Gran Duca Premiere “All Hail the Autowagen” Video; Beneath Thy Roots out June 28

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gran duca

Germany’s Gran Duca will release their debut album, Beneath Thy Roots, on June 28. The record, which is comprised of 11 tracks and runs a CD-style 55 minutes, finds them clean in their production and clear in their intent, working in a couple different vibes across the not-inconsiderable span. There’s an edge of aggression here and there throughout, from 6:57 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Monstrosity” onward, as heard in cuts like “Howlin’ Rollin'” and the later “House of Fools,” but that comes accompanied by dreamy turns like the early going of “Fields to Plow” and the later interlude “Panta Rhei,” as well as the loud/quiet trades of “Witchwoman” and the boogie-laced “The Walk.” The record’s a little under an hour long. There’s plenty of room for the band to flesh out different ideas, and they take advantage of the opportunity.

In the middle of it all is “All Hail the Autowagen,” for which you’ll find a video premiering below. At 5:59, the centerpiece of the album builds momentum quickly through a careening initial riff laced with fuzz in Johannes Gerber and Hendrik Friedel‘s guitars, while, as they are throughout, bassist Christoph Bextermöller and drummer Felix Hoffmeyer are more than able to handle the turns each progression provides, the former thickening out a tense chug that takes hold at about two minutes in while the snare of the latter punctuates it easily. They dive into a bluesy quiet section around the midpoint — the video earning its multicolor visuals, plus it sounds cool — and gradually build back up to the chorus riff without actually going so far as to bring the whole thing back, keeping basically the second half of the song instrumental. Fair enough to give Gerber a break on vocals, as he’s clearly been working hard belting out verses and hooks across Beneath Thy Roots up to that point, and there’s still plenty more to come, as “Fly with Me” and “House of Fools” demonstrate back-to-back.

The word the PR wire uses that most stands out to me below is “tasteful,” and I think that’s a fair assessment, especially as it’s their first full-length release. One expects that over time they’ll do further work in discovering their individual sound within the sphere of heavy rock and roll, perhaps manifesting more of the underlying bluesy spirit of some of their tracks and growing the nascent dynamic they hint toward here, but those are concerns for the next LP or the one after that. With Beneath Thy RootsGran Duca establish themselves as an outfit based on a foundation of songwriting, and as has been shown time and again, once you have that, you can pretty much go anywhere.

Enjoy “All Hail the Autowagen” below:

Gran Duca, “All Hail the Autowagen” video premiere

Gran Duca on “All Hail the Autowagen”:

We are psyched to share our second single and a trippy video to the song “All Hail The Autowagen” with you today! The song is inspired by cracking whips and long drives with our favourite van! One of the most heavy, straight forward grooving but yet psychedelic tracks taken from our upcoming album Beneath Thy Roots, out June 28th! Get your tickets for the trip and enjoy!

Dirty and mean, innovative and intelligent song structures, Germany’s up and coming, mud rock power unit GRAN DUCA are set to release their first full-length album this summer, on June 28th!

Recorded live at ‘Institut für Wohlklangforschung’ by Hannes Huke, GRAN DUCA deliver an exciting mix of raw stoner sounds, complex progressive vibes and a healthy dose of classic rock qualities. 70’s retro tunes and a heavy 90’s groove without platitudes, GRAN DUCA tastefully know how to please the old and new school rock fan! Fuzzy and distorted guitars, thick and deep rhythm lines, raw and authentic vocals, the eleven songs on Beneath Thy Roots are same inventive as catchy.

GRAN DUCA is:
Johannes Gerber (Vocals & Guitar)
Hendrik Friedel (Guitar)
Christoph Bextermöller (Bass)
Felix Hoffmeyer (Drums)

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Planet of Zeus Premiere “Revolution Cookbook” Video from Faith in Physics

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

planet of zeus

Last week, it was announced that Planet of Zeus had signed to Heavy Psych Sounds and will release their new album, Faith in Physics, on Sept. 27, with preorders up now. The album would seem to take a more political direction that the opening title-track of their 2016 LP, Loyal to the Pack, hinted toward, and with the unveiling of the first single/video for “Revolution Cookbook,” that’s borne out across a sub-three-minute run of catchy, uptempo and hard-hitting heavy rock. My curiosity when the press release came through was how the Athens-based four-piece would square their burly, Clutch-style groove with the thematic, and I think “Revolution Cookbook” answers that question pretty succinctly in its intense forward drive and cyclical chorus, sticking the landing on the line “We got our first-world problems” and pitting that against the contrast of “They got the tv and the money and the power and the guns.” I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but it sounds in that scenario like “we” are fucked.

I’m not sure who that “we” encompasses, but fair enough. If nothing else, “Revolution Cookbook” would seem to demonstrate that Planet of Zeus, if indeed they’re revising their focus lyrically, aren’t doing so at the expense of efficiency in craft. That is, they’re not so caught up in the message as to lose sight of the song. Faith in Physics would seem to be setting itself up for an exploration of these contrasts, whether it’s the melodic and shouted vocals here or the workman groove and more considered lyrics themselves. I haven’t heard the rest of the record yet — and since the release date is still more than three months out, I think that’s totally reasonable — but even the title Faith in Physics speaks to an idea of conflict or struggle, hinting toward the idea of science vs. dogma and commenting that even “believing” in science is a belief system, even if one based on empirical observation. This too would seem to make it a fitting follow-up to Loyal to the Pack, the first lines of which were, “No fake gods/No submission/No trust to anyone.”

The video itself is pretty straightforward in terms of capturing the band’s performance, but is well timed to the rhythm of the song nonetheless, though if you’re sensitive to flashing lights you might want to watch out in parts. It’s not too bad. I expect you’ll be fine.

Ultimately, it does nothing so much as make me curious to hear the rest of the album.

Enjoy:

Planet of Zeus, “Revolution Cookbook” official video premiere

ALBUM PRESALE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS108

Faith in Physics was recorded in Autumn 2018 at “Villa Guiseppe Studio” (drums), Planet of Zeus’s studio (guitars and bass) and “Kiwi Studio” (vocals) in Athens, Greece. It was produced by Planet of Zeus and recorded, mixed and mastered by Nikos Lavdas. The album artwork was created by “Aristotle Roufanis Studio”.

PLANET OF ZEUS is:
Babis Papanikolaou – Vox & Guitars
Stelios Provis – Guitars
Giannis Vrazos – Bass
Serafeim Giannakopoulos – Drums

Planet of Zeus website

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Friday Full-Length: Ichabod, Merrimack

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ve lived in Massachusetts for six years. It’s long enough to not completely feel like a Yankees fan interloping on foreign territory in New England, but I’d never call myself a native, and on the periodic occasion when someone has asked where I’m from, I almost always said New Jersey. There’s something about the atmosphere of New England that I feel like I never quite earned, and Ichabod‘s Merrimack (review here), which is coming up on five years since its initial release in Oct. 2014, captures that spirit better than any other heavy record I can think of. It’s there in the Northern work song “The Strong Place” — taken from the translation from Algonquin of the name of the Merrimack River, for which the album is titled — and in vocalist John Fadden‘s crooning, “Give our souls to the river,” in the subsequent “Two Brothers Rock.” It’s there in the underlying aggression behind the drift of Dave Iverson‘s effects-laced solos and Jason Adam‘s riffing, in the flowing grooves from bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer Phil MacKay, whose brother, Ken (now of Oxblood Forge), helped Iverson start the band some 20 years ago in 1999.

Ichabod revamped in 2011, bringing aboard Fadden as frontman, as well as Adam, while MacKay had served behind the kit since 2000 and Dellaria (also now of Oxblood Forge) on bass since 2002. Merrimack was the band’s sixth full-length was unquestionably their broadest ranging work. For Iverson and Fadden, it held the personal significance of being an homage to their mothers as well as to the land and river itself, and even unto that internalization of place, its songs bleed a passion that is genuine and striking. From the summer-sun celebration “Watershed” and the progressive tension (also highlight bass) in “Life at the Loom” — featuring the line, “I wish I could sit around and talk about the weather forever,” which itself might be the most New England thing I’ve ever heard — to the blatantly Doors-style fearcrafting in “Child of the Bear,” slaughter in the three-minute “The Ballad of Hannah Dustin” and subsequent paranoid-in-the-woods noisy chaos of closer “The Return,” Merrimack distilled into psychedelic metal and sludge the varying sides of Massachusetts itself: the history, alternatingly troubled and beautiful — they sure burned witches and killed a bunch of native people, but golly those leaves are nice in Fall — the inherent Northeastern intensity, the contradictions between such a prevalent working class culture and the fact that Boston hosts some of the most elitist learning institutions in the country, and the ability to find space within that sphere where one can almost pretend to be at peace for a while. For me, it was looking at the high pines and thinking about the years those trees had seen. For Ichabod, clearly it was the river.

The peak achievement of Merrimack hit early, in its longest track, the 9:39 “Squall.” Well placed to build outward from “Two Brothers Rock,” it conveyed the storm to which its title alluded and ichabod merrimacksummarized much of the approach of the record as a whole, really only leaving out of its accounting the warmer and inviting vibe of “Watershed” and “Life at the Loom,” which follow in succession. “Squall” found little peace amid its tale of fishing boats bashed by nature’s power, Fadden moving between layered screams, emphatic spoken word and cleaner belting-out — a style that in itself has been the region’s ply and trade at least as much as seafood for the last 20 years in metal, since the kids of New England’s hardcore started to remember they all grew up as Metallica fans and began to blend the two sides at the turn of the century. Even the song’s quieter stretch in the middle held that undercurrent of threat in its e-bow guitar and the fluid rhythm, and the payoff that emerged therefrom left no choice but to end with a torrent of feedback afterward, giving way directly to the contrasting transition/introduction to “Watershed.” Grayscale in its cover art with a picture of the river itself — “Subjugated long ago when industry did reign/The mill towns, they are burning down/The river, it remains,” went the lyrics of “The Strong Place” — Merrimack was more colorful than one might initially think, but it was an album made very much to depict a specific idea and a specific, real place, and in its character and breadth, it was an utter success. Again, I’ve only ever been a dabbler in Massachusetts, but to my ears, Ichabod‘s portrait of the Bay State experience via this one river would seem to lack nothing in its realism. Maybe a Patriots bumper sticker on its back cover. Local sports is a big part of the culture up there.

By the end of this summer, I’ll be moved away from New England, back to New Jersey, where I grew up, to live in what was my grandmother’s house in the shadow of a different pine tree, planted almost 60 years ago by my grandfather, Joe Peterson, who died five years before I was born. As I embrace this personal history in a new way, I can’t help but think of what Ichabod did in speaking to theirs with Merrimack and the nature of the concept behind this record, how much it managed to bring to life of the place that, after more than half a decade there, could still make me feel like a tourist, and where I still had to use my phone to navigate the twisting back roads. It was there home. As I return to mine, it’s with some new measure of clarity of what it means to be from somewhere, and how even when one might leave a place, one never really loses the effect that place has had. Or the accent. I’ve definitely still got that as well, as regards New Jersey.

Ichabod were in the studio in 2015 and 2016 for a record that was set to be called Somewhere Between Zero and Infinity, and even went so far as to post a snippet of a rough version of the title-track to Soundcloud and another song as well. I wouldn’t put it past them to have another album out at some point, but neither am I holding my breath. If Merrimack indeed turned out to be their swansong, at very least one would have to say they put everything they had into making it. Some bands never get there.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Next week is Maryland Doom Fest, if you can believe that. I think I leave on Wednesday to head south? Maybe Thursday? I’m not really sure. Either way, I’ll be there all weekend as I cash in all of the domestic capital I earned (and probably then some) running point on childcare in Ireland for two weeks in trade for four days of being pummeled into the ground by riffs. Thanks in advance to The Patient Mrs.

We’ve had people in the house all week to talk about doing windows, doing a kitchen, doing whatever else. A guy came and fixed a leak in the flashing above the fireplace. We got blown off by an electrician. All our furniture is still in MA, and frankly I have no idea where any of it is going to go, but I guess that’s a worry for when that place actually sells. I think it’s been on the market for three weeks? I don’t know. The sooner an offer comes in, the better. I don’t think anyone really wants to drag this out anymore than we need to.

Also, if anyone wants to help me pack vinyl, that’d be great. Thanks. I’ll be back up there sometime in July, I think. Gotta get the mail, if nothing else.

Speaking of, I know the contact form on here is broken again. Just hit me up on Facebook in the meantime.

No new The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio this week. I’ll have one next week though, so hang in. There’s still a repeat Sunday night at 7PM Eastern if you get the chance. Hit up http://gimmeradio.com for the schedule.

We’ve been down in Jersey pretty much since we got back (last weekend?) from Ireland. I think we stayed in Connecticut for a night. I don’t really know. I know I missed taking out the garbage yesterday morning and there’s copious baby poop in the garage as a result. Whatever raccoon decides to get in our trash is in for a surprise.

But this weekend is… stuff? I don’t know. I have writing to do, and a bunch of whatnot I want to get done before Doom Fest, but I’ll the skip the notes. Look for a Pinto Graham track premiere Monday and an Across Tundras review Tuesday. That’s the plan as of now. Might do Burning Gloom on Wednesday.

It’s 5:48AM and The Pecan just woke up. The sun just came through the trees. I can see on the baby monitor he’s standing, so it’s likely the real deal. Takes him a few minutes to get going sometimes. But I’ll go grab him and then start the day here, which involves the usual amount of running around and probably me stressing about emails and whatever else. Who can keep up.

Anyway, I wish you a great and safe weekend. I think we’re grilling tomorrow if you want to come by. We’ll be back here after the duck races in the afternoon. Because when we do wholesome, we go all the fuck out.

Thanks for reading.

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Deville Premiere Sunnanå Studios Live Session Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deville

One usually thinks of Sweden’s Deville as having a pretty pro-shop kind of sound. That is, when there’s a new Deville record coming out, I expect that it’s going to sound clear and full in a kind of accessible way that, in an alternate universe, would be radio-friendly. Listening to the recordings they made April 19, 2019, at Sunnanå Studios in Arlöv, I think they might need to track their next album live. Like, entirely live. The four-piece of guitarists Andreas Bengtsson (also vocals) and Andreas Wulkan, bassist Martin Nobel and drummer Martin Fässberg released their Pigs with Gods (review here) full-length last year through Fuzzorama, and it wasn’t lacking for either vitality or presence, but listening to Bengtsson and Wulkan come together on vocals in the hook of “Hell in the Water,” which opens this four-song set in the sub-15-minute video, they nail it in such a way as to make me wonder why they’d ever do anything else. Likewise the gruffer approach and rumble of “Lost Grounds,” the aggro crash of “Wrecked” (which has a confetti drop at the end of it; keep an eye out) and the ultra-righteous apex of “Chief” that rounds out. If you can do that live, do it. Not everyone can.

For those of us who’ve never seen this incarnation of Deville live — when they toured the US a few years back, it was with a different rhythm section — it’s also an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the dynamic they bring to the stage. It’s not going to be the same, of course, as they’re arranged facing each other in a circle and in a studio setting, but you can still see Nobel‘s metallic roots in how he headbangs to the songs, and the care Fässberg puts into propelling the grooves that are laced throughout. Deville are a band about songwriting more than technical flash, but they bring a spirit of performance here that gives another dimension to their work. In tone and in the basic energy, the Sunnanå session speaks to the essential drive behind what they do. It’s not necessarily that it’s rougher than their regular studio output — if it is at all, it’s not much; they still come across clear and professional — but the directness of their craft, its unabashed hooks, benefits from the immediacy of the circumstance. They sound killer, is the bottom line. I think these guys are kind of underrated as songwriters in part because their style is so straightforward, but they’re exceptional in their delivery, and that’s what’s emphasized so fervently in this footage.

So yeah, I’m not trying to tell anyone their business, or how to live their life, or how to make their next album, but the side they show of themselves here is definitely one worth revisiting, be it through a live record at some point or however they might go about it.

I’m happy to host the premiere, and Bengtsson has some comment on offer afterward.

Please enjoy:

Deville, Sunnanå Studios live session video premiere

Andreas Bengtsson on Sunnanå Studios session:

Chose songs that haven’t been played that much and some that have. Three from our latest album “Pigs with Gods” and one older. This is our first real live recording in a studio that has been filmed. Imagine it took so long to make one. We have been told many times that we are better live than on the record so let’s see what people think.

Tracklisting:
1. Hell in the Water
2. Lost Grounds
3. Wrecked
4. Chief

Recorded 2019-04-19 at Sunnanå Studios, Arlöv, Sweden.

Director of photography : Henrik Christoffersson

Sound engineering : Markus Nilsson

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

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Fuzzorama Records

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Mars Red Sky Premiere “Collector” Video; EP out June 19

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky (Photo by Rod Maurice)

Welcome to the next era of Mars Red Sky. With the coming release of the Collector EP, which will have a limited cassette pressing of 300 copies available at Hellfest on June 19 — and hopefully on the interwebs afterwards if there are leftovers — the Bordeaux, France, heavy psych rock three-piece begin the march toward their fourth album, The Task Eternal. That full-length will be out Sept. 27 on Listenable Records, and a preview EP is standard practice for Mars Red Sky going back to 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) which followed their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and preceded 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here). Likewise, before they issued Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) in 2016, they offered up the Providence EP (review here), and if you want to go all the way back, they had a 7″ single out before the first record as well. So yes, bouncing between shorter and longer offerings is very much in-character for Mars Red Sky.

Today marks the premiere of “Collector,” the title-track and single from the EP, and the video below, and it finds the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/sometimes vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau locked as ever into an irresistible rolling groove, filled out as much through low-end tonality in the guitar and bass as by Pras‘ echoing, floating melodic vocals over top. This dichotomy has been at the heart of Mars Red Sky since their outset — it’s essential to what they mars red sky collectordo — but over time they’ve grown more complex as well, as the 2017 17-minute instrumental single Myramid (discussed here) demonstrated and as one can hear in a fluid thread of progression across all their releases. At just over four minutes long, “Collector” itself is of a more straight-ahead verse/chorus style, but even in its depth of melody and the feeling of space conjured by the recording, one can hear Mars Red Sky moving past even the accomplishments of their last LP and toward those of The Task Eternal.

On the EP, “Collector” appears twice — the other version featuring a solo from Stoned Jesus‘ Igor Sidorenko — and comes complemented on each side by “Soldier On,” a longer and more lumbering cut with an expansive hook and a hypnotic break in its midsection held together by Gazeau on drums as the guitar builds dramatically back toward the plodding verse and the even-bigger-sounding finish. It is hard to know ultimately how much the material on Collector — the second version of “Soldier On” is a demo — will represent what’s to come on The Task Eternal. With ProvidenceMars Red Sky essentially set the atmosphere of Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul). That may be what’s happening again, or it could be something else entirely. The story at this point is just starting to be told.

You can see the premiere of the “Collector” video below, with live footage of the band spliced in with archival clips of people playing some kind of competitive frisbee game and a surprising amount of American iconography, culminating in a kind of cannon shooting out hamburgers, hot dogs, baseballs, televisions and cars. Fair enough for a song about someone collecting souls — my country rarely comes into unearned criticism — but one has to wonder as well if Mars Red Sky are taking a more direct and socially-conscious stance going into the LP. Or it could just be a one-off. Again, won’t know till we get there. But it’s fun to speculate.

Video is by Sebastien Antoine with live footage from Paris filmed by Rod Maurice. The music was recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Studio Cryogene in Bègles, France, just south of Bordeaux proper and on the banks of the River Garonne, and mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

PR wire info, comment from the band and copious tour dates follow.

Enjoy:

Mars Red Sky, “Collector” official video premiere

French heavy psychedelic masters MARS RED SKY release their new digital single entitled ‘Collector’ today! The song is taken from their upcoming fourth album ‘The Task Eternal’, due for release this year on September 27th on Listenable Records.

The band comments: “Collector is quite a straightforward track that may recall the ‘Mindreader’ vibe from our previous album ‘Apex III (Praise for the burning soul)’ in its structure and delivery. Lyrics deal with a soul collector, an evil being who announces his return to the city with the intention of terrorizing the population.”

The single is taken from new album ‘The Task Eternal’ due out September 27th on Listenable Records. The limited edition ‘Collector’ cassette EP will also present an exclusive version of the song with Stoned Jesus frontman Igor Sydorenko on guitar solo, as well as two special renditions of ‘Soldier On’ (also appearing on the album). With a total of four tracks, the ‘Collector’ EP is a perfect taster and yet another highly collectible item for any MARS RED SKY fan.

Available from June 19th, the ‘Collector’ cassette EP will be limited to 300 copies and exclusively available from MRS Red Sound web store, Listenable booth at Hellfest Metal Market and on all upcoming shows. It will also see a digital release via Mars Red Sky’s Bandcamp and Mad Reed Studio Bandcamp.

New single Collector available on all streaming platforms now

https://ampl.ink/W45Qk

https://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/

Limited edition cassette EP available June 19th via MRS Red Sound

https://marsredsky.bigcartel.com/product/ep-cassette-collector

TRACK LISTING:
Side A
1. Collector
2. Soldier On #A
Side B
1. Collector (feat. Igor Sydorenko)
2. Soldier On (demo version)

All tracks on the EP were recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, except for “Soldier On (Demo)” which was performed, recorded and mixed by Julien Pras at Mad Reed Studio. Artwork designed by Carlos Olmo.
MARS RED SKY also announce a series of live shows in support of new album ‘The Task Eternal’, to be continued in 2020 and beyond:

08.06.19 MONTAIGU (FR) Crumble Fest
15.06.19 PORT SAINT LOUIS DU RHONE (13) Camargue Sessions
18.07.19 BILBAO (SP) Kafe Antzokia
19.07.19 BRAGA (PT) Rodellus Festival
03.08.19 CHEVANCEAUX (17) Laryrock
10.08.19 BAGNES (CH) Rocklette Palp festival
16.08.19 SAINT-NOLFF (FR) Motocultor Festival
27.09.19 ANGOULEME (FR) La Nef
11.10.10 BELFORT (FR) La Poudrière
12.10.19 STRASBOURG (FR) La Laiterie
17.10.19 SAINT BRIEUC (FR) Carnavalorock
25.10.19 VENDOME (FR) Les Rockomotives
26.10.19 GRENOBLE (FR) L’Ampérage
27.10.19 MONTHEY (CH) Pont Rouge
29.10.19 ZÜRICH (CH) Rote Fabrik
30.10.19 BRUSSEL (BE) Les Halles
31.10.19 DIKSMUIDE (BE) 4AD
01.11.19 COLOGNE (DE) Helios 37
02.11.19 AMSTERDAM (NL) Melkweg
03.11.19 WIESBADEN (DE) Schlachthof
04.11.19 MUNICH (DE) Feierwerk
05.11.19 VIENNA (AT) Arena
06.11.19 LEIPZIG (DE) Werk2
07.11.19 BERLIN (DE) Cassiopeia
08.11.19 HAMBURG (DE) Hafenklang
09.11.19 KRAKOW (PL) Soulstone Gathering
20.11.19 CLERMONT-FERRAND (FR) La Coopérative de Mai
14.12.19 MONTPELLIER (FR) Black Sheep
04.03.20 PARIS (FR) La Maroquinerie
05.03.20 TOURS (FR) Le Temps Machine
06.03.20 TOULOUSE (FR) Le Metronum
13.03.20 DIJON (FR) La Vapeur
14.03.20 ORLEANS (FR) L’Astrolabe
28.03.20 GERARDMER (FR) Maison de la Culture

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Irata Premiere “Tower” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

irata

The other day as I made my usual rounds of social media perusal and dicking around not getting anything done, I came across a post — don’t even remember who it was, so don’t ask — griping about how awesome Helmet used to be and why don’t they make bands like that anymore and so on. Well, okay. That’s one way to look at the universe. Yeah, they were cool in their day. On the other hand, fucking Irata. The North Carolinian four-piece made their debut on Small Stone in April with Tower, their second album overall, and if what you’re looking for is to hear a band belting out full-tilt riffs with an emphasis on rhythmic groovemaking, they’ve got you covered — plus melody. Tower is eight songs/39 minutes, and the title-track, with lead vocals from drummer Jason Ward, go-crush guitar work from Cheryl Manner and Owen Burd and low-end force from Jon Case is just the very beginning of what’s on offer on the album that shares its name. And not just because it’s the first track, either. Whether it’s the proggy winding of “Waking Eye” or the wistful guitar melody in “Innocent Murmur,” the Jane’s Addiction-meets-Torche vibe of “Weightless” or the spacier nuance in the early going of “Crawl to Corners,” there’s more dynamic on display throughout Tower than, frankly, anyone bitching about how “they don’t make bands like Band X anymore” probably deserves. Who gives a shit? They make bands like Irata.

Shades of prog metal work their way into side B leadoff “Leviathan” and the harmonies find their most righteous manifestation in closer “Constellations,” but somehow Irata‘s prevailing atmosphereirata tower still seems to be in straight-up heavy rock. They’re grounded in structure, but Manner and Burd have a fluid and often subtle interplay on guitar — the second half of the finale is a fitting example, but the if-you’re-going-to-have-two-guitars-then-use-them-both ethos applies just as well to “Innocent Murmur” and other tracks surrounding — and with the variety in the arrangements of vocals and periodic bouts of thrust like that at the outset of “Waking Eye,” Tower is able to keep its audience guessing in terms of just where the band are headed, something which wouldn’t be possible without Ward‘s drums as an anchor for the material structurally. In the turns of “Waking Eye” and the jabs of the penultimate “Golden Tongue,” the drums provide the flow over which the guitars and bass are able to so effectively careen, giving the vocals an all-the-more solid foundation even as that foundation seems so intent on movement throughout. Dynamic is the word, and chemistry is for sure a factor as well, but whether it’s the fuzzed airiness of “Weightless” or the insistent and deep-weighted apex of Ward‘s synth at the beginning of “Leviathan,” there’s a sense of control in Irata‘s material that only lends consciousness to the creativity of their songwriting — the choices they make in terms of transitions, vocals, etc.

All of this comes together to make Irata‘s sound something of a modern amalgam, definitely drawing from ’90s alternative rock but filtering that through heavy impulses born of the current generation of riffy practitioners of various stripes. It’s a combination that works and still sets Irata up for further growth down the line. I’m not saying it’s revolutionary, but I am saying it knows exactly what it’s doing, and that’s rare enough in itself.

And to the original point, this is a thing that’s happening right now. Wouldn’t you rather make future nostalgia than lament the past?

While you’re thinking about it, here’s a video premiere for “Tower” to smack you upside the head.

Enjoy:

Irata, “Tower” official video premiere

“Tower” is the title track from Irata’s 2019 LP of the same name. Shot in 2018 on location in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

IRATA
Jon Case – bass, vocals
Jason Ward – drums, vocals, synth
Cheryl Manner – guitar
Owen Burd – guitar

Irata on Thee Facebooks

Irata on Bandcamp

Irata website

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Glitter Wizard Post “A Spell So Evil” Video from Opera Villains

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

glitter wizard

What’s going on in the new Glitter Wizard video is there’s a band on stage. Good place to start. That band is very obviously not Glitter Wizard. Among others, it includes Janiece Gonzalez of fellow San Franciscan outfit Wild Eyes SF, though, so that’s something. But they’re up there, kind of kicking ass, and the crowd is bored and not into it. Maybe they’re not fans of painted-on mustaches? They’d be wrong, in any case. So, outside the venue, up walks Glitter Wizard in robes and full uber-glam stoner zombie regalia, sparkly facepaint and all, and they get carded at the door. Which is hilarious. But then they go in and chase away everybody and rock out, converting with a kiss one man and one woman in the audience, turning them into statues.

That’s “A Spell So Evil” in a nutshell.

So let’s say maybe the message here is there’s a decent chance that at any given show Glitter Wizard are going to freak a lot of people out. That’s fair enough, right? On a basic level, their songs are catchy, somewhat traditionalist heavy rock with tendencies alternately toward psych, punk or whatever they feel a given track needs, but as “A Spell So Evil” — which comes from their new album, Opera Villains, released in April through an ongoing alliance with Heavy Psych Sounds — demonstrates, the core of craft is right there. Their material is catchy, fiery when it’s uptempo, and delivered with a sense of melody and arrangement. There’s care taken. Purpose behind it as much as glittery facepaint — which must be a god damned nightmare to take off after the show — on top.

But yeah, Glitter Wizard probably flick at the ears, existentially speaking, of some squares. I get that, and I think that’s what they’re saying here, but that on any given night, they might win one or two people over to their side as well. As for the fact that they come on and basically chase a band of women — credited as “Lady Wizards,” which is fun — from the stage to save the day? Yeah, that’s an entirely different read. I don’t want to make excuses for anyone or frame things negatively or positively in a way other than was intended by the people who made them, so I won’t. But that’s there if you want to see it. It exists. The core narrative of “A Spell So Evil” though seems way more about Glitter Wizard themselves.

Glitter Wizard are currently embroiled in a European tour that started at the end of last month and which will run until June 29. They’re off tonight but pick back up tomorrow in Germany. Remaining dates and credits and the stream of Opera Villains follow the video below.

Enjoy:

Glitter Wizard, “A Spell So Evil” official video

Official Music Video for “A Spell So Evil” off the “Opera Villains” LP
out now on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
http://glitterwizard.bandcamp.com

Director: Gregory Downing
Editor: Julien de Benedictus
Camera: Jerome Stolly
Hair/Make-Up: Janiece Gonzalez
Prod. Staff: Andrew O’neill, Ryan Allbaugh
Lady Wizards: Janiece Gonzalez, Hana Lurie, Dani Aggie, Brooke Baich, Andrea Genevieve
Crowd: Hannah Pfahl, Peter Niven, Katie Rose, Megan Rugani, Chris Sentell, Jenna Baucke, Raphael DiDonato, James Maubberet
Catering: Caity Watson
Special Thanks: Dusty Caruso, Neck of the Woods, Bolt Lighting

Glitter Wizard remaining Euro tour dates:
11.06.2019 DE Oldenburg-Mts Record
12.06.2019 DE Berlin-Urban Spree
13.06.2019 DE Dresden-Ostpol
14.06.2019 DE Erfurt-Tiko
15.06.2019 DE Mannheim-Jugendhaus Schönau
16.06.2019 BE Zottegem-Kaffee Maboel
17.06.2019 BE Liege-La Zone
18.06.2019 CH Basel-ExEsso
19.06.2019 FR Chambery-Le Brin De Zinc
20.06.2019 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
21.06.2019 DE Karlsrhue-Alte Hackerei
22.06.2019 DE Munich-Freaking Out Fest
26.06.2019 IT Cagliari-Corto Maltese
28.06.2019 IT tba
29.06.2019 IT Roma-Traffic

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains (2019)

Glitter Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Glitter Wizard on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

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Friday Full-Length: Spiritual Beggars, Another Way to Shine

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Spiritual Beggars, Another Way to Shine (1996)

 

In the crafting of any history, there’s a creation of narrative. It happens all the time in pop culture, and if you don’t think so, go look around anywhere people in their 20s are and look at all the Nirvana t-shirts, or anywhere people in their 40s are and look at their Led Zeppelin shirts. It’s in our nature to take complex things and simplify them so as to bring them into the reach of our sadly limited understanding.

The only trouble with that, of course, is any paring down of actual events leads to omission. Part of it is history being written by the victors — and that’s true in music too; see the above-named bands — but sometimes it’s just about what is a convenient, linear tale, and anything else gets treated like an exception to the rule of what happened. Well, hello Spiritual Beggars.

Formed in Sweden in 1992, Spiritual Beggars, as an offshoot of guitarist Michael Amott‘s pioneering grind in Carcass, are such an anomaly. Not only were they a kind first-wave group in the international movement of stoner rock — see also Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Electric Wizard, Acrimony, etc. — but they came together with a different base of influence an a mission more strictly rooted in classic heavy rock, due essentially to Amott‘s being a fan of the heavy ’70s. In a power-trio configuration with drummer Ludwig Witt — who is the only other consistent original member –and bassist/vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand, the band released their self-titled debut in 1994 and followed it with Another Way to Shine in 1996.

Even as labelmates on Music for Nations to the likes of Anathema and Paradise Lost and among other heavy rock practitioners of the time, Spiritual Beggars were a standout for the coherence of their approach. As other bands were discovering their sound, Spiritual Beggars seemed to know what they wanted almost immediately, and Another Way to Shine showed that in the multi-layer solo strut of “Sour Stains,” in the catchy depressive hook of “Nowhere to Go,” the semi-psychedelic flourish of “Misty Valley” earlier and the mid-paced fuzzout boogie of closer “Past the Sound of Whispers.” Of its era in many ways — a 50-minute runtime is nothing if not a marker of a ’90s release — Another Way to Shine even more than the debut before it was able to craft something new out of what had been done before. With a rousing start in “Magic Spell,” the band put the focus on Amott‘s guitar as one might expect, but even in so doing, and even with the undeniable metallic tinge to some of his leads, they found an avenue that was their own in tapping into what were the roots of heavy rock in the first place. Second cut “Blind Mountain,” the six-minute jammer “Entering into Peace” and the grittier riffing of the title-track.

As to why Spiritual Beggars aren’t tossed out in the same breath as some of the more pivotal groups of their generation, I think part of it is down to the creation of a narrative. spiritual beggars another way to shineProbably most kin to Acrimony, even compared to them, they were on their own wavelength, and while their classic affinity would prove prescient in terms of what became Sweden’s retroist movement beginning a few years later with Norrska and developing into an aesthetic with the advent of Witchcraft, Graveyard, and so on, and while on a basic level of heavy rock, they managed to precede the arrival of the likes of Dozer and Lowrider and their set, they were always on a different trip. Especially for being a side-project, their accomplishments didn’t fit smoothly into what has become the story of heavy rock and roll, and so, there you go.

No question part of it is also lineup. While Amott and Witt — who also played in Firebird with CarcassBill Steer and currently features in Grand Magus with JB Christoffersson, who was vocalist in Spiritual Beggars from 2002-2010 — have remained consistent all these years, others have come and gone. Per Wiberg (also of Opeth, Candlemass, etc.), joined on keys in 1998. Spice was out after 2001’s Ad Astra, which also rules, and in addition to bringing in Christoffersson to front the band, Roger Nilsson of The Quill and Amott‘s post-Carcass melodeath outfit Arch Enemy was brought in to handle bass, to be replaced in 2005 by Sharlee D’Angelo, also of Arch Enemy and Mercyful Fate. The aughts would prove less productive for Spiritual Beggars in no small part because of the ascension to prominence of Arch Enemy in the world of metal, as they essentially went from being one side-project to another. This, along with the rotating cast — in 2010, Christoffersson left to focus on Grand Magus and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio of Greece’s Firewind and numerous other outfits took over. The ensuing album, Return to Zero (review here), indeed felt refreshed, and it was followed by 2013’s Earth Blues (discussed here) and the most recent studio offering, Sunrise to Sundown (review here), which came out in 2016.

Even as Amott has revived Carcass and kept Arch Enemy going, Spiritual Beggars have remained a presence in Europe’s heavy rock underground, but I think the complication of their own history is some factor in why they don’t seem to have gotten their due either for their longevity (in one form or another) or their contributions to their genre. In some ways, they almost happened too early. Not just in the sense of pre-social media — hell, pre-internet — word of mouth promotion of bands, but also just on a basic level of having an audience there to understand where they were coming from. While listening today, Another Way to Shine might sound dated in its production — it was remastered in 2007, but is begging for a thorough going-over to really bring out the depth in what they were doing — in terms of the raw songwriting and performance, it’s nothing less than the classic heavy rock from which it took inspiration, and its reach nearly a quarter-century later is no more diminished.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Did I mention thanks for reading? Okay good.

I’m back in Massachusetts now. We flew in from Shannon in Ireland yesterday — I’m told the American president was there at the same time we were, and we certainly saw heightened security en route to the airport, but did not catch a glimpse of his douchebaggedness — and got into Logan in Boston at around 2:30. Like two hours of needless traffic later, we were back home. Today we’ll drive to Connecticut and tomorrow on to New Jersey, where I think we’re pretty much set to stay until we have to come back north to move out of this place. There’s other travel between here and there — I have to come back to Massachusetts later this coming week for dental work, and Maryland Doom Fest will have us further south in another week’s time — but we’re taking our clothes to New Jersey, which would seem to me at least to indicate a new base of operations. I have to send out a big change of address email, but when people have hit me up lately to send records, I’ve been telling them to send to New Jersey. My beloved Garden State. I look forward to having this move finished, which I don’t expect it will be much before August, unless this place sells sooner. Which would be nice.

So that’s complex, but proceeding. The Ireland trip — woof. That was difficult. Traipsing around the Emerald Isle with a bitey, confused, constantly-nap-deprived 19-month-old is not something I would recommend to, well, anyone I wished well. But we got through it, staying in dumpy-ass hostels, plus one night in a decent hotel and two sleeps at an AirBnB that felt like a life-preserver in Derry. Nothing against Ireland itself, understand, but the circumstances of this trip, the amount of bus time, the baby, and so on, were exceedingly hard. I was ready to come home after about four days, and the trip went two weeks. It was some of the most slogging travel I’ve done, and a genuine strain, despite the gorgeous scenery.

But it’s over. On to the next thing.

Part of the rationale in scurrying off to Jersey this weekend is being able to catch Solace and Eternal Black — you’ll note the latter’s album stream went up today — in Brooklyn tomorrow. Review of that will be posted on Monday, so keep an eye out. Here’s what else is in the notes for the week, subject to change as always:

MON 06/10 SOLACE LUCKY 13 LIVE REVIEW, SAMAVAYO VIDEO PREMIERE, GLITTER WIZARD VIDEO, GIMME RADIO WRAP-UP
TUE 06/11 YAWNING MAN FULL STREAM/REVIEW
WED 06/12 ROADSAW REVIEW, IRATA VIDEO PREMIERE
THU 06/13 NEBULA REVIEW
FRI 06/14 MARS RED SKY VIDEO PREMIERE

Yeah, Monday’s busy, but Monday’s always busy, and honestly, I’m just happy to be back on my home-base laptop — was traveling with a Chromebook because, you know, if it got stolen I wouldn’t lose everything like I did last year in England — so writing should be fun. Plus it’s all good stuff and that helps.

The Gimme Radio show is today at 1PM Eastern time. If you get to check it out, thank you. It’s a wrap-up of some of the best stuff of 2019 so far. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

I think that’s gonna do it for me. It’s 5:42AM, the baby’s up and I’ve got other posts to put together for today as well as what I expect will be a glorious shower to take, so everybody please have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, rock and roll, and please do the Forum, Radio, merch thing accordingly.

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