Bongzilla Announce Dabbing (LIVE) Rosin in Europe Out March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Like, how stoned do you really think Bongzilla can get at this point? Don’t get me wrong — I know they’re willing to work at it — but after so many years of THC ingestion, be it smoking or edibles or vaping or dabbing or whathaveyou, how does your body still process the weed? Or do Bongzilla just have a line to some kind of magic Wisconsin super-herb that does the trick regardless? Maybe it’s not even about getting high anymore so much as evening out, like they just operate at a higher altitude generally. I don’t know about you, but “Bongzilla talks about weed” sounds like a great interview headline to me. I mean, how many milligrams do you estimate is floating around in their bloodstream at any given time? What’s the over/under?

I don’t think I’ve ever dabbed, but if it’s got Bongzilla‘s endorsement then it can’t be all bad. You’ll recall Heavy Psych Sounds had a few quality live records out in a bunch in 2023, from The Atomic Bitchwax, Duel, Ecstatic Vision, so maybe this is continuing the thread there. If you’re trying to put bodies in venues, reminding listeners how much they love live music while also giving your bands something else to sell on the merch table isn’t the worst way to go.

In any case, the more Bongzilla, the merrier. Bongzilla have a previously-announced Spring return to Europe set to start on April 26 at the Maximum Festival in Italy as they continue to support 2023’s Dab City (review here), which was duly bombed out and as crusty as fried cheese curds. So yes, awesome.

Here’s the news and those dates:

bongzilla dabbing live rosin in europe

US stoner metal behemoths BONGZILLA to release new live album “Dabbing (LIVE) Rosin In Europe” on Heavy Psych Sounds this March!

Wisconsin’s premium stoner metal dealers BONGZILLA announce the release of their new live album “Dabbing (LIVE) Rosin In Europe” this March 15th, with preorders available now on Heavy Psych Sounds.

Following the 2023 release of their revered sixth album “Dab City” on Heavy Psych Sounds, the kings of weed metal BONGZILLA offer some of their smokiest riffs with their exclusive live album “Dabbing (LIVE) Rosin In Europe”. The album features seven tracks of the highest doom metal order recorded in various cities during their “Dabbing Across Europe & UK Tour” in the spring and summer of 2023. Mixed and mastered by Shane Trimble at Sletner Sound, with assistant mix engineers Justin DiPinto and Andrew Owens. The album will be issued in various vinyl editions, CD and digital on Marchb 22 via Heavy Psych Sounds.

“Dabbing (LIVE) Rosin in Europe”
Out March 22nd on Heavy Psych Sounds

1. Sundae Driver – 4:36
2. King of Weed – 5:46
3. Free The Weed – 6:26
4. Greenthumb – 4:06
5. H.P. Keefmaker – 6:40
6. Hippie Stick – 6:06
7. Gestation – 6:06

SA. 27.04.24 OPEN SLOT
TH. 02.05.24 OPEN SLOT
SU. 12.05.24 OPEN SLOT
MO. 13.05.24 DE COLOGNE – MTC
WE. 15.05.24 OPEN SLOT

Mike “Muleboy” Makela – Bass / Vocals
Jeff “Spanky” Schultz – Guitars
Mike “Magma” Henry – Drums

Bongzilla, Dab City (2023)

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Bongzilla Announce Spring European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The stoned wanderings of Wisconsin crust-sludge trail-and-whatever-else-you-got-blazers Bongzilla will lead the three-piece abroad once again this coming Spring. They go in support of 2023’s Dab City (review here) and in glorious pursuit of new heights of consciousness and probably trying not to forget stuff along the way. They spent most of this year on the road through the US, hitting both coasts — you’ll recall ‘Dabbing Westward,’ which was incredibly, incredibly clever — and points between, but also did a huge UK/Euro run.

Heading back to Europe is fair game for the kingpins, who’ll start at the Go Down Records-affiliated Maximum Festival before appearing at both Heavy Psych Fests in Italy, heading north for Desertfest Oslo, and looping back down through Germany and France. There are a couple dates to fill, and though I was a little surprised not to see the tour go through Desertfest London and to end before Desertfest Berlin happens, looking back, they were in Berlin on the 2023 tour and they played London in 2022. After that, the inaugural Oslo edition seems like a good way to go in making the rounds, out-stonering the universe as they will.

The poster rules and of course the tour was put together by Heavy Psych Sounds, who sent this down the PR wire:

Bongzilla tour

*** BONGZILLA – Spring European Tour 2024 ***

– the Weedsconsin riffers are back in Europe –

We are stoked to announce that our weed metal wizards BONGZILLA will tour Europe in 2024 !!!




SA. 27.04.24 OPEN SLOT
TH. 02.05.24 OPEN SLOT
SU. 12.05.24 OPEN SLOT
MO. 13.05.24 DE COLOGNE – MTC
WE. 15.05.24 OPEN SLOT

Mike “Muleboy” Makela – Bass / Vocals
Jeff “Spanky” Schultz – Guitars
Mike “Magma” Henry – Drums

Bongzilla, Dab City (2023)

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Quarterly Review: Bongzilla, Trevor’s Head, Vorder, Inherus, Sonic Moon, Slow Wake, The Fierce and the Dead, Mud Spencer, Kita, Embargo

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Well here we are, at last. A couple weeks ago I looked at my calendar and ended up pushing this Quarterly Review to mid-July instead of the end of June, and it’s been hanging over my head in the interim to such a degree that I added two days to it to cover another 20 records. I’m sure it could be more. The amount of music is infinite. It just keeps going.

I’ll assume you know the deal, but here it is anyhow: 10 records per day, for seven days — Monday through Friday, plus Monday and Tuesday in this case — for a total of 70 reviews. Links and audio provided to the extent possible, and hopefully we all find some killer new music we didn’t know about before, or if we did know about it, just to enjoy. That doesn’t seem so crazy, right?

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Bongzilla, Dab City

Bongzilla Dab City

None higher. Following extensive touring before and (to the extent possible) after the release of their 2021 album, Weedsconsin (review here), Madison, WI, canna-worship crust sludge-launchers Bongzilla return with Dab City, proffering the harsh and the mellow as only they seem to be able to do, even among their ’90s-born original-era sludge brethren. As second track “King of Weed” demonstrates, Bongzilla are aurally dank unto themselves, both in the scathing vocals of bassist Mike “Muleboy” Makela and the layered guitar of Jeff “Spanky” Schultz and the slow-swinging groove shoving all that weighted tone forward in Mike “Magma” Henry‘s drums. Through the seven tracks and 56 minutes of dense jams like those in the opening title-cut or the 13-minute “Cannonbong (The Ballad of Burnt Reynolds as Lamented by Dixie Dave Collins” (yes, from Weedeater) or the gloriously languid finale “American Pot,” the shorter instrumental “C.A.R.T.S.,” or in the relatively uptempo nodders “Hippie Stick” and “Diamonds and Flower,” Bongzilla underscore the if-you-get-it-then-you-get-it nature of their work, at once extreme in its bite and soothing in atmosphere, uncompromising in purpose. I’m not going to tell you to get bombed out of your gourd and listen, but they almost certainly did while making it, and Dab City is nothing if not an invitation to that party.

Bongzilla on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Trevor’s Head, A View From Below

Trevor's Head A View From Below

Adventures await as Redhill, UK, three-piece Trevor’s Head — guitarist/vocalist Roger Atkins, bassist/vocalist/synthesist Aaron Strachan (also kalimba), drummer/flutist/vocalist/synthesist Matt Ainsworth (also Mellotron) — signal a willfully open and progressive creativity through the heavy psych and grunge melodies of lead track “Call of the Deep” before the Primus-gone-fuzz-prog chug of “Under My Skin” and the somehow-English-pastoral “Grape Fang” balances on its multi-part harmonies and loose-feeling movement, side A trading between shorter and longer songs to end with the seven-minute, violin-inclusive folk-then-fuzz-folk highlight “Elio” before “Rumspringa” brings the proceedings to ground as only cowbell might. As relatively straight-ahead as the trio get there or in the more pointedly aggressive shover “A True Gentleman” on the other side of the Tool-ish noodling and eat-this-riff of “What Got Stuck” (answer: the thrashy gallop before the final widdly-widdly solo, in my head), they never want for complexity, and as much as it encapsulates in its depth of arrangement and linear course, closer “Don’t Make Me Ask” represents the band perhaps even more in looking forward rather than back on what was just accomplished, building on what 2018’s Soma Holiday (review here) hinted at stylistically and mindfully evolving their sound.

Trevor’s Head on Facebook

APF Records website


Vorder, False Haven

Vorder False Haven

Born in the ’90s as Amend, turned more extreme as V and now perhaps beginning a new era as Vorder — pronounced “vee-order” — the Dalarna, Sweden, unit return with a new rhythm section behind founding guitarists Jonas Gryth (also Unhealer) and Andreas Baier (also Besvärjelsen, Afgrund, and so on) featuring bassist Marcus Mackä Lindqvist (Blodskam, Lýsis) and drummer Daniel Liljekvist (ex-Katatonia, In Mourning, Grand Cadaver, etc.) on drums, the invigorated four-piece greet a dark dawn with due presence on False Haven, bringing Baier‘s Besvärjelsen bandmate Lea Amling Alazam for guest vocals on “The Few Remaining Lights,” which seems to be consumed after its melodic opening into a lurching and organ-laced midsection like Entombed after the Isis-esque ambience of post-apocalyptic mourning in “Introspective” and “Beyond the Horizon of Life.” Beauty and darkness are not new themes for Vorder, even if False Haven is their first release under the name, and even in the bleak ‘n’ roll of the title-track there’s still room for hope if you define hope as tambourine. Which you probably should. The penultimate “Judgement Awaits” interrupts floating post-doom with vital shove and 10:32 finale “Come Undone” provides a resonant melodic answer to “The Few Remaining Lights” while paying off the album as a whole in patience, heft and fullness. Vorder use microgenres like a polyglot might switch languages, but what’s expressed from the entirety of the work is utterly their own, whatever name they use.

Vorder on Facebook

Suicide Records website


Inherus, Beholden

inherus beholden

Multi-instrumentalist Beth Gladding (also of Forlesen, Botanist, Lotus Thief, etc.) shares vocal duties in New York’s Inherus with bassist Anthony DiBlasi (ex-Witchkiss) and fellow guitarist/synthesist Brian Harrigan (Grid, Swallow the Ocean), and the harsh/clean dynamic puts emphasis on the various textures presented throughout the band’s debut album. Completed by drummer Andrew Vogt (Lotus Thief, Swallow the Ocean), Inherus reach toward SubRosan melancholy on “Forgotten Kingdom,” which begins the hour-flat/six-track 2LP, and they follow with harmonies and grandeur to spare on “One More Fire” (something in that melody reminds me of Indigo Girls and I’m noting it because I can’t get my head away from it; not complaining) and “The Dagger,” which resolves in Amenra-style squibble and lurch without giving up its emotional depth. “Oh Brother” crushes enough to make one wonder where the line truly is between metal and post-metal, and the setup for closer “Lie to the Angels” in the drone-plus piece “Obliterated in the Face of the Gods” telegraphs the intensity to follow if not the progginess of that particular chug or the scope of what follows. Vogt signals the arrival at the album’s crescendo with stately but fast double-kick, and if you’re wondering who gets the last word, it’s feedback. Beholden may prove formative as Inherus move forward, but what their first full-length lays out as their stylistic range is at least as impressive as it is ambitious. Hope for more to come.

Inherus on Facebook

Hypnotic Dirge Records store


Sonic Moon, Return Without Any Memory

sonic moon return without any memory

Even in the second half of “Tying Up the Noose” as it leads into “Give it Time” — which is about as speedy as Sonic Moon get on their Olde Magick Records-delivered first LP, Return Without Any Memory — they’re in no particular hurry. The overarching languid pace across the Aarhus five-piece’s 41-minute/seven-tracker — which reuses only the title-track from 2019’s Usually I Don’t Care for Flowers EP — makes it hypnotic even in its most active moments, but whether it’s the Denmarkana acoustic moodiness of centerpiece “Through the Snow,” the steady nod of “Head Under the River” later or the post-All Them Witches psych-blues conveyed in opener “The Waters,” Sonic Moon are able to conjure landscapes from fuzzed tonality that could just as easily have been put to use for traditional doom as psych-leaning heavy rock, uniting the songs through that same fuzz and the melody of the vocals as “Head Under the River” spaces out ahead of its slowdown or “Hear Me Now” eschews the huge finish in favor of a more unassuming, gentler letting go, indicative of the thoughtfulness behind their craft and their presentation of the material. Familiar enough on paper and admirably, unpretentiously itself, the self-recorded Return Without Any Memory discovers its niche and comes across as being right at home in it. A welcome debut.

Sonic Moon on Facebook

Olde Magick Records on Bandcamp


Slow Wake, Falling Fathoms

slow wake falling fathoms

With cosmic doom via YOB meeting with progressive heavy rock à la Elder or Louisiana rollers Forming the Void and an undercurrent of metal besides in the chug and double-kick of “Controlled Burn,” Cleveland’s Slow Wake make their full-length debut culling together songs their 2022 Falling Fathoms EP and adding the prior-standalone “Black Stars” for 12 minutes’ worth of good measure at the end. The dense and jangly tones at the start of the title-track (where it’s specifically “Marrow”-y) or “In Waves” earlier on seem to draw more directly from Mike Scheidt‘s style of play, but “Relief” builds from its post-rocking outset to grow furious over its first few minutes headed toward a payoff that’s melody as much as crunch. “Black Stars” indulges a bit more psychedelic repetition, which could be a sign of things to come or just how it worked out on that longer track, but Slow Wake lay claim to significant breadth regardless, and have the structural complexity to work in longer forms without losing themselves either in jams or filler. With a strong sense of its goals, Falling Fathoms puts Slow Wake on a self-aware trajectory of growth in modern prog-heavy style. That is, they know what they’re doing and they know why. To show that alone on a first record makes it a win. Their going further lets you know to keep an eye out for next time as well.

Slow Wake on Facebook

Argonauta Records store


The Fierce and the Dead, News From the Invisible World

The Fierce and the Dead News From the Invisible World

Unearthing a bit of earlier-Queens of the Stone Age compression fuzz in the start-stop riff of “Shake the Jar” is not even scratching the surface as regards textures put to use by British progressive heavies The Fierce and the Dead on their fourth album, News From the Invisible World. Comprised of eight songs varied in mood and textures around a central ethic clearly intent on not sounding any more like anyone else than it has to, the collection is the first release from the band to feature vocals. Those are handled ably by bassist Kev Feazey, but it’s telling as to the all-in nature of the band that, in using singing for the first time, they employ no fewer than six guest vocalists, mostly but not exclusively on opener/intro “The Start.” From there, it’s a wild course through keyboard/synth-fed atmospheres on pieces like the Phil Collins-gone-heavy “Photogenic Love” and its side-B-capping counterpart “Nostalgia Now,” which ends like friendlier Godflesh, astrojazz experimentalism on “Non-Player,” and plenty of fuzz in “Golden Thread,” “Wonderful,” “What a Time to Be Alive,” and so on, though where a song starts is not necessarily where it’s going to end up. Given Feazey‘s apparent comfort with the task before him, it’s a wonder they didn’t make this shift earlier, but they do well in making up for lost time.

The Fierce and the Dead on Facebook

Spencer Park Music on Facebook


Mud Spencer, Kliwon

mud spencer Kliwon

Kliwon is the second offering from Indonesia-based meditative psych exploration unit Mud Spencer to be released through Argonauta Records after 2022’s Fuzz Soup (review here), and its four component songs find France-born multi-instrumentalist Rodolphe Bellugue (also Proots, Bedhunter, etc.) constructing material of marked presence and fluidity. Opener “Suzzanna” is halfway through its nine minutes before the drums start. “Ratu Kidul” is 16 minutes of mindful breathing (musically speaking) as shimmering guitar melody pokes out from underneath the surrounding ethereal wash, darker in tone but more than just bleak. Of course “Dead on the Heavy Funk” reminds of Mr. Bungle as it metal-chugs and energetically weirds out. And the just under 16-minute “Jasmin Eater” closes out with organ and righteous fuzz bass peppered with flourish details on guitar and languid drumming, becoming heavier and consuming as it moves toward the tempo kick that’s the apex of the album. Through these diverse tracks, an intimate psychedelic persona emerges, even without vocals, and Mud Spencer continues to look inward for expanses to be conveyed before doing precisely that.

Mud Spencer on Facebook

Argonauta Records store


Kita, Tyhjiö

kita Tyhjio

It would seem that in the interim between 2021’s Ocean of Acid EP and this five-song/41-minute debut full-length, Tyhjiö, Finnish psychedelic death-doomers Kita traded English lyrics for those in their native Finnish. No, I don’t speak it, but that hardly matters in the chant-like chorus of the title-track or the swirling pummel that surrounds as the band invent their own microgenre, metal-rooted and metal in affect, but laced with synth and able to veer into lysergic guitar atmospherics in the 10-minute opener “Kivi Puhuu” or the acoustic-led (actually it’s bass-led, but still) midsection leading to the triumphant chorus of bookending closer “Ataraksia,” uniting disparate ideas through strength of craft, tonal and structural coherence, and, apparently, sheer will. The title-track, “Torajyvä” and “Kärpässilmät,” with the centerpiece cut as the shortest, make for a pyramid-style presentation (broader around its base), but Kita are defined by what they do, drawing extremity from countrymen like Swallow the Sun or Amorphis, among others, and turning it into something of their own. Striking in the true sense of: it feels like being punched. But punched while you hang out on the astral plane.

Kita on Facebook

Kita on Bandcamp


Embargo, High Seas

embargo high seas

Greek fuzz alert! Heavy rocking three-piece Embargo hail from Thessaloniki with their first long-player, High Seas, using winding aspects of progressive metal to create tension in the starts and stops of “Billow,” “EAT” and “Candy” as spoken verses in the latter and “Alanna Finch” draw a line between the moody noise rock of Helmet, the grunge it informed, and the heavy rock that emerged (in part) from that. Running 10 tracks and 44 minutes, High Seas is quick in marking out the smoothness of its low tonality, and it veers into and out of what one might consider aggression in terms of style, “with 22 22” thoughtfully composed and sharply pointed in kind, one of several instrumentals to offset some of the gruffer stretches or a more patient melodic highlight like “Draupner,” which does little to hide its affinity for Soundgarden and is only correct to showcase it. They also finish sans-vocals in the title-track, and there’s almost a letting-loose sense to “High Seas” itself, shaking out some shuffle in the first half before peaking in the second. Greece is among Europe’s most packed and vibrant undergrounds, and with High Seas, Embargo begin to carve their place within it.

Embargo on Facebook

Embargo on Bandcamp


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Bongzilla Announce ‘Dabbing Westward’ Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Fuck. I don’t generally put much credence into tour names. Some are clever, some aren’t. Some are the record, some don’t exist and thereby prove that none really need to. You generally remember when you saw a band by the album either way, right? Is that just me? On the occasion I remember a thing?

But hell’s bells, ‘Dabbing Westward’ is a good name for Bongzilla‘s upcoming US shows. Not only is it the reference to the band Stabbing Westward, but it’s a West Coast run, and the upcoming album is called Dab City. Preceded by a just-completed East Coast run and a starts-tomorrow European run, the West Coast tour will put Bongzilla in the company of Washington heavy psych riffers Kadabra, whose record you should hear if you didn’t because it was frickin’ excellent. Maybe they’ll put out another one. That’d be sweet, even if it doesn’t have ‘dab’ in the title.

I kind of put the below together from social media, so I’ll cite that, even if it was multiple posts. Nonetheless:

bongzilla dabbing westward tour

Here’s something for US fans to put in their pipes while we fly across the pond. See you out west (where the grass really is greener) this Summer with our labelmates Kadabra.

Tickets on sale now at:

Sat 7/22 – Tinley, Park, IL Soundgrowler Brewing 6th Anniversary
Fri 8/18 – Iowa City, IA @ Wildwood
Sat 8/19 – Des Moines, IA @ Lefty’s (early)
Sun 8/20 – Omaha, NE @ Reverb
Tue 8/22 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
Wed 8/23 – Frisco, CO @ 10 Mile Music Hall
Fri 8/25 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Sat 8/26 – Seattle, WA @ Substation
Sun 8/27 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Tue 8/29 – Sacramento, CA @ Café Colonial
Wed 8/30 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
Thu 8/31 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident
Fri 9/01 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
Sat 9/02 – Mesa, AZ @ Nile Underground
Sun 9/03 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
Tue 9/05 – Austin, TX @ Lost Well
Wed 9/06 – Houston, TX @ White Oak (upstairs)
Thu 9/07 – Lafayette, LA @ Freetown Boom Boom Room
Fri 9/08 – New Orleans, LA @ Santos
Sat 9/09 – Memphis, TN @ HiTone Cafe

EUROPE!!! We are coming for you starting May 19!!! Where are we going to see you???

TU 23/05/2023 PL POZNAN – MINOGA
TH 25/05/2023 AT WIEN – ARENA
SU 28/05/2023 CH GENEVE – L’USINE
TU 30/05/2023 FIN HELSINKI – Kuudes Linja
TH 01/06/2023 DK AALBORG – 1000FRYD
SA 03/06/2023 IT LUGANO – OHM CLUB
MO 05/06/2023 DE COLOGNE – MTC
SU 11/06/2023 NL UTRECHT – DB’S
TU 20/06/2023 PT PORTO – HARD CLUB
WE 21/06/2023 PT LISBONA – RCA
SA 01/07/2023 IT **OPEN SLOT**

Mike “Muleboy” Makela – bass/vocals
Jeff “Spanky” Schultz – guitars
Mike “Magma” Henry – drums

Bongzilla, “Hippie Stick”

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Quarterly Review: Smokey Mirror, Jack Harlon & the Dead Crows, Noorag, KOLLAPS\E, Healthyliving, MV & EE, The Great Machine, Swanmay, Garden of Ash, Tidal

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Hey there and welcome back to the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review. Today I’ve got another 10-record batch for your perusal, and if you’ve never been to this particular party before, it’s part of an ongoing series this site does every couple months (you might say quarterly), and this week picks up from yesterday as well as a couple weeks ago, when another 70 records of various types were covered. If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of it, it’s that we live in a golden age of heavy music, be it metal, rock, doom, sludge, psych, prog, noise or whathaveyou. Especially for whathaveyou.

So here we are, you and I, exploring the explorations in these many works and across a range of styles. As always, I hope you find something that feels like it’s speaking directly to you. For what it’s worth, I didn’t even make it through the first 10 of the 50 releases to be covered this week yesterday without ordering a CD from Bandcamp, so I’m here in a spirit of learning too. We’ll go together and dive back in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Smokey Mirror, Smokey Mirror

Smokey Mirror Smokey Mirror

Those in the know will tell you that the vintage-sound thing is over, everybody’s a goth now, blah blah heavygaze. That sounds just fine with Dallas, Texas, boogie rockers Smokey Mirror, who on their self-titled Rise Above Records first LP make their shuffle a party in “Invisible Hand” and the class-conscious “Pathless Forest” even before they dig into the broader jam of the eight-minute “Magick Circle,” panning the solos in call and response, drum solo, softshoe groove, full on whatnot. Meanwhile, “Alpha-State Dissociative Trance” would be glitch if it had a keyboard on it, a kind of math rock from 1972, and its sub-three-minute stretch is followed by the acoustic guitar/harmonica folk blues of “Fried Vanilla Super Trapeze” and the heavy fuzz resurgence of “Sacrificial Altar,” which is long like “Magick Circle” but with more jazz in its winding jam and more of a departure into it (four minutes into the total 7:30 if you’re wondering), while the Radio Moscow-style smooth bop and rip of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” and shred-your-politics of “Who’s to Say” act as touch-ground preface for the acoustic noodle and final hard strums of “Recurring Nightmare,” as side B ends in mirror to side A. An absolute scorcher of a debut and all the more admirable for wearing its politics on its sleeve where much heavy rock hides safe behind its “I’m not political” whiteness, Smokey Mirror‘s Smokey Mirror reminds that, every now and again, those in the know don’t know shit. Barnburner heavy rock and roll forever.

Smokey Mirror on Facebook

Rise Above Records website


Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows, Hail to the Underground

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows Hail to the Underground

The moral of the story is that the members of Melbourne’s Jack Harlon and the Dead Crows — may they someday be famous enough that I won’t feel compelled to point out that none of them is Jack; the lineup is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Tim Coutts-Smith, guitarist Jordan Richardson, bassist Liam Barry and drummer Josh McCombe — came up in the ’90s, or at least in the shadow thereof. Hail to the Underground collects eight covers in 35 minutes and is the Aussie rockers’ first outing for Blues Funeral, following two successful albums in 2018’s Hymns and 2021’s The Magnetic Ridge (review here), and while on paper it seems like maybe it’s the result of just-signed-gotta-get-something-out motivation, the takes on tunes by Aussie rockers God, the Melvins, Butthole Surfers, My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division (their “Day of Lords” is a nodding highlight) rest organically alongside the boogie blues of “Roll & Tumble” (originally by Hambone Willie Newbern), the electrified surge of Bauhaus‘ “Dark Entries” and the manic peaks of “Eye Shaking King” by Amon Düül II. It’s not the triumphant, moment-of-arrival third full-length one awaits — and it would be soon for it to be, but it’s how the timing worked with the signing — but Hail to the Underground adds complexity to the narrative of the band’s sound in communing with Texan acid noise, country blues from 1929 to emo and goth rock icons in a long-player’s span, and it’ll certainly keep the fire burning until the next record gets here.

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website


Noorag, Fossils

Noorag Fossils

Minimalist in social media presence (though on YouTube and Bandcamp, streaming services, etc.), Sardinian one-man outfit Noorag — also stylized all-lowercase: noorag — operates at the behest of multi-instrumentalist/producer Federico “WalkingFred” Paretta, and with drums by Daneiele Marcia, the project’s debut EP, Fossils, collects seven short pieces across 15 minutes that’s punk in urgency, sans-vocal in the execution, sludged in tone, metallic in production, and adventurous in some of its time changes. Pieces like the ambient opener “Hhon” and “Amanita Shot,” which follows headed on the quick into the suitably stomping “Brachiopod” move easily between each other since the songs themselves are tied together through their instrumental approach and relatively straightforward arrangements. “Cochlea Stone” is a centerpiece under two minutes long with emphasis rightfully on the bass, while “Ritual Electric” teases the stonershuggah nuance in the groove of “Acid Apricot”‘s second half, and the added “Digital Cave” roughs up the recording while maybe or maybe not actually being the demo it claims to be. Are those drums programmed? We may never know, but at a quarter of an hour long, it’s not like Noorag are about to overstay their welcome. Fitting for the EP format as a way to highlight its admirable intricacy, Fossils feels almost ironically fresh and sounds like the beginning point of a broader progression. Here’s hoping.

Noorag on YouTube

Noorag on Bandcamp


KOLLAPS\E, Phantom Centre

Kollapse Phantom Centre

With the notable exceptions of six-minute opener “Era” and the 8:36 “Uhtceare” with the gradual build to its explosion into the “Stones From the Sky” moment that’s a requisite for seemingly all post-metal acts to utilize at least once (they turn it into a lead later, which is satisfying), Sweden’s KOLLAPS\E — oh your pesky backslash — pair their ambient stretches with stately, shout-topped declarations of riff that sound like early Isis with the clarity of production and intent of later Isis, which is a bigger difference than it reads. The layers of guttural vocals at the forefront of “Anaemia” add an edge of extremity offset by the post-rock float of the guitar, and “Bränt Barn Skyr Elden” (‘burnt child dreads the fire,’ presumably a Swedish aphorism) answers by building tension subtly in its first two minutes before going full-barrage atmosludge for the next as it, “Anaemia,” and the closing pair of “Radiant Static” and “Murrain” harness short-song momentum on either side of four minutes long — something the earlier “Beautiful Desolate” hinted at between “Era” and “Uhtceare” — to capture a distinct flow for side B and giving the ending of “Murrain” its due as a culmination for the entire release. Crushing or spacious or both when it wants to be, Phantom Centre is a strong, pandemic-born debut that looks forward while showing both that it’s schooled in its own genre and has begun to decide which rules it wants to break.

KOLLAPS\E on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp


Healthyliving, Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief

Healthyliving Songs of Abundance Psalms of Grief

A multinational conglomerate that would seem to be at least partially assembled in Edinburg, Scotland, Healthyliving — also all-lowercase: healthyliving — offer folkish melodicism atop heavy atmospheric rock for a kind of more-present-than-‘gaze-implies feel that is equal parts meditative, expansive and emotive on their debut full-length, Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief. With the vocals of Amaya López-Carromero (aka Maud the Moth) given a showcase they more than earn via performance, multi-instrumentalist Scott McLean (guitar, bass, synth) and drummer Stefan Pötzsch are able to conjure the scene-setting heft of “Until,” tap into grunge strum with a gentle feel on “Bloom” or meander into outright crush with ambient patience on “Galleries” (a highlight) or move through the intensity of “To the Gallows,” the unexpected surge in the bridge of “Back to Back” or the similarly structured but distinguished through the vocal layering and melancholic spirit of the penultimate “Ghost Limbs” with a long quiet stretch before closer “Obey” wraps like it’s raking leaves in rhythm early and soars on a strident groove that caps with impact and sprawl. They are not the only band operating in this sphere of folk-informed heavy post-rock by any means, but as their debut, this nine-song collection pays off the promise of their 2021 two-songer Until/Below (review here) and heralds things to come both beautiful and sad.

Healthyliving on Facebook

LaRubia Producciones website


MV & EE, Green Ark

mv & ee green ark

Even before Vermont freak-psych two-piece MV & EEMatt Valentine and Erika Elder, both credited with a whole bunch of stuff including, respectively, ‘the real deal’ and ‘was’ — are nestled into the organic techno jam of 19-minute album opener “Free Range,” their Green Ark full-length has offered lush lysergic hypnosis via an extended introductory drone. Far more records claim to go anywhere than actually do, but the funky piano of “No Money” and percussion and wah dream-disco of “Dancin’,” with an extra-fun keyboard line late, set up the 20-minute “Livin’ it Up,” in a way that feels like surefooted experimentalism; Elder and Valentine exploring these aural spaces with the confidence of those who’ve been out wandering across more than two decades’ worth of prior occasions. That is to say, “Livin’ it Up” is comfortable as it engages with its own unknown self, built up around a bass line and noodly solo over a drum machine with hand percussion accompanying, willfully repetitive like the opener in a way that seems to dig in and then dig in again. The 10-minute “Love From Outer Space” and nine-minute mellow-psych-but-for-the-keyboard-beat-hitting-you-in-the-face-and-maybe-a-bit-of-play-around-that-near-the-end “Rebirth” underscore the message that the ‘out there’ is the starting point rather than the destination for MV & EE, but that those brave enough to go will be gladly taken along.

MV & EE Blogspot

Ramble Records store


The Great Machine, Funrider

The Great Machine Funrider

Israeli trio The Great Machine — brothers Aviran Haviv (bass/vocals) and Omer Haviv (guitar/vocals) as well as drummer/vocalist Michael Izaky — find a home on Noisolution for their fifth full-length in nine years, Funrider, trading vocal duties back and forth atop songs that pare down some of the jammier ideology of 2019’s less-than-ideally-titled Greatestits, still getting spacious in side-A ender “Pocketknife” and the penultimate “Some Things Are Bound to Fail,” which is also the longest inclusion at 6:05. But the core of Funrider is in the quirk and impact of rapid-fire cuts like “Zarathustra” and “Hell & Back” at the outset, the Havivs seeming to trade vocal duties throughout to add to the variety as the rumble before the garage-rock payoff of “Day of the Living Dead” gives over to the title-track or that fuzzier take moves into “Pocketknife.” Acoustic guitar starts “Fornication Under the Consent of the King” but it becomes sprinter Europunk bombast before its two minutes are done, and with the rolling “Notorious” and grungeminded “Mountain She” ripping behind, the most unifying factor throughout Funrider is its lack of predictability. That’s no minor achievement for a band on their fifth record making a shift in their approach after a decade together, but the desert rocking “The Die” that closes with a rager snuck in amid the chug is a fitting summary of the trio’s impressive creative reach.

The Great Machine on Facebook

Noisolution store


Swanmay, Frantic Feel

Swanmay Frantic Feel

Following-up their 2017 debut, Stoner Circus, Austrian trio Swanmay offer seven songs and 35 minutes of new material with the self-issued Frantic Feel, finding their foundation in the bass work of Chris Kaderle and Niklas Lueger‘s drumming such that Patrick Àlvaro‘s ultra-fuzzed guitar has as strong a platform to dance all over as possible. Vocals in “The Art of Death” are suitably drunk-sounding (which doesn’t actually hurt it), but “Mashara” and “Cats and Snails” make a rousing opening salvo of marked tonal depth and keep-it-casual stoner saunter, soon also to be highlighted in centerpiece “Blooze.” On side B, “Stone Cold” feels decidedly more like it has its life together, and “Old Trails” tightens the reins from there in terms of structure, but while closer “Dead End” stays fuzzy and driving like the two songs before, the noise quotient is upped significantly by the time it’s done, and that brings back some of the looser swing of “Mashara” or “The Art of Death.” But when Swanmay want to be — and that’s not all the time, to their credit — they are massively heavy, and they put that to raucous use with a production that is accordingly loud and vibrant. Seems simple reading a paragraph, maybe, but the balance they strike in these songs is a difficult one, and even if it’s just for the guitar and bass tones, Frantic Feel demands an audience.

Swanmay on Facebook

Swanmay on Bandcamp


Garden of Ash, Garden of Ash

Garden of Ash self-titled

“Death will come swiftly to those who are weak,” goes the crooning verse lyric from Garden of Ash‘s “Death Valley” at the outset of the young Edmonton, Alberta, trio’s self-titled, self-released debut full-length. Bassist Kristina Hunszinger delivers the line with due severity, but the Witch Mountain-esque slow nod and everybody-dies lyrics of “A Cautionary Tale” show more of the tongue-in-cheek point of view of the lyrics. The plot thickens — or at very least hits harder — when the self-recorded outing’s metallic production style is considered. In the drums of Levon Vokins — who also provides backing vocals as heard on “Roses” and elsewhere — the (re-amped) guitar of Zach Houle and even in the mostly-sans-effects presentation of Hunszinger‘s vocals as well as their placement at the forefront of the mix, it’s heavy metal more than heavy rock, but as Vokins takes lead vocals in “World on Fire” with Hunszinger joining for the chorus, the riff is pure boogie and the earlier “Amnesia” fosters doomly swing, so what may in the longer term be a question of perspective is yet unanswered in terms of are they making the sounds they want to and pushing into trad metal genre tenets, or is it just a matter of getting their feet under them as a new band? I don’t know, but songs and performance are both there, so this first full-length does its job in giving Garden of Ash something from which to move forward while serving notice to those with ears to hear them. Either way, the bonus track “Into the Void” is especially notable for not being a Black Sabbath cover, and by the time they get there, that’s not at all the first surprise to be had.

Garden of Ash on Facebook

Garden of Ash on Bandcamp


Tidal, The Bends

Tidal The Bends

Checking in at one second less and 15 minutes flat, “The Bends” is the first release from Milwaukee-based three-piece Tidal, and it’s almost immediately expansive. With shades of El Paraiso-style jazz psych, manipulated samples and hypnotic drone at its outset, the first two minutes build into a wash with mellow keys/guitar effects (whatever, it sounds more like sax and they’re all credited with ‘noise,’ so I’m doing my best here) and it’s not until Sam Wallman‘s guitar steps forward out of the ambience surrounding at nearly four minutes deep that Alvin Vega‘s drums make their presence known. Completed by Max Muenchow‘s bass, which righteously holds the core while Wallman airs out, the roll is languid and more patient than one would expect for a first-release jam, but there’s a pickup and Tidal do get raucous as “The Bends” moves into its midsection, scorching for a bit until they quiet down again, only to reemerge at 11:10 from the ether of their own making with a clearheaded procession to carry them through the crescendo and to the letting-go-now drift of echo that caps. I hear tell they’ve got like an hour and a half of this stuff recorded and they’re going to release them one by one. They picked an intriguing one to start with as the layers of drone and noise help fill out the otherwise empty space in the instrumental jam without being overwrought or sacrificing the spontaneous nature of the track. Encouraging start. Will be ready when the next jam hits.

Tidal on Instagram

Tidal on Bandcamp


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Quarterly Review: Rotor, Seer of the Void, Moodoom, Altered States, Giöbia, Astral Hand, Golden Bats, Zeup, Giant Sleep, Green Yeti

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Oh hi, I’m pretending I didn’t see you there. Today the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review hits and — if Apollo is willing — passes the halfway point en route to 70 total records to be covered by the end of next Tuesday. Then there’s another 50 at least to come next month, so I don’t know what ‘quarter’ that’s gonna be but I don’t really have another name for this kind of roundup just sitting in my back pocket, so if we have to fudge one or expand Spring in such a way, I sincerely doubt anyone but me actually cares that it’s a little weird this time through. And I’m not even sure I care, to be honest. Surely “notice” would be a better word.

Either way, thanks for reading. Hope you’ve found something cool thus far and hope you find more today. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Rotor, Sieben

rotor 7

Seven full-lengths and a quarter-century later, it’s nigh on impossible to argue with Berlin instrumentalists Rotor. Sieben — or simply 7, depending on where you look — is their latest offering, and in addition to embracing heavy psychedelia with enough tonal warmth on “Aller Tage Abend” to remind that they’re contemporaries to Colour Haze, the seven-song/38-minute LP has room for the jazzy classic prog flashes of “Mäander” later on and the more straight-ahead fuzzy crunch of “Reibach,” which opens, and the contrast offered by the acoustic guitar and friendly roll that emerges on the closing title-track. Dug into the groove and Euro-size XXL (that’s XL to Americans) riffing of “Kahlschlag,” there’s never a doubt that it’s Rotor you’re hearing, and the same is true of “Aller Tage Abend,” the easy-nodding second half and desert-style chop of “Schabracke,” and everything else; the simple fact is that Rotor these 25 years on can be and in fact are all of these things and more besides while also being a band who have absolutely nothing to prove. Sieben celebrates their progression, the riffs at their roots, the old and new in their makeup and the mastery with which they’ve made the notion of ‘instrumental heavy rock’ so much their own. It’s a lesson gladly learned again, and 2023 is a better year with Sieben in it.

Rotor on Facebook

Noisolution website


Seer of the Void, Mantra Monolith

Seer of the Void Mantra Monolith

Athens-based sludge-and-then-some rockers Seer of the Void follow their successful 2020 debut, Revenant, with the more expansive Mantra Monolith, enacting growth on multiple levels, be it the production and general largesse of their sound, the songs becoming a bit longer (on average) or the ability to shift tempos smoothly between “Electric Father” and “Death is My Name” without giving up either momentum or the attitude as emphasized in the gritty vocals of bassist Greg “Maddog” Konstantaras. Side B’s “Demon’s Hand” offers a standout moment of greater intensity, but Seer of the Void are hardly staid elsewhere, whether it’s the swinging verse of “Hex” that emerges from the massive intro, or the punkish vibe underscoring the nonetheless-metal head-down chug in the eponymous “Seer of the Void.” They cap with a clearheaded fuzzy solo in “Necromancer,” seeming to answer the earlier “Seventh Son,” and thereby highlight the diversity manifest from their evolution in progress, but if one enjoyed the rougher shoves of Revenant (or didn’t; prior experience isn’t a barrier to entry), there remains plenty of that kind of tonal and rhythmic physicality in Mantra Monolith.

Seer of the Void on Facebook

Venerate Industries on Bandcamp


Moodoom, Desde el Bosque

Moodoom Desde el Bosque

Organic roots doom from the trio Moodoom — guitarist/vocalist Cristian Marchesi, bassist/vocalist Jonathan Callejas and drummer Javier Cervetti — captured en vivo in the band’s native Buenos Aires, Desde el Bosque is the trio’s second LP and is comprised of five gorgeous tracks of Sabbath-worshiping heavy blues boogie, marked by standout performances from Marchesi and Callejas often together on vocals, and the sleek Iommic riffing that accounts as well for the solos layered across channels in the penultimate “Nadie Bajará,” which is just three minutes long but speaks volumes on what the band are all about, which is keep-it-casual mellow-mover heavy, the six-minute titular opening/longest track (immediate points) swaggering to its own swing as meted out by Cervetti with a proto-doomly slowdown right in the middle before the lightly-funked solo comes in, and the finale “Las Maravillas de Estar Loco” (‘the wonders of being crazy,’ in English) rides the line between heavy rock and doom with no less grace, introducing a line of organ or maybe guitar effects along with the flawless groove proffered by Callejas and Cervetti. It’s only 23 minutes long, but definitely an album, and exactly the way a classic-style power trio is supposed to work. Gorgeously done, and near-infinite in its listenability.

Moodoom on Facebook

Moodoom on Bandcamp


Altered States, Survival


The second release and debut full-length from New Jersey-based trio Altered States runs seven tracks and 34 minutes and finds individualism in running a thread through influences from doom and heavy rock, elder hardcore and metal, resulting in the synth-laced stylistic intangibility of “A Murder of Crows” on side A and the smoothly-delivered proportion of riff in the eponymous “Altered States” later on, bassist Zack Kurland (Green Dragon, ex-Sweet Diesel, etc.) taking over lead vocals in the verse to let guitarist/synthesist Ryan Lipynsky (Unearthly Trance, Serpentine Path, The Howling Wind, etc.) take the chorus, while drummer Chris Daly (Texas is the Reason, Resurrection, 108, etc.) punctuates the urgency in opener “The Crossing” and reinforces the nod of “Cerberus.” There’s an exploration of dynamic underway on multiple levels throughout, whether it’s the guitar and keys each feeling out their space in the mix, or the guitar and bass, vocal arrangements, and so on, but with the atmospheric centerpiece “Hurt” — plus that fuzz right around the 2:30 mark before the build around the album’s title line — just two songs past the Motörheaded “Mycelium,” it’s clear that however in-development their sound may be, Altered States already want for nothing as regards reaching out from their doom rocking center, which is that much richer with multiple songwriters behind it.

Altered States on Facebook

Altered States on Bandcamp


Giöbia, Acid Disorder

giobia acid disorder

Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Queen of Wands” is so hypnotic you almost don’t expect its seven minutes to end, but of course they do, and Italian strange-psych whatevernauts Giöbia proceed from there to float guitar over and vocals over the crunched-down “The Sweetest Nightmare” before the breadth of “Consciousness Equals Energy” and “Screaming Souls” melds outer-rim-of-the-galaxy space prog with persistently-tripped Europsych lushness, heavy in its underpinnings but largely unrestrained by gravity or concerns for genre. Acid Disorder is the maybe-fifth long-player from the Italian cosmic rocking aural outsiders, and their willingness to dive into the unknown is writ large through the synth and organ layers and prominent strum of “Blood is Gone,” the mix itself becoming no less an instrument in the band’s collective hand than the guitar, bass, drums, vocals, etc. Ultra-fluid throughout (duh), the eight-songer tops out around 44 minutes and is an adventure for the duration, the drift of side B’s instrumental “Circo Galattico” reveling in experimentalism over a somehow-solidified rhythm while “In Line” complements in answer to “The Sweetest Nightmare” picking up from “Queen of Wands” at the outset, leaving the closing title-track on its own, which seems to fit its synth-and-sitar-laced serenity just fine. Band sounds like everything and nobody but themselves, reliably.

Giöbia on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Astral Hand, Lords of Data

Astral Hand Lords of Data

Like everything, Milwaukee heavy psychedelia purveyors Astral Hand were born out of destruction. In this case, it’s the four-piece’s former outfit Calliope that went nova, resulting in the recycling of cosmic gasses and gravitational ignition wrought in the debut album Lords of Data‘s eight songs, the re-ish-born new band benefitting from the experience of the old as evidenced by the patient unfolding of side A capper “Psychedelicide,” the defining hook in “Universe Machine” and the shove-then-drone-then-shove in “End of Man” and the immersive heft in opener “Not Alone” that brings the listener deep into the nod from the very start of the first organ notes so that by the time they’ve gone as far out as the open spaces of “Navigator” and the concluding “God Emperor,” their emergent command of the ethereal is unquestionable. They work a little shuffle into that finale, which is an engaging touch, but Lords of Data — a thoroughly modern idea — isn’t limited to that any more than it is the atmospheric grandiosity and lumber of “Crystal Gate” that launches side B. One way or the other, these dudes have been at it for more than a decade going back to the start of Calliope, but Astral Hand is a stirring refresh of purpose on their part and one hopes their lordship continues to flourish. I don’t know that they’re interested in such terrestrial concerns, but they’d be a great pickup for some discerning label.

Astral Hand on Facebook

Astral Hand on Bandcamp


Golden Bats, Scatter Yr Darkness

Golden Bats Scatter Yr Darkness

Slow-churning intensity is the order of the day on Scatter Yr Darkness, the eight-song sophomore LP from now-Italy-based solo-outfit Golden Bats, aka Geordie Stafford, who sure enough sprinkles death, rot and no shortage of darkness across the album’s 41-minute span, telling tales through metaphor in poetic lyrics of pandemic-era miseries; civic unrest and disaffection running like a needle through split skin to join the various pieces together. Echoing shouts give emphasis to the rawness of the sludge in “Holographic Stench” and “Erbgrind,” but in that eight-minute cut there’s a drop to cinematic, not-actually-minimalist-but-low-volume string sounds, and “Breathe Misery” begins with Mellotron-ish melancholy that hints toward the synth at the culmination of “A Savage Dod” and in the middle of “Malingering,” so nothing is actually so simple as the caustic surface makes it appear. Drums are programmed and the organ in “Bravo Sinkhole” and other keys may be as well, I don’t know, but as Stafford digs into Golden Bats sonically and conceptually — be it the bareknuckle “Riding in the Captain’s Skull” at the start or the raw-throated vocal echo spread over “The Gold Standard of Suffering,” which closes — the harshness of expression goes beyond the aural. It’s been a difficult few years, admittedly.

Golden Bats on Facebook

Golden Bats on Bandcamp


Zeup, Mammals

zeup mammals

Straightforward in a way that feels oldschool in speaking to turn-of-the-century era heavy rock influences — big Karma to Burn vibe in the riffs of “Hollow,” and not by any means only there — the debut album Mammals from Danish trio Zeup benefits from decades of history in metal and rock on the part of drummer Morten Barth (ex-Wasted) and bassist/producer Morten Rold (ex-Beyond Serenity), and with non-Morten guitarist Jakob Bach Kristensen (also production) sharing vocals with Rold, they bring a down-to-business sensibility to their eight component tracks that can’t be faked. That’s consistent with 2020’s Blind EP (review here) and a fitting demonstration for any who’d take it on that sometimes you don’t need anything more than the basic guitar, bass, drums, vocals when the songs are there. Sure, they take some time to explore in the seven-minute instrumental “Escape” before hitting ground again in the aptly-titled slow post-hardcore-informed closer “In Real Life,” but even that is executed with clear intention and purpose beyond jamming. I’ll go with “Rising” as a highlight, but it’s a pick-your-poison kind of record, and there’s an awful lot that’s going to sound needlessly complicated in comparison.

Zeup on Facebook

Ozium Records store


Giant Sleep, Grounded to the Sky

giant sleep grounded to the sky

Grounded to the Sky is the third LP from Germany’s Giant Sleep, and with it the band hones a deceptively complex scope drawn together in part by vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel, who earns the showcase position with rousing blues-informed performances on the otherwise Tool-ish prog metal title-track and the later-Soundgardening leadoff before it, “Silent Field.” On CD and digital, the record sprawls across nearly an hour, but the vinyl edition is somewhat tighter, leaving off “Shadow Walker” and “The Elixir” in favor of a 43-minute run that puts the 4:43 rocker “Sour Milk” in the closer position, not insubstantially changing the personality of the record. Founded by guitarist Patrick Hagmann, with Rosenmerkel in the lineup as well as guitarist/backing vocalist Tobias Glanzmann (presumably that’ll be him in the under-layer of “Siren Song”), bassist Radek Stecki and drummer Manuel Spänhauer, they sound full as a five-piece and are crisp in their production and delivery even in the atmospherically minded “Davos,” which dares some float and drift along with a political commentary and feels like it’s taking no fewer chances in doing so, and generally come across as knowing who they are as a band and what they want to do with their sound, then doing it. In fact, they sound so sure, I’m not even certain why they sent the record out for review. They very obviously know they nailed what they were going for, and yes, they did.

Giant Sleep on Facebook

Czar of Crickets Productions website


Green Yeti, Necropolitan

Green Yeti Necropolitan

It’s telling that even the CD version of Green Yeti‘s Necropolitan breaks its seven tracks down across two sides. The Athens trio of guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist Dani Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis touch on psychedelic groove in the album-intro “Syracuse” before turning over to the pure post-Kyuss rocker “Witch Dive,” which Andresakis doing an admirable John Garcia in the process, before the instrumental “Jupiter 362” builds tension for five minutes without ever exploding, instead giving out to the quiet start of side A’s finish in “Golgotha,” which likewise builds but turns to harsher sludge rock topped by shouts and screams in the midsection en route to an outright cacophonous second half. That unexpected turn — really, the series of them — makes it such that as the bass-swinging “Dirty Lung” starts its rollout on side B, you don’t know what’s coming. The answer is half-Sleepy ultra-burl, but still. “Kerosene” stretches out the desert vibe somewhat, but holds a nasty edge to it, and the nine-minute “One More Bite,” which closes the record, has a central nod but feels at any moment like it might swap it for further assault. Does it? It’s worth listening to the record front to back to find out. Hail Greek heavy, and Green Yeti‘s willingness to pluck from microgenre at will is a good reason why.

Green Yeti on Facebook

Green Yeti on Bandcamp


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Quarterly Review: Signo Rojo, Tribunal, Bong Corleone, Old Spirit, Los Acidos, JAGGU, Falling Floors, Warp, Halo Noose, Dope Skum

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to day three of the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review. Traditionally, this is where the halfway point is hit, like that spot on the wall in the Lincoln Tunnel where it says New York on the one side and New Jersey on the other. That’s not the case today — though it still applies as far as this week goes — since this particular QR runs seven days, but one way or the other, I’m glad you’re here. There’s been an absolutely overwhelming amount of stuff so far and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, so don’t let me keep you, except maybe to say that if you’re actually reading as well as browsing Bandcamp (or whoever) players, it is appreciated. Thanks for reading, to put it another way.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Signo Rojo, There Was a Hole Here

signo rojo there was a hole here

As lead/longest track — yes, immediate points — “Enough Rope” shifts between modern semi-melodic heavy burl post-Baroness to acoustic-tinged flourish to rolling shout-topped post-hardcore on the way back to its soaring chorus, yes, it’s fair to say Sweden’s Signo Rojo establish a broad swath of sounds on their third full-length, There Was a Hole Here. Later they grow more massive and twisting on “What Love is There,” while “Also-Ran” finds the bass managing to punch through the wall of guitar around it (not complaining) and the concluding “BotFly” lets its lead guitar soar over a crescendo that’s almost post-metal, so they want nothing for variety, but whether it’s “The World Inside” with its progressive chug or the more swaying title-track, the songs are united by tone in the guitars of Elias Mellberg and Ola Bäckström, the shouty vocals of bassist Jonas Nilsson adding aggressive edge, and the drums of Pontus Svensson reinforcing the underlying structures and movements. Self-recorded, mixed by Johan Blomström and mastered by Jack Endino for name-brand recognition, There Was a Hole Here is angles and thrown-elbows, but not disjointed. Tumultuous, they power through and find themselves unbruised while having left a few behind them.

Signo Rojo on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store


Tribunal, The Weight of Remembrance

Tribunal The Weight Of Remembrance

Stunning first album. Vancouver’s Tribunal — the core duo of cellist/bassist/vocalist Soren Mourne and guitarist/vocalist Etienne Flinn, working on their first record, The Weight of Remembrance, with Julia Geaman on drums on the seven-song/47-minute sprawl of bleak, goth-informed death-doom — resound with purpose between the atmosphere and the dramaturge of their material. “Apathy’s Keep” (Magdalena Wienski on additional drums) alone would tell you they’re a band with a keen sense of what they want to accomplish stylistically, but the patience in execution necessary from the My Dying Bride-esque back and forth shifts between harsh and clean vocals on opener “Initiation” to the grim, full-toned breadth of the 12-minute finale “The Path,” on which Mourne‘s severity reminds of Finland’s Mansion, and yes that’s a compliment, while Flinn finds new depths from which to gurgle out his harsh screaming. The semi-titular piano interlude “Remembrance” is well-placed at the end of side A to make one nostalgic for some lost romance that never happened, and the stop-chug of “A World Beyond Shadow” seem to speak to SubRosa‘s declarative majesty as well as the more extreme spirit of Paradise Lost circa ’91-’92, Tribunal crossing eras and intentions with an organic meld that hints there and in “Without Answer” or the airy cello of “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbled Stone” earlier at even grander and perhaps more orchestral things to come while serving as one of 2023’s best debuts in the interim. Like finding your great grandmother’s wedding dress, picking it up out of the box and having the dried-out fabric and lace crumble in your hands. Sad and necessary.

Tribunal on Facebook

20 Buck Spin website


Bong Corleone, Bong Corleone

Bong Corleone Bong Corleone

From whence came Finland’s Bong Corleone? Well, from Finland, I guess, but that hardly answers the question on planetary terms. Information is sparse and social media presence is nil from the psychedelic-stoner-doom explorers, who string synth lines through four mostly-extended pieces on this self-titled, self-released, seemingly self-actualized argument for dropping out of life and you know the rest. Second cut “Gathering” (8:34) sees lead guitar step in for where vocals might otherwise be, but there and in the prior leadoff “Chemical Messenger” (9:15), synthesizer plays a prominent role that’s been compared rightly to Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, though “Gathering” departs in for a midsection meander-jam that lets itself have and be more fun before crashing back around to the roll. As it invariably would, “Astrovan” (6:18) shoves faster, but the synth stays overtop along with some floating guitar, and the sense of control remains strong even in the second half’s splurge and slowdown, shifting with ambient drone and residual amp hum into 11-minute closer “Offering,” which rounds out with a sample, what might be a bong rip, and a density of fuzz that apparently Bong Corleone have been keeping in their collective pocket all the while, crushing and stomping before turning to more progressive exploration later. It’s a substantial enough release at 35 minutes that the band might — like MWWB before them — regret the silly name, but even if they never follow it with anything, the immersion factor in these four songs shouldn’t be discounted. May they (if in fact it’s more than one person) never reveal a lineup.

Bong Corleone on Bandcamp


Old Spirit, Burning in Heaven

Old Spirit Burning in Heaven

This second full-length from Wisconsin-based solo-project Old Spirit — formed and executed at the behest of Jason Hartman (Vanishing Kids, sometimes Jex Thoth) — Burning in Heaven feels at home in contradictions, whether it’s the image provoked by the title or in the songs themselves, be it the CelticFrost-on-MonsterMagnet‘s-pills “Dim Aura” or the electro Queens of the Stone Age shuffle in “Ash,” or the Candlemass-meets-Chrome succession of “Fallacy,” or the keyboard and guitar interlude “When the Spirit Slips Away.” The title-track opens and has an oldschool ripper solo late, but there’s so much going on at any given moment that it’s one more element thrown in the mix as much as a precursor to the later reaches of “Angel Blood” — a Slayer nod, or two, perhaps? — which precedes the emergent wash of “Bleak Chapel” and the devolution undertaken from song to drone that gives over to closer “In Dismay,” which seems all set in its garage-goth doom rollout until the tempo kick brings it and the record to a place of duly dug-in progressive psych-metal oddness. Fitting end to a record clearly meant to go wherever the hell it wants and on which the rawness of the production becomes a uniting factor across otherwise willfully disparate material, skirting the danger that it all might collapse on itself while proselytizing individualist fuckall; Luciferian without being outright Satanic.

Old Spirit on Bandcamp

Bright as Night Records on Facebook


Los Acidos, Stereolalo

Los Acidos Stereolalo

Argentina’s Los Acidos return after reissuing 2016’s self-titled debut (review here) in 2020 through Necio Records with Stereolalo, putting emphasis on welcoming listeners from the outset with the opening title-track and “Ascensor,” which are the two longest cuts on the record (double points) and function as world-builders in terms of establishing the acoustic/electric blend and melodic flourish with which much of the 50-minute outing functions. Like everything, the blend is molten and malleable, as shorter pieces like “Atardecer” or side B’s build-to-boogie “Madre” and the keyboard-backed psych-funk verses of “Atenas” show, and they resist the temptation to really blow it out as they otherwise might even in those first two tracks; the church organ seeming to keep the penultimate “Interior” in line before “Buscando el Mar” calls out ’60s psych on guitar with a slow-careening progression from whatever kind of keyboard that is, ending almost folkish, having said what they want to say in the way they want to say it. Light in atmosphere, there nonetheless are deceptive depths from which the songs seem to swim upward.

Los Acidos on Facebook

Los Acidos on Bandcamp


JAGGU, Rites for the Damned

jaggu rites for the damned

Rites for the Damned offers the kind of aesthetic sprawl that can only be summarized in vague catchall tags like ‘progressive,’ with the adventurous and ambitious Norwegian outfit JAGGU threatening extremity on “Carnage” at the beginning of the eight-song/40-minute LP while instead taking the angularity and thrust and through “Earth Murder” fostering an element of noise rock that feeds its aggression into “Mindgap” before the six-minutes-each pair of “Electric Blood” and “Lenina Ave.” further reveal the breadth, hooks permeating the amalgam of heavy styles being bent and reshaped to suit the band’s expressive will, the latter building from acoustic-inclusive post-metallic balladry into a solo that seems to spread far and wide as it draws the listener deeper into side B’s reaches, the dizzying start of “Enthralled,” post-black-metal-but-still-metal “Marching Stride” — more of a run, actually — and the prog-thrash finale “God to be Through” that caps not to bring it all together, but to celebrate the variations encountered along the course and highlight the skill with which JAGGU have been guiding the proceedings all along, unsettled in their approach on this second record in such a way as to speak to perpetual growth rather than their being the kind of band who’ll find a niche and stagnate.

JAGGU on Facebook

Evil Noise Recordings store


Falling Floors, Falling Floors

Falling Floors self-titled

Escapist and jam-based-but-not-just-jamming psychedelia pervades the self-titled debut from UK trio Falling Floors, who add variety amid the already-varied krautrock in the later reaches of opener “Infinite Switch,” the lockdown slog of “Flawed Theme,” the tambourine-infused hard strums of “Ridiculous Man” and the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Elusive and Unstable Nature of Truth,” which is organ-inclusive bombast early and drone later, with three numbered interludes, furthering the notion of these works being carved out of experiments. A malleable songwriting process and a raw, seemingly live recording make Falling Floors‘ seven-song run come across as formative, but the rougher edges are part of the aesthetic, and ultimately bolster the overarching impression that the band — guitarist/vocalist Rob Herian, bassist/organist Harry Wheeler and drummer/percussionist Colin Greenwood — can and just might go wherever the hell they want. And they do, in that extended finisher and elsewhere throughout, capturing an exploratory moment of creation in willfully unrefined fashion, loose but not unhinged and seemingly as curious in the making as in the result. I don’t know that a band can do this kind of adventuring twice — invariably any second album is informed by the experience of making the first — but Falling Floors make a resounding argument for wanting to find out in these shared discoveries.

Falling Floors on Instagram

Riot Season Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp


Warp, Bound by Gravity

Warp Bound by Gravity

Spacing out from a fuzzy foundation like Earthless taking on The Sword — with a bit of Tool in the second-half leads of eight-minute second track “The Hunger” — Israeli trio Warp make their Nasoni Records label debut with their sophomore full-length, Bound by Gravity, putting due languid slog into “Your Fascist Pigs are Back” while finding stonerized salvation in “Dirigibles” ahead of the more melodic and more doomed title-track, which Sabbath-blues-boogies right into its shout-topped sludge slowdown before the bounce and swing of “Impeachment Abdication” readily counteracts. “The Present” unfolds with hints of Melvins while “Head of the Eye” rides a linear groove into a winding midsection that resolves in a standout chorus and capper “I Don’t Want to Be Remembered” is a vocal highlight — guitarist Itai Alzaradel, bassist Sefi Akrish and drummer Mor Harpazi all contribute in that regard at some juncture or another — and a reaffirmation of the gonna-roll-until-we-don’t mindset on the part of the band, ending cold after shifting into a faster chug like the song’s about to take off again. That’d be a hell of a way to start their next record and we’ll see if they get there. Pointedly of-genre, Warp bring exploratory craft to a foundation of tonal heft and ask few indulgences on the listener’s part. Big fuzz gonna make some friends among the converted.

Warp on Facebook

Nasoni Records store


Halo Noose, Magical Flight

halo noose magical flight

Leading off with its spacebound title-track, Halo Noose‘s debut album, Magical Flight, finds the Scottish solo-outfit plumbing the outer reaches of fuzz-drenched acid rock, coming through like an actually-produced version of Monster Magnet‘s demo era in its roughed-up Hawkwind-via-Stooges pastiche, “Cinnamon Garden” edging toward Eastern idolatry without going full-sitar while “Fire” engages with a stretched-out feel over its slow, maybe-programmed drums and centerpiece “When You Feel it Babe” tops near-motorik push with watery vocals like a less punk Nebula or some of what Black Rainbows might conjure. “Kaliedoscopica” is based largely around a single riff and it’s a masterclass in wah at its 4:20 runtime, leading into the last outward leaps of “Rollercoasting Your Mind” and the forward-and-backwards “Slow Motion” which isn’t actually much slower than anything else here and thus reminds that time is a construct easily subverted by lysergics, fading out with surprising gentleness to return the listener to a crueler reality after a consuming half-hour’s escape. Right on.

Halo Noose on Facebook

Ramble Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

The Acid Test Recordings store


Dope Skum, Gutter South

Dope Skum Gutter South

If you’d look at the name and the fact that the trio hail from Tennessee and think you’re probably in for some caustic Southern sludge, you’re part right. Dope Skum on their second EP, the 17-minute Gutter South, embrace the tonal heft and chugging approach of the harder end of sludge riffing, but rather than weedian throatrippers, a cleaner vocal style pervades from guitarist Cody Landress-Gibson across opener “Folk Magic,” the banjo-laced “Interlude,” “Feast of Snakes,” “Belly Lint” and the punkier-until-its-slowdown finish of “The Cycle,” and the difference between a shout and a scream is considerable in the impressions made throughout. Bassist Todd Garrett and drummer Scott Keil complete the three-piece and together they harness a feel that’s true to that nasty aural history while branching into something different therefrom, genuinely sounding like a new generation’s interpretation of what Southern heavy was 15-20 years ago. More over, they would seem to be conscious of doing it. Their first EP, 2021’s Tanasi, was more barebones in its production, and there’s still development to be done, but it will be interesting to hear how they manifest across a first long-player when the time comes, as Gutter South underscores potential in its songwriting and persona as well as defiance of aesthetic expectation.

Dope Skum on Facebook

Dope Skum on Bandcamp


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Bongzilla Post “Hippie Stick”; Dab City Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

If you’re seeing this, you already probably know the deal. Bongzilla, the Wisconsin-based kingpins of crusty delta 9 riffing, are releasing their new album, Dab City, on June 2 through Heavy Psych Sounds, and to coincide with the launch of preorders today, they’re streaming the first single from the record, “Hippie Stick.” As you can see in the quote from the band below, it’s about a very potent joint. Does this joint exist? Is it the kind of gift you might get? Probably if you’re Bongzilla.

The rest of us, seems less likely, which is perhaps for the best since with hash, wax and flower, oil-dipped and keef-coated, it’d probably melt most brains not built up to it tolerance-wise. The omega joint — unless that’s something else even more weeded out. Universe of infinite possibilities and all that.

The song’s a roller, the album is verifiably Bongzilla. Like, it should come with a QR code you can scan to see lab results about the cannabinoid contents, various percentages of this and that so you can pretend to be a scientist while you get high. Not saying it’s not fun, not saying I’ve never done it, but am saying it is pretend.

But Dab City is real, grown with care, and, like the joint that inspired “Hippie Stick,” it’s also got flower inside, if only figuratively-speaking. Bongzilla are on the road most of this year (dates so far confirmed are here), and the rest of the info I’ve got at this point follows here, as per the PR wire:

Bongzilla Dab City

Heavy Psych Sounds Records&Booking is really proud to start the presale of a NEW ALBUM *** BONGZILLA – Dab City ***

– new album of the Weedsconsin bong riffers –

Today we are stoked to start the presale of the Weedsconsin bong riffers BONGZILLA new album DAB CITY !!!





“This song’s about being gifted a SUPER strong joint. It’s got hash, wax, and Flower on the inside. Dipped in THC oil and covered with keef. The lyrics tell the tail!!

Dab City is an ode to the purest form of THC and our beloved hometown of Madison Wisconsin, which is known as Mad City. A political and social hot bed and lightning rod for our state and the Midwest since the 1960’s, Madison is also home to a large University with one of the best agronomy departments in the country and not surprisingly the focal point for some of the finest cannabis our country has to offer (Muleboy has not seen pot with seeds in it since arriving in 1993!). Although not legal, possession is basically ignored and punished with a nominal $1 fine for under 128 grams.

For the recording of Dab City we procured 10 g plus of the finest concentrates we could lay our hands on and somewhere north of 120 g of cannabis flower. And recorded it on 2-in analog tape over two sessions at Future apple tree Studio in Rock Island Illinois. Fall 2022 session is known as the Harvest Sessions and the February of 2023 session is known as the Propagation Sessions. The record is our 2nd as a three piece and our second full length release for our label Heavy Psych Sounds and continues our journey into ultra stoned sludgey psychedelia.

Dab City is 100% recorded on Tape, and is composed by 7 songs with a running time of almost 60 minutes of brand new Stoned Sludge Heavy Doomy Riffs.”



1. Dab City
2. King of Weed
3. Cannonbongs (the ballad of Burnt Reynolds as lamented by Gentleman Dixie Dave Collins)
4. C.A.R.T.S
5. Hippie Stick
6. Diamonds and Flower
7. American Pot


Side A
Dab City
King of Weed

Side B
Cannonbongs( the ballad of Burnt Reynolds as lamented by Gentleman Dixie Dave Collins)
Hippie Stick

DOUBLE GATEFOLD VINYL (with alternative cover+lyrics/pics+2 bonus tracks)

Dab City
King of Weed

Cannonbongs (The ballad of Burnt Reynolds as lamented by Gentleman Dixie Dave Collins)

Hippie Stick
Diamonds and Flower

American Pot

DOUBLE GATEFOLD VINYL (alternative purple cover+lyrics/pics+2 bonus tracks)

Mike “Muleboy” Makela – bass/vocals
Jeff “Spanky” Schultz – guitars
Mike “Magma” Henry – drums

Bongzilla, “Hippie Stick”

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