Return of the Riff UK Live Show Series Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

return-of-the-riff-banner

Hey kid, you like live shows? Think you can get behind a three-day/20-band extravanganza spread out over a couple weeks in Bristol? Fucking a right you can. Snuff Lane presents the aptly-named Return of the Riff show series, with three nights of killer UK-native acts doing what they do in celebration of reemerging from out of the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. My understanding is the UK is getting ready to completely open up, so hey, these shows might even happen. Pretty rad. And so are the lineups.

You can see below the headliners respectively are Desert Storm, Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs and Slabdragger — all worthy — but note too the inclusion of Desert Storm offshoot Wall, as well as Sigiriya and Ritual King, Cybernetic Witch Cult (who have a new lineup) and perennial favorites Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters. Wren and Trevor’s Head and Ten Foot Wizard and Old Man Lizard on back-to-back nights? I won’t get to see any of it, but hell’s bells I’m glad it exists.

Info follows here, courtesy of the PR wire. If you make it to Bristol, enjoy:

return of the riff Series Poster

Return of the Riff – Bristol, July-August ‘21

To celebrate the return of live music within England, we are uncontrollably excited to have teamed up with The Crofters Rights, Bristol to host ‘Return of the Riff’.

Three events with heavily stacked line-ups, offering rare performances with some of the UK’s finest Riffslingers within an intimate setting. We are excited to finally unveil the full line-up; now boasting 20 artists, across 3-days.

Sunday 25th July now hosts Brighton born post-hardcore, sludgy post-rockers Earth Moves, (formed of members from We Never Learned To Live, Grappler, and Cloud Boat).

Sadly, due to the drummer breaking his leg, 1968 have had to withdraw from Saturday 8th July’s RotR. They are now replaced by both Bristol-based three-piece psychedelic post-rockers Mammoth Toe, and stonerpunks from the sewers of Surrey, Trevor’s Head.

20-Bands / 3-Days / 1-Venue / Whole Lotta Riff
The Crofters Rights, Bristol

Sunday 25th July ’21 ~ 16:00 – 23:30
Desert Storm + Gurt + Monolithian + Cybernetic Witch Cult + Sail Band + Earth Moves + Wall

Saturday 7th August ’21 ~ 16:00 – 22:30
Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs + Sigiriya + Ritual King + Suns of Thunder + Trevor’s Head + Mammoth Toe

Sunday 8th August ’21 ~ 16:00 – 23:30
Slabdragger + Ten Foot Wizard + Wren + Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters + Old Man Lizard + Made of Teeth + The Malefic Grip

More Info/RSVP: https://bit.ly/3A3iOor
Tickets: http://hdfst.uk/return-of-the-riff

Bundle option is available when purchasing from any event. Limited bundle tickets remaining.

Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs, “Garden” Live in Norwich, UK, March 2020

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Quarterly Review: Celestial Season, Wren, Sumokem, Oginalii, Völur, Wedge, SpellBook, Old Blood, Jahbulong, Heavy Trip

Posted in Reviews on December 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

The end of the week for the Quarterly Review is a special time, even if this particular QR will continue into next Monday and Tuesday. Also apparently today is Xmas? Okay. Whatever, I’ve got writing to do. I hope you’re safe and not, say, traveling out of state to see family against the urging of the CDC. That would be incredibly irresponsible, etc. etc. that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me started.

However you celebrate or don’t, be safe. Music will help.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings

celestial season the secret teachings

Like many of the original death-doom set, Dutch masters Celestial Season gave up the style during their original run, departing toward heavy rock after 1995’s Solar Lovers. At an hour’s run spread across 13 tracks including ambient guitar and violin/cello interludes, The Secret Teachings has no time for such flighty fare. Reunited with original vocalist Stefan Ruiters and bassist Lucas van Slegtenhorst, the band return in grand fashion for their first full-length in 20 years, and songs like “Long Forlorn Tears” and “Salt of the Earth” conjure all the expert-grade morose plod one could possibly ask, as each side of the 2LP begins with its own intro and sets its own mood, from the almost-hopeful wistfulness of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” at the start to the birdsong-laced “Beneath the Temple Mount” that leads the way into “A Veil of Silence” and “Red Water” at the finish, the latter a Type O Negative cover that fits well after the crescendo of the song before it.

Celestial Season on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Wren, Groundswells

wren groundswells

The gift Wren make to post-metal is that even in their quietest stretches, they maintain tension. And sure, the Londoners’ second LP, Groundswells — also stylized all-caps: GROUNDSWELLS — has in “Murmur” its “Stones From the Sky” moment as all works of the genre seemingly must, but the six-cut/44-minute follow-up to 2017’s Auburn Rule (discussed here) casts a scope less about pretense or ambition than largesse and heft, and that serves it well, be it in the shorter “Crossed Out Species” or longer pieces like the opener “Chrome” and the penultimate “Subterranean Messiah,” which injects some melodic vocals into the proceedings and airy string-inclusive prog amid all the surrounding crush. All well and good, but it’s hard to deny the sheer assault of the doomed apex in closer “The Throes,” and you’ll pardon me if I don’t try. Ambience through volume, catharsis through volume, volume all things.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Gizeh Records website

 

Sumokem, Prajnaparadha

sumokem prajnaparadha

With strength of performance to fall back on and progressive realization in their songwriting, Little Rock, Arkansas’ Sumokem would seem to come of age on their third long-player, Prajnaparadha, answering the flourish of 2017’s The Guardian of Yosemite (discussed here) with an even more confident stylistic sprawl and an abiding patience that extends even to the album’s most intense moments. Not at all a minor undertaking in dynamic or its run of five long songs following the intro “Prologue,” Prajnaparadha manages not to be dizzying mostly because of the grace with which it’s crafted, tied together by ace guitar work and a propensity for soaring in order to complement and sometimes willfully contrast the tonal weight. When the growls show up in “Fakir” and carry into “Khizer,” Sumokem seem to push the record to its final level, and making that journey with them is richly satisfying.

Sumokem on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Oginalii, Pendulum

Oginalii Pendulum

Psychedelia comes poison-tipped with brooding post-grunge atmospheres as Oginalii‘s Pendulum swings this way and that between “Scapegoat” and “Black Hole” and “Pillars” and “Veils” across its too short 24 minutes. The Nashvillainous four-piece explore an inner darkness perfect for these long months of forced-introspection, and though calling something pandemic-appropriate has become a tired compliment to give, the underlying rhythmic restlessness of “Scapegoat” and the crying out overtop, the fuzzy burst of “Veils” and the interweaving drums and guitar noise behind the recited semi-sung poetry of “Pillars” serve the soundtrack cause nonetheless, to say nothing of the two-minute minimalist echoing stretch of “Black Hole” or the oh-okay-it’s-indie-post-rock-but-oh-wait-what-the-hell-now-it’s-furious closer “Stripped the Screw.” Anger suits Oginalii as it comes through here, not in tired chestbeating but in spacious craft that manages to sound intense even in its languid reach. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods on Bandcamp

 

Völur, Death Cult

Völur death cult

Toronto’s Völur offer their third album, Death Cult, in cooperation with Prophecy Productions, and it comes in four string-laced tracks that waste little time in pushing genre limits, bringing folk influences in among doom, blackened metallurgy and more ethereal touches. Arrangements of violin, viola, cello, double-bass, keys, and the shared vocals of Laura Bates and Lucas Gadke (the latter also of Blood Ceremony) give a suitably arthouse feel to the proceedings rounded out by the drums and percussion of Justin Ruppel, and it’s far from unearned as the four songs play out across 37 minutes, “Dead Moon” veering into lumbering death-doom in its apex ahead of the jazz-into-choral-into-drone-into-freer-jazz-into-progressive-black-metal of the 11-minute “Freyjan Death Cult,” subsequent closer “Reverend Queen” leaving behind the chaos in its last few minutes for an epilogue of mournful strings and drums; a dirge both unrepentantly beautiful and still in keeping with the atmospheric weight throughout. Bands like this — rare — make other bands better.

Volur on Thee Facebooks

Volur at Prophecy Productions

 

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow

wedge like no tomorrow

Bursting with enough energy to make one miss live music, Wedge‘s third album, Like No Tomorrow, transcends vintage-ism in its production if not its overall mindset, bringing clarity to Deep Purple organ-tics on opener “Computer” while keeping the lyrics purposefully modern. Bass leads the way in “Playing a Role” and the spirit is boogie fuzz until the jam hits and, yeah, they make it easy to go along for the ride. “Blood Red Wine” has arena-rock melody down pat while centerpiece and likely side A closer “Across the Water” at last lets itself go to that place, following the guitar until the surge that brings in “Queen of the Night” indulges purer proto-metal impulses, still accomplished in its harmonized chorus amid the charge. Is that the guitar solo in “U’n’I” panning left to right I hear? I certainly hope so. The shortest cut on Like No Tomorrow feels like it’s in a hurry to leave behind a verse, and sets up the surprisingly modestly paced “At the Speed of Life,” which is lent a cinematic feel by the organ and layered choral vocals that bolsters yet another strong hook, while the nine-minute “Soldier” is bluesier but still sounds like it could be the live incarnation of any of these tracks depending on where a given jam takes Wedge on any given night. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Wedge on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

SpellBook, Magick and Mischief

SpellBook Magick and Mischief

About a year and a half after issuing Otherworldly (review here), their third album under the moniker Witch Hazel, the dukes of York, PA, are back with a new name and a refreshed sound. As SpellBook, vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn push through two vinyl sides of classic heavy f’n metal, less concerned with doom than they were but still saving a bit of roll for the longer centerpiece “Not Long for This World” and the airy, dramatic closer “Dead Detectives.” Elsewhere, “Black Shadow” brings a horns-at-the-ready chorus, “Motorcade” reminds that the power of Judas Priest was always in the basslines (that’s right, I said it), and “Ominous Skies” brims with the vitality of the new band that SpellBook are, even as it benefits from the confidence born of these players’ prior experience together.

SpellBook on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Old Blood, Acid Doom

old blood acid doom

Kudos to L.A.’s Old Blood for at least making the classification part easy when it comes to their debut album, conveniently titled Acid Doom, though that category hardly accounts for, say, the piano stretch of second cut “Bridge to Nowhere,” or the heavy rock theatricality in “Heavy Water” or the horn sounds of “Slothgod” a few songs later, but I suppose one has to start somewhere, and ‘acid doom’ is fair enough when it comes to accounting for the sleekery in the vocals of Lynx, the weight of the riffs of C. Gunner, the roll of bassist Octopus and drummer Diesel and the classic-style organ work of J.F. Stone. But if Old Blood want to unfurl something deceptively complex and stylistically intricate on their debut, that’s certainly cool as far as I’m concerned. Production is a strong presence throughout in a way that pulls a bit from what the impact of the songs might be on stage (remember stages?), but the songwriting is there, and Lynx‘s voice is a noteworthy presence of its own. I’m not sure where they’ll end up sound-wise, but at the same time, Acid Doom comes across like nothing else in the batch of 70 records I’m doing for this Quarterly Review, and that in itself I find admirable.

Old Blood on Thee Facebooks

Metal Assault Records on Bandcamp

DHU Records webstore

 

Jahbulong, Eclectic Poison Tones

JAHBULONG ECLECTIC POISON TONES

Just because you know the big riff is going to kick in about a minute into opening track “Under the Influence of the Fool” on Jahbulong‘s tarot-inflected stoner doom four-songer Eclectic Poison Tones doesn’t make it any less satisfying when it happens. The deep-rolling three-piece from Verona make their full-length debut with the 45-minute offering through Go Down Records, and the lurching continues in “The Tower of the Broken Bones” and “The Eclipse of the Empress,” which is the only cut under 10 minutes long but still keeps the slow-motion Sabbath rolling into the 15-minute closer “The Eremite Tired Out (Sweed Dreams)” (sic), which plays off some loud/quiet changes fluidly without interrupting the nod that’s so central to the entirety of the album. Look. These guys know the gods they’re worshiping — Sleep, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard maybe, etc. — and they’re not trying to get away with saying they invented any of this. If you can’t get down with 45 minutes of slower-than-slow grooves, maybe you’re in the wrong microgenre. For me, it’s the lack of pretense that makes it.

Jahbulong on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip

heavy trip heavy trip

Heavy Trip. Four songs. Two sides. Three dudes. Instrumental. Accurately named. Yeah, you’ve heard this story before, but screw it. They start out nice and spacious on “Hand of Shroom” and they finish with high-speed boogie in the 13-minute “Treespinner,” and all in between Heavy Trip make it nothing less than a joy to go along wherever it is they’re headed. The Vancouver three-piece make earlier Earthless something of an elephant in the room as regards influences, but the unhurried groove in second cut “Lunar Throne” is a distinguishing factor, and even as “Mind Leaf” incorporates a bit more shove, it does so with enough righteousness to carry through. As a debut, Heavy Trip‘s Heavy Trip might come across more San Diego than Vancouver, but screw it. Dudes got jams like Xmas hams, and the chemistry they bring in holding listener attention with tempo changes throughout here speaks to a progressive edge burgeoning in their sound.

Heavy Trip on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

 

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 40

Posted in Radio on August 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I frontloaded this one with heavy. Heavy heavy heavy heavy. Heavy enough across the first three that by the time you get to Wren having already made it through JupiterianHymn and Primitive Man, their crushing post-metal feels like a break. I felt in putting the playlist together like I wanted to kind of wash away the last two weeks. “Sonic catharsis” is how I put it in the voice track I recorded the other day. That’s still as good as anything else I can come up with to explain it.

From there, we rock and trip out a bit, going from Athens-based Honeybadger into Nashevillian psych rockers Oginalii ahead of the hypnotic riffs of Slow Green Thing and Black Helium and the ever-moody experimental neo-folk of Neurosis‘ own Steve Von Till, whose new record, unsurprisingly, is gorgeous. The show closes with AXIOM9, a newer Madrid-based psych-jam outfit I got put onto last week and have been digging. That’s a 45-minute sample-laced ride right there, but no regrets for including it. Sometimes I like weirding out the Gimme listenership. People are usually pretty open-minded about it.

This is the 40th episode of The Obelisk Show, so let me give my heartfelt appreciation to Gimme Metal/Gimme Radio for continuing to give me time on their bandwidth to do this silly thing. And of course, thank you for listening if you can.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 08.21.20

Jupiterian Mere Humans Protosapien*
Hymn Exit Through Fire Breach Us*
Primitive Man Consumption Immersion*
Wren Chromed Groundswells*
VT
Honeybadger The Wolf Pleasure Delayer*
Oginalii Scapegoat Pendulum*
Slow Green Thing Dreamland Amygdala*
Black Helium Death Station of the Goddess The Wholly Other*
Steve Von Till Shadows on the Run No Wilderness Deep Enough*
VT
AXIOM9 The Space Bong Witch The Acid Wizard and the Space Bong Witch*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Sept. 4 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 35

Posted in Radio on May 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Digging deep on some of this stuff, and I like that. I mean, yeah, you’ve probably heard Enslaved and Lowrider by now, and maybe Black Rainbows, but stuff like Burning Brain Band, Jointhugger and King Gorm could be new to you. I hope so anyhow, that’s why I picked the tracks. That and I thought they were cool. Pretty simple process when it comes down to it.

I did the voice tracks for this one while my son played (first) with kinetic sand and (then) on the piano, so that’s kind of a mess, but I’ve come to enjoy that and it’s a good show either way. If you manage to check it out, stick around for the end, because the last two songs, the long ones from Dire Wolves and Stonegrass, are absolutely killer. I was recently put onto both records and I have absolutely zero regrets. Cardinal Fuzz put out the Dire Wolves LP in April and Stonegrass is out through Cosmic Range Records in Toronto digitally now with LP to follow. Both albums are worth your time if you have the time.

And as always, thanks for listening if you do.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 05.29.20

Circle of Sighs Kukeri Salo*
Lamp of the Universe The Eastern Run Dead Shrine*
Lowrider Pipe Rider Refractions*
BREAK
Enslaved Homebound Utgard*
Wren Seek the Unkindred Groundswells*
StoneBirds Only God Collapse and Fail*
Jointhugger I Am No One I Am No One*
Saavik He’s Dead Jim Saavik*
Black Rainbows Hypnotized by the Solenoid Cosmic Ritual Supertrip*
The Burning Brain Band Bolero/Float Away The Burning Brain Band*
King Gorm Beyond Black Rainbow King Gorm*
BREAK
Dire Wolves Flow & Heady / By the Fireside Flow and Heady*
Stonegrass Tea Stonegrass*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is June 12 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Wren to Release Groundswells June 26; New Single Playing Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

wren

I had a quick conversation with my brain while listening to the new Wren track. It went like this:

ME: “New Wren‘s a banger.”

MY BRAIN: (While chewing a wheat stalk and intermittently spitting) Yup.

That’s pretty much how it went.

The London post-metal four-piece have linked arms with Gizeh Records and will release their new offering, Groundswells, in about a month’s time. The song in question — “Seek the Unkindred,” streaming at the bottom of this post — well encapsulates their rawer post-Neurosis undulations and the emergent progressive streak that goes along with it. Their debut, 2017’s Auburn Rule (discussed here), was followed by the 19-minute single-song EP, Thrall, which Gizeh issued on CD, so it’s not exactly a new association, but it is exactly a new album, and I’m pretty damn pleased about that prospect. My brain is too, though it tries to play it cool.

Ladies and gents, I give you the PR wire:

wren groundswells

WREN – GROUNDSWELLS

June 26th 2020 • Digital
September 25th 2020 • LP/CD
GZH99

‘GROUNDSWELLS’ is the third chapter in Wren’s seasonal lore exploration, and their first through Gizeh Records. These six melancholy-shrouded sonic ruminations swell between intimate performances devoid of adornment, and evolving soundscapes of auditory ruin. Tracing an elemental arch, ‘GROUNDSWELLS’ captures Wren delving into earthen awakenings.

Launching into a monochromatic dirge, ‘Chromed’ announces the LPs stylistic intentions, forgoing the trappings of traditional harmony with deliberate pendulums of pitch and tone. Swarms of percussion drag the track to its conclusion in a collage of insidious feedback, with oscillations sculpted by the record’s producer, Scott Evans of Kowloon Walled City.

Elsewhere, swift variance is displayed in Wrens’ deft handling of genre and form, refusing to be solely one of either. The record courses between rigid post-punk, broad waves of dreaded sludge, and austere choral reverberations. Pulsating Krautrock themes present in their previous work are revisited, with a focus on embracing archetypal motorik technique, as the LP stretches compositions to their furthest tensions through profuse repetition, straining the cracks between.

Inviting physical, elemental surrounds into ‘Subterranean Messiah’, Wren allow space for the sudden cloudburst of Middle Farm Studios in the introductory passage via location recording, embracing the interplay between source and locality. Combined with the painterly fretwork and ghostly chants of Fvnerals, the collaboration seeks an emotive new path of melodic vulnerability. In contrast, the closing elegy is layered with disharmonious cycles of agonised cello from Jo Quail. As with other conclusions on the LP, the track’s commitment to strained repetition is rewarded with sonic climaxes of blackened psychedelia, led by stalagmitic spirals of atonalism.

Throughout the LP, Wren draws from their long-standing apologue, with a partnership of vocalists showcasing a lyrical and vocal interplay thick with a dense lore new to their compositions. ‘GROUNDSWELLS’ brings Wren to an equinox in their earthly contemplations. Ruminating on the decaying inanition that engenders renewal, this record is a revelry in the cyclical, repetitious infinity of planetary permanence.

Recorded by Scott Evans at Middle Farm Studios in South Devon, assisted by Chris Edkins.
Mixed by Scott Evans at Antisleep Audio in Oakland.
Mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios in Stockholm.
Additional Vocals and Guitars on ‘Subterranean Messiah’ performed and recorded by Tiffany Ström and Syd Scarlet of Fvnerals. Additional Cello on ‘Subterranean Messiah by Jo Quail. Artwork by Joey Pearson of Smokin’ Bones Club.

https://www.facebook.com/Disciplesofwren/
https://disciplesofwren.bandcamp.com/
http://www.disciplesofwren.com/
http://www.facebook.com/gizehrecords
http://www.instagram.com/gizehrecords
https://gizehrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.gizehrecords.com/

Wren, Groundswells (2020)

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Wren Post “The Herd” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wren

Preorders are up now for Wren‘s debut album, Auburn Rule, which is out July 14 via Holy Roar Records. How’s that old song go? To everything, churn, churn churn? Something like that. The post-sludging UK four-piece seem to have taken that ethic to heart either way, if “The Herd” is anything to go by. It’s the first audio to be made public from Auburn Rule, which follows Wren‘s 2016 EP, Host (review here), a 2015 split with Irk (review here) and their 2014 self-titled debut EP (review here), and it would seem to be the next logical step forward in their sonic development, which has proven equal parts menacingly heavy and markedly progressive.

Like the song itself, the video for “The Herd” wants little for atmosphere. In fact, that’s kind of the whole thing. Black and white nature shots, hooded figure, dark grayscale kaleidoscopic imagery — all of it is appropriately suited to Wren‘s aggressive but spacious aural crux. The band has pointedly evolved with each new offering, and “The Herd” seems to take its cues from where they were with Host in its cerebral flow from one movement to the next as Wren evoke bleak pastures akin to the clip’s visual depictions. Hardcore roots shine through in starts and stops and the buried-beneath-tone shouted vocals, lending even more bite strength to the track’s sharpened-tooth assault.

Auburn Rule is out in less than a month, and I have my doubts “The Herd” will be the last sneak preview given to listeners before it arrives, so keep an eye out. I’ve been looking forward to finding out what Wren can do in the context of a first full-length since I heard the EP three years ago, and I continue to be excited at the prospect after getting to know this track better. I’ll hope to have more to come soon.

Till then, dig in and enjoy:

Wren, “The Herd” official video

Taken from their debut album ‘Auburn Rule’.

Out 14.07.17 on Holy Roar Records, preorder now: www.holyroarrecords.com

Directed by: www.gardenback.com

Following on from the release of their ‘Host’ EP last year, London-based progressive sludge/noise-rock four-piece Wren, have announced details of their new album ‘Auburn Rule’, which is due out 14th July 2017 via Holy Roar Records.

To coincide with the release of ‘Auburn Rule’ Wren have also announced a short UK release tour with Fvnerals, they will be playing the following dates:

30th June – London – Birthdays
1st July – Birmingham – The Flapper
2nd July – Bristol – The Cube
3rd July – Cardiff – The Full Moon
4th July – Brighton – The Prince Albert

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Wren on Bandcamp

Wren on Twitter

Wren website

Holy Roar Records website

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Wren Announce Debut Full-Length Auburn Rule Due in July; UK Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wren

Whether or not you heard it, Wren‘s 2016 EP, Host (review here) was one of last year’s best short releases. Their second four-songer behind a 2014 self-titled (review here) that was likewise moody and brutal, the latter release pushed into growlier, harsher terrain, more metal on the whole as well as basking in the post-hardcore-meets-sludge vibes of its predecessor. What their sonic development might hold for Auburn Rule, I don’t know, but the safe bet is it’s going to be heavy in some ridiculous proportion. What will serve as their first full-length will be out July 14 following a quick UK tour with Fvnerals and will be released by Holy Roar Records, which if you’ll recall also put out Host. If it ain’t broke.

These cats have done nothing but impress since they got going, and my big question going into the record is how much of their focus will be on atmosphere vs. pummel, since that seems to be the dichotomy at work in their aesthetic thus far. Where that balance will come down this time out as they take this crucial step in putting out their first album.

Hopefully I’ll have more to come on this one before it’s released. Here’s info from the PR wire in the interim:

wren auburn rule

Wren announce new album ‘Auburn Rule’ and UK tour.

AUBURN RULE | 14.07.17

Following on from the release of their ‘Host’ EP last year, London-based progressive sludge/noise-rock four-piece Wren, have announced details of their new album ‘Auburn Rule’, which is due out 14th July 2017 via Holy Roar Records.

The band have released the artwork for the new album (above) and have detailed the track listing as below:

1. In Great Yield
2. Scour The Grassland
3. The Herd
4. Traverse
5. Dwellers Of The Sepulchre

To coincide with the release of ‘Auburn Rule’ Wren have also announced a short UK release tour with Fvnerals, they will be playing the following dates:

30th June – London – Birthdays
1st July – Birmingham – The Flapper
2nd July – Bristol – The Cube
3rd July – Cardiff – The Full Moon
4th July – Brighton – The Prince Albert

https://www.facebook.com/Disciplesofwren/
https://disciplesofwren.bandcamp.com/
http://twitter.com/disciplesofwren
http://www.disciplesofwren.com/
http://www.holyroarrecords.com/

Wren, Host (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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