With the addition of Amsterdam’s Death Alley, the bill for the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer is complete. Show is Saturday, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. The complete lineup is as follows:
THE OBELISK ALL-DAYER:
Mars Red Sky*
* first East Coast appearance.
Motor-driven Netherlands heavy rockers Death Alley tore their way into the consciousness with their 2015 debut album, Black Magick Boogieland (review here), on Tee Pee Records. An offering that set itself a seemingly impossible task with its title and then managed to live up to it, the record pulled together straightforward, classic-style brashness and offered an edge of spaced-out expanse that worked in a scope few groups would dare attempt, especially their first time out.
With members of Gewapend Beton, The Devil’s Blood and Mühr in the lineup, they’re not exactly inexperienced, but the energy they brought to Black Magick Boogieland and the energy they bring to the stage is fresh and righteously their own. I was fortunate enough to see them at Roadburnin 2014 (review here) and again twice this year (reviews here and here), and the progress they’ve made in that time was evident both in their sound and in the crowd they drew to watch them play. A group that obviously enjoys what they do on stage and wants you to do the same, they’ll bring vitality and push to The Obelisk All-Dayer in a way that no one else could, and maybe get a little weirdo jammy in the process. Awesome.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh an afterparty. La-di-da. Let’s all do blow and talk about Reaganomics.” Not quite what I’m going for. The show itself will run from 2:30PM until about midnight. Today I’m thrilled to announce that at 12AM, two DJs will be taking over: DJ Adzo and Walter Roadburn.
I don’t think either needs much of an introduction. Walter is of course the creative force behind the aforementioned Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. DJ Adzo is also known as Adam from Brooklyn’s own The Golden Grass and La Otracina. Both are excellent human beings and I’m humbled they’re willing to be involved in The Obelisk All-Dayer.
From 12AM to 2AM, they’ll be spinning whatever the hell they want — classics, new stuff, stuff you know, stuff you don’t — and I feel completely comfortable trusting the taste of both of them and can’t wait to hear what they put on. After Mars Red Sky‘s headlining set, there’s still plenty of party left, and I hope you’ll stick around for it.
The Obelisk All-Dayer is Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York, and will feature full sets, after-show DJs, food on-hand, live recordings, limited edition merch and much more. Official poster and set times coming soon.
Posted in Reviews on June 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t think it’s the record for how many bands I’ve seen in one day, but it has to be close. After a pummeling Day One at Cafe 611 (review here), Day Two of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 featured a whopping, nigh-on-overwhelming 12 acts, starting at 2:15PM and running until shortly before 2AM. Joy among joys, my camera continues to be non-functional, but I did the best I could with my phone and kept it at that. Not sure what I’m going to do about that one yet. Cry a little? Yeah, maybe. Maybe on the way home.
For now, as Jesse “The Body” Ventura once so eloquently put it, “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Day Three starts in a scant couple hours and after two days of marathon nonstop heavy, I’m ready to get back into the fray. Let’s do this thing.
Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun recently released his debut solo record, Rotgut (review here), and provided a direct contrast in how the second day started at Maryland Doom Fest 2016 as compared to the first, which opened with Black Urn, who I think remain the most extreme sludge act of the weekend so far. “Screaming Mad Dee” played acoustic heavy metal blues, joined on semi-unplugged bass by Iron Man bandmate and all-around master of things low-end Louis Strachan, and started his set with the album-opener “Unapologetic,” which I suspect is something of a creedo for the singer. Maybe I should say singer/guitarist, since Calhoun proved his mettle on the latter throughout the set, bringing out his son, Rob Calhoun, for a particularly touching rendition of “Little Houn Daddy Houn” that was as genuinely heartwarming as anything I’ve ever seen at a heavy show, and closing out with a cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Snowblind,” the solo for which is a test for any guitar player. Bolstered by Strachan taking on Geezer Butler basslines — talk about “in your element” — Dee nailed it, and the filing-in early crowd, who caught on to shout “cocaine!” for the second verse, was glad to be along for the ride.
Thousand Vision Mist
Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon and taking their name from the debut of his former band, Life Beyond, the three-piece Thousand Vision Mist offered one of the day’s most individualized takes on a doomed approach, their progressive turns enacted fluidly by the rhythm section of Tony Comulada (who’d also play later with War Injun) and drummer Chris Sebastian. It hasn’t been that long since I saw them for the first time last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), and the impression at MDDF wasn’t much different. People were still filing in as Kenyon and company made their way through the memorable “Darklight” and “Tears of the Moon,” the second of which also served as the centerpiece of their 2015 demo, which was available at the merch table and is their only release to-date so far as I know. They closed with another cut from that initial offering, “Heart String Wild Fire Blues,” finding a place for themselves between Rush and The Obsessed. Not at all bad territory to stake out.
Minnesota’s Wicked Inquisition said early into their set that this was “in all likelihood” their last show ever. The band formed in 2008 and released their self-titled debut (review here) last year after a demo and a couple EPs, blending oldschool thrash, classic metal and doom fluidly on cuts like “M.A.D.” and “Death of Man.” I don’t know for sure, but I’d assume part of the reason they’re calling it quits is that guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle has joined Virginia-based Satan’s Satyrs, and that’s a hell of a back and forth from MN to VA. Whether or not the breakup is permanent is of course up to the future, but Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey leaned toward doom as one of the weapons in their arsenal to be broken out when called for and otherwise kept their metallic tinge shining via some slow-Slayer dual-guitar to keep the crowd hooked. It worked. Cheers to Towle on getting the Satan’s Satyrs gig, which seems like a good one if you want to tour, and best of luck to everyone in Wicked Inquisition going forward. I’m glad I got to see them while I could.
Long-running Baltimorean outfit Ironboss are about to issue what may or may not be their first album in more than a decade in the form of Rock Fuck Fight, and their set brought the further intrigue of featuring Bruce Falkinburg — hardly recognizable with short-cropped hair from the last time I saw him, which admittedly was years ago when he was playing with The Hidden Hand — on guitar. The burly brand of heavy the five-piece elicited was much less sludge than I thought it would be, I couldn’t help but have a harsher impression thinking back to 2001’s Guns Don’t Kill People… Ironboss Does!!, but I guess that was 15 years ago and a different lineup. Granted, there was a touch of chaos in the atmosphere, almost punkish, but the songs resided in a mid-paced push, comfortable but still aggressive. They apparently just tracked six songs live with J. Robbins, so it would seem that Ironboss have returned to kill again.
Been a couple years and a 2015 self-titled debut since I saw Chicago’s Spillage make their stage debut at Days of the Doomed II in Wisconsin (review here), but my prevailing memories of the the band were still positive. Members of the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who’s worked with that legendary Midwestern outfit for some untold number of years, and through Spillman‘s tenure in Earthen Grave, they for sure had that aspect to their sound, but the energy of their delivery and the classic metal vibe that guest-frontman Elvin Rodriguez brought with him in his Dio-style presentation was well suited to making an impression of their own. Along with album tracks like “In Hell,” opener “The Darkness” and “Land of Opportunity,” Spillage closed out with the Cliff Richard cover “Devil Woman,” which also appeared on the record and which they played when last I saw them as well. A staple, then. Hard to argue. After 12 bands, that swinging hook remained among the most prevalent on my mental jukebox.
What a joy it is to watch Wizard Eye play. The Philly trio roll heavy grooves beamed in from sonicstonersubspace and the obvious pleasure they take in doing so is infectious. Another act who played Vultures of Volume II last fall (review here), they’ve since released their self-titled 2015 sophomore album (review here), with its excellently crusted take on heavy vibes. Guitarist Erik Caplan had his theremin handy, as always, but along with the caveman shouts from bassist Dave Shahriari and the steady swing from drummer Mike Scarpone, what came through most to me this time around was how killer a guitar player Caplan is. With that theremin, he could easily drop out during solo sections and wail on the theremin, its squealing awesomeness taking the place of any guitar work. Instead, he absolutely shreds out leads and then lights up the theremin on a cut like “C.O.C.” from 2010’s Orbital Rites debut. So it’s adding to the sound, rather than compensating for something not there. It makes all the difference seeing them do a set, which I’m glad to do every single time I’m able.
Along with Holly Hunt, Shroud Eater and a couple others, Jacksonville’s Hollow Leg are among the principal reasons to be sad when the polar ice caps melt and Florida sinks under rising sea levels. The four-piece of vocalist Scott Angelacos, guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer Tim Creter have never failed in my experience to deliver lethal sludge like some fucked-up cousin of Sourvein, but as 2016’s Crown (review here) showcased, their sound has only grown richer over the years and they brought that feel to Maryland Doom Fest 2016 in “Seaquake,” “Electric Veil” and “Coils” along with the earlier digital single “God Eater” (posted here). With Lynch adding to Angelacos‘ dudely rasp, the vibe was even more unhinged as they played, and next to Wizard Eye they seemed only to build on the intensity of volume and heft while keeping the vicious push moving forward. Labelmates with Dee Calhoun on Argonauta Records, they’ve been on the road with Irata for the better part of a week and sounded tight enough to make one believe they were a few shows deep. Clearly too abrasive for some, but I thought they were right on.
I guess they went with the name War Injun because calling themselves “Maryland Doom Allstars” would sound too much like a softball team. Fronted by Internal Void‘s J.D. Williams, featuring, as noted, bassist Tony Comulada, along with guitarists Russ Strahan (ex-Pentagram, as well as Weed is Weed and many others) and Kenny Staubs (Outside Truth), and drummer JB Matson — one of the organizers of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — it’s a formidable grouping nonetheless. Their groove was likewise formidable. Matson didn’t make it easy for his own outfit, putting them after Wizard Eye and Hollow Leg as a lead-in for Brimstone Coven, but War Injun not only pulled one of the night’s best crowds, they absolutely leveled the place. Williams, who’d performed the night before with Internal Void, remained a complete madman on stage, and the riffs from Staubs and Strahan were classic Maryland doom through and through, peppered with more aggressive push. Last time I saw them was Stoner Hands of Doom XI in 2011 (review here), and they hit even harder than I remembered.
Like Castle yesterday, I feel like I came out of Brimstone Coven‘s set with an entirely deeper appreciation for what the West Virginian outfit does. Next month, they hit the road for a handful of Midwestern dates with Castle, as it happens, and both bands are ones that you just have to see live to really understand. That’s not to take away from what Brimstone Coven — “Big John” Williams on vocals, Corey Roth on guitar/vocals, Andrew D’Cagna bass/vocals and Justin Wood on drums — were able to do on their 2016 debut LP, Black Magic (review here), but the impression they made on stage was on a different level, Williams, Roth and D’Cagna coming together to completely nail down vocal harmonies over weighted doom riffing, shedding some of the cult rock vibe of the record in favor of an almost progressive feel with moments of brash heavy rock for counterweight. It was the kind of set that made me want to go back and take another look at the album, the highlight being “Slow Death,” which seemed at first like a strange one for Williams to shout out “to the ladies,” but ultimately made sense in light of the lyrics. They were the day’s most pleasant surprise, though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.
Of all the sets I’ve seen vocalist Eric Wagner perform — and at this point I’ve seen him perform a few — he always looks like he’s having the best time with Blackfinger. Granted, he was all smiles at Roadburn this year with The Skull as well, but there’s a level of appreciation for some of Blackfinger‘s more Beatlesian melancholy in tracks like “I am Jon” and “On Tuesday Morning,” both from their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), that comes through visually on stage and in the vibrant presentation of the material. Having Terry Weston of Penance/Dream Death on guitar doesn’t hurt either, but with guitarist Matthew Tuite, bassist Matthew Cross and drummer David Snyder, the lineup did justice to Wagner‘s legacy in Trouble as well as their own sonic persona. As always, Wagner‘s charisma as a frontman made him a focal point, but that’s nothing new for him, and he handled the room with his usual laid back flair. Somehow it wouldn’t seem like a doom fest if he didn’t show up in one outfit or another. He carries so much of the essence of the sound with him wherever he goes.
Place of Skulls
Once again, in the tonal battle of Victor Griffin vs. the universe, Victor Griffin wins by a landslide. It took Place of Skulls a while to get going — something with the guitar stack, I don’t know — but once the set started, the trio were among the highlights of the weekend so far. With the night’s biggest crowd at attention, Griffin held court alongside his Death Row bandmate Lee Abney on bass/backing vocals and drummer Russell Lee Padgett, but I could be wrong. It’s been six years since they released As A Dog Returns (review here) — though the 2013 self-titled debut from the short-lived In~Graved project (review here) seems to have been rebranded as a Place of Skulls release this year — and five years since last I saw them play, but for it being the first time in a while, Place of Skulls were very much still Place of Skulls, the band who released one of the best American doom records of all time in 2003’s With Vision, from which they aired the title-track, “The Monster,” “Long Lost Grave” and “Last Hit” along with a cover of The Animals‘ “Misunderstood” that has become a regular feature in Griffin-related sets, be it with In~Graved or Pentagram. Like Eric Wagner, Griffin takes a lot of who he is from band to band, and his mark on doom is unmistakable.
I’ve seen Bang play upwards of 15 times on two different continents in the last two or three years, and they’ve never been a letdown. Like the day started easing into the heavy with Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic set, Bang — who also had a new drummer — provided the sweet swing that would smooth the way out. The classic heavy rockers, playing to support reissues of their catalog on Svart Records, were given a rousing introduction by Dave Sherman of The Obsessed, who cited them as a major influence for Maryland doom as a whole and his career specifically. From there, Frankie Gilcken launched the opening riff of “Keep On,” and Bang were underway. Bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara was in top form through “Lions… Christians,” “The Maze” and the ballad “Last Will and Testament,” which was given its usual intro. It was late and the room had dissipated somewhat, but Bang‘s tones were as warm and inviting as ever, and plenty of people held on until the finish, savoring every moment they could get. Again, not by any means my first time at the dance with these cats (except the drummer), but they remain something truly special to watch and are a testament to the enduring appeal of heavy’s essential formative years.
Within minutes of getting back to the Super 8 after the show, I was falling asleep. Still, I felt better after last night than Friday, and with 11 more bands playing tonight, that’s probably a good thing. First band starts in about two hours, and I need coffee, so I’m gonna take care of that as priority one and then go from there.
Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was a hell of a ride, and by that I mean I sat in traffic from about 8:30 in the morning until I walked into Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland, just in time for the start of the first band at 5:15PM. I soon found that my plan to not wear the supportive boot for my continuing ankle pain was, let’s say, ambitious. Basically I couldn’t stand up for more than like five minutes at a time. Fortunately the boot was in the car. Then my camera broke.
This is the part where normally I’d say “some you win, some you lose,” but the quality of the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — the second edition of the festival put on by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank; still kicking myself for missing it last year — was such that I couldn’t really feel too down about any of the above, except perhaps the camera, which served me well for half a decade and hopefully I’ll be able to have fixed in the near term, no doubt at significant cost. Not for this weekend, though. Bummer.
Well. Now that I think I’ve gotten all or at least most of the bitching out of the way, we can get down to business. Like I said, I watched from the first band on, as much as I was able, and got pictures on my phone after the camera went down. I did the best I could.
Alright, here goes:
Clearly a trial by fire for the room. Some fests might try to ease the audience into the event; Maryland Doom Fest 2016 not so much. Philadelphia’s Black Urn would wind up being the most extreme band of the night, digging their way into vicious sludge metal topped by growls and screams exclusively, proffered through two guitars finding balance in the mix with bass that seemed utterly dominant at first but soon enough evened out. That kind of stuff runs the risk of coming across as samey when you don’t know the songs — they have a 2015 demo and a 2016 EP, The Pangs of Our Covenant, out, but this was my first exposure to them — but Black Urn knew when to change the pace up, and their faster parts had a heavy rock edge to them that set well alongside the grueling brutalities they fostered otherwise. Plus vocalist John Jones wore an Iron Monkey t-shirt, and that’s just about always going to earn some extra points in my book.
The Californian heavy atmospheric doom rockers were a treat for anyone who showed up early, playing through a considerable investment portfolio of amplification, fresh-looking Oranges and Sunn for the guitar of Kyle Stratton and the bass of John Chavarria, while drummer Jeff Tedtaotao punctuated the massive rolling grooves elicited from them. They’d been on tour for about a week supporting the recently-released, Billy Anderson-produced Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (stream here; review here), and “Gravity” was a highlight of the set, which rightly focused on the new album and its ambient largesse, in which one can hear shades of anything from YOB to Neurosis to Deftones in Stratton‘s vocals to Tool in some of their quiet, winding parts. It’s a varied blend, and they can make it move as well when they want, but they were impressively fluid front to back, and seemed most at home with the three of them locked into any number of lumbering progressions, of which they offered plenty.
I’ve been watching Admiral Browning play shows for more than a decade. I say this not to brag about having seen the band a bunch of times, but to emphasize the point that when they take a given stage, I still don’t know what to expect. Oh, you can be sure that guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis will offer dizzying technicality and frenetic groove, but just where they might take that is perpetually up in the air. Their 2015 tape EP, Corvette Summer (review here), found them experimenting further with incorporating vocals into their long-instrumentally-focused sound, and it worked. At Maryland Doom Fest 2016, it wasn’t a question. Both LeGrow and McGinnis had mics and used them liberally. I’ll admit it was a somewhat jarring sight — as I said, they were strictly instrumental for a long time — but they’ve developed relentlessly over their years together, and that process obviously continues unabated. Nothing new to say I’m looking forward to what they do next, but it’s true all the same. Way underappreciated band.
Probably should’ve seen these cats by now. Led by guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, North Carolina’s Demon Eye have been tearing it up on the Eastern Seaboard for the last couple years, also journeying west this past April to tour alongside Disenchanter in support of their second record, 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here), and after hearing such encouraging things about their stage presence, yeah, it felt overdue. Sugg was indeed very much in the lead position, bantering with the crowd between songs, headbanging and stomping in classic rock style, backed by drummer Bill Egan on vocals and lead guitarist Larry Burlison while Paul Walz‘s Rickenbacker tied it all together in the low end. They opened with “End of Days” and closed with “Sons of Man,” both from the new record, but “From Beyond” from 2014’s Leave the Light (review here) was a highlight as well, their songs upbeat. In my notes, it just says “ace songwriting,” so we’ll leave it at that, and while I’ll admit some of their cult themes leave me a little cold, both their craft and the energy of their performance are absolutely undeniable.
With guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey both now in Beelzefuzz and bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis sharing his time with Admiral Browning and several other projects, Pale Divine has kind of become a part-time institution, but in all the years I’ve seen them — I think the first time was in Philly with The Hidden Hand, circa ’04 — they’ve never failed to deliver on their particular kind of woeful traditional doom. Though they’re not actually from the state, they were a perfect centerpiece for Maryland Doom Fest 2016’s first night, and the assembled crowd, younger and older, showed their appreciation duly. As I was dealing with my just-busted camera, I’ll admit my attention was somewhat divided, but Pale Divine don’t screw around on stage, and they closed their set playing something they’ve never played before. Diener gave the title but of course I missed it, in the back fumbling with the camera battery and lens as I was, sadly to no avail. The doom felt perhaps even more appropriate in such a context.
Ruby the Hatchet
Philly-region five-piece Ruby the Hatchet are on something of a mini-tour this week, up the Northeast in the formidable company of Black Mountain. Not at all their first run in support of last year’s way-right-on Valley of the Snake (review here), but they’ve also reissued their first record, Ouroboros, on vinyl through Tee Pee Records, and I’d imagine when the chance to do shows with a group like Black Mountain crops up, or to, say, play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 on the night The Obsessed are headlining, it’s a thing you do your best to make happen. Starting off their set with the memorable “Heavy Blanket” from Valley of the Snake, they jammed profusely and featured what I think might be the weekend’s only on-stage organ, so bonus points there. Vocalist Jillian Taylor was in firm command on stage, her vocals run through a close delay for a live-doubletracking effect that only made their cultistry seem more resonant. Taylor, together with bassist Lake Muir, guitarist John Scarperia, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, have pretty clearly mastered the post-Uncle Acid blend of hooks and bounce, and set about reshaping them to suit their own melodic purposes. One expects that will be a process that plays out over the next several years/albums, but they were impressively tight and for my first time seeing them, I was glad I finally did.
Speaking of bands I should’ve seen before — as I realize I have a couple times at this point — fucking Castle. The hard-touring San Francisco outfit sounded so much like a group used to being on the road. Some bands just develop that thing. They show up in a room, assess the place, the people, the sound, say, “Okay, we can kick ass here,” and then do. That’s exactly what Castle did. They’re the kind of band who could make you believe in heavy metal. A lot of what they played was new — they’re touring to herald the arrival of their new album, Welcome to the Graveyard, which is out July 12 on Ván Records — and their righteously individualized blend of thrash, traditional metal, doom, heavy rock and roll, etc., speaks to some mystical bygone era when metal was about not compromising, putting a fist in the air against expectation and going on tour forever. Castle were so deep into what they were doing that I think they could’ve been anywhere and it would’ve been the same, that trance taking hold early on as they locked in and holding sway for the duration of their set, which seemed short when it was over. They’ve made themselves pretty available for in-person experience over the years, and now I understand why. I don’t think it’s really possible to get them until you see them live. I’m late to the party on that one, I know, but they didn’t seem to care if it was somebody’s first time, fifth time, or however-manyeth time seeing them. Everyone got their ass handed to them equally.
Not to toot my own horn, but I said not too long ago that if you get the chance to see Internal Void, you should do it, and their hour-long set at Cafe 611 only affirmed the truth of that. The four-piece of vocalist J.D. Williams, guitarist Kelly Carmichael, bassist Adam Heinzmann and drummer Brian Goad packed out the room shoulder to shoulder and were clearly as glad to see the hometown crowd as the hometown crowd was to see them, even before Carmichael started shredding out solos, before Williams widened his eyes and loosed his gravely sneer, and before they brought out original drummer Eric Little to play a couple cuts from 1993’s Standing on the Sun, marking the first time that album’s full lineup had shared the stage in 23 years. With their own banner behind them, Internal Void epitomized Maryland doom. Their workingman’s grooves, classic edge and sans-bullshit delivery spoke to everything that has allowed the scene in and around Frederick to flourish for the last three decades to where it is now and where it’s headed in the future. Last time I saw Internal Void was at the Afterburner for Roadburn 2012, and several others remarked that it had been several years since they last played, so that might well have been their most recent show. Either way, they brought it hard for the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 crowd and were a joy to watch. If you get the chance to see them, do it. Don’t hesitate.
I’m not sure anyone would’ve been a better fit to headline Maryland Doom Fest than The Obsessed. I mean that wholeheartedly. Their legacy as a band — only more so now that guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich has brought in his Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave Sherman (recent interview here) on bass/backing vocals, alongside new drummer Brian Constantino — is so tied to that of Maryland doom that you just don’t have the one without the other. Their set might be considered a victory lap for the month-long tour they just did with Karma to Burn (who also play this weekend) as much as a precursor to their hitting the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand in a couple weeks to record their first album since 1994. In addition to The Obsessed staples “Neatz Brigade,” “Streamlined,” “Protect and Serve” and “Blind Lightning,” they worked in a couple Spirit Caravan cuts, among them “Retroman” and the ultra-rolling “Sea Legs.” It was late, and the room began to thin out some as they made their way toward the close of the evening with “Freedom,” but in giving a look at some newer material with the speedy “Be the Night” and the more expansive “Sacred” (which has been kicking around Spirit Caravan sets for a few years now and has older roots), The Obsessed looked ahead in addition to celebrating their legacy, and that seemed no less appropriate. Even after Internal Void, they held the room wrapt, and there was zero doubt to whom the night ultimately belonged.
Next show starts in a little over an hour, so I gotta get moving. No extra pics on account of the broken camera, but thanks for reading anyway.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
To answer your immediate question, yes, there is actually a fiddle involved in Fiddle Witch and the Demons of Doom. The Houston-based trio feature it pretty heavily on their new single, in fact. They were recently picked up by Domo Music and issue “Midnight Mayhem” under the label’s banner with nods toward pagan metal and progressive death. It’s a weird blend, which is what I like about it, but they make it work. Of course, “Midnight Mayhem” is really just a sampling of what Fiddle Witch and the Demons of Doom might have in store, but as a first impression, it offers a look at a group who seem hell bent on developing a style of their own. Hard not to respect that.
From the PR wire:
Fiddle Witch and The Demons of Doom Get Signed and Release new Single
“Midnight Mayhem” perfectly illustrates the mood and musical content of a new single released by Fiddle Witch & The Demons Of Doom. Collectively, the Houston, Texas based artists deliver an innovative, melodic blend of classical and metal music.
Penned by band members Jo Bird, Geoffrey Muller and SPIKE the Percussionist, “Midnight Mayhem” reflects the band’s collaborative spirit, unique instrumentation and sound.
Of the band, producer Ulrich Wild said, “It’s very rewarding to work with new and exciting artists such Jo Bird, Geoffrey Muller and Spike the Percussionist who fearlessly conquer new ground. The new single by Fiddle Witch & The Demons Of Doom, Midnight Mayhem marries electric viola and Death Metal into a mutant pagan ritual.”
Jo Bird said, “We’re excited to unleash Midnight Mayhem onto the unsuspecting world that leads us to new avenues.” Geoffrey Muller added, “We had an amazing time working with Ulrich Wild on this new track. Powerful and creepy, it contains all of the intricacies you would expect from a Fiddle Witch & The Demons Of Doom track!” SPIKE The Percussionist concludes, “The new noiz really pushed us into a new experience and an unexpected direction with themes ranging from sinister classical elements to exotic world motifs. This new track is quite a sonic adventure.”
Fiddle Witch & The Demons Of Doom features the talents of Jo Bird, Geoffrey Muller and SPIKE the Percussionist. Jo Bird conceived the notion of Fiddle Witch in 2012 as a way to further explore her diverse musical influences. At that time, Bird was referred to SPIKE the Percussionist who shared her classical training and passion for metal and rock music. Veteran Houston Bassist and session musician Geoffrey Muller rounds out the trio. Fiddle Witch & The Demons Of Doom look forward to a “Mayhem” filled 2016 on the heels of their new release and upcoming tour dates.
Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.
As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.
I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.
Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.
Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.
New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions
Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”
With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.
Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.
Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.
Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy
The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m pretty sure what the W. Ralph Walters cover art for the new Devil to Pay record is going for is an accurate historical depiction of humanity’s encounter with ancient aliens. No doubt A Bend Through Space and Time is exactly how it went down, or so the ancient astronaut theorists believe, a big-boobed alien blowing knowledge-smoke in the face of a caveman/Neanderthal-type who may or may not be the titular character for the song “Knuckledragger.” I’m getting pretty tired of supporting the objectification industrial complex when it comes to cartoon tits, I’ll be honest, but I like Devil to Pay, so you’ll find the cover art and the tracklisting for the album below. You might recall the band premiered their video for “Your Inner Lemmy” here back in February.
If you don’t recall and don’t feel like clicking, that video is also below. A Bend Through Space and Time is out Aug. 20 on Ripple Music. Art and info:
DTP RELEASE ‘A BEND THROUGH SPACE AND TIME’ ALBUM ART & TRACK LIST
Today DEVIL TO PAY release album art and the track list for their upcoming release, “A Bend Through Space and Time”. Recorded in 2015 by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Indiana, “A Bend Through Space and Time” showcases the further development of DEVIL TO PAY’s songcraft and explorations in heavy, riff-oriented rock and roll. The album was preceded by the early release of a download and music video for the song “Your Inner Lemmy” in honor of the rock legend Lemmy Kilmister’s passing last December.
The cover art features an original painting by the amazing W. Ralph Walters.
“A Bend Through Space and Time” will be released worldwide August 20th on Ripple Music.
A BEND THROUGH SPACE AND TIME: 1. On and On (in your mind) 2. Don’t Give Away the World 3. Kobold in the Breadbasket 4. Laughingstock 5. the Meaning of Life 6. Recommended Daily Dosage 7. Knuckledragger 8. Kerfuffle 9. Your Inner Lemmy 10. the Demons Come Home to Roost
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
As announced last month, Austin’s Bellringer will make their full-length debut this summer. In addition to that release on Rock is Hell, Bellringer mainman Mark Deutrom will have a vinyl split with Australia’s Dead tomorrow. So what’s new? Well the title of that Bellringer offering is Jettison — presumably calling it “release” would’ve been too straightforward — and two Melvins records that Deutrom played bass on, Stag and Stoner Witch, will be reissued tomorrow on Third Man Records. And that’s enough for me.
The PR wire has it like this:
BELLRINGER: Texas Act Formed By Ex-Melvins/Clown Alley Guitarist Mark Deutrom To Issue Jettison LP Via Rock Is Hell In August
Austin, Texas-based BELLRINGER, founded by guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom, has completed the brand new Jettison LP, and is preparing for it to strike this August through Rock Is Hell.
The live vehicle for the music of Deutrom – formerly of West Coast hardcore punk outfit, Clown Alley, and Prick/Stoner Witch/Stag/Honky-era Melvins, and others – BELLRINGER currently also embodies the contributions of musicians James Flores, Aaron Lack, Monique Ortiz, and Brian Ramirez. Recorded in Austin earlier this year, the outfit’s swanky new Jettison album was fully written and produced by Deutrom. The six expansive tracks traverse an immense volume of genre territory with nearly forty minutes of action, fusing elements of psychedelic and exploratory rock with bluesy and jazzy jam elements, all coalescing in the signature Mark D style. Outer-cosmos radioactive dust cloud soundscapes go head-to-head with lush, organic, earthling grooves, while a quirky edge stimulates hallucinations of animated characters colonizing psychedelic parallel existences.
Partnering once again with trusty label counterpart Rock Is Hell, who also released Deutrom’s Brief Sensuality & Western Violence LP+7″, Ruckus Juice 12″, The Value Of Decay 2xLP, as well as titles from his wife Jennifer Deutrom, Burmese, Bulbul, Shit & Shine, and others, BELLRINGER’s Jettison LP will see release am an offset/hand-screened limited edition LP and digital download on August 1st. Stand by for the cover art, audio samples, a video trailer, an official video, preorders, and more as the LP nears release in the coming weeks.
In related news, Mark Deutromhas a split LP with Australian outfit DEAD which sees release on WeEmptyRooms Records this Friday, June 24th, the release limited to 250 copies on 180g vinyl with a hand-screened cover. This will be a vinyl only release, with no digital available in any form. A promo video is available HERE, and is the only way to hear any audio from the release online. The preorder is up HERE for USA customers, and HERE for Australia/Oceania customers.
Additionally, this Friday, June 24th, Third Man Records is reissuing the classic Melvins titles, Houdini, Stoner Witch, and Stag, the latter two of which Deutrom performed on, which sees any of these albums being pressed on vinyl for the first time in over two decades; preoreders are live HERE.
BELLRINGER Live: 7/22/2016 Andy’s Bar – Denton, TX 8/19/2016 Curtain Club – Dallas, TX 9/03/2016 Bang Bang Bar – San Antonio, TX
It’s been a little more than a month since German heavy rock forerunners Kadavar posted the last installment of their series of videos for their 2015 third album, Berlin (review here). That clip was for “Filthy Illusion” (posted here) and was a distinct shift in vibe from the preceding “Pale Blue Eyes” (posted here), the band working on the stated intention of releasing a video for every song on the record within the next year. If they include the Nico cover “Reich der Träume” that closed the record, they’re on pace to finish by roughly next March — a year from when they started — so it could legitimately happen. I’ve never undertaken coordinating the logistics of making a music video, but it never struck me as something that would be particularly easy to do.
One has to imagine that when they’re done, Kadavar and director Nathini van der Meer will somehow put together a physical version of the clips to sell, whether it’s part of a deluxe Berlin reissue that Nuclear Blast does (no confirmation on that, this is just speculation) or with a live album, live show or some other kind of DVD release. Nothing against YouTube, but it seems like for as much effort is clearly being put into making these videos — van der Meer again gives a different look with the latest, for “Lord of the Sky” — they deserve some kind of physical issue. Maybe that’s me being old. Actually, no maybe about it. That’s definitely me being old. Not sure that makes me wrong.
I’ve been doing my best to keep up with these as they’ve come out and will continue to do so for the duration, however long that might actually last. If nothing else, it highlights the point of just how front-to-back Berlin was, in that every song on it stood out and was worthy of attention and focus. A year-long reminder of that would seem to be fitting as far as giving the record its due, so long as it doesn’t hold the band back from writing the next one.
Enjoy “Lord of the Sky” below, followed by more info from the PR wire:
Kadavar, “Lord of the Sky” official video
Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (http://nathinivandermeer.com), who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, they are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.
Comments the band: “The song is about freedom, about watching your city and your life from a certain distance – from the bird’s-eye view. Just like we see our city from that perspective when we’re on tour. Problems and tasks just seem to vanish the more you recede from ground. At the same time you need to push your wings against the wind to gain altitude and not get off course. The hopes, memories and expectations with which you leave your city you will always keep.”
“The video is also about things that simply don’t change,” adds Nathini. That’s why we chose to use this old man who’s just doing his thing for like forever. He goes to work every day, does his job and probably doesn’t realize that his surroundings are changing and becoming crazier and crazier. He lives in the bird’s-eye perspective and keeps a certain distance to things.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I wonder if the shipping on exports costs more when they’re this heavy. This fall, venerable concern Life is Noise will present the thunderdoom pairing of Italian cosmic doom progenitors Ufomammut and Swedish riff-crushers Monolord, which if the point hasn’t gotten across yet is a formidable pairing indeed, both acts preceded by their reputation for being heavy as hell.
For Monolord, this six-show run will follow an extensive US tour with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge that will be their first time in North America as headliners, while Ufomammut have reportedly been working on new material presumably with an eye toward a 2017 release. That’s the hope, anyway. They’ve also been playing fests and other select dates in Europe.
Life is Noise sent the following down the PR wire:
LIFE IS NOISE PRESENTS: UFOMAMMUT (ITA) & MONOLORD (SWE) AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR
LIFE IS NOISE is proud to announce the first visit to our shores of Italian space doom virtuosos Ufomammut, along with masters of the riff, Swedish three-piece Monolord.
These two behemoths will be laying waste to cities across Australia and New Zealand this October in a truly huge doom double-header.
Playing an ear-destroying brand of sludge-filled doom that lurches from brooding slow menace to soul-crushing riff with a decent slab of psych thrown in for good measure, Ufomammut have released a stack of studio albums of unimpeachable heaviness, culminating in last year’s Ecate – truly a masterpiece of nuanced doom that perfectly encapsulates the band’s career to date.
Drawing on influences such as Sleep, Sabbath, Windhand, and Conan, Swedish trio Monolord take reverence to the riff to new extremes, with their second record, 2015’s Vænir, mixing glacial tempos with hypnotic and otherworldly vocals that coalesce into an album of both beauty and malevolence.
Catch Ufomammut and Monolord on the following dates:
Wellington – San Fran – October 3 Auckland – Kings Arms – October 4 Brisbane – Crowbar – October 6 Sydney – Bald Faced Stag – October 7 Melbourne – Max Watt’s – October 8 Perth – Rosemount Hotel – October 9