Foehammer to Debut New Lineup at Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Rest assured that in any likely incarnation, Foehammer will remain devastating. The Virginian extreme-heavy specialists released their 2022 sophomore outing, Monumentum (discussed here), through Silent Pendulum Records and seem e’er-ready to unleash their raw death sludge on whoever might be in their path. Led by founding guitarist/vocalist Jay Cardinell, the band was a two-piece on that record and as they move inexorably toward their third sometime in the next however long, they’ve reemerged as a trio. Wouldn’t it be fun if for every record they put out, they got to add another player to the band? Like, that’s the game? What would a six-piece Foehammer sound like?

Loud. They would be loud. They’re loud now, so maybe they can save the trouble.

Newly arrived to the lineup are drummer Ben Proudman (Thonian HordeBlack Blizzard, etc.) and bassist Tim Reaper. This manifestation of Foehammer will make their live debut at Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore in three weeks, playing alongside YatraBlack LungWeedeaterLeather LungTelekinetic Yeti, Haze Mage and more. Details on that are here. No doubt more will follow. I have no idea if they’re working on new material or anything yet, but either way, they might want to get a set sorted out first, which no doubt they already have.

Cardinell put the following on the ol’ sociables, and I do believe him in the assessment he offers of the new lineup:


Very excited to finally announce this. We have an all new lineup featuring two old friends of mine – Tim Reaper @timreaper666 taking up the bass duties 💪🏻 and Ben Proudman @tattoosbyprdmn stepping up to the drum throne!! 🥁🤘🏻 Believe me when I tell you, this shit is heavy, y’all.

We will debut this new abomination with a special set at the swiftly upcoming @grimreeferfest , Saturday 4/27 at Ottobar @theottobar . We go on somewhat early in the day so make sure to come out for the whole thing!

Foehammer 2024:
Tim Reaper – Bass
Ben Proudman – Drums
Jay Cardinell – Guitar / Vox

Foehammer, Monumentum (2022)

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Sun Years Announce April/May Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Also set to appear among the multitudes on the bill for this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in June, Richmond, Virginia’s Sun Years will undertake a round of touring in the Northeast (plus Ohio) starting later this month. The band, which draws together members of Smoke and Alabama Thunderpussy, among others, released their lone studio offering to-date in a raw-grooving self-titled two-songer demo (review here) from 2022, but in real life that’s not actually that long ago, so fair enough. Touring DIY-style to play with a bunch of other killer bands, including Slow Wake and Trash Mountain (the latter twice) in Ohio, The Company Corvette in Philly, Afghan Haze in CT, Problem with Dragons in MA and Holy Fingers in Baltimore — at a matinee, no less! — could hardly be considered time misspent, even if I am curious to hear more from them.

If you’ve either heard the demo before or hear it now and find yourself feeling similarly, the obvious solution is to get out to a gig if you can. These aren’t the first dates they’ve done and likely won’t be the last.

From Instagram, etc.:

Sun years tour sq

Appreciate the folks who helped pull this northeast run together. See you soon!

Dig it!
4/26- Philadelphia PA- Keystone State Cycles w/ Company corvette and Terroreign
4/27- Worchester Mass- Ralph’s Rock Diner w/ Tears from a Grieving Heart, Sliimo
4/28- Bristol CT- Bleechers w/ Killer Kin, Other Nerve, Afghan Haze
4/29- East Hampton Mass- The OHM w/ Problem with Dragons
4/30- New Bedford Mass- The dNB w/ TBD
5/1- Troy NY- El Dorado w/ The Scurves, Lungbuster
5/2- Youngstown OH- Westside Bowl w/ Trash Mountain +1
5/3- Akron OH- Musica w/ Trash Mountain, Slow wake
5/4- Baltimore MD- The Metro Gallery (matinee show! Doors at 4:30pm) w/ Holy Fingers, Scrylops
5/5- Harrisonburg VA- The Golden Pony w/ Heemeyer, Taffy

Sun Years:
Asechiah Bogdan – Guitar
Buddy Bryant – Bass
Dalton Huskin – Guitar / Vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

Sun Years, Sun Years (Demo) (2022)

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Inter Arma Releasing New Heaven April 26; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

 inter arma (photo by Jonah Livingston)

There isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve seen the below announcement, or at least the gist thereof, around by this point. I was fully embroiled in the Quarterly Review when word came through of Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma setting an April 26 release for their awaited new album, titled New Heaven and led off by its discordant and deathly not the least for its cohesiveness title-track, which is streaming now. I’m playing catchup, I guess, but as this is a record I’ll probably write about at some point, I want the info here. Is it weird that I’ve started to think of this kind of thing as archival? I guess spending the last 15 years going back to chase down old links will do that.

I’m sure there’s a story behind “Forest Service Road Blues” and one could only call “The Children the Bombs Overlooked” relevant, what with the US’ ongoing material and moral support for genocide in the Middle East, but as a first impression, “New Heaven” finds Inter Arma stately at the center of the seven-and-a-half-minute tumultuous progression. The band made their 2019 release, Sulphur English (review here), a statement of intent in terms of extremity and atmosphere, and discuss below how the last several years have factored into their work this time around.

Here’s how the PR wire put it, along with the preorder link and the single for good measure. As noted, they were confirmed to play the album in full at Roadburn in the Netherlands even before the title was officially announced:

inter arma new heaven





New Heaven, Inter Arma’s anticipated new album, is a compelling testament to perseverance, top to bottom. Its thicket of ever-dense layers of doom, death, and black metal occasionally let bits of light slip in, fleeting reminders to keep going amid the tumult. The record marks a sharp turn for Inter Arma, showcasing some of the most extreme and angular songwriting the band has ever laid bare. Known for their cinematic take on sludgy, extremely cavernous and borderline psychedelic Metal, the Richmond band broadens their dynamics by seesawing between piledriving momentum and swirling oblivion. New Heaven crushes and conquers, and illustrates what Inter Arma can truly be.

Take the title track— which premieres today— with its hair-raising lead riff stemming from drummer/songwriter TJ Childers’ challenge to himself to write a nonsensically dissonant part that he ended up loving. Meanwhile, vocalist Mike Paparo’s enraptured earsplitting bellows bludgeon above an impossibly complicated web of riffs and rhythms. From the get go, New Heaven and the opening title track eschews any restraint; Inter Arma is completely unchained.

Though New Heaven is indeed another triumph for the band, it is not a triumphant album, meant to offer some glib or naïve assurance that everything will be fine.

They call it the ‘Inter Arma Curse’: for nearly two decades, the band has emerged as one of the most inspired and fearless acts in or around American metal. They’ve also endured an endless parade of complications, hurdles, and slights: visa problems in Russia, stolen passports in Europe, unexpected member turmoil in their ranks, accidents and near death experiences, and a pervasive paradoxical sense that they have either been too metal or not metal enough. It’s been forever Sisyphean, except that Inter Arma has sporadically crested the hill to make a series of visionary albums.

As New Heaven started to take shape, the curse roared to life. Worldwide pandemic that squashed tours and writing sessions aside, Inter Arma churned through four bassists before finding salvation in Joel Moore, a guitar-and-engineering whiz who had never before played bass in a band. With the addition of Moore, drummer T.J. Childers admits that New Heaven features some of the kind of music Inter Arma could have never executed. Listen for the uncanny keyboards wedged between Paparo and the band, for the ways Steven Russell and Trey Dalton coil and collide with Moore, for Childers’ way of slipping some Southern soul into what borders on truly brutal prog. Paparo’s keen and empathetic lyrics explore arduous facets of the human experience, from innocent victims of war, to addiction, and social apathy. New Heaven is a record about enduring brambles and curses and lasting long enough to make something profound, honest, and even affirming about it all every now and again..

Childers comments, “New Heaven is the culmination of four years worth of adversity ranging from near death experiences, multiple member changes and of course a global pandemic. It marks a new chapter for us musically as we feel we’ve taken our songwriting to places we’ve never explored before. We’re excited to have come out of the madness relatively unscathed and feel as though we’ve created something completely unique that will stand apart in the sometimes homogenous extreme music community.” Guitarist Trey Dalton continues, “This record, maybe more than our previous efforts, more fully represents what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s still very much us – you know, music made by dudes coming from disparate musical backgrounds and perspectives, but with a more collective and defined sense of purpose. Clarity in direction, maybe. Your mileage may vary, but we like it a lot, and we hope you do too.”

Catch Inter Arma at this year’s Roadburn Festival on April 18th performing New Heaven in its entirety. Pre-order New Heaven here:
or direct from Relapse Records here:
and look for more news from Inter Arma to surface in the near future.

New Heaven, track listing:
1. New Heaven
2. Violet Seizures
3. Desolation’s Harp
4. Endless Grey
5. Gardens in the Dark
6. The Children the Bombs Overlooked
7. Concrete Cliffs
8. Forest Service Road Blues

Inter Arma is:
T.J. Childers – Drums, Percussion, guitars, lap steel, piano, noise
Trey Dalton – Guitar, synthesizers, mellotron, vocals
Joel Moore – Bass, synthesizers, tape loops, samples, and noise
Mike Paparo – Vocals
Steven Russell – Guitars

Inter Arma, New Heaven (2024)

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Satan’s Satyrs: New Single “Quick Quiet Raid” Out Friday; Band Signs to Tee Pee Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

satan's satyrs (Photo by Jordan Vance)

A bit of housekeeping here as the PR wire steps up to make official the return of Satan’s Satyrs. Perhaps relocated from their Virginia home to NY, the classic heavy rock unit led by bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess announced early last month they’d reunited with a new lineup, would have a new single and live shows and all that we’re-a-band-again stuff. What’s new here is making public the band’s signing to Tee Pee Records for Quick Quiet Raid and the preorder link for the 7″. One assumes this is kind of a precursor to a fuller return in 2024, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an LP at least in the works by the end of next year if not before. You’ll note in the below Burgess says he’s been writing all the while.

Cool stuff to come, one hopes. We’re into November now, so there’s as much that’s going to be about next year as this one, but with the single on the way, I don’t think you’re wrong to think of it as something to applies to today as much as eight months in the future, or however long it ends up being until they get another record together. Gets the old “we’ll see,” I guess.

From the PR wire, as noted:

satan's satyrs quick quiet raid

Cult Scuzz Rockers Satan’s Satyrs Return with 7″ Single, Live Shows, and a Pledge of Allegiance to Tee Pee Records

After calling it a day in 2019, this Friday the NY-based biker trash/occult obsessed quartet will be reborn again via new single ‘Quick Quiet Raid’

Pre-order their 7″ single here ahead of its release through Specimen Records/Tee Pee Records on 10th November 2023:

After years in the void, heavy rock devotees Satan’s Satyrs are back to deliver a lumbering, glam doom Frankenstein of a tune with 7″ single ‘Quick Quiet Raid’, the band’s first stab at new music since 2018’s The Lucky Ones.

Having harboured a cult following for over ten years and four indispensable albums prior to their split – Electric Wizard’s Jus Oborn once described them as, “Violent, filthy, ugly and loud like it should be” – the band is thrilled to announce that they’ve signed to legendary New York label, Tee Pee Records.

“It’s a great fit for us because they can appreciate our odd-band-out legacy,” explains bassist, Clayton Burgess. “Tee Pee Records has a long history of cultivating a heavy freak rock underground and we feel right at home in that universe.”

Soaking Sabbath, Venom, The Stooges, and Blue Cheer in acid and acrimony, the quartet’s love of exploitation movies and horror culture have always permeated their music, and none more so than on their latest paean to primitive rock. Replete with howling vocals and a freak-fuzz guitar meltdown, this is volcanism at its finest and signals a return to form for Dungeon Rock’s wayward sons.

“Even during the band’s recess, I never stopped writing,” Burgess continues. “We were always the riffy band on punk bills, the fast band on doom bills, the glam-tinged band on metal bills, with each album sounding different from the last. As new material slowly amassed and the right players fell into place, the potential couldn’t be ignored. The band could be a vital force again.”

The band also take to the road this month for a string of live dates, all of which you’ll find below. Pre-order their 7″ single here ahead of its release via Specimen Records/Tee Pee Records on 10th November 2023.

14/11 – Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC
15/11 – The Warehouse – Richmond, VA
16/11 – The Runaway – Washington, DC
13/12 – Knitting Factory – Baker Falls, NY

Russ Yusef – Drums
Morgan McDaniel – Guitar
Clayton Burgess – Bass, Vocals
Jarrett Nettnin – Guitar

Satan’s Satyrs, “Quick Quiet Raid” teaser

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Helena Goldberg of Akris

Posted in Questionnaire on October 25th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

helena goldberg of akris

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Helena Goldberg of Akris

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

What I do on a daily basis currently encompasses a pretty broad range within a personal, musical and community leadership spectrum. I’m a single mom of a 9 year old girl. I own a music school, and get to teach piano, voice, composition and theory, serve as CEO and co-founder of Green Sloth Records, a student led nonprofit record label, perform as pianist for The Main Street Chamber Orchestra, and served on the executive board of Berryville Main Street since June 2023, a branch of the larger National Main Street organization whose ideals of bringing small town communities together by promoting teamwork through events, programs and initiatives align with so many of my fundamental underlying themes in my music itself.

Striving to be an example of a strong female role model to my young daughter, teaching music, being able to continue playing classical piano with an orchestra and my Dad conducting, and moving my nonprofit in the direction of larger community activism projects — these are things that truly fill my life.

However, “what I do” would be nothing without Akris.

To define it for myself today, it is my spirituality. It is my church- it connects me to something ancient inside me. It helps me put one foot in front of the other on days when nothing else can.

Performing with Akris is when I am able to enter a transcendental meditation state. I do wade through fields of emotion when I’m there performing- usually I am sucked up out of my body into the roof or ceiling of the room watching. There are many times I am not actually seeing the room I’m performing in at all but seeing a place at the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean. There seem to be ancient ruins there and very tall shadowy figures. I know they love me and they’ve been with me my whole life.

I am able to express and feel my own personal pain, grief, and absolute excruciating, bone crushing loss but then I find through the music itself the presence of actual beings who I have had experiences with in real life, in visions and in dreams. They are there, in the room, brought down with me during an Akris set and it’s then that I know it’s all going to be ok in the end.

How I came to do it? You were THERE right at that time JJ! There I was, fresh out of the Manhattan School of Music conservatory and I started jamming with Viveca Butler while living in NYC around 2006. At the time, this first incarnation of Akris was called Aquila – because of the uncanny coincidence of our matching swooping bird tattoos and matching dreams about these possible other dimensional beings- the constellation “Aquila” which means swooping bird was a logical choice.

I have to stop myself here though and ask for a second how did it come to pass that I went from practicing 6-8 hours/day in a classical competition piano course at one of the top schools in the world, receiving my degree in classical composition, to playing bass and developing a band so influenced by the heavy music genre, and I have to give credit where credit is due to someone who I really owe these beginning moments of inspiration to.

It’s been extremely difficult for me to talk about until now because of the nature of the circumstances surrounding our relationship, his sudden rise to extreme fame and our subsequent break up which was and still is to this day one of the hardest things I have ever had to cope with in my life.

Truly my first bass teacher, I’ll go ahead and say the love of my life at least up to this point and longest relationship I’ve ever had was with James Richardson of MGMT, whom I met when we were classmates at MSM, dated and shared a home and a dog with during all my years of living in NYC.

He was the one who introduced me to heavy sound, first through multiple sans amps of which I’ve used like 5 through the years. He’s the one who got me my first EHX bass microsynth, something that truly defined my early sound.

As an 18 year old involved in the world of classical music only- he was the one that played me Babes in Toylands “Fontanelle” for the first time and completely blew my mind apart.

I learned bass on his Rickenbacker, thunkin out lines to Dead Meadow and 13th Floor Elevator songs. I had never even listened to Led Zepplin or Black Sabbath before him. He truly opened that door for me into the world of heavy music for the first time.

When I started jamming with Viveca he enthusiastically encouraged us to go in the direction of being a loud, heavy bass and drums two piece – around this time Big Business released “Here comes the Waterworks” and I remember listening to this and having long talks with James about it being such an inspiration for vocals and bass tone.

MGMT was just starting to blow up in Brooklyn at that time around 2006/2007 and Aquila even played several “secret” shows at Glasslands with them and the other buzzy band of that time Chairlift.

This was around the time I was obsessing for the first time with the entire Melvins discography, Karp, Bretwaldas of the Heathen Doom,… . and then “Blood Mountain” by Mastodon came out. I poured through all of Mastodon’s earlier releases at that point and knew I was finding a way for what I truly wanted for our sound.

We went to the Mastodon/Neurosis show at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple — hoping to meet the Mastodon guys we hung around backstage and ended up becoming fast best friends with Ben Teeter and Chad Davis from US Christmas, who were in the band at that time and opening that show.

They invited us to come play in Hickory NC and those first tours down south introduced us to other extremely inspiring musicians and bands as we met and shared the stage with Joel and Chris from Subrig Destroyer/demonaut, Sea of Bones, Armazilla, Weedeater, Rat Babies. These bands from the southeast, throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee were always so incredibly kind, impacted Akris’s sound tremendously, were there and still are there for me — and I’m so lucky to still call them and so many more from those early times friends to this day.

Describe your first musical memory.

I was 3 or 4, and my older brother had started taking piano lessons ahead of me. Both of my parents are classical musicians, and decided my brother and I would take piano as part of our education until we graduated high school.

They signed my brother up with the most feared (still to this day) chain smoking, piano studio competition winning teacher in the Northern Virginia area.

I remember my brother being scared s-less going up to her piano with his beginner book and opening it up, and playing something with a picture of a cat.

I was so little I had to jump down off my chair but I definitely ran over and bombed their lesson to play the cat song and see the picture- luckily I didn’t get in too much punitive trouble but I did start lessons the following week. definitely influenced how I teach piano today especially to little kids and being aware of how much a visual like that can link to a musical memory!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have to give an honorable mention, maybe it’s cheating but its right up there-

– Anytime I get to play with my Dads orchestra it’s extremely special and rare. This is for several reasons- one being that as a pianist, we just don’t have the opportunity to play with an orchestra as much as other orchestral instruments do. Playing amidst an orchestra is just straight up THRILLING. Add to the mix my Dad, who was Leonard Bernstein’s assistant conductor in the ’70s and had a regular weekly spot at Carnegie hall with his orchestra, The Endymion Ensemble, is the conductor- it’s such an incredible experience because I get to spend the time with him, observe what an awesome leader he is as a conductor of that many people, and learn from him about these great works of music

However I think the winner for me of the best musical memory to date was probably recording the Akris self titled album at Chris Kozlowski’s Polar Bear Lair with Sam Lohman on drums. Over the course of a couple months, several sleepovers, friends like Ron “Fezz” McGuinness, Dave Sherman, Scott Nussman and the legendary Steve McKay coming in for guest recording appearances, Chris and Sam helped capture a piece of my literal heart and soul.

I was and still am crushed by Chris Kozlowski’s passing. From the time I first started having recording experiences with this band until today I have never worked with an engineer who seemed to care about, and GET… . ME, my sound, and my music like Chris did on that album.

Not only that but in re-studying the album again this past year to prepare to develop several sets of these older songs, I realized the intricacies and genius of Sam Lohman’s drumming style. The fact that it is nuanced by his jazz and noise influence, bringing in elements of the same energy evident and needed to support groups like Acid Mothers Temple and Hawkwind, while still being directly supportive and intertwined with the bass makes this such an extremely special album and the best musical experience of my life.

Sam is now spending more time in Japan with his daughter which is wonderful- we have been in communication about continuing to play together in some capacity in the future, which I truly hope for. I also hope that, while I may never meet another sound artist like Chris Kozlowski, that I can find an engineer someday that is kind, respectful, and truly cares as much as he did.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

This past year Akris went through a major lineup change and speed bump in the release of a project that has been about 13 years in the works- “Wake the Sleeping Village”. You may remember having released the prequel song and music video to this in “Brown”- Akris had a plan at that time to record the music that had already been written by 2015 for WTSV, shoot the sequel short film and release the work as a concept album with a fully illustrated storybook.

Instead, “Your Mantis” was released, comprised of older Akris songs and a few shorter ones written in 2015, which unfortunately can no longer be found online anywhere that I am aware of. The members of Akris who were playing drums and guitar from 2015-Feb 2023 stated to me that I was to take down all materials involving them, refrain from naming them, and to disregard this would result in legal action.

The WTSV album actually initially had been recorded with this lineup by a studio engineer in Baltimore in February of 2020. An artist was also hired around this time to begin work on the storybook, which shifted into a prospective comic book.

I still have so much love for these individuals who were my friends and bandmates for SO long. However ultimately, there were choices that were made starting from around this time and worsening with extreme isolation in the pandemic that has culminated in quite simply, currently, one of the worst depressions I may have ever dealt with in my life.

Telling these longtime friends I didn’t want to play with them anymore, and knowing that we had a product ready to be released, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. However I knew that the sound of the album felt, synesthetically, like disrespecting myself. And while I have GREAT appreciation for the comic book artist, he was chosen by my previous bandmates and it was again made clear to me in our last conversations that I would need to find another artist for the project to avoid legal repercussions.

Jason Fletcher (Gradius) stepped in on drums to play several shows with Akris temporarily over the spring and summer while a short North Carolina tour was booked in October but my depression continued to worsen as thoughts of giving up started to ring out louder in my head.

One day pretty recently my brother called.

I think he may have caught wind that I’d been having a harder time than usual lately with depression and anxiety..

I love my brother and I know he was offering me a way out. Just, a logical, rational minded human beings take on this stage in my life.

He said “ You know, Helena… .you don’t HAVE to do Akris … you CAN just … let it go? You’ve got a lot going on right now with the school and the nonprofit and Mary, maybe just let it go and you’ll feel better.”

Up until that second- I had been considering just letting it go. More than ever. Letting EVERYTHING go. Just big old, total complete give up on music. Just be a mom and that’s it, throw in the towel on life, I’m done.

But… I found myself saying… “actually… I think I would… NOT feel better if I gave up Akris. I think actually I NEED Akris. To FUNCTION.”

Somehow it miraculously worked out within the next few hours of that conversation for Zak Suleri (Foehammer, Et Mors) to be able to do the October tour with Akris.

This short mini North Carolina tour is not in support of a new recording or release. It’s a homecoming. It became clear to me the moment my brother verbalized the option of giving up, that I couldn’t.

As long as some venue will let me have a stage somewhere, and as long as someone will beat two sticks on something with me I now know – I may have those thoughts again, and those difficult moments where it does seem like giving up is the easy way out. But there is something in me that has NO way out other than Akris and I just can’t survive without it.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

This question is so individualized and subjective for each person. Generally I feel that it leads to an understanding that you will always have new opportunities for learning and progressing further.

This does relate in a way to my own personal take on what artistic progression has been like for me; it’s been an unraveling rather than an enlightening process.

My artistic progression has led me to the brink of absolute no return and when there are no other options and no other ways forward I realize progress doesn’t even matter. It’s just simply having the ability to listen, feel and look for the sounds that exist inside me, or are being given to me from a spiritual place, and then attempt to express them. Artistic progression is knowing I have to do this for the sake of myself and in my belief that I am not alone.

How do you define success?


You WANT me to say happiness don’t you?? That WOULD be the thing to say wouldn’t it?

I mean, that would be nice. I guess I’ve come to the point where I’m just really thinking about relationships.

Here’s a question I’d love YOU to answer sometime JJ – how much does a band’s conventional success (like, getting to the point where you’re actually lucky enough to be getting paid something, you get to have promoted touring and play actual well attended shows) do you think depends on the good relationships and communication skill set of the band members?

[Depends entirely on the band, but that kind of broader success often requires those elements, absolutely, unless you have enough money to just do whatever you want anyhow. I’ll note that’s not necessarily my definition of success. –ed.]

I think- a LOT. How many bands can WE ALL NAME right now that we LOVED that broke up forever because of bandmate communication issues or squabbles.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot because as I move forward into a potential new Akris era I try to ask myself have I been doing things the wrong way in this regard- have I counted on bandmates too much to be more than business professional work colleagues and be more like friends? Is that appropriate and ok in a band setting? Is it needed?

I think when you’re out there in the middle of nowhere on tour in the dead of night and something goes wrong… or when you’re on stage giving it your absolute ALL cause your entire LIFE hurts and that stage is your only safe space … I think you do need a bandmate there that’s also a friend you can count on.

Success for me would be continuing to cultivate the kind of bandmate relationships where communication could be easily expressed in a constructive way, from a standpoint of kindness and support.

I think with that success, anything can be done.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

No matter what bad memory I come up with … the unwanted, or scary, or gross, or even life altering things I have SEEN that come to mind as examples… after a few moments I realize I never would take it back. I would never wish I had not seen that thing.
I DO feel certain images, if we are talking strictly visuals here. Of course- maybe the most unproductive of these examples… I can’t even write too much about cause I will literally go pass out and barf, but if I see anything too gorey, or too leg/arm choppy, it may be over for me.

“Master and Commander” for example was truly a waste of a money ticket because at that amputation scene I was a goner, barfin in the movie theater trash cans, passing out on the movie theater floor.

But even in those examples – I still learned something about myself. That’s what makes this question so hard. I don’t know if I’d wish that experience away because it helped me learn something about me.

Any bad example I thought of here was like this. Some of the most pivotal moments in my life, where if I hadn’t seen something, maybe there would have been a more lucrative outcome- i realize there’s always a sacrifice of something from my present life that might have been lost.

Truly one of those, every bad moment leads you to where you are today, kind of scenarios.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Akris’s next multimedia release, Wake the Sleeping Village. Even though this music was written almost 9 years ago and I’m dying to write and release NEW new material- I feel like I can’t until this is released. It’s just the next part of the Akris storyline and there’s something in me that really has to keep things chronological.

The 12-14 panel storyboard, illustration notes and film outline (and the actual dream I had in 2011) begin with the robed travelers picking up where they left off in the “Brown” video and traveling through an undefined eternal landscape of time. They eventually come to a wide open field with mountains in the distance – a tiger that fills the sky suddenly appears over the mountain range and the travelers know this is their purpose.

They help each other fly up into the mouth of the tiger, discovering an inner world within. Eventually they come out upon a mountain ridge to discover a village buried in snow- as they make their way down, they are invited in by a sleepy villager and reveal a surprising twist that wakes the entire village.

One major theme of the album aligns directly with the passion I have always felt about touring specifically through small town communities. It’s been my intention to include a letter to the reader within this book stating that if they live in one of these communities, particularly one that is underserved, to reach out to Akris and we will work towards putting their town on our future tour list.

I have mentioned synesthesia a couple times already here and this project is extremely synesthetic for me. This is one of the reasons why I ultimately, physically, could not support the release of materials that had been completed as of February 2023. There are visual artists who absolutely align with the sound and feel of this work for me, and my hope is to work with my friend and California based artist Skillit (Sean McEleny).

This project will be a multimedia release marketed not as Akris’s next album of music, but as a Story Book with Music and short film.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

After having taught the methodology for answering this question for almost two decades; thinking about this, meditating on it, researching it scientifically and spiritually my entire life; the best answer I can give is that I think art functions to help us as human beings express emotion — whatever that may mean subjectively to the individual.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

My nonprofit organization is in the middle of approvals process meetings for a monument recognizing the 4,735 formerly enslaved individuals (according to the 1860 census) in Clarke County VA that never received acknowledgment for their lives.

I heard about this shocking statistic while listening to a speech given by a dear friend of mine, civil rights pioneer Dorothy Davis, at the Juneteenth celebration this past year. I have gotten to know Dorothy and the rest of the congregation at St Mary’s Episcopal Church very well over the past 3 years of being the pianist and music director there- it’s an extremely historic African American church located here in Berryville.

My students actually raised close to $2,000 over the course of their summer program for the cause and presented before the Board of Supervisors- since then I established a Descendants Committee to make decisions about the prospective monument, and we now have about 12 representatives from different areas of the county.

The initiative has now passed the first three approvals meetings and is on its way to being presented before the Bishop of the Episcopalian Diocese of Virginia (this is due to the vote by descendants of location choice being on St. Mary’s church grounds). They have delegated myself and Dorothy to represent the committee in Fredericksburg before the Bishop after which time it will go before the Architectural Review Board.

It’s crazy to me that this had never happened in 160 years and I am VERY much looking forward to the ongoing process- even though we have already met with some extremely difficult opposition, the fact that it’s got momentum is absolutely groundbreaking.

Akris, Your Mantis (2016)

Akris, “Brown” official video

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Akris Playing Southeast Shows This Weekend

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

It’s been a minute since Virginian heavy noise rockers Akris were last heard from. Their second full-length, Your Mantis (review here), arrived in 2016 and is certainly due for a follow-up. That album was made as a trio, where the band’s first, a 2013 self-titled debut (review here), found them a duo, and it’s to that configuration they’ve apparently returned, founding vocalist/bassist Helena Goldberg joined now by drummer Jason Fletcher, also of Gradius.

The new long-player is called Wake the Sleeping Village, and they’ll look to record it probably early next year with ambitions toward a multimedia release, and they’ve got some limited merch available one can chase down if so inclined. If you’re in North Carolina this weekend, they’ll be around as well for three shows with Zak Suleri behind the kit, for gigs you can see in the poster that came with the following update:

akris shows

Akris will be supported by Zak Suleri (Et Mors) on drums for a southeastern tour on 10/20 in Wilmington, NC.

The kickoff will be held at Reggie’s with Mortal Man and Arkn.

This is the first out-of-state run of shows for Akris since 2019; the tour also includes a show in Raleigh, NC with Valkyrie, Valletta and High Crime on 10/21, and Asheville with Night Beers on 10/22.

Akris has been playing Virginia and Maryland shows after returning to its original two-piece bass and drums formation this past spring of 2023 with Jason Fletcher (Gradius) on drums.

The band will be touring this fall and winter as they prepare to record their upcoming album, “Wake the Sleeping Village” a sequel to the music video for “Brown”.

The project will be a multimedia release that will include a fully illustrated storybook and video.

They will have the last items for sale at these events that were part of a limited release of merchandise featuring artwork by Jon Moser including shirts and stickers; other items include 3 different sticker designs, vintage Akris t shirts, buttons, shot glasses, and physical copies of the 2013 self titled album recorded by Chris Kozlowski.

Please contact Helena Goldberg at to inquire about purchase/shipping information for one of these exclusive items.

Artwork for exclusive merchandise:

Akris, “Brown” official video

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Satan’s Satyrs Reunite w/ New Lineup; Live Shows Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Satan's Satyrs 2023

Virginian doom rockers Satan’s Satyrs broke up in 2019 following a successful run of 10 years and four full-lengths — the last of them was 2018’s The Lucky Ones (review here), on Bad Omen Records — as well as other releases and a tenure that saw founding bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess receive no less of an endorsement than being hand-picked to hold down low end in Electric Wizard for a few years/tours. Not a minor feather in the cap of a young player and I’ve little doubt it was an education unto itself.

If you missed the headline, the band are back. Hey hey! I hear there’s new music in the works — that would presumably be the “and more…” in the discussion of a live set below — and it’ll come from a lineup that now includes Morgan McDaniel (Mirror Queen, ex-The Golden Grass, etc.) on guitar alongside Russ Yusuf on drums, Burgess, and fellow guitarist Jarrett Nittnin. They’ve got three shows booked that are listed below, and let’s assume there will be more to follow after the winter’s thaw.

New album? We live in a universe of infinite possibility. Here’s this in the meantime:

Satan's Satyrs shows

Hey Satan! Hey Lucifer! We’re here, baby!

Very excited to announce that we’ve got the band back together again and we’ve been hard at work crafting a killer set that spans all 4 of our albums and more…! Join us for these select shows as we close out 2023:

11 / 14: Chapel Hill, NC: Local 506
11 / 15: Richmond, VA: The Warehouse
11 / 16: Washington, DC: The Runaway

We’re bringing Maryland Downer Rock freaks @magickpotionband with us so it’s gonna be LOUD!!

Photo by @gutterdrone

Satan’s Satyrs Line-up 2023:
Russ Yusuf – Drums
Morgan McDaniel – Guitar
Clayton Burgess – Bass & Vocals
Jarrett Nettnin – Guitar

Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones (2018)

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Quarterly Review: AAWKS & Aiwass, Surya Kris Peters, Evert Snyman, Book of Wyrms, Burning Sister, Gévaudan, Oxblood Forge, High Brian, Búho Ermitaño, Octonaut

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Last day, this one. And probably a good thing so that I can go back to doing just about anything else beyond (incredibly) basic motor function and feeling like I need to start the next day’s QR writeups. I’m already thinking of maybe a week in December and a week or two in January, just to try to keep up with stuff, but I’m of two minds about it.

Does the Quarterly Review actually help anyone find music? It helps me, I know, because it’s 50 records that I’m basically forcing myself to dig into, and that exposes me to more and more and more all the time, and gives me an outlet for stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have mental or temporal space to cover, so I know I get something out of it. Do you?

Honest answers are welcome in the comments. If it’s a no, that helps me as well.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

AAWKS & Aiwass, The Eastern Scrolls

AAWKS & Aiwass The Eastern Scrolls

Late on their 2022 self-titled debut (review here), Canadian upstart heavy fuzzers AAWKS took a decisive plunge into greater tonal densities, and “1831,” which is their side-consuming 14:30 contribution to the The Eastern Scrolls split LP with Arizona mostly-solo-project Aiwass, feels built directly off that impulse. It is, in other words, very heavy. Cosmically spaced with harsher vocals early that remind of stonerkings Sons of Otis and only more blowout from there as they roll forth into slog, noise, a stop, ambient guitar and string melodies and drum thud behind vocals, subdued psych atmosphere and backmasked sampling near the finish. Aiwass, led by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Blake Carrera and now on the cusp of releasing a second full-length, The Falling (review here), give the 13:00 “The Unholy Books” a stately, post-metallic presence, as much about the existential affirmations and the melody applied to the lyrics as it moves into the drumless midsection as either the earlier Grayceon-esque pulled notes of guitar (thinking specifically “War’s End” from 2011’s All We Destroy, but there the melody is cello) into it or the engrossing heft that emerges late in the piece, though it does bookend with a guitar comedown. Reportedly based around the life of theosophy co-founder and cult figure Madame Helena Blavatsky, it can either be embraced on that level or taken on simply as a showcase of two up and coming bands, each with their own complementary sound. However you want to go, it’s easily among the best splits I’ve heard in 2023.

AAWKS on Facebook

Aiwass on Facebook

Black Throne Productions store

Surya Kris Peters, Strange New World

Surya Kris Peters Strange New World

The lines between projects are blurring for Surya Kris Peters, otherwise known as Chris Peters, currently based in Brazil where he has the solo-project Fuzz Sagrado following on from his time in the now-defunct German trio Samsara Blues Experiment. Strange New World is part of a busy 2023/busy last few years for Peters, who in 2023 alone has issued a live album from his former band (review here) and a second self-recorded studio LP from Fuzz Sagrado, titled Luz e Sombra (review here). And in Fuzz Sagrado, Peters has returned to the guitar as a central instrument after a few years of putting his focus on keys and synths with Surya Kris Peters as the appointed outlet for it. Well, the Fuzz Sagrado had some keys and the 11-song/52-minute Strange New World wants nothing for guitar either as Peters reveals a headbanger youth in the let-loose guitar of “False Prophet,” offers soothing and textured vibes of a synthesized beat in “Sleep Meditation in Times of War” (Europe still pretty clearly in mind) and the acoustic/electric blend that’s expanded upon in “Nada Brahma Nada.” Active runs of synth, bouncing from note to note with an almost zither-esque feel in “A Beautiful Exile (Pt. 1)” and the later “A Beautiful Exile (Part 2)” set a theme that parts of other pieces follow, but in the drones of “Past Interference” and the ’80s New Wave prog of the bonus track “Slightly Too Late,” Peters reminds that the heart of the project is in exploration, and so it is still very much its own thing.

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Evert Snyman, All Killer Filler

evert snyman all killer filler

A covers record can be a unique opportunity for an artist to convey something about themselves to fans, and while I consider Evert Snyman‘s 12-track/38-minute classic pop-rock excursion All Killer Filler to be worth it for his take on Smashing Pumpkins‘ “Zero” alone, there is no mistaking the show of persona in the choice to open with The Stooges‘ iconic “Search and Destroy” and back it cheekily with silly bounce of Paul McCartney‘s almost tragically catchy “Temporary Secretary.” That pairing alone is informative if you’re looking to learn something about the South African-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. See also “The Piña Colada Song.” The ’90s feature mightily, as they would, with tunes by Pixies, Blur, Frank Black, The Breeders and Mark Lanegan (also the aforementioned Smashing Pumpkins), but whether it’s the fuzz of The Breeders’ 1:45 “I Just Wanna Get Along,” the sincere acoustic take on The Beatles “I Will” — which might as well be a second McCartney solo cut, but whatever; you’ll note Frank Black and Pixies appearing separately as well — or the gospel edge brought to Tom Waits‘ “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” Snyman internalizes this material, almost builds it from the ground up, loyal in some ways and not in others, but resonant in its respect for the source material without trying to copy, say, Foo Fighters, note for note on “The Colour and the Shape.” If it’s filler en route to Snyman‘s next original collection, fine. Dude takes on Mark Lanegan without it sounding like a put on. Mark Lanegan himself could barely do that.

Evert Snyman on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

Book of Wyrms, Storm Warning

book of wyrms storm warning

Virginian heavy doom rockers Book of Wyrms have proved readily in the past that they don’t need all that long to set up a vibe, and the standalone single “Storm Warning” reinforces that position with four-plus minutes of solid delivery of craft. Vocalist/synthesist Sarah Moore Lindsey, bassist Jay “Jake” Lindsey and drummer Kyle Lewis and guitarist Bobby Hufnell (also Druglord) — the latter two would seem to have switched instruments since last year’s single “Sodapop Glacier” (premiered here) — but whatever is actually being played by whoever, the song is a structurally concise but atmospheric groover, with a riff twisting around the hook and the keyboard lending dimension to the mix as it rests beneath the guitar and bass. They released their third album, Occult New Age (review here), in 2021, so they’re by no means late on a follow-up, and I don’t know either when this song was recorded — before, after or during that process — but it’s a sharp-sounding track from a band whose style has grown only  more theirs with time. I have high expectations for Book of Wyrms‘ next record — I had high expectations for the last one, which were met — and especially taken together, “Storm Warning” and “Sodapop Glacier” show both the malleable nature of the band’s aesthetic, the range that has grown in their sound and the live performance that is at their collective core.

Book of Wyrms on Facebook

Desert Records store

Burning Sister, Get Your Head Right

burning sister get your head right

Following on from their declarative 2022 debut, Mile High Downer Rock (review here), Denver trio Burning Sister — bassist/vocalist Steve Miller (also synth), guitarist Nathan Rorabaugh and drummer Alison Salutz — bring four originals and the Mudhoney cover “When Tomorrow Comes” (premiered here) together as Get Your Head Right, a 29-minute EP, beginning with the hypnotic nod groove and biting leads of “Fadeout” (also released as a single) and the slower, heavy psych F-U-Z-Z of “Barbiturate Lizard,” the keyboard-inclusive languid roll of which, even after the pace picks up, tells me how right I was to dig that album. The centerpiece title-track is faster and a little more forward tonally, more grounded, but carries over the vocal echo and finds itself in noisier crashes and chugs before giving over to the 7:58 “Looking Through Me,” which continues the relatively terrestrial vibe over until the wall falls off the spaceship in the middle of the track and everyone gets sucked into the vacuum — don’t worry, the synthesizer mourns us after — just before the noted cover quietly takes hold to close out with spacious heavygaze cavern echo that swells all the way up to become a blowout in the vein of the original. It’s a story that’s been told before, of a band actively growing, coming into their sound, figuring out who they are from one initial release to the next. Burning Sister haven’t finished that process yet, but I like where this seems to be headed. Namely into psych-fuzz oblivion and cosmic dust. So yeah, right on.

Burning Sister on Facebook

Burning Sister on Bandcamp

Gévaudan, Umbra

Gévaudan UMBRA

Informed by Pallbearer, Warning, or perhaps others in the sphere of emotive doom, UK troupe Gévaudan scale up from 2019’s Iter (review here) with the single-song, 43:11 Umbra, their second album. Impressive enough for its sheer ambition, the execution on the extended titular piece is both complex and organic, parts flowing naturally from one to the other around lumbering rhythms for the first 13 minutes or so before a crashout to a quick fade brings the next movement of quiet and droning psychedelia. They dwell for a time in a subtle-then-not-subtle build before exploding back to full-bore tone at 18:50 and carrying through a succession of epic, dramatic ebbs and flows, such that when the keyboard surges to the forefront of the mix in seeming battle with the pulled notes of guitar, the ensuing roll/march is a realization. They do break to quiet again, this time piano and voice, and doom mournfully into a fade that, at the end of a 43-minute song tells you the band could’ve probably kept going had they so desired. So much the better. Between this and Iter, Gévaudan have made a for-real-life statement about who they are as a band and their progressive ambitions. Do not make the mistake of thinking they’re done evolving.

Gévaudan on Facebook

Meuse Music Records website

Oxblood Forge, Cult of Oblivion

Oxblood Forge Cult of Oblivion

In some of the harsher vocals and thrashy riffing of Cult of Oblivion‘s opening title-track, Massachusetts’ Oxblood Forge remind a bit of some of the earliest Shadows Fall‘s definitively New Englander take on hardcore-informed metal. The Boston-based double-guitar five-piece speed up the telltale chug of “Children of the Grave” on “Upon the Altar” and find raw sludge scathe on “Cleanse With Fire” ahead of finishing off the four-song/18-minute EP with the rush into “Mask of Satan,” which echoes the thrash of “Cult of Oblivion” itself and finds vocalist Ken McKay pushing his voice higher in clean register than one can recall on prior releases, their most recent LP being 2021’s Decimator (review here). But that record was produced for a different kind of impact than Cult of Oblivion, and the aggression driving the new material is enhanced by the roughness of its presentation. These guys have been at it a while now, and clearly they’re not in it for trends, or to be some huge band touring for seven months at a clip. But their love of heavy metal is evident in everything they do, and it comes through here in every blow to the head they mete out.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

High Brian, Five, Six, Seven

High Brian Five Six Seven

The titular rhythmic counting in Austrian heavy-prog quirk rockers High Brian‘s Five, Six, Seven (on StoneFree Records, of course) doesn’t take long to arrive, finding its way into second cut “Is it True” after the mild careening of “All There Is” opens their third full-length, and that’s maybe eight minutes into the 40-minute record, but it doesn’t get less gleefully weird from there as the band take off into the bassy meditation of “The End” before tossing out angular headspinner riffs in succession and rolling through what feels like a history of krautrock’s willful anti-normality written into the apocalypse it would seemingly have to be. “The End” is the longest track at 8:50, and it presumably closes side A, which means side B is when it’s time to party as the triplet chug of “The Omni” reinforces the energetic start of “All There Is” with madcap fervor and “Stone Came Up” can’t decide whether it’s raw-toned biker rock or spaced out lysergic idolatry, so it decides to become an open jam complete people talking “in the crowd.” This leaves the penultimate “Our First Car” to deliver one last shove into the art-rock volatility of closer “Oil Into the Fire,” where High Brian play one more round of can-you-follow-where-this-is-going before ending with a gentle cymbal wash like nothing ever happened. Note, to the best of my knowledge, there are not bongos on every track, as the cover art heralds. But perhaps spiritually. Spiritual bongos.

High Brian on Facebook

StoneFree Records website

Búho Ermitaño, Implosiones

Búho Ermitaño Implosiones

Shimmering, gorgeous and richly informed in melody and rhythm by South American folk, Búho Ermitaño‘s Implosiones revels in pastoralia in opener “Herbie” before “Expolosiones” takes off past its midpoint into heavy post-rock float and progressive urgency that in itself is more dynamic than many bands even still is only a small fraction of the encompassing range of sounds at work throughout these seven songs. ’60s psych twists into the guitar solo in the back half of “Explosiones” before space rock key/synth wash finishes — yes, it’s like that — and only then does the serene guitar and, birdsong and synth-drone of “Preludio” announce the arrival of centerpiece “Ingravita,” which begins acoustic and even as it climbs all the way up to its crescendo maintains its peaceful undercurrent so that when it returns at the end it seems to be home again at the finish. The subsequent “Buarabino” is more about physical movement in its rhythm, cumbia roots perhaps showing through, but leaves the ground for its second half of multidirectional resonances offered like ’70s prog that tells you it’s from another planet. But no, cosmic as they get in the keys of “Entre los Cerros,” Búho Ermitaño are of and for the Earth — you can hear it in every groove and sun-on-water guitar melody — and when the bowl chimes to start finale “Renacer,” the procession that ensues en route to the final drone is an affirmation both of the course they’ve taken in sound and whatever it is in your life that’s led you to hear it. Records like this never get hype. They should. They are loved nonetheless.

Búho Ermitaño on Facebook

Buh Records on Bandcamp

Octonaut, Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

Octonaut Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod

In concept or manifestation, one would not call Octonaut‘s 54-minute shenanigans-prone debut album Intergalactic Tales of a Wandering Cephalopod a minor undertaking. On any level one might want to approach it — taking on the two-minute feedbackscape of “…—…” (up on your morse code?) or the 11-minute tale-teller-complete-with-digression-about-black-holes “Octonaut” or any of their fun-with-fuzz-and-prog-metal-and-psychedelia points in between — it is a lot, and there is a lot going on, but it’s also wonderfully brazen. It’s completely over the top and knows it. It doesn’t want to behave. It doesn’t want to just be another stoner band. It’s throwing everything out in the open and seeing what works, and as Octonaut move forward, ideally, they’ll take the lessons of a song like the mellow linear builder “Hypnotic Jungle” or nine-minute capper “Rainbow Muffler Camel” (like they’re throwing darts at words) with its intermittent manic fits and the somehow inevitable finish of blown-out static noise. As much stoner as it is prog, it’s also not really either, but this is good news because there are few better places for an act so clearly bent on individualism as Octonaut are to begin than in between genres. One hopes they dwell there for the duration.

Octonaut on Facebook


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