Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Zhora Announce Irish Tour Dates

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

zhora

I know you’re supposed to write zhOra like that, with the big ‘o’ and the little ‘z,’ but somehow I just couldn’t make myself do it in the headline. It would be the same starting a sentence. Zhora. Look, they’re a cool band and all, but grammar can only bend so far before it ultimately breaks, you know what I’m saying?

No, probably not. Fine.

Zhora, or, if you prefer, zhOra, will be doing a quick run of Irish dates next month with Sail and Everest Queen, and I’m posting the tour info not so much because I expect everybody to make their travel plans and get to Belfast or Dublin or Cork or Limerick in time for a show, but because it gives me an excuse as well to post the video for “Ruthless Bastards,” the punishing vibe of which is very much suiting the kind of day I’ve had. I hope yours has been better, or if not, you find similar catharsis.

Have at it:

zhora shows

We are playing our final run of Irish dates for the year this October. We are joined by some old and new friends.

Oct 24th | Voodoo Belfast
Oct 25th | Sin É Dublin
Oct 26th | Fred Zeppelins, Cork
Oct 27th | Siege of Limerick*

Everest Queen are from Stevenage in the UK and have been good mates of ours for a few years now. We played Bloodstock Festival together back in 2017 along with some awesome UK tours. They are the best of people and they live for riffs. It’s there first time in Ireland and we know they are going to go down really well.

Sail hail from Somerset and are also hitting Ireland for the first time. It’s also our first time gigging together and we cannot wait to see their dense, stoney sludge music performed live with an awesome Irish crowd behind them.

The Siege weekenders are always phenomenal so we are really buzzing for this one. Cheers to everyone that has come to all the shows this year, bought a t shirt and just had a good laugh. We have had an awesome run and look forward to welcoming the darker months in style with all of our mental friends all over this mad country.

zhOra Line-up:
Colin Bolger, Tom Woodlock, Alan Hanlon, Ian O’Meara

https://www.zhorasludge.com
https://www.instagram.com/zhoraireland/
https://www.facebook.com/zhOramusic/
http://zhora1.bandcamp.com/

zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” official video

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Zhora Post Vintage-Style Animated “Riverchrist” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zhora
Irish sludgechuggers Zhora — also stylized as zhOra — released their second album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos, late last year, and in addition to its somewhat metaphysically-encompassing title, the Clonmel-based four-piece unleashed with it torrents of progressively pummeling riffs, harsh shouts and purposefully contemplative onslaught. Philosophical exploration through physical or aural punishment? They wouldn’t be the first to tap into flogging for mind expansion by any means, but I guess when something works you roll with it.

The track “Riverchrist” is the second of the total 11 on Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and its new video that you can see below is a deeply creative endeavor involving oldschool-looking animation and a narrative of human sacrifice resulting in a priest or monk of some kind meeting, trapping and — maybe — ultimately joining with his god. It gets kind of murky as these things will, but it’s visually stunning all the same and though in cases like this it’s usually something mined from the public domain or just snagged from a part of a movie or short film or something like that, nope, this one’s all original. Kudos to Goat Planet, which produced the clip.

In addition to the gigs listed below with The Faceless and Conan and MonolordZhora have been confirmed to take part in the inaugural Crypt of the Riff festival (info here) alongside Elder DruidGarganjuaHornets and others. One imagines further appearances are to come throughout 2018 as they continue to support Ethos, Pathos, Logos, but in the meantime, you can check out the “Riverchrist” video here, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

zhOra, “Riverchrist” official video

Irish sludge powerhouse ZHORA have released a new video for their track ‘Riverchrist’, taken from their sophomore album Ethos, Pathos, Logos which was released on 27 October 2017.

‘Riverchrist’ revolves around the fictional character ‘Sin Eater’ and his dominion over vast lands and its people. Written through a first person perspective, his malevolent yet precarious demeanor illustrates the fictional deity and his world of no mercy.

Animation by Goat Planet – https://www.facebook.com/goatplanet/

The Irish sludge metal group have also announced two upcoming shows:

February 6th with THE FACELESS
May 15th with CONAN and MONOLORD

Zhora on Thee Facebooks

Zhora on Twitter

Zhora on Bandcamp

Zhora BigCartel store

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Crypt of the Riff Festival 2018: Full Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

First of all, I know nothing about the band, but I’ll give credence to any event that features a group called Goatschlager, because that, my friends is how you win at monikers. Second, that righteously-named troupe is just one of the reasons one might think about booking passage to the inaugural Crypt of the Riff Festival, set for May 18 in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast. Among the others? HornetsElder DruidzhOraMolarbearTwo Tales of WoeSo Much for the Sun and fest-headliners Garganjua.

That’s a packed lineup for a show that according to the poster starts at 7PM (multiple stages? all-nighter?), but with Garganjua at the top of the bill, due heft is assured. The Leicestershire, UK, doomers issued their four-song A Voyage in Solitude full-length in Jan. 2017 and brought together extreme sludge, post-YOB rollout, Paradise Lost and Pallbearer-style woefulness and flourish of Electric Wizard melody for good measure, making a home for themselves in in-between spaces nonetheless marked out by an engrossing and dark atmosphere.

If you didn’t hear it, that album is streaming in full at the bottom of this post. Plain Living Promotions, founded by Elder Druid guitarist Jake Wallace, posted the event info for Crypt of the Riff 2018 as follows:

crypt of the riff 2018

Plain Living Promotions presents: CRYPT OF THE RIFF FESTIVAL 2018

The lineup is finally complete for Plain Living Promotions presents Crypt of the Riff Festival 2018. On Friday 18th May some of the finest purveyors of heavy music from this country and beyond lay waste to the subterranean Crypt of the Riff.

So stoked to announce Garganjua (Leicestershire) as headliners. Still 5 months to go but that leaves plenty of time to invest in worthwhile ear protection and/or get tickets.

Full lineup:
Garganjua
Hornets
Elder Druid
zhOra
MOLARBEAR
Two Tales of Woe
So Much For The Sun
Goatschlager

Date: Friday 18th May 2018
Venue: Bar Sub, Mandela Hall, Belfast
Tickets: £8 online / £10 on the door
18+

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1780384045329089/
Ticket link: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/422378

https://www.facebook.com/plainlivingpromotions/

Garganjua, A Voyage in Solitude (2017)

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Zhora Post New Track; Ethos, Pathos, Logos out This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

zhora

Irish post-sludgers Zhora — also presented as zhOra, which I’m not doing, because I’m an adult and capitalizing the first letter of a proper noun is a choice I’ve made and even if it’s wrong in this instance, I’m sticking by it — are gearing up for a weekender tour starting this Friday which will take them to Siege of Limerick, where they’ll share the stage with the likes of Orange Goblin as well as Emerald Isle countrymen like Zlatanera, Kurokuma, Elder Druid, Demeter and many others. Seems as fitting an occasion as any to mark the release of their new album, the genre-spanning self-release Ethos, Pathos, Logos, from which the band has just posted the track “Infernal Liturgy” as a name-your-price download, and which is about as all-over-the-place in its sub-three-minute run as you could ask.

Cool by me. They might not be much for capitalization, but if it’s between that and weirding out, even I have to admit the weird-out is the way to go. Particularly when it’s still so heavy.

Info and audio follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

zhora ethos pathos logos

Irish Sludge Metallers ZHORA Release Free Track Download Ahead of Headline Tour

Album Ethos, Pathos, Logos Released 27 October

Irish sludge powerhouse zhOra have released the latest single ‘Infernal Liturgy’ for free download ahead of their headline tour which starts October 20th. The track is taken from forthcoming sophomore album Ethos, Pathos, Logos which is released on 27 October.

Vocalist Colin Bolger comments: “Infernal Liturgy takes place right in the middle of the story. It deals with our main character “Riverchrist” and how he convinces a group of desperate tribespeople to resort to cannibalism and devour each other. We like to think of it as our demented death metal ballad. It’s slimy yet angular and features our drummer Tom spitting a glorious vocal rhythm with some genuine venom. We took director Zoe Kavanagh, her camera crew and a group of our oldest friends to the forest for a few days in September and shot a mad new video which will be debuting soon. We used fake limbs, fire and skulls, lots of mushrooms, not enough cans and 27 litres of fake blood. Things got weird and sticky just just the way we like it and the result is a real horror show.”

Over the span of six years zhOra have quickly become one of the most recognisable names in the burgeoning Irish metal scene. In this time the band has released one EP Feet Nailed to the Ground (2011) and their debut LP Almaz (2013), both releases garnering huge praise within the scene. Now in 2017, the band is set to undertake the next stage in their journey, Ethos, Pathos, Logos.

In the only predictable aspect of the band’s sonic trajectory, Ethos, Pathos, Logos finds the band once again putting themselves under their own microscope and refining their approach. With a lush cover designed by acclaimed Visionary Artist Jake Kobrin, the record is zhOra’s first back-to-back concept album, an hour long journey through past lives and cannibalism.

Pre-orders for Ethos, Pathos, Logos are available now via Big Cartel, Bandcamp, iTunes and all other digital outlets.

Catch zhOra throughout October:
October 27 – Central Arts, Waterford
October 28 – Fozzys, Clonmel
October 29 – Siege of Limerick

https://www.facebook.com/zhOramusic/
https://twitter.com/zhoramusic
http://zhora1.bandcamp.com/
http://zhora1.bigcartel.com/products

Zhora, “Infernal Liturgy”

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