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

Tags: , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: Backwoods Payback & Cavern September Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cavern

backwoods payback

Easiest conversation I had last week went like this, “Hey man, we’re doing some shows with Cavern, you wanna present the tour?” “Yes. Duh.”

That’s not quite verbatim, but it’s enough to give you the gist anyhow, and when it’s Backwoods Payback doing the asking, the answer’s just about always going to be yes. Even if I hadn’t seen the Pennsylvania/Virginia three-piece last month at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here) and been so thoroughly blown away, they’re reliable the way people think of sunrise as being reliable, and I’m too busy indulging delusions of relevance any time they ask for anything to say no. “Well, if Backwoods think it’s cool, I must be on to something,” and so on.

But lo! There’s intrigue here too, as the Marylanders Cavern will be heading out in their newfangled trio incarnation, having welcomed bassist Rose Heater to the lineup with guitarist/synthesist Zach Harkins and drummer Stephen Schrock and, for the first time, turning not just from a two-piece to a three-piece, but from an instrumental to a vocal-topped outfit as well. In order to “demonstrate their style” — as Madball once put it — Cavern put up the post-rocky, prog-tinged single “Fade Before the Flood” in April. You can hear it streaming down at the bottom of this post. Indeed, it sounds like something I’d want to check out live.

And because any excuse to put it on and I’m happy, I’ve included Backwoods Payback‘s 2018 album, Future Slum (review here), as well. I know you’ve heard me say it a ton of times by now, but if you haven’t given that record its due, the time is now. Quick, before they put out another one!

Genuinely thrilled to be involved here in the small way I am. Go see these bands on this tour:

backwoods payback cavern tour dates

Cavern & Backwoods Payback Sept. Tour:
09/23 Cleveland OH Now That’s Class
09/24 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl
09/25 Erie PA Basement Transmissions
09/26 Buffalo NY Mohawk Place
09/27 Toronto ON Bovine Sex Club
09/28 Montreal QC Turbo Haus
09/29 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie

CAVERN:
Stephen Schrock- Drums
Zach Harkins- Guitar/Synth
Rose Heater- Bass/Vocals

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

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

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

Cavern, “Fade Before the Flood”

Backwoods Payback, Future Slum (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Sergio Ch. Posts “La Familia y las Guerras” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

At the time it came out four years ago in 2015, Sergio Ch.‘s first solo album, 1974 (review here), seemed to take shape directly from out of the third offering from his band Ararat, 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here). The two shared several tracks, among them “La Familia y las Guerras,” and both had an overarching purpose in introspection, an intimate feel that manifested in experimentalist-tinged folk in one and brash heavy punk/rock in the other. Still, they were linked, and with Sergio Chotsourian‘s songwriting at the epicenter, they held a consistency that went beyond whatever sonic disparities there may have been. Different appeal, same level of quality between them.

Chotsourian has since gone on to form the trio Soldati and begin to dole out singles and other short releases ahead of an eventual full-length, and he’s also put out the second acoustic-ish album, 2017’s Aurora (review here), as well as several collaborative efforts of various stripes, but I still break out 1974 on occasion, and songs like “La Familia y las Guerras” are a big part of why. Arrangement-wise, there’s nothing outlandish about it, and it’s not as drone even as some of the material on the subsequent full-length would be, but it carries a nonetheless open feel and is spacious thanks to a bit of echo while still staying intimate in a close-up-to-the-mic vocal-style from Chotsourian, who if he didn’t record it live certainly gives a convincing facsimile of having done so.

As to why now would be a time to make a video for a song on a record that was released so long ago, I’d only ask the obvious question: “Who cares?” In addition to the aforementioned and long-bandied Soldati long-player, there’s been word that Chotsourian will do another solo offering under his own name, and that will be something to look forward to, but in the meantime, why not shut up and take what one can get? If that’s going for a backwards walk in some hot-looking desert space, then so be it. One could, of course, do a lot worse, both in the video and in life generally.

I’ve also included the full 1974 stream below, in case it’s been a while.

Enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “La Familia y las Guerras” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “1974”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR MILAGROS ARROM Y LUCAS MARTINEZ

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., 1974 (2015)

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Starmonger Release Revelation IV EP

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

starmonger

Look, we’ve been worried. Your mother and I have been talking — oh, you didn’t know your mother and I spoke? well, we do, regularly — and we just thought that your life had already gone on far too long without a song called “Rise of the Fishlords” in it. I’m not saying you have to live a certain way, but wouldn’t you rather have “Rise of the Fishlords” in your life? I think you would. I think it might make you a better person. I think it might make us all better people. We’ll grow — together. That’s what it’s all about. Your mom told me to say that.

Okay so maybe your mom and I don’t chat on the regular. I don’t even have her number, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be bothering her about stuff like fishlords, but Parisian trio Starmonger have a another in their series of two-songer Revelation EPs out — Revelation IV, which reportedly will be the last one — and I thought maybe it was worth your time, not the least for the winning title of its opener. Just having a little fun.

I hear tell there’s a Starmonger compilation/LP in the works of all these Revelations, so that’ll be worth keeping an eye out for, but in the meantime, Revelation IV is name-your-price on Bandcamp, so have at it:

starmonger revelation iv

Starmonger – Revelation IV

In 2015, Steve (bass) and Arthur (guitar) began incorporating modern stoner rock influences and orientations to their jams. They quickly recorded their first homemade demo, “Revelation”, and after offering several drummers in ritual sacrifices, they were joined by Seb in 2017 on heavy-drumming duty.

With their next EPs, “Revelation II” and “III”, Starmonger continued its search for expanding and thickening its own sound. As they refuse to stay stuck with the same old recipe, Steve, Arthur and Seb keep experimenting with old school 70s rock and mesmerizing, fuzz-soaked stoner rock beats, while adding a progressive dimension to the raw power and efficiency of a power-trio format. Throughout their songs, the band evoke strange and phantasmagoric B-movies and pulp stories, from post-apocalyptic deserts to unfathomable beasts from the abyss.

2019 is packed with promises, along with multiple gigs around Paris in April and May, and a new self-produced EP “Revelation IV”.

“Revelation IV” was written, recorded and home produced in Paris, France. No human was actually drowned or murdered by sea monsters during production. All tracks written and performed by Starmonger.

1. Rise Of The Fishlords 07:57
2. Lethe 06:11

Starmonger is:
Steve : Bass & Vocals
Arthur : Guitars
Seb : Drums

https://www.facebook.com/starmonger.official/
https://starmonger.bandcamp.com/

Starmonger, Revelation IV (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Alice in Chains, Alice in Chains

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Alice in Chains, Alice in Chains (1995)

I’m sure one exists, but I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a darker pop album than Alice in Chains‘ 1995 self-titled LP, and I just can’t come up with anything. Sure, most of its singles — opener “Grind,” the later “Again” with its inconsistent but catchy “boop-boop” hook, and even the acoustic-led “Heaven Beside You” — were rockers, but is 1992’s genre-defining classic Dirt was an exploration of the pain and longing of addiction, then surely the 64-minute, 12-song Alice in Chains captured something of its depths. Of course, it would be the band’s final album with frontman Layne Staley before the singer’s recession into heroin use and his eventual death in 2002 at the age of 34. That context, and the fact that until guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney released Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009 with then-new frontman William DuVall, it was their last record, period, unquestionably informs the listening experience, and songs like “Brush Away,” “Sludge Factory,” “Head Creeps,” “God Am,” “Nothin’ Song” and “Frogs” are that much darker for it, with the finale “Over Now” originally written by Cantrell about his girlfriend at the time, but seeming to mourn the band itself in the lines, “You know it’s been on my mind/could I stand right there/Look myself in the eye and say that it’s over now?/We pay our debt sometime.” One way or the other, there seemed to be an acknowledgement there that something was drawing to a close.

And so it was. Alice in Chains followed the 1994 EP Jar of Flies, which like the band’s preceding short release, 1992’s Sap (discussed here), was driven primarily by acoustic material — plus one goof track, lest they take themselves too seriously — which had followed the radio success of Dirt singles like “Would?” and “Rooster” with its own string of hits in “No Excuses” and “I Stay Away.” Neither of the self-titled’s harder singles — that’s “Grind” and “Again” — would have the same reach as “Heaven Beside You” or “Over Now,” but whether a given song was loud or quiet or brash and doomed as was “Sludge Factory” or even daring to show a little hope as was the particularly gorgeously harmonized “Shame in You,” which by my estimation is a lost treasure of the band’s discography, not the least for its meandering finish, which is something they rarely let themselves do, Alice in Chains was consuming and dark, varied in its execution but consistent in its message. With Cantrell — who would release his first solo album, Boggy Depot, three years later in 1998 and later tour with DuVall (also of Comes with the Fall) in his band — taking on the bulk of the songwriting duties, the songs had a largely unified perspective, and with Staley‘s addiction to heroin well documented as by then taking its toll on his ability to function in the band and more generally in life, it was the guitarist who stepped in to fill the void, essentially readjusting the balance that had been at work in Alice in Chains since (before) 1990’s Facelift, their debut album. Indeed, especially in light of Boggy Depot and its vastly-underrated follow-up, 2002’s Degradation TripAlice in Chains is very much emblematic of Cantrell‘s songwriting approach in its maturity, which of course would continue to manifest during Alice in Chains‘ second run beginning with their reunion in 2005.

alice in chains self titled

That isn’t to minimalize Staley‘s contributions vocally, however. “Head Creeps” was a six-and-a-half-minute chasm of grim psychedelic impact and tension with his voice overtop, and though its guitar patterning was more indicative of Cantrell‘s poppier work, “God Am” still bore the haunting quality that Staley brought to “Sludge Factory” and “Brush Away” immediately before it, following “Grind” in an opening salvo that seemed to push further into an abyss before “Heaven Beside You” stepped in to provide some measure of respite. Playing that dynamic, and indeed Staley and Cantrell, off each other — with the always-inventive drumming of Kinney and Inez‘s clinic-in-class bass as a foundation — became the push and pull of Alice in Chains, and the material thrived on the overarching conflict. Listening to it nearly a quarter-century later, it does not sound like an easy record to have made, and by all reports, it wasn’t, but its emotional basis, troubled sensibility and sheer level of craft still resonate, whether it’s the manic “So Close” or the sweet melodies corrupted in “Frogs,” which moved from its solidified hook into a wandering nod-off of Staley seeming to predict his own death in mumbles as the instruments behind offered a darker take on “Shame in You”‘s wandering sensibility, this time feeling isolated and almost nihilistic. Is it any wonder that “Over Now” began with a sample of “Good Night” by jazz bandleader Ted Lewis? What else was there to say?

Naturally, though it seemed like it would be their last record after Staley‘s death, Alice in Chains wasn’t the last music the band produced in this incarnation. In 1996, the live recording of their appearance on MTV Unplugged — I remember watching it on its first airing; it was incredible — became a hit in its own right, and two songs, “Get Born Again” and “Died,” recorded in 1998 for inclusion with the Music Bank box set. They would be the last tracks Staley recorded with Alice in Chains, though he also appeared on a cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall” on a 1998 movie soundtrack as part of the assembled one-off “supergroup” Class of ’99 with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and members of Jane’s Addiction. It was less than a career highlight.

Last year, Alice in Chains marked the release of their third post-Staley LP, Rainier Fog (discussed here), and the fact that they’ve gone 10 years with three records out with DuVall means they’ve at this point been around longer without him than with and put out as many albums. I won’t take away from the quality of Rainier Fog in manifesting a persona for Alice in Chains having moved forward in a way that even the prior 2013 outing, The Devil Put the Dinosaurs Here, and Black Gives Way to Blue couldn’t, but there are many for whom Staley‘s work in the band remains an essential facet. There are arguments to be made for either side, and frankly, I’m not interested in laying them out or begrudging a band whose work has legitimately changed my life their finding a path and continued success along it. Either way, their ’90s-era recordings stand as testament to the force they were at the time in creativity, performance and presence, and of those, Alice in Chains remains singularly affecting.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Been up early the last two days. Like 1:45AM. Yesterday I was like, “Duh, I’ll get up and get all my writing done and then I can just relax when the baby naps and that’ll be great because I have infinite energy and I can just sit and read and there’s no way I’ll immediately fall asleep or anything.” Clearly that was dumb. Today was less of a conscious choice. I was just up. I tried to go back to sleep for an hour, read some, and then finally decided to say screw it and start the day. Coffee, Alice in Chains, the whole bit. It’s quarter-after-four now. I had the notion of going to 7-Eleven at around three to buy a bag of ice, but wanted to get this post done first. I may yet head out. It’s like three minutes away. Not such a journey. I used to walk there when I was a kid, probably listening to Dirt or Suicidal Tendencies’ Art of Rebellion or whatever on my Walkman.

We were back in Massachusetts earlier this week. Monday, I guess it was. The Patient Mrs. was giving a talk on campus up there — one of her last duties to Bridgewater State unless you count emptying her office and teaching an online class — so I went up as well and packed vinyl and a bunch of other stuff from the kitchen and around. Most of what’s left is like stuff from closets and furniture. The closing date on that place is in about a month, so hopefully nothing falls through with the buyer between now and then and we can be done with it, get everything else out before we close. We came back down to Jersey on Tuesday and have been here since, are staying here through the impending terrible heat this weekend. No central air, but window units should do the job fairly enough. One hopes, anyhow. There’s a ton to do in this house. Everyone is overwhelmed. Tense. Could probably stand to get laid.

This was my grandmother’s house before she died, we’re buying it from my mother. It’s been cleaned up, but not really cleaned out, so as we’re basically moving a house’s worth of stuff into it from, you know, our house in Massachusetts, there’s a concurrent house’s worth of stuff we’re moving out from here. Some of that has been donated, some my mother has taken, some is stuff my sister was storing here, some is going to my cousin, some we’re keeping, etc., but everything is an emotionally fraught process, and there is a fucking ton of it. Plus we found a leak in the wall upstairs in the rain yesterday and god fucking knows what that portends in terms of repair. Six years ago, when we moved to MA, we just packed our shit and left. This has thus far been much more complicated, and we have a long way to go.

But eventually, that will result in a new dishwasher, and I sincerely look forward to that.

Today at 1PM Eastern is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s my tribute to Maryland Doom Fest 2019, just playing some of the bands and talking about the festival a bit. It was a good time, so I wanted to highlight that. Call me nostalgic if you must.

Next week? Wolf Blood review, I think. With the AIC done, I’m listening to that record now and it’s pretty killer. Then maybe Morass of Molasses and we’ll see about the rest. Lo-Pan have a show in Teaneck next week that I’m going to hit up ahead of seeing them with C.O.C. in August, so I’ll review that — I don’t expect much in terms of lighting — and there are a couple sweet-ass The Obelisk Presents announcements coming as well, so keep an eye out.

The rest is and will be what it is and will be.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. If you’re someplace warm, stay cool and hydrate. If you’re someplace cool, get some good snuggles going. Who doesn’t like snuggles?

Thanks again for reading. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , ,

Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour: Beautiful Demons

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sacri monti waiting room for the magic hour

It’s been a sneakily long four years since San Diego’s Sacri Monti loosed their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) through Tee Pee Records, and perhaps it’s because they’ve toured steadily — going to Europe at least twice and doing regular stints on the West Coast, etc. — that it doesn’t seem so long. The five-piece also took part in 2017’s Burnout three-way split with Harsh Toke and JOY (review here), so they’ve hardly been absent, but Waiting Room for the Magic Hour telegraphs a sense of anticipation with its title, and the eight-song/45-minute outing lives up to that with organ-soaked classic-style heavy rock that draws away from some of the boogie for which their hometown has become so known as the returning lineup of guitarists Brenden Dellar (also vocals) and Dylan Donovan, bassist Anthony Meier (also of Radio Moscow), organist Evan Wenskay and drummer Thomas Dibenedetto delve deeper into proggy-rocky explorations in cuts like “Fear and Fire,” “Starlight,” “Gone from Grace” and the brief penultimate instrumental “Wading in Malcesine.”

The last of those is more of an interlude — its title referring to a lakeside village in northern Italy that one assumes was a stop on some tour or other or at least an escapist fantasy — but still brings Sacri Monti to a place the first album didn’t dare to go with its post-rock guitar drift and Wenskay‘s synth giving the sub-three-minute proceedings an otherworldly feel. That seems to arrive light-years beyond where they start out with the five-minute opening title-track, which keeps to a more straightforward style that, particularly with the vocal patterning, is bound to remind some listeners of where Earthless were on their own last full-length — also earliest Witchcraft — but still keeps its own identity instrumentally as well and sets up moments like the jabbing surge at the end of side A’s “Starlight,” with organ and guitar winding together in an exciting crescendo that touches on Thin Lizzy and rises out of a more straight-ahead hook, itself led into by the instrumental, guitar-driven interlude/shorter piece “Armistice,” to which side B’s aforementioned “Wading in Malcesine” is something of a mirror.

Flow is essential to a work like this and Sacri Monti make it sound easy. Waiting Room for the Magic Hour, though it can seem rhythmically anxious at times as it shifts through its more progressive stretches, but it’s not without its trail markers as it goes farther out, and the place it winds up in closer “You Beautiful Demon” is a genuine surprise: an acoustic and pedal steel near-twang that still derives from Led Zeppelin, but does so in a way that still serves as a ready example of Sacri Monti‘s drive toward individualism. Amidst all the shuffle and ’70s worship of their crowded scene, Sacri Monti are finding a way to both fit in and distinguish themselves in these songs. They’re establishing a richer, less-bound personality to their songwriting that feels comfortable encompassing psychedelia as much as earthy folk-blues strum — back to back, no less — and most importantly, they’re pulling it off.

sacri monti waiting room for the magic hour back cover

Elements in “Fear and Fire” — the longest inclusion at 9:14 — and “Starlight” or even the more patiently melodic side B opener “Affirmation” will seem familiar to those with an affinity either for classic progressive rock or its modern heavy revisionists, but the fluidity of Sacri Monti‘s craft here and the lack of pretense they bring to their instrumentalism, their tonal warmth and overarching groove, help to give Waiting Room for the Magic Hour a distinguishing presence, and the take-it-as-a-whole feel of the album front to back feels not necessarily like a conceptual piece mandating it be experienced in a certain way, but an invitation issued to the listener to come in and sit down for a while and enjoy finding the places where the band end up. Songs like “Starlight,” “Affirmation,” “Gone from Grace” and even “You Beautiful Demon” — let alone the title-track — seem to speak to ideas beyond the bare physical world, and fair enough, but Sacri Monti succeed in carrying their audience along this sometimes-complex path without getting anymore lost along the way than they want to be. That’s the difference between Waiting Room for the Magic Hour being as engaging as it is and a flat mess, which it is not.

Indeed, even the name of the record seems to invite speculation as to meaning. What’s the magic hour? Where’s the waiting room? Beginning with stick clicks and a suitably live feel, the title-track would seem to hint that the show is the magic hour, and the waiting room might be the rest of life — the opening line, “Orange haze fall down on me again,” supports this — and given the place-name in “Wading in Malcesine” speaks to reflections on touring as well, but that’s a simplistic narrative to put to it and what feels more important about Waiting Room for the Magic Hour is the places the record takes Sacri Monti‘s sound, rather than the story behind it, and whether it’s the intricacies of “Armistice” and “Starlight” or the direct way the organ at the end of “Affirmation” seems to lead to the opening guitar line of “Gone from Grace,” there’s a natural vibe that ties the material here together and gives the listener all the more to dig into on repeat visits, putting emphasis on the raw dynamic not just between the two guitars or the instruments and the vocals, but the guitar and bass, the bass and keys, the guitar and keys, the drums and everything, and so on.

Though it often winds up being the guitar in the lead, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour stands on the shoulders of each member’s performance and is even more an accomplishment for what those performances produce. In a vast legion of sun-coated West Coast boogie, it builds something of its own from that foundation and highlights a potential that even the self-titled could only touch on in a tentative way. These songs feel more confident and more realized, and if they’re as much a show of potential as of their own manifestation — that is, if Sacri Monti continue to progress from what they achieve here — even if it takes them another four years to put out a follow-up, that LP will be well worth the wait. These cats could’ve played dumb and written a probably-cool-anyway record of capable ’70s-style heavy rock. They very clearly aimed higher, and they very clearly nailed it.

Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour (2019)

Sacri Monti on Thee Facebooks

Sacri Monti on Instagram

Sacri Monti webstore

Sacri Monti on Soundcloud

Tee Pee Records website

Tee Pee Records on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,