Frydee Ararat

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Though the clip above of Los Natas guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian‘s side-project Ararat doing the new song “Caballos” rules, spliced with ’70s film footage and in high definition and quality sound as it is, it’s really just there because I couldn’t imagine putting up a Frydee post without a video at the top. The real reason I wanted to close out this week with Ararat is to post the studio version of the same song, which Chotsourian put on Soundcloud last night. Check it out:

The gorgeous psychedelic groove, synth undertones and riffy plod of it all bode very well for the follow-up to Ararat‘s 2009 debut, Musica de la Resistencia (MeteorCity). According to Chotsourian‘s Soundcloud info, the 16-minute track is serving as a preview for the next album, which will be called Ararat II and will be released on Elektrohasch Schallplatten before the end of the year. It’s a nice thought, and though early 2012 seems more likely — and if “Caballos” is any indication — it will hopefully build on the adventurous spirit of the debut, whenever it’s out.

Hope you enjoy the track, in either incarnation. If you listen to the studio version, make sure you stick around for the bass part a little after 13 minutes in. It’s killer.

And speaking of sticking around, next week I’ll have reviews of The Wounded Kings, Elder, Sandrider, Beastwars and Wiht, my interview with CT from Rwake (I’ll transcribe it if it kills me — and at an hour long, it might), new music from Lonely Kamel and the aforementioned Sandrider, plus September’s numbers and a lot more. The semester has picked back up and between that and work, I’m all kinds of busy, but since most days it’s The Obelisk keeping me sane, I’m not about to let it go neglected. Hence the 1AM Frydee post. Ha.

Oh, and before I forget: Next week the HeavyPink 7″ on The Maple Forum is going to go up for pre-sale. That’ll probably be Monday night or Tuesday, so stay tuned, because you don’t want to miss out on it.

As always, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll see you on the forum and back here Monday for more of this nonsense.

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Artist Interview with Joe Wardwell: Through the Empires of Eternal Void

Posted in Features on September 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

To look at the paintings of Massachusetts-based Joe Wardwell, it would seem like juxtaposition is the center of what he does. Having developed an aesthetic over the years that marries quintessential American landscapes with snippets of lyrics from classic and heavy rock, on the surface, he seems to be working with disparate elements. And maybe he is on that level, but there’s something political and subversive about it too — a questioning of what it is that makes these sunsets, streams, forests and mountaintops what we think of when we think of the American pastoral.

Wardwell‘s technique, as seen in work like that featured in his current Untied We Stand showing in New York — the name is taken from a Weedeater chorus lyric to “God Luck and Good Speed” — or the collective gallery show We Still See the Black (named for Candlemass‘ “I Still See the Black”) running to Oct. 14 at the New Art Center in Newton, MA, in which artists like Seldon Hunt and Nader Sadek are also taking part, borrows as much from propaganda and advertising art as from rock and metal, toying with these visions of the ideal and undercutting them with evocative half-phrases. Pieces like “You Must be Blind” and “Never be Strong You Can Only be Free” offer more than cultural references to Black Sabbath and Guided by Voices, commenting on the authority given to art to speak for us as consumers of it and pulling new meaning from the lyrics around which they’re based.

Also a member of the heavy rock trio TAJ, Wardwell discusses in the interview that follows how he got his start in the graphic arts, the move from Seattle to Boston that resulted in his living in Massachusetts to this day, where he teaches at Brandeis University in Waltham, how he discovered Sabbath and came to incorporate so much of what they did in their early days into his work — yet another confirmation of the scientific fact that Master of Reality is the greatest album of all time —  his appreciation for the aural and visual work of Japanese trio Boris, the direct relation between music and his painting, and much more.

I know it’s not the kind of thing that usually gets covered around here, as to my knowledge he’s never done posters or album art or that kind of thing, but I saw Wardwell‘s work, thought it was cool and figured maybe I wouldn’t be the only one. The clear passion he showed for music in our conversation and the huge part it plays in what he does made it a fit in my mind, and I hope that follows through for you as well. As always, click any image throughout the post to enlarge it.

Complete interview is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, Soundtrack From the Motion Picture: They Need Somewhere Else to Drive

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

So they’re a French band with a Spanish name that sings in English – got it? Really, that’s just the start of the semi-confused/confusing elements at play with Strasbourg five-piece Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel. Their debut album, Soundtrack From the Motion Picture (released via Deadlight Entertainment), is to a movie that doesn’t exist, follows a context-less narrative structure and boasts numerous guest appearances throughout, culminating in a hidden bonus track cover of a remade “We are the World” – they turned it into “We Rock the World” (yes, really) – that has no fewer than 15 singers on it. The record is 12 tracks, 13 with the bonus, and 64 minutes of desert rock primarily derived from Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, and moves into and out of stoner ‘70s biker movie clichés with all the grace of an antelope.

It’s also a lot of fun.

Ultimately, that’s what saves Soundtrack From the Motion Picture. There are a few flubs as regards the tracks, but even those are upbeat, and when Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel hook into a catchy desert rock chorus, they do it right. Of course, they’re also pretty much doing it exactly how Josh Homme would – in addition to being one of the best songs on the album, “Chapter II: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold” is also so much out of the Songs for the Deaf playbook that it could almost count as a cover – but I don’t think they’re trying to pass any of this material off as being completely original. Rather, the cumbersomely-nicknamed band – Francky “The Ice Screamer” Maverick on guitar/vocals, Bobby “The Big Bear” Maverick on bass/vocals, Johnny “The Devil” Maverick on guitar, Billy “The Mad Guy” Maverick on drums and Sonny “The Magic Finger” McCormick on keys/vocals – lightheartedly groove their way through opener “Sir Dany Jack,” the accented-English chorus of “You’ve gotta rock/You’ve gotta ride/You’ve gotta roll and do it all the time” being completely heartfelt and endearingly free of irony. The band members may be playing characters, but it’s pretty clear they put some time into the songwriting, silly though the results might be. “All Alone”’s second half is right off Welcome to Sky Valley, and “Not Folk” follows a quirky Homme-y start-stop pattern that’ll be familiar right from the guitar intro.

“Chapter II: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold” is like-minded, but with a fuller sound and more interesting vocal interplay, that come out especially in some post-hardcore screams that show up again on “Oogie Boogie Drive in Burger” later on, and of course on “We Rock the World” as well. “Brotherhood” is the shortest of the bunch at 3:26 – nine of the 12 are between four and five minutes long – but one of the most effective riffy grooves – the guitars really dialed into the compressed Dave Catching production-style crunch – and it’s a catchy, unpretentious chorus that Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel do well with, taking a step back from some of the purported craziness on the other tracks to just ride the riff. “Beauty Among the Crowd” ends the first half of the album with guest lead vocals from Chrys Caridy, back-ups from Mary Schoenbock and another Queens of the Stone Age guitar line underscored by organ sounds from “The Magic Finger,” whose nom de guerre, if you didn’t notice before, is the best of them all.

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Roadburn Update: Bongripper and Fleshpress Added to 2012 Lineup; New 2011 Audio Streams Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

We’ve had a pretty steady stream of Roadburn updates the past couple weeks, and today the fest has announced that Fleshpress and Bongripper have joined the lineup for next year’s edition of the festival at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Bongripper have joined twice over, as it turns out, since they’ll also be playing Satan Worshipping Doom in its entirety at the traditional Sunday Afterburner.

That’s badass enough, honestly, but Roadburn has also made available a couple more audio streams from this year’s fest, namely Candlemass‘ 25th anniversary show (featuring original vocalist Johan Längquist and Caspar Brotzmann Massaker. Here are those links, followed by the latest on Bongripper and Fleshpress being added:

Candlemass 25th Anniversary show featuring Johan Längquist:

Caspar Brotzmann Massaker at Roadburn 2011:

Today, we’re excited to announce that Bongripper and Fleshpress have joined the lineup for Roadburn Festival 2012.

Chicago’s Bongripper invade Europe for the first time through the Roadburn 2012 Festival. The instrumental doom entity coalesced in 2005 and built a cult following through word of mouth of their seven self-releases. The band is set to record for two upcoming splits before working on their next full-length.

Bongripper will be playing the first of two sets at the Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland on April 14, 2012. Additionally, the band will perform its 2010 album, Satan Worshipping Doom in its entirety for a special Afterburner set on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at the 013 Venue in Tilburg, Holland. Satan Worshipping Doom ranked among the best albums of 2010, as voted by the Roadburn staff and readers alike. Hail Satan. Worship Doom!

Indomitable sludge / doom behemoths Fleshpress will be playing a one-off show at Roadburn 2012’s Afterburner, set to be held on Sunday, April 15 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Combining massive riffs, searing vocals and tense atmospheric interludes, Finland‘s Fleshpress is a must-see for the misanthropically inclined.

Fitting for a band named after a song on a Grief record, Fleshpress make malevolent, crushing music punctuated by snarling screams of pure hatred. Interspersing noise-riddled, forbidding ambience between bouts of neck-snapping riff assaults, they provide no solace for the timid and spasms of delirium for fans of filthy sludge and doom. We look forward to seeing the smoking crater they leave behind…

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Black Cobra, Invernal: A Furnace Blast From Antarctic Hellmouth

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

They are among the upper echelon of today’s heavy live acts, but that has turned out to be the undoing of each successive full-length from near-nomadic Los Angeles duo Black Cobra: The inability to stand up to the high standard set by the live show. And since Black Cobra have also spent a goodly portion of the last six years on the road, there has been less need to focus on the records, because, hell, those songs are going to be better live anyway. With Invernal, their fourth LP — second for Southern Lord behind 2009’s ChronomegaBlack Cobra reach new heights of recorded intensity. A song like “Erebus Dawn” sees guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez in complete mastery of their complex and tonally thickened thrash. Invernal is the kind of album for which hyperbolic exclamations of the word “insane” were made. It refines chaos into a laser-accurate attack and puts Black Cobra at the forefront of their class of risen riffers. It makes the last High on Fire album seem tired. I’m pretty sure if you asked it, it would bake you a pie. But even with all the über-effective bombast, tonal righteousness and clear growth from Chronomega and anything else that’s preceded in their discography, I’m not sure if Invernal stands up to what Black Cobra do live.

The difference between Invernal and everything else Black Cobra have done – and it’s a big difference – is I’m not sure it’s trying to. More than anything they’re released to date, Invernal finds Landrian and Martinez a mature studio act. They’re not just trying to compress their live show to disc, they’re making an album, and ultimately, that’s a huge part of what makes Invernal succeed as one of the best releases in 2011. The recording job of Converge’s Kurt Ballou does effectively balance their overwhelming crest with an appropriate amount of clarity (not too clean, but clean enough to appreciate), but even more than that, the principle change seems to have been in the overall goal and mindset of the recording. One can appreciate the album on its own terms and then look forward to the experience of witnessing the material live. There’s less pining involved, and I think that has to be thanks in part to the songs themselves. My chief complaint with Black Cobra from a songwriting standpoint has always been that the material doesn’t stand up to the experience of it – that is, you hear a Black Cobra song, feel like you’ve been punched in the face with awesome, and don’t remember a thing afterwards. Invernal changes that as well, with twists and turns and a genuine progression from track to track, beginning with opener “Avalanche,” on which Landrian approaches an Al Jourgensen-style verse vocal with both confidence and a sense of individuality.

His vocal shift – there are plenty of screams on “Avalanche” and elsewhere, so it’s not like he’s gone completely clean – is a natural progression from the last album and rightfully prominent where it needs to be in Ballou’s mix. The focus remains on the overall effect of the music, and Landrian’s chemistry with Martinez is palpable in how they interact on guitar and drums. As “Avalanche” transitions immediately into “Somnae Tenebrae” – the shortest song but for closer “Obliteration” – the band’s added focus on structure is made apparent: They wanted to start off pummeling, and their opening salvo does precisely that. “Somnae Tenebrae” isn’t Invernal’s most memorable track, but it does successfully convey Black Cobra’s “holy shit that’s heavy” live presence and offer some thrashing groove in its latter half. When it crashes, it gives a couple seconds for listeners to catch their breath, which is the perfect way to set up album highlight, “Corrosion Fields.” The interplay between the tracks feels more thought out than ever, if that hasn’t yet been made clear, but when “Corrosion Fields” kicks in following some sparse playing from Landrian and periodic crashes from Martinez, the focus is less on stepping back and examining the moves Black Cobra are making and more on “How do I make this as loud as possible as quickly as possible?”

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audiObelisk: Windhand Stream Entire Debut Album

Posted in audiObelisk on September 29th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Emitting molten, viscous, riffs and nod-worthy doom crashes, the Richmond, Virginia, collective Windhand make their debut on Forcefield Records with a five-track, self-titled album. The dual guitar five-piece formed in 2008 and I was lucky enough to catch their set in August at SHoD. It was my first time seeing the band, but when vocalist Dorothia Cottrell said they’d have a record out this fall, I took note.

Well, as previously reported, Windhand‘s Windhand is due Oct. 25. The album is a distinctly American answer back to the all-consuming distortion and bleary-eyed psychedelia of Electric Wizard‘s latter-day missives that strips away some of the cult mentality and puts in its place a woodsy sensibility — not forest-dwelling silliness, but something organic and un-postured. Guided by the slower-than-fuck guitar work of Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris and skillfully underscored by bassist Nathan Hilbish and drummer Ryan Wolfe (also of The Might Could), tracks like “Libusen” and sprawling, screaming, feedback-caked closer “Winter Sun” offer vindication for those who’d let riffs steal the ground from underneath their feet.

In short (ha!), it’s heavy as hell and packed with slow low-end doomed groove. Forcefield Records and Catharsis PR were kind enough to let me stream Windhand in its entirety, so if you’d like to let it ruin your life — and I think you would — you’ll find it on the player below, followed by some light blue PR-wire type info:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Richmond, VA, may be known primarily for its wicked thrash and crust punk scenes, but there’s something evil lurking within that doomed old capital. Psyched-out, Electric Wizard-loving, ultra-Sabbathian amplifier worshippers Windhand, who boast ex-members of heavy riffters Facedowninshit and Alabama Thunderpussy within their ranks, have risen. On the heels of a recent Northeast tour and numerous triumphant local appearances, Windhand will be releasing their self-titled debut LP via Richmond‘s own Forcefield Records.

Slated for an Oct. 25 release, the record will be available in a limited gatefold pressing of violet wax, and was recorded/mixed by Garrett Morris (Parasytic, Bastard Sapling) at the Dark Room with Slipped Disc Audio‘s Bill McElroy (Pentagram, Avail, Alabama Thunderpussy) handling mastering duties.

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Wino Wednesday: Acoustic in Texas, Winter, 2011

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

This week’s Wino-age comes from the acoustic tour he did with Shrinebuilder bandmate Scott Kelly (also of Neurosis), supporting the similarly-minded, mostly-unplugged Adrift record. I saw this tour in New York. It was my wife’s birthday, Feb. 12. I’m a very lucky man.

I don’t think any song was as striking on Adrift as the Motörhead cover “Iron Horse,” which you’ll see below. The live rendition is pretty faithful to what you get on the album — the man and his guitar — but where a few of the songs on that record were telling stories or describing feeling a certain way, “Iron Horse” was a credo. The appreciation for the song bled through the performance, and the result was anthemic. All the more so live.

The video was recorded at Emo’s in Austin. Thanks to whoever taped it.

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Live Review: Akris and Descender in Manhattan, 09.27.11

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Still very much in recovery mode from this past weekend, I made my way following a school obligation into NYC to catch Virginian bass/drum outfit Akris play at The Cake Shop. I planned on it being a kind of subdued evening — not much fanfare around the show, but just an excuse to get out and see a cool band do a set — and mostly it worked out that way. It was Tuesday, so even the tiny Ludlow St. had parking, and though there’s people out every night in New York (every day is somebody’s emergency/celebration that requires expensive drinking), the numbers weren’t egregious or specifically annoying.

When I tried to take $60 out of the ATM, it rejected my card for insufficient funds. The show cost one-tenth of that to get in, and I had that at my disposal. Akris was set to play second, with Brooklynite four-piece Descender opening and Gang Signs — who I didn’t stay for, sorry — closing out, but nobody went on for a while, so I busied myself toward the rear of The Cake Shop‘s upstairs with email and whatever else it is people do with their phones. Games. Texting my wife. Whathaveyou.

Descender got going around 9:30PM, maybe a little after. They played the new post-hardcore, and by that I mean their breakdowns went to college and when they yelled, they did it like grown-ups. Both guitarist Angelo Pournaras and bassist Jay Morris handled vocals, the former in the lead role, and the songs were good, if reminiscent of a screamy Pelican, some of the Translation Loss roster and probably a dozen or so obscure bands I’m not cool enough to know by name. The room downstairs, where the show was, wasn’t crowded. A couple hip-cats here and here, friends of the band talking shit to the stage, Pournaras, Morris and the other two members — guitarist Eric Palmerlee and drummer George Manolis — talking back, joshing. I like that kind of thing.

They weren’t bad for what they were doing — “And So We Marched,” which is the title-track of their new, Andrew Schneider-recorded EP, was a high point — but ultimately I was probably too exhausted to really engage the music as I might and probably will some other evening. I snapped a couple pictures and downed a Newcastle, which is my go-to beer for The Cake Shop. Eminently drinkable, but not at the sacrifice of flavor (you might say the same thing about Descender). I’d done a pretty decent amount of beering Monday after work — whose bright idea was it to make Tuesday a weekday, anyhow? — and so wasn’t looking for anything too exciting, even apart from the issue of transportation and being at the show by myself.

Still, I did also have a Paulaner Oktoberfest as Akris was setting up — at a certain point, you just need something to do with your hands — forgetting that The Cake Shop, in the fine tradition of Manhattan‘s lost basement dives, has tap lines dirtier than the sidewalks outside. I roughed through it in time for Akris‘ start and figured that was a decent enough conclusion to the night’s imbibing. Akris were suitably attention-consuming anyway, so it’s not like I got that “you’re not a human being” feeling that I usually do at shows by myself, sitting there in the quiet.

I first heard Akris on the compilation Son of the Transcendental Maggot (review here), where their song “Kentucky Russian” was among several highlights. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I sort of already knew the band. Bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg (also currently in Lord) is an NYC expat formerly of a duo called Aquila, whom I saw play several times during their tenure, before Goldberg moved to Virginia. All the better, then, to catch Akris — in which the formidable bassist is joined by drummer Sam Lohman (ex-Sheer Terror) and hidden-behind-his-rig noise specialist Jon Simler (Cash Slave Clique) — as they rolled through her former stomping grounds.

Having nothing to compare their live set to but the demo I got at Stoner Hands of Doom XI in Maryland last month — which, fortunately, was recorded live — Akris seemed much fuller-sounding on stage. Part of that could’ve just been the massive volume of the Sunn Concert Bass head Goldberg was running through the traditional Ampeg 8×10, but I think Simler had a lot to do with it, as the static and manipulated samples occupied a lot of the sonic space that other instrumentation (i.e. guitars) otherwise might. Lohman had a sampler as well that he punished at several intervals during pauses in his drumming and between songs, and the overall result was that Akris seemed much more of a complete band.

I recognized a couple songs from the demo, among them the playfully malevolent “Fighter Pilot.” There’s something off-kilter about the melody as sung by Goldberg on that song, but intriguingly so, and I was glad to have the chance to see it live. The same could be said for the whole set, I guess. Akris‘ appeal seems to be in the exposure of raw elements. Goldberg handles riffs like they’re trying to run away from her hands, and Lohman has an underlying technicality to his playing that only makes it seem more unhinged. Their songs are intense bursts of sunspot energy, frantically thrashing at times, but capable too of slipping into and out of heads-down Melvinsian riff pummel — a groove that can be nasty and a nastiness that can groove.

They’re still pretty clearly in a formative period, but Goldberg and Loham were notably tight, and Simler‘s contributions gave Akris an experimental edge that one hopes they continue to develop. They reportedly did some recording at Seizure’s Palace in Brooklyn while in town, so I’ll look forward to hearing the results of that, and in the meantime, last night’s show might not have been the biggest draw on Ludlow — the rocker-pants dude I saw coming out of Piano’s on my way back to my car after Akris‘ set seemed to be doing alright — but it was a quality gig by a band I’m glad to have seen. Not bad for a Tuesday.

Extra pics after the jump.

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