Ufomammut Unveil Cover Art and Tracklisting for Oro: Opus Primum

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

If you heard that girlish squeal a little bit ago, don’t worry, it was just me reacting to the latest PR wire teaser of info about the forthcoming two-part Neurot Recordings debut by Italian space doom progenitors Ufomammut. Oro: Opus Primum is due out April 17. Here’s the latest, including the Malleus (of course) cover art, which you can click to enlarge:

More details on Oro: Opus Primum the first installment of the new two-album series from Italy’s supernatural doom sorcerers, Ufomammut — have this week been confirmed.

Already known for their attention to detail with each release, including meticulous, quality artwork and packaging as expansive and layered as every obliterating Ufomammut release is musically, this time they take it one notch higher and have completed a massive two-part album, set for release months apart.

Now confirmed for release in the UK on April 9th, throughout the rest of Europe on April 13th, and in North America April 17th, this week the artwork and track listing for the incredibly anticipated first installment of the series — Oro: Opus Primum — have been unveiled for the first time:

Oro: Opus Primum Track Listing:
1. Empireum
2. Aureum
3. Infearnatural
4. Magickon
5. Mindomine

More details on the album will be released in the weeks ahead as the world awaits the arrival of Ufomammut’s latest art. The second chapter in this monolithic two-part album, Oro: Opus Alter, will be released sometime in September with more details to be unveiled throughout the months following Opus Primum.

2012 will see Ufomammut expanding their touring circles wider across the face of the planet in support of Oro. Stay tuned throughout the year as more details on the release and the act’s tour schedule are confirmed.

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On the Radar: Eternal Fuzz

Posted in On the Radar on January 31st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It’s not every day I get to write about a band from what’s essentially my own back yard. Space-riffing foursome Eternal Fuzz make their home in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which is about half an hour south on the Parkway from where I currently sit. It’s a college town, hosting the main campus of Rutgers University, and from what I can tell from the (somehow appropriately) fuzzy video above, the double-guitar outfit is pretty young.

Far more revealing about Eternal Fuzz though is their summer 2011 demo, which is currently available for streaming on their Bandcamp page. With warm low end and ghostly echoing vocals, shades of Om meet with a kind of miniaturized riffy splendor and Torche-esque brevity on “Vexed by the Curse of the Sloth,” which sounds short at just three minutes.

I’d be surprised if the demo wasn’t recorded live, since it comes off so much that way, but rough production becomes part of the band’s character by the end of the five songs, and with the striking build of “Moody Hum” acting as a centerpiece, Eternal Fuzz show a surprising amount of clarity for an act who should still just be getting their bearings sound-wise.

For that, I’m happy to include them in the same school of formative NJ acts like sludge villains Dutchguts and bass/drum duo The Badeda Ladies, who both also have growing to do but are making a strong start. Here’s Eternal Fuzz‘s demo if you want to check it out:

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audiObelisk: King Giant Stream New Album Dismal Hollow in its Entirety — PLUS: Enter to Win Free Vinyl and More!

Posted in audiObelisk on January 31st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

With the release of their second LP today, Jan. 31, Virginia rockers King Giant enter into the lexicon of Southern heavy. The five-piece’s debut, Southern Darkness, was self-released in 2009 and was a ballsy excursion into mostly familiar territory of gruff riffs and heavy grooves, and though Dismal Hollow follows suit, it also finds King Giant a more cohesive, more individualized unit. Fortunately for all of us, they’re still heavy as hell.

And they’re not shy about it, either. Right from the start of “Appomattox,” the guitars of Todd “T.I.” Ingram and David Kowalski embark on a southbound journey of thickened metal. The groove is classic, the breath stank with beer, the stomp formidable in the bass of Floyd Walters III and Brooks‘ drumming, and amid layered acoustics, samples and swaggering leads, vocalist Dave Hammerly injects an early Danzig melodic cadence that only heightens the swampy vibe of the album.

In celebration of Dismal Hollow coming out on the band’s own Graveyard Hill Records in conjunction with The Path Less Traveled, I’m fortunate enough to be able to host not only a high-quality full stream of the record, and not only a few words from Kowalski about what went into making it, but also a giveaway for a vinyl/USB prize-pack that one lucky winner will be able to call their own! It’s like three posts in one. Here’s the stream:

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

And here’s the giveaway and Kowalski discussing the making of Dismal Hollow:

We made a conscious decision to just let the songwriting take its natural course. Anytime we tried to steer a song in a specific direction, it fell flat, and simply didn’t work.

With Southern Darkness, Todd Ingram came in towards the end to add his parts. So what he played was more reactionary to the music that was already there. With Dismal Hollow, we all wrote as a band, and consequently the lead parts blend more intricately with the rhythms and have more of a cohesive feel.

We spent a lot of time in pre-production, making sure that we all had our parts written before we went into the studio. We also recorded to 2” tape. There are places on the album where you can hear the tape hiss, but overall I feel that we achieved a really good organic sound. In the world of digital audio, it makes it really easy to not have to commit to takes, and to edit out every little sonic “imperfection.” But the imperfections are what gives an album character.

Southern Darkness was recorded over a long period of time with all of us recording our parts separately. Going into a studio this time around forced a time constraint on the band, and allowed all of us to be together while we were tracking, so there was definitely more of a camaraderie to the whole recording process.

PRIZE PACK:


A signed copy of Dismal Hollow in LP format, a King Giant patch for all you heshers out there, and so you can take your King Giant wherever you go, a copy of Southern Darkness AND Dismal Hollow on this badass USB drive from the fine folks at Power Tunes. That’s right you get a real deal Marshall KT66 power tube that has been modified into a USB drive. It even glows when you plug it in.

[NOTE: This giveaway is now over. Thanks to all who entered.]

To win, enter your name, email and address in the form above and click “Send.” One winner will be selected, and as always, your information stays private and is deleted after the contest is over. The winner will be chosen on Feb. 7 and entries will be accepted until then.

For more on King Giant, check out their Thee Facebooks page, the album on iTunes, or their Bandcamp site, where Dismal Hollow will be available shortly. Power Tunes USB drives are made by Will Sprague (The Crimson Electric) and available via Thee Facebooks here.

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Running through the Forest and Tagging Trees with SardoniS

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 31st, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Tree-tagging or other forest-based graffiti is a lost medium in these days of city-based arts. Fortunately, Belgian duo SardoniS are bringing back the bygone days of taking a permanent marker, jogging through the woods with a hood up and writing shit on fallen trees for hikers to see and probably be confused by later. Their video for the song “Entering the Woods,” from an upcoming album that may or may not share that title, keeps the band’s thrashy and aggressive edge while also being tonally pummeling.

SardoniS‘ prior offering and self-titled debut for MeteorCity, released in 2010 (review here), was a treat, and I look forward to hearing more of the follow-up, but for now, here’s “Entering the Woods”:

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This is Me, Urging You to See Lo-Pan…

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

…And if you don’t know why, click here. Or here. Or here. Or here. Yeah, that’s right. I broke out the Lo-Pan links. No better way to let you know the Ohioan fuzz titans mean business. Doubtless that’ll also be the case as they head down to sunny Austin, Texas, to take part in this year’s recently-announced Small Stone showcase at SXSW. Here’s the poster with the dates — click to enlarge as you see fit:

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Buried Treasure: Unida and the Vienna Compromise

Posted in Buried Treasure on January 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

True, in the past I’ve had my issues being burned by ill-advised “import” purchases (see here and here, for starters), but I’ve also had some real wins, and with my recent eBay purchase of Unida‘s well-regarded show in Vienna, March 6, 1999, I feel like I finally reached an acceptable compromise point. I paid $13, and for that, I received a full jewel case, a red-backed CD-R, and decent-looking inkjet artwork. There are no gaps between the tracks. I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Of course, it helps that UnidaJohn Garcia‘s ill-fated post-Slo Burn, post-Kyuss, semi-concurrent-to-Hermano outfit with Scott Reeder, guitarist Arthur Seay and drummer Mike Cancino, who’d later develop the project (sans Reeder) into House of Broken Promises — absolutely killed in Vienna that night, and that the 12-song set was captured with beautiful clarity and thickness. Garcia himself announces that they’re recording, and I don’t know if the plan was to use it as a live album or what, but they play all of that year’s Coping with the Urban Coyote except for “If Only Two” and three out of the four tracks from the 1998 EP, The Best of Wayne-Gro, so if that was the intent, it’s a solid showcase of what they did in their time, which was cut short by label politics surrounding their second, Rick Rubin-produced full-length, For the Working Man (2003).

That album remains without official issue to this day, though it was eventually self-bootlegged by the band and some of the material showed up on their self-released El Coyote compilation. Cuts like “Wet Pussycat” (with which they opened in Vienna), “Human Tornado” and the heady “Vince Fontaine” were re-recorded for that album, which was to be their commercial breakthrough, but also appeared on Unida‘s earlier offerings, and listening to this set, it’s clear their live dynamic was coming into its own in 1999 — they were developing their own character within desert rock. Seay‘s tone and riffs lead the charge, Reeder‘s warmth vibrates the speakers, and Cancino and Garcia seem to be in lockstep even as the latter veers into his trademarked boozy jam invocations, yeahs, whoas, and so on. Unida‘s is a story of potential left unfulfilled, and that’s no less true here than anywhere else.

But even so, had this disc shown up with some shitty label, or with two-second spaces between these tracks, I’d be pissed. As it is, I’m not. And really, it’s that simple. I know my days of buying a $25 professionally-printed silver-CD bootleg are by and large over, and roughly half that cost is, I think, a fair price to pay for a product like Live in Vienna, which sounds stellar and shows that at least a bare minimum of effort was put into the presentation. $13 for that and I get to put it on my shelf? Well, shit, why didn’t you say so? That’s all I ever wanted.

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Caveman Voicebox, Strippers, Mullets and Beer: Raw American Heavy to Fill Your Beer Belly

Posted in Reviews on January 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

As one might expect, Los Angeles rockers Caveman Voicebox don’t exactly play it subtle on their debut EP, Strippers, Mullets and Beer. Released through what appears to be their own Faceslapper Records in December 2011, the five-songer is a quick 15-minutes, and though there are few surprises sonically in that time – the longest song, the closer “Mindset,” caps at 3:20 – and though the first word on opener “Forsaken Place” is “whiskey,” Caveman Voicebox still are less sleazy than one might think going into a first listen. That’s either a positive or negative, depending on your personal taste, but with the Orange Goblin by way of Motörhead burl they offer instead, it’s hard to complain. The songs, written by bassist/vocalist Graham Wilson, are structurally simple but varied in mood and over fast enough to hold even fickle attention, and the vocals touch on melody without overdoing it or sacrificing a natural feel to get some kind of misguided commercialism. A song like EP centerpiece “After What She Said” strikes a decent balance between catchy hooks and riffy groove, and as far as straightforward American-style heavy rock goes, Caveman Voicebox give a strong first showing, if one perhaps overly mindful of the aesthetic concerns of their genre.

By that I mean that even unto its title, Strippers, Mullets and Beer seems to be reaching for a specific idea of what boozy stoner-style rock and roll is, rather than focusing itself on crafting the songs and worrying about where they fit genre-wise after the fact. The beer I’ll give you, but the strippers and the mullets? Well, maybe, maybe not. In that regard, “Mindset” is actually the strongest of the songs here. Although it doesn’t come close to the infectious octane of “Forsaken Place,” Wilson positions the EP’s final statement lyrically as a kind of insider nod to the heavy rock scene – “You’ve got the time and the money/Ain’t got the mindset” – and placed with self-awareness in a genre looking out, it works better than “’72 Nova,” which seems to turn a blind eye to its unoriginality rather than acknowledge it. We all know it’s not the first song ever written about a car and a girl, and where “Mindset” offers some personality on the part of Caveman Voicebox by saying in effect, “we know exactly what we’re doing and it’s all on purpose,” the earlier cut wants to pretend that’s not the case. It’s a kind of anti-pretense pretense, and it’s only not more of an issue than it is because of the strength of Wilson’s songwriting. Joining Alfred Cruz and Mike McKnight’s guitars is a bluesy slide guest spot from Eric Dover (Slash’s Snakepit) that adds character to the already barn-burning energy, and though the Doug Carrion (Descendants) production doesn’t quite beef up the guitars as one might think, the added feeling of rawness winds up an asset working in the band’s favor.

Read more »

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Frydee Conan

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

UK mega-doomers Conan filmed the above clip for “Hawk as Weapon” from their forthcoming album at the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff. As you’ll find out less than a minute into the song, it’s unbelievably fucking heavy. That’s what Conan does. Whatever they decide to call their next record, which will be their Burning World Records debut and follow-up to 2010’s epic Horseback Battle Hammer (review here), I expect nothing less than total devastation.

If “Hawk as Weapon” isn’t enough Conan for you, I’d recommend hitting up their Bandcamp site where you can hear and download the whole show. Or, if you don’t feel like clicking the link, here’s the Buffalo Bar gig in its 47-minute entirety:

If you’ve managed to make it through that much low-end marauding with your bowels still intact, kudos. You’ve done better than I think most do at Conan shows. They are, simply put, one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever heard.

Next week: A stream of the whole new King Giant record and hopefully an album giveaway to accompany. Also my interview with Selim Lemouchi of The Devil’s Blood and reviews of Caveman Voicebox, Earth, Bushfire and others, plus some Buried Treasure and the latest news on the Desertfests in London and Berlin, so plenty to look forward to. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m plum tuckered from this week, but I’ll still be dicking around on the forum, so feel free to say hi if you get a minute.

Pending that, I’ll be back here Monday with more zany fun.

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