The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Omega – LP // CD // DD
Sulatron Records – Released: Jan 18th, 2018 on DD // CD & LP Feb. 23, 2018
Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt
Blake Fleming – drums
Jeremy White – bass, vox
Gordan Tomić – guitar, vox
Niko Potočnjak – guitar, synth
Review: Why are we here? Mankind has been asking this question for a very long time, with some interesting replies. But have you ever drilled the question down a little deeper? Why am I herehere? Like why am I here writing this on a Sunday morning? Why are you here reading it? WTF does this have to do with Seven That Spells? I promise, there is a point.
And as if a gift from the gods, here’s how Seven That Spells describe their answer on their Facebook page:
Beyond. We are the dogs of western Jazz society looking for dope.
Modern, aggressive psychedelic wall of sound incorporating poly-metrics and occasional Viking funeral rites; hailing from the 23rd century where rock is dead, Seven That Spells returned in time where its still possible to change the tragic course of the boring history.
LOL. I swear I didn’t know they had that up before I posed the question in the first paragraph. In fact, that wasn’t even the point I was going to make – but isn’t it just a little creepy since they claim to be from the future? Like they read this and responded. Perhaps what I was going to say was too boring?
Well now that the course of history is changed, let’s dive into the album. First and foremost, Omega is part 3 of a 3 part series. It started with “AUM” then “IO” and finally “Omega”. I mean, I assume it ends here.
Interestingly, each album follows the same structure. It begins with a track called “In”, which is numbered to identify which part it is in the series. It’s followed up by the title track, which pushes close to 20 mins in each case. That’s followed by 2 more tracks and each album closes with “Out” (simply “Out”, Out II, Out III). Despite only having 5 tracks, these are all full length albums. Though this review is meant to only focus on “Omega”, it’s hard to ignore the previous 2.
Seven That Spells Mastermind, Niko, with his Sword and Sonic Boom!!
Stylistically speaking this is Krautrock. If you’re like me and never even heard the word, I’m not going to explain what it is. Someone has already done this on Wikipedia so I’m just going to hyperlink. And despite STS’s best efforts to railroad me in another direction, I’m going to share why I’m here here. See, I’m into metal – not necessarily mainstream but let’s say the better known genres like black, symphonic, death etc. And here on Taste Nation LLC, we tend to dig a little deeper. Matt Thomas keeps throwing me these strange, lessen known acts from sub-genres I’ve never heard of that stretch my knowledge and more importantly, my comfort zone. I’m forced to think: not outside the box; there is no box. The answer of why am I here here is essentially Seven That Spells. This is my theory on what it’s all about… and I could be wrong, there’s always that possibility too. But here goes…
Traditional music is meant to take you out of your head. The idea is the catchy beat and rhythm take over your brain waves connecting neurons associated with emotion making you feel happy, sad, angry etc. Once overcome with emotion, thought is no longer prevalent. We dance and sing or jump and mosh and just have a crazy good time without really thinking too too much about our troubles at home or work… frustrations with the significant other… kids struggling in school… fuck I think I need to get the brakes done… my boss wants me to do all the work while Dave jerks off in the corner… etc. Music is supposed to wipe all that away. If it’s any good, that’s what it does. But this Krautrock (at least I believe) is intended to do something different.
Instead of taking us out of our heads, it’s my belief that The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock trilogy intends to instead drive us back in. We’re not supposed to dance and sing (not yet). Hell, when there are lyrics it’s hard to decipher what’s being said. But we’re not supposed to dwell on our troubles either. To me, this is a guided tour of the vastness of our insides. We get brought “In”. The music takes us on a tour with a spacey, psychedelic vibe. Where it takes you, exactly, I believe is personal. I end up in space marveling at the wonders of gravity, light and time awed by the immensity of what we don’t know. It’s easy to get dragged in and not realize how much time has passed. Track 4 – “Future Lords” breaks things up a bit with a catchy little beat. If you’re deep enough in, as you should be by now – the urge to dance in your new found plane may overcome you. The mood shift is grounding but the atmosphere is still spacey; we’re still on the inside.
Finally, we’re guided “Out”. It’s a nice smooth journey, nothing too jerking or jarring, just a gentle guide from the inner recesses of our minds back to the land of the living, the plane of the physical where we can perhaps spend a prolonged period of time out of our heads, worry and care free.
Tracklist: She’s On My Mind 02:56
Little Late For Love 04:16
Rabbit Hole 03:54
Electric Red 02:51
Arcadian Child are a rock band from Limassol, Cyprus, Greece and this album is the debut release by the band.
This album is a great blend of Classic Rock influences, Modern Rock, and little sprinkles of psychedelia. Musically they remind me of Wolfmother and those other “modern classic” rock bands like The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, (1990s) Divinyls and many others that continued writing and performing music as if it were still the late 70s.
That “modern classic” style started in the early 90s and continued into the new millennium. (With some bands still carrying the torch, like Arcadian Child. Even the track-listing is set up for a vinyl release (if the right people get a hold of the rights. Which they totally should…)
She’s On My Mind 02:56 – This is a great track to start the album with, and in my case, it is a track that will stick in your head for days afterwards. If it weren’t for the effects used on the tracks this track could be from the 70s. The music video is a trip as well.
Little Late For Love 04:16 – This track works great as a cool down from the first high energy track. It is more chill but it still is an experience though, there are spots were they compress and pan the music during instrumental parts. This track also has more of a groove than the first.
Rabbit Hole 03:54 (Favorite track) – Here they bring their psychedelic influences in a little more. They take their time to set up the world of the song with slow strumming of the guitar and after a few seconds they introduce the drums and vocals. The lyrics are especially in that vein; “How deep can you go? Can you trick your mind? Are you deep in the zone? Can you deceive your soul? Would you walk bare footed at the edge of the unknown?”
Electric Red 02:51 – In this song we go back to a harder rocking track, reminding me a little of King Crimson’s Red. I feel like this track is miss titled and should have been called Don’t Ask Me Why.
Irresistible 03:15 – This is a much darker track, lyrically, than the first four. With lyrics like; “Down the broken road, You will find us all, Don’t caress their hopes, Love our absent soul” and “Solemnly abide, To all that make you smile, All things in between, Burn in melting ice” Musically it is similar to Rabbit Hole.
Run 04:54 – This song has a very 90s alternative feel and I cannot quite place why. It might be the simple repeated riffs or the affects used of the vocals as flange-y sounding guitars.
Afterglow 03:39 – Back to a hard rocker but still holding on to that 90’s feel. Maybe because of how the lyrics are set up; “You make me feel like the only man alive, Loved and caressed by your controlling lies, Addicted and free, I’m certainly involved, You make me feel like an empty broken soul”
Used 03:47 – We are left on a slow burn of a song that rounds out the album well. It sounds like they mix together a good chunk of the aforementioned influences. There is Rock, psychedelic, modern rock and a good solo.
Final Thoughts: For some reason it sounds like there are tracks missing or maybe it is just that I want more… I’ll be keeping my eye on this band. Hopefully they continue this trend on their next release. If you are in the mood for some modern rock with that classic and psychedelic feel you should definitely pick this album up!
As In Life (13:26)
Forth By Light (10:46)
A Flock Of Leaves (17:18)
Days Of Wrath (13:30)
True uniqueness in music is hard to come by, especially in this day and age. It almost feels as though everything’s already been done and nothing is truly original anymore. Once in a blue moon, though, a band like The Quartet of Woah comes along and re-instills something of a sense of wonder – perhaps we haven’t reached the bottom of the barrel just yet.
The Quartet of Woah are a Heavy Progressive Rock band from Portugal; in case the song titles and lengths didn’t already give that away. Their individual songs, though, reach everywhere from Prog to Psychedelia to Folk to Blues and everywhere in between. Every song is crafted with artisan skill and precision and every note is crisp, clear, and audible. Each song brings a sense of energy and soul that is never wasted – it’s almost like a perpetual motion machine, never slowing down, never ceasing until its message is conveyed.
This album is not without its left turns into oddity land, though. Opener “As In Life” contains a drum solo and a flute outro and personal favorite “Forth By Light” veers off into some positively bizarre chromatic riffing and noodley organs that work far better than one would expect. What does remain constant, though, is the groove. The Quartet of Woah are experts in the art of groove and are ready and willing to show it off. It’s not exactly dancey, but don’t be surprised if you end up bobbing your head several times.
The Quartet of Woah are a band that set out to do what no one else had, to chart uncharted territory, and have done exactly that with their stellar debut. If you love heavy music with progressive tendencies and lack an aversion to really, really long and strange compositions, then do yourself a favor and listen and support this wonderful indie release and a band with a very bright future!
Tracklist: Moon Curser 08:26
Blood Lovers 06:37
Corpse Revival 08:26
Fucking Oath 06:12
Dear Demon 08:10
Old Hopeless 06:37
Spiritual Abuse 05:02
Grand Rites 08:48
On bandcamp the band describe their sound as, “…influences ranging from doom metal to classic rock, Dead Quiet seeks to meld melody with catastrophe as they weave through a dissonant landscape of crushing metallic riffs and somber choral musings.” Dead Quiet masterfully delivers this is high fashion with “Grand Rites”. If you recognize some of the members’ names above that is because Dead Quiet are the closest thing to a modern day “Supergroup”.
As a follow up to their first album it fits in well. They have improved sonically and sound as if they are maximizing the talents of each member while making it a cohesive and flawlessly executed throughout the 64+ minutes and 9 tracks that comprises “Grand Rites”. With their roster set, there truly isn’t a dud in this second album. Like I said before this album is an improvement over the first, they went from a good first album to a great second and sadly, more times than not, bands do the opposite due to a myriad of reasons; time constraints, label demands and just the overall pressure of the “Follow Up” from the “Big Debut”.
Keegan’s vocal delivery is certainly worth noting. The songs are packed with acid laced lyrics ranging from Politics to Religion to The Thrill of the 1st kill in closer “Grand Rites” that name a few subject matters. Keegan preaches to the listener; the concert goer. He draws the listener in to pay closer attention as it is impactful, powerful, meaningful, genuine and most important…..it fits perfectly with the band’s overall sound – a melting pot of Rock, Sludge and Metal. We are only at the beginning of 2018 and we may already have a top 3 contender!!
Current Members: Chris Kosnik – bass, vocals (currently of Monster Magnet, formerly of Godspeed and Black NASA) Bob Pantella – drums, percussion (formerly of Raging Slab, currently of Monster Magnet, Riotgod, Cycle of Pain) Finn Ryan – guitar, vocals (formerly of Core)
Previous Releases: The Atomic Bitchwax (1999) TAB-2 (2000) Spit Blood EP (2002) TAB-3 (2005) Boxriff EP (2006) TAB-4 (2007) The Local Fuzz ‘single’ (2011) Gravitron (2015)
Veterans all, referring to the members of this long-running unit, that all started as a side-project in the summer of 1999 and has since evolved into this raging storm comprised of three forces that meld seamlessly into the animal that stands before us, represented by the band’s seventh offering, “Force Field”.
Twelve songs and thirty-four minutes make up this release and is by far the strongest release yet from The Atomic Bitchwax aka TAB, bringing all of the honing, sharpening and precision born of endless touring here in the States and internationally over the last 18 years together to blast you out of your seat as never before. Having been previously described as a band that ‘specializes in high-octane, 70’s based hard rock, space rock and psychedelia’, TAB has taken that base formula from the edge of the century and brought it to the front in ALL of it’s sonic glory.
From the drum intro of “Hippie Speedball” through the histrionics of “Humble Brag“, there is no lack of bravado tinged with sheer brilliance of power chords, psycho-quick time shifts, hyper-rumbling bass lines and all of the lyrical twists and turns we have come to love and expect from TAB and tracks such as “Tits And Bones” fill that order with ease. Closer “Liv A Little” let’s those 70’s root fly high with the keyboard fills and an over-modulated vocal line that brings you to the sound and feel of what is must have been like at a T-Rex crowd with the energy that is necessary for the listeners of this century.
Two stand outs to me from this instant classic and MUST-HAVE for the long-time fans and the ones just discovering this trio are “Super Highway” with it’s phase-shifted drum intro into a high-speed jaunt with lyrics to match is one of those songs that begs to be played at full-volume and gets your heart racing alongside, trying to keep pace and would be a great track to feature as the lead off, in MY opinion. The second is “Fried, Dyed and Laying To The Side“, an instrumental romp that allows each guy to shine in their own mastery of their individual ‘weapon’ which only brightens the genius of this release.
If you were expecting something closer to a Monster Magnet record, hope you weren’t too disappointed. While the interweaving and endless touring with each band has not stopped and will more than likely not change anytime soon, The Atomic Bitchwax have proven time and again that they are their OWN entity and their finest-hour to date is upon them with “Force Field”. See ’em if they come anywhere close and convert the ‘unknowing’ in your circle.
So….I was record shopping in lovely downtown Northampton one fateful afternoon, and ran into this dude Glenn, who works for the Italian label Minotauro Records. I’m not sure exactly how his collaboration with the label came to pass, though we got to talking music: cool bands from New England we’d both been big on, such as Ogre, whose back catalog was re-released by Minotauro Records, incidentally. At any rate, all good things come to an end, and when Glenn and I parted ways, we planned on staying in touch, and he said he’d send me some stuff to review over at Taste Nation LLC. Well, as it turned out, he sent me quite a bit of material to review!! I was thinking of different ways to approach this, maybe figure out what the priorities are, see if any of the writers wanted to take on some of the work. It seems that everyone else here at Taste Nation always has a ton on their plate, and this was kind of my pet project, so I decided that I’d just forge ahead and do a feature on Minotauro, and basically write mini-reviews of each of the albums that Glenn sent me.
Now, that’s STILL a lot for me to take in and process, and like a lot of my creative endeavors, it really took on a life of its own. With that being said, I’ve decided that I’m going to break down the feature into two parts, with a longer biographical element on Minotauro in the second part of the feature.
Without further adieu, strap on your shields folks, as we take a trip into the labyrinth, the lair of the Minotaur, in search of our proverbial Daedalus within the dark depths of Italian underground doom and metal….
Where The Sun Comes Down – Welcome
Minotauro – 2017
This collaboration between Death SS founding member Thomas Hand Chaste and Alex Scardavian, who played with Paul Chain, has some of the more interesting cover art I’ve seen of late. It looks like a child’s drawing done with magic markers, though it’s none-the-less intriguing, especially given the reputation of the folks involved. This led me to reach for this album first and foremost. What I really liked about it was that it bucked all cliches of metal and doom in general, and I had no idea what to expect when I pressed play on the album. Would it be similar to Paul Chain’s material post Death SS? Even then, Chain’s projects and various solo albums haven’t all sounded the same, and have explored various styles and aspects of his personality. Would Where The Sun Comes Down opt for a more psychedelic or space rock sound?
It’s actually pretty close to what I’d initially expected: ultra raw cult doom with dramatic, emotional, over-the-top vocals, noisy, blown out Sabbathian riffing, off the cuff guitar and saxophone solos, a sparse yet powerful rhythm section, and haunting keyboards, all delivered with a heavy emphasis on atmosphere, theatrics and the bizarre. I don’t pull any punches and I’m not going to do so here either: it’s called “cult doom” for a reason. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, and it’s not meant to. The vocals alone are a hard sell, as they’re all over the place and quite frequently strained and/or out of tune. That’s not a deal breaker for me personally, as they have moments when they really shine, and they’re a vital part of the whole experience. They add a flair for the avante garde, and they make me feel like I’m living in a horror movie for the duration of the album. This is the perfect soundtrack for October….
Grand Delusion – Supreme Machine
Minotauro – 2017
Sweden’s The Grand Delusion play pretty traditional doom metal with a focus on the metal. Blending Black Sabbath, NWOBHM and 80’s metal influences with Wino inspired biker blues licks, big stoner tones, and just enough experimentation with psychedelic sections and additional instrumentation to keep things interesting. The vocals also offer up a nice cross-section of influence and variety, from the full throated bellows of the first two tracks, to the Iron Maiden-esque epicness of the two-part “Trail Of The Seven Scorpions” and the operatic choir chants of “Imperator.”
This is a really solid release. I like the production a lot – it’s fairly clean and polished, and the sheer variety of cool guitar tones and well written compositions benefit from this approach. There’s a lot of more mid to uptempo sections, which keeps it from feeling like a slog. They’re not reinventing the wheel by any means, as that’s a tough feet with doom. However, if you’re bored of the same monotonous stoner doom fare, this is both a bit more nuanced and upbeat. It wears its influences well, giving them all a chance to shine and never sounding merely derivative.
Kroh – Altars
Minotauro – 2017
Birmingham UK occult doom crew Kroh also bring a refreshing take to the table with their second album. With a new lineup and new vocalist, Polish born Oliwia Sobieszek, they craft a captivating, dark and mesmerizing take on traditional doom metal. This sound revolves heavily around the powerful and ever prominent vocals and slim song arrangements. None of the tunes overstay their welcome, all clocking in at under the five minute mark or so, which is a mixed blessing. In one sense, it makes the album stand out, a concise statement trimmed of all excess. On the other hand, sometimes the lack of expansive parts makes the songs feel stifled and abrupt. There’s also the impending sense of predictability when all the songs follow a similar format. I personally like a bit of decadence here and there, and I certainly like variety. It’s the spice of life, as a wise woman once sagely stated. With all that being said, this is a great record, and makes ample space for improvement on future albums.
It’s worth noting that the guitar sound on this album is one of the meanest and most distinctive I’ve heard in recent years. It’s got that massively distorted, “swarm of bees” hyper-fuzz going on, and it also retains much of the notes clarity rather than just becoming a blur of notes. This alone makes this one worth a listen, just hearing those righteous, crushingly oppressive guitar riffs coupled with the haunting vocals.
Ufosonic Generator – The Evil Smoke Possession
Well, once again, this is totally not what I was expecting based on the name, illustrating the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I was expecting something a little more space-y, of the more cosmic doom variety, and that’s simply not the case. Ufosonic Generator play pretty straightforward stoner metal, complete with Garcia inspired vocals, uptempo songs with righteous boogie breakdowns, a rock solid rhythm section, and scorching guitar solos. The songs are a bit paint by numbers – you’re not going to get many surprises, and the influences are the usual suspects: Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Dozer. You get the idea; it’s a tried and true one.
I dig what Ufosonic Generator are doing on this album. Its approach is both charming and disarming, just four peeps really going for that proverbial “it”, with songs served meat and potatoes style, lean and mean. There’s certainly some standout tracks with killer riffs going on throughout. I’m not going to spoil the magic by giving you the play-by-play, song-by-song analysis. You’re going to have to do the heavy lifting and figure out for yourself which songs make your mind soar and your booty shake.
Funeral Marmoori – The Deer Woman
Italy’s Funeral Marmoori have a classic doom sound with a 70’s horror tinged vibe, thanks largely to the excellent usage of Farfisa organs, which make them sound like a more evil version of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep at times.It’s cool to hear a band that has such an intense interplay between the guitars and keyboards, just like the days of old. They wear some of their other influences on their sleeves, a bit of Saint Vitus styled gonzo guitar solos, some vocal mannerisms reminiscent of Lee Dorrian’s work in Cathedral, and of course a heavy debt to all things Paul Chain. Hell, they even cover a Death SS song, “Profanation.”
One of the things I really like about this album is the way that the vocals alternate between sounding more theatrical and more psychedelic. Similarly, there’s excellent variation in the guitar parts: sometimes we’re treated to righteous Sabbath-inspired riffs, other times more otherworldly explorations and introspective moments. The thing that really makes this one work for me is the rhythm section – the busy bass and drum work keep things moving forward. The Deer Woman never gets dragged down into the gloomy realms of excessively downtempo dirges, while the music always retains its evil edge. Highly recommended for fans of cult and traditional doom metal.
Ancient Spell – Forever In Hell
Los Angeles’ Ancient Spell bring something much different to the table, with a decidedly more modern take on doom metal. It’s really telling that they list Death, Slayer and Lamb Of God as influences, because they bear more resemblance to these bands than Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus. The vocals in particular are more on the death metal end of the spectrum, harsh growls and drastic screams with dark and misanthropic themes. The guitars definitely utilize those chromatic style intervals that Slayer famously made into their trademark, and alternate between a thrash chug and a doom groove. Though the tempos can get pretty quick for a more doom influenced band, they never approach anything near the breakneck tempos associated with either thrash or death metal.
in keeping with the thrash tradition, this is a pretty short and sweet album, clocking in at under 40 minutes. That’s a good thing, as there’s not a ton of variety. It’s interesting to see a band bring together such diverse influences, and this feels like an album where they’re trying to figure out how to make all of those influences come together into something coherent. While it certainly never lacks in that department (their sound is fluid and polished, and never sounds forced), I think they have a lot of room to grow and try other things. I’d love to see them incorporate some of the aforementioned faster parts, some death or black metal styled tremolo picking, some super slow doom bridges and breakdowns. Forever In Hell seems like a great jumping off point for a band that has lots of room to grow and develop.
Tony Tears – Follow The Signs of The Times
Wow, what an opening to an album!! This one starts off with a brief intro that could straight up be a Goblin track that’s part of a D’Argento soundtrack. It nails that sound with a combination of synth washes, blurps and appergiated chords, overlaid with creepy, demonic voices. From there, we’re treated to more cult, esoteric doom in the traditional Italian style – darkly dramatic vocals reminiscent of King Diamond, 70’s metal riffs, ever present keyboards and a battering ram rhythm section of bass and drums. True to form, they even cover a Paul Chain song.
I really dig on the production job here. For me personally, cult doom has to have just the right production: grimy and cavernous, yet with enough clarity to let each individual instrument shine. Follow The Signs of The times showcases exactly how this is pulled off. I also really enjoyed the three shorter tracks (intro, an interlude, and an outro) that pull off that Italian horror soundtrack vibe so convincingly. It’s always great to hear a band so refined in their craft! Apparently Tony Tears started off as a solo outlet for Antonio Polidori, though he has since added a full band of backing and touring musicians, and I must say that I’m impressed with the results.
My Silent Wake – Damnatio Memoriae
Hailing from England, My Silent Wake are another band in the world of doom with decidedly modern influences, most noticeably of the death metal/goth metal variety. However, that ain’t the end of the story. There’s also a modern progressive slant to the songwriting and arrangements that keeps things fresh and dare I say, lively? Take the intro to the song “Highwire” for example, with its bouncing bassline and bursts of jazzy, dissonant chords. The album is loaded with tons of tempting little musical moments like this, and it makes for a rather refreshing listen.
Basically, if you’re into The Peaceville Three….you’re going to like this. I’m generally not into the more goth doom bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema, and My Dying Bride. I do like this album by My Silent Wake, as it’s got a lot of variation, tons of twists and turns. The keyboards add a nice texture, it ‘s got a clear production, some strategic usage of guest musicians, and they’ve clearly got the chops. Fans of the bands I’ve mentioned should give this a swing, it’s rather righteous in its ambition and scope of vision.
Misantropus – The Gnomes
Oh cool, another album with some truly bizarre and iconoclastic cover art, this one a simple cartoon looking drawing of what I’d assume to be a trio of green gnomes. I’ve talked earlier about the lack of longer numbers in discussing the other albums, and although this Misantropus album is rather short on the whole, tracking in at just above 35 minutes, it’s only four songs. So….we’re treated to a 9 and a half minute opening track and closer pushing the 13 minute mark.
These guys are obviously into the occult, as the song titles indicate. “The Gnomes (Ariel)”, “The Salamander (Mikhael)”, “Undines (Gabriel)” and “Elis (Raphael)” all connect an elemental spirit to the corresponding archangel for each of the Greek elements: earth, fire, water, and air. It’s obviously some kind of concept album, or ritual invocation – only the creators, an Italian duo, would know for certain. It definitely creates an air of mystery and intrigue. Musically, it’s an equally odd piece, consisting mainly of a variations on one stripped down guitar and bass riff with a trance-like drum beat. There’s a guest guitar solo on the second track, and some cool ambient synth passages that bookmark the beginning and end of the album, and zero vocals. Their stripped down instrumental approach levies them in my eyes as the Karma To Burn of Italian cult doom.
Once again, this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s extremely monotonous, with very few changes, even from song to song. And while this may sound boring to some, and honestly left me pretty non-plussed initially, I found myself out humming those riffs in my head as I went out and ran my errands today. There’s something rather captivating and enchanting about them. If this sounds like your kind of jams, hey….I’d encourage you to give it a listen.
Additional Links to Minotauro Records:
Lineup: Arlen Thompson – Drums
Dante DeCaro – Bass
Dan Boeckner – Guitar, Vocals
Spencer Krug – Keyboard, vocals
Previous Releases: (2003) Self-released: 4 Song EP
(2004) Self-released: 6 Song EP
(2005) Sub Pop Records: Self Titled EP
(2005) Sup Pop: Apologies to the Queen Mary
(2008) Sup Pop: At Mount Zoomer
(2010) Sub Pop: Expo 86
(2016) Sub Pop: Apologies To the Queen Mary – Reissue // Deluxe Edition
Tracklist: Lazarus Online 03:25
You’re Dreaming 03:39
Valley Boy 03:38
Flies on the Sun 03:42
Baby Blue 06:00
Who Are Ya 03:43
Am I an Alien Here 03:36
Artificial Life 03:48
King of Piss and Paper 04:47
A Little History and Review:
Wolf Parade are an Indie Rock band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They formed in April of 2003 by Spencer Krug and original was a two piece with Dan Boeckner and a drum machine. Later Arlen Thompson joined and “the newly formed trio rehearsed as a full band only the day before their first show. During the tour, Wolf Parade recorded and released their self-titled debut EP.” In September, Hadji Bakara joined as the keyboardist. A year later “the band traveled to Portland, Oregon to record with Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. Brock had recently signed the band to Sub Pop when he was an A&R man for the label at the time.” There is surprise that Wolf Parade’s early work is heavily influenced by Isaac and the crew over at Modest Mouse. The similarities still exist with “Cry, Cry, Cry” to a lesser extent as each band stands firmly on their own footing well enough!!
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This is Wolf Parade’s first release in seven years. In 2011 the band announced they were going into an indefinite hiatus, but in early 2016 they were back together and expecting to record another album. (More info on the Bandcamp page for the album)
At moments it sounds like Spencer sounds like Singer/Songwriter Pete Yorn. The music itself is very 90’s Indie Rock with 80’s influenced synth parts. Kind of like the early era of The Flaming Lips and the aforementioned Modest Mouse.
The sound is warm when the synths are present otherwise it sounds like garage rock with an indie flavor. The instrumentation varies as the songs progress, there are elements of many sub-genres like post punk, garage rock, indie rock, some pop and others. That is why there are such a strange mix of influences/sounds kind of like… There are also influences R.E.M. or even The Violent Femmes. At moments they sound kind of like Ours or even a more poppy Muse. The album almost sounds like it belongs in a 90s coming of age film (calling Molly Ringwald!)
Lazarus Online – As an opening track it introduction to what part of the album has in store. The vocal style is introduced and he doesn’t stray too far from it throughout the album. There are some synths and keyboard parts but they do not dominate much. It is mostly a new Radio Rock track.
You’re Dreaming – This track introduces the other part of what you will hear, upbeat repetitive synth parts and almost Pop sounding tracks. The music is very patterned; there are some vocals then the synth comes back and then vocals again. The way the vocals are processed makes it seem very dream like. It isn’t a bad thing, it just makes the song seem like it does come from a different place.
Valley Boy – This is a track that has a wall of sound with the vocals almost inaudible when the other’s instruments are playing. But there are parts where there is no music and brief moments of only vocals which is helpful. Going back to that “sounds like it’s from a movie” thing, this sounds like it would go after a scene of a friend moving away and then coming back and talking to someone they left behind.
Incantation – This song’s style goes back to what the first song set up. It has a sing along feel, not like a kid’s song, but one you sing to in the car when it comes on the radio. It is a night driving song. (Mainly because it has a distant feel and keeps focus but also distracts a little bit.)
Flies on the Sun – This song almost sounds like a Fuel song. It is a slow, get your lighters out type of song. It sounds like a song that would play after an emotional fight in this imaginary film that happened in my head while I listened to the album.
Baby Blue– After the almost Foreplay (an intro by Boston) sounding intro we go back to the Pete Yorn and Fuel sounding song that is the majority of the album. This track also adds a faster paced back end that is almost like Incantation.
Weaponized – This track is the closest to the first track. It also has an almost dance beat to the drumming until halfway through when it turns to just voice and piano. Then it slowly builds back up to the dancing beat.
Who Are Ya – Who Are Ya is a strange song compared to the rest of this album. It has a very familiar sound that I can’t place for the life of me… At the end it has almost Emerson Lake and Palmer feeling keyboard parts at the end.
Am I an Alien Here – This song sounds like the sequel to Valley Boy and You’re Dreaming in the nonexistent movie for this in my head. It sounds like an almost triumphant song but has a blueness to it that keeps it from feeling happy. Much like the I in the song itself I guess.
Artificial Life – Is the most Post-Punk sounding song on this album. There are synths and repeating rhythms. The vocals are delivered in faster motion, than most of the other’s songs. It also sounds like the first track of the album.
King of Piss and Paper – This song feels like it is a continuation, or a part two, of Am I an Alien Here. They both have a similar sonic feel. This song is slightly darker in the lyrics but lighter in the instruments.
Final Thoughts: Reading over the review makes it seem like I did not like the album, but I did I really enjoy how they combine classic rock sounds with newer more modern rock. This is a good and solid album you should definitely take a listen if the comparisons I made interest you, definitely pick this one up or take a listen HERE.
Tracklist: Lactomeda 01:49
Known by the Ancients 07:01
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather 07:14
Two Temple Place 09:36
Stellar Drone 10:59
Are we Drowning in Digits 06:13
Magical Train 05:07
Review: The band have their album described as an “Addictive cosmic journey, one entrancing hybrid embracing heavy psych riffs and sweet vocal harmonies.” The album does have those elements of that. When Hermano is singing it sounds like Jane’s Addiction but heavier and more distortion on the voice. The parts when Sara takes over it sounds like either Belly or Hole. When they sing together it sounds almost new, but still has those influences. So in shorter terms; they gave their album a good description.
Lactomeda – Is a Spanish term for the Milky Way Collision with Andromeda. The cover even seems to be depicting it. The song is a collision of Noise Rock and Space Rock. It is almost sludgy for a noise song but in pace but it is also fast for a space song. It is a good intro for what the rest of the album holds.
Known by the Ancients – Here is where the Jane’s Addiction comes in (Especially in the 3 minute area). This song is more of noise than of space origin. This is a heavy rock song, Hermano comes in at the last two minutes and makes the song seem even heavier.
Dead Blood for the Royal Weather – This is one of the more radio friendly songs, even though it is eight minutes. It plays it safe and doesn’t do anything too crazy. It stays on the cusp of being space and noise.
Two Temple Place – This is the first true Space Rock sounding sounds and as it moves along it introduces some of the harmonies the description on bandcamp mentions. It is a slow song with slow vocals with stretched out chords with reverb and drum fill. That is until the 3 minute mark; more drums and distortion to the guitar is added and everything gets slightly faster. At around the four minute mark the tempo changes again and is like Known by the Ancients.
Stellar Drone (Favorite track) – This track is more spacey than the previous track but it is also faster and more distorted and changes tempo a few more times.
Are we Drowning in Digits – This song is almost like a continuation of Two Temple Place. It sounds very similar but has more “Normal” Rock influences.
Magical Train – This is the most radio friendly track and could have been released as a single to promote the album. It is also the song that reminds my the most of Hole (the first album.) Sara really goes in on this track and gives a great performance. It is like the previous track but stays on the heavy rock side of music.
Review (Continued): Musically, Earth Drive are bringing back the 90’s Noise Rock and helping to bring back Space Rock (in the more expansive tracks). During the mostly instrumental parts it sounds almost like a soundtrack to a late 80’s sci-fi movie. In some ways it sounds like it is two separate ideas for an album that were pieced together but it is done well so it doesn’t sound too different. To paraphrase the TV Series “Stranger Things” – ‘The Upside Down'”.
This is a very easy first listen and is also very accessible because the stretches of odyssey are in between more pop/rock radio-ish oriented tracks. If you have any interest in Space Rock or a modern take on it with influences with 90’s Noise Rock, you should take a listen.
There are two choices either from the Raging Planet (For a physical and/or digital) Bandcamp HERE or the band’s HERE !!! (Where you can get the full digital discography)
Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys
Ring ring… Ring ring…
(Man on receiver) – Hi! You’ve reached Octopussy. How can we help you?
(Caller) Hi this is the late 60’s and early 70’s! Who am I speaking with? We want our sound back.
(Octopussy) – Well you certainly called the right people. Where should we start?
(60’s/70’s) – How about some funky, bass driven rock?
(Octopussy) – Can do
(60’s/70’s) – Hendrix inspired guitar work?
(Octopussy) – Check
(60’s/70’s) – Disco vocals?!?
(Octopussy) – uhhhh… let’s keep that to one track…
(60’s/70’s) – I was only kidding on that one.
(Octopussy) – Well too late. You’re getting it. It fits with the funk track anyway. We’ll stick to a more bluesy, psychedelic groove for the rest of the album. Maybe a splash of southern rock but not too much. Sound okay for ya?
(60’s/70’s) – So how about the vocals on the remaining tracks?
(Octopussy) – We’re going with a mix of smooth melodic, and raspy blues… plus some heavily distorted screams and speech.
(60’s/70’s) – Uhh.. screams?
(Octopussy) – Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure it works within the context of the album.
(60’s/70’s) – In that case, we demand a ballad.
(Octopussy) – Sure. But it’s going to be trippy as fuck and really short.
(60’s/70’s) – I feel you don’t much like compromise.
Attack of the Mammoth (7:52)
War Pipe / Rite of the Calumet (7:38)
Mescalito/Meeting of the Half Moon (7:02)
Emerald [digital-only bonus track] (4:05)
Band Members: Present:
Jacob Sawrie – Vox/Rhythm
Drew Skarda – Percussion
Tyler Weaver – Lead
Dustin Weddle – Bass
Josh Ingram (RIP) – Lead
Alan Wells – Bass
To say the least, 2017 has been a huge year for heavy music. The year has granted us several new releases, most notably Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand. However, the music world often functions like archaeology – The deeper you dig, the more treasures you will find such as the gargantuan slab of Doom that is Sumokem’s “The Guardian of Yosemite”.
When I say gargantuan, I mean it. Each tune on this release is not only long, but feels like it has been custom-tailored to be as gigantic as possible, from the performance to the production to the composition. Every riff hits like a Warhammer to the temple and it wouldn’t feel right any other way. Each member is extremely in tune with one another and they really feel like a single living and breathing organism.
Sumokem’s Special Vinyl Release Date – Friday, January 12th, 2018
Special credit, though, goes to their lead guitarist. Every member is excellent at their instrument, but the guitar goes above and beyond to ensure that each and every solo is searing and quick, keeping the listener’s attention while still progressing the song further and further down into heavier and heavier territory as the album goes on.
It’s unbelievable just how heavy this album can be. It opens like a freight train, but by the time the epic-length dirge and album high point “Nantucket” begins, you can only be floored by how well Sumokem brings music back to its primordial roots. There is no feeling greater than finding a band that is both classic and novel – one that both pushes the boundaries of music while reminding us why we love it in the first place, and with its ultra-heavy prehistoric jams, Sumokem’s “The Guardian of Yosemite” has given us just that.