Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Review: Elder- Innate Passage (2022, Stickman Records)

If there is a staircase somewhere to measure epicness in music, Elder is definitely quite high up there. Their brand of psychedelic prog rock is towering high above their peers, each song taking its time to build up carefully only to crash down on the listener with mighty waves afterwards.

Innate Passage, a passage from within (beautifully illustrated on the album cover), is Elder’s latest display of power. On it, in my mind, they hark back to the crushing heaviness of their masterpiece Lore, without losing any of their subtle progression on the albums that came after. Your head will need a little time to fully wrap itself around this “inner passage”, but when you do you will be thoroughly hooked to what probably is the highlight of heavy psychedelic prog rock this year.

The band builds a cathedral, rather than a rock album. The base is of course drums, bass, and Nick DiSalvo‘s ever impressive guitar work, but a cathedral needs more than just a solid foundation to impress. With carefully added layers of acoustic guitars, mellotron, and for the very first time some vocal help from German stoner powerhouse Samavayo‘s Behrang Alavi Elder has also added the outer and inner arches, gargoyles, and ornamental features.

Innate Passage feels like a cathedral when you enter it too, in such a way that you can wander in it for quite a while and still be amazed when you look up and scale the ceiling paintings, or when you discover new patterns in the stained glass windows. Elder awaits you at the entrance time after time, and each time seems to give you a more extensive tour.

The Weirdo Shrine travel agency of psychedelic prog tripping cannot recommend it enough…

Review + Q&A: King Buffalo- Regenerator (2022, Stickman Records)

The third and final chapter of the album threesome that King Buffalo recorded during the pandemic lockdown in 2021 is called Regenerator and once again it shows a different side to the band. Where The Burden Of Restlessness was an aggressive, heavy and metallic record, and Acheron was the psychedelic jam album, Regenerator does exactly what it says on the tin: it lifts up the spirits and revitalizes the band and its listeners with its open and spacey sounds.

Before I could listen to the full album I had the chance to see King Buffalo play at the Valkhof Festival in Nijmegen (Holland) and two things stood out; how frontman Sean McVay used a loop pedal to create massive guitar walls all by himself, and how motorik and hypnotic the new material sounded in a live setting. Songs like Regenerator, Mercury, and Hours all have a certain forward drive that has a definite kraut rock feel, especially when King Buffalo bring on the spacey synthesizers.

There are some softer, more melodic moments as well, and album closer Firmament showcases McVay’s most intimate vocals to date. This too fits the band like a glove, and once again you feel as a listener that this is a band at the very top of their game. It is so incredible to think that these three albums sound so differently and varied, and yet they were recorded in such a short time of each other. Regenerator is a perfect closer a well, a positive outlook on the band and its future, and a testament to what this band is capable off under duress. What will the future bring? I decided to ask Sean McVay himself.

How are you guys doing? And where are you at the moment? You are playing so many shows these days!

We just returned home after an incredible European tour. I’m currently sitting on my couch drinking a big bottle of water while typing out this interview. 

Can you tell me your most memorable moment of the tour so far? 

Probably playing PALP Festival in the Swiss Alps. It’s not everyday you get to play literally on the top of a mountain.

Listening to Regenerator, and also (finally) seeing you live (in Nijmegen!) I got the feeling that some of the dread of The Burden Of Restlessness and Acheron has been lifted, is that correct? What changed?

At the time of writing Regenerator I don’t think much had really changed in all honesty. Things were still pretty much locked down, and the world continues to be a bit of a horrific mess in a lot of different ways even still, but I knew I wanted the 3rd record to wrap up with a more optimistic tone and kind of stand as an inverse to Burden. With how dark and grim that record was, I felt like it was necessary to counterbalance it with something brighter, if only for my own sanity while writing them honestly. I feel like it was maybe me trying to find something to look forward to and strive for while reckoning with a swath of negative things.

You guys are playing live a lot at the moment, how do you keep up? And how do you keep it fresh each time you are playing?

We make little tweaks to the setlist just about every show to help keep things interesting on our end. Also a lot of our songs have spots that lend themselves to little bits of improvisation so I always try to add some sort of different twist to at least one song every night. The kind of thing that might not be super noticeable, but maybe a fan who’s seen us a bunch would notice and find it interesting or refreshing. Shows are the best thing about being a band in my opinion. That block of time onstage riding a sort of energy wave with the crowd is a feeling like no other. So really it doesn’t feel like its that hard to stay engaged and excited. 

Listening to your set and to the new album I felt a certain stronger emphasis on repetition and groove I guess?It’s almost kraut rock at some point! Also some more uplifting stuff going on? What is your take on the most important changes for Regenerator?

I really made an effort to highlight melodies on this record. Whether that was in the vocals, guitar hooks or even with some of Dan’s bass work (see Mercury for an example of the bass really carrying the melody of the entire song). I wanted to go for a little bit more of a stripped down, sort of “band in a room” sound than previous records (especially Burden). Everything is a little bit warmer, a little bit dirtier, and a little bit drier than a lot of our previous work. I cringe at using the word “organic” to describe it, but I honestly can’t think of a better word for what I was aiming for with the production style haha. It was a challenge, and a bit scary for me personally. I’ve always been super fond of lots of reverbs and delays on either my guitars or vocals. Making a conscious effort to strip away some of that was a bit terrifying. The opening verse of Firmament is probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever recorded.

With Regenerator you made right on your promise to release three albums in a row, congratulations! Although the plan to release them all in one year did not work, was that all pressing plant delays, or was there more to it?

Well the initial plan was actually to RECORD 3 albums in 2021 and ideally have them all released that year. Things snowballed a little bit with the announcement and it became RELEASE 3 albums haha. Lesson learned to be a little more careful with language haha. With that said, I can’t put all of the delays on the pressing plant. They were certainly backed up and completely swamped with demand. That on top of global supply chain issues really slowed things down. But we also had some studio/equipment issues that slowed down production at a couple points. There were of course a couple COVID scares in there that prevented us from meeting up occasionally. And we had a couple of issues receiving final artwork for a couple of the records past their deadline. So basically there was a lot of small inconvenient delays that added up on top of the already existing pressing plant delays. It was an absolutely chaotic and hectic year trying to get everything done, but we are super happy that we were able to stay busy and focused, and are incredibly proud of the result. We can’t thank everyone enough who participated and helped in some way, and especially appreciate the patience and support from our fans when it became obvious that we weren’t going to have everything released in 2021.

How do you look back on the albums as a trilogy, they have the same protagonist and overarching themes right? Do you feel it turned out exactly the way you envisioned it or did the plans also shift a bit when time passed over it?

There definitely is a single protagonist, with an overarching storyline encompassing all 3 records. Each record focusing on a different part of the story. In a very general way, yes I think it turned out how I envisioned it, but in smaller more specific ways not at all. No matter how well planned something is during pre-production, the final product always comes out different than expected. That’s simply part of the process. I think its important to be open to the possibility of things changing. Falling too much in love with the demos creates a sort of tension and stress during the actual production that just slows things down. It’s important to have a grand vision that your excited about, but you have to be open to changes when it comes time to actually make it. So there a lot of little things on the records that are completely different than what was initially conceived, but that’s simply part of the process.

So what now? With such an ambitious project now finished I can imagine your just want to tour a lot, which you are doing at the moment, but do you already have album plans for after that? Any dreams you want to make true in the studio environment?

The focus for now is definitely touring and playing live, especially with all the time we had to take off from touring. There aren’t any solid albums planned at the moment. There’s definitely some stuff that was left on the cutting room floor that we’re still excited about. Who knows if they’ll ever get dug back up. We’re always a little bit antsy. So I’ll say that we don’t have anything planned release wise for now, but that can always change in an instant haha.

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

Drink a glass of water. Hydration is important. 

Label Report: Broken Clover Records

Mickey Darius of Broken Clover Records

Broken Clover Records is a new underground label run by Mickey Darius from San Francisco, California. Apart from its very cool and extremely diverse roster I was drawn to find out more about Broken Clover Records because of their policy. They strive to be very honest and clear about their relationship with their bands and pay 100% of the royalties up front. I was curious to find how Darius was doing with such a progressive way of running a business. It turned out a fascinating moment of getting to know one of the true originals in underground independent music today.

Hi Mickey! How are you doing these days? How was the pandemic for a small-ish label like Broken Clover?

These are 2 seemingly innocuous questions, but they have countless (complicated) answers, depending on the day/hour.  As long as we’re acknowledging that humans are treating each other and the planet worse than ever before (and potentially irreparably) and that’s our bar, then my day-to-day is OK.  I’ve got my hurdles (mostly financial and emotional), but with my little family and my music and work and soccer and the other joys I can find, I’m faring pretty well.  My pandemic experience, specifically relating to how BCR is doing, is hard to qualify.  We had only put out 3 releases before COVID hit and I was really just getting my sea legs.  The following 17 releases came once we’d embarked on this new reality, so I don’t really have a comparative frame of reference.  I can say that I think we’d have fared a little better if we’d been able to have release shows AND weren’t battling for attention…and by that I mean that we’ve been steadily fighting for column space from journalists, since there is not only a lot happening in the world, but also A LOT of music coming out.  We are then also fighting for social media space from fans, as everyone has so much more to process and share.  Beyond this, from what I hear, the journalistic competition is crazy fierce right now and everyone just wants to write about a safe/sure thing.  What we’re doing at BCR is certainly not safe or predictable, so it’s been hard to gain momentum.  All this said, because we’ve stuck to our guns and just do what we do, it seems that the tide is starting to slowly but organically turn.  It is also helpful when folks share our releases or posts through word of mouth, reviews or their social media channels.

Tell me something about yourself! What is your musical background for instance, and how did you get involved in music?

I have always been involved in music.  I don’t say that facetiously.  With both parents being musicians, our house was a noisy one since I was a baby.  Early photos show pianos and shakers and microphones and drums and harmonicas and anything else I could play on or sing along to.  The same went for my brother (Charles Darius), who is 5 years my junior.  The only difference was/is that he is wildly talented and can somehow seem to master instruments and scales he’s only just discovered.  Anyhow, from early bedroom recordings to school bands to organizing shows to DJing to starting my own bands to recording other bands to starting a label (where I am owner/operator) to starting a booking agency (where I am owner/agent) to managing a venue and a lot in between…I was called in to this music world and don’t know if I could really do anything else.  This is my happy place and this is the language I speak and this is where I feel I can do the most good.

I have to say I am very intrigued by the set up of your label; can you explain your vision when you started Broken Clover Records?

This is a hard question to answer, as there are myriad ways for me to answer.  In a nutshell, I saw things that I wished other labels would do/avoid and decided to try and lead by example.  Some of these things are around streaming, artist payment, promo, album-oriented music and the general care of curating a roster/catalog.

Can you take me back to the start? When did you start and how? What were some of the highlights/lows?

I wouldn’t be here, doing this (or anything), if I hadn’t stopped drinking 5 years ago.  As I was freshly navigating this new alcohol-free landscape, I was working with a therapist who had also become my friend.  It started very much as patient/client, but after connecting over a lifetime love of music, we slowly became pretty close friends.  At one point, it came up that he had a significant sum of money that he wanted to invest in a music project.  I’d long had the idea of running a label, but that was really just a way for me to think about artists I like and would love to meet/work with in any capacity.  I now had a very real way of making this half-baked dream a reality and after discussing things, it seemed that he was willing to bankroll a new label and let me drive…which I quickly realized I wouldn’t feel good about.  If I am steering the ship, I needed to feel free of shackles or responsibility to anyone other than the artists and fans and myself.  I quickly told him thanks but no thanks and then committed to BCR001 with my own savings.  

With each new artist relationship and release, there is a new high.  So much of this job is incredibly rewarding.  Even (and sometimes especially) the hard stuff.  My 3 biggest lows are…

1) Turning away cool/interesting projects due to financial concerns.

2) Having to deal with damaged shipments and a lack of responsibility from manufacturers/shippers.

3) A new album not landing/resonating with people in the way we’d hoped.

What is your opinion about how the music industry evolved until now? Are we heading in a good direction with streaming and wide accessibility of music to pretty much anyone?

Evolved vs. devolved?  I dunno.  I kinda see running a label in our fragile music ecosystem like child-rearing…I don’t know that there’s a right way to do it (if there is, I haven’t found it), but you know right away when something feels wrong.  Specifically regarding streaming, my opinions are strong/loud.  First, I want to be clear that I have zero issue with streaming.  I love streaming music and being able to share tracks and add to playlists and all of that.  What I do have a huge fucking problem with is everyone’s sense of entitlement to instant AND free AND across all platforms.  Because of this, we hold off on pushing content to the major streaming sites until 6 months after the release.  I actually had initially set it at 12 months and then flexed to 9 months and have again recently shifted to 6 months.  We do this so that buyers can have the excitement of showing the music to people and feel like their commitment to the music is reciprocated.  There’s a relationship there and I don’t want to cheapen it.  This is not at all to say that anyone else’s method is wrong or harmful.  I’m just running BCR in a way that I think is helpful to the industry and in a way that I think is respectful to the art and in a way that honors the customers who support.  

Who are the most inspirational artists around these days in your opinion?

Anyone who is making challenging music.  In order to get through all the uncertainty that we face daily now, everyone seems to be leaning in to the classics and things that they find familiar.  I get it.  With the world on fire again/still, we find comfort in those friendly faces/sounds.  I’ve definitely found myself returning to classics like Midnight Marauders (A Tribe Called Quest-red)and Physical Graffiti (Led Zep-red) and Against The Grain (Bad Religion-red) far more than normal.  That kind of music (and security) is very important right now, but the folks who are really inspiring me are the folks who are creating music that requires a little discomfort or disorientation.  They’re likely to lose listeners – listeners that are at a premium these days – but they feel so compelled to create that they can’t help it.  That’s powerful to me.

What kind of artists are you looking for when you scout new music?

The criteria is pretty simple.  Does the music move me?  Are the humans that make it horrible people?  If it’s a yes/no situation, then we’re in good shape and can figure out the rest.  Make music I’d want in my collection and give a shit about people other than yourself. 

What should bands do that would like to be on Broken Clover Records?

I will listen to anything sent to me and will reply to anyone who reaches out.  That said, it behooves you to wait until the thing you’re sending is ready to be listened to without a bunch of explanation…ie: here’s a demo, but the hi hats on #2 are gonna be gone and the bassline on #6 needs to be tweaked or whatever.  I shouldn’t need a map to decipher how to navigate your demo.  Beyond that, be straightforward with what you want from the relationship and make sure you’re prepared to do some basic self-promo.  If talking about yourself and asking folks to buy your stuff really feels that terrible, then maybe I’m not the label for you.  I abhor the current standard means of promo on social media channels, but I’m not seeing other effective ways to get people to listen/buy, since folks also don’t want to make physical flyers or do mailers or anything like that.  Look at things though the eyes of a label owner…what would you want to see/hear and how would you want it delivered?    

Do you have a tip for other small labels and people who’s like to start one?

Only do it if it moves you…ie: don’t get in to it for $.  There will be a lot of thankless days and the only thing that keeps the fire burning for me is feeling confident that I’m putting out a quality product and treating people well and putting my best foot forward.  Think about being a fan.  Make the thing that you’d want to buy.  Your output will be amazing if you’re doing what feels good to you and it’s who you are.  I can not talk about authenticity enough.  If it really means something to you, it’ll show.  Conversely, if you’re just going through the motions of what you think you should be doing or what you think people want, it’ll also show…and that is not a good look.

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

1) Please visit the Broken Clover Records Bandcamp page and check out the roster/catalog.    

https://brokencloverrecords.bandcamp.com

2) After that, please follow our social channels…

https://www.facebook.com/brokencloverrecords

https://www.instagram.com/brokencloverrecords

If I’m being honest,  while the past few years have yielded great records for our catalog, our business has been dangerously slow.  In order to keep releasing the diverse international content that we’re now known for, we need to sell records…accolades don’t pay advances.  I hope that doesn’t sound snotty.  I am being real.  Our catalog is pretty vast and I would bet that even the most finicky or adventurous crate digger/downloader/streamer can find multiple titles that do something for them.    

3) Tell someone that you love ’em and pet an old dog and play your favorite record LOUD.

Want to hear more about Mickey Darius and Broken Clover Records? Listen to this episode of West of Twin Peaks Radio

Cave In- Heavy Pendulum (2022, Relapse Records)

After the tragic death of bassist and (in my humble opinion) best death growl this side of modern hardcore Caleb Scofield in 2018 I never thought there would be another Cave In album, let alone one I would every fully enjoy as much as when he was still in it. And yet, here is Heavy Pendulum, and it rules. In stead of the mournful and heavy melancholic doom epitaph album you might expect, it is a jubilant celebration of everything Cave In was, is and will be. It soars, rocks, hooks, and shakes its audience, screaming to them and themselves that this wat they were meant to to as musicians, and that Caleb would not have wanted it any other way.

Instrumental to the reinvigoration of Cave In‘s sound is Scofield’s old friend and band mate in Old Man Gloom Nate Newton (Converge, Doomriders), who brings his unmistakable ruggedness to the table to fire up the Cave In engine. His rough vocals don’t match Scofield’s in depth and ferociousness, but they do compensate with hardcore urgency and sheer aggression. I honestly don’t think there could not have been anyone to do this job any better. His strong ties to the band and Scofield all breathe a deep and sincere respect for him, his music, and his legacy. And he also brings his background with him into the sound, adding hints of Doomriders’ rock ‘n roll energy, as well as Converge’s out-of-the box metallic hardcore genius.

All good intentions, new found energy, and respectful legacy aside, Heavy Pendulum mostly is an excellent album simply because it IS. It has a couple of Cave In’s best songs to date (New Reality, Blood Spiller, Careless Offering, Nightmare Eyes) and it is a balanced record from first to last, ending with a mighty doomed out tombstone through Wavering Angel, a song that encapsulates true loss in such a goddamned heavy and progressive artistic way only Cave In ever could. It’s a goosebump inducing eulogy to their friend and soulmate;

Wavering angel
Cling to your wing
Let yourself fly
Wavering angel
Cling to your wing
Let yourself fly
Let yourself fly, yeah

Floating, floating untethered
Light as, light as a feather
Heavy, heavy wet weather
Twisting, turn to the never

Wavering angel
Wavering angel
Wavering angel
Wavering angel

What happened to us, my friend?
What happened to us, my friend?
What happened to us, my friend?
What happened to us, my friend?

Instrumental Triple feature: Noorvik vs. Der Neue Planet vs. Trigona (2022, Tonzonen Records/Echodelick Records, Worst Bassist Records)

Last time when I talked about instrumental music I discovered the German outfits Kombynat Robotron and Shem and did a double feature. Then Tonzonen Records and Echodelick Records sent me these instrumental records and I told myself it was time to do it again, but tripled this time. For instrumental music is a different kind of animal. It leaves something to be filled in at the dots for the listener. And it often invites its audience to dive into their minds, or out, which makes for a completely different listening experience than with their more, ahem, “vocal” brethren…

Der Neue Planet (The new planet in German) are an instrumental stoner prog band that takes full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to bother about stuff like verses or choruses, rhymes, or repetition. Opener Heavy Dream Prog describes their sound quite aptly in a song that shoots back and forth from heavy stoner walls to chilled out dungeon jazz, to stoner disco and everything in between in a near ten minute journey. It’s seriously heavy music, but there is room for tongue in cheek humor too, just like on their album title and cartoonish artwork. Area Fifty-Fun is exactly that; it’s a heavy psychedelic fun trip that rides like an amusement park.

Noorvik are the heavy brothers of this triplet. The music on Hamartia is serious, epic, and leans pretty close to metal at times, from massive doomed out postmetal, to more uptempo riffage and even a couple of blast beat volleys. If you picture a singer like Michael Akerfeldt fronting this band with a good deep grunt they would actually do a pretty good oldschool Opeth/Katatonia crossbreed.

Now, without human voice, the music forces you to use your own imagination for the imagery. The music becomes a painter’s palette picturing vast glacial landscapes, tall and impenetrable mountain ranges, but also peaceful ponds of calmness and serenity. Noorvik are a force of nature, conjuring up the rawness and beauty of our planet quite vividly.

The only non-German band that I will talk about here actually plays the most kraut oriented music of the three, and starts off with a song called Von Graf…but that’s pure coincidence of course. Trigona from Australia does motorik instrumentals like they were born somewhere between the 80s of Neu! and the 90s of bands like Karma To Burn with a sound that holds a pretty good middle ground between the motorik repetition of krautrock and the heaviness of stoner.

The strength of the album is that each song swirls away in a different inner mindset, taking the listener on six completely different trips, but without losing a strong band identity. I like it best when Trigona pumps out a Joy Division bass line, and then completely drives it into outer space with its gravitational reverbing guitar parts. It’s transcendental music, made for levitation and rising above the daily grind. Stuff to aspire to.

Review + Q&A: Wild Rocket- Formless Abyss (2022 Riot Season Records)

Astronauts, when looking at the planet Earth from high above in space, have often felt epiphanies in which they felt compelled to protect it from our own silly behaviors. More than once these epiphanies led to climate activism, or at least an urge to tell as many human beings as possible what a great thing we have here, and that it would be such a pity if we wasted it. A change in perspective can do so much, and here is where Wild Rocket flies in.

The Dublin based band offers a ride into space for anyone willing, and you don’t even have to be a rich asshole like Musk or Bezos. You just have to squeegee your third eye and hop on the Wild Rocket, as it embarks on its massive space rock journey away from our tiny little blue planet and bound for anywhere your imagination dares bring you. While your facial skin tightens from the rocket’s warp speed, the gigantic engines thunder with orbit flinging gravity; this band knows that space rock needs to be heavy to mean anything.

On Formless Abyss, the Wild Rocket has three stages: the heavy Farflung goes postmetal scorcher Formless Abyss, and the dark ritualistic space drone Interplanetary Vibrations. They each last about ten minutes, and then there is the grand finale of the 20 minute monster space jam The Future Echoes. The track becomes heavier and more metallic as it unfolds, even reaching straight up doom metal boiling point at times. The shamanic vocals remind of US sludgy space doomers Zoroaster, evil and low, conjuring up all kinds of imagery that depicts that our future echoes might not be all that bright…

Still, in all its heaviness, Wild Rocket’s space rock journey does give us some perspective on our meaningless life on this little blue dot. We might not all become climate activists after this, but we will be a bit more humble.

Wild Rocket from Dublin, Ireland

I spoke to Cian “Moose” Meganetty (bass) about Corona, being heavy, and influences…

Hi guys, how have you been these past pandemic times and how has it affected being in the band and making music for you?

Same as most people I presume. Was very hard to get all of us in the same room for most of the pandemic. Myself (Moose) and Niallo did get to jam fairly regularly which was good and defo helped keep us sane. We wrote the guts of a record but there’s still plenty of fleshing it all out with the rest of the band. Things always evolve quite a bit once everyone gets involved so don’t be expecting anything too soon.. Obviously we had no gigs to play or attend which was very strange but we all have our health which is the main thing.

Can you introduce yourselves? Where do you come from physically and musically? 

We all come from various parts of Ireland, mostly based in Dublin or Wicklow (bordering county) except Bres on drums who’s been living and working in London a good few years now. We broadly come from a punk/metal background with some experimental beat music/electronics/noise/kraut along the way too. Music with a high level of intensity is the connecting factor across what we listen to and this is reflected in what we do as a band.

In what ways does your geographical situation influence your music?

We like to think we have a fairly strong Irish identity to our song writing and avoid sounding like a band trying to be English or American. Our use of the Irish language reflects this too. The sea surrounding us here plays a big part of our lives too between swimming in it. Having to cross it to play another country. Being in pure awe of its power. Then there’s a fascination with the ocean depths and it’s parallels with deep space.

Formless Abyss sounds freaking dense! What has been the biggest influence for that do you think? And, always a question with space rock. was there a lot of chemical enhancement involved?

We aim to make music that is tangible and can be felt as well as heard by the listener. We also live in heavy times so it makes sense to us that our music reflects this. I love the sound of thundering rivers after heavy rain and waves crashing on the shore so want to also reflect that kinda heaviness in our sound.


There’s also two drummers of course, nothing really sounds as full as two lads on two full drum kits. The effects used play a big part too. All dirt for guitar and bass comes from Moose Electronics, on this record guitar is mostly Battlehammer drive/distortion and bass is the Nomad fuzz. We’re tone chasers too so all the guitars/bases have been customised along the way. Any space after the above was pretty much filled up by George with his modular synth. Production philosophy on all our records has been “everything louder than everything else”  So the answer to that question is really that everything together makes the record what it is so there’s no real biggest influence on it’s sound.

Not a lot of chemical enhancement, we’d be more into beer/stout. Ireland does have a long deep relationship with the other world and we certainly try to tap into that too.

What is the favorite letter in your record collection and why?

Can’t go wrong with B. Close to the start of the collection and includes Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Bong, Blown Out, Bloody Head, Beak>, Beastie Boys, Bongzilla, Bad Brains, Big Country, Bruxa Maria, Buczzcocks, Big black, Black Eyes, Buttholes Surfers. Yepo defo a good letter.

What constitutes “jamming” to you. When do you know it’s been a good one? 

We jam riffs and see where we end up. A good one is when everyone has enjoyed it and/or we get a song/song section from a jam. Live we mix up tight structured sections with sections that allow more exploration while sticking to the core theme.

With what goal in mind do you play shows? Is there a big difference in jamming when there are more people there?

Jamming for us is us in a room together exploring riffs and sounds. Once there’s an audience it becomes a performance. We may explore with the audience present but most if not all we do in front of an audience will be within a predefined structure. We’re certainly not a jam band. If both band and audience can achieve a sense of catharsis and/or otherworldliness we’ve been successful. We also try to have as much fun as possible, it’s pointless playing music if you’re not enjoying it.

How did you end up releasing a record with Riot Season Records? 

We’re all huge fans of the label. Andy has released some of our favourite records over the years. I (Moose) became friendly with him when he did a tape release for Worst, a band I played in too. We’d spoke briefly about working together with Wild Rocket so when this one was ready I sent it to Andy to check out and he was into it and offered to put it out for us. We’ve been more than happy working with Riot Season Records and hope the relationship continues.

What are your immediate and more distant future plans? 

Get back to playing live regularly starting with our record release party in a couple weeks here in Dublin. Get the next record written and recorded. Keep moving forward.

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

Obvious answer, check out our record Formless Abyss if they haven’t already and dive into the Riot Season discography.

Cloakroom- Dissolution Wave (2022 Relapse Records)

There is a powerful musical movement on the rise, with new bands combining heavy doomy guitars and dreamy shoegazey melodies and vocals into something sometimes dubbed doompop or heavy shoegaze. Bands like Pelagic Records’ SOM, Willowtip’s Seven Nines And Tens, and now Relapse’s Cloakroom are all weird ducks in their particular pond, treading more melodic and less aggressive waters than most of their label mates. And yet still being heavier in their dark atmosphere than most.

Dissolution Wave for example sounds like being drugged under water, and watching the lights in the sky slowly fading in a subdued haze. It is beautiful, deadly, and melancholic at the same time. On their new album Cloakroom has two faces; they are either The Smiths on horse tranquilizers (take Dottie Black Thrush), or they are a very stoned Jesu. Needless to say I dig both faces quite a lot, being into all of these bands and able to stomach the mood swings.

It’s also perfect music for current times. Subdued, lurking, chilled, drugged, a constant threat always on the surface, yet never really manifesting itself that clearly. It is a soundtrack to listen to on your headphones while you bury yourself underneath a mountain of blankets waiting for better days.

Cloakroom

Seven Nines and Tens- Over Opiated In A Forest Of Whispering Speakers (2022 Willowtip Records)

It’s a new year of pandemic antics, and if there’s anything that I for one need during these uncertain times it is comfort. I am definitely not alone in this respect. People allover the world are looking for their comfort in things like food, booze, or drugs, or even in hooking up with other people online. I am glad I can also find it in music, and the new album Over Opiated In A Forest Of Whispering Speakers by Vancouver trio Seven Nines And Tens could therefore not have been released at a better time.

The new album, released on revered extreme metal record label Willowtip, is comfort food made sound to me. The self-described “warm wall of sound” consists of parts shoegaze, parts progressive metal, with nods to quite a varied bunch of influences ranging from Jesu to Intronaut, to Cave In, and Alcest. It is a gigantic and bass heavy sound, with at times thundering drums and guitars, but the beautifully layered clean vocal choirs take the aggressive edge off it, and in stead fill your heart with a melancholic sense of comfort that you are not alone in this world, no matter how turbulent the times.

I talked to main songwriter and guitarist Dave Cotton about the album, and an album we both agreed loving is Habitual Levitations by Intronaut. And while “Over Opiated” stays far away from being a carbon copy, one can definitely hear echoes of that gigantic progressive sludge sound for example in the proggy (fretless?) basslines and in the way their vocal harmonies carry the music.

Seven Nines And Tens have delivered a beautiful first sound of 2022 with their new album. It’s a piece of art I reckon much more people need at this time, sending out a message of comfort while sharing their own hardships through music. It is that universal message that is so incredibly important: we are not alone.

Interview with Dave Cotton who loved to introduce and talk about the why and who of his band:

How have you been these past pandemic years? Can you take us through your doings from the outbreak til now?

Since the live music community is all but non-existent in our home of Vancouver, we haven’t been able to schedule performances of any kind.  On the other hand, I write music daily so I’ve just taken this time to work on our 4th record.

How has corona affected your new album with Seven Nines and Tens?

We signed to Willowtip records in February 2020,  Pandemic restrictions started March 2020.  We took a long time to sign the contract with them and then recorded two brand new songs to complete the album which took over a year.  We take our time with everything so it was business as usual for us.  I’ve been to one concert since then (Quicksand in October 2021, it was incredible)

Can you introduce your band? What would a SNAT elevator pitch sound like? And where does that enigmatic band name originate from?

Alexander Glassford is our drummer/vocalist, and Maximillian Madrus is the bassist/vocalist.  My name is Dave and I founded the band in 2008 and write 95% of the music.  In the past I’ve referred to our music as a “warm wall of sound” or “that I blend all styles of guitar rock into one.”  

The band name is an equation.  If you multiply the numbers together, you get the exact depth in nautical miles from the surface of the ocean to the bottom of Marianas Trench.  The Trench was at least at one point, considered the deepest known place on Earth.

You have signed with Willowtip Records, on which roster you guys are rather an “odd duck”, can you take us through the motions of that decision?

The first tune mixed and mastered for our record was “Popular Delusions.”  The guys and myself did a year of pre-production for the first 5 songs we did for the record.  We recorded the songs over and over at our rehearsal space to get them as perfect as humanly possible before our “formal” recording session.  Once we heard the rough mixes, the confidence that we had slowly been building from being meticulous in the production of the songs really started to manifest.  This confidence coupled with how well the vocals turned out gave me a lot of energy to try and shop the record to anyone and everyone that would hear it.  It helped having a decent sized discography to begin with and a track record of playing with some pretty heavyweight bands.  I sent the mix of Popular Delusions to over 200 labels.   Overall I heard back from 10 labels, one of which was Willowtip.  Discussions over months and sending freshly mastered songs to them led us to believe it would be a good fit..  The response I initially got from Willowtip was “I love the song you sent me, I’ve listened to it 25 times already, do you have anything more?”  That got the ball rolling for sure.

In terms of style I really love the band Pyrrhon from New York city and they are signed to Willowtip.  Them and another Willowtip band, Slugdge, gave me a huge amount of interest in contacting the label to see what they thought.  Pyrrhon is a death metal band which is stylistically unlike us, but similar to us, they blend a ton of different flavors into their sound (in their case Noise Metal, Psych Metal, and Sludge, among others) which gave me the inclination that Willowtip would at least be open to hearing our music.  

Much like you alluded to, there isn’t another band on the label that sounds anything like us, and I consider that a point of pride.  We’re the band they first put up on the block in their 20 year career to signify a stylistic change.  Our record is on the same release schedule as legendary American Grindcore band Discordance Axis which in itself is fucking nuts.  (our record comes out the first week of January 2022 and theirs the third week.)  Discordance Axis are so revered and championed in the underground, and then you have my tiny band that no one really knows outside of Vancouver.  I’m perfectly happy being a “gateway” band that could potentially expose fans of bands on Willowtip’s roster to stuff that influences us like Mylene Sheath or Hydra Head records discographies. 

What is it like to be in an underground metal band these days? How do you keep your head up, what role do you see for social media in this?

Despite the pandemic and the inability to play live, underground metal to me is pretty much the same.  A band’s success is largely determined by how much work they are willing to put into the project.  Social media is important for announcing releases and keeping fans aware, but at the same time it’s painfully corny at times.  Too much oversharing/irrelevant information, Rock and Roll used to have mystique.  

On to the new album: Over Opiated in a Forest of Whispering Speakers; sounds very drug-inspired…was that intentional? Can you describe the writing process?

I’ve lived in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver for 15 years now.  For those unaware, it’s one of the largest open air drug markets on earth.  It’s essentially a living hub for people who are homeless, mentally ill, addicted to drugs, or a combination of all three.  A major social issue is that the drug supply has become poisoned with the introduction of Fentynl and Carfentinal which are opiates that are many, many times stronger than Heroin or any other opioid.  This increased strength of toxicity has created an epidemic in terms of overdose deaths.  My dayjob is supporting drug addicts in trying to lessen harm from use and helping them access services that they may have barriers accessing.  This gives me a front line view of the epidemic and as a result I have a ton of empathy for addicts.  People don’t consider that 99.9% of addicts are victims of trauma whether it be their parents, partners, abuse, loss, grief, marginalization, the list goes on.  The album title is a couple of references to song lyrics that I will save for another time.

My job has given me a ton of insight and respect for less privileged, vulnerable people.  I’m the middle child from a middle class white family.  Both my parents are educated.  Though my older brother, younger sister, and I, all had pretty serious health issues as children, my upbringing was pretty idyllic.  As a result I had little to no exposure or understanding as to what it’s like to be traumatized, marginalized, abused, victimized, exploited, discriminated against, or pre-judged.  My day job has shown me the other side of life that a middle class, privileged upbringing wouldn’t necessarily.

I feel like my work is important but it doesn’t by association make me a good person.  Being understanding, having self awareness, being mindful of my emotions, and trying to exhibit an ounce of selflessness and not being a total meta/twitter/reactive knob, finger pointing, shithead, does.  

The lyrics sound rather sarcastic; Throwing Rocks At Mediocrity, Edutainment, Fight For Your Right To Partial Relevance…whereas the music sounds completely sincere and serious.Can you explain that balancing act?

Very, very nice observation!  It is a balancing act in terms of taking the composition, execution, and production of the music as serious as a heart attack, but also having fun with it, and not taking yourself too seriously.  The song titles are very much meant to be cheeky but myself and the guys have a quiet confidence in the music we play.  We did the leg work in terms of pre-producing the songs as close to perfection as we can humanely get.  Doing the work is the groundwork for this confidence. At the end of the day, the experience of playing in a band has to be enjoyable, creative drive and ambition can only take you so far. 

Seven Nines And Tens is your first album releasing band, is that right? Can you tell me about your musical experiences that lead up to it? 

I’ve been musical from a very, very young age.  My Mom and Grandmother had me singing solo at a notable Canadian music program, the Kiwanis festival, when I was 5 years old.  I’ve taken lessons in Violin, Guitar, and Piano.  My parents gave me the platform to play and my total obsession with music just ran with it.  

When I was 14 and cutting my teeth in terms of learning the electric guitar, 2 brothers that lived down the street from me were just learning the Bass and Drums respectively.  I’m still friends with them to this day.  We used to spend hours in their parents basement jamming, learning songs, smoking grass, and just being kids.  That was hugely important in terms of learning how to play in a band context for me.

We are Facebook friends, and so I noticed you have a very varied musical taste 🙂 What would you say are the biggest influences on your band’s sound? 

Very cool observation, man.  I’ve never told this story in the context of my work with this project.  I worked at a record store from the ages of 21 to 25 and that just opened my mind to a ton of music I would never have otherwise heard.  This really made an impact on my music taste.  I ended up sharing an apartment with some of my co workers and it was music nerd fest 101, there was always a record on the turntable and never was it just one genre or style.  True story:  I had to get a 2nd job at Chapters to pay for all the records I was buying at the record store.  

I started the band because I loved Boston band Cave In and wanted to sound just like them.  I still love them and can hear their influence in anything I do, but over the years there have been other styles that supplement that foundational style.  When I first started it was Cave In, San Diego bands No Knife and Drive Like Jehu, Oxford band Swervedriver, Jesu aka Justin Broadrick from Godflesh, stuff like that.  Very guitar driven material.  I’ve been looking at best “Metal” lists of 2021 and I barely recognize half the bands anymore.  I used to blog for American sites American Aftermath, and then their sister page Svbterreanen and during that era I was as dialed into new releases in terms of heavy music as one could possibly get.  Lately, I think I don’t pay as much attention to the metal community simply because I’m obsessed with the Golden Age of Rap from New York City.  At first I was really into the years  1990 to 93 but I’m so obsessed with it it’s more anything 1987 to 1996ish, even if it’s bad, I’ll still give it a spin.  I listen to so much New York rap that I’ve started to try and get into New Rap.  People don’t realize it’s just a slower rhyme flow delivered in a lower voice.  That is all it is.  Producers like the Alchemist are pioneers of the music side of things in terms of contemporary rap music as the beats are rarely simple kick/snare patterns anymore.  He pioneered an almost psychedelic production style by using unconventional soundbytes.  

What would be your dream tour package? And where would you go?

Oh fuck, we’ve been lucky to play with a handful of legendary bands over the years.  There is a really good American band called SOM that I love.  Their main songwriter also helmed the band Constants.  SOM were supposed to tour with Katatonia but it was postponed due to the pandemic.  It would’ve been cool to add us to the bill, Katatonia/Som/Seven Nines and Tens.  Another would be a Boston Cream Special (both bands are from Boston):  Cave In/Junius/ and Seven Nines and Tens.  I’ve always wanted to tour Europe and Australia, so we could do a run of shows there.  I could go on and on.  Touring Europe with Alcest or Enslaved would be incredible!  I bloody love the band Enslaved, I would love to have a long career like them.  Oh man, opening for My Bloody Valentine on an Australian tour would be unreal.  My Bloody is easily one of my favorite bands of all time.  I’ll stop now.  

If there is one thing that you would have liked to achieve in five years, what would it be?

A long time goal of mine is to get a Juno nomination.  The Juno’s are the Canadian version of the Grammys.  When I started the band in 2008 that was a goal and it still very much is.  

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

Read a book, that shit is important!  After that, listen to the new Seven Nines and Tens album “Over Opiated in a Forest of Whispering Speakers.” 

O M N I – Sirens review + Q&A (2021 self-released)

Norwegian progressive metal outfit O M N I came to me out of nowhere last summer with their mindblowing single Delos, which showcased all of their many talents in a five minute tour de force. It’s definitely one of the best songs I have heard in a long time, bringing together a magnificent vocalist in Juliane Lind, and mixing it with music rife with modern prog elements varying from Tool to Animals As Leaders to The Gathering and a lot more.

Lind’s vocals carry the band impressively with extremely versatility reminding of strong rock/metal women like Uta Plotkin (ex-Witch Mountain), Royal Thunder’s Mlny Parsonz, or even Bjørk (you can hear the slight Scandinavian accent, which if you ask me adds personality and style). Her strength lies in the dynamics she puts in her performance, ranging from very lovely and still to powerful and grand.

It is hard to believe that O M N I is Lind and her bands’s first rodeo because as a whole Sirens sounds so powerful, tight, and professional that it seems we are dealing with hardened veterans here, but that’s not the case. I’d like the listener to put the spotlight on drummer Sander Lambrecht’s stellar drum performance as an extra point in case. It can be easy for female fronted rock bands to stumble into certain cliche pitfalls, but O M N I’s tight rhythm sections safely guards this combo from ever getting boring.

So is there nothing wrong with this debut album? Well, apart from its meagre length (around 35 minutes) and the fact that none of the other songs are as strong as the aforementioned single, I dare say that O M N I did a mighty fine job. I am looking forward to what the future might bring for them.

So obviously stoked with this album, I just had to include a little Q&A! I had the pleasure of talking to guitarist and spokesperson Joachim Lambrechts, who was gladly willing to introduce us to his band.

How have you been? Can you tell how band life has been for O M N I during Corona? 
We’ve been staying safe during the pandemic, and followed the local corona restrictions and guidelines for our rehearsals and recording sessions. As live shows have been difficult to organise, we have focused our time on writing and recording the album.

Can you tell me a little about the band? How did you come together and decide on your sound etc? Also: what is your musical background? You sound like veterans!
The band started back in 2018 when Sander and I (Joachim) decided to join forces after other projects didn’t work out. As brothers we have always played together for fun, but this was our first serious attempt to write music together. As we both had been somewhat restricted by genre in previous projects, our goal with the music and sound was to have little to no rules on what was musically allowed, and experiment as much as we liked. 
We struggled for some time to complete our lineup, but in 2020 Juliane Lind (Vocals) and Simen Soltvedt (Bass) joined the fold. Juliane wrote some lyrics for our demo tracks, and we were quickly blown away by her voice and talent for writing. With Simen we had found a creative and hard working bassist, releasing our first single became a full on priority!
As for musical background every band member brings something different. 
Juliane comes from 3 years of musical specialization in high school. She also has a solo project that can be heard under Juliane on Spotify.
Simen comes from more of a punk/rock background from the previous projects he has been a part of. But has a love for bands like Tool and The Ocean as well.
Sander is mostly self-taught, and has a love for all kinds of music. He has been a part of different bands and projects, but mainly done drum covers/remixes on YouTube. Here the genres range from pop, to dubstep, to metal!
As for me, the guitar was passed down from my grandfather and father. At first blues, rock and 80s metal were my favourite genres, but as soon as my father showed me the album Systematic Chaos by Dream Theater it was prog all the way!

I must say, after listening to your first single “Delos” I was hooked. Still it took a while to finish the new album, right? What can you tell me about the album process? 
For this album a lot of groundwork was laid before Juliane and Simen joined. But as we quickly discovered after the release of Delos there was still a lot of work left to be done!
We picked our most promising demos, and decided to focus on completing one song at the time. But as we all work full time jobs, and do this as a hobby, everything took a lot more time than first estimated. 
When Juliane and Simen joined, it was also important that they had creative input. All lyrics and vocal melodies are written by Juliane, and Simen had creative freedom for the bass lines.
We have recorded all of the instrumental parts at our own studio/rehearsal space, and done the vocal recordings at Egersound Studios. The album was then mixed by Skar Productions and mastered by Robin Leijon


What can you tell me about the band name O M N I and lyrical concept of Sirens? 
The band name comes from the Latin word “Omni”, which translates to “Everything”. We found it fitting as we like to experiment, and that “Everything is allowed” in our music.
The lyrical concept takes on Juliane’s deep and dark thoughts. To make it easier to write about, she envisioned herself in an ancient Greek universe.


What are your biggest dreams and your direct future plans?
Our biggest dream is to one day be able to quit our day jobs and do music full time!
For our near future we are finally able to start live shows in Norway, and are playing the festival “Raumarock” 06.08.21!


If you had to agree on 5 favorite records with all band members, which would it be? 
Favorite records:
Juliane: “Absolution” – Muse
Simen: “10 000 Days” – Tool
Sander: “Polaris” – TesseracT
Joachim: “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” – Dream Theater

From all of us: “Pitfalls” – Leprous

Which band(s) would you like to tour the world with once corona is over/under control, and why?
We would love to tour with our heroes and Norwegian prog legends “Leprous”. We are heavily inspired by their music. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this?
After reading this they should most definitely check out our album “Sirens” on Spotify, and if they find it interesting follow our socials for more O M N I news in the future!

The Armed- ULTRAPOP (2021 Sargent House)

The Armed are not who they choose to seem, or seem not how they chose to look. From the get go promoting their new ULTRAPOP album the band has been throwing up smoke and mirrors about their line-up, their names, and by generally representing themselves (read more about it here). A big problem if you tend to judge books by their covers, so I won’t spend too much time on it, let’s listen to the music in stead.

But again: starting out, from gazing at the orange/green cover to absorbing the first beat and hazy vocal melodies you get the feeling this band is messing with you. Have they really switched to glitchpop and electro beats? ULTRAPOP refuses to reveal its secrets at first, but then the jarring electronic distortion kicks in, the compression turned so far up you feel it in the back of your throat, and you know: yes, this band is messing with you. ALL FUTURES keeps on doing exactly that; a song so catchy it will definitely piss off all mathcore and metal purists, yet so acidic and radically produced it will never ever get played on the radio. And as if they knew only really open minded listeners would remain listening after this estranging mixture of pop and piss, MASUNGA VAPORS then follows to kick us when we are down, stomping us in the teeth Converge-style while remaining a certain uncanny electronic vibe…It’s schizophrenic, it’s obnoxious, it’s purposefully loud and compressed into oblivion, it’s like a painter’s palette with all neon colors drowning each other out…and yet you keep listening.

A LIFE SO WONDERFUL could have been a Weezer song, if the drummer wasn’t playing Nine Inch Nails tunes at double speed and the chorus wouldn’t consist of a choir of screaming zombies. AN ITERATION on the contrary takes it down a little, summoning images of the electro rock era with bands like The Faint, until the chorus again smashes that image to bits. BIG SHELL starts out like that lady from Crystal Castles had anything to do with, and then dives into a noise rock frenzy that is quite magnanimous. It is one of my personal highlights of the album, and a perfect example of how twisted and extreme this album really is. AVERAGE DEATH is another glitchrock scorcher that wouldn’t have been out of place on a latter day Dillinger Escape Plan album, while FAITH IN MEDICATION rather takes me back to the old screamo days of Orchid or the math-y sludgecore of Capsule, and is -again- quite marvelous at that too. WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT continues in raucous noise rock style, and is somehow…danceable? REAL FOLK BLUES again unleashes evil harpies on vocals, and all kinds of other sonic hell that you probably shouldn’t play to your mother in law on a Sunday.

BAD SELECTION switches the channel yet again, and now we are in an electroclash dancehall. Computer bleeps fly all around, but the chorus is actually the most radio friendly The Armed get on the entire album. I think it would be funny if this becomes a radio hit, just to see people’s faces when they hear the rest of the album. Not that they intended that scenario though, they added a black metal beat at the end just to make completely sure! THE MUSIC BECOMES THE SKULLS serves as an outro somewhat in the style of the opening, but grander and much darker. It is a fitting ending to this postnuclear piece of ultra pop madness.

ULTRAPOP is The Armed messing with your head time and time again in an attempt to create something that surprises and appalls at the same time. It’s like eating liquorice ice cream, or chocolate human fingers; it tastes sweet but it leaves you with an unnerving feeling something is brutally off. It’s an experience all right, and highly recommended for truly open-minded music consumers.