Quarterly Review: Wolvennest, Lammping, Lykantropi, Mainliner, DayGlo Mourning, Chamán, Sonic Demon, Sow Discord, Cerbère, Dali’s Llama

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

The Spring 2021 Quarterly Review begins here, and as our long winter of plague-addled discontent is made glorious spring by this son of York Beach, I can hardly wait to dig in. You know the drill. 50 records between now and Friday, 10 per day. It’s a lot. It’s always a lot. That’s the point.

Words on the page. If I have a writing philosophy, that’s it. Head down, keep working. And that’s the challenge here. Can you get over your own crap and say what you need to say about 10 records every day for five days straight out? I’ll be exhausted by the end of the week for sure. I’ll let you know when we get there if it feels any different. Till then, let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wolvennest, Temple

Wolvennest Temple

The second full-length offering — and I mean that: ‘offering’ — from Belgium’s Wolvennest is an expansive and immersive follow-up to their 2018 debut, Void, as the Brussels six-piece offers next-stage extreme cult rock. Across 77 willfully-unmanageable and mind-altering minutes, the troupe caroms between (actual) psychedelic black metal and sheer sonic ritualism, and the intent is made plain from 12:26 opener/longest track (immediate points) “Mantra” onward. Wolvennest are enacting a ceremony and it’s up to the listener to be willing to engage with the material on that level. Their command is unwavering as the the heft and wash of “Alecto” and the ethereal swirl and dual vocal arrangement of “All that Black” show, but while King Dude himself shows up on “Succubus,” and that’s fun, especially followed by the penultimate downward march of “Disappear,” the greatest consumption is saved for “Souffle de Mort” (“breath of death,” in English; it’s not about eggs). In that 10-minute finale, marked out by the French-language declarations of Shazzula Vultura, Wolvennest not only make it plain just how far they’ve brought you, but that they intend to leave you there as well.

Wolvennest on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lammping, New Jaws EP

lammping new jaws

A 15-minute playful jaunt into the funk-grooving max-fuzzed whatever-works garage headtrip if Toronto’s Lammping is right on the money. The four-piece start channel-spanning and mellow with “Jaws of Life” — which is a righteous preach, even though I don’t know the lyrics — and follow with the complementary vibe of “The Funkiest,” which would seem to be titled in honor of its bassline and conjures out-there’est Masters of Reality in its face-painted BlueBoy lysergics over roughly traditional songwriting. Is “Neverbeen” weirder? You know it. Dreamily so, and it’s followed by the genuinely-experimental 40 seconds of “Big Time the Big Boss” and the closer “Other Shoe,” which if it doesn’t make you look forward to the next Lammping album, I’m sorry to say it, but you might be dead. Sorry for your loss. Of you. This shit is killer and deserves all the ears it can get with its early ’90s weirdness that’s somehow also from the late ’60s and still the future too because what is time anyway and screw it we’re all lost let’s ride.

Lammping on Instagram

Nasoni Records website

 

Lykantropi, Tales to Be Told

Lykantropi Tales To Be Told

Tales to Be Told is the late-2020 third long-player from Swedish classicists Lykantropi, following 2019’s Spirituosa (review here) with a warmth of tone that’s derived from ’70s folk rock and vaguely retro in its tones and drum sounds, but remains modern in its hookmaking and it’s not exactly like they’re trying to hide where they’re coming from when they break out the flute sounds. Harmonies in “Mother of Envy” make that song a passionate highlight, while the respective side-endings in “Kom Ta Mig Ut” and “Världen Går Vidare” add to the exploratory and roots-proggy listening experience, the album’s finale dropping its drums before the three-minute mark to allow for a drifting midsection en route to a class finish that answers the choruses of “Spell of Me” and “Axis of Margaret” earlier with due spaciousness. Clean and clear and wanting nothing aesthetically or emotionally, Tales to Be Told is very much a third album in how realized it feels.

Lykantropi on Thee Facebooks

Despotz Records website

 

Mainliner, Dual Myths

Mainliner Dual Myths

Japanese trio Mainliner — comprised of guitarist Kawabata Makoto (Acid Mothers Temple), bassist/vocalist Kawabe Taigen (Bo Ningen) and drummer Koji Shimura (Acid Mothers Temple) — are gentle at the outset of Dual Myths but don’t wait all that long before unveiling their true freak-psych intention in the obliterating 20 minutes of “Blasphemy Hunter,” the opener/longest track (immediate points) that’s followed by the likewise side-consuming left-the-air-lock-behind-and-found-antimatter-was-made-of-feedback “Hibernator’s Dream” (18:38), the noisier, harsher fuckall spread of “Silver Guck” (19:28) and the gut-riffed/duly scorched jazz shredder “Dunamist Zero” (20:08), which culminates the 2LP beast about as well as anything could, earning the gatefold with sheer force of intent to be and to harness the far-out into some loosely tangible thing. Stare into the face of the void and the void doesn’t so much stare back as turn your lungs into party balloons.

Mainliner on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

DayGlo Mourning, Dead Star

DayGlo Mourning Dead Star

On a certain level, what you see is what you get with the Orion slavegirl warriors, alien mushrooms and caithan beast that adorn DayGlo Mourning‘s debut album, the six-song/35-minute Dead Star, in that they’re suitably nestled into the sonic paraphernalia of stoner-doom as well as the visual. With bassist Jerimy McNeil and guitarist Joseph Mills sharing vocal duties over Ray Miner‘s drums, variety of melody and throatier shouts are added to the deep-toned largesse of riff, and the Atlanta trio most assuredly have their heads on when it comes to knowing what they want to do sound-wise. The hard-hit hi-hat of “Faithful Demise” comes with some open spaces after the fuzzy lumber that caps “Bloodghast,” and as “Ashwhore” and “Witch’s Ladder” remind a bit of the misogyny inherent in witchy folklore — at the end of the day it was all about killing pretty girls — the grooves remain fervent and the forward potential on the part of the band likewise. It’s a sound big enough that there isn’t really any room left for bullshit.

DayGlo Mourning on Thee Facebooks

Black Doomba Records webstore

 

Chamán, Maleza

Chamán maleza

Issued in the waning hours of Dec. 2020, Chamán‘s 70-minute, six-song debut album, Maleza, is a psicodelico cornucopia of organic-toned delights, from the more forward-fuzz of “Poliforme” — which is a mere six and a half minutes long but squeezes in a drum solo — to the 13-plus-minute out-there salvo that is “Malezo,” “Concreto” and “Temazcal,” gorgeously trippy and drifting and building on what the Mendozza, Argentina, three-piece conjure early in the proceedings with “Despierta” and “Ganesh,” each over 10 minutes as well. Even in Maleza‘s most lucid moments, the spirit of improv and live recording remains vibrant, and however these songs were built out to their current form, I’m just glad they were. Whether you put it on headphones and bliss out for 70 minutes or you end up using it as a backdrop for whatever your day might bring, Chamán‘s sprawling and melted soundscapes are ready to embrace and enfold you.

Chamán on The Facebooks

Chamán on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Demon, Vendetta

sonic demon vendetta

Italian duo Sonic Demon bring a lethal dose of post-Electric Wizard grit fuzz and druggy echoed snarl to their debut full-length, Vendetta, hitting a particularly nasty low end vibe early on “Black Smoke” and proving willing to ride that out for the duration with bouts of spacier fare in “Fire Meteorite” and side A capper “Cosmic Eyes” before the second half of the 40-minute outing renews the buzz with “FreakTrip.” Deep-mixed drums make the guitar and bass sound even bigger, and such is the morass Sonic Demon make that even their faster material seems slow; that means “Hxxxn” must be extra crawling to feel as nodded-out as it does. Closing duo “Blood and Fire” and “Serpent Witch” don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, style-wise, but they feel no less purposeful in sealing the hypnosis cast by the songs before them. If you can’t hang with repetition, you can’t hang, and the filth in the speedier-ish last section of “Serpent Witch” isn’t enough to stop it from being catchy.

Sonic Demon on Thee Facebooks

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Sow Discord, Quiet Earth

sow discord quiet earth

Sow Discord is the solo industrial doom/experimentalist project of David Coen, also known for his work in Whitehorse, and the bleak feel that pervades his debut full-length under the moniker, Quiet Earth, is resonant and affecting. Channeling blowout beats and speaker-throbbing crush on “Ruler,” Coen elsewhere welcomes Many Blessings (aka Ethan Lee McCarthy, also of Primitive Man) and The Body as guests for purposefully disturbing conjurations. Cuts like “Desalination” and “Functionally Extinct” churn with an atmosphere that feels born of a modern real-world apocalypse, and it’s hard to tell ultimately whether closer “The World Looks on with Pity and Scorn” is offering condolence or condemnation, but either way you go, the bitter harshness that carries over is the thread that weaves all this punishment together, and as industrial music pushes toward new extremes, even “Everything Has Been Exhausted” manages to feel fresh in its pummel.

David Coen on Instagram

AR53 Productions on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records on Bandcamp

 

Cerbère, Cerbère

cerbere cerbere

Formed by members of Lord Humungus, Frank Sabbath and Carpet Burns, Cerbère offer three tracks of buried-alive extreme sludge on their self-titled debut EP, recorded live in the band’s native Paris during a pandemic summer when it was illegal to leave the house. Someone left the house, anyhow, and the resultant three cuts are absolutely unabashed in their grating approach, enough so to warrant in-league status with masters of misanthropy like Grief or Khanate, even if Cerbère move more throughout the 15-minute closing title-track, and dare to add some trippy guitar later on. The two prior cuts, “Julia” — the sample at the beginning feels especially relevant in light of the ongoing Notre Dame rebuild — and “Aliéné” are no less brutal if perhaps more compact. I can’t be sure, because I just can’t, but it’s entirely possible “Aliéné” is the only word in the song that bears its name. That wouldn’t work in every context. Here it feels earned, along with the doomier lead that follows.

Cerbère on Thee Facebooks

Cerbère on Bandcamp

 

Dali’s Llama, Dune Lung

dalis llama dune lung

They’ve cooled down a bit from the tear they were on for a few years there, but Dali’s Llama‘s new Dune Lung EP is no less welcome for that. The desert-dwelling four-piece founded by guitarist/vocalist Zach and bassist Erica Huskey bring a laid back roll to the nonetheless palpably heavy “Nothing Special,” backing the opener with the fuzzy sneer of “Complete Animal,” the broader-soundscape soloing of “Merricat Blackwood,” and the more severe groove of “STD (Suits),” all of which hit with a fullness of sound that feels natural while giving the band their due as a studio unit. Dali’s Llama have been and continue to be significantly undervalued when it comes to desert rock, and Dune Lung is another example of why that is and how characteristic they are in sound and execution. Good band, and they’re edging ever closer to the 30-year mark. Seems like as good a time as any to be appreciated for the work they’ve done and do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

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Friday Full-Length: The Devil’s Blood, III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The 2013 release of the third and final The Devil’s Blood full-length, III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars, will be forever tainted by the context of the subsequent suicide-by-overdose of the band’s founder and mastermind Selim Lemouchi, but even by the time the record came out, the band had broken up. Based in the Netherlands, and with a legacy there that continues to spread thanks to the likes of erstwhile The Devil’s Blood members Oeds Beydals and Ron Van Herpen — not to mention vocalist Farida Lemouchi, sister to Selim, whose singular voice was essential in conveying The Devil’s Blood‘s theatricality and thereby setting the course of European cult rock for years to come — The Devil’s Blood were only together for about seven years, but their work continues to resonate for those who’d dare take it on. In the case of III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars, it is an alternately dense and sprawling inwardly-churning cosmic storm, with 22-minute opener “I Was Promised a Hunt” set up across side A of a 2LP like a wall to keep out all but the bravest of listeners, harnessing krautrock-derived repetitions, spacious echoes in the vocals of both Lemouchis and a nigh-opaque feeling of purpose behind its expression. By the time it’s nine minutes in, it’s almost gothic in its level of drama, and the atmosphere it creates is pervasive throughout subsequent tracks “The Lullaby of the Burning Boy,” “…If Not a Vessel?” and “In the Loving Arms of Lunacy’s Secret Demons” on side B or the second platter’s longer stretches in “Dance of the Elements” and “White Storm of Teeth” and the consuming/consumed finale “Tabula Rasa.” With the years of hindsight, it is a powerful and at times overwhelming listening experience.

“Overwhelming” simply because of its scope. The Devil’s Blood had already proven expansive at an increasing rate on their prior full-lengths, 2011’s The Thousandfold Epicentre (review here) and 2009’s The Time of No Time Evermore (review here), and even the formative 2009 Come, Reap EP (review here) as well as other itinerant short releases demonstrated the potential in their craft and style. III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars, however, was simply working on another level. Refusing genre constraints, it was as much progressive as it was psychedelic, as much metal as dark heavy rock, and it was as much spirit and soul as it was tied to the earth as it was unwilling to do anything but soar. With guitar, bass, drum programming, vocals, music and lyrics and recording by Selim, vocals by Farida and a mix and master by Peter G. Kloos, it was nothing short of a vision manifested and turned into reality — such as it was — through songwriting of rare introspective urgency. Self-indulgent? You bet your ass. From the invocation of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” in the last movement of “I Was Promised a Hunt” down through the intertwining bass/guitar noodling of “In the Loving Arms of Lunacy’s Secret Demons” and the galloping final build and Floydian wash of “Tabula Rasa,” the seven-song/65-minute offering carried a sense of pushing The Devil’s Blood‘s sound as far as it could go — all the more in light of the band’s breakup. It was and is gorgeous and damaged, deeply human andthe devils blood iii tabula rasa or death and the seven pillars otherworldly, and propelled as much by these conflicts as by Farida‘s operatic vocals.

A masterpiece, in other words, and the work to which everything The Devil’s Blood had done up to that point had been leading. Releasing through Ván Records in Europe and Metal Blade in the US as of the second album, they’d taken on increasing notoriety. They’d toured the States as well as Europe and were already seen as having some measure of influence, and that has only continued to grow as the years have passed and the wound of Selim Lemouchi‘s death has, if not healed — because it hasn’t; it looms over the songs on III and is inseparable from the album — then at least become less fresh with time. But it’s important to remember that came later. Selim had already moved on to Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies, and it was The Devil’s Blood‘s breakup that so much snapped their forward momentum. Metal Blade gave a cursory push as I recall, but really, what was to be done with III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars if The Devil’s Blood weren’t a band anymore?

But that circumstance, bummer as it was, can’t now take away from the accomplishment that III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars represents. In the barrage of verses throughout “White Storm of Teeth,” the final lines of the album are delivered thusly:

I fall into the spaceless space
The timeless time, the endless end
Neither here nor there, above or below
Into the night I go

Even this final statement seems to carry extra weight because of Selim‘s death. It made it all real and terrible, and even years later, it makes listening to III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars harder — and the album is by no means easy listening anyhow, despite its melodic range. But the album also stands as a testament to how beautiful the work could be, and as time passes, that seems to come more into focus. One hopes it will continue to be the case.

Among the most touching live experiences I’ve ever witnessed was at Roadburn Festival in 2014 as Farida LemouchiOeds Beydals and others took to the Main Stage as Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies and paid tribute to Selim little more than a month after his passing. By then, Beydals had already formed Death Alley and was ramping up momentum with that outfit, and other Job Van De Zande would join Dool while Ron Van Herpen continued on periodically with Astrosoniq and Rrrags, etc. Farida would remain unheard-from until 2019 when, again at Roadburn (review here) she appeared fronting Molasses with BeydalsVan Herpen, Van De Zande and other The Devil’s Blood associates in tow. A concurrent single was released in the form of Mourning Haze / Drops of Sunlight, but at the time it was a question as to whether or not the project — commissioned specifically for the festival — would continue, and certainly considering the emotional drain of performing essentially together without Selim there, especially on Farida Lemouchi, it’s easy enough to understand why. They have two live performances booked thus far for 2020: The Abyss Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 28, and Eros at Arms in Zürich on April 25. After that, your guess is as good as mine.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

I slept an extra half-hour this morning on a gamble that The Pecan: Toddlerian would also sleep late. It seems to have worked out thus far — quarter after six — but I expect him up at any minute. Nothing major, but I’m having a kind of minor outpatient surgical procedure done on my left leg later on, and they said no coffee beforehand — I could cry — and it was that much harder to get out of bed with the extra incentive of turning on the Chemex in the kitchen to make the first pot of the day. I had a protein bar and drank a bunch of water instead. Not nearly the same, but so it goes.

Rumor has it I’ll be laid up for a good portion of the weekend — at least tomorrow — so it seems like a good time to begin work on the Quarterly Review, which is precisely my intention. It’ll be next Monday through Friday, 10 reviews per day, 50 total, kind of putting a bow on 2019 and a little bit looking ahead to the months to come. It’ll be fun. Usually is, anyhow, by the time it’s finished.

There’s also a new Gimme Radio show today at 1PM Eastern listen here: http://gimmeradio.com.

I like doing that a lot, and I wonder if now that I’m back in NJ I might be able to volunteer at WFMU as a DJ. Think they’d take me? They sure as hell didn’t last time. I cut a voice sample and then never heard from Brian Turner again. He works at Gimme now. We email a lot. Go figure. Seems like a nice guy. I’ve never reminded him of the time I tried to join his staff. That was maybe 2007-2008. I was still at Metal Maniacs.

My illustrious career.

What a wreck.

I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions, and I frankly believe they’re bullshit, but it is important to set reasonable, attainable goals for oneself, and at some point in the next 12 months, I’d like to conceive of and begin a new book project. What does that look like? I have no idea. Could be a children’s book I’ll write in a day and spent two months revising to get the meter right. Could be a collection of essays I’ll map out and put together over the next couple years. Could be a compilation of stuff from on here. I don’t know. But I’d like to get something moving in that regard. I don’t think it’ll be fiction on the order of the first book. It started to feel too formulaic and “literary,” which, I’m sorry, but screw that. The universe needs my white-cis-male ass to be making literary proclamations like it needs a supermassive black hole in its infinitely expanding head.

So I’ve been thinking about that and will continue to do so and see where it takes me and where I take it. I’m sure I’ll find some way to keep you posted if you’re interested, if not here then on thee social medias.

Oh, and I put out the notion of doing a newsletter a bit ago and seemed to get a positive response. Then I signed up for MailChimp and forgot all about it when the holidays hit. Ha. Survival-mode came on. I’ll maybe get on that sooner or later if anyone really cares.

And speaking of the social medias, I put out word there that the Decade-End Poll was staying up an extra week. If you haven’t turned in a list or however many picks for your favorite records of the 2010s yet, please do so here.

It’s also my mother’s birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday, mom.

Alright, I think that’s everything.

FRM: Forum, Radio, Merch at MiBK.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Astrosoniq, Big Ideas Dare Imagination: Celebration

Posted in Reviews on June 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Astrosoniq Big Ideas Dare Imagination

One year ago, on June 3, 2017, Astrosoniq lost one of their own with the passing of programmer, booker and friend Bidi van Drongelen. Bidi was known throughout the Dutch and greater European heavy underground as the head of Bidi Bookings and his passing was and continues to be deeply felt by those who knew him. Among the tributes in his honor is Big Ideas Dare Imagination — note the first letter of each word in the title — which is the fifth full-length release for the Wizards of Oss and, fittingly enough, an experiment unto its very making, with a core duo of Ron van Herpen (guitar, bass) and Marcel van de Vondervoort (drums, programming, recording, mixing) employing a succession of vocalists across six widely varied tracks running a total of 40 minutes.

Some play guitar or bass as well, and Otto Kokke of Dead Neanderthals adds scorching saxophone to the penultimate “Vision Factor,” and Astrosoniq vocalist Fred van Bergen and bassist Robert-Jan van Gruijthijzen — who with keyboardist Teun van de Velden (not featured here) rounded out the basic five-piece that appeared on the last Astrosoniq record, Quadrant (review here), in 2009 — both make appearances as well. Of all the singers involved, van Bergen is the only one to show up twice, on side A closer “Mindless” and the aforementioned “Vision Factor,” while van Gruijthijzen helms the vocals and lyrics on opener “King,” plays bass on that song and second track “The Great Escape,” and contributes to the writing of that song and “Mindless.” It doesn’t get any less complex from there. Ah hell, here’s the tracklisting with guest personnel:

1. King (RJ van Gruijthijzen on vocals, bass, lyrics)
2. The Great Escape (RJ van Gruijthijzen on bass, Rob Martin of RRRags and Bliksem on vocals/lyrics)
3. Mindless (Fred van Bergen on vocals)
4. Keppra! (Joris Dirks of Moodswing and Agua de Annique on vocals, bass and guitar)
5. Vision Factor (Fred van Bergen on vocals, Otto Kokke on sax)
6. Freezen (Fred Händl of A.P. Lady adds lyrics for Mark Watson’s spoken word and Peggy Meeussen of Bliksem’s singing)

Astrosoniq aren’t strangers to switching up their sound. Going back to their 2000 debut, Son of A.P. Lady (discussed here and here) and across 2002’s Soundgrenade (discussed here), 2006’s Speeder People (discussed here), and the aforementioned Quadrant, there’s been very little outside their purview in terms of style. Country, funk, metal, psychedelia, space rock, weirdo noise, on and on. They have been and remain a deeply creative band. The difference is that on Big Ideas Dare Imagination, that extends to the makeup of the band itself.

In that way, it would be a mistake to judge Big Ideas Dare Imagination like a conventional album, because it isn’t one. Astrosoniq‘s project here isn’t simply to make another record, but to memorialize their friend and compatriot, like sitting shiva in a recording studio. One has to wonder if a fifth Astrosoniq LP would even exist without van Drongelen‘s passing as the driver. After being sidelined for several years owing to health problems on the part of van de Vondervoort, the group had made a sort-of return to playing live, but it’s entirely possible they wouldn’t have reconvened for new material, and even if they did, it almost certainly wouldn’t have been in this form/format. It could be argued, then, that Bidi should get some credit on that tracklisting too, for inspiration and for being the driving force behind pushing the band to create a new work. Certainly though, the clear dedication to him shown in the outing speaks to this.

astrosoniq bidi van drongelen

And of course, though it’s also a record about more than just its songs, Big Ideas Dare Imagination also does work to fit in the Astrosoniq catalog. It’s helpful that longtime listeners of the band know to approach with an open mind, because even with the vocal swaps that follow the ultra-memorable, sort of bizarrely lurching hook of “King,” there is a root beneath that feel contiguous with what they’ve done before. Ron van Herpen‘s riffing style, varied in its influence and execution, but always crisp and classy, is present throughout the drift and later drive and apex of “The Great Escape” and the more down-to-earth turns of “Mindless” as well, which has elements of classic metal in its sharper edges but still remains firmly entrenched in heavy rock, particularly with van Bergen‘s vocals in the forward position and van de Vondervoort‘s uptempo timekeeping. The side A finale might be the most grounded stretch of the album but it’s by no means the only rocking moment. From the grit-fueled, noise-backed stomp of “King” onward, Astrosoniq hold firm to who they are throughout all the changes, which is all the better, because of course the changes are a part of who they are.

Joris Dirks‘ performance on “Keppra!” is an immediate standout. Taking it next to its side A-opening counterpart “King,” it’s a far more fragile-sounding and emotionalist vibe, with a semi-indie spirit in its fluidity that reminds my East Coast US ears of Cave In‘s post-punk, but the guitar solo that emerges just before the halfway point is more rocking at its foundation. Between his vocal style and adding bass and guitar to the song, there’s no question Dirks makes “Keppra!” his own, and following the long instrumental stretch that begins with the already-noted solo, a turn back to the verse and chorus wrap it up smoothly just in time to have the sax at the start of “Vision Factor” hit like a punch in the face. In its way, this too is quintessential Astrosoniq — knowing what the song needs and being creative enough to make it happen, without concern for genre or expectation, being always in service to the song itself.

It’s that spirit that has allowed Astrosoniq to get as outwardly strange as they sometimes will over the years — everything they do, they do in the name of songwriting. It’s the expression of an idea that’s paramount. The sax in “Vision Factor” leads the way in a freaked-out second half of the track with a steady space rock chug beneath, and “Freezen” pairs thick-English-accented narration and a soaring chorus (that’s Watson and Meeusen, respectively) with a thickened thrashy riff beneath, creating a tension that each hook pays off even as it provides some reprieve with the drum gallop holding steady. The story being told paints a picture of a character being kidnapped and murdered by a man, maybe a time traveler, coincidentally (or not) named Marcel, and at just under 10 minutes, a full narrative unfolds, finishing Big Ideas Dare Imagination on its farthest-out note yet and with the music dropped out, the line, “But as we know, Marcel was not a kind man,” the record ends.

The impression the album as a whole makes is, naturally, contrary to that final statement, and indeed both van Herpen and van de Vondervoort and their cohorts seem both kind and genuine in giving tribute to their friend and still maintaining the band’s always-forward mentality. Again, while it’s not a record to be judged by conventional criteria, one can’t help but admire the creative process at work across Big Ideas Dare Imagination — they dare logistics too, it would seem; can’t be easy to coordinate among this many players — and though the circumstances of its happening are unfortunate, the album is nothing but a triumph of spirit. I didn’t know Bidi well, but it’s hard to imagine Astrosoniq‘s homage wouldn’t bring a smile to his face. It certainly does to mine.

Astrosoniq, Big Ideas Dare Imagination (2018)

Astrosoniq on Thee Facebooks

Astrosoniq on Bandcamp

Astrosoniq on Spotify

Big Ideas Dare Imagination at Ván Records

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Castle Ready to Start Recording New Album; US & European Touring Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle

The one time I was fortunate enough to see Cali-based heavy-and-you-damn-well-better-believe-it metallers Castle — certainly not for lack of touring on their part — was at Maryland Doom Fest in 2016, and they were fucking awesome enough that even two years later every time I think about it I say to myself, “Man, that was fucking awesome.” They’ll return to that venerable event this June, and they’ve newly announced a coast-to-coast tour (as they will) presented by Black Arts Booking to coincide. That of course will be after they hit the studio in May with Billy Anderson at the helm to track the new album they moved to the desert to write and before they head to Europe this Fall — presumably after the record is out — to tour alongside The Skull and hit a few festivals.

The fact that there are a few weeks between their Oct. 19 slot at Malta Doom Fest and their Nov. 10 gig at Doom Over Vienna tells me that there could be a whole lot more European touring still to be announced, and sure enough, the PR wire confirms it. Dig:

castle tour

CASTLE: Heavy Metal Doom Bringers Announce US / Europe Tour Dates, Recording Set To Begin On New Album

Heavy metal doom bringers CASTLE have announced a 12 date headlining trek across the US including a performance at this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD on June 23. The tour will kick off in Pittsburgh on June 19 before hitting select cities on the east coast and winding its way back to California where the band have just completed writing their new album. Scheduled to begin recording over the next month in Portland, OR with producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Eyehategod), CASTLE’s fifth full length is set for a September release.

Additionally, the band have announced several European shows upcoming in October and November, including a string of dates in Germany with The Skull as well as festival appearances at The Malta Doom Fest (Oct 19), Doom Over Vienna (Nov 10) and Dutch Doom Days (Nov 24). Expect more European dates to follow.

CASTLE – U.S. Tour Dates
6/19 Pittsburgh – Howlers
6/20 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
6/21 Worcester, MA – Ralph’s
6/22 York, PA – The Depot
6/23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
6/24 Newport, KY – Southgate House
6/25 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
6/26 Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note
6/27 Dallas, TX – Double Wide
6/28 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
6/29 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap
6/30 Riverside, CA – TBA

Europe Tour Dates
10/15 Frankfurt, DE – dasBett w/ The Skull
10/16 Munich, DE – Backstage w/ The Skull
10/17 Freiburg, DE – Slow Club w/ The Skull
10/18 Cologne, DE – Sonic Ballroom w/ The Skull
10/19 Siggiewi, MT – Malta Doom Fest
11/10 Vienna, AT – Doom Over Vienna
11/24 Rotterdam, NL – Dutch Doom Days

CASTLE continues to tour in support of their molten Welcome To The Graveyard full-length, issued last summer via Ván Records. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Launch One Tour, Immediately Announce Another

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

My only concern with California’s Castle continuing to tour forever in support of last year’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here) is it leaves me wondering when they’ll actually get around to making the next album they moved to the desert to write and record earlier this year. Castle have spent much of 2017 on the road — you might say they’re on tour now and will be through the end of this month, and hey, that’s cool — and they’ve newly announced a string of West Coast dates for November that will follow. Could the plan be to record around the holidays? Early in 2018?

Or hell, for all I know the record might be done. Someone should really drop Castle a line and find this shit out. Let me see if I can get on that.

While I do, here are the dates from the PR wire:

castle

CASTLE: Heavy Doom/Metal Unit Announces Stone Thrones West Coast Dates; Endless Graveyard Tour Underway

Heavy doom/metal unit CASTLE — currently in the midst of their Endless Graveyard live takeover — will take to the streets again in November for the west coast Stone Thrones tour. The trek begins November 24th and runs through December 2nd winding its way through nine cities spread across Washington, Oregon, and California. See all confirmed dates below.

CASTLE continues to tour in support of their molten Welcome To The Graveyard full-length, issued last summer via Ván Records. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

CASTLE – Endless Graveyard Tour:
9/12/2017 The End – Nashville, TN
9/13/2017 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
9/14/2017 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/15/2017 Shadow Woods Metal Fest – White Hall, MD
9/16/2017 O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
9/17/2017 Cherry Street Station – Wallingford, CT
9/18/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – New York, NY
9/19/2017 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/20/2017 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
9/21/2017 Maple Grove – Cleveland, OH
9/22/2017 Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2017 Smalls – Detroit, MI
9/24/2017 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN
9/25/2017 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
9/26/2017 FuBar – St. Louis, MO
9/27/2017 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
9/28/2017 The Elbow Room – Wichita, KS
9/29/2017 Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest – Sioux Falls, SD
9/30/2017 Triple Nickel – Colorado Springs, CO

Stone Thrones Tour:
11/24/2017 The Valley – Tacoma, WA
11/25/2017 Funhouse – Seattle, WA
11/26/2017 Shakedown – Bellingham, WA
11/27/2017 Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR
11/28/2017 Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR
11/29/2017 Spirits – Dunsmuir, CA
11/30/2017 Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA
12/01/2017 Blue Lamp – Sacramento, CA
12/02/2017 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA

CASTLE’s Welcome To The Graveyard offering was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Announce US Tour; “Black Widow” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

They go. They go, and go, and go. It’s what Castle do, and they do it all the time. Even as they continue to write for their impending fifth full-length and unveil a new video for the track “Black Widow” from 2016’s righteous Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), the recently-moved-to-the-desert band can’t seem to stop themselves from announcing another coast-to-coast US tour. After shows in July and on the Obelisk-presented Tour of the Doomed with Sheavy (info here), Castle will head out on a September run that takes them once again from one end of the country to the other. And I don’t know if you know this, but it’s not like this is a small country. It’s a significant frickin’ trip. But Castle go. They go, and go, and go. It’s what they do.

I bet they squeeze in another tour after this one before the end of 2017. I don’t have the inside track on that or anything, I’m just saying. I bet they do. Will keep an eye out for it.

From the PR wire:

castle-tour-poster

CASTLE: Occult Rock Alchemists Announce “Endless Graveyard” Fall Tour; “Black Widow” Video Unveiled + New Full-Length Underway

Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full-length is currently underway, occult rock alchemists CASTLE will be taking a break from conjuring the as-of-yet untitled album, to take on another round of live takeovers.

The perpetually road-bound unit will take to the streets later this month on the previously announced “Stormbringer” trek which will run from June 30th in West Hollywood, California through July 9th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The band will play three more shows the following month before kicking off the “Endless Graveyard” tour set to commence on September 7th in Riverside, California and come to a close on September 30th in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

CASTLE will make some festivals stops throughout their upcoming journeys including performances at the Fire In The Mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Tour Of The Doomed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

Shadow Woods Metal Fest in White Hall, Maryland, and the Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest in Omaha, Nebraska. Since the release of their most recent offering, Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records, CASTLE’s massive 170-date world takeover has included tours of the US, Europe, Canada, and the band’s first ever tour of Japan last December. See all confirmed dates below.

In anticipation of the upcoming shows, CASTLE is pleased to unveil the visual accompaniment to the track “Black Widow,” compiled from footage from their Canadian tour last year and viewable at THIS LOCATION.

CASTLE:
6/30/2017 Viper Room – West Hollywood, CA
7/01/2017 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA
7/02/2017 High Water Mark Portland, OR
7/03/2017 3rd St. Pub – Bend, OR
7/04/2017 Shredder – Boise, ID
7/05/2017 The Pin – Spokane, WA
7/06/2017 Back Alley Pub – Great Falls, MT
7/07/2017 Railyard – Billings, MT – Railyard
7/08/2017 Fire In The Mountains – Jackson Hole, WY
7/09/2017 Beauty Bar – Las Vegas, NV
8/11/2017 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
8/12/2017 Tour Of The Doomed @ The Metal Grill – Milwaukee, WI
8/13/2017 The Frequency – Madison, WI –
9/07/2017 Aurea Vista – Riverside, CA
9/08/2017 Tower Bar – San Diego, CA
9/09/2017 Green Room – Flagstaff, AZ
9/10/2017 Blue Note – Oklahoma City, OK
9/11/2017 Hi-Tone – Memphis, TN
9/12/2017 The End – Nashville, TN
9/13/2017 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
9/14/2017 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/15/2017 Shadow Woods Metal Fest – White Hall, MD
9/16/2017 O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
9/17/2017 Cherry Street Station – Wallingford, CT
9/18/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – New York, NY
9/19/2017 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/20/2017 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
9/21/2017 Maple Grove – Cleveland, OH
9/22/2017 Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2017 Smalls – Detroit, MI
9/24/2017 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN
9/25/2017 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
9/27/2017 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
9/29/2017 Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest – Omaha, NE
9/30/2017 Triple Nickel – Colorado Springs, CO

CASTLE’s Welcome To The Graveyard offering was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Announce Even More West Coast Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

castle

As they continue to work on the follow-up to 2016’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), subgenre-defier metallers Castle have announced another slew of shows in the Western half of the US. Their last tour? Last month. So yeah, I guess they’re about due. When last we heard from them at the end of February, they had moved to the Mojave Desert in order to put the next record together, and while I look forward to hearing the kind of desolation that might bring out in their sound, I can’t help but wonder just how much time they’re actually getting to spend there with all the touring they’ve done so far this year and no doubt will continue to do in the months to come.

Of particular note? Check out that Wyoming show. Secret location? Outdoor show? High altitude? Kind of sounds awesome, right? It’s called Fire in the Mountains. Also consider the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Maryland, which has a spectrum broad enough that it might be the only place on the planet Castle actually fit in.

That’s not to take anything away from the other shows — hey, they’re playing with Year of the Cobra in June, and that’s awesome — I’m just saying Castle have some cool stuff coming up throughout the next few months. Hopefully their album arrives before the end of the year to make the most of it, though if it doesn’t, they’re hardly likely to stop touring in 2018 or anything like that.

From the PR wire:

castle tour poster

CASTLE ANNOUNCE U.S. WEST TOUR, BAY AREA DATES

Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full length is currently underway, genre bending doom-metallers CASTLE have announced their Stormbringer tour, a 10 date headlining romp through the Western United States. The tour will kick off Friday, June 30 at The Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA and include an appearance on July 8 at Fire In The Mountains – a 2 day outdoor concert taking place near Jackson Hole, WY in an as-of-yet undisclosed location.

The band have also announced a trio of Bay Area shows leading up to the July run with Seattle doom duo Year of the Cobra. In addition, CASTLE, who are currently touring in support of their most recent offering Welcome to the Graveyard, are slated to appear at Shadow Woods Metal Fest in White Hall, Maryland, Sept 14-17.

6/1 San Jose, CA – Back Bar SoFa *
6/2 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill *
6/3 Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon *
6/30 West Hollywood, CA – Viper Room
7/1 Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge
7/2 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
7/3 Bend, OR – 3rd St. Pub
7/4 Boise, ID – Shredder
7/5 Spokane, WA – The Pin
7/6 Great Falls, MT – Back Alley Pub
7/7 Billings, MT – Bones Arcade
7/8 Jackson Hole, WY – Fire in the Mountains
7/9 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar
9/15 White Hall, MD – Shadow Woods Metal Fest
* w/ Year of the Cobra

Since the release of Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records – CASTLE’s massive 150 date world takeover has included tours of the U.S., Europe, Canada and the bands first ever tour of Japan in December. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Down in the Cauldron Bog” official video

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Dread Sovereign, Lizzard Wizzard, Oulu Space Jam Collective, Frozen Planet….1969, Ananda Mida, Strange Broue, Orango, Set and Setting, Dautha

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartless

Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.

Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls

dread-sovereign-for-doom-the-bell-tolls

With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lizzard Wizzard, Total War Power Bastard

lizzard-wizzard-total-war-power-bastard

Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

 

Oulu Space Jam Collective, EP1

Oulu-Space-Jam-Collective-ep1

Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.

Oulu Space Jam Collective on Thee Facebooks

Eggs in Aspic webstore

 

Frozen Planet…. 1969, Electric Smokehouse

frozen-planet-1969-electric-smokehouse

They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.

Frozen Planet…. 1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Anodnatius

ananda-mida-anodnatius

Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.

Ananda Mida on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Strange Broue, Seance

strange-broue-seance

The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.

Strange Broue on Thee Facebooks

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango-the-mules-of-nana

Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.

Orango on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Set and Setting, Reflectionless

set-and-setting-reflectionless

There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.

Set and Setting on Thee Facebooks

Set and Setting webstore

 

Dautha, Den Foerste

dautha-den-foerste

Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.

Dautha on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

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