Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Shadow Witch at Salt of the Earth Records

Salt of the Earth Records on Thee Facebooks

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Clutch Announce North American Tour for Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

clutch 2 (Photo by Dan Winters)-1400

What, you didn’t think Clutch were going to tour to support their new album? Did they ever really stop touring to support the last one? Or the one before that? They barely take a break at this point to record, so yeah, obviously they’re announcing a new tour. They finished the last one. Time for the next one.

My only question is where Sevendust came from on this bill. Even when I think it, I’ll very rarely go all out and say a band sucks, but I’ve never been a Sevendust fan, even during their late-’90s commercial radio peak, and I liked some really shitty stuff when I was in high school. Some good stuff, but yeah, some really shitty stuff too. Never Sevendust though.

I guess Clutch are keeping it eclectic, which is admirable in a way, but I’ll be super-duper-curious to see the crowd for this one. Info comes from the PR wire:

clutch tour banner

CLUTCH ANNOUNCE BOOK OF BAD DECISIONS TOUR DATES WITH SEVENDUST AND TYLER BRYAN & THE SHAKEDOWN

Clutch has just announced US/Canada Fall tour dates for their “Book Of Bad Decisions Tour 2018.” Clutch is making the following special offer for this tour: The price of a ticket when purchased in advance online includes a physical CD copy of Clutch’s new album “Book of Bad Decisions.” Fans will receive information on how to redeem the album after purchasing the advance ticket online. Offer valid through 10/29/18, open to US residents only. Not valid on Resale tickets. Offer only valid for Clutch headline dates. Festivals, Canadian headline dates and the October 13th date with System of a Down are exempt from this offer. Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, June 22nd at 10AM local time and will be available at www.pro-rock.com and www.facebook.com/clutchband.

Supporting the tour will be Sevendust and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.

Book of Bad Decisions, CLUTCH’s 12th studio album is scheduled for a worldwide release on September 7th, 2018 via their own Weathermaker Music label. The album was recorded at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN by producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) and consists of 15 new tracks.

Clutch Book Of Bad Decisions Tour with Sevendust and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown:

Sun/Sep-16 Chicago IL Riotfest **
Tue/Sep-18 St Paul, MN Myth Live
Wed/Sep-19 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theater
Fri/Sep-21 Houston TX House of Blues
Sat/Sep-22 San Antonio TX River City Rock Fest **
Sun/Sep-23 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live
Tue/Sep-25 Orlando, FL House Of Blues
Thu/Sep-27 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
Fri/Sep-28 Raleigh, NC The Ritz
Sat/Sep-29 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade *
Sun/Sep-30 Louisville, KY Louder Than Life **
Tue/Oct-02 Denver, CO Ogden Theater
Wed/Oct-03 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
Fri/Oct-05 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
Sat/Oct-06 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory
Sun/Oct-07 Seattle, WA Showbox SODO
Mon/Oct-08 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
Tue/Oct-09 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Thu/Oct-11 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
Fri/Oct-12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theater
Sat/Oct-13 San Bernardino, CA Glen Helen Amphitheater w/SOAD ***
Sun/Oct-14 San Diego, CA North Park/Observatory
Mon/Oct-15 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
Wed/Oct-17 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom
Thu/Oct-18 Sauget, IL Pop’s Nightclub
Fri/Oct-19 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live
Sat/Oct-20 Detroit, MI The Filmore Detroit
Sun/Oct-21 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
Tue/Oct-23 Toronto, ON Rebel
Thu/Oct-25 Worcester, MA The Palladium
Fri/Oct-26 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Sat/Oct-27 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Sun/Oct-28 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory

*= no Sevendust
** = festival date / Clutch and festival bill only
*** = date w/ System of a Down/ no Sevendust

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

www.facebook.com/clutchband
www.instagram.com/clutchofficial
www.twitter.com/clutchofficial
www.pro-rock.com
www.youtube.com/user/officialclutch

Clutch, “Gimme the Keys” lyric video

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Review & Track Premiere: Mountain of Smoke, Gods of Biomechanics

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain of smoke gods of biomechanics

[Click play above to stream ‘Tyrell’ from Mountain of Smoke’s Gods of Biomechanics. Album is out July 7.]

Crush wins the day quickly on Mountain of Smoke‘s second album, Gods of Biomechanics. The Dallas-area duo of bassist/vocalist Brooks and drummer PJ bludgeon efficiently on the 10-track/33-minute outing, and expand their lineup through working with pedal steel guitarist Alex, filling out the bass/drum sound with an atmospheric breadth that can be heard on songs like “Caesium Beams,” making the material all the more memorable as well as being brutal and extreme. As with their 2014 self-titled debut, which was issued through Do for It Records, the theme that ties all the songs together is drawn from Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-noir classic Blade Runner. Songs are based around the story of Ray Batty (Rutger Hauer) and named after characters from the film — “Leon,” “Tyrell,” “Zhora” — and as the band already seem to have covered the main characters in their debut with “Decker,” “Rachel,” “Pris,” and so on, and they also begin to dig into ideas expressed in the movie, places or other elements.

Accordingly, we get “Tannhauser Gate” which is mentioned in a sample of Rutger Hauer at the end of the subsequent and pummeling “Orion’s Shoulder,” “Incept” referring to the concept of when a replicant is ‘born,’ and “Retirement” for when they’re killed. Samples from the film — which I’m just going to assume everyone reading this watched at least once when they were in their 20s — are sprinkled throughout, providing transitions and making sure that Mountain of Smoke stick with the plot, as it were. In addition to giving the audience something to latch onto for a record that, put to tape by Michael Briggs at Civil Audio in Denton, TX, both bludgeoning in its execution and largely indecipherable on first listen when it comes to the blown-out growls that serve for most of the vocals, the theme also lends aesthetic nuance to Mountain of Smoke‘s sound, which if the point hasn’t gotten across yet, is anything but subtle.

Rather, it is a style built for volume. The litmus test for duo-violence used to be Black Cobra and I suppose now it’s probably Germany’s Mantar. For what it’s worth, Mountain of Smoke have more in common with the latter than the former in terms of their overall approach, though of course it varies. Less outwardly thrash, they’re nonetheless given to driving moments throughout Gods of Biomechanics, whether it’s the closing title-track, the rush of “Tannhauser Gate” or the stabbing verse of “Retirement.” Amid the thrust come massive rolling grooves. Massive, as in, of mass. From the moment “Incept” picks up from its leadoff sample at the album’s open, its huge low end plod becomes as much of a running theme as the film itself. That instrumental opener leads way via another sample — just of the score — into “Tannhauser Gate,” which revels in its thrust and brashness. Who could argue? Like much of the record, it’s a speaker-blower, and the pedal steel shows itself pivotal as well when it comes to adding a sense of space to the proceedings.

mountain of smoke

That too will become more and more apparent as the rest of Gods of Biomechancis plays out, through “Orion’s Shoulder” and “Caesium Beams” and the High on Fire-worthy bombast of “Zhora,” and into side B on “Retirement,” “Leon,” “Tyrell” and the title-track. So really just everywhere save perhaps “Incept” and its counterpart “Morphology” which gives the second half of the album its own instrumental launch. I don’t know how full-time a member of the band Alex will be, if the two-piece has become a trio, but his work winds up being crucial here just the same. As mentioned, the pedal steel adds breadth and a sense of space to the songs, but it also works in concert with the Blade Runner theme, since with the echo behind it and often played in sustained notes, it cuts a direct line to the kinds of otherworldly melodies Vangelis brought to the original film’s soundtrack. That was largely synthesized, but if one thinks of it on an interpretive level, the comparison holds up.

And the effect that has on making Gods of Biomechanics seem all the more complete in terms of concept and delivery isn’t to be understated. Mountain of Smoke‘s first offering was rawer and hit with plenty of force, but was more abrasive and not nearly so methodical. Gods of Biomechanics mounts its attack with some feeling of calculation behind it. The band aren’t simply crashing through the wall, they’re sneaking around it — though one hesitates to use a work like “sneaking” when it comes to something so obviously meant to be played as loudly as possible. Either way, not to be lost in all the holy-crap-this-is-heavy hyperbole that’s sure to be tossed the album’s way is the fact that Mountain of Smoke‘s sound isn’t just about bearing an inhuman amount of heft, or about describing scenes from a movie, but about entering a creative conversation with that work, and the pedal steel, siren-like at the start of “Retirement” or riding the fury of Brooks‘ riff on “Leon,” is a major part of what allows it to do so.

Its inclusion feels organic — as opposed to it feeling android, I guess — as an extension of the band’s overarching purpose, and as they slam into “Tyrell” and “Gods of Biomechanics” at the record’s back end, the statement they seem to be making not only engages with its subject matter, but brings it to life in a new, fascinating and oddly appropriate way. The risk with bands working on a single-theme as Mountain of Smoke are is that, at a certain point, they might run out of things to talk about once all the characters and ideas from the movie are covered. Would they write a song about the 2017 sequel? The sans-monologue directors cut version of the original? I don’t know, but they wouldn’t be the first group to come up against that issue, say screw it, and successfully move on to other thematic ground, so maybe I’m worrying about nothing. More important for the moment is the success throughout Gods of Biomechanics in putting their listeners in that always-dark, always-raining world where the threat always seems to be present and the danger always seems to be right there waiting. So too is the case here as Mountain of Smoke dream of electric sheep and awaken to be unbridled in their aural instensity.

Mountain of Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Mountain of Smoke on Twitter

Mountain of Smoke on Bandcamp

Do for It Records website

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Brant Bjork to Reissue Tres Dias Sept. 21 on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork (Photo Aija Svensson)

Well, it’s been several minutes — upwards of eight! — since the last time I posted an update about the many doings of desert rock legend Brant Bjork, so it seems only fair that news should come down the PR wire heralding word that, one week after the release of his new album, Mankind Woman (info here), he’ll be reissuing 2007’s Tres Dias through Heavy Psych Sounds as the beginning point of a series that will see his entire catalog from 1999 through 2010 — that’s Jalamanta (discussed here) through Gods and Goddesses (review here), by my count — to the general benefit of humanity at large. Interesting that the series would start with Tres Dias, which is the largely-unplugged predecessor to 2007’s Somera Sól (discussed here), since it is arguably Brant ‘s most minimal and intimate record, but I guess it’s more fascinating than either starting at the beginning and working up or starting with the newest one and going back. Mix and match. Should be fun.

And of course, Bjork will head over to Europe for a sizable tour this Fall, the dates for which you can also see below, along with the revamped Tres Dias cover art.

Dig:

brant bjork tres dias

BRANT BJORK to reissue “Tres Dias” album on September 21st through Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Heavy Psych Sounds Records is proud to start the reissuing of BRANT BJORK’s solo back catalogue from 1999 to 2010! First reissue is “Tres Dias”, coming along a brand new artwork and special and limited vinyl editions.

“Tres Dias” is the fifth solo album released by the godfather of desert rock BRANT BJORK. The album was recorded in Joshua Tree, California, before Christmas 2006. This 8-track album is a mix of old and new tracks.

BRANT BJORK has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity.

For someone so outwardly laid back, he’s never really taken a break. And while BRANT BJORK has shown different sides of himself on an album like his 2007’s mostly-acoustic Tres Dias, when you’re listening to Brant Bjork, you know it, because there’s no one else who sounds quite like him. He comments: “Been a long time since i celebrated these recordings. Couldnt think of a better time to re-release. Fresh art to represent “brand new old times”. Enjoy!”

“Tres Dias” was produced, recorded, and mixed by Tony Mason at Back of the Moon Studios, Joshua Tree, CA in 2007. The original artwork has been designed by Bunker/Bjork, the re-issued artwork comes by Marcello “Rise Above” Crescenzi.

The “Tres Dias” reissue on HPS Records will be available as:
– 30 Test Press (only on HPS webstore)
– 250 LTD Vinyl in Green/Yellow Quad (only on HPS webstore)
– 500 LTD Vinyl in Gold
– Black Vinyl
– CD and digital

BRANT BJORK “Tres Dias” reissue
Out September 21st on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
– Vinyl and CD preorder start July 3rd here

TRACK LISTING:
1. Too Many Chiefs…
2. Love Is My Revolution
3. Chinarosa
4. The Native Tongue
5. Video
6. Right Time
7. The Messengers
8. The Knight Surrenders Today

Catch the BRANT BJORK live on the following dates in Europe this Fall, with very special guest Sean Wheeler:

EUROPEAN TOUR 2018
02.11.18 NO Drammen |Union Scene
03.11.18 SW Stockholm | Debaser Strand
04.11.18 SW Göteborg | Sticky Fingers
05.11.18 SW Malmö | Kulturbolaget
06.11.18 DE Hamburg | Fabrik
07.11.18 NL Amsterdam | Melkweg
08.11.18 BE Leuven | Het Depot
09.11.18 UK London | Garage
10.11.18 FR Paris | Petit Bain
11.11.18 NL Tilburg | O13
12.11.18 DE Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
13.11.18 CH Zürich | Rote Fabrik
14.11.18 CH Martigny | Caves Du Manoir
15.11.18 IT Turin | Spazio 211
16.11.18 AT Innsbruck | Hafen (Heavy Psych Sounds Festival)
17.11.18 DE Munich | Feierwerk
18.11.18 AT Vienna | Arena
19.11.18 DE Dresden | Beatpol
20.11.18 DE Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
https://www.instagram.com/brant_bjork
https://twitter.com/brant_bjork
http://www.brantbjork.com
http://www.stonedanddusted.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Brant Bjork, Tres Dias

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Superfjord Announce New LP All Will Be Golden on Svart; New Single Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

superfjord

The hypnotic insistence of the new Superfjord single pretty much guarantees its imprint on the frontal lobe of your brain, and when you’re walking around singing ‘Bow down to the rainbow’ to yourself, there will be little wonder as to why. All Will Be Golden, which is the long-player from whence the aptly-titled “Rainbow” stems, has been confirmed for a Sept. 21 release through ultra-respected purveyor Svart Records. It’s their second album overall and the herald it receives bodes well for what’s to come, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the spaciness that shows up in “Rainbow” is more fleshed out elsewhere. We’ve got time before September hits — though apparently less than I think, as the calendar tells me it’s currently late June (the mind explodes) — so there will probably be more info to come in stuff like the cover art, tracklisting and so on, but you can stream “Rainbow” at the bottom of this post and there’s some preliminary data as regards the Svart signing that came down the PR wire:

It looked an awful lot like this:

superfjord rainbow

SUPERFJORD sign with SVART – release digital single, prepare new album for autumn

Svart Records announces the signing of Finnish prog-psych giants Superfjord. The band will be releasing a digital single titled “Rainbow” through the label, on all major digital platforms, in anticipation of their sophomore album (and first for Svart), All Will Be Golden, which is set for international release on September 21st. These will be Superfjord’s first brand-new releases since a limited 7″ single cover of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” released by cult psych label Fruits De Mer in the UK.

We shall all be redeemed, one way or another. Shall we pass through the golden gates towards the light, up to which myriad mysterious paths lead? Is the journey more important than the destination? Are we dreaming? Regardless of the questions asked, eventually All Will Be Golden.

Superfjord’s sophomore album is about it all: the journey, the destination, and the vehicles. All Will Be Golden is an ambitious musical trip formed of long arcs, mesmerizing mandalas, harmony vocals, and a multitude of aural colors. Have you heard the ayahuasca-inspired collaboration album from Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, and Spiritualized? Neither have we, but All Will Be Golden could possibly exist in such a parallel dimension. Whether you’re looking for a cure, a way of escape, a catalyst for spiritual expeditions, something to groove to, or just some chakra-opening psychedelic rock ’n’ roll with a 21st century cosmic twist, this might just be it.

“Rainbow,” the first single off the album, is a message from the end of the rainbow: surrender to the force, human. Superfjord’s psychedelic temple contains the whole cosmic color palette. Can you fit The Who, Frank Zappa, and, well, William Orbit into the same congregation? Well, apparently you can – with love.

Superfjord are:
Jussi Ristikaarto: guitars, electronics, vocals
Mikko Kapanen: guitar, vocals, percussion
Ilari Kivelä: drums, percussion
Teemu Soininen: bass
Juho Ojala: keyboards
Jussi Peevo: drums, percussion

www.facebook.com/superfjord
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Superfjord, “Rainbow”

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The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2018, Oct. 13 in Arlington, TX

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

heavy mash 2018 poster

After being fortunate enough to have been asked last year, there was no way I wasn’t going to be up for having The Obelisk on board to present Heavy Mash 2018. The second edition of the Arlington, Texas-based festival will take place on Oct. 13 and feature a full day and a full lineup of all-killer heavy rock, doom, psych and whatnot, with Austin-dwellers Duel as the headliners on the heels of their 2017 sophomore album, Witchbanger (review here). In fact, when fest organizer Mark Kitchens — also of Stone Machine Electric — brought up the issue recently, my only question was whether the awesome frog from last year’s poster would make a return. To the benefit of all humanity, you can see clearly above that it has.

Duel sit atop the lineup with Californian imports Great Electric Quest and Dallas’ Mountain of Smoke, whose second album, Gods of Biomechanics, will be out July 7 and is an absolute crusher. As it turns out, Great Electric Quest are the only non-Texas band on the bill, as amid the roster of DoomstressStone Machine ElectricSwitchblade JesusOrthodox FuzzGypsy Sun RevivalWitchcryer and Dead Hawke, there isn’t one group that doesn’t call the Lone Star State home. I guess that’s what happens when the place you’re from is awash in creativity and, uh, huge. Just ask California.

The geographic theme at play only makes Heavy Mash 2018 more special, since Texas’ heavy underground is nothing if not worth highlighting, and no doubt at least some of the acts will have shared stages in the past, making it all the more of a party at Division Brewing, which once again will host the event and seems to just be asking for trouble in so doing. So much riffs. So much beer. I hope they have a good mop for afterward.

Get your ass to Texas:

The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2018

Oct 13 at 1 PM

Division Brewing
506 E Main St, Arlington, Texas 76010

After last year’s successful event, we are pleased to announce this year’s Heavy Mash! Once again, our great friend Wade hosts this event at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX on October 13th, 2018.

Nothing but heavy music and great beer! Here is this year’s line-up:

DUEL – 11pm
Great Electric Quest – 10pm
Mountain of Smoke – 9pm
Doomstress – 8pm
Stone Machine Electric – 7pm
Switchblade Jesus – 6pm
Orthodox Fuzz – 5pm
Witchcryer – 4pm
Gypsy Sun Revival – 3pm
DEAD HAWKE – 2pm

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

Heavy Mash 2018 event page

Heavy Mash on Thee Facebooks

Division Brewing website

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War Cloud Premiere Video for “Red Witch”

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

war cloud photo Janiece Gonzalez

Oakland classic heavy rockers/proto-metallers/whatever-they’re-good-ers War Cloud have been readily hitting stages since making their self-titled debut (review here) last Fall on Ripple Music. Their new video for the track ‘Red Witch’ from that album would seem to be one of at least two they’ll issue this summer, as they’ve also posted on the social medias that they’ll have one out for “Chopper Wired,” but it’s hard as hell to argue with the hook of “Red Witch” and I find that as I make my way through I’m not inclined to try. The song appears on side B of the record — track six of eight on CD or digital — but it’s nonetheless worth the focus of the new clip, the premiere of which you can see below.

In terms of the record as a whole, “Red Witch” is pretty indicative of what works well in War Cloud‘s sound. As alluded to above, they straddle the line between heavy rock and metal, but even their most thrashing riffs from guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos and thickest lumber from bassist Taylor Roach come accompanied by a fervent swing in Joaquin Ridgell‘s drumming, so there’s never really a loss of momentum, regardless of where an individual track might go. The rolling groove of “Red Witch,” for example, nestles easily into its lead riff and charges out from there. With the crashing “No Man’s Land” before and “Speed Demon” afterward, it would almost be easy for the track to get lost in the mix were it not for the fact that the chorus is so standout-memorable.

The classic riff and the open lines of its verses create a cycle that should be immediately familiar to experienced heads, but whether they’re drawing from Judas Priest, Sabbath or the earliest days of thrash, War Cloud’s songwriting helps them maintain an identity of their own. No doubt the touring they did earlier this year to support the self-titled and the Midwest tour they’re soon to announce around their appearance at the Doomed and Stoned Festival in Indianapolis will help that out as they start to think about moving onto their next offering. Either way, the bottom line is War Cloud made one of last year’s best debuts, and it’s no challenge at all to look forward to what they might do from here in realizing their potential.

Please check out the premiere for “Red Witch” below. I’ve also included the album stream at the bottom of the post, because more likely than not after the one song is over you’re going to want to revisit the whole record. I know I did.

Enjoy:

War Cloud, “Red Witch” official video premiere

Music Video for War Cloud’s “Red Witch” from their 2017 self-titled debut album, on Ripple Music.

Buy the album: https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/artist/war-cloud

War Cloud is:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos – Guitar
Taylor Roach – Bass
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums

War Cloud, War Cloud (2017)

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

War Cloud on Bandcamp/

War Cloud webstore

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning: Blues for the Daredevils

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse psalms for the mourning

Any given song, any given part, any given measure, Funeral Horse can and will go wherever they please. Somehow, that’s what makes them work. Where so many bands would claim themselves as experimentalists and drown themselves and their audience in self-indulgence, somehow, Funeral Horse instead manage a genre-spanning balance of songwriting that nonetheless retains a sense of the truly weird. Psalms for the Mourning is the underrated Texans’ fourth album on Artificial Head Records behind 2015’s Divinity for the Wicked (review here), 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here) and 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here), and in addition to marking the first appearance of bassist Clint Rater alongside guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer and drummer Chris Bassett, it’s also by far the longest stretch they’ve had between outings.

Three years is a pretty standard stretch for bands on an 18-month touring cycle, but Funeral Horse have never hit the road to such a degree (though they did come east that one time to play The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn in 2016), but the truth is I think the material on the eight-track/39-minute LP benefits from that extra time. I don’t know how many songs Funeral Horse might’ve written over the course of that time, or how many they ultimately decided to put to tape — that is, whether this is everything produced since Divinity for the Wicked or not; I’d speculate not — but to listen to tracks like the punkier opener “Better Half of Nothing,” the woeful blues that follows in “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” (video premiere here), and even the uptempo keyboard-laced pop bounce that shows up in the second half of “Divinity for the Wicked” that seems to cite its own precedent in later Ozzy-era Sabbath, Psalms for the Mourning would seem to be the band’s most cohesive outing yet.

Their style, as ever, is based in no small part on toying with sundry influences between doom, punk, heavy rock, blues, country and anything else that might come their way, but in the blown out “California here I come” hook line of the penultimate “Burial of the Sun,” and in the barroom-jam-into-cacophony of the eight-minute “Emperor of all Maladies,” there’s a greater sense of maturity and purpose underlying. That’s not to say that Funeral Horse — who thrash away on “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” only after the bit of finger and piano in the side A-closing interlude “1965” — have been at any point lacking purpose, but even in the production of Psalms for the Mourning, their adaptability is being steered by hands not only capable as they’ve always been, but more confident and assured of the moves they’re making.

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It’s right there in the sound of the record itself as well as in the subtle way both “Better Half of Nothing” and “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” give their respective halves of the album a speedy opening, or how sub-three-minute closer “Evel Knievel Blues” takes a sudden turn into watery-vocal country like some long-lost Ween cut. What has made Funeral Horse‘s work so hard to pin down over the last five years is their seeming tendency to not have a core sound, instead just to jump from one vibe to another in willfully jarring shifts over the course of their outings. Fair enough, but the truth of the matter is that is their core sound, and Psalms for the Mourning proves that most plainly in ways Divinity for the Wicked seemed to hint at. It’s not about expanding from a root so much as leaping branch to branch with a genuine feeling of revelry in doing so.

Granted, much of Psalms for the Mourning is pretty downtrodden, regardless of tempo. “Better Half of Nothing” and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” paint a pretty dark thematic picture at the outset, and “Emperor of all Maladies” touches on raw doom rock before the already-noted jam brings it to its feedbacking finish, and after “1965,” the aggro thrust of “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” and nodding initial blues of “Divinity for the Wicked” before its odd and resonant finish sets a foundation for the speedy, shuffling escapism of “Burial Under the Sun,” a highlight for its channel-spanning solo late and in-spite-of-itself catchiness, capping with a minimalist piano line before the twang of “Evel Knievel Blues” provides an epilogue of fuckaroundery that reminds the listener everything in life is ridiculous anyway. That ending, given a lot of the bum-out before it, fast or slow, almost has a nihilist twinge to it, but in the context of Funeral Horse‘s work overall, it somehow makes sense.

Come to think of it, that might be what’s at their core. That somehow, all of it makes sense. Even when it doesn’t, that not making sense makes sense. I’m not sure I’d have said the same thing about their debut — in fact, looking back, I didn’t — but one of the aspects of Psalms for the Mourning that shows how far Funeral Horse have come as a band despite personnel changes is the sheer unwillingness to not be itself. While there are still verses and choruses throughout, and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” might be their greatest achievement in terms of craft to-date, what most works about the album is its ability to carry across an overarching flow while staying so outwardly disjointed. It’s simply not something a newer band could pull off, let alone to the degree Funeral Horse do here, but they’ve been a beast unto themselves since their start, and as they continue to grow and push themselves forward it should be little surprise to anyone who’s heard them that they’d stay that way.

Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning (2018)

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