The Osedax to Release Meridians Jan. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the osedax

You get about three minutes into the second track before The Osedax break out the blastbeats, and that’s fine. By then the Virginian three-piece have churned their way through the post-metallic opener “Offen” and soon enough they’ll roll the track in question, the 14-minute “Beacon/Ox Eye,” to a suitably massive and thoughtful conclusion. They’re no strangers to longform work, as their 2015 outing, Titans Lament also showcased, but they wear the atmospherics well on the Meridians, which is their forthcoming third long-player, due out in January like the headline says.

There are a total of four cuts on the album, with “Beacon/Ox Eye” followed by the drone-first-then-all-the-pummel-followed-by-an-even-more-horrifying-moment-of-clarity “White Horse/Tempest” and the concluding “Ratlines,” which at a mere 7:22 is the only song under 11 minutes long and comprised totally of Twin Peaks-soundtrack-esque minimalist ambience, as it would almost have to be. I’ll take it, particularly after the sundry furies and feedback that lead up to its arrival.

The PR wire has release details and links. No audio yet, but it’s worth noting that The Osedax issued their debut album in 2010. The second record, as noted, followed in 2015. A third in 2020 puts them on an every-half-decade pace. If it’s not until 2025 that they do a fourth, at least they’ve given their listeners plenty to chew on in the prospective interim.

Cover art and whatnot:

The Osedax Meridians

The Osedax – Meridians

Release: 17 January 2020

Virginia is a hotspot for bands moving within sludgy circles, but one band who excel within the newer class are The Osedax. Named after a bone-burrowing deep sea worm, their music is similarly infectious as it worms its way into your system. Now on their third major release, Meridians, the group push their blend of atmospheric sludge/doom/post-metal to new heights, and the results are devastatingly effective.

Each track takes its sweet time to warm up, but once the drums kick it’s worth the wait. The Osedax perfectly capture the deep-water experience in all its forms, whether floating in a wash of guitar static, trudging through muddy riffs and melancholic synths, or – the pièce de résistance – when the band kick “Beacon / Ox Eye” and “White Horse / Tempest” in the guts with frantic blast beats akin to black metal like Downfall of Gaia. In addition, slimming down to a trio has had no ill effect on the band’s potency – the shared vocals flow between harrowing yells à la Neurosis and creature-like shrieks. The overall effect is cavernous, a sound that envelops and simultaneously destroys eardrums.

If you weren’t already familiar via Delayed Response or Titans Lament, then Meridians should be mandatory listening for fans of the above-mentioned genres, and who like floating at the bottom of the ocean.

Tracklisting:
1. Offen
2. Beacon/Ox Eye
3. White Horse / Tempest
3. Ratlines

The Osedax are:
Mike Horn (Bass/Vocals/Synth) – ex Psyopus / Mod Flanders Conspiracy
Scott Coldwell (Guitar/Vocals) – ex Mod Flanders Conspiracy
Kevin Grevey (Drums/Percussion) – Gloom

https://facebook.com/theosedax
https://theosedax.bandcamp.com/

The Osedax, Titans Lament (2015)

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Friday Full-Length: Valkyrie, Valkyrie

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Valkyrie came up around the same time as a kind of underground next-generation local boom in the Virginia/Maryland scene. Bands like Ol’ ScratchVOG (with whom Valkyrie released a split in 2005), Admiral BrowningLord, and a host of others seemed to solidify if not simultaneously then at least concurrently, and though their sounds varied from extreme sludge and thrash to instrumental progressive heavy rock to Valkyrie‘s earthy take on neo-classic dual guitar-ism, there was the sort of camaraderie between them that can only emerge when it’s a group of bands who’ve played shows basically for each other. That entire scene was and remains undervalued, and though most of those bands are gone and/or morphed into other acts like FoehammerSpiral GraveEarthling, the last incarnation of Akris, etc., and Valkyrie were put on the proverbial backburner for years following their second album, Man of Two Visions (discussed here), being picked up by MeteorCity in 2010 after its initial release in 2008 on Noble Origins (Kreation Records also put it out on vinyl in 2009), the quality of their 2006 self-titled still remains in its unpretentious melodies, proto-progressive groove and the weighted tones of its brotherly team of guitarist/vocalists, Jake and Pete Adams.

It’s arguable that among their cohort, Valkyrie had the most potential. Their sound was different from everyone else’s, and as heavy rock consciousness was filled with two-guitar antics and fleet rhythmic turns thanks to the ascent of MastodonValkyrie came across as not-uninformed of that, but able to be a tie between that style, heavy Southern rock, the classic doom of Pentagram, and even a touch of Spirit Caravan — whose drummer Gary Isom, would join them at some point around the second record. They were an immediate standout, in other words, and the material on Valkyrie‘s Valkyrie — released by Twin Earth after that VOG split and a couple of demos — was much the same, with Jake and Pete effectively trading vocals atop winding riffs and a welcoming sense of overarching groove to the bass of Nick Crabill and Nic McInturff‘s drumming. At eight tracks and 40 minutes, the release feels prescient of the vinyl boom to come, and though it’s fair to call its Chris Kozlowski production organic, it’s still rich enough to properly convey the surge of energy with the solo in finale “Lost in the Darkness,” which is perhaps the most singularly Wino-derived moment as it moves back into its The Obsessed-style central riff heading toward the midpoint of the song.

valkyrie self titledOf course, that’s hardly the first uptempo kick on Valkyrie. Beginning with “Withered Tree” at the outset, the four-piece construct a heavy rolling fluidity that allows for as much nuance as is warranted without taking away from impact at the most basic level. Witness the stop and subsequent intertwining of guitars in the second half of the opener. There’s a gracefulness to the execution of that build that undercuts the idea of the self-titled being the band’s first record — no doubt the fact that the guitarists were brothers helped — and as they moved through the hazier riffs of “Sunlight Shines” and the full-on thrust of pace that emerges there, it becomes clear just how central to the proceedings the musical conversation between the Adams brothers truly is. Not to take away from Crabill or McInturff in the rhythm section — though both would be gone by the time the follow-up came along — but Valkyrie were always a guitar-minded outfit, and they earned that through their stage presence and technique alike, tapping into epic heavy rock elements on “Endless Crusade” ahead of the acoustic interlude “Wolf Hollow” and the push into the second half of the tracklisting via “Secrets of the Mind.”

The hooky fuzz there seems to straighten out some of the more winding aspects of earlier cuts, but in truth it’s no less complex than anything before, and much the same applies to “Heralds of the Dawn,” which follows. Perhaps most of all the songs on Valkyrie feels made for the stage. Ready to dominate at Krug’s Place in Frederick or some other Chesapeake-region outlet on a bill maybe with Earthride and cheap beer spilled as much on the floor as down the gullets of patrons who somehow are drunk anyway. On such a guitar-centric record, it might be Jake Adams‘ best vocal performance, and it successfully blends the progressive and proto-metal aspects of the earlier songs with a fuller-sounding distorted roll all the while executing an efficient structure. If you want an example of the potential at root in their sound, that’s where you go. They follow it with longest cut “Eternally There,” which brings in Internal Void‘s Kelly Carmichael for a guest solo — I love the thought at the Adams brothers listened to anything on this record and were like, “You know, I think this could use another guitar”; it’s like the most guitarist thought ever — and prefaces the galloping last build in “Lost in the Darkness” with its own energetic thrust.

They end, as noted, by riding off at top speed into the sunset, which is a fair enough way to go out and certainly earned by the prior proceedings. I’ve always thought of Man of Two Visions as a superior record in that it took a lot of what Valkyrie established as their sound and pushed it forward, opened up the production some and further integrated the natural vibe into the songwriting, but going back and revisiting the self-titled is a refresher of how strong this band was at the outset. No mystery as to “what happened” to them. Jake Adams started a family and in 2008 Pete joined Baroness, where he’d remain until 2017. He currently plays in Samhain and Razors in the Night. In the meantime, Valkyrie released a third LP, Shadows (review here), through Relapse in 2015 and have done periodic shows and fest appearances to support it, remaining underrated all the while.

That release came as a surprise but was certainly welcome, and whatever, whenever Valkyrie do next, if anything, it’ll be much the same. They may not have gotten in the last 15-plus years the recognition they’ve deserved, but the sonic conversation happening between the Adamses remains something special and any outlet it finds is worth hearing.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

The Pecan turns two today. Toddlerian. Human Hurricane. “Daddy is not for kicking.” “We don’t bite.” “We don’t hit.” “If you hit me again, I’m leaving. Okay, good night. I love you. See you in the morning.”

Two years ago, I watched as, after, what, 38? hours of labor they pulled him out of my wife’s belly in an emergency C-section. Her guts, blue, on a table that I wasn’t supposed to see but saw anyway before they stuffed them back into her and closed her up with all the barbarity of human medicine at its most basic. The kind of thing the future will judge us for, provided, you know, a future.

While we’re here: Sorry about that, Pecan.

But anyway, Duder is two. And awake. And probably with a dirty diaper from the sound of him, so yeah, I better head upstairs and get the day started. It’s 6AM. Yesterday, his nap got cut short by like an hour I think because my wife and I used the bathroom one after the other and the sound of the running water was enough to wake him — he has a white noise machine but turns it off after we leave him and it plugs in so we can’t move it out of his reach; it’s a whole fucking complicated thing — and he was miserable, but eventually I gave him some of the wheat crackers he likes and he chilled out. But that was my afternoon, pretty much. I got to finish the posts for today, this one aside, and read half a section of a chapter of the Star Trek book I’m working through, and that was it. Back to daddy-time.

I’d say something about pretending to have a real life, but I think probably the proper thing to do is consider daddy-time as real life. There are arguments to be made on either side of that, I guess, and various cruel narratives that play out in my head on any given day as I watch the minutes slowly tick by until I can sit with The Patient Mrs., have dinner, watch the end of News Hour or more Trek and maybe chat for a minute over dessert before I complete the futz ritual — prepare coffee for the morning, etc. — pop half a container of sugar-free Rolaids and go to bed somewhere around 8-8:30, depending on how miserably tired I am. Real life. Maybe I’ll go back to bed this morning.

Yeah.

This post is long enough anyway. I’m gonna go grab him, change him, deliver him to my wife for morning nursing, saying happy birthday and properly doting in special you’re-gonna-have-ice-cream-today fashion, then crash out for a little bit. I’ll put up another post first though, because if I don’t, I won’t sleep. It’s like that.

How about those Astros though, huh?

Next week? I don’t know. It’s Halloween, but I don’t much care except it means the holidays are encroaching and I frickin’ hate the holidays. I think I’m going to put up a poll though for the best albums of the decade next week and that should be fun. I’m interested to see what people pick. And with my plans for 2020 in Sweden having fallen through, I’ve floated an Obelisk All-Dayer in Brazil in July 2021 maybe. That’s a ways off, but we’ll see. Would be fun.

Oh and there’ll be premieres and reviews and other stuff. It’s all in my notes, which frankly I’m too tired to look at at just this moment.

Have a great and safe weekend. Rock and roll and all that. We’re having a big party for The Pecan tomorrow with family and a few close friends. If you’re in the neighborhood, we’d love to have you come by. Email me for the address. We’ll have a bouncy house, so bring the kids. I’m completely serious.

Forum, merch, radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

 

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

The Company BigCartel store

 

Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

Workshed on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

E-L-R on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

Sibyl on Thee Facebooks

Sibyl on Bandcamp

 

Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

Golden Legacy on Thee Facebooks

Golden Legacy on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Devil’s Witches on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

Burden Limbs on Thee Facebooks

Glasshouse Records on Bandcamp

 

El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

El Supremo on Thee Facebooks

El Supremo on Bandcamp

 

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Red Beard Wall & Thunderchief Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

red beard wall thunderchief tour banner

Gotta figure two one-man bands traveling together cuts down on costs, if nothing else. Plenty of room in a 13-passenger van, even with gear, when it’s just two dudes. I’m not sure, however, that it is just two dudes, as I know Texas’ Red Beard Wall and Virginia’s Thunderchief have both used live drummers in the past, so maybe upwards of… four… people involved between the two groups, such as they are? Still seems like a pretty efficient trip to me.

Thunderchief — aka Rik Surly and sometimes Erik Larson — have a couple singles out as of last year, while Red Beard Wall — aka Aaron Wall and sometimes George Trujillo — released the full-length The Fight Needs Us All earlier this year on Argonauta Records. Rest assured, whether it’s them alone or not, whatever the shows lack in personnel, they’ll make up in volume. Neither act is fucking around when it comes to that.

Dates and info from the PR wire:

red beard wall thunderchief tour

Red Beard Wall & Thunderchief Tour Dates

Thunderchief teams up with Red Beard Wall for one of 2019’s most anticipated tours! Sacrament of the Ninth Order Tour 2019!

This super-heavy doom/sludge hybrid tour begins October 17 in Dallas, TX, wrapping up in the Mecca of Doom, Frederick, MD, on Nov. 2, 2019. This pair of ultra-heavy sonic titans are quite unique, as they are both one-man bands, with walls of amps and NO drum machines!

Thunderchief, of Richmond, VA, will be performing their crushing new upcoming album in its entirety, and Red Beard Wall, of Lubbock, TX (Argonauta Records), will be belting out melodic heaviness from their current European release, The Fight Needs Us All.

Both bands have been seen opening for Eyehategod, Weedeater, Backwoods Payback, Shadow Witch, among many others, and this tour is not slacking on killer regional touring bands!

Oct. 17 Dallas TX Tradewinds Social Club
Oct. 18 Austin TX Dozen Street
Oct. 19 San Antonio TX Faust Tavern
Oct. 20 Lafayette LA Freetown Boom Boom Room
Oct. 21 New Orleans LA Poor Boys
Oct. 23 Birmingham AL Upsidedown Plaza
Oct. 24 Raleigh NC Slim’s
Oct. 25 Wilmington NC Reggie’s
Oct. 26 Asheville NC Static Age
Oct. 27 Nashville TN Betty’s Grill
Oct. 28 Louisville KY Highlands Tap Room
Oct. 29 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl
Oct. 30 Canton OH Buzz Bin
Nov. 1 Kingston NY The Anchor
Nov. 2 Frederick MD Guido’s

https://www.facebook.com/redbeardwall/
https://redbeardwall.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thethunderchief
https://thethunderchief.bandcamp.com/

Red Beard Wall, The Fight Needs Us All (2019)

Thunderchief, “Stone House”

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Satan’s Satyrs Announce Breakup; SonicBlast Moledo Performance Canceled

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I guess in the end it was probably lineup trouble that did in Satan’s Satyrs. Bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess was a founding member, and guitarist Jarrett Nettnin, if he wasn’t, joined pretty early on as well, but in their decade together, they’d been through a handful of drummers, and though they brought in guitarist Nate Towle in 2016, they’d seen a few other six-stringers come and go along the way as well. That kind of thing can take a toll on a band over time.

Still, Satan’s Satyrs‘ run was plenty productive. Over the course of their 10 years, they released four full-lengths — the latest of which, The Lucky Ones, came out in 2018 on RidingEasy and Bad Omen Records — as well as their 2010 breakthrough EP, Lucifer Lives!, a 2018 split on Relapse with their oft-tourmates Windhand and a host of other live and EP-type outings. While we’re on the subject, they toured steadily as well, hitting Europe multiple times as well as the US, where among many others, they did a run alongside Electric Wizard as Burgess pulled double-duty playing bass at the time for the UK doom legends.

As to what future plans might be, I’m not sure on the whole. Towle has hinted at something coming together with drummer Jason Oberuc — who filled in on Satan’s Satyrs‘ last tour — and vocalist Alyson Dellinger, but it’s all still pretty murky, and as to what the others’ plans might be, I can’t say. They were confirmed to take part in SonicBlast Moledo 2019 in Portugal next month with Sean Saley (ex-Pentagram, etc.) behind the kit, but that appearance as well as all other live dates have been canceled.

For being relatively young, they were veterans who came out of the gate 10 years ago with an aesthetic that was ahead of its time in blending ’70s biker boogie and doom to a VHS-grained effect. They would seem to have influenced more bands one way or another than they know.

Their statement was short and sweet:

satans satyrs done

Satan’s Satyrs is no more. The band’s scheduled appearance at Sonicblast Modelo is cancelled. Thanks for the last ten years, from the first demo tape to the final show.

– Clayton, Jarrett, Nate

https://www.facebook.com/satanssatyrs
https://instagram.com/satanssatyrs/

Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones (2018)

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Et Mors Announce October Tour Supporting Lux in Morte

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ET MORS

The Chesapeake duo (Maryland and Virginia) Et Mors will tour this October supporting their grit-caked Lux in Morte (review here) release, which kind of skirts the line between an EP and a full-length but is ultimately three records’ worth of nasty all on its own. They issued the beast at the end of May, having recorded it as a four-piece with their last lineup, and they’ll get out in their new incarnation and presumably bring at least a somewhat different vibe to the material. In addition to shows with Dour and Fistula there are a few dates on here that are TBA, so if you happen to be in that part of the world — come on Stroudsburg, PA, you can fill that Oct. 14 show! — you should make it happen. Not just because it’s the right thing to do. Not just because the band is heavy. But because it’s the right thing to do and the band is heavy. Crazy persuasive, right? So do it up. Make pie and have them play your house. I bet it’ll be a blast.

I think I’ve made my point.

Here are the dates:

et mors tour

Et Mors – Tombswayer Tour

Tombswayer tour for October 2019 is starting to really come together. We have 3 dates with Fistula and 8 dates with DOUR. Still some unknown venues to be filled in…

Et Mors Tombswayer Tour October 2019:
10/10 Richmond VA Wonderland
10/11 Philadelphia PA Century Bar
10/12 Allentown PA Alternative Gallery
10/13 Wilkes Barre PA Curry Donuts*
10/14 UNKNOWN TBA
10/15 Pittsburgh PA Howler’s
10/16 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl^
10/17 Canton OH Buzzbin^
10/18 Columbus OH Summit
10/19 Dayton OH TBA
10/20 Indianapolis IN State Street Pub
10/21 Fort Wayne IN TBA
10/22 Cleveland OH TBA
10/23 Ithaca NY TBA*
10/24 Rochester NY Bug Jar*
10/25 Albany NY Pauly’s Hotel*
10/26 Wocester MA Ralph’s Rock Diner Terry’s Bday Show w/ Come to Grief*
10/27 Providence RI TBA*
10/29 Montclair NJ Meatlocker*
* with Dour ^ with Fistula

Et Mors is:
Z.S – Guitar. Vocals
A.A – Drums, Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/EtMors/
https://etmors.bandcamp.com/

Et Mors, Lux in Morte (2019)

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Inter Arma Announce East Coast Tour Supporting Sulphur English

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

inter arma

I know by now you’ve heard Inter Arma‘s latest masterpiece Sulphur English (review here) and so you don’t need me to recount for you its multifaceted righteousness, but if you’ll indulge me just a minute, consider how much even compared to the work the band was doing a few years ago their sound has become not a mash of different styles together — not doom one moment, death metal the next, post-this or that along the way — but one cohesive and identifiable aesthetic that they have made their own. It’s an easy-pick candidate for one of the best metal albums of the year, which makes it all the more of an exciting time to see the band live if you’re able. I don’t know what Inter Arma‘s future holds after Sulphur English, but it’s not a stretch to think this is a landmark moment for them one way or the other. I think I may have just talked myself into going to this show.

Dates came down the PR wire:

inter arma tour

INTER ARMA ANNOUNCE EAST COAST TOUR IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER

Sulphur English out now on Relapse Records

Following the release of their universally acclaimed new album Sulphur English, Richmond’s Inter Arma have announced another string of North American tour dates in support of it. The band will tour along the east coast in late August into September with Creeping Death in tow. Check out the dates and venues listed below.

Out last April on Relapse, Sulphur English finds Inter Arma mining deeper in the proggy organic doom fields that made their prior albums so thrilling while expanding further the on the psych-folk strain that made those albums’ peaks seem so lofty. Despite all the new territory being covered both musically and lyrically, Sulphur English isn’t an experiment. It’s not Inter Arma testing the waters. It’s a necessary step in the evolution of a band whose music remains unclassifiable. Few bands make music as engrossing as Inter Arma; their lengthy, almost meditative songs rumble patiently forward until you’re ready to get thrown off a bridge — and then they throw you, with great force.

See Inter Arma on tour later this summer and look for more news from the band soon. Order your copy of Sulphur English here.

INTER ARMA – ON TOUR:
August 30 Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works *
August 31 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie *
September 1 Northampton, MA @ RPM Fest *
September 2 Portland, ME @ Geno’s Rock Club *
September 3 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
September 4 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
September 5 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s *
September 6 Youngstown, OH @ Blackout Cookout
September 7 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony *
* w/ Creeping Death

INTER ARMA Is:
Mike Paparo – vocals
T.J. Childers – drums
Steven Russell – guitars
Trey Dalton – guitars
Andrew Lacour – bass

http://relapse.com/inter-arma-sulphur-english/
https://www.facebook.com/INTERARMA/
https://www.instagram.com/interarmamusic/
http://interarma.bandcamp.com/

Inter Arma, Sulphur English (2019)

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