Sleep’ing in on a Saturday Morning

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

If Sleep had more of a discography and I could say for certain I’d always be awake on a Saturday morning to post videos of them, I’d totally make this a weekly thing. But frankly, I don’t even want to be up now, I just am and have been since about 6:30AM. Pain in the ass week, as far as sleeping goes. The only night I slept through was Wednesday. Nonetheless, last night was so killer that I had to break out Sleep’s Holy Mountain to honor it. And then, having found the clip above with all the space footage — well, it was just too damn good to not post, even this morning.

Today is the last day of March. Next Thursday, I get on a plane and fly out to London in anticipation of Desertfest starting up on Friday. That will be excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing the likes of Stubb, Stone Axe, Asteroid, Ancestors, Trippy Wicked, Grifter, Alunah and others I might not otherwise have the chance to see. The more I think about it, the more I want to take that approach. I mean, Church of Misery is playing Roadburn too, so I can always see them there (and I do mean always — it seems like they do Roadburn every year; not a complaint), and it makes more sense to me to catch bands like Serpent Venom and Dopefight, who I have less of a chance of catching otherwise. I don’t know, I ‘ll get it worked out, and wherever I end up, I’ll bring the camera and the keyboard along.

Before I go, however, the first part of this week coming I anticipate will be pure madness. Nonetheless, I’ve still got a bunch of stuff coming up, like the March numbers, a stream of the new album from Mangoo, the second “Spine of Overkill” column from Chris “Woody High” MacDermott, and more. I want to get a review up of the new Ufomammut record before I leave, but with work, I don’t know if I’ll have time to give it its due attention and I don’t want to half-ass it. Hopefully that comes together Monday or Tuesday. Wednesdays are pretty much a wash lately at the office as far as actually getting anything done goes.

But among the kickass elements that made yesterday so righteous was an interview conducted with Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus about their recently-reviewed new album, Lillie: F-65, and I want to get that posted at some point reasonably soon — maybe while I’m away, depending on my time and travel trajectory between Desertfest and Roadburn. In any case, it’s something to look forward to for April coming up. We’ll talk more about the month when the March numbers go up on Monday.

Until then, thanks to everyone for checking in this week, and thanks especially to the 136 commenters who entered the High on Fire giveaway. So far I’ve got two of the three winners who’ve emailed me back. If I don’t hear from the third by Monday, I’ll probably just pick someone else, so if you haven’t gotten a note from me, there’s still a shot before next week starts up. For now, though, I’m heading back to bed, or at least to the couch, to try and rest up on this rainy as hell Saturday. Maybe later I’ll watch some Star Trek and check in on the forum about it, but otherwise, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Enjoy, and we’ll see you back here Monday for the busiest week ever.

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The Mound Builders, Strangers in a Strange Land: One Rock at a Time

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

Aligned to a burgeoning Midwestern scene that in their home state of Indiana alone boasts heavy-hitting acts like Devil to Pay, ResinHit Records labelmates The Hedons, The Heavy Co., with whom they share past members, Bulletwolf, Goliathon and others, Lafayette double-guitar fivesome The Mound Builders mark their debut with 2011’s Strangers in a Strange Land. Their awareness of the genre in which they reside is evident in everything from the Kyuss-style riffing of “Hessians of Stone” to the post-Sleep lyrics of “Spacevan,” but perhaps the single most prevalent influence throughout the album’s nine tracks/37 minutes is Alabama Thunderpussy. Strangers in a Strange Land, as much as it basks in stoner rock’s many lyrical and stylistic conventions, has a more Southern bent to it than some of The Mound Builders’ Hoosier contemporaries, and vocalist Jim Voelz – despite the occasional scream – keeps a burly inflection in his approach bound to be recognizable to anyone experienced with ATP’s Johnny Throckmorton-fronted era. In part because of that band’s cohesiveness and scope, nothing The Mound Builders does feels especially out of place, but Strangers in a Strange Land ultimately suffers from a common affliction in its mix that holds back the listening experience.

I say it all the time. When it comes to mixing heavy rock records: Vocals down, bass up. Bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma is already competing for prevalence with the considerable lead guitar of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher’s rhythm playing, but where his tone should hold down the groove on the chugging later cut “White Horse,” the tone is too clean and too thin to really do so. Likewise, Voelz’s vocals are so forward as to dominate the songs where the instruments should, and like a lot of albums – especially a lot of first albums — Strangers in a Strange Land takes a metal mix and imposes it on heavy rock, whereas one of the key differences between the two is how they’re best presented mix-wise. The Mound Builders’ punk influence is done a disservice, but the tradeoff is the album is bound to find some more sympathy from a headbanger contingent, as the Orange Goblin-style gruffness of centerpiece “Ironhide” is given further sharpness, but I still can’t help but feel that the dueling lead lines that persist would be better met if they were also bolstered on the low end more thank they are. Couple that with a thin snare sound for drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart (not to be confused with former Black Pyramid guitarist Andy “Dinger” Beresky), and it becomes even clearer that the production of Strangers in a Strange Land doesn’t serve the songs as well as it could. Granted, if they recorded it in a tin can, I don’t think it would stop “Winding River” from kicking ass, but there’s a lot of The Mound Builders’ first record that doesn’t leave the impression it should, and it being a debut, it’s even more pivotal that the band learn what works and why for their next time out.

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audiObelisk: Stream Øresund Space Collective’s West, Space and Love LP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

This isn’t the first time I’ve streamed audio from Copenhagen space-jamming instrumentalists Øresund Space Collective, but even if you go back and take another listen to the tracks previously posted from the albums Dead Man in Space and Entering into the Space Country, you’ll find that the material on the band’s new album, West, Space and Love is completely different.

Some things haven’t changed. The band is still driven by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (seen above), and the material on West, Space and Love is — like most if not all of Øresund Space Collective‘s remarkably substantial discography — totally improvised. What sets West, Space and Love apart from prior Øresund Space Collective outings, though, is that Heller teamed up with percussionist Billy “Love” Forsberg and organist/guitarist/sitarist KG West, both of the organic Swedish heavy jam outfit Siena Root.

The partnership resulted in West, Space and Love, which as its name would indicate makes the most of its three contributors. West and Love bring some of Siena Root‘s ultra-natural vibing to the quiet, headphone-and-nighttime-ready songs, and Dr. Space, as ever, proves why he earned that degree at the University of Hawkwind, Copenhagen campus. It’s a quiet-sounding album, but the mood the three come up with off the cuff stands up to anything in the realm of heavy psychedelia, and in the context of the ongoing evolution of Øresund Space Collective, is even more of a fascinating listen.

Hopefully, you agree and enjoy these tracks:

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

West, Space and Love was recorded in Oct. 2009 and will be available in a limited-to-200 pressing of hand-painted vinyl starting March 31. More info on the pressing and the availability is here, and these tracks will also shortly be posted at Øresund Space Collective‘s Bandcamp page, where you can also purchase a download of the album and explore the band’s vast catalog of recordings. More info is also at their website. Special thanks to Prog Sphere Promotions (website here) for hooking this up on short notice.

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SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE: The Patient Mrs. Reports on Mars Red Sky and Argonaut in Portland, OR, 03.25.12

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I was madly jealous of my beloved wife not only for being able to travel to Portland for her work where mine keeps me mired in Jersey’s swamps by its very nature, but also because she’d be there the same weekend that French heavy riffers Mars Red Sky were wrapping their post-SXSW tour of the West Coast. In no uncertain terms, I made clear my recommendation that she allow me to live vicariously through her by going to the show — which was with Argonaut, White Orange, Ancient Warlocks and probably others — and she took the advice to heart.

Not only that, but as if to reinforce why she’s the love of my life and why I’m the lucky she even talks to me let alone is legally obligated to give a crap whether I live or die, she turned in a review of the show for me to post here. And though her cell-phone pics aren’t the kind I was begging for all weekend, I’m appreciative of the fact that she included them, as I have here, to go with her words. While I delight in the coincidental abbreviation of Mars Red Sky as MRS, please enjoy the following:

Unable to join me as I set off for a Portland, Oregon, work trip, our dear blogmaster and my dear husband sent me off last weekend with the urgent advice that I go see Mars Red Sky at the Ash St. Saloon — after all, they won’t be playing the East Coast, and since I won’t be going to Roadburn, it might be my only chance this year. So on Saturday night, finished with all my work obligations for the day, I set off on a solo adventure to see the doomy side of Portland.

Still too early to head over to the venue, I began the evening at the Lucky Labrador Brewpub in southeast Portland, an unpretentious local public house with a full — if hop-heavy — slate of house brews. It was a great place for a few beers, a sandwich, and some reading before moving back across the Willamette River (rhymes with “dammit”) for the show. I was particularly pleased to sample their cask-conditioned doppelbock, which was a nice balance of strong and sweet and the perfect amount of warm and flat. The last several times I’ve been somewhere with a cask tap, it’s been out of commission, and well, I really like warm, flat ale. But onto the show.

Taking advantage of Portland’s near-European quality public transportation system, I hopped a bus back westward to the Ash St. Saloon, just a block off of Burnside, the city’s main artery. There was a line of food trucks across the street, and a random group of bagpipers standing on the opposite corner (at 10PM), so I felt like I was really getting a quality taste of the reputed “Portland experience.”

Boasting a five dollar cover and a crowd that was utterly familiar, the Ash St. Saloon was welcoming. They had a nice selection of beers on taps, quickly responsive bartenders, and again, a pleasantly unpretentious vibe that is a welcome change from most doomy shows I’ve been to lately (I’m looking at you, W-burg).

Now, before getting to the actual music: I have seen more doom and stoner rock shows than most dedicated fans, and I genuinely like the music, but it’s not really my thing. Frankly, I think when you’re married to someone who has a real passion, it’s better to not have the exact same passion. You’d get in each other’s way too much — maybe that’s just me; I’m a pretty competitive person — but while I know and can discuss dominant genealogies of doom, can talk effectively about what I like and don’t like, and can generally identify whether something is hackneyed or mind-blowing, what I can’t do is remember the names of songs, or talk about nuances in playing, or even tell you how many songs a band played. Take my thoughts for what they are.

When I arrived, Argonaut was at the front end of their set. The Tacoma-based band played good, solid rock and roll, with some decently developed and interesting riffs. The drums were bizarrely loud in the mix, making it a little hard to focus on the guitar lines and really drowning out the bass, but they were clearly having a good time. Their ReverbNation page says they have punk roots, but I didn’t really note that in listening to them. It was perhaps most evident in the guitarist’s visual presentation — he looked like a grown-up hardcore kid — which leads me to my strongest impression from their whole set: these guys are adults who are doing something they both enjoy and know how to do. Power to them for getting out there and doing their thing.

Mars Red Sky was up next, though I was pretty confused for a few minutes because they were listed as going on before Argonaut, but when they started to set up, I was pretty sure they were speaking French, so I figured I was okay. Their first song confirmed they were indeed Mars Red Sky because I knew that I knew it. We have listened to that CD in the car a lot, so it was all very familiar. My great critical reflection on this first number is that it was very pretty and much more contemplative than the straight-up rock of the previous band. The trio is very well balanced and on stage, the richness of the bass stands out a bit more than on the album.

The next song they played was the one I know best. While I don’t know the actual words, the melody was familiar. Again, there was a richness and a grittiness in the live performance that stands out against the recorded version. For example, the vocals are multi-tracked on the album, but even with whatever effects, they stood out as more emotionally driven live. The album is polished. The virtue of the live set was it showed a less mediated iteration – live, the song seemed to suggest a great deal more vulnerability than comes across on the album. Having looked it up, it turns out this was “Strong Reflection.”

Next they played a new song, the title of which I did not catch. A bit more up-tempo and guitar focused, it relied on more traditionally stoner-ish riffs, sitting in some abrasive grooves, while not losing the thoughtfulness that characterized the songwriting on their first album. Either on this song or on the next, the bassist took up the vocals. The bassist’s, Jimmy Kinast’s, vocals are less distinctive than the guitarist’s, but cohered well with the overall aesthetic. Ultimately, the rest of the set moved in a heavier direction, turning up the doominess a few notches across the board.

A relatively short set, they finished up, loaded out, and set up shop at the merch table. I had already snagged a White Orange CD for JJ, and while I had been planning to say hi to Jimmy as JJ had let him know that I would be there, he was occupied selling and signing, so I nodded to the merch girl/someone’s girlfriend and wandered off.

I could definitely spend more time in Portland.

Unbelievable amounts of love and appreciation to The Patient Mrs. for filing this report (really, I’m tearing up as I type this). Here’s a MRS video from SXSW that gives me something — as if I needed more fodder — to look forward to a couple weeks from now at Roadburn.

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Six Dumb Questions with The House of Capricorn

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on March 29th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

This one has been a long time coming, any by that, I mean months. I’m bad enough with email interviews as it is, since general wordiness and the thought that someone might read something the wrong way and embark on a 300-word answer that basically rounds out to “You’re a putz” keeps me more or less paralyzed in terms of actually phrasing the questions (whereas with phoners, I usually just work from notes and enjoy that flexibility), but part of it too has to be attributed to New Zealand gloom rockers The House of Capricorn‘s genre blend.

Across their two records, 2010’s Sign of the Cloven Hoof (review here) and last year’s In the Devil’s Days (review here), the Auckland four-piece take elements from doom, heavy rock and ’90s-style gothic imagery and occultism and turn it into something grand, smiling shiny teeth through its own darkness. And you know, I think part of the holdup too was just the fact that I knew I was hearing Type O Negative in their sound but wasn’t sure if it was just my own East Coast American ears putting it onto those albums, both released through Swamps of One Tree Hill.

Turns out that, no, it wasn’t just me. Founder and vocalist Marko Pavlovic not only acknowledges the influence, but seems to delight in it, leaving credit for the stoner/doom elements at work in The House of Capricorn‘s sound to guitarist Scott Blomfield, bassist Ami Holifield and drummer Mickey Rothwell. Fair enough, since if you’re going to have a genuine blend, it needs to come from different sides within a cohesive whole, but as Pavlovic recounts doing the majority of the writing for In the Devil’s Days and Sign of the Cloven Hoof, it’s worth noting his stylistic breadth isn’t limited to just one sound or another.

Except perhaps his own, since although The House of Capricorn are comparable to this or that act in terms of citing influences, there doesn’t seem to be any single source from which they wholly derive their modus. As they continue to progress and move past In the Devil’s Days and on to the next work, whatever that might be, that can only serve them well — all the more if they can hone a production sound that serves to highlight both the unique aspects and cohesiveness of their sound. In the Q&A that follows, Pavlovic discusses (in part through a great number of parenthetical asides) what shape that next outing may take, as well as how The House of Capricorn got together, some of their favorite countrymen acts, and much more.

Thanks to Pavlovic in being so patient waiting for these to come through, and thanks to you for reading. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

1. It’s been almost six years since the first EP came out, but background info on the band is pretty sparse. How did The House of Capricorn first get together, and how would you characterize the music you play?

Christ, we sound almost as mysterious as Miss Scarlett (it was always that saucy vixen, in the library, with the candlestick).

The House of Capricorn first came together with its still-current lineup at the end of 2005 (we’d all first met each other around the end of ‘03), after I coerced Mickey into playing drums on a couple of songs I’d had written for years (which results in The Rivers & the Rain/Old Redhook demo) — I first met him in the quad at Auckland University, after I commented on his Alice in Chains shirt. He was drumming for a band called Grenade Kills 3 and playing guitar for Graymalkin at the time, both bands which I really like(d). After the demo was recorded I had it duplicated to exactly 66 hand numbered CDRs (with artwork sporting a grubby old tomb under a tree — right on), and started chucking it out to some people who I thought might be interested (bear in mind, this is handing it out to people involved in extreme metal in Auckland — no one was really overtly into the whole hard/stoner rock thing in our town, in that scene), and selling it for $6NZD a piece (hey, I had to find the other ‘6’ from somewhere). Mickey then decided the tunes were reasonably tolerable, and offered to join fulltime.

Ami I knew from gigs and parties — she was also playing bass for a Black Sabbath covers outfit (or as some would say, “tribute” band). She hit me up at an Ulcerate show at the Kings Arms one night and offered to play bass. I quickly agreed.

At the time I was playing in Creeping with Scotty B., who I’d met through a mutual acquaintance at his place of work. It was a completely natural move to ask him three times in a row to join, each time with growing desperation (Scott: Man… Are you sure you shouldn’t just change the name of the band to The House of Creeping?). From then on, EP in ‘06, couple of EP/single-length samplers on CDR and a video across ‘07-’09, SotCH ‘10, ItDD in ‘11.

I still personally consider the band to have started in 2001 when I first wrote “The Rivers & the Rain” (March 19, 2001, to be exact). I used to have a band with a few guys I was in high school which was essentially the first incarnation, but it was never anything more than a bit of fun.

So there you are, for anyone who gives a shit. History to date = complete. We try extremely hard to mimic Hasjarl’s and Mikko’s levels of ultimate clandestine infamy. I’ve just ruined all that.

In terms of how I would characterize our music… “apocalyptic devil rock” is what I’ve been going with. I really can’t think of anything better than that. It’s a little outrageous, really.

2. How much influence do you take from gothic rock? Listening to In the Devil’s Days, it seems like there’s a side of the band working from those elements, thinking of bands like Type O Negative and maybe Paradise Lost.

We are all Type O Negative nutcases, so its really only natural for us to plagiarise the greatest band of all time.

Aside from Type O Negative, I’m probably the most aligned to the whole gothic rock thing out of all of us — the others are a lot more into the stoner rock/doom buzz than I am. Babylon Whores are one of my top three bands of all time, and I love The Sisters of Mercy (just saw them on Feb. 22 in Auckland — it was fucking awesome, but Jesus, walking into that show it felt like someone had exhumed half the graveyard).

I’ve heard the Paradise Lost reference a couple of times for this new album of ours. Truth be told I don’t think any of us are really big on them. I mean, I’ve got One Second, which I do like (“Blood of Another” is killer), but that’s about it. Not to say they’re not a sweet band, I just don’t think we were really exposed to them in the way people seem to think. Maybe I need to give them more of a spin.

Overall though, the influence from the stuff we do listen to is extremely prevalent. The elements we overtly absorb/reflect from gothic rock are much the same as the ones we absorb/reflect from good black metal: spooky melodies and gloomy sonic atmospherics to match my obsession with wanting to live in the Addams Family house.

I’m not big on party-goth stuff though. It’s all cemeteries and haunted mansions for The House of Capricorn.

3. What’s The House of Capricorn’s songwriting process like? Were there any specific goals you had in mind for In the Devil’s Days and now that the record has been out for a while, do you have a sense of what you’d like to do next?

To date I’ve written most of the material, but the other guys (and gal) were a lot more in the mix on the last album.

On one hand, I’ll come to the others with a full song written and say, “Hey, learn this shit, this is the new one.” On the other, one of us will swoop in with a riff or two or an idea, we’ll sit down, work out some accompanying riffs, usually in one of our lounges while drinking Milo, and close it up like that. I’d say we work pretty similarly to most bands when it comes to writing… even though I’d love to tell you that we snatch the inspiration from our individual ritualistic trance-state journeys into the void.

With regards to specific goals, it was all outlined from the start (apart from in the case of one of the riffs from “Horns”). Once SotCH was finished and out, we all sat down at a practice and discussed the direction for the next one. It was decided upon that we would do a concept album, outlining a descent into Hell to meet the Devil, and that the music would match the tale. I’ve read a lot of criticism about the album’s disjointed nature, switching from mid-paced to funeral crawl (see that little reference there? some people will get it), but to me it makes perfect sense being in line with the overall storyline. Maybe only because I wrote the fucking thing. We really should think about the end-user next time.

Regarding the next album, it’s currently being worked on (along with a couple of tracks for some splits which will hopefully materialize). It probably won’t be as much of a formed, conceptual masterpiece as ItDD… probably more just a bunch of leftover odd ends we decide to throw together. Expect ReLoad ‘13.

4. Tell me about writing “Horns” – the song in three parts. How did it all come together, and what’s the band’s connection to arcane themes? Where does that influence come from?

“Horns” was the first song started and the last one finished. The main riff from the third section was actually the first one written for the whole album, before we’d even started thinking about doing our first record properly. Rothwell had asked me to play bass for a Graymalkin reformation as they were supporting Napalm Death on a couple of shows here in about ’07, I think. We were sitting in his bedroom just jamming away (probably around June ‘07), and I can’t remember which one of us started playing it, but we both looked at each other and went, “Yeah! That sounds like some real-deal Halloween shit!.” The rest of the song was written throughout 2010, right up until about one month out from tracking. My favourite riff in that song is the first of the second section — that was a Scotty B. special that me and Mickey added a bit to. The reason it’s in three parts however was a decision made by yours truly to completely and utterly rip on Bloody Kisses-era Type O.

When it comes to the arcane, thematic element of the band, I am completely and utterly possessed by the atmosphere generated by symbolism tied hand in hand with (as mentioned above) campy, Dracced up aesthetics like low-lying mist, and old buildings with creaky doors and creepy shadows.

Couple all that with a genuine interest in the Devil — and I mean the Devil (horns, wings, hellfire and brimstone, the Morning Star, etc.), not a metaphysical concept or any kind of representative idol, and you get our final product.

I really don’t know where that influence comes from though. I’ve always been interested in Devil worship and other assorted occultism. I can’t remember where it started. I wish I could say it was when I developed a crush on Fairuza Balk after watching The Craft for the first time, but it was definitely before that. Maybe I was fiending on Maleficent when she turned into the dragon. I still vividly remember that line that finished with “…and all the powers of HELL!!” I mean, she did have that kinda sexy Scandinavian look going on… high cheekbones and a haughty walk. Know what I’m saying?

5. I know of a few bands from New Zealand playing doom or heavy rock – Arc of Ascent, Beastwars, etc. – but is there anyone you’d recommend checking out? Anyone you especially enjoy doing shows with? What’s the scene like in New Zealand?

[Please note: This section contains many links which may not at first be obvious. — ed.] Our top partners in crime are/were Second Gear Grind, Soulseller and Arc of Ascent.

Second Gear Grind from Christchurch are probably as close to pure stoner rock as you’re going to find in NZ. Total blues driven “yeah yeah yeah” stuff that is 100 percent ticket and heavy as fuck. You gotta check ‘em out, man. I’ll send you some if you like.

Soulseller, who have recently, disappointingly disbanded, were a rowdy, heavy rock ‘n’ roll crew from Dunedin. They’ve got a self-titled EP that came out a few years ago, and also a couple of tracks on a couple of compilations. One of (along with Second Gear Grind) the best bands I’ve ever seen, ever.

And Arc of Ascent from Hamilton you’re already familiar with. No doubt Craig [Williamson]’s space-spirit popped a CD into your mailbox during one of his transcendental soul-flights through the celestial heavens.

These three bands along with us I think really began the foundation of what became the “scene” (that’s said without conceit — and if you can even call it a scene). Before we all got together for the tour (we did a four-date StonerDoom tour [http://stonerdoom.co.nz is a forum originally started by a guy called Rich who has since moved back to the UK — whatup Rich!] in 2008 in each of our hometowns — may not seem like many shows, but shit, NZ isn’t a big place!), and Ami’s annual December stoner fests Eyes of the South in Christchurch and Northern Lights in Auckland, which started up in ‘07, there really was nothing. We were all playing shows in our respective cities with bands from other scenes (extreme metal bands in The House of Capricorn’s case, maybe due to previous alignments), to people who didn’t give a shit (not saying anyone really gives a shit now, but it’s gotten a bit better). Craig was playing in Datura in the ‘90s, and when I asked him he said it was pretty much the same deal.

Nowadays, in terms of doom and hard rock, other bands that definitely need checking out are Shallow Grave (Rothwell from HOC playing guitar again) who are a heavy psychedelic doom outfit — their debut should be out sometime this year, Stone Angels (Steve, Geoff and Mike from Second Gear Grind, and Kris from Sinistrous Diabolus) who are a real downbeat doom/crusty Iron Monkey-kinda crew, Sinistrous Diabolus (who have been around since the early ‘90s) who play total funeral doom probably more aligning with the metal side of things, and Triceratops who are a new doom band, and have just released their VS Music EP.

There are also bands like Interconnector who take more of a, I guess, party rock ‘n’ roll Fu Manchu-kinda approach (cars and girls and stuff), Osmium, who are on a real good Alice in Chains vibe, Left or Right who do a wicked cross of big stoner riffs and reggae, Cobra Khan, who have more of a punky flavour, and Somme who are on a drone buzz, all of whom rule.

In terms of metal though: Ulcerate, Vassafor and Skuldom. Yeah!

6. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Hopefully we’ll get something sorted out in way of a tour (either the US or EU) at some point in 2013 after the next one’s out. If there are any promoters or good bands interested, we’re definitely keen to hear from you! We’re keen to come to the table to make it work.

If not, well, fuck ya, we’ll try do it ourselves.

The House of Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

The House of Capricorn on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk: Stream Hong Faux’s The Crown that Wears the Head Debut in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on March 29th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Who’s afraid of a little pop?

Certainly not Stockholm heavy rockers Hong Faux, who make their vinyl full-length debut with the self-released The Crown that Wears the Head. I think it’s well established by now that I’m a sucker for a well-written hook — all the more if it comes from Sweden — and The Crown that Wears the Head is full of them, working in a deceptively broad stylistic base and nonetheless maintaining a consistency of songwriting throughout the record’s eight tracks. The album is warm and modern, and by the time you’ve made the jump from upbeat opener “Present Tense-less” to the more thickly-grooved “Bad City Blues,” Hong Faux exact a flow so smooth it’s easy to lose track of just how far you’ve come.

Guitarist Nik Seren and bassist BQ share vocal duties, making Graveyard-esque lyrical references to Danzig (on closer “Sparrow Hills”) and skillfully infusing classic late-’60s psychedelia into the verses of “Pearlgarden.” Guitarist Björn and drummer Daniel round out the lineup, the former adding wah-driven classic rock lead work to the back half of “Jack of Clubs” while the drums prove able to adapt to whatever the riffs or pacing might bring. Earlier single “Feign Death to Stay Alive” delivers the title line, and throughout its 33-minute run, The Crown that Wears the Head provides solid heavy rock without pretense or upset to its forward push.

The LP version of the album is available for pre-order through Hong Faux‘s page on Bandcamp, and since I dug their demo and this vinyl, I wanted to offer to stream the tracks from The Crown that Wears the Head so you can hear them for yourself. With design work from Mat Bethancourt (formerly of Josiah, currently of Cherry Choke), it’s a complete package of immediately memorable tunes I thought might be worth checking out.

So please, dig in:

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

For more info on Hong Faux, visit their website or hit them up on Thee Facebooks. The Crown that Wears the Head was recorded in Stockholm by the band and Fredrik Moberg at Bad Boar Studios and Green Room Studios. To preorder the vinyl from their Bandcamp page, click here.

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Wino Wednesday: The Obsessed, “Red Disaster” Live in Germany, 1992

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 28th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

That’s the thing about putting up a different video from one of Wino‘s bands each week — there’s always something new coming along. I thought to coincide with the news that came in this morning about Roadburn Records releasing a live album from The Obsessed recorded in Germany in 1992, I’d go ahead and post a video from that same era as well.

True, this clip of the song “Red Disaster” from the classic 1990 self-titled was recorded in Stuttgart and not Koln, which is the set captured on the upcoming live release, but I hope you’ll forgive my willingness to settle for geographic and temporal proximity just this once. If I could do better, rest assured, I would.

May 1 is the release date slated for the LP, if you didn’t click that link, so keep your eyes out for that, because I can’t imagine it’ll be around all that long. It’s been awfully Obsessed-heavy around Wino Wednesday lately, I know, but I’m gearing up for their Roadburn reunion set in a couple weeks, so I can’t help it. In any case, if you’re complaining, you missed the point of this whole exercise in gluttonous fanboying in the first place, which was… uh… that Wino rules.

Happy Wino Wednesday:

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Avant Guardian Experimental Pizza by the Slice, by Mario Lalli

Posted in Features on March 28th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

In his second and most awesomely titled column for the site, Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson illuminates his feelings on the avant garde and discusses a recent performance at his Los Angeles-area restaurant, Cafe 322. Please enjoy:

Avant Guardian Experimental Pizza by the Slice
by Mario Lalli

I have an interesting perspective on people’s takes and response to different kinds of music.

I run a restaurant/club in Sierra Madre, California – a small town about 20 minutes east of Los Angeles. It’s a small venue, seats about 100. We have a neighborhood bar where locals hang and wind down after work.

My family has been in this business for 65 years. My folks were both opera singers and made a nice life for themselves entertaining the customers at their restaurants for decades. When I opened our place here in L.A. after growing up in the SoCal desert (a cultural void), I was excited to dive into booking an eclectic mix of live music ranging from rock shows with bands like Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man, Saccharine Trust, Mike Watt, Spindrift, Totimoshi, Brant Bjork & the Bros – you get the idea – to big band jazz & bebop, blues, bluegrass, roots rock… you name it.

On Sundays it’s opera. My father sings arias and Neapolitan songs with a group of singers that come out every week. I work behind the bar most of the time, running back and forth to the stage to check the sound and dial in the mix. At the bar you get a direct response to whatever is happening on the stage. For instance, the two bikers that roll in for a shot and a beer on a Sunday evening. As these two dudes dismount their Harleys and shake off the road dust, they have no idea that they are about to walk into Opera Night with a three-octave soprano on stage singing the “Doll Song” from The Tales of Hoffman. I wish I had that reaction on video. Needless to say, there are very few places where these two worlds collide and our cafe is one of them.

Being the proprietor/booker, I am pretty sensitive to the various opinions that come at me about the music we feature. I do have to think about catering somewhat to the mainstream, even though it’s very hard to do sometimes. I sometimes forget that my tastes and what I dig might be downright offensive to the average person that tunes in pop radio on the way home from work. A debate that has recently been sparking through the conversation at the bar over the last few days was ignited by a performance I booked featuring members of L.A.’s free music society.

This group of experimental artists and musicians perform mostly improvised pieces, rejecting the traditional components of popular song form. “It’s sound not song. What it does in your head is up to you,” was one comment that I found interesting. The makeup of the band was traditional enough – vocal, sax, piano, bass, drums. The music, however…

Imagine tides of puzzle pieces washing up on your brain just to be incinerated by blasts of gong and saxophone blurts. Improvising vocally was Bonnie Barnett. She is probably the most interesting element of the band, making “wasa wasa” sounds and scatting excorcistic unintelligible bleeps and bloops into the microphone in answer to the chaotic swelling and fractured soundscapes. Keep in mind this is all happening in a pizzeria during dinnertime.

The crowd that night was a very spattered mix of local rockers, aging beatniks, soccer moms and date-nite couples. The reaction was to both extremes, the avant garde that soaked up every flutter and clang with delight, to the foursome of golf buddies that happened to come by for a cold one after the 18th hole and found themselves trapped in a jazz torture chamber.

It was from this end of the spectrum the debate ensued: “What the fuck are they doing??!! That’s not music!” or, “This is bullshit, are they serious??” Some customers were actually outraged that I would subject them to this while they were trying to eat and visit with their friends and demanded an explanation for my choice of entertainment. I might as well have had Venom on stage, or, even better, Celtic Frost or Earth laying down slabs of avant lava to add ambiance to their dining experience.

The debate about the legitimacy of this form of expression/entertainment has been brought up every day since the show two weeks ago. I guess while it’s not the most practical business decision I’ve made, it certainly got people thinking and me asking myself, “Where do I draw the line between expression and entertainment?” I guess after thinking about it probably more than I should have, my answer is to that question is the line does not exist.

To see the menu and upcoming performances at Cafe 322, check out the restaurant’s website.

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