Stinking Lizaveta's 'Journey To The Underworld' Is a Skronking Jazz-Doom Odyssey

Stream the new album from these Philadelphia experimental mainstays, out February 17 via Translation Loss

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Feb 17 2017, 7:15pm

Blame iPhones or blame animal cruelty or blame the redundancy of clowns given our current administration, but all the circuses are closing down. Pretty soon, in a world free of the high flying trapeze, the root idea of "working without a net" will be lost. Thankfully we still have high-rise parkour, and we still have—soaring and dangerously weird since 1994—Stinking Lizaveta.

The West Philadelphia instrumental power trio take their name from the wronged and evil birthing holy fool of Dostoyevsky's Brother Karamazov, and persevere, writing songs almost as knotty and thrilling as the book itself. Made up the Brothers Papadopoulos, guitarist Yanni and upright electric bassist Alexi, with Cheshire Agusta on drums, Stinking Lizaveta combines jazz tendencies, sidewinder guitar heroics, and a metallic skronk that has endeared them to legions of the sort of punks who don't cut their hair and the sort of metal fans who do. Bucking current trends of instrumental metal, there's very little drone happening in a Stinking Lizaveta song. Drawing as much from Middle Eastern modes as the Steve Albini catalog, shit keeps moving even at its most spaghetti Western evocative.

Stinking Lizaveta's excellent new album, Journey To The Underworld (their first since 2012's 7th Direction and out on Translation Lost on February 17) continues to walk the wire between stoner thud and those scary/wild punk jazz compilations SST put out in the 80s, when Greg Ginn was just beginning to lose his mind. Over the course of nine songs, the three "doom jazz" musicians work their telepathy to its limits and provide a gnarly soundtrack to stars imploding as performed by an Andalusian folk Black Sabbath cover band. The interplay is raging and complex, fully alive and surfing high with whatever alien's band shirt is most frayed. It's death-defying stuff. Aerialists still exist even if everything else is broken. No need for a net when you have the right skill sets and pedals, and god love them, Stinking Lizaveta never pause for a moment to look down.

As Yanni Papadopoulos told us, "This is our New Orleans 'All Souls Day' album.  For years we have felt an sympathetic connection to the demonic musical energy of NOLA. Finally we got the opportunity to go down there and lay some tracks down. Rock 'n' roll, and life for that matter, is driven by fantasy fulfillment, and we are eternally grateful that Steve Berrigan and Paul Webb of Nasferatus' Lair took this project on. All we have booked right now is our CD release show at Johnny Brenda's, in Philadelphia, on April 14, [but] we fully intend to support this record with US and European dates."

Zachary Lipez is smelling like a rose on Twitter.