High n’ Heavy Premiere “Power of Arachnid”; V out May 28

Posted in audiObelisk on May 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

high n heavy

Massachusetts doom rockers http://www.spitzenort.de/?buy-reports-online - Stop getting unsatisfactory marks with these custom term paper recommendations leave behind those sleepless nights writing High n’ Heavy release their fifth album, A Dissertation Positive Behavior Support, - dissertation help service. Ranked #1 by 10,000 plus clients; for 25 years our certified resume writers have been developing V, through Order Resume Online Wedding Invitations - Perfectly crafted and HQ academic essays. All sorts of writing services & research papers. 100% non-plagiarism guarantee of Electric Valley Records on May 28. A flair for the epic pervades the eight-song/42-minute outing that should come as little surprise to anyone who donned the mantle of their 2019 offering,  BestCustomPaper.com offers you its Search Phd Thesis writing services to let you seize an opportunity to be confident about bright success at the end of the school year! You have studied enough already. It's time to rely on professionals and spend the rest of your student years as you want. Custom Dissertation Writing You Deserve . There is a vast number of platforms that offer students any Warrior Queen (review here) — also their debut on  Our Home Page offers a number of benefits students are sure to appreciate including proofreading, editing, revisions, formatting and much more. You can select the writer of your choice to complete your request. You can also submit details such as guidelines, notes and other information you want to include to ensure your dissertation is customized to meet your academic needs Electric Valley — and from opener “Cleansed with Blood” and the even-fuzzier “Gather Flame” that follows, the band take the trodden paths of genre deep into an old growth New England forest of lost mysticism and magic that’s probably spelled with a ‘k’ somewhere in there. As frontman  All you have to do is say, see page today, and we will provide you with a skilled writer with years of experience in your specific academic field. All our experts are specially trained and have all the necessary qualifications to ensure that you get a high-quality paper each time you place an order with us. We understand that the dissertation represents a significant milestone in your learning curve and as such, accord it the respect it deserves. Kris  Cheap Paper Writing Vendre . Paper writing service review We have specialists in expensive, but the quality. Be convinced that choosing to submit a quality send back an amazing. buying a dissertation vendre A bad time or an internet based writing possible for you to few buying a dissertation vendre Fortin intones in the hook of “Gather Flame,” “It must be victory or death.” The stakes, then, are pretty high.

Fair enough.  Get Assignment Submit Help Without Compromising Weekly Expenses. Students already go through a lot of academic pressure as soon as their professor assigns them a dissertation writing task. Moreover, on top of that, the skyrocketing price of the online dissertation service provided by the assignment writing services worsens the problem. Students are always found searching cheap Fortin is a steady forward presence on  business plan writers melbourne Do My Assignment For Me Do My Assignment research paper on impulse buying behaviour buyessay net V, and stands up to the test before him of bringing thematic scope to the classic heavy fuzz and natural tones of guitarist  Experience the Australias best online assignment help service at My http://lojen.ru/?customer-service-essay-papers. Our team of professional assignment helpers, will provide you John Steele (also keys) and bassist  Learn about our get more, and how our service can help improve your paper. Michael Dudley, as well as the rolling drumwork of  Our argumentative essay on bullyings leave nothing out. 100% Unique content; No pre-written papers; Highest quality standards; As you can see, our writing services leave nothing out. Every writing need or want that you could possibly have, right down to giving you free revisions, is completely taken care of. Your complete satisfaction is our greatest desire and we will stop at nothing to achieve that Nick Perrone. Horror, fantasy, fantasy horror — and no doubt the songs are rife with references for those in the know on this or that particular book, game, whatever it might be, but more crucially,  great post to read - Learn everything you have always wanted to know about custom writing Proofreading and editing help from top specialists. Why be High n’ Heavy create a flow between their songs that’s neither wholly doom nor heavy rock and roll, finding a place between genres that’s metal-adjacent in its poise but not aggressive, unwilling to sacrifice fist-in-the-air power for stonerly groove, but somehow harnessing both. Maybe that’s that magik at work.

“Power of Arachnid” — premiering below — runs six and a half minutes and slows down from the opening duo, but nestles into a nice, wah-coated rhythm, high n heavy vcarrying over subtle backing layers from “Gather Flame” with semi-harmonies worthy of headphones, and doesn’t necessarily represent the whole of  Get a whopping 20% (FIRST TIMER'S) Discount http://www.salzgitter-ag.com/?dissertation-cost-controlling when you austin beyond border essay mary selected order our write my essay for V but showcases its tones and performances well, a balance between live energy and studio clarity brought to bear by source site.Pay to write paper.Essay Writing On Internet.Essay customer service.Buy book review paper Trevor Vaughan in the band’s native New Bedford, along the south coast of Massachusetts, Buzzards Bay, an old whaling town remade — when last I was there; a few years ago now — into an antiparadise of opiates and wanna-gentrify intent. MA, and New England as a whole, has never wanted for heavy, but  High n’ Heavy share no more with the likes of Roadsaw than they do with Pentagram or The Sword, and their refusal to cower makes the march that caps side A in “Onward to Oblivion” even more righteous.

Does side B dig in further? Yes, yes it does. “Screaming Moon” is a molasses-thick tonal highlight, Sabbathian in its roll, lyrics of mammoth tusks and warhammers and the like, all nod and grooving tempo and Dudley playing the Geezer role in the setup to the arrival of the appropriately grandiose keyboards. The subsequent “Rise” is faster, as it inevitably would be, but still thrilling in its tonal depth and catchiness, and it serves double-duty as a transition into the 2:43 “Death in the Unknown,” which is the point at which High n’ Heavy go full The Action is Go in their rush. No complaints as they rip it up in the penultimate moment; the structure of the song holds up to the force with which it’s delivered. For the closer, the turn to nylon-string acoustic guitar and keyboard brings us back to Dio-era Sabbath medievalism — in my head I hear, “I think about closing the door…” — but the drama that ensues is modern in its lumber and patient in its unfolding.

Here too, High n’ Heavy bask in doom for doom’s sake, a grand finale that shows class while adhering to genre tenets, again unwilling to be anything other than the band’s own despite the familiarity of the setting in which their tale takes place. This is V in summation, but the adventure doesn’t have to end there. As the band marches out to the bookending acoustic and keys, one gets the sense that, while they’ve come a ways from “Attack the 30 Rack” on their 2015 self-titled debut — “I may be a wizard/I may be from space/The rules are the same/Now I’m shitfaced” — and “Sex Potions Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 2017’s From the Flames, finding their way to where they are now is by no means a conclusion unto itself. Warriors, wizards, whathaveyou, they may be, but High n’ Heavy are songwriters too, and V demonstrates the best aspects of that as well as a heaping dose of personality.

Enjoy “Power of Arachnid” on the player below, followed by preorder links and all that other good stuff from the PR wire:

High n’ Heavy, “Power of Arachnid” premiere

PRE-ORDER:
http://electricvalleyrecords.com/products (Vinyl)
https://evrecords.bandcamp.com/album/high-n-heavy-v (Vinyl + Digital)

Electric Valley Records is proud to present the 5th LP of High n’ Heavy, entitled V. The album will be available on different variants of vinyl (Black, Transparent Purple, and Ultra LTD “Moon Edition”) and digital formats on 28th May 2021. On the same day, the Italian label represses the doom quartet’s last album, Warrior Queen, on vinyl (Red, White, and Ultra LTD “Shield Edition”).

Out of the depths of Massachusetts, High n’ Heavy continue to bring the fire. Formed in 2014, under the influence of The Stooges and Black Sabbath, this quartet have put together a formidable blend of dirty 70’s style rock, doom, and blues that’d make the devil blush. They go one better with each of their studio work, outstripping the caliber of the previous albums. Their live shows come with an energy that leaves the audiences with their brains tingling and knees weak. They were fortunate to play RPM Fest ’19 and open for The Obsessed.

High n’ Heavy’s upcoming release, V, sees the band continue their ascent towards the rock n’ roll mountain top. Going back into the studio with Trevor Vaughan at the helm, their sound is larger than ever before. The songwriting and performance on this album prove yet again that they are a band that’s found its groove, but is also just getting started. The Eight massive tracks of the LP eventually turn out to be their greatest offering to the gods of rock n’ roll!

“High n’ Heavy are beyond excited to continue working with Electric Valley Records on our second release with the label,” the band says. “The support from EVR, along with the bands that make up their amazing family, has helped bring this album’s vision to fruition.”

TRACKLIST:
A1. Cleansed with Blood
A2. Gather Flame
A3. Power of Arachnid
A4. Onward to Oblivion
B1. Screaming Moon
B2. Rise
B3. Death in the Unknown
B4. We Will Burn

All songs written by High n’ Heavy.
Recorded & Engineered by Trevor Vaughan Recorded at The Coliseum.
Produced by Trevor Vaughan and High n’ Heavy.
Artwork & Layout by John Steele.

High n’ Heavy:
Kris Fortin: Vocals
John Steele: Guitar/Keys
Michael Dudley: Bass
Nick Perrone: Drums

High n’ Heavy on Thee Facebooks

High n’ Heavy on Instagram

High n’ Heavy on Bandcamp

Electric Valley Records on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records on Instagram

Electric Valley Records on Bandcamp

Electric Valley Records website

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Notes: Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan Längquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing Längquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had Längquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge à la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, Híbrido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the Sün, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • Besvärjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 23

Posted in Radio on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Got into some longer tracks this time around on The Obelisk Show, and that was very much on purpose. Last episode was the Kyuss special, and that was a lot of fun, but when I started this show I guess over a year ago now, I was thinking of it specifically as something a little bit against the grain of what Gimme Radio usually does, so yeah, I definitely consider playing like 15-minute tracks and in this case, a 23-minute track, as counter to the general consideration of where “radio” — even in its interwebular iteration — generally goes. At least I like to imagine it being that way.

So yes. A lot of new music around here, and some longer tracks from the likes of Taras BulbaJesus the Snake (get jazzy, y’all), Ireland’s Coroza and Swedes V and Goatess. Also the new single from Blackwater Holylight because it’s so good that I had to play it, new stuff from Here Lies ManYear of the CobraOgreLamassu and the Alunah track that was premiered here this week, basically just as a brag on my part. And for the classic track? Oh, it’s only “Catharsis” by YOB. If you can think of a better way to spend the aforementioned 23 minutes of your life than listening to that, I’d love to hear it.

I haven’t cut the voice tracks yet as I write this (I’ll do them this afternoon), so I don’t know how much of a dork I sound like, but I’m sure I’ll sound like plenty of a dork when I get there. But thanks for listening if you do in just a couple hours, and thanks for your ongoing support generally, because it’s what lets me do crazy stuff like a radio show on the station that has Dave Mustaine and the dude from Amon Amarth as DJs. These are wacky times.

Listen at: http://www.gimmeradio.com

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 09.13.19

 

Year of the Cobra Into the Fray Ash & Dust*
Jesus the Snake Karma Black Acid, Pink Rain*
BREAK
Here Lies Man Iron Rattles No Ground to Walk Upon*
Taras Bulba The Yo-Yo Man One*
Blackwater Holylight Death Realms Veils of Winter*
V Led into Exile Led into Exile*
Goatess What Lies Beneath Blood and Wine*
Lamassu I Die Into the Empty*
BREAK
YOB Catharsis Catharsis
Alunah Hunt Violet Hour*
Ogre The Future Thrice as Strong*
BREAK
Coroza The Plutonian Drug Chaliceburner*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Sept. 27. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Full Album Stream: V, Led into Exile

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

v led into exile

[Click play above to stream V’s Led into Exile in full. Album is out Sept. 13 on Suicide Records and the band will have shows in Sweden on Sept. 29 with Horndal and Jorm and Nov. 7 with Dopelord and Zaum. Info here.]

Based in the Swedish county of Dalarna, which includes towns like Borlänge, Na?s and Falun and borders against Norway in the west, four-piece outfit V offer a fair bit of stylistic nuance amid outwardly crushing sonics. The band began presumably in much different form some 25 years ago, but Led into Exile is their second full-length for Suicide Records behind 2017’s Pathogenesis (discussed here) and a 2016 EP, VI — I’d assume that’s ‘V-1’ rather than just ‘six’ in Roman numerals — that was recorded in 2006 and released in late 2016. With guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/recording engineer Andreas Baier having been involved in a number of projects over the years, from Afgrund to the currently-running Besvärjelsen, one assumes V‘s longer tenure includes a fair amount of time not really active, but with guitarist Jonas Gryth, bassist/vibraphonist Marcus Lindqvist and drummer Daniel Liljekvist alongside Baier, V tap into a post-heavy amalgam of atmospheres on the six tracks of the Led into Exile LP, dividing into two sides and playing toward European-style post-metal — Amenra more than Cult of Luna, to be sure — with shades of hardcore and yet more extreme doomed fare laced throughout.

With fervent crash and lumber, V‘s songs work in linear fashion to squeeze the air from your lungs as only their kind of rhythmic churn can, crafting a tension that’s affecting in mood and ambience. Beginning with “Broadcast from the Shadows,” each side of Led into Exile works in a pattern of running a longer song into a shorter one, then putting an even longer one after that — three tracks on each side. This underlying structure speaks to a sense of purpose in what V are doing, and indeed there’s a kind of aesthetic poise to the material, whether it’s the chugging pummel of “Illviljan” — ‘ill will,’ in Swedish — or the acoustic guitar, vibraphone and vocal-based “None Shall Rise Again,” which might owe an even heavier sonic debt to Scott Kelly than the nod-inducing opener.

There’s a not insignificant shift between sides A and B, but the YOB-esque intro to side A capper “Hostage of Souls” has a definite sense of reach on its own, and the same is true of “Broadcast from the Shadows” and “Illviljan” preceding, as intense as they are. The leadoff cut is clearly intended to hook the listener not with an ultra-catchy chorus, but with a standout riff met with massive rhythmic plod, as well as a bit of floating guitar along with Baier‘s throaty, echoing-in-a-chasm or screaming-into-the-void shouts, and it works. At 5:57, 3:58 and 8:02, respectively, “Broadcast from the Shadows,” “Illviljan” and “Hostage of Souls” set the pattern that “Phantasmagoria,” “None Shall Rise Again” and the closing title-track will mirror, but the differences in approach aren’t to be understated. What V seem to excel at is conveying intensity of purpose. As the quick drumming behind the angular riff of “Illviljan” takes hold, punctuated with a popping snare before a stop brings it to the next stage of its evolution as it makes its way back eventually to where it came from, the depth of Led into Exile is writ large in the raw tones and harsh edge V communicate.

v

It’s a modernist brutality, with sharp corners and little interest in quaint notions like mercy. The longer “Hostage of Souls” offers turns from hypnotic and quiet stretches to explosive lurch, breaking around its midpoint to a near-silent ambience of minimalist guitar and (after a minute or so) vibraphone that carries through to its finish in creepy and echoing fashion. Of course, on LP, there’s a side flip between them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “Hostage of Souls” and “Phantasmagoria” (7:50) were positioned as well with the lead-in from one to the other in mind as well as the overarching mirrored structure of the album, such is the flow from that quieter second half of the one into the outright onslaught of the other. And “Phantasmagoria” continues to build on that, demonstrating plainly the side B method of pushing further into the elements and roots that side A has established.

And while the individual tracks that comprise it are longer, that’s just as true in terms of breadth as it is in runtime. The departure from lurching onslaught into the acoustic “None Shall Rise Again” is a drastic-feeling turn that, while still fair game in terms of the sphere in which are working on Led into Exile, shouldn’t be overlooked. And the fact that it stays acoustic for its 5:31 duration says something in itself. It sets up the nine-minute punch of the closing title-track with an opportunity to both make an impact with a turn back toward more tonally weighted riffing, and that’s not one V let pass them by. Angular churn and biting, echoing vocals are met with an undercurrent of synth after the first minute, a chug and march with an outward feel cutting after about 3:30 into the total 9:09 in order to give headphone-worthy ambient guitar its space to set up the final push.

That last march will take hold at 6:40 and explodes into heavy post-rock tones and clean vocals for a surprising and melodic crescendo that carries Led into Exile to its finish. Even after the shift in the second half of “Hostage of Souls” and the cleaner-if-still-guttural vocal turn in “None Shall Rise Again,” that concluding section is a final expansion of the context for the album as a whole, once more speaking to the conceptual structure on which the two sides are working even as it adds more to the raw palette from which they’re drawing. And it’s worth noting that, for a style not exactly known for its brevity in songwriting, they get there in relatively efficient fashion, thereby rounding out a record that is both clear and varied in its purpose and unflinching in its sonic resolve. I don’t know what V might’ve been doing during those long stints on the backburner, but clearly activity suits them in terms of establishing a forward progression, which is exactly what they do in these songs.

V on Thee Facebooks

V on Instagram

V on Bandcamp

Suicide Records website

Suicide Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 21

Posted in Radio on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Last time around, I actually managed to post the playlist for The Obelisk Show before Gimme Radio aired it, and I thought that worked pretty well, letting people know what was going to be on and all that. As it stands, I haven’t even had the chance to record the voice breaks yet for this one, but it’ll get done before airtime. Again, lots of new stuff this episode and a lot of it drawn from recent coverage around here, as well as some stuff that will be upcoming, whether it’s V‘s new single or the 20-minute Comacozer track that ends out.

That song and the We Lost the Sea track before it make up the final 35 minutes of the show. I wanted a couple longer tracks this time out, so between those, VMonolordOblivion Reptilian and Hound the Wolves, I feel like we got there. There’s a couple rockers up front with Bison MachineBlackwater Holylight and Lightning Born, but from then on pretty much all bets are off. I never know how that kind of thing will be received by the Gimme listenership, but screw it, I haven’t been fired yet, so I’ll take that for what it tells me. Not much, I suppose.

Dug these songs though. The Lightning BornSleeping Giant and The Black Wizards cuts were standouts from their respective albums, and the new Goatess single was just premiered elsewhere, but I’ll be covering the album too, so wanted to give that a chance to shine here. And a little bit of Crowbar seemed appropriate as I’ve already seen them once this month and plan to do so again before the month is out. Some bands you just can’t get enough.

Thanks for checking it out if you get the chance.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 08.16.19

Bison Machine The Tower Seas of Titan*
Blackwater Holylight Motorcycle Veils of Winter*
Lightning Born Salvation Lightning Born*
BREAK
The Black Wizards Kaleidoscope Eyes Reflections*
Sleeping Giant Serpent Sleeping Giant*
Oblivion Reptilian Alien Shit Fried on Rock*
Hound the Wolves Godhead Split with Glasghote*
BREAK
Crowbar All I Had I Gave Crowbar (1993)
Monolord The Bastard Son No Comfort*
V Phantasmagoria Led into Exile*
Goatess Dunerider Blood and Wine*
BREAK
We Lost the Sea Towers Triumph & Disaster*
Comacozer Kykeneon Journey Mydriasis*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Aug. 30. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Track Premiere: Spidergawd, V

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

spidergawd v

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Spidergawd’s ‘Knights of CGR.’ Their new album, Spidergawd V, is out Jan. 11 on Crispin Glover Records.]

Consistency of the kind Spidergawd have honed across their now-five albums never just happens. The Trondheim, Norway, outfit may have missed putting out a full-length in 2018, but mostly because they were busy touring, and otherwise, their discography has been built on a per-year basis, with Spidergawd IV (review here) in 2017, Spidergawd III (review here) in 2016, Spidergawd II (review here) in 2015 and Spidergawd (review here) in 2014. Released as ever through Crispin Glover RecordsSpidergawd V is the band’s second outing with Hallvard Gaardløs on bass alongside the remaining founding trio of guitarist/vocalist Per Borten, baritone saxophonist Rolf Martin Snustad and drummer Kenneth Kapstad, and from its blindingly colorful cover art — also a regular feature of their work, as provided by Emile Morel — to its driven classic heavy rock feel, it is immediately recognizable as Spidergawd songcraft.

Comprised of eight tracks for a crisply-produced 38-minute long-player, Spidergawd V is absolutely air tight. No fluff. No filler. No time for messing around. Every minute of every song has its purpose, whether it’s the wah in “Green Eyes” or the sax-led intro to album opener and longest track (immediate points) “All and Everything,” or the sax and guitar seeming to lockstep later in the penultimate “Whirlwind Rodeo” to touch on “Hole in the Sky”-style riffing en route to some of the NWOBHM-isms that showed up on the last record, and as a unit, they are given to the kind of road-born sharpness that only touring and experience can provide. And for all their consistency, for all their recognizable aspects, and for the sheer fact that they’ve put out five albums essentially with the same title and the same style of art based around similar elements with straightforward structures, Spidergawd never seem to be repeating themselves. Their songs vary in mission and vibe, and the spirit of Spidergawd V underscores the fact that while there’s definitely some carryover from one offering to the next, the band have never actually failed to grow between their releases.

And they’ve done it quickly. Granted, they very clearly knew the band they wanted to be when they made the 2014 self-titled. The years since have only made that more apparent, but as “All and Everything” careens through its propulsive hook on its way to the first of any number of classy-as-hell, festival-ready guitar solos to be found throughout the album, the sheer ease with which they deliver their material is staggering, and it only becomes more so as “Ritual Supernatural” touches on Thin Lizzy troublemaking and “Twentyfourseven” reimagines chugging KISS strut-and-chorus vibes with an edge of the ’80s metal that followed in its wake. With Borten‘s voice and the structure of the verses and choruses he’s singing as a grounding factor, Spidergawd are free to follow whatever whims they might want and still find themselves on solid footing. And over their amassed discography, they’ve done that, with flourishes of psychedelia and metal playing out alongside their core of heavy rock.

spidergawd

Following “Twentyfourseven,” “Green Eyes” fills out more of the metal side of their approach, with layers of acoustic and electric guitar working together in an arrangement that only makes one wonder how the hell the song isn’t about “the night,” though one way or the other it kind of is anyway. With Snustad‘s sax wailing away as Kapstad pushes “Green Eyes” to its apex, side A wraps with an adrenaline surge that resolves itself in half-shouted lyrics and a controlled-as-ever crashout. Even in their most unhinged moments, Spidergawd hold tight on the reins of their sound. That’s not to say there’s no danger in what they’re doing, just that the way through that terrain is no less efficient and no less guided by a sure hand. Same is true as “Knights of CGR” — note the name of the label if you’re wondering what the acronym might stand for — takes hold at the outset of side B and works its way more patiently into its first verse. There’s a subtle shift in vibe, a pullback from some of the all-go-go-go of the first half of the album, but Spidergawd are hardly taking it easy with the Dio Sabbath riff — or is it “Stand up and Shout?” — that carries them to the song’s conclusion.

But even that shift has its purpose in the scope of Spidergawd V, which started out side A with a figurative-deep-inhale intro before “All and Everything” kicked in. “Avatar,” which follows “Knights of CGR” is a straightforward classic swinger, a subtle highlight for its melody and the interplay between Borten‘s guitar and Gaardløs‘ bass, the pace somewhat drawn down, but still moving through smoothly on its well-charted path, with Snustad‘s sax topping a later crashing finish that prefaces the aforementioned “Hole in the Sky”-ness of “Whirlwind Rodeo” to come. There is more Thin Lizzy in there with the steady bassline beneath the winding lead lines in the guitar and the sax blowing steady overarching notes in the verse, but the break in the second half of the song is a departure and might account for some of the time difference between “Whirlwind Rodeo” at 5:10 and everything else, which is between four and five minutes long, the opener notwithstanding. Still, they make their way back to the verse and the chorus to finish and start the closer “Do I Need a Doctor” at an ultra-rush that turns to punctuating jabs of guitar and sax in the verse before finding its melodic and memorable personality in the hook an reviving the push.

Here too, Spidergawd have it all under control, and even though they hit the brakes for a dream-toned bridge in the back end, they pick the tempo up again to round out and once more reinforce the notion that’s been the case with the band all along: that it’s the songwriting. Of all the pieces of their approach that have crossed the line from one LP to the next, when it comes to Spidergawd, by far the most crucial has been their songwriting. And five records deep, the challenge isn’t so much whether Spidergawd are going to put out a killer collection of songs, but whether their audience is going to be caught up to the last one by the time they do. That may be less of a challenge with Spidergawd V having the extra year out from its predecessor, but frankly, it may not. Looking back over what they’ve done in the last half-decade, it may well be a much longer time before their work is giving its full level of appreciation. But as of now, they are relentless on all fronts, and if we’re lucky, they’ll continue to outpace the rest of the planet for a long time to come.

Spidergawd website

Spidergawd on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records

Crispin Glover Records

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Spidergawd Set Jan. 11 Release for V & Post New Single; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spidergawd

By the time it’s done, 2018 will be the first year since 2014 without a new Spidergawd LP. True, the Trondheim, Norway, heavy rock specialists — and as per 2017’s Spidergawd IV (review here), NWOBHM-dabblers — have a new single out called All and Everything and in the spirit of its title that’s not at all nothing, but they had a pretty unbelievable pace going and one can only wonder what the extra time taken to put together Spidergawd V will bring upon the album’s release in January 2019 through Crispin Glover Records. I’m not saying I’ve heard it or anything, but yeah, I have and it smokes.

As they’ll do, they have a sizable tour booked to coincide with the release, and you’ll find those dates below courtesy of social media along with some tantalizing “Lucy in the Hole in the Sky”-style info about the album from the PR wire.

Dig:

spidergawd v

Spidergawd – V

In 2018, Spidergawd vanished from the surface, but not to rest. Rather the opposite. On the 11th January they are back with their fifth studio album, not surprisingly titled ‘ Spidergawd V’.

Once again the band mates Rolf Martin Snustad (Barytonsax) Hallvard Gaardløs (Bass) Kenneth Kapstad (Trommer) and Per Borten (Gitar/Vokal) have managed to make an impressive album in their own unique sound.

Whereas Spidergawd I and II were documentations on an adult musical playground, Spidergawd III and IV headed the band towards a more serious and defined identity. With the NWOBHM- references from IV and the heavy weight from III, Spidergawd V is very much recognizable and keeping up with style. Imagine yourself in a boat on a river with spidergawd trees and black sabbath skies and you’ll be close enough to visualize what to expect in the beginning of 2019.

Spidergawd, with its fifth album under its arm, can be seen on tour in Norway and throughout Europe from January to the end of March 2019.

First single from Spidergawd V, ‘All And Everything’, and B-side ‘My Occupation’ is out on all streaming platforms!

Spidergawd live:
18/01 STORSTUGGU / RØROS / NO
19/01 GREGERS / HAMAR / NO
24/01 VERA / GRONINGEN / NL
25/01 JC DE KLINKER / AARSCHOT / BE
26/01 TBA / NL
27/01 AMSTERDAM / MELKWEG SUGAR FACTORY / NL
07/02 FLYTTEN / HAUGESUND / NO
08/02 FOLKEN / STAVANGER /NO
09/02 TEATERET / KRISTIANSAND / NO
15/02 TERMINALEN / ÅLESUND / NO
16/02 BYSCENEN / TRONDHEIM / NO
21/02 ÆLVESPEILET / PORSGRUNN / NO
22/02 ENERGIMØLLA / KONGSBERG / NO
23/02 ROCKEFELLER / OSLO / NO
27/02 TBA / MO I RANA / NO
28/02 SINUS / BODØ / NO
01/03 DRIV / TROMSØ / NO
02/03 TBA / BERGEN / NO
06/03 POSTEN / ODeNSE / DK
07/03 1000 FRYD / AALBORG / DK
08/03 BETA / COPENHAGEN / DK
09/03 FZW / DORTMUND / DE
10/03 TOWER / BREMEN / DE
12/03 TBA
13/03 LUX / HANNOVER / DE
14/03 NATCHLEBEN / FRANKFURT / DE
15/03 FORUM / BIELEFELD / DE
16/03 LUXOR / COLOGNE / DE
17/03 STADTMITTE / KARLSRUHE / DE
19/03 TBA
20/03 GASWERK / WINTERTHÜR / CH
21/03 ROCKHAOUSE / SALZBURG / AT
22/03 ARENA / WIEN / AT
23/03 STROM / MÜNCHEN / DE
24/03 TBA
26/03 HIRSCH / NÜRNBERG / DE
27/03 UT CONNEWITZ / LEIPZIG / DE
28/03 KNUST / HAMBURG / DE
29/03 BEATPOL / DRESDEN / DE
30/03 MUSIK & FRIEDEN / BERLIN / DE

https://www.facebook.com/spidergawd/
https://www.instagram.com/spidergawdofficial/
http://www.spidergawd.no/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
http://www.crispingloverrecords.com/

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Wooden Shjips Announce Tour Supporting New Album V.

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Do I wish Wooden Shjips‘ newly-announced tour was bringing them somewhere near me? Yeah, I do. But I also kind of wish I lived or at least had a rental property in any number of the cities listed that they are hitting, so, you know, take it with a grain of whatever kinds of grains you take. The psychedeliciosos are set to issue their new album, the apparently punctuated V., on May 25 via Thrill Jockey, and by then they’ll already be well into the process of heralding its arrival, which they’ll continue to do into June as they play Huichica Music Festival and more.

Album preorder link and tour dates are below courtesy of the PR write along with the stream of the single “Staring at the Sun,” so really I’m not sure what you’re still doing up here. Go on. Go dig in.

Go on:

wooden shjips

Wooden Shjips Announce North American Tour Dates

V., First New Album In Five Years, Out May 25th on Thrill Jockey

West Coast psychedelic pillars Wooden Shjips recently announced V., their first album since 2013, which shows the band acting in opposition to the dark vibes of contemporary American life in favor of an optimistic, bright mood. The band has now announced an extensive string of North American dates, bringing their peaceful resistance to cities around the continent early this summer. Legendarily powerful in the live arena, Wooden Shjips perfect their hypnotic grooves on stage.

Wooden Shjips previously shared “Staring At The Sun,” a nearly 8-minute track that was written while singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson watched a wildfire threaten his home outside of Portland, OR.

Wooden Shjips Tour Dates:
April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown
April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing
April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main
April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival
May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile
June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar
June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge
June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

Pre-order V. from Thrill Jockey: thrilljockey.com/products/v-wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips, “Staring at the Sun”

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