Roadburn 2014 Day Two: “Death Means Just Life”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.12.14 — 01:04 — Friday night/Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I must be doing a piss-poor job of not looking beat to hell, because several people asked me throughout the course of the afternoon and night how much I’d slept. Just enough, in combination with coffee, to stay standing. I wasn’t so clever with my answer at the time.

Today’s pacing was completely different from yesterday. When you’re here, you tend to be your own curator — I’m going to see this at the expense of that, I want to catch this band, so I will be here at this time. People pull their schedules out constantly, myself included. It’s important to stay on top of this stuff. Minutes matter at Roadburn.

For me, it was slower. At one point in the evening, I had to sort of stop and remind myself that I didn’t have to rush off somewhere, I could stay put and watch a little longer. That was the case right from the start with French classic prog tale-tellers Magma, who opened Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth‘s curated day on the Main Stage. The early portion of the Main Stage bill — three out of the total five bands, all playing at least 70 minutes, and in the case of MagmaClaudio Simonetti’s Goblin and Opeth themselves, a full 90 — was heavy on prog. That had me at something of a disadvantage when it came to giving acts like Magma, Comus and Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin their due reverence, but I made the most of exposing my brain to things it hasn’t encountered 30 times already and saw some acts on other stages as well. There’s always someplace to be if you want to be there. Or you can go to the bar.

Magma‘s tales of future space in made up language set the bar pretty high for texture. Later on, Goblin would inject a little funk and some heavier rock into what they were doing, but with Magma, it was more about expansive and psychedelic jazz, though thinking of their set in the context of Mikael Åkerfeldt picking the lineup, it was easy to see why they were there — Opeth had clearly taken some of their influence. Likewise that for Comus and Goblin. In the Green Room, where I hadn’t been yet, Lenny Kaye and Harsh Toke were getting ready to jam, and I don’t know what it was, but something told me I wanted to be there.

A fellow Jersey boy, Rutgers grad and former publisher of a ‘zine called Obelisk — if only I could play guitar — Lenny Kaye is probably best known for playing in the Patti Smith Group, but he’s here as well celebrating the Nuggets compilation he put together in 1972 that featured the likes of Nazz, 13th Floor Elevators, The Electric Prunes, etc. Paired with San Diego’s Harsh Toke, who are newcomers to the Tee Pee Records roster, Kaye fronted one of the best live heavy psych jams I’ve ever seen. No bullshit. With a steady refrain of “Harsh Toke makes good smoke” from Kaye on mic and improvised-seeming lyrics amid a terrifyingly immersive swirl from his guitar and the two in Harsh Toke – all the while, bass and drums holding down a battery of killer grooves — it had every dynamic you could possibly ask of a close-your-eyes-and-nod jam. I spent the rest of the day telling people how incredible it was and getting blank stares, no doubt because Lenny Kaye & Harsh Toke were on in the Green Room at the same time The Body were on at Het Patronaat, but wow. I had planned to be there for a few minutes and didn’t leave until they were done, an extended cover of Them‘s 1964 hit, “Gloria,” which Kaye referred to as the “national anthem of garage rock.” They jammed on that too.

I had to laugh when, as he introduced the band, Kaye stopped to ask the bassist and drummer of Harsh Toke their names, but however familiar they may or may not have been, I felt like I was seeing something special. They ended a little early, so I got back to the Main Stage in time for the start of Comus, who also played Roadburn back in 2010 at the since-closed Midi Theatre around the block from the 013. They were today largely as I remembered them from then: Mostly seated and playing their cult forest prog, cuts like “Song to Comus” from 1971′s First Utterance once again showcasing an inspiration point for Åkerfeldt. I bought that Comus record four years ago and have listened to it since, but still would hardly call myself an expert, and they had a good crowd going until it was time to head over to Het Patronaat for a second set from Corrections House after yesterday’s. I’d hear about it later, but they brought out YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, who’s been spotted here and there around the fest ahead of YOB‘s two sets tomorrow and Sunday. If you want to make a supergroup more super, that’s a good way to do it.

The day I almost consider split in half, and the 90-minute set from Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin was the dividing point. People were so tight in the Main Stage room you couldn’t get in the door. Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin isn’t to be mistaken for the Goblin that toured in the US — the keyboardist has taken on members of his more metallized outfit Daemonia and made his own version of Goblin from them, while the classic Italian cine-proggers continue on in his absence. It’s confusing until you think of how often it happens. Then it’s just silly. Either way, Simonetti led his band through renditions of the themes to Zombi and Dawn of the Dead in addition to their eponymous song, all the while the audience nodded along. It was maybe a bit much at an hour and a half, but I may have been the only one who thought so. The dancing dude next to me was definitely on board, as most in attendance seemed to be, the Daemonia players injecting a bit of funk and hard rock into Goblin‘s classic scores.

Here’s where I had my moment when I decided to both have and eat my cake. Germany’s Sula Bassana were slated to go on at 21:40 at Het Patronaat. Simple enough. Candlemass were going on at 21:45. It was a very small window between the start of the two sets but I managed to squeeze my ass through it and caught the start of both. Obviously I saw more of Candlemass than Sula Bassana — which actually seemed to be Electric Moon plus another guitarist alongside Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, but I considered it an achievement all the same. Schmidt got on mic to say it was their first time playing as a full band and then was off to his synths and guitar to lead his outfit through expansive psych jams. I wasn’t there long, but I was glad to have been there at all.

And while I don’t know if anything will ever top seeing Candlemass perform 1986′s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus at Roadburn 2011 with original vocalist Johan Längqvist singing — a set that’s since been released on oh-if-I-had-the-money vinyl — the band sounded awfully vibrant for a group who’s been threatening retirement for the last half-decade. In addition to having Per Wiberg on keys – Wiberg also played the Afterburner last year with Spiritual Beggars and is a former member of Opeth – as they ran through the whole of 1988′s Ancient Dreams, the Swedish doom legends also brought out Primordial/Dread Sovereign frontman Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill to add his flair and stage presence to “Incarnation of Evil.” It seemed an odd fit for his triumph-prone vocal style, but completely worked, and for the rest of their set, Candlemass had Mats Levén of Therion on vocals, who’s also worked with Candlemass founder/bassist Leif Edling in Krux and Abstrakt Algebra. Levén also did well with the parts that once belonged to Messiah Marcolin, though it was Edling himself, wine glass in hand, who took center stage to deliver the album-closing “Epistle No. 81,” a spoken poem in Swedish that came through the 013 Main Stage P.A. to the rhythm of claps from the audience. Very cool moment.

For an encore, they broke out “Bewitched” — some clever band is going to come along and cover both the track and its accompanying video, which if you’ve never seen it is one of the finest ever produced by humanity — and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus opener “Solitude,” which was enough to send a chill up my spine. I fucking love that song, and Levén nailed it, though he like every vocalist I’ve seen with Candlemass, including Längqvist who originally recorded it, stepped back from the high notes in the chorus on the album version. When they were done, it was just a matter of waiting the 45-minute break for Opeth, which I tried to do by watching some of Papir in Stage01 through the doorway. My thinking was the room would be full so at least I’d be able to hear it and see some of the stage, but the fact was that when I got there, the doorway was full too. No place to stand even outside the room. Some you win, some you lose.

It would’ve been nice to stay and see Opeth round out their set with “Deliverance” and “Blackwater Park,” but even before they went on, I was getting that get-back-to-the-hotel-and-get-typing itch, so I stuck around for “The Devil’s Orchard” from 2011′s Heritage, “Ghost of Perdition” from 2005′s Ghost Reveries – which Åkerfeldt, with his expected stage-banter charm, referred to as “an old nugget”; something Lenny Kaye had said about “Gloria” earlier in the day — and the start of “White Cluster,” the closer of 1999′s Still Life, before making my way out. It’s been more than a few years since the last time I saw Opeth, but it was already after midnight and I knew what I had ahead of me.

Tomorrow closes out the fest proper with the first of YOB‘s two sets and Loop‘s headlining slot on the Main Stage, so with morning work on the next issue of the fanzine ahead, I’ll just say thanks for reading and there are more pics after the jump if you’re interested.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 6: “Spirit of the Staircase”

Posted in Features on April 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.11.14 — 12:13 — Friday afternoon — 013 venue, Tilburg

A bit of a later start this morning for fanzine work. I didn’t mind sleeping the extra hour after all of yesterday’s running around and I’m sure I’ll mind it even less tomorrow. I had zero eyes for copy editing but did the best I could with it. “It’s a fanzine” has become a sort of go-to line for not being too nitpicky. If something’s screwed up, well, that’s only more authentic.

The issues are coming out of the printer now, and downstairs in the venue, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin have been soundchecking, the place sort of generally buzzing with activity, voices from the street below of bands loading in merch and gear, a hum of cyclical bass coming up through the concrete floor.

If you want to check out the PDF of the second issue, it’s available here. I’m honored to be outclassed by Kim Kelly’s review and Paul Verhagen’s photography.

Speaking of Paul, whose face was well familiar from the last couple years when I was introduced yesterday, he’s got photos displayed outside as well as in the venue itself. There are shots billboard-size on the outer wall of the parking deck next door to the 013, and that and the Roadburn banners around town only underscore the support this fest gets from the city of Tilburg. Particularly coming from the States, where something like this would struggle every step of the way and have to fight to even get a permit to exist, it’s amazing to see that. Was talking to a fellow East Coaster yesterday (look at me, not dropping names) who concurred: the culture just doesn’t exist for it there. You might be able to get away with it in San Francisco or something like that, but then everyone’s car will get busted into — say hello to my new stereotype about San Francisco; everybody gets robbed — and that’s no good either.

There’s a networking meeting over at the Cul de Sac going on now that I should probably be at, should’ve probably been at last year, but things ran behind compared to yesterday, so we’ll see if I get there before it’s done. Yesterday before the show proper started I ran back to the hotel. Didn’t quite get to sleep but at least laid down for a while and I think that made a difference. Not sure how the timing will work today, but you have to take your rest when you can when you’re here because there’s so much to see. No shortage today, certainly. A lot I’ve never encountered before, so all the better.

Exhausted but feeling good. It’s warm in Tilburg and the trees are green. You always forget the difference something like that can make.

 

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Roadburn 2014 Day One: “So Much Still Lingers…”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.11.14 — 00:08 — Thursday night/Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

This afternoon and this morning both seem like a really, really long time ago. I got asked a few times today when I got into town and I couldn’t seem to remember. 2009 maybe? Breakfast was two double-double espressos. Dinner was a protein bar and two bottles of water, some ibuprofen. No time for anything else. It’s Roadburn. There are places to be.

After much vigorous folding of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues — I was handed one when I walked into the venue this afternoon, which was a cool feeling — I went downstairs from the 013 office to check out Sourvein‘s soundcheck and found their “Dirty South” had gotten a little northern flair thanks to the addition of Halfway to Gone‘s Lou Gorra on bass. When they were done, I went up to Stage01 to watch Hull get their sounds and was treated to a preview of “Fire Vein,” about which I had no complaints. They’d be my first two bands of the day, in that order, so it was like I was getting ahead of myself. Which is fitting for how completely out of time the entire day seemed.

If I’m not mistaken, and I’m pretty sure I’m not, Sourvein is a completely different lineup, Gorra included, than played here in 2011. The one constant, of course, is vocalist T-Roy Medlin. To his credit, no matter who he seems to bring aboard in the band — people come, people go — it always sounds like Sourvein. You’d think after a while a polka player would slip in unnoticed or something, but their Southern sludge has seen no diminishing of its aggressive potency over the years. One imagines if that happened, whoever was responsible wouldn’t be in the band long. They grooved angry and gave the fest a wake up call from which it didn’t look back.

Knowing that Hull were playing Stage01, I made sure to get there early, as in by like half an hour. Say what you want for the practicality, the same thing did me no good later on trying to get up front for Conan at Het Patronaat. Sometimes you need to show up and wait if you want a place up front. Pretty much every time, actually. I was hoping for some new stuff from Hull – who are on tour in Europe with Boston’s Elder, also Roadburn veterans — but cuts from 2011′s Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here) like “False Priest” and “Earth from Water” were hardly time wasted, and both the old-made-new-again “Legend of the Swamp Goat” and “Architect” from 2009′s Sole Lord were right on, as was the extended closer, “Viking Funeral,” which shook the floor with volume that seemed ready for it to be later in the day than it was.

I didn’t hear the Beastmilk album, but I certainly heard a lot about the Beastmilk album, so I thought I’d check out their set, what with Hexvessel‘s Mat McNerney fronting the band. McNerney brought a good deal of Joy Division-style drama to songs like “Void Mother” and “You are Now Under Your Control,” and the music behind him was probably what someone will step up and call neo-goth in a few years if they haven’t yet, mining the moodiness of late ’80s dark rock and presenting it in a we-could-be-playing-black-metal-if-we-wanted-to context. Fair enough, but with Samothrace going on at Het Patronaat across the street, I wasn’t sticking around all that long.

Merch is outside this year, which is different from at least the previous five Roadburns. I stopped myself at a copy of the second Rotor CD and Monster Magnet‘s Love Monster. I didn’t buy the gatefold version of Colour Haze‘s All, or any of this year’s Roadburn exclusives. It was the first money I’ve spent since I got to Europe, and it was 22 of the 70 euro I had in my wallet left over from the 2013 fest. My unemployed ass was as sparing as it could be en route to Het Patronaat.

For Samothrace, I wound up standing in front of one of the house P.A. stacks near the side of the stage, and needless to say, I didn’t stay there long, as the throb of Joe Axler‘s kick drum felt like the pedal was hooked up to my rib cage. I had been looking forward to seeing them, since 2012′s Reverence to Stone was so killer and I missed them on their East Coast tour supporting it, and they justified my anticipation, both in tonal weight and atmosphere, the latter which it’s easy to overlook in their sound because the rest of the time they’re so damn heavy, but which ultimately made both the record and their set stand out from the rest of the day, guitarists Renata Castagna and Brian Spinks taking time to space out in a way that presaged some of what I’d catch later with Mühr at the Cul de Sac, Spinks furthering the dynamic with assorted screams and growls. Was glad to finally see them play and witness their shifts between tumbling lurch and excruciating crawls for myself. It seemed overdue. And oh yeah, then Napalm Death played.

More than several years have passed since the last time I caught a Napalm Death show, and while Roadburn 2014 seems an odd fit for the British grindcore progenitors — vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway, guitarist Mitch Harris, bassist Shane Embury and drummer Danny Herrera – they tailored their set to the occasion, culling some of their more experimental, less blastbeaten, Swans-y material into something unique for the Main Stage crowd. It must be nice to be in a band for more than 30 years and still have the drive to change things up, and seeing them do so only furthered my opinion that they should tour in art galleries exclusively. Five or six bands formed and started writing songs while Napalm Death were still on stage — that’s how influential they are. They’ll never have the same kind of reputation for experimental rock as for grind, but their lead-in for Corrections House wound up as one of the smoothest transitions of the day, both bands having industrial elements at work.

In the case of Corrections House, those come courtesy of beats delivered via laptop from Sanford Parker, who took the stage first as he did when I saw them in Brooklyn early in 2013 (review here). Whether it’s Parker, who was in Buried at Sea, Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont, Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX Williams, it’s hard separating the members of Corrections House from what they’ve brought to and done in their other bands, though Lamont‘s sax, played to lower end to cover where a bass might otherwise be, definitely had an appeal distinct from that in his main outfit. Their debut album, Last City Zero, came out last year and I didn’t give it enough time. Watching them play was my punishment for not knowing the songs better than I did, and I’d have stayed longer, but Philly’s Nothing were just finished at Het Patronaat and I wasn’t about to miss the start of Conan.

Seemed to me that 25 minutes before their set started would be plenty of time to get front and center. It was not. Not only were there people already up front when I got there, but they were already shouting requests at the UK trio, whose 2014 outing, Blood Eagle (review here), I consider one of the year’s best records, and who had a new bassist in the form of Chris Fielding, known perhaps best as the recording engineer who’s done their studio stuff and worked with Electric Wizard, Undersmile, and many others in the UK’s fertile scene. That was something of a surprise, as I hadn’t known he joined the band with Jon Paul Davis (guitar/vocals) and Paul O’Neil (drums), but he fit in well with the destructive path beaten out by “Crown of Talons,” which made for an ultra-doomed opening statement.

Conan were one of my gotta-see bands for the day, and their set at Het Patronaat with the line of people waiting to get in running most of the way back to the door from the 013 only emphasized how far they’ve come in the two years since they played Stage01 at Roadburn 2012. One expects utter dominance from them and they did not disappoint. Still, they were one of my gotta-see bands, and the other happened to be Amsterdam space-doomers Mühr, whose slot overlapped at Cul de Sac. They were not the highest-profile act on the bill, but I only watched one complete set today, and it was Mühr doing “Messiah” from their 2013 single-song full-length of the same name (review here). With ambience heavier than many bands at their most crushing, seeing Mühr, which seemed unlikely from the start, was a highlight of what was by then a long stretch.

You could almost call what they do post-metal, but for the fact that where a lot post-metal comes across as claustrophobic, Mühr make efforts to sound as expansive as possible. Their psychedelic, cosmic droning was rich in tone and righteously loud, vocals sparse, but a presence, the whole five-piece lit mostly by candles set up in front and to the sides of the stage. It was something I’d probably only ever see at Roadburn, and when they were done and left the stage one at a time after an extended wash of feedback and effects noise, they came back out to take a well-earned bow before still-cheering crowd. I was so into it it was silly, and I know already that the ability to say I saw Mühr live is among the things I’ll be most grateful to carry with me in a few days when I leave Tilburg.

There were so many bands I missed today. There always are. You can’t see everything. I got back to the Main Stage in time to catch Crowbar doing “All I Had I Gave,” “Planets Collide” and “The Cemetery Angels” and had every intent of sticking around to see Freedom Hawk close out in the Green Room, but the weight of needing to write and the thought of getting up for more Weirdo Canyon Dispatch work in the morning got the better of me. Not the first time that’s ever happened, at least as regards the former.

Tomorrow is Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated day. Only Day Two which feels odd for how immediately immersed in the vibe of Roadburn I and seemingly everybody else was by when afternoon became evening. If you told me we’d been here two or three days already, I’d believe it, but maybe lack of sleep is a factor there as well. All the more reason to nod.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 4: The Weirdo Canyon Dispatch

Posted in Features on April 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.10.14 — 12:33 — Thursday afternoon — 013 venue, Tilburg

Downstairs someone is soundchecking. Can hear the noise coming up through the floor of the office here, where since this morning Lee Edwards of The Sleeping Shaman and I have been working to finalize the first issue of Roadburn 2014′s daily fanzine, which we’re calling the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. It’s the first time the fest has done something like this, and for me, it’s a completely different side of the Roadburn experience, seeing the team at work behind the scenes and, in a small way, becoming a part of it.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been working with a team of writers, including Lee and others for whose work I carry a tremendous respect, on putting together issues for each day of the festival. There’s a print run of 1,000 for each day, and up until about five minutes ago, Lee and I sat across from each other at a table here in this swanky office and folded them. We’re not the only ones working on doing so either, but it looks like they’re finished well in time to be distributed when doors open. I’m incredibly lucky to be here and to be involved. It’s been a hard secret to keep in the run-up to Roadburn.

If you’d like to check out the first issue, the PDF is here.

I’m hugely appreciative of the opportunity this has been, of getting to collaborate directly with Lee and Walter and everyone else involved, and of getting to come here and do this thing. I’ll be posting the issues over the next couple days as well, so please if you’re interested, keep an eye out for them. We’ve all tried to put together something unique and in the spirit of Roadburn. Print media will always have a special place in my heart, and this is a special project. Well worth getting up early to finish.

Roadburn kicks off in about three hours’ time, and there’s still plenty to do between now and then. There’s an anxiousness in the air and I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the festivities to start. More to come.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 3: Hard Rock Hideout at Cul de Sac

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.09.14 — 23:25 — Wednesday night — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

The Cul de Sac filled up nicely for the annual Roadburn pre-party, the Hard Rock Hideout — a sort of easing of the consciousness into the ooze it will become over the next few days. It was held at the same spot in Weirdo Canyon last year, the alley of bars and restaurants adjacent to the 013 has long held “Roadburn specials” and 2014 is no exception, though if I’m not mistaken, the Cul de Sac is the first joint there actually to host bands as part of the fest. Doubt it will be the last. In any case, it was two acts tonight: Amsterdam proto-metallers Death Alley and Belgian ’80s thrashers Evil Invaders. They made for a quick evening both in overall time spent at the venue and in their own pacing.

It was my first Hard Rock Hideout. In years past I’ve either gotten to Tilburg too late, stayed in Eindhoven or collapsed in a heap at the hotel on the pre-Roadburn Wednesday. Did that today too. I set the alarm so I could sleep for about two hours and then got up, showered the layer of travel stink off — this room, somewhat tragically, already smells like “dude” — and headed back out. I was early for the start of the show, but it could’ve been worse. I really didn’t want to miss Death Alley, and once they got going, they made it worth my while.

Here’s how it went:

Death Alley

Able to leap from thrash to boogie in a single bound, I know Death Alley are a relatively new outfit — their debut Over Under b/w Dead Man’s Bones 7″ (review here) is a recent advent — but they were among the bands I was most looking forward to at Roadburn. Even putting aside the stylistic potential they showed in that single, both songs from which were aired, “Dead Man’s Bones” providing an anchor later into the set following the long build of “Supernatural Predator” and unmitigated shuffle of “Hypermotion,” I thought they’d be fun to watch on stage. They were, and the varied of their sound, including the elements of psychedelia that only just began to show up in the single, came through live, making for a subtly diverse but fluid, energetic run marked by exemplary guitar leads, inventive basslines, snotty punker vocals that had more to offer than just that and chaotic drumming that held it all together. I’m not sure what Death Alley are doing to follow-up the 7″, but whatever it is, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Evil Invaders

Oh, rethrash. Your silly hair, your hightops (also chained boots), your bulletbelts, headbanging Hammett/Hetfield hair speeding along at who knows how many kilometers an hour. Were they evil? Yes they were. How rotten were they? They were rotten to the core. I’d ask what bonded them — hint: it was blood, in which they also reigned — but I think you get the idea. The Belgian four-piece Evil Invaders were built for speed and their execution left nothing wanting. I’ll make no bones about the fact that it wasn’t really my thing, but they had the right balance of technical prowess and raw drive that makes the best thrash so vital. To call it unoriginal would be missing the point. Evil Invaders came out in full attack mode, ripping through cuts like “Alcoholic Maniac” and the instrumental “Speed Invasion” from last year’s self-titled debut EP, and the crowd — packed in by then — got way into it. Nobody threw beer by the time I left the front of the stage, which was fortunate, but it was easy to imagine that maybe in a different context Evil Invaders would have the circle pit going.

A riotous start for Roadburn 2014. Tomorrow picks up bright and early and it’s only going to get crazier from there. More to come, of course, and more pics after the jump.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 2: “Descend to the Place…”

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.08.14 — 16:11 — Wednesday — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg, the Netherlands

If and when human beings ever decide it’s time to colonize the moon, we should probably send the Icelanders first, since judging by what I saw of the landscape flying into Reykjavik this morning, they can hang with the inhospitable. All of Icelandair’s planes are named after volcanoes. I wasn’t on Eyjafjallajökull — that villainous volcano that erupted in 2010 causing such chaos at Roadburn and elsewhere — but I saw it at the terminal when I switched flights. I was on Eldborg, which I immediately decided was the name of my new black metal band that doesn’t actually exist. Switched flights but not planes between Boston-to-Reykjavik and Reykjavik-to-Amsterdam. When I got back to seat 17C, it still had my rather considerable ass impression on it.

The flight delays were because of a workers’ strike. Whatever they want, I’m for it. Give it to them. Quickly. Please by Monday.

It felt so, so, so good to get off the plane in Amsterdam. The flight from Iceland was only about two and a half hours, but it was a painful lot of half-dozing, being bumped into by flight attendants — hazards of the aisle — and dealing with the dude next to me who went fascist on the armrests. The first flight, once I got on the plane, was much easier. Still, no real sleep on either and thus no real sleep at all. At the airport, I followed the handy map I was given to get to where a car was coming to pick me up — I carpooled with Arik Roper, whom it was cool to finally meet after admiring his work for so long — we were both very tired — and when we got dropped off, it was at the 013 backstage entrance. A couple quick hellos, my face soon to be edited out of a documentary being filmed about Walter, and then I got to the point where I felt like I was going to fall asleep standing up, so I said I was going to check in at the hotel.

That whole no sleep thing puts me in a bit of a pickle heading into the official pre-Roadburn show tonight, the Hard Rock Hideout at the Cul de Sac. I’ll try to crash out now — shouldn’t be a problem — and set my alarm in time to get up and shower and head over to the venue, which is right in Weirdo Canyon. Don’t want to miss Death Alley after digging their single. No real time to eat, but screw it. Roadburn comes but once a year. I’m so glad to be back.

 

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 1: “…This Heart of Mine”

Posted in Features on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.08.14 – 8:42PM Eastern – Tuesday – Logan Airport, Boston, MA 

I knew when the guy behind the Icelandair check-in counter called me “dude” that everything was going to be okay. Actually, the first words out of his mouth when he saw my passport were, “You know about the delay, right?” Yup. Just an hour, though that in combination with the lack of traffic compared to what I thought I’d hit made me absurdly early. Security was a breeze, even carrying a bevvy of electronics. Still no idea how long it takes to get anywhere in Boston.

First to Reykjavik and then to Amsterdam, then to Tilburg. Have been sitting here two hours now and have two more to go until the new takeoff time. I don’t mind. The batteries on everything are charged, including the book I brought, and but for being warm and smelling the mass-produced whathaveyou being served at the restaurant to my left – some name I don’t know – it’s fine. A breeze from somewhere. Is Logan Terminal E big enough for wind?

Remembering travel stuff. Don’t look at anyone too long or they’ll look back. Put the computer in the back with the bottom facing out so that it and the camera can be upright in when the bag is laid down. Lessons already learnt, remembered situationally to no doubt be filed away again soon.

I enjoy people-watching as much as the next pseudo-creative, but it gets disheartening after a while, feeling very apart. In my head I hear cop voices in stern teenager-bound derision: “You think you’re special, son?” It’s the opposite. These people have made it. Front to back, they’re here, they’re in it, they’re human. They’re special. I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could ever do or be that thing. It just wouldn’t work. Some will tell you everybody feels that way, like they’re the muck. Maybe that’s true, but they don’t live it. Existence as an awkward-fitting pantsuit.

But the place I’m going is where it works at least well enough to pretend. To put me back into position of righteousness from which to designate the squares. Not the only congregation anymore, but maybe the most revered. It’ll be a quick few days at Temple Roadburn, but fucking hell I’m ready. Please, please get me there. Get me to no sleep and vicious tone. To the wind pushing on through Weirdo Canyon, the mad stench of the 013 on Saturday night. Get me there. In red block letters at my 12: “REYKJAVIK: Delayed.”

And with this we begin.

 

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Hour of 13 Pay Homage to Jason McCash with Final Recorded Song

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Though they’ve been effectively defunct since their final full-length, 2012′s 333, and will remain that way, North Carolina’s Hour of 13 has been resurrected in the form of a one-off single called “Upon Black Wings We Die.” The track is a trad metal homage to The Gates of Slumber bassist Jason McCash, who passed away this weekend, and finds band founder Chad Davis (also of Romannis MötteTasha-Yar, etc.) playing all the instruments, adding the vocals and recording himself in a true one-man-band production.

Davis offers his own words of tribute to McCash even as he closes the book on Hour of 13, so I won’t delay further except to note that tribute shows for McCash are starting to come together in Baltimore and Boston, and those links as well as the link to the fund to help Jason McCash‘s family with their finances can be found below.

Enjoy:

Hour of 13, “Upon Black Wings We Die”

Cosmic dust. We all return to it from our birthplace. And a long journey it is to make that return. An act so simple brings forth the beginning of that journey, regardless of proper timing…

Upon hearing the news of Jason McCash’s passing, it left me extremely awestruck. The late night conversations we had, discussing the mysteries of the universe, the state of modern day Heavy Metal, and the amazing basslines that solidified all of Christian Death’s music. All now a thing of the past. And so it brings forth this:

Last night I wrote a song for Jason, a farewell to his unquestionable legacy as one of the most solid bass players in the US Heavy Metal scene. A farewell to his kind and supportive nature. A farewell to the ideas we had tossed around of doing a project in the future.

And with this memoriam brings forth the demise of Hour Of 13.

This is the last and final document of HO13. A document that proves US Heavy Metal is still alive and strong. With many great bands around to continue to carry that flame, there is no better time to let go and begin my own personal journey. Mentally I cannot foresee any other reason to remain active, as all of the bands that mattered in the resurrection of Traditional Heavy Metal have all suffered loss, it only brings about confusion and disdain. This feeling became apparent witht the passing of my celestial brother Selim Lemouchi, and now solidified with the passing of Jason. And so it begins….

Sleep well brothers, and may the experiences you both now have unlock all of the answers to the questions we had always asked.

Regards,
Chad Davis – Hour Of 13

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Baltimore Jason McCash tribute event page

Boston Jason McCash tribute event page

McCash Family Fund

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The Atlas Moth to Release The Old Believer June 10 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m just going to assume that before you place the waterproof cover of The Atlas Moth‘s forthcoming third album, The Old Believer — out June 10 on Profound Lore – into water to reveal the rest of the art, it’s probably best to take the LP itself out first. Just a hunch. Cool idea though, and as it’s been three years since the last The Atlas Moth full-length, 2011′s An Ache for the Distance, it’s one more thing to stand them out from the crowd.

Not that they’ve been slacking in that regard anyway. It’s been half a decade since I reviewed their debut EP, Pray for Tides (review here), but particularly since the last record came out, The Atlas Moth have worked to establish their own identity within and around their sound. I’d have some catching up to do, but even beyond the novelty factor of the artwork, The Old Believer holds some intrigue ahead of its June release.

The PR wire offers the following:

THE ATLAS MOTH RELEASE THE OLD BELIEVER ON JUNE 10 VIA PROFOUND LORE

UNIQUE COVER ART CHANGES WHEN DIPPED IN WATER

The Atlas Moth, the Chicago-based quintet, release The Old Believer on June 10 via Profound Lore Records.

“This record is an equally large progression as between our first two records but this time is coupled with more experience,” explains singer/guitar player Stavros Giannopoulos (who also moonlights in black metal super group, Twilight). “I feel like we found ourselves on An Ache for the Distance and now we are expanding on our sound more than ever. It’s also the most personal and introspective music we have ever done. We are wearing our hearts on our sleeves with every note.”

The Old Believer, produced The Atlas Moth’s own Andrew Ragin at Chicago’s Wall To Wall Studios, features guests Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Marcus Eliopulos (Stabbing Westward) and Subrosa violinists Kim Pack and Sarah Pendleton. The album’s cover and back art feature a water-reveal stock, which when dipped in water, more graphics are revealed.

The Old Believer track listing:
1. Jet Black Passenger
2. Collider
3. The Sea Beyond
4. Halcyon Blvd
5. Sacred Vine
6. The Old Believer
7. City of Light
8. Wynona
9. Hesperian
10. Blood Will Tell

The band recently completed an extensive North American tour with The Ocean and Scale The Summit where they previewed music from The Old Believer. The Atlas Moth will return to the road upon release of The Old Believer, with dates to be announced soon.

www.facebook.com/theatlasmothband
www.twitter.com/TheAtlasMoth
theatlasmoth.bandcamp.com

The Atlas Moth, An Ache for the Distance (2011)

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The Skull Premiere New Single “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” b/w “The Last Judgment”

Posted in audiObelisk on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today, Chicago’s The Skull release their debut single on Tee Pee Records. Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment arrives preceded by much anticipation as the first studio output from the Trouble offshoot, fronted by the inimitable Eric Wagner and featuring Trouble alumni Ron Holzner (bass), Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) and Chuck Robinson (guitar) in the five-piece lineup with Lothar Keller of Sacred Dawn. Its two songs were produced by Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, so many others), and for classic Trouble fans, the inclusion of “The Last Judgment” is a bonus — the song minus an ‘e’ from when it appeared as “The Last Judgement” on Trouble‘s own recorded debut on the 1983 Metal Massacre IV compilation.

Right away then, The Skull seem to be geared toward a classic sound, and “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” the first taste of their new, original material, feeds into that framework. Keller‘s guitar — I’m fairly certain Robinson wasn’t in the band yet when these were recorded — meters out a steady chug of a central riff to start, and he’s soon joined by Holzner‘s bass and Olson on drums, setting up a well-paced groove for Wagner‘s entry. When the vocals hit, they do so in crooning fashion, Wagner keeping to the lower end of his famous range for the verse while layering in higher-register parts for the chorus; a formidable hook worthy of the band’s pedigree. It’s an earthy sound but given ambient vitality later in its progression by the lead guitar and Wagner‘s suitably mournful echoing deeper in the mix, proving as an initial showcase that there’s more to The Skull‘s approach than riffs and familiar faces.

Trouble‘s “The Last Judgement” was also featured on their 1983 demo and has shown up on a few compilations since, and The Skull give it a respectful update. Following a descending pattern of tom hits from Olson, we’re greeted by rhythm and lead guitar interplay before moving into the rush of the song itself, crisp with Anderson‘s recording, and Wagner in a vocal duel with himself. He’s not quite looking to wail in the same way as 31 years ago, but he changes up his approach dynamically almost on a per-line basis and ultimately makes both faster and slower parts more engaging, the guitar taking over in the second half for a solo that furthers The Skull‘s allegiance to traditional metal, mounting a build all the way to the sudden ending, the vocals almost (but not) cut off for the last line, “It’ll be alright,” just as they were in the original version.

The real kicker about Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment is how well the two songs work next to each other despite the decades between when they were written. I doubt The Skull intended to give a lesson about the timelessness of doom on their first single so much as give a taste of what their debut full-length might have to offer sound-wise, but you won’t find me complaining with their having accomplished both.

Please find the two tracks below for your streaming pleasure, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Skull‘s Sometime Yesterday Morning b/w The Last Judgment is available now through Tee Pee Records digitally and as a limited CD pressing. More info at the links.

The Skull at Tee Pee Records

The Skull on Thee Facebooks

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Ape Machine Announce Weekender Tour; Supporting Motörhead in Arizona

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else might happen to Ape Machine over the course of their existence, they’ll be able to say they opened for Motörhead. No matter the trials, the victories, the downs and ups that might come to them as a band and as people, when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil, they will do so having played gigged with gods.

I don’t know if this will be the case for the members of the band, but that certainly seems like the kind of thing that, when you’ve had a shitty day and everything seems super-fucking dire and whatever else, you might feel much, much better after you sit back for a second and say, “Wait. I opened for Motörhead.” That’s bound to work for a while, anyway.

The Portland, Oregon, four-piece will fulfill their destiny on Tax Day in Arizona. Info follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

APE MACHINE announce new tour dates; opening for MOTÖRHEAD

Portland, Oregon stoner-rockers APE MACHINE have joined forces with TKO BOOKING and now share a roster with the likes of Motörhead, Anthrax, Superjoint Ritual and other legendary acts. For now, they have revealed three new spring dates in support of their latest record, Mangled By The Machine, which is out now in the Ripple Music store here.

The name APE MACHINE is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker for the heavy-hitting quartet as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment. With a heady mix of animal aggression and technical precision, APE MACHINE’s music carries an organic depth and warmth rarely heard since the time of rock’s glorious early years (or your Dad’s bad ass record collection) infused with an exceptional modern sensibility. When the mystical lyrics of vocalist Caleb Heinze lock in with the band’s stone-cold groove, APE MACHINE demonstrates an earth-shaking ability to rock. A true four-piece, the group has been called “a rock and roll band with a finger on the pulse of the ’70s and their asses firmly in the present” and “real heavy-psych for the iPhone generation” that delivers “true guts and glory rock and roll.”

Blending equal parts rock ‘n’ roll, blues, stoner rock and psychedelia, Ape Machine is out to melt faces and pound the apathy out of otherwise jaded listeners with a wall of heavy rock n’ roll tones unheard since the days of bell bottoms, long hair and blaring tube amplifiers.

Ape Machine’s mission is to combine intense melody, cutting riffs and blistering live improvisation. Where many bands rely on meticulously rehearsed, just-like-the-record-parts, Ape Machine provides a live experience that is as unique as each evening it shares with an audience.

4/13 Portland, OR @ The Know (w/ Berri Txarrak, and Order of the Gash)
4/14 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah – 2 sets on patio stage
4/15: Chandler, AZ @ Ovations Live! (w/ Motörhead!)

ripple-music.com
apemachine.com
facebook.com/apemachinemusic

Ape Machine, Mangled by the Machine (2013)

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Rukut Rattle Brains with “White Squirrel White Fox” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Aside from considering myself fortunate enough to call them personal friends, Baltimore-by-way-of-New-Jersey-by-way-of-Seattle-by-way-of-New-Jersey-etc. two-piece Rukut are also the band who, probably over a decade ago now, blindsided me with a lesson in the dynamic that a duo can offer at their best, distinct from solo artists, trios, and so on. Their passage between minimalist garage thrash, brutal punk, grind and sludge has played out DIY for years in small bars, clubs and just about anywhere else they’re asked to show up that they can park their van, but I’ve never heard it sound quite as full and devastating as it does on the new cut “White Squirrel White Fox,” taken from a brand new self-released EP, The Headless.

It’s been a while since Rukut – the duo of guitarist/vocalist Lew Hambley and drummer/graphic artist Chris Jones – released their last full-length, 2008′s Life’s Pain, but their years don’t seem to have been misspent. Hambley‘s vocals, turning vicious at switch-flick speed, touch on the guttural with “White Squirrel White Fox,” and the instrumental accompaniment they receive makes for due chaos, Jones switching between D-beat crust drive and all-out blasts after his stick-click count-in serves as the subtle announcement of the fury about to be unleashed after a grueling minute of stomping introduction. In short order, Rukut tear ass through a build that is brought to a raging, violent head precise enough to give Nasum a nod without losing Napalm Death‘s crucial soul.

By way of a spoiler, it starts with a white squirrel and ends with a white fox, but it’s really what’s between the two in the Jones-directed video that proves most essential. Rukut’s The Headless EP, can be heard at their Bandcamp page. “White Squirrel White Fox” doesn’t carry a warning for epileptics who might check it out, but it probably should: The aurally brutal comes with strobe to match.

Enjoy:

Rukut, “White Squirrel White Fox” official video

Rukut on Thee Facebooks

Rukut on Bandcamp

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Mars Red Sky Announce Stranded in Arcadia Release Show

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The North American release date for Mars Red Sky‘s stellar sophomore full-length, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), is June 10. In Europe, it’s out April 28. I guess in setting up their release show, the French fuzz trio decided to split the difference. On May 15, they’ll play their native Bordeaux on a bill that includes Russian progressive heavy rockers The Grand Astoria as openers and a live video/audio collaboration with Julia Al Abed. It’s an evening they’ve billed as “Into the Mars Red Sound.”

As one would have to imagine, there’s a video teaser that gives a closer look at the event, and you can find that below, included for the double reason that it also provides an audio sample of opener “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia, which is easily among the best albums I’ve heard thus far into 2014, with a sound that builds on the rolling fuzz of Mars Red Sky‘s first album and furthers a lush heavy psychedelia without sacrificing the humanity at the core of their approach. No easy feat — they just make it sound that way.

Dig it:

Into The Mars Red Sound » may 15th in Bordeaux!

New Album : April 28th for Europe & June 10th for North America.

On the occasion of the release of their new album ”Stranded In Arcadia” in Europe on April 28th, MARS RED SKY announced a release party in their hometown Bordeaux on May 15th. The band will perform a classic live set alongside Russian rockers The Grand Astoria, as well as an experimental video and sound creation featuring Julia Al Abed.

Infos and presales available here :
http://www.rockschool-barbey.com/conc…

Music : Julia Al Abed (fields recording) / Mars Red Sky : “The Light Beyond” From the album “Stranded in Arcadia” (Listenable Records) Recorded and mixed by Gabriel Zander in Rio de Janeiro.

Teaser : Colin Manierka

https://www.facebook.com/events/1420580848195545/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredsky
https://twitter.com/#!/marsRedSky1
http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com
https://marsredsky.net
http://www.listenable.net/

Mars Red Sky, “Into the Mars Red Sound” teaser

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Electric Moon, Mind Explosion: Into the Outer

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

German improvisors Electric Moon are rarely at rest, and for anyone who’s been following the jam-minded three-piece’s progress these last several years across their slew of studio and live albums, the latest of them, dubbed Mind Explosion, marks yet another interesting turn. When it comes to the band, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist/recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/visual artist/sometimes-vocalist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, the surest bet you can make about any given release is that it’s going to be the most psychedelic thing you’re going to hear that day. That said, I’ve always taken their sound to have more to it than just that, and likewise the band’s mission, which seems geared toward driving at the very heart of sonic collaboration between committed players. Schmidt, Lulu and Schnitzler avoid missteps along the way and get to the center of the galaxy of jamming. Their concoctions — Mind Explosion presents four of them, for a total of about 80 minutes — are hypnotic, swinging, exciting and saturated in shroomic properties. What stands Mind Explosion out from the catalog is that it’s a live album that basically serves the same function as a studio full-length would. Electric Moon are no strangers to live releases; plenty have shown up on LP, CD and limited CD-R from Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records. But where outings like the two-volume Live 2012 CDs (review here) were essentially live bootlegs, the presentation on Mind Explosion is like that of a complete studio outing. It’s bridging that gap.

And in so doing, it’s continuing Electric Moon‘s journey into the sort of creative Big Bang that drives heavy psychedelia to start with. Why can’t an album that would be recorded live just be live on stage? Why can’t an album be a live album? Why does there need to be a distinction from one to the other? The four tracks of Mind Explosion – “Trip to the Moon” (21:45), “Kaleidoscopeephole” (22:14), “The Picture” (17:04) and “Mind Explosion” (18:50) — offer plenty of time to explore these questions, and but for the periodic interjections of crowd noise, shouts in the middle of especially engaging turns, etc., there’s very little to separate the album from anything Electric Moon have jammed out in the studio. In terms of the sound quality, it’s probably Schnitzler‘s drums that most give it away, but his cymbals sound full and have no problem creating a wash to back the spaced-out effects work from Lulu and Schmidt, who also come through clearly. Together, they ride the jams out as far as they want to go, riffs and leads topping sure-footed rhythms — the bass-tone that begins “The Picture” is as much a foundation for the song’s unfolding as one could ask — in a dynamic that has only grown over time. They’re never overly technical or looking to put on a clinic as much as a show, and part of what makes Mind Explosion successful as a release even into its later reaches is the band’s sense of bringing the audience with them on these sonic voyages. As far out as it is — and it is — Electric Moon‘s sound never lets go of also being inviting.

Read more »

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Gozu Head to Europe; Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Boston’s own Gozu fly to Europe to begin a tour that will carry them for the next two weeks from Roadburn to the Desertfest in Berlin. It’s an enviable trip with what’s sure to be extra-righteous beginning and endpoints, and though it will have only been about half a month since I last watched them play, I consider Gozu among my gotta-see Roadburn bands. Why? Because everybody brings it toRoadburn. Tired? Jetlegged? Whatever the circumstances are, if you’re ever gonna kill, you’re gonna kill there. I’m looking forward to it.

Dates and whatnots follow, as dictated by the PR wire:

GOZU: Massachusetts Riff Rockers To Embark Upon First-Ever European Tour; The Fury Of A Patient Man Limited Edition Vinyl Out Now

Massachusetts hellions, GOZU, will take their riffs overseas next week for their first-ever European takeover! Set to begin at the legendary Roadburn Festival, the band will wage a full-on volume ambush through ten select locales in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, concluding with a performance at Desertfest in Berlin.

GOZU will be touting the fruit of their The Fury Of A Patient Man full-length released last Spring via Small Stone. The self-produced ten track monster earned widespread praise for its Chris Cornellian vocal swells and robust, heavy rock swagger.

A special deluxe edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man was recently released via Small Stone in celebration of the upcoming European journey. Limited to 500 copies, the 2XLP set comes on 180-gram wax with a wide spine jacket, poly-lined sleeve, and two colors – LP one is “clear green” while LP two is “solid purple.” Sides one, two and three feature tracks from the original album, while side four offers up exclusive vinyl-only numbers with one original tune (“Break You”) and GOZUed renditions of Simply Red’s “Holding Back The Years” and D’Angelo’s “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.”

GOZU Spring Tour 2014:
4/12/2014 Roadburn – Tilburg, NL
4/13/2014 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/15/2014 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
4/16/2014 Channel Zero – Ljubiljana, SI
4/17/2014 Magnolia – Milano, IT
4/18/2014 E20 Underground – Montecchio, IT
4/19/2014 TBA
4/20/2014 TBA
4/22/2014 Das Bette – Frankfurt, DE
4/23/2014 Musicon – Den Haag, NL
4/24/2014 The Underground – Cologne, DE
4/25/2014 Astra Kulturhaus Desertfest – Berlin, DE

Order the vinyl edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man at THIS LOCATION.

http://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://www.smallstone.com

Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)

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