Quarterly Review: Spelljammer, The Black Heart Death Cult, Shogun, Nadja, Shroud of Vulture, Towards Atlantis Lights, ASTRAL CONstruct, TarLung, Wizzerd & Merlin, Seum

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

We proceed onward, into this ever-growing swath of typos, lineup corrections made after posting, and riffs — more riffs! — that is the Quarterly Review. Today is Day Four and I’m feeling good. Not to say there isn’t some manner of exhaustion, but the music has been killer — today is particularly awesome — and that makes life much, much, much better as I’ve already said. I hope you’ve found one or two or 10 records so far that you’ve really dug. I know I’ve added a few to my best of 2021 list, including stuff right here. So yeah, we roll on.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Spelljammer, Abyssal Trip

spelljammer abyssal trip

To envision an expanse, and to crush it. Stockholm three-piece Spelljammer return five years after Ancient of Days (review here), with an all-the-more-massive second long-player through RidingEasy, turning their front-cover astronaut around to face the audience head on and offering 43 minutes/six tracks of encompassing largesse, topping 10 minutes in the title-track and “Silent Rift,” both on side B with the interlude “Peregrine” between them, after the three side A rollers, “Bellwether,” “Lake” and “Among the Holy” have tripped out outward and downward into an atmospheric plunge that is a joy to take feeling specifically geared as an invite to the converted. We are here, come worship with us. Also get crushed. Spelljammer records may not happen all the time, but you won’t be through “Bellwether” before you’re saying it was worth the wait.

Spelljammer on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras

The Black Heart Death Cult Sonic Mantras

A deceptively graceful second LP from Melbourne’s The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras pulls together an eight-song/45-minute run that unfolds bookended by “Goodbye Gatwick Blues” (8:59) and “Sonic Dhoom” (9:47) and in between ebbs and flows across shorter pieces that maximize their flow in whether shoegazing, heavygazing, blissing out, or whatever we’re calling it this week on “The Sun Inside” and “One Way Through,” or finding their way to a particularly deadened meadow on “Trees,” or tripping the light hypnotic on “Dark Waves” just ahead of the closer. “Cold Fields” churns urgently in its 2:28 but remains spacious, and everywhere The Black Heart Death Cult go, they remain liquefied in their sound, like a seemingly amorphous thing that nonetheless manages to hold its shape despite outside conditions. Whatever form they take, then, they are themselves, and Sonic Mantras emphasizes how yet-underappreciated they are in emerging from the ever-busy Aussie underground.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

 

Shogun, Tetra

Shogun Tetra

Tetra is the third long-player from Milwaukee’s Shogun, and in addition to the 10-minute “Delta,” which marries blues gargle with YOB slow-gallop before jamming out across its 10-minute span, it brings straight-shooter fuzz rockers like “Gravitas,” the someone-in-this-band-listened-to-Megadeth-in-the-’90s-and-that’s-okay beginnings of “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary” and likewise crunch of “Axiom” later, but also the quiet classic progressive rock of “Gone Forever,” and the more patient coming together of psychedelia and harder-hitting movement on closer “Maximum Ray.” Somewhat undercut by a not-raw-but-not-bursting-with-life production, pieces like “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary,” which gives over to a sweeter stretch of guitar in its second movement, and “Vertex/Universal Pain Center,” which in its back end brings around that YOB influence again and puts it to good use, are outwardly complex enough to put the lie to the evenhandedness of the recording. There’s more going on in Tetra than it first seems, and the more you listen, the more you find.

Shogun on Facebook

Shogun on Bandcamp

 

Nadja, Luminous Rot

Nadja Luminous Rot

Keeping up with Nadja has proven nigh on impossible over the better part of the last two decades, as the Berlin-by-way-of-Toronto duo have issued over 25 albums in 19 years, plus splits and live offerings and digital singles and oh my goodness I do believe I have the vapors that’s a lot of Nadja. For those of us who flit in and out like the dilletantes we ultimately are, Luminous Rot‘s aligning Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff with Southern Lord makes it an easy landmark, but really most of what the six-cut/48-minute long-player does is offer a reminder of the vital experimentalism the lazy are missing in the first place. The consuming, swelling drone of “Cuts on Your Hands,” blown-out sub-industrialism of “Starres,” hook of the title-track and careful-what-you-wish-for anchor riff of “Fruiting Bodies” — these and the noisily churning closer “Dark Inclusions” are a fervent argument in Nadja‘s favor as being more than a sometimes-check-in kind of band, and for immediately digging into the 43-minute single-song album Seemannsgarn, which they released earlier this year. So much space and nothing to lose.

Nadja on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Shroud of Vulture, Upon a Throne of Jackals

shroud of vulture upon a throne of jackals

Welcome to punishment as a primary consideration. Indianapolis death-doom four-piece hold back the truly crawling fare until “Perverted Reflection,” which is track three of the total seven on their debut full-length, Upon a Throne of Jackals, but by then the extremity has already shown its unrepentant face across the buried-alive “Final Spasms of the Drowned” and the oldschool death metal of “The Altar.” Centerpiece “Invert Every Throne” calls to mind Conan in its nod, but Shroud of Vulture are more about rawness than sheer largesse in tone, and their prone-to-blasting style gives them an edge there and in “Halo of Tarnished Light,” which follows. The closing pair of “Concealing Rabid Laughter” and “Stone Coffin of Existence” both top seven minutes and offset grueling tension with grueling release, but it’s the stench of decay that so much defines Upon a Throne of Jackals, as though somebody rebuilt Sunlight Studio brick for brick in Hoosier Country. Compelling and filthy in kind.

Shroud of Vulture on Facebook

Wise Blood Records website

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Towards Atlantis Lights, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Towards Atlantis Lights When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Ultra-grueling, dramatic death-doom tragedies permeate the second full-length, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun, from UK-based four-piece Towards Atlantis Lights, with vocalist/keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou and guitarist Ivan Zara at the heart of the compositions while bassist Riccardo Veronese and drummer Ivano Olivieri assure the impact that coincides with the cavernous procession matches in scope. The follow-up to 2018’s Dust of Aeons (review here), this six-track collection fosters classicism and modern apocalyptic vibes alike, and whether raging or morose, its dirge atmosphere remains firm and uncompromised. Heavy lumber for heavy hearts. The kind of doom that doesn’t look up. That doesn’t mean it’s not massive in scope — it is, even more than the first record — just that nearly everything it sees is downward. If there’s hope, it is a vague thing, lost to periphery. So be it.

Towards Atlantis Lights on Facebook

Kostas Panagiotou on Bandcamp

 

ASTRAL CONstruct, Tales of Cosmic Journeys

ASTRAL CONstruct Tales of Cosmic Journeys

It has been said on multiple occasions that “space is the place.” The curiously-capitalized Colorado outfit ASTRAL CONstruct would seem to live by this ethic on their debut album, Tales of Cosmic Journeys, unfurling as they do eight flowing progressions of instrumental slow-CGI-of-the-planets pieces that are more plotted in their course than jams, but feel built from jams just the same. Raw in its production and mix, and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat, there’s enough atmosphere to let the lead guitar breathe, certainly, and to sustain life in general even on “Jettisoned Adrift in the Space Debris,” and the image evoked by “Hand Against the Solar Winds” feels particularly inspired given that song’s languid roll. The record starts and ends in cryogenic sleep, and if upon waking we’re transported to another place and another time, who knows what wonders we might see along the way. ASTRAL CONstruct‘s exploration would seem to be just beginning here, but their “Cosmos Perspective” is engaging just the same.

ASTRAL CONstruct on Instagram

ASTRAL CONstruct on Bandcamp

 

TarLung, Architect

TarLung Architect

Vienna-based sludgedrivers TarLung were last heard from with 2017’s Beyond the Black Pyramid (discussed here), and Architect continues the progression laid out there in melding vocal extremity and heavy-but-not-too-heavy-to-move riffing. It might seem like a fine line to draw, and it is, and that only makes songs like “Widow’s Bane” and “Horses of Plague” all the more nuanced as their deathly growls and severe atmospheres mesh with what in another context might just be stoner rock groove. Carcass circa the criminally undervalued Swansong, Six Feet Under. TarLung manage to find a place in stoner sludge that isn’t just Bongzilla worship, or Bongripper worship, or Bong worship. I’m not sure it’s worship at all, frankly, and I like that about it as the closing title-track slow-moshes my brain into goo.

TarLung on Facebook

TarLung on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd & Merlin, Turned to Stone Chapter III

ripple music turned to stone chapter iii wizzerd vs merlin

Somewhere in the great mystical expanse between Kalispell, Montana, and Kansas City, Missouri, two practicioners of the riffly dark arts meet on a field of battle. Wizzerd come packing the 19-minute acoustic-into-heavy-prog-into-sitar-laced-jam-out “We Are,” as if to encompass that declaration in all its scope, while Merlin answer back with the organ-led “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure” (21:51), all chug and lumber until it’s time for weirdo progressive fusion reggae and an ensuing Purple-tinged psych expansion. Who wins? I don’t know. Ripple Music in releasing it in the first place, I guess. Continuing the label’s influential split series(es), Turned to Stone Chapter III pushes well over the top in the purposes of both acts involved, and in that, it’s maybe less of a battle than two purveyors joining forces to weave some kind of Meteo down on the heads of all who might take them on. If you’ve think you’ve got the gift, they seem only too ready to test that out.

Wizzerd on Facebook

Merlin on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Seum, Winterized

Seum Winterized

“Life Grinder” begins with a sample: “I don’t know if you need all that bass,” and the answer, “Oh, you need all that bass.” That’s already after “Sea Sick Six” has revealed the Montreal-based trio’s sans-guitar extremist sludge roll, and the three-piece seem only too happy to keep up the theme. Vocals are harsh, biting, grating, purposeful in their fuckall, and the whole 28-minute affair of Winterized is cathartic aural violence, except perhaps the interllude “666,” which is a quiet moment between “Broken Bones” and “Black Snail Volcano,” which finally seems to just explode in its outright aggression, nod notwithstanding. A slowed down Ramones cover — reinventing “Pet Sematary” as “Red Sematary” — has a layer of spoken chanting vocals layered in and closes out, but the skin has been peeled so far back by then and Seum have doused so much salt onto the wounds that even Bongzilla might cringe. The low-end-only approach only makes it more punishing and more punk rock at the same time. Fucking mean.

Seum on Facebook

Seum on Bandcamp

 

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Mothers of the Land Stream Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio Session in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on February 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mothers of the land session

Austrian double-guitar instrumentalists Mothers of the Land found themselves in what will by now be a familiar pickle circa last summer. They had their sophomore full-length, Hunting Grounds (review here), set to release on June 19, and there was of course no way to make a release gig or any others supporting it happen. They did what a lot of those in similar situations did — they went into a studio and recorded themselves playing live. You’ve heard this story before? Good. Like I said, it should be familiar by now.

That doesn’t however, change just how much 2020 absolutely blew ass for bands, big and small. Consider a group like Mothers of the Land. Their debut album, Temple Without Walls, came out in 2016, and got a favorable response. So the entire planet shuts down just as you’re putting together the follow-up for release, and what the hell do you do? Shows are out, but do you even bother issuing the album? Should you wait, and until when? Facing the situation of not knowing when the pandemic was going to end, Mothers of the Land — like many others — put out their record. mothers of the land live at deer in the headlightsAnd to listen to Hunting Grounds, its heavy NWOBHM-inspired grooves are delivered with an energy that deserves to be heard.

But putting the album out could only replace one frustration with another, because you can’t go and put it in a crowd’s ears directly anymore. Here we are, going on eight months later, and Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio, which brings three songs from Hunting Grounds and one from its predecessor, is being issued, not to take the place of live shows — how could it? — but at least to give some representation of the band’s dynamic in that setting. As “Queen of the Den” flows into the guitarmonized unfolding of “Harvest,” the nobility of their intent is plain to hear and their melodies engage with a spirit of triumph through adversity. If you can relate to such a thing, chances are you’re a human being and alive.

“Nightwalk Blues” is the only cut included from Temple Without Walls and it soars in classic form, giving way to “Showdown,” which capped Hunting Grounds, as if to bring to emphasis the progression the years between the two LPs brought forth in their dynamic and style. Fret not, there’s still plenty of groove to go around, and go around it does.

Live at Deer in the Headlights Studio was recorded by Markus Matzinger (who also mixed) and Paul Bacher. You’ll find it streaming in full below, followed by the story as told by the band.

Please enjoy:

„Live Session at Deer In The Headlights Studios 2020“
We had a new album coming in mid June and there was no chance to play any shows to promote „Hunting Grounds“ due to the lockdown measures in Austria. So we did what we thought would be the closest thing to a live show – a live session.

“Deer In The Headlights Studio” has a tradition to do live sessions and have an amazing team of sound engineers. They told us we could only do three songs, but luckily we could convince them to add another one, since one of them was so short – like just three minutes or so.. The only criterium for choosing the songs was the amount of fun we have playing them – we hope you enjoy it as much as we did and still do!

The recording took place at “Deer In The Headlights Studios” Linz, Austria on May 30, 2020.
Engineering: Markus Matzinger and Paul Bacher
Mix: Markus Matzinger

Tracklisting:
1. Queen of the Den 05:04
2. Harvest 03:48
3. Nightwalk Blues 05:11
4. Showdown 09:17

Mothers Of The Land:
Georg Pluschkowitz (guitar)
Jack Jindra (guitar)
Johannes ‘Jon’ Zeininger (bass)
Jakob Haug (drums)

Mothers of the Land, Harvest (2020)

Mothers of the Land website

Mothers of the Land on Thee Facebooks

Mothers of the Land on Bandcamp

Mothers of the Land on Instagram

StoneFree Records on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

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Mothers of the Land Stream Hunting Grounds in Full; Out Tomorrow on StoneFree Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mothers of the land

Vienna-based instrumentalists Mothers of the Land will release their second album, Hunting Grounds, tomorrow through StoneFree Records. The vinyl arrives as the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Temple Without Walls, and brings six tracks across 37 minutes of dual-guitar-led heavy rock and roll, mostly straightforward particularly in its early going until it gets to the longer pair of cuts across side B in the two eight-minute tracks “Sanctuary” and “Showdown.” Even there, however, there’s little by way of pretense or masking of intention, and one finds likeness to what might happen if Karma to Burn had at some point joined forces with Valkyrie, though whether it’s the lead-in given to the record by opener “Harvest” or the swaggering title-track that takes hold from there, the material contains a good bit of NWOBHM influence as well, more Iron Maiden gallop and Priestly chug than Thin Lizzy swing, despite the decided foundation in classic heavy rock.

There are a number of general modes in which an instrumental act might operate, and as one might expect with the two guitars of Jack Jindra and Georg Pluschkowitz as forward in the sound as they are ahead of Johannes Zeininger‘s bass and Jakob Haug‘s drums, the method of choice for Mothers of the Land is to fill the space where vocals would otherwise be with leads and standout riffs. No complaints there, as “The Beast” shows them all the more able to twist around dynamic changes in volume and mothers of the land hunting groundsmeter and melody without having to adhere to the inherent structure of lyrics. At the same time, each of these songs is working according to a plan, and where so much of the current instrumental heavy wave is based around jamming and improvisation — especially but not exclusively throughout Europe — Mothers of the Land go another way and instead make a showcase of their craft, so that when “The Beast” returns to its central progression to finish out, the listener is able to follow along with the change and internalize it as all the more memorable.

Hunting Grounds is traditionalist enough to be readily familiar to heavy rock heads who might take it on, but it’s not at all void of personality, and the stomp and strut of “Queen of the Den” gives a fittingly regal impression as though to underscore the point, with the bass jutting out from beneath the winding guitars punctuated by the snare and crash in a build of tension that settles into more harmonized leads acting in a semi-chorus fashion. At just under four and a half minutes, “Queen of the Den” makes a relatively quick impression and then ends quietly in a shift to the soft and relatively patient start of “Sanctuary,” which takes hold with a more linear feel in its construction, not just enacting a build from quiet to loud necessarily, but using that as part of a greater expressive ideal. “Showdown” might be titled for the battling solo lines that take place as and after it passes the midpoint, but whether it’s that or there’s some other narrative at work across Hunting Grounds, the central purpose in summarizing what’s come before and expanding on it comes through with no less clarity than the notes themselves.

The upfront nature of their style might give one a superficial first impression of what Mothers of the Land are doing on their second album, and to a point, it’s hard to argue with that. It’s double-guitar instrumentalist heavy rock — not reinventing the form, but making it their own. Fine. But subsequent listens unveil changes and shifts in mood and/or approach that do affect a sense of atmosphere that, while straightforward, seems to be working toward finding its own place within the established aesthetic grounds it occupies. Ultimately, for the minute indulgence asked on the part of the band, the reward is plenty substantial.

You can hear for yourself with the full premiere of Hunting Grounds below, ahead of the release tomorrow.

Please enjoy:

Mothers of the Land, Hunting Grounds official premiere

Riff-Smiths “Mothers of the Land” are an instrumental Heavy Psych Rock band from Vienna, Austria founded in 2012. Known for crafting powerful vintage rock epics, centered around the spiraling psychedelia of their twin lead guitars. In June 2016, they released their live recorded DIY Debut-Album ‚Temple Without Walls‘ and gained a great international reception from listeners, artists and bloggers, resulting in fruitful collaborations around the globe.

Introducing a new era of 70‘s inspired Rock, they deliver heavy twin guitars mounted on a protometal body, rejuvenated by numerous influences reaching from NWOBHM to Stoner Rock. Having played dozens of concerts with international headliner acts like Asteroid, Elder or Red Fang, the band provides powerful performances that lure in the audiences deeply through the surreal worlds they create.

All those experiences were used to forge the new material, which finally formed their second album. “Hunting Grounds” will be released physical and digital via StoneFree Records on June 19th pressed by the state of the art pressing plant “Austrovinyl”.

Recorded and Mixed by Nino Del Carlo
Mastering by Lukas Wiltschko at LW Sonics

Members
Georg Pluschkowitz (Guitar)
Jack Jindra (Guitar)
Johannes Zeininger (Bass)
Jakob Haug (Drums)

Mothers of the Land on Bandcamp

Mothers of the Land on Thee Facebooks

Mothers of the Land on Instagram

Mothers of the Land website

StoneFree Records on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

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Weddings Release Debut Album Haunt This Week; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

weddings

Fair enough for the Vienna-based three-piece Weddings calling their first album Haunt, since they’ve pretty obviously named it after the atmosphere they’re shooting for. The trio have already posted the record for streaming, and you’ll find that below, but they’ll also have vinyl out with a slightly different version of the cover at the end of the week through StoneFree Records, which is also behind the CD pressing for those of you (I think it’s me and Jose Humberto, probably one or two others) who still like discs in compact form. Any format you go with, the spaciousness comes across as a key component of what Weddings do, and to read that the band members’ origins go back to Spain, Canada and Sweden is fascinating. Wonder how they all wound up in Austria in the first place.

They’ve got a few dates in Austria and Germany lined up, and you’ll see those here courtesy of their Bandcamp, along with some background and the release info.

Dig it:

weddings haunt

Weddings – Haunt – StoneFree Records

Weddings is an explosive and moody rock power trio indebted in equal parts to grunge, desert rock, psych rock, punk and doom. The brainchild of Canadian Jay Brown (Vocals/Guitars), Spaniard Elena Rodriguez (Vocals/ Drums) and Swede Phil Nordling (Bass), the band was created in 2017 after the 3 met while living in Salzburg, Austria.

The band member’s cultural differences helped to forge and fuel Weddings’ uniqueness. Brown’s upbringing on the prairies of Canada, Rodriguez’ childhood in southern Spain and Nordling’s experiences in Gothenburg, Sweden have contributed an impressive diversity to the distinctive songs. A mutual love of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Monster Magnet and Alice in Chains helped to unify their creative direction – one that takes many left turns away from conventional rock trappings, while in pursuit of fearless creativity.

Their first single Labyrinth showcases all of their strengths – male/female vocal harmonies, powerful riffs, propulsive bass and pounding drums.

Getting caught in this maze of mesmerizing chord structures and tempo changes is equally adrenalizing and haunting. A fitting lead off for the band’s upcoming debut album entitled Haunt released digitally on Bandcamp February 20th, 2020. Vinyl and CDs available Feb. 28th on StoneFree Records.

Weddings signed with Austria’s respected rock label StoneFree in early 2020. Their album release tour will take them through Austria and Germany in Feb/March opening for heavy-hitters like Swan Valley Heights, Great Rift and Vodun.

They’ll perform almost anywhere.. except weddings.

Tracklisting:
1. Pyramids 03:20
2. Acid Heart 02:58
3. Labyrinth 04:10
4. Broken Bones 04:10
5. Trail of Blood 03:56
6. I Can’t Say No To You Anyway 04:31
7. Laughing Our Way To The Grave 04:04
8. Hidden Message 04:18

Weddings live:
Feb 28 Rockhouse Salzburg, Austria
Feb 29 Kramladen Vienna, Austria
Mar 02 Sixty Twenty Innsbruck, Austria
Mar 03 Kulturlounge Leipzig, Germany
Mar 04 Goldener Salon Hamburg, Germany
Mar 06 Tief Berlin, Germany

http://www.facebook.com/weddingstherockband
https://www.instagram.com/weddingstherockband
https://weddingstherockband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.weddingstherockband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/stonefree.co.at/
http://www.stonefree.co.at/

Weddings, Haunt (2020)

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Pastor Sign to Cursed Tongue for Unveil Vinyl Release May 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

pastor

What, you thought just because they’re not a band anymore that might stop a vinyl release? Oh no, no, no, my friends. Because while the members of Vienna classic-style proto-metal-tinged heavy rockers Pastor may have already moved onto new bands like Ryte, Mothers of the Land, White Scorpion, Avalanche and Galactic Pot Healer, they did so by posting their second and final album, Unveil, on Bandcamp like it wasn’t no thing. Except it was a thing. It was a cool record. And cool records get vinyl releases on Cursed Tongue. That’s just the way of life.

So don’t expect to see Pastor anytime soon on a bunch of festival lineups or think there’s a long list of tour dates coming, because really what the May 8 vinyl issue of Unveil is doing is serving as a proper sendoff and a thanks-for-kicking-ass-while-you-did to the four-piece, who released their 2015 debut album, Evoke (review here) and prior 2014 single, Wayfaring Stranger/The Oath (review here), on Who Can You Trust? Records, earning kudos all the while for their combined manner of boogie and shred. Whether or not the band end up doing anything else at any point down the line, I don’t think you can listen to Unveil and not agree it earns its platter.

Preorders start April 3, as the label informs:

pastor unveil

HEAVY PSYCH RIFF ROCKERS PASTOR SIGN TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A GLOBAL VINYL RELEASE OF THEIR NEW ALBUM ‘UNVEIL’ MAY 8 2020

Cursed Tongue Records is very happy to announce the signing of Vienna, AU based riff-4some Pastor and look forward to release their sophomore and (potentially last) album entitled ‘Unveil’ premium vinyl. Pastor has yet again created an energetic, engaging and riff-heavy psych rock album full of heft and groove. ‘Unveil’ will kick your face in, knock you over, shred your skin to pieces, melt your brain and crush your skull to powder and all that will be left is your burned skin, shattered bones and knackered grinning skull.

Pastor is no new acquaintance to Cursed Tongue Records, as we have known about this band since their brilliant debut album ‘Evoke’ was released some 4+ years ago. So, when news about the digital release of a sophomore album pierced our radar, there was no hesitation and the quest for a vinyl release of this new album quickly formed in the deep dungeons at CTR headquarters. It didn’t take long for band and label to reach a common understanding that the world needed this album on the paramount medium and we quickly engaged in a plot to unveil the new album on vinyl.

The plot thickens, the plans solidify, and come May 8 2020 ‘Unveil’ will hit doom street and the Heavy Underground can rejoice in the heavy riffage that’s about to commence. Pre-orders for vinyl will run one months prior with a launch date scheduled for April 3rd 2020.

ALBUM BACKGROUND

‘Unveil’ is Pastor second album following a successful debut album entitled ‘Evoke’ released via Austrian label Who can you trust? Records in 2015. The band has the following insight to the story behind the creation of the follow-up album ‘Unveil’:
“So after our first record ‘Evoke’ was released we started gathering some songs. We did a couple weekenders here and there and ended up being on tour for a couple of weeks. During that time our tunes got slightly darker and more psych and we wanted to write songs reflecting the heavier side of our influences. It seemed we were going the direction we wanted to in the first place. “Unveil” documents this process very well, as we find.

In July 2017 we ended up again in lower Austria, where our first 7” was done and recorded there again. Bazoka Jürxn, who was our man of choice this time, captured perfectly what we wanted. Lots of beers were slammed and this time recording was way more of a party than a studio experience. We guess it was just because we knew what to expect and what we exactly wanted.

After the record was done we sort of mellowed out for a while. We started some new bands and Pastor kind of went on hiatus. The songs didn’t come naturally and we called it an end before writing stuff we couldn’t really identify with anymore. Our time was just up. We wanted to release “Unveil” somewhere, somehow and so we ended up putting it on Bandcamp. From there the good people from Cursed Tongue Records got aware of us and our last album and Niels was crazy enough to engage in releasing a record by a band that just split up.

We are more than happy that our last release is finding its way on vinyl, which was the way we wanted it to be right off the bat! So, sit back, grab a beverage of your preference and enjoy our last jams as Pastor called ‘Unveil’ Pastor was arik, shardik, alex & georg.”

Pastor might be done as a band (for now) in its current constellation, but the music lives on and we in Cursed Tongue Records firmly believe that music of this order demands a vinyl release no matter the situation – and we are pretty convinced that you, after having listened to ‘Unveil’, will testify to this as well! So in that in that we spirit we say: “For those about to riff, we salute you”!

https://www.facebook.com/pastorshreds/
https://www.instagram.com/pastorshreds/
https://pastor.bandcamp.com/
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/

Pastor, Unveil (2019)

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

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Ryte Stream “Invaders”; Self-Titled Debut out Jan. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ryte

Sure enough, we’ve been down this road a few times where Heavy Psych Sounds has unveiled a new signing and then, with preorders launched, gone ahead and posted a track with the album details. Yesterday was the day listed for Ryte when word of the pickup came through and lo, the PR wire delivered on the news with the art and indeed a track, in this case, the closer, “Invaders.” It’s nice to know what to expect, and the band had a demo of “Raging Mammoth” streaming as well, so with (some version of) the opener and the finished product of the ending out there, it’s possible for those inclined to do so to get a pretty decent idea of where they’re coming from on the record. I’ll take that.

You’ll find “Invaders” at the bottom of this post, and I’ll hope to have more to come ahead of the Jan. 17 release date as well, so maybe keep an eye out.

From the PR wire:

ryte ryte

Austrian psychedelic doom mongers RYTE deliver irresistible first single and debut album details on Heavy Psych Sounds Records!

Vienna-based psychedelic doom unit RYTE announce the release of their self-titled debut album ‘Ryte’ and unleash a trance-inducing first song right now.

“‘Invaders’ is the fourth, last and shortest track on the record. We intended to do something heavy ‘n psychedelic, so we created ‘Invaders’ which is basically about the fact that we are not the primary force in the universe. Inter-dimensional creatures from the deepest depths of another dimension, invading the minds of sleeping earthlings and forcing them into lucid dreaming. Dare to dig in!” comments the band

RYTE’s debut album is the result of an intense one-and-a-half-year writing process. The album consists of four long tracks, that pushes the boundaries of Psych rock as it is influenced by Doom, Prog Rock, Jazz and even World Music. The sound is dominated by down-tuned, sometimes doomy, sometimes epic twin guitars, dynamic and jazzy drums, distorted, playful bass lines and spacey Theremin landscapes. Drummer Hannes Ganeider recorded the LP at his own rehearsal space, while Michael Piller did the mixing and none other than the underground producer-legend Tim Green mastered the album at Louder Studios in California.

Debut album ‘Ryte’ will be available in the following formats:
– 20 Test Press vinyl
– 250 Ultra LTD Orange Transparent vinyl
– 350 LTD Clear Water Green vinyl
– Black vinyl
– CD and digital

RYTE Debut album “Ryte”
Out January 17th on Heavy Psych Sounds
PREORDER NOW: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

TRACK LISTING:
1. Raging Mammoth
2. Shaking Pyramid
3. Monolith
4. Invaders

RYTE is:
Lukas Götzenberger – Vocals/Bass
Hannes Ganeider: Drums, Percussions
Arik Stangl: Guitar/Vocals
Shardik: Guitar/Effects

https://www.facebook.com/rytejams/
https://www.instagram.com/rytejams/
https://rytejams.bandcamp.com/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

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Ryte Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds for Debut Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ll give it up for Heavy Psych Sounds. With a packed roster that includes desert rock legends like Brant BjorkFatso Jetson, Yawning Man, and Nebula, as well now as Mondo Generator, the Italian imprint could easily rest on its laurels for a minute, catch its breath and at least ride out 2020 as is. Instead? Nope. Gabriele Fiori (also Black Rainbows, Killer Boogie and The Pilgrim) is relentless. Dude is out picking up brand new bands like Acid Mammoth, who were just recently announced as having signed to HPS, and Ryte below. The relative newcomer Austrian outfit boasts members of Pastor and not only are they signed, nebulously, to issue some kind of release at some point in the future, but they’re signed with preorders for their debut album set to start on Oct. 23. Expect details on the album to come then as well and maybe even some audio, if they don’t decide to roll that out separately.

Figure early-ish 2020 for a release? February, maybe March, I guess. I doubt Heavy Psych Sounds is going to waste any time in getting it out there, as no doubt their schedule is full.

From the PR wire:

ryte

Heavy Psych Sounds Records&Booking is really proud to present a NEW BAND signing *** RYTE ***

We are so stoked to welcome in our roster a brand new band. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the Vienna based rockers RYTE !!!

The band will release its debut album via Heavy Psych Sounds.

DEBUT ALBUM PRESALE STARTS: OCTOBER 23rd

In mid- 2016, Hannes, Arik & Shardik decided to start a new project together. Arik & Shardik, at that time have already been playing several years together in „Pastor” and were looking for someone to jam with. By chance they met drummer Hannes at a Saviours show in Vienna. Shortly afterwards RYTE was founded. The only thing that was still missing was a bass-player. The band finally found the last missing part in late 2016 and was then a complete four-piece with Lukas on bass. They spent at least one intense year of continuous rehearsals and songwriting sessions in order to get a live-set and of course, an album together.

In late 2017 they set up their very first (private) show at their rehearsal space in Vienna, spiked with a mind-blowing liquid light show done by “Ufonauten”. Then, in 2018 and ’19 they were lucky enough to play festivals like Lake on Fire, Stick & Stone and share stages with amazing like-minded bands such as Sacri Monti, Golden Void and Mothers of the Land just to name a few! Since day one, the band’s goal was to play sophisticated, mostly instrumental Heavy Psych with little hints of classic Prog, Space Rock, Doom and plenty of other stuff. Speaking of influences, the band is not limited by any means as long as it sounds fresh and interesting and does the band’s initial idea of adventurous heaviness justice. RYTE’s self-titled debut album will be out soon via Heavy Psych Sounds!

SAYS THE BAND: “We are super stoked to announce that we will be collaborating with Heavy Psych Sounds records for our upcoming record. HPS is a label run by musicians for musicians and we are very happy to be part of that family!”

RYTE is:
Lukas Götzenberger – Vocals/Bass
Hannes Ganeider: Drums, Percussions
Arik Stangl: Guitar/Vocals
Shardik: Guitar/Effects

https://www.facebook.com/rytejams/
https://www.instagram.com/rytejams/
https://rytejams.bandcamp.com/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Ryte, “Raging Mammoth” (Rehearsal)

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