Quarterly Review: Beastmaker, Low Flying Hawks, CHVE, Brujas del Sol, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, The Shooters, Boss Keloid, Hors Sujet, Warchief, Seedship

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

It seems like a day doesn’t go by that I don’t find something in one of these piles (metaphorical, sometimes literal) of records that keeps me coming back. Today is once again spread across a pretty wide stylistic swath, and that’s by design to keep my brain from going numb, but if there’s a unifying theme across all of it, let it be a sense of scope and bands and artists who are trying to take what’s been done before and push it forward or in some new direction. That’s not universal — nothing is — but today might be the most adventurous of the days included this quarter, so I hope you’ll keep open ears and an open mind as you make your way though.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae

beastmaker lusus naturae

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Rise Above Records

 

Low Flying Hawks, Kofuku

low flying hawks kofuku

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Magnetic Eye Records

 

CHVE, Rasa

chve rasa

The crux of CHVE’s Rasa is in resonance. Amenra frontman Colin H. van Eeckhout (his solo-project’s name derived from his initials) constructs a flowing half-hour of fluid drone, intermittent percussion – first tribal, then a straightforward kind of march, slow but not still – and atmospheric vocal on the single track that comprises the work, seeming to take influence from calls to prayer as much as atmospheric noise. At higher volumes, the piece is consuming, his voice surrounds with the almost constant wash of tone, but even at more reasonable levels, the sense of purpose and ritual remains. Of course, Amenra are noted for the use of the word “mass” in their album titles, and while Rasa departs from the direct tonal heft of much of what van Eeckhout does in his main outfit, there is a sense of mass here in terms both of presence and in terms of the worship being enacted.

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Consouling Sounds

 

Brujas del Sol, Starquake

brujas del sol starquake

How do you fit an 11-minute track onto a 7” release? Easy, you break it in half. Such is the method of Ohio instrumentalists Brujas del Sol, who follow their Moonliner EP trilogy with the late-2015 single Starquake, presented on the limited H42 Records platter as “Starquake Pt. I” and “Starquake Pt. II” but comprising nonetheless a single piece that backs airy, post-rock-tinged guitar with a decided forward rhythmic motion, resulting in an overarching build that, while there’s a natural moment for the split, is hypnotic front to back, a swirl of effects calling it mind space rock improvisation even as the plotted momentum of drums and bass resumes. Starquake is enough to make one imagine what kind of variety and spontaneity Brujas del Sol would bring to a debut full-length, so in that it very much does its job, but it makes a good case for standing on its own as well as it hits its second apex and finishes in a residual wash of cosmic noise.

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H42 Records

 

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Noeth ac Anoeth

mammoth weed wizard bastard noeth ac anoeth

Offered through New Heavy Sounds, Noeth Ac Anoeth is the debut full-length from Welsh cosmic doom four-piece Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. It is comprised of three songs and incorporates the half-hour-long “Nachthexen,” which was also the title-track of the band’s prior 2015 EP (review here), their rumble brought to bear through the capable knob-turning of Conan’s Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. The vocals of Jessica Ball manage to cut through the ensuing tonal murk of her bass and the guitars of Paul Michael Davies and Wez Leon, and James Carrington’s drums live up to the near-impossible task of making “Les Paradis Artificiels,” “Slave Moon” and “Nachthexen” go, each developing its own plodding momentum amid the purposeful thickness overdose and atmospheric sensibility enhanced both by Davies’ work on keys and Ball’s vocals. “Slave Moon” winds up at a gallop and almost operatic, but there’s no way the highlight wasn’t going to be “Nachthexen,” which offers chug dense enough and spaces wide open enough to easily get lost in. Time well spent, all around.

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New Heavy Sounds

 

The Shooters, Dead Wilderness

the shooters dead wilderness

Spanish heavy rock four-piece The Shooters present their third album, Dead Wilderness (on Red Sun Records/Nooirax Producciones), as two sides even on the CD pressing, each half of the record ending with an extended cut over the 10-minute mark. All told it’s six songs/49 minutes of solidified, mostly straightforward Euro-style riff-led heavy grooves, tapping into some Dozer influence on “War on You” but offering more spacious burl on “Lucifer’s Word,” which starts side B after the push of “Roots” rounds out side A. There’s little by way of letup, but moments like the quiet start and bridge of “Black Mountain” do a lot of work in adding complexity to The Shooters’ hook-minded approach, and 11-minute finale “Candelabrum” builds on that with a patient linear unfolding that casts off some tonal heft in favor of a more atmospheric take. That ultimately lets Dead Wilderness bring an individual edge to established stylistic parameters, from which it greatly benefits.

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The Shooters on Bandcamp

 

Boss Keloid, Herb Your Enthusiasm

boss keloid herb your enthusiasm

Granted, a title playing off Curb Your Enthusiasm and, well, herb, might make you think the band is just goofing around, but UK riffers Boss Keloid offer more substance with their second album, Herb Your Enthusiasm, than they do wackiness. The sound – captured by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio – is positively massive, bolstered by guest appearances from Fielding himself and his Conan bandmate, Jon Davis, who also owns Skyhammer and Black Bow Records, the imprint releasing the LP, and given to swells of largesse and huge rolling grooves that still remain righteously fuzzed, as on “Escapegoat” or “Lung Valley” the quieter complement to opener “Lung Mountain.” Vocalist Alex Hurst assures any quota of burl is met, but has more to his approach melodically than riff-following chestbeating, and guitarist Paul Swarbrick, bassist Adam Swarbrick and drummer Stephen Arands present instrumental flow and turns behind that give the record a sense of personality beyond its weedian play. Not a minor undertaking at an hour long, but satisfying in tone and execution.

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Black Bow Records

 

Hors Sujet, Nous N’y Trouvons que le Doute

hors sujet nous ny trouvons que le doute

I guess it’s fair to call late 2015’s Nous N’y Trouvons que le Doute the debut full-length from Toulouse-based one-man outfit Hors Sujet, though multi-instrumentalist/atmosphere-conjurer Florent Paris has done a variety of soundtrack work and released numerous other textures in EPs and a variety of other offerings, so take that for what it’s worth. More important is the rich sense of ambience Paris brings to Hors Sujet in the seven included songs, from the dystopian doom of “Au Plus Loin, la Mer / L’hiver Peureux” to the wistful drone wash of “Le Souffle, Peu à Peu (Pt. 2),” which has its companion piece earlier in the album. Of special note should be 27-minute closer “Et Maintenant, le Ombres,” acting as a summary of the proceedings as much as expansion thereupon, concluding an often quiet outing with a stark cacophony that gorgeously builds from the minimalism before it to a raucous finish worth of the breadth Paris shows in his work throughout.

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Hors Sujet on Bandcamp

 

Warchief, Warchief

warchief warchief

Initially released by the band in summer 2015, the self-titled debut from Finnish progressive heavy rockers Warchief sees vinyl issue through Phonosphera Records, its two sides consumed by organic execution across four tracks moving beyond traditional structure in favor of a more varied approach, from the rumbling heft that emerges in opener “Give” through the goes-anywhere near-psychedelia of 21-minute closer “For Heavy Damage.” Warchief, the Jyväskylä-based four-piece of Teemu Pellonpää, Juho Saarikoski, Esa Pirttimäki and Tommi Rintala, feel right at home working in longer-form material, whether it’s that closer or the nine-minute “Life Went On” preceding, and given their breadth I wouldn’t be surprised if they would up with a single-song album sometime in the future. With that in mind, perhaps most encouraging about their self-titled is the fact that it seems so exploratory, very much like the beginning of creative growth rather than a finished product on display. One hopes they continue to flesh out stylistically and build on the foundation they’ve set here.

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Warchief on Bandcamp

 

Seedship, Demo 2015

seedship demo 2015

Riffing their way into the post-Electric Wizard league of rumble purveyors, Minneapolis newcomers Seedship avoid any cultish trappings on last fall’s Demo 2015, their first release. A marked tonal thickness is nearly immediate, but along with the slow-motion nod and overarching density, melodic vocals cut through the morass to give a human aspect to the groove. Of the three tracks, “The Edge of Expiry,” “The Condemned Adrift” and “The Desperate Odyssey,” not a one is under eight minutes long, and as they plod their way through the opener (also the longest track; immediate points), Seedship enact a sci-fi theme that carries through the release as a whole, which scuffs up the approach some in the closer, but always keeps its spacier elements intact, even as it kicks the pace in the ass at around six minutes in and lets loose a release for all the tension built up prior before a final slowdown ends out. They seem to have a lot already worked out sound-wise, so should be interesting to hear where they go with it.

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Seedship on Bandcamp

 

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