Woodhawk Canadian Tour Starts Sept. 3; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Hooks, hooks, hooks, riffs, riffs, riffs, fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, groove, groove, groove. These are the things that Calgary trio Woodhawk will bring with them this Fall when they hit the road in their native Canada for what they’re calling the ‘Woodhawk Strikes Back’ tour. If you’re wondering what the Star Wars connection might be, aside from being stoked for Episode VIII and the forthcoming Han Solo movie that has Hobie Doyle from Hail Caesar! in the titular role, if I’m not mistaken it’s also the second run of Canadian dates Woodhawk are undertaking to support their earlier-2017 full-length, Beyond the Sun (review here), which also had a song on it titled “A New Hope.” So there you go. All has been made clear.

The three-piece also have a new video posted for “The High Priest” from that album that you can watch below, and whether you heard the record when it came out or not, the already-stuck-in-your-head chorus makes a considerable argument in favor of another visit. Some bands just know how to write a song.

Info follows from the PR wire:

woodhawk tour poster

WOODHAWK “Strikes Back Tour” (AB/SK/BC) + Riff-tastic Debut “Beyond The Sun” Out Now!

Calgary’ AB’s masters of straight ahead riff-rock wizardry WOODHAWK will be hitting the road this September for their second Western Canadian tour (AB/SK/BC) (dates listed below) in support of their full length album ‘Beyond The Sun’ released this past April. The album was produced by the band with Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) to follow their 2014 debut EP. Made of equal parts 1970’s Birmingham and a myriad of 21st century heavy who’s who, WOODHAWK are purveyors of riff-centric rock and roll. Capable and original, the band is able to craft anthemic fist-pumping songs while forgoing tired stoner rock clichés. With time travel tested themes of science fiction, swords and sorcery, the band’s lyrics are born from snowy winters, hot practice spaces and pages of dog-eared paperbacks. While the musicianship reinforces recollections of Black Sabbath, modern influences that have helped you smash air drums or highway speed limits are undeniably present.

The band comments:

“This tour sees us wrapping up our western Canada touring in support of Beyond The Sun. Western Canada is so good to us. A New Hope seeme d to be a lot of people’s favourite song off the album, so we thought it would be funny to pull another Star Wars reference out, with naming the tour Woodhawk Strikes Back.”

‘Beyond The Sun’ album stream available on Bandcamp at https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com.

The album is available on digital, vinyl and CD.

WOODHAWK Strikes Back Tour (AB/SK/BC)
Sept 3 – Calgary, AB – Atlantic Trap and Gil
Sept 8 – Lethbridge, AB – The Slice
Sept 9 – Regina, SK – The German Club
Sept 15 – Golden, BC – The Rockwater
Sept 16 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
Sept 23 – Kelowna, BC – Doc Willoughby’s
Oct 7 – Edmonton, AB – UP+DT Festival – Downtown Edmonton Community League

Woodhawk is:
Turner Midzain – Vocals/Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass/Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums


Woodhawk, “The High Priest” official video

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris at Sargent House’s website


Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website


Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5


Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp


Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp


Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp


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Cheapstock Vol. 4 Set for Sept. 9-10 in Barcelona; Belzebong, Libido Fuzz, Blaak Heat, Cachemira & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I hope you’ll pardon me if I step back from the precipice of yet another here’s-me-daydreaming-about-being-independently-wealthy-and-spending-my-days-countryhopping-from-one-awesome-European-fest-to-the-next post — I don’t even know how many there have been at this point; frickin’ countless; this isn’t even the first one today — to note instead that along with the more familiar names included in the lineup for Barcelona’s Cheapstock Vol. 4 like Libido FuzzBelzebongBlaak HeatCachemiraLewis and the Strange MagicsAbrahma and Witchthroat Serpent, there are a slew of others with whom I at least am less introduced. EveUdolPazMad MaciusKamadeva, and so on — most of the bottom half of the bill is new to me, and I think that’s awesome. It’s my favorite kind of homework. More music to explore. Whether or not you can make it to the fest, I hope you’ll likewise take advantage of the checklist below.

Cheapstock Vol. 4 — including a bong giveaway and a Kyuss tribute for the aftershow — is put on by Solo Bongs Records and takes place Sept. 9 and 10 at Pineda de Mar in Barcelona, Spain. Doesn’t that sound nice? I think so.

Here’s all the info, including directions how to get there:

cheapstock vol 4

We are glad to announce the fourth edition of the Cheapstock festival, Cheapstock Vol4 is an outdoor festival for lovers of cosmic environments, heavy riffs and loud sounds. As new this year the festival will last two days and will feature camping for the 2-day pass.

We repeat site, in the football field of the foundation, this is the LINE UP for Cheapsock vol4:

Belzebong (Stoner, doom), first time in Spain! Only show!
BLAAK HEAT (Psych, Progressive, Stoner)
Witchthroat Serpent (DOOM)
Libido Fuzz (Heavy Psych/ Stoner)
ABRAHMA (Psychedelic/Atmospheric Heavy Doom Rock)
Cachemira (70’S Retro Rock / heavy psych)
MadMacius (Garage Punk)
Lewis and the Strange Magics (Heavy Psych Occult)
Nerobambola (experimental Jazz, math psychedellic duo)
EVE (Progressive, psych-doom, Rapsodia)
Electric Valley (Stoner)
Kamadeva (Heavy Psych, Stoner)
UDOL (Psych, Doom, Sludge)
Paz (Doom)


Branca Studio
Doom in aeternum
Anskar Tattoo&Piercing

El alma-zen de los montaditos.

Cheapstock does not disgust anyone or anything, so you will be able to attend being under age or accompanied with your pet (or with your faithful bong). As it’s tradition, we’ll giveaway a fucking bong!! Courtesy of maxupixu smokers.

Tickets: https://entradium.com/entradas/cheapstock-vol4-pineda-de-mar

By Train, R1 Pineda de Mar, there will be a carrilet at the station that will take you directly to the festival compound and back.
By Car, by c32 exit 122, until we reach nii and continue direction girona until the exit of the motorway
By Bus, Pineda de mar train station and carrilet to the venue.
For the most adventurous to say that there are about 25 minutes walking from the pineda de Mar station.
To get back to bcn at night you need to take the n82
by Solo Bongs
Collaborate jäger music


Belzebong, Greenferno (2016)

Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors (2016)

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Nibiru Announce New Album Qaal Babalon Due Sept. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Proffering noise-infused sludge ritualism over the course of its four extended tracks, Nibiru‘s forthcoming Qaal Babalon is a chamber of horrors worthy of headphone-and-closed-eye immersion. Its 57-minute stretch begins with the engulfing drone extremity of “Oroch” (19:07) and unfolds from there in manners deathly and churning, whether it’s the hammering “Faboan” that follows or the feedback-laden crashing recesses of “Bahal Gah” and the Ramesses-style altar-building of the instrumental “Oxex” that finishes out, all expansive guitar and echoing thud and ultra-creeper moodiness. It’s a weight as much ambient as it is tonal, but rest assured, it’s a weight all the same, and the Torino trio wield it in the manner of some kind of obscure medieval weaponry. Not that I’ve heard it or anything.

Qaal Babalon is available now to preorder via the near-ubiquitous Argonauta Records and follows a 2017 special edition of Nibiru‘s 2013 debut, Caosgon, that the same label released just earlier this month. No substitute for keeping busy.

From the PR wire:

nibiru qaal babalon

NIBIRU – Qaal Babalon

(Argonauta Records) Italian Ritual Sludgers new album! Their best to date, the natural continuation of the very first works CAOSGON and NETRAYONI. PREORDER NOW AND SAVE 20% – RELEASE DATE SEPT 22nd, 2017.

After their latest full length PADMALOTUS (2015), the impressive EP TELOCH (2016) and the Roadburn Documentary (2017), NIBIRU are today a consolidated strength of the international underground scene, thanks to their inexhaustible attitude both in composition and in live performances, a physically and mental experience.

QAAL BABALON is “the exact continuation of our first opus CAOSGON (2013, re-released in 2017) and NETRAYONI (2014)” the band says “Anger, uncontrolled psychedelia, and now the most sick, intense and suffering creation. ‘Qaal Babalon’ is the lacerating scream of a lost soul.”

1 Oroch
2 Faboan
3 Bahal Gah
4 Oxex

Nibiru is:
Ardath | Guitars, Percussions and Vocals
Ri | Bass, Drones and Synthesizers
L.C. Chertan | Drums


Nibiru, Caosgon – 2017 Edition

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Keep it Low 2017 Adds Mammoth Mammoth; Individual Day Lineups Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Check out the vibe that seems set to develop over the three days of Keep it Low 2017. Always among the fall’s most daydream-worthy festivals anyhow, it starts the first night with the classic warmth of Colour Haze and the ultra-boogie of Radio Moscow, shifts into the riffy grooves for night two with Brant BjorkStoned Jesus and Mars Red Sky (also the crush-your-skull heft of Monolord, lest it go unmentioned) and then dives headfirst into searing doom with Saint VitusUfomammut and Church of Misery for night three. Awesome. There’s variety in each day, but Sound of Liberation, which puts on this fest among many others, clearly has put special regard into executing Keep it Low 2017 with a conceptual foundation behind it, and that only makes the lineup look even more impressive.

Speaking of that lineup, Australian chicanery-bringers Mammoth Mammoth just joined it. They play the first night. Looks like there’s still one band to be added to the bill, but three-day tickets are gone already, and I’d expect the one-day tickets to go in short order as well.

Here’s the latest word from the fest:

keep it low 2017 day splits

Keepers, we have some updates for Keep It Low Festival 2017:

1. We’re happy to present you one more band: Australia’s Heavy Rockers MAMMOTH MAMMOTH! Yeah!

2. we can finally present you the day-split, so please check below which band plays on which day

Fri. Oct. 20
Colour Haze
Radio Moscow
Mammoth Mammoth
Mount Hush
A Great River in the Sky

Sat. Oct. 21
Brant Bjork
Stoned Jesus
Mars Red Sky
Elephant Tree
Black Lung
+1 more TBA

Sun. Oct. 22
Saint Vitus
Church of Misery
Mos Generator
Mother Engine
The Necromancers

3. The 1-day tickets are on sale NOW! Get them here:

As the 3-day tickets were sold out quite fast you shouldn’t wait too long with a 1-day ticket!

Enjoy your summer and…Keep It Low!

October 20 | 21 | 22 2017
Feierwerk München

After an amazing and once again sold out edition in 2016 you can expect 3 days, 27-30 bands, amazing people and good vibes at Keep It Low 2017! For the very first time we will have the “Doom-Frühschoppen” with some HEAVY bands on the last day of the Festival.


Mammoth Mammoth, “Sleepwalker” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Judas Priest, Sad Wings of Destiny

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Judas Priest, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)

I’m reasonably certain that in the 41 years since its release enough has been said about Judas Priest‘s Sad Wings of Destiny — positive, negative and in between — to make anything I have to offer on the subject entirely redundant. Still, looking at the Birmingham outfit’s ultra-classic 1976 second album, its status as a landmark only seems to further emphasize how much classic metal is rightly stewarded by modern heavy rock. I had much the same feeling last time I saw Priest live in 2011 (review here), but it comes through even more on the studio recordings of songs like “The Ripper,” “Deceiver,” “Tyrant” and “Island of Domination” just how closely linked to heavy ’70s the roots of metal actually are. It wasn’t a change that happened overnight. Neither Black Sabbath, nor Deep Purple, nor Led Zeppelin, nor Priest or anyone else flipped a switch and said, “now metal exists,” but as they flew in the face of popular culture on any number of levels and reacted to the rise of arena rock and punk (and one could argue as well punk was a reaction to the grandiosity of arena rock and glam), metal gradually solidified from the molten heavy rock that preceded and Sad Wings of Destiny‘s nine-track/39-minute stretch captures an essential step in that process. Decades later, it’s easy to put a bow on an insular narrative and call it history, but there can be no question that the accomplishments of Judas Priest — comprised then of vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Alan Moore — in this era were imperative in setting the stage for what heavy metal became in their wake, in the NWOBHM, the US and German thrash movements, and beyond.

Priest made their debut with 1974’s Rocka Rolla, an often — and, I’ll gladly argue, wrongly — maligned collection of heavy rock tunes indicative of the era in which they were released. Maybe a year or two too late to be really innovative, there was nonetheless a tightness in their execution that foreshadowed the drive that would emerge in the band’s sound on subsequent outings. Though it leans decisively harder in its impact, Sad Wings of Destiny still holds to many of these rocker elements. Extended opener “Victim of Changes,” the sharply-produced balladry of “Dreamer Deceiver” and side B’s piano-led, semi-Queen-derived “Epitaph” might pull back on the throttle as opposed to the soaring tension of “The Ripper,” which serves as a formative moment for Priest‘s core approach to songwriting, but there’s still rock to be found at their foundation. Likewise, “Genocide” leads with its riff and an almost deceptive amount of rhythmic swing giv en its ultimately forward heading, and while Halford‘s trademark growls and screech put “Deceiver” squarely in headbang territory, if one listens to the guitars and bassline backing him, it’s a classic-rocking shuffle if ever there was one.

This is barely an insight, but it’s worth pointing out in terms of finding the moment and moments when heavy metal grew out of the harder end of rock and roll and became its own genre. Is that “The Ripper?” Or even “Victim of Changes” at the outset? It’s hard to know — and even harder when one steps back and looks at the overall context of what was happening in the UK and elsewhere musically at the time — to say, “Yes, this is when it happened,” but if one wanted to hold Sad Wings of Destiny forward as a case for how it happened, the album makes a strong argument for itself as pivotal in that movement from one side of the line to the other. Because ultimately it’s both and neither. All the more, then, does it seem to be the domain of modern heavy rock and doom, which largely eschew the aggression of metal — though there’s plenty of dudely chest-thumping, depending on the style of a given act, and plenty of that in Priest as well; underground rock’s perpetual reaffirmation of insecure masculinity is a subject for a different time — in favor of a style of groove that seems to play directly off the same influences as Sad Wings of Destiny-era Priest. Taking the heavy rock that came before and trying to make something new from it. What’s that if it’s not a genre-based approach?

Any band with the stature of Judas Priest is going to foster divided opinions: Lovers, haters, fans, the indifferent, etc. What’s undeniable is the multifaceted nature of their influence, and as the metal of our age has become a showcase for self-indulgent mathematicians and splintered along an ever-increasing swath of border-fenced subgenres, it seems all the more the task of doom and underground heavy in general to embrace the classicism of records like Sad Wings of Destiny and their continued relevance to the shaping of modern aesthetic. It may be one of many, but it’s a touchstone nonetheless, and time has only added to its fortification as such.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Some ups and downs this week, I guess, but on the whole I suppose I’m less inclined to complain than I might otherwise be. I got to see my son’s face in a 3D ultrasound and he looked pissed about not being born yet, so I take that as an encouraging sign of The Pecan being imbued from the start with a strong personality. My hope at this point is he has inherited his mother’s capacity for sleep. Really, anything he could get off her in terms of inheriting traits would be a boon. It’s those fatherly learned behaviors — “this is how you make an ass out of yourself in a social situation, boy; pay attention” — he might want to avoid.

But anyway, that was good. My laptop kind of sort of shit the bed. Less good. The fancy blender I had to make protein shakes also shit the bed. Less good. My plan for today and the early part of the weekend likewise. Some you win, some you lose, as Orange Goblin tells us. Big picture shit — positive. Little annoyances that cost money — negative.

I have some work to do on a project the Borracho guys are putting together this weekend, so I expect that will take a decent portion of my time, but should be an interesting if time-consuming venture. I got to interview all three of them together and it was great to hear how they interacted with each other in that we’re-really-close-so-we-only-need-to-speak-in-half-sentences-to-get-our-point-across kind of way. That sort of conversationalism and musical chemistry go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Each is a symptom of the other and I think you can hear that in how tight they’ve become over their three albums.

Digression. Sorry. The Patient Mrs., the impending Pecan, the Little Dog Dio and I — the whole fam — came down to hazy Connecticut yesterday to take care of some administrative stuff, donating an old car to National Public Radio, etc., and we’re heading back north this morning. Meh. I don’t know about hers or the dog’s, but my tail is tucked thoroughly between my legs. I got a grilled salmon caesar salad from the diner down the way for dinner last night though (they deliver; it took longer than usual, but still, they deliver) and that was glorious.

I had a whole other paragraph here about dinner preparations, cooking, and so on, but I guess the bottom line is I’m still enjoying being unemployed. Money has indeed gotten tighter the last couple weeks — we’re already charging things like gas and groceries — but we’ll make it through. Baby preparations continue. I did a very large amount of very tiny laundry earlier this week that will need folding this weekend, and we’ve moved some furniture to allow for a nursery and we’ve begun hoarding baby wipes from Costco, so there you go. October will be here soon, but progress takes many forms.

Speaking of — next week is crammed as ever. Here are my notes as they stand; subject to change as always:

Mon.: Radio Adds (delayed from this week), plus a slew of news I’m already behind on.
Tue.: Review/lyric video premiere for the Eternal Black record, which I think a lot of people will dig once they hear it.
Wed.: Review/track premiere for the new Papir; Six Dumb Questions with Beastmaker.
Thu.: Review/track premiere for the new Howling Giant.
Fri.: Review of the new Zone Six live album.

If you’ve emailed me and not heard back this past week, it’s because (1:) I suck and (2:) my busted laptop has my Outlook account on it and I don’t have access to webmail outside of that. Just my phone, which is a pain in the ass and, frankly, no way for humans to communicate with each other save for the most urgent of circumstances. I’ll do my best to get back to as many people as possible, but in the meantime, hit me up on Thee Facebooks if you haven’t yet. Keep in mind though I’m behind on messages there as well. As noted, I suck.

But hey, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna head back up to Massachusetts in a little bit, dig last night’s baseball game this afternoon and try and have a couple quiet hours leading into a couple solid days of chores and varying degrees of whatnottery. Enjoy the Priest above and please check out the Forum and the Radio stream and we’ll be back here on Monday for more good times.

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Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle: Sunsets and Wildfires

Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


With three albums to their credit in the four-year span since they got together in 2013, Topeka, Kansas, heavy garage rockers Youngblood Supercult are establishing themselves as working at a fairly prolific clip. Their debut was 2014’s Season of the Witch, which they followed with High Plains (review here) in 2016, and the four-piece’s third album is the rather severely-titled The Great American Death Rattle, which finds them aligned to The Company and DHU Records for US and EU distribution. Across this run, the band has kept a consistency to their aesthetic purposes, basking in an earthbound psychedelia and distorted grit, touching on the languid sleek of post-Uncle Acid buzzsaw tonality in the guitar of Bailey Smith, but not shy either about veering into fuller-on psychedelic wash, even if only for a quick lead on a song like “Master of None” from the new album.

Tone, in Smith‘s guitar and Brad Morris‘ bass, is essential to setting the vibe, and to-date, Youngblood Supercult have yet to not deliver on that level, but as it should, The Great American Death Rattle finds this aspect of their approach at its most realized. Songs are spacious enough to allow for echoes in David Merrill‘s vocals on the early cuts “Draugr” and the motor-shuffling hook-fest “Wormwood” that follows, but not strictly adherent to one methodology, so that when the semi-twang of “Mr. Gallows” unfolds in folkish layers of harmonized Zeppelin-ism, the proceedings remain fluid and the listener doesn’t feel blindsided by what’s a not-insignificant sonic turn. Youngblood Supercult, in other words, are in control, and in keeping with the strong pocket-dwelling swing provided by drummer Weston Alford — whose “tone” is no less essential here than either that of Smith or Morris and might be even more directly heavy-’70s — it’s the songwriting that allows them to keep that level of command at their foundation.

Craft. Sound. Performance. It’s an interesting circumstance around The Great American Death Rattle because there’s so much about Youngblood Supercult‘s style that’s been previously established. That is, they seem to have come into being knowing what they wanted to do, and they’ve set about working hard to do it over the last four years. Four years is less time than it takes some acts to put out their first record, let alone their third. And while there are elements that have been carried from one offering to the next, Youngblood Supercult also still come across very much as a growing band.

The Great American Death Rattle is their most refined presentation yet, but its nine tracks and 40 minutes — from the wah-soaked, languid, flowing roll and post-Alice in Chains vocal melody of the opening title-track onward — refuse to sound settled. There’s progression at work, a willful moving forward on the band’s part in how their material has come together, and it’s audible in the patience they show at the record’s outset and through the nod of “Burning Messiah,” which finds Merrill pushing his own limits effectively in delivering bluesy poetic metaphor as he will throughout the bulk of the subsequent tracks, malleable to the mood of what SmithMorris and Alford are doing behind him but having clearly honed a frontman presence that bolsters rather than competes with that instrumental chemistry while still speaking to the audience.

youngblood supercult

I don’t think a band would title a full-length something like The Great American Death Rattle if on some level they weren’t looking to engage a social theme, and certainly there’s plenty to talk about these days in the current US sociopolitical sphere if one wants to talk decline or regression, but even in “The Great American Death Rattle” and the penultimate “Liberty or Death,” the lyrics take a more general tack, couching any specific commentary in images of biblical destruction on “Burning Messiah” (though tanks do show up there) and four-minute centerpiece “The Hot Breath of God,” which tells a story of post-industrial economic disaffection leading to suicide even as its central riff reshapes the groove of Scorpions‘ classic “The Zoo” to back it, making for one of The Great American Death Rattle‘s most memorable overall impressions.

The mournful vibe there is countered immediately by the punch of “Master of None,” which further emphasizes the sense of dynamic and flow Youngblood Supercult bring to bear in these tracks. Particularly as they move through the headed-to-the-highway “Wormwood” after the shuffle that emerges in the Fuzzorama-worthy second half of “Draugr,” The Great American Death Rattle expands its range in execution and feel. “Master of None” draws on a cycling repetitions of a Sabbath-meets-NWOBHM riff before closing with a highlight solo from Smith, and the aforementioned “Mr. Gallows” taps even deeper into poise and pastoralia, showcasing a depth of arrangement that’s new from Youngblood Supercult and that one hopes gives them the confidence to work again along similar lines and build on what they accomplish in it.

An uptempo turn in “Liberty or Death” splits “Mr. Gallows” and the thicker chug that begins the finale “Sticky Fingers” before that song — the longest here at 5:30 — shifts into a rare and thoroughly earned indulgence of noise wash and the guitar lead that tops its last march outward, and the play back and forth sees the foursome’s collective guiding hand at its steadiest, leading their audience through easily-paced twists with a maturity that belies their we’ve-been-around-for-less-than-half-a-decade status. One is tempted to call that process graceful, though in truth there’s a good amount of dirt under the fingernails of Youngblood Supercult — left there on purpose; why bother getting rid of it when there’s still so much digging to be done? — and that’s not to be discounted as an aspect of what works so well about their third outing.

Perhaps most crucially, they bask in their heavily stylized take while refusing to be defined on the basis of their influences alone. If The Great American Death Rattle is anything in relation to its predecessors, it’s the moment at which Youngblood Supercult are the most their own, and the manifold achievements that album makes are all the more satisfying for that. May they continue to evolve, reshape and cultivate as they move forward from here.

Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle (2017)

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Motörhead Announce Under Cöver Collection Due Sept. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Motörhead were a band for more than 40 years, and one imagines that between collections like this one, live records, best-ofs, remasters, anniversary editions, definitive editions, original restorations and so on, there will be at least another 40 years’ worth of material coming from them, despite the fact that 2015’s Bad Magic (review here) remains their swansong as regards proper studio albums owing to the death some months later of bassist/vocalist/legend Lemmy Kilmister. Under Cöver combs a 20-year-plus span to find Motörhead‘s takes on the likes of David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, The Ramones, etc., and it’s available to preorder now ahead of a Sept. 1 release.

The PR wire brings details and the tracklisting:

motorhead under cover

MOTÖRHEAD to Release “Under Cöver” Album on September 1, 2017

One thing Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee liked to do throughout their years together in MOTÖRHEAD was grab a favorite song by another artist and give it a good old fashioned ‘Motörheading’. To run them through the Motörizer, if you will. To rock them, roll them and even give them an extra twist and edge.

In celebration of some of those finest moments, the band will release Under Cöver, a collection of some of their best covers, and a collection which will include the previously unreleased version of David Bowie’s timeless classic “Heroes”. Recorded during the Bad Magic sessions in 2015 by Cameron Webb, and was one of the last songs the band recorded together.

Under Cöver will be available in 1CD (Digipak), 1x 180 grams Black Vinyl in gatefold, Super Deluxe Boxset (1CD digipack, 1x 180 grams black vinyl and VIP guest pass), Digital Audio and MFiT Audio.

Pre-order links as follows:
CD: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverCD
Vinyl: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverLP
Boxset: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverBS
iTunes: http://hyperurl.co/MHUnderCoverIT

“It’s such a great Bowie song, one of his best, and I could only see great things coming out of it from us, and so it proved to be,” says Phil Campbell, “and Lemmy ended up loving our version.”

“He was very, very proud of it,” says Mikkey Dee, “not only because it turned out so well but because it was fun! Which is what projects like this should be – fun!”

To that ethic, the rest of the album contains loud and proud, raucous and raging rock ‘n’ roll takes on the likes of “God Save The Queen” (Sex Pistols), “Cat Scratch Fever” (Ted Nugent), “Rockaway Beach,” (The Ramones), Breaking The Law” (Judas Priest) and “Whiplash” (Metallica) which earned the band a Grammy in 2005 for Best Metal Performance.

“We were happy with them at the time and we’re happy with them now!” affirms Campbell, whilst Dee says, “We should remember that it’s about having some fun with songs that we all loved.”

If that doesn’t have you scrambling for your music delivery device, then check your pulse pronto. Or just start scrambling for a copy of Under Cöver immediately. You won’t be sorry.

Under Cöver Track listing
1. Breaking the Law (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2008
2. God Save the Queen (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2000
3. Heroes (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2015
4. Starstruck (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2014
5. Cat Scratch Fever (Produced by Peter Solley) 1992
6. Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2001
7. Sympathy for the Devil (Produced by Cameron Webb) 2015
8. Hellraiser (Produced by Billy Sherwood) 1992
9. Rockaway Beach (Mixed by Cameron Webb) 2002
10.Shoot ‘Em Down (Produced by Bob Kulick and Bruce Bouillet) 2001
11. Whiplash (Produced by Bruce Bouillet and Bob Kulick) 2005

All songs performed by MOTÖRHEAD.

Lemmy Kilmister – Bass/Vocals
Phil Campbell – Guitar
Mikkey Dee – Drums


Motörhead, “Breaking the Law”

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