “Puis Vient la Nuit” itself is digging in on a different kind of vibe, almost cinematic in its vocal-less drama, broad in dynamic and encompassing on headphones as it gracefully sweeps into the farther reaches of far out, slow in escape velocity but with depth in three dimensions. It is a journey not to be missed.

Alber Jupiter on Facebook

Foundrage Label on Bandcamp

Up in Her Room Records on Bandcamp

Araki Records on Bandcamp

Cleen, Excursion

cleen excursion

There’s something of a narrative happening in at least most of the 10 tracks of Cleen‘s impressive debut album, Excursion, as the character speaking in the lyrics drifts through space and eventually meets a perhaps gruesome end, but by the time they’re closing with “A Means to an End” (get it?), the Flint, Michigan, trio of guitarist/vocalist Patrick, bassist Cooley and drummer Jordan are content to leave it at, “I just wanna worship satan and go the fuck to sleep.” Not arguing. Their sound boasts an oozing cosmic ethereality that might remind a given listener of Rezn here and there, but in the post-grunge-meets-post-punk-oh-and-there’s-a-scream movement of “No One Remembers but You,” the punkier shove in the first half of “Year of the Reaper,” the dirt-fuzz jangle of “Aroya” and the sheer heft of “Menticidal Betrayal,” “Sultane of Sand” and “Fatal Blow,” Cleen blend elements in a manner that’s modern but well on its way to being their own in addition to being a nodding clarion for the converted.

Cleen on Facebook

Electric Desert Records website


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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to Release Nell’ Ora Blu May 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

uncle acid and the deadbeats (Photo by Karin Hunt)

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will release the instrumental conceptual soundtrack LP Nell’ Ora Blu on May 10 through Rise Above Records. It’s their first studio LP of any sort since 2018’s Wasteland (review here) and manifests the threat made when the UK garage doom innovators released their live album, Slaughter on First Avenue (review here), in 2023.

It isn’t the band’s first foray into atmospheres inspired by vintage Italian cinema, but at least on paper it’s inarguably the deepest they’ve gone in exploring it. Described by the PR wire below as instrumental save for voiceovers by Edwige French (All the Colors of the Dark and scores of others) and Franco Nero (he was Django in that crucial series of westerns and has appeared in over 150 movies, among them Die Hard 2), it’s an immediate departure for a band whose harmonies and hooks have always been a huge part of their approach. No doubt that’s the idea.

I’ll expect not to expect what I’m expecting, then, and you might want to do likewise, but I don’t think Uncle Acid getting weird and cinematic is going to hurt consider that’s another huge part of what they’ve always done. Lean this way, lean that way. Six years after their last record, it feels like a big shift, but it makes its own kind of sense.

The PR wire has it like this:

uncle acid and the deadbeats nell ora blu

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Announce New Album ‘Nell’ Ora Blu’ Out May 10th via Rise Above Records

Pre-Orders Available Soon!

Poised to stand out as the most radical album of UNCLE ACID & THE DEABEATS’ storied career, ‘Nell’ Ora Blu’ is a true tour-de-force of dramatic ingenuity. Inspired by the dark, mysterious, and often bloody Italian Giallo film scene, Kevin Starrs took a detour and created his own storyboard to play along with and the result is a beautiful and suspense-filled instrumental soundtrack…for a non-existent film.

Devoted fans will undoubtedly recognize the UNCLE ACID fingerprints here but this startling left-turn will also present a formidable challenge to even the most open-minded riff-heads. Like a tense and bewildering fever dream, ‘Nell’ Ora Blu’ is a vivid, lysergic excursion like no other.

“I know something like this might have limited appeal, but who cares?” says Starrs. “Most of what we do has a limited appeal anyway! It’s just a real mix of different styles that I like. There are no singles or ‘hits’. Instead, it all just flows along one thing into the next. You can think of it like blood seeping from a wound. It’s continuous. By the end of it, you’re left exhausted. It’s hard work for the listener. We don’t do easy listening!”

Unusual guest stars such as giants of the Italian film underground, Edwige Fenech and Franco Nero, present exclusive dialogue interspersed between tracks, contributing to a unique listening experience that throbs and shrieks with horrific intent.

Starrs explains: “It’s a tribute to 70s Italian cinema. It’s a story about people who decide to take the law into their own hands. Things get pretty dark straight away and of course, it doesn’t end well for anyone. It has elements of grimy poliziotteschi (Italian crime/action films) and classic Giallo (Italian cinema’s revered horror/sexploitation movement). Once I decided to do everything in Italian, I made a list of actors that I wanted. Franco Nero and Edwige Fenech were the first names I thought of. Two legends that had never been paired together before. I contacted their agents and both actors were interested in the idea, so we set it up from there.”

Having completed the project and been exhilarated by its creation, Starrs now has tentative plans to bring some of this incredible music to the morbid masses. What started as simply a new UNCLE ACID project, has evolved into a true project of passion bringing together the wonderful worlds of music and film in one dark, enthralling soundtrack for a film we can only wish to be actually watching.

‘Nell’ Ora Blu’ Track List:
1) Il Sole Sorge Sempre
2) Giustizia di Strada – Lavora Fino alla Morte
3) La Vipera
4) Vendetta (Tema)
5) La Bara Resterà Chiusa
6) Cocktail Party
7) Il Tesoro di Sardegna
8) Nell’ Ora Blu
9) Il Chiamante Silenzioso
10) Tortura al Telefono
11) Pomeriggio di Novembre Nel Parco – Occhi che Osservano
12) Il Retorno del Chiamante Silenzioso
13) Solo la Morte to Ammanetta
14) Il Gatto Morto
15) Guidando Veloce Verso la Campagna
16) L’Omicidio
17) Resti Umani
18) Sorge Anche il Sole
19) Ritorno All’Oscurità

‘Nell’ Ora Blu’ will be available on Vinyl as a double LP, CD, and for digital download on May 10, 2024, via Rise Above Records. Pre-orders will be available soon.



Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Dead Eyes of London”

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Quarterly Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Graveyard, Hexvessel, Godsground, Sleep Maps, Dread Spire, Mairu, Throe, Blind River, Rifftree

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

It’s been quite a morning. Got up at five, went back to sleep until six, took the dog out, lazily poured myself a coffee — the smell is like wood bark and bitter mud, so yes, the dark roast — and got down to set up this Quarterly Review. Not rushed, not at all overwhelmed by press releases about new albums or the fact that I’ve got 50 records I’m writing about this week, or any of it. Didn’t last, that stress-free sit-down — one of the hazards of being perfectly willing to be distracted at a moment’s notice is that that might happen — but it was nice while it did. And hey, the Quarterly Review is set up and ready to roll with 50 records between now and Friday. Let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Slaughter on First Avenue

uncle acid and the deadbeats slaughter on first avenue

Recorded over two nights at First Avenue in Minneapolis sandwiching the pandemic in 2019 and 2022, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ 14-song/85-minute live album, Slaughter on First Avenue, is about as clean as you’re ever likely to hear the band sound. And the Rise Above-issued 2LP spans the garage doom innovators’ career, from “Dead Eyes of London” from 2010’s Vol. 1 (reissue review here) to “I See Through You” from 2018’s Wasteland (review here), with all the “Death’s Door” and “Thirteen Candles” and “Desert Ceremony” and “I’ll Cut You Down” you can handle, the addled and murderous bringers of melody and fuzz clear-eyed and methodical, professional, in their delivery. It sounds worked on, like, in the studio, the way oldschool live albums might’ve been. I don’t know that it was, don’t have a problem with that if it was, just noting that the sheer sound here is fantastic, whether it’s the separation between the two guitars and keys and each other, the distinction of the vocals, or the way even the snare drum seems to hit in kind with the vintage aspects of Uncle Acid‘s general production style. They clearly enjoy the crowd response to the older tunes like “I’ll Cut You Down” and “Death’s Door,” and well they should. Slaughter on First Avenue isn’t a new full-length, though they say one will eventually happen, but it’s a representation of their material in a new way for listeners, cleaner than their last two studio records, and a ceremony (or two) worth preserving.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on Facebook

Rise Above Records website

Graveyard, 6

graveyard 6

Swedish retro soul rock forerunners Graveyard are on their way to being legends if they aren’t legends yet. Headliners at the absolute least, and the influence they had in the heavy ’10s on classic heavy as a style and boogie rock in particular can’t be discounted. Comprised of nine cuts, 6 is Graveyard‘s first offering of this decade, following behind 2018’s Peace (review here), and it continues their dual-trajectory in pairing together the slow, troubled-love woes emotionality of “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” “Sad Song” on which guitarist Joakim Nilsson relinquishes lead vocals, the early going of “Bright Lights,” and opener “Godnatt” — Swedish for “good night,” which the band tried to say in 2016 but it didn’t stick — setting up turns to shove in “Twice” and “Just a Drop” while “I Follow You,” closer “Rampant Fields” or the highlight “Just a Drop” finding some territory between the two ends. The bottom line here is it’s not the record I was hoping Graveyard would make, leaning slow and morose whereas when you could break out a groove like “Just a Drop” seemingly at will, why wouldn’t you? But that I even had those hopes tells you the caliber band they are, and whatever the tracks actually do, there’s no questioning them as songwriters. But the world could use some good times swagger, if only a half-hour of escapism, and Graveyard are perhaps too sincere to deliver. Fair enough.

Graveyard on Facebook

Nuclear Blast website

Hexvessel, Polar Veil

hexvessel polar veil

The thing about Hexvessel that has been revealed over time is that each record is its own context. Grown out from the black metal history of UK-born/Helsinki-residing songwriter Mat “Kvohst” McNerney, the band returns to that fertile ground somewhat on the eight-song Polar Veil, applying veteran confidence to post-blackened genre transgressions. Songs like “A Cabin in Montana” and “Older Than the Gods” have some less-warlike Primordial vibes between the epic melodies and tremolo echoes, but in both the speedy intensity of “Eternal Meadow” and the later ethereally-doomed gruel of “Ring,” Hexvessel are distinctly themselves doing this thing. That is, they’re not changing who they are to suit the style they want to play — even the per-song stylistic shifts of 2016’s When We Are Death (review here) were their own, so that’s not necessarily new — but a departure from the dark progressive folk of 2020’s Kindred as McNerney, bassist Ville Hakonen, drummer Jukka Rämänen and pianist/keyboardist Kimmo Helén (also strings) welcome a curated-seeming selection of a few guest appearances spread across the release, always keeping mindful of ambience and mood however raging the tempest around them might be.

Hexvessel on Facebook

Svart Records website

Godsground, A Bewildered Mind

Godsground A Bewildered Mind

Bookended by its two longest songs in “Drink Some More” (8:44) and closer “Letter Full of Wine” (9:17), Munich-based troupe Godsground offer seven songs with their 47-minute third long-player, working quickly to bask in post-Alice in Chains melodies surrounded by a warmth of tone that could just as easily be derived from hometown heroes in Colour Haze as the likes of Sungrazer or anyone else, but there’s more happening in the sound than just that. The melodies reach out and the songs develop on paths so that “Balance” is a straight-up desert rocker where seven-minute centerpiece “Into the Butter” sounds readier to get weird. They are well at home in longer forms, flashing a bit of metal in teh later solo of the penultimate “Non Reflecting Mirror,” but the overarching focus on vocal melody grounds the material in its lyrics, and that helps stabilize some of the more out-there aspects. With the roller fuzz of “A Game of Light” and side B’s flow-into-push “Flood” finding space between all-out go and the longer songs’ willingness to dwell in parts, Godsground emerge from the collection with a varied style around a genre center that’s maybe delighted not to pick a side when it comes to playing toward this or that niche. There’s some undercurrent of doom — though I’ll admit the artwork had me looking for it — but Godsground are more coherent than bewildered, and their material unfolds with intent to immerse rather than commiserate.

Godsground Linktr.ee

Godsground on Bandcamp

Sleep Maps, Reclaim Chaos

sleep maps reclaim chaos

Ambition abounds on Sleep MapsReclaim Chaos, as the once-NYC-based duo of multi-instrumentalist Ben Kaplan and vocalist David Kegg — finds somebody that writes you riffs like “Second Generation” and scream your ass off for them — bring textures of progressive metal, death metal, metal metal to the proceedings with their established post-whathaveyou modus. Would it be a surprise if I said it made them a less predictable band? I hope not. With attention to detail bolstered my a mix from Matt Bayles (Isis, Sandrider, etc.), the open spaces of “The Good Engineer” resonate in their layered vocals and drone, while “You Want What I Cannot Give” pummels, “In the Sun, In the Moon” brings the wash forward and capper “Kill the World” is duly still in conveying an apparent aftermath rather than the actual slaughter of the planet, which of course happened over a longer timeframe. All of this, and a good deal more, make Reclaim Chaos a heady feast — and that’s before you get to the ’00-era electronica of “Double Blind” — but in their reclamation, Sleep Maps execute with care and make a point about the malleability of style as much as about their own progression, though it seems to be the latter fueling them. Self-motivated, willful artistic progression is not often so starkly recognizable.

Sleep Maps website

Lost Future Records website

Dread Spire, Endless Empire

Dread Spire Endless Empire EP

A reminder of the glories amid the horrors of our age: Dread Spire‘s Endless Empire — am I the only one who finds it a little awkward when band and release names rhyme? — probably wouldn’t exist without the democratization of recording processes that’s happened over the last 15-20 years. It’s a demo, essentially, from the bass/drum — that’s Richie Rehal and Erol Kavvas — Cali-set instrumentalist two-piece, and with about 13 minutes of sans BS riffing, they make a case via a linear procession of crunch riffing and uptempo, semi-metal precision. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — holds that they got together during the pandemic, and the raw form and clearly-manifest catharsis in the material is all the backing they need. More barebones than complex, this first offering wants nothing for audio fidelity and gives Rehal and Kavvas a beginning from which to build in any and all directions they might choose. The joy of collaboration and the need to find an expressive outlet are the best motivations one could ask, and that’s very obviously what’s at work here.

Dread Spire on Instagram

Dread Spire on Bandcamp

Mairu, Sol Cultus

MAIRU Sol Cultus

A roiling post-metallic churn abides the slow tempos of “Torch Bearer” at the outset of Mairu‘s debut full-length, Sol Cultus, and it is but one ingredient of the Liverpool-based outfit’s atmospheric plunge. Across eight tracks and 49 minutes, the double-guitar four-piece of Alan Caulton and Ant Hurlock (both guitar/vocals), Dan Hunt (bass/vocals) and Ben Davis (drums/synth) — working apparently pretty closely over a period of apparently four years with Tom Dring, who produced, engineered, mixed, mastered and contributed saxophone, ebow, piano and additional synth — remind in their spaciousness of that time Red Sparowes taught the world, instrumentally, to sing. But with harsh and melodic vocals mixed, bouts of thrashier riffing dealt with prejudice, and the barely-there ambience of “Inter Alia” and “Per Alia” to persuade the listener toward headphones, the very-sludged finish of “Wild Darkened Eyes” and the 10-minute sprawl of “Rite of Embers” lumbering to its distorted gut-clench of a crescendo chug ahead of the album’s comedown finish, there’s depth and personality to the material even as Mairu look outside of verse/chorus confines to make their statement. Their second outing behind a 2019 EP, and again, apparently in the works on some level since then, it’s explorational, but less in the sense of the band figuring out who they want to be than as a stylistic tenet they’ve internalized as their own.

Mairu on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp

Throe, O Enterro das Marés

Throe O Enterro das Mares

At first in “Hope Shines in the Autumn Light,” Brazilian instrumentalist heavy post-rockers Throe remind of nothing so much as the robots-with-feelings mechanized-but-resonant plod of Justin K. Broadrick‘s Jesu, but as the 14-minute leadoff from the apparently-mostly-solo-project’s three-song EP, O Enterro das Marés (one assumes the title is some derivation of being ‘buried at sea’), plays through, it shifts into a more massive galaxial nod and then shortly before the nine-minute mark to a stretch of hypnotic beat-less melody before resolving itself somewhere in the middle. This three-part structure gives over to the Godfleshier “Bleed Alike” (6:33), which nods accordingly until unveiling its caustic end about 30 seconds before the song is done, and “Renascente” (7:59), in which keys/synth and wistful guitar lead a single linear build together as the band gradually and with admirable patience move from their initial drone to the introduction of the ‘drums’ and through the layers of melody that emerge and are more the point of the thing itself than the actual swell of volume taking place at the same time. When it opens at about five minutes in, “Renascente” is legitimately beautiful, an echoing waterfall of tonality that seems to dance to the gravity pulling it down. The guitar is last to go, which tells you something about how the songs are written, but with three songs and three different intentions, Throe make a varied statement uniform most of all in how complete each piece of it feels.

Throe on Instagram

Abraxas Produtora on Instagram

Blind River, Bones for the Skeleton Thief

Blind River Bones for the Skeleton Thief

Well guess what? They called the first track “Punkstarter,” and so it is. Starts off the album with a bit of punk. Blind River‘s third LP, Bones for the Skeleton Thief corrals 10 tracks from the UK traditionalist heavy rock outfit, who even on the likewise insistent “Primal Urges” maintain some sense of control. Vocalist Harry Armstrong (ex-Hangnail, now also bassist of Orange Goblin) belts out “Second Hand Soul” like he’s giving John Garcia a run for his pounds sterling, and is still able to rein it in enough to not seem out of place on the more subdued verses of “Skeleton Thief,” while the boogie of “Unwind” is its own party. Wherever they go, be it the barroom punkabilly of “Snake Oil” or the Southern-tinged twang of closer “Bad God,” the five-piece — Armstrong, guitarist Chris Charles and Dan Edwards, bassist William Hughes and drummer Mark Sharpless — hold to a central ethic of straight-ahead drive, and where clearly the intended message is that Blind River know what the fuck they’re doing and that if you end up at a show you might get your ass handed to you, turns out that’s exactly the message received. Showed up, kicked ass, done in under 40 minutes. If that’s not a high enough standard for you in a band recording live, that’s not Blind River‘s fault.

Blind River on Facebook

Blind River on Bandcamp

Rifftree, Noise Worship

Rifftree Noise Worship

Rifftree of life. Rifftree‘s fuzz is so righteously dense, I want to get seeds from it — because let’s face it, riffs are deciduous and hibernate in winter — and plant a forest in my backyard. The band formed half a decade ago and Noise Worship is the bass-and-drums duo’s second EP, but whatever. In six songs and 26 minutes, they work hard on living up to the title they gave the release, and their schooling in the genre is obvious in Sleepery of “Amplifier Pyramid” or the low-rumbling sludge of “Brown Flower,” the subsequent “Farewell” growing like fungus out of its quieter start and “Brakeless” not needing them because it was slow enough anyhow. “Fuzzed” — another standard met — ups the pace and complements with spacey grunge mumbles and harshes out later, and that gives the three-minute titular closer “Noise Worship” all the lead-in it needs for its showcase of feedback and amplifier noise. Look. If you’re thinking it’s gonna be some stylistic revolution in the making, look at the friggin’ cover. Listen to the songs. This isn’t innovation, it’s celebration, and Rifftree‘s complete lack of pretense is what makes Noise Worship the utter fucking joy that it is. Stoner. Rock. Stick that in your microgenre rolodex.

Rifftree on Facebook

Rifftree on Bandcamp

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to Release Slaughter on First Avenue Live Album July 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Pretty stoked on the idea of an Uncle Acid live record. That’s all well and good. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band a couple times — not in a while, admittedly — and they’ve always been an experience. I wonder how the songs will come across without the surrounding darkness, the low-to-absent lighting, staticky tvs behind, and the air of the audience’s anticipation for each individual riff, never mind entire songs. Slaughter on First Avenue comes from two shows in the same place in Minneapolis, recorded on either side of the pandemic, in 2019 and 2022.

And I bet it’s great. What, a band like Uncle Acid is gonna put out a live record if it’s a dud? Not likely. They’re not at a level where things like this happen by accident — that is, they’re not just throwing a thing on Bandcamp just to do it; there’s time and money involved — and reading through the copious narrative below that came courtesy of the PR wire, I’m of course drawn to the last paragraph where it says a new studio album, will happen and will see release without warning. Fair enough. Not like they need the hype. I’m glad it’s a thing they’re saying is going to happen, not the least because it’s the inevitable first question here, even though the answer doesn’t actually do much to change the marker’s position from ‘could happen at some point maybe’ when it comes down to it.

For now you can revel in the live version of “Dead Eyes of London” from their very first LP, 2010’s Vol. 1 (reissue review here), and sit tight for about a month till Slaughter on First Avenue arrives. You’ll make it.

Onward, to more words!

uncle acid and the deadbeats slaughter on first avenue

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Announce New Live Album, ‘Slaughter on First Avenue’ Out 7/28 on Rise Above Records

Share New Single “Dead Eyes of London”

UNCLE ACID’s reputation as one of the most devastating and authentically psychedelic live bands on the planet became impossible to dispute, not least when they found themselves supporting the immortal Black Sabbath on 16 dates of their sold out reunion tour in 2013. Until now, however, the band’s unique and mind-melting live show has never been captured for posterity.

‘Slaughter On First Avenue’, the first official UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS live record, is a furious and righteous document of Kevin Starrs and his henchmen at the height of their unearthly powers. With performances taken from two separate shows at the same venue – First Avenue, Minneapolis – in 2019 and 2022, it’s an 86-minute career retrospective that crackles with malicious intent.

14 songs deep and proudly devoid of gimmicks or distractions, ‘Slaughter On First Avenue’ is a riveting and raw account of UNCLE ACID in full flight. From early classics like “I’ll Cut You Down” and “Death’s Door” (both from ‘Blood Lust’), to more recent works of lysergic aggro like “Shockwave City” (from ‘Wasteland’) and sinister epic “Slow Death” (from ‘The Night Creeper’), this amalgamation of two fiery and unforgettable live shows has a mesmerising momentum all of its own. As Kevin Starrs explains, ‘Slaughter On First Avenue’ is a purposefully rough-hewn snapshot of two moments in time.

“People have been asking for a live record, and sometimes it’s nice to give people what they want. Especially if you follow it up with something they definitely don’t want! Overall it’s a very raw sounding recording, and that’s just how it was on the night. There was no specific reason for choosing the first show, other than some guy just turned up and offered to record it, so we let him! It’s a proper live record with all the mistakes kept in.”

“Tonight you will be subjected to an all-out audio assault that will begin here shortly. There will be no respite from this until we release you. The group will show no mercy, and will likely not communicate with you. There will be no dynamics and a complete disregard for expectation. It will all sound the same. Do you understand?”

The greatest bands exist out of necessity and UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS fit that description to a cobwebbed tee. Led by singer/guitarist Kevin Starrs, the Cambridge-born masters of occult doom and psychedelic brutality have carved their own singular furrow since 2009. If they didn’t exist, we would have to invent them.

Defiantly dwelling in their own curious corner of the heaviness spectrum, UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS have conjured a series of grimly spellbinding albums, starting with 2010’s ‘Volume 1’ debut and its spiky, shadowy successor ‘Blood Lust’, which marked the start of the band’s close relationship with Rise Above Records. Critically lauded masterworks ‘Mind Control’ and ‘The Night Creeper’ emerged in 2013 and 2015 respectively, and their most recent opus, the bleakly macabre ‘Wasteland’, garnered much effusive praise in 2018.

“I think one of our strengths is that most of what we do live is the exact opposite of what’s expected at a rock show,” says Kevin Starrs. “There’s no warm chit-chat, no rehearsed anecdotes, no pleasantries, no running around. It’s so dark you can’t see our faces, and sometimes we play with our backs turned. It shouldn’t work, but it does. We just lock into the music and feed off the crowd. Some people still want all that old-time stage banter stuff and want to feel loved, which is fine, but I think a cold relentless hammer attack on the senses works better for a band like us.”

“The second show had a few different songs so it made sense to add those in,” he adds. “The first show was better, though. I remember the crowd was pretty wild that night. The second show was more subdued and a bit looser. That was just as gigs started happening again, so I think people were still a bit cautious. Either that or all the wild ones had died!”

A throwback to the days when live albums were magical things, rather than cynical stopgaps, ‘Slaughter On First Avenue’ is a jolting dose of dark electricity and psychedelic terror. Swollen with the greatest of riffs and performed with grit, power and haughty disdain, it loudly confirms that UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS have the raw, fuzzed-out power to drag everybody into their bewildering, bewitched vortex of doom. A dazzling, devilish squall to mark the beginning of a new chapter, ‘Slaughter On First Avenue’ also clears the decks for this band’s next malevolent move. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

“Yes, There will be another record which will hopefully appear at some point without warning or explanation,” Kevin Starrs avows. “It will be completely different to anything else we’ve done. You can think of it as a late night detour. Its appeal will be extremely limited but that’s OK… ‘When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it!’”

‘Slaughter on First Avenue’ Track List:
1. I See Through You
2. Waiting for Blood
3. Death’s Door
4. Shockwave City
5. Thirteen Candles
6. Dead Eyes of London
7. Pusher Man
8. Ritual Knife
9. Slow Death
10. Crystal Spiders
11. Blood Runner
12. Desert Ceremony
13. I’ll Cut You Down
14. No Return



Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Dead Eyes of London”

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Friday Full-Length: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

A certain portion of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ ultimate impact on underground and/or heavy rock will forever be tied to their second album, 2011’s landmark Blood Lust (discussed here, also here), but as the UK outfit mark the 10th anniversary of that LP’s follow-up, 2013’s Mind Control (review here), a revisit seems warranted. Or, at least one would if I’d been able at any point in the last 10 years to get some of these songs out of my head.

By the time Uncle Acid — fronted and steered by guitarist/vocalist Kevin R. Starrs (anyone remember finding out who it was?), the band just off a May tour that made headlining stops at Desertfest in London and Berlin and Soulstone Gathering in Poland — got around to releasing the nine-track/50-minute Mind Control, the secret was out. Even I knew about them by then, having put off listening due to annoyance at the hype in 2011. Stupid, but true. I don’t know how many pressings of Blood Lust LPs burned through the Rise Above Records offices (which in my head are Barad Dûr in Mordor but probably are just part of Lee Dorrian‘s house) between 2011 and 2013, but I’m sure it was plenty. They were immediately at the forefront of underground consciousness. It was stunning. They’d put out Vol. 1 (reissue review here) in 2010 in an edition of something like 30 CDRs — and yes I’d love one, thanks for asking — but once heavy-heads got wind of “I’ll Cut You Down” and “Death’s Door,” they were everywhere. All of a sudden, a whole lot of bands wanted to sound like a Hammer Horror VHS that’d been buried in a moist basement for 20-25 years, but somehow also watched religiously.

Can’t blame them. It’s not often a genre based at least in some part on sounding like the past gets a genuinely fresh take, and Uncle Acid were that. Mind Control came out April 15, 2013, again through Rise Above — which was distributed/licensed/whatever in the States through Metal Blade at the time — and as much as Blood Lust set the path that many have since attempted to walk, I’ll argue every time for Mind Control as the better record.

Even its ‘lesser’ tracks in the middle third, “Desert Ceremony,” “Evil Love” and “Death Valley Blues” — which arrive after the holy-shit-this-is-for-real opening salvo of “Mt. Abraxas,” “Mind Crawler” and “Poison Apple,” and before the far-out hallucinogenic decay of the longer last three cuts, “Follow the Leader,” “Valley of the Dolls” and “Devil’s Work” — it’s a landmark in terms of aesthetic and craft. It is among the most recognizable heavy rock albums of the last 20 years, with a fullness of production that nothing the band did before or has done since — that’s 2015’s The Night Creeper (review here) and 2018’s Wasteland (review here) — has attempted to match. Even in their discography, it stands out.

The work itself is incredible. “Mt. Abraxas” laying it on the table right at the start, the strutting hellchild of The Beatles and Sabbath. Here’s this riff, eat it. Then boogie cuz it’s “Mind Crawler” next. It is emblematic of the level of songwriter Starrs is that the band can so gleefully buy in on and roundly endorse even vague heinous shit and be both psychologically affecting and catchy as hell. They get in your head, these songs, which is the point. And “Poison Apple,” Uncle acid and the deadbeats mind controlswinging into its own chorus like it’s alt-reality 1969 — a fair enough preface for “Devil’s Work”‘s Manson Family-based lyrics later — and holding that swagger in the solo. Shit.

“Evil Love” is all about the careening push. It’s like you’re falling through the verse and then falling again through the chorus. Dude sounds like he’s nodding off to sleep and it’s brilliant. The chug, and that lyric, “You are dear to our purpose.” The swing in the drums and the way the song seems to sneak around its own hook. Beautiful and sinister. All this shit you’d think would never work, very much working. And the sweep into “Death Valley Blues.” The way the song stops and redirects through that clumsy part and straightens itself out in the bridge. I love that clumsy part. Uncle Acid weren’t the first to approach the concept of SabBeatles — Type O Negative did it pretty well that one time — but they owned it on this record. I feel like it was either Uncle Acid or Ghost who were really bound to hit the mainstream and I’m glad this band didn’t become that one. It would have been a shame to lose an act so willing to revel in dirt to the demands of actually-commercial production.

But speaking of sleepy which I think I was at some point back there, look at “Follow the Leader” tapping classic psych hypnosis through repetition. Or gaze at it and feel your eyelids grow heavy and your breathing relax. By the fade, those strums are echoes of themselves and they just go on and then there’s an acoustic in there and feedback and it’s like it’s still there when it’s over. And I will be forever god damned if “Valley of the Dolls” isn’t one of the best heavy riffs of all time. I mean it. I don’t care if you’re putting it next to “Into the Void” or “South of Heaven” or “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” or “Gardenia,” it’s on that list.

And that bassline. And the mellotron. And you think the verse is the march but fuck that they’ve still got “Devil’s Work” up their sleeve. Layered solo respectful of the riff, but making its own place. Then it’s the even more sneering change in the lyric into “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” — which was not a good, but admirably bad, movie — on the way to oblivion crash hits that were probably a pain in the ass to record, which, faster, is also how “Devil’s Work” starts. Also where it dwells in the brain, barely stopping as that chug does during the song at all if you follow the bass, which you should. They hold to it, dum-dum-dum-dum, until the song just kind of sees itself out in slow motion, some guitar picking up for a watery last word before the noise/drone and whatever-else-it-is-I-think-I-knew-at-one-point takes hold and it’s over.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really glad Uncle Acid on the last record kinda-sorta pivoted away from writing songs about killing women and I very much hope they continue in that direction. I’m not fucking stupid. I know it’s horror culture worn as aesthetic, murder as sex, and that doesn’t mean it’s not misogynist. If knowing that and also still being astounded by this album puts me in a lower moral standing — and it probably does, if we’re being honest — then, as with every now and again really wanting to eat a hamburger, it’s a hyper-low-stakes moral compromise I’m apparently willing to make. But in the last decade the times have changed a bit and maybe that’s not a terrible thing. I’d call it kind of unfortunate that another part of Uncle Acid’s legacy and influence is tied to that, but those records are still monumentally good.

And golly shucks I hope they do another at some point.

Thanks for reading.

So, uh, I’m going to Freak Valley next week. Next week. I find myself feeling neither mentally nor physically fit enough for that kind of travel. I will limp, on multiple levels, into Netphen on Thursday, hopefully after a short nap. It seems like a good idea. I feel a little nuts. But sometimes you need to go and I’m booked for it, so anxious or sad-dad-bad-had as I am, I’m going. I also threw my back out yesterday, but that only hurts when I move, so should be fine. I’m 41 years old. I’ll confess I feel a bit silly.

But I think I need it more than I realize. A few showless months — just owing to the way my life is arranged right now; I acknowledge it won’t always be how it is — and I don’t feel right. Couple that with meds that I don’t think are doing me any good — but that I nonetheless just stopped writing to send a refill request for, because I do what I’m told — and being in kind of a wretched place in my own head. I have an announcement going up on (I think) Monday for Ruff Majik that I wrote the top part of on Wednesday and it’s so raw I’m not even sure I can use it. And you know I’m not shy about that kind of thing. But it’s been like that. I’m disappointed in myself as a parent, as a husband, as a person. I don’t really have anywhere in my life that I feel good right now, anywhere I can let my guard down a bit, and I’m hoping a couple days of traveling abroad will help reframe my perspective. Because it could use it, trainwreck of a human being as I am. Then maybe some therapy.

And then, in like another week and a half, Maryland Doom Fest. Not even going to try to see every band playing that. But am going to try to see plenty of them.

So that’s the story of it. I don’t know how much travel-type writing I want to do, and I’ve got other projects — bios, PostWax liner notes — eating at my brain, and maybe being stuck on an aircraft will allow me to focus enough to do some of that. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and fall asleep.

Things to pack: Advil, earplugs, camera, Salonpas, more Advil.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. It’s starting to get hot out there, don’t forget to hydrate. Watch your head, have fun, do the thing. I’ll be back on Monday with more of this kind of thing. It’ll be a hoot.


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Desertfest Berlin 2023 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest Berlin 2023 banner first

This is always an exciting time of year, when the next Spring’s festival season in Europe begins to take shape. Between Desertfest Berlin and the same festival brand’s London edition, you can tell a good bit about who’s going to be on tour, and in the case of an act like Church of Misery coming from Japan, maybe even glean some idea of when their album is coming out just by the fact that they’re making the trip.

I have to wonder too if Uncle Acid won’t have their next record out by then — as I recall they were gearing up for a release more than two years ago — and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if King Buffalo managed to put together at least an EP to take over for the merch booth. Dozer as well will have a record coming if not out by then, and if that doesn’t make you feel warm inside, then I have absolutely nothing for you.

My big question is with whom Ecstatic Vision will be on tour, since there’s some serious potential for package runs. So you see it’s exciting to think of these festivals as the anchors they’ve become — you’ll notice Desertfest Berlin has a new venue to call home — for the touring season. Precisely my kind of fun to see who’s headed where and why, and I hope you share my nerdy enthusiasm as the announcements continue to roll in.

Weekend tickets go on sale Friday. From the fest’s social media:

Desertfest Berlin 2023


DESERTFEST BERLIN has announced the first names for its 2023 edition, and is happy to welcome UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS, THE OBSESSED, KING BUFFALO, CHURCH OF MISERY, DOZER, BLOOD CEREMONY, L.A. WITCH, SOMALI YACHT CLUB, GNOD, ECSTATIC VISION, DAILY THOMPSON, GAUPA and PSYCHLONA, with many more acts to be announced soon!

Taking place between May 19 – 21, 2023 will see a venue change from the Arena to Columbiahalle and Columbia Theater, with additional outdoor space & stage.

Weekend tickets for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2023 will be on sale this Friday, October 28th at 12PM CET via www.desertfest.de

Address: Columbiadamm 13-21, 10965 Berlin.

Artwork by @callumrooneyart


Lowrider, “Pipe Rider” live at Desertfest Berlin 2022

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Desertfest London 2023 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Some considerable names in the first announcement for Desertfest London 2023. The festival set for next May 5-7 in Camden Town will be kind of the first to be removed from the effects of pandemic delay — many artists who played earlier this year had been originally booked for 2020. Seeing them move forward is encouraging.

All the more so given the bands playing, from Uncle Acid and Kadavar to High Desert Queen and Plainride. With Mars Red Sky, Ecstatic Vision and Gaupa included, Blood Ceremony, Spaceslug and a ton of others in just this first round, it looks like Desertfest is ready to throw down after a few rough years, now a survivor event hopefully that much stronger for the experience as it moves past its first decade into the next.

Announcement follows, as seen on social media:

Desertfest London 2023 first poster


Tickets via www.desertfest.co.uk

Returning stronger than ever thanks to the unyielding support of our steadfast fan base, Desertfest is now entering its eleventh year next May. Kicking off the initial 2023 announcement, we welcome cult heroes Uncle Acid and the deadbeats to headline the Roundhouse for the very first time. As one of the most widely-requested bands in the Desertfest-sphere, the Uncle Acid amalgamation of riff-driven hard-rock & trippy melodic weavings has allowed a uniquely original, yet utterly timeless beast to form.

Swedish heavy-blues maestros Graveyard join once again, eliciting raw emotion with their lyrical prowess & introspective compositions. One of the greatest live acts of all time, German groovers KADAVAR and worshippers of vintage occult folklore Blood Ceremony, all of whose boundary pushing retro-rock sounds make a gratifying return.

For those with a heavier appetite, macabre Japanese doom legends Church of Misery, genre-bending nihilists INTER ARMA & London’s own gloom heroes Grave Lines should be a delectable entrée to proceedings.

Ukraine’s Somali Yacht Club will undoubtedly meet a rapturous reception when their flawless musicianship makes its long awaited Desertfest debut. Dynamic US rockers Valley of the Sun will also make their first DF appearance, as they quickly propel themselves onto ‘must see’ lists across the globe.

Poland’s own Spaceslug will bring revellers into a world of atmospheric sci-fi influenced proto-doom, whilst the unique sounds of Mars Red Sky, GAUPA & Ecstatic Vision also up the ante with their progressive fusions of stoner & psychedelia.

Rounding off this first announcement, we also warmly welcome Celestial Sanctuary, High Desert Queen, Plainride, Everest Queen, Venomwolf & Margarita Witch Cult.

Weekend tickets for Desertfest London 2023 are on sale now, with much more still to be announced – www.desertfest.co.uk

Artwork by Callum Rooney


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Vine Weevil Post “You Are the Ocean” Video from Sun in Your Eyes LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


There are a few other tracks up on Vine Weevil‘s YouTube page, in case you, like me, don’t have Tidal and are Spotify impaired — seriously, how many times do I need to sign up for the same service? if you need to prove I’m me so god damn badly just take my blood and have done with it — but I’ve yet to dig into their upcoming full-length, Sun in Your Eyes, in its entirety. This is something I hope to rectify as soon as possible; hopefully by the time this post actually goes live, I mean. And I think when you dig into the video below for Vine Weevil‘s “You Are the Ocean,” you’ll perhaps get a sense of where some of my urgency comes from.

Based in London, the duo is comprised of brothers Itamar and Yotam Rubinger, who — on drums and guitar/vocals, respectively — are both former members of a little band called Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Oh, well then. Okay. Sun in Your Eyes is their second long-player behind a quietly-issued 2019 self-titled, and while one might recognize some of their foundation in the songwriting traditions of the ’60s garage and ’70s heavy rock movements, an edge of grit pervading all the while, at least from what I’ve heard thus far — cuts like “Out of Tune,” the Beatlesy shimmer of “My Friend,” and the title-track — there isn’t quite the same gonna-go-kill-some-ladies vibe going on, and you know what? I’m cool with that. Cool with the idea of not killing ladies. I know that’s a bold position to take, but I’m putting it out there.

Thematically, you’ll fine Vine Weevil working from a deeply personal point of view on Sun in Your Eyes, which is the Rubingers’ tribute to their late father. The video for “You Are the Ocean,” which was made by Omri Bigetz, deals in a worldlier scale in terms of the environmental scenarios being portrayed, but certainly life and death factor in one way or the other, as they do to most everything.

I already sent the band a “please please please let me hear your whole record” email, so when/if that happens, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, in case your Spotify (ever) works, here’s this to get you introduced to the band:

Vine Weevil, “You Are the Ocean” official video

Vine Weevil would like to introduce their new music video “You Are the Ocean”.

“You Are the Ocean” is the first video release from the album “Sun in Your Eyes”.

Vine Weevil is a London-based band formed of singer-guitarist Yotam Rubinger and drummer Itamar Rubinger, both formerly of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats.

Vine Weevil’s sound is heavily influenced by 60s and 70s acid rock and garage. True to their influences, the album was recorded live on tape with analogue equipment at Gizzard Studios in London.

“The origins of the song come from a very personal place. We started writing the song after our father passed away. He spent most of his life by the sea. The feelings behind the song – and most parts of the album – are about our father.”

The distinctive animated video is by Amsterdam-based 3D artist Omri Bigetz.

The full album is now available on Spotify and Tidal.



Vine Weevil is:
Itamar Rubinger
Yotam Rubinger

Vine Weevil on Thee Facebooks

Vine Weevil on YouTube

Vine Weevil on Spotify

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