Congratulations to East of the Wall on Signing to Translation Loss

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

A hearty way-to-go to New Jersey tech-experimentalists East of the Wall (featuring members of the defunct The Postman Syndrome), who according to the trusty ol’ PR wire, have just signed to super-hip indie Translation Loss Records. This is a good fit if ever there was one, since the label specialized in quality post- and artistic metal, and so does the band. East of the Wall‘s Farmer’s Almanac was a pretty kickass outing, so it’s cool to see good things happening to those who rock. Here’s the news:

Born from the dissolution of The Postman Syndrome and Day Without Dawn, East of the Wall has been hard at work crafting their complex and varied sound, drawing inspiration from a wide range of emotions and ideas. East of the Wall?s sound straddles the line between an engulfing ambience and crushing force that dissolves into beautiful It's three-way split CD. Who doesn't love a three-way split CD?melodies seamlessly. Translation Loss Records will be releasing a three way split release from East of the Wall, Rosetta and Year of No Light late 2009.? The material is the ultimate precursor to what will be their stunning Translation Loss debut. East of the Wall have released records on indie label Forgotten Empire Records.

Said Brett Bamberger from East of the Wall on the signing: “We are so fortunate to be on a roster full of artists who we respect and appreciate so much, not to mention having this excellent opportunity to do business with such a hard working operation of great people. On the road ahead we will be focusing extensively on writing, recording, touring, touring, touring. We have about half of our next full length written, which thus far in content is a bit more technically involved than our last LP.? We want to extend our thanks to all the people who have helped us along the way, most especially Brandon Helms, Dave Grossman, and Dave Witte. Looking so forward to our time ahead with TL. Cheers – East of the Wall

Drew Juergens from Translation Loss on the signing and co-release: “We are very excited to have East of the Wall on the label and help them release their next opus. They are an amazing force to behold live and if their material on the three way split we are releasing at the end of this year is any indication of the level of musicianship we will all bear witness to for their next full length, I can only imagine what kind of greatness is on the horizon for the band.”

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Toner Low Bury the Treasure Deep

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 30th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

It's actually really cool packaging. You don't get a sense of it from this picture.Sometimes I run into bands I don’t want to check out just because they’re so highly recommended they can’t possibly live up to the hype. Case in point: Toner Low from The Netherlands. Everything I’d ever heard about them rounded out to, “Oh my god this is the best shit ever you need to hear it right now why are you still standing here go listen to it it’s as good as Sleep,” with emphasis on that last part. As good as Sleep? Come on, man. Your name better be John Garcia if you’re gonna talk that kind of crap.

But, because it was bound to happen eventually, I recently snagged a copy of Toner Low‘s aptly-named second full-length, II, from a certain interwebby shop I probably don’t even need to name at this point (hint: it was All that is Heavy). Even after it came, I sat and stared at it for a long while before putting it on. “Oh yeah, think you’re so good?” Holding the hype against the band when the band had literally nothing to do with the hype isn’t exactly fair, but neither is life, so screw it. Alright, Toner Low. Bring it on.

And they did. For a solid hour of Sunn and Orange-amped stonerly psych drone doom with, yes, a Sleep influence, but stretched into four Goastsnake-thick numbers-only tracks all over 13 minutes long. Parts reminded me of Ufomammut‘s take on heavy and sprawling psychedelia, but II was less outwardly experimental and more bent on riff worship and dooming out. I’ll say this for it: it was fucking s l o w — and yes, that is absolutely meant as a compliment. So many bands out there think they’re playing slow just because they’re not Slayer-speed thrash. No dice. Toner Low is the slow’s slow. They’re slow like continental shifts. Slower than those days at school where the clock moves backwards. Really, really slow.

And they’re slow too.

As it happened at the time I was listening, I needed a good dose of slow, so it was perfect. I don’t know if it’s as good as Sleep, since that’s like saying Sleep is as good as Sabbath, but I’ve no doubt II is in line for many return trips. Now just to track down a copy of their 2005 self-titled and I’ll be good to go for Toner Low. Obscure European distros here I come.

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Live Review (Sort of): Eyehategod in Brooklyn, 10.26.09

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

I didn't see this poster anywhere. If I did, I'd have stolen it.I’ve been hesitant to post a live review of Monday night’s Eyehategod show in Brooklyn for a couple reasons. First and foremost, I’m not the world’s biggest Eyehategod fan. I dig it, obviously, but for me to sit here and tell you that I’ve followed the New Orleans sludge masters since the early-’90s days of In the Name of Suffering and Take as Needed for Pain would just be dishonest. I own the albums, and several others, but I’m hardly Mr. Ground Floor EHG. I’m not Johnny Come Lately either, but in some ways, I feel underqualified to write about them.

Likewise, for me to sit here and say, “Well man, Eyehategod sure did kick ass in Brooklyn” — even though they did — would be boring as hell. It was my third Europa show in a month, packed as hell, and I was still glad to be there. That’s saying something in itself. And yeah, Eyehategod were great. Jimmy Bower rules, Brian Patton rules, Mike Williams stood on stage and accused us northerners of thinking the south is ignorant, called us motherfuckers and told us he loved us. It was a good show. I’m just not sure how much more there is to say about it than that.

I got there just before Unearthly Trance went on. It was late for a Monday, but don’t ask me for the particulars. I know I didn’t get back to the valley until 3AM, but I wasn’t really checking my watch before that, so whenever it was, it was. They played about 30 seconds of their first song before blowing their bass head and having to find a replacement. To their credit, they gave an okay showing once they got started again. Neither am I the world’s biggest Unearthly Trance fan, and seeing them play in New York at this point is hardly out of the ordinary, but I wasn’t pissed for having to watch them either.

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Frydee Pentagram

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 30th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Friends and attendees: The English word “Friday” is derived from the German “Freitag,” “frei” being the word for “free.” I hope wherever you are, you’re free today and get to enjoy some of it for yourself. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to freedom, nothing goes with like a full cup of Pentagram. I decided to put up “Lazylady” from the First Daze Here collection, because it rules and that which rules is its own excuse for being. I have the feeling this whole record is going to be on this site soon, one YouTubular track at a time…

And just remember: Bobby Liebling loves you and always will.

Thanks for the pic.

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Early Morning Review: Freedom Hawk, Freedom Hawk

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

If you go to their MySpace, the eyes follow you.6:45AM: If I said to you, ?Hey, it?s a stoner rock record,? would you be surprised?

Freedom Hawk, out of Tidewater, Virginia, are a four-piece on a mission geared toward ?90s stoner space with just a touch of southern flair. Their self-titled MeteorCity debut, following last year?s nine-song Sunlight on Magic Lady Records, hails a ride in Fu Manchu?s boogie van while jamming out on garage-flavored Sabbath and putting back a couple of Legend brews, raising hell through the countryside.

Vince Burke (Beaten Back to Pure, Hail!Hornet, etc.) recorded, mixed, mastered and remastered the totality of Freedom Hawk, and he did a noble job of bringing forth the Orange-colored fuzz. I caught the band last year in New York after it was announced they?d be working with MeteorCity just to check them out, and compared to their live show, Freedom Hawk on record is a little tighter. Guitarist/vocalist TR Morton runs his voice through a processor basically throughout, and though that can get tiresome, it?s nothing unbearable, especially for fans of Sheavy or the aforementioned Fu Manchu.

Compiled from past EPs both self-released and not, most of Freedom Hawk — ?My Road? and closer ?Hollow Caverns? excepted — was recorded in 2006. No doubt the band thinks they?re beyond this material stylistically by now, but that doesn?t mean faithful heads can?t dig into what they have to offer. Along with Morton, Cave brothers Mark and Matt on bass and guitar, respectively, and drummer Lenny Hines are obviously capable songwriters; a track like centerpiece ?Ten Years? moving deftly through a stream of smooth-styled stoner rock just in time to set up the dirtier, even riffier ?Bad Man? that follows. For beginners and newcomers to the band?s recorded output, like me, it?s a good place to start.

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Saint Vitus Schedule West Coast, European Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

They don’t announce the support acts in this Blabbermouth story, but savvy Obelisk attendees will recall guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon of The Gates of Slumber revealing in his interview there’s a good chance it might be them. Here’s hoping that works out. No matter who’s on the bill, though, if it’s Saint Vitus, it’s guaranteed to kick ass. Here are the dates from Blabbermouth:

Go see Vitus.American doom legends Saint Vitus have announced the first of the confirmed dates for their upcoming February 2010 European tour featuring places that the band has never played or has not played in a very long time. A support band has not been chosen yet, but the preliminary dates are as follows:

Feb. 04 – Essen, Germany Turock
Feb. 05 – Leipzig, GermanyConne Island
Feb. 06 – Wurzburg, GermanyPosthalle
Feb. 07 – Rotterdam, NetherlandsBaroeg
Feb. 10 – London, EnglandScala (w/ Orange Goblin)
Feb. 15 – Wien, AustriaArena
Feb. 17 – Berlin, GermanyColumbia Club
Feb. 18 – Hamburg, GermanyMarkthalle
Feb. 19 – Copenhagen, Denmark Loppen
Feb. 20 – Oslo, NorwayBetong

Additional dates and support acts will be named soon.

In other news, Saint Vitus will play Los Angeles and San Francisco for the first time since 1988. Dates with openers Saviours are as follows:

Jan. 28 – Key ClubLos Angeles, CA
Jan. 29 – DNA LoungeSan Francisco, CA

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Hey, the Recession’s Over!

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

The red boner indicates how much money you have.Guess that means I get my job back now. Sure hope someone told my IRA, which after a decade of investment lost about 60 percent of its value in less than a year. Good to know that GDP is the only measure that matters. Assholes. If anyone needs me I’ll be moving to Sweden, and by “moving to Sweden,” I mean listening to Dozer. Fuck everything.

Only 'Idiocracy' understands me.


Ogre Cure the Planetary Plague

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

Dude, this art rules.On their probable swan-song, the now-defunct Maine traditional doom trio Ogre mounted what was likely their greatest achievement yet. After being together for a decade, the band released Plague of the Planet in 2008 on the suddenly-MIA Leaf Hound Records out of Japan. As ever, the band demonstrated the sound reasoning behind their becoming a New England institution, why so many thought them to be the best the region had to offer as regards trad doom. With all the ?70s vibes and nods toward Pentagram, Dio-era Sabbath and Mot?rhead, it?s a hard argument to counter. I won?t even try. Instead, I?ll just be happy that Pittsburgh imprint Shadow Kingdom Records saw fit to reissue the album and get it out to the masses (myself included) earlier this year.

Plague of the Planet tells the story of humanity?s demise and ultimate redemption at the hands of the machines we?ve made. It?s a familiar sci-fi theme, but Ogre handle it with grace and a flair for epic storytelling that puts oil wars in an entirely new context. Like Road Warrior meets Metropolis meets The Terminator with some role-playing nerdiness thrown in for good measure. The album?s art, like a comic book cover, goes a long way toward giving an idea of the band?s intent.

Like a lot of concept albums, the narrative lyrical approach means the individual songs are often without a chorus or traditional structures. Ogre skirt that by making the 11 individual parts of Plague of the Planet — seven of which feature vocals from bassist Ed Cunningham — one 37-minute track, so while parts like that dubbed ?Drive,? the third of the 11, has a catchy chorus, it?s basically absorbed by the largess of the material surrounding. This of course has its ups and downs, but what it forces the listener to do is take on the album as a whole, expose him or herself to the entire story and decide how they feel about Plague of the Planet on that level. There are no singles here.

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