Desertfest London 2022 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2022 banner

It’s good to see you again, Desertfest London. The 2022 lineup of the esteemed British edition of Desertfest brings some returning presences who were to have been at the 2020 edition, then the 2021 — both of course gone the way of corona. But we see Electric WizardShellac and Witchcraft in headlining spots, while Corrosion of Conformity will bring their delayed 25th anniversary of Deliverance to Camden Town, and returning kingpins Orange Goblin will play, along with YOB, TruckfightersEarthlessMy Sleeping KarmaMos GeneratorConanThe Obsessed, the reunited JosiahLowrider come for a Refractions victory lap well earned, along with Elephant TreeElderSteakDeathwhite and a ton from the UK’s own ever-blossoming underground scene — Blind MonarchThe Brothers KegKing Witch, the more established Alunah and Trippy Wicked, and so on and so many.

Note Slomosa. Note Wolftooth. I would expect both to be touring Europe around this time. Green Lung too, for that matter.

There’s no way this isn’t going to be one to remember and it is my sincere hope to be there for it. Maybe I’ll see you there. Maybe we can hug.

Kudos and thanks to the Desertscene crew — Sarika, Jake and Reece — on and for a job well done.

Here’s looking forward:

desertfest london 2022

DESERTFEST LONDON ANNOUNCE FULL LINE-UP FOR 2022 ·

A DECADE IN THE DESERT
CELEBRATING TEN YEARS WITH THE BIGGEST & MOST DIVERSE LINEUP YET

EXCLUSIVE UK PERFORMANCES FROM
WITCHCRAFT
(FIRST UK SHOW IN OVER A DECADE)
and
SHELLAC

As the home for all the things truly heavy, leading independent UK festival Desertfest have announced their full line up for 2022, which will take place in Camden, London from Friday 29th April – Sunday 1st May.

Celebrating their tenth year, next year’s festival promises to be their biggest and most diverse yet. Covering six venues across the heart of Camden and now including a full line up at The Roundhouse on both Saturday 30thApril and Sunday 1st May.

Founding owner of Desertfest Reece Tee comments, “Desertfest is 10 years old! I’m so proud that our independent festival has stood the test of time. What we have created is special, a decade of great bands, great friends and amazing memories. This year’s line up is a true reflection of how diverse Desertfest has become and with such a loyal audience, Desertfest can champion the underground for decades more to come.”

Headlining the Friday will be Swedish heavy rock masters Witchcraft, with a UK exclusive performance and their first UK show in over a decade.
Saturday’s headliners are none other than Chicago’s Shellac, who in another UK exclusive will be bringing their experimental post-hardcore sound to the Roundhouse. Fronted by the iconic Steve Albini, Shellac are one of those bands we all need to experience live, at least once. Whilst closing the festival on Sunday will be UK doom legends Electric Wizard, whose heavy sound encompasses the spirit of Desertfest.

Other acts confirmed include the likes of Corrosion Of Conformity, Orange Goblin and Truckfighters who all played the festival in its debut year in 2012 and there are further UK exclusive performances from hardcore-punks Integrity and the Ukrainian psych space rock trio Somali Yacht Club.

The festival will also see desert legends Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri’s new band Stoner, who will be playing the Electric Ballroom and doomed heavy metallers Khemmis making their UK debut at The Underworld.

Please see below for the full Desertfest 2022 line up / stage splits.
Tickets are on sale now and are available at www.desertfest.co.uk

NEW TICKETS FOR 2022
Weekend Ticket (all venues) – £132 +fees
Friday Day Ticket (all venues) – £45 +fees
Saturday Day Ticket (all venues) – £50 +fees
Sunday Day Ticket (all venues) – £50 +fees
Saturday Roundhouse only – £35 +fees
Existing ticket holders from 2020’s postponed event have a number of options as the festival is now larger, with an added Roundhouse line-up on Saturday 30th April & Sunday 1st May.

EXISTING WEEKEND + DAY TICKET HOLDERS OPTIONS
Full refund
Weekend roll-over to 2022 without Roundhouse upgrade (access only to Electric Ballroom, Underworld, Black Heart & The Dev)
Weekend roll-over to 2022 with Roundhouse upgrade – £15 +fees
Day ticket holders can upgrade to a full weekend ticket – £92 + fees – or will be issued a refund. Upgrade options only available until May 7th ’21.
For any ticketing enquiries please contact sarika@desertscene.co.uk

Desertfest 2022’s artwork is hand drawn by legendary artist Arik Roper who has created illustrations for the likes of Sleep, Earth, Sunn O))), High on Fire, Kvelertak, Windhand and many more. As always, posters and other merch will be available to buy at the festival.

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https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
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https://www.desertfest.co.uk/

Electric Wizard, Live at Desertfest London 2016

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

ukmedsnorx.com/zopiclone
ukmedsnorx.com/zolpidem

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (RoadsawSasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sandøy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athrú Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantlôs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Wino, Forever Gone

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

wino forever gone

[Click play above to stream Wino’s Forever Gone in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music with preorders here for US and here for EU.]

It is overwhelming to consider the tumult of the decade between Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s 2010 debut solo album, Adrift (review here), and this follow-up, Forever Gone. The dissolution of Shrinebuilder, the acoustic collaboration with German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, the tenure fronting Saint Vitus that ended in an arrest in Norway for amphetamine possession and subsequent ban from Schengan Area countries in Europe — which was a five-year sentence, but still resulted in his being unable to tour there last year — as well as reunions first with The Obsessed, then Spirit Caravan, then Spirit Caravan becoming The Obsessed and changing its lineup before putting out their first album in two decades. Through all of this and the inevitable whatever-it-was I left out, Weinrich continued to perform solo acoustic shows, and so the notion of a second album was never completely absent, but apparently it took some doing to make it happen.

But if it was Weinrich‘s goal to channel living through those years into the craft and performance of Forever Gone — released through Ripple Music where Adrift was on Exile on Mainstream — it comes through as a palpable emotional and atmospheric weight in songs like the opening title-track, “No Wrong” and “Lavender and Sage,” and the penultimate “Was, Is and Shall Be,” the latter two of which feature guest vocals. Thinking of arrangements as compared to the 2010 offering, Forever Gone feels much less restricted to a guy-and-guitar aesthetic. There’s the slide in “You’re So Fine,” drums and electrics on “Dark Ravine,” an electric solo woven into early highlight “Taken” and vocal layering used sporadically throughout. The effect this has is to make minimalist moments like “The Song’s at the Bottom of the Bottle” and “Dead Yesterday” — which if nothing else certainly feels like a thematic answer to “Forever Gone” itself — stand out all the more, conveying the loneliness, regret and contemplation at root in some of the material while still leaving room for hope in more expansive pieces like “Dark Ravine” or the closing Joy Division cover “Isolation,” which comes through almost as a full-band, with drums, electric and acoustic guitars, and multiple layers of voice.

That finale should be readily enough familiar to those who’ve kept up with Wino‘s solo work live in the last eight or so years, and it’s also one of several of the pieces throughout Forever Gone that draws from the Wino & Conny Ochs collaborations. “Isolation” appeared on their Labour of Love 2012 Latitudes session (discussed here), while “Dead Yesterday” and “Dark Ravine” appeared on that same year’s full-length debut (also on Exile on Mainstream), Heavy Kingdom (review here), and “Crystal Madonna” and “Forever Gone” itself featured on Freedom Conspiracy (review here) in 2015. As Forever Gone is serving double-duty as the beginning of a series of acoustic-based Ripple releases called ‘Blood and Strings,’ it’s not like anyone’s trying to pass these off as brand new — Wino isn’t “getting one over” or anything like that — but the familiarity of some of the material and the refresh on the arrangements gives them new life and while obviously Weinrich is at the center of all the material, the work of producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand isn’t to be ignored when it comes to the finished product of Forever Gone.

scott wino weinrich

Whether it’s intertwining electrics and acoustics at the start of “Taken” or giving a sense of space through subtle vocal echo thereafter, or highlighting the classic blues rock feel of “You’re So Fine” to bring a moment of joy between the more melancholic “Dead Yesterday” and “Crystal Madonna,” each strum is as crisp as it wants to be, and Wino‘s voice comes through with no less instrumental detail, the product of decades of living and singing hard manifest in making the languid melody of “Lavender and Sage” feel like something earned rather than simply adopted as a stylistic choice. Part of that of course stems from the narrative of Wino‘s career itself, but if ever there was a place for such context and for his personality to come through as sharply as it does, Forever Gone would seem to be it, and Marchand is due much credit in making that happen.

Weinrich‘s in-genre legacy is well established through his work in The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, The Hidden Hand, etc., and doesn’t need to be recounted here anymore than it already has. What comes through most on Forever Gone is that, rather than seeing an artist resting on his laurels and self-indulgently pushing through 11 songs and 45 minutes of assembled material, Wino here brings the unmistakable character of songwriting and passion of performance that has made him the figurehead he is. It is an indelible mark of his work and whether it’s in the relatively uptempo version here of “Dark Ravine” or in “Crystal Madonna” — which was a highlight of Freedom Conspiracy and is one on Forever Gone as well — it is the foundation on which these songs, new and old alike, are built. With the variety in arrangements and guests in and out adding to Weinrich‘s vocals and guitar, there is a sense of completeness about Forever Gone that feels progressed forward from Adrift even as it stays loyal to the form.

It is impossible to know where the next decade might take Wino as a performer or a human being, but with this collection, his place as America’s Godfather of Doom is reaffirmed even as he breaks the confines of doom itself; though anyone who tells you Forever Gone isn’t heavy needs to recheck their definition of the word. As vibrant as this material is, and as much as it brims with the passion and creative intensity that brought it to bear in the studio, there continues to be a heft that is either underlying or at the fore, moving no less dynamically than the arrangements of the songs throughout, and no less crucial to the understanding of what this record is. I’ve said before, on plenty of occasions, there’s only one Wino. That’s where the count remains. And if Forever Gone is his way of marking the passage of the last 10 years, it is of due substance to be up to that task.

Wino on Thee Facebooks

Wino website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Psycho Las Vegas 2021 Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2021 banner

Plenty of this lineup looks familiar from what Psycho Las Vegas would’ve been in 2020, and duh, that’s the idea. You’ve still got Danzig doing Lucifuge, still got At the Gates and Katatonia and Emperor and Mercyful Fate. Still got the possibility that if I go, I can hang out after Pinback‘s set and bother Rob Crow about how badly he needs to do another Goblin Cock record. WinoFatso Jetson, Elder and Blackwater Holylight playing the pool party, six or seven curveball emo bands — all that fun stuff. Spectacle unmatched in heavy music, set in the Planet Earth’s official home for damned souls. It’s as perfect as it is incongruous.

Makes me wonder what Crowbar have going on next August.

But what you probably want to know is whether your ticket if you had one for 2020 is still good for 2021. Yes.

Behold:

psycho las vegas 2021 poster

Psycho Entertainment presents Psycho Las Vegas 2021

Psycho Las Vegas has been rescheduled to August 20th – 22nd, 2021. Psycho Swim has been rescheduled to August 19th, 2021. If you already purchased a pass for either event and want to attend in 2021, there is nothing you need to do – your passes will automatically be valid for the new dates.

80 of the 83 bands originally booked on the lineup are returning in 2021. The bands who are not joining us next year are Ty Segall, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Crowbar.

Danzig, Mercyful Fate, Emperor, The Flaming Lips, Blue Oyster Cult, Down, Mayhem, Satyricon, Obituary, Warpaint, Blonde Redhead, HEALTH, Watain, Ulver, Katatonia, At the Gates, Poison The Well, Paul Cauthen, Amigo The Devil, Exhorder, Wolves in the Throne Room, Thursday, Pinback, Zola Jesus, Drab Majesty, Boris, Eyehategood, Repulsion, Immolation, Midnight, MGLA, Windhand, Cursive, Tsol, King Dude, Pig Destroyer, Brutus, Profanatica, Lower Dens, Cult of Fire, Intronaut, boysetsfire, Death by Stereo, Curl Up and Die, Adamantium, This Will Destroy You, Khemmis, Mothership, Guantanamo Baywatch, Dengue Fever, Kaelan Mikla, Black Joe Lewis, Fatso Jetson, Wino, Creeping Death, Mephistofeles, Frankie and The Witch Fingers, Toke, Foie Gras, Flavor Crystals, Silvertomb, Lord Buffalo, Warish, Alms, Bombers, Glacial Tomb, Relaxer, Black Sabbitch, Hippie Death Cult, Vaelmyst, Mother Mercury, Two Minutes to Late Night

America’s rock n’ roll bacchanal returns to Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino August 20th through August 22th, with another resort-wide casino takeover unlike any of its kind. Now approaching its fifth year in the swirling neon decadence of Las Vegas, PSYCHO will feature over seventy artists across four stages including the world-class Events Center, the iconic House Of Blues, Mandalay Bay Beach, and the vintage Vegas-style Rhythm & Riffs Lounge in the center of the casino floor. PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2021 will continue to redefine America’s conception of what a festival can be.

Psycho Entertainment presents Psycho Swim “The Official Psycho Las Vegas Pre-Party”

Old Man Gloom, Elder, Polyrhythmics, Death Valley Girls, The Skull, Blackwater Holylight, Here Lies Man, DJ Scott Seltzer

America’s rock n’ roll pool party returns to DAYLIGHT Beach Club on August 19th for the second annual PSYCHO SWIM. This official all-day pre-party celebrates the best of previous PSYCHO LAS VEGAS lineups with performances from a host of festival alumni as well as new PSYCHO additions.

DAYLIGHT Beach Club is nestled next to the Mandalay Bay Resort And Casino and features a 4400-square-foot main pool, daybeds, cabanas, and bungalows, with an elevated stage offering unobstructed, up-close-and-personal views of artist performances.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2513255765662644/
http://www.vivapsycho.com
http://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
http://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

A Message from Psycho Las Vegas

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Friday Full-Length: Wino, Live at Roadburn 2009

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

This was a special moment. In 2009, Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich played Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, with his newly-formed Wino trio, comprised of himself on vocals/guitar, Jon Blank (Resin) on bass and Clutch‘s Jean-Paul Gaster on drums. It was my first Roadburn, and Wino himself was in no small part the reason I ended up making the trip, since in addition to the set with what ended up by default being thought of as The Wino Band, he was also playing with a reunited Saint Vitus on the main stage of the 013 venue, one of the headliners of the multi-day fest, the scope for which seemed insurmountable at the time and has only grown more so in the years since.

The Wino set took place in the Green Room — a midsize space apart from the main stage in the 013, and then one of three rooms available as part of the fest. It was the final day of the fest, then called the Afterburner, so the Bat Cave, the smallest room, had merch available but no bands playing. I always liked the Afterburner. It was comparatively mellow but you could still see something incredible and the bands all still brought their best. Wino, Blank and Gaster were a fitting example of this, and the Live at Roadburn 2009 (review here) recording that Roadburn/Burning World Records released in 2010, is the evidence. The Wino trio had issued Punctuated Equilibrium (discussed here) on Southern Lord earlier in the year, and it brought together multiple sides of the man’s unmatched pedigree, which already by then included the aforementioned Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand, as well as the supergroup Shrinebuilder and a CV with more guest appearances than anyone could hope to count, and with Gaster on drums, well, the live record tells the tale. It’s got a groove and a flow that holds strong even as the setlist jumps from new material to old, bringing in Spirit Caravan‘s “Lost Sun Dance” late after already playing back and forth righteously between The Obsessed and The Hidden Hand, sandwichingwino live at roadburn 2009 the latter’s “Sunblood” with the former’s “Streetside” and “Streamlined.” It was a damn good show.

I watched it from the balcony in the Green Room, and though I can’t do so, I also wouldn’t want to separate the experience of having been there from listening to the recording. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If you’ve got trouble listening to Wino blow out “Yen’s Sleep” from a stage, there’s not much I can really do for you about that — it’s your loss — but they were so locked in, so tight and so utterly triumphant in playing these songs that I value the recording that much more even 11 years after the fact because it evokes that personal memory. Whether you have that connection or not, whether you were there or not, the thing still rules.

This week should’ve been Roadburn 2020. In different circumstances, I’d be in the Netherlands right now, and though the fest hasn’t had Wino there for a while at this point in any of his many incarnations, having pushed off in multiple different aesthetic directions over recent years, it’s still always something amazing to behold. I guess I’m missing it, if you want me to be honest. So, nostalgia. I’ll cop to that.

It was a beautiful and strange time. My first foreign fest. I’d never seen anything like it and though I’ve been fortunate enough to do more traveling to other places since I’m still not sure I ever have. The scope of Roadburn has become so expansive it practically takes over the town of Tilburg at this point, but it was still building its base community in 2009, though it had been running for a decade already in one form or another. It was becoming what it would become. I felt lucky to be there, and I was. I’ve never felt anything other than lucky to be there. Except maybe tired. I’ve felt tired a bunch.

Of course, Wino‘s Live at Roadburn 2009 is tainted. It was the last performance of a European tour — a true victory lap — and on May 2, 2009, Jon Blank died of a heroin overdose, just two weeks after returning home. Wino went on tour with Clutch, I remember, but was flailing and rudderless enough as a result that when he put out his first-ever acoustic album the next year, he called it Adrift (review here). A stint in the short-lived and largely forgotten Premonition 13 followed, and then reunions with Spirit Caravan and The Obsessed, the latter which started first and is continuing, Weinrich‘s time in Saint Vitus having come to an end, and acoustic performances and periodic collaborations with German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs having continued all the while. He’ll reportedly have a new acoustic album out in June on Ripple Music. I haven’t heard it yet, which makes me a little sad, but after a decade since Adrift, anticipation is high as it invariably is for just about anything in which he’s involved.

As a general rule, I’m not huge on live albums, and even this one I don’t go back to all that often, but the point it emphasizes for me is the preciousness of the moment in which it happened and the idea that whatever you’re experiencing at the time, it’s fleeting. Positive or negative, “this too shall pass,” as my grandfather was apparently wont to say (we never met). No way the Wino band knew that Roadburn would be their last show, and no way Blank knew he’d pass away less than a month later, but as we look back, it seems like that’s as much a reason as any to celebrate the time that was when it was at least as much as to mourn what came after. Life is huge, and it encompasses all that joy, all that sadness, all the mania and the up and down and side to side of existence. We’re so small and yet our brains can’t even comprehend the expanses around and within us.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Did I leave the house this week? Yeah, I did. I tried to go to Costco, but the line was down the side and around back of the building and I threw my hands up and said “fuck it” through my face mask, got back in the car and hit Wegman’s instead. The line was shorter to get in there.

These days are long.

I’ve been sleeping late to try to mitigate. I’ve been napping to make up for lost sleep overnight — also maybe causing the lost sleep overnight? I don’t know. I’ve been having anxiety dreams. I’ve been taking half a xanax pretty much daily. I find that if I eat something when I take it, it doesn’t put me to sleep in the same way. Novelty. The Patient Mrs. made me cookies with almond and macadamia flour. There have been days where dessert is the finish line getting me through the rest of it.

I feel terrible for The Pecan. He’s up now and I can see him on the monitor dancing in his bedroom. He wants to do stuff. Go to his places, see people. We video chat with grandmas, but it’s nowhere near the same. Last weekend we drove up to Connecticut for the day. We might do the same this weekend. Fuck it, at this point. If I didn’t catch COVID-19 from the Shop-Rite in Morris Plains, I ain’t gonna catch it from The Patient Mrs.’ mom.

Today is a new The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. 5PM Eastern. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com

And I say that all the time, but please actually listen this time, huh? What else you got going on? It’s cool tunes and I recorded the voice tracks in my living room with the kid and The Patient Mrs. in the background, so it’s a mess, but it’s a fun mess, so yeah, please tune in.

More rona stuff next week. More of everything next week. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, which I guess is my preferred scenario, but speaking of that, it’s time for me to go grab The Pecan from upstairs, change his diaper and start the day. Another day. Another day in lockdown. Might go to Lowe’s later to get a five-gallon jug of water. We hydrate like bastards in this house. It’s the only way to be.

Next week: album streams from Lord Fowl and Gaffa Ghandi, a video premiere from The Earth Below, more rona than I can handle, an Elder review and whatever else I can throw together. It’ll be fun. It’ll be more than I can handle, which is the idea. It’ll occupy my brain in troubling ways. I love that.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’re well and staying safe. Oh, there ain’t no roneys on me.

Great and safe weekend. FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Psycho Las Vegas Announces Complete 2020 Lineup; Danzig, Mercyful Fate & Emperor Headlining

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Psycho Las Vegas 2020 banner style

Danzig doing the Lucifuge record, plus Emperor and Mercyful Fate on US exclusives. In the age of spectacle, Psycho Las Vegas stands apart from its otherwise-might-be peers. There’s a method to all this madness. A plan in action. These people aren’t stupid — this isn’t a stupid lineup, unless you mean “stupid” in an emphatic sense. That’s what Psycho Las Vegas is: emphasis realized. The chaos is the mission. How could there be a more suitable complement to this year, this moment in human history? This is happening at a fucking casino. In Las Vegas. Do you understand what I’m telling you? Do you understand you surreal that is? Repulsion are playing a god damned casino. On a bill with The Flaming Lips and Katatonia. This is your brain on… fire, I guess?

A couple weeks ago — days ago? hours? I have no idea what day it is or why I should be expected to know; I’ve actually set an alarm to post this at the right time in an effort not to screw it up which I probably will anyhow — I happened to have some quick email correspondence with the souls behind the genre-consuming beast of a festival that is Psycho Las Vegas 2020 and I made my BIG PITCH for coverage. Want to know what it was? What it basically boiled down to was, “How about you guys bring me out to the festival and put me up for four days, I take a bunch of mushrooms, maybe go see some bands and write whatever the hell I want?”

Their answer was yes, so that’s my plan. I think Psycho deserves nothing less than me ranting about I don’t know probably cultural decay, self-hate manifest as pretentious judgmentalism, and not eating for four days? Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go with that.

The schedule isn’t out yet, but it’s clearly a choose-your-adventure festival. For those seeing HOT TIPS from an internet influencer, you’re on the wrong goddamn site. I’m the guy who spent half his morning cleaning up animal piss at his mom’s house. I’ll say though that along with the gargantuan proportion of the headliners — come on, Danzig doing Danzig II is brilliant and you know it — and all the indie, emo and post-hardcore stuff that, yeah okay, I get it, the aughts were a thing for some people (not for me; was too drunk to remember any of it), it’s righteous to see such a huge event in addition to telling Coachella to suck its ass continuing to commit to the heavy underground. My chosen adventure will include but not be limited to placing priority on Lord Buffalo, Blackwater Holylight, Fatso Jetson (of course), Mothership (the context is too good to pass up), Hippie Death Cult and… yes… Katatonia. Because they’re the wintriest band ever and it’ll be 100 degrees. The most Psycho move ever would be to put them on the pool stage. Keeping my fingers crossed that’s how it works out. Shit, put Mayhem out there while we’re at it.

That’s all provided I’m not too out of my mind to leave the hotel room.

Here’s a poster and words in blue. See you there, sort of:

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2020 – COMPLETE LINEUP

DANZIG (Celebrating 30 years of “Lucifuge”)
MERCYFUL FATE (2020 USA Exclusive)
EMPEROR (2020 USA Exclusive)
THE FLAMING LIPS
BLUE OYSTER CULT
DOWN (Celebrating 25 years of “Nola”)
BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB
TY SEGALL
WARPAINT
MAYHEM
SATYRICON
WATAIN
BLONDE REDHEAD
HEALTH
OBITUARY
ULVER (2020 USA Exclusive)
KATATONIA
AT THE GATES
POISON THE WELL
TSOL
CROWBAR
EXHORDER
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
THURSDAY
PINBACK
ZOLA JESUS
DRAB MAJESTY
BORIS
KING DUDE
PAUL CAUTHEN
AMIGO THE DEVIL
EYEHATEGOD
PIG DESTROYER
REPULSION
IMMOLATION
MIDNIGHT
MGLA
WINDHAND
CURSIVE
BRUTUS
PROFANATICA
LOWER DENS
BLACK JOE LEWIS
INTRONAUT
BOYSETSFIRE
DEATH BY STEREO
CURL UP AND DIE
ADAMANTIUM
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU
KHEMMIS
MOTHERSHIP
GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH
DENGUE FEVER
KAELAN MIKLA
BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT
FATSO JETSON
WINO (ACOUSTIC)
CREEPING DEATH
MEPHISTOFELES
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS
TOKE
FOIE GRAS
FLAVOR CRYSTALS
SILVERTOMB
LORD BUFFALO
WARISH
ALMS
BOMBERS
GLACIAL TOMB
RELAXER
HIPPIE DEATH CULT
VAELMYST
MOTHER MERCURY
DJ SCOTT SELTZER

Psycho Entertainment & MGM Entertainment present PSYCHO SWIM

Lineup:
OLD MAN GLOOM
ELDER
THE SKULL
DEATH VALLEY GIRLS
BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT
HERE LIES MAN
POLYRHYTHMICS
DJ SCOTT SELTZER

Tickets for PSYCHO LAS VEGAS as well as the PSYCHO SWIM pre-party, which requires a separate ticket from the main festival pass, are on sale now!

Tickets for all PSYCHO LAS VEGAS events can be purchased at VivaPsycho.com or AXS.com.

https://www.facebook.com/events/3255628101138593/
http://www.vivapsycho.com
http://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
http://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge (1990)

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Scott “Wino” Weinrich Signs to Ripple Music; New Solo LP Forever Gone Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Good get. Cheers to Ripple Music and Scott “Wino” Weinrich for joining forces on the latter’s new solo album, Forever GoneRipple will release the first apparently-acoustic Wino solo record since 2010’s Adrift (review here) — though of course Wino has continued to do unplugged collaborations in the intervening decade, with, among others, German singer-songwriter Conny OchsScott Kelly of Neurosis, and Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux, either on a one-off, touring, or as in the case of Ochs, more regular basis — and he’s kept himself plenty busy besides what with the reunions of The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, the eventual studio return of The Obsessed after more than two decades and hard touring there. Hell, in 2010, he was still fronting Saint Vitus and would put out the Lillie: F-65 (review here) record with them in 2012.

Even so, a new acoustic Wino album is a big deal, both because Adrift is of high-enough quality to stand up (coming on) 10 years since it was first released, and because of course in Wino‘s unmatched pedigree in doom, having been in the above-named acts as well as ShrinebuilderPremonition 13The Hidden Hand, and on and on and on. You know he’s got stories to tell.

And speaking of: Hey, Wino — if by some tiny chance you’re reading this and you’re looking for someone to co-author or help ghostwrite an autobiography, I know a blogger who works cheap. Just thought I’d mention it.

More to the point, keep an eye out for more news about Forever Gone. I have the feeling I’m going to spend a lot of next year talking about it, so get used to the idea.

Ripple‘s announcement follows, as per thee social media:

scott wino weinrich

Major news! Ripple Music are honored to announce the signing of doom legend Scott “Wino” Weinrich!

Wino’s new solo album will launch Ripple’s new “Blood and Strings” acoustic series — in which some of the most admired names in riff-rock and metal unplug to record albums of acoustic heaviness. ‘Forever Gone’ will come out in early 2020, stay tuned for more info!

Please welcome Scott “Wino” Weinrich to the Ripple Family. Can’t tell you how stoked we are!

https://www.facebook.com/ScottWeinrich/
http://scottweinrich.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://www.instagram.com/ripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Wino, “Adrift”

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Desertfest London 2018 Lineup Complete: Hawkwind, Radio Moscow, Wino, Sourvein, Monolord, Kind & Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A well-earned slow clap for Desertfest London 2018 on the occasion of completing what is unquestionably its broadest, biggest and most staggering lineup to-date. The festival has been outdoing itself every year since it got going, but this is a different league entirely. Kudos all around to the Desertfest London team. I really feel like there’s nothing else to say about it. It’s just amazing what these people have put together and I hope that those who are fortunate enough to be there realize the special event to which they’re bearing witness, because that’s what this is. Truly something special.

Here’s the final lineup update:

desertfest london 2018 square

Psych legends Hawkwind + complete lineup announced for DESERTFEST LONDON 2018!

DESERTFEST LONDON announce the final acts for its 2018 edition on May 4-6th in Camden, including psych legends HAWKWIND, plus The Quietus, Human Disease Promo & Nightshift Promotions stages all revealed.

Yes, you read that title correctly. Desertfest are honoured, thrilled, losing our minds, quivering in our boots to reveal that one of the most influential English bands in heavy musical history are gracing us with our presence this May, seminal space-rockers HAWKWIND will return to the hallowed ground of The Roundhouse to play a very special performance as main support to Monster Magnet. Hawkwind require no real introduction – genre-defining mavericks since 1969, it’s safe to say most of your favourite bands wouldn’t exist without Hawkwind; their legend precedes them, expect a life affirming, life altering show. We are beyond excited.

Yet more Carolina goodness is coming Desertfest’s way, underground skater heroes ASG will make their psych riddled, post-punk sound heard across London, earplugs recommended, party times guaranteed. 70’s blues-soaked hard rockers RADIO MOSCOW will also make their return, following a recently sold-out performance at The Borderline – this trio of psychedelic power are being met with hugely high acclaim and for a damn good reason. They’re groovy, heavy and damn near perfect.

No strangers to the Desertfest, doom heroes MONOLORD are back to offer up some of the finest riffs to have ever come out Sweden’s smoke. Fuelled by bongs and black coffee, they are one of the favourite returning acts for the fest – y’all better get in the queue now if you don’t want to miss it. Another act from the dirty South comes in the form of SOURVEIN, sludge and crust blended together in perfect guttural harmony. Leading man T-Roy’s been fighting the good fight for over two decades and the band are now easily at their strongest. Not one for the faint hearted.

Alongside his performance with The Obsessed, leading man WINO will perform an acoustic set across the Desertfest weekend. Last time we had the frontman play an acoustic set at DF the queue was out the door, it’s stripped back but still totally heavy. Belgian bulldozers STEAK NUMBER EIGHT are making a long awaited appearance at Desertfest London, a postmetal powerhouse their live performances have been met with high praise around Europe. A hypnotic haze will fall when the mighty DOPELORD take the stage, sickeningly smooth vocals hit the good spot whilst thunderous riffs and a mind altering magnitude of heavy rattle your core.

Also filling up the final line-up are newcomers DEAD WITCHES, psychedelic New York masters KING BUFFALO, out of this world riff rockers KIND, British noise rockers CATTLE plus NECROMANCERS, CRUMPET, SOLLEME, LIONIZE, LNN, CHRCH, MASTIFF, TUSKAR, TOM CAMERON and LO CHIE

ALSO RECENTLY ANNOUNCED:

The Quietus stage

The Quietus Stage usually brings some of the more diverse bands to Desertfest and this year is no different. Headlining the stage at The Black Heart on Friday 4th May are WHITE HILLS whose concentrated blasts of interstellar noise with a tank load of psychedelic glam makes them the truest space rock goliaths of our time. They’ll be joined by GHOLD, SNAPPED ANKLES, MELTING HAND, CASUAL NUN and SWEDISH DEATH CANDY.

Nightshift Promotions stage

The melodic tones of DARKHER will be headlining this year’s Nightshift Promotions stage at The Dev at Desertfest 2018. They’ll be joined by a diverse, but equally dark lineup which brings post-metal from TELEPATHY and SNOW BURIAL, the experimental noise of CROWD OF CHAIRS, blackened doom from MONOLITHIAN and the sludge of THE MOTH.

Human Disease Promo/When Planets Collide stage

This year the Human-disease Promo and When Planets Collide Stage has gone for an all out colossus of weighty heaviness for Desertfest 2018. Headlining the stage are WEEDEATER, making their second appearance of the weekend with a special early years set. They’ll be joined by Denver’s most crushing PRIMITIVE MAN, Canadian bruisers BISON, Swedish heaviness from SUMA, St Louis filthsters FISTER, Notts nasties MOLOCH and heavyweight duo BISMUTH.

http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)

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