Ufomammut Post “Warsheep” Video; Announce More European Touring

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ufomammut

I was just the other day thinking it had been quiet on the Ufomammut front since the Italian cosmic doomers announced back in March they would release their new album, 8, this September via Neurot Recordings. And here we are. The new song they’ve unveiled in the video below, titled “Warsheep,” is anything but quiet. Rather, it rumbles in classic Ufomammut fashion but also carries something rawer in its punch. Listen to the bassline. Listen to the way the sharp-edged keys cut through. Listen to the way the guitar line cuts through. Listen to how forward the drums are. Something nasty is going on here.

And yet, listen to the vocals, and “Warsheep” might be the cleanest-sounding track Ufomammut have ever put out. Higher- and lower-register layers chant out a verse before full-density tonality unapologetically slams the listener into a bridge and as they continue their march, the space-dominant trio offer gallop, drone, blown-out repetition, and if you actually watch the video, a dude with a box on his head before they degrade into birdsong. Hell, the track is only five minutes. How much more could they have possibly jammed in there? Actually, the real question is how much does “Warsheep” represent the rest of 8 that will invariably surround it? Is it an opener? A centerpiece? These things matter, you know.

Or maybe I’m just a nerd and I can’t wait to hear the album.

Either way, Ufomammut will issue “Warsheep” as a lead-in single to the record and you can find more info and preorder whatnots in the PR wire info that follows the video itself below. As expected, Ufomammut also have a slew of new European tour dates for this Fall. They’re down there too.

Please enjoy:

Ufomammut, “Warsheep” official video

UFOMAMMUT Debuts “Warsheep” Via New Video; Song To Appear On 7″ Single And Upcoming Album 8 Due Through Neurot Recordings In September; Tour Dates Announced

The Italian alchemic juggernaut, UFOMAMMUT, masters of melding uncompromisingly heavy magic with psychedelic swirls, recently announced news of a new studio recording, 8, which shall arrive on 22nd September via Neurot Recordings.

Prior to the release of the 8 LP, UFOMAMMUT delivers an early extract from the record in the form of a video for the song “Warsheep” which you can view [above]. The band describe their intentions of the video, “It is inspired by the lyrics of the song which in itself is a play on the word ‘worship.’ The protagonist takes a symbolic journey from the natural human condition to the trappings of the dogmas of society, religion etc. The principle idea being that thought is blind and is caged into the illusion of being free.” Adding to the video’s eerie atmosphere, the setting is in an abandoned villa in Italy, and the surrounding woodland.

In the spirit of record collecting rituals, and to offer something special to fans ahead of the full album release, UFOMAMMUT is offering “Warsheep” as a limited edition 7″. Available in a small run of 500 pieces, and with the cover handprinted with gold iridescent and red inks on pearlescent paper by Malleus, the record shall be released via Supernatural Cat on 15th June, and is available for preorder via the label’s website, and via Neurot stores too.

Preorders for the Warsheep 7″ are now available HERE.

8 is due for release on September 22nd on vinyl and CD formats via Neurot Recordings and on a limited and regular edition vinyl via Supernatural Cat. Preorder information and more will be revealed over the upcoming months.

UFOMAMMUT has also announced a long list of upcoming European live shows as well, including several major festival performances and an Autumn European tour with Usnea. Additional live shows will be announced in the weeks ahead.

UFOMAMMUT Tour Dates:
6/16/2017 Freak Valley Fest – Netphen, DE
6/18/2017 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
8/04/2017 Disintegrate Your Ignorance Fest – Giavera del Montello, IT
8/05/2017 Rohrbach – Oberösterreich, AU @ Lake On Fire Festival
9/06/2017 Volta – Moscow, RU
9/07/2017 MOD – St. Petersburg, RU
w/ Usnea:
9/30/2017 La Boule Noire – Paris, FR
10/01/2017 Le Ferrailleur – Nantes, FR
10/03/2017 Borderline – London, UK
10/04/2017 Magasin 4 – Brussels, BE
10/05/2017 Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, DE
10/06/2017 Up In Smoke Festival – Pratteln, CH
10/07/2017 Doornroosje – Nijmegen, NL @ Soulcrusher Festival
10/08/2017 Forum – Bielefeld, DE
10/10/2017 Blitz – Oslo, NO
10/11/2017 Klub Undergangen – Stockholm, SE
10/13/2017 Korjaamo – Helsinki, FI @ Blowup Vol. 3 Festival
10/14/2017 Olympia-Kortelli – Tampere, FI
10/16/2017 KB 18 – Copenhagen, DK
10/17/2017 Lido – Berlin, DE
10/18/2017 Markthalle – Hamburg, DE
10/19/2017 Werk 2 – Leipzig, DE
10/20/2017 Firley – Wroclaw, PL
10/21/2017 007 – Prague, CZ
10/22/2017 Keep It Low Festival – Munich, DE

Ufommammut website

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Ufomammut on Twitter

Ufomammut on Instagram

Neurot Recordings website

Neurot Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings on Bandcamp

Neurot Recordings on Twitter

Supernatural Cat website

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Old Iron Sign to Good to Die Records; Lupus Metallorum Due Aug. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Seattle-based imprint Good to Die Records doesn’t mess around when it comes either to taste or supporting its native habitat’s underground, so the signing of noisemaker trio Old Iron feels immediately significant. The band made their debut in 2014 with the atmospheric sludge of Cordyceps — streaming in full at the bottom of this post — and on Aug. 18, they’ll issue their sophomore outing, Lupus Metallorum, as their first offering under the Good to Die banner.

It’s worth noting that while the debut was self-recorded, for Lupus Metallorum the band opted to work with Matt Bayles, whose reputation for capturing tonal expanse for the likes of IsisMastodon, etc., I’m sure I don’t need to recount here. No audio has surfaced from the record as yet, nor the artwork, but August is still a while away, so one assumes we’ll get there before too long.

I also remain a sucker for a well-written press release. You’ll find one below, courtesy of the wire that brings such things:

old iron

OLD IRON signs with Good to Die Records!

Good to Die Records is excited to announce their newest signing: Seattle doomsayers OLD IRON. The label will be releasing their second full length album, Lupus Metallorum, on August 18th, and the group will respond by playing as many shows as they can both at home and throughout the U.S including Northwest Terror Fest happening June 15-17th in their home town. More info and tickets available here.

The tritone—also known as “the Devil’s interval”—is a pairing of notes that are three whole steps apart. It’s simply an interval between two frequencies, but for whatever reason, the human brain translates that pairing as sounding evil. Western composers avoided the note combination for centuries. The church frowned upon its use. It’s strange that two notes could elicit such negative reactions. But this is part of the magic of music—that certain combinations of frequencies trigger specific human emotions. We take for granted that every musician is tapping into some ancient wizardry, practicing some mysterious art we don’t fully understand. Seattle’s amplifier-worship dirge trio Old Iron certainly don’t shy away from the tritone or any other malicious note combination, and their explorations of the emotional implications of dissonance run parallel to their navigation of altered states and archaic sciences.

Lupus Metallorum is the sophomore album by Old Iron. From the opening riff of “Friday Glendale”, the precedent is set for the trio’s no-frills combination of ruthless noise rock and bottom-heavy sludge. Old Iron’s weighty riffs and malevolent stomp taps into the same adrenaline-producing frequency as a battle cry, with guitarist/vocalist Jesse Roberts’ howl summoning the same primitive visceral response as the Western Huns’ harrowing call-to-arms. If Roberts and his cohorts Jerad Shealey (bass) and Trent McIntyre (drums) were merely interested in using their tactics as a study in Pavlovian conditioning, Lupus Metallorum would succeed in making us salivating over their riffs. But Roberts is more interested in other aspects of behavior sciences and scientific approach. “There was never any intended theme,” Roberts says of the muse behind Old Iron’s music, “but in hindsight half of the songs were inspired by experiences I’ve had with ayahuasca and DMT.” Rock music and psychoactive drugs have always played well together, yet in an age where chemical enhancement of music seems reduced to stoned lethargy and molly-induced bump-and-grind, Old Iron’s combination of doomsday riffage and high-grade hallucinogens aims for a far more traumatizing experience, as is evident in the cataclysmic rise-and-fall of the ayahuasca-referencing climax “Banisteriopsis Caapi”.

But Old Iron’s fascination with the mystical sciences doesn’t end with the Devil’s interval and psychedelics. Lupus Metallorum translates to “grey wolf” and references the alchemic term for antimony, a chemical element once known as “monk-killer.” Drawing such sinister ties to metal is only fitting for a band like Old Iron, and the title track’s crushing chords, mauling drum patterns, and throbbing bass only further cement the band’s malignant intentions.

Engineered and produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, ISIS, The Sword) at Red Room Studios in Seattle WA, Lupus Metallorum captures the full weight of a band whose megalithic sound had previously best been experienced live and in the flesh. Good To Die Records is proud to release the album on vinyl in 2017, with tour dates to follow.

http://oldironband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/oldironband/
https://twitter.com/Old_Iron_Band
http://oldiron.bandcamp.com/
http://digital.goodtodierecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/goodtodierecords/
https://twitter.com/goodtodierecrds

Old Iron, Cordyceps (2014)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Big Kizz, Mt. Mountain, Mage, Hypertonus, Lee Van Cleef

Posted in Radio on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

We’re only slightly overdue for a batch of adds to The Obelisk Radio. I need to start setting a reminder or something. By the time this post goes up, my hope is that we’ll actually be off the backup server and back on the full or at least mostly-full playlist. It’s been a long road, as the terrible opening theme to Star Trek: Enterprise once said, but I think Slevin has it ready to roll, and there’s still some rebuilding to do, but I think it can be an ongoing thing working on the new hard drive. We’ve worn the crap out of that backup playlist. It would be nice to not have to use it for a while. Fingers crossed, anyhow.

Whichever server these files wind up on, they’ll be joining some playlist as soon as humanly possible. Let’s do the rundown in the meantime.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for May 22, 2017:

Big Kizz, Eye on You

big kizz eye on you

Some who take on the debut single from Swedish trio Big Kizz will find the band reminiscent of some of the rawer moments of long-running Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose, but for many, an additional draw to the three-track/eight-minute offering (delivered via Tee Pee Records) will be the lineup, which features bassist John Hoyles (Spiders, ex-Witchcraft), guitarist/vocalist Pontus Westerman (also of Lady Banana), and perhaps most notably, drummer Axel Sjöberg in his first recorded appearance after splitting with Graveyard. Turns out he’s still a fantastic drummer. His play in leadoff cut “Eye on You” and the push he brings to “Baby Boy” and the closing Roky Erickson cover “White Faces” will surely lead some to relate Big Kizz to Sjöberg‘s former outfit, if only in their earliest going (which was also on Tee Pee, remember), but the truth is the trio show themselves to be on a different trip throughout Eye on You, as they bring the aforementioned garage stylization forward amid classic boogie and, particularly in “Baby Boy,” nod toward mid-’60s psychedelia in a quick but fluid bridge. The Roky Erickson cover could hardly be more fitting, handclaps and all, but it’s the sense of movement in the two originals that shows the most potential here as Big Kizz seem to set their eyes on establishing their dynamic and building from there. Will be interested to hear what they do with the context of a full-length and if some of the psych in “Eye on You” and “Baby Boy” is relegated to flourish or if it comes to the fore as they develop, but they’re off to a rousing start.

Big Kizz on Thee Facebooks

Big Kizz at Tee Pee Records

 

Mt. Mountain Dust

mt. mountain dust

Devotees and pilgrims of longform psychedelia will no doubt and should rejoice at Dust (on Cardinal Fuzz), the maybe-second long-player from Perth, Australia, five-piece Mt. Mountain, which from its 17-minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points) unfolds a ritual of superior immersion and conscious trance inducement. Over the course of four songs/37 minutes total, Mt. Mountain unfold a sprawl reportedly intended to capture the atmosphere of the Australian Outback — and maybe they get there, I don’t know; I’ve never been — but either way, the balance of repetition and depth in “Floating Eyes” and the shimmer of the nine-minute “Kokoti” speak to a varied ecosystem that, indeed, one might get lost in, never to return. Mellotron, organ, djembe and percussion play a central role in the overarching sense of mind-expansion along with the guitar, bass, vocals, drums, etc., but it’s the combination of elements, the variety between tracks — they’re jam-based, but distinct songs, to be sure — that really stands Dust apart from much of drift-minded modern heavy psych. One advises patience with the drones of the opener and the cautious first steps that the fading in percussion seems to be taking, as the rewards are considerable when it comes to the front-to-back experience Mt. Mountain offer, which is stark, striking, marked by underlying threat and casts a feeling of the infinite that no doubt was the very intent behind its making.

Mt. Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Mage, Green

mage green

Self-released in a six-panel digipak with decidedly grim artwork courtesy of Dominic SohorGreen is the third full-length from Leicestershire, UK, heavy rockers Mage. Last heard from with 2014’s Last Orders (review here), they retain the blend of heavy rock groove and metallic aggression that’s become their signature sound, and continue the march forward in finding a space between post-Down/Orange Goblin dude-rockery and doomlier fare. Vocalist Tom blends harsh growls and a cleaner approach on opener “Nowhere to Nothing” and the later “Primitive Drive” while mostly avoiding sounding like Phil Anselmo, and as guitarist Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy dig into the slower roll of “Eclipse King,” Mage seem to hit the mark they’re shooting for in terms of style and songcraft. The centerpiece title-track has a little more head-bob to its central progression — and then there’s that wah; always fun — but they’re right to mess around with the proportion of stylistic elements throughout to add variety, and the 10-minute closer “Vultures Mass” does well in taking the punch of “Nowhere to Nothing” and “Heroic Elegy” at the album’s start and pushing it outward into a satisfying apex. Straightforward in its intent, given a sense of mass via a recording job at Skyhammer Studios and executed with a clean conscience, Green is the work of a band who know what they want from their sound and know how to make it happen, which, thankfully, they do in these tracks.

Mage on Thee Facebooks

Mage on Bandcamp

 

Hypertonus, Tidal Wave

hypertonus tidal wave

Tidal Wave is the self-issued debut full-length from German instrumentalist three-piece Hypertonus, and it lands some six years after the band first got together, preceded by a semi-eponymous 2013 EP, HPRTNS. If the more-than-half-a-decade stretch seems like a while for a group to get to their first long-player, it might be, but one suspects the Bremen-based troupe comprised of guitarist Patrick Büch, bassist Arne Staats and drummer Hannes Christen spent a significant amount of that time in the jam room developing their sound, because what they cast over this nine-track/45-minute outing is a keen progressivism and chemistry that feels not at all happenstance. With shifts into and out of technically-minded parts that seem to be driven by Staats‘ bass, Hypertonus reportedly tracked Tidal Wave live, and I have no reason not to believe it, particularly given the eight-minute closer “Phantasmagoria (Improvisation Jam),” which departs from the quick psych-meditation of “Aeropause” and the almost jazzy rhythms and post-rock guitar of “Expect the Sky Below” to bring the band’s style even more to life for the listener to take on. It’s a heady release, and some of the changes come across as willfully choppy — playing with expectation in a “now we’re over here!” kind of way — but there’s a marked sense of accomplishment throughout that’s nothing if not well earned.

Hypertonus on Thee Facebooks

Hypertonus on Bandcamp

 

Lee Van Cleef, Holy Smoke

lee van cleef holy smoke

Pressed to gorgeous-sounding vinyl by White Dwarf Records last November, the five-track instrumental Holy Smoke is the debut LP from Naples, Italy, jammers Lee Van Cleef, and aside from its righteously striking cover art, one finds primary impressions in the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Pietro Trinità La Tegola, the molten lysergism in Marco Adamo‘s guitar and the grounding-but-not-too-grounding effectiveness of drummer Guido Minervini in anchoring a jam like the 13-minute “Banshee,” which takes the best lessons of groups like Germany’s Electric Moon and Portugal’s Black Bombaim and brings them to methodical, engagingly rumbling fruition. Nod persists through the more uptempo, Tee Pee Records-style centerpiece “Hell Malo,” but the three-piece seem even more comfortable dug into the post-Sleep riffing of the subsequent “Mah?na,” finishing that track with a standout wash of a guitar lead ahead of the brighter-feeling closer “Towelie,” which underscores an otherworldly vibe that turns out to have been in Holy Smoke all along. Lee Van Cleef have already followed Holy Smoke up with a single titled “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” (discussed here) — it’s worth noting that this album starts with “Heckle Yuppies,” so they’re not fans of them either — and one can’t imagine it will be long before they answer back with another full-length offering. The question is how they’ll ultimately distinguish themselves from the crowded European jam-based heavy psych underground, but there’s nothing in these tracks to give the impression they can’t or won’t do so as they continue to grow.

Lee Van Cleef on Thee Facebooks

White Dwarf Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Coeur Atomique: New Project from Voivod Founder Announces Landscape of Emergency I Debut Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

coeur atomique

Founding Voivod bassist Jean-Yves ‘Blacky’ Thériault has announced that his new project, Coeur Atomique, will release its debut album July 10. Preorders are up now for what’s been given the title Landscape of Emergency I from the low-end-centric experimentalist two-piece of Theriault and fellow bassist Monica Emond. Comprised of six songs, the 42-minute offering basks in progressive textures and markedly atmospherics, but holds firm to a sense of movement across its span as lines from Thériault and Emond intertwine and feel their way through songs like “Castle Bravo” and “The Waste,” both of which you can hear below.

Thériault, who co-founded Voivod in 1981 with still-missed guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, left that band following the release of their latest full-length, Target Earth, in 2013. Coeur Atomique — which seems to have originally been called Landscape of Emergency — will use its first long-player as the launch point for a series of releases exploring social themes through instrumentalist means, and already one finds considerable resonance in its focus on tonality, presentation and depth.

Landscape of Emergency I is available now to preorder direct from Coeur Atomique, and you’ll find the link in the info below, which comes courtesy of the band via the PR wire:

coeur-atomique-landscape-of-emergency-i

CŒUR ATOMIQUE is a bassists duo formed by Monica Emond and Jean-Yves Thériault (Voivod, The Holy Body Tattoo). During live performances, their music written for two basses and electronics is accompanied with powerful film projections. Art, they say, is meant to act and to resist! Watch our videos on Youtube.

Their first album called Landscape of Emergency I ~ will be released on vinyl by July 10th, 2017. Pre-order it now through coeuratomique.org. The digital format is already available. This album is the first part of the Landscape of Emergency series of releases which address the silencing machine of ignorance of indifference…

Landscape of Emergency I ~ Song List
1. Fail Safe
2. Calutron
3. Castle Bravo
4. The Waste
5. Berghof
6. Green Run

http://coeuratomique.org/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6An1AAp1UQehEsvKzvOCVA

Coeur Atomique, “The Waste”

Coeur Atomique, “Castle Bravo”

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Desert Wizards Post “The Man Who Rode Time” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

desert wizards

Italian four-piece Desert Wizards are gearing up to release their third full-length, Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, this July through long-running nuance-purveyors Black Widow Records, and while the band’s name and album title might both lead one to expect a heavy psychedelic or stoner rock vibe, the graceful keyboard work, slow progressive drift and purposeful clarity of production in “The Man Who Rode Time” would seem to argue otherwise. The song, for which the Ravenna outfit have a brand new video that you can watch below, is the first audio to come from Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, and particularly in light of the clip, it carries a surprisingly melancholic overtone.

Taken in comparison to Desert Wizards‘ second outing, Ravens, which was issued in 2013, and they would seem to have moved away from some of the former psychedelic influence under which they were working, but to listen to a song like “Burn into the Sky,” with its subtly doomed riffing, and then put on “The Man Who Rode Time,” one would almost think it was two different bands. Whether that’s a conscious creative leap or a happenstance of progression, and just how much “The Man Who Rode Time” might represent the entirety of Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, I don’t know, but with the video’s cinematic, drama-fueled feel and clear narrative of depressive frustration, there’s clearly more at work from Desert Wizards than genre conventionalism and a lengthy album name.

Info, and especially info in English, about the forthcoming long-player is pretty sparse, but you can watch the video for “The Man Who Rode Time” below, and everything I’ve seen about Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom points to a summer release, should you want to keep an eye out.

Either way, please enjoy:

Desert Wizards, “The Man Who Rode Time” official video

From the album ” Beyond The Gates Of The Cosmic Kingdom” out on Black Widow Records.

Desert Wizards are:
Marco Mambelli: Vox/Bass/Synth
Marco Goti: Guitars
Anna Fabbri: Organ/Vox
Silvio Dalla Valle: Drums

Desert Wizards on Thee Facebooks

Desert Wizards on Bandcamp

Black Widow Records website

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Naxatras Begin Recording New Album; Self-Titled Vinyl Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

naxatras

Winning news all around from Greek heavy psych rockers Naxatras, as they’ve begun the recording process for their third studio full-length as of yesterday and released their 2015 self-titled debut as a gatefold 2LP. Based in Thessaloniki, the three-piece of guitarist John Delias, bassist/vocalist John Vagenas and drummer Kostas Harizonis have been garnering acclaim from and beyond Europe’s underground since first issuing their debut two years ago thanks to languid jams like “Shiva’s Dance” and the classic-style fuzz drift of “Downer,” and it’s hard to imagine that by the time this post is live, the vinyl won’t be well on its way to sold out. They only pressed 500.

Among its endearing qualities, Naxatras‘ Naxatras basks in an ultra-natural tonality that would turn even the most loyalist of the vintage aficionados envious. From its 10-minute opener “I am the Beyonder” through the gently progressive roll of “Waves” and the push, blown-out drift, spoken preach and meandering guitar lines of “Ent,” which caps, the album cast aesthetic worries aside in favor of making its impression through immediate chemistry between its players, who recorded live, analog, no overdubs, in a single day. The vitality of performance became the self-titled’s signature, and it’s something that last year’s follow-up, II (review here), continued to develop along with their overall scope.

One can only hope the thread will continue for what may or may not be called III upon its arrival. I’ve yet to hear of a confirmed date for Naxatras‘ next release, but when and if I do, I’ll certainly let you know. In the meantime, plans seem to be in the works for a Fall 2017 European tour, since the band has been confirmed for the lineup of Keep it Low 2017 in Munich, Germany.

The following was culled together from a few different posts, but brings confirmation direct from the band:

naxatras self titled

They’re here!!!

Two years after the release of our first album, we finally present you its vinyl form!

Double-LP with an analog cutting from the original master tapes by Jesus I. Agnew at Magnetic Fidelity in a lovely gatefold cover by CHRIS RW!

The album was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs during a single day in January 2015. ATR Magnetic Master Tape in 1/4″ was used as the master tape, in a half-track stereo configuration.

Order here: https://naxatras.bandcamp.com/album/naxatras

21st of May we enter the studio to record our 3rd album.

Uber-hyped to play Keep It Low Festival 2017 this October among so many awesome bands!!

Rest of the European Autumn Tour will be announced really soon too, so stay tuned friends…

Naxatras is:
John Delias – Guitar
Kostas Harizanis – Drums
John Vagenas – Bass & Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/naxatras/
https://naxatras.bandcamp.com/

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Friday Full-Length: Mad Season, Above

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Mad Season, Above (1995)

Sometimes you just have to wonder how an artist or a band got away with making the record they made. Mad Season‘s Above was released in 1995, in the post-Kurt Cobain wain of the Seattle grunge era, and I suppose the enticing tagline for Columbia Records was probably something along the lines of, “Features members of Pearl JamScreaming Trees and Alice in Chains,” but even given that, with its ultra-dark cover art by vocalist Layne Staley (the Alice in Chains component) and a collection of correspondingly melancholic, mostly quiet and depressive-if-soulful songs, Above was hardly a fit alongside Celine Dion or Mariah Carey, from both of whom the label also released studio outings that year. “Lifeless Dead?” Come on.

Still, I remember hearing “River of Deceit” on the radio when it came out, so to say the least, it was a different era. Mad Season was the product of Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready meeting blues bassist John Baker Saunders in rehab, starting a trio with Skin Yard/Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin and finally recruiting Staley on vocals partially with the hope of getting him clean from what was by then an already well documented history of abusing heroin. I guess it just kind of happened that the aesthetic they hit on was a grown-up incarnation of the style their main outfits played — an adult grunge — still heavy and edgy in its approach, but given a sense of class through Saunders‘ low end and the patient flow within the tracks that felt both immediately accessible and decidedly non-commercial.

Above is awash in hooks, from the minimalist opener and longest track (immediate points) “Wake Up” with its gorgeous showcase of the sadness that no one since Staley has been able to convey and none of his contemporaries could match, through the more rocking “I’m Above,” the almost folkish “River of Deceit,” and down through the rolling “I Don’t Know Anything” and percussive, sax-laden lounge-vibing “Long Gone Day,” which is one of two inclusions on the original version of the record alongside “I’m Above” to feature Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan, pre-Queens of the Stone Age but already by that point established as a solo artist, to brilliant affect in a layered duet. But as catchy as it gets — and even the six-minute ramble “Artificial Red” is catchy — Above never feels cloying or like it’s grasping for its audience’s attention in the way that some later grunge records do, having given up the urgency that fueled them as the players moved from being punk and noise acts and into what would ultimately break them through to a wider audience and define a generation of rock and roll. It’s not by any means a friendly record.

A big part of that is directly attributable to Staley‘s vocal performance, and it’s a spirit that almost immediately following Above‘s release he’d take back with him to Alice in Chains for the recording of their later-1995 self-titled on songs like “Shame in You.” Though Above nearly digs itself a hole with the seven-minute guitar-led jam “November Hotel” as the penultimate cut, that only seems to make Staley‘s voice feel like that much more of a treasure when it shows up again late in the atmospheric finale “All Alone,” a wash of its own, no less immersive than the spacious keys and guitar, subtle percussion and gentle bassline that back it. As distinct as he was in his approach, there was just about no way he wouldn’t become a defining presence in Mad Season, and though the band would only do this one studio release before his death from an overdose in 2002 — 15 years ago now — his contributions to Above provide some of the clearest evidence of just how special he was as an artist and a once-in-a-generation figure, and of course, it’s the work that lives on.

In 2013, Columbia reissued Above in a deluxe edition with bonus material from a never-released second album with Lanegan as frontman (they worked under the name Disinformation at the time, circa 1997), and a DVD of live footage and more. Saunders also died of an overdose, in 1999, so a full reunion was never possible, but in addition to that reissue, McCready and Martin joined forces with Guns ‘n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan — the economist — and Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell to perform a set in Jan. 2015 with the Seattle Symphony that was quietly released as a live album released later that same year. There was once again discussion of new material at the time, but to-date nothing has come to fruition.

The bottom line is Above feels even more resonant today than it did 22 years ago, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for listening.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the passing, first reported yesterday and apparently the result of suicide, of Chris Cornell. I had already chosen to finish the week with this record when I saw the news, but though he made it longer than either Cobain or Staley, I don’t think anyone who appreciated any of his work in Soundgarden or elsewhere who wouldn’t say he was taken too soon, and all the more tragically by his own hand. For someone who touched so many lives and influenced a generation of singers in his wake — let alone someone with three teenage kids — to feel so empty while having so much to live for boggles the mind, but until you’ve been there, you don’t know.

Cornell was arguably the best singer of his Seattle-based generational contemporaries — Staley was more emotive but didn’t have the range to soar Glenn Hughes-style like Cornell could, Cobain was a punker, Lanegan’s a bluesman and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder might stand up as a comparison point in terms of charisma, but never had the force of delivery that seemed to come so naturally from Cornell. I’ve never been the biggest Soundgarden fan, but his is a significant, irreplaceable loss.

Maybe you saw, maybe you didn’t, but I announced on the social medias last weekend that The Patient Mrs. and I are expecting. It’s a boy, due somewhere around Oct. 15. He’s got a name, but mostly we’ve been calling him “The Pecan” because it sounds less threatening than “The Impending” — which was my alternative — and a few weeks ago, The Patient Mrs.’ you’re-going-to-have-a-baby app said the fetus was the size of “a Southern pecan,” which was hilarious to us both because how the hell big is that and what difference does it make if it’s Southern? If he’s born with a Molly Hatchet shirt on or some shit, I’m going to be really, genuinely surprised.

But anyway, that’s the big news I’ve been hinting toward around here. I mentioned the Pecan in my Roadburn coverage, briefly, and subsequently removed the reference, but a couple people caught it and I saw some speculation, so there you go. The Pecan. Due in October. Life changes.

Do I know how it will affect this site? Nope. My thing all along has been not knowing how whatever comes along will affect the site, and it’s worked out pretty well, so I’m gonna roll with that and go where it takes me.

Fatherhood. Oof.

Anyway, though conversations about said Pecan occupy just about my every day at this point, there’s still a while to go before the guy actually shows up and plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. For example! — my job is ending in less than a month. Unemployment. Again. I’ve learned a few valuable lessons in my year at Hasbro and I’m appreciative of that, but apart from the salary hit I can’t say I’m heartbroken to move on. Truth be told, I’ve never enjoyed working for anyone but myself. If I had any money to start a business, that’s what I’d do with it.

But I don’t. So maybe stay-at-home-dad for as long as I can and then see what comes along. If I can pick up something part-time and/or remote, all the better. Somebody has to need an editor, right?

On that note, here’s what’s up for next week, subject to change as always. Straight from the notes:

Mon.: Radio Adds, Desert Wizards video, and some cool Naxatras news.
Tue.: Elder review, Ephedra video premiere, update from Keep it Low and more.
Wed.: WhiteNails review/album stream, Year of the Cobra Six Dumb Questions.
Thu.: Trippy Wicked video premiere, maybe another track premiere (waiting to see what shakes out), otherwise a Demon Head review.
Fri.: Vokonis video premiere/album review.

That’s where we’re at now, though, yeah, some stuff is still up in the air.

Staying home this weekend, as opposed to driving to Connecticut, and hoping for a laid back couple days in the air conditioning watching baseball as one does during the summer. The Patient Mrs. and I were talking about going to see Alien Covenant tomorrow morning — 10:40AM IMAX showing, baby; we roll in style — but that’s tentative. Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a great and safe time.

Thanks for reaching, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Festum Carnis 2017: Private Festival to Feature Astral Cult, Nachtmystium, Ninth Moon Black and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

If you want to get a sense of how remote the area surrounding the Blue Mountain Event Center in Wilseyville, California, is, just look at it on a map. Surrounded by small towns — Bummerville (not kidding) is to the north — one finds Wilseyville about an hour and a half due east of Sacramento and two and a half hours from the Bay Area. Far enough to be far out, which seems all the more befitting a private festival like Festum Carnis 2017, the full lineup for which has been unveiled and which revels in a deep variety of metallic extremity and underground heft.

Hard not to have the eye caught by one-time US black metal innovators Nachtmystium taking part, and for the sake of the fest in general I hope they show up, but there are many, many others involved as well, from Sacramento psych rockers Astral Cult to thrashers like From Hell and Bombscare. If you want to go camping for the three-night event, you need to get in touch with the fest and secure a place on the guest list, and the info on how to do so follows here, along with the complete lineup and much more, all courtesy of the PR wire:

festum carnis 2017 lineup poster

FESTUM CARNIS, a Northern California Open-Air Metal and Camping Festival, is pleased to unveil the lineup for its 2017 incarnation, which will take place on July 7th through 9th at the Blue Mountain Event Center in Wilseyville, CA. In its fifth year, and third at this venue in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, Festum Carnis invites you – worshippers of all things heavy and close to nature – to come witness the sonic rituals put on by over 25 artists who span the spectrum of underground heavy music, and camp out for up to 3 nights under the light of a full moon.

Blue Mountain Event Center, comprised of over 210 acres of mountainous private property with a running creek, trout pond and A.T.V trails, will open its gate on Friday afternoon for all our Guests who obtained their Passes in advance to arrive and set up camp at designated areas. Food and drinks are available at the bar inside the barn. The barn is what becomes center stage for FESTUM CARNIS that evening as the weekend festivities are kicked off with performances from acts including Nocturnal Slaughter of Portland, Reno’s Ostracized, Dead War from Santa Cruz, The New Plague from Northern California & renowned San Diego black metallers Ruines ov Abaddon. The first night of the fest closes out with the nostalgic sounds of the 80s with San Jose synthwave phenom Vector Hold.

Saturdays schedule includes performances by: standout Southern California black metal bands Conjuror, Skyeater, Coldvoid & Ritual; mock-rock greats Monkeysoop; Portland’s post-rock/psych-sludge outfit Ninth Moon Black and Oakland’s Heavy Metal/Horror supergroup FROM HELL. Late that evening, as the near full moon soars above us and the shadows of the trees shroud us in black, Illinois Black Metal legends NACHTMYSTIUM will take to the stage for what should be a transcendent set. Recently reformed and returning to the scene by way of 2 exclusive 2017 festival appearances, the band will be performing their 2004 EP “Eulogy IV” and 2005 LP “Instinct: Decay” both in their entirety.

Including sets from Lesions, Wandern, Fountain of Bile, Maldicion & more – Sunday, the final day of music and camping at Festum Carnis, is by no means a lazy day or a day to skip for travelling home. Take the always-dreaded Monday off of work and enjoy one final night of ritualistic sonic performances, which will be capped off with a spellbinding performance from Sacramento psychedelic/occult doomsters Astral Cult.

Saturday and Sunday mornings will not have performances scheduled in order to allow guests rest from the night before. For those that like to operate on little to no sleep, the mornings will feature staff-organized activities, games and workshops including a Guitar workshop with Jerry Conner of Monkeysoop, Caricature art with Missy of Monkeysoop and more! Also available for use are the many hiking trails on the property that are just asking to be ventured through, the nearby running creek and pedal boats on the trout pond. Raffles and various organized competitions will also take place throughout both days, with festival merch and other miscellaneous goodies as prizes.

FESTUM CARNIS is brought to you by Arcane Inc., a DreamMaker Project of The Ink People non-profit organization of Eureka, CA. We are honored to be sponsored this year by Broken Psyche Productions, Lagunitas Brewing, The Lazy Cocoon, and Blackstorm Music.

Please note, FESTUM CARNIS is a PRIVATE EVENT, with a VERY limited amount of tickets available. Before tickets can be purchased, an invite must be requested and confirmed. No tickets will be sold at the gates, and anyone who is not confirmed to the guest list will be denied entry. Pre-ordering tickets before the day of event IS IMPERATIVE. To request an invite, and for further information, please visit us @ http://www.festumcarnis.com/

Festum Carnis reserves the right to make adjustments and changes as necessary.

FESTUM CARNIS 2017, Full Lineup (In Alphabetical Order):
Astral Cult – Sacramento, CA (Occult Doom)
Awakened Abyss – San Jose, CA (Black Metal)
Bavmorda – Central Valley, CA (Death Metal)
Bombscare – Bakersfield, CA (Thrash Metal)
Cold Void – Southern California (Black Metal)
Conjuror – Los Angeles, CA (Black Metal/War Metal)
Dead War – Santa Cruz, CA (Blackened Death/Thrash)
Eviscerate – Santa Cruz, CA (Death Metal)
Fountain of Bile – Santa Cruz, CA (Death Metal)
From Hell – Oakland, CA (Death/Thrash Metal)
Incredulous – Napa, CA (Thrash Metal)
Lesions – Los Osos, CA (Hardcore/Doom)
Maldicion – Bakersfield, CA (Black Metal)
Monkeysoop – Texas (Experimental/Weird-Rock)
Nachtmystium – Illinois (Psychedelic Black Metal)
Ninth Moon Black – Portland, OR (Instrumental Psych/Doom)
Nocturnal Awakening – Los Osos, CA (Black Metal)
Nocturnal Slaughter – Portland, OR (Death Metal)
Ostracized – Reno, NV (Stoner/Nerd Metal)
Ritual – Los Angeles, CA (Black Metal)
Ruines ov Abaddon – San Diego, CA (Black Metal)
Skyeater – Los Angeles, CA (Black Metal)
StormBat – Santa Cruz, CA (Thrash Metal)
Suicide Forest – Tucson, AZ (Depressive Black Metal)
The New Plague – Northern California (Death/Black Metal)
Trial By Combat – Bay Area, CA (Death/Groove Metal)
Vector Hold – San Jose, CA (Outrun/Dark Synth)
Wandern – Placerville, CA (Metal)

http://www.festumcarnis.com/
https://www.facebook.com/FestumCarnis/
http://www.twitter.com/festumcarnis

Astral Cult, The Sacred Flame (2016)

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