Mos Generator Announce Spontaneous Combustions Release Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mos generator

Comprised of four songs pressed up under the banner of Kozmik Artifactz, the next Mos Generator LP will be a collection of jams titled Spontaneous Combustions. It’s the band’s second outing of 2019 behind the Night of the Lords live album (discussed here) and it follows their 2018 studio offering, Shadowlands (review here), which likewise found the Tony Reed-fronted trio pushing into new avenues of progressive expression. That’s kind of Mos Generator‘s thing at this point, and while the core of the band remains in their foundation of songwriting, they’ve particularly over the last few years taken on a willingness to go places they haven’t before. It suits them.

This release was initially discussed here last month in an interview with Reed, and as you can see in that piece, it’s far from the only thing going on in that camp.

Still, here are the details as posted on thee social medias:

mos generator spontaneous combustions

We have a new album coming out on Kozmik Artifactz later this year. Here’s a few words about it and a work in progress mock up of the cover.

Mos Generator “Spontaneous Combustions”.

Production notes:
With a working title of “rental jams”, the idea to do these recordings came from the fact that long time tenants had moved out of our rental house and it was empty for a while before the next ones would move in. We had a one day window to work with, which meant we had to record as much improvised material as possible and also have a proper rehearsal to prepare for the U.S. tour that was starting the next day. To make things as easy as possible, I recorded using only an eight track machine with a very minimal microphone setup. All music had to be captured live with mistakes and all. I would be able to add additional instruments to what we did but would not be able to take away anything that was recorded live. Three of the four songs recorded that day were written at the moment they were recorded. “Who Goes There” was conceived and partially recorded about a year earlier and finished up during these sessions. Although we use this technique to do demos, we have never made a complete record of freeform jams.

Reed – August 2019

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Mos Generator, Night of the Lords (2019)

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Wolves in the Throne Room Announce European Tour; New Album in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

wolves in the throne room (Photo by VeledaThorsson)

Did you know Wolves in the Throne Room had signed to Century Media? Did you know they’ve got a new record coming out in February? I didn’t. I mean, I’m not the be-all-end-all of news-awareness or anything, but I’d hope that if word of such a thing came down the PR wire, I’d have noticed. Still, in the announcement of their Jan. 2020 European run with Dimmu Borgir (meh) and Amorphis (yay) is that somewhat buried lede, which only further piques interest since it means their new album will follow less than three years after Sept. 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here). That’s the shortest span between offerings they’ve had since 2011.

There has to be a word for when a tour is announced and you get all excited and then are disappointed to learn it’s not happening anywhere near where you’re going to be. It’s not quite FOMO, but definitely more than just an “aw shucks” kind of scenario. That specific feeling needs a word. “Geographical displacement,” maybe? I’ll think about it. You do too. We’ll come up with something. Either way, it’s been too damn long since I last saw either Wolves in the Throne Room or Amorphis, so this would be one to catch if I could. Which I can’t.

The PR wire has the info:

dimmu borgir amorphis wolves in the throne room

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM TO SUPPORT DIMMU BORGIR & AMORPHIS CO-HEADLINE TOUR FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2020

The year 2020 is set to start with a roll of thunder! American post black metallers Wolves In The Throne Room are set to support Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir and Finnish melodic prog metallers Amorphis on their co-headline tour that no metal fan should miss – dates and details below.

Wolves In The Throne Room remark “We are ready to blaze forth across Europe with these two titans of Heavy Metal! Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis are bands that we love and we are looking forward to supporting them on this tour. We will be playing songs off our new album (released by Century Media in February) as well as some classic Wolves material. Thank you!”

Dimmu Borgir comment “We’re going to crush Europe in January next year, and together with AMORPHIS, we’ll make sure that Nordic darkness will create a perfect winter’s storm. See you all soon!”

Amorphis’ Esa Holopainen added: “When the idea of doing a co-headline tour with DIMMU BORGIR came up, it sounded great, but at the same time we were really surprised. However, the more we thought about it, the more it sounded like a perfect match. Musically we are different, but deep down, it’s not really by that much. There’s a lot of similar elements where both bands take their inspiration. Both bands are absolutely unique on stage. It is needless to say that this tour is going to be a true killer with a massive production, that will undoubtedly bring even more coldness into people’s hearts in January 2020. We would also like to welcome WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM to open the evenings.”

See the bands on one of the following exclusive tour dates. Tickets go on sale on August 14th at 10:00 CEST.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Supporting DIMMU BORGIR + AMORPHIS

22.01.20 (UK) London – O2 Forum Kentish Town
23.01.20 (F) Paris – Bataclan
24.01.20 (CH) Zurich – Komplex 457
25.01.20 (NL) Tilburg – 013
26.01.20 (D) Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
28.01.20 (D) Munich – TonHalle
29.01.20 (D) Filderstadt – FILharmonie
30.01.20 (D) Berlin – Columbiahalle
31.01.20 (D) Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle
01.02.20 (D) Hannover – Swiss Life Music Hall

Tickets available on www.dimmu-borgir.com & www.amorphis.net

http://wittr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wolvesinthethroneroom/
https://shop.wittr.com/
https://artemisiarecords.bandcamp.com/

Wolves in the Throne Room, “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Alice in Chains, Alice in Chains

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Alice in Chains, Alice in Chains (1995)

I’m sure one exists, but I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a darker pop album than Alice in Chains‘ 1995 self-titled LP, and I just can’t come up with anything. Sure, most of its singles — opener “Grind,” the later “Again” with its inconsistent but catchy “boop-boop” hook, and even the acoustic-led “Heaven Beside You” — were rockers, but is 1992’s genre-defining classic Dirt was an exploration of the pain and longing of addiction, then surely the 64-minute, 12-song Alice in Chains captured something of its depths. Of course, it would be the band’s final album with frontman Layne Staley before the singer’s recession into heroin use and his eventual death in 2002 at the age of 34. That context, and the fact that until guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney released Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009 with then-new frontman William DuVall, it was their last record, period, unquestionably informs the listening experience, and songs like “Brush Away,” “Sludge Factory,” “Head Creeps,” “God Am,” “Nothin’ Song” and “Frogs” are that much darker for it, with the finale “Over Now” originally written by Cantrell about his girlfriend at the time, but seeming to mourn the band itself in the lines, “You know it’s been on my mind/could I stand right there/Look myself in the eye and say that it’s over now?/We pay our debt sometime.” One way or the other, there seemed to be an acknowledgement there that something was drawing to a close.

And so it was. Alice in Chains followed the 1994 EP Jar of Flies, which like the band’s preceding short release, 1992’s Sap (discussed here), was driven primarily by acoustic material — plus one goof track, lest they take themselves too seriously — which had followed the radio success of Dirt singles like “Would?” and “Rooster” with its own string of hits in “No Excuses” and “I Stay Away.” Neither of the self-titled’s harder singles — that’s “Grind” and “Again” — would have the same reach as “Heaven Beside You” or “Over Now,” but whether a given song was loud or quiet or brash and doomed as was “Sludge Factory” or even daring to show a little hope as was the particularly gorgeously harmonized “Shame in You,” which by my estimation is a lost treasure of the band’s discography, not the least for its meandering finish, which is something they rarely let themselves do, Alice in Chains was consuming and dark, varied in its execution but consistent in its message. With Cantrell — who would release his first solo album, Boggy Depot, three years later in 1998 and later tour with DuVall (also of Comes with the Fall) in his band — taking on the bulk of the songwriting duties, the songs had a largely unified perspective, and with Staley‘s addiction to heroin well documented as by then taking its toll on his ability to function in the band and more generally in life, it was the guitarist who stepped in to fill the void, essentially readjusting the balance that had been at work in Alice in Chains since (before) 1990’s Facelift, their debut album. Indeed, especially in light of Boggy Depot and its vastly-underrated follow-up, 2002’s Degradation TripAlice in Chains is very much emblematic of Cantrell‘s songwriting approach in its maturity, which of course would continue to manifest during Alice in Chains‘ second run beginning with their reunion in 2005.

alice in chains self titled

That isn’t to minimalize Staley‘s contributions vocally, however. “Head Creeps” was a six-and-a-half-minute chasm of grim psychedelic impact and tension with his voice overtop, and though its guitar patterning was more indicative of Cantrell‘s poppier work, “God Am” still bore the haunting quality that Staley brought to “Sludge Factory” and “Brush Away” immediately before it, following “Grind” in an opening salvo that seemed to push further into an abyss before “Heaven Beside You” stepped in to provide some measure of respite. Playing that dynamic, and indeed Staley and Cantrell, off each other — with the always-inventive drumming of Kinney and Inez‘s clinic-in-class bass as a foundation — became the push and pull of Alice in Chains, and the material thrived on the overarching conflict. Listening to it nearly a quarter-century later, it does not sound like an easy record to have made, and by all reports, it wasn’t, but its emotional basis, troubled sensibility and sheer level of craft still resonate, whether it’s the manic “So Close” or the sweet melodies corrupted in “Frogs,” which moved from its solidified hook into a wandering nod-off of Staley seeming to predict his own death in mumbles as the instruments behind offered a darker take on “Shame in You”‘s wandering sensibility, this time feeling isolated and almost nihilistic. Is it any wonder that “Over Now” began with a sample of “Good Night” by jazz bandleader Ted Lewis? What else was there to say?

Naturally, though it seemed like it would be their last record after Staley‘s death, Alice in Chains wasn’t the last music the band produced in this incarnation. In 1996, the live recording of their appearance on MTV Unplugged — I remember watching it on its first airing; it was incredible — became a hit in its own right, and two songs, “Get Born Again” and “Died,” recorded in 1998 for inclusion with the Music Bank box set. They would be the last tracks Staley recorded with Alice in Chains, though he also appeared on a cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall” on a 1998 movie soundtrack as part of the assembled one-off “supergroup” Class of ’99 with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and members of Jane’s Addiction. It was less than a career highlight.

Last year, Alice in Chains marked the release of their third post-Staley LP, Rainier Fog (discussed here), and the fact that they’ve gone 10 years with three records out with DuVall means they’ve at this point been around longer without him than with and put out as many albums. I won’t take away from the quality of Rainier Fog in manifesting a persona for Alice in Chains having moved forward in a way that even the prior 2013 outing, The Devil Put the Dinosaurs Here, and Black Gives Way to Blue couldn’t, but there are many for whom Staley‘s work in the band remains an essential facet. There are arguments to be made for either side, and frankly, I’m not interested in laying them out or begrudging a band whose work has legitimately changed my life their finding a path and continued success along it. Either way, their ’90s-era recordings stand as testament to the force they were at the time in creativity, performance and presence, and of those, Alice in Chains remains singularly affecting.

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

Been up early the last two days. Like 1:45AM. Yesterday I was like, “Duh, I’ll get up and get all my writing done and then I can just relax when the baby naps and that’ll be great because I have infinite energy and I can just sit and read and there’s no way I’ll immediately fall asleep or anything.” Clearly that was dumb. Today was less of a conscious choice. I was just up. I tried to go back to sleep for an hour, read some, and then finally decided to say screw it and start the day. Coffee, Alice in Chains, the whole bit. It’s quarter-after-four now. I had the notion of going to 7-Eleven at around three to buy a bag of ice, but wanted to get this post done first. I may yet head out. It’s like three minutes away. Not such a journey. I used to walk there when I was a kid, probably listening to Dirt or Suicidal Tendencies’ Art of Rebellion or whatever on my Walkman.

We were back in Massachusetts earlier this week. Monday, I guess it was. The Patient Mrs. was giving a talk on campus up there — one of her last duties to Bridgewater State unless you count emptying her office and teaching an online class — so I went up as well and packed vinyl and a bunch of other stuff from the kitchen and around. Most of what’s left is like stuff from closets and furniture. The closing date on that place is in about a month, so hopefully nothing falls through with the buyer between now and then and we can be done with it, get everything else out before we close. We came back down to Jersey on Tuesday and have been here since, are staying here through the impending terrible heat this weekend. No central air, but window units should do the job fairly enough. One hopes, anyhow. There’s a ton to do in this house. Everyone is overwhelmed. Tense. Could probably stand to get laid.

This was my grandmother’s house before she died, we’re buying it from my mother. It’s been cleaned up, but not really cleaned out, so as we’re basically moving a house’s worth of stuff into it from, you know, our house in Massachusetts, there’s a concurrent house’s worth of stuff we’re moving out from here. Some of that has been donated, some my mother has taken, some is stuff my sister was storing here, some is going to my cousin, some we’re keeping, etc., but everything is an emotionally fraught process, and there is a fucking ton of it. Plus we found a leak in the wall upstairs in the rain yesterday and god fucking knows what that portends in terms of repair. Six years ago, when we moved to MA, we just packed our shit and left. This has thus far been much more complicated, and we have a long way to go.

But eventually, that will result in a new dishwasher, and I sincerely look forward to that.

Today at 1PM Eastern is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s my tribute to Maryland Doom Fest 2019, just playing some of the bands and talking about the festival a bit. It was a good time, so I wanted to highlight that. Call me nostalgic if you must.

Next week? Wolf Blood review, I think. With the AIC done, I’m listening to that record now and it’s pretty killer. Then maybe Morass of Molasses and we’ll see about the rest. Lo-Pan have a show in Teaneck next week that I’m going to hit up ahead of seeing them with C.O.C. in August, so I’ll review that — I don’t expect much in terms of lighting — and there are a couple sweet-ass The Obelisk Presents announcements coming as well, so keep an eye out.

The rest is and will be what it is and will be.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. If you’re someplace warm, stay cool and hydrate. If you’re someplace cool, get some good snuggles going. Who doesn’t like snuggles?

Thanks again for reading. Forum, radio, merch.

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Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed of Mos Generator

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tony reed

The mantle of being the hardest working person in show business has been worn by many over the last century-plus, perhaps most notably James Brown, but if we’re talking about heavy rock and roll, Port Orchard, Washington’s Tony Reed makes a strong case for himself. The frontman of the long-running Mos Generator is also near ubiquitous in his studio work on the production side, recording, mixing and mastering bands far and wide. He’s taking part alongside Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Gary Arce of Yawning Man in the reincarnated Big Scenic Nowhere, and he’s just recorded the first Saint Vitus LP to feature Scott Reagers in over two decades. In August, he’ll tour for the second time in Europe playing bass for Melbourne’s Seedy Jeezus, whom he’s also recorded.

Oh, and for having what he calls a “mellow year,” Mos Generator have already released a hand-assembled live album through Devil’s Child Records and have a collection of studio jams on the way through Kozmik Artifactz. Reed is also learning to cut his own records, so expect much more to come. Like maybe that country rock project he’s got, Hot Spring Water! They’d be perfect for a cut 12″. He’s also been kicking around doing some reunion shows with Twelve Thirty Dreamtime, his band before Mos.

Clearly the man cannot be stopped.

Reed sent a raven recently with details on all of the above and a bunch more and, frankly, it was staggering. I didn’t even know where to start, but we went back and forth and what made the most sense to me was to get an interview together — as always, it took me forever to actually write out the questions — and give him the chance to talk about what’s going on with each of these things, say what he can say at this point and roll like that. With so much going on, some he can talk about and some he can’t, it was really the only way. Expect more news on a lot of this stuff as it continues to develop — the Big Scenic Nowhere LP, the Mos Generator jams release, record cutting, etc. — but the point is that, in all seriousness and all sincerity, I find Reed‘s singular level of passion to be deeply inspiring. He is relentlessly creative, and he doesn’t know how else to be. That kind of person is rare and with the consistent level of his output across such a wide variety of contexts, it’s only all the more impressive.

He talks about Mos Generator touring Australia with The Atomic Bitchwax early next year. I look forward to inviting myself on that run. I’d write a whole book about it.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed

First up, what’s up with Mos Generator for the rest of this year?

It’s been a pretty mellow year for the band. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the last four years and thought we would kick back for a bit. It looks like we will only play four shows this year. Two of them are with Red Fang and Clutch so we will be able to reach a new audience with the touring. Early 2020 we will be going over to Australia to tour with The Atomic Bitchwax. We’ve been out with them before so that was great news to hear we would be doing our first Aus tour with them.

In May Devil’s Child Records released a live album called Night of the Lords recorded in Manchester, England, in 2017 and later this year, Kozmik Artifactz out of Germany will release an album of freeform jams called Spontaneous Combustions. I just submitted the masters so hopefully it will be out by Fall. Like The Firmament and Lies of Liberty, Spontaneous Combustions is very different from our usual studio albums. I really enjoy adding new textures to the band and although we usually do a freeform jam section in our live shows, this is a whole album of them. All recorded in a six-hour time period.

You’re involved with Bob Balch and Gary Arce’s Big Scenic Nowhere project. You toured with Fu Manchu of course, and Gary is Gary, but how did you end up getting involved there, and will you continue to be a member of that band?

Bob contacted me to work on a song with him and I’m pretty sure it was a mix of touring with Fu Manchu and my contributions to his site PlayThisRiff that gave him the idea to contact me. We got along well on the road and we both work very hard at our craft.

After I finished the first song he just started sending more to see if I was inspired. I ended up doing vocals on quite a bit of the songs across the EP and the full-length. I also added Mellotron and synths to a few songs. A song I wrote has me on drums/vocals, Bob on guitar and my son Kylen on bass. How cool is that?

Bob, Gary and I have been talking about being the core lineup and continue to have guests come in. There are some really cool musicians playing on this that I am totally honored to be associated with. I’ve also started to call on people I know and respect to participate and everybody has been really cool. Musically there doesn’t seem to be any boundaries and that is great.

You’re also playing bass on tour again with Seedy Jeezus in Europe. How was that experience last time and how does being in the band differ from recording them?

I really enjoy hanging out with Lex and Mark. They know each other so well. They will have these massive blowup arguments that you feel might end the tour and right at its zenith, then it will be like ,“so where are we gonna eat mate?” like nothing ever happened. Total entertainment. I’ve got some great audio and video clips on my phone.

After recording two albums with them and doing the tour last year I feel like I’m part of the band. It was like that from the first time we met. Easy to get along with. I’ll be back over there to record the next Seedy full-length right before the Mos boys fly over for the tour.

You recorded Saint Vitus’ new self-titled album. What was it like having them in the studio again? Did you get Dave Chandler to put any mids in his guitar this time?

They were less prepared this time but everybody really worked to make a great album that ended having classic Vitus elements and some new textures. Henry and Pat both contributed to the writing so that gave the album some diversity while still sitting in the spot the fans are used to. Also, Reagers is a stud. Great vocalist and one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet. Always positive and professional without being too serious. Chandler kept his classic EQ settings. :)

Tell me about the record cutting project.

Well… my buddy Jeremy Deede brought up the idea of buying a record lathe. We found a guy in Germany that builds them so we contacted him and he told us he won’t sell it to us if we don’t take the class so I flew over to Germany a few weeks ago and took the 15-hour one day crash course in record cutting. I did get to bring home my first few attempts at it and they sounded better than I thought they would. We should have the machine and a whole bunch of blanks next week and I’ll start to get grip on making some nice cuts. After I get comfortable with it we are going to launch a site where people can have one-off records cut. Needless to say I’ll be making records of everything I ever wanted on vinyl. Exciting stuff!!!

What keeps you going, Tony? Every year you seem to have your hand in so much and so much going on. What is it that lets you do that? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff happening at any given time?

I discovered that I had musical ability when I was around 12 and ever since then I pretty much haven’t stopped. I’ve written and recorded more music than I can even remember. I’ve been going through 40 years of tapes and other recorded media that I am cataloging and saving and I’m finding so much music I forgot I even made. From ideas recorded on a boombox in 1985 to complete songs from even just a few years ago. When I think about how much time I’ve spent next to some kind of recording device with a guitar in my hand or behind a drum kit it’s staggering. I have so many musical endeavors going on (including my job) that it is sometimes hard to finish stuff. My dry erase board in the studio always has scribblings all over it. I like it that way. Leaving a legacy has always been important to me and that along with not knowing, and not wanting to know, anything else in life is what keeps me going. I’ve always been very prolific. I often wonder if that will ever disappear.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I’m putting a lot of time into a project called Hot Spring Water. It’s a country rock project in the style of early ’70s artists like Leon Russell, Graham Nash and Neil Young. Mykey and Mike were the rhythm section from Stone Axe and we actually started this project in 2011. A few months ago we added Bo Mcconaghie on guitar with me and started rehearsing for shows. We’ve played two shows and they have been really fun. It’s so much different than Mos Generator. Bo and I use six watt Fender Champ amplifiers so we have a six watt ceiling for live volume. It’s great! people can enjoy the show without getting their ears blasted. It’s also challenging because playing that clean and quite means your can hear every mistake. Challenges are good.

Tony Reed, Assembling Night of the Lords

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Mos Generator on Instagram

HeavyHead webstore

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Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

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

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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Year of the Cobra Announce European Release Tour for Ash and Dust This September

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

If I was like, ‘Hey guess what Year of the Cobra are up to?’ and you were like, ‘Well, they’re probably out touring right now kicking ass with Forming the Void and then in September they’re going to put out a new album called Ash and Dust as their first record for Prophecy Productions and go tour Europe again and do awesome stuff like play Prophecy Fest in a cave and do shows with Monolord or Amenra,’ you’d be absolutely right. Also oddly specific.

The hard-touring Seattle two-piece are indeed out with Louisiana’s Forming the Void as we speak, and their upcoming album, Ash and Dust, will be out just in time for them to head abroad in support this September. There are TBA shows, so get in there and book them because, having seen them just this past weekend, I’ll happily affirm their righteous bona fides, whatever my word might be worth on the subject.

I also like the At the Gates-style logo on the tour poster. “We are blind to the worlds within us,” and all that. Dig it:

year of the cobra tour poster

We are very excited to announce our European album release tour for “Ash and Dust” happening this fall! We’ll be playing Prophecy Festival in Balver Höhle, which is in a massive cave, and also have dates with Amenra and Monolord. There are still a few dates to fill, so we’ll keep everyone posted as we solidify the rest of the tour. Cheers!

Year of the Cobra remaining US dates:
6/26/19 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
6/27/19 St. Louis, MO – Fubar
6/28/19 Springfield, MO – Outland Ballroom
6/29/19 Norman, OK – Red Brick Bar
6/30/19 Denver, CO – Hi Dive

Year of the Cobra European tour:
12/09 – Cologne, DE – MTC
13/09 – Berlin, DE – Zukunft
14/09 – Balver Höhle, DE – Prophecy Festival
15/09 – Tilburg, NL – Little Devil
16/09 – Hamburg, DE – Markthalle
21/09 – Udine, ITA – Backyardie
22/09 – Salzburg, AT – Rockhouse
24/09 – Slavonice, CZ – Barak
25/09 – Brno Kabinet, CZ – Muz
26/09 – Dresden, DE – Chemiefabrik
27/09 – Siegen, DE – Vortex
28/09 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso w/ Amenra
01/10 – Glasgow, UK – Nice n Sleazy
02/10 – Edinburgh, UK – Opium Nightclub
03/10 – London, UK -The Dev
04/10 – Lille, FR – La Rumeur
05/10 – Paris, FR – Saturday Mud Fever w/ Monolord
06/10 – Utrecht, NL – DB´s

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

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Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNT SATURN

In the bleary-eyed early hours of 2019, when most heads were still clearing from the panicked revelry celebrating the march into an unknown and horrifying future, there came Kiss the Ring (discussed here), the debut EP/demo from Bellingham, Washington’s Mount Saturn. Then a four-piece and currently a trio seeking a drummer, the upstart outfit follows in the Pacific Northwestern tradition of putting the focus on riffs and melody, with guitarist Ray Blum and vocalist Violet Vasquez working in partnership to set a solid foundation of both throughout Kiss the Ring‘s four tracks, with bassist Cody Barton and then-drummer Tanner Scinocco locking down a duly weighted groove to counterbalance the spaciousness of the vocals and guitar.

The EP, preceded only by a single-version of its opening track “Dwell,” holds to a central method, but is varied in mood and approach around that enough to give its songs an organic sense of character, and as statements of intent go, it shows both a will toward progression and an ingrained penchant for songcraft, and it makes it clear that the band know where they want to reside on the spectrum of heavy and, most importantly for the longer term, they’re willing to adjust that balance as called for by their material and progressive intent.

I know you heard the thing, so I won’t prattle on, but just in case, there’s a full stream below from Bandcamp and tapes are newly available from Ice Fall Records. I wanted to get the basic background on the band and how they worked together to make the EP, and Vasquez and Blum were both kind enough to offer insight.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

Mount Saturn Kiss the Ring

Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

How did Mount Saturn get together? Give me the origin story for the band.

Violet Vasquez: So myself and my partner Ray knew we wanted to start making “doom” or something that strayed a bit from conventional metal together, and starting by jamming together in an old storage unit. I had never sung before in a band, but really wanted to give it a shot, and Ray had been playing guitar for a while but had no projects. It started as something to do. We tried out a couple of drummers, and then decided to just write together for a bit and see what we had to say as writers. We were discovering so much new music together at this time and weren’t sure what we wanted to sound like. We took our time, for sure. Ray ended up starting the band Crystal Myth with Tanner, who he had jammed with in another band briefly, and then Cody came along by suggestion of our good friend Autumn. Essentially, the members of Crystal Myth were coerced into backing the songs that we been working on, and lending their talents to the development of new ones. They both just wanted to play music, so it wasn’t too hard to convince them. We were eager to contribute to a heavy scene that seemed to be experiencing a sort of resurrection in Bellingham and it’s been really fun to do that.

Tell me about writing Kiss the Ring. How did the songs take shape? You’d done a version of “Dwell” earlier. Was that the first song you wrote together?

VV: The first song we wrote together was a song we don’t have recorded, called “Down” about a witch who employs a wizard to fight a dragon. Perhaps a little heavy handed on the DOOM elements in retrospect, and it was a bit too long admittedly at seven minutes, but I recall it fondly! As far as writing Kiss the Ring goes, we would bring the skeletons of ideas to practice and work it out. We jammed a lot, and some of the things we expected to go one way went another based off the input and style of our rhythm section. I think songs like “Dwell” became keepers because of this. Generally, though, we had really good chemistry in jamming and got a few ideas that way. Once I found a melody that I liked to sing, that jam became a song in progress and would take shape from there.

How long were you in the studio making the EP, and what was the recording process like? Is there anything different you’d like to do next time around? Anything you’d like to keep just the same?

Ray Blum: We took a weekend in July 2018 to go to a studio in Anacortes, WA, called The Unknown with hopes of nailing down a drum and vocal sound that we liked. Erik Wallace, our engineer, suggested the space because it’s an old church with great acoustics. To this point in the band’s life, every studio experience has been successively better than the last, as we gather knowledge and an increased understanding of what we think the project should sound like. It was probably a faster process than we would have liked it to have been, but we had drums essentially done on the first day, guitar and bass done the second and vocals on the third. As far as things I would change, I would have liked to have spent a little more time trying to vary tones from song to song, but I think that’s what every guitar player thinks about studio time. Working with our friend Erik Wallace of Shibusa Sounds (who recorded, mixed and mastered the whole thing) was a blast and definitely something I would like to keep the same. He pulled not only a good sound out of us; but good performances, which at the youthful stage the band was at, was integral to the positive response that the EP received. Next time, we’d like to really take our time and try to record more things live.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest is a huge hotbed for bands and all that. What influence do you take from your surroundings, whether it’s nature, other bands, whatever? What does being from the PNW mean to you?

VV: Mount Saturn would probably not be the band we are without the doom, the gloom, and Holy Grove. We love that band, they’ve inspired our inception in a way, truly. We love our often-gloomy surroundings, too, and there’s no doubt that fuels our moods and keeps us inside jamming or writing. Being from the PNW, we are also living in a pretty socially-conscious area, and I’d say I tend to definitely focus on those kinds of issues thematically. Half our songs are about issue of feminism and the fight for equality across genders, but issues of racism and classism are also on our minds, and on the minds of people we play with or those who come to our shows. Those themes, they’re not just fueling our lyrics, but our passionate performances, too. It’s a way to heal that pain and I think it’s why we’ve gotten a good response locally; people want to be healed and empowered by music.

You seem to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in terms of your sound and style. How do you see the band growing as you move forward?

RB: It’s tough to say how we think the band will grow musically moving forward at the moment. We’re in the process of replacing our drummer (Tanner left shortly after Kiss the Ring was recorded), and we can’t make any assumptions about future sounds until we have an understanding of what that new person may bring to the table. I would say that our influences have certainly shifted slightly away from purely doom metal and more towards psych rock but I would hesitate to guess how that will be reflected in the writing at such an early stage.

Will you tour? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

VV: You know, we would love to. We’re in the process of looking for the right drummer to join us so we can start writing a full-length and at least go down the coast a bit before the end of 2020. Wish us luck! Also, keep your eye out for our pals in Dryland who are about to release their first full-length. They’re Bellinghamsters, too, and we can’t get enough of them.

Mount Saturn, Kiss the Ring (2019)

Mount Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Mount Saturn on Instagram

Mount Saturn on Bandcamp

Ice Fall Records webstore

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Year of the Cobra Finishing New Album; Announce Tour with Lord Dying

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

If you’re not looking forward to the new Year of the Cobra record, you’re fucking up. That’s about as simple as I can make it. Especially after the way they threw the doors open creatively with the 2017 Burn Your Dead EP (review here), and all the goddamn touring they’ve done, they’re not only a band with momentum on their side, but they’re a band with every opportunity to start really recasting their influences in their own image and join the upper ranks of underground bands making their presence truly felt in a way that will influence others. That potential is right there, waiting to come to fruition, and as the two-piece are in the studio this week finishing their next LP with none other than Jack Endino at the helm, it’s hard to argue they’re not placing their trust in the perfect person to make it happen. I can’t wait to hear the results.

And you know they’re actually wrapping things up because they’ve got live dates booked later this month, and a newly-announced tour next month with Lord Dying. Looks like it’s gonna be a good one too.

Dates follow as posted on thee social medias:

We have been pretty quiet lately while we’ve been finishing up our new album, so we’re super stoked to announce this tour with the rad dudes in Lord Dying ! Can not wait to hit the road again.

Dates below:
5/08/2019 Substation – Seattle, WA
5/09/2019 The Pin – Spokane, WA
5/10/2019 Old School Records – Kalispell, MT
5/13/2019 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
5/14/2019 Den Of Sin – Sacramento, CA
5/15/2019 Lexington – Los Angeles, CA
5/16/2019 Club Red – Mesa, AZ
5/17/2019 Backstage Bar – Las Vegas, NV
5/18/2019 Taos Mesa Brewery – El Prado, NM
5/19/2019 Streets – Denver, CO
5/21/2019 Gas Monkey Bar – Dallas, TX
5/22/2019 The Lost Well – Austin, TX
5/23/2019 Rudyards – Houston, TX
5/24/2019 Freetown Boom Boom – Lafayette, LA
5/26/2019 Southport Hall – New Orleans, LA
5/27/2019 529 – Atlanta, GA
5/28/2019 Cafe 611 – Frederick, MD
5/29/2019 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY
5/30/2019 The Pinch – Washington, DC
5/31/2019 Hobart Art Theatre – Hobart, IN
6/01/2019 Bigs Live – Sioux Falls, SD
6/02/2019 Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
6/03/2019 The Exchange – Regina, SK
6/04/2019 Temple – Edmonton, AB
6/05/2019 Dickens – Calgary, AB
6/07/2019 SBC – Vancouver, BC
6/08/2019 High Water Mark – Portland, OR

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://twitter.com/yearofthecobra
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

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