Quarterly Review: Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space, Inter Arma, Sunnata, The Sonic Dawn, Rifflord, Mothman and the Thunderbirds, The Lunar Effect, Danava, Moonlit, Doom Lab

Posted in Reviews on May 24th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


This is it. This one’s for all the marbles. Well, actually there are no marbles involved, but if you remember way back like two weeks ago when this started out, I told you the tale of a hubristic 40-something dickweed blogger who thought he could review 100 albums in 10 days, and assuming I make it through the below without having an aneurysm — because, hey, you never know — today I get to live that particular fairy tale.

If you’ve kept up, and I hope you have, thanks. If not, click here to see all the posts in this Quarterly Review. Either way, I appreciate your time.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space, Enters Your Somas

Lamp of the universe meets dr space Enter Your Somas

Who’s ready to get blasted out the airlock? New Zealand solo-outfit Lamp of the Universe, aka multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson (also Dead Shrine, ex-Datura, etc.), and Portugal-residing synth master Dr. Space, aka Scott Heller of Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, and so on, come together to remind us all we’re nothing more than semi-sentient cosmic dust. Enters Your Somas is comprised of two extended pieces, “Enters Your Somas” (18:39) and “Infiltrates Your Mind” (19:07), and both resonate space/soul frequencies while each finds its own path. The title-track is more languid on average, where “Infiltrates Your Mind” reroutes auxiliary power to the percussive thrusters in its first half before drifting into drone communion and hearing a voice — vague, but definitely human speech — before surging back to its course via Williamson‘s drums, which play a large role in giving the material its shape. But with synthy sweeps from Heller, Mellotron and guitar coming and going, and a steady groove across both inclusions, Lamp of the Universe Meets Dr. Space offer galactic adventure limited only by where your imagination puts you while you listen.

Lamp of the Universe on Facebook

Dr. Space on Facebook

Sound Effect Records website

Inter Arma, New Heaven

inter arma new heaven

Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma had no small task before them in following 2019’s Sulphur English (review here), but from the tech-death boops and bops and twists of New Heaven‘s leadoff title-track through the gothic textures of “Gardens in the Dark,” self-aware without satire, slow-flowing and dramatic, this fifth full-length finds them continuing to expand their creative reach, and at this point, whatever genre you might want to cast them in, they stand out. To wit, the blackdeath onslaught of “Violet Seizures” that’s also space rock, backed in that by the subsequent “Desolation’s Harp” with its classically grandiose solo, or the post-doom lumber of “Concrete Cliffs” that calls out its expanse after the seven-minute drum-playthrough-fodder extremity of “The Children the Bombs Overlooked,” or the mournful march of “Endless Grey” and the acoustic-led Nick Cavey epilogue “Forest Service Road Blues.” Few bands embrace a full spectrum of metallic sounds without coming across as either disjointed or like they’re just mashing styles together for the hell of it. Inter Arma bleed purpose in every turn, and as they inch closer to their 20th year as a band, they are masters unto themselves of this form they’ve created.

Inter Arma on Facebook

Relapse Records website

Sunnata, Chasing Shadows

sunnata chasing shadows

The opening “Chimera” puts Chasing Shadows quickly into a ritualized mindset, all the more as Warsaw meditative doomers Sunnata lace it and a decent portion of their 11-track/62-minute fifth album with an arrangement of vocals from guitarists Szymon Ewertowski and Adrian Gadomski and bassist/synthesist Michal Dobrzanski as drummer/percussionist Robert Ruszczyk punctuates on snare as they head toward a culmination. Individual pieces have their own purposes, whether it’s the momentary float of “Torn” or the post-Alice in Chains harmonies offset by Twin Peaks-y creep in “Saviours Raft,” or the way “Hunger” gradually moves from light to dark with rolling immersion, or the dancier feel with which “Like Cogs in a Wheel” gives an instrumental finish. It’s not a minor undertaking and it’s not meant to be one, but mood and atmosphere do a lot of work in uniting the songs, and the low-in-the-mouth vocal melodies become a part of that as the record unfolds. Their range has never felt broader, but there’s a plot being followed as well, an idea behind each turn in “Wishbone” and the sprawl is justified by the dug-in worldmaking taking place across the whole-LP progression, darkly psychedelic and engrossing as it is.

Sunnata on Facebook

Sunnata on Bandcamp

The Sonic Dawn, Phantom

The Sonic Dawn Phantom

Among the most vital classic elements of The Sonic Dawn‘s style is their ability to take spacious ideas and encapsulate them with a pop efficiency that doesn’t feel dumbed down. That is to say, they’re not capitulating to fickle attention spans with short songs so much as they’re able to get in, say what they want to say with a given track, and get out. Phantom is their fifth album, and while the title may allude to a certain ghostliness coinciding with the melancholy vibe overarching through the bulk of its component material, the Copenhagen-based trio are mature enough at this stage to know what they’re about. And while Phantom has its urgent stretches in the early going of “Iron Bird” or the rousing “Think it Over,” the handclap-laced “Pan AM,” and the solo-topped apex of “Micro Cosmos in a Drop,” most of what they’re about here harnesses a mellower atmosphere. It doesn’t need to hurry, baby. Isn’t there enough rush in life with all these “21st Century Blues?” With no lack of movement throughout, some of The Sonic Dawn‘s finest stretches here are in low-key interpretations of funk (“Dreams of Change,” “Think it Over,” “Transatlantique,” etc.) or prog-boogie (“Scorpio,” “Nothing Can Live Here” before the noisier crescendo) drawn together by organ, subdued, thoughtful vocal melodies and craft to suit the organic production. This isn’t the first The Sonic Dawn LP to benefit from the band knowing who they are as a group, but golly it sure is stronger for that.

The Sonic Dawn on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Rifflord, 39 Serpent Power

RIFFLORD 39 Serpent Power

It’s not until the hook of second cut “Ohm Ripper” hits that Rifflord let go of the tension built up through the opening semi-title-track “Serpent Power,” which in its thickened thrashy charge feels like a specific callout to High on Fire but as I understand it is just about doing hard drugs. Fair enough. The South Dakota-based five-piece of bassist/vocalist Wyatt Bronc Bartlett, guitarists Samuel Hayes and Dustin Vano, keyboardist Tory Jean Stoddard and drummer Douglas Jennings Barrett will echo that intensity later in “Church Keys” and “Tumbleweed,” but that’s still only one place the 38-minute eight-track LP goes, and whether it’s the vocals calling out through the largesse and breadth of “Blessed Life” or the ensuing crush that follows in “LM308,” the addled Alice in Chains swagger in the lumber of “Grim Creeper” or the righteously catchy bombast of “Hoof,” they reach further than they ever have in terms of sound and remain coherent despite the inherently chaotic nature of their purported theme, the sheer heft of the tonality wielded and the fact that 39 Serpent Power has apparently been waiting some number of years to see release. Worth the wait? Shit, I’m surprised the album didn’t put itself out, it sounds so ready to go.

Rifflord on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Mothman and the Thunderbirds, Portal Hopper

Mothman and the Thunderbirds Portal Hopper

At the core of Mothman and the Thunderbirds is multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Alex Parkinson, and on the band’s second album, Portal Hopper, he’s not completely on his own — Egor Lappo programmed the drums, mixed, and plays a guitar solo on “Fractals,” Joe Sobieski guests on vocals for a couple tracks, Sam Parkinson donates a pair of solos to the cause — but it’s still very much his telling of the charmingly meandering sci-fi/fantasy plot taking place across the 12 included progressive metal mini-epics, which he presents with an energy and clarity of purpose that for sure graduated from Devin Townsend‘s school of making a song with 40 layers sound immediate but pulls as well from psychedelia and pop-punk vocals for an all the more emphatic scope. This backdrop lets “Fractals” get funky or “Escape From Flatwoods” hold its metallic chicanery with its soaring melody while “Squonk Kingdom” is duly over-the-top in its second-half chase soon enough fleshed out by “So Long (Portal Hopper)” ahead of the lightly-plucked finale “Attic.” The specificity of influence throughout Portal Hopper can be striking as clean/harsh vocals blend, etc., but given the narrative and the relative brevity of the songs complementing the whims explored within them, there’s no lack of character in the album’s oft-careening 38-minute course.

Mothman and the Thunderbirds on Instagram

Mothman and the Thunderbirds on Bandcamp

The Lunar Effect, Sounds of Green and Blue

The Lunar Effect Sounds of Green & Blue

Given its pro-shop nature in production and performance, the ability of The Lunar Effect to grasp a heavy blues sound as part of what they do while avoiding either the trap of hyper-dudely navelgazing or cultural appropriation — no minor feat — and the fluidity of one piece into the next across the 40-minute LP’s two sides, I’m a little surprised not to have been sick of the band’s second album, Sounds of Green and Blue before I put it on. Maybe since it’s on Svart everyone just assumed it’s Finnish experimentalist drone? Maybe everybody’s burnt out on a seemingly endless stream of bands from London’s underground? I don’t know, but by the time The Lunar Effect make their way to the piano-laden centerpiece “Middle of the End” — expanding on the unhurried mood of “In Grey,” preceding the heavy blues return of “Pulling Daisies” at the start of side B that mirrors album opener “Ocean Queen” and explodes into a roll that feels like it was made to be the best thing you play at your DJ night — that confusion is a defining aspect of the listening experience. “Fear Before the Fall” picks on Beethoven, for crying out loud. High class and low groove. Believe me, I know there’s a lot of good stuff out already in 2024, but what the hell more could you want? Where is everybody?

The Lunar Effect on Facebook

Svart Records website

Danava, Live

danava live

Even if I were generally inclined to do so — read: I’m not — it would be hard to begrudge Portland heavy rock institution Danava wanting to do a live record after their 2023’s Nothing But Nothing (review here) found them in such raucous form. But the aptly-titled Live is more than just a post-studio-LP check-in to remind you they kick ass on stage, as side A’s space, classic, boogie, heavy rocking “Introduction/Spinning Temple” and “Maudie Shook” were recorded in 2008, while the four cuts on side B — “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun,” “Nothing but Nothing,” “Longdance,” “Let the Good Times Kill” and “Last Goodbye” — came from the European tour undertaken in Fall 2023 to support Nothing But Nothing. Is the underlying message that Danava are still rad 15 years later? Maybe. That certainly comes through by the time the solo in “Shoot Straight with a Crooked Gun” hits, but that also feels like reading too much into it. Maybe it’s just about representing different sides of who Danava are, and if so, fine. Then or now, psych or proto-thrashing, they lay waste.

Danava on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Moonlit, Be Not Afraid

moonlit be not afraid

A free three-songer from Varese, Italy’s Moonlit, Be Not Afraid welcomes the listener to “Death to the World” with (presumably sampled) chanting before unfurling a loose, somewhat morose-feeling nighttime-desert psych sway before “Fort Rachiffe” howls tonally across its own four minutes in more heavy post-rock style, still languid in tempo but encompassing in its wash and the amp-hum-and-percussion blend on the shorter “Le Conseguenze Della Libertà” (1:57) gives yet another look, albeit briefly. In about 11 minutes, Moonlit — whose last studio offering was 2021’s So Bless Us Now (review here) — never quite occupy the same space twice, and despite the compact presentation, the range from mid-period-QOTSA-gone-shoegaze (plus chanting! don’t forget the chanting!) to the hypnotic Isis-doing-space-push that follows with the closer as a but-wait-there’s-more/not-just-an-afterthought epilogue is palpable. I don’t know when or how Be Not Afraid was recorded, whether it’s portentous of anything other than itself or what, but there’s a lot happening under its surface, and while you can’t beat the price, don’t be surprised if you end up throwing a couple bucks Moonlit‘s way anyhow.

Moonlit on Instagram

Moonlit on Bandcamp

Doom Lab, Northern Lights

Doom Lab Northern Lights

Much of Northern Lights is instrumental, but whether or not Leo Scheben is barking out the endtimes storyline of “Darkhammer” — stylized all-caps in the tracklisting — or “Night Terrors,” or just digging into a 24-second progression of lo-fi riffing of “Paranoid Isolation” and the Casio-type beats that back his guitar there and across the project’s 16-track latest offering, the reminder Doom Lab give is that the need to create takes many forms. From the winding scales of “Locrian’s Run” to “Twisted Logic” with its plotted solo lines, pieces are often just that — pieces of what might otherwise be a fleshed-out song — and Doom Lab‘s experimentalism feels paramount in terms of aural priorities. Impulse in excelsis. It might be for the best that the back-to-back pair “Nice ‘n’ Curvy” and “Let ’em Bounce” are both instrumental, but as madcap as Scheben is, he’s able to bring Northern Lights to a close with resonant homage in its title-track, and cuts like “Too Much Sauce on New Year’s Eve” and “Dark Matter” are emblematic of his open-minded approach overall, working in different styles sometimes united most by their rawness and uncompromising persona. This is number 100 of 100 records covered in this Quarterly Review, and nothing included up to now sounds like Doom Lab. A total win for radical individualism.

Doom Lab on YouTube

Doom Lab on Bandcamp

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Dopelord and Red Sun Atacama Touring Together This Fall

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

If you find yourself this November in one of the below-listed locales and are wondering perhaps how to cope with the ending of another busy, festival-filled October in Europe, Poland’s Dopelord and France’s Red Sun Atacama have your back as they join forces for about two weeks of club shows in Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. The Warsaw stoner-doom titans will head out in support of 2023’s Songs for Satan (review here), which turned the familiar genre trope of devil-worship in cult riffing into a political statement against their home country’s religion-backed push to the right in addition to having suitably burned its hooks into the foreheads of those who heard it.

Red Sun Atacama touched on modern space boogie blowout with 2022’s Darwin (review here), the three-piece scorching their way through a cosmos of expansive tones and resonant crashing bombast. I probably don’t need to say it, but one way or the other, it’s a tour that’s gonna groove. In heaping doses.

Poster and dates follow in blue, as they will:

Dopelord Red Sun Atacama tour

DOPELORD (Doom, Poland) and RED SUN ATACAMA (Heavy Psych, France) to tour Europe this Fall

Polish heavier-than-heavy quartet DOPELORD and French riff machine RED SUN ATACAMA to hit the road together in November! Presented by Doomstar Bookings and 3C, the tour party plans to cross Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Belgium. Get tickets!

TICKETS: https://www.bandsintown.com/a/11502723-red-sun-atacama

03.11.2024 DE KARLSRUHE – Alte Hackerei
04.11.2024 CH BASEL – Hirscheneck
05.11.2024 FR LYON – Rock’n’Eat
06.11.2024 FR MONTPELLIER – L’Antirouille
07.11.2024 SP BARCELONA – Sala Upload
08.11.2024 SP MADRID – Wurlitzer Ballroom
09.11.2024 FR BORDEAUX-PESSAC – Sortie 13
10.11.2024 FR NANTES – Le Ferrailleur
11.11.2024 FR PARIS – Petit Bain
12.11.2024 BE ANTWERP – Kavka Zappa
13.11.2024 DE BOCHUM – Die Trompete
14.11.2024 DE BRAUNSCHWEIG – B58
15.11.2024 DE BERLIN – Urban Spree
16.11.2024 DE COTTBUS – Muggefug e.V. (without Red Sun Atacama)

Paweł Mioduchowski – Guitars and Vocals
Piotr Ochociński – Drums
Grzegorz Pawłowski – Guitars
Piotr Zin – Bass, Vocals and Mellotron

Clément Marquez: bass, vocals
Robin Caillon: drums
Vincent Hospital: guitar, keyboard





Dopelord, Songs for Satan (2023)

Red Sun Atacama, Darwin (2022)

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Sunnata Announce Chasing Shadows Coming May 10; New Single “Chimera” Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

sunnata (photo by Kamil Parzychowski)

If you keep up with Sunnata on social media, I’m not sure how much of this info will be new to you, as the Polish prog-heavy ritualists have been talking about their new album, Chasing Shadows, for a while now and posted “Saviours Raft” as a first single from it. But the May 10 release date is an occasion I want to mark, and between that and the finalized (as much as these things ever are) tour dates, opening cut “Chimera” as the second single, and the details about the LP, I figure fair enough to post. Truth be told, I’ve heard the record at this point and this is information I’ll want later to review. As to the thing itself, I’m just getting to know it, so I’m not going to dig into absolutes or pretend I’m ready to have something substantive to offer as far as an opinion, but if you’ve been looking forward to it, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

More to come, then. Same as ever for release announcements. Fine. As you take on “Chimera,” understand it’s the beginning of a larger unfolding, and if you can put your body someplace where Sunnata are going to be, I recommend you do that. Either way you go, immersed is where you’re headed.


sunnata chasing shadows

Polish doom band Sunnata announce new album Chasing Shadows; release haunting new single

Single ‘Chimera’ streaming now

Band are touring Europe / UK from May

Feral wilderness prophets Sunnata, (sanskr. noun emptiness, voidness) have announced their fifth full-length album Chasing Shadows will be self-released on 10th May. Ahead of the album, the band have released their beguiling new single ‘Chimera’ with accompanying music visualiser.

Pre-order Chasing Shadows here: https://sunnataofficial.bandcamp.com/album/chasing-shadows

Sunnata commented on the new single: “‘Chimera’, the opening track from Chasing Shadows, manifests the presence of duality across the entire universe. Just like a mythical hybrid creature, the song is a bizarre mix of different genres and ideas, glued together into a compelling passage. From a blast beat and Pattonesque vocals, through a ceremonial trance-inducing build-up to a heavy, rock n rolling riffage, ‘Chimera’ proves to be an amalgamation, binding those pieces together to form a single entity.

“The song’s lyrics bind many paradoxes together, posing them as something inherent to reality. Dreamy recall of hinduistic Maya sets the tone of the piece – an ever-evolving appearance, an ever-changing shape. The cycle of life – the one who comes from the horizon and goes away – is prevalent like an imperative. Those who try to deny it and shape the world to their individual needs are fighting for the cause that is unreachable.

“The evolution binds units together, but also sets them apart. Paradoxes are part of us. Only the one, who is born and dead at the same time, prevails.”

The four piece Warsaw-based doom metal magi have been paving their own way to higher metal skies since their 2014 debut Climbing The Colossus. Their spellbinding sophomore album Zorya (2016) made the band gather even more momentum with regard to the European alternative heavy scene. Third album Outlands (2018) brilliantly brought out even more character, confidently crossing the frontier of progressive doom to land in even more melancholic and mind-expanding alleys. Fourth release Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth (2021) was their most transcendent, melding together all the heaviness, intensity and tenderness into a graceful, cross-pollinating form, to create something incredible that grabbed the attention of fans and press worldwide, demanding attention and respect.

Chasing Shadows sees Sunnata expanding their sonic spectrum with their most complex record to date. Exploring both the most extreme aspects and subtle incarnations of their essence, Chasing Shadows is a mind-altering doomscape painted with everlasting, captivating stories. Hitting high notes in the eyes of fans and journalists, from here Sunnata are free to roam wherever.

Commenting on the album: “The fifth album for a band like ours is no joke. We are extremely proud on one hand, but also exhausted on the other as the creative process pushed us to the current limits. It’s the most complex and longest Sunnata record to date. Filled with nuances, genre blends and confident expansion of the band’s sound spectrum. Anyone familiar with our discography can easily tell that both change and experimentation are part of our nature, but at the same time – the constant need to push ourselves outside of the comfort zone, go beyond – is what stretches one’s limits. Maybe this is why we liked the title so much – we are chasing the uncatchable – shadows, illusions, visions and try to frame them with our musical language.”

Known for their expressive and atmospheric live performances, Sunnata have already taken part in various international festivals and been invited to open for Mastodon, Paradise Lost, Entombed AD, Rotting Christ, Sleep, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and The Sword. To celebrate the album release Sunnata will hit the road this summer on the following dates.

May 10: (PL) Warsaw – Hybrydy – Release Party
May 13: (CZ) Brno, Kabinet Muz
May 14: (HU) Budapest, Robot
May 15: (AT) Salzburg, Rockhouse
May 16: (DE) Jena, Klub Kuba
May 17: (BE) Liege, La Zone
May 18: (UK) London, Desertfest
May 20: (FR) Lille, La Bulle Cafe
May 21: (BE) Brussels, Le Lac
May 22: (NL) Nijmegen, Merelyn
May 23: (DE) Dresden, Ostpol
May 24: (PL) Poznan, 2Progi
May 25: (PL) Cracow, Studio
May 31: (DK) Esbjerg, Fuzztival Esbjerg
Aug 17: (UK) ArcTanGent

Tickets available at: https://www.atonal.agency/tickets

Sunnata are:
Szymon Ewertowski – guitar, vocals
Adrian Gadomski – guitar, vocals
Michal Dobrzanski – bass guitar/synth
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion


Sunnata, “Chimera”

Sunnata, Chasing Shadows (2024)

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Sunnata Post New Single “Saviour’s Raft”; Announce New Album Chasing Shadows

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

It takes a fair amount these days to even tempt me to engage with Spotify, but I’ll tell you in all honesty I’ve spent the last eight minutes hooked into my personal least favorite streaming service — all of the strengths of YouTube, by which I mean obnoxious ads, with none of Bandcamp’s band-benefit sales tie-in, mostly lazy curation and an intrusive app — to hear Sunnata‘s new single “Saviour’s Raft.” The song comes from their hotly anticipated fifth full-length, the title of which is newly revealed as Chasing Shadows, ahead of further delving into the record itself next week, when “Saviour’s Raft” will pull into harbor at the aforementioned Bandcamp, along with preorders, probably some cool shirts, this and that. You know the drill.

But the song itself — oof that’s good. Post-metallic intensity met with their established meditative psych modus: it’s a blend that works so fluidly from Sunnata that I’ve heard nobody else come close to, however many shades of post-metal might be out there by now. In any case, they’re among the forerunners of Polish heavy, and like their countrymen in Dopelord, Spaceslug, and so on, Sunnata have an identity keyed into a style without necessarily being subjected to its restrictive aspects. They’ve only ever grown to this point. I haven’t heard the full album yet, but “Saviour’s Raft” bodes well for continuing that streak.

From the internet:

sunnata (Photo by The Buried Herald)


Listen it here: open.spotify.com/track/10UXYQZeRWiARJrSFi1uyW?si=UyzIamxHRFeWOtG3eRsg8A

We are delighted to share the first song “Saviour’s Raft” from the upcoming 5th album “Chasing Shadows”. Inspired by “The Raft of The Medusa” painting, it’s a sonic exploration of its meaning and a complex, 8 minute long story.

It will appear on Bandcamp together with album and merch preorder next week.

Stream it now on Spotify!

sunnata euro tour updateSUNNATA live:
13.05 Brno CZ Kabinet Muz
14.05 Budapest HU Robot
15.05 Salzburg AT Rockhouse
16.05 Jena DE Klub Kuba
17.05 Liege BE La Zone
18.05 London UK Desertfest London 2024
20.0 Lille FR La Bulle Cafe
21.05 Brussels BE Le Lac
22.05 Nijmegen NL Merleyn
23.05 Dresden DE Ostpol

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE: https://www.atonal.agency/tickets

Szymon Ewertowski – guitar, vocals
Adrian Gadomski – guitar, vocals
Michal Dobrzanski – bass guitar
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion

Photo by The Buried Herald.


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Sunnata Announce Spring Tour and New Album Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

As of earlier this week, Polish ritualized progressive heavy rockers Sunnata had completed the tracking of their next full-length and set down to mix. That can take an afternoon or it can take six weeks, but when it’s done, they’ll be off to mastering and in light of what they say below about it in announcing this initial batch of tour dates, they’re looking toward a Spring release.

So be it. One looks forward to the next step from the group after 2021’s Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth (review here) continued their outward-facing, inward-looking trajectory of meditative heftcraft. They’ll be 10 years removed from their debut under the Sunnata moniker, 2014’s Climbing the Colossus (discussed here), and their work since then has shown a crucially willful progress. They are a band who want to keep growing, in other words. They’ve got their sound and their tonality, but they’ve yet to present an album that didn’t put some kind of new spin on that, and it doesn’t feel like a reach to expect that to apply to their next work as well. They set a high standard, and at this point one should be comfortable they’ll hit it on their way to the next marker.

And if you’re still reading and you haven’t seen them live, you’re not late. They’ll be at Desertfest London (I don’t know about Berlin, but it’s definitely possible) along with the following:

Sunnata tour

We slowly reveal plans for 2024.

Following the release of our not-yet-officially-announced album, we will tour Europe. More dates in May will be uncovered soon. Tickets are on sale so get’em now – it really helps us get the things going. Link in the comments! 💥

Meanwhile, we start mixing of you-know-what.

13.05 Brno CZ Kabinet Muz
14.05 Budapest HU Robot
15.05 Salzburg AT Rockhouse
16.05 Jena DE Klub Kuba
17.05 Liege BE La Zone
18.05 London UK Desertfest London 2024
21.05 Brussels BE Le Lac

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE: https://www.atonal.agency/tickets

Szymon Ewertowski – guitar, vocals
Adrian Gadomski – guitar, vocals
Michal Dobrzanski – bass guitar
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion


Sunnata, Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth (2021)

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Album Review: Dopelord, Songs for Satan

Posted in Reviews on December 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Dopelord Songs for Satan

[Full disclosure: this release originally appeared as part of Postwax Vol. II, for which I wrote the liner notes and was compensated. I’m reviewing anyway. If you want to call it a conflict of interest, feel free to sue me in the Open Court of Stoner Rock™ sometime. Or maybe just relax.]

The fifth full-length from Warsaw’s DopelordSongs for Satan is a masterpiece of devil-worshiping stoner doom metal. The ideal version of itself. Released through Blues Funeral Recordings, the seven-track (six plus an intro) offering sees the band — guitarist/vocalist Paweł Mioduchowski, bassist/vocalist Piotr Zin, guitarist Grzegorz Pawłowski and drummer Piotr Ochociński — in complete control of their approach on every level, from craft through the intricacies of tone and performance to the headphone-worthy atmospheres that come through material that is pointedly, intentionally, efficiently constructed. Each song is a monument to its own volume, and even the eerie quiet stretches are a call to listeners to join the band in their ceremonial cause.

It strikes an impeccable balance between melody and rhythm, with huge grooves through side A’s “Night of the Witch” — a landmark hook and one of 2023’s strongest singles; it emerges from the nighttime forest noise of “Intro,” comes back around (plus Mellotron!) for the two-minute epilogue/sequel “Return of the Night of the Witch” to wrap side B, becoming something of a root sonic theme for the record’s course — “The Chosen One” and “One Billion Skulls” through the corresponding maddeningly catchy love song “Evil Spell” mirroring “Night of the Witch” while being something else and the de facto capper “Worms” pushing into more extreme sludge ahead of the aforementioned outro, all with an overarching flow and an abiding lack of pretense that says if you came here for riffs and weed and Satan, Dopelord have your number.

There are myriad arguments for and against Satanism in rock and metal. It’s certainly been done before, if that matters (I’d argue less in-genre then generally). It’s an inherent validation of christianity, since even in mockery it acknowledges the dogma as a cultural force. It can be a crutch lyrically for some acts, but that’s not what’s happening across Songs for Satan, which was written lyrically as a political response to catholic cultural oppression in Poland and the hard move toward conservatism the Polish church has made since the ‘end’ of the Cold War. Amid basslines fat enough to keep you warm in a Warsaw winter and a guttural shout that acts as preface for the screams of “Worms” to come, “One Billion Skulls” repeats the lines, “Standing on the edge of time/I’m spitting in the face of god,” as its arrival point, and even the first verse of “Night of the Witch” is an exultation to those alienated by the militant faithful:

Each time they laugh into your face
With each stone they throw
You lose belief in who you are
And cave inside
Hear us calling from the dark
Through the cold of the night
Now your time has finally come
To find your way…

A crow caws, the plod starts with fuzz of deceptive warmth and consuming largesse, and Dopelord guide the listener through Songs for Satan with cleverness, righteousness, and skill. To wit, the layering in the chorus of “Night of the Witch.” While consistent with the rest of the song-songs on Songs for Satan (not “Intro” or “Return of the Night of the Witch,” that is) in being circa seven minutes long, “Night of the Witch” stands out for how it’s built as well as its message and aural/stylistic appeal. Most of the album was recorded with Haldor Grunberg at Satanic Audio, who also mixed and mastered, while rhythm tracks, synth and vocals were done in Warsaw in Santa Studio and Silent Scream Studio.


Guitar solos were done separately, by Barszczi Kanada at Giorgio Mordo Studio, with the exception of “Worms,” which boasts guest shred by Midnight guitarist Vanik. This info is on Bandcamp and elsewhere, and is included here for future reference, but it demonstrates as well the process by which Songs for Satan was shaped and for a process that included four different studios at various points, there is not a part on the record, not a song, a verse, or the airy solo held out under the last rolling chorus of “Evil Spell” — that chorus, “What do I have to become for you to love me?/A wizard?/What will you become if you love me back?/A witch?,” imprinting itself upon the brain, perhaps permanently — that is wasted.

Everything on Songs for Satan aligns to the mission at hand. Dopelord are focused, detail-oriented as shown in the low-mixed growl adding weight to the chorus in “Night of the Witch” and throughout “The Chosen One” or the sort of tectonic shimmy as the title-line is delivered in “One Billion Skulls,” they present the most realized vision to-date of themselves. They’ve been at the forefront of Poland’s underground for a while — a rich and varied scene with the likes of Spaceslug, Belzebong, TortugaSunnataWeedpecker and scores of others — and reaffirm that position handily throughout as they crash and bash across the record’s 38 component minutes with cold grace, taking familiar elements of genre and putting them to specific, admittedly somewhat reactionary, purpose.

Despite being completely over the top in terms of volume and the basic hugeness of its sound, Songs for Satan doesn’t feel like it’s doing too much or too little; the burst-to-riff two minutes into “One Billion Skulls” and the derived-from-’60s-psych manner in which the keys (maybe Mellotron) play out the melody of “Night of the Witch” to conclude with “Return of the Night of the Witch” before they drop back to forest-night noise at the very finish underscores the level of consideration at hand. This is not lazy, nothing-to-say, haphazard, throw-riffs-together songwriting.

Rather, Songs for Satan — which in the PostWax edition included the extra track “Satan’s Call” — revels in its sense of completion. It is professional. Crisp. Sharp. Listenable. Accessible, at least if you’re already a capital-‘h’ Heavy convert. And it sounds massive enough to pull a gravity field. Front to back — and I mean that — Songs for Satan delivers on the promise of Dopelord‘s early output and draws strength from the unified perspective of the lyrics, while staying committed to the stoner-doom at their core, giving intricacies their due alongside the flattening effect of their tonality. Anger as successful motivator? Probably in part, but in these songs of defiance and Satanic praise, Dopelord build as many altars as they tear down. Easily among 2023’s most accomplished albums, and a defining moment for the band.

There will be those who write it off immediately thinking it’s cliché or who will otherwise miss the point. I would encourage you heartily to not be one of them.

Dopelord, Songs for Satan (2023)

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Album Review: Wodorost, From the Depths

Posted in Reviews on December 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

wodorost from the depths

The second full-length from Polish heavy psych rockers Wodorost, titled From the Depths, arrives with a direct intent toward immersion. Following on from the Warsaw-based three-piece’s hotly-tipped 2021 self-titled debut, the band — guitarist/vocalist Bartłomiej Głowiński, bassist Jan Witusiński and drummer Anna Żukowska, teamed with returning producer Jacek Stasiak at Kongo Studio — offer a linear experience across two sides of engaging songwriting and what sounds like moments of expressive, fun improvisation on what has been positioned by the band as, “A concept work symbolizing a resurfacing from the abyss, a metaphorical journey through inner exploration and recovery from depression.” The theme can also, of course, be seen on the cover art by M & P Ferenc and Bartłomiej Głowiński.

And sure, one can hear hope in the newschool space boogie of “Whirl,” or in the warm, Colour Hazey tones that go exploring in “Temple” early on, or in the subsequent “Visions,” which is a funky raga wakeup jam with a sans-vocal chorus that returns to end after the song shifts through a Kyuss-style desert riff, but one has to be in it to hear it. That is to say, Wodorost have put it all in front of the listener, but the listener has to pick it up. If you’re not careful, if you don’t give From the Depths its own due time to unfold and reveal its structure in its own way, the eight songs and 45 minutes could wash over you beginning with the intro “Submerged,” which fades slowly in from silence on an atmospheric undersea drone, spooky, loosely threatening, but resonant just the same as the drums begin the march into “Depths.”

Maybe not such a surprise that the post-intro leadoff on a record does a lot of the work in telling the audience about the album, but in tone and purpose, “Depths” is a herald for what Wodorost will do throughout the LP with which the song shares part of its title, while at the same time an excellently placed divergence, since nearly all of what follows is almost completely instrumental. There are two spoken parts — Michał Ferenc (of the art?) contributes voice, Witusiński and Żukowska the words — on “Beyond the Blue” and “Reflections,” but other than that, “Depths” is the only cut on From the Depths that has vocals, and it is the only cut that has singing, which is handled by Głowiński with lyrics once again courtesy of the rhythm section.


This has an effect on the listener almost like a secondary introduction. Wodorost have taken the time to carefully bring you to this place and now they’re going to tell you about it, even if that’s not what the words are actually about. The sound is rawer on the hole, and more cosmically commanding, but the drums hold the procession through the finish and by the time “Depths” is done, Wodorost have completed the welcoming portion of the collection. You could say they did that with “Submerged” but as “Temple” begins its own subdued introduction, the patience and the sense of exploration feel distinct from “Depths,” which thanks to splitting “Submerged” off as the album intro, stood on its own. When the “Temple” riff begins, it’s the kind of next-generation interpretation of heavy psychedelic tenets that made Sungrazer such a draw over a decade ago, only now it’s a new generation again.

But the depth, scope and jam-prone foundations of the style remain firm, and Wodorost use them through the instrumental “Temple” and “Visions” to let parts and entire songs breathe as they seem to want to, and where a lot of bands will tell you they’re chasing creative energies distinct from themselves through the universe, “Beyond the Blue” is particularly organic in its change right around 5:30 when the subtle circling around the band have been doing clicks on the big-sound pedals and they ride that crescendo and its offset chug through the end of the song. Volume, warmth, flow. The spoken part gives a human presence ahead of the danceable “Whirl,” which turns improv-sounding before the guitar shreds in midair, while “Reflections” fades in on wispy runs of memorable lead notes — flicks of melody, almost — and builds on its light bluesy feel, setting itself on a trip that pays off noisy but doesn’t leave the comedown hanging as might be a misstep on an album that feels so otherwise complete.

That notion extends to “Dry Out” as well, which like stretches in “Whirl” and “Reflections,” in that From the Depths is effective in balancing composition and improvisation, and for someone new to the band like myself, the capping nod and entrancing instrumental course of the closer reinforces the potential Wodorost have displayed, whether a given song was more straightforward, set itself to wandering, or brought together both in a dynamic that one hopes will only prove so malleable over a longer term as they move forward. As it builds to its head right near the album’s completion, “Dry Out” still seems to be revealing places Wodorost might go and what they might ultimately bring to a genre that, for all its molten sound, is rarely so able to transcend its own methodologies.

Wodorost, From the Depths (2023)

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Dopelord to Release Songs for Satan Oct. 6; Streaming “Night of the Witch”

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The subscribers to the PostWax series from Blues Funeral Recordings got their Bandcamp download codes over the weekend — I know because I got mine; I’m not just the dork doing the liner notes, I’m also a client! — and I expect by now most if not all who’ve received them have dug into the new Dopelord album, Songs for Satan. Doing so will, perhaps, be revelatory for some.

As the first single, “Night of the Witch,” heralds, Songs for Satan is the broadest range of melody the Warsaw stoner-doom outfit have harnessed to-date in their decade-plus tenure, and if the single doesn’t get stuck in your head, listen again and pay closer attention. That hook is a defining feature of the record from which it comes, and along with the spaciousness of the vocals and the band’s characteristic weight of tone, it’s a can’t-miss for those who’d follow where a rolling riff might lead. Lumbering but not slow-for-show or staid in any way, “Night of the Witch” and Songs for Satan as a whole are landmarks the Polish heavy forerunners, who’ll support the Oct. 6 release on an extensive, previously announced tour.

Despite having, as alluded above, written the liner notes for this release, I’ll probably still try to review this one if I can. There’s a lot to say about what’s happening here, conceptually as well as with sound. We’ll get there.

From the PR wire:

Dopelord Songs for Satan

Polish doom metal giants DOPELORD to release new album “Songs for Satan” on Blues Funeral Recordings; first single and preorder available!

Warsaw doom metal heavyweights DOPELORD have announced the release of their fifth studio album “Songs for Satan” to be issued on October 6th as part of Blues Funeral Recordings’ deluxe PostWax series. Dive into this gigantic new album with the debut single “Night Of The Witch” streaming on all platforms now!

“Hear you laughing from the dark/As they pray to their god/Now their time has finally come/To reap what they’ve sown.” – Dopelord, 2023

Stream Dopelord’s new single “Night of the Witch” at this location: https://lnkfi.re/dopelordnotw

Having paved the way for Polish doom metal for over a decade by sticking to their strictly DIY ethos and hard work, mighty foursome DOPELORD is about to open a new chapter of its history by joining the coveted ranks of US label Blues Funeral Recordings (Acid King, Dozer, Lowrider, Dead Meadow).

Their fifth full-length “Songs for Satan” is a moment of critical mass for Dopelord. A blast of devil worship in the riffing realms is nothing new, and while they aren’t the first band to openly embrace the motif, their amplified heresy is uniquely triumphant, their fuzz-drenched apostasy genuine and glorious.

Not only does “Songs for Satan” showcase the band’s equal mastery of lumbering plod and silvery hooks, but it also more importantly mines Polish Catholicism’s decades of oppression for lyrical fuel. Tracks like “Satan’s Call,” “The Chosen One,” “One Billion Skulls” and “Worms” are pointed in their defiance of the church’s cultural dominance, even while managing to be contagiously singable at the same time. Maybe the extremity of their position will lead a few listeners to question their own beliefs and examine the church’s role, religion’s role (whether in Polish society or elsewhere) like a strong push to open a door. The voice of rebellion is crucial, and Dopelord’s shout is unmistakable.

Calling to mind Electric Wizard, Windhand, Belzebong and Acid King, “Songs for Satan” is Dopelord’s apex, an iconoclastic milestone for stoner doom that rumbles the earth and shakes our figurative foundations. It will be available on October 6th in various vinyl editions, limited digipack CD and digital. The ultra-limited deluxe vinyl edition will be shipped a few weeks prior to PostWax subscribers.

New album “Songs for Satan”
Out October 6th on Blues Funeral Recordings

Blues Funeral website: https://www.bluesfuneral.com/search?q=dopelord


EU store: https://en.bluesfuneral.spkr.media/

1. Intro
2. Night Of The Witch
3. The Chosen One
4. One Billion Skulls
5. Evil Spell
7. Worms
8. Return To The Night Of The Witch

Derailed from their aggressive live schedule for two years, DOPELORD blasted out the “Reality Dagger” EP in 2021 before setting to work on their boldest statement yet. On October 6th, 2023, their fifth album “Songs for Satan” will induct the mighty foursome as one of Europe’s heaviest and most faithful doom purveyors of the new era, crushing everything on their path under the Blues Funeral Recordings banner.

Dopelord on tour:
Oct 12 Prague Modra Vopice
Oct 13 Cottbus Muggefug
Oct 14 Jena KuBa
Oct 15 Braunschweig B58
Oct 16 Hamburg Hafenklang
Oct 17 Malmö Plan B
Oct 18 Copenhagen Loppen
Oct 19 Kiel Schaubude
Oct 20 Groningen Café de Walrus
Oct 21 Nijmegen Doornroosje
Oct 22 Antwerpen Trix DesertFest Belgium
Oct 23 Lille La Bulle Café
Oct 24 Osnabrück Bastard Club
Oct 25 Düdingen Bad Bonn
Oct 26 Düsseldorf Pitcher
Oct 27 Berlin Lido Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
Oct 28 Dresden Chemiefabrik Heavy Psych Sounds Fest

Paweł Mioduchowski – Guitars and Vocals
Piotr Ochociński – Drums
Grzegorz Pawłowski – Guitars
Piotr Zin – Bass, Vocals and Mellotron



Dopelord, Songs for Satan (2023)

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