Birds of Prey Get Shot to Hell

Posted in Reviews on April 30th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Those are the palms of some hands I've no interest in being held in.On last year’s Sulfer and Semen they treated us to some “Brutal rape and constant drilling,” and now with The Hellpreacher, the deathly Southern metal supergroup Birds of Prey are — appropriately enough — taking to the underground. Marking the return of ubiquitous drummer Dave Witte (Burnt by the Sun, Municipal Waste, etc.), The Hellpreacher is the third Birds outing for Relapse, and unlike its two predecessors is a full-on narrative concept record.

Seems like a lot to chew for the band who offered up “Buttfucked with a Shotgun Barrel” on 2006’s debut Weight of the Wound, but with the triplet-heavy riffage of guitarists Erik Larson (Axehandle, Hail!Hornet, ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) and Bo Leslie (Throttlerod) and the gut-punting vocals and lyrical depravity of Ben Hogg (Beaten Back to Pure, Plague the Suffering), they pull it off and horrify and disgust in the process. As was likely intended.

The first person titular narrator of The Hellpreacher begins the album by discussing a childhood of rape and abuse, eventually leading to prison time, more rape and abuse, then a religious conversion that finds him cruelly leading a militaristic death cult underground, blinding all his followers, killing at will and ultimately destroying himself and everything he’s built. As rife with senseless violence and sadism as anything Birds of Prey has produced in the past, even the protagonist’s getting born again is tainted by memories of beatings and bloody underwear.

Read more »

Tags: ,

Like Wheat from Mills of God

Posted in Features on April 29th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

This is actually a video, they just play THAT slowly.Listening to monstrous German psyche-doomers Mills of God‘s Modus Operandi debut, Call of the Eastern Moon (reviewed here), the trenchant pace with which its two tracks unfold is as much a part of the music as the notes that comprise it. The instrumental trio of bassist Kai Peifer, guitarist Moritz Czerny and drummer Patrick Alt induces a Yob/Ufomammut-style hypnosis without ever copycatting and over the course of the two new tracks on the record exercise a sonic lethargy that grooves on arterial doom and pulled strings.

It’s as though they asked Max Ludwig, who recorded Call of the Eastern Moon, “How much tape do you have?” and then without waiting for the answer, said, “We’ll take it.” It’s a rare band that works with a format as distinct as Artwork by Tom Denney“20-minute doom epics only,” but Mills of God present an encompassing crush that draws you in for a listen and dismisses you only after the marrow is gone.

They first appeared with “The Seed,” in 2005. The song makes an appearance as track three of three on the CD version (the vinyl is just the two new songs) and is less set in its mission than its companion cuts — perhaps replacing then-drummer Christoph Salzmann with Alt had something to do with that — but the growth is nonetheless evident in even the most superficial listen. A Bob Weston (Shellac) mastering job makes Call of the Eastern Moon sound sharp and mean and loud, and it’s abundantly clear that this trip is just beginning.

After the jump, Peifer checks in with the band’s ambitions and processes, including how they got started, whether or not they’d ever add a vocalist to the mix, how slow is too slow, and when we might expect another installment of their thickly riffed madness.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,

Buried Treasure: The Tilburg Haul

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 29th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

I’m not even sure what to say about this one other than I was damn sure glad I got to the Roadburn merch area early on. First disc I pick up is Trouble‘s Simple Mind Condition, which I’ve been needling around buying since it was released in Europe and not the US back in 2007. I could go on and on about each of these records, but I figure the list says enough in itself. After the “Read more” link is the list plus some commentary where I feel it’s needed…

Read more »

Tags: , ,

It’s a 4-peat for The Atomic Bitchwax

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

They should have saved this for the cover of TA8.Coming back from having my mind scraped out of my head via my nostrils this weekend in Holland, it seems an especially appropriate time to take a second look at 4, by my fellow Garden Staters, The Atomic Bitchwax. It originally came out in a limited edition of 1,000 last year via MeteorCity, but Tee Pee has a version for 2009 with new, octopus-centric artwork, a revised track list and a Paul Gold mastering job, and since it was just this past friday that I saw the trio have their way with a full room at the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg as part of the Roadburn festival, the songs are still stuck in my head — which, given the amount of music with which I was assaulted at that festival, says something right off the bat about just how damn catchy this band is.

The original cover.When 4 was first released, I think it caught a lot of longtime Bitchwax fans, myself included, off guard. Not only did the inclusion of Monster Magnet drummer Bob Pantella as a replacement for the one way or another departed Keith Ackerman (who has since joined seminal Jersey doomers Solace) significantly change the character of the trio, but the overall sound of the album took the smoother approach the band first hinted at with 2005’s 3 and veered from with the Jack Endino-produced studio tracks on 2006’s Boxriff and put it central to the album’s aesthetic. The Atomic Bitchwax, with a pop sheen? Really?

What remained constant with 4 then, and what holds up on this new Tee Pee release more than anything, is the quality of the songwriting. Bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik has a natural talent for pop structures that over the course of the Bitchwax‘s decade-plus existence he’s been able to refine to a point where a song like “Daisy Chain,” while ultimately not one of the album’s most memorable tracks, is an immediate reminder of itself when listened to again. More mature cuts like “Revival” — which moves from track five of 11 to the leadoff spot — turn out to be some of the strongest material present. “Wreck You,” the original closer here preceding “Pawn Shop” (which only works as an intro or outro and with “Revival” opening really has nowhere else to go) hardly tackles deep world issues lyrically, but musically and in terms of presentation and construction is as suitable a piece of quality traditional pop rock as could be found anywhere.

Read more »

Tags: , ,

Back in Amsterdam

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

I took a late-night train after Wino‘s set last night to get out of Tilburg and head back to Amsterdam, where I am now. Today is a tourist day (Van Gogh Museum, etc.) and then I fly out and back to real life tomorrow. I’ll do a proper wrap of Roadburn sometime this week — I anticipate what’s left of tomorrow when I get back to Jersey will probably be dedicated to sleeping — things were just crazy in Tilburg and I wound up with a lot less writing time than I thought I’d have. Obviously there are ups and downs to that.

It’s cloudy here and I need a shower. It’s about half past noon and I probably could sleep for another four hours. Jet lag hit hard, plus four nights of some of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever seen, plus drinking (though last night, I’m happy to report, I stayed completely sober, which was the right choice). Brooklyn Vegan has still been posting the daily updates, and I’ll have one more for them about yesterday later on this afternoon, so if you get a chance and happen to see this before you see that, please check it out. Thanks to Fred over there for letting me contribute. I feel cooler already. Should have called this site Fat Jersey Meateater. Live and learn.

Alright, cleanliness calls. Thanks for reading.

Tags: ,

Notes from Roadburn

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Who doesn't love a logo?It’s Friday at 3:07pm. I slept until about 2pm, but woke up just long enough around 10 to write up a review of yesterday for the kind folks at Brooklyn Vegan, who will be publishing it, thus justifying my being here. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a review, but I wasn’t much of a conscious human being when I wrote it, so it is what it is.

Today is Church of Misery, Colour Haze, Cathedral and Saint Vitus. The reason I’m here. The show goes until 2am. It’s a late one, and I think Orange Goblin — who blew everyone else off the stage yesterday — are doing some kind of DJ thing afterwards at a bar. I keep hearing the words “metal disco.” Life is full of adventure.

Leaving the Hotel Ibis in a couple minutes to get over to 013 where the festival is happening. At some point I will post a Buried Treasure of all the records I bought. It will probably be as long an entry as the Heaven and Hell review was. I’ll check back in probably tomorrow, if I wake up on time, with more. Till then, cheers from Holland and Roadburn.

Tags: , ,

Travel Day

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2009 by JJ Koczan

It’s Tuesday now, but by the time my flight gets into Amsterdam it’ll be Wednesday morning. As such, I’m pretty much marking today down as a travel day as I make my way out to Tilburg for Roadburn, from which I hope to have extensive coverage later on. In the meantime, enjoy your week and if anyone else is going to be at the festival, look for me. I’ll be the fat American guy with the long hair and beard in a black t-shirt. Yeah, good luck singling me out, ha ha.


Cutting the Week Short…

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 15th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Alright y’all, there’s about a ton more shit I wanted to get up this week (IOU one Buried Treasure about the finds from last weekend in Connecticut), but I’ll just have to take the next couple days to revel in my failure. I’m due in Memphis for a wedding on Friday, and that’s a hell of a drive from the valley, so I gotta hit the road. Before I go, I leave you with this Acid Bath video for “Toubabo Koomi” from 1994’s When the Kite String Pops. For anyone disgruntled at doing taxes and whatever other bullshit you’ve got to deal with till the weekend, this should help relieve the stress.

Tags: , ,