The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2019, Oct. 19 in Arlington, TX

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy mash frog

With another killer lineup of (mostly) Texan acts, Heavy Mash Fest returns with Heavy Mash 2019 this Oct. 19 at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX. This is the third year of the fest and I’m proud to have presented all three of them, as the reach has grown and the palette continues to expand even as the focus stays on the Lone Star underground, which, fortunately, seems to have an endless array of groups from which to build a lineup. This year, Louisiana’s Forming the Void join the fray, and The Liquid Sound Company — featuring guitarist John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus — will headline, with Destroyer of Light, Funeral Horse and others taking part. Whether you’ve yet been indoctrinated into Smokey Mirror‘s good-time blues psych or not, you’re probably going to want to get in on this one before the rest of Texas shows up and it sells out. It’s gonna be a good show.

Here’s all the info for it, as posted by the fest itself:

HEAVY MASH 2019 POSTER

Heavy Mash 2019

Arlington, TX Heavy Music Festival

In conjunction with Division Brewing in Arlington, TX, we are pleased to announce the 3rd year of this small fest presented by Growl Records, The Obelisk, The Sludgelord, Artificial Head Records, and Death Chicken! It will be held at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX on October 19th from 2pm to midnight-ish. In past years we’ve seen Wo Fat, Duel, Great Electric Quest, Doomstress, Mountain of Smoke, Stone Machine Electric, and many others slay our stage. Below is our full line-up, starting with the headlining act:

The Liquid Sound Company – a psychedelic band formed by doom veteran John Perez in 1996 from Arlington, TX

Destroyer of Light – a melodic doom metal band that pushes those boundaries from Austin, TX

Forming the Void – progressive heavy rock from Lafayette, La

Vorvon – wizard metal from Fort Worth, TX

Funeral Horse – garage metal from Houston, TX

Whep – punk sludge from Denton, TX

Smokey Mirror – heavy psych blues from Dallas, TX

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – post-metal from San Antonio, TX

Sonar Lights – heavy rock from Fort Worth, TX

C.I. – Instrumental rock for crankhead alcoholic camo-jort-wearing deadbeat dads from White Settlement, TX

For any comments or questions, please contact us at heavymashfest@gmail.com. If you’re in a band, feel free to submit yourselves for next year and beyond.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2030272317279798/
https://www.facebook.com/heavymash/
https://www.instagram.com/heavymashfest/

Liquid Sound Company, “Sleeping Village”

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Morass of Molasses, The Ties that Bind: New Paths

Posted in Reviews on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

morass of molasses the ties that bind

Reading, UK’s Morass of Molasses are former denizens of the unceremoniously defunct HeviSike Records — those bands should form a support group, or at very least make a patch for vests; “we were there” — and they emerge from that particular, well, morass of molasses, in order to deliver The Ties that Bind through Wasted State Records, a tight-knit collection of swinging heavy rock grooves punctuated by drummer Raj Puni (also some vocals) and bluesy licks from lead guitarist Phil Williams met with baritone guitar to provide low end and the post-hardcore vocalizations of Bones Huse, who seems to be in the real-time process of developing his approach as a singer. He and Puni seem to come together on the folkish side A finale “Legend of the Five Sons” — amid flute from Matt Ainsworth and guest backing vocals from Sian Greenaway of Alunah — in a quieter take, and the same happens, minus flute, plus percussion at the end of the record in “The Deepest Roots,” but in the louder material, Huse‘s style shows screamier roots he’s moving away from, resulting in a cleaner bark that reminds of Snapcase without some of the direct aggro attack.

The first Morass of Molasses album, 2017’s These Paths We Tread, also supports the argument of a progression underway in his vocals as well as the general breadth of arrangement, but as much as Morass of Molasses — who are not nearly so sluggish as their name would suggest, by the way — seem to delight in the contrast between subdued moments like the barely-there acoustic album intro “The Darkening” and the sudden crash-in of lead single “Woe Betide” (premiered here), it’s the latter that ultimately frames the primary impression of The Ties that Bind, and Huse‘s pushing himself vocally is a part of that. He sounds more confident here than on the debut, loud or quiet, and one expects the growth will continue across whatever the band do next from here. As it stands, songs like “Estranger” and “Persona Non Grata” arrive with all the more edge for what Huse brings to them as frontman.

Following “The Darkening,” “Woe Betide” and the catchy “Death of All” build considerable momentum in rockers-up-front fashion, the latter with a chugging, start-stopping riff that works its way into a kind of sludge boogie, with Puni‘s toms driving transition into and out of quick spoken-word parts en route to the next assault. A final run through the hook ends with an echoing shout and a moment of silence before “Estranger” crashes in on its bluesy lead guitar line from Williams, clearly taking a more patient approach from the outset. The vibe persists throughout most of the track’s six and a half minutes, though Morass of Molasses aren’t shy about the build that’s happening all the while any more than they are about the subsequent payoff thereof, which arrives announced by a single snare hit just past the 4:20 mark (obviously) in harder fuzz and harsher throat, culminating in a grungy nod backed by consistent kick drum before finally letting go into a drift of whispers and feedback.

morass of molasses

It’s from that natural but still thoughtfully done finish — the band clearly put emphasis on how one song feeds into the next as they were building The Ties that Bind, and indeed, the record all the more lives up to its name for those efforts — that the acoustic-led “Legend of the Five Sons” rises to cap side A with the contributions of Ainsworth and Greenaway, both contributions helping feed a sense of nature-worship that pulls away from some of the more interpersonal themes of songs like “Woe Betide” and “Estranger,” let alone “Persona Non Grata” still to come. But again, Morass of Molasses revel in the departure from one aspect of their sonic ideology to another, and they’re all the more able to pull off the sudden shifts in mood for that, each half of The Ties that Bind effectively framed in these folkish moments with bursts of aggression between. It’s like when you try really hard not to be mad but then you are anyway.

“Legend of the Five Sons” gives way easily to “As Leaves Fall,” with an interplay of electric and unplugged guitar, and soon enough, the feedback-soaked, shout-topped start of “Persona Non Grata” is underway. The longest of the album’s total nine tracks at just under seven minutes long — the record runs an LP-ready 38 minutes — it rolls out a righteous groove through much of the proceedings, pulling back to give Puni and Williams a bit of space during the bridge before the bigger-sounding finish, and then shifts, via feedback, into a concluding stretch of acoustic guitar, tying together with “As Leaves Fall” in a way that the tracks on side A seemed less interested in doing. Likewise, “In Our Sacred Skin” seems to push even further in bridging the gap between one side of their personality and the other, with a cleaner vocal style on display, acoustics layered in at various points, and still plenty of force surrounding to offer vicious counterpoint.

Still, that penultimate cut feels especially important in showcasing how Morass of Molasses might continue to draw the various sides of their approach together, and as they close out with “The Deepest Roots,” the proceedings still seem affected by the energy of the song prior, that tension overlapping in a way that underscores its resonant execution. I won’t profess to know where Morass of Molasses might be headed creatively after The Ties that Bind, but in a UK heavy underground that’s nigh on saturated with bands, their clear drive to distinguish themselves in terms of sound can only do them well as they keep moving forward. Most importantly, on The Ties that Bind, they come across like they want to do precisely that, and their willingness to push themselves into new styles of performance while also looking to others to bolster their own work in service to the songs likewise speaks to the proper placement of their priorities. With a firm sense of the earth under them, Morass of Molasses feel like they’re coming into their own here, and one hopes that’s precisely the case.

Morass of Molasses, The Ties that Bind (2019)

Morass of Molasses on Thee Facebooks

Morass of Molasses on Bandcamp

Wasted State Records website

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High on Fire Announce Fall Tour Dates; Playing Psycho Las Vegas & Levitation Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

After some canceled dates earlier this year in the wake of winning a Grammy for 2018’s Electric Messiah (review here), High on Fire will return to the road in the US this Fall with the likes of Power TripCreeping Death and Devil Master supporting. It’s arguably the most metal-centered American tour they’ve done since they were out with Goatwhore, though High on Fire are in the arguably fortunate position of being able to share the stage either with rock bands or metal bands and still stand out for their pummel and professionalism alike. I know Power Trip have been getting all kinds of best-metal-band-since-whenever this or that kind of accolades, and that’s super, since if they draw a younger crowd and that younger crowd gets to see Matt Pike play guitar for the first time, everyone is going to go home a winner.

High on Fire are of course also putting in an appearance this year at Psycho Las Vegas, as they will.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

high on fire power trip

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE FALL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

POWER TRIP, DEVIL MASTER, AND CREEPING DEATH TO JOIN GRAMMY-WINNING METAL BAND ON MASSIVE FALL TOUR

BAT SALAD EP TO BE RELEASED DIGITALLY JULY 26

AWARD-WINNING LP, ELECTRIC MESSIAH OUT NOW

GRAMMY Award-winning metal band, High on Fire has announced a juggernaut North American fall tour with Power Trip. Dates kick off on November 7, 2019, at Levitation Festival, the 3-day music festival held in Austin, TX, now in its sixth year, and continue through the end of the year.

The tour will stretch from coast to coast, hitting major markets in North America and Canada before wrapping up in southern California in early December. Tickets are on sale Friday, July 26, 2019, at 10:00 AM LOCAL. Support on the High on Fire / Power Trip tour will come from rising stars and new label mates CREEPING DEATH.

High on Fire tour dates:
*All shows also include Power Trip and Creeping Death
November 7 – Austin, TX Mohawk (as part of 2019 Levitation Festival)
November 10 – Houston, TX @ Foamhenge
November 12 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
November 13 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
November 15 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend
November 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
November 17 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
November 19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
November 20 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
November 21 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 22 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 23 – Hartford, CT @ Webster
November 24 – Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
November 25 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
November 26 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic
November 27 – Chicago, IL @ The Metro
November 29 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
November 30 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
December 2 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
December 3 – Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw
December 4 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
December 6 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
December 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent

Additionally, High on Fire will be performing at 2019 Psycho Las Vegas taking place August 16-18, 2019 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort. Tickets are on sale now.

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” official lyric video

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Brant Bjork Announces East Coast Tour with Ecstatic Vision

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

I’ve been biding my time waiting to unleash a golly-BrantBjork-is-awesome-type review of the reissues of his first two solo albums that Heavy Psych Sounds has put and is putting out, and mark my words, I’ll get there by the time the Man Himself comes to play my beloved Garden State on Sept. 20. Brant Bjork, in New Jersey? I feel like I have a moral imperative to be there — and so do you, frankly. It’s not the kind of thing that happens every day, month, year, etc., so yeah, mark the calendar for it. All the better that the tour is with Heavy Psych Sounds labelmates Ecstatic Vision, whose new record For the Masses will also be out by then. Sometimes it just works. All of it. And it’s amazing how many of those times seem to involve Brant Bjork one way or the other.

Of course, Bjork and his band were just in Europe playing fests and supporting their earlier-2019 release, Jacoozzi (review here), of archived instrumental jams that followed 2018’s Mankind Woman (review here), his debut on Heavy Psych Sounds after completing a three-album deal with Napalm Records. Not a bummer in the bunch.

Here are the dates as posted by the label:

BRANT BJORK tour

*** BRANT BJORK – US TOUR 2019 ***

+Ecstatic Vision

Our desert rock legend Brant Bjork will tour US in September, supported by Ecstatic Vision !!! Don’t miss them..

BRANT BJORK US TOUR 2019

9/12 – St Louis, MO @ The Firebird
9/13 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Citadel Music Hall
9/14 – Youngstown, OH @ Westside Bowl
9/15 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
9/16 – Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern
9/17 – Buffalo, NY @ Iron Works
9/18 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East Upstairs
9/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Kingsland
9/20 – Teaneck, NJ @ Debonair Music Hall
9/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
9/22 – Providence, RI @ Dusk
9/23 – New Haven, CT @ The State House
9/24 – Brattleboro, VT @ The Stone Church
9/25 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
9/26 – Detroit, MI @ The Magic Bag
9/27 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
9/28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Walker’s Point Music Hall

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
https://www.instagram.com/brant_bjork
http://www.brantbjork.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Brant Bjork, Jalamanta (1999)

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Monarch Premiere “Counterpart” Video; Beyond the Blue Sky out Aug. 9

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monarch

The kind of sunshine that the rest of the world imagines only exists in Southern California plays a significant role in the listening experience of Monarch‘s second album, Beyond the Blue Sky. The title, of course, isn’t about the sun, but about the entirety of space, and the idea of leaving the planet’s atmosphere behind to launch into the void beyond. Fair enough for the cosmic impulses the classically progressive San Diego five-piece weave into the seven tracks/38 minutes of the El Paraiso Records LP, but they remain grounded with a natural sense of songwriting beneath the wash of effects, lush echoes, sax, synth and so on, as songs like opener “Hanging by a Thread” sneak their way into the frontal cortex and set up shop there via guitar-in-triplicate and groove to match, the band pushing aside some of the boogie for which their home-burg is known in favor of these interplanetary ambitions. Oh, it suits them just fine, whether in the ol’ roll ‘n’ nod of the aforementioned leadoff or the sax-laden fluidity of “Divided Path,” which follows.

“Hanging by a Thread” is both the opener and the longest song on Beyond the Blue Sky at 7:06 (immediate points), and “Divided Path,” “Pangea” and the centerpiece title-track follow in descending order (quadruple points?), so monarch beyond the blue skythe intent on Monarch‘s part toward listener-immersion is pretty well telegraphed, but as ever for the best of psychedelic rock, the point of the voyage is the going, and they go pretty far out. With the vocals of guitarist Dominic Denholm cutting through the wash of tone and fuzz on “Divided Path,” calling to mind Greg Lake-era King Crimson on the jazzy “Pangea” and the flow conjured all around by fellow guitarists Thomas Dibenedetto (also Sacri Monti) and James Upton, bassist Matt Weiss and Andrew Ware, unafraid to tap into country sweetness on “Beyond the Blue Sky” itself at the outset of a three-parter with the synthy “Phenomena” and the shimmering psych of “Counterpart” rounding out, with watery closer “Felo de Se” still to arrive, there’s no question they reach the level of engagement they seem to be shooting for at the launch, pulling their audience with them as they make every effort to live up to the title and, seemingly, getting there as well. Like its predecessor, Two Isles (review here), Beyond the Blue Sky has more than a few moments of outright gorgeousness, but it’s the way it all complements each other that makes it so essential.

Which it is. Even among the crowded ranks of San Diego, Monarch stand themselves out through the progressive modus of their approach, and while they share an affinity for classic stylizations with a good number of their peers, their take on it is decidedly their own and shines through performance and songwriting alike.

You can check out the premiere of a tripped-out video for “Counterpart” below, made by Ricky Macaw, who pretty much nailed it. Beyond the Blue Sky is out Aug. 9.

Enjoy:

Monarch, “Counterpart” official video premiere

There’s something refreshing about Monarch’s take on psychedelic rock: they aren’t afraid to weave allman brothers-esque dual guitar lines with synthesizers and saxophone. They can be heavy, but there’s an unmistakable panoramic quality to their compositions too, reflecting the rich and diverse environment they’ve grown up in, with dazzling pacific coastlines, mountains and desert highways.

Compared to their debut album, ”Two Isles” from 2016, Beyond The Blue Sky is a more complex record. The three year journey has led the band through several separate recording sessions and ended up going all-analog at Audio Design studios. It’s an album that’s meticulously crafted and with sights set on new musical territory. Their songwriting has matured and each track feels like a mini-epic, travelling unexpected routes before reaching their sonic destination. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album’s centerpiece, the three-part Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart, where Monarch manages to fuse all their influences into one mammoth composition. It’s an album to drive off into a careless summer sunset and beyond.

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

Monarch on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

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Darsombra Mega-Tour Starts Next Week; New Transmission Trailer Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Oh, you think you tour a lot? Well, Darsombra think that’s adorable. Next week, they’ll head out on what’s only their latest string of impossible-looking tour dates, running up through the Northeast and into and across Canada and then back through the Midwest in a way that makes me think there’s probably a specifically Californian string of dates to come, and knowing Darsombra — who are based as much “on earth” as they are in Baltimore — it’ll probably run for a month straight. The duo’s new album, Transmission, is up for preorder now direct from their website or Bandcamp, and they’ve got a new trailer for it posted as of pretty much when I post this, that I’m pretty sure was filmed at a haunted house. Neat. The album, of course, is one long track, so you’re getting about 1/45th of it here, but still, it’s a good 1/45th. Mark it a win and then go a show and buy all the merch.

Here’s where they’ll be:

darsombra

Darsombra’s 2019 album, “Transmission” is almost here!!! Preorder is available at www.darsombra.com and www.darsombra.bandcamp.com. Or come out and see us and get a copy in person, in any of the following places:

July 31 – Cleveland OH @ Magalen
Aug 1 – Toronto ON @ Sneaky Dee’s
Aug 2 – Buffalo NY – Infringement Festival @ Nietzsche’s
Aug 3 – Buffalo NY – Infringement Festival @ Hickory Urban Sanctuary
Aug 5 – Rochester NY @ Bug Jar
Aug 6 – Albany NY @ Pauly’s Hotel
Aug 7 – Providence RI @ AS220
Aug 8 – Boston MA @ O’Brien’s
Aug 9 – Portland ME @ Geno’s
Aug 10 – Littleton NH @ Loading Dock
Aug 11 – Burlington VT @ Junktiques
Aug 13 – Montreal QC @ Casa Del Popolo
Aug 15 – Ottawa ON @ Pressed
Aug 16 – Sudbury ON @ The Asylum
Aug 17 – Sault Ste Marie ON @ New American
Aug 20 – Thunder Bay ON @ The Apollo
Aug 22 – Winnipeg MB @ Times Changed
Aug 23 – Regina SK @ German Club
Aug 24 – Saskatoon SK @ Amigo’s
Aug 25 – Edmonton AB @ 9910
Aug 26 – Calgary AB @ Dickens
Aug 28 – Kelowna BC @ Milkcrate Records
Aug 29 – Vancouver BC @ Avant Garden
Aug 30 – Nanaimo BC @ The Cambie
Aug 31 – Victoria BC @ Vinyl Envy
Sept 4 – Olympia WA @ Cryptatropa
Sept 5 – Seattle WA @ Lofi
Sept 6 – Salem OR @ The Space Concert Club
Sept 7 – Portland OR @ High Water Mark
Sept 10 – Boise ID @ The Olympic
Sept 12 – Bozeman MT @ Filling Station
Sept 13 – Billings MT @ Kirks’ Grocery
Sept 14 – Rapid City SD @ Cave Collective
Sept 18 – Sioux Falls SD @ Total Drag
Sept 19 – Minneapolis MN @ Kitty Cat Club
Sept 20 – Duluth MN @ Blush
Sept 21 – Marquette MI @ The Crib
Sept 23 – Milwaukee WI @ Cactus Club
Sept 25 – Rock Island IL @ Rozz-Tox
Sept 26 – Peoria IL @ Trailside Event Center
Sept 27 – Chicago IL @ Charm School
Sept 28 – Detroit MI @ Trumbullplex
Sept 29 – Pittsburgh PA @ 3577 Studios
Oct 5 – Baltimore MD – Mushroom City Arts Festival @ Gwynns Falls Leakin Park

http://facebook.com/darsombra
https://www.instagram.com/darsombra/
http://www.darsombra.com/

Darsombra, Transmission trailer #3 premiere

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Wolf Blood, II: Beyond Cultistry

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

wolf blood ii

It’s a markedly outside-genre approach that Wolf Blood seem to be taking on their second album, II, and the only question one is left with when they’re done is who’s going to sign them. Because especially if they tour at all, it’s going to need to be someone, as their work is simply too engaging in its individualism to leave hanging out there on Bandcamp with the limited self-pressings it’s gotten. At times reminiscent of Kylesa, as in the dual vocals between guitarist Mindy Johnson and bassist Adam Rucinski — drummer Jake Paulsrud also contributes — during “Kumate,” their winding moments are able to conjure modern prog or even out to the straight-ahead drive of black metal as they will, with Johnson and fellow guitarist Mike Messina leading arrangements like that of the penultimate “Drowning Man,” which doesn’t offer much beyond the assumed guitar, bass, drums and vocals and yet manifests a resonant sense of atmosphere thanks to the patience of the delivery and the richness of the tones involved, the echoes seeming to rise from the guitar and bass lines like so much distant smoke.

With a pervasive sense of melody to coincide, Wolf Blood emerge five years after their self-titled debut (review here) with a six-song/41-minute LP that refuses to do anything other than stand on its own. The Duluth, Minnesota-based four-piece have clearly worked to discover who they are as players in the intervening half-decade from one release to the next — they also brought in Rucinski as a new member — but the manner in which they succeed across II‘s varied-of-intent-but-united-in-mood span is thrilling and immersive at the same time, even unto the post-Sleep march of 11-minute closer “Tsunami,” the louder parts of which live up to the name in tidal undulations of riffing ahead of quieter verses, creating a push-pull tension that, as one would hope, pays off in a fervent thrust to cap the album as a whole. That is just one more example of the ways in which Wolf Blood‘s II feels strikingly complete, as that last push carries some reminder of the outset of “Lesion” back at the start of the record.

Indeed, those opening seconds that introduce the opener and return as a bridge between verses at the beginning of II are a crucial nod to extreme metal that add an element of danger to everything Wolf Blood do subsequent to them, an undercurrent of volatility belying even the calmest of stretches. With Paulsrud blasting away on drums, “Lesion” revels in that elemental extremity, and that only makes the swinging groove of “Slaughterhouse” all the more satisfying as the vocal harmonies arrive in thoughtfully composed fashion over a push that’s more subtle than that of the opener but finds Rucinski — or Paulsrud — stepping forward in order to take a soaring chorus in an effective changeup of their approach to that point. A guitar solo leads to full-on instrumental charge as “Slaughterhouse” pushes into the aforementioned “Kumate” (a misspelled Bloodsport reference, perhaps?), the finisher for side A and the longest and most outwardly dynamic song yet, though frankly, neither of the preceding tracks wanted anything for dynamic.

WOLF BLOOD

The fluidity with which Wolf Blood are able to shift from churn to charge isn’t to be understated, and it’s almost before the listener realizes what has happened that a given song has taken off in one direction or the other. Like the blastbeats in “Lesion” the effect this has is to make the album overall less predictable and more exciting, and as the four-piece leave a trail of memorable parts behind, whether that’s the chorus in “Kumate” or the more rocking two-minute “Opium” that follows at the start of side B, topped with growls amid a cacophonous assault that would be post-metal were it not essentially a transmogrified desert rock riff put to inventive use. It’s not that Wolf Blood are doing anything at a given moment that’s willfully weird or over the top in terms of making a show of their “unique” aspects — there’s no check-us-out-we’re-weird-and-hyper-performative happening here — but the way they combine stylistic pieces to create the ambience of “Drowning Man” or “Slaughterhouse,” or even “Lesion” and “Opium,” is unquestionably their own.

And the thoughtfulness of their composition extends to the arrangement of the album itself, with each side running from its shortest track to its longest, though admittedly this is more noticeable on side B, where the difference is more stark. That Wolf Blood should so thrive in the longer “Drowning Man” and “Tsunami” isn’t necessarily a surprise, but the manner in which Wolf Blood execute the end of II reinforces the engagement that’s been happening all along and affirms their clearheadedness about who they are and what they want to be doing, be that the interplay of screams and clean vocals in “Drowning Man” or the already-noted rousing all-go at the end of “Tsunami.” With these moments and a full record’s worth of others, Wolf Blood seem to be skirting the line of sonic progressivism, not really willing to be so indulgent as to fully dive in, but neither content to simplify their impulses.

It’s hard to tell in II if this is a balance finding its way or the output of competing ideologies of craft, one of which will win out over the other in the longer term. And what does the longer term mean when a band takes five years between their first and second LPs, anyway? I said at the outset that some label or other needs to get behind II for wider release, and I genuinely believe it, but I don’t think Wolf Blood are finished growing, either. This, ultimately, makes them all the more vital as they continue to develop their approach, but the big question that needs to be answered is where they’ll take that from here and what their intentions are for all the potential shown in these tracks, because as much as they represent a realization of the band’s collective aesthetic ideals, they seem to speak to a forward-thinking mentality that will require its own manifestation. They have work to do, but that shouldn’t take away from the important steps made throughout II, which no matter what Wolf Blood come up with next will continue to stand as the moment they first hinted how much they truly had to offer.

Wolf Blood, II (2019)

Wolf Blood on Bandcamp

Wolf Blood on Thee Facebooks

Wolf Blood on Instagram

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 19 (Maryland Doom Fest Special)

Posted in Radio on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Yeah, I know, Maryland Doom Fest 2019 was like a month ago. Quit livin’ in the past and all that. Well, this show was supposed to air July 5, so whatever. It got pushed back because apparently July 4 is some kind of holiday now — what.ever. — and it was kicked down the line to two weeks later with re-runs on in the interim. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? I did. But I’m glad to have had the chance to pay homage to MDDF one way or the other, since it was such a killer time and boasted a lineup of so many good bands.

Of course I had to lead off with Beelzefuzz and Foghound, two staples of the Frederick diet, and the show unfolds from there with new stuff from Zed and Lo-Pan and Kings Destroy amid the likes of Devil to Pay and Earthride and Backwoods Payback and Greenbeard. I made sure to put Solace and Freedom Hawk and Horehound and Toke and Witchkiss in here because their sets were particularly righteous — not to mention Year of the Cobra! — and in addition to representing the headliners in Conan, Mothership and Earthride, I had to include WarHorse since their reunion set was something so particularly special and such a huge part of the festival.

For those who didn’t hear the show, Gimme Radio runs the ‘Gimme Brigade’ which you can sign up for. I think it’s $5 a month or something like that, but you get access to their full archive and help them with hosting costs, etc., so fair enough. If you got to hear this one, thanks. If not, the basic point of the thing was that Maryland Doom Fest 2019 kicked ass, which I sincerely hope also came across in the reviews.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 07.19.19

Beelzefuzz All the Feeling Returns Beelzefuzz (2013)
Foghound Known Wolves Awaken to Destroy (2018)
Zed Chingus Volume*
Lo-Pan Savage Heart Subtle*
BREAK
Devil to Pay Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife Fate is Your Muse (2013)
Kings Destroy Yonkers Ceiling Collapse Fantasma Nera*
Earthride Vampire Circus Vampire Circus (2005)
Witchkiss Seer The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)
Year of the Cobra Cold Burn Your Dead (2017)
BREAK
Solace Khan (World of Fire) The Black Black (2007)
Backwoods Payback Whatever Future Slum (2018)
Toke Blackened Orange (2017)
Greenbeard WCCQ Onward, Pillager (2018)
Conan Battle in the Swamp Monnos (2012)
Apostle of Solitude Ruination Be Thy Name From Gold to Ash (2018)
The Age of Truth Come Back a God Threshold (2017)
BREAK
Horehound Dier’s Dirge Holocene (2018)
Freedom Hawk Danger Beast Remains (2018)
Mothership Midnight Express High Strangeness (2017)
Warhorse Lysergic Communion As Heaven Turns to Ash (2001)

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Aug. 2. Thanks for listening if you do.

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