Posted in audiObelisk on May 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In 2011, Oslo acid folk rockers Spirits of the Dead marked their arrival with the release of their sophomore outing, The Great God Pan. The follow-up to a 2010 full-length, The Great God Pan (review here) was striking in aesthetic as much in performance, the four-piece showcasing a rare ability throughout to blend classic ideology and modern sonics to both the benefit of the material and any and all ears who might hear it and be tired of the retro cultism and post-Coven candlelit Satanic silliness that so often accompanies.
Happy to say, the forthcoming third release from Spirits of the Dead, Rumours of a Presence follows suit and sees the returning lineup of frontman Ragnar Vikse, guitarist Ole Øvstedal, bassist Kristian Hultgren and drummer Geir Thorstensen keeping to a sense of warm tonality without losing sight of either clarity of sound or purpose. In anything, Rumours of a Presence is even more rock-based than was The Great God Pan. Some of the pagan mentality remains — see the “Dance of the Dead” interlude or the earlier “Golden Sun” — but Spirits of the Dead part ways with some of their folkish roots in favor of classic rock swagger and thematic linearity, the album dealing with mortality and the sea lyrically while tracks like “Wheels of the World” nod at Rush and “Song of Many Reefs” mounts an 8-track ready psychedelic apex.
It’s the latter song that I have the pleasure to premiere today from Rumours of a Presence, which is out June 25 on The End Records in North America. “Song of Many Reefs” offers not only one of Spirits of the Dead‘s most memorable grooves, but also an excellent example of their crisp modern approach, which when combined with Øvstedal‘s classic lead work and the stomp of Hultgren and Thorstensen makes for a potent brew not to be taken lightly.
You can check out the track on the player below, followed by some words from Ragnar Vikse about the song’s origins:
Ragnar Vikse on “Song of Many Reefs”
“Song of Many Reefs” is one of our favorite tracks on the album. We had a clear vision about the first part of the song before we went into the studio, while we left the rest more open and loose to unfold as we were there. Lyrics were also made while we were in the studio. It is a song open for interpretation for everyone, but I would say it’s more or less about a traveler with a highly “driven” desire to travel.
Posted in Radio on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Caked in dudely burl and post-Church of Misery riffage, Phoenix, Arizona, sludge rockers Twingiant follow their 2012 full-length, Mass Driver, with the brash dual-guitarisms of the Sin Nombre EP. The five-track collection is self-released and built on cement-solid riffs from guitarists Dave Natkin and Nikos Mixas and the beard-filtered growls of bassist Jarrod LeBlanc, who takes a cut like the shorter “La Haine” and pushes it beyond riff rocking into territory more aggressive, yes, but also more engaging in its stomp, duly punctuated by drummer Jeff Ramon.
Modern stoner metal has produced a number of acts working in a similar vein, but Twingiant prove able to navigate the EP without sounding redundant or losing the listener’s attention, the seven-minute “Cloaked in Black” taking Alabama Thunderpussy-style riffs out of the heartland and into a beating with a later slowdown and Ramon‘s fervent crash, answering back the thud of the opening “Pelisneros,” somewhat friendlier in its initial fuzz and early Down (think “Stone the Crow” in a different, less whiteboy-soul context), with Twingiant‘s angriest blows. I realize there are a couple Southern metal comparison points, but Sin Nombre doesn’t operate entirely in that sphere and it’s the contrast the vocals bring to a cut like “Pelisneros” that makes it harder to classify — the sweet leads and brutal growls playing off each other as the groove takes off and the ensuing “Fossilized” actually winds up working in a similarly creeping atmosphere to some of what New Zealand’s Beastwars were able to bring to their latest work, Blood Becomes Fire, with LeBlanc‘s bass playing an especially prevalent role in the second half of the song amid rasping, guttural growls and swirling leads.
But any way you slice it, Sin Nombre is heavy as hell and it knows it. It was made to be heavy and it turned out to be exactly that. A sample of serial killer/hitman Richard Kuklinski – that’s him talking about hate in the break of “Pelisneros” — only furthers the Church of Misery feel, but closer “Ricky X R.I.P.,” which seems to be a recording of someone (presumably the titlular Ricky X, in whose memory the track is dedicated) doing a radio show — and pretty recently, going by some of what he played — gives a surprisingly poignant end to a release full of ballsy riffs and brash grooving.
Posted in Radio on May 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the Gozu interview that went up yesterday, there was a discussion of that feeling when a song fits together almost instantaneously in the rehearsal space — no real back and forth, no drama over parts, nothing like that. It just happens and then is done. New York heavy bluesers Geezer seem to have recently experienced such a phenomenon, and their new self-released EP, Gage, is what they have to show for it.
It’s only been a couple months since Geezer released their debut full-length, Handmade Heavy Blues — not enough time for me to review it, apparently — an album rife with slide guitar and gravely vocals, easy grooves and even an early-featured cover of The Beatles‘ “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road,” which sums up a good deal of the attitude present throughout. Gagecame together as a quick follow-up when the trio — guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco — entered the studio to record a track, presumably the fuzz-dreaming opener “Ancient Song,” for an upcoming Grip of Delusion Radio compilation. One became three, the live cut “Dude, it’s Molecular” was added, and an EP was made. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Rarely, but sometimes.
The EP itself reflects the relative smoothness of the process that bore it into the world. Harrington‘s guitar leads the way through “Ancient Song,” but the laid back groove that Villano and Turco throw down is not to be understated, the band departing from some ofHandmade Heavy Blues‘ insistence in favor of a languid pace and jammy feel, the vocals tapping into American stoner rock burl while staying deep in the mix and giving the riff the primary space it deserves. Second cut “Thorny” is shorter and bluesier, but also quiet, and the shift to a more subdued atmosphere is at once unexpected and naturally done. The three-piece prove more dynamic throughout than one simple meter or vibe, and “Thorny” feels quick at just over four minutes of airy electric strum, warm bass and minimalist timekeeping, like the psychedelic Americana that Scott H. Biram forgot he always wanted to make, or like Larman Clamor at its most reserved.
With a rhythm and inflection similar to a less bombastic take on Halfway to Gone‘s “Great American Scumbag,” “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” is the highlight of Gage for its open verses turning Sunday school into a bad trip and extended its solo break, which Geezer skillfully bring back to the chorus at the end, never letting the jam get the best of them. Reportedly played only the one time, “Dude, it’s Molecular” fades up with a clearer live guitar swell and snare rattle to gradually morph into an organic, improv-sounding instrumental that sounds as close to the jam room as we’re likely to get with the band, ending as unassumingly as it started. Geezer — who will play The Acheron in Brooklyn on July 27 as part of The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 (more info here) — are a relatively new band, but comprised of veterans who obviously know the value that chemistry between players can bring to a lineup. I’m thrilled to get Gage added to The Obelisk Radio this week.
You can hear it there now as part of the regular playlist, or check it out on the player below from the Geezer Bandcamp, where it’s also available for a pay-what-you-will download:
Posted in audiObelisk on May 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nestled deep within the obscure tones and periodically vicious churn of I Klatus‘ Ketheris a sense of questioning and resistance that the Chicago trio have mirrored in the themes at work in the songs. Across the 56-minute expanse of Kether, drummer Chris Wozniac, guitarist/vocalist Tom Denney and bassist/vocalist John E. Bomher elicit a bleak, genreless swirl crushing in its heft but fluidly moving within psychedelic headspaces, like a lava lamp in black and white.
Songs like “Portals (Under the Lake)” and opener “John of the Network” offer alternately jagged and melodic glimpses at a worldview determined in its position against, so that even in their harshest aural stretches, I Klatus never lose the sense of meditative focus that unites the widely varied material on Kether, no easy task in charting a route from the tribalisms of “Tree of the Sephirot” to the oozing lurch that starts “By the Coercion of Marduk,” which itself reads like a history lesson on Chicago’s heavy underground, from deathly influences crossover push to post-metal plod.
The band released Kether on vinyllast year and gave it a wider digital issue in late March, so it’s entirely possible you’ve run into the record in another context, but streaming it in full, here we see Wozniac, Denney and Bomher offer their own perspective on the movement from beginning to end in a complete track-by-track breakdown. I think you’ll find that as Ketherand the three-piece’s explanations progress, both find suitable culmination in “Dark Commitment to the Ceaseless NON.” Please enjoy:
“John of the Network”
John E. Bomher: The evolution of this song took shape at a time when a personal tragedy struck in the form of the ironic and gruesome death of a family member. A relative of mine who had worked in a power plant for years and years and was essentially the person who would layout power line architecture from the power plant to your home appliances tragically passed in a car wreck/electrocution.
He was driving along an icy road on a wintry Michigan night when his van hit a patch of black ice, turned on its side and smashed into an electrical pole alongside the road, disconnecting the power lines. Unscathed, he kicked out the back window of the van and began to trudge through the snow up the road towards a nearby house. Unbeknownst to him, the live power line was actively flailing around in his general vicinity and it reached out across the road and grabbed him on the arm, instantly taking his life.
The irony of this tragic event was that he had spent so much of his time and energy propagating electrical energy that it eventually took his life in such a strange and fantastic spectacle.
The concept behind the song began there and throughout its arrangement you can hear subtle sounds of what might be the background noise of an active power plant until the big climax part in the middle which symbolizes the car wreck and escape from the vehicle. The buzzing sound in the background emulating what the sound of the electrical wire flailing about might sound like.
The power grid/network desperately searching for and eventually finding its creator, being positively charged towards him and wanting so badly to merge their essences.
At the moment of his impact with the downed power line, I imagined his life force, his soul being sucked into the power grid to live on forever within its matrix… Looking out at us from all the television screens, microwave ovens and other common household appliances… a new sort of “becoming.”
Sometimes, now, when technology refuses to accommodate or cooperate with us… I imagine John, hiding just below the surface of some piece of technology… pushing buttons and pulling wires and laughing at us – a master to us, the slaves to his network…
Chris Wozniac: A mine flail is a vehicle-mounted device that makes a safe path through a minefield by deliberately detonating landmines in front of the vehicle that carries it.
John: This bizarre song formed around a literal soundcheck of drum tones.
I took Woz‘s attention-deficit approach to drumming and composed bass, guitar and vocal parts around it and imagined what it might be like to have a battalion of flailtanks ravage through my neighborhood… I heard an interview from a flailtank driver in World War II and he said that the German soldiers would almost always surrender immediately after they would clear a minefield with a flailtank. If you can imagine a line of tanks approaching across a nearby field, clearing the mines out of its way with these huge apparatus spinning around ahead of them with the explosions and the dust flying everywhere, it must’ve been terrifying.
Tom Denney: Imagine how this weapon would be deployed upon a group of Anonymous protestors waving picket signs against capitalist-agenda-driven banks, flailtanks mowing down women, men and children as they straddle the horizon, driven by madmen obeying the “law” poised to mow your life away.
Tom: It’s about chemtrails. Inspired by looking up to see grids in the sky where no previous flight patterns were observed. This seems to happen time to time right before massive rainstorms. Reported all over the country, these seemingly intentional spray patterns delivered by unmarked airplanes leave either cloud-seeding debris or massive amounts of barium, pathogens and asbestos in the sky. What are these chemtrails? What are they for and who is creating them?
Tom: Literally means “Before the Flood” recognizing the multiple cultural histories which point to a massive and ancient flood which wiped out a previous Earth culture, more advanced spiritually than our own. The different changes in the song represent the rising of tides and the crumbling of a magical prehistoric society. A lot of the lyrics came from a particular dream, where the band was unearthing musical instruments and statues from deep under ink-black waters. The concept of trying to remember this ancient knowledge, perhaps buried deep within cellular and cultural memory to bring that message into the present and unearth the secrets of our ancestors and forefathers. The idea that we are not the height of technological evolution on this planet and that we as a culture are simply rediscovering an esoteric wisdom which was lost to the ocean’s depths and vibrationally, spiritually and musically, we are responsible for assisting in its reemergence.
Woz: We recorded many songs with Tariq [Ali, former bassist who committed suicide in 2009] on the album, but we actually wrote this song with him during and around our tour in December 2008.
“Model Prisoner Interlude”
John: This one is a dark number envisioning a gross and exaggerated police state, wherein society’s freethinkers and rule-breakers might find themselves rounded up and imprisoned in various regional, government-run reform camps. How easy it could be to herd all the fearful and brainwashed masses into camps like this during some staged attack on America in which martial law might come into effect. Prison camps are not a farfetched concept considering our recent spectacles on the world stage.
“Model Prisoner Revolt”
Tom: It’s about summoning the strength to rise above the walls of the slave state (prison for your mind) and claim sovereignty as an individuated fragment of the consciousness of God the Absolute, while refusing to kneel before an oppressive authoritarian construct; We fight for the freedom to live without silencing the next generation and beyond.
“Portals (Under the Lake)”
Tom: About the city we came from, Chicago, IL. There is something different about the energy of that city, one that has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. There is a blanket of fear and oppressive energy which seems to veil the city at all times, choking it off from positive growth. Off the coast of Lake Michigan, there is an intersection of several Earth energy lines or “Leigh Lines” which create a vortex which sucks energy from the nearby city. This is why there are so many millions of weary, downtrodden people in Chicago (that and the brutal winter). This song is all about psychic attack and energy vampirism. In a place where the very life force is drawn out of the surrounding area, the people are left in a state of despair in which they feed off of one another emotionally, psychologically and physically. The tones at the beginning represent the subtle mind control beacons which exist throughout the city, disguised as cell phone towers and electrical lines. These emit nearly undetectable subharmonics which agitate and disrupt the human body’s natural ability to interact with reality, leaving its citizens distraught, destitute and without hope for any future other than the drab horizonless void that is the urban epicenter of soul dissolution. There may well be a real plot to subvert the peoples of this great metropolis, to keep them down and devoid of the possibilities of evolution. All of the soul growth literally gets sucked into the portal under the lake.
“Pillar of Boaz”
Woz: Boaz and Jachin were two copper, brass or bronze pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon’s Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem. You can see this referenced in ancient and modern architecture all over the world. We recorded this in L.A., at this killer studio with James Doser while we were all in town for Tom’s 30th birthday in 2009. It all started with a noise loop that John created to a click, and we all just started laying down tracks. Leon Del Muerte contributed some badass, driveway shoveling vocals on this one.
Tom: The Pillar is an esoteric journey through the Tarot. On the path to the light, or on the way to awakening, we meet the Air. This is the dragon, or the devil of indulgence in earthly distraction. This is the story of that confrontation and the inevitable absorption of the shadow within the pillar of truth which upholds the understanding that deep inside you this urge for soul freedom rings true in a way which we all can feel. The roots of oppression of our forefathers seem to bind no more as the Entrancer of the Martian war-mind dissolves to the will of the true temperance, that of unity-mind. This is that moment, where you come through the tempest, in your deepest DMT trip to that place of serenity, the OM state where strife no longer matters and the struggle comes to its most dramatic culmination. The stillness and the calmness overwhelms, unites and heals the weary traveler on the path toward the omega.
“Tree of the Sephirot”
John: The Tree is composed of symbols which represent the cosmos and its multitude of parts but also the prototypic Adam. Akin to DaVinci’s The Divine Man, it is a metaphysical representation of the universe and its vast degrees of separation and togetherness. In this band and in life, it seems that the artists I like to surround myself with are willing to explore the depths and distances of polarity. Darkness and Light are really just different from each other by degrees and through meditation and positive focus I believe that you can change vibrations in one direction or the other… down toward the darkness or up toward the light, toward kether… the crown chakra or the pineal gland… again this is a prototype, a symbol which I am speaking of and we are evoking positive upward motion forward through the cosmos with the tribal, entrancing breath work of this piece.
“By the Coercion of Marduk”
John: This is a reference to Planet X… an invisible planet or asteroid which may or may not someday effect or destroy planet earth.
A doomsday fantasy.
“Karma and Forgiveness”
John: Two notions we are constantly in reconciliation with. The give and take of the universe and the struggle with oneself to let go of past wrongs and make a conscious effort to take action to perpetuate good karma and positive forward progress in the lives of those around you. The idea that you must give it away to get it back is very prevalent in this theme.
“Dark Commitment to the Ceaseless NON”
Tom: This is about Quantum Physics and the hidden priesthood in place which understands its principles and harnesses it as a tool to control reality and keep the human race in a state of constant subversion. Here we find the Keys to step over Pyramids, the pyramid being a symbol employed by this secret priesthood. In the song, the lyrics talk about a desire to impregnate the universe with a burning, boiling planet. This is the metaphor for the thalamic will being imposed on a fertile universe. The inspiration, the rising idea within humanity giving birth to the creation of material progressions.
John: Around the time that we created this song a friend told me in a tarot reading that I would be “married to the darkness” for another decade of my life… and according to the sagely wisdom and guidance of the stars and the constant growth opportunities that the universe has provided for me, through meditation and surrender my life has vibrated more and more and more out of the darkness of depression, despair and loss and into a vast and limitless manifest destiny… I have always been a huge fan of a massive crescendo up and up and up… I like to think of life in that same way… we vibrate in this way and that, ever upward back toward our source, somewhere out there in the cosmos…
Posted in Radio on May 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brooklyn-based psychedelic jammers Zoned Out are currently in the process of mixing their debut full-length. The band, which boasts members of La Otracina, Mirror Queen and Titan, have had a couple live recordings get out in the meantime. One, a full show from last December, was posted here before. This week, I managed to get ahold of mp3s of their March 28 performance at Union Pool in their native borough, and once I got the chance to listen, pretty much knew I had to add it to The Obelisk Radio.
Credit where it’s due, the gig was recorded for NYCTaper.com and is available there for free download. The audio sounds great and balanced and natural, and the trio alternate between driving classic solos and trippy prog fusion, their moniker proving all the more accurate for the hypnotic effects of their music. If nothing else, the Union Pool audio raises hopes for how Zoned Out will be able to translate the sound in a studio setting, a song like the later “Smoke Signals” having a bit of ’90s alt rush to it while “Feathers of the Wild Cloud” goes for full-on wah drench. Setting up a dynamic never hurt.
Especially for an instrumental band. For the quality of the recording, the atmospherics Zoned Out are able to pull off in a live setting and the job NYCTaper did in putting it out there for anyone who might be lucky enough to stumble on it, Live at Union Pool, March 28, 2013makes a great addition to The Obelisk Radio. You can hear it on there now as part of the regular playlist, or check out a sample below with the song “Smoke Signals” and find the free download in mp3 or flac on the NYCTaper site. Either way, enjoy.
Zoned Out, “Smoke Signals” live at Union Pool, 03.28.13
Posted in audiObelisk on May 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s always a special time of year when the audio streams start coming out, and the output from Roadburn 2013 is no less stellar than ever. Whether or not you were able to make it to the legendary festival at the 013 venue and Het Patronaat in Tilburg, the Netherlands, their ability to capture the audio performances and the rate with which those performances are released is either a great way to relive a special weekend, discover something you may have missed, or just check out some killer bootleg-type material you can’t get anywhere else.
As ever, thanks to Walter Roadburn for sending over the streams for me to host and to Marcel van de Vondervoort and his crew for capturing Roadburn 2013 for posterity so that future generations can know how much ass their forebears kicked in their day. Or so I can put the stuff on this afternoon and rock out at the office. Either way. Maybe a bit of both.
This first batch includes Ash Borer, Black Bombaim, Blues Pills, Endless Boogie, Golden Void, Satan’s Satyrs (who played twice) and Teeth of the Sea. Enjoy:
Roadburn 2013 was an extravaganza of great bands from Alcest to Zodiac. Sometimes, trying to decide between shows (or get into the Green Room or Het Patronaat) was as hellish as anything screened during the Electric Acid Orgy Grindhouse Cinema. And if you couldn’t make it at all, well…
Have no fear, the 2013 audio streams are here! Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Marcel van de Vondervoort (Torture Garden Studio) and the team from VPRO 3voor12, which is the best cultural media network in the Netherlands, you can listen to the Roadburn 2013 shows you either missed or want to relive.
Tune in and ‘burn on!
Ash Borer – Roadburn 2013
Black Bombaim – Roadburn 2013
Blues Pills – Roadburn 2013
Teeth of the Sea – Roadburn 2013
Satan’s Satyrs – Live at Roadburn 2013 (Friday, April 19th)
Posted in Radio on May 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m all for bands recording as much as possible and releasing it themselves, and I’m all for warts-and-all live bootlegs, so it’s no big surprise that when it comes to Beaverton, Oregon’s Doomsower and their first official bootleg, Upon an Obsidian Throne, I’m right on board with the proceedings. The doomly rocking three-piece manage to sneak four songs into the half-hour set, which was recorded earlier this year at the second annual Ceremony of Sludge, put on by the folks at Captain Couch Records at The Alleyway in Portland, and yeah, it’s pretty raw-sounding, but so was Doomsower‘s 1974full-length (review here), so even for being bare-bones, Upon an Obsidian Throneis at very least consistent.
More importantly, it’s also comprised completely of what I assume is new material written since the release of 1974– well, maybe not completely, since it starts out with a nod to “War Pigs” and that’s definitely older — and the songs feel suitably developed from the analog-minded lurch-and-groove of the album, whether it’s the bizarre, droning course of “Astoria,” which might actually be more than one song, or the riffed-out chorus to “Shrine of the Timber Gods.” I’ll give “Troll Hunter” best title, and though like a lot of bootlegs you kind of have to adjust your ear to the sound of it, Upon an Obsidian Thronewinds up well worth the effort, sounding on the proto-metal shuffle of “Magic Bullet” like it’s just begging for a tape release. Or, for that matter, a tape trade.
Obviously I don’t know whether these four songs will appear on Doomsower‘s next studio offering or not, but taken on its own level, Upon an Obsidian Thronegives a decent showing of where the three-piece might be headed, blending brash heavy rock and crunchier doomed passages to something engagingly heavy and a little dangerous at the same time. In hopes of getting to know it better and maybe spreading the word a bit, I’ve made it the Add of the Week for The Obelisk Radio, so you can hear it in rotation as part of that playlist, as well as download it from the player below, which comes directly courtesy of the Doomsower Bandcamp. Either way, please enjoy.
Posted in audiObelisk on April 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Those looking for similarities between Iron Tongue‘s full-length debut, The Dogs Have Barked, the Birds Have Flown, and frontman Chris “CT” Terry‘s work in post-doomers Rwake will find them few and far between — but not completely absent. Terry is joined in the Little Rock, Arkansas-based six-piece by backing vocalist Stephanie Smittle, guitarists Jason Tedford and Mark Chiaro, bassist Andy Warr and drummer Stan James and he brings to his approach a style of clean-sung but still throaty shouts, at times veering toward that bottom-of-the-mouth soul that Phil Anselmo brought to Down II, but as on the centerpiece “Moon Unit,” he finds his own personality within the material as well. Pacing also helps — Skynyrd by way of Crowbar — and where so much Southern heavy is bent on ZZ Top riffs rehashed at double-speed, Iron Tongue keep their grooves slow, coupling Tedford and Chiaro‘s trodden guitar work with organ textures and Warr‘s consuming low end.
But for the earlier “Witchery” — distinguished by the line, “The cocaine has a lock on my brain,” which opens the chorus — and the stomping finale “Said ‘n’ Done,” most of The Dogs Have Barked, the Birds Have Flown keep the workingman’s downer feel set by opener “Ever After,” Smittle‘s vocals coming on in layers to introduce a key element in Iron Tongue‘s approach: the band’s unabashed penchant for melody. They could’ve easily started the record with a rager, but if the title wasn’t enough of a hint, they clearly wanted to make it plain that there’s more to what they do than redundant burl and dudely posturing in songs about drinking. So be it. Likewise, the penultimate cut on The Dogs Have Barked, the Birds Have Flown, “7 Days,” summarizes much of the record’s emotionality before the final rush of “Said ‘n’ Done,” nestling into a mid-paced groove over which Terry delivers some of his most effective work, answered in the chorus by Smittle to result in one of the best hooks present throughout.
Obviously Terry‘s tenure in Rwake is going to earn at least a mention when it comes to Iron Tongue‘s work, but the album — cumbersomely titled as it is — makes no bones about establishing its own context and working on its own merits in establishing an atmosphere and constructing a genuine sonic breadth out of slow riffs, organic production, Southern woes and heaviness that goes beyond the tonal. As a piece of the whole, I think “7 Days” represents these aspects well, and I’m thrilled to be able to premiere the track on the player below.
The Dogs Have Barked, the Birds Have Flown is due out May 28 in North America (day before in Europe) on Neurot Recordings. Please enjoy:
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Iron Tongue‘s debut, The Dogs Have Barked, the Birds Have Flown, was recorded at Jason Tedford‘s Wolfman Studios by Billy Anderson. More info at the following links:
Posted in audiObelisk on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a proposition that has beguiled scientists for decades now, but Italian stoner metallers Isaak have finally aligned the proportion data and determined that The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound. So proud was the Genoa foursome of this discovery that they took their central theorem as the title of their 2012 record. The band, who went by the name Gandhi’s Gunn at the time, released their debut full-length, Thirtyyeahs(semi-review here), in 2010.
Needless to say, the reverberations through the scientific community since Isaak‘s discovery have been rippling outward ever since. Word reached the ears of Small Stone Records, who added the band — vocalist Giacomo H Boeddu, guitarist Francesco Raimondi, bassist Massimo Perasso and drummer Andrea Tabbì De Bernardi — to its ever-increasing roster of European heavy rockers, so that their riffy, burly jams might enlighten others to the complex mathematics within the driving grooves of “Breaking Balance,” the moody ’90s stomp of “Flood,” or the final resonant psychedelic proof of the 10-minute closer “Hypothesis,” on which Isaak add further distinction via balancing sitar lines and massive, modern riffery.
This new version of The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundis set for a June release and includes four bonus tracks: The Pink Floyd cover “Fearless,” the Iron Maiden cover “Wrathchild,” and two more originals, “The Right Time” and “Isolation 2.0.” You’ll find those as well as the rest of the original album ready for consumption on the player following. Please enjoy.
Full stream ahead:
Isaak, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound
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Small Stone will release Isaak‘s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundthis summer. More info at the links below.
Posted in Radio on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The young lady sharing a high-five with what appears to be a Parisian owlsquatch in the picture above is vocalist Shannon-Allie Murphy of Colorado-based heavy Americana rockers Brightstar. Last year, Murphy released Brightstar‘s debut album, All theWay, and though one might take whimsy away from the above, the record’s actually way more geared toward a dark, sparse prairie sound, fostered by Murphy‘s collaboration with guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson of Across Tundras.
Now, Olson‘s droning soundtrack to Cormac McCarthy‘s Blood Meridianwas featured here last week, but though it shares some of the same innate harvest doom tonality with Brightstar, I think you’ll agree the two are working in a much different vein, as perhaps signaled by the Hans Büscher artwork above. All the Wayhinges on country rock with brooding songs like “No Kiss Goodbye” or the acoustic-treated traditionalism of “The Blackest Crow,” elsewhere giving itself to echoing ethereality on the Murphy-penned and recorded “Trapped in a Song” or tapping into effective attitude-laden Westernism on “Tide Pool,” Olson backing on vocals and even taking lead for part of the chorus while also contributing a large portion of the instrumentation throughout.
Elsewhere, other contributors make their presences felt, whether it’s Brandon Freeman‘s rumbling bass on the more-uptempo-than-it-seems opening title-track or Matt Johnson‘s synth on the later “No Georgia Moonshine,” which blends strikingly well with the acoustic guitar arrangement where one might otherwise think it’d be at odds, giving an underlying sense of psychedelia even as it adds dimension to the already wide landscape the song casts. Both “Trapped in a Song” and the more textured “Down by the Hollow” remind some of Sera Timms‘ work in Ides of Gemini or her own Black Mare solo project, but the collaboration between Murphy and Olson in Brightstar gives it its own dynamic, not necessarily hinged to one genre or another but still definitively American in its sound and scope.
You can hear All the Wayas part of The Obelisk Radio playlist as of about five minutes ago when I uploaded the files to the server, and also check it out and grab a free download courtesy of the Brightstar Bandcamp page. Either way, please enjoy:
Posted in audiObelisk on April 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This past weekend, I watched the news roll out as Ripple Music put the limited edition vinyl copies of the new Devil to Pay album, Fate is Your Muse, on sale. The official release date for the record — the Indianapolis four-piece’s fourth overall and first for the label — is tomorrow, April 9, so the 100 copies with clear splatter LP, signed poster and artwork-appropriate tarot card insert were something special for fans who’d been waiting for the full-length to drop. And they went quick.
First it was an update that they were on sale, then one that they were moving, then 75 copies left, then 50, then less, then less. My understanding is that Ripple still has a few left as of this post, but not many, and it only serves to underscore the excitement and anticipation around Fate is Your Muse(review here). That anticipation has has been palpable in both the advance press and the fan response to the few teasers that have leaked along the way, including the video for the rampaging boogie of “This Train Won’t Stop,” just one of several highlights to the CD version, which along with cuts like “Black Black Heart,” “Wearin’ You Down,” “Mass Psychosis” and the charm-drenched “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” shows just how much Devil to Pay has grown in terms of their songwriting since the release of 2009′s Heavily Ever After.
The band — guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak, guitarist Rob Hough, bassist Matt Stokes, and drummer Chad Prifogle — will be playing an official release show for Fate is Your Musethis coming Friday night at Radio Radio in their native Indianapolis, and it’s my pleasure to host the record in full for streaming as part of the celebration of its arrival. Please take a listen on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Posted in audiObelisk on April 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bouncing fuzzy grooves off classic Stooges and the Misfits of old, Brooklyn garage punkers Dirty Fences keep it simple and straightforward on their Too High to Krossfull-length. The four-piece will issue Too High to Krossthis coming Tuesday, April 9 on Volcom, and to herald its coming, I’ve been allowed to premiere the song “White Lies” from the album. Timing is everything.
To that end, Dirty Fences seem to have the timing just about nailed. The record — and at a vinyl-ready 32 minutes, it is a record – makes no bones about its appreciation for early punk, basking in natural tones (perhaps I’m destined to be a sucker forever for punk with the bass turned up) while affiliating themselves with that moment in time where American heavy became punk rock, a track like “Under Your Leather” not at all void of melody while the following “King’s Cross” reminds of just how pop-minded the Ramones were, as iconoclastic as their outerwear may have been.
Songs on Too High to Krossrarely touch three minutes, and at a trim 2:29, “White Lies” is a solid example of Dirty Fences‘ underlying grooviness, hinting that there’s more to them than Raw Powerfetishizing even as it affirms a modern swagger à la Eagles of Death Metal‘s chic, laconic impressions. Oh yeah, and it’s catchy as fuck too, with backing vocals in the chorus and a steady snare beat that’s as universal as it is familiar and inviting. And in that, it’s a pretty good summation of Dirty Fences‘ general ethic, since although they lean to one side or another sonically along the way, “catchy as fuck” is something that seems to follow them wherever they go.
Check out “White Lies” by Dirty Fences on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Dirty Fences‘ Too High to Kross LP is out Tuesday on Volcom. Celebrating the release, Dirty Fences are playing in Los Angeles tonight, April 5, at the Lyric Theatre in La Brea with The Shrine (with whom they’ve toured in the past as well and with whom they seem to share a high-topped skaterly vibe), CBG and Strangelove, whom I’ve never heard but automatically like just based on their name. Behold the flyer:
Fret not, East Coasters. Dirty Fences will be back this way in time to kick it with Turbonegro at Irving Plaza in Manhattan on May 18. More info at the links below.
Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like a good mystery every now and again, so when the link to check out Guerrera came through late last week with no info on the band or so much as a, “Hello please listen to our shit kthxbye,” I did something I wouldn’t usually do in that situation and clicked to take a listen to the band’s Under the Gypsy Sunfull-length, which counts itself as blues but is almost certainly right in line with what commonly gets shuffled out as stoner rock. Mid-paced riffs lead through thick grooves and heady psych vibing, fuzz tones, developing into righteous but still directed jams as the songs play on.
Under the Gypsy Sunmore or less unfolds in stages. The opening duo of “Believe in Pain” and “Dead Man” take on straightforward stoner drive, the first starting languid and mounting an effective build on its way while the second takes that momentum and pushes it through classic rocking stomp without getting into retroism, but it’s with the shorter “Make Me Feel” that Guerrera really begin to show there’s more to them than just riff cycles and echoing vocals. Tight and efficient, “Make Me Feel” finds immediate contrast in the five-minute “Living for You,” an even more directly linear progression perhaps more telegraphed but no less satisfying than that of “Dead Man” before it.
The next big change follows “Living for You,” however, whenthe 10:39 “Ted Kaczynski” takes hold. Its first three minutes are spent unfolding a sleepy jam, but the song never lacks for movement or a sense that Guerrera don’t know where they’re going. Feeding directly into the closing title-track, the transition from one to the other is so smooth that I have to keep watching the player to see when it’s actually happening. By the time they finish “Under the Gypsy Sun,” heavy psych elements have been introduced and my biggest argument with their initial blues positioning isn’t so much that it isn’t true as much as it’s not at all the whole story.
What is the story? I don’t really know. They’re from Spain, there are four of them and Under the Gypsy Sunis available for free download at the Guerrera Bandcamp. I suppose that hardly makes for a compelling biography or pitch email to send to a reviewer, but in picking out an Add of the Week for this week at The Obelisk Radio, there was little doubt where I’d end up. Check out the full stream of Under the Gypsy Sunbelow:
Posted in audiObelisk on March 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
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, Oregonis due out on a limited tape run May 1.
Please enjoy “Arrows,” by Diesto:
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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”
Posted in Radio on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A few years back, Prosthetic Records seemed to get an itch for extreme metal that took some of the tropes of black metal and added elements of hardcore, doom and thrash. The result was a slew of albums from the likes of Book of Black Earth, Withered and The Funeral Pyre, each of which seemed bent on taking on black metal from a different angle. Austin trio The Unmothered appear to be on a similar kind of trip with their 2012 self-titled debut EP, but the conviction and thickness with which they carry across their ideas puts them in line as well with the newer class of post-His Hero is Gone “dark hardcore” — the main difference being The Unmothered come off as better at actually bridging the gap between that sound and doom than most others, who like to pretend they’re bridging it while playing redundant metalcore riffs in a Venom t-shirt.
It’s not in every song, but take a listen to “Leviathan,” which is tense to the point of breaking open even as it rolls out the groove of its verse. Unmothered drummer Matt Moulis sat in with The Hidden Hand on their last tour, and there’s some swing in the earlier “The Awakening” to show for it, but together with Matt Walker and Joseph Barnes, the three-piece draws more on later, rocking Carcass than anything so definitively fuzzed. Even the later post-black metal soloing of “Spectre” takes a vehement position rather than give itself up to psychedelic posturing for the sake of including one more genre in the mix, and with the Godflesh-y tone of “Solstice” and the gallop late into opener and longest cut “Gravitons,” it’s not exactly like The Unmothered have skimped on the variety anyhow.
Having just shared the stage with the likes of Venomous Maximus and Mala Suerte at SXSW in their native burg, and caught a fair amount of attention there, The Unmothered have a solid first showing to fall back on in their self-titled and a foundation to expand on in any number of directions. You can listen to the self-titled now as part of the playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and check it out via the stream below, hoisted from the Unmothered Bandcamp: