Posted in Features on December 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. The Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll is now open! Submit your list of your favorite records from this year using the form below, and at the end of the month, the results will be counted up and a final, overall Top 20 will be had!
There are no restrictions on bands, genres, types of albums, vinyl-only, tape-only, whatever. Anything you want to put on your list, whatever you feel deserves your vote, is welcome. We’re doing things a little different this year in that all the lists will be published along with the results of the Top 20, so that everyone’s picks, however obscure or whatever they might be, can be seen and enjoyed by everybody when the time comes.
The polling is also different in that where an album is placed on your list counts too, not just the raw votes. It requires more math, but it’s for a good cause and should hopefully make the final tally even more accurate.
Fill our your picks below, click Submit, and you’re good to go. Happy voting:
As is more or less the case with this whole site, the 2013 Readers Poll wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and coding brilliance of Slevin. It’s his database and his design for the polling itself, and without it, I’d be using an abacus to tabulate results. If you see him at the bar, please buy him a beer and give him a hearty “Thank you sir.”
Posted in Features on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The track “Behind the Light” on Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, paints a fairly grim picture. Lyrics like, “It’s so insane to be alone/With all the time I gave away,” fit neatly with the classic rock and roll notion of the weary traveler, the artist who, having given up what commonly passes for a normal existence for his craft, wonders what could’ve been. With as much time as the Portland, Oregon, four-piece spent on the road supporting their 2011 sophomore outing and Chris Funk-produced Relapse Records label debut, Murder the Mountains (review here), no doubt the band has had some opportunity to stew on it, and for being known essentially for a party atmosphere and ridiculously catchy songs like “Wires” from the last album or “Prehistoric Dog” from their 2008 self-titled debut — they have a propensity for putting the hooks up front, and “Blood Like Cream” from the latest continues the trend — “Behind the Light” presents something of a departure in atmosphere.
It’s the centerpiece and emotional low of Whales and Leeches, which the band returned to Funk to produce after what seems to have been a hurried songwriting process — deadlines to meet — and it’s followed by the record’s greatest triumph, “Dawn Rising,” on which YOB‘s Mike Scheidt guests on vocals alongside Red Fang bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam. Though “1516″ provides some of his best tradeoffs to date with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, Beam is featured more prominently throughout Whales and Leechesthan anything Red Fang has done up till now, and his voice — in a somewhat cleaner approach than Giles‘ shouts — stands up to the dynamic both with the guitarist and within the emotionality of his own presentation, be it “Behind the Light,” the driving forward thrust of “Voices of the Dead” or the semi-psychedelic capstone(r) “Every Little Twist.” Of course, it’s the versatility of Beam, Giles, guitarist/vocalist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman at the core of what gives Red Fang their personality. The difference this time appears to have been that Beam stepped forward to meet the challenge of the rush to put the album together.
So be it. If Red Fang were in a hurry, at least it was for a good cause. They took a break from songwriting to play Soundwave in Australia earlier this year, and have already toured the West Coast in support of Whales and Leeches with East Coast dates to follow next month and Europe in 2014 continuing a road-dog touring cycle that hardly seems to have stopped at all since before Murder the Mountainswas released. Turn around and he’s Red Fang with another three weeks’ worth of dates in one region or another. At least thus far, it’s much the same for Whales and Leeches, and in talking to Beam about the album, I was interested to get a notion from him of where he thought it was all heading and what his vision of “success” was for the band. Particularly as he’s emerged in this material — not quite to a frontman role, but not far from it — I was curious to see where he felt it’s all been leading, what it is keeping them moving forward other than the obvious need to sell shirts on tour.
When we spoke, Beam was in New York City to do East Coast press. He’d flown in overnight from Portland and you could hear in his voice that specific I’ve-recently-been-in-an-airport exhaustion. Nonetheless, he spoke not only about his and the band’s motivations, but about the construction and recording of Whales and Leeches, his growing comfort as a singer, the prospect of spending most of 2014 on tour, and much more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Features on November 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It happened at the start of last month that there was a Tuesday during which I was so overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the releases available that I had no choice but to present a rundown of all of them. No choice. You would ask, “Couldn’t you just –” and I would cut you off to say, “No I couldn’t.” It had to be all of them.
So it is today. Last night, Young Hunter posted a new EP, and Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson released a new folk/Americana solo outing, and today has been more or less an onslaught of “out today!” and “don’t miss it!” and so on. Well, I’ve whittled what I’m sure is an incomplete list down to seven brand new releases currently available for download. Some of them — like the Stone Machine Electric and Tanner Olson — are pay-what-you-will, but even those asking for a cash deposit should prove well worth the investment. You can always get a sampling beforehand, and I’ve included players below to facilitate.
Here we go:
1. Black Skies, Circadian Meditations
This one’s a gem. The North Carolina duo of guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark and bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple teamed up with Caltrop drummer John Crouch and the result is a more patient collection and exploratory feel than that which reared itself on 2011′s On the Wings of Timedebut. Progressive but not pretentious, atmospheric but not letting go of its rocking side, it’s an album that begs for multiple listens and satisfies even more with them. Both Clark and Temple come off as more confident on vocals, and extended bookends “Lifeblood” (the 10-minute opener) and “The Dusk/Invisible Figures” (the nine-minute closer) showcase a burgeoning affinity for heavy psych mindgaming. It’s as much fun as it is a journey. Get it here.
Black Skies, Circadian Meditations (2013)
2. T.G. Olson, The Bad Lands to Cross
If you haven’t yet started to obsessively keep tabs on the Across Tundras/T.G. Olson Bandcamp page, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Olson is a prolific and experimental songwriter, and as much as he works in the traditional forms of country twang and Americana spaciousness, so too does he bend those elements to the will of his material. His latest outing, The Bad Lands to Cross, is a relic waiting to be unearthed. Recorded live with one Shure SM57 microphone, it’s an hour long collection as prone to beauty as tragedy, songs like “Return from the Brink” hovering somewhere between the canyon sides of the anxious and secure. He sings, which he doesn’t on all of his solo releases (see The Complete Blood Meridian for Electric Drone Guitar), and one might consider The Bad Lands to Cross a spiritual companion to Across Tundras‘ 2013 outing, Electric Relics(review here), but it more than stands on its own, whether it’s the minimalist folk of “Rarefied Blue” or the harmonica-laden melancholy of the Gene Clark cover, “Some Misunderstanding.” Get it here.
T.G. Olson, The Bad Lands to Cross (2013)
3. Sandrider, Godhead
Sandrider are the antidote to stagnation. Their second album for Good to Die Records, Godhead (review here), pummels with reckless glee and abandon, but don’t let that lead you to believe it isn’t also precise. The post-Akimbo three-piece of drummer Nat Damm, guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski and bassist/vocalist Jesse Roberts returned to Matt Bayles to record the follow-up of their clarion 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and the continued partnership found Sandrider all the more gnarly and aggressive, but also with a development in their melodic sensibility to match. Songs like the opener “Ruiner” and punkish “Champions” are an unabashed good time — get loaded and call them “epic” — and cuts like “Godhead” and the closer “Traveler” work in more complex terrain, showing the dynamic at work between all three members of the band, each of whom proves essential in crafting the atmosphere of the whole. Listen to it for a party or for thinky-thinky bludgeoning. Either way you don’t lose. Also available on gatefold vinyl. Get it here.
Sandrider, Godhead (2013)
4. Second Grave, Antithesis
They call it an EP, but it eats like a full-length. Fronted by former Warhorse guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder and featuring Black Pyramid/The Scimitar bassist Dave Gein along with guitarist Chris Drzal and drummer Chuck Ferreira, Second Grave revel in doomed atmospheres and heavy metal stoicism. Their AntithesisEP follows last year’s self-titled debut outing (review here) and over the course of its two tracks, “Mourning Light” (6:37) and “Drink the Water” (11:41), it showcases what’s working in the band’s quickly solidifying approach, whether it’s the solo and riff interplay of the two guitars, undulating heavy grooves in the bass and drums, or van Guilder‘s propensity for throwing in ripping screams along with her melodic clean singing. The more rocking “Mourning Light” and “Drink the Water” play out the duality shown on the Cory John Heisson artwork, and recording by Black Pyramid‘s Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and a mastering job from Revelation‘s John Brenner wrap Antithesisup as a doom metaller’s delight in style and affiliation. Get it here.
Second Grave, Antithesis (2013)
5. Stone Machine Electric, 2013.02.07
When Arlington, Texas, riffers Stone Machine Electric released their self-titled full-length (review here) in January 2013, they had recently added third member Mark Cook on Warr guitar. Cook didn’t appear on that album, which was produced by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump, and is seemingly since out of the band, but was on board alongside guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer Kitchens for this recorded show, which as the title would indicate was taped on Feb. 7, 2013. They were at The Grotto that night in Ft. Worth, and they played a considerable set. 2013.02.07clocks in at 53 minutes, and extended pieces like “Carve” and “No/W/Here” give the trio plenty of space to jam out. Naturally, they take advantage, and though the lineup was new and the recording is rough, what purports to be the first in a series of free live albums from Stone Machine Electric seems to come as a document of an already bygone moment. One hopes their lineup issues get sorted soon one way or another so they can follow 2013.02.07 and the self-titled in good time. Get it here.
Stone Machine Electric, 2013.02.07 (2013)
6. Summoner, Atlantian
Didn’t I just write about this album? Well yes, yes I did. Summoner‘s second offering under the moniker and third overall, Atlantian (released by Magnetic Eye Records), is an ambitious and unrepentantly proggy heavy rock record. You’ll find some riffy thrust on “Horns of War,” but notice that they lead with “The Gatekeeper,” a track which couples its big-bigger-biggest plod with some of Summoner‘s most accomplished melodicism to date. Atmospheric explorations like “Changing Tides” (presumably the end of side A on the vinyl) and peaceful closer “Taken by the Sea” show the Boston foursome branching out beyond the reaches even of 2012′s Phoenix, and while the crushing progressions of “Into the Abyss” and the forward rush of “The Prophecy” offer contrast to these sleepier stretches — too substantial and precariously placed to be interludes — the full-album flow that runs across Atlantiandemonstrates in no uncertain terms just how far Summoner have come since starting out as Riff Cannon with 2009′s Mercury Mountain. Get it here.
Summoner, Atlantian (2013)
7. Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
With no more ceremony than a quick, “Hey this is out now,” Young Hunter casually released a three-song follow-up to their wildly impressive 2012 full-length, Stone Tools (discussed here). I’ve gone back to that album often since I first heard it, and Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainis a terrifyingly solid answer to the formative work the doubly-drummed seven-piece did on their debut, whether it’s the mountain gothic stomp of “Welcome to Nothing” or spacious sway of the ensuing “Trail of Tears,” which is dark and otherworldly but tied to the cold clarity of a desert night all the same, picking up in its second half to a joyous guitar-led ritualizing that legitimately earns a Neurosis comparison more than most of what gets compared to Neurosis these days. Rounding out with the moody, percussion-led “Dreamer,” Young Hunter showcase a bit of drama to go with the intensity presented elsewhere, launching into full-bore thickness and fervent, desperate shouts. Someone needs to sign this band immediately. Tee Pee? Hell, Neurot? Someone’s gotta step up. This is too good. Reportedly a new lineup is in construction as guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Blake (and maybe others) has relocated from Arizona to Portland, Oregon (of course), and these tracks will be used as part of a split tape with Ohioan, but they’re free now, so go to. Get it here.
Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain (2013)
Happy listening. If there’s anything I missed, please let me know in the comments.
Posted in Features on November 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Over the last couple weeks, we’ve started to see word come down of releases coming in the early part of the New Year. Standard stuff — it’s only about seven weeks away. But it’s got me thinking that in addition to the records that we know are coming in 2014, there are a whole lot more I’d like to see.
This list isn’t every band I’d like to have put something out in 2014, but it’s bands who’d have to reunite to do it.
Think of some of the reunions we’ve seen over the last few years — Sleep, Saint Vitus, Kyuss (kinda), Pentagram — amazing, legendary bands who’ve come back together for shows and/or albums. All day the PR wire sends along word of upcoming output. I’ve got no inside track on any of these, so don’t quote me on what’s just good-time speculation, but here are a few on my wishlist, just for fun:
Yeah, this was a no-brainer. I said the same thing back at the end of 2012 — that Sleep should get on putting out a new album. Well, it didn’t happen this year, and I don’t think they played more than a couple shows as High on Fire and Om continued their successful runs in support of 2012 outings, but Sleep have songs like “Antarticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” that have never had studio recordings, and golly, it sure would be nice. It’d just about make my damn day. Also year.
How likely is it?
Could go either way, really. Matt Pike, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder seem to enjoy doing live shows as Sleep. Whether that translates to studio productivity and songwriting is an entirely different matter.
2. Spirit Caravan
This one’s been talked about for a couple years now. In 2010, former Spirit Caravan bassist and current Earthride/Weed is Weed frontman Dave Sherman said in an interview here it was a go, and it never materialized. Rumors have started to come around again, and the fact that Sherman and former Spirit Caravan drummer Gary Isom are working together in Weed is Weed bodes well, but guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich is plenty busy these days, with the ongoing Saint Vitus and The Obsessed reunions. Maybe he’s all reunioned out.
How likely is it?
Not very, at least for the time being. That both The Obsessed and Vitus have gotten back together means never say never, but unless there’s a big sudden hole in Wino‘s schedule, I wouldn’t count on it.
I still haven’t forgiven that Icelandic volcano for forcing me to miss Goatsnake at Roadburn in 2010. Some might think it’s silly to hold a grudge against a geological formation, but I say it’s animosity well earned. Goatsnake have done intermittent shows the last several years — less even than Sleep – as guitarist Greg Anderson continues to explore various forms of heavy with his label, Southern Lord Recordings, and contribute guitar to other projects along the way. While we’re fantasizing, though, let’s get Scott Reeder in on bass again.
How likely is it?
Given Southern Lord’s current hardcore fetish and having shirked off most of its riff-heavy acts over the last couple years, interest is probably pretty low on their part. Too bad. At this point, I’d even take a new SunnO))).
Fucking hell. I haven’t been able to go a day since I moved to New England — more than three months ago now — without thinking about New Hampshire’s proudest sons, Scissorfight. If they came out today, they’d be huge. As it was, they were about six years ahead of their time, and while I’m glad I got to see them play more than once, it would be amazing to have them stomp their way back and get the recognition they deserve. To put all the old albums back out on vinyl and top it off with a new one would most certainly be putting the fucking hammer down.
How likely is it?
Guitarist Jay Fortin (also an insanely talented photographer) and bassist Paul Jarvis can currently be found grooving in Supermachine. Scissorfight digitally released a greatest hits collection in 2012 though, so you never know.
The Swedish stoner pioneers started playing shows again this year, so the reunion is fresh. Why not strike while that iron is hot, get in the studio and surprise everyone with the first Lowrider album since 2000′s land-fucking-mark Ode to Io? I don’t have an answer to that question, because from where I sit and from what I saw at Desertfest in London earlier this year, Lowrider are a vital act who hardly seemed like they were gonna one-and-done it on getting back together. I’ve got my fingers crossed and until I get a reason to uncross them, they’re going to stay that way. It makes typing uncomfortable.
How likely is it?
Actually, of all the reunions on this list that have and haven’t happened, a new Lowrider record in 2014 seems to be the likeliest possibility. If it’s any kind of tell, the photo above was taken recently.
When was the last time you heard from Nebula? Was it the band “taking a break” and canceling their appearances at SXSW in 2010? Yeah, me too. Bummer, since their last album, 2009′s Heavy Psych(review here), was so chock full of vigor. That record boasted a new Nebula lineup around guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass, and with Tee Pee behind them, it seemed like they were full speed ahead. Obviously it didn’t pan out that way or they wouldn’t be on this list. What would a new album bring? Hopefully a shit-ton of wah. Beyond that, wherever they wanted to go is fine by me.
How likely is it?
Doesn’t seem unreasonable to think Glass would get Nebula going again eventually, though with bassist Tom Davies currently in The Freeks and drummer Rob Oswald apparently living on the East Coast, it might require yet another lineup.
Such as it is, honorable mention goes to Dozer (who I didn’t include here because I’m so hopeful it’ll happen I’ve convinced myself it’s already in progress), Eyehategod (who’ve toured new material for years and will probably have an album out eventually), Sungrazer (yeah, I know they just broke up, but I’m still bummed about it) and Bongzilla (which would be cool, but I think I’d almost rather a debut Aquilonian LP), Norrsken (imagine Graveyard and Witchcraft members reclaiming the retro rock throne!) and probably 10 or 12 others.
Posted in Features on November 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
On the off-chance that I’m lucky enough to attend the 2014 Roadburn, it will be my sixth. I cannot and will not claim to have been there when the annual festival — held at the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands, each April — “took off,” nor will I attempt to speak to its history, but having been fortunate enough to witness the five in a row that I have, and having watched over the last couple months as the 2014 lineup has come together, I’ve come to think about the fest differently over that time.
I remember being lost my first trip to Tilburg, staying at the Hotel Ibis in 2009, taking the bus over to the venue, and back, having dinner and copious drinks at the outside tables of Weirdo Canyon, learning how to properly pronounce “Duvel” — emphasis on the first syllable not the second; like “drivel,” but delicious — and having no idea how to get from the Green Room to what was then the Bat Cave and has since been renamed Stage01. The ins and outs of the 013 were somewhat familiar by the end of the fest, but in the years since, I’ve come to think of them the way someone of faith might imagine a pilgrimage destination. Sacred space. A place that helps make you who you are.
Maybe religious terms are the right ones for it, since if I’ve “drunk the Kool Aid” for anything in the last half-decade, it’s Roadburn. I’m a fan. Whether it’s seeing the humble and exhausted awe of festival figurehead Walter Hoeijmakers throughout each weekend as he seems in perpetual amazement of what’s happening in front of and around him — the sold-out crowd a given each year, the physical pressure in any of the 013‘s rooms or in the converted church Het Patronaat dependent on who happens to be on stage at the time, but probably a factor no matter who it is — or having seen sets there from the Born too Lateera lineup of Saint Vitus and so many others I never imagined I would see, whether it’s Godflesh, or Church of Misery, or Electric Wizard, or the collaborations, album performances, all recorded, all documented, whatever it might be that speaks to the extra effort that goes into making Roadburn something special even within the righteous sphere of European festivals. For the incomprehensible dedication alone, it’s hard to think of it in any context other than the supernatural. Perhaps in part because of the travel involved and the immersion into a culture other than mine (at least when I’m outside 013; when there I feel more in my own culture than when I actually am), it is an otherworldly experience.
That was true in 2009 and up to 2013, but of course that context changes, doesn’t it? It has to. The venue becomes familiar. The trains to get there become familiar. The walk from the Tilburg station to the hotel. I know which restaurant in Weirdo Canyon has the good breakfast special and which back door in what room of the 013 leads where. In the time that I’ve been aware of its presence in the European underground sphere, Roadburn has grown immensely in reputation, and rightly so. While I may have acclimated to its methods, I nonetheless remain astounded by them. Perhaps all the more so because I’ve seen it happen over this span.
The way I think about Roadburn is like any creative project. It has evolved. What started based around a specific idea of supporting heavy and/or stoner rock has grown into something else, and by “grown,” I don’t just mean ticket sales. It is a creative progression, like one would see in any artist, like one sees all the time in bands. This evolution has happened organically, but it has also reached in multiple directions. Like octopus arms, Roadburn‘s spectrum has stretched into multiple spheres, so that it’s not unreasonable that what might seem like the incongruities of a Mikael Åkerfeldt curation, or Loop and Triptykon sharing a stage, and of Napalm Death compiling a special set exclusively for the fest are not only accepted, they’re near expected. Approaching 2014, Roadburn is like any genre-bridging work. It teaches you how to read it. It is the festival, the experience, as art.
It would be a cliche to say you can’t know if you haven’t been there, and while on some level it’s true as it is of anything, even those who’ve yet to make the pilgrimage or who may not be interested in doing so can be affected by its influence, whether it’s someone else of similar mind following in Roadburn‘s footsteps, or an artist finding inspiration somehow in that weekend as many have, up to and including Enslaved. To understand there’s nothing else like Roadburn is one thing. To breathe that air — no easy task by the end of a Saturday night, perhaps, but worthwhile to feel alive — is something else entirely. It is a singular vibe, and no matter who takes up that influence, their work is inherently derived from it.
The first time I heard of Loop, I was in an Austin, Texas, hotel room, sharing it with a publicist whose level of offense that I’d never listened to the band bordered on the personal. One might look at the progression of having related acts like Jesu and Godflesh, not to mention Loop‘s own Robert Hampson play solo at Roadburn in years past as an example of the continued creative expansion of the fest itself. The chance to see them now, to be there, crowded in the photo pit and to then march with my stupidly oversized camera bag back to my hotel room and spend the whole night, from about midnight until after the sun is up, typing about it, only to crash out and then get up the next afternoon, shower and immediately head back to the 013 — no time for food, barely time for coffee — to watch YOB and The Heads at the Sunday Afterburner, tired, dead on my feet by then but still fucking there, is something I live in fear of missing.
I want to see that next stage in the process, to find out how the psychedelic fetish that has resulted in a live Papermoon performance, in The Heads playing with John McBain, in Carlton Melton and Sula Bassana meshes with the destructive onslaughts of Windhand, Inter Arma, Sourvein, Conan and Lord Dying. I want to discover The Great Old Ones and see Gozu and Freedom Hawk triumph like I watched Wo Fat this year. I want to be able to spend all of 2014 saying, “It was better at Roadburn,” like I’ve done for the last five years; one reality condescending to another outside of itself. I want to see the people I’ve met and all the familiar faces of the regulars there year after year. I want to worship again.
Posted in Features on November 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
“…Between conviction and creation…”
Don’t be surprised when year-end-list time rolls around next month and Beelzefuzz‘s self-titled The Church Within Records debut is in my top 10. The eight-song collection has become a near constant in both my mental jukebox and actual listening rotation. Most mornings since the album’s August release, I’ve woken up with the chorus to “All the Feeling Returns” stuck in my head, and putting the track on only seems to exacerbate it. If the song wasn’t so good, I might seek some kind of professional help.
Beelzefuzz are a relatively recent advent. Their first demo began to circulate in 2011 and I was tipped off to check them out by Clamfight guitarist Sean McKee. Car troubles stunted a nonetheless engaging performance at Days of the Doomed II in Wisconsin last year, and after their sets at Stoner Hands of Doom XII a year ago in Connecticut, The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 in Delaware earlier in 2013 and again in Wisconsin at Days of the Doomed III, it slowly (always slowly) started to dawn on me just how individualized their brand of progressive doom is. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt, bassist Pug Kirby and drummer Darin McCloskey (also of Pale Divine) recorded Beelzefuzz(review here) with the venerable Chris Kozlowski – noted for his work with Blue Cheer, Pentagram, and many, many others — and the result could easily prove over time to be a classic of Maryland-style doom.
That sounds like hyperbole, and of course what catches on that level depends on more than just the quality of the songs themselves, but that quality is there, and in a scene that prides itself on traditionalism, Beelzefuzz have been able to not only convey sonic loyalism, but to gracefully expand the breadth of the doom they’re creating, whether it’s the harmonies Ortt brings vocally to the space thematic of “Lunar Blanco,” the general smoothness of the production — it remains both deep and weighted tonally — or the flow honed over the course of the album’s 37 minutes, Beelzefuzz not only show potential for where future progression might lead them, but as songs like “Hypnotize,” the aforementioned “All the Feeling Returns,” “Reborn” and the stomping “Lonely Creatures” demonstrate, there’s already significant capacity for accomplishment in the band’s aesthetic and songwriting method. They are sonically adventurous — as the guitar-as-organ effects and live vocal multitracking will attest — patient when they need to be, and only in danger of getting stronger over time.
Keeping good company with Pale Divine, Admiral Browning, Backwoods Payback, Valkyrie, Wasted Theory and others, Beelzefuzz will play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII this coming Saturday, Nov. 9, at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia. Ortt took some time out to discuss this fest, the situation with Brendan Burns of The Eye of the Stoned Goat stepping in in place of promoters Rob and Cheryl Levey, as well as their pending appearance next week in Germany at the Hammer of Doom festival on Nov. 16, playing alongside While Heaven Wept, Orchid, Jex Thoth, and writing and recording the album itself.
It’s a rather formidable group of bands playing Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, and I won’t lie, part of the reason I wanted to do this “10 Days of SHoD XIII” series was because of the drama that surrounds this year’s fest. Early last month, founder and promoter Rob Levey bowed out of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, saying simply that his heart wasn’t in it anymore. Understandable. Levey‘s work at the head of SHoD has gone unnoticed and underappreciated for more than a decade; some measure of burnout is not only expected but damn near mandatory. It was the timing of it, with bands and venue booked, tours in place and all systems go about a month before the event itself, that created such a stir. If Levey had said in May he didn’t want to do it anymore, I don’t think anyone would have been able to argue he should keep going in what for years has been a passion-driven endeavor.
Neither is this the first time Stoner Hands of Doom has called it quits. Between 2010 and 2012, it looked like the festival — which over the years has taken place in Ohio, Arizona, Germany, Oregon, Maryland, and so on — was done for. Last year’s fest in New London, Connecticut, was killer but poorly attended. Richmond, Virginia, where SHoD XIII will take place at Strange Matter from Nov. 7-10, is home to a slew of creative heavy acts, from Valkyrie to Lord and many more on the bill, and I assume it was Levey‘s hope that by delving into the local scene, the festival would be able to capitalize on a grassroots, word-of-mouth kind of promotion from the bands. Whether or not that happened, I don’t know. I don’t have numbers on ticket sales, but the fact of the matter is I think SHoD, both with its history and its impending lineup for this coming weekend, is a cause worth supporting in any way I can. Obviously Brendan Burns of The Eye of the StonedGoat,who stepped in to take Levey‘s place as the promoter, felt similarly. However things turn out, his efforts are to be commended.
I won’t be traveling to Virginia this weekend, contrary to my initial plans, and we close out the series tomorrow with an interview with Beelzefuzz guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt, but I just wanted to get one more plug in for what I feel is a perfect example of some of the best in doom’s motivations. If this is or isn’t the final installment of Stoner Hands of Doom, it will have lived and died as a festival put on out of love for music and the community of people making it. Long live SHoD.
Posted in Features on November 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Richmond natives Gritter have been banging around abrasive sludge metal since they started out as Rube with the Angry at the Missus EP in 2009 (review here). That record worked within some engaging-if-familiar sludge methods, but it was clear Gritter had outgrown even a year later when they switched monikers and put out the Vince Burke-recorded Sour Mash and Spanish MossLP (review here). Likewise, it seems their 2013 six-song EP, Welcome to the Sinkhole, put to tape by Kevin Willoughby, is another jump in approach, if not in the band’s actual name, taking cues less from underground sludge and more in the modern Southern metal of Lamb of God on songs like “Black Teeth” and “Welcome to the Sinkhole” itself. If it seems like a fine line, there are times where it is, but because most of Welcome to the Sinkholekeeps an upbeat push to its chugging riffs and because vocalist Ryan Kent has dialed back some of his Phil Anselmo-isms, Gritter emerge from their latest outing sounding their most individualized yet. Also metal. Very, very metal.
I have yet to post something about this band — Kent on vocals, Adam Kravitz on guitar, Justin Wolz on bass and Kevin White on drums — and not have someone they’ve rubbed the wrong way chime in about it (you can check the comments on past reviews for proof if you’d like), but I think there’s something to be said for an act who elicit a strong response one way or another, and it’s hard not to have an opinion listening to Welcome to the Sinkhole. Superficially, the elements at work are familiar, but to dig below the surface of a song like “Sayonara” is to reveal something not only ably structured in terms of its verse and chorus progression, but a thick, professionally-presented groove. Kent‘s balance of screams and cleaner singing adds drive to the arrangements throughout, whether it’s propelling the adrenaline of “Bowie” or adding just a touch of melody to the early verses in “Sayonara,” and the music behind him is no less thoughtfully constructed. I’m not sure where the animosity comes from, but there are a whole lot of bands out there working from a similar base of influence as Gritter on Welcome to the Sinkholewho don’t put as much of themselves into their songs as these guys seem to do.
The penultimate instrumental “Sea of Trees” makes a well-placed change of pace after four pummelers in a row, and a linear build not only showcases the foursome’s ability to work in more than verse/chorus songwriting, but provides a lead-in to the resurgent aggression of closer “Drunk Tank,” also the longest song on Welcome to the Sinkhole at 5:51, the extra time dedicated to a stretch of this-is-the-mosh-part riffing and a final slowdown that only makes the chugging more vicious and which Kent can’t seem to help himself from topping with like-minded screams and venomous spitting. Can’t say I blame him. Gritter‘s sound is less burly than some, but lacks nothing for chestbeating, and with the crisp production and clear intent toward Southern metal brutality, they’re just about asking for every scream they get. After three years since their last release, they’re almost frighteningly mature on Welcome to the Sinkhole, and whatever attention they’re able to glean from it is attention earned more or less by a punch in the face. Something tells me these guys are alright with pissing people off.
Gritter play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII on Thursday, Nov. 7, at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, sharing the bill that night with Clamfight, Druglord, Compel, Pillbuster and more. Welcome to the Sinkholewas released in July in a variety of vinyl editions — black and red swirl, white with black swirl, lavender with black swirl — as well as on CD and download, all of which (except for some of the vinyl, which is sold out) are available from the band via Bandcamp, from whence I also nabbed the player with the album below:
Posted in Features on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
For most who will play and/or attend Stoner Hands of Doom XIII next week (Nov. 7-10) at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, the trip is something that starts next week, but for Oklahoma natives Oberon and Grel, it’s SHoD season already. The two groups have teamed up for what they’ve dubbed the “Star Stuff” tour — they even had laminates made of the Adam Burke poster art — and they’ll begin tonight at the Railhead Saloon in their native state, gradually making their way to Virginia over the course of the next week to play on Saturday, Nov. 9, with Beelzefuzz, Backwoods Payback, Valkyrie, Admiral Browning and many more.
Rivaled only by Kin of Ettins, who are coming from Dallas, Oberon and Grel will be making the longest trek to get to Strange Matter. I posted the dates here when they were first announced, and Grel were written up earlier this year for their 2012 Red Sun GodEP following their name change from Deadweight, but considering the extra mile(s) the two bands are going to in order to play SHoD, it only seemed fitting to highlight their material again for anyone who may not have encountered them yet.
“Progressive stoner” is a hard one to pull off. While heavy rock has its technical side, that mostly comes in drum fills and solos, and those who’d push structural bounds usually come face to face with a defiance of the traditional adherence to classic methods that rests at the genre’s core. That concern seems to hold little sway for the double-guitar foursome Oberon, who released their debut EP, Through Space, We Ride, last year on Crew Dawg Records. And rather than fall in with the post-Mastodon multitudes, they harness a more metallic end of prog on centerpiece “Phobos,” with guitarist/vocalist DJ Bryant establishing a distinct singing approach as the song plays out.
With keyboards adding melody to their two-guitar approach, Grel come across as basking in many of the heavy rock classicisms that Oberon seem to be purposefully avoiding on their Red Sun God EP. Rife with bluesy groove, strong rhythms and flourishes of psychedelia, the Lawton five-piece stay grounded and don’t lose themselves either in earthy punch or cosmic indulgence, but find a balance between the two that takes a garage-rock Deep Purple and gives a modern edge. They’re reportedly got new material in the works, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw a more recent song or two in the set with “Stone Frog” and “Lady” from Red Sun God.
Grel, Red Sun God EP (2012)
Oberon and Grel on tour:
11/1 Lawton, OK @ Railhead Saloon w/ Juju Beans
11/2 Kansas City, MO @ Daveys Uptown w/ Hossferatu & Merlin
11/3 Chicago, IL @ Livewire Lounge w/ Marmora
11/4 Colombus, OH @ The Trees Bar
11/5 Northampton, MA @ The Elevens w/ Titanis & Scimitar
11/6 Boston, MA @ PA’s Lounge
11/7 Philadelphia, PA @ JR’s Bar
11/9 Richmond, VA Stoner Hands of Doom XIII
Posted in Features on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
After making their Relapse debut earlier this year with the Reflection of the Negative split with fellow Richmond, Virginia, natives Cough, ultra-doomed five-piece Windhand unleashed Soma (review here), their sophomore full-length behind a 2012 self-titled (streamed here). At 75 minutes long, it’s a formidable undertaking before you even get to the dark sensibilities the band proffers throughout in songs like “Woodbine,” the sprawling “Cassock” or half-hour-long closer “Boleskine,” varying in intensity and tension while toying with a grueling pace throughout, expanding beyond the relatively straightforward riff-led approach of the first album and into atmospherics that make Somaall the more individualized.
Windhand toured heavily for the first LP, which was released on ForcefieldRecords,and seem already to be keeping the ethic intact in support of Soma. Already they spent September into early October going coast-to-coast on a full US tour. Tonight, Nov. 1, they begin a run of dates in Europe alongside Pilgrim that will go for more than three weeks, and upon their return to the States, they’ll pick up five days later and do the West Coast and Canada along with Kvelertak and High on Fire. Both runs are a continuation of the momentum Windhand has established through consistent road-time, and the new album seems certain to receive its due as well. Here are the tour dates:
01/11 BE Ghent Charlatan
02/11 NL Venlo Mudfest
03/11 FR Paris t.b.a.
04/11 UK Birmingham Asylum
05/11 UK Manchester Star & Garter
06/11 UK London Our Black Heart
08/11 ES Barcelona Rocksound
09/11 ES Madrid Rock & Pop
10/11 ES Bilbao Sentinel Rock Bar
11/11 FR Bordeaux Heretic Club
12/11 FR Paris Le Club
14/11 NL Tilburg Little Devil
15/11 DK Aalborg 1000 Fryd
16/11 SE Gothenburg Truckstop Alaska
17/11 DK Copenhagen KB18
18/11 DE Hamburg Rote Flora
19/11 DE Berlin Cassiopeia
20/11 DE Leipzig Zoro
21/11 AT Wien Vrena
22/11 DE Günzburg Donaustüble
23/11 DE Köln MTC
24/11 NL Amsterdam Occii
with High on Fire and Kvelertak
11/29 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre
11/30 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
12/02 Winnipeg, MB West End Cultural Center
12/04 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room
12/05 Calgary, AB Republik
12/07 Vancouver, BC Venue Vancouver
12/08 Seattle, WA El Corazon
12/09 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
12/11 San Francisco, CA Regency Center Grand Ballroom
12/12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
As they’ve already been confirmed for Roadburn 2014 and the next installment of Heavy Days in Doomtown, you can expect much more to come on Windhand. The band is comprised of vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, guitarist/recording engineer Garrett Morris, guitarist Asechaiah Bogdan, bassist Parker Chandler (also of Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe. Cottrell recently took some time out to talk about the making of Soma and how their road ethic came into play in terms of putting the album together, plus the European dates — it’s their first time out of the country — prospects for 2014 and much more.
Part of the appeal of attending any festival worthy of the name is getting introduced to bands you might not have heard or encountered before, and when it comes to the lineup for this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom, which is set to run from Nov. 7-10 at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, the riffy four-piece Doctor Smoke immediately caught my eye. I can’t help it. Not one week goes by that I don’t still wind up with the chorus to the closing track of Swedish trio Asteroid‘s first album stuck in my head: “Doctor Smoke… Doctor Smoke/Life is but a joke to Doctor Smoke.” Seriously, that album came out in 2007. I’m kind of surprised it took so long for a band to take the name.
Doctor Smoke play Friday night, Nov. 8, at SHoD XIII, sharing the evening’s bill with It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Gozu, Weed is Weed, Order of the Owl, Freedom Hawk and others. It’s a considerable evening to play, and Doctor Smoke have an admirable slot on the strength of their debut four-track demo, aptly-titled Demo 2013, which was released at the end of August. Sure enough, Demo 2013makes an impression, and the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Matt Tluchowski, lead guitarist Steve Lehocky, bassist Cody Cooke and drummer Dave Trikones offer a surprisingly cohesive, nigh-on-slick take on modern stoner metal, nodding at cult rock but never really taking it past “we watch horror movies” level, which is likely for the best.
Certainly it serves the material well. The swaggering opener “The Willow” darkens up heavy ’70s riffage, and the drive is modern, with Tluchowski‘s wizard doom vocals adding a modern edge somewhere between Kyle Thomas on the first Witch record and, on “Blood and Whiskey,” Billy Corgan‘s mid-’90s snarl. The dynamic between his and Lehocky‘s guitars accounts for a lot of the immediacy in Doctor Smoke‘s material — tradeoffs between leads and riffs are traditional, but well done — though Cooke and Trikones make their presence felt both on the slower “The Seeker” and the Pentagram cover, “Sign of the Wolf,” which closes Demo 2013in appropriate and chugging fashion.
As they also prepare for Stoner Hands of Doom XIII, Doctor Smoke are looking past the demo as well and have plans to start recording their debut full-length completely analog at The Bombshelter Studio in Nashville (not to be confused with Truckfighters‘ Studio Bombshelter). In order to help with the cost of going to tape, the foursome have started an Indiegogo campaign and are past the halfway mark on their goal of $3,000. It’s a pretty bold move for a band without a record out to hit up fans like that, but considering they’ve already got four takers on the $200 “We’ll write a special song just for you” contribution, obviously they inspire a good deal of loyalty in their listeners. At this rate, they might have enough material for a sophomore outing before they’ve even finished their debut.
You can turn on the “noise reduction” if you want when you’re listening to Richmond trio Druglord‘s new Enter Venus tape, but be warned that if you do, there might not be anything left. The cave-echo sludge three-piece will play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII at Strange Matter in their hometown on Thursday, Nov. 7, with fellow Richmonders Gritter, as well as Compel, Clamfight and others, and they bring a presence to the festival like few others. Released in limited edition by STB Records, Enter Venusfollows behind 2011′s Motherfucker Rising(review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut demo (review here), and if I call it their most solidified outing yet, please take that in the appropriate context of viciously misanthropic and lurchingly cavernous sludge. The three-piece band of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton, bassist Greta Brinkman and drummer Hufknell may be cohesive across the four songs recorded by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris at The Darkroom in Richmond, but their pummel continues molten and unhinged.
Starting with a snare fill from Hufknell, the title-track — third of the four cuts included on Enter Venus and the first on side 2 — is Southern sludge as filtered through a nightmare, but a guitar solo emerges on an almost hopeful note from the morass of distortion and plod. Like everything else in the song’s path, it’s ultimately consumed, but it’s flashes like this that mark out the development in Druglord‘s approach, and the complementing nod is the most hypnotic they’ve concocted to date. Hamilton‘s vocals echo from the depths of the mix, consistent in their approach but not entirely amelodic, and he seems to be setting himself up for more sonic adventurousness their next time out. In his and Brinkman‘s tone, there’s bound to be some similarity to Windhand‘s Soma, the two releases having both been helmed by Morris, but Druglord maintain a more misanthropic resonance from their earlier works, though the lyrics of the songs and the image of Aleister Crowley screenprinted onto the hand-numbered bag in which the cassette arrives do give some impression of vague cultish leanings.
Even so, the crash and drown of opener “Grievous Heaving” — a more than fairly apt description of the song itself — mark out this material as Druglord‘s most encompassing. A sample launches the opener, but the first verse of “Grievous Heaving” is quick to arrive and fittingly malevolent, slow, punishing, and “Feast on the Eye,” which follows as the second half of side 1, is perhaps more atmospheric, but ultimately similarly minded in its dreary course. If one encounters it or any of this material through a player with substantive low end, then a warning is in order. One hardly thinks of tapes as busting woofers or sounding big, but whether it’s Brinkman‘s low end or Hufknell‘s kick, Enter Venusmakes a considerable sonic presence for itself and is all the more threatening at loud volumes, the organ that shows up layered into “Feast on the Eye” giving creepy classicism to what’s already a cinematic-feeling horror show.
As I understand it, the Enter Venustapes are almost gone if they’re not gone already, but even of Druglord don’t have any on hand for SHoD, there will be a vinyl version of Enter Venuscoming early in 2014. Think of the cassette as an early warning alert system ahead of that, and hopefully a harbinger of where Druglord‘s continued progression might be leading them for their next outing.
Druglord, “Feast on the Eye” from Enter Venus (2013)
The Obelisk’s “10 Days of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII” coverage continues today with a video premiere from Indianapolis four-piece Devil to Pay, who headline Sunday night, Nov. 10 at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia. They’ll be the absolute last band to play at this year’s SHoD, and they’re set to tour their way along the East Coast with the fest as the centerpiece in support of their 2013 Ripple Music album, Fate is Your Muse(review here). In addition, they’ll have a brand new 7″ on hand in two different colors with two different covers for the standout cut from that record, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” (the B-side is a cover of Eldemur Krimm‘s “Black Fog”), and they’ve got a new video for the song as well that today I have the pleasure of premiering.
Arriving relatively early on in Fate is Your Muse, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” is nonetheless one of the most immediately lasting impressions the album leaves. From the quirky narrative of the lyrics, the soulful melodic delivery of guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak – joined in the band by guitaristRob Hough (who plays the therapist in the new clip), bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle – to the catchy chorus and quirk of the title and the song itself, if nothing else, it’s a track that stays with you. And like their video for “Tie One On,” which premiered here back in August, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” finds Devil to Pay having fun with the form, whether it’s dressing up and dancing in lizard costumes or sitting down for a little D&D in the awesome space that the credits refer to as the “Godzilla Room.” You’ll know it when you see it.
It’s always a good time to see what Devil to Pay are up to, and between the cut and the video, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” sums up a lot of what I really, really like about this band. Check it out on the player embedded below, followed by the tour dates:
Devil to Pay, “Ten Lizardmen & One Pocketknife” official video
Devil to Pay SHoD XIII / East Coast Tour: 11/01 Valhalla Muncie, IN w/ So Sayeth & Witchdoctor 11/02 Radio Radio Indianapolis, IN w/ the Cocaine Wolves & Dead Birds Adore Us 11/06 Springwater Nashville, TN w/ Admiral Browning & Elder Skull 11/07 529 Bar Atlanta, GA w/ Admiral Browning , Volume IV & Iron Whip 11/08 Flat Iron Greensboro, NC w/ NONE and Jews & Catholics 11/09 Roger’s Pub Chesapeake, VA w/ Pillbuster, Wizard Eye, Faces of Bayon & Compel 11/10 Strange Matter Richmond, VA Stoner Hands of Doom XIII 11/11 The Maywood Raleigh, NC w/ Black Thai & Bedowyn 11/12 JR’s Bar Philadelphia, PA w/ Clamfight, The Cloth & Heavy Temple 11/13 Tobacco Road New York, NY w/ TBA 11/14 Geno’s Portland, ME w/ Eldemur Krimm & Eastern Spell 11/15 O’Brien’s Pub Allston, MA w/ Mollusk & Gut 11/16 Mr. Beery’s Bethpage, NY w/ Borgo Pass, Soma & Von Hell
We continue the “10 Days of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII” special with a brand new track from Boston four-piece Black Thai, who will release their brand new 12″ EP, Seasons of Might, on mystery-colored 45rpm vinyl in time to tour their way south to SHoD and then make a leisurely loop through the Midwest en route back north. The four-song, 22-minute collection arrives with golly-that’s-pretty artwork from Alexander von Wieding, and in a limited edition of 300 as the Black Thai’s first release since 2010′s Blood from on HighEP (review here) gave a more metallic edge to the heavy rock styling of their initial 2010 demo (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey bringing an aggressive but still accessible vibe to the tracks.
Seasons of Mightworks in a similar vein, but sets a more accomplished balance within each song itself. The band — Healey (formerly of We’re all Gonna Die), guitarist Scott O’Dowd (also Cortez), bassist Cory Cocomazzi and drummer Jeremy Hemond (also Cortez and Roadsaw) — make a decision to ignore that balance and go full-on metal with the near-blasting third track, “Doors to Nowhere,” but on opening duo “Blood Dust” and “Start a War” especially, they’ve found a sonic niche for themselves that isn’t quite as angry as modern metal but neither is it entirely indebted to doom or heavy rock. Most of all, it sounds like Black Thai, which after three years since their last EP is a welcome way for it to turn out.
They round out with the eight-minute “Reasons to Burn,” which tips more toward the doomed, albeit while holding firm to the melodic sensibility shown on the earlier cuts. Seasons of Mightwas recorded at Mad Oak with Joe Saliba and mixed by Benny Grotto, and the production is as crisp and professional as the songs are engaging, whether it’s O’Dowd tearing into a mournful lead late into “Reasons to Burn” or the full band locking into the thrust of the still-catchy “Start a War,” the burly call-and-response hook of which winds up being one of the highlight moments of the whole release as Healey‘s shouts echo amid the quick turns that almost dare you to keep up.
Black Thai play Stoner Hands of Doom on Sunday, Nov. 10, with Wizard Eye, Kin of Ettins, Lord and many more at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia. Their tour dates, a quote from the band about the EP, and links can be found under “Start a War” on the player below.
Black Thai, “Start a War” from Seasons of Might
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Says Black Thai:
We recorded with Joe Saliba at Mad Oak Studios and he did an absolutely amazing job tracking. Benny Grotto mixed the session and it sounds absolutely pummeling. We couldn’t be happier with the results.
Black Thai on Tour: 11/6 Middle East Upstairs – Cambridge, MA with: Cocked N’ Loaded, Goddamn Draculas, Second Grave (Release show / tour kickoff) 11/7 St. Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY with: Gozu, Kings Destroy, Second Grave 11/8 JR’s Bar – South Philadelphia. PA with: Backwoods Payback, Hang-Up to Flat, Skeleton Hands 11/9 The Pinch – Washington DC with: Iron Man, Gozu, Freedom Hawk 11/10 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA Stoner Hands Of Doom 11/11 The Maywood – Raleigh, NC with: Bedowyn, Devil To Pay 11/12 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA with: Volume IV 11/13 TN (TBA) 11/14 Cusumano’s Pizza – St. Louis, MO with: Rowsdower, Heavy Horse, White Fire 11/15 The Melody Inn – Indianapolis, IN with: So Sayeth, Devils Of Belgrade 11/16 The Tree Bar – Columbus, OH with Old City, +2 TBA 11/17 Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar – Buffalo, NY with: Second Trip 11/18 Nectar’s – Burlington, VT (Metal Monday) with: Toxic Holocaust, Ramming Speed, In Defence
Posted in Features on October 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
For the next 10 days I’m going to take a look at just a sampling of the killer acts playing this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom festival in Virginia from Nov. 7-10 at Strange Matter, and I couldn’t think of a better place to start than with the unhinged Southern sludge aggression of Lord. A band whose history is filled with underappreciation, makeups, breakups, lineup changes and whatever else you can think of, Lord has nonetheless served over the years as a proving ground for those who’s also make a stamp in Fredericksburg and Richmond bands from Ol’ Scratch and Ancient Astronaught to Akris and The Might Could. What’s been consistent for them over all this time is the intensity of their sludge, which they most recently demonstrated on the 2011 full-length, Chief(review here), which was alternately violent and brooding, a torrent of chaos that mirrors the band itself.
Of course, that being the case, there’s a kind of permanent X-factor around the band. Since the days of their 2006 long-play debut, Built Lord Tough, you’ve never known quite what you’re going to get with Lord, who’s going to be there and what kind of madness is going to be unleashed. They played Stoner Hands of Doom two years ago at Krug’s Place in Maryland (review here) along with Cough, Earthling, Fire Faithful and others, and what seemed to be becoming an annual gig at the festival was cut short in 2012 when vocalist Steven “Kerch” Kerchner announced they had called it quits:
Lord will unfortunately not be playing SHOD this year. Lord has officially disbanded. We had a blast rocking while we did and appreciate the love and support everyone has given us over the years!! Everyone is still jamming in other projects – definitely check them out: Bourne of Ash, Lacy, House Size Giant, Akris, Palkoski. There are still a limited number copies of Chief available from the members of Lord and it can still be downloaded from iTunes and so on. Love you guys – Kerch
As someone who’s been a fan of the band since the long, long ago, in the beforetimes, naturally it was a bummer to hear they were done, but though the members were busy in the projects listed by Kerch above — Akris have a new record out now (stream it here), and Palkoski never seem too far removed from another challenging slab of noise — apparently the split didn’t take, and they’ve once again joined the SHoD and are set to bring their melee to Richmond this year. Not only that, but the band’s lineup of Kerchner, guitarist Willy Rivera, bassist Helena Goldberg and drummer Stephen Sullivan are also reportedly at work writing a new full-length, which they’ll record sometime after the appearance at Stoner Hands of DoomXIII.
How that will come together remains to be seen, but if Lord are working on something at all, you won’t hear me complain. They play SHoD on Sunday, Nov. 10, and share the bill with Devil to Pay, Black Thai, Wizard Eye and others. Check out “Zoh K Zo Kay” from Chiefbelow and find more details at the that follow: