Horisont Post “Electrical” Video; US Tour Starts Oct. 31

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


We’re still a ways off from Swedish classic heavy rockers Horisont making their debut on Century Media with their fifth album, About Time, in Feb. 2017, but the band are coming to the States next week to start their first US tour ever, so yeah, the timing on their video for the new song “Electrical” works pretty well. On the tour they’ll be joined by Ohio’s Electric Citizen, for whom jaunts across the country should be old hat at this point, and as they lay the groundwork for the follow-up to last year’s Odyssey (review here), “Electrical” shows them continuing to build on their blend of ’70s-stylized prog and melody-rich rock, intricate but immediately accessible just the same, and unafraid to tap into a grand hook when it suits their purposes, which clearly it does here.

And the video, put together by bassist Magnus Delborg, plays to the band’s analog worship. In black and white, in addition to the band with circuitry attached to their faces, we see grainy found footage, as well as still shots of bygone technology, be it audio equipment or corded telephones, and though it’s clearly making a statement there about the fleeting nature of technological advancement through the years — all of that was “the latest” at one point or another; you might say it’s About Time — there’s a sense of humor to it as well, as the monkey playing a fiddle during the guitar solo emphasizes. A well-balanced, smooth execution? That has basically become Horisont‘s calling card as a band, so once again, it fits. It would have to. They don’t work any other way.

One can only hope Century Media takes Cheap Trick‘s lead and does a limited pressing of About Time on 8-track. If “Electrical” is anything to go by, Horisont earn nothing less, and as others in the European retro sphere — GraveyardBlues PillsKadavarWitchcraft, etc. — fall by the wayside or modernize their style, Horisont‘s vintage loyalism may earn them a place at the forefront of a movement still very much in development, both in Europe and beyond its borders.

Tour dates follow the clip below. Enjoy:

Horisont, “Electrical” official video

Swedish hardrockers HORISONT have just posted the official video for their new single “Eletrical”, taken off their upcoming album About Time, which will be released on February 3rd, 2017!

The band comments: “We are very happy and excited to present to you all, our brand new single; Electrical! In many ways a classic Horisont track but with some twists and turns. The video is, as per usual, made by our very own bass player, Magnus Delborg! His best one yet!”

Catch Horisont live across the U.S. this Fall on tour dates with Electric Citizen. Dates below.

HORISONT live 2016
10/31/2016 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
11/1/2016 New York, NY @ Studio at Webster Hall
11/2/2016 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
11/3/2016 FT Wayne, IN @ Brass Rail
11/5/2016 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
11/6/2016 Rock Island, IL @ Rock Island Brewing Company
11/7/2016 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
11/10/2016 Oakland, CA @ Starline
11/11/2016 Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
11/13/2016 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
11/14/2016 Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
11/16/2016 Dallas, TX @ Curtain Club
11/17/2016 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
11/18/2016 Austin, TX @ Beerland
11/20/2016 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
11/22/2016 Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage

Horisont is:
Axel – Vocals
Charles – Guitar
Magnus – Bass
Pontus – Drums

Horisont website

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

Century Media on Thee Facebooks

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Droids Attack Reveal Hidden Title-Track to Sci-Fi or Die

Posted in audiObelisk, Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Wisconsin heavy rockers Droids Attack wanted to do something special with the title-track of their latest album, Sci-Fi or Die (review here), so they hid it. No, really. It’s hidden. As in you need to go and find it. Fortunately, you don’t have to go that far. If you bought the CD when it came out at the end of February, you already have “Sci-Fi or Die” whether you know it or not. It’s in the jewel case, under the disc tray, behind a false back card on a mini-CD of its own with its own special artwork and lyric liner. “Something special” achievement unlocked.

As to what you’ll find when you dig out that mini-CD, “Sci-Fi or Die” is a departure from much of the record that bears its name, moving away from the full-thrust of songs like “New droids-attack-sci-fi-or-die-hidden-artPlague” into almost proggy riffing and spacious, echoing vocals reciting lyrics that not only acknowledge the listener’s success — “You have found our hidden track/Sci-fi or die” — but then immediately express gratitude for said listener having bought the album — “Thanks for choosing Droids Attack/Sci-fi or die.” Hard to beat that as far as charm goes, and the trio of guitarist/vocalist Brad Van, drummer Tony Brungraber and bassist/backing vocalist Darwin Sampson know plenty about charm, as anyone who’s actually already bought the CD can tell you.

Below, you can exclusively stream “Sci-Fi or Die.” It’s not available digitally anyplace else. You can’t buy it except as the CD with the CD, and you can’t download it anywhere. So if you want to hear it, now’s your chance. If my description above didn’t explain properly how to find the mini-CD in your copy of Sci-Fi or DieVan was kind enough to make an unboxing video for the album in which he not only goes through the process, but rightly takes some time to highlight the excellent and intricate artwork throughout the package by Eli Quinn, which is already in my notes for some of the best cover art of 2016 and should be in yours as well if you’re the list-keeping type.

Van also gives some comment on what drove them to handle the secret track this way under the song itself, which you’ll find on the player below.

Please enjoy:

Brad Van on “Sci-Fi or Die”:

We were goofing around at practice, and we joked about writing a hidden track song about finding the hidden track. We came up with a bunch of elaborate ways to hide it, including really dumb ideas like hiding a treasure map in the album liner notes and actually burying a box with the song in it somewhere when we went out on tour.

We definitely didn’t want to do the typical ‘tack on 20 minutes of silence’ after the final track that people would fast forward through, and we didn’t want the track to be a senseless noise jam, or anything useless that folks would just want to skip. It’s more of a missing puzzle piece that fits right in as the final song of the album. It’s also the title-track, “Sci-Fi or Die.”

Tutorial: How to Uncover Droids Attack’s “Sci-Fi or Die”

Droids Attack on Thee Facebooks

Droids Attack on Bandcamp

Droids Attack website

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Brant Bjork and the Perils of “Luvin'”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Who the hell’s gonna have a problem taking a couple minutes out of their day to watch Brant Bjork roll around the desert in a primo boogie van with a soundtrack featuring a choice cut from his latest album? Obviously not me. “Luvin'” is the second video to come from Tao of the Devil (review here), which is out now on Napalm Records, behind one for “Stackt” (posted here), and it works on much the same theme vis a vis Bjork being in the desert, going to a bar with a shorty-shorts ladyfriend and ensuing whatnot. In this case, said ladyfriend swipes his van and the relationship would seem to come to an unceremonious conclusion — perhaps in part because of her propensity for littering that beautiful landscape with his maps — but Bjork gets his in the end, reclaiming the van and driving off into the sunset.

All told, it’s a cool track and a good bit of fun and I don’t think it aspires to be anything more than that or necessarily needs to. As much as Bjork has become an ambassador and figurehead for California’s desert rock legacy over the last several years — and even more since hooking up with Napalm before issuing Black Power Flower (review here) in 2014 — he’s maintained a level of cool to his persona that I think extends both to the music he makes and the visuals that come with it. Shit, at this point, you don’t need me to tell you to check out Tao of the Devil. If you haven’t already done so, that’s probably a conscious decision on your part and almost certainly your loss. Imagine being 17 years out from your first solo record and coming around with some of your best work yet. Really. Take a second and think about that. However you feel about the style or whatever, the dude is doing something special.

That’s my spiel. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band head back to Europe next month, hooking up with Italy’s Black Rainbows (ambassadors in their own right) for a couple weeks of touring. You’ll find those dates listed under the video below.

Please enjoy:

Brant Bjork, “Luvin'” official video

The wait is finally over, as BRANT BJORK has released his brand new masterpiece! Tao Of The Devil is more focused than its predecessor Black Power Flower and boasts a more song-oriented and groovy stoner sound, with a healthy dose of 70s style greatness.

Get your copy of Tao Of The Devil HERE.

Low Desert Punk Brant Bjork, king of the sweetest flow and forever kissed by the burning sun of Southern Cali will be hitting the road all over Europe quite soon. Find all dates listed below:

BRANT BJORK European tour:
03.11.16 DE – Osnabrück / Bastard Club
04.11.16 NL – Deventer / Burger Weeshuis
05.11.16 DE – Erfurt / Stadtgarten
06.11.16 BE – Hasselt / Mod
07.11.16 UK – London / Garage
08.11.16 FR – Paris / Divan Du Monde
09.11.16 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
10.11.16 DE – München / Backstage
11.11.16 AT – Graz / PPC
12.11.16 GR – Athen / An Club
14.11.16 AT – Wien / Arena
15.11.16 CH – Zürich / Rote Fabrik
16.11.16 DE – Karlsruhe / Substage
17.11.16 DE – Köln / Live Music Hall
18.11.16 DE – Dresden / Beatpol
19.11.16 DE – Berlin / Columbia Theater
20.11.16 DE – Hamburg / Logo

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork website

Napalm Records website

Brant Bjork at Napalm Records

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Friday Full-Length: Humble Pie, Smokin’

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Humble Pie, Smokin’ (1972)

Good times had by all. And by all, I mean everybody. Some records just don’t take no for an answer, and that’s Humble Pie‘s 1972 LP, Smokin, all the way. The UK heavy rockers’ fifth full-length, it was also the first after guitarist Peter Frampton split, only to be replaced by Clem Clempson (Colosseum) in the lineup alongside guitarist/vocalist/founder Steve Marriott (Small Faces), bassist/vocalist Greg Ridley (Spooky Tooth) and drummer Jerry Shirley. It’s also unquestionably their biggest album, released by A&M Records and powered by the landmark single “30 Days in the Hole,” which opens side B, but of course it’s a far richer offering when taken front to back than that ultra-hook can fully convey, and whether it’s the guest spot Stephen Stills puts in on organ and vocals for “Hot and Nasty” — which lives up to its name — or the driving heavy rock and roll of closer “Sweet Peace and Time,” Smokin’ is a classic through and through in performance, songwriting, and vibe. Like I said, good times had by all.

Like a lot of acts of the era, particularly 1970-1973, Humble Pie were taken with a post-Cream blues sensibility, but they cleaned up the boogie with a slice of funk, as one can plainly hear on cuts like “The Fixer” — a Marriott original; compare to Cactus‘ slowed down take on “Long Tall Sally,” released the year before — or the ultra-friendly Eddie Cochran cover “C’mon Everybody,” both of which appear on the first half of the record. One can debate whether or not “You’re so Good for Me,” with its churchgoing acoustic blues foundation, piano and underlying rhythmic swing, was anything that Parliament hadn’t already been doing for three years at that point, but Humble Pie would hardly be the first of the English rock set to borrow from American black culture — or, for that matter, the American set, or any other — and the twanging context of “Old Time Feeling,” the jam on the Junior Walker cover “Road Runner” and the bluesy sprawl of “I Wonder,” Smokin‘ could hardly be accused of being one-dimensional in that regard. Marriott‘s interplay with background singers in “30 Days in the Hole” is likewise an aspect drawn out of soul and R&B, but Humble Pie marry it to rock heft and impact in a way that would help shape the model an entire generation of acts followed.

The band continued for a long time after Smokin’, with various lineups, various players taking control of the name, and so on. When Steve Marriott died in a house fire in 1991, Greg Ridley held the reins on their by-then formidable legacy, and after he died of pneumonia in 2003, Jerry Shirley toured with a lineup as Humble Pie and derivations thereof as well. When the Smokin’ incarnation of Humble Pie split in 1975, Clempson hooked up with Cozy Powell (Jeff BeckBlack Sabbath, etc.) in Strange Brew and went on to do film work and play backing a whole swath of distinguished acts and solo artists from the era, be it Jack Bruce or Bob Dylan.

As always, I hope you enjoy. I’ve wanted to close out a week with Smokin’ for a long time, and as it’s Universal at this point who owns the label group to which A&M Records belongs, the album rarely stays on YouTube long. But even when it gets removed, the record’s been reissued more times than I can count, so it’s not like it’s not readily accessible, and hell, if you’re reading this, you probably own a copy already anyway. So just go grab it and put it on. And again, enjoy.

Quick week. Needed one. Not free of stress by any stretch of the imagination, but could be worse. The Patient Mrs. and I put our townhouse on the market this week. Monday we had a photographer in to take pictures. You can see our collectible plate with Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the kitchen shot (because yes, it hangs in the kitchen) and my Candlemass promotional wall hanging for their 2005 self-titled reunion album in the office, but other than that, the place looks good. I take no credit for any of it. The Patient Mrs. took the idea and ran with it and basically the plan is to see what we can get for the place before we decide if we’re actually going to move. If we do go anywhere, it’ll be south a bit, probably to Rhode Island if we can, or otherwise near the border. We can just inch our way toward living in Connecticut (the dream) one domicile at a time for the next 35 years. That’ll be fine.

Open house on Sunday, if you’re free. Someone’s coming in this morning to clean, so hopefully by then the place won’t be re-covered in dog hair.

Before I get to next week’s stuff — there’s a lot of it — let me just say that if you didn’t get to check out the Zaum album stream that went up yesterday, you should do so. I turned 35 this week and every year I decide to write about something special on my birthday to treat myself, and this year I wrote about Zaum on the day before the post went up as my little present to me. So yeah, if you haven’t dug into that, obviously I think it’s worth your time.

Also had a blast writing the Asteroid review that went up this morning, so there’s that as well.

Okay, next week. Of course it’s subject to change, but here’s the current plan:

Monday: Full album stream and review for the new Albez Duz.
Tuesday: A Devil to Pay album review and a Droids Attack video/audio premiere that’s going to be really cool.
Wednesday: A full stream and review of the new Scissorfight EP.
Thursday: A one-two combo review of new stuff from Mos Generator and a video premiere and big news from Geezer.
Friday: Pending, obviously, but right now I’ve got a review of the solo debut from Magnus Pelander of Witchcraft.

That’s what’s slated as of today. Could shift around some. I’ve already pushed that Pelander review back considerably.

Any video gamers out there? I bought myself a tablet last weekend (I guess that was actually the birthday present to myself; got a Samsung one on the cheap) and have been playing Final Fantasy V on it as I’ve never actually played that one and IV is my favorite game of all time and VI is an ultra-classic as well. They’ve got Final Fantasy XV coming out next month and I’m considering preordering a PS4 Pro to play it. Anyway, just some nerd stuff that has me excited. If you’re down, awesome. If not, sorry for the aside.

My mother and sister’s son are coming north tomorrow to spend the day and stay over to Sunday, so lots going on this weekend between that and the open house. Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a great one. Stay safe and have fun and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Mars Red Sky Post “Alien Grounds” Short Movie

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Mars Red Sky have released a series of videos over the last five or six years, and they usually follow a similar pattern. They’re homemade, comprised mostly of found footage, etc. There have been exceptions along the way, as with 2015’s clip for “The Light Beyond” (posted here), but to generalize, they’re meant to showcase the song more than a direct visual narrative. Not so the short film Alien Grounds which takes “Apex III” and “Sapphire Vessel,” the first two tracks from the Bordeaux trio’s third and latest album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), and puts them to a science fiction narrative that comes told through visuals as lush as the band’s melodies and a professional production of a level yet unseen from them.

The result of a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, Alien Grounds starts out by finding a clever mechanism to tell its story, to give the viewer background and insight into what’s happening and what’s going to happen, and then unfolds in a manner complementary to the way “Apex III” acts as the intro to the album. There’s an astronaut, an apparent kidnapping, a bit of rocking out, a bit of horror, and an apparent space-cult who use the same hand-sign as the hippies from my (second) favorite episode of Star Trek — think “we reach” — and teleport the hero of our narrative to a distant planet he heretofore thought was of his own creation. Very cool stuff all around, and easy to get lost in the story as well as in the music, so mark it a double-win for the band.

After coming to the States earlier this year to play, among other gigs, The Obelisk All-Dayer and Psycho Las Vegas, the progressive heavy psych three-piece are once again hitting the road this week in Europe. They’ve got shows booked through next month and into December that you can find listed below, along with more info on the video and the cast featured.

And don’t get me wrong, I like those homemade-style videos. This is just something special and that’s worth pointing out.


Mars Red Sky, “Alien Grounds: Apex III/Sapphire Vessel”

Cool vintage car, handsome actors, crazy spaceship, dangerous alien, odd dive bar…

ALIEN GROUNDS is based on the 2 first tracks of our last album APEX III (Praise for the Burning Soul). Directed by Sébastien Antoine.

Music: “Alien Grounds” – “Apex III” – “Sapphire Vessel”

Starring: Yan Tual, Dan Bronchinson, Victoria Cyr, Grégory Dreyfus, Jean-Claude Tisserand

Oct 27 Alte Hackerei Karlsruhe, Germany
Oct 28 Klubovna Prague, Czech Republic
Oct 29 festival Soulstone Gathering Cracow, Poland
Oct 30 Klub Firlej Wroclaw, Poland
Oct 31 Ostpol Dresden, Germany
Nov 02 La Sirène La Rochelle, France
Nov 10 6 PAR 4 Laval, France
Nov 11 La Nouvelle Vague Saint Malo, France
Nov 12 Monteray Live Stage Kyiv, Ukraine
Nov 18 CAVE A MUSIQUE Macon, France
Nov 19 FILE 7 Magny Le Hongre, France
Dec 10 PAUL B. Massy, France
Dec 16 Le Poche Bethune, France
Dec 17 La Fourmi Limoges, France

Julien Pras (vocals, guitar)
Jimmy Kinast (bass, vocals)
Matgaz (drums)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records

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Ethereal Riffian Post “Drum of the Deathless” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


If you were in Kiev-based heavy psych ritualists Ethereal Riffian, how could you not tilt your head back and hold your beard aloft to the sky over your head? I mean, unless you don’t have a beard, in which case I should think a bare chin would do. Point is, they’re clearly a group looking to commune with the music they’re making, and on their 2016 two-song EP, I AM. Deathless, it’s easy to argue they get there. With just “Drum of the Deathless” and the longer B-side “Sword of the Deathless,” the core four-piece plus a couple guests on djembe and didgeridoo engage worship-ready psych fervor and a depth of atmosphere that only adds to the appeal that the overarching weirdness of it all provides.

And they’re incredibly purposeful about all of it. If you don’t believe me, check out the documentary they premiered here back in August. See how they talk and think about what they’re doing. While I’d still definitely call it exploratory music, they’re not just throwing ideas out for public consumption. This material is built, put together in such a way that represents a mentality as progressive as it is heavy. The video for “Drum of the Deathless” extends this even to its visual cues. The first two and a half minutes lead you in — a constant stream of inward motion of band shots. The middle section is all swirl and circles around the group. And for its ending section, just as they lock in the big finish for the last minute or so, it begins to pull back outward again, returning the viewer to their own reality.

You can check out and read more about the clip, which was directed by Victor Priduvalov, below.

Please enjoy:

Ethereal Riffian, “Drum of the Deathless” official video

Ethereal Riffian presents the visualization of their song “Drum of the Deathless.” The video was created by an iconic Ukrainian director – Victor Priduvalov and Re:Evolution Film team at the Mental Drive Studio. For the time being, this work is the brightest flash in the band’s history that uncovers the idea of their mini-album “I AM. Deathless” to the greatest possible extent. This album was released on a CD in unique format for collectors, as well as on tapes in association with Kyiv-based label Robustfellow Prods.

Mystical song “Drum of the Deathless” tells about the deathless nature of human being and refers the listener to Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Collaboration with Victor Priduvalov over “Drum of the Deathless” is certainly the new experience for Ethereal Riffian that opens a new path to the next stage of development. For the audience, it is the opportunity to reach the Light, expand their consciousness and move to the fourth dimension.

Ethereal Riffian is:
Val Korniev – guitar/vocal/didgeridoo
Olexander Korniev – bass
Max Yuhimenko – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi – drums

Guest Musicians:
Maha Tretyakova – djembe
Yaroslaw Kaminskiy – didgeridoo

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Robust Fellow Productions on Bandcamp

Robust Fellow Productions on Thee Facebooks

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Sergio Ch. Posts “El Laud” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


It’s been a little more than a month since Sergio Chotsourian posted the first video from his second solo album, Aurora. That clip, for the title-track, preceded the digital issue of the six-song full-length itself through the former Los Natas frontman’s own South American Sludge Records imprint, which was earlier in October. Now, Chotsourian, who in the interim has also gotten the CD version of the record back from the plant ahead of the album’s physical release, to be celebrated this Thursday, Oct. 20, at Motoclub Bar in Chotsourian‘s native Buenos Aires. So yes, it’s been something of a busy time.

Perhaps all the better that “El Laúd,” for which Chotsourian has newly released a video that you can see below, finds him strumming away solo on an acoustic guitar. The sound is still full, with vocals doubled, but I’m relatively sure he’s playing the guitar live and adding another layer to his own vocals on the fly, so you still get a fairly intimate, minimal feel. Compared to some of the textures in which Aurora — which, as I’ve noted, is streaming in full at the South American Sludge Bandcamp — immerses itself, “El Laúd” is a much more folkish take, with a sweet and wistful melody and basic central guitar figure that complement each other well and ask nothing more of the listener than a couple minutes of time, which prove well worth investing.

Some explanation of the motives behind the VHS-style presentation of “El Laúd” follows the clip itself, referencing Chotsourian‘s father, who seems to have worked as a video editor for Argentinian public television. Good gig. In any case, that info has been run through a translation matrix, but I did my best to punch it up a bit where it seemed fitting to do so. I wouldn’t count on it being accurate to the original Spanish word-for-word, but you’ll get the idea.

Please enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “El Laúd” official video

“El Laud” is the new video and second cut of the new solo album of SERGIO Chotsourian bearing the name “AURORA”.

Simple and dense sound Creole song, stoner and pampeano. A metaphor of the instrument as a meeting place of salvation for dark souls and placated in search of light.

Produced and directed by Pablo Fernandez, “El Laud” seeks to relate a concept of a living room VCR tape in the ’80s, as appeared at the time on public television channels. Chotsourian is known for tracing moments of his childhood, where he accompanied his father for hours, editing programs, news and documentaries in the old channel 7 (ATC). Textures, betacam, VHS, television UMATIC and Argentina playing with the rawness and the melody of this song that explores memories and omens of hope.

Sergio Ch. website

South American Sludge on Bandcamp

South American Sludge website

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Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Born Again

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 14th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Black Sabbath, Born Again (1983)

Among the several maligned periods of Black Sabbath‘s almost-50-year history, from the late-Ozzy era to the Tony Martin years to the various reunions, “Psycho Man” and all that, I don’t think any single album has found redemption over the years more than 1983’s Born Again. It’s simply a record that won out over time. Condemned in its day for its mix, its sloppiness of sound and off-balance, coked-up, thrown together feel, it’s now appreciated for many of the same reasons. Until the 2011 charity one-off project WhoCares?, whose single was reviewed here, it would be the only collaboration between founding Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and frontman-of-frontmen Ian Gillan, of course known for his work in Deep Purple. The stories by now are legion, and don’t need my retelling. Gillan has discussed at length over the years how the whole thing was put together by management, how he barely took part in writing these songs — almost apologizing for an album that was poorly received — and that’s fair enough. Born Again is likewise something different from anything he’d done before as well, and for Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and keyboardist Geoff Nichols, it was a stark contrast to the grandiose reach of the band’s (first) era fronted by Ronnie James Dio, which produced two brilliant, landmark albums in 1980’s Heaven and Hell (discussed here) and 1981’s Mob Rules (discussed here), before coming to a close in time for Dio to issue his solo debut, the also-landmark Holy Diver, a few months before Born Again, in Spring 1983.

I’m not interested in defending Born Again against detractors — it still has many. Rather, in considering it as the pivot point for Black Sabbath in the ’80s, which is a time when it’s easy to think of them as wandering in the desert, working with GillanGlenn HughesRay Gillen, etc., en route to the decade Iommi would team with Tony Martin, the nine-track/41-minute offering might be the first Sabbath record that knew it was heavy metal and that being heavy metal was coming to mean something different from even a few years earlier. Born Again strips away the acoustic flourish of “Heaven and Hell,” the expansive progressivism of “The Sign of the Southern Cross,” in favor of raw tracks like “Zero the Hero,” the dissonant and jagged “Disturbing the Priest,” and barnburners like opener “Trashed” — a car song, which shines as a vehicle (pun totally intended) for Gillan post-Purple — and the almost unfortunately catchy “Digital Bitch,” to which, admittedly, history and context have not been as kind. The title-track meanders as a proto-ballad, and with the rocker “Hot Line” and the semi-sleaze of “Keep it Warm” closing out, Born Again is not without filler, but that’s precisely the point. It’s not a perfect record, and if one considers even the most basic measure of creative intent behind that stripping down, it not only sets up what Sabbath would do for the rest of the ’80s and well into the ’90s, but it makes for a standout from their catalog even in comparison to their earth-shattering, genre-defining early albums, which coalesced blues rock, weighted tones and darker themes into what eventually became the heavy metal from which Born Again could be seen as drawing influence.

As Sabbath move inexorably toward retirement, I’m keeping my fingers crossed Iommi and Gillan renew their studio collaboration. It’s a long-shot, granted, but even if they didn’t tour together — Gillan still hits the road with Deep Purple on the semi-regular — a studio album perhaps under the working moniker Born Again would certainly be welcome.

Love it or hate it, I hope you’ll take on Black Sabbath‘s Born Again with an open mind and enjoy the process of paying it another visit. Thanks for reading.

If closing out the week with Sabbath felt too easy or cliché, I’ll ask you to note that in the four-plus years I’ve done “Friday Full-Length,” it’s only been Sabbath in two prior instances, both linked above. That’s tied with KyussMonster MagnetDozerGoatsnake and Masters of Reality, among others. Not outlandish in that context to push for a third, what with them being Sabbath and all. There. I told myself I wasn’t going to justify it and I did anyway.

Short week at work with Monday off. Apparently when you have a real job they give you Columbus Day. First time that’s ever happened to me. Somewhat problematic from a colonial standpoint — all that rape and pillage — but a day off is a day off, and given where the rest of the week went work-wise from Tuesday on, I’ll especially take it. A mess of emails, meetings, emails about meetings, reading copy over and over and taking on more and more assignments. I’m also looking at starting another part-time gig on the side to hopefully give me some saving/playing money. And yes, I know how troubling it is to put “saving” and “playing” so close to each other in this context. Oh, Canon 5D Mark IV. You will be mine.

But anyway, it was stressful and I’m glad it’s just about over. Just about. Next week I’m doing myself a couple favors. I’ll be reviewing stuff from TruckfightersWorshipper, and Asteroid, as well as hosting album streams from Dorre/Bethmoora and Zaum. Not exactly taking it easy, but none of it is going to be a slog to write about by any means. Also look for news on Samsara Blues ExperimentFreedom Hawk and others, and videos for Sergio Ch. and members of Across Tundras. If I can, I’m also going to squeeze in an extra stream of a couple tracks from lost-but-way-ahead-of-their-time NY riffers Begotten that have come into my possession. I’ve been fortunate enough to be granted permission to host them, so don’t want to let that opportunity slip by. Look for that Wednesday or Thursday.

I think I mentioned something last week or the week before about wanting to shave off my beard. That didn’t happen, but I did get my hair cut last week and asked the dude who does that to take the facial hair in considerably as well. No regrets, as far as that goes. The Patient Mrs. noted that it completely changed the shape of my face. I’m fine with that.

So that’s your Beardwatch 2016 update. I’m sure you were glued to the edge of your seat waiting for news.

The Patient Mrs. has a friend in this weekend from abroad, so I expect there will be some running around probably in Boston on Saturday. My ankle’s resurgent soreness notwithstanding, sounds fine. I also at this point don’t care if my fucking foot falls off though, so maybe that’s not the best attitude. It’s cool. Not like it’s been two years or anything. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but between that and the barrage of fascist bullshit this election cycle, from which even Star Trek and the MLB playoffs have ceased to provide respite, it’s rough going.

Oh, and I started Luke Cage. First episode was a bunch of racial tropes — really? a Biggie portrait? — and not much compelling character development. Haven’t gone back to it yet. Jessica Jones and the second season of Daredevil were kind of disappointing as well, so I may or may not get there anytime soon. If you’ve seen it, I’d welcome any opinions on whether it’s worth the effort or if I should just say screw it and keep going with my Deep Space Nine/Voyager deep-dive.

Alright. Can’t imagine anyone’s still reading, but if you are (and I suppose if you stopped), I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please make sure to check out the forum and the radio stream.

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