When I was fortunate enough to be asked, I said yes immediately to hosting the premiere of the new Grifter video for the track “Princess Leia” from their upcoming album, The Return of the Bearded Brethren. My reasons were manifold. I’m excited about the release — it’s out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music as the follow-up to Grifter‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here) — but the song itself also sums up a lot about what I think the UK trio do really well musically and lyrically.
It’s a straightforward song, and Grifter are a straightforward band. They write classic heavy rock hooks, but have a completely modern approach to their sound and perspective. Bassist Phil, drummer Foz and guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall have a crisp chemistry. Their material swings, as “Princess Leia” showcases, but it does so always with a forward direction in mind. The lyrics to “Princess Leia” also remind of Grifter‘s ability to couch some pretty personal issues in a humorous package. We’ve heard them do this before, on a song like “Young Blood, Old Veins” from the last album, but by using the frame of a boyhood crush on the Star Wars character, Stygall and company are able to look at getting older through an even cleverer lens.
And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. The opening line of the song is “I’m a man of a certain age,” and the Orange Goblin-style rush of the chorus abandons all facade and pleads, “Take me back to better times, yeah/Strip the years away.” But rather than simply reflect on bygone days and regrets and the usual midlife blah blah blah, Grifter poke fun not only at themselves, but at the whole notion of mourning the passage of time, and “Princess Leia” — whatever it might be saying or speaking to emotionally — remains a fun, engaging song.
The video likewise. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Grifter is how even at their most gleefully classless — see “Alabama Hotpocket” from the self-titled — they work clean. Princess Leia does indeed appear in the video, and she does indeed boogie down (hilariously by the end of it), but she doesn’t strip, and Grifter don’t give into the gold-bikini impulse. That would be easy, and thoughtless, and Grifter aren’t that band.
The Return of the Bearded Brethrenis out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music. Enjoy “Princess Leia” below, as directed by Russell Cleave:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
…And now, a bummer. The first annual Totem Psych Fest has been called off. It was set to take place this weekend at a castle in Rocca Sinibalda, Italy, which — since it’s also the highest point in the town — would only put it closer to the rainstorms that have been forecast for when it would be going on. An impressive lineup was culled together with Church of Misery, Blues Pills and Nik Turner as headliners and many other killer acts supporting, but it would seem it just wasn’t to be this year.
Heavy Psych Sounds and Black Rainbows‘ Gabriele Fiori, who might be his country’s single most passionate ambassador of heavy fuzz, organized the fest and put out word today that it was a no-go. Sympathies to him and to anyone who might’ve been looking forward to what was surely going to be a unique event.
Replacement shows for some of the headliners have been announced, and those details follow here:
TOTEM PSYCH FEST CANCELLATION
Heavy rainfalls and lightning are expected in Rocca Sinibalda during the days of the Totem Psych Fest, expecially in the area of the Castle that is in the town’s highest part.
Local authorities responsible for security have therefore established requirements and limitations that make it impossible to perform the planned Event in the unique setting of the Castle.
We have no viable alternatives; with great regret, both for the quality of the event and for the great organizational effort we put in these months, we have to cancel the Totem Psych Fest.
Our disappointment is great, beacuse of the encouraging ticket pre-sales and the confidence of a resounding success of the Event.
We cannot but apologize for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of the Festival, expecially for those who had planned their coming to Rocca Sinibalda.
All tickets will be refunded: those who have purchased through Ticketgate and Paypal circuits will be entitled to reimbursement from August 4th; those who bought the ticket physically in Rome will be refunded on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of July at the AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport, Rome.
We managed to bring 3 of the Festival headliners in Rome, AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport.
Therefore TOTEM PSYCH FEST, in collaboration with INIT CLUB presents:
Friday, July 25th: Blues Pills Nik Turner (ex Hawkwind)
As the title hints, IV: Ronkonkoma is the fourth short release from Tucson, Arizona, duo Methra. After bustling their lineup over the course of the last few years and putting out material on 7″ and 10″, a split with Godhunter, and digital, they’ve arrived at the duo of guitarist/vocalist Nick Genitals and drummer Andy Kratzenburg and the latest five-track outing, which clocks in at just over 21 minutes, finds them exploring the line between deathly sludge and more traditionally riffed doom, Nick switching his vocals between low-register guttural growling, raw-throated screams and Sabbathian cleaner singing following opener “Breatharian (Supreme Master Ascending),” which unfolds the start of side one with a thickened lumber stood out all the more by the use of a sample talking about breatharianism, which has its roots in Hindu philosophy but is essentially the practice of staring at the sun for nourishment.
The subsequent “Blessings” showcases more of the variety in Nick‘s vocals, with a chorus that’s made almost sneaky in how catchy it is by the viscous tones surrounding. Particularly for a duo, the sound throughout IV: Ronkonkomais full and demented more in the manner of Midwestern sludge — think Fistula and the many deeply troubled branches on their family tree, though I acknowledge the “meth” part of the duo’s moniker might be a factor there — than Methra‘s more metallized Tucson countrymen and drummer-sharers Godhunter, but particularly on tape a sense of rawness is maintained in “Honest Men” and perhaps most of all on side one finisher “Slumscraper,” which builds to a punkish noisy fuckall sudden stop leading to another sample, this one talking about slicing heads off with a cutlass. It’s a long way from charmingly dopey New Age spiritualism, but by then, Methra have indeed made it a journey.
Most curious about the tape is that “SBS” occupies side two all by itself. Listening first to the digital version, I wondered if maybe the one on the tape was extended somehow, if Nick and Kratzenburg just rode that chugging riff for 20 minutes to even it up, or if there was a long sample to make up for that time, or something to draw side two out to match side one, but nope, the cassette of IV: Ronkonkomais the same as the mp3, and though “SBS” fakes its ending on both before crashing back in for a few more measures, the tape has a long silence following. If it was Methra‘s intent to single the song out — it’s not like you actually have to sit there and listen to all that nothing, what with this modern age of fast-forwarding and whatnot — they did it, and “SBS,” with its anti-having-a-job lyrics and air-pushing groove, earns its place well with a modus consistent with “Blessings” and “Honest Men,” only pushed further with a longer runtime and a sense of build added to by Kratzenburg‘s frantic snare work and Nick‘s vocal tradeoffs.
If the way they want to go is to keep belting out shorter offerings, then IV: Ronkonkomaseems to set them up well. Methra weren’t far off from putting the pieces together on 2012′s self-titled digital release, but the latest installment builds on that in a way that makes them sound even more solidified, and if Nick and Kratzenburg choose to continue as a duo, they’ve given themselves ground on which to progress while also establishing a style that smoothly bridges subgenre gaps and comes across as inherently their own. The edges are rough, but that’s the idea. Don’t be fooled. Methra know what they’re doing. And if they want to take on the task of a debut full-length, they’re ready for that too.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today brings the news that UK doom rockers Witch Charmer have inked a deal to issue their first album, The Great Depression, via Italian imprint Argonauta Records. It will be the follow-up to the fivesome’s 2013 debut EP, Euphoric Curse, and is set to feature cover art by guitarist/vocalist Adam Clarke and a mix/mastering job by the omnipresent Tony Reed of Mos Generator, who, for a guy who doesn’t actually live in Britain, certainly finds himself involved in a lot of music coming from that part of the world.
Witch Charmer will head out tour ahead of the release of The Great Depressionstarting Aug. 16, and the dates can be found in the poster below, which also makes use of the album’s cover art. A rehearsal room demo of the song “Suffer” follows after the announcement of the signing, hoisted from Argonauta‘s page.
New signing: WITCH CHARMER!
After the great feedback received across the board for their debut E.P. “Euphoric Curse“, Sunderland (UK) based Stoner/Doom/Metal outfit WITCH CHARMER follow it up with their first full length record raising the bar on what came before. The band (featuring the talents of Kate McKeown – Vocals, Dave McQuillan – Drums & Vocals, Len Lennox – Guitar & Vocals, Adam Clarke – Guitar & Vocals, Richard Maher – Bass) expands on the sound from their previous release and add a monolithic slab of smoked out doom and groove to take you on a satirical journey to enlightenment.
“The Great Depression” has been mixed and mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe) and will be released by Argonauta Records in September 2014. Just wait for a massive dark, groove-laden, heavy stoner-doom album that fans of Acid King, Purson, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Goatsnake & Electric Wizard cannot miss!
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today is the official release date for the debut seven-inch from Death Penalty, the new band featuring former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings along with vocalist Michelle Nocon and drummer Frederik Cosemans, both formerly of Belgian doom outfit Serpentcult. Together with bassist Raf Meukens, also of death metallers Torturerama, Jennings and company issue Sign of Times through Rise Above in a varied pressing of 500 copies ahead of a self-titled debut which is set to release in September.
That album will mark Jennings‘ first full-length outing since Cathedral met their end, and given his unearthly pedigree of riffing, it’ll be interesting to hear what he brings to this new project. As you can hear below, the single bodes well.
Ever-vigilant, the PR wire has details on the album and more background on how the band came together
DEATH PENALTY (Featuring Gaz Jennings of Cathedral) to Release Self-Titled Debut on Rise Above Records September 16th in North America
Artwork and Track Listing Revealed
When all is said and done, the art of making people bang their heads comes down to one central component: the riff. The riff has been refined and redefined so many times over the last four decades that ownership of a guitar and half a brain should be all that’s required to at least have a decent stab at getting things right, and yet very few people seem capable of tapping into the true essence and ethos of what made Tony Iommi such an all-conquering pioneer and overlord of six-string power and glory. Over the last 25 years, discerning metal fans may have struggled to pinpoint any bona fide contemporary greats amongst the never-ending proliferation of also-rans and wannabes, but as chief composer and guitarist for UK doom metal legends Cathedral, Gaz Jennings has more than earned the mantle of the modern age’s most consistent and supremely talented Riffmaster General. A perennial unsung hero of the heavy underground, Gaz has already contributed a vast number of classic songs to the metallic canon, but when Cathedral finally called it a day in 2013 it looked as if another guitar hero was destined to disappear into the shadows. Gloriously, he has now returned with a brand new band, DEATH PENALTY, and an eponymous debut album that once again proves his absolute mastery of the form.
“When Cathedral split I didn’t have any intention of getting another band together,” Gaz admits. “I wanted to do a record, because Lee [Dorrian, Cathedral front man and Rise Above Records boss] has been saying for years that he’d give me a deal! But all my time was taken up writing stuff for Cathedral. I had a few bits and bobs lying around, so I started writing material a few years back and that’s where it all started. And now the album is ready to go.”
With such a formidable reputation to uphold, it was absolutely vital for Gaz to select the right musicians to work with in his new band. Enter vocalist Michelle Nocon and Fredrik ‘Cozy’ Cosemans, members of Belgian doom warriors Serpentcult; a band that Gaz greatly admires and fellow Rise Above alumni. Although resident in Belgium, Michelle and Cozy were simply the right people for the job and kindred spirits that Gaz suspected would be perfect for helping him to realize his new musical vision.
With the DEATH PENALTY line-up completed by the addition of another Belgian, bassist Raf Meukens, Gaz was now fully equipped to bring his new band into the spotlight. The first results emerged via a debut seven-inch single, Sign Of Times/Seven Flames, which showcased DEATH PENALTY’sfiery blend of old school heavy metal, subtle doom shades and Michelle Nocon’s extraordinary vocal talents. The real meat of the matter will be unveiled upon the release of the band’s self-titled debut album, a triumphant tour-de-force of pounding heaviness that brilliantly encapsulates everything that Gaz has brought to the table with Cathedral while veering off on a number of new and distinctly compelling tangents along the way. Fans of the NWOBHM era will find themselves instantly entranced by the likes of Howling At The Throne Of Decadence and Golden Tides, while diehard doom acolytes will be immediately reassured that Gaz’s ability to pen timeless riffs remains entirely undimmed, as demonstrated on the grandiose grit of Into The Ivory Frost and Children Of The Night.
The final piece of the puzzle slotted neatly into place when Gaz chose a name for the new band. Anyone that has followed the guitarist’s career over the years will recognise that DEATH PENALTY is the title of Witchfinder General’s classic 1982 debut album; a record that has long been an essential part of Gaz’s inspirational armoury. However, beyond paying homage to his childhood heroes, he freely confesses that the name was simply the first and only credible option and a telling alternative to the countless terrible band names currently doing the rounds.
Once DEATH PENALTY’s debut hits the shops (and the nebulous world of online retail, of course), it seems highly likely that everyone from Cathedral fans and old school diehards to new school doom and psych rock admirers will celebrate the arrival of another truly great heavy metal band for the modern age. Quite content to remain an underground concern, DEATH PENALTY are just beginning their journey into the outer limits of refined riff worship and Gaz Jennings’ hopes and expectations are every bit as humble and honest as long-time fans will expect.
Death Penalty Track Listing: 1. Grotesque Horizon 2. Howling at the Throne of Decadence 3. Eyes of the Heretic 4. Golden Tides 5. Into the Ivory Frost 6. Children of the Night 7. The One That Dwells 8. She is a Witch 9. Immortal by Your Hand 10. Written by the Insane
Essential heavy. Also known as Goatsnake Vol. 1, Vol. 1, Goatsnake I and probably two or three other titles by now, the 1999 debut from Goatsnake, I, remains a classic within heavy rock and roll. The smooth, attitude-laden crooning of Pete Stahl, the Sunn-toned riffs of Greg Anderson, thick roll from Guy Pinhas and wide, huge-sounding cymbals from Greg Rogers all aligned just perfectly to make the album not only one of the best records Man’s Ruin ever put out, but one of the finest releases in the genre, period. From its nonsensical cover art — something Southern Lord‘s reissue would change when pairing Iwith the subsequent 2000 EP, Dog Days in ’04 — to the hooks of “Slippin’ the Stealth” and “What Love Remains,” it’s an album the influence of which continues to resonate and one that only grows in status with the passing of time.
Goatsnake have been on my mind, with the rumor of new material in the works — pictures posted of the band writing — and their confirmation for the 2015 Maryland Deathfest, the Southwest Terror Fest in October, etc., so paying Ia visit doesn’t seem out of line. At the very least, it’s a perfect hot weather album. The band haven’t posted any sort of schedule on a release or anything that I know of, and whatever they put out next will be their first offering since the 2004 EP, Trampled under Hoof,which followed 2000′s second album, Flower of Disease, but I know I’ll be interested to hear what they come up with and how on earth they might sound, given all the years that’ve passed between then and now, Anderson‘s progression with SunnO))), and so on. Time and riffs will tell.
Though they’ve played at this point a handful of shows since first getting semi-reunited in 2010, I’ve yet to see Goatsnake live (I did interview Greg Andersonabout the reunion at the time). When it finally happens, they’ll be a big name to cross off the list, and an enduring affection for I is a huge part of why. Hope you enjoy it.
When I finish this, I’m going to go back upstairs, grab my pillow and a couple packs of gum which I forgot to bring down, and head south to New Jersey for the weekend to see family. I was looking around for a show to hit tomorrow night in New York and didn’t see anything. Would be good to get out. I think I’ve just had residual exhaustion from the move, and really before that, but it’s been a long time. I broke my rule about staying in the house for two days straight this week, which was a bummer, but I figured four hours’ highway time this evening would balance things out — especially if by “balance things out” I mean continue to drain my energy and prevent me from feeling like I’m getting settled into the area that I’ve called home for a year and still have no idea to get around in. Feeling groovy.
Whatever, at least baseball’s back on.
So yeah, Jersey this weekend, then back on Sunday. I thought about hanging out a little longer while I basically kill time waiting for The Patient Mrs. to return from her month-long trip to Greece — she gets back next Saturday — but better to come home. I spend less money here than I do in New Jersey. Or at least it feels that way. If you count buying this townhouse, those statistics probably go right out the window. Would take a hell of a lot of alfredo dinners to catch up to a 30-year mortgage, though I’m sure I’ll try.
Thanks to everybody who shared the Sleep single this afternoon or took the time to read the post with it. I’m not sure I would’ve, so if you didn’t, no worries, but yeah. That was some cool news to get out of the blue, though it effectively ended my day. I was all set to post another review and then it was like, “Why on earth would I ever attempt to follow a new Sleep song with anything and expect anyone to read it?” I had no answer, so I made lunch instead. Win win, really.
On Monday, I’ve got a video premiere from Grifter coming, so look out for that. They picked what I think is one of the most interesting songs on their new album, The Return of the Bearded Brethren(review forthcoming), and made a clip for it that sort of inadvertently emphasizes a lot of what I like about the band. There’s a bit to talk about with it, which will be cool. I’ll also have reviews of Rodeo Drive and Methra, whose tape got the shaft this afternoon when that Sleep track hit, and since it felt so good to hook up my stereo this week, probably some more vinyl as well. I’ve got a few records stacked up waiting for words. It just wouldn’t feel like a week if I wasn’t lagging behind on basically everything.
I hope you have an excellent weekend and that all is well and full of joy and loud, heavy riffs where you are. If you see some longhair jerk in a Volvo on I-95 bobbing his head like a fool and singing along to Parliament records this weekend, yeah, that’s probably me. Feel free to pass on the right or run me off the road or whatever.
Posted in audiObelisk on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Thank you, gods of riff.
It’s the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker, and the first song Sleep have produced with the lineup of founding vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros (Om), founding guitarist Matt Pike (High on Fire) and drummer Jason Roeder (Neurosis), who came aboard a few years back in place of Chris Hakius. Those who’ll take it on — which should be everybody above the age of seven or under it — will find Sleep‘s classic and pioneering Sabbath worship intact over the course of the song’s meandering, near-10-minute crawl, starting out with a compressed nod of the central riff as though a machine was lurching to life. Cisneros brings his Om-style cleaner vocals to the proceedings, rather than the rougher shouts one might find on 1993′s classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain. Important to remember that was 22 years ago now.
Of course, Sleep have been playing live shows for half a decade on and off, and those have featured material either put together or resurrected from the days following Dopesmoker, but “The Clarity” is the first studio output they’ve had since the reunion began. Any new Sleep at all is obviously one of the year’s biggest advents, regardless of the song itself, but the gargantuan roll that unfolds throughout “The Clarity” and the way the song wanders and jams out to its sudden stop after its weedian verses bodes very, very well for the long-awaited and rumored and speculated-upon full-length that still may or may not be in the works. Hopefully it is. It’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of a new Sleep album listening to “The Clarity,” since the dynamic at the heart of the band is clearly alive and well. And stoned. Dig the subtle “War Pigs” nod before Pike‘s solo in the midsection. Fucking hell these guys kill.
New Sleep. What more do you need out of a Friday afternoon?
Sleep‘s “The Clarity” will be available as a free download starting Monday via the Adult Swim Singles Series. For now this’ll do.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Been a while since we last heard from occult-minded Houston heavy rockers Venomous Maximus, whose stage presence still lingers in my consciousness from when I was fortunate enough to see them last summer. Presumably they’ve been at work crafting the follow-up to 2012′s Beg upon the Light (review here), reportedly dubbed Firewalker, and like any potion worth brewing, these things take time. Not that you were necessarily going to, but you know what I mean.
They did a similar run last year, but for the Texan four-piece, this upcoming round of dates in August is marked out by an appearance at the pre-show for the Gwar-B-Q in Richmond, Virginia, which will be headlined by some band called The Black Dahlia Murder and which also features moody RVA sludgers Gritter. Not a bad spot to wind up.
The PR wire has it like this:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announces U.S. Tour Dates
Houston Dark Metal Band Putting Finishing Touches on New LP Firewalker
Texas heavy metal band VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has announced a string of east coast U.S. tour dates set to kick off on August 7 in New Orleans, LA. As part of the major market jaunt, the award-winning band will perform as part of the 2014 GWAR-B-Q on August 15 in Richmond, VA, also set to feature Ice-T’s Body Count, Hatebreed and more. The upcoming live dates are as follows.
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS U.S. tour dates:
August 7 New Orleans, LA Siberia August 8 Birmingham, AL Upside Down Plaza (w/ Stoned Cobra) August 9 Atlanta, GA The Basement August 10 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway August 12 Baltimore, MD TBA August 13 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus August 14 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie (Late Show) August 15 Richmond, VA Broadberry (Gwar B4BQ w/ Black Dahlia Murder)
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS features Gregg Higgins (Vocals, Guitar), Christian Larson (Guitar), Trevi Biles (Bass) and Bongo (Drums).
You may or may not have noticed, but on the updates page for The Obelisk Radio, you can now see the playlist for the entire day. Mad and thoroughly appreciated genius that he is, Slevin set it up so that even when a song doesn’t have an ID3 tag — as some of the older included mp3s obviously don’t — the filename itself appears, so you can still find out what was played. It goes back to July 10 now, because that’s when it was launched, but my understanding is it will just keep adding days, so there will be a full archive from here on out of what was played. I’ve been nerding out on it all week.
And primarily what it’s underscored for me is just how much good shit there is on that playlist. It’s unreal. Please feel free to peruse. Here’s some more stuff that just went up.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 18, 2014:
Chicago four-piece Bongripper once more crawl out of the muck with another collection of lurching, extended instrumental tracks, proliferating malevolent riff worship and lumbering, head-slung hopelessness. Like Pelican‘s evil twin, they offer a couple catch-your-breath moments throughout “Endless” (somewhat ironically the shortest track at 17:49), “Descent” (18:52) and the insurmountably mammoth “Into Ruin” (28:25), but the bulk of their sixth album is dedicated to destructive crash and vicious low-toned riffing, and even when they drone out in the last six minutes of “Descent,” the mood remains dark and crushing. All the more fitting as a lead-in for “Into Ruin,” which has its own breaks for good measure but makes its impression more in the tectonic weight of its impact. Everything heavy. All heavy. Nothing not heavy. Bongripper have been at it for nearly a decade now, and they’ve only gotten meaner. Miserablegets bonus points for the Mike Miller cover art. One would be hard pressed to think of something more appropriate. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
We’re all Gonna Die, These are the Old Ways
When Boston heavy rockers We’re all Gonna Die — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey (also Black Thai), bassist Jesse Sherman (also Never Got Caught) and drummer Scott Healey (also Gut) — announced their return a short while ago for three summer shows, they sent word of a new single “Pleurisy.” That single, included on These are the Old Ways, has been expanded to include a collection of previously unreleased cuts from the band’s history, resulting in the 24-minute These are the Old Ways. Lineups and recording vibes vary — the EP caps with two instrumentals that show off some solid riffs but are clearly incomplete demos — but “Pleurisy” itself and “I’m Free” showcase the driving, forward rhythms and Healey‘s towering vocals following the riff, and “The Day I Walked Away,” while rougher sounding, offers the most memorable hook of the release. Round it out with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “That Smell” and the aforementioned instrumentals “Small” and “Awash,” and These are the Old Waysadds intrigue to the new single and reminds of the variety that We’re all Gonna Die were always able to bring to their gritty, aggressive approach. We’re all Gonna Die on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
In historical hindsight, it’s tempting to think of Connecticut’s Sufferghost as a prelude to guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore and bassist Richard “Cheech” Weeden‘s work in Curse the Sun, but the truth is, it’s an entirely different band. Vanacore, still on vocals, plays drums on Sufferghost‘s recently-unearthed 2007 outing, Thaw, and the guitars are handled by Anthony Buhagiar, whose burst aortic aneurysm would effectively end the band in 2009, leading to the founding of Curse the Son. There are some consistencies of method between the two — riffs lead the way, albeit less tonally developed than Vanacore would be by the time Curse the Son put out 2012′s Psychache (review here), which has just been released on vinyl through STB Records — but Sufferghost had a musical personality of its own as well, and while “Leave the Church” offered stonerly roll, and “Neuralgia” engages righteous, mostly instrumental Sabbathizing, “Summer Insane” and the slower “Land of the None/Evilled” have some shades of burlier Black Label Society-style metal, and that’s terrain Vanacore and Weeden (who’ve been in bands together since the mid ’80s) have avoided in their subsequent act. Thawmakes you wonder what might’ve been had Sufferghost continued to develop, and gives listeners an opportunity to explore the roots from which Curse the Son sprouted. Sufferghost on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Planet of Zeus, Vigilante
Vigilante is the third LP from dudely Athens-based riffers Planet of Zeus, and while Clutch remains a primary influence, songs like “Burn this City Down,” “Tornado” and closer “The Beast Within” find the four-piece come into their own sound more than did 2011′s sophomore outing, Macho Libre. Still, moments will ring familiar, if roughened up, and the bluesy roll and organ of “No Tomorrow,” the gospel preaching of the title-track and the start-stop funk of “Second Coming” would seem to continue the pattern. They do it better than most who try, and for the touches of individuality, the impact of the production, and for the ease with which they move into instrumental psychedelia on “The Beast Within,” Vigilante (released on Ihaveadrum Records) makes a catchy endeavor for the already converted. Some of the harder-edged vocals from guitarist Babis might surprise, but it’s easy enough to get oriented throughout, and if Planet of Zeus have a more aggressive take on an established style, that only furthers their ability to stand out within it. Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks, Vigilante on Bandcamp.
Liquido di Morte, Liquido di Morte
Made up of three recorded-live psychedelic jams that spread smoothly over the total runtime of 37 minutes, Northern Italy outfit Liquido di Morte‘s self-titled debut is marked out by some post-rock sensibilities in the guitar and the lead/rhythm dynamic that periodically merges into bigger, more lumbering grooves throughout. The double-guitar four-piece use samples or guest speakers for vocals and the feel across the tracks is pretty vast, but there’s also clearly a consciousness at work on opener “Ozric Pentacles,” and as the riffy largesse mounts backed by chaos swirls and loops, it’s hard not to be reminded of some of Ufomammut‘s earliest goings, though that’s just one element at work. “In Death of Space/Of Death in Space” pushes further with the plotted feel, a tension and intensity trading off as movements weave in and out and open and close, culminating in a noisy wash that only highlights how much Liquido di Morte have known all along where they were heading, and the 18-minute finale “144″ builds from an effects-laden early few minutes into their most hypnotic and consuming roll yet, spoken word guest vocals emerging late to pipe a last-minute sense of reality into what had clearly, by then, departed from it. A more than impressively cohesive first offering — all the more because it was recorded live — from a band whose potential is writ large in their material. Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
As ever, this isn’t even close to everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. For the full list and to check out today’s playlist, visit the updates page.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Baltimore heavy psych rockers The Flying Eyes have announced plans to return to Europe this fall for more touring. They were there late last summer with Golden Animalsand will be joined this time by Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children, with whom the band has shared the stage at the Moving the Earth fest. The Flying Eyes were most recently heard from on a Heavy Psych Sounds four-way split with Naam, Black Rainbows and White Hills (review here) and their most recent full-length was last summer’s sun-soaked Lowlands(review here), which delved into natural-sounding blues rock without losing a classically-influenced edge. They are, simply put, a better band than people seem to know.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kind of a news-heavy day, but I’d be remiss if I left out Birmingham’s Alunah, whose album details have just been made public via the PR wire. Their third outing and their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest,is set for release in October and will boast six new cuts of their heavy riffs and peacefully rolling doom. After digging their 2010 Call of Avernusdebut (review here) and especially 2012′s sophomore outing, White Hoarhound(review here), this is one I’m genuinely looking forward to, so if the album art and tracklisting coming out puts the record itself a step closer, then all the better.
Awakening the Forestwas recorded by Greg Chandler of Esoteric and mastered by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed. A video is also reportedly in the works. More to come, but for now, once more unto the PR wire:
ALUNAH Unveil Details of Upcoming Album
Birmingham’s Stoner Rock Doomsters ALUNAH are set to release a new album via Napalm Records in October 2014. Following their previous releases Call Of Avernus and White Hoarhound it’s finally time for a new masterpiece. The band centered around guitarist & singer Sophie Day have now unveiled first details of artwork, title, track listing & release dates!
Awakening The Forest is set to be released on October 6th in the UK & October 7th USA/CAN and forges forward with hard guitars, pumping heavy grooves and a sound that will make fans of this genre, fans of this album!
Check out the track listing for Awakening The Forest: 1. Bricket Wood Coven 2. Heavy Bough 3. Awakening The Forest 4. The Mask Of Herne 5. Scourge And The Kiss 6. The Summerland
ALUNAH on the upcoming album Awakening The Forest:
“We are delighted to introduce our 3rd album “Awakening The Forest” to our old, new and future friends. Recorded by Greg Chandler and mixed/mastered by Tony Reed, we are extremely proud of this album. We are also very lucky to have worked with the exceptional illustrator Michael Cowell who brought our songs to life visually in the CD and LP package. Napalm Records have been very supportive of us throughout the whole process, and we hope that you guys love the album as much as we do. Our video for “Heavy Bough” and also a short film with Michael talking about the artwork are coming soon; both shot and directed by Rhodri Thomas at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire, England.”
I have more questions than I have answers about Humo del Cairo‘s next outing. The Buenos Aires trio’s first release since 2012′s excellent Vol. II full-length (review here) will be an EP called Preludio. Near as I can tell and going by what I was told, it’s the beginning point for a trilogy of shorter releases they’re putting out, presumably instead of a third full-length. I know Preludiois out Aug. 9 and that they’ll play a show that night in Buenos Aires with Bandera de Niebla and Bhutan. I don’t know if all three EPs are written and/or recorded, or if there’s a unifying theme running through them that’s furthered through this method of releasing, or a story being told. I don’t know if the art I have for it is the final cover. I don’t know how soon the next installment of the trilogy will be out, if there’s a regular schedule for them or not. I don’t know what Preludiomight be the prelude to.
Basically, what I’ve got to go on is that they’re putting the EPs out themselves through a new imprint called Errantes and a minute of music included in the teaser video for Preludiobelow. For anyone who remembers Vol. IIor their preceding 2009 self-titled, which MeteorCity picked up for reissue in 2010 (review here), that’s probably enough to go on, the band’s desert rock style beefed up through heavier tones and enough of a languid psychedelia to add character to the groove. The clip — no, I don’t know what song it features — seems to showcase even weightier riffing, but of course it’s just one snippet of what’s no doubt a diverse short release. And the first of three.
No substitute for keeping people guessing. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Preludioand its two follow-ups, and of course will keep you in the loop with what I know when I know it. Till then, enjoy the teaser below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Formerly aligned to Electric Magic for the CD release of their first album, Heat/Old Sparky(review here), Berlin heavy rockers Heat have announced they’ll issue their second offering, Labyrinth, via This Charming Man Records on Aug. 29. Preorders are available now for the CD or LP editions from the semi-retro five-piece, which features Samsara Blues Experiment bassist Richard Behrens, who also recorded the first outing. Charlie Paschen seems to have helmed Labyrinth, but the sound remains warm and natural in line with Old Sparky, as you can hear on the new song “Siamese Smile” below.
To support the new record — the cover art for which was handled by Adam Burke – the band will head out on a European tour beginning Sept. 4, and This Charming Man will have a reissue of Old Sparkywith new art as well. All confirmed dates listed below with the album info, fresh off the PR wire:
Hard rockers HEAT announce release of new album Labyrinth
Berliners to release second full length via This Charming Man Records, along with reissue of debut on 29th August 2014
Following on from the success of their 2012 self-titled debut, This Charming Man Records is pleased to announce the release Labyrinth, of the second album by the Berlin-based hard rock outfit.
Heat are unmistakably taken with a time when all great records came adorned with monochrome swirls and elaborate sleeves depicting worlds of necromancy, witches and cosmic encounters.
Featuring former members of The Hara-Kee-Rees, Samsara Blues Experiment and Grandloom their self-titled debut on Electric Magic Records was a heavy-blues driven journey into the very heart of the 1970s. Which, regardless of your particular predilection for classic rock saw the Berlin five-piece strike every chord.
On their follow up – much like Swedish hard rock revivalists Graveyard and Horisont – Heat continue to revel in the buzz of audacious twin guitar solos, Hammond organs and telepathic band jams.
Driving tracks like ‘Siamese Smile’, ‘Free World’ and ‘Barbarossa’ pack unabashed guitar spectacles atop big drum fills, rolling bass lines and Patrick Fülling’s strutting vocal front, often over extended compositions that run the gamut of twentieth century rock history. Bursting with shuffling bluesy boogies and dark, introspective moments that owe a sizeable riff or two to Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, Atomic Rooster and Jerusalem Labyrinth is an unstoppable force for fans of British prog, hard US rock and NWOBHM.
Labyrinth will be officially released on 29th August, along with the reissue of the band’s debut (with exclusive new artwork) via This Charming Man Records
Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Chicago death-doom outfit Novembers Doom released their first album in 1995, nearly 20 years ago now. They weren’t the first American death-doom act, and there were others who solidified around the same time, but Novembers Doom were easily among the earliest adopters of a dramatic melancholy most common then in the European doom scene pre-Reverend Bizarre, bands like Katatonia, Paradise Lost, earliest Anathema and My Dying Bride serving as an influences to be melded with Novembers Doom‘s own Chicago death metal style. Their progression in the years since Amid its Hallowed Mirthhas been a steady line in terms of quality but has presented several distinct shifts in sound, into full-on death-doom on records like 2002′s To Welcome the Fadeand 2005′s The Pale Haunt Departure, and more recently, leaning back stylistically more to death metal. The Pale Haunt Departurepresented a discernible starting point, but the movement has been gradual, and over 2007′s The Novella Reservoir, 2009′s Into Night’s Requiem Infernal(review here) and 2011′s Aphotic, they’ve continued to pursue that direction. Their latest outing, Bled White(released on The End Records, their label of the last nine years), furthers the progression to the point that Novembers Doom have very little of what would commonly be considered doom left in their sound. Instead, they offer 11 tracks/68 minutes of depressive death metal, marked by the growl/clean-vocal tradeoffs and capital ‘r’ lyrical Romanticism of frontman Paul Kuhr and the persistent double-kick of Garry Naples. In its production and execution, Bled White is a metal album, and it retains that status even at its most subdued or melodic points, as on “Clear” or the morose “Just Breathe.”
There seems to be a certain nihilism — or at least fuckall — in how the full-length is put together. Not in the songs themselves, which are rigidly structured, but in how they’re arranged and the overall mentality of Bled White‘s construction. With a strong opening duo of driving, catchy and pummeling metal in the title-track and subsequent “Heartfelt” before the softer “Just Breathe” and acoustic interlude “Scorpius,” it seems reasonable to call it front-loaded. After “Scorpius,” “Unrest” kicks back into Novembers Doom‘s blend of death and melodic theatricality — guitarists Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese and bassist Mike Feldman carefully winding between beauty and brutality as Naples tosses in blastbeats and breakdown grooves and Kuhr self-harmonizes — and from there they set about toying with the balance in their sound over the course of the brighter-toned “The Memory Room,” the blistering “The Brave Pawn,” and “Clear,” which has a feel like what Opeth might’ve turned into had they kept their more inventive rhythm section and dialed back on the prog fetish. But no question the opening salvo is Bled White‘s most memorable. This seems somewhat incongruous with the fact that Bled Whiteis also the longest record in Novembers Doom‘s 19-year tenure. At nearly 70 minutes, it’s as though when they were piecing it together, they said, “Fuck it, we’ll put this stuff up front for the people who are only going to listen to three or four songs anyway, and the rest will be there for anyone who wants it.” That’s not to say the back end of Bled Whitedoesn’t have its high points — the solo in “The Grand Circle” is the best here, and “Animus” digs into satisfying bludgeonry before the nine-and-a-half-minute “The Silent Dark” closes out with a suitable payoff beginning with some standalone raw harmonies from Kuhr – just that by the time they get there, Novembers Doom have already pushed the stylistic bounds they’re going to push this time out. The nihilism aspect comes into play, then, because nine records in, they didn’t decide to hold that material back. It’s there if the listener wants it.
Obviously I don’t know this. The case could just as easily be that Novembers Doom loved each of these tracks so much they couldn’t live with the thought of not including them. Frankly, I don’t think the cases are mutually exclusive. Novembers Doom, however, are a viciously underrated band. For all their early pursuit of death-doom, they’re left out of nearly every conversation of pioneering metal, and while they’ve always been too in-between stylistically for an American metal audience — which, admittedly, is probably the most open-minded it’s ever been right now — for a long time they were likewise too American for Europe. They’ve enjoyed success, played fests, found a loyal following, but they’ve never been the kind of influential touchstone they easily could’ve been. The reasons for this are undoubtedly complex –it’s not the kind of question one asks in an interview: “How come you guys aren’t huge?” — but if the result is that on Bled White, Novembers Doom have cast aside genre considerations and made their longest outing to date because it pleases them to have done it and they believe (rightly so) in the strength of their songwriting, that only makes Bled Whitea more honest and admirably sincere album. It can be a challenge if you’re not already a fan of the band in terms of the consistency of mood and structure, but they’ve thought of that and accommodated. For those who have traced their progression, they’ll find Bled Whitefits along the directional line, and that nine albums on, Novembers Doom continue to push their sound into new places in their subtle way and at their own pace. To look back on the vast stylistic terrain they’ve covered all these years is to be reminded of just how far they’ve come and to catchy a glimpse of where they might go.
Novembers Doom, “Bled White” from Bled White (2014)
What you’ll find when you get there are the packages available from the band’s El Paraiso Records for Causa Sui‘s Pewt’r Sessions 3, the band’s latest round of jams with Ron Schneiderman of Sunburned Hand of the Man and their first studio outing since 2013′s spectacular Euporie Tide — though Live at Freak Valley (review here), released earlier this year, made for a nice fix as well. The new release, set for an Aug. 18 arrival, is available in CD and LP versions, with a bonus 10″ available for the first 300 who place their orders.
So like I said, there are the links. Here’s the info from the El Paraiso page:
Causa Sui: Pewt’r Sessions 3 LP + bonus 10″
Preorder – ships august 18th!
First 1000 LPs orange marbled vinyl.
First 300 orders from elparaisorecords.com gets bonus 10″ vinyl of exclusive tracks – with stunning linoleum hand printed sleeves by Martin Rude in three variations.
Following last year’s determined studio double LP, Euporie Tide, Causa Sui returns to improv with a third round of mindbending jams feat. Ron Schneiderman!
The savage, kaleidoscopic improvisations of the quintet’s previous two volumes instantly gained reverence among fans of free flowing krautrock and detuned stoner rock, and this brand new addition, recorded in the late summer of 2013, fullfills the group’s potential entirely. The krautrock grooves, the low-end heavyness and the sprawling furor is still very much present – but this set is also permeated by a rare free jazz-sensibility, at times recalling American masters of improvisation such as John Coltrane and Don Cherry in spirit.
Ferociously experimental, yet absolutely welcoming and corporal. One eye looking back to the golden age of improvised music, the other looking straight ahead, into the future. ”Incipiency Suite”, which takes up the entire B-side of this record, stands as the high pinnacle of what this group is capable of with the inclusion of Ron Schneiderman: an afternoon of spontaniously recorded parts, cut-and-pasted into an abundant whole by studio wiz Jonas Munk, creating a unique interplay between in-the-moment improvisation and creative studio editing.