I guess after closing out last week with Truckfighters, my head got to thinking about heavy rock from that same year and that same era in general. A decade isn’t an inconsiderable amount of time, but to look at it in terms of records come and gone, it’s been a quick jump from 2005 to 2015, though one could easily argue that the entire shape of the heavy underground in the US and Europe, has changed. This shift has been generational, no doubt about it — Gen X moving out, the Millennials coming up — but when I think of a band like The Atomic Bitchwax, who formed in 1999 and are still going strong, the fact that they’ve managed to cross that divide where so many didn’t make it to the other side only increases their appeal in my mind. They have, at least to this point, stood the test of time.
No need to lie, The Atomic Bitchwax weren’t hurting for “appeal in my mind” anyway. As I was discovering heavy rock and roll, finding new bands and checking out all these incredible sounds from all around the world, the Long Branch, New Jersey, trio very quickly became hometown heroes. Their roots trace back to the more metallic Godspeed, in which bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik played, and Monster Magnet, in which founding lead guitarist Ed Mundell cut his teeth. Alongside Kosnik and then-drummer Keith Ackerman, 3 was a pivotal, turning-point moment for the band in that it was their first to bring aboard guitarist Finn Ryan, formerly of NJ rockers Core — whose two outings, Revival (1996) and The Hustle is On (1999), remain gems well worth searching out — who would not only bring a different style of play to the band’s winding riffs, but would add his vocals to Kosnik‘s changing the dynamic of the band both on stage and on record.
The songs on 3, up to and including the Deep Purple cover “Maybe I’m a Leo,” were the band’s first to capitalize on that new dynamic, but they’d continue to progress from there on 2008’s TAB4, 2011’s riff-fest instrumental The Local Fuzz (review here) and this year’s excellent Gravitron (review here), drummer Bob Pantella (also Monster Magnet) coming aboard in replacement of Ackerman in time for TAB4 and continuing in that position through to the current day, his fluid grooves and crisp style adding both swing and a grounding effect on the head-turning riffs of Kosnik and Ryan, who have long since mastered the kind of turns that “Going Guido” here presents while keeping the memorable songwriting at their core that one finds on 3‘s “The Destroyer,” “You Oughta Know,” “You Can’t Win,” “If I Had a Gun” and “The Passenger,” the latter of which seems to directly address Mundell‘s departure from the band in the line from the chorus, “I fill the space with fuzz.”
3 for sure offers plenty of that. As much as The Atomic Bitchwax are an underrated band now — though they’ve started to get their due with increased touring in Europe after re-signing to Tee Pee — this record remains something of a hidden treasure of their songwriting, and as it’s 10 years old this year, it seemed all the more worth a revisit. I hope you enjoy.
Gonna make this very quick because I’m already missing hangout time with my niece and nephew to put this together, and that’s a limited resource. This weekend in the US is the 4th of July holiday. Today was a much-appreciated day off work. I felt like sleeping in alone was well worth all the troublesome colonialism in my country’s history. Or at least that whole Tea Party thing. The actual one with tea, not the one with the shitheads upset about having a black dude for president. Nothing justifies that.
Anyway. Thanks to all who checked in this week and caught any part of the Quarterly Review. I hope you found something in there you dug. I did. 50 reviews and I got one comment off it on here. I had to laugh.
Next week, reviews of Kadavar, Anathema‘s three vinyl reissues and whatever else I can come up with. I wish I could say the Quarterly Review completely caught me up on reviews, but yeah. Also a Fuzz Evil premiere in the works and more to come. It will be busy. It will not be as busy as this week. I will like that about it. Ha.
Alright. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whether you’re someplace celebrating or not. See you back here Monday for more good times, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know why I like Houston trio Funeral Horse? It couldn’t be simpler: I don’t know what they’re going to do next. From their Savage Audio Demon tape (review here) to the 2014 follow-up full-length, Sinister Rites of the Master (review here), they’ve managed to stay unpredictable enough while still providing choice heavy groove-age that, in approaching the new song “Underneath all that Ever Was” — which is streaming now and you can hear on the player under the PR wire info below — I don’t really know what to expect from them, whether it’ll be weirdo ’70s stonerism, doomy rolling, or what.
They may well settle into a specific blend on the forthcoming Divinity for the Wicked, as the new cut proffers cohesive, Mellotron-inclusive doom riffery, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it, and I like that. I look forward to getting an answer.
Cover art, announcement and audio, courtesy of the aforementioned PR wire:
Funeral Horse return with new album Divinity For The Wicked
Made up of frontman/guitarist Paul Bearer, bassist Jason Andy Argonauts and drummer Chris Bassett, Funeral Horse return to the fold this September with a brand new album Divinity For The Wicked on the Houston-based label Artificial Head Records.
Like a vision of ’80s post-hardcore punk rock, red-eyed and burning one in the back of Heavy Metal History 101, under the influence of The Melvins, Kyuss and Harvey Milk, Funeral Horse make music to gouge minds to. From album opener ‘There Shall Be Vultures,’ a track that straight off the bat (teeth flying) showcases one of the many strutting rock assaults the trio have become expert in peddling, Divinity For The Wicked throws open its doors to a wider world of distortions and digressions. Leading the charge with ‘Underneath All That Ever Was’, a lumbering paean drawn in part from words found in a suicide note of one of Bearer’s co-workers which had gone unnoticed for several days pinned to an office bulletin board, this is Funeral Horse at their darkest and most pensive. The Tuareg desert blues of ‘A Bit Of Weed’, the funereal bagpipes that send off ‘Gifts Of Opium And Myrrh’ and slow cinematic burn of instrumental ‘Cities Of The Red Night’ suggest there’s more than meets the immediate ear this time around for a band already masterful in the delivery of unfiltered noise and heavy fuzz rock.
Following on from last year’s imposing Sinister Rites Of The Master, and the thunderous lo-fi highs of their 2013 debut Savage Audio Demon, amid a mass brawl of riffs, megaphonic vocals, blues and backwater proto-metal, Divinity For The Wicked stands as a humble monument to the marginalised and maligned. An album just waiting to be picked up and played by those that have chosen to drop out and dedicate their entire existence to the pursuit of volume.
Divinity For The Wicked by Funeral Horse will be released on 15th September through Artificial Head Records.
Funeral Horse: Paul Bearer – Vocals, Guitar Jason Andy Argonauts – Bass Chris Bassett – Drums
Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The final day of the Quarterly Review is upon us. It has been one hell of a week, I don’t mind saying, but good and productive overall, if in a kind of cruel way. I hope that you’ve been able to find something in sifting through all these releases that you really dig. I have, for whatever that’s worth. Before we dig into the last batch, I just want to thank you for checking in and reading this week. If you’ve seen all five of these or if this is the first bunch you’ve come across, that you’re here at all is appreciated immensely.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Lucifer, Lucifer I
Vocalist Johanna Sadonis, who burst into the international underground consciousness last year with The Oath, resurfaces following that band’s quick dissolution alongside former Cathedral guitarist and riffer-of-legend Gary “Gaz” Jennings in Lucifer, whose Lucifer I eight-song debut LP is released on Rise Above Records. Joined by bassist Dino Gollnick and drummer Andrew Prestidge, Sadonis and Jennings wind through varied but thoroughly doomed atmospheres across songs like opener “Abracadabra” – the outright silliness of the “magic word” kind of undercutting the cultish impression for which Lucifer are shooting – or early highlights “Purple Pyramid” and “Izrael.” A strong side A rounding out with “Sabbath,” Lucifer I can feel somewhat frontloaded, but on repeat listens, the layered chorus of “White Mountain,” “Morning Star”’s late-arriving chug, the classically echoing “Total Eclipse” and the atmospheric finish of “A Grave for Each One of Us” hold their own. After a strong showing from Lucifer’s debut single, the album doesn’t seem like it will do anything to stop the band’s already-in-progress ascent. Their real test will be in the live arena, but they sustain a thematic ambience across Lucifer I’s 44 minutes, and stand ready to follow Rise Above labelmates Ghost and Uncle Acid toward the forefront of modern doom.
Drone-prone Philadelphia post-metallers Rosetta return with Quintessential Ephemera, the follow-up to 2013’s The Anaesthete and their fifth LP overall, which resounds in its ambience as a reinforcement of how little the band – now a five-piece with the inclusion of guitarist Eric Jernigan – need any hype or genre-push to sustain them. Through a titled intro, “After the Funeral,” through seven untitled tracks of varying oppressiveness and rounding out with the unabashedly pretty instrumental “Nothing in the Guise of Something,” they continue to plug away at their heady approach, relentless in their progression and answering the darker turns of their prior outing with a shift toward a more colorful atmosphere. At 52 minutes, Quintessential Ephemera isn’t a slight undertaking, but if you were expecting one you probably haven’t been paying attention to the last decade of Rosetta’s output. As ever, they are cerebral and contemplative while staying loyal to the need for an emotional crux behind what they do, and the album is both dutiful and forward-looking.
Pressed up by Brutal Panda Records for Stateside issue following a 2014 release in Europe on Svart, Death by Burning is the debut full-length from sans-bass Hamburg duo Mantar – vocalist/guitarist Hanno, drummer/vocalist Erinc – and as much as it pummels and writhes across its thrash-prone 10 tracks, opener “Spit” setting a tone for the delivery throughout, there are flourishes of both character and groove to go with all the bludgeoning throughout standout cuts like “Cult Witness,” “The Huntsmen,” the explosive “White Nights,” “The Stoning” and the more lumbering instrumental closer “March of the Crows,” the two-piece seamlessly drawing together elements of doom, thrash and blackened rock and roll into a seething, tense concoction that’s tonally weighted enough to make one’s ears think they’re hearing bass strings alongside the guitar, but still overarchingly raw in a manner denoting some punk influence. Bonus points for the Tom G. Warrior-style “ough!” grunts that make their way into “The Stoning” and the rolling nod of “Astral Kannibal.” Nasty as hell, but more subtle than one might expect.
Though it seems King Giant’s fate to be persistently underrated, the Virginian dual-guitar five-piece offer their most stylistically complex material to date on their third full-length, Black Ocean Waves (released on The Path Less Traveled Records and Graveyard Hill), recorded by J. Robbins (Clutch, Murder by Death, etc.) as the follow-up to 2012’s Dismal Hollow (streamed here). Still commanded by the vocal presence of frontman Dave Hammerly, the album also finds moments of flourish in the guitars of David Kowalski and Todd “T.I.” Ingram on opener “Mal de Mer,” the leads on “Requiem for a Drunkard” or the intro to extended finishing move “There Were Bells,” bassist Floyd Lee Walters III and drummer Keith Brooks holding down solid rhythms beneath the steady chug of “The One that God Forgot to Save” and “Blood of the Lamb.” Side A closer “Red Skies” might be where it all ties together most, but the full course of Black Ocean Waves’ eight tracks provides a satisfying reminder of the strength in King Giant’s craftsmanship.
The 14 single-word-title tracks of Si Ombrellone’s Horns on the Same Goat were originally recorded in 2006, but for a 2015 release, Connecticut-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, King of Salem) took them back into his own UP Recording Studio for touch-ups and remastering. The endeavor is a solo outing for Tuozzoli, styled in a kind of post-grunge rock with Frank Picarazzi playing drums to give a full-band feel, and finds catchy, poppy songwriting coming forward in the layered vocals of “Innocence,” while later, “Forgiveness” and “Darkness” offset each other more in theme than sound, as “Love” and “Hate” had done earlier, the album sticking to its straightforward structures through to six-minute closer “Undone,” which boasts a more atmospheric take. It’s an ambitious project to collect 14 sometimes disparate emotional themes onto a single outing, never mind to do it (mostly) alone – one might write an entire record about “Trust,” say, or “Rage,” which opens – but Tuozzoli matches his craftsmanship with a sincerity that carries through each of these tracks.
Boasting a close relationship to Duster69 and Mother Misery and featuring in their ranks Daredevil Records owner Jochen Böllath, who plays guitar, German heavy rockers Grand Massive revel in commercial-grade Euro-style tonal heft bordering on metallic aggression. 2 is their aptly-titled second EP (on Daredevil) and it finds Böllath, lead guitarist Peter Wisenbacher, vocalist Alex Andronikos, bassist Toby Brandl and drummer Holger Stich running through six crisply-executed tracks of catchy, fist-pumping riffy drive, slowing a bit for the creepy ambience of the interlude “Woods” or the more lurching tension of “I am Atlas,” but most at home in the push of “Backseat Devil” and closer “My Own Sickness,” a mid-paced groove adding to the festival-ready weight Grand Massive conjure. Word is they’re already at work on a follow-up. Fair enough, but 2 has plenty to offer in the meantime in its tight presentation and darker vibes, Grand Massive having been through a wringer of lineup changes and emerged with their songwriting well intact.
Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space, Live from Roadburn 2014
If you guessed “spacey as hell” as regards this meeting between NorCal psych explorers Carlton Melton and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Danish jammers Øresund Space Collective, go ahead and give yourself the prize. Limited to 300 copies worldwide courtesy of Lay Bare Recordings and Space Rock Productions, Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space’s Live from Roadburn 2014 is a consuming, near-100-minute unfolding, Heller joining Carlton Melton on stage for four of the total seven inclusions, adding his synthesized swirl to the swirling wash, already by then 26 minutes deep after the opening “Country Ways > Spiderwebs” establishes a heady sprawl that only continues to spread farther and farther as pieces unfold, making “Out to Sea” seem an even more appropriate title. It will simply be too much for some, but as somebody who stood and heard the sounds oozing from the stage at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, the Netherlands, as part of the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner event, I can say it was a special trip to behold. It remains so here.
According to El Paraiso Records, Sela was held up as so many releases have been owing to plant production having been overwhelmed by Record Store Day and will be out circa August. Fair enough. Consider this advance warning of Danish improve collective Shiggajon’s first outing for the Causa Sui-helmed imprint, then, and don’t be intimidated as we get closer to the release and people start talking about things like “free jazz” and dropping references to this or that Coltrane. The real deal with Shiggajon – central figures Mikkel Reher-Lanberg (percussion, drums, clarinet) and Nikolai Brix Vartenberg (sax) here joined by Emil Rothenborg (violin, double bass), Martin Aagaard Jensen (drums), Mikkel Elzer (drums, percussion, guitar), Sarah Lorraine Hepburn (vocals, flute, electronics, tingshaws) – is immersive and tipped over into music as the ritual itself. One might take on the two 18-minute halves of Sela with a similarly open mind as when approaching Montibus Communitas and be thrilled at the places the album carries you. I hope to have more to come, but again, heads up – this one is something special.
“The Spell” proves right away that Alps-based heavy rockers Mount Hush (I love that they don’t specify a country) have the post-Queens of the Stone Age fuzz-thrust down pat on their debut EP Low and Behold, but the band also bring an element of heavy psychedelia to their guitar work and the vocals – forward in the mix – have a bluesier but not caricature-dudely edge, so even as they bounce through the “Come on pretty baby” hook of “The Spell,” they’re crafting their own sound. The subsequent “King Beyond” showcases how to have a Graveyard influence without simply pretending to sound like Graveyard, even going so far as to repurpose a classic rock reference – “Strange Days” by The Doors – in its pursuit, and the seven-minute “The Day She Stole the Sun” stretches out for a more psychedelic build. Most exciting of all on a conceptual level is closer “Levitations.” Drumless, it sets ethereal vocals and samples over a tonal swirl and airy, quieter strumming. Hardly adrenaline-soaked and not intended to be, but it shows Mount Hush have a genuine will to experiment, and it’s one I hope they continue to develop.
Joined for the first time by drummer Bas Snabilie (apparently since replaced by Aletta Verwoerd) Amsterdam heavy art rockers Labasheeda mark four full-length releases with Changing Lights on Presto Chango, the violin/viola of vocalist/guitarist Saskia van der Giessen and guitar/bass/keyboard of Arne Wolfswinkel carrying across an open but humble atmosphere, touching here on Sonic Youth’s dare-to-have-a-verse moments in “My Instincts” and pushing into more blown-out jarring with the slide-happy “Tightrope.” They bring indie edge to a cover of The Who’s “Circles,” and round out with a closing duo of the album’s only two tracks over five minutes, “Cold Water” and “Into the Wide,” van der Giessen’s croon carrying a sweetness into the second half of the former as the latter finishes Changing Lights with a rolling contrast of distortion and strings as engrossing as it is strange. Labasheeda will go right over a lot of heads, but approached with an open mind it can just as easily prove a treasure for its blatant refusal to be pinned to one style or another.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The title of the documentary Maryland trio Cavern put together while recording their sophomore full-length for Grimoire Records, Outsiders, is titled How to Make a Hit Record, so take that as an immediate sign that the post-metallic three-piece are willing to toss in a bit of charm with their dense, progressive riffing — of which two samples from Outsiders are now available for streaming in the form of album-opener “Garrett” and the title-track below. That same documentary also gives a look at the warehouse space where the guys in the band work cutting marble, so it’s doubly worth a look. Want to know how they get that big a sound? High fucking ceiling.
Cavern released their self-titled debut, also through Grimoire, in 2013, and I didn’t get to review it because I suck at this, but I remembered the band immediately on hearing they had a new one in the works and Outsiders sounds like it’s going to be a worthy follow-up going by what I’ve heard so far.
You can find the two-headed-hawk cover, the announcement of the record, audio and that documentary below, all scoured from across the mighty span of the internets:
Today we’re proud to debut 2 tracks from Cavern’s instrumental full-length “Outsiders,” out 8/25/15 in CD/cassette/digital on Grimoire Records! For fans of Russian Circles, Baroness, Zebulon Pike.. and highpriest.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations to Australian riffers Aver on signing to Ripple Music, and I promise I didn’t know that was happening earlier this week when I included their Nadiralbum in the Quarterly Review. Fair enough. Ripple will have a pressing of Nadir out sometime later in 2015 — or maybe 2016, considering the year’s already more than half over — so that those who got stoked on the digital release will be able to have one to take home and put on the shelf. Maybe vinyl-size will be big enough to figure out just what the hell is going on with that cover art.
The announcement follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
Ripple Music is pleased to announce the signing of Australian band AVER and with it, the official international release of their sophomore album Nadir.
Originally self-released earlier in the year to an online fanfare from a dedicated few amid the stoner/psych community, the album has already proven itself to be one of the most exciting and distinctive alternative records of 2015. Fearlessly taking their music exactly where it needs to go, and packing enough technical nous and talent to power an exploratory vessel of sound and substance, at over an hour in length Nadir exposes listeners to soaring instrumentals, heavy psychedelia and spine-crushing progressive cadences. Weighted somewhere between the worlds, galaxies and supernovae of stoner metal and space rock, for the quartet – who originally formed on the Northern shores of Sydney back in 2008 – their signing to the Californian label heralds yet another stellar addition to the ever growing Ripple Music Family, and the beginning of a journey out of the underground and into the void.
While an official release date for the album will follow soon, in the meantime, sit back, strap yourselves in and take a trip and experience AVER’s magnificent ‘Rising Sun’.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If there was such a thing to be sounded as a “good dude alert,” it would be ringing. The reigning Prince of Long Island, drummer Joe Wood — known best for his work in long-running hard rockers Borgo Pass, but also formerly of sludge-slingers 12 Eyes, a former bandmate of mine and all around one of the best guys you could hope to know on the Eastern Seaboard — has a new band going. The Brooklyn-based trio, with Wood on drums, Ken Wohlrob on guitar/vocals and Hal Miller on bass, are called Eternal Black after an initial introduction as The Black Hand, and their self-titled EP has just been released through their own Obsidian Sky Records.
Announcement and stream follow. More to come:
Eternal Black Unleashes Their Doomy Self-Titled EP
Brooklyn-based doom band Eternal Black have unleashed their debut self-titled EP via their own Obsidian Sky Records. Steeped in the American doom tradition of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and EyeHateGod, Eternal Black’s music is full of heavy and bluesy riffs, Bonham-esque drums, and rumbling low-end. Sonically and lyrically, the three tracks on the EP are Armageddon blues songs.
Formed in late 2014, Eternal Black is made up of Joe Wood on drums (Borgo Pass, Bloody Sabbath), Hal Miller on Bass, and Ken Wohlrob on guitar and vocals. The group came together out of a desire to create dark songs driven by fuzz-drenched riffs and old-school heavy grooves.
The Eternal Black EP was produced by Kol Marshall (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Absu, Ministry) and Joe Kelly (Provan, John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming) at the latter’s Suburban Elvis studios. Digital downloads of the album are available now via Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music retailers. https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com https://itun.es/i6L54nk
Details for Eternal Black’s self-titled EP
Track listing: 1. Obsidian Sky 2. The Dead Die Hard 3. Armageddon’s Embrace
Produced, mixed, and mastered by Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall Recorded at Suburban Elvis Studios, May 2015 Released by Obsidian Sky Records
Band members: Hal Miller: Bass Joe Wood: Drums Ken Wohlrob: Guitars, Vocals
Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re on the downhill swing of this edition of the Quarterly Review, so it’s time to get into some extremes, I think. Today, between death-doom lurch, drone-as-fuck exploring, gritty aggression and a whole lot more, we pretty much get there. I’m not saying it’s one end of the universe to another, but definitely a little all-over-the-place, which is just what one might need when staring down the fourth round of 10 reviews in a row in a week’s time. Feeling good though, so let’s do it.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Kamchatka, Long Road Made of Gold
It would really be something if Swedish blues rockers Kamchatka released six albums over the course of the last decade and didn’t know what they were doing by now. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Long Road Made of Gold (Despotz Records), their sixth, as the Verberg three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Juneor Andersson, bassist Per Wiberg (see also: Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Opeth, etc.) and drummer Tobias Strandvik modernize classic heavy rock with equal comfort in including a banjo on “Take Me Back Home” and progressive-style harmonies on “Rain.” They seem to get bluesier as they go, with later cuts “Mirror,” “Slowly Drifting Away,” “Long Road” and “To You” rounding out the album with Clutch-style bounce, but the prevailing impact of Long Road Made of Gold is one of unflinching class, the chemistry of its players – not to mention Wiberg’s bass tone – ringing through loud and clear from the material as Kamchatka make their way down that long road to their inevitable next outing.
I said as much when the Tokyo duo released their 2013 debut EP (review here) as well, but their first long-player Iron Scorn (on At War with False Noise) only confirms it: Legion of Andromeda are fucked. Theirs is a doomed-out death metal given further inhumanity by programmed drums and the blown-out growls of vocalist -R-, while guitarist/programmer –M- holds down grime-encrusted chug and dirge riffing. Perhaps most fucked of all is the fact that Iron Scorn uses essentially the same drum progression across its seven tracks/44 minutes, varying in tempo but holding firm to the double-kick and bell-hit timekeeping for the duration. The effect this has not only ties the material together – as it would have to – but also makes the listener feel like they’ve entered into some no-light-can-escape alternate universe in which all there is is that thud, the distortion and the growls. Not a headphone record, unless you were looking to start psychotherapy anyhow, its extremity is prevalent enough to feel like a physical force holding you down.
Relentlessly creative and geographically amorphous drone warriors Queen Elephantine compile eight tracks from eight years of their perpetual exploration for Omen on Atypeek Music, which launches with its titular cut, the oldest of the bunch, from 2007. It’s a gritty rolling groove that, even as nascent and riff-noddy as it is, still has underpinnings that might clue the listener in to what’s to come (especially in hindsight) and comes accompanied by the sludgy “The Sea Goat,” a rawer take recorded the same year in Hong Kong. Newest on Omen is the blissfully percussed “Morning Three” and an 18-minute live version of “Search for the Deathless State” from 2010’s Kailash full-length. Lineups, intent and breadth of sound vary widely, but even into the reaches of “1,000 Years” (2012, Providence, RI) and “Shamanic Procession” (2009, New York), Queen Elephantine remain unflinching in their experimentalism and the results here are likewise immersive. Vastly underrated, their work remains a world waiting to be explored.
Consuming undulations of tectonic riffing. Two of them, actually. Watchtower’s Radiant Moon EP serves as their debut on Magnetic Eye, and like their fellow-Melbourne-resident labelmates in Horsehunter, the four-piece Watchtower slam heavy-est riffs into the listener’s cerebral cortex with little concern for lasting aftereffects, all in worship of nod and volume itself. Where the two acts differ is in Watchtower’s overarching sense of grit, harsh vocals pervading both “Radiant Moon” (9:03) itself and the accompanying “Living Heads” (7:09), standalone vocalist Nico Guijt growing through the tonal fray wrought by guitarist Robbie Ingram and bassist Ben Robertson, Joel McGann’s drums pushing the emergent roll forward on “Living Heads,” a High on Fire-style startoff hitting the brakes on tempo to plod over any and all in its path. I’m trying to tell you it’s fucking heavy. Is that getting through? Watchtower had a live single out before Radiant Moon, but I’d be eager to hear what they come up with for a full-length, whether they might shift elsewhere at some point or revel in pure onslaught. Now taking bets.
The use of multiple vocalists gives Roman trio Ape Skull’s ‘70s fetishism a particularly proggy air. Fly Camel Fly is their second full-length for Heavy Psych Sounds behind a 2013 self-titled, and the boogie of “My Way” and “Early Morning,” the solo-topped groove of “Fly Camel Fly,” and the raw Hendrixology of “A is for Ape” position it as a classic rocker through and through. Vocalist/drummer Giuliano Padroni, bassist/vocalist Pierpaolo Pastorelli and guitarist/vocalist Fulvio Cartacci get down to shuffling business quick and stay that way for the 39-minute duration, the Mountainous “Heavy Santa Ana Wind” missing only the complement of a sappy, over-the-top ballad to complete its vintage believability. Even without, the triumvirate stand tall, fuzzy and swinging on Fly Camel Fly, the cowbell of “Tree Stomp” calling to mind the earthy chaos of Blue Cheer without direct mimicry. A quick listen that builds and holds its momentum, but one that holds up too on subsequent visits.
Mad-as-hell trio Hordes have had a slew of releases out over the last eight years or so – EPs, splits, full-lengths with extended tracks – but their experimental take on noise rock topped with Godfleshy shouts arrives satisfyingly stripped down on their latest self-titled five-track EP, recorded in 2013 and pressed newly to tape and CD (also digital). “Eyes Dulled Blind” dials back some of the pummeling after the bruises left by “Cold War Echo,” guitarist/vocalist Alex Hudson at the fore in the JK Broadrick tradition. Centerpiece “Summer” starts with a slow and peaceful ruse before shifting into brash and blown-out punk – Chris Martinez’s hi-hat forward in the mix to further the abrasion – and finally settles into a middle-ground between the two (mind you, the song is four minutes long), and bassist Jon Howard opens “Life Crusher,” which unfolds quickly into the most oppressive push here, while a churning atmosphere pervades the more echo-laden closer “Fall” to reinforce Hordes’ experimentalist claims and steady balance between tonal weight and noise-caked aggression.
There’s a theatrical element underlying Welsh rockers Dead Shed Jokers’ second, self-titled full-length (on Pity My Brain Records). That’s not to say its eight songs are in some way insincere, just that the five-piece of vocalist Hywel Davies, guitarists Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans, bassist Luke Cook and drummer Ashley Jones know there’s a show going on. Davies is in the lead throughout and proves a consummate frontman presence across opener “Dafydd’s Song,” the stomping “Memoirs of Mr. Bryant” and the swinging “Rapture Riddles,” Dead Shed Jokers’ penultimate cut before the cabaret closer “Exit Stage Left (Applause),” but the instrumental backing is up to its own task, and a clear-headed production gives the entire affair a professional sensibility. They veer into and out of heavy rock tropes fluidly, but maintain a tonal fullness wherever they might be headed, and Cook’s bass late in “Made in Vietnam” seems to carry a record’s worth of weight in just its few measures at the forefront before Davies returns for the next round of proclamations.
Berlin’s These Hands Conspire aren’t through the two-minute instrumental “Intro” before they’re showing off the heft of tone that pervades their metallized debut album, Sword of Korhan, but as they demonstrate throughout the following seven tracks and the total 45-minute runtime, there’s plenty to go around. Vocalist Felix delivers an especially noteworthy performance over the dual-guitars of Tom and Stefan, the bass of Paul and Sascha’s drums, but heavy metal storytelling – the sci-fi narrative seems to be a battle in space – is just as much a part of the record’s progressive flow, longer cuts like “Praise to Nova Rider,” “The Beast Cometh,” which directly follows, and “Ambush at Antarox IV” feeding one into the next sonically and thematically. The penultimate title-track brings swinging apex to an ambitious first outing, but the foreboding, winding guitar echoes of “Outro” hint at more of the tale to be told. Could be that Sword of Korhan is just the beginning of a much longer engagement.
Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, since if it weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have paired at all, but Enos and Mangoo pair well. The UK chimp-obsessed space metallers – that’s Enos, on side A – and the Finnish modernized classic heavy rock outfit – that’s Mangoo, on side B – don’t ask much of the listener across their Son of a Gun/The Grey Belly split (on H42 Records) beyond a little over 10 minutes of time and a willingness to follow a groove. “Son of a Gun” finds Enos blending particularly well with Mangoo’s methodology via the inclusion of organ in their swinging but still forward-directed movement, and after that, it’s an easy mesh to flip the platter and find Mangoo’s “The Grey Belly” waiting, its own keys playing a huge role in carrying across the ‘70s-via-‘90s vibe the band projects so well. Flourishes of percussion in the former seem to complement the progressive guitar work in the latter, and whichever side happens to be spinning, it all works out just fine.
Born in 2007 as Spice and the RJ Band and rechristened Band of Spice in 2010 prior to their third album, Feel Like Coming Home, the Swedish unit boasting vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand (founding vocalist of Spiritual Beggars, also Mushroom River Band, currently also in Kayser) release their fourth full-length half a decade later in the form of Economic Dancers on Scarlet Records. It’s a straightforward heavy rocker in the organ-laced European tradition that Spice helped create, with some shades of quirk in the intro to “The Joe” and the arena-ready backing vocals of “In My Blood,” but mostly cutting its teeth on modernized ‘70s jams like “On the Run,” “Down by the Liquor Store” and “True Will,” though the six-minute centerpiece “You Will Call” touches on more psychedelic fare and is backed immediately by two metallers in “You Can’t Stop” and “Fly Away,” so it’s not by any means one-sided, even if at times the mix makes it feel like the 11 tracks are a showcase for the singer whose name is on the marquee.
I’ll tell you flat out because I think it makes going into listening to the song that much more enjoyable: The hook of “Fuel Injected” by Mammoth Mammoth is, “I’m a fuel injected suicide machine/And I’m built for speed.” At an efficient 4:34, the track also packs in the gem of a verse:
I eat angel dust for breakfast Then I microwave the cat No better way to start the day I can tell you that
And I’m sorry, but if you don’t think that’s fucking brilliant, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. True, this is the second video premiere the troublemaking Melbourne four-piece have brought to bear via this site, but what the hell? If giving a fuck was the order of the day, Mammoth Mammoth probably wouldn’t be involved in the first place. And though they’re inclined to wreck up the joint in booze-and-whatever-else-fueled fervor, it’s well worth having to vacuum afterwards, particularly as the new video comes just a few days before the start of Mammoth Mammoth‘s European tour supporting their latest album, Volume IV – Hammered Again, on Napalm Records.
The clip for “Fuel Injected” is somewhat less conceptual than “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” (premiere here), which played off the classic documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. This time around, Mammoth Mammoth — the lineup of vocalist Mikey Tucker, guitarist Ben Couzens, bassist Pete Bell and drummer Frank Trobbiani — are out somewhere in the desert, kicking ass in a dilapidated-looking wood shack of one sort or another. And where “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” was somewhat overwhelmed by the visuals that came with it — by that I mean it was fucking hilarious to the point of distraction — “Fuel Injected” gives the song a bit more room to shine.
Mammoth Mammoth‘s visit to Europe starts July 8 in Berlin with their labelmates in The Midnight Ghost Train. That’s gonna be a raucous show if ever there was one. Full list of dates follows the video below.
Mammoth Mammoth, “Fuel Injected” official video
On the eve of MAMMOTH MAMMOTH’s return to Europe, comes the video for their new single, Fuel Injected, from the band’s latest album “Volume IV – Hammered Again”. Get hammered with the band this July and catch them live!! European tour dates and ticket information atMammothmammoth.com.
HAMMERED AGAIN 2015 EUROPEAN TOUR 08.07.15 DE – Berlin / Cassiopeia *with MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN 09.07.15 DE – Kiel / Schaubude *with MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN 10.07.15 DE – Erfurt / Stoned From The Underground 11.07.15 DE – Düsseldorf / Pitcher 12.07.15 NL – Utrecht / DBs 14.07.15 DE – Würzburg / Immerhen 15.07.15 DE – München / Feierwerk 16.07.15 CH – Olten / Coq d or 17.07.15 DE – Siegen / Vortex 18.07.15 DE – Hamburg / Rock Café 20.07.15 DE – Bremen / Roemer 22.07.15 DE – Gießen / On The Rocks – Under The Rocks 23.07.15 DE – Dresden / Ostpol 24.07.15 AT – Wien / Arena 25.07.15 DE – Frankfurt / Das Bett (Sky High Festival)