Quarterly Review: Molasses Barge, Slow Green Thing, Haze Mage & Tombtoker, White Dog, Jupiterian, Experiencia Tibetana, Yanomamo, Mos Eisley Spaceport, Of Wolves, Pimmit Hills

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

We roll on with day two of the Fall 2020 Quarterly Review featuring another batch of 10 records en route to 50 by Friday — and actually, I just put together the list for a sixth day, so it’ll be 60 by next Monday. As much as things have been delayed from the pandemic, there’s been plenty to catch up on in the meantime and I find I’m doing a bit of that with some of this stuff today and yesterday. So tacking on another day to the end feels fair enough, and it was way easy to pick 10 more folders off my far-too-crowded desktop and slate them for review. So yeah, 60 records by Monday. I bet I could get to 70 if I wanted. Probably better for my sanity if I don’t. Anyhoozle, more to come. For now…

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Molasses Barge, A Grayer Dawn

molasses barge a grayer dawn

Following up their 2017 self-titled debut issued through “I can attest that Susan is one of the most capable and talented checks around, Blackseed Records, Pittsburgh-based rockers Looking for a qualified writer who can show you how to craft a custom book report? Our Assign Formal Charges puts safety, Molasses Barge present how to do my assignments online Uk Personal Statement Online essays about ambition the pianist essay help A Grayer Dawn through SearchIt! http://troisgros.eu/newsletter/n_9/index.php?703 suggestions from teachers and librarians for the web, images & news. Search Gale for resources you won't find in regular search Argonauta, and indeed, in songs like “Holding Patterns” or the melancholy “Control Letting Go,” it is a somewhat moodier offering than its predecessor. But also more focused. Write a well-organized 4-5 paragraph narrative essay about a Click on “read this article PLEASE LEAVE THIS SHEET AT THIS COMPUTER Molasses Barge, in songs like stomping opener “The Snake” and its swing-happy successor “Desert Discord,” and in the later lumber of “Black Wings Unfurl” and push of the title-track, reside at an intersection of microgenres, with classic heavy rock and doom and modern tonality and production giving them an edge in terms of overarching heft in their low end. Riffs are choice throughout from guitarists I wonder if I could pay someone to No Homework In School. Thanks to Online Class Helpers, you can pay an expert to ace your work. Justin Gizzi and You no longer need to search to the end of the Internet, or essay on law and order in delhi through a stack of glencoe http://cis.kdu.edu.ua/?my-future-profession-doctor-essay textbooks. Barry Mull, vocalist As Level History Essay Help is a great solution to avoid writing a research papers. And our writing service is the best from others, due to team of Brian “Butch” Balich ( I provide Blog Writing Services Canadas so that you can publish your eBook under your own name. I will research, structure, write and edit your eBook. Argus, ex- Online Phd Thesis Sites by the leading experts of universities of Instant Assignment help. Our college assignment helper offers best quality College Penance, etc.) sounds powerful as ever, and the rhythm section of bassist Sample Research Project Paper, buy pgce essays, essay writing service cheapest | Complete set of services for students of all levels including academic Amy Bianco and drummer Get the Best: Quality, Value and Service. Thousands of students around the world have trusted Essay On Aids™, with all their academic Wayne Massey lock in a succession of grooves that find welcome one after the other until the final “Reprise” fades to close the album. Its individuality is deceptive, but try to fit go site - Let us take care of your essay or dissertation. Entrust your assignment to us and we will do our best for you 100% non Molasses Barge neatly in one category or the other and they’ll stand out more than it might at first seem.

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Argonauta Records website

 

Slow Green Thing, Amygdala

slow-green-thing_amygdala-2000

Yes, this. We Can Turabian Line Spacing. Let’s not beat around the bush here. You probably landed on this website by searching for something like write my essay Slow Green Thing‘s third album, Professional English editing and Homework Help Raleigh Nc available 24/7. Amygdala, is melodic without being overbearing and filled out with a consuming depth and warmth of tone. A less jammy, more solo-prone Sungrazer comes to mind; that kind of blend of laid back vocals and heavy psychedelic impulse. But the Dresden four-piece have their own solidified, nodding grooves to unveil as well, tapping into modern stoner with two guitars setting their fuzz to maximum density and Sven Weise‘s voice largely floating overtop, echo added to give even more a sense of largesse and space to the proceedings, which to be sure have plenty of both. The six-track/44-minute outing picks up some speed in “Dirty Thoughts” at the outset of side B, and brings a fair bit of crush to the title-track earlier and lead-laced finale “Love to My Enemy,” but in “Dreamland,” they mellow and stretch out the drift and the effect is welcome and not at all out of place beside the massive sprawl conjured in side A capper “All I Want.” And actually, that same phrase — “all I want” — covers a good portion of my opinion on the band’s sound.

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Fuzzmatazz Records website

 

Haze Mage & Tombtoker, Split

Haze Mage Tombtoker Split

Anyone bemoaning the state of traditionalist doom metal would do well to get their pants kick’d by Haze Mage, and when that’s done, it’s time to let the stoned zombie sludge of Tombtoker rip your arms off and devour what’s left. The two Baltimorean five-pieces make a righteously odd pairing, but they’ve shared the stage at Grim Reefer Fest in Charm City, and what they have most in common is a conviction of approach that comes through on each half of the four-song/19-minute offering, with Haze Mage shooting forth with “Sleepers” and the semi-NWOBHM “Pit Fighter,” metal, classic prog and heavy rock coming together with a vital energy that is immediately and purposefully contradicted in Tombtoker‘s played-fast-but-is-so-heavy-it-still-sounds-slow “Braise the Dead” and “Botched Bastard,” both of which find a way to be a ton of fun while also being unspeakably brutal and pushing the line between sludge and death metal in a way that would do Six Feet Under proud. Horns and bongs all around, then.

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Tombtoker on Thee Facebooks

 

White Dog, White Dog

white dog white dog

Oldschool newcomers White Dog earn an automatic look by releasing their self-titled debut through former Cathedral frontman Lee Dorrian‘s Rise Above Records, but it’s the band’s clearcut vintage aesthetic that holds the listener’s attention. With proto-metal established as an aesthetic of its own going on 20 years now, White Dog aren’t the first by any means to tread this ground, but especially for an American band, they bring a sincerity of swing and soul that speaks to the heart of the subgenre’s appeal. “The Lantern” leans back into the groove to tell its tale, while “Abandon Ship” is more upfront in its strut, and “Snapdragon” and opener “Sawtooth” underscore their boogie with subtle progressive nods. Closing duo “Pale Horse” and “Verus Cultus” might be enough to make one recall it was Rise Above that issued Witchcraft‘s self-titled, but in the shuffle of “Crystal Panther,” and really across the whole LP White Dog make the classic ideology theirs and offer material of eminent repeat listenability.

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Rise Above Records website

 

Jupiterian, Protosapien

jupiterian protosapien

The only thing that might save you from being swallowed entirely by the deathly mire Brazil’s Jupiterian craft on their third full-length, Protosapien, is the fact that the album is only 35 minutes long. That’s about right for the robe-clad purveyors of tonal violence — 2017’s Terraforming (review here) and 2015’s Aphotic (review here) weren’t much longer — and rest assured, it’s plenty of time for the band to squeeze the juice out of your soul and make you watch while they drink it out of some need-two-hands-to-hold-it ceremonial goblet. Their approach has grown more methodical over the years, and all the deadlier for that, and the deeper one pushes into Protosapien — into “Capricorn,” “Starless” and “Earthling Bloodline” at the end of the record — the less likely any kind of cosmic salvation feels. I’d say you’ve been warned, but really, this is just scratching the surface of the trenches into which Jupiterian plunge.

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Transcending Obscurity Records on Bandcamp

 

Experiencia Tibetana, Vol. I

Experiencia Tibetana Vol I

It’s an archival release, recorded in 2014 and 2015 by the Buenos Aires-based band, but all that really does for the three-song/hour-long Vol. I is make me wonder what the hell Experiencia Tibetana have been up to since and why Vols. II and III are nowhere to be found. The heavy psych trio aren’t necessarily inventing anything on this debut full-length, but the way “Beirut” (18:36) is peppered with memorable guitar figures amid its echo-drifting vocals, and the meditation tucked into the last few minutes of the 26:56 centerpiece “Espalda de Elefante” and the shift in persona to subdued progressive psych on “Desatormentandonos” (14:16) with the bass seeming to take the improvisational lead as guitar lines hold the central progression together, all of it is a compelling argument for one to pester for a follow-up. It may be an unmanageable runtime, but for the come-with-us sense of voyage it carries, Vol. I adapts the listener’s mindset to its exploratory purposes, and proves to be well worth the trip.

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Experiencia Tibetana on Bandcamp

 

Yanomamo, No Sympathy for a Rat

yanomamo no sympathy for a rat

Filth-encrusted and lumbering, Yanomamo‘s sludge takes Church of Misery-style groove and pummels it outright on the opening title-track of their four-song No Sympathy for a Rat EP. Like distilled disillusion, the scream-laced answer to the Sydney four-piece’s 2017 debut, Neither Man Nor Beast, arrives throwing elbows at your temples and through “The Offering,” the wait-is-this-grindcore-well-kinda-in-this-part “Miasma” and the suitably destructive “Iron Crown,” the only letup they allow is topped with feedback. Get in, kill, get out. They have more bounce than Bongzilla but still dig into some of Thou‘s more extreme vibe, but whatever you might want to compare them to, it doesn’t matter: Yanomamo‘s unleashed assault leaves bruises all its own, and the harsher it gets, the nastier it gets, the better. Can’t take it? Can’t hang? Fine. Stand there and be run over — I don’t think it makes a difference to the band one way or the other.

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Iommium Records on Bandcamp

 

Mos Eisley Spaceport, The Best of Their Early Year

mos eisley spaceport the best of their early year

They mean the title literally — “early year.” Bremen, Germany’s Mos Eisley Spaceport — who so smoothly shift between space rock and classic boogie on “Further When I’m Far” and brash tempo changes en route to a final jam-out on “Mojo Filter,” finally unveiling the Star Wars sample at the head of organ-inclusive centerpiece “Space Shift” only to bring early Fu Manchu-style raw fuzz on “Drop Out” and finish with the twanging acoustic and pedal steel of “My Bicycle Won’t Fly” — have been a band for less than a full 12 months. Thus, The Best of Their Early Year signals some of its own progressive mindset and more playful aspects, but it is nonetheless a formidable accomplishment for a new band finding their way. They lay out numerous paths, if you couldn’t tell by the run-on sentence above, and I won’t hazard a guess as to where they’ll end up sound-wise, but they have a fervent sense of creative will that comes through in this material and one only hopes they hold onto whatever impulse it is that causes them to break out the gong on “Space Shift,” because it’s that sense of anything-as-long-as-it-works that’s going to continue to distinguish them.

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Mos Eisley Spaceport on Bandcamp

 

Of Wolves, Balance

of wolves balance

One doesn’t often hear “the Wolfowitz Doctrine” brought out in lyrics these days, but Chicago heavy noise metallers Of Wolves aren’t shy about… well, anything. With volume inherent in the sound no matter how loud you’re actually hearing it, conveyed through weighted tones, shouts of progressions unified in intensity but varied in aggression and actual approach, the three-piece take an unashamed stance on a range of issues from the last two decades of war to trying to put themselves into the head of a mass shooter. The lyrics across their sophomore outing, Balance, are worth digging into for someone willing to take them on, but even without, the aggro mosh-stomp of “Maker” makes its point ahead of the 17-second “Flavor of the Weak” before Of Wolves dive into more progressively-structured fare on the title-track and “Clear Cutting/Bloodshed/Heart to Hand.” After “Killing Spree” and the aural-WTF that is “Inside (Steve’s Head),” they finish with a sludgecore take on the Misfits‘ “Die, Die My Darling,” which as it turns out was exactly what was missing up to that point.

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Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets

Pimmit Hills Heathens Prophets

Comprised of four-fifths of what was Virginian outfit King Giant, it’s hard to know whether to consider Pimmit Hills a new band or a name-change, or what, but the first offering from vocalist David Hammerly, guitarist Todd “TI” Ingram, bassist Floyd Lee Walters III and drummer Brooks, titled Heathens & Prophets and self-released, hits with a bit of a bluesier feel than did the prior outfit, leaving plenty of room for jamming in each track and even going so far as to bring producer J. Robbins in on keys throughout the four-song/29-minute release. I suppose you could call it an EP or an LP — or a demo? — if so inclined, but any way you cut it, Heathens & Prophets plainly benefits from the band’s experience playing together, and they find a more rocking, less moody vibe in “Baby Blue Eyes” and the harmonica-laced “Beautiful Sadness” that has a feel as classic in substance as it is modern in sound and that is both Southern but refusing to bow entirely to clichĂ©.

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Pimmit Hills on Bandcamp

 

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Album Review: Valkyrie, Fear

Posted in Reviews on August 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Valkyrie Fear

Valkyrie have been a band in waiting for a long time. Founded circa 2002 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, by brothers Jake and Pete Adams — both on guitar/vocals — the band made their self-titled debut (discussed here) in 2006 and followed it with Man of Two Visions (discussed here) in 2008. Both records readily ingratiated them to the Chesapeake heavy underground, and as Harrisonburg is located farther west, out in the Shenandoah Valley just east of the Monongahela National Forest, the organic feel of their sound in those early days seemed especially well earned and was a distinguishing factor from the harder disillusioned edge of working class D.C. doom. Valkyrie took a back seat as Pete Adams joined Baroness in 2008 and set about full-time touring/recording, etc., but they signed to Relapse Records ahead of 2015’s Shadows (review here) and with that awaited third outing gave listeners a reminder of the dynamic between the two brothers that helped make them such a distinct outfit in the first place.

With Alan Fary (Earthling) on bass and Warren Hawkins drumming as a returning rhythm section, the four-piece set about Fear as the first Valkyrie long-player to arrive following the end of Pete‘s tenure in the aforementioned Baroness — he still plays in Samhain and Razors in the Night, so far as I know — and a decidedly mature dual-guitar take on heavy rock worthy of Valkyrie‘s near 20 years as a group. The album runs a manageable eight tracks/43 minutes and represents its questioning/exploring mortality well visually with its cover, songs like the opener “Feeling So Low,” “Afraid to Live,” “Fear and Sacrifice” and “The Choice” taking a contemplative and somewhat wistful position that suits the natural sound of Valkyrie‘s particular take on doom rock and brings out a new kind of resonance within their work as well as highlights the human spirit that’s made them so resonant over the longer term — because while they’ve never hit the road for two months at a time or put out records on a regular 18-month cycle, each Valkyrie LP brims with a sincerity and heart all its own, Fear included.

On first hearing, a given listener might be struck by the roll of “Feeling So Low” at the outset, and how, with Jake Adams‘ vocals patterned over the kind of bounding riff as they are, Valkyrie reminds of earlier Kadavar, but actually what’s coming through are the roots in classic heavy rock that have always been central to their efforts. If Fear is Valkyrie laying claim to that aspect of their sound, one would be hard-pressed to think of a better unit to stand as inheritor of the foundation set by the likes of Pentagram in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. That’s not the kind of thing a band is likely to purposefully decide as they’re writing a song, but putting “Feeling So Low” at the beginning of Fear does more than just start the record with a quality hook and the first of many, many, many guitar solos — it establishes the atmosphere and context from which the rest of the songs will branch out.

Valkyrie

It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that Valkyrie can structure a fluid LP, as they’ve certainly done it before, but in pairing “Feeling So Low” and “Afraid to Live” — the longest inclusion at 6:45 — right next to each other, the band bring their audience with them readily and present a deceptive immersion in side A of the release while remaining largely grounded in terms of structure and songwriting. Likewise, it should shock nobody who’s heard them before that the guitar work is stellar, but as ever, credit has to go to Hawkins and Fary in the rhythm section has holding down the sleek groove of “Feeling So Low” or third track “Loveblind” and keeping the Adams brothers in check when it comes time to launch into the next lead. Fary, who delves into more extreme territory with Earthling, plays with well enough class to hold his own against the higher-end strings, and Hawkins — who’s been with the band since at least 2008 — skillfully changes drum patterns to feed the energy behind solos, not only in “Loveblind” but all across Fear, his chemistry with the two guitarists well evident in the fluidity and swing of his technique. Valkyrie are, to put it another way, more than just a guitar band.

Side A rolls to its finish with “The Choice,” a nodding groove taking hold with the arrival of the verse peppered with leads that emerge as the foundation for a rousing final charge, and the semi-title-track “Fear and Sacrifice” begins side B with a more progressive turn that hints at some of the departures to come. Again, classic form, but it’s still well in line with where Valkyrie have been up to that point, and even as the guitars intertwine with an added touch of intricacy to the between-verses noodling, there’s the solid rock foundation beneath. A quick moment of quiet precedes the launch of a second solo section building on the first, and that carries “Fear and Sacrifice” to its finish ahead of the closing salvo in “Brings You Down,” “Evil Eye” and “Exasperator,” each of which gets successively shorter as they move to round out the album.

That’s an interesting, almost humble, choice on the part of the band, but it coincides as well with an uptick in sonic breadth, as “Brings You Down” taps more mellow blues vibes before taking off as it does, while “Evil Eye” might be the best hook Valkyrie has ever written — a shimmering proto-metal highlight somewhat buried on the album but that serves well in its position as a last energy charge before the instrumental “Exasperator” closes. The guitars again weave themselves together in a way that echoes “Fear and Sacrifice” and some of Fear‘s other classic-heavy-prog flourishes, but the pastoralism in their work remains firm and, as it has only ever done, makes Valkyrie an all the more distinguished and engaging band. They’ve been underrated for over 15 years, and, well, they’ll probably continue to be underrated for as long as they go — such is in the finest tradition of mid-Atlantic heavy — but for those who give Fear a chance to sink in, the rewards are three-dimensional, and in performance and craft, Valkyrie offer their most complete work to-date.

Valkyrie, Fear (2020)

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Valkyrie on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

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Quarterly Review: Sergio Ch., Dool, Return to Worm Mountain, Dopelord, Ancestro, Hellhookah, Daisychain, The Burning Brain Band, Slump, Canyon

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

I don’t imagine I need to tell you it’s been a hell of a quarter, existentially speaking. It’s like the world decided to play ’52 card pickup’ but with tragedy. Still, music marches on, and so the Quarterly Review marches on. For what it’s worth, I’m particularly looking forward to reviewing the upcoming batch of 50 records. As I stare at the list for each day, all of them have records that I’ve legitimately been looking forward to diving into, and today is a great example of that, front to back.

Will I still feel the same way on Friday? Maybe, maybe not. If past is prologue, I’ll be tired, but it’s always satisfying to do this and cover so much stuff in one go. Accordingly, let’s not delay any further. I hope you enjoy the week’s worth of writeups.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sergio Ch., From Skulls Born Beyond

Sergio Ch From Skulls Born Beyond

Intertwining by sharing a few songs with the debut album from his trio Soldati, Doom Nacional (review here), the latest solo endeavor from former Los Natas/Ararat frontman Sergio Ch. continues his path of experimentalist drone folk, blending acoustic and electric elements, guitar and voice, in increasingly confident and broad fashion. The heart of a piece like “Sombra Keda” near the middle of the album is still the strum of the acoustic guitar, but the arrangement of electric and effects/synth surrounding, as well as the vocal echo, give a sense of space to the entirety of From Skulls Born Beyond that demonstrates to the listener just how much range Sergio Ch.‘s work has come to encompass. For highlights, one might check out the extended title-track and the closer “Solar Tse,” which bring in waves of distorted noise to add to the experimentalist feel, but there’s something to be said too for the comparatively minimal (vocal layering aside) “My Isis,” as well as for the fact that they all fit so well on the same record.

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South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

DOOL, Summerland

Dool Summerland

The follow-up to DOOL‘s 2017 debut, Here Now There Then (review here), does no less than to see the Netherlands-based outfit led by singer Ryanne van Dorst answer the potential of that album while pushing forward the particular vision of Dutch heavy progressive rock that emerged in the wake of The Devil’s Blood, acknowledging that past — Farida Lemouchi (now of Molassess) stops by for a guest spot — while presenting an immersive and richly arranged 54-minute sprawl of highly individualized craft. Issued through Prophecy Productions, it brings cuts like the memorable opener “Sulphur and Starlight” and the dynamic “A Glass Forest” as well as the classic metal chug of “Be Your Sins” and the reaches of its title-cut and acoustic-inclusive finale “Dust and Shadow.” DOOL are a band brazen enough to directly refuse genre, and it is to their benefit and the audience’s that they pull off doing so with such bravado and quality of output. For however long they go, they will not stop progressing. You can hear it.

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Prophecy Productions website

 

Return to Worm Mountain, Therianthropy

return to worm mountain Therianthropy

By the time Durban, South Africa’s Return to Worm Mountain are done with 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gh?l” from their second album, Therianthropy, the multi-instrumentalist duo of Duncan Park (vocal, guitar, bass, banjo, jaw harp) and Cam Lofstrand (vocals, drums, synth, guitar, bass, percussion) have gone from High on Fire-meets-Entombed crunch to psychedelic Americana to bare-essential acoustic guitar, and unsurprisingly, the scope doesn’t stop there. “Mothman’s Lament” is folksy sweetness and it leads right into the semi-industrial grind of “Mongolian Death Worm” before “Olgoi-Khorkoi” sludge-lumbers into Echoplex oblivion — or at very least the unrepentantly pretty plucked strings of “Tatzelwurm.” The title refers to a human ability to become an animal — think werewolf — and if that’s a metaphor for the controlled chaos Return to Worm Mountain are letting loose here, one can hardly argue it doesn’t fit. Too strange to be anything but progressive, Therianthropy‘s avant garde feel will alienate as many as it delights, and that’s surely the point of the entire endeavor.

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Return to Worm Mountain on Bandcamp

 

Dopelord, Sign of the Devil

dopelord sign of the devil

Primo weedian stoner sludge doom of precisely the proportion-of-riff one would expect from Polish bashers Dopelord, which is to say plenty huge and plenty grooving. “The Witching Hour Bell” sets the tone on Sign of the Devil, which is the fourth full-length from the Warsaw-based four-piece. They lumber, they plod, they crash, and yes, yes, yes, they riff, putting it all on the line with “Hail Satan” with synth flourish at the end before “Heathen” and the ultimately-more-aggro “Doom Bastards” reinforce the mission statement. You might know what you’re getting going into it, but that doesn’t make the delivery any less satisfying as Dopelord plod into “World Beneath Us” like a cross between Electric Wizard and Slomatics and of course stick-click in on a quick four-count for the 94-second punk blaster “Headless Decapitator” to cap the 36-minute vinyl-ready run. How could they not? Sure, Sign of the Devil preaches to the choir, but hell’s bells it makes one happy to have joined the choir in the first place.

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Dopelord on Bandcamp

 

Ancestro, Ancestro

ancestro self titled

Numbered instrumental progressions comprise this third and self-titled offering from Peruvian trio Ancestro (issued through Necio Records and Forbidden Place Records), and the effect of the album being arranged in such a fashion is that it plays through as one long piece, the cascading volume changes of “II” feeding back into the outset count-in of the speedier “III” and so on. Each piece of the whole has its own intention, and it seems plain enough that the band composed the sections individually, but they’ve been placed so as to highlight the full-album flow, and as Ancestro move from “IV” into “V” and “VI,” with songs getting longer as they go en route to that engrossing and proggy 13-minute closer, their success draws from their ability to harness the precision and maybe even a little of the aggression of heavy metal and incorporate it as part of an execution both thoughtful and no less able to be patient when called for by a given piece. Hard-hitting psychedelia is tough to pull off, but Ancestro‘s Ancestro is no less spacious than terrestrial.

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Necio Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Hellhookah, The Curse

hellhookah the curse

In 2016, Lithuanian two-piece Hellhookah made it no challenge whatsoever to get into the traditionalist doom of their debut album, Endless Serpents (review here), and the seven songs of The Curse make for a welcome follow-up, with an uptick in production value and the fullness of the mix and a decided affinity for underground ’80s metal in cuts like “Supremacy” and “Dreams and Passions” to coincide with the Dio-era-Sabbath vibes of centerpiece “Flashes” and the nodding finisher “Greed and Power,” which follows and contrasts “Dreams and Passions” in a manner that feels multi-tiered in its purpose. Departing from some of the Vitus-ness of the first full-length, The Curse adopts a more complex tack across its 38 minutes, but its heart and its loyalties are still of doom, by doom, and for the doomed, and that suits them just fine. Crucially, their lack of pretense carries over, and their love of all things doomed translates into every riff and every stretch on offer. If you’d ask more than that of them, well, why?

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Hellhookah on Bandcamp

 

Daisychain, Daisychain EP

Daisychain Daisychain EP

Bluesy in opener “Demons,” grunge-tinged in “Lily” and fuzz-folk-into-’70s-soul-rock on “How Can I Love You,” Daisychain‘s self-titled debut EP wants little for ambition from the start, but the Chicago-based four-piece bring a confidence to their dually-vocalized approach that unites the material across whatever stylistic lines it treads, be it in the harmonies of the midtempo rocker “Are You Satisfied” or the righteously languid “Fake Flowers,” which follows. With six songs and 21 minutes, the self-released outing is but a quick glimpse at what Daisychain might have in store going forward, but the potential is writ large from the classic feel of “Demons” to the barroom spirit of closer “The Wrong Thing,” which reminds that rock and roll doesn’t have to sacrifice efficiency in order to make a statement of its own force. There’s plenty of attitude to be found in these songs, but beneath that — or maybe alongside it — there’s a sense of an emergent songwriting process that is only going to continue to flourish. What they do with the momentum they build here will be interesting to see/hear, but more than that, they’re developing a perspective and persona of their own, and that speaks to a longer term ideal. To put another way, they don’t sound like they’re half-assing it.

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Daisychain on Bandcamp

 

The Burning Brain Band, The Burning Brain Band

The Burning Brain Band The Burning Brain Band

Capping with a slide-tinged take on the traditional “Parchman Farm” (see also: Blue Cheer, Cactus, etc.), Ohio’s The Burning Brain Band‘s self-titled debut casts a wide net in terms of influences, centering the penultimate “The Dreamer” around 12-string acoustic guitar on an eight-minute run that’s neither hurried nor staid, but all the more surprising after the electronica-minded “Interlude (Still Running),” which, at four minutes is of greater substance than one might expect of an interlude just as the seven-and-a-half-minute warm-up “Launch Sequence” is considerably broader than one generally considers an intro to an album. There isn’t necessarily a foundational basis from which the material emanates — though “Brain Food” is an effective desert-ish rocker, it moves into the decidedly proggier “Bolero/Floating Away” — but “Launch Sequence” is immersive and the four-piece bring a performance cohesion and a clarity of mindset to the proceedings of this debut that may not unite the songs, but carries the listener through with a sure hand just the same. Who ever said everything on a record had to sound alike? For sure not The Burning Brain Band, who translate the mania of their moniker into effective sonic variety.

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The Burning Brain Band on Bandcamp

 

Slump, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country

Slump Flashbacks from Black Dust Country

Count Slump in a freakout psych renaissance, all punk-out-the-airlock and ’90s-noise thisandthat. Delivered through Feel It Records, the Richmond, Virginia, outfit’s debut, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country indeed touches ground every now and again, as on “Desire Death Drifter,” but even there, the vocals are so soaked wet with echo that I’m pretty sure they fucked up my speakers, and as much as “Tension Trance” tries, it almost can’t help but be acid grunge. In an age of nihilism, Slump aren’t so much unbridled as they are a reminder of the artistry behind the slacker lean, and in the thrust of “(Do The) Sonic Sprawl” and the far-out twist of “Throbbing Reverberation,” they affirm that only those with expanded minds will survive to see the new age and all the many spectral horrors it might unfurl. Can it be a coincidence that the album starts “No Utopia?” Hardly. I’m not ready to call these cats prophets, but they’ve got their collective ear to the ground and their boogie is molten-core accordingly. Tell two friends and tell them to tell two friends.

Feel It Records on Thee Facebooks

Feel It Records on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, EP III

canyon ep iii

It’s a ripper, inciting Larry David-style “prettay good” nods and all that sort of approval whatnot. If you want to think of Canyon as Philly’s answer to Memphis’ Dirty Streets, go ahead — and yes, by that I mean they’re dirtier. EP III boasts just three tracks in “No Home,” “Tent Preacher” and “Mountain Haze,” but with it the classic-style trio backs up the power they showed on 2018’s Mk II (review here), tapping ’70s blues rock swagger for the first two tracks and then blowing it out in a dreamy Zeppelin/Rainbow jam that’s trippy and righteous and right on and just plain right. Maybe even right-handed, I don’t know. What I do know is that these guys should’ve been picked up by some duly salivating label like last week already and they should be putting together a full-length on the quick. They’ve followed-up EP III with a stonerly take on The Beatles‘ “Day Tripper,” and that’s fun, but really, it’s time for this band to make an album.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

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Foehammer to Release New Album Monumentum This Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

foehammer (Photo by Ingrid Cardinell)

Worried that you don’t see an exact release date for Foehammer‘s new album, Monumentum? Don’t sweat it — I’m sure you’ll feel the ground shaking well in advance of the record’s arrival sometime this summer. The Northern Virginian rumble-riffers haven’t been heard from much since their 2018 debut, Second Sight (review here), and there have been some lineup changes to perhaps account for some of that. Monumentum finds Foehammer working as the two-piece of founding guitarist/vocalist Jay Cardinell and new drummer/recording engineer Ben Price. I can’t profess to having heard any of the record as yet — and golly, I’d be glad to — but the suitably grim cover art has been unveiled and whenever it might actually show up, Monumentum will be a welcome arrival as far as I’m concerned.

If you need a refresher as to why, you’ll find the Second Sight Bandcamp stream at the bottom of this post.

Heavy days call for massive riffs, and Foehammer bring those to bear with expertly-wielded crawling tempos and a deathly ferocity that they quickly made their own. As to what their new incarnation might hold, I expect misery to persist and be perhaps all the more resonant as the band’s recording process has become self-contained. They may grow even more massive-sounding as they dig into their own mire of tone. Can’t wait.

Here’s their announcement, quick and to the point:

foehammer-monumentum

Foehammer – Monumentum

Foehammer return from the depths, announcing their sophomore full-length and first new material in two years, Monumentum. Returning listeners will find the band going down new darkened paths, while still staying true to their funereal drone roots.

This album is the first to feature Ben Price (At the Graves, Immiseration, Elagabalus) at the drumset (and engineering/mixing) as well as returning guitarist and vocalist Jay Cardinell.

Featuring original artwork and design respectively by Rebecca and Brian Magar (Wailing Wizard Art, Cultic, The Owls [ANWTS]).

https://www.facebook.com/foehammerva/
https://foehammer.bandcamp.com/

Foehammer, Second Sight (2018)

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Stream Review: Freedom Hawk Play New Songs Live, 06.03.20

Posted in Reviews on June 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

freedom hawk livestream

If you want to know the arguments in favor of bands doing live streams, here are a couple numbers to consider. In about 13 hours after completing their 25-minute set from what was presumably their rehearsal room in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the heavy rock four-piece Freedom Hawk boasted 8,100 views of the resultant video. It was shared nearly 100 times, including by me, and had over 425 comments. True, none of that translates directly to money. They probably didn’t sell many t-shirts specifically as a result of doing the stream, but consider this: they also set up a donation link and brought in — as of this writing — $630.

I don’t know how much Freedom Hawk get paid to play a show, but I do know this: playing this gig involved no major travel for the group. They didn’t have to load in or load out, or find a place to eat in a strange city, or spend money on gas, food or lodging. They were able to directly engage their fans while also keeping the presentation strictly on their own terms. It was a GoPro or a phone set up in a corner of their rehearsal room. It kind of looked like a security camera, actually. But they played four songs — a smart move to keep it relatively brief; a lesson other streamers who approach it like a regular live show should learn — that are as yet unfamiliar to their fans, got to showcase the direction of their new record, and rather than go through the give-and-take of touring, were able to take in a decent amount of money that they can then take forward to the recording process.

Of course, touring has other tangible and intangible upsides, but so does streaming. I wouldn’t advocate one over the other; I’d advocate both if circumstances allowed for them. But in the current pandemic situation even as lockdowns ease, streaming makes the most sense, and even though I saw them in January live on stage in Brooklyn (review here), I have no problem admitting to being grateful for the opportunity to check them out again from the comfort of my own home, without driving into the city, paying tolls, gas, social anxiety and so on.

True, being at home offers its own distractions. A 6PM start-time came up against my toddlerian son’s bedtime, and I spent the first eight or so minutes of the stream trying to cast it from my phone’s Facebook app to the Chromecast in my living room, without ever succeeding. My wife had a Zoom birthday party for one of her friends at the same time, and all of this was happening at once. It was far, far removed from the experience of being in front of a stage, staring ahead as Freedom Hawk graced a crowd with new songs and a set of old favorites. But like any new experience, there are kinks to work out in terms of process on all ends, including the audience’s. And it being live, as opposed to just a watching a video pre-recorded, makes a huge difference in the mindset.

I don’t know when Freedom Hawk‘s next record might surface, but the songs sounded spot-on. With the four-piece arranged in a circle facing each other as they surely would in rehearsal, it was fun to hear drummer Lenny Hines ask what one of the new songs was called — it was “Seize the Day,” as guitarist/vocalist T.R. Morton informed, his signature effects coming through his voice when he sang on mic — and there were other flashes of the band’s persona that came through subtly. It has to be a little awkward for a group basically inviting an audience into a rehearsal space that was previously entirely their own — the banners on the wall, a flag on the ceiling, the garage doors up; maybe a storage area or something like that? hard to tell — but Hines, Morton, bassist Mark Cave and guitarist Brendan O’Neill made the most of the occasion, stopping for a sip of beer between songs and even offering a “cheers” to the virtual crowd. As I might at a show, I lifted my cup of water in salute.

As for the new material, the other cuts alongside “Seize the Day” were “Baron,” “Dickerson” and “Jimmy Jam,” though of course any and all titles might change before a final record comes out. The sound was quintessential Freedom Hawk: flashes of NWOBHM riffing set to a forward heavy-rock groove, moments of psychedelic nuance brought to bear with strong purpose in the songwriting. Freedom Hawk have never been a hard band to appreciate when it comes to hearing tracks for the first time, and that accessibility served them well in this context. It wouldn’t work for every band, but again, at 25 minutes, this was almost a teaser for the live experience and their next album at the same time. And having sat and watched it in its entirety, even distracted by a pre-bedtime diaper change and getting dinner started, I look forward both to when I might see the band again — on stage or not, should they decide to do another stream — as well as hearing the LP when it might arrive.

This was fun. Watch it here.

Freedom Hawk on Thee Facebooks

Freedom Hawk on Bandcamp

Freedom Hawk website

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

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Valkyrie Announce Fear LP out July 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Valkyrie

I had a moment of genuine surprise realizing that it has been five years since Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Valkyrie released their last LP, Shadows (review here). That was also their first album for Relapse Records — the forthcoming Fear will be their second when it arrives on July 24 — and if half a decade seems like a long time between records, you’re not wrong, but for Valkyrie, it’s actually an increase in frequency. It was seven years between 08’s Man of Two Visions (discussed here) and its follow-up. So it goes when one of your founding guitarists splits his time between this and Baroness.

Nonetheless, Fear will most likely see Valkyrie past the 20-year mark, which they’ll hit in 2022, so there’s something to be said there even if the band has never really been full-time. When a new Valkyrie comes around though, it’s not to be missed.

They’re streaming the opening track now, and here’s PR wire info:

Valkyrie Fear

VALKYRIE: Announce 4th Full-Length Album Fear Coming July 24th

Share New Song “Feeling so Low”

Virginia heavy rockers VALKYRIE return with their anthemic, riff-driven new album, Fear, coming July 24th! Their first new album in 5 years, Fear finds VALKYRIE sounding more progressive and diverse than ever before.

Fear is due out July 24th on CD/LP/Digital. Physical packages are available for pre-order via Relapse.com HERE. Digital Downloads / Streaming Services are available HERE.

Recorded at Earth Analog in Illinois, Fear showcases the tone-rich, organic songwriting process VALKYRIE has honed in on over the course of their career. A warm analog sound permeates each of the album’s 8 tracks, as blistering twin leads, soaring guitar harmonies by Pete and Jake Adams, poignant lyrics, and a relentless rhythm section results in a highly textured and timeless collection of heavy rock. With Fear, VALKYRIE takes the next step in their evolution as one of the most creative and dynamic forces in the hard rock scene today. Tracks such as “Feeling so Low,” “The Choice,” and “Evil Eye” showcase VALKYRIE expanding their sound, infusing their take on classic hard rock with a penchant for remarkable melodies and creative hooks.

Photo Credit: Savo

Fear Tracklist:
Feeling so Low
Afraid to Live
Loveblind
The Choice
Fear and Sacrifice
Brings you Down
Evil Eye
Exasperator

VALKYRIE Is:
Jake Adams – Guitar/Vocals
Pete Adams – Guitar/Vocals
Alan Fary – Bass Guitar
Warren Hawkins – Drums/Percussion

https://www.facebook.com/thevalkyrierides
https://www.instagram.com/valkyrie_va/
http://thevalkyrierides.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com/valkyrie/

Valkyrie, “Feeling So Low”

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Book of Wyrms Sign to Desert Records; Announce Occult/New Age LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The aptly-named desert-dwelling imprint Desert Records continues to build its roster with the addition of Richmond, Virginia, tonebringers Book of Wyrms. The four-piece currently have two full-lengths under their collective belt in last year’s Remythologizer (review here) and 2017’s preceding Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), and in addition to the signing, the band announce their intention to hit the studio for a third LP, to be titled Occult/New Age, presumably as soon as conditions allow. Here’s what they had to say:

“We are so stoked and honored to work with Bradley Frye and Desert Records on our upcoming third album, Occult/New Age, to be recorded hopefully this summer or fall!”

The two earlier releases came out through Twin Earth Records and Stoner With Records in the case of the latter, and the band also followed up Remythologizer with the single “Spirit Drifter” in 2019, which of course you can hear on the Bandcamp player below,, following more bio-type info from, of course, the PR wire.

Kudos to the band and label, and here’s looking forward to new stuff to come:

book of wyrms

Book of Wyrms is a four-piece heavy metal band with extensive experience jamming in outer space. In 2014 they came together over their mutual adoration of Hawkwind and ZZ Top and then put out a demo in early 2015. It got some positive attention and helped them find their label, Twin Earth Records.

On New Year’s Day, 2017, Americans everywhere stumbled out of each other’s beds to the surprise release of Book of Wyrms’ first full-length, Sci-Fi/Fantasy. The record received even more positive attention and helped the band get shows around the East Coast, New England, the South, and the Midwest. Their second full-length, Remythologizer, came out in August 2019 on tape, cd, and vinyl.

Members:
Sarah Moore-Lindsey: Vocals and synthesizers
Kyle Lewis: Guitar
Chris DeHaven: Drums
Jay “Jake” Lindsey: Bass

https://www.facebook.com/Bookofwyrms/
https://instagram.com/bookofwyrms
https://bookofwyrms.bandcamp.com/

Book of Wyrms, “Spirit Drifter”

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Freedom Hawk Announce West Coast Tour; Working on Next Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

freedom hawk

Virginia’s Freedom Hawk have begun writing songs for their next record, which they’ll issue through Ripple Music maybe late this Fall — unless writing takes like another week and they’re done, then record immediately — if not in 2021. Still, progress is progress, and they’re continuing to tour in support of fifth album, 2018’s Beast Remains (review here), which is never bad news to see. Plus they say they’re trying out new material on the road, so that tells you at least a couple songs have been put together enough for a stage.

I’ll take it either way, but there is a part of me that feels kind of bad for the fact that I basically expect a Freedom Hawk album every year. I have z-e-r-o reason to do so, and yet, I do. This is a band that puts marked care into the songs they write, and for whom songwriting is a clear priority, and still I’m sitting over here on my couch like, “What? You guys can’t just plug in, bang out 38 minutes of catchy-as-flu high-grade riffery and tour? Come on!” Two or three years between LPs for anyone is reasonable. For some reason, it just always feels like forever going from one Freedom Hawk LP to another.

Again, though, whenever it shows up, it’ll be welcome. You like rock and roll? Them too. You should party.

Tour dates and whatnot:

freedom hawk west coast 2020

Freedom Hawk To Hit The West Coast In March!

Virginia’s, Freedom Hawk will be rolling through the US in March with their latest record Beast Remains (Ripple Music, 2018) in tow. Their unique brand of energetic dune rock will elevate your mind and body, through heavy riffs, rolling grooves, and soulful psychedelic melodies wrapped in metal harmonies! Grab a ticket to take a heavy transcendent trip with the warm sun melting your face while cruising with the top down to your favorite beach party on the sand dunes. Come rawk out with your hawk out!

Tickets available @: https://bnds.us/i9tx5f

The band will be playing tracks from their latest album Beast Remains and classics from their previous decade of material with possibly a few new tracks from their forthcoming Ripple release sprinkled in. Look out for a new album in 2020 and more live dates as they continue to expand their music and their reach to fans around the world!

The band says of the new material “We are really excited about the new tunes coming together. The material seems to capitalize on our previous work but really expands into newer territory of tasty bluesy melodies, driving harmonies, and killer song structures that have hooks for days…. We feel like this is our best stuff to date. We can’t wait for people to hear it!”

~Peace&Rawk~

Spring US Tour Dates booked by the new heavy music division of AMG featuring many Ripple Music artists:
March 6 – Denver, CO – Streets of London
March 7 – Salt Lake City, UT – Bottoms Up
March 8 – Boise, ID – The Shredder
March 9 – Seattle, WA – Funhouse
March 10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
March 11 – Eureka, CA – Siren’s Song
March 12 – Santa Cruz, CA – Urbani Cellar
March 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Hi Hat
March 14 – San Diego, CA – Til Two Club
March 15 – Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
March 17 – San Antonio, TX – Faust
March 18 – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX – Division Brewing
March 19 – Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
March 20 – Jacksonville, FL – Archetype
March 21 – Raleigh, NC – Slims Downtown

https://www.facebook.com/freedomhawkmusic/
https://freedomhawk.bandcamp.com
http://www.freedomhawk.net/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Freedom Hawk, “Brutal Winds” official video

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