In 2013, the long dormant Portland D.I.Y. Eolian Empire label came back with a vengeance, starting with Keep Our Heads — the 99-minute, 26-band compilation Metalsucks called “the bible of underground heavy music in Portland with bands like Lord Dying, Gaytheist, Norska, Sioux, Honduran and a bunch more.” The release was followed by a slew of critically acclaimed out-there releases from Norwegian noiseniks ARABROT, scum-fuckers DRUNK DAD, avant punks BIG BLACK CLOUD, grooved-out grinders HONDURAN, doomsters DIESTO, Aussie pummelers DEAD, and hardcore hucksters RABBITS, who celebrated their ten years in obscurity with a collection of obscure tracks. The year of releases ended fittingly on December 31 with the mind-erasing release of “Possession” from harsh noiser REDNECK, “a terrifying combination of performance art and subwoofer-heavy noise” (Portland Mercury) that “takes our conception of reality and melts it down into a stark and unforgiving new reality” (Selective Memory).
In 2014 Eolian’s mission to foist the great unwashed Portland heavy underground on a now suspecting public will continue unabated. The second LP from apocalyptic bass-and-drums duo TOWERS, aptly titled II, will be released February 11th. Shifting through primal mutant grooves, oscillating hooks, sludgy crawls, cavernous experimental explorations, and haunting, swinging marches set off by barked orders, snarled decrees, and haunting laments, TOWERS melds elements of doom, no wave, new wave, industrial, noise rock, and soundscapes into rough-hewn monolithic monstrosities simultaneously disturbing and tantalizing.
The much anticipated first full-length release from PRIZEHOG drops March 4th. Recorded and mixed by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business), the LP captures our favorite marijuanauts on their headiest journey yet, the trio creating a massively rich sound with just guitars, synths, and drums as they launch themselves through a byzantine labyrinth of impenetrable riffs, crushing dirges, stoner doom, heavy mediative drones, and strange excursions as an omnipotent entity bellows from deep space.
In April HOT VICTORY, Portland’s eight-limbed drum-synths-and-samples superorganism, will unleash its debut LP. Two drumsets, electronic pads, and samplers are put through the paces by a man and a woman who behave more like one than two, combining krautrock, electronic music, 80s tv soundtracks, and tribal drumming into innovative, dramatic, polyrhythmic instrumental jams.
Expect a 12-inch EP from the (now) Portland-based sludge/doom metal titans GRAVES AT SEA in April just in time for their appearance at Roadburn Festival and European tour with Sourvein. Look for the first long player from filthy noise rockers DRUNK DAD in May, the third LP from cynical post-modernists RABBITS in the Fall, and more exciting releases throughout the year to be announced soon! Also more international distro is in the works to expand Eolian Empire worldwide. And keep your ears to the underground for Eolian bands on tour this year; get yourself a taste at the label’s video page.