Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Superjudge

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Monster Magnet, Superjudge (1993)

Lest we forget that as the West Coast was laying the groundwork for what would become the signature desert style over the next several years, back east, Monster Magnet were kissing the mouth of the scorpion with some of the finest drug rock ever created. Superjudge, released 25 years ago in 1993, was the New Jersey-based band’s second full-length, arriving behind Spine of God (discussed here; reissue review here), which saw its US release the previous year. That album is a classic and I’m not about to take anything away from it, or the Tab…25 EP (reissue review here) that came out after, but Superjudge was a moment of several milestones and pivotal moves for the group, who by then were already working distinctly under the direction of frontman and principle songwriter Dave Wyndorf.

First, it was their debut outing for A&M Records, a major label. Their earliest non-demo releases came out through Glitterhouse in Europe and Caroline in the US, but signing to a major would not only bring them to a wider sphere of listeners, but turned attention to a heavy underground boom taking shape in Central Jersey at the time. Second, it was the band’s first album with Ed Mundell on lead guitar, which was a position he would hold until 2010. Mundell took the spot previously held by John McBain (also brilliant), and his arrival would help solidify Monster Magnet‘s burgeoning approach to songcraft and his playing became an essential facet in not only the absolutely molten feel of Superjudge tracks like “Dinosaur Vacume,” “Twin Earth,” “Superjudge” and the effects-soaked Hawkwind cover “Brainstorm,” but in the developing persona of the band on subsequent offerings Dopes to Infinity (discussed here) in 1995, Powertrip in 1998, God Says No in 2001, 2004’s Monolithic Baby!, 2007’s 4-Way Diablo and 2010’s Mastermind (review here). During this era, his presence in the group would be second only to that of Wyndorf in terms of defining who Monster Magnet were and what they were about.

In 1993, they were about freaking the fuck out. They broke out some sitar on closer “Black Balloon,” and backed by the rhythm section of bassist Joe Calandra and drummer Jon Kleiman, captured fuzzy forward drive on “Twin Earth” with a swing that even a quarter-century after the fact bleeds its swagger from the speakers. The power of Superjudge isn’t just in its atmosphere — though there’s plenty of that in the layers of effects and kitchen-sink instrumentation used — it’s in the band. With Spine of God, the record’s brilliant. Utterly brilliant. For the title-track alone, it should be taught in middle schools across the planet as to how you rock and roll in order to expand minds. What Superjudge did was to take that studio vibe and show how it could be sustainable, monster magnet superjudgeshow how it could be done on stage, and begin to solidify it as a developing creative process. As much of a haze seemed to surround the title-track, or the watery acoustics in “Cage Around the Sun,” which followed, with its percussion, Eastern inflection and sitar drone, there was a straightforward, structured undercurrent to the material. That was true on some of Spine of God as well, but Superjudge moved the balance ever so slightly. In its aforementioned cover of Hawkwind and take on Howlin’ Wolf-via-Cactus in “Evil,” it drew a line directly to ’70s vibes in a way that was an aberration for the era, and even in the subsequent blowout “Stadium” or the ultra-hairy “Face Down,” it demonstrated the songwriting modus that would become Monster Magnet‘s own all the more over time.

But Superjudge is more than a bridge from Spine of God to Dopes to Infinity, and its 11 tracks hold up brilliantly to the passage of time. The backbeat of “Brainstorm.” The swirl and cosmic declarations of “Elephant Bell.” The raw tonality of “Twin Earth.” Superjudge continues to read like a blueprint for how to do heavy psychedelia and make it rock. Like if The MC5 and The Stooges decided they wanted to go Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Maybe the cover art tells the whole story. If you look at the background, it’s trippy and colorful and the logo and title are all “I’m gonna eat a mountain of pills,” but then you look at that picture of the band’s kinda-mascot, the Bullgod. He’s pissed. There’s an aggression there. It’s mean. Superjudge has that intense side to it. It’s not always what’s up front, because the record is still dynamic and it goes any number of places in its songs, but that clenched-teeth, ring-through-the-septum immediacy can’t be faked. It’s either in there or not, and one of the most powerful aspects of Superjudge is that at any given moment, it might absolutely explode in your face. I don’t care how laid back “Cyclops Revolution” sounds at the outset, it still caps with the line, “I’ve got mine, fuck you.”

That component in Monster Magnet would help them for years be wrongly classified as so many were as a metal band. True enough they were heavy — still are — but metal? Come on. Even Mastermind, which was about as big-of-tone as they’ve been interested in getting to-date, wasn’t really metal. On Superjudge, they’re a psychedelic heavy rock band. They’d move on from the lysergic elements over the course of Powertrip and God Says No, but in the change from Mastermind to 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), they brought back some of those weirdo impulses, and pushed them further in the screw-around-with-past-work of 2014 and 2015’s Milking the Stars (review here) and Cobras and Fire (review here) — redux versions of Last Patrol and Mastermind, respectively, that only emphasized Monster Magnet‘s ability and willingness to do whatever the hell they wanted at any given time. See also 2018’s Mindfucker (review here), which, in case you missed it, was called Mindfucker. Take that.

Aside from their hailing from my beloved Garden State and being the stewards of the Mid-Atlantic heavy underground in a way that New York — nifty though it is — was always too punk rock to be, Monster Magnet went a long way toward defining themselves on Superjudge, and it remains an album that shows just how on their own plane they were at the time. Fortunately, that is something that has continued to be the case throughout their career.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Okay. We’re there. Next week my top 30 of the year goes up. Blamo. This weekend on Gimme Radio, ‘The Obelisk Show’ also has a kind-of-sort-of-some-of-the-best-of-2018 thing going. Really, that’s what it’s called. Monster Magnet are on it. You should listen. Sunday, 7PM Eastern. On the internet.

Also next week, a review of the Mansion album, which rules. I guess that’s the short version. Stay tuned for the long one. Also Deep Space Destructors, a couple snazzy video premieres, a bunch of news I need to catch up on, and all that good stuff.

Thanks for reading that 100-album Quarterly Review if you did. My desktop still has a bunch of records on it, but it was good to get through that stuff. Some of it had been waiting a while. I hope you found something you dug. I did.

I’d love to stick around and bum everyone out by bitching about whatever, but the truth is I’ve got a fucking ton of writing to do — a lineup announcement for Freak Valley that will have already been posted by the time this is and liner notes for the Elder PostWax release — so you’ll pardon me if I check out and get to it. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please don’t forget the forum and radio stream and merch and year-end poll.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , ,

KYOTY Premiere Live at 3S Video; Live Album out Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kyoty

This week, New Hampshire heavy post-rock instrumentalists KYOTY will release the new live album, Live at 3S, through Deafening Assembly. The six-track outing captures a show the three-piece played on Aug. 3, 2018, at the 3S Artspace in I-guess-gentrifying downtown Portsmouth, NH, and the accompanying video was shot by Treebeard Media. The screen comes down behind Nathaniel Parker Raymond, Nick Filth and Rob Brown quickly as they begin their half-hour set, and the sense of atmosphere and range is almost immediate from those initial crashes, but as “L” from their 2017 split with SEA (discussed here) and as the forceful strums of “Via” and punctuated exploration “Carcer” from 2015’s Geomancy I take hold, they only begin to flesh out further the textures and progressive ambience of the set’s beginning. A wash of effects surges forward intermittently as intensity picks up and recedes, but even the quiet moments are given a sustained tension through the adrenaline surge one can easily see in the clip below, despite the dim lighting.

Those inclined to suss out influences will find Russian Circles comparisons well enough met by “Carcer” — if not by the actual band, whose moniker is an acronym for Keep Your Opinions to Yourself — and before they kyoty live-at-3s-fullclose with the resonant tones of “14,” which opened their 2012 debut, Undiscovered Country of Old Death and Strange Years in the Frightful Past — which was remixed, rearranged and remastered last year into Remanufactured Realm of Ancient Annihilation (get it?) — they unfurl “Populus,” which its anxious starts and stops and an ensuing buildup toward a massive payoff. By then, a telltale Sunn crackle can be heard from the amps, but the drift into “14” is clean and they hold down the end of the set with vitality that undercuts the notion of such atmospheric material being in any way staid or overly academic in its execution. They may not have a frontman out there plugging the t-shirts at the merch table, but KYOTY obviously have no trouble making arguments in their own favor regardless.

Their Bandcamp page is a trove of churning progginess ripe for digging in, and I won’t tell you not to do that, but on the occasion of the release Friday of Live at 3S, I’m happy to be able to host the video shot by Treebeard of the entire set — i.e., the visual accompaniment of the entire live record. With the audio mixed by Filth and the level of performance taking place, I think you’ll agree it’s worth sticking around for the whole gig. I’ve been through it five or six times at this point and no regrets.

Some comment from the band follows.

Please enjoy:

KYOTY, Live at 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH 08.03.18

KYOTY on Live at 3S:

We decided to make the video when we realized that a lot of the live footage of us online was either outdated or not great quality (probably because we tend to play in the dark, haha). We figured it was worth setting up something for ourselves to share a better vision of our live performance. Having toured with SEA, we were friendly with Steve and were fans of his video work so it seemed only natural that we work with him and Treebeard.

Initially it was going to just be a live video for which Nick Filth (our guitarist) was going to mix the audio. But we were all so happy with the performance and the tracks provided by Adam Preston Cissell that it seemed worth releasing in its own right. I think we all felt it was such a good, honest portrayal of our sound as a band that we had to put it out. Nick Filth mixed and mastered the audio for the final release.

KYOTY performing live at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH on August 3, 2018.
Album available here: https://kyoty.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-3s

Sound & lights by Nick Lemoyne and Alex Bourne.
Audio mixed & mastered by Nick Filth.

Tracklisting:
1. —
2. L
3. Via
4. Carcer
5. Populus
6. 14

KYOTY is:
Nick Filth
Nathaniel Parker Raymond
Rob Brown

KYOTY on Thee Facebooks

KYOTY on Instagram

KYOTY on Bandcamp

KYOTY website

Treebeard Media website

Deafening Assembly on Bandcamp

Tags: , , ,

Beerwolf Premiere “Magick Warbird” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

beerwolf

Color! — That seems to be the underlying message of Beerwolf‘s new video for the penultimate track of their Ripple Music debut album, Planetfall. “Magick Warbird” sees guitarist Matthew Howland and drummer AJ Prasad hanging around all casual-like by some electrical meters — as one does — when bassist/vocalist Jason Kleim rolls up with a bag full of mushrooms. Written on said ziplock in big ol’ letters is, of course, the title of the song. From there, the track takes off with a performance clip shot like a classic promotional video, the band coming in and out of focus while surrounded by bright colors and some basic special effects, trails and whatnot. It’s good fun.

The song itself is more grounded, at least in construction. Like much of Planetfall before it, it’s a straightforward rocker based around a strong chorus with a steady, laid back vibe and a tonal warmth derived from a classic heavy rock influence. Some of Planetfall‘s tracks, like “Eagle Shirt” after the opening instrumental title-cut or “Crom’s Steel” would seem to be well aware of the audience to whom they’re speaking, but if it’s to the converted, that hardly makes the preach of “Haze Arcane” or the fuzz-overdosed “Serpentine Fiend” any less righteous. With the jammier, open spirit of the eight-minute “Hunters of Night” on side A seeming to bridge a gap between labelmates Freedom Hawk and more psychedelic fare, Beerwolf set up the vaster reaches of the closing “Epilogue,” an instrumental bookend to “Planetfall” itself that conjures slower pacing and tripped-out effects to cap the record with its farthest cosmic reach.

That blend of the straightforward and the, well, not, helps add breadth to what Beerwolf do in terms of songwriting, but again, the bulk of Planetfall makes its impression through traditionalist songcraft, verse/chorus-style, and through the performances of Kleim, Howland and Prasad as presented with the naturalist production. If you want to get a sampling of that in a sub-five-minute clip that, again, has your full daily allowance of color — sorry, but the rest of your afternoon will have to be grayscale — hit up “Magick Warbird” below and enjoy the good times.

PR wire whatnot follows:

Beerwolf, “Magick Warbird” official video premiere

Beerwolf on “Magick Warbird:

“We’ve always dug the pioneer days of rock ’n’ roll visuals, the fuzzy psychedelia of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and the like. We wanted to create our own version of that, something you could enjoy knee deep in the peak of an acid trip. ‘Magick Warbird’ is about freedom from tyranny so it only made sense to style it as a call back to the counter-culture movements that inspired us.”

The trio of troublemakers from Tampa known as Beerwolf ingest a few too many mushrooms and take us on a wild and colorful journey with “Magick Warbird”, from their album “Planetfall” (released digitally by the band in 2017 and physically by Ripple Music in 2018).

Originally self-released last October, the album quickly came to Ripple Music’s attention, largely via cult commendations from fans, players and followers alike across the online community. And now, thanks to the solid appreciation of those at Ripple Music they will have that rare second chance to make a killer first impression, on a grander stage and to a wider audience.

BEERWOLF:
Jason Kleim – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Matthew Howland – Guitar
AJ Prasad – Drums

Beerwolf, Planetfall (2017/2018)

Beerwolf on Thee Facebooks

Beerwolf on Twitter

Beerwolf on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Vista Chino, Peace

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Vista Chino, Peace (2013)

Was it even real? Did it actually happen? And five years later, how are we supposed to think about Vista Chino‘s lone studio effort? Were they really as close to a Kyuss reunion as we’ll ever get?

Even when Napalm Records put out Peace (review here) in 2013, the story of the band was always going to be their second record. True, their beginnings might have been in vocalist John Garcia performing Garcia Plays Kyuss on tour in Europe — I was there at Roadburn 2010 when they played — and they did their time touring as the exclamatory Kyuss Lives! before a lawsuit from former Kyuss guitarist/Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme forced the name change, but wasn’t that going to be a blessing in disguise? By the time Vista Chino were touring in support of Peace, they were a completely different entity from a Kyuss reunion. True, the middle of the stage housed Garcia and Brant Bjork behind him playing drums, but to the right of the stage was guitarist Bruno Fevery and to the left was Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity, so the Garcia/Bjork collaboration, while the impetus for the band, was still only half the story. Particularly once Dean got involved, taking over for Nick Oliveri, the potential for Vista Chino to move forward from Kyuss‘ status as one of the principle sculptors of desert rock became huge. They were their own band. And it was going to be the second album that showed it.

Although, listening back, Peace was its own entity at the time as well. Even in its more active stretches — “Dargona Dragona” or “Sweet Remain” early in the tracklist — it didn’t feel outwardly aggressive in the same way Kyuss was, and moreover, it didn’t feel like it wanted to be. With Bjork and the Belgian import Fevery — for whose band, ArsenalGarcia had previously done a guest vocal spot — as the principle songwriters, tracks like “As You Wish,” “Adara,” “Barcelonian” and certainly the ending jam in “Acidize…. The Gambling Moose” carried the Bjorkian stamp of laid back swing as heard so often throughout his solo work, even if the tone of the fuzz in the guitar and bass was different and so many of the lyrics, and indeed, the album’s title, centered their theme around the aforementioned lawsuit. The name change allowed Vista Chino to be their own band, separate and distinct more than just legally from Kyuss and the insurmountable legacy thereof, vista chino peaceand allowed Peace to be considered on its own terms. Listening to Brant step in to trade off vocal duties with Garcia on “Planets 1 & 2,” there was so much there still to be explored. So much chemistry and so much still to say.

Peace wasn’t a perfect album by any means. “Dargona Dragona” pushes Garcia‘s vocals forward in the mix to an almost abrasive level — his voice would cut through either way, put it lower and make the guitar sound more spacious — and that made for a somewhat rough first impression, but as the record unfolded, the likes of “As You Wish,” the boogie-laden “Dark and Lovely” and the dreamily melodic hook of “Barcelonian,” as well as “Planets 1 & 2,” the interlude “Mas Vino” and the already noted ending jam-out, typified a mellow soul that in combination with the tonal weight helped exemplify one of the essential dynamics of desert rock. That something can still have presence without beating its chest in anger. And not that Peace didn’t have its angry moments — remember the legal trouble — but the ultimate character of the songs wasn’t defined entirely by that anymore than Vista Chino were going to be defined by who Kyuss were when they were around.

And a sophomore full-length would have been essential to that. In the narrative of the band, particularly with their lineup solidified as GarciaFeveryDean and Bjork, it would have been the moment where they fully transitioned from a reunion act to a forward-moving group engaged in a creative progression. No doubt a second LP would have learned some lessons from the first, but I believe firmly they would have been able to push themselves forward in terms of the songwriting and build on the accomplishments that came through in Peace, which were already considerable. A second Vista Chino album would have been the point at which they’d be able to prove once and for all that their aim wasn’t just to capitalize on the internet and social media-born cult popularity of Kyuss and play bigger venues than they Garcia and Bjork might otherwise on solo tours, but to establish a new dynamic as a four-piece and work with that in terms of songwriting and an overarching development of craft. Peace already started to push them forward from simply engaging with what Bjork and Garcia had done in the past — though certainly some of the lyrics dealt with it in positive and negative terms — but it was the next one that was going to really be the point where they came into their own.

One never says never in rock and roll, but half a decade later, there’s been no external sign of any Vista Chino activity whatsoever. Garcia released John Garcia (review here), his first solo album, on Napalm in 2014, and Bjork likewise stepped back into his already-in-progress solo career, building in some ways on what Vista Chino did with his next two records, 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) before signing with Heavy Psych Sounds for this year’s excellent Mankind Woman (review here). Garcia has evolved solo work into band-leadership, and after the mostly-acoustic early 2017 outing, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here), he’ll front his newly-rebranded backing group as John Garcia and the Band of Gold on a fully-plugged self-titled LP due out early next year. Bjork did a full US stint in the company of Corrosion of Conformity and Mothership, but aside from an appearance at Planet Desert Rock Weekend in Las Vegas last week, Garcia‘s priorities in terms of live performance have been almost exclusively based in Europe.

I don’t know that Vista Chino won’t get together five, seven, 10 years from now and do a follow-up to Peace. As right on as Garcia and Bjork‘s solo stuff has been — which is not to mention Dean and C.O.C., who reunited with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan a couple years back and issued No Cross No Crown (review here) on Nuclear Blast early in 2018 –I wish they already had. But as it stands five years later, Vista Chino‘s lone full-length occupies an odd place as something of an underrated footnote in the Kyuss family tree. Tarnished by the lawsuit and abandoned by the players, its songs nonetheless continue in their vitality to carry the spirit of what could have been.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Oh my goodness.

The good news is we got through the first week of the first-ever two-week Quarterly Review, and there wasn’t really a point at which I didn’t think I wouldn’t live to tell the tale. Still another five days of 10 records per day to go, but you know. I get up, bust out a few reviews, finish what needs finishing during baby naptimes. I make it work. That’s what I’ve done with The Obelisk all along. I’ve made it work.

In thinking about the rest of this month: This week is obviously locked in, and the Year-End Poll is up. Sweet. My own Best of 2018 list will be up Dec. 20. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a top 20 or a top 30 this year, but somehow it always seems to involve at least 100 records anyway, so I don’t think it really matters. The next episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio is also a year-end edition. I already sent in the playlist.

And yeah, I kind of feel like I’m about to keel over, but whatever. Nothing in life is permanent. You do what you have to do to get through a day, then there’s another day until there isn’t.

That’s all.

This has been a weird year. Ups and downs. Severe. Stark contrasts. I saw The Pecan take his first steps and I still don’t go a day without just loathing every part of myself. I traveled to Tilburg, to London and to Oslo, to Vegas and Maryland, but I feel like there’s so much I haven’t seen. King Buffalo played Boston last weekend. The show was sold out at O’Brien’s. I didn’t go, in part because my sleep schedule is such that I need to be in bed early so I can get up early and write, and in part because the thought of going to a show makes me so anxious that I can’t really handle it anymore. Not only does no one give a shit when I do a live review — fests are one thing, and even that’s meh — but a regular gig? I’ll spend hours going through photos and writing it up, and it just falls flat. And it takes the space that otherwise would go to an album review. But it’s more the thought of talking to people, or not talking to people, or just being at a club, that has me locked in. I’m just not there in my head. Still, I was sorry to miss that show. I usually am.

Weird year. Weird couple weeks. I’d love to stop taking meds. Every time I try it’s a fucking nightmare.

This weekend I’ll catch up on email and get a jump the Quarterly Review and other stuff that’ll be posted next week. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m way behind on news and whatnot, but thankfully it’s December and things are lighter to a degree as we move into list season for press. I don’t know if I’ll do the full round of lists — best debuts, best EPs, etc. — on account of having been set back for basically three months’ worth of stuff when I got robbed in May, but I’ve got my notes and I’ll cobble together whatever I can and have it up before the end of the month.

I’m also going to start doing a post wrapping up each episode of The Obelisk Show. I want to have my own archive of playlists, so that’ll be that.

Thank you for your continued support. Please have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum, radio stream, and merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , ,

Domkraft Premiere “The Watchers” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

domkraft

Nothing like pulling an all-nighter if you’ve got to get something done, and that would seem to be how Swedish riffslingers Domkraft made their new video for “The Watchers” from their newly-issued second album, Flood (review here). An all-nighter guerrilla-style all the better. The story goes that the Swedish three-piece and their director, Peder Bergstrand made their way into an amphitheater in Stockholm — looks like Ralambshovparken, if my in-depth knowledge of the Swedish park system is anything to go by; they should do their next one in the skate park — and set up overnight to film at dawn. They don’t seem to have actually played the track live, which you can tell because of the lack of a generator behind the amps, but drummer Anders Dahlgren is still railing pretty hard on his cymbals, and even in syncing to a full-volume playback of the song, reportedly complaints were filed by the neighbors, whose domiciles you can see through the plantlife in the video.

Of course, Dahlgren, guitarist Martin Widholm, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland and Bergstrand — known as well for his recent graphic work for Crippled Black Phoenix and for being in Lowrider — would have been long gone by the time the constabulary arrived, and they split with the ultra-widescreen “The Watchers” in tow. Edited together in rhythmic lockstep with the song itself, the muted colors of “The Watchers” speak to the depths of tone brought to bear by Domkraft as well. What the video serves to further emphasize, though — and I’ll admit this is something more about the track than the actual clip — is how fluidly Domkraft blend a progressive style of songwriting with their tone-fueled atmosphere. That’s true throughout Flood — which is out on Blues Funeral Recordings following 2016’s The End of Electricity (review here) on Magnetic Eye — but like the single it is, “The Watchers” distills that impression to its most essential components.

The video of course sets its own vibe with the lighting at dawn and Bergstrand‘s camera work, and it’s my pleasure to host the premiere today. My suggestion is to go fullscreen on it and enjoy. And keep an eye out for new stuff from Domkraft in 2019. I have it on good authority there’s something in the works.

PR wire info follows:

Domkraft, “The Watchers” official video premiere

A dystopian take on Pink Floyd’s “Live at Pompeii,” the video for The Watchers was shot illegally by director and fellow Swede Peder Bergstrand, also singer/bassist of seminal stoner rock outfit Lowrider.

At dusk, band and filmmaker snuck into an old amphitheater in Stockholm and set up their amps and gear. As the first rays of the 5am sunrise hit, Domkraft let rip and played at full volume to the empty amphitheater.

To capture that epic Pompeii vibe and get the desired grit, Peder filmed it on a vintage Russian movie camera with an anamorphic lens. With their completely unauthorized footage secure, the foursome packed up and bolted into the morning before the almost certain arrival of the law.

Domkraft “Flood” is the first release on Blues Funeral Recordings, but it’s the band’s second album to date, with their debut “The End of Electricity” ending up on numerous year-end top lists in 2016.

Domkraft also appears on The Wall [Redux] alongside The Melvins, Pallbearer, Mark Lanegan, and Scott Reeder.

They’re also part of the forthcoming PostWax project in 2019, a lavish limited edition record record series that includes new music from Elder, Spotlights, and Lowrider. Domkraft’s PostWax release will feature several new recordings including a 13-minute monster with guest vocals from Mark Lanegan, Lea from Besvarjelsen and Marty from Slomatics.

Domkraft on Bandcamp

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Domkraft on Instagram

Blues Funeral Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Tags: , , , , ,

Superlynx Premiere “Hex” Video; New Moon out March 15

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

superlynx (Photo by Kai Simon Fredriksen)

If the rolling waves and slow motion of their new video don’t make the point, I’ll just say outright that a lot of what Superlynx do is based around atmosphere. The Norwegian trio proffer a varied gamut of heavier styles brought into one cohesive approach, and it’s that atmosphere that allows them to range as far as they do between psychedelia, doom, post-this-and-that, and sludgier riffing. Dark Essence Records will issue their second album, New Moon, on March 15, 2019, and it follows in the spirit of 2016’s LVX in its lead single, “Hex,” for which the aforementioned video — premiering below — has been put together.

As much focus can be placed — and not wrongly — on their stylistic blend, “Hex” also emphasizes the structure acting as the foundation on which that blend takes place. With the airy vocals of bassist Pia Isaksen atop the toms Superlynx New Moonof Ole Teigen as they wait for Daniel Bakken‘s guitar to next sweep them into the straight-ahead instrumental drive, there’s a patience to the execution from Superlynx, but clearly they’re a band who have an intention toward craft in more than just mixing influences together. And as song becomes more intense, so too do the waters in the “Hex” video begin to churn faster, but still, that atmosphere — just a sense of the otherworldly — is maintained. In combination with their clear delineation between verses and choruses, it makes for a track that’s broad in its scope but still accessible even the first time through.

And this is the first time through. Superlynx have some shows booked already for 2019, including Norway’s famous Inferno Festival, so it seems incredibly likely we’ll be hearing more from them as we get closer to New Moon‘s release. In the meantime, enjoy “Hex” below, followed by a few words from the band about the song:

Superlynx, “Hex” official video premiere

Superlynx on “Hex”:

Like most of the new album, HEX was written in challenging times, with feelings of hopelessness caused by both personal and external circumstances. The song was given a ritualistic expression, representing a deep, primal feeling and a need to alter the dark reality. Through creative force, love and a wish for better times this feeling is transformed into music and given a positive outlet. In this way, HEX represents the essence of the album. We have all been through dark times and have dealt with a lot of it through music. You can say that making the album has been a sort of alchemical process. The focus has been on getting through the dark and holding on to what is good in this world. And one of the best things is that music has come of it.

Hex is the first single from Superlynx’s upcoming album “New Moon”, to be released by Dark Essence Records on March 15th 2019.

Superlynx is:
Pia Isaksen – Bass/Vocals
Daniel Bakken – Guitar
Ole Teigen – Drums/Vocals

Superlynx on Thee Facebooks

Superlynx on Instagram

Superlynx on Bandcamp

Dark Essence Records on Thee Facebooks

Dark Essence Records on Bandcamp

Dark Essence Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Black Sabbath, Forbidden

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Sabbath, Forbidden (1995)

Even the most strident of Black Sabbath apologists have a tough time with Forbidden. Tony Iommi himself, who by the time 1995 came around had been at the core of the band as its founding guitarist for over 25 years and was the sole remaining original member, ragged on it pretty hard in his 2011 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. He went so far as to title the short chapter about it, “The One that Should’ve Been Forbidden,” and to blame the band’s record label at the time, IRS Records, for hooking them up with producer Ernie Cunnigan, aka Ernie C, guitarist of Body Count — who Iommi alleges wasn’t familiar with Black Sabbath at all — in an attempt to regain street cred. And while Iommi acknowledges that if it had worked, he’d probably feel differently about the record, he goes on to describe an unpleasant studio situation with drummer Cozy Powell before shifting into nonsequitor stories about pranks pulled on the subsequent tour. So maybe this is needless to say, but Forbidden isn’t necessarily Black Sabbath‘s finest hour.

To wit, 20 years earlier, the original lineup issued Sabotage as their sixth album in five years, which is a run the impact of which is still rippling outward today. Even the beginnings of the era in which the band was fronted by Tony Martin in 1987’s The Eternal Idol (discussed here) held promise for what the group might still accomplish — or at very least that they’d do right by the legacy they’d already built. Martin‘s tenure in Black Sabbath has the odd distinction of being interrupted when Iommi did a reunion with the band’s second vocalist, Ronnie James Dio, for 1992’s Dehumanizer (discussed here). Already in addition to The Eternal Idol, he’d appeared on 1989’s Headless Cross and 1990’s Tyr, so it was not a case of a one-and-done spot in the band as had been experienced by Glenn Hughes on the would’ve-been-an-Iommi-solo-record Seventh Star in 1986 or even Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, let alone Ray Gillen and others who’d come and gone in the ’80s. Still, Sabbath‘s left turn was sudden with the Dio reunion — lest we forget that founding bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Vinny Appice also returned at that point and left again, the latter with Dio and the former after the band’s subsequent LP, 1994’s Cross PurposesMartin was back in two years for that album as well, but the next year, ’95, Forbidden would be his final outing with Black Sabbath.

So what happened, and is Forbidden really all that bad? Yes and no. I don’t think anyone is about to argue that its 11-track/47-minute run is a landmark like anything Sabbath in their original incarnation, or when they were fronted by Dio, or even that its held up with age as well as the Gillan-fronted 1983 outing, Born Again (discussed here) — to which history has been particularly kind — but neither is it to be entirely written black sabbath forbiddenoff as Iommi would seem to do in his book. Whatever his conflict in the studio, Powell (who would pass away three years later) gave a rousing performance on songs like “Loser Gets it All,” which closes, and the earlier “Sick and Tired.” Bassist Neil Murray stands in well for Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nichols (R.I.P. 2017) fleshes out Iommi‘s guitar with characteristic melodies that enhance the atmosphere of the record overall. But it was a weird time for metal. The genre had already survived the commercialism of glam and grunge by going underground, but a band like Black Sabbath — so long a major presence both on the touring circuit and in terms of influence — couldn’t really do that. And the idea of “classic metal” that would let Judas Priest and eventually Black Sabbath flourish well into the 2010s didn’t really exist yet. So they were in a position of either trying to keep up with the times or continue to ride a steady decline in wider relevance. Which I guess is how you get Ice-T doing a short spoken word appearance on Forbidden opener “The Illusion of Power.”

It’s hard to begrudge Iommi taking a stab at it, and however much he might disavow Forbidden now, the album does have enduring qualities. The single “Get a Grip” remains catchy with a strong performance from Martin over a trademark later-Iommi riff. Ballads “I Won’t Cry for You” and especially the six-minute “Kiss of Death” tend toward redundancy with other cuts from the Martin era, but still serve the purpose of adding diversity to the album, while “Rusty Angels” finds a kind of midpoint between that style and the grittier push of “Guilty as Hell” and “Sick and Tired,” which form a tandem in the middle of the record — recall it was the mid-’90s, so they would’ve been structuring for CD rather than vinyl — that holds resonant vitality, while the odd, jerky vocal patterning in “Shaking off the Chains” actually hearkens back to Black Sabbath‘s earliest days and the immediately prior “Can’t Get Close Enough” finds Martin doing his best in conjuring Dio‘s swagger and nearly getting there. There are ups and downs, as the title-track is mostly forgettable and “Kiss of Death” plays toward Sabbathian epics while landing well short thereof, but even “The Illusion of Power” stands as a demonstration that the band so often credited with codifying heavy metal was still willing at the time to try to make it do different things. There was precedent for metal/rap crossover, but it was still a risky proposition. I don’t know if it worked or not, but it’s especially bold that that track leads off the record, and for all the purported incongruity, Ernie C‘s production does well in contrasting some of the grandiosity in the band’s sound at that point and bringing them back down to earth. Onto the street. Where the cred happens.

Alright.

Those looking to further mine some positive aspects from Forbidden should also consider the fact that it was the album that led to Iommi‘s 1997 reunion with original vocalist Ozzy OsbourneButler, and original drummer Bill Ward and nearly two decades of touring on and off with Ward in and eventually finally out of the band owing to a contract dispute. Black Sabbath was finally laid to rest last year, but their 2013 studio album, 13 (review here), was widely hailed as a return to their past glories. That proposition, like everything, is debatable, but how could it not have been the flop of Forbidden that was at least in some part responsible for making that reunion happen?

I’ve been working over the course of the last year or so to reconcile myself and really explore what is more typically considered Sabbath‘s darker period in the Martin years. I don’t think I’d put on Forbidden before Headless Cross or Tyr, but neither should it be entirely discounted. It’s emblematic of the time in which it was made, and for 18 years, it stood as the last Black Sabbath studio full-length. That in itself makes it all the more worthy of consideration.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Next week, Quarterly Review. It’s about quarter to 5AM right now, and after I finish this post I’m going to make the banner image and set up the back end for the posts. It’s a double-size deal. 100 records in 10 days, because if you’ll recall, we missed the Fall one owing to that whole I-got-robbed thing.

I have some premieres slated besides that — actually, I just got hit up for a full album stream on Wednesday that I really, really want to do, but a full review aside from 10 shorter ones? oof — for videos and the like, but as it’s still coming together and the point is that it’s the Quarterly Review, you’ll pardon me if I skip the notes. I’ve been doing that more lately. Should I stop doing the notes altogether? Does anyone care? I’m asking, really. If you get a second and have any idea what I’m talking about, please leave a comment.

You may have also noticed the Year-End Poll is up! I’m stoked. Get stoked. Add your list. Tell two friends to add their list, and then have them tell two more friends, and so on. I’d love to see this one really do well. It’s been a hell of a year for music.

And while I’m plugging stuff, this Sunday is a new episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio. I spend the whole episode talking with Mike Cummings from Backwoods Payback, who is awesome. He picks tracks and some of it is pretty out there, so I hope you enjoy. 7PM Eastern on Sunday night. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

Ah hell, the baby’s awake. It’s early. I hope he goes back down or this is going to be a rough day. Yesterday — ugh.

If you dig what’s going on with the site, please buy a shirt from Dropout Merch. The sales have slowed down a bit since the start, but as I hate doing merchandise in the first place, I really want to get rid of what’s there so I don’t have to think about it anymore. They’re at http://dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk.

That’s it for me. I gotta go stare stressfully at the baby monitor and then diaper, feeding, day, etc. Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading and please hit up the forum, radio stream, merchandise, and so on.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

Tags: , , , , ,

Castle Post “Red Phantom” Video; Wrapping West Coast Tour

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle

Of course, if you’re going to make a video for a song called ‘Red Phantom,’ it’s going to be red. In that regard, Castle live up to blood-hued expectation, melding horror-creeper imagery, thrashy riffs and footage of the band rocking out to give a primal showcase of what their new album and Ripple debut, Deal Thy Fate (review here), is all about. Castle are currently on the road as they so often are, finishing up a West Coast run supporting the record. More touring will naturally follow next year, along with what will no doubt be a wide smattering of festival appearances and other whathaveyou. In the meantime, the band have never been shy about engaging visual media one way or another, and “Red Phantom” finds them once again working with director Jaan Slimberg of Pistoltrixx in Toronto.

I don’t know how many ways to say it or whether I even need to at this point, but Castle continue to kick ass, and their vision of worshiping at the altar of classic metal by reinventing it to their own purposes holds a singular appeal in the heavy underground. “Red Phantom” is right on in its hook and its tone, and with the band’s well-established collaboration with producer Billy Anderson, the angularity of their rhythmic shifts isn’t lost in the depth of their sound or the darkness — in this case, dark redness — of their atmosphere. As guitarist Mat Davis explains, the track works on a theme centered around the Zodiac killer, but as they do with their sound overall, they twist that story to suit the needs of the song itself. It appears in the second half of Deal Thy Fate, and so highlighting “Red Phantom” with a video seems all the more a worthy cause to make sure it isn’t swallowed by the surrounding material on side B. The focus is more than well earned.

Seems likely this will be the last we hear from Castle before 2019 hits, though I wouldn’t necessarily put it past them to sneak in a couple December shows, but they never stay dormant for long. Still, if you can see them in California or Arizona as they wrap this tour — or whenever you can catch them — you should. It is not a decision you’ll regret.

PR wire info follows. Enjoy the video:

Castle, “Red Phantom” official video

Directed by long-time collaborator Jaan Silmberg of Pistoltrixx – who also worked with the band on previous videos, Blacklands and Hammer and the Cross, Red Phantom was recently shot in Toronto, Ontario between tours of Canada and Europe.

Elaborates guitarist Mat Davis,”The lyrics for Red Phantom are based on Zodiac as seen through the lens of his adopted persona from Poe’s Masque Of The Red Death. For the video we projected visuals from the 1907 film version ‘Le Spectre Rouge’ in reference to one of the main Zodiac suspects, Rick Marshall – who was a film projectionist in the Bay Area and had an obsession with the movie.”

Recorded by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis) at Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon this past spring Deal Thy Fate is currently available at https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/ and http://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com.

CASTLE is currently on a U.S. West Coast tour. The trek, which kicked off November 23 continues through to next month, wrapping up in Ventura on December 7. Expect a full US Tour to be announced early in the new year.

11/30 Sacramento, CA – Blue Lamp
12/01 San Jose, CA – Caravan
12/04 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap
12/05 Los Angeles, CA – Resident
12/06 San Diego, CA – Tower Bar
12/07 Ventura, CA – The Garage

Castle, Deal Thy Fate (2018)

Castle website

Castle on Thee Facebooks

Castle on Instagram

Castle on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , ,