The obvious choice would’ve been the first episode from the second season (going by original airdate), “Amok Time,” which is where Spock enters the pon farr, or the Vulcan mating cycle, and winds up fighting a to-the-death battle with Captain Kirk. That’s a classic, no doubt about it, but later-that-season’s “Journey to Babel” is more interesting in terms of the character, giving the background for who he is and how he got to be that way, living in two words and all that, and Leonard Nimoy‘s performance as Spock is of course stellar.
Today marks the passing of Nimoy, who played Spock for the better part of 50 years — most recently in 2013’s reboot sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness — and in many ways was the face of the Star Trek franchise even more than Kirk, whose portrayal by William Shatner remains a landmark in televised and cinematic science-fiction, but about whom, without Spock and Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to personify his cerebral and emotional impulses, there wasn’t much to tell. A half-human, half-alien hybrid with pointed ears, a funny hand gesture and deeply-buried emotions, Spock became an archetype that would be imitated ceaselessly both in the Star Trek franchise (see also: Data on The Next Generation, Odo on Deep Space Nine, Seven of Nine and Tuvok on Voyager and T’Pol on Enterprise) and outside of it, and the character’s devotion to logic and science served as an analogy for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry‘s hope for humanity. Not that we’d necessarily abandon our emotions, but that we could evolve to a point where we might not be completely ruled by them. Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a nice thought.
Over the years on television and in films, Nimoy and Spock became seemingly inseparable, to the point that Nimoy‘s two autobiographies, I am Not Spock and I am Spock, addressed the issue directly. Nimoy wrote, directed, was a poet and a photographer, released multiple albums over his career and made more television and voice-over appearances than even IMDB can count, but whatever he did, his role as Spock continued to define him, and particularly, the joy he seemed to take from that role especially in his later years. His tweets often ended with “LLAP,” an acronym for Spock‘s famous salute, “Live long and prosper.”
And since it’s as Spock that Nimoy will always be best remembered, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a human being mourned, not the work he’s done. The work will remain.
Next week, reviews of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Ruby the Hatchet and Blackout. Monday a video premiere from Lunar Electric. Have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on February 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Philly traditional doom five-piece Crypt Sermon aren’t yet halfway into album opener “Temple Doors” before vocalist Brooks Wilson tosses in his first Dio reference, copping a cry of “Fool! Fool!” from Black Sabbath‘s “Heaven and Hell.”There are few metal singers harder to take on than Ronnie James Dio, and to his credit, Wilson pays homage without trying to directly imitate on Crypt Sermon‘s full-length debut, Out of the Garden, winding up no more indebted to Dio than to Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus, Messiah Marcolin of Candlemass, or Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford. These are lofty names, particularly in doom and classic metal, but the comparisons hold up throughout Out of the Garden, which is released by Dark Descent Records and follows behind Crypt Sermon‘s Demo MMXIII (review here). That first release also opened with “Temple Doors,” and the song’s hook is all the more resonant here for it, guitarists Steve Jansson and James Lipczynski, bassist Will Mellor and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga making it a launch point for the album’s seven tracks/44 minutes of oldschool revelation. In riffs and atmosphere, Out of the Garden owes more to Leif Edling or to the dual-guitar doom blueprint of Trouble than Tony Iommi – though of course you couldn’t have ones without the other — and the band’s unabashed appreciation for the doom metal of old feels genuine. Not concerned directly with the raw, slow-punk riffing of Saint Vitus or the heavy rock grooves of Pentagram, Crypt Sermon take a stricter view of doom, and the result here is grand without being overblown, with an ’80s-style echoing snare that only further dogwhistles their sphere of influence. They might be out of the garden, but they’re definitely still under the oak.
Chanting begins “Temple Doors,” which is fitting enough given the song’s religious theme, but the subsequent “Heavy Riders” has a more straightforward take, its chugging verses giving way to an organ-laced bridge and slowdown-into-pickup that seems like it’s just waiting to launch into the chorus of “At the Gallows End,” but Crypt Sermon handle the back and forth tempo changes smoothly and the 5:07 “Byzantium” kicks in with a rolling groove and minor-key lead that subsides to set up a linear build marked out by a repetition of the title as a chorus. It’s a deceptively effective hook, Sagarnaga punctuating the march while the guitars lumber forward, a shredding solo taking hold after the halfway point that Wilson gives appropriate room. By then, “Byzantium” has moved into a quicker pace, so the slowdown and refrain of the opening progression works well as the apex of the build, even if it feels a bit faster than the first time around. I don’t know where the vinyl split is, but my sense is “Will of the Ancient Call” — also the centerpiece of the CD/digital versions — is the closer of side A, which leaves “Into the Holy of Holies,” “The Master’s Bouquet” and “Out of the Garden” for side B. The timing works that way, anyhow, and “Will of the Ancient Call” ties well thematically with “Byzantium”‘s fascination with things lost to time and mystical knowledge and so on, though it’s a catchier track and boasts a particularly fascinating drum progression that sounds almost like there are two tracks running simultaneously. Extra snare hits can catch the listener off-guard who might be expecting something along the lines of “Heavy Riders,” but whether it’s one layer or more, it works, and the guitars and bass hold themselves together well around, Wilson of course adding soaring vocals to an already driving instrumental peak.
At 8:15, “Into the Holy of Holies” is the longest cut on Out of the Garden, and its feel is accordingly grandiose, beginning with atmospheric keys and building into acoustic guitar before the intro riff hits, thickened by the bass and given bite with quick runs of snare before the first verse starts around 2:45. To call it the “heaviest” inclusion on the album would seem to take away from what Crypt Sermon do on “Byzantium” or the following “The Master’s Bouquet,” but it’s a highlight all the same, and all the more for the melody of its chorus, which later on boasts some choice layering in the vocals over a guitar lead before they cut back to the initial push for a measure or so to end out. “The Master’s Bouquet” fades in with echoing spoken word and a clean-sung performance worthy of Johan Längquist. The song itself, the shortest on the record at 4:53, is easily overshadowed by “Into the Holy of Holies” before it and “Out of the Garden” after, but Wilson makes it a standout all the same, and since bookending is something Crypt Sermon have done so well across their debut, it’s fitting that the closing title-track should have a Dio reference of its own, this time in Wilson‘s reworking lyrics for an ending that would otherwise be filler were it not so purposeful in its construction. Was certainly filler when Dio did it. Still, the closer offers more than just its last 20 seconds in terms of underscoring just how right Crypt Sermon have gotten traditional doom their first time out, and while they’ve traded in Maryland-style riffing for more epic metal fare, it works for them, tonally, vocally and rhythmically. There’s an underlying current of extremity in some of their guitar solos and in the drums, and I’d be interested to hear how that develops over subsequent releases, but since so much of the aesthetic purpose of trad doom is in paying homage to what’s come before, there isn’t much about Out of the Garden that really needs to be messed with. Rather, the album fulfills the promise the demo held, and sets up Crypt Sermon for more fist-pumping, headbang-worthy doom to come.
Crypt Sermon, “Heavy Riders” from Out of the Garden (2015)
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
With their new album in the can, Swedish blues rock trio Kamchatka have headed out on a new round of European tour dates. I’m not sure when the record will be out — I could tell you later this year, which is pretty much the same as saying “ever” — but the tour is underway now, and Snuff Lane, which is presenting the three UK headlining shows, has announced the support acts. In addition to Germany’s Coogans Bluff, who’ll join up with Kamchatka fresh off a round of gigs with Spidergawd, the likes of Baron Greenback and newcomer Dopefight-offshoot Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters will open shows.
The PR wire brings more details, courtesy of Snuff Lane:
We are very proud to announce that the first ever headline UK tour for Swedish Power-Trio Kamchatka will be taking place March 16 to 18, courtesy of Snuff Lane Promotions. A night of psychedelic stoner rock – with unique blends of fuzz, blues, funk, jazz and soul – is coming to the UK this March.
Snuff Lane Promotions proudly presents Swedish Power-Trio Kamchatka’s first ever headline tour, following their highly successful one-off London headline show last September. Drawing influence and inspiration from blues rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s, Swedish power-trio Kamchatka have created a sound that invokes blues, stoner and psychedelic rock.
Snuff Lane are also delighted to add the debut UK appearance of German jazz-rock hybrid Coogans Bluff to the tour, whose latest album ‘Getting Dizzy’ was released in March 2014. As part of this three date tour, Kamchatka will host a FREE show at The Unicorn in Camden on Tuesday 18 March.
This free London event will also be showcasing a debut performance by the heavily anticipated Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, comprised of members from Dopefight, Grey Widow, Witchfist and Mama Moonshine, these tye-dye metal stoners will be reigning their throbbing chubby fuzz for the FIRST TIME EVER in support of Kamchatka.
MARCH UK TOUR DATES: Monday 16 – Moon Club, Cardiff Kamchatka // Coogans Bluff // Sump // Gulah
Tuesday 17 – Unicorn Camden, London [FREE SHOW] Kamchatka // Coogans Bluff // Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
Wednesday 18 – The Exchange, Bristol Kamchatka // Coogans Bluff // Baron Greenback // Howl Tickets available at We Got Tickets.
Kamchatka on tour: 27.2 DE-Erfurt, Museumskeller 28.2 DE-Bordesholm, Savoy 03.3 DE-München, Backstage 04.3 DE-Mannhein, 7 er Club 05.3 DE-Hamburg, Marx 06.3 DE-Rostock, Mauclub 07.3 DE-Münster, Hot Jazzclub 08.3 DE-Dortmund, Piano 12.3 DE-Köln, Werkstatt 13.3 DE-Oldenburg, Cadillac 14.3 DE-Frankfurt (Main), Das Bett (High In The Sky High Festival) 20.3 NL-Deventer, De Hip 21.3 NL-Den Haag, Musicon 22.3 NL-Hoorn, Swaf 16.4 NL-Arnhem, Brigant 17.4 NL-Zeist, De Peppel With Karma to Burn 18.4 NL-Sneek, Bolwerk With Karma to Burn 23.4 HU-Dürer Kert, Budapest
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Looks like a pretty far out lineup for this year’s Eindhoven Psych Lab, which though it’s going head to head with Freak Valley in Germany, seems to be hitting into more of an indie vibe than heavy rock. Does it still count as a conflict if the fests are happening in different countries? Not being fortunate enough to head to either, I’ll leave the philosophy out of it. In any case, if you were wondering what Earth were up to that weekend, they’re headlining at the Effenaar in gorgeous Eindhoven on a bill that also includes the formidable likes of The Cult of Dom Keller, Kikagaku Moyoand Portuguese jammers Black Bombaim.
Info follows, hoisted from the PR wire:
Eindhoven Psych Lab (5 + 6 June) announces Moon Duo, Earth as headliners, full line up Trouble in Mind stage and many more
EINDHOVEN PSYCH LAB 5 + 6 JUNE 2015 – EFFENAAR / EINDHOVEN / THE NETHERLANDS 2 DAYS / 30+ BANDS / 2 INDOOR STAGES AND A GARDEN PRESENTED BY LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA & EFFENAAR
Eindhoven’s Effenaar music venue and Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia are thrilled to announce Moon Duo and Earth as headliners for this year’s festival, alongside the already announced The Soft Moon. The Trouble in Mind stage is now complete with the additions of The Limiñanas , The Soft Walls, Ultimate Painting and Klaus Johann Grobe. But that’s not all; The Telescopes, Kikagaku Moyo, Hey Colossus, K-X-P, The Lucid Dream, zZz and Dead Rabbits are also added to the bill.
Full line up so far: Moon Duo + Earth + The Soft Moon Trouble in Mind Stage: Morgan Delt + Jacco Gardner + The Limiñanas + Doug Tuttle + Soft Walls + Ultimate Painting + Klaus Johann Grobe The Telescopes + The Cult of Dom Keller + Kikagaku Moyo K-X-P + Black Bombaim + Pow! + Hey Colossus + Pauw + The Lucid Dream + zZz + Teeth of the Sea + Dead Rabbits
Visual Happenings Three amazing visual happenings in the form of an expo by Glenn Peeters (Radar Men From The Moon) and Pernilla Ellens, Ed van der Elsken’s 80’s photographs of the Natlab in Eindhoven and the ‘Waterballet’ universe of Kamiel Rongen, situated in the Research Module will run during the festival as well.
More to be announced.
Tickets: Weekend tickets: € 67.50 Day tickets: € 37,50 Weekend including hotel for two people € 275,-
FEB. 26: It is fucking snowing again. This morning, I came downstairs and opened the blinds and no light came in, just that oozing gray that has passed for daytime for most of the last several months in Massachusetts. Yesterday there was blue sky, and I could’ve danced. The days are getting longer, I keep telling myself and The Patient Mrs., looking at the math and almost believing it. We had a little melt this past weekend, so the lowest points of snow are down to about three feet. Piles where the plows have been, in parking lots and places like that, are over 10 feet tall. Some of them look like houses.
They say this isn’t going to accumulate much, but it doesn’t even matter anymore. Snow’s just an excuse to stay inside out of the cold. Another foot. Who cares? I must have been feeling particularly hopeful last night when I took my copy of Sólstafir‘s Ótta upstairs last night to put it on the shelf. The album, which the Icelandic band released last year on Season of Mist, has been an integral soundtrack for this winter to the point where I got so bothered at not having a physical copy of it that I ordered the CD during one of our several blizzards. Yes, deliveries still come, even though from what I hear the trains don’t run anymore.
I had caught wind of Ótta last year, via the usual too-easily-ignored digital promo, and the Reykjavík outfit received heaps of praise around its release, all duly earned. Their fifth full-length, the eight tracks of Ótta make for an hour-long masterpiece of melancholic heft. The lyrics are in Icelandic, but the melody transcends language barriers, and whether it’s the surge near the end of the title-track, which makes for one of the most particularly memorable standout moments, the understated drums of Guðmundur Óli Pálmason grounding the string sounds and keys as vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason‘s croons become shouts, or the more frenetic vibe of “Miðdegi,” with Tryggvason‘s and Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson‘s guitars interweaving over a tense bassline from Svavar Austman, the atmosphere remains pervasive. This is true as well as they push through the quiet lushness of the penultimate “Miðaftann.” Just because I’d make a fool out of myself if I tried to pronounce any of it doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.
The ebow to organ shift in 11-minute closer “Náttmál” and the waves of blastbeats that accompany the apex are something special, but for much of Ótta, it’s the softer stretches that create the ambience. Piano and subdued vocals start opener “Lágnætti,” which picks up soon enough but holds firm to a contemplative impression, and the wide spaces crafted by “Rismál” seem to bring to life the unceasing bitterness of winter’s cold. They don’t shout about it. It’s a kind of resignation, to which the subsequent “Dagmál” and “Miðdegi” add further emotional and sonic depth, Sólstafir holding onto a heaviness in sound but making an even more resonant impression with the album’s spiritual weight. To me, it just sounds like this interminable season, and I know that in years to come, that’s how I’ll identify it. Already it has proved a haunting presence.
So much so, that when the snow started to fall this afternoon, I had no choice but to go back upstairs and retrieve the Ótta CD, put it on and make my way toward and through the desperate thrust of “Nón” again. I’m sure it won’t be the last time before the snow melts. Yes, it’s brilliant and progressive and all that other shit “critics” say when they like something, but mostly, I’m glad to have the bit of comfort Sólstafir offer.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
North Carolinian cult-themed heavy four-piece Demon Eye are gearing up to release their second album, Tempora Infernalia, May 8 on Soulseller Records. The new record follows pretty quickly on the heels of early-2014’s debut, Leave the Light (review here), which was well received for its classic influences and catchy songwriting, cuts like “Fires of Abalam” and “From Beyond” immediately resonant in their riff-led hooks. As much of Leave the Light garnered its material from Demon Eye‘s prior demo/EP, 2013’s Shades of Black, this will mark their first long-player comprised of completely new songs. The debut wanted nothing for flow between its tracks, but it should be interesting to hear what Demon Eye have come up with this time around as they offer a bit of darkness to go with springtime.
Album info follows, as posted on their Thee Facebooks. Thanks to Kathleen Johnson for the tip:
DEMON EYE – New album details revealed!
Dark and groovy, loud and heavy – DEMON EYE are back! North Carolina’s occult hard rockers will release their new full-length entitled “Tempora Infernalia” on May 8th through Soulseller Records. The album was recorded and mixed by Alex Maiolo at Seriously Adequate Studio in Carrboro, NC and mastered by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studio in Southern Vermont.
The band’s sophomore release after last year’s highly acclaimed debut, “Leave the Light”, is a blast of wicked riffery and skilled songcraft that conjures apocalyptic visions of a world on the brink of destruction. The end is near, and we welcome its arrival!
Cover artwork (created by John Hitselberger, Raleigh NC)
Tracklist: 1. End Of Days 2. Listen To The Darkness 3. I’ll Be Creeping 4. See The Signs 5. Poison Garden 6. In The World, Not Of It 7. Black Winds 8. Give Up The Ghost 9. Please, Father 10. Sons Of Man
Line-Up: Erik Sugg – Vocals, Guitars Larry Burlison – Guitars Paul Walz,- Bass Bill Eagen – Drums, Vocals
Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before we get to all the stuff about how The Midnight Ghost Train are a blues rock steamroller, or about how their third album and Napalm Records debut, Cold was the Ground, is an unforgiving rush of heavy fuzz with pacing that makes a joke of most heavy rock bands’ ideas of “uptempo,” it’s worth pointing out that the Kansas-based trio haven’t gained an inch of ground over the last seven-or-so years that they haven’t clawed their way across. Creatively and in terms of profile, there’s the easy way and there’s the hard way, and The Midnight Ghost Train have chosen the hard way. Signing to a label with the reach of Napalm seems like payoff, but it comes after years of near-constant touring in the US and Europe, promoting first 2008’s The Johnny Boy EP (review here), then 2009’s self-titled full-length debut (review here), then 2012’s raging Buffalo (review here) while being largely ignored by those outside the sphere of having witnessed them play live and seen the sincerity and heart that serves as the driving force behind guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss‘ blues-madman stage persona or the frenetic energy with which The Midnight Ghost Train deliver their performances. They have worked for everything they’ve gotten — and then some — and if Cold was the Ground signals anything to their built-one-at-a-time following, it’s that the trio aren’t at all ready to sit back and rest on their laurels. Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and bassist Mike Boyne (who makes his recorded debut here), unleash a rolling stomp that dares the listener to try to keep up, a guttural burl of vocals distinct as the band’s own barking out lines across a maddening thrust that seems to relent only so it can renew its fury to greater impact.
At the time, Buffalo was the best thing The Midnight Ghost Train had done, and Cold was the Ground is better. It’s a tighter record, more assured, not only more controlled, but more purposeful. Tonally, its fuzz is warm and natural, and Moss‘ voice is almost a growl at times, but somehow perfectly suits the momentum they build as the 11 songs and 39 minutes play out. There are geared down stretches in songs like “One Last Shelter,” “Twin Souls” and the tense, brooding manifesto “The Little Sparrow,” which boasts a spoken testimonial from Moss about the kind of regret only a true love of music can bring, but for the most part, once the intro “Along the Chasm” launches from its build-up of feedback into the first of many bouncing riffs to come — about 30 seconds into the album — The Midnight Ghost Train don’t look back. Songs like “Gladstone,” “BC Trucker,” “No. 227″ and the closer “Mantis” slam home their bluesy riffs, and while Moss is a definite frontman presence, Burghart puts on a clinic in swing on “BC Trucker,” the tom-propelled “The Canfield,” and the album highlight “Straight to the North,” which caps in dangerously exacting starts and stops before riding home a groove that’s righteous enough not to care if you call it stoner rock or anything else. You’d have to catch up to it first. Hooks abound throughout in head-spinning rhythmic turns, and by the time “One Last Shelter” swaps out its laid back opening section for the white-knuckled riffery of its second minute, it’s less about the speed at which The Midnight Ghost Train are executing their material than the precision with which they’re doing it and the dynamic between Burghart, Boyne and Moss that, like everything else they’ve done, has been built from the ground up. The contributions of each are utterly essential to Cold was the Ground hitting as hard as it does, and whether it’s Boyne‘s bassline starting “Arvonia” or underscoring Moss‘ sleepless rant in “The Little Sparrow” — the question, “How can music feel so free and still take all that you have?” feels particularly poignant — or Burghart railing on his crash in “Gladstone,” the cohesion between the three of them is undeniable.
More over, that cohesion is brought to the album with a purpose beyond teasing the live show or trying to offer the same kind of experience. Cold was the Ground is a beast, to be sure, and it has vitality front to back no matter the pace the band happen to be working in at the time, but it also establishes a flow, expands the band’s sound, shows not only the chemistry that’s developed but how their songwriting has progressed since Buffalo and where they’re at now in their delivery of lethal groove. It is, in other words, more than a gig poster, and as much as it might signal the electricity The Midnight Ghost Train create in a live setting, there’s also more to it than just that. Some bands are “live bands,” and The Midnight Ghost Train have worked hard for more than half a decade to become one, and succeeded, but for those new to their sound or already well familiar, their latest offers much more than a reminder of that time Moss headbanged really hard. Closing duo “Twin Souls” and “Mantis” sum up the album well, shifting seamlessly between creeper-riffing and the unmitigated shuffle that’s become their calling card, and especially after the quiet shift of “The Little Sparrow,” the two songs round out by not only affirming the evolution of the band stylistically, but by assuring the listener that they haven’t forgotten what’s always made them such and exciting listen. Boyne tosses in a bass fill to the closer’s first half that seems to hint at there being more to say, and Moss tears into a wah-soaked solo to set up a last verse before the final rush, which recalls “Gladstone”‘s about-to-fly-off-the-rails sprint. A solid book-end, yes, but further evidence that The Midnight Ghost Train are thinking about Cold was the Ground as more than a collection of tracks, and of those tracks as more than a collection of parts, and that’s exactly what they wind up being. They might be a live band, but it’s time to start considering The Midnight Ghost Train as songwriters too.
The Midnight Ghost Train, “Gladstone” official video
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
One day, I’ll see My Sleeping Karma live. I’m confident it will happen. The German heavy psych instrumentalists are pretty high on my list at this point, to be honest, but I’ve seen enough things I never thought I’d see to be hopeful that, sooner or later, our paths will cross. Sooner would be better.
The four-piece have announced the details and release dates for their second album through Napalm Records — fifth overall; where does the time go? — which is titled Moksha. It follows behind 2012’s excellent Soma (review here) and boasts cover art by Sebastian Jerke that you can see, along with the tracklisting and formats below.
It’s worth noting that, since they made their self-titled debut on Elektrohasch in 2006, the three years between 2012 and 2015 is the longest stretch My Sleeping Karma have gone without releasing a full-length. They’ve usually worked on two-year intervals. Granted they toured Soma pretty hard, but it only adds further intrigue to the prospect of Moksha that it was a little bit longer in the making.
Here’s that info off the PR wire:
German quartet MY SLEEPING KARMA are back with their fifth studio album “Moksha.” The band considers this album, their strongest record to date. The sound and tone of the album perfectly fits into the Instrumental Progressive – and Ambient Post Rock realms.
From the start the listener is kidnapped by the spherical sound, between enormous atmospheric compositions with pure rock riffs and psychedelic melodies perfectly intertwined into this scenery.
Immerse yourself, both with the risk of completely losing yourself in this brand new masterpiece, because you might not be able to emerge again. Perhaps you don’t want to…
Find the cover, release dates, track listing & available formats below:
Formats: Digipack 2LP Gatefold Edition (Black & Limited Color Editions)