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Review + Q&A: T.A.N.G. – Big Bright Empty Nothing (2023, self-released)

Somewhere in a field in Iowa, USA three aliens plug in their gigantic amps. They have heard of this thing called “jamming”and want to make an attempt themselves. Inspired by by human bands like Om and Earthless they have bought themselves a bunch of gear and are ready to rumble. Once their amplifiers switch on a million tiny little eyes start to glow. Countless tentacles start strumming strings and banging at drums. The result is this ginormous spacious, doomy, jazzy, psych sludge album called Big Bright Empty Nothing.

Instrumental alien doom psych from Iowa? You better believe it. With a sound that’ll make you crawl into your comfortable chair and disappear, turning up a day later mumbling something about pink aliens, green lakes, and a million tiny little eyes. They have arrived, and they will turn your senses into mush.

Who knew three spaced out aliens could turn a first jam into such a lush and trippy journey? No need for Mulder and Scully to jump into an investigation though, but you should. Check out their Bandcamp right now and jump on the UFO!

Aliens?! Lies! These three humans in disguise are the pundits responsible for the racket of T.A.N.G. Let’s lift the veil and quickly learn all about them…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for T.A.N.G.?

The pandemic stopped a lot of momentum we had playing gigs. I live in Iowa and not much has changed when the pandemic happened, but it gave us some time to write a super solid album and record it at Lone Tree, Iowa. It was rough at first but we came out of writing done a new lease on playing shows and performing. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc?

I (James) met Zach Ryserson at Luther College and bonded over our love of Lil Ugly Mane which eventually turned into punk/metal and then graduated to stoner metal and doom. We were jamming with our friend JJ on drums, but went on to do his own project. Our senior year we met Leo Naughton-Herbach who is a killer drummer and music aficionado and the rest is history. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Leo and I come from a more hardcore punk/DIY background while Zach is from a more refined Jazz/Funk/Large Band background. Leo has played drums in jazz and big band settings but had his feet wet in the Minneapolis punk/metal scene since he was in High School. I played and went to a lot of house shows in high school but can remember being involved with music since I was like 5 or 6. Love the atmosphere or house shows a lot more. I’m pretty sure I took Ryerson to his first few DIY gigs and he was all about it. We just love performing and didn’t really care where the gig was, party in some guy’s house or in a more refined concert setting, a gig is a gig. We all love punk/metal/jazz and even though we got into music for differently, it’s the DIY community that made us go all in.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

A Regular day for T.A.N.G is to contemplate the horrors that lie beyond our meaningless existence and smoke hella weed. Prolly play some music and kendama for fun.

What is the best thing about Big Bright, Empty Nothing?

I think what we love about BBEN is how dynamic it is and how each track flows with each other. We spent alot of time making sure this release sounded as fluid as possible. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live in Iowa, Zach lives in Minneapolis, and Leo lives in Chicago. Obviously, the doom/stoner scene is much bigger there and there are tons of shows for bands like that while in Iowa the reception can be a little mixed. There are punk and metal bands, but nothing that sounds like us really. Overall people are usually open minded and like it, but we are definitely an anti-normie kind of sound. weirdo’s only for the most part.  We met at a lutheran private music school and kids there were students that are insanely stuck up about music. Choir kids mostly. Having shows there was alot of fun cause alot of those students haven’t really seen good live bands, but never understood the sound we were going for.  We kind of have an alienating sound but that is what we signed up for with a group like this.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Earthless was a massive inspiration in starting this band. Love the dynamics and soloing style Isiah brings to the table. Even though it’s mostly instrumental, they have written some of the most epic songs of all time in my opinion. Om‘s writing style we definitely take a lot from also. We’re all fans of bands like Electric Wizard, Conan, EYEHATEGOD etc and love slower paced metal with crushing riffs. I’ve always been a fan of the work ethic guys like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and King Gizzard have. Reminds me of old school jazz musicians that were constantly in the studio putting out a few records a year trying to hone their craft. Honestly too many people to bring up honestly haha. We have certain genres of music we are all passionate about but we are able to bring other influences to make the T.A.N.G sound. Just saw the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio in Omaha and they were killer.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Zach and I write a bunch of riffs and come together and see what fits. Since it’s instrumental, I try to make riffs a little intricate, but still try to make sure they are very listenable and groovy. Still want people to headbang of course but want to write something you can listen to and not get bored of, cause chances we’ll be playing it for like 5-7 minutes. We all come together and work on transitions and discuss what feels right. It’s controlled chaos but we have developed a writing style that is effective for us. The last 2 albums we recorded at Flat Black Studios with Luke. His studio is amazing and has a ton of awesome gear we use to help make some of the sounds you hear in the latest album. With his resources and knowledge, we are able to get some gnarly sounds over overdubs. We have songs completely written,but usually have a whole day in the studio just trying to make the weirdest sounding shit ever. Really can’t recommend working with him enough. He’s a top 10 guy of all time.  

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Write more songs, play more shows. Hopefully do a little tour or play some festivals. We already have some ideas for our next few songs. We all just want a massive discography and we’re just getting started in my opinion. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Take an 1/8 of mushrooms and listen to Big Bright Empty Nothing on Spotify, Bandcamp, or Youtube. Come to one of our shows.

Review + Q&A: Santo Rostro – Después No Habra Nada (2023, Spinda Records)

Santo Rostro from Spain have created a monstrous psychedelic sludge sound on their new album Después No Habra Nada (after this there will be nothing). So what do you do when you are an image thinker like me? You start looking for actual psychedelic sludge monsters on AI drawing generators and see how they hold up to this.

AI’s first attempt at a psychedelic sludge monster

My first attempt was this greenish psychedelic swamp monster. This was not quite what I had in my own mind though. While Santo Rostro’s music definitely has a swampy quality, it is much more soaring, and not as murky as some of their doomier sludgier peers. The image does bring forth some of their psychedelic qualities though, which is a striking feature of Después No Habra Nada. But the picture also has a certain evasive, mystical quality to it, whereas Santo Rostro are much more straightforward. Let’s give it another try then.

AI’s second attempt

For the second attempt I tried adding “huge” and “dark” to my first directives. The result is this black gargantuan doom beast that looks pretty awesome, I must admit. It is still not quite the best image for Santo Rostro, as they are much more natural, human sounding band. For all their psychedelic sludge bestialities, they are still three dudes in a room riffing their asses off. Santo Rostro have a dark side for sure, but they aren’t this three eyed demonic nightmare thing. Next!

AI’s third attempt: three is a charm

So I added two of Santo Rostro‘s important influences; Mastodon and High On fire, and ended up with…a giant mammoth on fire? This is actually the closes to the image I had in my head before. It is still a pretty heavy and awe inspiring picture, but it is also much more down to earth. It fits the music better, as it is doomy, smokey, and hazy, but also ferocious and violent. Yes. Santo Rostro has created a gigantic fiery mammoth of an album, you better have your images right before digging in!

Santo Rostro‘s Miguel Ortega(guitars, synths) answered the questions, introducing the band and explaining their comings and goings. So let’s not waste any more time and get to meet this Spanish psychedelic sludge monster!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Santo Rostro?

Hi! We’re fine, the pandemic was the strangest period we’ve ever had, but luckily we came out fine. Our shrink may have a different opinion, though.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc,?

Sure! we’re three guys from a small lovely town in southern Spain and we met 10 years ago. We all wanted to play gigs all around the country and we have had a great time doing it. It’s been so much fun and we consider ourselves lucky for being able to do it. We have met great friends and wonderful people. It really has been one of the best things we’ve ever done, and we’d love to keep on doing it as long as is fun and entertaining!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We all have a standard heavy rock backgound, nothing fancy here. These days I’m quite into new jazz and afro polyrythms, but when we began we were a Sabbath/High on Fire/Mastodon thing. Right now we’re aiming for psychedelic, crazy and heavy. Again, lots of fun!

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

We have our daily regular jobs that allow us to play music in our free time. We’re always thinking about music, that’s who we are. We got ugly regular jobs, beautiful families and music. Not bad!

What is the best thing about the new album?

The best thing is that It’s finally done!

We know there is some serious playing in there, we smashed ourselves in the rehearsal space for a month and a half with no days off. That work pays and can be heard on the f**** record, it’s a great feeling. It’s got heavy but non heavy-typical-riffy guitars. Lots of synths and the best drumming you can imagine. Kuki (our drummer) really shines in this record.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Oranssi Pazuzu. Really amazing band doing wicked and dark stuff. Really cool and imaginative.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs differently after the last album?

We recorded 8 songs in 2019 but didn’t like the result, there was not a clear direction and we were under rehearsed, so we threw that away and started from scratch in the middle of the pandemic with the idea of making some dark psychedelic music with odd timings. We got heavily into it and came out really nice. Lots of parts were written in isolation, but it was really well put together and played live in the studio. Something like King Crimson‘s “Red” album. We really think is a great way to put down records, because you have the best of woth worlds: Live music is fresh and exciting, while overdubs and synths give you textures, colours and ear candy!

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We’ll be touring Spain on 2023 and 2024, but as soon as ideas start to flow we’ll record them. Who knows? Tomorrow I might be dead, so, better do it now!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Go to our IG or FB and comment the first publication that appears. Just say “Santo Rostro is not weird enough, try harder!” (No matter what the publication is about).

Review + Q&A: Håndgemeng – Ultraritual (2023, Ripple Music)

Somewhere deep inside, Norwegians will always remain vikings. Some of them are better at suppressing their primal archetype than others, and then there are of course bands like Håndgemeng, who consciously dig up their ancestral roots and go completely “bezerk”.

Not unlike their fellow Vikings Kvelertak, Ondt Blod, or Honningbarna, the band unleashes their inner ancient animal on Ultraritual, but Håndgmeng indulges in making their heavy stonercore bigger, fatter and more obnoxious than anything else. You can count on beers, beards, and spit flying when these Norsemen hit the stages and crank up their high octane metallic doom ‘n roll. There is a slight gimmick factor going on of course, but the youthful energy, and the overwhelming destructive power of the presentation of this Oslo foursome make up for a lot of that.

And whether your frown on it or not, you will have to bang your head to Ultraritual one way or the other. It is just to well constructed of a rock ‘n roll album, balls out, mead guzzling, axe wielding, war cry shouting, viking rock ‘n roll. Nothing more, but definitely nothing less. Skål!

I talked to the band, who kindly took some time off from plundering, looting, and raping the wenches of their enemies to answers my questions and introducing me to their Håndgemeng: Oslo doom ‘n roll!!!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Håndgemeng?

Hi guys! Everything is fine with us! We can’t wait to release this album and finally show it to the world! The pandemic was quite hard. No band practice the first few months, no live shows and no socializing with people. But we had the golden opportunity to write the album! and later when the social distancing somewhat ended we went to Jørgen Øiseth Berg and recorded Ultraritual!

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

On guitar: Charlie Ytterli aka Abuse Springsteen

Drums: Ola Holseth aka Motörola

Bass: Kim Grannes aka Jeans Simmons

Vox: Martin Wennberg aka Hellvis Presley

First time some of us met it was Charlie and Martin who met each other through other friends as kids. We both wore a Misfits t-shirt and started talking about music and skateboarding. So from that day we kinda just became friends. Some years later we heard that Ola was quite a good drummer so we started some small jam projects. Martin met Kim through work many years later.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I think we all are homeschooled in the musical background! Bought a guitar and 15w peavey amp, using ultimate guitar to learn tabs haha.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

rockin n’ rollin!

What is the best thing about Ultraritual?

It’s the Doom and the fucking  roll!

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all live in Norway. Some of us in Oslo and some of us right outside of Oslo. The Oslo music scene has a really good vibe. Many good venues and many great bands!

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

We love Red Fang, Kvelertak, Elder, True Widow, Firebreather.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

IT’S ABSOLUTE MADNESS AND CHAOS! We always start with a riff or two.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We are going back in the studio to record our sophomore album later this year. And our long term plan is to tour Europe and the world!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Check out all the awesome bands from Oslo like Suncraft, Shaving the Werewolf, Jaggu, Astralplane and Tempel!

And pre-order Ultraritual!

Review + Q&A: Lotus Emperor – Syneidesis (2022, Sound Effect Records)

Syneidesis is a Greek word that translates to consciousness in English. It alludes to mindfulness, and being in the “now” in this world. I have found this way of thinking many times when diving into psychedelic music, but mostly within genres like drone and instrumental post rock. Doom metal might be a further cry from meditation, but Lotus Emperor builds that bridge, and gloriously walks it.

On their second album the Athens, Greece band draws some long lengthy breathes of heavy psychedelic doom with female vocals, that add a densely dreamy dimension. On the doom spectrum they find themselves somewhere in the twilight zone between weirdo super psychedelic bands like Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and Mammatus, and ultra heavy psych doom shamans YOB. It is music to completely lose your marbles to, to just open your third eye to, and dive into the ten-plus minute trip each song have on offer. What is the worst thing that can happen? That you wake up in your own schizophrenic mouth froth? Or licking a toad, while drawing a pentagram on your naked body? you gotta live a little, right?

Just live in the moment. Clean your weekend schedule, and let Lotus Emperor be your travel guide. There is some deep wisdom to be found here, and if you don’t, at least it was one hell of a ride.

I talked to drummer Nikos Antzoulatos, who kindly enlightened me in the world of Lotus Emperor. For all its ethereal wisdom and life lessons that may or not be learned here, it sounds like that being in this band is a lot of fun first before anything, and that is very healthy.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Lotus Emperor? 

The pandemic was a truly dystopian and unprecedented experience for the world. We managed to survive! We also tried and turned this whole difficult situation into a creative process for Lotus Emperor, which resulted in our new album entitled Syneidesis

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet? 

The band originally started in 2013 by Stasinos, Kon/na, Fotis and Andreas based on our love for psychedelic music. After the departure of two members (Fotis and Andreas), we met our new bassist Panos. In a lucky twist of faith, he run into his childhood friend, Nikos, who became our new drummer and that is how we have been traveling together since 2015 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds? 

Stassinos, our guitar player, is also a member of one of the longest running bands in Athens, Screaming Fly, and he has also played in Allison in the past. Panos, our bassist, got the germ of collective music creation in 1998 in the company of his classmates. Since then he has followed this path from time to time, and today he is also a member of Data Fragments. Nikos (our drummer) used to play in Demented, a promising thrash-band, and has joined various bands with multiple music styles, such as jazz and rock and roll. 

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Well, everyone experiences their day in a different way but one common thing is that our reality is intense during the day-time, so we look forward to our time in the studio to release some steam! We could summarize it as ” an ordinary day within a non-ordinary world”. 

What is the best thing about Syneidesis (and what does the title mean)? 

First of all, we recorded most parts live in our studio and that makes us proud for capturing the raw energy of the band that, if one listens carefully, they can distinguish in each song. Secondly, Syneidesis is a concept album that narrates a quite spiritual and self-transcending story, if we may say so. The word is Greek and can be translated as “consciousness”: Awareness; being fully present in the now. And if you think about it, that is a disease of the modern human condition, isn’t it? We have alienated ourselves from the present moment, the here and now. The present has been reduced to a mere moment for the next moment. Regretting the past, fearing the future, missing the now. So, we wanted to honour this need for mindfulness through which one can embrace universal truths, such as impermanence.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you? 

We all live in the urban dystopia of Athens city, the capital of Greece (also known as “Hell-Ass”, haha!). Unfortunately, inclusive art & culture was never really in the priorities of this country and that makes being part of the underground scene more difficult, nevertheless we are happy to experience a collective change of mindset which has grown steadily in recent years. We are sure that with solidarity, perseverance, and “meraki”, our music as well as the underground scene will reach more ears. 

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours? 

We do love the stoner/psychedelic scene, like Sleep, OM, Kyuss, All Them Witches, Black Angels, Electric Wizard, Magma, Hawkwind, Killing Joke, Cardiacs, Stereolab, Nurse With Wound, etc. But like all creative creatures we are influenced by a plethora of genres like Rock ‘n Roll, Post Punk, Greek Folk, Classical music, you name it…! 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? 

We are lucky enough to have our own place in the centre of Athens, next to the central market…. So, after we buy some local wine, we like to turn lights off, turn on our LED rotating lights, hit the record button on our Tascam recorder, and start jamming..! Then, the next days we hear the recording, we highlight the cool parts, and we start taking notes in order to synthesise them into a more solid structure. The secret sauce in all of what we do is playing from the heart. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans? 

At this stage, we want to schedule enough shows to play our music live and promote our album. At the same time we are working on new ideas, and investigating the introduction of a more traditional-folk instrument in our compositions, maybe a Cretan lute. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Listen to our album, discover us and join us in our musical journey. All on board, haha!

Review + Q&A: No Spill Blood – Eye Of Night (2023, Svart Records)

I used to be so deeply into everything metal. It simply could not be heavy enough for me, and somewhere in my twenties I “decided” that this love would never wane, that I would be a metalhead for life, and that nothing or nobody could do anything about it. And yet somehow life did. Nearing my forties now I hardly spin any of my Immortal, Neurosis, or Godflesh albums. Let alone heavier stuff like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or Archon Infaustus.

Somehow my ears slowly got tired of it, and aside from a couple of very dear exceptions I don’t regularly spin any of my heavier metal records anymore. So when a promotional email reaches the Weirdo Shrine office telling me “black, thrash, or death” is on offer, I usually pass. I passed on No Spill Blood too, a couple of times even, even after the first listen. I used to love the way a band like this stormed out of the gates on their first track, blast beats blazing…but not anymore, right? Right??? Wrong.

Somehow this Irish threesome got their hooks on me, and I kept returning, at first appalled, then, curious, intrigued, and finally fascinated. For while No Spill Blood at first glance is a very heavy band, when you dive into the rabbit hole with them, they turn out to have a quite a bit more going for them.

Their heaviness is the motor that spins a psychedelic maelstrom, grabbing the listener by the ears and swirling him with them into the black abyss, and beyond, into deep, deep space. The synthesisers do most of this tractor beam work, messing with your head, as the raspy vocals growl at you, and the relentless drums grind away.

As I let go of any initial resistance, I realised that No Spill Blood is no ordinary metal band. They are a portal, and once you are over the edge, they will take you anywhere…

I threw out a line with No Spill Blood‘s label Svart Records and quite quickly the band responded with the following answers. Reading about their backgrounds made me even more glad I got over my initial metal tiredness and really discover the band, for there is a lot to discover!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for No Spill Blood?

Very quiet, there was quite a lengthy ban on concerts in Ireland which made things very tough on bands to get by.. but we used the time productively writing new material and finishing our new Lp EYE OF NIGHT.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet ?
We are Matt Hedigan (bass and vocals), Ruadhan O Meara (synths) and Ror Conaty (drums). We are old friends who have been hanging round together since forever and would have toured and jammed together in various different guises before starting the band about 10 years ago.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
While we all would be part of the same scene in Dublin we would all have our own particular leanings and other projects.. Matt would be heavily involved in the noise rock scene with his other bands Hands up who wants to die and Shifting. Ruadhan would be more orientated towards the experimental and electronic areas and makes solo music as Magic Pockets. Ror has a long and storied history in the Punk &Metal  end of things , playing with Wizards of Firetop MountainPuget Sound and Burning Realm.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

We all have our day jobs but we have access to a good  rehearsal space in the city where we meet a few times a week to work on music. Beyond this we bounce home recorded ideas around on email and see what sticks.

What is the best thing about Eye Of Night?

We’re very happy with  how the record turned out, and the crew of people we got to work on it.  Once again we recorded with Rian Trench and Scan in the Meadow , which is an awesome picturesque studio in Wicklow. We then got in the legendary Phil Manley of Trans Am / The Fucking Champs to mix the lp and James plotkin to do the master. Beyond this,  we are pretty stoked about how the various live elements of the band were captured , while also getting to do some more expansive development and experimentation.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We all live in Dublin City, which has a great vibrant scene. There is a wealth of stuff to discover in all genres. Real estate is major issue in the city though and finding rehearsal space is tough. There are lots of good gigs to go to and touring bands come through regularly.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?
Some of our favourite acts at the moment would be Oranssi Pazuzu, Krallice, Oneida, Eternal Champion, Blood Incantation, oneohtrix point never, Horse LordsDead RiderMessa, Oozing Wound.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Something usually comes from an initial riff, from bass or the pro one synth. We have to be quite selective about what we do ,as essentially we are composing on 2 monophonic instruments and we have to be careful how things are placed sonically. Granted it might be a a very unusual way of making a band,  but it is not without its pitfalls and impracticalities! But for us it’s a fun and interesting way to do things.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
We are currently on tour with the awesome Year of No Light in EU which has been a truly fantastic experience. After this we will launch the Lp with some Irish dates and look towards autumn to arrange more shows. As soon as we get home we will continue work on new material and start eyeing up a follow up release.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Immediately concern themselves with acquiring our new Lp EYE OF NIGHT out on 24th Feb on the fantastic SVART label. Once this has been accomplished check out Hands up Who Wants to Die, ShiftingMagic Pockets, Burning Realm.

Review + Q&A: Clouds Taste Satanic – Tales Of Demonic Possession (2023, Majestic Mountain Records)

Before we all streamed our heads off, and made fancy playlists, most of the real underground stoners found themselves immersed in YouTube channels. Channels with illusive names like 666MrDoom, Mr Stonebeliever, and The Bong Druid Of Mammoth Weed Mountain worked as a gateway for underground rock and metal bands, sometimes even lifting them up from obscurity and into a record label and live gigs. In that YouTube world you saw there was a penchant for long instrumental bands, who gained most views. Could it be that the long instrumentals were good for studying, reading, LAN parties, or binge drinking and therefore ended up on endless playlists? Who knows, all I know is that Clouds Taste Satanic was often on them.

Strangely enough it took them until this album Tales Of Demonic Possession, even though they have been steadily releasing album for quite some time now. Staying true to their original blueprint, the album consists of four long form tracks, all good for at least one LP’s side. What you see is what you get is pretty much the adagium here, with four dudes just riffing their asses off for almost eighty minutes, guitars, bass, and drums blazing.

Like all good instrumental music, it is music a listener can get lost in, making up their own story as they dive in each of the four rabbit holes presented here. Each song presenting new opportunities for mind travelling, no matter which other visuals or stimulants your are simultaneously using. Clouds Taste Satanic, like bands such as Rotor, Bismut, and Karma To Burn add a fifth dimension to it all; life experience, and the machine-like click of these four individuals as they have found the muscle memory to do this instrumental stoner thing right. They are as reliable source as you can find for this part of the heavy music spectrum, and hopefully will be in the years to come. Majestic Mountain Records have done themselves and the world a favour signing them!

I talked to CTS’s Steven Scavuzzo, a founding member and guitarist in the band. He was more than happy to add some words to their instrumental state of existence. We talked about line up changes, musical heroes, and their future plans.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Clouds Taste Satanic?

Well, thank you.  The pandemic period was very productive for Clouds Taste Satanic.  We were able to record and release the Cloud Covered album including vinyl and we did quite a bit of writing for the new record, Tales of Demonic Possession.  It was also a big influence on the music itself.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc?

I’m Steve Scavuzzo and I play guitar.  Brian Bauhs also plays guitar. Greg Acampora plays drums and Rob Halstead plays bass.  I started the band in 2013 and the other guys joined over the course of a few years.  Brian was an acquaintance of our former bass player so that’s how he found out we were looking for another guitarist.  Greg and Rob replaced other players as well.  They have played together for years in various bands so it was a natural fit.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

All of us have played in other bands before.  All pretty much rock influenced to one degree or another.  We all may have had a few lessons to get going but for the most part learned our respective instruments by doing.  No prodigies.

What does a regular day in your lives’ look like?

Everyone works day jobs.  We practice once a week but so many additional hours are spent addressing everything else it takes to be a band that puts out albums and plays shows.  The more ambitious you are, the more work involved.  Up until Tales we put all our other albums out ourselves so you could say we run a record label as well.  Tales is our first album on a label, Majestic Mountain Records.

What is the best thing about Tales Of Demonic Possession?

What I like best is the ambition.  When we started writing during the pandemic I had visions of it being a triple record (6 twenty-minute songs).  We had already done a double album with The Glitter of Infinite Hell so it really seemed doable to go even bigger.  For logistical reasons that idea proved to be a little overly ambitious but in the future, who knows?

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Sleep, Earth, Pelican, Russian Circles, Bongripper.  There are countless contemporary bands we love but these five, aside from the music, established band templates that we followed to various degrees from the beginning and continue to follow.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs differently after the last album?

There was a conscious attempt to write more as a band during the creative process.  Instead of one person bringing in a completed song and then the band picking it apart and reworking parts and the arrangement, everyone was encouraged to write more and also to create more parts spontaneously during practice.  Full band participation in the writing and arranging has increased year after year.  We’ve taken it even farther with the next album which we start recording in March.  We all believe it has made for better songs and a more enjoyable creative process.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Tonight we have a gig at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn opening up for The Obsessed.   In March we begin recording our next album.  In May we go to Europe for a week of gigs including the Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark and in September we are playing DesertFest NYC.  In between we are going to try to squeeze in the recording of a few Christmas songs.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Check out our Bandcamp Page.  See if we sound like what you are into.  Even if we don’t, it’s great music for folding laundry.

Review + Q&A: REZN – Solace (2023, self-released)

Some bands are so bloody underrated you just don’t even know anymore where or how to begin to sing their praise. Chicago’s REZN are such a band, where it just blows my mind to pieces why their fourth full length album Solace still is not pushed by some major player in the doom or psych scene. Maybe the fact that their vinyl has sold out over a month before its release is going to raise some heads, a clear sign on the wall that more people are waiting for a piece of this.

A piece of what exactly? REZN plays a kind of heavy psychedelic doom that you want to wrap around you and live in. It is layered, wavy, beautiful, but also dense, and epic when it wants to be. A contemporary peer would be MWWB, who have a similar highly drawn up wall of cosmic psych sludge. REZN adds a bit of Chicago to that, with a swirling saxophone, and a musical intelligence that makes up for their levelling heaviness when they really get to the core heaviness of their sound.

They are the doomed and stoned counterpart of bands like All Them Witches, and King Buffalo, two bands that have also found a certain finesse and subtlety in their musical heaviness that you can rightfully call “art”. There is a special place in my heart for bands like this, bands that go just a few strides ahead of the rest and dare to stick their heads around the corner and glimpse at what is to come. With the way REZN presents their sound on Solace, in all its massiveness and characteristic uniformity, I believe they are very close to be added to that part of the psychedelic rock cannon.

I talked to Spencer Ouellette, who plays all of the non-standard instruments in REZN; saxophone, synths, piano, and flute. In a way he is responsible for the band’s etherial characteristic sound. He gave us an insight in the band’s musical background, their hometown of Chicago, and a glimpse of what is to come…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for REZN?

The whole pandemic thing has been pretty hard to process so I think it’d be pretty tough for any of us to accurately describe just how it’s been for us. Best I can do is say it felt a lot like day dreaming in circles. 

And while it was all really disorienting, downright depressing, and understandably tough for a lot of people to get inspired and/or productive, I think we did our best keeping each other feeling creatively engaged regularly.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

There’s Rob and Phil who are originally from northern Virginia and both go way back. I think they’ve known each other since their ages were in the single digits. They moved to Chicago after college and began hanging out/working at music venues here, which is how they met Patrick and I (Spencer). The two of us had already known each other from working at said venues together.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Pretty sure we’ve all been playing music in different capacities since childhood. I know Rob and Phil played various instruments in some bands together in Virginia. Pat’s been in a few bands with different instruments in his hands too, but he’s definitely always had a natural aptitude for sound in general. He installed a Soundcraft mixing console into his parents house before he could even drink, probably. We still have that console in our space too. I’ve always been a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of musician.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

We are either working our day jobs or together at the space and that’s pretty much it!

What is the best thing about Solace?

I think the best thing about any new music is always that it’s the closest demonstration of what we are currently musically capable of, but it feels kind of wrong to say that about Solace since it’s been in the works for so long. Nevertheless, Solace definitely ventures into some new conceptual territories for us, and feels like the beginning of a new creative chapter for the band as a whole.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all live in Chicago, and one of our favorite things about this place is the music scene. There’s countless quality venues here and something happening at a lot of them every night, year round. It’s also just an incredibly welcoming environment. It feels like everyone making music (regardless of genre) wants to see you succeed, and it makes it really easy to pay that forward.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I don’t want to speak for the other guys because I feel like it’s constantly shifting for all of us. But for me I’d say, Black Midi, Huerco S., and Tim Hecker to name a few. Jon Christopher Nelson is a big one for me too. He’s a professor of composition at the University of North Texas and was a colleague of one of my college professors. He makes incredible electroacoustic compositions and pushes concepts in granular synthesis to the edge. Really formative stuff for me with regards to the sound-scapey stuff on our records. Oh and this guy Rex Cocroft. I don’t think he’d be recognized by most as a musician per se, but he’s an entomologist who records the vibrational waves of insects via the plants they are perched on. The recordings are a total revelation and nothing like you’d expect. Look him up!

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Usually Rob will sporadically show up with a guitar idea, or we will all happen upon something neat in an open-ended jam. We just compile all those bits and try to organize and expand on them at a later date to get fully fledged songs. That way when it’s time to record we can track it all together in the same room, which limits incidences of fixing or arranging on-the-fly, in the studio. Or worse… in post.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
Near future goals are really to just keep up churning out new music and hitting the road with it every time. Also just to become better musicians than we were yesterday, I think. That probably sums up our long term plans as well.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

It’s probably best to visit our bandcamp or website and follow us, because there’s a ton of really exciting stuff coming down the pipe from us for the foreseeable future.

Review + Q&A: Soothsayer Orchestra – The Last Black Flower (2023, Lay Bare Recordings)

I must have dreamed just now, and I am not sure if it was a nightmare or an amazing movie-like lucid dream. Mark Lanegan was in it too, his characteristic vocal gravel sounding a bit sinister this time, but he did not sing any of his own songs. It must have been a dream, Lanegan has been dead for a while, but the music sounded quite new , heavier, darker, almost evil. Definitely an angle of the old Dark Mark I had not heard before, even in collaborations with bands like Cult Of Luna and Hey Colossus. Neither did I ever dream up new music, so vivid, so incredible and powerful….what the hell was going on?

Then I remembered I fell asleep while listening to a bunch of new albums I got sent some time ago. I checked back, and The Last Black Flower by an unknown band called Soothsayer Orchestra was on my stereo last. I started looking allover where it said “featuring unearthed vocals by the famous Mark Lanegan” but I found none. All I got was a certain Pieter Hendriks from The Netherlands, who supposedly made this album all by himself. Impossible of course.

This guy wants us to believe he created a grand album full of Lanegan’s powerful dark voice, singing over some of the blackest dark gothic Americana blues I have ever heard, and taking trips into all kinds of different musical territories. Like Black Dust, that ends up in caustic industrial drones, Kissed By A Tyrant than boldly treads doom metal terrain, or the progressive gothic rock romance of November Moon.

My head keeps having trouble taking in The Last Black Flower and tracing its origins back to one man from the south of The Netherlands. I cannot prove Hendriks wrong yet though, so for now I have got to believe his story of fully creating the album by himself. The result by the way is wonderful, a solid black trip of Dark Mark’s grimmest music ever. Regardless of its true origins and whether I dreamed them or not, it comes highly recommended.

Before handing all of the credits to Pieter Hendriks, Weirdo Shrine had to find him and put him to an interrogation. Turns out he made a very personal album, and the name of a certain mr. Lanegan does not even appear to be on his mind. A cosmic coincidence? I was instantly inclined to believe it. And since the music is so awesome, who cares, really? Ladies and gentlemen, I present you: Soothsayer Orchestra.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Soothsayer Orchestra?

The Pandemic was very good for Soothsayer Orchestra, I was dealing with a lot of stuff at that moment which resulted in great inspiration for lyrics and music. I was very productive and was blessed that during the pandemic I got a new studio to record in and things came together very good. So a weird thing resulted in something creative.

Can you introduce yourself, what made you start up the orchestra?

I’ve been around music my entire life, my parents where both musicians and had a great taste in music. So I grew up surrounded by instruments and great records. At an early age I started playing drums and that resulted in playing in bands since I was 15 years old. It started with with hardcore punk bands shifting towards metal and later blues/rock and now I play drums for a wavepunk band called The Establishment and I do Soothsayer Orchestra which has no genre attached to it. 

What can you tell me about your musical background?

My roots are in the Hardcore/Punk scene where I learned a lot of fundamental stuff that I still apply to music (and life) to his day, like the DIY mentality and life views. So on that foundation I moved from genre to genre playing in country bands, blues bands, rock bands etc. But always with the Hardcore/Punk mentality in mind. But my first contact with music was through my dad’s record collection which has all the classic records from the 60s and 70s. 

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I work a normal day job and take care of my kids and hang out with my beautiful wife. And besides that I like to lock myself up in my studio and create music.

Pieter Hendriks aka Soothsayer Orchestra

What is the best thing about the new album?

That it was very therapeutic for me, that I felt very free to do whatever I wanted to do, both musically and lyrically. It is a journey from the first second to the last and I really believe that this is a record that comes to life the best if it is played in full with a concentrated ear.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live near Eindhoven and I believe that the environment is really great here, there is some great initiatives like Anker Studio who help musicians out a lot and give them a place where they can do what they need to do to create their art. There is some great bands out here like Tankzilla, KomatsuSeverant, An Evening With Knives and a lot of great new bands that really play from the heart, Eindhoven is worth keeping an eye on for sure.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I don’t really have a hero. But if there is one artist that really grabbed my attention last it would be Ethel Cain, I think she made a really beautiful album called Preacher’s Daughter which I recommend to everybody. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

It is always very different, but most of the time I start with a period that I get into lyric writing mode. I write pages full and really dive into that process. Once I have a whole bunch of lyrics I dive into music writing mode and I start putting music to the lyrics or the other way around. But the fundament is always lyrics and words where the concept for a bunch of songs or album is born.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

I would love to go out and play some shows with the band. Besides that I am going to dive into some other musical projects to reset my mind and inspiration. And after that I think I will start working on some new music for Soothsayer Orchestra. Always moving forward.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

I would love if the listeners would take the time to listen to The Last Black Flower and dive into the journey.

Review + Q&A: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs- Land Of Sleeper (2023, Rocket Recordings/Missing Piece Group Records)

To fire a rocket into space, you need a big engine, with roaring fuel exhausts, and enough thrust to launch a manned capsule beyond the planet’s gravity and into the blackness of space. It seems like a lot of modern space rock bands have forgotten about the ferocious destructive power necessary to get your space vessel afloat. Not Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. They are that engine.

These seven English pigs are rougher than most, driven by their loud mouthed head honcho Matt Baty, whose rough howls easily tear through the walls of heavily pumped up distortion. Like an actual space rocket, they use a combustion of various chemicals, be it acid or stoner, or sludge, and mix it up into a highly combustable propellant.

The result is like being flattened by a bulldozer when the ground is made of space brownies; the swing to the head really hits home, but the end result is sweet and satisfying. On Land Of Sleeper, more than on any of their previous records, the band have found the right angle for that swing.

There is not much more to it really. If you like your space rock super heavy, your guitar tone fat, and your trip deep and doomy, there is not better companion than Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Let’s kickstart that rocket once more…

I talked to Matt Baty a few times before, but always in his job as Box Records label boss, and never as the singer of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. He was more than happy to open up to Weirdo Shrine, and explain what this Newcastle band is all about.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs?

It feels like such a long time ago now, we’re just all delighted to be back doing what we love. I don’t really like chatting too much about the pandemic in relation to our band because there were awful things happening to people all across the world. The problems it created with regard to our music are quite trivial in comparison. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

Myself, Sam and Johnny all went to school together and we’ve been playing music since we were 16. We met Ewan and Sam largely through Newcastle being the city it is. It’s quite a compact place with a lot of the music scene condensed into a few areas. If you live here and have any interest in more leftfield or niche genres you tend to come across the same people at those sorts of gigs. That’s largely how we got to know Ewan and Adam.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We all fell in love with heavy music from an early age so we’ve all been in bands exploring the darkest depths of what that world has to offer. Some of us have been in more melodic bands too. Currently Sam releases under the moniker of Rubber Oh, which is a fine concoction of psychedelic pop and Ewan releases albums under the name Dextro, making lovely cinematic music. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

It’s different for each of us. Sam and Ewan both have young children so I imagine their days may be a bit more hectic than my own. Outside of the band, we all have jobs, which poses its own challenges with regard to scheduling tours and festivals but we make it work. 

What is the best thing about Land Of Sleeper?

Ha, this feels like a tough question. Overall it’s a record we’re immensely proud of. Thanks to Sam’s vision on the production it has the biggest depth sonically of any album we’ve done. We’ve also welcomed Ewan back into the band, who took a few years sabbatical leave after our debut album. To be honest, that’s probably the answer – the drums. Ewan’s drumming is the best thing about Land Of Sleeper. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all love living in Newcastle. There’s so many great music venues here, and generally everyone is very supportive of each other. Special mention should go to The Lubber Fiend which is a new venue here. It’s quickly established itself as a bit of a hub for noisey, weird and experimental music. They’re doing a great job with it and it’s the kind of place Newcastle has needed for years. 

Who made the brilliant artwork and what is the relation to the lyrics?

The artwork is by Callum Rooney ( and we all love it. Initially we were discussing having the artwork have a 70s sci-fi novel cover vibe. We must be a bit annoying to work with because we usually direct artists down a particular reference path then start to steer them away from that to create something a bit more unusual from the initial brief we’d laid out. It was part inspired by the album title, which in turn was inspired by some of the lyrical content.

Early on in the lyric writing process I saw the emergence of references to cycles – growth and decay, seasons, emotional etc. I wanted to find a metaphorical theme to thread into the album that could illustrate those topics. Sleep felt a good fit because hopefully, that’s something that’s part of everyone’s daily routine. Also, sleep itself has its own cycles or stages, and in some of those that’s where people do some heavy duty psychological processing. Sleep is also an ultimate form of escapism, and for me, that’s what our music is too.

Review + Q&A: Polymoon – Chrysalis (2023, Robotor Records)

And so Finnish psychedelic prog monsters Polymoon have entered the next stage of their development, from a caterpillar (-of creation, their previous album) into a cocoon, or a “Chrysalis” if you will. If the sequence of stages suggests that what the band has on display here is only their sleeping period, I simply lack the imaginative skills to grasp what it will be like when they finally become a butterfly after this album.

For Chrysalis is as rich an album as they get, borrowing and adding from a giant size palette of different styles and colors from 60s acid rock to 80s guitar wizard prog, and even some side steps into much heavier metal territories. There simply is no way to catch Polymoon into a simple genre tag or other faulty misnomer. There is however a general feel of psychedelic dreaminess spread across Chrysalis, perfectly illustrated by the album cover. I can imagine holding the vinyl close to your head and diving right into that purply forest guided by these melodies.

The album’s bright fullness is extra accentuated by its wealthy production, by Kadavar‘s Tiger Bartelt, who also opened his Berlin based studio to Polymoon. Together they did not spare any means to make Chrysalis into the most powerful creation it could have become, and the result is genuinely mind-blowing.

As in; BOOM! Mind blown, no more words. It is only early February, but I think I have found my album of the year already.

I found Polymoon‘s very own Kalle-Erik Kosonen (vocals & synth) and Jesse Jaksola (guitar) more than willing to explain themselves on the topic of their brilliant new album, and the bumpy ride towards it from their previous album The Caterpillars Of Creation and of course the mind numbing pandemic that immediately followed...

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Polymoon?
We are alright, thanks for asking! A lot is happening as the release of our sophomore album Chrysalis is just around the corner. We’ve been waiting for the new album to be released for quite some time, so we are living very exciting and relieving times. Just started the Finnish album release tour with another Tamperestian psychedelic rock band called Death Hawks and we still have some shows to cover.

The pandemic started already six months before our debut album Caterpillars Of Creation came out, so we weren’t able to do any shows before the release. As for everyone, all of the shows we had booked were cancelled and we had to start thinking of what to do. Luckily we had a chance to do some shows to support the debut album but as we all know, it was what it was. No complaining – moving forward. Fortunately we had all this spare energy and spare time and we wanted to do something useful with our creative state of mind so we started writing songs for the new album Chrysalis which will see the daylight on the 17th of February 2023.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc?

We are Kalle-Erik Kosonen (vocals & synth) and Jesse Jaksola (guitar). The first time we met was in Uleåborg Festival Of Psychedelia in 2016, a long time before making music together. We enjoyed some great shows and a great time together there and immediately had a mutual love and respect towards each other. So in 2019 when Jesse asked me (Kalle-Erik) to play in this band and make music together, the decision was a no brainer for me. The band back then consisted of Jesse, Otto Kontio (guitar), Juuso Valli (bass) and Tuomas Heikura (drums) and they were looking for a synth player. I instantly said yes and joined the band. Eventually when the songs for our debut album Caterpillars Of Creation were written, we were preparing to hit the studio and decided to add vocals to the songs at the last minute. So I became the singer of the band, half by accident. Our current bass player Marco Menestrina joined the band in the summer of 2022. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Kalle-Erik: I started playing guitar at the age of 10, because rock ‘n’ roll was the most mind blowing thing I had ever heard or seen. Since then I played guitar in various bands before Polymoon. But Polymoon was kind of a musical rebirth for me, since I was starting over by learning and exploring the exciting world of synthesizers and singing.

Jesse: I played piano for some years when I was younger. Some bass also after I got more into music and had some friends to play it with but for quite some time playing music just faded to the background in my life and it took several years to get back on playing. My grandpa used to play piano, bass and sax for all his life so he, my father and his brother were the ones to introduce me to rock ‘n’ roll. I started playing guitar just a few years before forming Polymoon and really fell in love with the instrument and everything around it. It was and still is a friend to depend on and a vessel to express myself.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?
We are working around music and bands, loving animals, eating vegan, nurturing our curls, having a good time with our friends and loved ones, dancing, playing and listening to music and consuming a shitload of culture in general.

What is the best thing about Chrysalis?
It is the result of us giving all we’ve got at the moment as individual musicians and as a band. Chrysalis is a milestone on the path of being a band and it is interesting to observe our growth and progress now when the album is done. It is a very personal and emotionally vulnerable record for us. We hope you feel it from the recording.

Recording Chrysalis in Berlin is also a big part of what makes it so special for us. We were kind of “isolated” in the cultural center of Europe, far away from our everyday lives. We spent two weeks in our favourite city recording our sophomore album in the most inspirational environment at Robotor Studios, Neukölln. Learning on the way and constantly trying out new ideas to make the album as good as we could possibly make it at this point of our musical journey. Working and getting to know our producer Tiger Bartelt was most definitely the cherry on the top. The peaceful and welcoming atmosphere he created, his working methods, ideas and the way he just pushed us made us give our best performance for sure. 

Can you tell me something about the title of the album?
Chrysalis is simply the second stage of a metamorphosis, Caterpillars Of Creation being the first. There are many ways of seeing the metamorphosis. It’s in our way of being a human, being an artist and making music. It’s all about moving forward, growing and evolving. A perpetual change as one great band would put it.

You have lived in Tampere, right? I was there a long time ago, and it sure felt like a “metal” minded city, how is the scene for a band like Polymoon?
Yeah, we live in Tampere – the “psychedelic hotbed” as they say. Home of many metal minded music fans and fans of psychedelic music so it’s a great place to live in and make music. The music scene in general is amazing and nowadays there are so many venues that it’s almost an impossibility to not go out and see a show in our free time. There are many great bands coming from Tampere. It sometimes feels insane yet wonderful to be a part of this “movement”.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?
Mew, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, The Mars Volta, Chelsea Wolfe to name a few.

We are very much inspired by the more organic sound of the 60s & 70s and we feel that most of the great music has been written during those decades. However, we are not worshipping it. We love music from all the different decades and eras equally.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs differently after Caterpillars Of Creation?
We started working with Chrysalis in early 2020. Before Caterpillars Of Creation was released yet right after it was recorded. Even though we were supposed to take a little break from making new music and concentrate on rehearsing for the upcoming shows and being a live band. Well that most certainly didn’t happen because of the pandemic, and all the free time we had because of the cancelled shows so there we went again, into the rabbit hole.

When we started working with the new music there was just one word that came out regularly. Transitions. We wanted to pay more attention to composing and to those little details which make those songs a bit more interesting. Those tiny things that you wouldn’t probably notice on a first run but maybe on the second or third round and so on. First song to set the tone for the rest of the record was Instar, a 10 minute prog monster filled with all those ideas or some would say goals that we had when we started creating the magical world of Chrysalis.

There was always someone of us who would bring his idea to the rehearsal place and we played, rehearsed and composed the song out of that idea at rehearsals. The way of working slightly changed from recording homemade loops or rehearsal takes to our phones to building full demos at home and having everyone separately recording their ideas at Jesse’s place. But the original way of making music together, playing live and reacting to each other’s ideas stuck from the first time and is indeed the key way for us to make music for Polymoon. Recording the demos at home was just a tool for composing, pre-producing and “writing down” ideas for the actual recording session with amazingly talented vintage guru Tiger Bartelt who had the set of tools to make this album as it is now.

9. What are your immediate and long term future plans?
-Immediate plans are to finish our album release tour in Finland and enjoy the ride as much as possible. Long term plans – nothing much. We’ll see what the future will shove into our faces. To be honest we’ve been working and waiting for the release of “Chrysalis” for so long that we just want to concentrate on this moment rather than thinking about the next move. Hope you enjoy this moment as much as we do!

10. What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
-Visit Lapland.