Devil to Pay Added to Days of the Doomed IV

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Tomorrow is the arrival of the New Year, and among the pagan rituals, hangover-dispersal, Readers Poll results-posting and whatever other day-off-style shenanigans one might get up to, it’s also the on-sale date for Days of the Doomed IV tickets. To mark the occasion and the transition from an already-successful 2013 to a bigger 2014 to come, the festival has announced the addition of Ripple Music heavy rockers Devil to Pay to the lineup.

Devil to Pay, who released one of 2013’s best records in the form of their fourth album, Fate is Your Muse (review here), will make the drive north from their Indianapolis home-base to play Days of the Doomed IV alongside Blackfinger, The Mighty Nimbus, Age of Taurus, Wasted Theory and others. Many more bands are still to be announced, but the fourth installment of the metal-heavy doom outing, set for June 20 and 21, seems to be stepping up its game all around.

Announcement, links and Devil to Pay‘s kickass video for “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” (which premiered here) follow:

Happy New Year everyone! How about another band announcement For Days Of The Doomed Fest IV? Grab a PBR tallboy and get ready for the jams to kick your ass… from Indianapolis, I give you Ripple Music recording artist and purveyors of all things HEAVY.. Devil To Pay!

Back for its fourth installment June 20th & 21st, 2014! Days Of The Doomed Fest IV promises to bring the heavy! Bands will be announced over the next several months, so stay tuned! Tickets on sale starting 1/1/14 at!

Days of the Doomed fest IV is scheduled for June 20th & 21st, 2014 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy (South Milwaukee), WI. It is the same venue as past fests, but it is under new ownership/management! Stay tuned for more details!

Devil to Pay, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” official video

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Visual Evidence: 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013

Posted in Visual Evidence on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

First thing, let me give the immediate and familiar disclaimer: This isn’t everything. If I wanted to call this list “The ONLY 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013,” I would. I didn’t do that, because there were way more than 10 covers that resonated when I saw them this year. The idea here is just to check out a few artists’ work that really stuck out as memorable throughout the year and really fit with the music it was complementing and representing.

As always, you can click the images below to enlarge them for a more detailed look.

The list runs alphabetically by band. Thanks in advance for reading:

Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire

Cover by Nick Keller. Artist website here.

Like Nick Keller‘s cover for New Zealand heavy plunderers Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the darker, moodier oil and canvas piece that became the front of Blood Becomes Fire (review here) created a sense of something truly massive and otherworldly. A huge skull with sci-fi themes and barren landscape brought to it foreboding memento mori that seemed to suggest even land can die. It was an excellent match for the brooding tension in the album itself.

Blaak Heat Shujaa,The Edge of an Era

Cover by Arrache-toi un oeil. Artist website here.

The level of detail in Arrache-toi un oeil‘s cover for Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era (review here), would probably be enough for it to make this list anyway, but the Belgium-based art duo seemed thematically to bring out the swirl, chaos and underlying order within the Los Angeles trio’s desert psychedelia. Blue was for the vinyl edition, brown for the CD digipak (both were revealed here), but in either format it was a reminder of how much visual art can add to a musical medium.

Black Pyramid, Adversarial

Cover by Eli Wood.

I look at the Eli Wood cover for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial (review here) as representing the task before the band in putting out their third LP. Released by Hydro-Phonic, the album found Black Pyramid coming head to head with both their audience’s expectations of what they were in their original lineup and their own will to move past that and become something else. If there was a second panel to the cover, it would show the arrow-shot warrior standing next to the severed head of the demon he slayed. Easily one of my favorite covers of the year. The scale of it begged for a larger format even than vinyl could provide.

Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning

Cover by Samantha Allen. Artist website here.

It was such a weird record, with the interludes and the bizarre twists, that Samantha Allen‘s cover piece for Ice Dragon‘s Born a Heavy Morning (review here) almost couldn’t help but encompass it. The direct, but slightly off-center stare of the owl immediately catches the eye, but we see the titular morning sunshine as well, the human hand with distinct palm lines, illuminati eye and other symbols — are the planets? Bubbles? I don’t know, but since Born a Heavy Morning was such an engrossing listening experience, to have the visual side follow suit made it all the richer.

Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting

Cover by Aidrian O’Connor.

In Magyar mythology, the bird-god Turul is perched atop the tree of life and is a symbol of power. With its theme in geometry, Aidrian O’Connor‘s cover piece for Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting — which was originally titled Turul — gave a glimpse at some of that strength, positioning the viewer as prey below a creature and sky that seem almost impossible to parse. I felt the same way the first time I put on the finished version of the Brooklyn outfit’s second offering, unspeakably complex and brazenly genre-defiant as it was.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart

Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

Alexander von Wieding deserves multiple mentions for his 2013 covers for Black Thai and Small Stone labelmates Supermachine, but he always seems to save the best for his own project, Larman Clamor. The one-man-band’s third LP, Alligator Heart (review here), was a stomper for sure, but in his visual art for it, von Wieding brilliantly encapsulated the terrestrial elements (the human and reptile) as well as the unknowable spheres (rippling water, sun-baked sky) that the songs portrayed in their swampadelic blues fashion. It was one to stare at.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol

Cover by John Sumrow. Artist website here.

Similar I guess to the Beastwars cover in its looming feel and to the Black Pyramid for its scale, John Sumrow‘s art for Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol (review here) mirrored the space-rocking stylistic turn the legendary New Jersey band made in their sound, taking their iconic Bullgod mascot and giving it a cosmic presence, put to scale with the rocketship on the right side. It stares out mean from the swirl and regards the ship with no less a watchful eye than Dave Wyndorf‘s lyrics seem to have on society as a whole.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches

Cover by Orion Landau. Artist website here.

There’s a mania to Orion Landau’s cover for Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, and while the songs that comprise the record are more clearly structured, the collage itself, the face it makes when viewed from a distance, and the (from what I’m told is brilliant) cut-out work in the physical pressing of the album, all conspired to make one of 2013’s most striking visuals. As the in-house artist for RelapseLandau is no stranger to landmark pieces, but this was a different level of accomplishment entirely.

Sandrider, Godhead

Cover by Jesse Roberts. Band Facebook here.

Fuck. Look at this fucking thing! Galaxy spiral, vagina-dentata, creepy multi-pupil eyes and a background that seems to push the eye to the middle with no hope of escape even as blues and oranges collide. Wow. Sandrider bassist Jesse Roberts (see also The Ruby Doe) artwork for Godhead (review here) is the only cover on this list done by a member of the band in question, and though I’m sure there are many awesome examples out there, I don’t know if any can top this kind of nightmarishness. Unreal. The sheer imagination of it.

Summoner, Atlantian

Cover by Alyssa Maucere. Artist website here.

When I put together a similar list last year, it had Summoner‘s first album under the moniker, Phoenix, on it, and with their second, they went more melodic, more progressive, and showed that heaviness was about atmosphere as much as tone, and that it was a thing to be moved around rather than leaned on. The Alyssa Maucere art, dark but deceptively colorful, rested comfortably alongside the songs, with a deeply personal feel and unflinchingly forward gaze, somewhat understated on the black background, but justifying the portrayal of depth.

As I said above, there’s a lot of stuff I could’ve easily included on this list, from The Flying Eyes to Sasquatch to Black Thai to Lumbar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Goatess, At Devil Dirt and others. Hopefully though, this gives a sampling of some people who are doing cool work in an under-represented aspect of underground creativity.

If I left anything out or there was a cover that really stuck with you that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lori S. of Acid King

Posted in Questionnaire on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Though 2014 will make it nine years since Acid King released their aptly-titled third album, III, the band’s reputation has only grown in the absence of output. It is a strange and rare phenomenon, but fitting somehow for the San Francisco-based trio, whose widely influential 1999 sophomore outing, Busse Woods (homage here), has flourished among the generation of riffers that has emerged since its release. All that has made anticipation for album four pretty high, and while they’re mum on the details of putting it to tape, guitarist/vocalist Lori S., drummer Joey Osbourne and bassist Mark Lamb have been airing new material live, so whether they’re on record yet or not, there are songs. They exist somewhere, and as ever for Acid King, they’re as grainy as a ’70s biker movie and no less heavy.

Acid King toured in Europe briefly this past summer and in 2014 will make a return appearance to Hellfest in France, where they’ll share the stage with Clutch, Monster Magnet, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals and Witch Mountain, among others.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lori S.

How did you come to do what you do?

I was going out with this guy in a punk band and all the girlfriends would sit upstairs while the guys practiced. I was like, “F-this show me how to play.” So, I learned the major and minor chords and within a few months started my first band called Gross National Product (GNP).

Describe your first musical memory.

Seeing Earth Wind and Fire at Milwaukee Fest! My dad took us!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Damn, that’s a tough one after being in the same band for 20 years! Hellfest 2012 was def a great show and all around good time. Playing with Pentagram and The Obsessed on one stage and then watching and meeting Girlschool on the other then flying back on the same plane with Blue Öyster Cult and Napalm Death. Definitely a good memory.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Every day dude I’m the leader of the band!

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Everything gets bumped up a notch. You still sound the same but the songs have more depth. You’re more willing to experiment with other sounds and instruments that in the past you wouldn’t have used. You’re more aware of critics so you think more about not writing totally dumb lyrics! It leads to a finer-tuned machine on all levels from songwriting to live shows.

How do you define success?

Playing the music that I want to play and still play and being able to release this material to 25,000 social media fans that want to listen to it! We’ve not done much different besides get better in all facets but somehow along to road the listeners of music have come around while we’ve done nothing.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Guy Pinhas’ naked ass (and other man parts in that area) sitting on my computer chair at my house!

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I would like to do a collaboration with another artist, a male artist that shares songwriting and vocals.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Opening Day for the SF GIANTS!!!!!

Acid King, Live at Hellfest 2012

Acid King on Thee Facebooks

Acid King’s website

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Fistula Announce Chemical Crucifixion Tour to Start this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I guess I missed the news that Fistula had relocated to Massachusetts. That’ll happen. It also goes toward explaining how Fistula, who are originally from Ohio, hooked up with Nightstick, who live a town over from me, for a tour at the end of the summer. Might take me a while, but I’ll put the pieces together eventually. Sometimes.

Fistula are quick to start off 2014 bringing their fuckall door-to-door up and down the Eastern Seaboard. They’ve also got some new material, as the song, “WoodGlue… TheGoodShit” can attest on the player below, and they’ll be playing with some killer bands this run, including Druglord, Heathen Bastard, Order of the Owl, Sons of Tonatiuh and Pallbearer. Pretty good gigs, and in sludgiest fashion, this two-week run was preceded not by months of hype, viral tour teasers and whatever else, but by a single announcement of the dates, which you’ll find reprinted here.

As ever, Fistula just don’t give a fuck:

Beginning Saturday night. Long Island gets it first. Doom? Grind? Punk? We don’t give a flying fuck what you do. Just bring a helmet.

FISTULA Chemical Crucifixion Tour 2014

1/4 NY @ Even Flow, Bay Shore, Long Island with Artificial Brain (members of REVOCATION)
1/6 Richmond VA @ Strange Matter with DRUG LORD
1/7 Wilmington NC @ Reggies
1/8 Charleston @The Sparrow with HEATHEN BASTARD
1/10 Orlando FL @ Will’s Pub
1/11 Pensacola FL @ The Handlebar
1/12 NOLA LA @ Siberia (early show)
1/13 TX, San Antonio @ TOFU HOUSE 303 N. Rio Grande. with NOT IMPRESSED
1/14 Little Rock,AR @ White Water Tavern with PALLBEARER and SEA HAG
1/16 -Birmingham AL-@ the Forge with HOG MOUNTIN,and CRAWL and ELECTRIC SHEEP
1/17 TN,Chattanooga at Sluggos 501 Cherokee Blvd, Chattanooga, 37405 with HOG MOUNTIN, CAPSIZED

Fistula, “WoodGlue…TheGoodShit”

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Five Heavy ’70s Records I Basically Stumbled on Doing Nothing

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I rag on the future in which we live a lot, and rightly so. We have neither jetpacks nor moon colonies nor the ability to breathe underwater for extended periods of time. We marvel at being able to look at boobs on cellphones like it’s the pinnacle of human achievement (because, sadly, it is) while elsewhere people actually die from diseases considered eradicated. We’re spoiled as shit, duped into giving all of our personal information to corporate overlords time and again, and even in the areas where we’ve managed some progression over, say, the last 500 years, it’s been pitifully slow.

These things occur to me and then I go dick around on YouTube for like 10 minutes and find five awesome and varied records from the period between 1969 and 1972 that I’d never heard before and once more I’m all, “Oooh the future is wonderful now take my money.” What can I say? Our greatest scientific and creative minds have been employed in neutralizing any and all resistance, and nothing’s gonna do that like classic riffage.

Indulge with me:

The Stone Circus, The Stone Circus (1969)

Yeah, yeah, you can play it technical and say this isn’t a heavy ’70s record because it came out before 1970 if you want, but we all know the phrase “heavy ’70s” covers ’68-’74, so get bent. And anyway, once the mouth-fart guitar fuzz on “Mr. Grey” kicks in, any argument will cease. Canadian group, recorded in New York.


Bulbous Creation, You Won’t Remember Dying (1970)

Hell yes. Check out the Sabbathery of “Satan.” So rare apparently that it doesn’t exist or something like that, Bulbous Creation‘s You Won’t Remember Dying seems like it’s ripe for the Repertoire Records treatment, or maybe even one of those Rise Above Relics reissues. So long as they don’t change the art, that’s cool.


Fresh Blueberry Pancake, Heavy (1970)

Satisfying in that same way as earliest Pentagram, don’t let the reissue cartoon art fool you, the 1970 private press Heavy by Fresh Blueberry Pancake more than lives up to its name. Dig the jam in “Stranded” that closes out and wake up three hours later from a trance shocked to find the record ended two and a half hours earlier. A buzz supreme.


Orang-Utan, Orang-Utan (1971)

Reminds a little of Cactus when they’d lock into a proto-sludgy groove or some of what Cream hinted at tonally and Leaf Hound made swagger so well, but even in the quiet stretches the bass satisfies awesomely and there’s a bluesy vibe that persists all the way to the back and the use of organ, which never hurts with this kind of thing. The riff in “Chocolate Piano” alone makes it.


Thirsty Moon, Thirsty Moon (1972)

Listening to original-era krautrock is like getting caught in quicksand. You could spend the rest of your life just trying to get through it all, and you never will. Still, when you get swept up in the progressive, space-rocking pulse of something like Thirsty Moon‘s Thirsty Moon, there’s little to do about it other than go along for the ride, which of course is awesome.

Consider these excursions into the obscurities of the past the perks of our dim future. If you checked out any of the above, I hope you enjoyed.

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Duuude, Tapes! We are Oceans, We are Oceans

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on December 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Not to be confused with British pop-hardcore act We are the Ocean, the Massachusetts-based instrumental four-piece We are Oceans make their debut with the lush post-rock of their self-titled cassette. Released by Staring at the Ceiling and comprised of two tracks on each side — “Roots Grow Down” and “Step” on side one, “Mmmyellow” and “Leaves Like Stained Glass” on side two — the tape more or less represents the beginnings of the band. A demo, in other words, but a well-put-together one, if that. The recording is natural and exploratory feeling, particularly on some of the quicker, jazzier stretches of “Step,” and the presentation of the artwork on the j-card, the tape itself and the extra artwork card included — a contrasting color scheme, the back reads, “Breath Like Woodsmoke” — and for a first studio adventure from a younger group, the material sounds well balanced, immersive front to back and rife with movement throughout.

We are Oceans — the foursome of guitarists Justin Richner and Derek Gilbert, bassist Nick Pagan and drummer Bryan Counter — had released We are Oceans within a week of putting it to tape at The Piano Mill with Jared Mann over the course of July 18 and 19, 2012, and some of the parts that come together to make up the four extended cuts show similar anxiousness. “Roots Grow Down” might be their most psychedelic and patient soundscape here, and though “Mmmyellow” is clearly going for a different vibe and particularly in Pagan‘s tone provides a listen no less satisfying, the feeling persists that as they continue to grow as a band, what sounds jagged now in the side two opener will smooth out. That’s not to say quiet down. With a 10-minute sprawl and  break to silence halfway through to start the build from scratch, We are Oceans would have plenty of time for raucousness either way. The impression that “Mmmyellow” leaves is that over time, how they get from point A to point B sonically may well become more fluid.

That feeling stays consistent in “Leaves Like Stained Glass,” which hypnotizes on a steady melodic flow initially only to jump back and forth between louder and quieter parts over its 12 minutes. The closer bodes exceptionally well for future growth for its use of repetition and if We are Oceans‘ strength is to be in longer-form songwriting, then so be it. Ebbs and flows satisfy as the song marches its way toward its and the tape’s end, and they cap with slow-fading feedback that recalls some of the dreamy lushness of “Roots Grow Down,” giving a bit of symmetry before the flip back to side one. However they might evolve in terms of their creative processes, We are Oceans has enough substance as it is to evoke a range of moods, and as their first outing, establishes a worthy pursuit.

We are Oceans, We are Oceans (2012)

We are Oceans BigCartel store

We are Oceans on Thee Facebooks

Staring at the Ceiling

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Doctor Cyclops Release Video for “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Italian trio Doctor Cyclops debuted in 2012 with the full-length Borgofondo and in February, they’ll follow that album with their second offering, Oscuropasso, keeping loyal to a heavy ’70s methodology while not at all shying away from getting weird in a longer jam like that within the cumbersomely-named “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House.” Near as I can tell, that’s not the title of a horror movie from 1973, but it probably should’ve been. Either way, Doctor Cyclops give the song — which also appeared on their first EP in 2010 — a natural treatment in the video, and then the masks go on and there’s a whole bunch of freakoutery happening and gasmasks, running through the woods, etc.

Sounds like a party at the Cannibal House. Oscuropasso will be out through the varied and venerable World in Sound and there’s plenty in the clip below to give a sampling of what the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Christian Draghi, bassist Francesco Filippini and drummer Alessandro Dallera have to offer with the record, which obviously includes no shortage of riffs and classic atmospheres.


Doctor Cyclops, “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House” official video

Doctor Cyclops releases their new video

Welcome to the roots of life and witchcraft, welcome to Doctor Cyclops’ mountains. Born in the middle of nowhere in northern Italy, the power trio is ready to unleash its 2nd LP “Oscuropasso” next february.

Their first video for this album will take you to the Cannibal House, following the steps of Kaspar Hauser and all the people lost in a society they can’t understand anymore. Shot like a 70s horror film, the video for Angel Saviour In The Cannibal House is a great introduction to the atmosphere and grooves of “Oscuropasso” : life, death, sorcery, goblins and rotten trolls.

Doctor Cyclops on Thee Facebooks

Doctor Cyclops’ website

World in Sound

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Jarboe’s Mahakali Vinyl Coming Feb. 17 on Alone Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

There isn’t much that’s happened in the last decade of underground music that‘s escaped Jarboe‘s atmospheric and occasionally terrifying footprint. The (rightly) celebrated experimentalist first released Mahakali in 2008 through The End Records and has continued to add to her considerable solo discography since, last year also stepping in for a guest spot on The Seer, the second post-reignition album from her former outfit, Swans. On Feb. 17, 2014, Mahakali will see a 2LP reissue via Alone Records, and preorders are being taken now for limited pressings of various colors. With guest appearances from Attila Csihar, Philip Anselmo, Josh Graham and Kris Force of Amber Asylum, it was as ever for Jarboe an unpredictable maelstrom of otherworldly vibes. She could live 200 years and still likely be ahead of her time.

Info follows below, courtesy of the PR wire:

JARBOE’s ‘Mahakali’ 2xLP 180gr OUT February 17th, 2014 via Alone Records

// lanzamiento 17 Febrero 2014

Jarboe’s ‘Mahakali’ double LP will be released on February 17th via Alone Records. Available now for pre-order Jarboe’s ‘Mahakali’ 180 Grams double LP. For the first time in vinyl format and exclusively distributed by Alone Records, this full length is Throne Record’s last release. Jarboe’s ‘Mahakali’ is claimed to be one of Jarboe’s best releases.

The group chosen for Mahakali includes all three members as well as Josh Graham (Red Sparowes, A Storm of Light, Neurosis). It also includes the performance of Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down), Atila Csihar (Mayhem, Gravetemple), and Kris Force (Amber Asylum).

Jarboe is considered a true independent of 21st century experimental music. She has released 18 solo albums in addition to working on more than 20 Swans albums and more than 60 collaborative projects with visual and sound artists all over the world.

2LP 180 gr. Gatefold
100 clear w/ brown splatter
100 orange w/ yellow splatter
300 black

Jarboe, “A Sea of Blood and Hollow Screaming”

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