Frydee Clutch

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 31st, 2010 by JJ Koczan

New podcast alert!! New podcast alert!!

So help me Robot Jesus, I will have the second part of the Best of 2010 podcast up this weekend. If you missed it, the first part is here. I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow or Sunday, but one of these days…

Lots to come next week. Monday we’ll close out December and I’ll give the astounding final numbers for the month. Rest assured, my mind is blown by the success of the forums, and even if you’ve been paying attention to the tallies I’ve dropped here and on Facebook, I think yours will be as well.

We’ll kick off 2011 with a look ahead at some of the highlight releases allegedly on deck for the next few months, and I still have those “Best Of” posts I want to do, so I’ll see if I can’t get a few of those out the door as well. I’m supposed to be interviewing Laura Pleasants of Kylesa on Monday too, so keep an eye out for that, and there’s always reviews, Buried Treasures, On the Radars and the rest.

Until then, I wish you the happiest and safest of New Year’s Eves, and all the best wherever you are as 2010 bleeds into 2011 with all the smoothness of a Colour Haze track. We close out the week (and the year) with Clutch, because sometimes you just gotta have that groove, and because fishin’ ain’t what it used to be.

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Sabre, Sabre: Teeth Get Gnashed

Posted in Reviews on December 31st, 2010 by JJ Koczan

They lock in a number of modern doomly aesthetics on their self-titled, Pact Ink Records debut, but Cincinnati, Ohio, newcomers Sabre keep a mostly consistent feel in their songs. The 33-minute, seven-track outing, Sabre, plants its feet atop a rawer form of post-metal – i.e., no drones or electronic flourishes – while also reaching for some of the faster riffing/blasting style that many of the newer atmospheric doom outfits have taken on, not forgetting to throw a little YOB-style crunch into the mix. Their shorter songs — a track like “Josiah,” for example — give a glimpse at what post-hardcore might have been had it been invented by riff-worshipers, and they balance their attack with liberal tempo changes. It’s not as radical as going from funeral doom to grindcore, but the switches show some versatility on the part of the Midwestern trio, who self-released two demos prior to hooking up with Pact Ink for this album.

The songs are mostly instrumental, though when vocals come up, it’s guitarist Brian Ross handling them. Sabre starts with the lull-you-into-security groove of “Astral Convergence” before switching immediately into the blasting noise beginning movement of “Unearthly Body,” which at 2:25 is the shortest track Sabre have on offer, and a telegraphed example of the aforementioned tempo switches. Listening to the album for the first time, you can almost hear the change coming, Ross and bassist Neal Hunter tapping some of the same tonal heft as Torche, but going someplace entirely dirtier with it while drummer Chase Schleyer keeps pace with tapping snare hits behind. What “Unearthly Body” has going for it is that it’s devoid of any excess. Even when the song hits its wall and slows to a rumbling crawl, you still feel like you’re moving with maximum intensity. “Condescension” hits an apex that reminds of Akimbo’s excellent Jersey Shores offering, leading into the drearier centerpiece “Black Water.” Schleyer switches to his toms for an intro, adding punch to Hunter’s low end, while Ross lets notes ring out just long enough for the song to keep an oceanic undulation before the blast-beats start and give way in turn to nod-worthy guitar triplets à la YOB’s “The Mental Tyrant.” No complaints there, though they don’t last long before squibbly leads take hold and drive toward two or three more changes before Sabre are done with the track.

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Olde Growth Start the New Year Right

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2010 by JJ Koczan

It’s not often shows get as close to where I live as Montclair, NJ, so I think that pretty much the only way I could justify not going to see Boston outfit Olde Growth on their upcoming run down the eastern seaboard is if they started talking smack about my mama. Which would just be unnecessary, as she’s a lovely lady.

Ever vigilant and supportive of their bands, MeteorCity sent the following info down the PR wire:

MeteorCity recording artists Olde Growth will be touring the East Coast of the USA during the first two weeks of January 2011. Get out and see ’em!

01/02 The Cookie Jar, New Haven, CT w/ Edhochuli, Worn Out Tiger, World’s Strongest Man
01/03 AS220, Providence, RI w/ Thrillhouse, Mout, Mouth of Flowers
01/05 The Archeron, Brooklyn, NY w/ Bad Dream, Lost Coves
01/07 The Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ w/ Lorba Linda, Stone Titan, Gowl, more
01/08 House Party, Philadelphia, PA w/ Bubonic Bear, more
01/09 Hole in the Sky, Washington D.C. w/ Ilsa, more
01/10 Strange Matter, Richmond, VA w/ Time Warp Trio
01/11 TBA, Charlotte, NC
01/12 The Drunken Unicorn, Atlanta, GA w/ Beeravore, Sadistic Ritual

01/13 Will’s Pub, Orlando, FL w/ Druid Lord, Putrescent Secretancy, Sterile Prophet

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Top 20 of 2010: Wrap up, Honorable Mentions, Conclusions

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Well, here it is, New Year’s Eve, and we’re finished, as promised. Before we do anything else, let’s recap the full top 20:

1. Solace, A.D.
2. Grinderman, Grinderman 2
3. Hypnos 69, Legacy
4. Fatso Jetson, Archaic Volumes
5. Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini
6. Ufomammut, Eve
7. Clamfight, Volume I
8. Asteroid, II
9. Yawning Man, Nomadic Pursuits
10. Kylesa, Spiral Shadow
11. The Brought Low, Third Record
12. Brant Bjork, Gods and Goddesses
13. Dopefight, Buds
14. Wovenhand, The Threshingfloor
15. The Wounded Kings, The Shadow Over Atlantis
16. Earthride, Something Wicked
17. Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones
18. Zoroaster, Matador
19. Melvins, The Bride Screamed Murder
20. Electric Wizard, Black Masses

Apparently everybody saw the number one pick coming. Congratulations. I certainly didn’t. Given a mood change, just about any of the top seven picks was ahead of the others. What it really came down to was what I listened to most.

Disappointment at my own predictability aside, the only business left with the top 20 of 2010 is the honorable mentions. If you heard the last podcast, a lot of them are in there (and a lot more to come in the second part of that this weekend), but I think they’re worth an extra mention here as well:

2010 Honorable Mentions:
Apostle of Solitude
Arc of Ascent
Black Rainbows
Crippled Black Phoenix
The Devil’s Blood
Les Discrets
Droids Attack
Elliott’s Keep
The Giraffes
Herba Mate
High on Fire
Hooded Menace
Humo del Cairo
The Kings of Frog Island
Man’s Gin
Negura Bunget
Quest for Fire
Red Giant
Samsara Blues Experiment
Slough Feg
Void Generator

There. 30 should do it. I kept a running list all year long, and it’s amazing to me how much music there was to enjoy. Even among the honorable mentions, with records like Gozu‘s Locust Season or Samsara Blues Experiment‘s Long-Distance Trip, there were a few really great debuts from bands who have the potential to shape the heavy underground in the years to come. I never understand people who bitch that there’s nothing good out there. Open your fucking ears. I just listed 50 records and bands who released awesome albums in 2010. That’s almost one a week! In fact, here’s two more:

Karma to Burn

Now the list has an album to represent every single week of this year. If you heard none of this stuff, you could take the entirety of 2011 and discover new, interesting, and killer sounds. Of course, then you’d be a year behind, but you get my point. There are amazing and creative things happening around us all the time. It is a beautiful sight to witness.

Well, that’s it. I’m all listed out. Before I start pathetically keeping track of the New Year’s albums, I want to say thank you as always for your support, reading and comments through this month’s countdown. I know it got drudging there for a bit (how many ways are there to say, “Gosh, I sure did like this album?”), but we made it all the way to number one, and if no one had been paying attention, I can almost certainly guarantee I wouldn’t have bothered. So yeah, much appreciated. Here’s to a killer 2011.


Top 20 of 2010 #1: Solace, A.D.

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

How many albums can you legitimately say are worth a seven-year wait? Two or three years, sure. Maybe even four. But seven? You might as well be starting your career over at that point, and come to think of it, that’s kind of what New Jersey doom ‘n’ rollers Solace did with their Small Stone Records debut, A.D. Sure, there had been various DVDs, a split with Greatdayforup and the The Black Black EP in that time, but true to its name, A.D. marks the beginning of a different era. I can’t think of a better way to close out this decade than with one of its most awaited records.

Whether it’s the straightforward riffly progression of a song like “The Eyes of the Vulture,” the thrown-bone stoner groove of “Six-Year Trainwreck” or the head-spinning madness six-stringers Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels get up to on opener “The Disillusioned Prophet,” every movement of A.D. was majestic almost in spite of itself, and no matter which direction they turned, Solace did what almost nobody remembers to do: They fucking rocked.

Even as vocalist Jason cleverly layered his vocals into A.D.‘s most outwardly simple and straightforward cut, the hardcore-fueled “The Skull of the Head of a Man,” now-departed drummer Kenny Lund righteously propelling the song with his double-kick, there was an ultra-confident attitude behind Solace‘s songwriting. For an album that was recorded in multiple-sessions over the course of several years — bassist Rob Hultz was still living in Chicago, last I heard — A.D. managed not just to sound cohesive, but natural and flowing. It was as close as 2010 got to perfection. If you’re feeling brave, the full review is here.

The thing that’s stayed with me most about the album is how well Solace embodied the notion that just because it’s doom doesn’t mean it has to be dumb. A.D. is rich and complex — and not just in the oft-harmonized guitars — and technical never at the expense of the songwriting, but to track the different parts of a song like closer “From Below” (my favorite single song of the year,” for what it’s worth; I’m still trying to wrap my head around Jason‘s vocal arrangement toward the ending) is more work than 365 days can allow, and like the absolute best of releases, Solace‘s A.D. is a landmark by which I’ll remember the year it was released.

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Buzzov*en to Tour Southern US with Cough in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 30th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

North Carolinian sludge innovators Buzzov*en have hit it pretty hard since getting back together earlier this year, and in addition to a confirmed appearance for next year’s Roadburn festival, they’ve just announced the below February tour with Virginian riff-worship upstarts Cough. It’s a pretty good pairing, you know, if you like stuff that’s ridiculously heavy and pissed off.

The PR wire has the scoop:

Continuing to devastate America one tour at a time, sludgemongers Buzzov•en today announce their third tour installment since reuniting early in the year. Hitting all new markets throughout the Southern and Southeastern US this time, the band will hit the old dusty trail again in early February with Virginia‘s sludgesters Cough providing direct support. Confirmed appearances on this newly-announced rampage are as follows:

Buzzov•en /Cough Winter 2011 Tour:
2/04 Ground Zero Spartanburg, SC
2/05 The Jinx Savannah, GA
2/07 Siberia New Orleans, LA
2/08 Walters on Washington Houston, TX
2/09 Trees Dallas, TX
2/10 Downtown Music Little Rock, AR
2/11 Hi Tone Memphis, TN
2/13 Southgate House Newport, KY
2/15 Canal Club Richmond, VA
2/16 Casbah Durham, NC

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Stone Machine Electric Remind Us all What Demos are for on Awash in Feedback

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

They’re about as rudimentary as you get, and much of what you need to know about Arlington, Texas, doom duo (I keep trying to coin the term “doomuo,” but it doesn’t seem to be catching on, fun as it is to say out loud) Stone Machine Electric you can see on the package of their debut self-release, Awash in Feedback. It’s right there on the back of the cardboard sleeve, in big capital letters: “THIS IS A DEMO.”

And indeed it is. A live demo, to boot, and one that will appeal to anyone who recalls tape-trading days of practice room recordings capturing the rawest elements of a band’s sound. Stone Machine Electric offer a half-hour set comprised of five songs, feeling their way through well-trod creative territory and offering bright spots of individuality throughout. Those familiar with the boom in Texas doom – bands like Orthodox Fuzz, Wo Fat and Kin of Ettins being good company to keep – won’t be surprised by much of what guitarist/vocalist Dub and drummer/vocalist Kitchens have to offer on cuts like “Mushroom Cloud” and “Nameless,” grooves inspired by the likes of C.O.C. and Earthride/Spirit Caravan being put to appropriate use, but Stone Machine Electric delve into territory more their own on the extended instrumental centerpiece “Echoes of Garnath,” doing well to add a jammed feel to the heavy-footed riffing.

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Top 20 of 2010: Five Albums I Didn’t Hear that Might Have Made the List

Posted in Features on December 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Look, I did the best I could, but there was no way I was going to hear everything that came out in 2010. I thought, before I reveal The Obelisk‘s #1 album of 2010, it would be prudent to mention some of the records that might have affected the list one way or the other had I heard them in time. Kind of a procedural thing on my part, but here’s an alphabetical list of five:

Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit

Electric Wizard, Black Masses

Grand Magus, Hammer of the North

Sahg, III

Suma, Ashes

Now, you might recall the Electric Wizard was actually number 20, the first post I did that started the countdown. Well, as I said then, I included in the last spot just because I knew it should be on the list but didn’t know where, and with the ensuing month I’ve had to spend with the album, I can tell you it would be higher than it currently is. So maybe it didn’t get counted the way it would have if I’d heard it more. Hence it’s listed here.

I actually own copies of Suma and Agalloch. The former I bought and the latter is a promo waiting to be reviewed, but I still haven’t had the chance to listen to either, and it’s been little more than the threat of import prices and/or the Euro-to-dollar exchange rate and the drive to buy other things instead that’s kept me from picking up either the Grand Magus or the Sahg records.

But I know I’ve enjoyed the past work of both bands, as well as Suma and Agalloch — both of whose new albums are amazing, from what I’m told, and both of which I’m looking forward to hearing — and I thought it worthwhile to consider the possibility that they might have played into the top 20 if I’d had the chance to hear them. Maybe I’ll feel fancy one of these days and drop some cash for Sahg and Grand Magus too, but definitely not before 2011 kicks off, so for now, here they are. Mentioned honorably.

#1 revealed tomorrow.

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