Frydee Clear Blue Sky

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

For the life of me I have no idea why I haven’t bought this album yet. The 1971 self-titled debut from British heavy bluesers Clear Blue Sky. Roger Dean cover. Vertigo Records. Fuzz into oblivion. Really, I have no excuse. Right up there with your Jamuls and your Aunt Marys and your Chicken Shacks. I’ll get there one of these days. Till then, this is “Journey to the Inside of the Sun, Pt. A: Sweet Leaf.” No relation to the Sabbath track of the same name, I guess, which would surface later that year on Master of Reality. Everyone had reefer on the brain, I suppose.

In a few minutes, I’m going to head out to the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn to catch Floor with Thrones. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while and with the well-timed announcement earlier this week that they’ll put out a new album, all the more so. Last time I recall them coming through was summer 2010, so with the added potential for new material live, it’s the way to go.

That’s tonight, and I’m stoked. Tomorrow, it’s down to Philly to catch SuperVoid, Clamfight, Borracho and Been Obscene at an early show at Kung Fu Necktie. Been Obscene, who came all the way from Austria to tour the West Coast, will have only done three shows here in the Northeast — they had SuperVoid and Borracho with them — so it’s kind of a rare opportunity to bask in some European heavy psych relatively close to home. Should make for an excellent weekend all around.

Reviews of those shows, the new Moss album and hopefully the new Serpent Throne next week. It was nice this week to bang out a couple real, dug-in reviews (Shroud Eater, Shallow Grave, Beastwars). I’ve been feeling kind of overwhelmed by the pile of stuff to be done lately, so I was glad to really give some attention to acts who I felt deserved it. If you took any of those on, I hope they weren’t too onerous.

To that end, I’ve been debating pulling back on the detail in some of the reviews. I’m never sure how many people are reading, and I wonder if it wouldn’t do better to try and focus more on overall description than the minute stuff, so that someone might actually read it front to back? I could probably fit more than one in my daily schedule that way too, and get through stuff faster so I don’t have people waiting for months and I don’t have to feel like a jerk for at least some of the stuff I don’t get to. There’s a balance to be struck there, is all I’m saying, and I might try to put some effort into striking it one of these coming weeks. Probably not next week though, what with the live reviews.

In the meantime, it’s off to what I’m sure will be a packed out Vitus bar and a twofer rocking weekend even before the Game of Thrones season premiere on Sunday night. In between, I’ll be checking in/nerding out on the forum and I hope you’ll feel free to do the same. See you there and back here Monday for riffy hooliganizing.

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Hey, I Bet You Didn’t Know ASG and KEN Mode Were Playing Those Shows with Orange Goblin, Roadsaw and Kings Destroy

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

…Well, they are. And that’s just the first sliver of big news for Kings Destroy, who’ve got a new record coming that’ll be announced and given its well-deserved hyping over the next few months. While you’re waiting for that and the new video the shoot for which was the source of the woodsy photo above, Kings Destroy have a bunch of other dates coming up, including Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin, to check out. Behold:

Upcoming shows:

April 21 Northstar Bar, Philadelphia with Orange Goblin, ASG, KEN Mode, Roadsaw
April 22 Saint Vitus , Brooklyn with Orange Goblin, ASG, KEN Mode, Roadsaw
April 23 Middle East, Boston with Orange Goblin, Roadsaw
June 7 Brooklyn, NY TBA
June 20 Chicago, IL TBA
June 21 Days of the Doomed Fest, Milwaukee, WI
June 22 Columbus Ohio, with Hollow Leg plus TBA

Many more announcements coming soon…

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Groan Join Lineup for London Desertfest 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Similar to being grateful for having the opportunity to catch bands like Alunah, Grifter and Trippy Wicked at last year’s Desertfest in London, I’m excited at the chance to see Groan on stage. Having so thoroughly nerded out over their metallicized 2012 offering, The Divine Right of Kings (review here), it should be fun to see them do some of that material live, and all the more interesting now that they have two guitars. Seems like they can never quite keep still. All the better for the stage show.

Here’s the announcement, cruelly snatched from the Desertfest website:

Hear the Groan at Desertfest

Here at DesertFest HQ we’ve been doing some experiments. We ain’t messing around here – there are Bunsen burners, SPSS datasets and white lab coats lying around all over the place! So what have we learned from this cactus-tax funded piece of analysis? Well, during our careful dissection of a certain infamous British hard rock band, we have successfully proven the hypothesis that Groan are, in fact, 67% TRUE DOOM.

So what does this mean for the remaining 33% I hear you exclaim? Well, you can fill out the rest of that pie-chart with righteous segments of HARD rock, THUNDER BOOGIE heavy metal, INSANE trouser choices and a significant quantity of FACIAL hair. Groan were formed roughly around 1967 by guitarist The Riff Wizard who then met lead singer Lord Mazzereth in a field of frolicking, opium-fuelled virgin pagans; such fields as I’m told were in abundance at that time. Soon however the initial line-up became a forgotten myth confined to Celtic folklore and the rarest of parchment inscriptions sealed in a series of long lost mountain caves. Yet in 2009, Groan were resurrected and rose like a phoenix silhouetted by several glow-sticks from their tomb of rock. Lord Mazzereth, who some say is older than Jesus, had forgotten all of the old hymns, but a new line-up of devout worshippers to the altar of the noble ryffe were nonetheless recruited and they wrote some new, better gospels together in haste. Now rounded out as a well-drilled five-piece with the addition of former Invasion and Pettybone drummer Zel Kaute, plus Trippy Wicked drummer Chris West and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) on guitars joining frontman Mazzereth and corduroy comedian Leigh Jones on bass, the time to Groan is now!

Here to rock your life out of control with the likes of ‘Witchy Woman’, ‘Throne of Weed’ and ‘Gods of Fire’, this is one party train of David Coverdale fanatics, playing the best riffs that Sabbath threw away, that you’d be a fool to miss. A FOOL I TELL YOU! And if that’s not enough for you, the last time I saw this band, they were all dressed as bananas. Be there, or be somewhere sensible.

Words by Pete Green.

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Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire: This is a Temple

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Beastwars are not a band who do anything small. From their massive-sounding production, to the epic themes in their songs, to the scale of their artwork, the Wellington, New Zealand, foursome operate in one mode, and that mode is huge. Even in the quiet, brooding moments of their second self-released LP, Blood Becomes Fire, on the title-track for example, or the earlier “Rivermen,” they retain an imposing sensibility, pushing sludge riffs, noise crunch and modern doom atmospherics in songs that — contrary to what one would almost certainly expect unless they encountered Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here) — only once pass the five-minute mark and never wander far from a discernible structure. Pace varies more than mood on the vinyl-ready 39-minute/10-track offering, and Blood Becomes Fire is almost universally aggressive, but as big as they go sonically, Beastwars — vocalist Matt Hyde, guitarist Clayton Anderson, bassist James Woods and drummer Nathan Hickey — don’t give in to metallic chestbeating. As they did on the self-titled, Hyde ‘s vocals convey a persistent drama through a deceptively varied array of clean lines and harsher growls, and that in combination with Anderson‘s riffing, Woods‘ at-the-forefront low end and Hickey‘s plodding stomp is more than enough to get the point across of their dominance. As a unit, they work with vicious efficiency and even more than their first offering, Blood Becomes Fire is an individualized show of their potency and memorable songwriting. It is stylistically consistent with its predecessor, but an all-around more developed collection, and one that’s been met with considerable critical hyperbole and “album of the year”-type praise. That was true of the first record as well, and an accordingly sizable response seems fitting for an outfit so bent on sonic grandiosity, but whatever laurels have been placed on Beastwars’ collective head, they deliver on Blood Becomes Fire a full-length that seems less concerned with exciting critics and more about bashing skulls in the live sphere. Certainly the instrumental and vocal hooks alike speak to that, and if it’s a signal of the band’s affinity for staging their material, it’s only served to make them a tighter, crisper unit.

The album impresses even unto its symmetry. Ten tracks are split easily into two vinyl sides with the three-minute “Dune” leading off at a faster clip, taking a winding verse riff and opening it to a bigger chorus topped with Hyde’s harsh, sometimes Kirk Windsteinian snarling. Woods’ bass does a lot of the work in filling out the opener, but the guitars are still at the fore sonically with the drums and vocals cutting through. Beastwars change the feel between the tracks enough so that “Dune” doesn’t quite hint at everything they have to offer throughout, but it’s an effective start for Blood Becomes Fire all the same and builds momentum that they carry through to the subsequent “Imperium,” the second longest cut at 4:36 and built around a nasty, crushing groove, Anderson and Woods not so much fighting for prominence as uniting at the front to pummel together. Stops in the bridge lead to some double-kick from Hickey, and Hyde maintains an almost indecipherable guttural gnash vocally, rasping out lines in rhythmic time before slipping back into the tonal assault from whence he came. Just before three minutes in, he moves into a jarring, higher-pitched scream that signals the height of the track’s push – Anderson follows soon on guitar and Hyde moves up on bass as well, mounting a swirl that they skillfully take back to the initial groove, Hickey cutting to half-time on the drums to march the way out. A noise rock – that’s not to say AmRep, not knowing if it’s actually an influence or coincidence of sound – bite shows up in “Tower of Skulls,” mostly in Woods’ tone, but also in the cyclical lurch of the riff, though Hyde’s vocals and the midpoint surge of melody give that noise a different context that emphasizes Beastwars’ ability to take something familiar and make it their own. Following an uptempo bridge, they hit the brakes and Anderson layers a lead into the verse riff to serve as a bookending outro, leading to the darker “Realms,” which offers some middle ground between the more impact-minded crushers and the moody side A closer, “Rivermen” to come. More subdued initially in its vocals, feedback and drum thud meter out an underlying threat that comes to bear in an impressive – if short at 3:04 – linear build, Hyde shouting out memorable repetitions based around the line “This is a temple.” So it may be. He brings the instruments with him to a manic wash, the song cutting short to let “Rivermen” start slow.

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Cathedral Post Horrific Video for “Tower of Silence” from The Last Spire

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Lee Dorrian ain’t no dummy. He knows what time it is. And if their new video for the track “Tower of Silence” from their forthcoming final album, The Last Spire, is anything to go by, it’s about doom o’clock. The UK legends seem to be enjoying their farewell, and why not? Dorrian, guitarist Garry “Gaz” Jennings and bassist Scott Carlson already have a new project in the works called Septic Tank, and they’ll make their live debut in May, so what the hell? Live it up a little in the meantime. Certainly a victory lap well earned over the last 24 years.

Assuming the tracklisting stays as it was in the release announcement late last year, “Tower of Silence” is the centerpiece of The Last Spire, surrounded by three tracks on either side. I don’t want to make predictions about the rest of the record having only heard this one track, but at very least it bodes well.


Cathedral, “Tower of Silence” Official Video

The final promo video from the final album by UK Doom Legends Cathedral. Thanks to all our friends, followers and supporters over the year. This is for you!

Inspired by classic cult British Film Institutions such as Amicus and Hammer House of Horror, “Tower of Silence” was shot on location during the British Winter of 2012 at Gunnersbury Park Tower, London. It features a guest appearance from Purson’s Rosalie Cunningham, who places a symbolic black orchid on the tombstone of each member in the clips closing scenes.

Directed by UK based Paraffin City Productions, Tower of Silence will be the last full production promo video ever made by this British Doom Metal institution and is taken from their final album, The Last Spire, out April 29th on RISE ABOVE Records.

The Last Spire is released in the following territories;

UK via Rise Above Records on April 29th 2013.
USA via Metal Blade Records on April 30th.
Japan via Trooper Entertainment on May 1st.
Pre-order at iTunes from March 29th.
Die-hard vinyl editions will be available from the Rise Above webstore soon.

Lee Dorrian – Vocals
Garry Jennings – Guitar
Brian Dixon – Drums
Scott Carlson – Bass Guitar

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Kylesa Announce First Tour in Support of Ultraviolet

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Bringing with them the diverse bill of mystic doomers Blood Ceremony, cult psych heroes White Hills, and Atlanta-based instrumental spazzoids Lazer/Wulf, Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are starting what will most likely be a lengthy tour cycle in support of their new album, Ultraviolet. Expected May 28 on Season of Mist, Ultraviolet is Kylesa‘s first record of new material since 2010’s Spiral Shadow, which saw them greatly expand their melodic reach and progressive sensibilities.

As much as I’ve been looking forward to hearing the LP, Kylesa have always been an excellent live act, so it’ll be great to catch the Ultraviolet songs in-person as well. The PR wire has info and the rather considerable list of dates:



Kylesa kick off their first North American tour in support of Ultraviolet (May 28, Season of Mist) on May 10 in Gainesville, Fla. at the High Dive.

“It’s been a while since we’ve done a headlining tour in the US or Canada,” explained singer/guitar player Laura Pleasants, referring to the near two-year gap since the Savannah band’s last run. “We are looking forward to doing a proper tour supporting Ultraviolet. It will be good to see friends and fans (old and new) and hit these once familiar landscapes again. “

Spin premiered “Quicksand,” a new song from the 11-track album, earlier this week ( describing the song “joins the melodies of ‘90s shoegaze with the churn of modern sludge.” Ultraviolet pre-orders are available now via Season of Mist’s e-shop (

Tour dates:
April 19 Savannah, GA The Dollhouse (Free show)
May 10 Gainesville, FL High Dive
May 11 Orlando, FL Backbooth
May 12 Miami, FL Churchhill’s
May 13 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
May 15 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s
May 16 Houston, TX Walters
May 17 Dallas, TX Trees
May 18 Austin, TX Mohawk
May 20 Albuquerque, NM Blackwater
May 21 Denver, CO Marquis Theater
May 22 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
May 24 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst
May 25 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
May 27 Portland, OR Star Theater
May 28 Seattle, WA Chop Suey
May 29 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl
May 31 Calgary, AB Dickens
June 1 Regina, SK The Exchange
June 2 Winnipeg, MB The Pyramid
June 3 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club
June 4 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Oasis
June 5 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge
June 6 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme
June 7 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
June 8 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups
June 9 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies
June 11 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
June 12 Ottawa, ON Maverick’s
June 13 Montreal, QC Il Motore
June 14 Brooklyn NY Northside Fest (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
June 15 Albany, NY Bogie’s
June 16 Boston, MA Middle East Downstairs
June 18 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
June 19 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
June 20 Asheville, NC Asheville Music Hall
June 21 Atlanta, GA The Earl
June 22 Savannah, GA The Jinx

Opening for Kylesa will be Blood Ceremony, White Hills and Lazer/Wulf. “I think the package will deliver the goods as well; a little mix in the stew for everyone who digs our sound,” commented Pleasants. Tickets are available next week.

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Shroud Eater, Dead Ends EP: Tempestry

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

One never likes to predict the future when it comes to bands and what the given response to a release will be, but I have little doubt that when the story of Shroud Eater — however that story might turn out to read — is over, their Dead Ends EP will serve as the moment of their arrival. Over the course of these five tracks, four plus an intro, the Miami-based trio showcase not only the professionalism in their songwriting, but a maturity of approach and presentation that their prior full-length debut, 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here), began to hint at. During the time since that album’s release, Shroud Eater Jean Saiz on guitar/vocals/artwork, Janette Valentine on bass/backing vocals and Felipe Torres on drums — have played shows and toured around and beyond the Southeast, and while that’s bound to have an effect on their approach even if only subconsciously, what really separates Dead Ends from ThunderNoise and their self-titled 2009 demo (review here) is the production. That is to say, Shroud Eater‘s songs were already there, and in the emergent gallop here of “Tempest,” the roots found in “We are Beasts” from ThunderNoise seem to have broken through to the surface, but a huge part of what makes that so apparent in listening to Dead Ends (CD on The Path Less Traveled, tape on Primitive Violence) is the still-natural-sounding crispness with which the EP is presented. Whether it’s the doomly tectonics of “Lord of the Sword” or the out-of-nowhere onslaught of “Sudden Plague,” there’s nothing on Dead Ends that isn’t the most professional, mature and satisfying material yet to come from Shroud Eater. And so, like I say: Arrival.

It’s worthwhile to note that the four main tracks of Dead Ends are longer than anything Shroud Eater have done to this point. But for the intro, “Cannibals,” at 2:07, nothing on the EP is under five minutes long, which is a line the band had only previously crossed on ThunderNoise opener “High John the Conqueror.” More importantly, the songs are expansive in their reach and bring together the varied sides of Shroud Eater‘s sound that showed up before on separate tracks, so that once the initial threat of “Cannibals” is laid out — Torres‘ drums driving the point home amid not inconsiderable amp rumble and far-back whispers, blown-out shouts — “Sudden Plague” has room for both a beginning that’s utterly miserable in its doomed lumber and a contrasting second half made propulsive by Saiz‘s riffing. Of immediate distinction is the tone Valentine brings out of her bass; an asset to Shroud Eater‘s sound I’d previously overlooked. Joined by guitar feedback and creeping drums, the bass leads the way into “Sudden Plague”‘s first movement, patiently building a groove for more than a minute before crashing to full breadth. After the lead-in that “Cannibals” provided and the first two minutes of “Sudden Plague,” Dead Ends is nothing if not properly introduced to its audience, but when the second cut takes off, it nonetheless earns the first word of title. As faster riff comes to a head shortly before the two-minute mark, and Saiz‘s vocals emerge, semi-melodic in the mid-period Kylesa tradition, but functioning to serve a consuming swirl that only gets more fervent as the song moves forward.

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audiObelisk: Diesto Premiere New Track from Keep Our Heads Eolian Empire Compilation

Posted in audiObelisk on March 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

For anyone who heard Portland, Oregon, four-piece Diesto‘s 2010 sophomore full-length, High as the Sun (review here), the new track “Arrows” is going to be something of a culture shock. Sure, that album had its moments of righteously heavy crunch — “Waiting for the Fall” comes immediately to mind, but there were others — but at 4:40, “Arrows” is two minutes-plus shorter than everything the last record had to offer, and it uses its time to altogether more extreme ends, casting off some of the cleaner incantations in favor of abrasive yells set to churning riffs and impressively dueling modern solos.

Whether it’s a side-step or evident of a lasting shift in Diesto‘s approach will have to wait for their next LP to be seen — that is, they’re by no means limited to one sonic idea and they seem like a creative enough outfit to know it — but the tight, effective lurch of “Arrows” features on a new Eolian Empire compilation. Dubbed Keep Our Heads: Heavy Vibes from Portland, Oregon, it brings together a whopping 26 bands — Norska, Crag Dweller, Gaytheist, Lord Dying, Towers, and so on — to showcase not only the heaviness that’s thriving in Portland’s underground, but the many different faces that heaviness shows.

In that effort, few bands sum up the idea as well as Diesto, who both crawl and blast within the relatively brief span of “Arrows.” Doubtless Eolian Empire — helmed now by members of the also-included Rabbits (they of the creative postage) — had that in mind in having them take part in Keep Our Heads, but they’re just one of many in the impressive assemblage. The full tracklisting and more info on the release can be found under the player below. Keep Our Heads: Heavy Vibes from Portland, Oregon is due out on a limited tape run May 1.

Please enjoy “Arrows,” by Diesto:

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

ELN11 ::: 26-song cassette
[ 500 copies ]
: mastered by Ryan Foster at Foster Mastering
: art/text by Kevin Abell
: digital download
: with K-O-H/EOLIAN beer koozie (first run only)

“KEEP OUR HEADS: Heavy Vibes from Portland, Oregon” is a 99-minute soundtrack to the Portland heavy underground featuring 26 exclusive tracks from stalwarts in the local metal / sludge / doom / prog / punk / rock / thrash / hardcore / noise community, like some twisted, many-headed beast raised on the soundtracks to River’s Edge, Lost Highway, and Repo Man. With but a few exceptions, all the tracks were recorded in Portland specifically for this compilation, a first (more to come?) from Portland’s Eolian Empire.

side X
Honduran, “No Man’s Land”
Diesto, “Arrows”
Fist Fite, “Bitches Leave”
Humours, “In the Court of the Corn-Eyed King”
Drunk Dad, “S.O.U.”
Palo Verde, “Swimming in the Royal Academy”
Big Black Cloud, “Reptile Brain”
Lord Dying, “The Value of Pity”
Norska, “Eostre”
Towers, “Hell”
Tiny Knives, “Winter”
Redneck, “Princess”

side Y
Sioux, “Ascension”
Ix, “Robocrastinatortron”
The Ax, “Luminaries”
Order of the Gash, “In the Library of Leng: Vol 1 – The Hangman’s Wine”
Sei Hexe, “Minutiae Obsession”
Prizehog, “Irrevelant”
Hot Victory, “The Cog”
Gaytheist, “Gimme Black My Blow”
Rabbits, “Drink, Drank, Drunk”
LKN, “Freedom Shot”
Nasalrod, “Suicidal Propaganda”
Crag Dweller, “The Animal”
Gone to Croatoan, “Poor, Poor Little Man”
Acre, “Heavy Day”

Individual artist photos and links on the KEEP OUR HEADS artist page

out May 1, 2013

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