Premiere: Moonbow Throw Down Beardly in “War Bear” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

moonbow

It’s a beardly, burly, riffly party Moonbow are throwing in their new video for the title-track of 2017’s War Bear. Filmed over what was no doubt a raucous Memorial Day Weekend at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, it’s a stirring reminder in this day and age of anyone-with-a-cellphone-or-a–DSLR-can-make-a-video what a difference a professional production can make. And professional editing. Mean Beard Productions gives a crisp look at the four-piece in action, with a visual complement to the hook of “War Bear” no less dead-on than the memorable chorus itself, and yeah, there’s someone in there in a bear costume. How could there not be?

Moonbow made their debut on Ripple Music with 2013’s The End of Time (review here), and War Bear, despite its cartoon-tits-laden cover art, is every bit a worthy follow-up, fostering as it does a vibe somewhere between Southern and classic heavy rock in its straightforward structures and general no-nonsense attitude. A guest appearance from John Garcia is welcome on “California King,” but it’s the no-nonsense performance the four-piece itself — comprised of vocalist Matt Bischoff, guitarist David McElfresh (Hank III), bassist Ryan McAllister (ex-Valley of the Sun) and drummer Steve Earle (Hermano) — bring to the Mos Generator-worthy melodicism of “Bloodwash,” the blue-collar push of “Drinkin’ Alone” and the ultra-catchy “Sword in the Storm” that serves as the real highlight. Like the video for its titular cut, War Bear is crisp, professional, clear in its intent and making zero effort to hide the fact that it came to rock and rocking is exactly what it’s going to do.

That doesn’t necessary mean it’s unipolar — the slow-rolling first half of “Death of Giants” has a distinctly different feel from the bass-led start-stop chugging of the later “Toward the Sun” — just that it’s Moonbow‘s craftsmanship brought to the forefront and that, fortunately for the listener but not at all a coincidence, the songwriting holds up well in that starring role. Well, as much as anything can be in a starring role other than Bischoff‘s beard, anyhow. One way or the other, War Bear — which closes out with the title-track — brings forth a collection of traditionalist heavy rock tracks that still manage to find their own place in a style as modern as it is classic. If you ever wanted to know what a band sounds like when they know what they’re doing, Moonbow pretty much have that shit on lockdown.

Enjoy the premiere of “War Bear” below, followed by some comment from Bischoff on the track, the filming and the origin of the title. I’ve also included the full-stream of War Bear from Ripple‘s Bandcamp page at the bottom of the post, because what the hell? One likes to be thorough.

Dig it:

Moonbow, “War Bear” official video premiere

Matt Bischoff on the video:

When we were jamming and writing songs for the new record, we had just been jamming on a riff and when we stopped, Ryan our bass player just says “War Bear” out of nowhere. We all kinda laughed and said hell yeah and we kept messing around with the song. When I got home that night I google searched War Bear for the hell of it and found this amazing story of a Brown Bear called Wojtek who was taken in as a cub by the Polish Army 22nd Artillery. I was inspired and blown away and I wrote the song about it. Check it out online. Awesome story. Crazy how some song ideas transform like this out of nowhere.

We had a blast filming the video with friends and fans at our favorite local venue The Southgate House Revival. Memorial Day cookout, shooting the video and playing a show and filming it all. Special thanks to my Beard sponsor Mean Beard for making it all happen and Jared Barton films for kicking ass at what he does. Also thanks to Todd at Ripple Music for digging our band. Hope you enjoy and give the whole record a listen.

Moonbow is:
Matt Bischoff – Vocals
David McElfresh – Guitars
Ryan McAllister – Bass
Steve Earle – Drums

Moonbow, War Bear (2017)

Moonbow on Thee Facebooks

Moonbow on Instagram

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Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Cosmic Fall Post New Jam “A Calmer Sphere”; Announce New Guitarist

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cosmic fall

Not so far removed from their Summer 2017 split with Aphodyl (review here) or their last video-based jam-unveiling for the trippy ‘Haumea’ (posted here), and still just months out from their second full-length, Kick out the Jams (review here) behind their 2016 debut, First Fall (discussed here), prolific, hit-the-ground-running psych improvisateurs Cosmic Fall have posted yet another fresh work, in the form of “A Calmer Sphere,” a new clip and instrumental piece to coincide. The title and the soothing fluidity of the jam itself — and make no mistake, it is a jam; basic structure be damned, let’s-go-a-wanderin’-style — may be somewhat aspirational on the part of the three-piece, who would seem to be mired in a bit of drama with their former guitarist, domain name ownership, rights to prior releases, etc., all in flux at the moment, but clearly bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel still have their subtly funkified hearts in the right place when it comes to getting down to the heart of the sun itself, and as they welcome new six-stringer Martin to the fold, it’s not without a hopeful future ahead.

For example, they’re still working quickly, and “A Calmer Sphere” — at 12 minutes long as presented in the clip below of dim-lit performance footage accompanied by sundry suitable B-roll well-fitting to the effects-laced noodling, warm low end and steady-holding drum punctuation — is as much its own destination as its journey. Martin steps forward in a volume swell after the five-minute mark, but the molten vibe of the piece overall is inescapable, and neither are Cosmic Fall trying to escape it. Indeed, if anything has typified the still-and-once-again-nascent trio’s work to date (and I say “once again” because one doesn’t simply swap out members in a band like this where dynamic is everything; it’s a big change and a musical conversation that has to develop in a natural chemistry, more than just bringing in someone to play parts written for them), it’s their utter willingness to dive headfirst into their own explorations, and Martin‘s lack of holding back in the extended lead section, which recedes before “A Calmer Sphere” hits its 10th minute, bodes exceedingly well for how he, Klaus and Daniel will fare moving forward.

The drama, yeah, that’s kind of a bummer. But sometimes those kinds of growing pains happen. Some you win, some you lose, and I can’t imagine it’ll be all that long before Cosmic Fall have a slew of new diggables loaded up on their Bandcamp for the space-hungry masses in their building following. At least not if the pace they’ve worked at so far is anything to go by. Till they get there, you can enjoy “A Calmer Sphere” below, followed by the latest update from the band:

Cosmic Jam, “A Calmer Sphere”

We want to welcome Martin to the band, he’s our new guitar player and now everything is finally working out again! If you haven’t already, you can hear his cosmic guitar playing on this new jam video.

(at the end of the week, we will put this jam together with another one up on bandcamp for free download)

So now we can explain some things to you. Our old guitar player doesn’t allow us to sell our albums on bandcamp anymore, so we were forced to take everything down. We also had to delete all of the videos, photos and downloads on amazon, spotify, itunes and so on. But if you’re interested in buying a CD or Vinyl of our albums, write us an e-mail to: cosmicfallband@gmail.com

He also doesn’t want to give us the domain cosmicfall.com, so we’re not responsible for what happens there, our homepage is: https://cosmicfallband.tumblr.com.

This also means, that our first 3 releases will never be reissued! But don’t worry, the vinyl of “Kick Out The Jams” will come, we will post an update with the details, soon. Now we just want to look ahead and make new music with Martin.

Much love – Dan and Klaus

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall Tumblr

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Vision Éternel Premiere Video for “Pièce No. Trois”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vision eternel

Vision Éternel‘s ‘Pièce No. Trois’ is precisely that: a piece. It comes from 2015’s Echoes from Forgotten Hearts (review here), which is the latest release from the ambient solo-project of Montreal-based texture-weaver Alexandre Julien — formerly of psychedelic black metallers Vision Lunar, among others — and is one of seven pièces to be included on the offering. Each one works in a roughly similar vein of minimalist cinematic drama, something vague but hopeful in Julien‘s shimmering guitar tonality and gentle approach, but they remain distinctive with pauses between and, short as they are and short as the whole outing is, never get lost or too caught up in any individual moment. One might think of each Vision Éternel track as fleeting, and that would seem to be the intent.

Atmosphere over impact. Impression over reality. Evocation over direct narrative. Though it’s been two years since Echoes from Forgotten Hearts came out, and for a solo-project like this, that can be a long time, Vision Éternel has a considerable back catalog amassed of these headphone-ready meditations, and vision-eternel-echoes-from-forgotten-heartsas “Pièce No. Trois” explores layering in strum and drone guitar, the depths Julien brings to bear so quickly in a 90-second video impress all the more for the efficiency that both matches the scope of the band and doesn’t make the material feel rushed or overblown in terms of arrangement. There’s a grace to Vision Éternel‘s output across Echoes from Forgotten Hearts that carries into the mood and has a melancholy effect on the listener. It asks little for indulgence and delivers much in immersion.

The project has been celebrating its 10th anniversary throughout 2017, and along with new merchandise and an impending box set collecting past material together in one place, the occasion has called for a revisit to Echoes from Forgotten Hearts and a video that’s apparently been years in the making. Like the song itself, the visual accompaniment for “Pièce No. Trois” is deeply atmospheric, featuring strung together clips of Julien giving what essentially might be taken as a kind of sightseeing tour of Montreal — but, you know, an artsy sightseeing tour. No double-decker bus or anything. Nonetheless, he passes by landmarks subtly placed throughout that, if you happen to be familiar with places like the John Young Monument or the old railroad tracks, you might catch a glimpe of them here or there.

And even if not, it’s 90 seconds long. What the hell do you have to lose? Jeez. Included below is some more background from Abridged Pause Recordings on the video, copious links, and the full stream of Echoes from Forgotten Hearts from Vision Éternel‘s Bandcamp, in case you’d like to dig further.

Please enjoy:

Vision Éternel, “Pièce No. Trois” official video

As part of Vision Éternel’s 10-year anniversary celebration, it is with extreme pleasure that we are releasing a brand new music video for “Pièce No. Trois”. It’s been seven and a half years since Vision Éternel last released a music video, for “Season In Absence” in March of 2010. “Pièce No. Trois” is one of seven songs that appears on the concept EP “Echoes From Forgotten Hearts”, released through Abridged Pause Recordings on February 14th of 2015. This music video is long overdue after having its fair share of disasters and lost footage over the years.

A key filming location was the former Dalhousie Station where pre-production pictures had been snapped a month prior. Additional scenes were filmed nearby, above and under the Notre-Dame overpass and with the former Viger Station in the distance. Another shot was set up in the Saint-Dizier alleyway in the Old Port of Montreal which has old cobblestone paving and was wet from the melting snow and grainy from the salt, sand and rock pebbles used to deal with ice in the winter.

Vasily Atutov directed the music video for “Pièce No. Trois” from July 22nd to July 23rd of 2017. You can see more of Vasily Autotuv’s photography on Flickr and Instagram. He is now open to work with musicians on artwork and video editing, so get in touch with him at epicmap@gmail.com.

It took ten years to happen but Vision Éternel finally has band t-shirts available! The first set of shirts feature Jeremy Roux’s “classic” Vision Éternel logo, which he designed in the summer of 2008. The second batch of shirts feature Christophe Szpajdel’s “10-year anniversary” logo, which he drew in the spring of 2017. This logo honours the black metal origins of Vision Éternel; Alexandre Julien founded Vision Éternel as a side-project while playing in two black metal bands: Throne Of Mortality and Vision Lunar.

Vision Éternel, Echoes from Forgotten Hearts (2015)

Vision Éternel website

Vision Éternel on Thee Facebooks

Vision Éternel on Twitter

Vision Éternel on Instagram

Vision Éternel on Soundcloud

Vision Éternel on Spotify

Vision Éternel on Bandcamp

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Friday Full-Length: Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes (2015)

It does not take long for Snowy Dunes‘ 2015 self-titled debut to demonstrate why it has been so continuously well-received by the heavy rock underground in and beyond Europe. Released by the band digitally and issued via Rock Freaks Records as a gatefold 2LP, the nine-track/51-minute first offering from the Stockholm, Sweden, feels like something special at the outset, and the fact that the four-piece of guitarist Christoffer Kingstedt, bassist Carl Oredson, drummer Stefan Jakobsson and vocalist Niklas Eisen traveled to Los Angeles to record with Dead Meadow bassist Steve Kille only reinforces this position. Their psychedelic blues, whether portrayed in the 90-second harmonica-and-voice of “Watch out for Snakes,” the ultra-Hendrixian purple-haze-all-in-the-brain funk of “Electric Love,” or the nine-minute swaggering jam that follows on “Diablo” and finds Eisen calling out the moves the band will make in the second half of the song — “Alright we’re gonna do this for you, do some harmonies,” and then they do — is a right-on-target preach to the converted, and the sense of righteousness it finds in its execution is even more prevalent for the live-sounding feel behind it. That is, Snowy DonesSnowy Dunes goes far out — way far out — and all the while it sounds like, hey man, these songs just happened. Could’ve been different on any other day. The vague possibility that that’s actually the case would seem to make the record something even more vital, but it’s really just the starting point of an ultra-organic breadth that unfurls across its extended but immersive runtime.

When one thinks of the generational surge of heavy psychedelia throughout Europe that’s taken place over the last five or 10 years, it’s usually the post-Colour Haze bringers of tonal warmth who come to mind, or the slew of groups embroiled in even jammier fare, improvised or not. Lately, neo-psych influenced by space rock has emerged to converse with the Californian post-Earthless swirl set and the massive influence of Australia’s King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, and that will no doubt continue to reshape the underground in the next few years to come, but Snowy Dunes set themselves apart with their self-titled. While they for sure have their psychedelic aspects, and their jammy side comes to such a prevalence particularly later in the record that one wonders if Eisen isn’t making up his lines on the spot for a song like “Bad Wolf,” and whether he is or not is ultimately secondary since that’s the vibe the band are giving off. In terms of modern comparison points, Snowy Dunes have way more in common with Australia’s Child or a super-slowed-down Radio Moscow than they do the bulk of what’s coming from even the bluesiest corners of Europe, let alone Sweden, although one could just as easily argue that the classic mentality behind “Tranquil Mountain Lake” or “Dawn” is born just as much of Swedish retro rockism as of any outsider heavy blues. At a certain point, this becomes splitting hairs and the important factor — the deep sense of identity imbued within Snowy Dunes‘ material on their debut album — is lost. If it’s one or the other, I’d rather listen to the songs.

And Snowy Dunes certainly make that easy. Whether you’re flipping the vinyl platters over as you go or making your way through digitally, their Snowy Dunes brings its tracks to life with a rare level of flow, and while at 51 minutes, it borders on what one would generally think of as unmanageable — or at least less-manageable than standard single-LP length — there’s no more redundancy in “Turn Around,” “Watch out for Snakes” or “Desert Cold” — the latter as close as they come to naming a song after the band — than is intended, and the bring-the-listener-into-the-studio feel of the tracks as the recording progresses becomes one of the greatest assets with which Snowy Dunes works, though I won’t discount Eisen‘s easy-flowing soul or the bass tone Oredson uses to anchor the material without actually holding Kingstedt‘s wah-laced tonality down from meandering where it will (worth noting that the last thing you hear on the record is Oredson being introduced by Eisen). That dynamic emerges almost immediately on “Tranquil Mountain Lake” and remains firm across the bulk of the tracks, but amid the ebbs and swells of “Desert Cold,” and the blowout at the end of “Turn Around,” there’s plenty of heft brought to bear as well; Snowy Dunes just keep it baked perfectly so that whether they want to boogie on “Bad Wolf” or let loose one more time in closer “The Light” with starts and stops filled out by a croaking voice from Eisen, they can. Hell, by the time they get to that point, Snowy Dunes have shown pretty clearly that, wherever they’re looking to travel in a given path, they know just how they want to get there.

Snowy Dunes got a mention in my list of the best debut albums of 2015, but especially having had the chance recently to revisit the vinyl edition, it’s held up remarkably well. Early 2016 brought word of a concept album follow-up, Atlantis, and a 19-minute first installment thereof streaming at their Bandcamp page. Updates have trickled out since, including cover art this past May, but I’ve yet to catch wind of a firm release date for it. Part of that, perhaps, is Snowy Dunes sorting out a label situation for the release, but either way, whenever it arrives, Atlantis has a considerable task ahead of it in following-up Snowy Dunes, which has only continued to flourish where many of the other “best debut albums” on that list linked above have fallen by the wayside. Some records just grow on you over time, I guess.

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

Spent a pretty decent portion of this week out of my head, and not really in a good way. You might recall last Friday, my wonderful, now 32-weeks-pregnant wife The Patient Mrs. and I headed to New Jersey because my 102-year-old grandmother had been taken to the hospital. No one ever found out how she broke her hip, but it wound up requiring surgery. They put in two rods, like she was gonna get up and start running laps afterward. They said physical therapy. Uh huh. Then the lady had a stroke the next night and that put the kibosh on that.

As of this writing, she’s still alive. I guess you don’t get to be 102 and then just drop dead suddenly — clearly at that point you’re working on your own scale as regards time. She can’t swallow water, won’t eat, but took in some ice cream the day before yesterday — so fucking typical for my family — and yesterday she was moved to a hospice facility out of the hospital. They’re not going to do any physical therapy for the hip. They’re not going to think she’s really coming back to full consciousness at any point from here on out. They’re going to let her be, give her as much ice cream as she wants/is willing to take, and wait. We’re all waiting. Death limbo.

102 years old. There is no dignity at the end of life. You can die in a famous glorious battle and still shit your pants when you go. I’m not looking her to have a righteous, graceful departure. Wouldn’t be her style anyway. But she’s 102, and her body, acting on the purest, most unthinking of instinct, still can’t bring itself to let go and not squeeze every single last second out of her life. The arrangements are made, everything’s in order. It’s like she’s late to her own party. Obviously I’m sad to see her die — she’s been a major presence in my life for my 35-plus years and especially when I lived in NJ and after I got married and was a bit more of an adult, we got to be pretty close — but I also know there’s no way in her conscious mind she’d want to go on the way she is. And my poor mother. Ugh.

The Patient Mrs. and I came back to Massachusetts last weekend, said our goodbye and made our way back north, but I’ve been in touch with my family all week and gotten a steady string of updates, been conferenced in with doctors and so on. We wait. Excruciating. And I feel guilty for living five hours away from them, which I do anyway, but even more in situations like this.

Anyway, that’s my vent. Thanks for letting me have my moment.

This weekend is the baby shower in CT for The Pecan, who again, is due in October near to my own birthday. I don’t know who’s coming, but I know we’ll be there. Then on Wednesday I fly to Ireland for the Emerald Haze fest (info here) that I still can’t believe I’ll be fortunate enough to attend. The Patient Mrs. is also traveling this week — to San Francisco for a conference; she’s not even going to have time to go to Amoeba Music, much to my vicarious dismay — so plenty of chaos abounds. I’ve got a couple extra days on the back end of my trip to see Dublin slated as well, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting, but there are reviews to write so I’ll get stuff done anyway.

What will I do if Gramma dies in the interim or while I’m away? Cross that bridge when I come to it.

To put it another way, the notes for next week? They’re even more “subject to change” than usual. Here they are anyhow:

Mon.: Motorpsycho track premiere; Vision Éternel video premiere.
Tue.: Ruby the Hatchet review; new video from Cosmic Fall.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Destroyer of Light; Ufomammut review.
Thu.: Biblical track premiere.
Fri.: Emerald Haze coverage.
Sat./Sun.: Emerald Haze coverage.

Much to do, much to do. The Obelisk stuff has been good because it’s given me something to focus on and deflect stress into. Gotta listen to this, gotta write about that, etc. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate you reading and being a part of this site, how much it means to me to have this be a conversation. Thanks to everyone who checked out that Ozzy piece earlier this week, or shared the Earthless news, or who commented on the Queens of the Stone Age review on Thee Facebooks, or who entered the Vokonis giveaway. Turned out to be a pretty killer week, even if I was distracted for most of it. If you’re reading, that’s on you, so yeah, thanks.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Stone Machine Electric Post “The Demon and the Bird” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stone machine electric

Oh, I do love it when Stone Machine Electric get weird. They’re so good at it. The Hurst, Texas, duo of guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/thereminist/synthesist/backing vocalist Mark Kitchens have a few particularly choice live appearances slated for the next couple months, including one tonight with The Midnight Ghost Train, a slot at the Obelisk-presented Heavy Mash in September (info here) and one at End Hip End It in October (info here) that puts them on a bill with damn near half their home state, including boogie magnates Amplified Heat and reformed proto-heavy rockers Josefus.

Perhaps in part to mark the forthcoming occasion(s) and to follow-up on their late-2016 live offering, Vivere (review here) — which was itself an answer to the studio release, Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here), that came out earlier in the year — Dub and Kitchens are doing that thing they do so well: getting weird. Actually, getting kind of creepy. Their new video, for the six-minute, bass-led experimental piece “The Demon and the Bird,” carries a warning that its flashing lights might be dangerous to those with a sensitivity to such things. It should probably also have a one in there about haunting dreams.

I’m not really sure what’s going on in the clip. There’s someone walking into a building, then there’s creepy-mask-face, then I’m hiding under the table and that’s about where I get lost. All I know from there on out is that the atmosphere of the song itself seems likewise intended to terrify, starting out a little prog noodly and working its way toward eerie drones to add to the tension of the fretwork. It could well be there’s a narrative playing out in the video, though — the band are pretty tight-lipped on the subject — and as they’re never really too long between one offering and the next, current work feeding off prior work as they go, I can’t help but wonder if “The Bird and the Demon” might bode of more darkness to follow.

Then again, could be a total freak one-time thing. Part of the fun of Stone Machine Electric is that you never really know what you’re going to get.

Video, info and live dates follow, courtesy of the PR wire. Please enjoy:

Stone Machine Electric, “The Demon and the Bird” official video

Stone Machine Electric – “The Demon and the Bird” Video Release

The duo known only as Stone Machine Electric (we only have one band name) have completed work on a concept video titled “the Demon and the Bird”.

At this time, there is no further explanation for this video or any good reason for releasing it. Maybe it will make you want to purchase our fine wares or come see us do make-believe on stage.

WARNING: This video may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

Stone Machine Electric live:
AUG 24 The Grotto, Fort Worth, TX w/ The Midnight Ghost Train, Huffer, Gypsy Sun Revival
SEP 7 Lola’s Saloon Fort Worth, TX w/ The Atomic Bitchwax
SEP 23 & 24 Division Brewing, Arlington, TX – Heavy Mash 2017 featuring Wo Fat and more!
OCT 7 Division Brewing, Arlington, TX w/ Gypsy Sun Revival
OCT 21 & 22 End Hip End It Music Festival, Old Town Spring, Spring, TX

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Stone Machine Electric on Twitter

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Off the Record Label website

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A Devil’s Din Premiere Video for “Eternal Now”; One Hallucination Under God out Sept. 29

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

a-devils-din-photo-christine-deita

Montreal trio A Devil’s Din aim a little bit earlier than many in the current sphere of retro-minded rock, eschewing the proto-metallic boogie of the early ’70s in favor of the mid-to-late ’60s psychedelia that spawned it. On Sept. 29, they’ll issue their third long-player, One Hallucination Under God, via their own Island Dive Records imprint, and its influence in classic surf and garage-a-delic vibe is evident from the opening notes of “Eternal Now,” for which you can see a video premiere below marked out by colorful manipulation of old cartoons, found-seeming footage and, apparently, whatever else the band decided fit the spirit they were going for.

And quite a spirit it is. The hook of “Eternal Now” has some push of the earliest space rock from drummer Dom Salameh, but from the running bassline of Tom G. Stout to the vocal harmonies that would seem to be led by guitarist Dave Lines, the arrangement feels lush and warm in a way that more than earns its accompanying colorful swirl. True to their aesthetic, “Eternal Now” has a straightforward verse/chorus structure and at just under three and a half minutes there’s not much room to wander from it, but with the blend of keys and guitar, the wash of melody in the vocals and the pervasive sense of weirdness across its still-brief span, there’s plenty to dig into for those looking for a quick trip into the far and farther out.

I haven’t heard the full album yet, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect “Eternal Now” to speak for the entirety of One Hallucination Under God. To wit, in Dec. 2016, A Devil’s Din issued the 13-minute single-song digital EP, I’m Freaking Out: The Saga of the Missing Child, as the follow-up to their June-released sophomore full-length, Skylight — their debut was 2011’s One Day all this Will be Yours — and it was an entirely more progressive and theatrical affair, harder in the impact of its tones and less cosmically directed on the whole, though those elements were still there in the especially varied second half of the song. That may have been a one-off, but Skylight had plenty of diversity in its sound as well, so I’m just giving a heads up “Eternal Now” might not be the complete story when it comes to One Hallucination Under God, however much the long-player may all be part of one expanded-consciousness experience.

More info on One Hallucination Under God and some statement direct from A Devil’s Din follows the “Eternal Now” video below and comes courtesy of the PR wire. Once again, album is out Sept. 29 and will be available direct from the three-piece via their Bandcamp.

Please enjoy:

A Devil’s Din, “Eternal Now” official video

A Devil’s Din on “Eternal Now”:

“‘Eternal Now’ opens the album. It’s an upbeat song with a snazzy guitar riff and verse sung in three-part harmony. The chorus is the closest thing we have to a pop song, but when pop wasn’t a disposable, corporate-driven product. Overall, the theme of the album is about ‘Perception Versus Reality,’ how our world is essentially a subjective experience and a reflection of our individual thoughts and judgments. This idea is perhaps best expressed by semanticist Alfred Korzybski’s dictum, ‘The map is not the territory.’ Songs like ‘Sea of Time,’ ‘Eternal Now,’ ‘Where Do We Go?’ and the title-track all touch on this theme: how we are born into a reality and then conditioned into accepting that this version of reality is ‘it’… And anyone who’s been on the Psychedelic Path will tell you otherwise.

A Devil’s Din are the psychedelic brainchild of UK-born Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist David Lines; joined on his creative journey by disciple of the Rickenbaker bass Thomas Chollet, and virtuoso drummer Dom Salameh. They are a trio of sonic alchemists that together create a chemical wedding of cosmic chords, constantly seeking the philosopher’s stone of the perfect psychedelic song. And as we all know, it’s not the journey — it’s the trip!

A Devil’s Din has two fine albums under their collective kaftans, ‘One Day All This Will Be Yours’ (2011) and ‘Skylight’ (2016), and now, as though creating a trans-dimensional triptych, they unleash ‘One Hallucination Under God’.

‘One Hallucination Under God’ will be available as of September 29th, 2017.

A Devil’s Din is:
Dave Lines, Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals
Tom G. Stout, Bass/Guitar/Vocals
Dom Salameh, Drums/Perc/Vocals

A Devil’s Din on Thee Facebooks

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A Devil’s Din on Bandcamp

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Can We Talk About Ozzy Osbourne for a Minute?

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ozzy osbourne

Yeah, I know. In the realm of heavy, there have been few topics as thoroughly discussed as just what to do with the legacy of Ozzy Osbourne. The founding and on-again-off-again frontman of Black Sabbath, solo bandleader and unparalleled metallic figurehead has had a half-century-long career with more than several lifetimes’ worth of ups and downs, highs and lows, and hyperbole-worthy triumphs and failures. Among living metal singers, he stands alone in needing only his name to conjure strong feelings on either side: Ozzy.

If you’re reading this, chances are I don’t need to lay out for you the ongoing influence of Osbourne’s work with Black Sabbath, whose first six albums played an essential role in forming the gospel on which heavy metal dogma was shaped. Likewise, Osbourne’s “solo” career, his bringing to light and fostering the playing and songwriting of guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde, has possibly been just as — if not more — influential. Artistically and commercially, the man is a giant in a way that no one else in heavy metal is.

My question is, how should we feel about Ozzy in 2017? Is it okay to love Ozzy again?

I remember going to see Ozzy in high school. I did the Ozzfest thing in the mid and late ’90s. Ozzy had his Prince of Darkness days, had put out the relatively strong Ozzmosis in 1995 and No More Tears in 1991, and yeah, neither of those records would have the impact of 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, ’81’s Diary of a Madman or ’83’s Bark at the Moon — even 1986’s The Ultimate Sin and 1988’s No Rest for the Wicked had their moments (I don’t care what you say, “Crazy Babies” rules) — but for a guy who’d said he was retiring, there was still plenty of energy left in his work. He had more in the tank. And that showed live as well.

Was there ever a more charismatic metal frontman? Robert Plant — a peer — was always too pretty. Ian Gillan too poised. Lemmy was rawer and less directly engaged with the audience. Halford, Dickinson and Dio were always far better singers, but in his stage presence, Ozzy could have an entire arena on his side by doing little more than showing up and saying hi. He still can. He’s screwed up lyrics onstage for as long as he’s been playing songs. He’s become less and less able to carry a tune. It’s arguable he hasn’t had a decent record out under his own name this century, but as much as one can level cash-grab accusations his way at nearly every turn, isn’t there something appealing about the fact that Osbourne just can’t bring himself to quit? Can’t leave the stage behind? Can’t stop that direct link to his fans? And so long as people keep buying tickets, should he really be expected to?

When MTV began airing The Osbournes 15 years ago, it was impossible to know the damage it would do to Ozzy’s reputation, but real quick, he went from the Prince of Darkness, the guy who gave us “Suicide Solution” and “Over the Mountain,” to an utter buffoon. In some ways, he’s never recovered from that cringe-inducing scene of him shaking, lost in his own garden, calling for his then-wife and manager, Sharon. The show, which was hammered into the ground and dead-horse-beaten across increasingly painful seasons, was only one of many questionable business decisions throughout the years.

Do we even need to talk about replacing Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake’s tracks on album reissues? The list goes on. Ozzfest by then was on the wane. Sabbath’s late-’90s reunion had produced one mediocre single, some righteous touring, and then fizzled once again, and neither the 2005 covers collection Under Cover nor 2007’s Black Rain full-length did much to dissuade anyone from feeling like a slide into uninspired mediocrity was complete. What the hell had happened?

Was it decades of drug and alcohol use catching up? Had Ozzy simply lost it? As Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler reunited with Ronnie James Dio in Heaven and Hell, Osbourne seemed left in the dust, and his 2010 album, Scream — his most recent studio effort — was forgettable at best.

Hopes were high when it was announced Osbourne would reunite with Black Sabbath and that the band would set to work with producer Rick Rubin on what became 2013’s 13 (review here). The results were debatable, and debated, issues of integrity not at all helped by a lengthy, ugly and public contract dispute with original drummer Bill Ward. But even as Iommi was ailed with a cancer fight, touring ensued. Once again, Sabbath was bringing their show (review here) to the people. Landmark songs, some new stuff in the mix, and though he was off-key as ever, Ozzy’s charisma was still there, still intact.

Let me put it this way: We’re now a decade and a half removed from The Osbournes, and whatever else Ozzy has done, he’s really never stopped touring. It’s not like he needs the money, so isn’t it just possible he’s doing it because he loves it? He turns 69 in December. On the basic level of physical exhaustion, it can’t be a pleasant experience for him to be onstage for an hour-plus at this point, even with nights off between shows on tour. His well-documented history of substance abuse notwithstanding, he’s held it together better than some, and while the shape of the brand has changed, he’s still overseeing and headlining an Ozzfest Meets Knotfest this Fall in San Bernadino, California. The leadoff single from Black Rain was “I Don’t Wanna Stop.” Isn’t it possible that’s the truth?

I don’t know Ozzy and in my time have gotten to ask him precisely one question in an interview, so I can’t speak to his motivations, but whatever his ultimate reasoning is, I think it’s worth stopping for a minute and realizing how special his career has been, how pivotal his contributions to heavy music have been, and how much of his life he’s dedicated to bringing joy to his audience. Yeah, he’s made a pretty penny doing it, and done as much to tarnish his persona as to hone it over the years, but whether it’s through the sheer longevity of his relevance, the classic nature and ongoing influence of his work with Sabbath and the early incarnations of the Ozzy Osbourne band, or the smile on his face when he steps out in front of a crowd, it still seems to me that there’s plenty to appreciate about Ozzy in 2017.

That’s worth considering as well as all the rest when we think about the man, his music and the impact both have had on our lives.

Ozzy Osbourne website

Ozzy Osbourne on Thee Facebooks

Black Sabbath, Paris 1970

Black Sabbath, California Jam 1974

Ozzy Osbourne, “Mr. Crowley” live in 1981

Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Babies” official video

Ozzy Osbourne, Live in Minnesota, Aug. 2017

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Witchcult Today (2007)

Even a decade later, it’s hard to fully assess the influence Electric Wizard‘s sixth album has had, because that influence, like the band’s witchcult itself in the lyrics of the opening title-track, is still growing. Released in 2007 on Rise Above Records, Witchcult Today was a genuine landmark moment. For the band, it was such a turnabout and such a feeling of comeback that it was hard to believe it had only been three years since the band released the prior We Live, which introduced guitarist Liz Buckingham (formerly of 13 and Sourvein) to the lineup of the already-influential Dorset doomers alongside founder Jus Oborn. Electric Wizard had by then long since established themselves as crucial to the sphere of underground doom via the unholy trinity of their first three albums — 1995’s Electric Wizard, 1997’s Come My Fanatics… and 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) — and perhaps part of the reason Witchcult Today was so able to blindside their listenership and so greatly add to their reputation as stylistic forerunners was because 2002’s Let us Prey and the aforementioned We Live seemed to be searching for a new direction after hitting such a peak with their initial approach, but whatever did it, Witchcult Today brought a new generation of listeners under Electric Wizard‘s droner-stoner spell and perhaps even more than Dopethrone stands as the single most important work the band has done to-date. Without it, one can only wonder if cult doom would exist as it does.

There’s not really much secret to the approach of Witchcult Today, and whatever else one might accuse Electric Wizard of being throughout their nearly 25-year tenure — preceded by Oborn‘s time in Lord of Putrefaction and Thy Grief Eternal — they’ve never been subtle. But while Let us Prey and We Live descended into weedian scummer sludge and grew more abrasive in their overall affect, the unmanageable 59-minute/eight-track Witchcult Today brought that resin-coated filth to new levels of aesthetic achievement. At least partial credit has to go to Liam Watson at Toe Rag Studios, whose recording and mixing job highlighted the absolute tonal murk of Oborn and Buckingham‘s guitars and the depths of Rob Al-Issa‘s basslines while still allowing Oborn‘s vocals and Shaun Rutter‘s drums to cut through and provide listeners a lifeline so as to not get lost in the hazy onslaught — at least until the 11-minute penultimate instrumental, “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” where getting listeners lost is clearly the intention — but however more resonant the tracks became through the manner in which they were recorded on vintage gear and compiled at the mixing console, one can’t discount the raw achievement of songwriting on Witchcult Today either. There simply isn’t a miss. As “Witchcult Today” marched/oozed into subsequent tracks like the shuffling “Dunwich” and the drawling “Satanic Rites of Drugula,” Electric Wizard beat their audience over the head with riff after riff, hook after hook, and created an atmosphere of such memorable craft that even as they basically reused the rhythm of “Witchcult Today” in “The Chosen Few” and seemed to answer the opener’s riff in closer “Saturnine,” the tiny differences from one to the other to the other stood out and made all three songs highlight pieces only bolstered by their redundancy. It’s supposed to be a slog. You wouldn’t die otherwise.

And whether it was the interlude “Raptus” or the sampled whispers deep into “Black Magic Rituals and Perversions,” Witchcult Today boasted an ambience to match the grab-your-brain-and-melt-it catchiness of “Torquemada ’71” — the theme for a grainy horror movie that was never made — making its aesthetic impact all the more pivotal. The darkened swirl of “Saturnine” at the end of the record affirmed the fixation on death, misanthropy and cultish thematics, but even as the four-piece pushed outward to a noisy deconstruction of the bleak, stoned and sprawling world they created, they held fast to the hypnotic sensibility that typified the album as a whole. The tie-in between that hypnosis, the catchiness of their choruses, the sheer will of repetition executed, the lyrical references to old horror flicks speaking directly to the converted, and the sense of presence that came through Watson‘s mix made Witchcult Today absolutely work on every level in a way that Electric Wizard never had before, even on their early releases, which many will still argue as the pinnacle of the band. Like I said, there just wasn’t a miss, and I think the massive influence Witchcult Today has had over the last 10 years and continues to have speaks to this achievement in aesthetic. It’s early for such proclaiming, but no question the time will come when we speak about this record as a classic in doom. Already it serves as one of the most essential LPs of the 2000s.

Its influence would prove to be as much internal as external as well. In 2010, they followed Witchcult Today with Black Masses (review here), which renewed their collaboration with Watson and with songs like “Satyr IX,” “Black Mass,” and “Crypt of Drugula” felt very much informed by what the 2007 outing had established. Likewise, their 2012 tape EP, Legalise Drugs and Murder (review here) derived its title-track from a redux on “The Chosen Few,” and it seemed that even five years later, Electric Wizard were still affected by the scope of what they’d manage to bring to bear on Witchcult Today. 2014’s Time to Die (review here) — produced again by Watson, mixed by Chris Fielding — marked a shift to Spinefarm Records after a falling out with Rise Above, was their longest offering yet at 66 minutes and dug righteousness out of its chaotic gruel, but ultimately seemed staid more like it was playing to form of the two full-lengths before it rather than pushing farther in the way that one could say even Black Masses did via its more psychedelic take.

Rumors have abounded for more than a year at this point about release dates for a ninth Electric Wizard full-length being in various stages of production and/or readiness for release, and among the most encouraging aspects of an initial announcement put out last Spring was that the band was seeking a “fresh turn of the turf” in terms of their sound. Does that mean they’ll innovate their style with the kind of freshness they brought to Witchcult Today a decade ago? Can lightning strike three times for a group who already enjoy status as having made some of the most fundamental contributions to doom? Last I heard, we might find out before the end of the year. As to what actually happens when the next Electric Wizard surfaces, or when that actually will happen, only a fool would dare to offer any prediction.

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

Well, this weekend is turning out to be much different than was initially conceived. By the time you read this, The Patient Mrs. and I will very likely already be in New Jersey, which was not at all the original intent. An ambulance took my 102-year-old maternal grandmother to the hospital yesterday afternoon, and well, there’s little more you can do than get up at 4AM and get your ass out the door as quickly as possible to be there for your family. Gotta go, gotta go.

My original intention for the day had been to go see Anathema tonight in Boston, because I so very much enjoyed their new album and would like to see them again. Had a photo pass set up and everything. Not gonna happen.

I’ve also been back and forth with the Gozu dudes about doing an in-studio with them as they track their next record in New Hampshire, currently in progress. That was supposed to be tomorrow. Up in the air right now.

Everything is pretty much pending what the situation is with my grandmother. They said she broke her hip and no one really knows how. She’s old enough that, frankly, it could’ve just happened by moving or bumping into the corner of a table or something, but old people and busted hips. You know how it goes. Apparently she’s not really awake. There’s a consult this morning with an orthopedist, after which we’ll hopefully know more. Everyone’s very upset, myself included to be honest, but it’ll be what it’ll be.

My mind is elsewhere as I’m sure you can imagine, but here’s a quick rundown of how next week may or may not shake out as per my notes:

Mon.: Kal-El album stream/review; maybe Gozu in-studio.
Tue.: Grande Royale stream/review; Vokonis vinyl giveaway.
Wed.: Queens of the Stone Age review; Six Dumb Questions with Pagan Altar.
Thu.: Blackfinger track premiere/review; maybe R.I.P. track premiere as well.
Fri.: Grigax review.

Busy busy busy, and again, all of this is subject even more to change than usual pending how the above pans out, what state I’m in mentally and geographically at what point, and so on. Sorry to be vague but there’s just a lot right now I don’t really know. That’s the basic shape I hope to give next week. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I was supposed to go. I didn’t. Kind of a long story there, and not entirely pleasant, but if you’re there, I hope it’s a blast and that you have a great and safe time. If you’re elsewhere, I hope the same. Either way, please take a few minutes if you have them to check out the forum and radio stream, and thanks once again for reading.

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