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I put up a podcast last year on the day before Thanksgiving as well. At least I’m consistent. In the US, today is the biggest travel day of the year, and I continue to feel like there are few things better in this universe than hitting the road accompanied by good music. Whether you’re driving alone on your way to see family for the holiday, commuting to work (that one doesn’t necessarily have to be by car, I suppose), going to stand on line for some silly discount item or whatever it might be, I hope you find something here you consider worth bringing along for the trip.
The holidays are always a pretty stressful time — when isn’t? — so once it gets past the initial burst of heft from Tombstones, this one stays pretty mellow for the most part. Deville and Kind rock pretty hard, but once it moves into the Dirty Streets and Old Man Lizard and so on, it’s more nod than headbang, which is accurate to where my brain is at. Looking for something chill in the face of miles to cover and meals to consume. If you’re in the US, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and if not, I hope you enjoy just the same.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Isaak, “Fountainhead” from Sermonize
0:03:58 Tombstones, “Pyre of the Cloth” from Vargariis
0:13:30 Hound, “Over the Edge,” from Out of Space
0:17:44 Deville, “Mind on Hold” from Make it Belong to Us
0:21:17 Kind, “German for Lucy” from Rocket Science
0:28:26 Dirty Streets, “Save Me” from White Horse
0:31:55 Old Man Lizard, “Craniopagus Paraciticus” from Old Man Lizard
0:40:43 Across Tundras, “No Roads in any Direction” from Home Free
0:46:52 Niche, “On Down the Line” from Heading East
0:52:11 Wired Mind, “Road” from Mindstate: Dreamscape
1:03:07 Seedy Jeezus, “Echoes in the Sky” from Echoes in the Sky
1:19:03 Dorre, “One Collapsed at the Altar” from One Collapsed at the Altar
[Please note: Click play above to stream Vargariis in full. It’s out Dec. 4 on Soulseller Records. Thanks to Tombstones and Soulseller for letting me host the stream.]
It may or may not be right to call such barbarity progressive, but there is definitely a sense of growth in Vargariis, the new full-length from Norwegian trio Tombstones. Released by Soulseller Records, it’s their fourth long-player — something I also said about late-2013’s Red Skies and Dead Eyes (review here) — and finds the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Bjørn-Viggo Godtland, bassist/vocalist Ole Christian Helstad and drummer Markus Støle in an entirely more brutal, vicious era. Granted, the rather sizable wall of fuzz in Godtland and Helstad‘s tones remains, but they’ve shifted the context in which that wall is constructed, and Vargariis‘ six-track/56-minute run is made simultaneously broader and more oppressive by flourishes of sludge and black metal extremism, as on “The Dark High,” which starts side B, or “Oceans of Consciousness” right before it.
On one side or the other, each track hovers around the nine-minute mark in runtime, but what Tombstones do with that time is varied in aesthetic despite being universally dark appropriate to the tones of the album’s cover art. Like the release before it, Vargariis was recorded live, tracked by Joona Hassinen at at Studio Underjord in Norrköping, Sweden (Audun Strype mastered), but the two are very different in terms of concept and execution, Tombstones having grown thanks to some considerable roadtime the last couple years into a more patient, sonically ambitious and lethally grooving outfit, willing and capable to bend the genre of doom to suit their purposes rather than the other way around.
They start with a slow-motion pummel in “Barren Fields,” which seems to nod at Conan in its tablesetting opening riff before shifting into more hypnotic fare. For a release so aggressive on the whole, it doesn’t seem appropriate to think of Vargariis‘ leadoff track as easing the listener into the rest of what’s to come, but a big function of “Barren Fields” seems to be in establishing a baseline — also a bassline; that roll is thick — on which the rest of the songs continue to build. Godtland and Helstad trade vocals effectively as Støle, who makes his first studio appearance with the band here, bashes away beneath the morass, a midsection break providing a breather before a quickened ending movement grows more and more headbang-worthy as it thrusts toward an inevitable conclusion. Bass and drums start the semi-title-track, “And When the Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise,” and the snare continues to be a punctuating factor through an extended intro and into a punishing slowdown of corresponding screams and growls that sets up a stretch of chugging, abrasive sludge topped with screams, moving into roaring shouts, Tombstones clearly having as much fun toying with the instrumental back and forth as that in the vocals.
There’s not much by way of hope to be found in any of it, but the guitar takes just a touch of brightness to its tone in the final third before a sudden drop-off in the drums brings about a quick fade and the blasting, charred-black opening of “Oceans of Consciousness” to stamp it out. They don’t keep up the onslaught for the entire 10:14 (the longest runtime), but play again with tradeoffs and heathen and sludge nod before all the bombast and gutturalism crashes to a halt at about 5:20 in and they begin the linear build that will consume the rest of the track with minimalist rumble and percussive gruel. Even in the quietest reaches, “Oceans of Consciousness” is filthy, and the lead that marks the beginning of the last minute is likewise, but by the time they get there, Tombstones‘ plunder is long-since established and the only thing to do is sit back and be impressed at how they manage to make mud so dense flow so well.
Vargariis is a definitive step forward from Red Skies and Dead Eyes because where that album played one side off another somewhere between stoner and doom impulses — and did it well, I’ll add — Vargariis flagrantly refuses to be bound by those or other constrictions, and where the predecessor worked its two sides with a duality in accord with its title, Vargariis is multi-faceted throughout and cohesive in spite of which element might be forward at any given moment. Even for appearing on a band’s fourth record, that cohesion is an impressive feat in “Oceans of Consciousness,” and the second half of Vargariis continues to build outward from there, “The Dark High” conjuring darkened swirl early on, breaking in the middle and finishing with more uptempo push à la “When the Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise” as Støle distinguishes himself on drums and a long-sustained scream reminds of how effective harsh vocals can be when put to the right use. In addition to supplying a surprising dual-vocal hook, “Underneath the Earth” also brings about the most crushing tones on offer early on before shifting after six minutes — via standalone drums — into a fuzzier build that closes out.
That fuzzier vibe holds firm as the drums lead the way into “Pyre of the Cloth,” which is something of a further departure from the material before it in terms of its overall affect, though the oppressive heft is certainly a factor, particularly in the faster parts of the first half. There’s something psychedelic lurking beneath the surface ooze of “Pyre of the Cloth,” however, that isn’t in songs like “The Dark High,” and the closer locks in a central groove even as it rolls its way past excruciatingly slow sludge and higher-speed chugging Sleepism, ultimately finishing on the latter, and that winds up being the uniting factor holding it together. Like the bulk of the album before it, “Pyre of the Cloth” works structurally to hold together material that’s deceptively broad beyond its superficial drive toward the extreme, and most importantly, it shows Tombstones four albums in as a band whose palette is continuing to expand and who are clearly making the most of the experience they’re gaining along their way.
[Please note: Click play above to stream Moon Curse’s Spirit Remains in full. It’s out Nov. 28 on Kozmik Artifactz. Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the premiere.]
When it comes to a record like Spirit Remains, one of the aspects easiest to appreciate is its honesty. Milwaukee trio Moon Curse make their intentions as plain and up-front as they possibly can over the course of their sophomore outing’s five tracks/42 minutes: They want to pummel and they want to do it with riffs. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Matt Leece, bassist/vocalist Rochelle Nason and drummer/synth-specialist Keith Stendler (as of this post, Matt Presutti, who also designed the Spirit Remains cover, may join/has joined as a second guitarist, but they are a trio on the record) issued their self-titled debut in 2012 and sold through multiple pressings both independent and through Kozmik Artifactz, which also stands behind the follow-up. Both full-lengths share largely the same mission, but Moon Curse clearly took some lessons from their debut, and these songs find them sounding massive, professional and confident in their ability to complete the task at hand, and though it has stretches that slow to an absolute crawl like that preceding the galloping finale of closer “Witches Handbook,” there’s more nuance to their approach than it might at first seem.
That fact shows itself in the vocal arrangements between Leece and Nason on “Vicious Sky,” the layered soloing on the preceding side-B opener “Lord of Memories/Spirit Remains,” the added psychedelic flourish that the tambura of Andrew Shelp (Moss Folk) lends to “Electric Veins” or even the marching pace that opener “Beneath the Waves” sets and the spaciousness of its riffing and leads. Yes, Moon Curse want to cave your head in, and with the help of the recording/mixing job Nolan Treolo does (Tony Reed mastered), they just might get there, but while heft is at the core of their purposes, it does not comprise the entirety thereof. Rather, while their nod and grooving largesse definitely puts them in the post-Sleep riff-led milieu, it’s the distinguishing elements of sonic personality throughout that provide the band’s most memorable impressions, whether that’s Leece howling upward from under the riffs of “Beneath the Waves” or the quick turns of chug in “Vicious Sky.”
As was the case when I was fortunate enough to see them play live in 2013, a major factor in driving home their plodding, stomping, running groove — whichever it might be at any given moment — is Stendler‘s drumming. At no point on the record is he putting on a clinic, technically-speaking, but from the first ride hits in the quiet intro of “Beneath the Waves” through to the rampaging toms at the apex conclusion of “Witches Handbook,” he is persistently in the right place at the right time to bolster the work of Leece and Nason and make the most of the material at hand. The album breaks into two sides, though not evenly, and both offer rolling or driving rhythms, and the fullness of sound that a seemingly persistent wash of cymbals provides is never too far from the forefront of the album’s heavier moments. Still, it is the riffs in the lead, and that is true even as “Beneath the Waves” breaks from its initial rollout to a section of layered psychedelic leads, backed by Nason‘s resonant bass tone on an extended instrumental excursion marked out by minor-key twists tossed in before the eventual return to the central verse riff and the echoing shouts that cut through it.
The aforementioned tambura does much to flesh out “Electric Veins,” but a slower tempo overall adds to the spaciousness as well, and shows immediate breadth coming after “Beneath the Waves,” even if it does return to a lumber more consistent with the opener before breaking into a subdued section of crashes and watery vocals that one just knows is setting up something huge. The drums pick up their pace on returning and push past a halfway point into a short but engaging solo and the eventual return of the verse for another cycle through, trading between Om, Sleep and High on Fire influences before finding itself in a more distinct solo section and the consuming cap of its near-11-minute span and that of side A as a whole. It is a finish worthy of the weight preceding.
Its march takes a little longer to unfold, but there’s plenty of room for a hypnotic intro in the 11:26 runtime of side B opener “Lord of Memories/Spirit Remains,” which ultimately lands on a janga-janga riff for its central figure, Nason and Leece coming together on vocals as it marches past its midsection at a not-at-all hurried clip and into the already-noted solo section, which is followed by howling and crashes that finish out before what one presumes is the split between the first and second parts of its title. “Spirit Remains,” then, comprises the last two minutes of the track in a subdued acoustic break topped with quiet psychedelic vocals, wind sounds or manipulated amp noise taking hold near the end as a ringing bell marks the transition into the feedback-soaked opening of “Vicious Sky,” which is the shortest song on Spirit Remains at 5:03 and a chugging riff that gets married with some post-Baroness shouts to engrossing effect.
Perhaps the most encouraging portion of the track is toward its finish, however, when the drums, guitars, bass and vocals all align to move into a section of washing leads and repeated nod for about the last 50 seconds or so. It seems to bring the various sides of Moon Curse‘s approach together in a way that, if it went on for another two minutes, I wouldn’t argue, but one can only fit so much on a single platter. A direct bleed brings about the quiet but tense beginning of “Witches Handbook,” which bursts open shortly after the two-minute mark for a drawling verse and goes on to recede and swell again before shifting into the galloping ending section, a touch of Morricone thrown in for good measure as Stendler‘s snare matches step with the guitar, which closes out on a solo and relative lack of fanfare as if to tease a sequel already in the making. Given the three years it took for Spirit Remains to surface after Moon Curse, I wouldn’t be surprised if one is, but either way, what the band accomplishes across these tracks is worth more than a passing glance en route to the next thing. The converted will have a deeper appreciation for its preachings, but Spirit Remains gets its point across one way or another.
[Please note: Click play above to hear the full album stream of Förnekaren by Kungens Män. Album is out Dec. 1 on Adansonia Records. Thanks to the label and band for letting me host the premiere.]
It is the first to be pressed to vinyl, but Förnekaren is upwards of the 15th or 16th full-length release by Stockholm-based jammers Kungens Män. If they’d been around for 20 years, that would still be impressive, but the band got together in 2012. Between Oct. 2013 and Sept. 2014, they released an album every month, and Förnekaren (released through Adansonia Records) is their third of 2015 behind April’s four-song Diskbänksockultism and January’s Kungens Män Spelar I Evighet. Amen.. It is a 2LP, mostly instrumental, comprised mostly of extended psychedelic jams, improvised at least in part and culminating in seven tracks/85 minutes of neo-krautrock immersion, rich in texture and almost universally hypnotic. Its lead-in with opener “Järnvägsdröm” transitions the listener between the waking world and Kungens Män‘s jammy realm, the vocals of guitarist Mikael Tuominen adding a Doors-style flair to what sets up the rest of the work’s mostly instrumental breadth.
Somewhere between Electric Moon or the Øresund Space Collective‘s jammy modus and the more plotted desert-prog style of Causa Sui, Kungens Män stake a claim in their own little slice of the cosmos, Tuominen joined throughout by guitarists Hans Hjelm and Björn Eriksson, bassist/graphic artist Magnus Öhrn, synthesist Peter Erikson and drummer Mattias Indy Pettersson as the band weaves their way through “Järnvägsdröm” and the title-track’s relative earthiness en route to the wholly-spaced fare of the 22-minute “Sista Ordets Krigsdans Genom Snickeriet,” which follows.
Pettersson‘s drumming is a foundational element throughout, as both the opener and quick-popping snare of the title-cut demonstrate, but on “Sista Ordets Krigsdans Genom Snickeriet,” it becomes even more apparent just how much is built on top of the laid back, steady percussion line. The song is not without movement between the interweavings of guitars and synth, and the bass, though deeper down in the mix, is pivotal as well, but it’s the drums that push the rest through the dreamy soundscape they’re creating as they go. A chugging undertone emerges as they pass the halfway point that becomes the bed for the fuzzy apex, but in the song’s fading finish, it’s only over when the drums stop. Kungens Män follow with “Krautespark,” which at 6:37 feels like an interlude in comparison, but no doubt that’s the idea. Öhrn‘s bass is more forward and more insistent and jazzy, as one might expect given the title, and the guitars add a touch of foreboding in their spacious overlaid noodling, a jazzy dissonance taking hold before they bring it together in the midsection only to have it turn jagged again by the finish, time more or less dissipating along the way.
“Krautespark” is the shortest track on Förnekaren and the only one under 10 minutes other than “Järnvägsdröm,” which comes close at 9:47, but though instrumental, it serves a similar function as the opener, launching the second LP with a relatively grounded offering leading to more extended kosmiche fare. The bass makes the transition to “Kringströdda Silverbestick” particularly smooth, but it’s the lead guitar that gradually comes to the fore on the 13-minute jam riding a funky rhythm to a first-half crescendo before the vibe breaks — the drums holding steady — and things get quiet and spacious, building up again somewhat before some obscure speech echoes and effects noise bring the piece to a close.
Side D finishes out Förnekaren with a pair of cuts both over 10 minutes, “Förensligandet I Det Egentliga Aspudden” and “Hur Ska Vi Stå?,” the former of which starts out slow and contemplative before introducing a more active rhythm shortly before the two-minute mark that sets it on its building, ethereal course. Both the drums and the guitar sound noticeably bigger, more open, but it’s the guitar which slowly comes to swallow up the rest of the elements, a wah-drenched buzzsaw lead arriving at 6:41 and carrying through to the end, a patient swirl behind full of motion that seems to send ripples upward to the surface of the song itself.
The jam fades, presumably before it comes apart, and “Hur Ska Vi Stå?” comes in with a sleek guitar line over steady marching snare, jabbing proggy rhythms intertwined and fits of synth that arrive early and don’t come again, but continue to loom as a threat among the more peaceful noodling and frenetic but not abrasive manipulations of what may or may not be bass. A quiet guitar solo kicks in after halfway through, but the drum beat (maybe electronic or programmed?) and the other noise refuse to give ground and ultimately the jam unfolds, the kick drum run through echoing effects and manipulated as the final piece to go. It’s a fair enough ending to a record that has for the most part avoided showing its audience what it sounds like when the wheels come off an instrumental conversation, but the simple truth is that if you’re listening and you’re not already entranced by what Kungens Män have done in the prior 83 minutes, the last two of “Hur Ska Vi Stå?” aren’t likely to make a difference one way or another. A subdued, moody undertone can be felt throughout the album, but the prevailing spirit is nonetheless calm, and while one doubts they’ll wait around too long to let it sink in, Förnekaren has a wide enough scope that, if they were so inclined, Kungens Män could easily rest on its laurels for a while.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
“Over the Edge” is the closing track on Hound‘s sophomore full-length, Out of Space. The Philadelphia natives’ second album is set to release Nov. 27 on SRA Records, and while “Over the Edge” doesn’t exactly capture its entire breadth, it’s righteous enough to stand in for the whole and definitely placed last for the broader impression it leaves of what the trio do. As to that itself, their methods vary some over Out of Space‘s nine inclusions, which are quick to show off their punker roots on opener “Emotional Collapse” and the subsequent “Mortality Jam” — which kicks off a five-song sequence of cuts under three minutes long — but the three-piece remain steeped in raw, heavy rock and roll throughout, calling to mind a similar creative trajectory as some of Small Stone‘s roster over the last decade, bands like Suplecs and Roadsaw, whose roots in more aggressive fare one way or another have led them to weighted grooves and a more riff-happy modus operandi.
Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Perry Shall, bassist Patrick Hickey and drummer Chris Wilson (also Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), Hound‘s style feels deceptively straightforward superficially, but the more one digs into the album and uncovers the organ buried in the mix of “Intro” and “Cold Blooded,” which follows — it’s worth noting that “Intro” is actually the longer of the two — and the plays of tempo that occur between the later “Super Junkie of Being…” and “Walking Curse,” the more complex Out of Space shows itself to be. Shall, Hickey and Wilson have that rawness at their core, but their second LP finds them in the process of building on top of that stylistically and to engaging effect. A strong undercurrent of ’90s alt hard rock shows itself in “Walkin’ the Fine Line,” but there’s a more modern heaviness to it, as well as a bit of shuffle, that bring it into the all-encompassing context of the heavy ’10s. And when it comes around, “Over the Edge” arrives as a pure moment of riff hedonism, a chugging, crawling, slow-motion nod that Shall buries his voice beneath to make it sound even huger, not that it was hurting anyway.
It’s not trying to change the world, it’s not trying to fix something stylistically that isn’t broken, “Over the Edge” is just tilting its figurative head back and riffing out, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need most. I’m thrilled today to be hosting the track for its streaming premiere, and hope that you get as much of a kick out of it as I have. Please find it on the player below, followed by some comment from Shall on “Over the Edge” and more info on the album from the PR wire.
Perry Shall on “Over the Edge”:
“Over the Edge’ is a song I wrote and recorded a demo of two years before some insane people thought the world was supposed to end (in 2012). The final version you’re hearing is exactly what I wanted it to end up sounding like. Long, droney, stream of conscious type of feeling.”
Philadelphia underground rock band HOUND will release its new album Out of Space on November 27 via SRA Records. The power trio — guitarist / vocalist Perry Shall, drummer Chris Wilson (also of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists) and bassist Patrick Hickey — whose sound has been described as “just the right combination of attack and restraint” recorded the album at Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA (Title Fight, Braid). Out of Space is the follow up to HOUND’s 2014 debut, Out of Time.
HOUND will throw a Philadelphia album release party for Out of Space on November 27 at Everybody Hits. Special guests include The Kominas and Dangerbird. For full details,visit this location.
Track listing: 1.) Emotional Collapse 2.) Mortality Jam 3.) Walkin’ the Fine Line 4.) Intro 5.) Cold Blooded 6.) Super Junkie of Being 7.) Stone Carvin’ Man 8.) Walking Curse 9.) Over the Edge
Posted in audiObelisk on November 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers Mos Generator and Gorst, Washington, newcomers Sower will release a split 12″ via Devil’s Child Records on Nov. 27. It is a local affair — Washington bands, cover artist, label — but the appeal goes well beyond the region. Both groups recorded with Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed — joined in his band by bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett — and as two trios playing four tracks apiece of straightforward heavy rock and roll, they showcase a diversity of experience and songwriting.
In a way, both are new bands. The connection goes back to Reed‘s time in Stone Axe, as that band’s bassist, Mike DuPont, and drummer, Mykey Haslip, feature in Sower alongside guitarist/vocalist Bo McConaghie, but Mos Generator are a new band here as well. I don’t think this split marks the first recording for Booth in the band (that might be the earlier 2015 split with Isaak or the recently-unveiled acoustic track), but it’s definitely the first output with Garrett on drums. He plays on opener “The Prow,” which is a Voivod cover taken from their 1991 full-length, and the subsequent “Wicked Willow,” which was a demo that never quite to fruition before he joined. On both the original and the cover, Mos Generator‘s stamp is unmistakable, and Garrett‘s swinging ping ride fits smoothly with Booth‘s bassline and Reed‘s riffing on “Wicked Willow,” which precedes “Red Canyons” — born out of a HeavyPink one-off jam that, if I remember right, also featured DuPont — and “Serpent’s Glance,” which is another demo, this on born out of a Reed studio session in Denmark producing the band Doublestone, boasting Booth on bass and Shawn Johnson on drums.
At least theoretically it’s a little easier to keep track of who’s doing what on Sower‘s side of the 12″. Apparently rooted in a three-piece called Sower of Discord, from whom there is some live footage dating back to 2011, this split seems to be their recorded debut, and while not exactly newcomers as players, they’re establishing themselves as a trio and the songs have a demo-style feel to them. Nonetheless, “Time and Tide,” “Forward Until Death,” “New Boss” and “Escape Pod” give an initial glimpse at some choice fuzz in the making. “Forward Until Death” particularly finds its breadth in breaking down to a section of minimalism held together by the bass until the guitar and drums reemerge for a larger, rolling apex, and “New Boss” functions similarly in its second half, trading out the roll in favor of classic rocking shuffle. Groove, hooks and engaging leads are the order of the day, and Sower embark on their first outing with a plan of action put to immediate work. It will be interesting to see how they move forward from here.
The two bands have release shows booked for Dec. 11 and 12 in, of course, Washington, and they’ll be joined by Year of the Cobra and Infinite Flux. Show details follow the tracks themselves, which you can hear on the players below.
12/11 The Valley, Tacoma, WA: Devil’s Child Records present a night to celebrate their debut release. Mos Generator / Sower split 12″ Lp. Limited run of 300. 100 Red / 100 Yellow / 100 Grey. Come out and buy them direct from the label.
INFINITE FLUX will also be slinging their mammoth debut Cd for the first time. A very exciting night for music collectors and fans of loud and heavy live music. It’s free show so come out and support the bands and labels.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today, Swedish doomers Goatess announce the March 2016 release of their second album, Purgatory Under New Management. Like their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), it will out via Svart Records, and to herald its arrival, the Stockholm four-piece are giving an early glimpse at the track “Moth to Flame,” the 10-minute opener of the record, which makes its premiere below. I am unreasonably fucking stoked to be able to host it. Really, just nerding out all over the place.
I think even if you didn’t hear the first record — a concern you’ll likely want to address after listening to this song — it’s quickly apparent in “Moth to Flame” why that would be the case. Fronted by Christian “Chritus” Linderson (ex-Count Raven, ex-Saint Vitus, Lord Vicar, Terra Firma, etc.) and with guitarist Niklas, drummer Kenta and bassist Findus (who left the band following the recording of this album this past summer, replaced by Izmo), Goatess breathe live into the stolid form of what we commonly think of as traditional, Sabbathian doom. Their flare for a stoner groove is unmistakable, and after a quiet intro, they show it in the chugging nod of “Moth to Flame,” setting the foundation for a verse and chorus melodic hook that’s irresistible for the converted and bound to catch a few inductees as well.
As a sampling of what’s to come on Purgatory Under New Management, “Moth to Flame” finds them off to a killer start. The song breaks in its second half to a spacier jam that trades off to louder guitar squibblies and some especially soulful belting-out from Linderson. They close on that quiet note, having already come far from where they started, but with eight tracks on Purgatory Under New Management — which is also immediately in the running as one of 2016’s best album titles — it’s easy to imagine that “Moth to Flame” is just a first step on a longer, riff-led journey. All the better that Goatess make it as a tighter, more cohesive band.
Can’t wait to hear the rest of the release, but March is still four months out, so it might be a minute before that happens. Nonetheless, I’m once again pleased as punch and then some to be able to host “Moth to Flame” today, which you’ll find below, followed by some album preliminaries and comment from the band.
“Moth To Flame” is the first track from the upcoming second album from Goatess, this is but a taste of the dark grooves ahead. The full length album, “Purgatory Under New Management” includes 8 diabolical tracks of stoned epic melancholy.
Comments the band, “Guess you can look at it as if Dante and Bosch gave birth to Rosemary’s baby, like a tortured sibling to the debut album. Musically a natural progression, summing up the aspects and layers of harsh realities the band has been facing since then. Let’s face our darkest innermost demons together, shall we?”
Boston doomers Magic Circle release their second album, Journey Blind, Nov. 20 on 20 Buck Spin. A dual-guitar five-piece, the band was a force to be reckoned with even before the release of their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), having garnered a formidable response to their initial single, Scream Evil/Lighting Her Fire, both online and in the physical realm with a 7″. The self-titled was light on frills but heavy on dark atmospherics and weighted riffing, and Journey Blind‘s seven tracks/45 minutes follow suit in that regard, but add stylistic nuance in the form of a decided lean toward ’80s-era NWOBHM metallurgy, taking cues on the opening title-track from Judas Priest fist-pumping chug in the guitars of Chris Corry and Dan Ducas, unconcerned with genre boundaries as it motors forward on a groove thickened by Justin DeTore‘s bass and propelled by the drumming of Q, topped off with classically soaring vocals from Brendan Radigan.
Their take on the sound is righteous and unabashed, and while Journey Blind is unmistakably different from what they were doing on Magic Circle, it makes sense as a next step. “Journey Blind” is both the opener and the longest track (immediate points) at 8:26, and does much work in setting the tone for what follows, but though it’s shorter, “The Damned Man” takes hold with pre-thrash intensity and vocal layering in its hook on the way to a surprising slowdown and build-up, a breakdown riff stomped out at around four minutes in that becomes the bed for soloing and a final verse before ending — wait for it — acoustic.
How any of that makes any fucking sense whatsoever, I haven’t the foggiest, but it does. In context, the acoustic finish of “The Damned Man” is as much intro for “A Ballad for the Vultures” as it is its own outro, but as a standalone it shows how willing Magic Circle are to bend the rules of verse-chorus to suit their whims, and that they can do it and not have a track fall apart. They’re due for a doom-out, and “A Ballad for the Vultures” delivers one in its first half, still tinged with Iron Maiden-style grandiosity and Dio-style poise, a midsection break serving as transition to a faster, more swinging movement of furious guitars and an ongoing sense of build until its unbridled conclusion. They even slow down in there, but by the end, they’re at their most raging.
The subsequent “Lightning Cage” is maybe more ’70s than ’80s in its central riff early on, but the difference works out to be trivial with as much effort as Magic Circle put into making it their own. A meatier nod emerges in an extended bridge, but again, they end fast, reveling in the play of one tempo off another in a centerpiece track that’s the shortest inclusion at 4:19 but a standout moment all the same for its efficiency and the energy of its delivery. Already to this point, Magic Circle have galloped and stomped, they’ve howled and marauded, and they’ve torn into classic metal without giving up the atmospheric heft of their debut. More than a little impressive. They’ve grown — quickly — and remained cohesive working through a variety of structures. The final three songs of Journey Blind, which may or may not be side B, depending on where the vinyl puts “Lightning Cage,” present another turn, this time into more Sabbathian territory.
A doom band sounding like Sabbath? Not exactly news, but across “Ghosts of the Southern Front,” “Grand Deceivers” and the closing “Antediluvian,” Magic Circle seem to be on a campaign to redeem Tony Iommi‘s work post-Ian Gillan, and they make a convincing argument, whether it’s the steady pacing of “Ghosts of the Southern Front” or the highlight bass work DeTore brings to “Antediluvian.” And since this era of the genre progenitors coincides with the NWOBHM coming of age and even the birth of the thrash movement, it also makes sense in terms of the timeline in which Magic Circle are working throughout that they’d dip into such an influence.
The final three songs are almost an album unto themselves, but the straight-backed posture of “Grand Deceivers,” the chug and chorus of “Ghosts of the Southern Front” and the speedier takeoff that closes out “Antediluvian”‘s even-earlier Sabbathism mesh with Journey Blind‘s first four cuts in a way that maintains the flow of the record front to back. A considerable momentum is built across Journey Blind‘s span that makes it a quick listen, but the substance that Magic Circle put on offer isn’t to be discounted. Their second full-length outing goes beyond simply being a follow-up and pushes them into new stylistic ground that they conquer with boldness and confidence.
I have the pleasure today of hosting “The Damned Man” as a track premiere. Find it below, followed by more on the album, and please enjoy:
20 Buck Spin will round out its roster for 2015 with the release of Journey Blind, the triumphant sophomore LP from Boston-based quintet MAGIC CIRCLE. This year has already been the most productive and expansive year for the label, but Journey Blind will fit into your parents’ unwavering classic rock collection the same as it could be the hottest thing on your younger cousin’s latest playlist.
Following their self-titled debut which was well-received in metal and hardcore circles, MAGIC CIRCLE returns with forty-five minutes of dominant, pure heavy metal on Journey Blind, a record which sees the outfit doing what they do, but doing it even better. Self-produced and recorded by the band at guitarist CC’s The Pain Cave, the record surges with the viscosity a team of top-tier producers would be proud to back.
The cover art for Journey Blind is an unused piece dating to 1979 by legendary artist Joe Petagno (Motorhead, Mammoth Grinder, Autopsy) which has been properly fitted to this modern ripper which could have been captured three decades ago yet booms with a refreshed spirit to guide today’s misguided youth back to their unbeknownst roots. Devotees to the scriptures immotalized by 1980s Black Sabbath, 1980s Trouble, Pagan Altar, Saint Vitus and the like should not pass this one by.
20 Buck Spin will make MAGIC CIRCLE’s Journey Blind a reality on November 20th in CD and digital formats, with the vinyl to follow in mid-December or whenever the pressing plants can get their shit together.