The Kings of Frog Island Post “The Watcher 2020” Live Studio Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the kings of frog island in studio

On June 18, The Kings of Frog Island will take the stage — something they don’t do all that often — at The Soundhouse in their native Leicester, UK, to join French psych-tinged-with-Eastern-flair rockers Karkara and openers Early Remains for, yes, a gig. As I said, it’s not something that happens all the time for The Kings of Frog Island. To wit, the last one they had listed was in Sept. 2017, also in Leicester, though at a different venue. I’m pretty sure they’ve played since then, but one way or another, you get the idea. Did I mention it doesn’t happen all the time? Okay then.

In order to be properly prepared for said show, they’re of course working on hammering out a set, and if 2019’s year-long singles series taught us anything, it was that The Kings of Frog Island know how to use YouTube. Accordingly, they’ve filmed themselves doing a runthrough of a new arrangement of “The Watcher,” which was originally released on their 2008 second album, II (discussed here), through Elektrohasch Schallplatten. The lineup has changed since then, but a lot of what you need to know about the difference from one to the other you can learn from the comparative runtimes. The original? 4:20. The new one? Three minutes longer.

“Save all your love… Don’t let no back door man in…” And so on.

As a fan of the band’s ongoing amorphous amphibiousness, I keep hoping for word of a follow-up to 2014’s (review here), which of course would be called VI, but though there was some report of test pressings being in last Fall, I’ve yet to find anything about that materializing into a release date or anything of the sort.

Until that happens, for those of us who won’t make it to Leicester in June, enjoy this clip recorded live in the studio. I’ve also included the original in case you’d like to dig into that:

The Kings of Frog Island, “The Watcher 2020”

The Watcher 2020

We are getting ready for a live set and thought why not press record.

All done in one night… one take… bit like the set.

Recorded live at Amphibia Sound Studios on the 27/02/2020.

The Kings of Frog Island, “The Watcher”

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Friday Full-Length: The Gates of Slumber, …The Awakening

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Beginning next week, Indianapolis doomers The Gates of Slumber will embark on a European tour that, centered around and fostered by an appearance at Hell over Hammaburg in Germany, will touch down in six different countries across nine shows. It’s not the hugest tour the band have ever undertaken by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a special moment nonetheless as founding guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon (interview here) — who’s spent the last couple years developing the similarly-minded trio Wretch in part to spread The Gates of Slumber‘s legacy — revitalizes the band after splitting up in 2013. They go abroad with the express purpose of celebrating their 2004 debut, …The Awakening (originally released on Final Chapter Records), and joining Simon in the lineup is drummer Chuck Brown, who played on the album and went on to found Apostle of Solitude as vocalist/guitarist after its release, and bassist Steve Janiak, who’s been in Apostle of Solitude since about 2012 and who also fronts the wildly underrated Devil to Pay, also in vocals and guitar. The latter steps into an especially precarious position in the band, taking on the role once held by Jason McCash prior to his leaving the band in 2013 — causing the breakup — and subsequent death the next year.

The reunion tour and what it might lead to aside, …The Awakening hit 15 years old in 2019 and remains a work out of its own time. Not that there was no doom happening circa 2004 — indeed, The Gates of Slumber‘s “membership” in the ‘Circle of True Doom’ speaks to a community already crossing international borders — but they represented a new generation in direct engagement with some of the style’s most treasured traditions. You want to know how to doom? Cool. Go ahead and put on the opening track of …The Awakening, and once you’re past the howling wind, tolling bell and vague screams that consume the first minute-plus, sit back as SimonMcCash and Brown put together a handy tutorial on doing it right. Seriously. “The Awakening (Interpolating the Wrath of the Undead)” is a nine-minute clinic not only in what the album that in part shares its name has to offer, but really on the appeal of traditionalist doom on the whole. Its Sabbathian lurch is worn on-sleeve, and Simon‘s vocals are immediately downtrodden, the melody following the riff on a depressive spiral punctuated by the bell of Brown‘s ride cymbal evoking the introduction. The song grows slower and more tortured in its second half setting up the guitar solo that consumes both channels in Iommic layering, and then, as it approaches its last minute, the drums kick into a faster progression to thrash out as another, more ripping lead finishes off.

I won’t discount the 9:33 bookending closer “The Burial,”the gates of slumber the awakening or a speedster shuffle like “The Executioner,” the low-end-shoved chug of “Broken on the Wheel” or the plod and swing of “The Judge” and “The Jury,” respectively — this is essential doom and essentialist doom. It is doom the cuts through nuance and bullshit and proceeds to death. That is what it does from front to back. Wakes up on its last day, sees judge and jury, is tortured, executed and buried — done. But it’s in “The Awakening (Interpolating the Wrath of the Undead)” that The Gates of Slumber set the stage on which the drama that follows plays out, and they’re never so much consumed by the narrative as they are bringing to bear the sense of defeat of one who is powerless against their fate. Every dense-toned bassline from McCash and even the most uptempo of parts in “Broken on the Wheel” or “The Executioner” are prefaced by that last stretch in the leadoff cut. Perhaps only the penultimate bass-led interlude “Blessed Pathway to the Celestial Kingdom” stands apart in terms of aesthetic, but definitely not in mood, and …The Awakening remains unified in its purpose even as it transitions from alive to dead in that brief moment.

“The Burial,” then, is a glorious epilogue of a wasted life. You never find out what brings about the execution — “The Awakening (Interpolating the Wrath of the Undead)” references zombies and post-death horrors at the outset, but the nearest clue is in the lyrics to “The Jury,” with the lines, “You were guilty as the oaths were sworn. A felon to die upon the morn.” Whether we’re burying the undead alive or punishing some unknown treason or betrayal, does it really matter? The underlying point of …The Awakening is that existence is the punishment, and whatever situational extrapolation one might want to bring to the narrative across the songs, the same statement applies. There’s no getting away from it. No escape from that executioner’s blade. We’re all fucked. Doom on.

As much as one might look at a lineup of The Gates of Slumber with Karl SimonSteve Janiak and Chuck Brown and daydream of new material topped with morose three-part harmonies to fill the grueling spaces left by the band’s signature riffs, part of the appeal of …The Awakening — a big part of it — is its straightforwardness. It is hiding nothing, either about its origins, its influences, or its intentions. The band at the time were beginning an exploration that would gradually lead them away from doom as a central focus and toward a more epic metal style, as 2006’s Suffer No Guilt begat 2008’s Conqueror and 2009’s Hymns of Blood and Thunder (review here), but doom was always there, and when 2011’s The Wretch (review here) — from whence Simon‘s post-Gates band would later derive their name — surfaced in all its ultra-Saint Vitus-style misery, the feeling was that The Gates of Slumber‘s claim on the forefront of US doom had never been stronger or more resonant. When their 2013 EP, Stormcrow (review here), served as the final installment of their career, even more than a decade on from their start the primary loss seemed to be in their potential going unfulfilled.

The Church Within Records has — today, apparently — issued a live record called Live at Tempe Arizona, and The Gates of Slumber have been steadily posting rehearsal footage from a basement that should be well recognizable to anyone who follows along with similar videos from Apostle of Solitude. Wherever their reunion goes or doesn’t go after this tour, whether there’s another The Gates of Slumber album or tour or not, their legacy is cast in the quality and the sincerity of their doom. There are few bands who have been able to play to style while feeling as genuine and heartfelt as The Gates of Slumber do on …The Awakening, and that only makes the record all the more worthy of the homage they’re paying it.

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

Don’t even ask what’s on next week. I have a dentist appointment Thursday? I know that. But I don’t even know what I’m writing about for Monday. It’s in the notes, I’ll deal with it over the weekend. Lord Buffalo maybe? I don’t know. Whatever. I’ve been trying to sleep later with mixed results and this week sucked anyway. Kid’s good. Everyone’s healthy. Whatever else.

Fuck email. I just don’t have the energy to deal with that shit. I have 147 messages that I just have no idea what the fuck to do with. I want to put up an out of office and be like, “Sorry I’m dead.” Facebook Messenger. Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, I’m gonna review Arbouretum next week. Well that’s a break. That’ll be good. No one will give a crap, but whatever. I reviewed My Dying Bride this week, no one gave a crap. Why would they. Band’s been around for 30 years, what the hell am I gonna say about them that hasn’t been said 100 times before? Duh they’re good at what they do. Review over. Took me 1,000 words to say that, pretentious nitwit that I am. Feigning relevance for 11 years and counting! I don’t care. I just keep doing it anyway. I need it.

I’m burnt out, man. Still more than a month to go until Roadburn and I’m feeling like that spiritual rejuvenation is needed. Lot of hills to climb before I get there.

Leap Day tomorrow. I’ll be watching baseball and trying to avoid looking at the computer, counting down the minutes until it’s time to heat up leftovers for dinner. Farmer’s market on Sunday maybe. Fine.

Last night, I got offered $100 to write a review for today. Someone trying to buy coverage. This is a person who, in the past, I’ve considered a friend. Trying to buy coverage from me. Obviously clueless as to how insulting that is. I did not, and now will not, write the review. How could I possibly?

That’s life.

So I’m out $100. Ha.

At least Picard is good.

Anyway. Great and safe weekend. Appreciate you reading. FRM.

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All Souls Post “You Just Can’t Win” Video from New Album Songs for the End of the World

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

all souls

Here’s one for you: I could’ve premiered this video. And I would’ve been frickin’ thrilled to do it. It’s All Souls! Their 2018 self-titled debut (review here) was one of my favorite and most-listenend-to albums of that year and the news that they have a follow-up, titled Songs for the End of the World and due out sometime in the coming months, is nothing if not welcome. To top it off, “You Just Can’t Win,” which is the first single from this impending sophomore outing, rules. The guitar work is dynamic and emotionally resonant and the vocals of Antonio Aguilar bring out the best of the characteristic delivery he’s had since the days when he and All Souls bassist Meg Castellanos were laying waste in underappreciated heavy rockers Totimoshi.

And do I need to remind that along with the guitar of Erik Trammell alongside Aguilar‘s own there resides in the rhythm section one Tony Tornay of Fatso Jetson?

To top it off, the video rules! It’s creative, it’s got purpose and a message to deliver, and the mania that ensues in the imagery fits the song perfectly.

So what happened?

It went to spam.

Shit you not.

Worse — Facebook Messenger spam. For The Obelisk page.

I didn’t even know that existed! I stumbled on it by accident checking my messages yesterday and it was loaded with stuff, including the proposal to premiere this clip and hot damn if I wouldn’t have been all over it. Instead here I am posting it two-plus weeks after the fact and feeling like a chump because I just found out not only about the video and the LP but that All Souls are coming east next month to do shows. What a jerk.

I know Aguilar is talking about issues that actually matter in the song and that mine is only the white-privilegeliest of plights, but it’s good to know the message applies on multiple levels. For what it’s worth, he’s right on all counts.

My sincere hope is to have more on the new All Souls album before it comes out. Until then, please enjoy the video. It’s directed by Marcos Sanchez, record produced by Toshi Kasai. Note the blank space in the PR wire info where it says who did the premiere. Could’ve been me.

Dig:

All Souls, “You Just Can’t Win” official video

LA-based rockers All Souls are set to unleash a new single “You Just Can’t Win”—a blistering commentary on the populist-inspired prejudice and violence plaguing modern society — digitally on January 24 and have also shared an accompanying video to the song directed by Marcos Sanchez (The Breeders). The video premiered today at____. All Souls creates songs that are lyrically dark, infused with the band’s unique style and perspective on the state of today’s world and this one is no exception. Produced by Toshi Kasai (Tool, Melvins, Foo Fighters), the song seethes with the tightly coiled angry vocals and menacing guitar of founder Antonio Aguilar. Also appearing on the track are Meg Castellanos (bass, vocals), Erik Trammell (guitar), and Tony Tornay (drums). “You Just Can’t Win” is taken from their forthcoming album, Songs For The End Of The World, which will be released later this year. The new material is the follow up to their 2017 eponymous debut album and follows a spectacular 2018 which saw the band embark on tours with Tool and Meat Puppets. All Souls will celebrate the release of the single with a headlining show at The Paramount Ballroom on January 25th.
Info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/all-soulscfmdarsombrabiblical-proof-of-ufos-dj-dale-crover-tickets-86881592181?aff=odwdwdspacecraft

Says Aguilar: “I write from the perspective of a brown man. A man subjected to continuous subjugation from his youth into adulthood. When I sing ‘You Just Can’t Win,’ I have multiple tiers of emotions happening. One is combative anger, but then I feel a sense of sadness and compassion, and not just towards the victims mourned in the song, but towards the lost and deranged person. By the ending ‘Oh they fell, oh they fall’ – it’s just pure sadness.”

The video, which incorporates fittingly dystopian stock footage augmented and brought to life by stunning hand drawn animation, was conceived and directed by Chilean artist, animator and filmmaker Marcos Sanchez who most recently created the video for the Breeders’ “Walking With A Killer” which was released on Halloween of last year.

Says Sanchez: “The video is a mix of found footage and 2D, hand drawn animation. I gathered footage that could relate to this in an interesting way, not really wanting to illustrate the idea but to complement it with a parallel story that conveyed the feelings of dread and senseless violence that I see in the subject matter. The band wanted very strong imagery. We discussed about Images of the “perfect” American way of life being “threatened” by immigration and social change. We also discussed about having lots of destruction, as a way to show the threat of violence that the song talks about. As for the animation I propose the band to use images of skeletons representing death which curiously coincided with the art for the new album, which was perfect.”

All Souls live:

•March 17: Once Lounge w/Child Abuse and Il Mostro
156 Highland Ave Somerville, MA 02143

•March 18: St Vitus Bar w/Child Abuse
1120 Manhattan Ave Brooklyn, NY 11222

•March 19/TBA

•March 20: Westside Bowl
2617 Mahoning Ave Youngstown, OH 44509

•March 21: Rockerbuilt Studios
2012 Northwestern Pkwy Louisville, KY40203

•March 22: Rose Music Hall
1013 Park Ave Columbia, MO 65201

•March 23: The Record Bar Mini Bar w/Pamper the Madman
1520 Grand Blvd Kansas City, MO 64108

All Souls are:
Antonio Aguilar (vocals, guitar)
Meg Castellanos (bass, vocals)
Erik Trammell (guitar)
Tony Tornay (drums)

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Six Dumb Questions & Video Premiere: Hair of the Dog Talk About It’s Just a Ride

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

hair of the dog

Hair of the Dog are rockers, so perhaps unsurprisingly, their new song rocks. Their fourth album — which was given the working title of Vol. IV but has in the end been dubbed It’s Just a Ride — is due in the coming months for release through Kozmik Artifactz as the follow-up to 2017’s This World Turns (review here), and the progression the Edinburgh-based three-piece have undertaken in the last couple years is evident in the fuzzy riffs and melodies of the title-track, which balance an insistent rhythm off the vocal float from guitarist Adam Holt. That dynamic would seem to be particularly captured in the six-plus minutes of “It’s Just a Ride” as Adam and drummer Jon Holt continue to bring the sonic dynamic they’ve forged since they were children to fruition in songs only further fleshed out with the right-on bass work of Iain Thomson. I haven’t heard the entirety of It’s Just a Ride as yet, so can’t speak to how the song that shares its name might interact with the material around it, but if the underlying message of the title is maybe to take it easy and not worry about shit you can’t control, well, I’m more than willing to roll with that.

In the video, we see Hair of the Dog, well, rocking. They rock while rocking out, they rock while buttering bread, they rock in the studio with Graeme Young while making the album, the jam room, and while traveling in various vehicles, from tour vans tohair of the dog its just a ride trains and planes. They rock having beers in airports, looking like they’re not sure where they’re headed next, and, presumably, waiting to get on stage and rock. Their shot-on-phone chronicles make welcome fodder alongside their actually performing the song in the rehearsal space, and their travels supporting This World Turns are represented — including some perhaps ill-advised drinking from the fountains of Tilburg, the Netherlands, during their stop at Roadburn Festival — and while if I’m not mistaken some of this footage has been seen before, the new context is obviously an appeal unto itself. That is to say, you’re getting a new song here, so quit complaining. It’s just a ride anyhow, or so said famous Cynical Anti-Establishment White Guy™ Bill Hicks, which I didn’t actually know until I read Adam Holt‘s answers to the interview questions below. See? This is how you learn things. You ask.

That important life-lesson aside, you should know that It’s Just a Ride has indeed been on a voyage headed toward its release for more than a year. While I’m not entirely certain what’s been behind the delay beyond the busy schedule of Kozmik Artifactz and perhaps that of the band as well, one knows from past experience that well-made heavy rock never gets stale, and as it happens, Hair of the Dog specialize in precisely that. I’ll post the exact release date when I have it, but given their scheduling of shows in March and over the early part of the summer, the target would seem to be somewhere in Springtime. Perfect.

Please enjoy the following video premiere and Six Dumb Questions:

Hair of the Dog, “It’s Just a Ride” official video premiere

Six Dumb Questions with Adam Holt of Hair of the Dog

Alright, let’s dive in. The album’s done, in the can. What can you tell me about it? What’s the plan for release? How do the songs compare to This World Turns? Is there anything you’re trying to do differently this time out, or is it just a matter of continuing on the path?

We wanted to take a stripped back DIY approach with It’s Just a Ride. Our debut record, which ultimately lead to us being signed to Kozmik Artifactz and started this incredible ride, was much in that same vein. With this new record, the only help we had was with the recording, for which we headed back to Graeme Young of Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh. The production, mixing, artwork, promo photos and the video were all done by the three of us. This allowed us to ensure the final record was 100 percent our vision.

The other main difference with It’s Just a Ride, was that we wanted to include more of our less obvious influences into the mix. As children we would jam songs by Zeppelin, Hendrix and other bands of that era, these influences are quite apparent in our previous records. However, that was during the late ’90s/early ’00s and we were also big fans of bands such as Rage Against The Machine, The Deftones and Pantera. So the idea for this record was to bring more of the latter influences forward in the sound and keep just the vocals harking back to our more classic rock based influences.

The record was supposed to come out late 2019, but with pressing plant complications regarding the vinyl, we were forced to push this back to early 2020. However, this will work out well as we have been booked for several prominent UK festivals such as Hammerfest, Riffolution and Stonebaked Festival, which will give us a chance to air this new material.

Tell me about “It’s Just a Ride.” It’s the first audio you’re unveiling from the record, so how does it speak to what the rest does in music and theme? What are we seeing in the video?

The record is [also] called It’s Just a Ride which I’m sure many will know is a Bill Hicks quote. This is a mantra of sort that we as a band try to live our lives. With This World Turns the theme was more of a personal reflection of our own lives at that point and how no matter what we’re faced with “life goes on.” This time around, with the world around us in much more dark and uncertain times, I think it’s important that we all stop now and again to remind ourselves that “This is just a ride” – when all is said and done, did you make your ride count?

The video itself is just a homage of our ride as a band, the footage used is various clips from our time as a band from recording records and hanging out, to travelling to places such as Roadburn and other places we’ve played. It’s quite a personal video in that way, like a home-movie that we’ll be able to look back on and show our own children.

How was recording this time out? Did you go into it with any specific sound in mind, or was it just a matter of getting the songs to tape?

As previously touched upon, we went back into Chamber Studios here in Edinburgh with Graeme Young who has recorded all of our records. Graeme is one of Scotland’s top recording engineers, so we knew we’d get a solid recording as a foundation to work on. As always, we record all the music live in the one room, as we would when jamming in our practice space. From there, we took the recordings to my own home studio, where we were able to experiment and indulge without the restrictions of time and budget.

How prepared are you guys when you go in to record? Are the songs absolutely final, or is there some room for improv and rounding things out during the recording process?

We’re always 100 percent ready to record, studios cost a lot of money, so you can’t be wasting time when you are an underground band with limited budget. The songs structures are all final when it comes to hitting record, so the way to think of it is that we lay the foundations down in those first takes. Then we listen back and that’s usually when the music starts to speak to you, you start to hear little counter melodies and harmonies that weren’t there originally – so you start to decorate, shape and bring the whole thing together.

As mentioned, we took the recordings to my own home studio to mix, so we had a lot more time with this record to really go to town with layering the guitars and vocal tracks; as well as adding in different instruments and sounds – one track on the record has a cello solo!

I should also mention that never have lyrics when we come to record. This comes much later in the process for me. Once the mixes are done, I’ll take them into my car when I drive or on my phone to listen to as I walk my dogs, and again I’ll start to hear the melodies and words that the music is brings out of me.

When were the new songs actually written? You toured in Europe for This World Turns. Did that have any effect on the band going into making It’s Just a Ride?

I think we had the beginnings of a few songs as we were waiting for This World Turns to even come out! Once a record is sent off to the label we usually start writing again. We’ve been playing together now for over 15 years, so we’re very in tune with one another, writing new music has never been a problem – even a fun jam during a soundcheck can end up as something we’ll work into a song.

Something we did differently this time though was to go back to our original practice space – which was a summerhouse at Iain’s parents house up in the highlands of Scotland. That was Summer 2018, we took a long weekend off and travelled up. It was a great experience that transported us back to our youth. We just stayed up all night, drinking, jamming and having a laugh; and by the Sunday we had the material for the new record. We documented the whole process in our video diary’s which can be found on our YouTube channel.

When you tour and play with other bands I think it only motivates you more to get back home and start working on some new material. You subconsciously pick up little nuances from other sounds that you liked and those all become part of your make up as a band. With regards to It’s Just a Ride, what we took away from the This World Turns cycle, was simply that we wanted to make things a bit heavier!

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We’ll be playing a string of UK dates in promotion of the record, starting with Hammerfest 2020 in March, then Riffolution Festival and Stonedbaked Festival – we look forward to playing these new songs to our UK fans, with potential European dates to be added.

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Puta Volcano Post “Black Box” Video from AMMA LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

puta volcano (photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou)

I can imagine few showers have ever been as satisfying as that which Puta Volcano vocalist Anna Papathanasiou likely took after filming the band’s new video for “Black Box.” Their second album, AMMA, is due out March 13 through The Orchard, and in the clip, Papathanasiou strides head-on toward the camera, presumably on a treadmill or some such, and is pummeled with all manner of stuffs — food, various liquids, wigs, plastic bags; at one point I’m pretty sure a triangular slice of pizza bounces off her shoulder — and yes, they’re making a statement, but that doesn’t make that slice of pizza any less greasy. So yeah, glitter, flour, milk, paint, god knows what else. You’d probably want to hose off afterward.

That, of course, is the visual metaphor at play throughout “Black Box,” which sets its prog-metal riff to work behind the vocal melody which is delivered purposefully even as this assault is taking place. The band generalize just a bit — and fair enough for not wanting to limit their audience — but it’s pretty clearly about a woman’s experience of modern life. Not that we’re not all assaulted at all times, but there remains a definite gradient difference in the uphill courses that those with varying gender identities are running, and as dolls and wigs and sundry powders and whatnots and maybe-glitter pound her, the message isn’t exactly subtle. And not that it’s my place to say so, but it’s not wrong either. There’s a key change in the vocals in the second half of the song — it’s actually bassist Bookies taking lead, but Papathanasiou continues to mouth the words in the video — that coincides with a greater intensity of riff, and then, when it’s over, she stops running, straightens her shoulders and lets out a breath. Fair enough.

Life is a big mess, and life is hard.

At least good music makes it better.

Enjoy the video:

Puta Volcano, “Black Box” official video

Greek hard rock, post-grunge, desert quartet PUTA VOLCANO has revealed the first video, “Black Box,” from their upcoming album, AMMA.

Watch the video for “Black Box” today via the band’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/Ye-4slpAHVk. Directed by Nick Kouros & Anna Papathanasiou.

Lyrically “Black Box” challenges the constant struggle to become something more, against all odds and against adversity. The song’s video provides a visualization of this struggle.

“The concept of the ‘Black Box’ music video is a metaphorical depiction of the struggles a contemporary individual, and more specifically a woman, goes through,” the band explains. “A literal battlefield of symbolism and stereotypes thrown against us daily, formed by societal norms and fixed gender roles. We all have encountered these as we run closer to our own finishing lines, minute by minute.”

Musically, “Black Box” is a heavy, bound-to-the-ground track, with a new flair for the band in the form of dimensional layers of backing vocals. The slow, Tool-style backbone of the song continues to build right up to the epic finish, when the tempo changes and bassist Bookies takes over with wailing vocal lines.

The “Black Box” single is available for streaming and download at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_blackbox.

AMMA, PUTA VOLCANO’s third album, will be released March 13 via The Orchard. Pre-order AMMA on limited gold/black vinyl, CD and limited t-shirt bundles at https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/. Pre-save on Spotify and all digital platforms at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_amma.

PUTA VOLCANO is:
Anna Papathanasiou – Vocals
Alex Pi – Guitar
Steve Stefanidis – Drums
Bookies – Bass, Backing Vocals

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Friday Full-Length: Trouble, Simple Mind Condition

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Trouble, Simple Mind Condition (2007)

In light of the announcement earlier this week that Hammerheart Records in the Netherlands has undertaken the rather significant charge of stewarding deluxe reissues of Trouble‘s entire catalog to-date as well as putting out their next full-length, it seemed only fair to close out the week with an album by the Chicago-based doom legends. They have eight albums to this point, the most recent of them having been 2013’s The Distortion Field (review here), and over the course of a career that dates back to 1978, they’ve hardly been Uriah Heep or Hawkwind when it comes to output, but they put out six LPs between 1984 and 1995 and have done just two since, so take from that what you will. One of those, obviously, is The Distortion Field. The other is its predecessor, Simple Mind Condition, from 2007.

Whether because of the direction away from earlier-Sabbathian riffs and grooves heavy metal took in the post-NWOBHM ’80s or the more hard-rocking direction Trouble embarked on circa their 1990 self-titled, moving into a semi-psychedelic phase through 1992’s Manic Frustration and 1995’s Plastic Green Head, they’ve long since been due for a level of consideration that’s proven elusive. In 2006, when Stockholm’s Escapi Music signed them and began reissuing pieces of their back catalog and sundry live offerings, their Unplugged recordings and so on, it seemed like perhaps their work was receiving a bit of well-earned respect, and though he’d already left the band once in the 1990s and been replaced by Kyle Thomas of Exhorder, I have to think that if Simple Mind Condition had gotten a bigger reception, vocalist Eric Wagner might have at least considered staying with Trouble after the release. Instead, it marks his final album with them after what was then already a nearly-30-year run.

But what a record. No, Simple Mind Condition isn’t the riffy force of Trouble and it doesn’t carry the morose feel of their landmark 1984 debut, Psalm 9 (discussed here), but it is a mature presentation of the band Trouble were at that point. The guitars of Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin, on point as ever, while bassist Chuck Robinson and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson locked in a groove on opener “Goin’ Home” that seemed to hold for the entire 11-track/45-minute duration. Trouble were always about that crunch in the guitars — their tone no less a signature than Wagner‘s soaring vocals in the early days — but with Simple Mind Condition, the songwriting came front and center in a way that was genuinely exciting and, at least to an extent, fresh. Consider it had been 12 years since Plastic Green Head, and Simple Mind Condition was the first album since Wagner rejoined the band after leaving the first time.

The hooks in “Mindbender” and “Seven” and the swinging “Pictures of Life” not only kept an underlying doomy feel — the chug of the latter is up there with whatever classic metal you want to put it next to — not to mention the later “Trouble Maker” or “Simple Mind Condition” or “If I Only Had a Reason.” Even the ballads “After the Rain” and “The Beginning of Sorrows” — the latter delivering the line “Sewing pillows for those which are asleep,” from which The Skull would later derive the name of their first LP — proved memorable when given the time to do so, and along with a cover of Lucifer’s Friend‘s “Ride the Sky” that fit seamlessly among the originals, and the quirk in “Arthur Brown’s Whiskey Bar,” with Wagner touching on some oftrouble simple mind condition the Beatles influence that the band manifested in their psychedelic days — they covered “Tomorrow Never Knows” on Plastic Green Head, and Wagner‘s short-lived post-Trouble project, Lid, certainly had that vibe as well on 1997’s In the Mushroom — while of course referencing the ’60s psych era in the title character of the song, added personality between the start-stop stomp of “Trouble Maker” and the thrust of the title-track.

All of this tells the story of an album that is front to back, flat out, all in. No pretense, heavy, raw in its way when it wants to be, but of course with rampant melody. They were never the most energetic of bands, and neither were they intended to be, but Simple Mind Condition still ups the tempo when it wants to, whether it’s the lurch-to-life at the bass-led outset of “Goin’ Home” or “Ride the Sky”‘s recognizable signature progression, and they’re no less at home in doing so than in the piano-complemented emotionalism of “The Beginning of Sorrows,” which builds from its subdued beginning over the course of its sub-five-minute run as Wagner intones, “Six long years/Since I’ve been in love/Yeah, maybe since birth,” and lets the sadness of those lines stand on its own, beautifully understated.

It’s a what-if record. The landscape of heavy into which Simple Mind Condition was introduced was vastly different from what the underground would become even a few years later as the new generation to which Trouble seemed to be speaking actually opened its ears. But by then it was too late, at least for Trouble as they were up to that point. They toured without Wagner to support Simple Mind Condition and the various other Escapi releases, and I remember seeing them at the old Knitting Factory in Manhattan circa 2008 with fellow Chicagoans Minsk opening and Warrior Soul vocalist Kory Clarke fronting the band. Franklin and Wartell sounded great, of course, but as a band it just didn’t work, and they brought in Thomas once again shortly thereafter. Sometimes you try a thing, I guess. I seem to recall Clarke was a last-minute call anyhow.

Of course, Wagner went on to form The Skull with former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner and Sacred Dawn guitarist Lothar Keller, and they’ve been touring and releasing albums since, at first playing old Trouble material and gradually bringing originals to the mix, then letting their own songs take priority. Their two full-lengths to-date, 2014’s For Those Which are Asleep (review here) and 2018’s The Endless Road Turns Dark (review here), shone like a melancholy beacon and realized the potential in Simple Mind Condition to engage that emergent generational audience of which Trouble seemed just a couple years ahead. Those are two of the last decade’s best American doom records, easily, and inextricably tied to Trouble‘s legacy while forging their own outward path therefrom.

I don’t know what Trouble‘s new deal with Hammerheart — which is more known for its dealings with death and black metal than doom — will bring. A chance for fans to buy records they already own? Bonus material? I don’t know. If I’m lucky maybe I’ll get to review some of those albums? Maybe? We’ll see. One way or the other, since their inception, Trouble worked against trend and were a band who spoke to a particular segment of the heavy converted. It would be great if they got the museum-grade respect they deserve, but even if that doesn’t happen, at least it’s a chance for a few new heads to turn on to what they were doing all along, and maybe Simple Mind Condition — which has been reissued along the way, in 2009, 2010, 2013 — can play a role in making that happen. It was a special, fleeting moment for the Trouble, and one that, 13 years after the fact, still holds up.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Things seemed to settle down a bit this week, which was good. We had The Patient Mrs.’ birthday dinner last Sunday, and that was kind of a mess while it was actually coming together, but by the time food was served it was fine. I think it’s been since Monday that I last really felt the need to take a xanax, so that’s something, and I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on the semester schedule and how to work the days with The Pecan and all that kind of thing. His going to part-time daycare on Wednesdays and Thursdays has been working out for him, and he has had a language explosion over the last month-plus that has helped cut a lot of frustration he was feeling not being able to express himself. He talks now almost as much as he moves, and he moves constantly.

Actually, he fell at daycare in some woodchips or something this week and cut up his face. His teacher when The Patient Mrs. and I went to pick him up was all worried in telling us like we were going to freak out. We were like, “shrug.” She said he just got up and kept running like nothing happened and I said, “Yup, that’s who he is.” This kid falls every single day in ways that, if I did it, I’d have to go to bed for a week. I’m not bragging because he’s tough or whatever — it’s something we worked on, actively not making a big deal of it when he falls down.

And now he does and it’s no drama. He falls off the couch. He falls off his bike. He falls running. He falls jumping. He bumps into walls, tables, shelves, doors, whatever. He slips while climbing the windowsill. It doesn’t matter. You have to stop yourself from reaching for him, but now when he plotzes down I mostly just laugh, and so he does too. And if he starts complaining I say, “You’re fine,” and he is. That’s just who he is. He’s that kind of kid. That’s the real him. I was glad it came out at what we’ve been calling “school” just for the ease of doing so.

The week’s centerpiece as regards general plight was money. As in, we don’t have any. And The Patient Mrs. made the woeful mistake of extrapolating how much we spend on groceries per year and, well, that just sucked. I offered to get a job — go work in some store or something — but it hasn’t really been part of the discussion. We’re keeping receipts for the next week or so and then seeing where we’re at and what we can do. I fucking hate money. I hate everything about it. I hate having it, I hate spending it, I hate making it, I hate not having it. It astounds me that, as a species evolved over hundreds of thousands and millions of years, we’ve so totally failed to come up with anything better to do with our time than engage in the pursuit and interchange of so much made-up bullshit. That I spend so much time, and that my wife — who pays our bills — spends so much of her time, fretting about these things shames me deeply.

But it’s the weekend. I have work to do on the Roadburn ‘zine, and some other stuff, but next week is pretty full. Look out for a Foot track premiere on Monday. Australian band. That record is so god damn good. There’s other stuff too, a few announcements here and there. A My Dying Bride review. It’ll be fun.

The kid’s up, so I’m gonna get rolling on the day. Great and safe weekend. Have fun, be kind. FRM. Forum, Radio, Merch.

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Revvnant Take on Gun Culture with “Automatic” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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I don’t feel like it’s a risky political position to not support murder either on a mass or individual scale. Violence is a ubiquitous and foundational part of American culture, from the ongoing subjugation of the Native American population as part of the colonial process, to the continued stain on the nation’s soul that slavery represents — implicit bias, cultural appropriation, casual racism, fear, microaggression; it’s its own list — to the regular slaughters that pepper the news, to the rise of Antisemitism and xenophobic jingoism, to the glorification of rape for shock value in media at the same time an entire landscape of sexual violence is being unveiled, to every time a husband batters his wife behind a closed door and no one ever knows about it, or worse, everyone does but can’t or won’t do anything in response. As a people, we are complicit in violence against the earth itself every time we wear mass-produced clothing, eat Roundup-treated produce shipped by a truck, or run tap water through a 60-year-old lead pipe, use a car, plug in a refrigerator, or heat our homes. It is the way the world has been arranged for us and for as long as there is a planet hosting us, it is the inheritance our species will pass to the subsequent generations that follow our path, either blindly or conscious of their own shame.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe these things or not. Glaciers fall into water. People die. Life proceeds until it doesn’t. And violence was by no means invented by America, though American gun culture, as Revvnant‘s Elias Schutzman examines in the new single “Automatic,” does seem to be something that, at least for now, is particular to the national character. In the “Automatic” video, drone-wave undulations of riff and far-back dream-style vocals are set to footage of firearms being shot and various other portrayals of violence throughout culture, some insidious — televangelist preachers knocking people over to heal them, snakedancers, Charlie Manson, etc. — some subtle like the staring eyes of Bill Cosby selling Coke, Burt Reynolds smacking Marc Summers from Double Dare on The Tonight Show, and so on. But the visual hook is guns, and the focus is guns. Schutzman, formerly the drummer of The Flying Eyes and currently also in Black Lung, is hardly the first to tackle the subject, but the means through which he and Christopher Stone and Dave Gibson — who made the video — use it to tie the various sides together into a single description/perspective is clever and no less hypnotic than the song, which sets its trance around the refrain, “You’d better pray that god is really dead.”

So be it.

Revvnant, which also features Trevor Shipley (who worked with both The Flying Eyes and Black Lung in the past) alongside Schutzman, are donating proceeds from this debut single to the March for Our Lives via their Bandcamp, and there are far worse ways you could spend your money. Like on a gun. Or a snake.

Video and info follow:

Revvnant, “Automatic” official video

Elias Schutzman on “Automatic”:

“Automatic” is my livid critique of American gun culture, the epidemic of mass shootings, and the profiteers who lobby to keep the system in place. It’s just one of the many viruses that have infected our society. People have an almost erotic obsession with their firearms. Many will claim it’s for safety, when the hard facts show owning a gun makes you statistically less safe. I think it’s really about a false sense of power, when you feel powerless about everything else in life. And after every mass murder, gun sales go up, and masters of this bloody industry get richer…”

Video created by Christopher Stone and Dave Gibson

Buy the single here: https://revvnant.bandcamp.com/track/automatic
All proceeds will be donated to March For Our Lives (marchforourlives.com).

Lyrics:
“Words carry disease
Murder feeds families
God killed himself from shame

You’d better pray
That god is really dead

All hearts flirt with insanity
Tools of men worshipped so easily
Auto-erotic war machines
Breed violence, a quest for infamy

You’d better pray
That god is really dead

Where do we place the blame?
Evil, a flawed society?
Or masters of blood and industry?

You’d better pray
That god is really dead.”

Revvnant is Elias Schutzman (Vocals, Synthesizers, Programming), with Trevor Shipley on guitar.

Mixed by Mickey Freeland
Mastered by Alan Douches

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Electric Feat Premiere “The Caveman” Video; Self-Titled Debut out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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Greek heavy garage rockers Electric Feat release their self-titled debut on Feb. 24 through Inner Ear Records. Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all well and good. Fine. It’s a record. Why do you care? You care because their new video for “The Caveman” takes Terry Gilliam-style animation to a story about Rasputin assassinating the Romanovs and subsequently being chased down and murdered by a zombie Anastasia. You care because songs like “Leather Jacket” and “Song of Disobedience” effortlessly channel ’70s swing and proto-doom vibes without actually tipping over the line of retroism. You care because the Athens four-piece are yet another example of the absolute boom happening in the underground in Greece right now. You care because you’re not a fucking philistine. Do I need to go on?

electric feat electric featThe album runs 10 tracks and 36 mostly-fuzzed minutes but has room in there for some psychedelic flash and punkier purpose in a song like “Blackwood Secrecy.” “Fogdancing” is straight-up funk doom ahead of the five-minute HumblePie-doing-Sab-worship closer “Bring Something from the Night,” but they never quite let go of the sense of rawness that opener “It’s Alright (With You)” puts forth, classic in its foundation and even in their darkest moment, which might be the crashing “Son of Evil,” there’s still a feeling of the good times that the surrounding context offers, whether that’s the shuffle of second track “Lizard Queen” or “The Caveman” itself with its echo-laced boogie, catchy guitar and shift into fuller-toned chase past the halfway mark. Like the first line of that song says, “Save the pretense for the other side.” That’s pretty much what Electric Feat do on both sides of the album, so good luck finding the pretense.

Be it the rolling “Leather Jacket” that caps the record’s first half or “Bring Something from the Night” that ends the album as a whole, Electric Feat neglect nothing when it comes to vitality of their approach, and the deftness with which they’re able to turn from boogie to doom and back again is tied together cleverly through the barebones production and the energetic captured performance that stands up to it. Look. I’ve given you reasons to care, and I’ll tell you flat out that I’ve gone ahead and put the self-titled on my ongoing list of the year’s best debut albums, so if you want to get on board, it’s up to you. But if you don’t, it’s your loss. For me, I’m just happy to have found a new band to keep up with because this shit is righteous and there isn’t a day goes by that isn’t made better by quality rock and roll.

Album’s out Monday. Video follows, so please enjoy. It’s the best one I’ve seen in a while.

Go fullscreen with it:

Electric Feat, “The Caveman” official video premiere

Electric Feat, the fairly new hard rockin’ quartet from Athens, Greece share new track and video ahead of self-titled debut record out February 24 (pressed on 180-gram vinyl) via Inner Ear Records. “The Caveman” is the third offering from Electric Feat’s record, following previously released “Lizard Queen” and “Leather Jacket”. The video made by DaDive Studio.

Preorder here: https://orcd.co/electricfeat

Rock is dead, so let’s go dancing in its ashes.

No more, no less, this is Electric Feat’s first set of songs, recorded (almost live) at the cozy Diskex studio, with Sergios Voudris’ invaluable assistance.

A hard rocking love child, with psychedelic, proto-metal and heavy blues flourishes by four geekish, local pub friends: Dr. Nanos, Madam Manthos, Prins Obi and The Tree. From the Alice Cooper-ian ‘It’s Alright (With You)’ to the elegiac, Cream-gone-evil ‘Bring Something from the Night’, “Electric Feat” is a winter rite that demands to be played loud. Long live Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Electric Feat are:
Dionysis Nanos (Dr. Nanos), guitar
Themos Ragousis (Madam Manthos), bass
Georgios Dimakis (Prins Obi), vocals, percussion
Kostas Stergiou (The Tree), drums, percussion

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