Wovenhand, Star Treatment: All Your Waves

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wovenhand-star-treatment

This year marks 15 since the beginning of Wovenhand. The band was founded by songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards as his prior outfit, 16 Horsepower was on the wain. Their self-titled debut (discussed here) arrived in 2002, followed by a partial remake, Blush Music in 2003 and the sophomore outing, Consider the Birds, in 2004. A decade ago, Wovenhand released Mosaic, their third album, and though one could still hear some flashes of 16 Horsepower‘s alternative Americana banjo in songs like “Swedish Purse,” it was more than established by then that the band had wider intentions.

Ever since, they’ve released full-lengths on the even years — Ten Stones in 2008, The Threshingfloor (discussed here) in 2010, The Laughing Stalk (review here) in 2012, and Refractory Obdurate (review here) in 2014 — regularly checking in on a progression of sound that has seen them become much more band than project, delving into a heavier, deeper-toned style still defined in large part by Edwards‘ voice and approach to songcraft, but nonetheless more outwardly weighted.

That was especially true of Refractory Obdurate, and in some ways it applies to the eighth long-player, Star Treatment (on Sargent House in the US and Glitterhouse in the EU), as well, though as Wovenhand once grew less and less beholden to neofolk, it now grows less beholden to ideas of what it means to be heavy. Wovenhand‘s work has always been atmospheric, but in listening to the spacious drone experimentation of second track “Swaying Reed” after the full-sprint leadoff “Come Brave,” what they make most readily clear is a focus on breadth rather than intensity, the idea that the process has grown more open over time, not more closed.

Edwards, on guitar and vocals, is joined in Wovenhand by guitarist Chuck French, bassist Neil Keener, percussionist Ordy Garrison and keyboardist Matthew Smith, and like its predecessor, Star Treatment was recorded and mixed by Sanford Parker, so there’s sonic continuity to be found between the two for sure, but the band has never ceased moving forward in one if not multiple directions, and that’s the case in these 11 tracks/54 minutes as well, the opening salvo signaling precisely that kind of multifaceted growth.

With the hard-snare punctuation of “Come Brave” and the post-Swans goth-lysergic pulse of “Swaying Reed” — it does sway — “The Hired Hand” could just about go anywhere, but it’s probably closer to the opener in its emergent shuffle, though it provides the first of several opportunities throughout Star Treatment for Smith‘s keyboards to stand out. Just after the chorus, marked out by the line “give up your dead,” there’s a push of keyboard at the fore the mix that carries into the next verse, and while Wovenhand have had any number of piano, organ, and other key-based instruments in their often complex arrangements throughout the years, rarely have they let them sound so brazenly synthesized.

It adds a psychedelic touch momentarily to “The Hired Hand” and will crop up again soon enough in “Crook and Flail” after “Crystal Palace,” with which it seems paired in part by the memorable hooks around which they both seem to work, “Crystal Palace”‘s more straightforward à la “Come Brave” or “The Hired Hand,” and “Crook and Flail” playing off minor key Eastern spaciousness, still distinctly American in its rhythm, Garrison once more making an impression on drums and a variety of other percussive instruments as he has over the last several records.

wovenhand

What would seem to be the end of side A comes with the quieter start of “The Quiver,” a sort of calming lull that launches with the last of its four minutes into bombast outdoing anything Star Treatment has yet had on offer in its wash of noise and chaotic-feeling surge, Edwards seeming to be at the center of this storm, making obscure proclamations.

Still, the moodier turn is important because it is a major factor in how the second half of Star Treatment plays out, beginning with the near-eight-minute “All Your Waves,” the longest track included by a decent margin, which does not explode deep in its run, but holds to its melancholy poetry and keeps a sense of movement with a far-back but consistent percussion line, shaker or maybe tambourine or could even be a hi-hat, but its enough to hold together its not-sparse-but-wide-open surroundings, and just before six minutes in a heavier distorted guitar line takes hold and it seems like “All Your Waves” might burst forward like “The Quiver” before it, but instead, the guitar simply holds its place and becomes a drone-style ending, swirling forward just as it rounds out into the start of “Golden Blossom,” with a signature blend of acoustic and bright-toned electric guitar.

Keys return, but are more subtle behind the guitar and bass and while Garrison will add cymbal punctuation more for the final chorus, Wovenhand avoid the trap of falling into a build or even teasing one. The vocal melody leads the way through a love song lyric, and for a moment, a portion the severity of songs like “The Quiver” and “Swaying Reed” or “The Hired Hand” is let go. “Go Ye Light” brings some of it back, if only in the more distinct drumming, but is ultimately more about ambience than push, a wisp of lead guitar standing out toward the midpoint that will return again behind the chorus at the end to engaging effect, but it’s “Five by Five” that further revives the impact of Star Treatment‘s early going as it makes its way toward the closer.

Forward distortion and drums are tied to a subdued start by a sparse piano figure before feedback fades into the start of “Low Twelve,” which as the finale would seem to speak directly to the album’s star-minded theme, cosmic in its sensibility and perspective but still held to the earth — repetitions of “heavenly bodies” make for a clever lyrical play even in light of Edwards‘ well-documented and oft-represented Christian faith. This interplay of land and ether would seem to be the central duality at work across the album as a whole.

Likewise, they end neither with bang nor whimper, but on steady ground, and the lasting effect of Star Treatment is even more about the breadth in the music than its thrust, which is a marked departure from Refractory Obdurate and a potential sign of things to come for Wovenhand as a whole. I wouldn’t actually speculate in that regard — because one just never knows — but it has happened that what started out as moments of flourish later became foundations for Edwards‘ songwriting.

The only real safe bet is continued, progressive creativity. Edwards has been called everything from a shaman to the second coming of Johnny Cash via Nick Cave. I’m not sure if to-date he’s sounded less like those things or more like himself than he does in these songs, but even in that, Star Treatment feels like a step in a much larger, ongoing process.

Wovenhand, Star Treatment (2016)

Wovenhand website

Wovenhand on Thee Facebooks

Wovenhand on Twitter

Wovenhand on Instagram

Wovenhand on Bandcamp

Sargent House website

Glitterhouse Records website

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Beaten Back to Pure Post First New Song in More than a Decade

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

beaten-back-to-pure

Between 2001 and 2004, Beaten Back to Pure released three albums of unrepentantly kickass Southern metal. With elements of thrash, death metal, classic heavy rock and more, they were a ferocious, drunk force to be reckoned with, and across ’01’s Southern Apocalypse, the next year’s The Last Refuge of the Sons of Bitches, and ’04’s The Burning South, they ripped through heavy and metallic convention and cast their own identity at a time before a new generation was about to discover what sonic weight sounded like. That timing means that, while they kicked ass at Emissions from the Monolith, they never quite got the recognition they deserved, as was the case with many acts of that same era. MySpace was a long time ago.

This past weekend, Beaten Back to Pure vocalist Ben Hogg (also Night Magic, Birds of Prey, ex-Hour of 13) put out word he’d be posting the band’s first new song since The Burning South was released on behalf of himself and guitarist/engineer Vince Burke (also Hail!Hornet), who also helmed the recording at his Sniper Studio. The track has the working title “Life Time Served,” which I’m told might change, and while it revives some of the core push and extremity that made Beaten Back to Pure so righteous during their initial run, that spacious guitar intro at the start and all those cleaner, more soulful vocals are hard to ignore. Nor do I want to, frankly. “Life Time Served” would seem to benefit from the work Burke and Hogg have done since their last outing together, and from where I sit, that only makes it stronger.

Check it out below, followed by an update on where the band is at now. When and if I hear of a new release, I’ll keep you posted.

Enjoy:

Beaten Back to Pure, “Life Time Served”

First new song in over a decade. We got 9 of em. We’re calling it an album but maybe just 9 singles. Like Flo Rida.

Aight folks uploading this was a bitch. Vince is passing out like a lame. Anyway, here’s what I was speaking on earlier. There’s some intro but it’s all sick

Actually just occurred to me I hope y’all dare this shit.

That makes no sense^ we were drinking like broz do. I’m not sure what I was trying to say.

Beaten Back to Pure:
Ben Hogg – crooner
Vince Burke – drunk
Richie Scharr – friend of Scott Travis
Slam Jacobs – impoverished
David Vaughn – new guy

Beaten Back to Pure on Thee Facebooks

Ben Hogg on YouTube

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Black Rainbows Touring with Brant Bjork

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

black-rainbows

This is one of those instances where a band works really hard and is awesome and cool things happen. Roman trio Black Rainbows will join none other than Brant Bjork on his upcoming European tour this November. The band will already spend a decent portion of October on the road, playing festivals like Desertfest Athens, Desertfest Belgium, Keep it Low and Into the Void, but tacking another 16 dates on top of that, particularly considering who they’ll be out with, only makes their fall look more excellent.

Between the two runs, it will be the second round of touring that Black Rainbows have done to support this year’s Stellar Prophecy (review here), which was released in Spring with another European tour concurrent to that. Seems like at some point these guys are going to have to get over to the States for a few shows. Where’s that Psycho Las Vegas request form?

From the PR wire:

black-rainbows-brant-bjork-tour-poster

BLACK RAINBOWS on tour with Brant Bjork! More shows and festivals announced!

Italian heavy psych rockers BLACK RAINBOWS are once again about to take over Europe, with a full set of shows including the best festivals of this season. The fuzztastic trio was also chosen by almighty desert rock icon BRANT BJORK as main support act on his fall tour. Get in!

BLACK RAINBOWS have been relentlessly supporting their fifth outing “Stellar Prophecy”, released last spring on Heavy Psych Sounds. With a full headline tour (which includes appearances at Desertfest Athens and Belgium, Into The Void and Keep It Low Fest), and an extensive tour alongside all-time desert rock legend BRANT BJORK, the trio is slowly but surely expanding their fuzzy grip on the continent.

Another special guest to join Brant Bjork and Black Rainbows on their European tour is Sean Wheeler from desert punk band Throw Bag, who was recently featured in the “Lo Sound Desert” movie.

BLACK RAINBOWS comment: “We’re very very excited, we didn’t expect to receive this call! Our goal was set for Desertfest Athens, Belgium, Keep It Low and Into The Void fest! This is insane for us, an occasion we’ve looking for a long time.”

BLACK RAINBOWS FALL TOUR 2016:
07.10 – Athens (GR) Desertfest Athens
10.10 – Zurich (CH) TBC
14.10 – Antwerp (BE) Desertfest Belgium
15.10 – Monthbeliard (FR) Atelier des Moles
17.10 – Lichtenfeld (DE) Paunchy Cats
18.10 – St Gallen (CH) Rumpeltum
19.10 – Wien (AT) Das Bach
20.10 – Salzburg (AT) Rockhaus
21.10 – Leeuwarden (NL) Into The Void Fest
22.10 – Munich (DE) Keep It Low Fest

ON TOUR WITH BRANT BJORK:
03.11 – Osnabrück (DE) Bastard Club
04.11 – Deventer (NL) Burger Weeshuis
05.11 – Erfurt (DE) Stadtgarten
06.11 – Hasselt (BE) Mod
07.11 – London (UK) The Garage
08.11 – Paris (FR) Divan Du Monde
09.11 – Wiesbaden (DE) Schlachthof
10.11 – München (DE) Backstage
11.11 – Graz (AT) PPC
14.11 – Vienna (AT) Arena
15.11 – Zürich (CH) Rote Fabrik
16.11 – Karlsruhe (DE) Substage
17.11 – Köln (DE) Live Music Hall
18.11 – Dresden (DE) Beatpol
19.11 – Berlin (DE) Columbia Theater
20.11 – Hamburg (DE) Logo

BLACK RAINBOWS IS
Gabriele Fiori – Guitar & Vocals
Alberto Croce – Drums
Giuseppe Guglielmino – Bass

http://www.theblackrainbows.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BLACKRAINBOWSROCK/
https://twitter.com/BLACKRAINBOWSii
http://blackrainbows.bandcamp.com/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Black Rainbows, “Electrify” official video

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Roadburn 2017: Tickets Available Starting Oct. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

roadburn-2017-banner

Okay, so I understand the banner above and the poster below for Roadburn 2017 aren’t the final art designs the festival is going with, that these are just out in advance for the announcement that tickets are onsale starting Oct. 20, and that the official artwork will be made public in October or November. I get that. But I love these anyway. In a time when it feels like not a day or two can’t pass without having to shake my head at some band’s shitty, cartoon-titty-filled cover art or show poster, whatever it is, this hearkens toward something entirely more righteous. What I’m assuming is the work of Costin Chioreanu seems to be pulling influence directly from old propaganda posters (think “Rosie the Riveter”) and instead of bullshit objectification, this art is joyful, celebratory, powerful, and in that way, couldn’t be more appropriate to represent Roadburn.

Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to Roadburn 2017 beginning announcement season when the lineup info starts to trickle out, and I’ll look forward to the final art being unveiled too — Becky Cloonan‘s last year was unbelievable — but to have this in the meantime already makes the festival feel like a gift.

Roadburn 2017 is April 20-23 at the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

From the Roadburn website:

roadburn-festival-2017-poster

ROADBURN 2017 TICKET ONSALE DATE: OCTOBER 20!

We’re very aware that people are awaiting an announcement from us regarding the line up for Roadburn 2017. We’re working on that right now and will have some news for you within the next couple of weeks – we’re putting the finishing touches to the first batch of announcements, with more to follow. We hope you’ll agree that they’re worth the wait!

In the mean time, we want to give you advance warning that tickets for Roadburn 2017 will go on sale on October 20! Mark your calendars now, and save your pennies! We’ll have more details available before they go onsale regarding pricing and links etc. But we can tell you now that they will be sold via TICKETMASTER once again, and also will be available to purchase in person from the 013 venue in Tilburg (NL) at our annual onsale party!

In case you missed the news this summer… we have some good news for visitors to Roadburn from outside of Tilburg! After some careful negotiating with local authorities, we can confirm that non-Dutch residents will be able to gain access to Tilburg’s coffee shops and can legally purchase marijuana products – as long as they are wearing a Roadburn wristband!

We’re well aware that this part of our culture is appealing to visitors and we’re very happy to be able to include you during Roadburn 2017. The city of Tilburg has always been very welcoming to Roadburners, and this is yet another extension of that welcome. Tilburg has several recommended coffee shops and we’re sure locals will happily point you in the right direction. So, if you like, you can now go forth, smoke and have a good time!

In the mean time, as with previous years, Marcel Van De Vondervoort (Torture Garden Studio) and his amazing team have captured the essence of Roadburn 2016 in these incredible audio recordings, hosted by VPRO 3voor12, Holland‘s major cultural network.

Stay tuned for more announcements in the first week of October – and, as ever, thank you for your continued support of Roadburn Festival!

– Walter, Becky, and all at the 013 venue.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Bang, Live At Roadburn 2016

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Thief Release Thieves Hymn in D Minor Debut LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

thief

It looks like a total of 250 copies of Thief‘s debut album, Thieves Hymn in D Minor, have been printed. That doesn’t seem like very many at all, and even fewer when one considers the breakdown between red and black vinyl. Seems to me that if it’s the kind of thing one might be into, one might be inclined to get on it before the getting is no longer good. Available through Lay Bare Recordings — also responsible for recent outings by Yawning Man and the European distro for Seedy Jeezus & Isaiah Mitchell‘s collaboration — 100 copies will come with a special silkscreen art print as well, further sweetening the pot.

Lay Bare had this to say via the PR wire:

thief-thieves-hymn-in-d-minor-700

New Lay Bare Recordings release THIEF – THIEVES HYMN IN D MINOR

Laid Bare from the city of Angels, THIEF, an ambient electronic project from DYLAN NEAL (hammered dulcimerist from the experimental black metal band Botanist). Seven haunting hymns on two vinyl editions.

LBR015, Two vinyl editions
1. 100 copies on Oxblood Red vinyl
2. 150 copies on black vinyl
3. With both color variations a special silkscreen printed art by Comaworx (http://www.comaworx.com/ ) can be ordered as a special indulgence for this release, only 100 printed!!

THIEF is a dark electronic project based in Los Angeles. Mixing a delicate relationship between choral and electronica – the sacred and the future – and featuring two live members of the highly acclaimed experimental black metal band Botanist, THIEF creates a new haunting story in the search for spirits in the machines.

THIEF’s debut LP Thieves Hymn in D Minor throws away the use of synths and pads and is crafted almost entirely out of manipulated sacred orthodox music. Its seven electronic tombs beautifully unravel over distorted beats creating a lush, shimmering atmosphere. Mixing electronica, trip hop, and experimental sounds together, Thieves Hymn in D Minor will be available on vinyl through Lay Bare Recordings.

In the studio, it is a one-man project, but live it also features R. Chiang (the other live hammered dulcimerist in Botanist) on drums and Chris Hackman on bass.

THIEF is:
Dylan Neal – All music, vocals, production
Robert Chiang – Drums
Chris Hackman – Bass, Vocals

http://burningworldrecords.com/artist/thief
http://laybarerecordings.com/
http://www.facebook.com/laybarerecordings/
http://thiefdom.com/
https://www.facebook.com/THIEFsounds/
https://soundcloud.com/thief_official
https://twitter.com/THIEF_SOUNDS
https://thief-official.bandcamp.com/

Thief, “Skin to Jade”

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Hosoi Bros Premiere “Lights Out” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

hosoi-bros

I really dig the comment below about Hosoi Bros‘ new album, Abuse Your Allusion III from Severin Allgood. First of all, he’s right, the record is easily the most professional-sounding thing the Memphis-based heavy punkers have done — if you caught onto it last year, think of a less metal incarnation of Bloodcow‘s Crystals and Lasers as a comparison point — but it’s also interesting the way Allgood brings up how technology has changed the way we interact with music in our day-to-day. He names names: Bandcamp, Soundcloud, iPhone, Macbook, Spotify, your earbuds.

Hosoi Bros, who release Abuse Your Allusion III Sept. 23 on Typhoon Killer Records, already have it up and available to order from Bandcamp, so it’s not like they eschew this technology. I’m not sure a band could and reasonably expect anyone to hear their music. And Allgood isn’t necessarily the first to bring up the idea of making a full-album as opposed to a collection of single tracks, but I guess I haven’t often thought of streaming technology in terms of having a hand in leveling the playing field from a production standpoint, or how that might be used as a drive to surpass the status quo, as Hosoi Bros do with their latest.

Of course, it’s a more general statement about the album as a whole than “Lights Out” itself, for which you’ll find the chicanery-prone outfit getting up to some primo nonsense. At four and a half minutes, “Lights Out” is one of the longer tracks on the record, which has been a while in the making — they premiered a video for “Hands of Stone” here last year — but its catchy rush and crisp execution represent Abuse Your Allusion III well, even if it’s not as outwardly silly as “Drunk Donkey,” “Saint Tightus” or “Topless Gnome.”

Please find the video below, followed by the aforementioned statement from AllgoodAbuse Your Allusion III (note: it’s the first one) is out Sept. 23.

Enjoy:

Hosoi Bros., “Lights Out” official video

Severin Allgood on Abuse Your Allusion III:

We got super weird with this album. There’s gongs, bells, synths, and tree frogs. Alan Burchum did an amazing job with the production. It feels like an album. And by that I mean, it feels like when I was a kid and would bring home a new cassette and throw it on my stereo. Bandcamp and Soundcloud have decimated the playing field. Every idiot with an iPhone or a Macbook now has a demo available for download. We set out to make a polished, cohesive, and complete thought. We spent a lot of time adding layers and playing with track order. This album is designed to be played loud on your stereo. It was not made with the idea of individual tracks for Spotify radio. Take out your earbuds and crank up your speakers.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros on Twitter

Hosoi Bros on Bandcamp

Typhoon Killer Records webstore

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Neurosis, Fires Within Fires: Reflecting Forward

Posted in Reviews on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

neurosis-fires-within-fires

A new release of any sort from Neurosis should be seen as reason to celebrate, and their 11th studio album, Fires Within Fires, has hit with no shortage of fanfare, critical fawning, wax poetry, etc. I won’t necessarily disagree with most of it, but it’s hard to separate the record, which of course is released on the band’s own Neurot Recordings, from the context in which it arrives.

Part of that is narrative. The post-metal progenitors began marking their 30th anniversary in the past year, and with Fires Within Fires, they take on the task of summarizing their unmatched sonic progression in a variety of interesting ways, not all of them sonic. At the same time, one of the most pivotal aspects to what Neurosis do — and I’m writing as a fan — has been the forward-thinking crux, the willingness to push into uncharted places, relentless in passion and creative spirit.

Fires Within Fires representing that as well as pulling in aspects from the band’s past without being overly cerebral or coming across like a commentary from the band, by the band, about the band, might be its greatest triumph. Rather, in marking their history, Neurosis — the five-piece of guitarist/vocalists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Edwardson, drummer Jason Roeder and keyboardist/noise specialist Noah Landis — conjure here some of the rawest sounds they’ve elicited in more than a decade.

That idea applies even to the five-track/40-minute runtime. Fires Within Fires is the shortest Neurosis full-length since 1990’s The Word as Law, and the visceral nature of opener “Bending Light” mirrors that paring-down process in its sound. At the same time, Fires Within Fires caps with “Reach,” which presents the most ambitious melodic vocal approach of the band’s career, so even as they reflect, that becomes part of an overarching ongoing pursuit.

This gives the album, produced by Steve Albini, who’s helmed everything they’ve done since 2001’s pivotal A Sun that Never Sets — which seems to find some reference here in the penultimate “Broken Ground” (probably not on purpose) — a certain front-to-back linearity. Especially with its somewhat truncated span compared to more recent Neurosis outings, be it 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), which was an hour even, or 2007’s Given to the Rising, which was 10 minutes longer than that, the shorter stretch makes Fires Within Fires easier to take as a whole work as well as in terms of its individual pieces and what they accomplish.

Their recordings with Albini have always been very tied to their live presentation, so Fires Within Fires isn’t necessarily any more “stripped down” in its presentation than any of their other collaborations, but it does carry that rawer feel in the material itself, in the full-boar lurch of centerpiece “Fire is the End Lesson” as well as in the still-tense atmospherics of second cut “A Shadow Memory.”

Landis, whose contributions in eerie sampling and manipulation of sound, as well as keys, etc., continue to bolster the material well, immediately complement the initial rollout of “Bending Light.” Crashing in, the opener weaves its way forward on an intricately-toned guitar lead, quiets down to lull the listener into a false sense of security and then at 3:40 slams into its verse, Kelly‘s guttural sneer unmistakable as it spits the lines, “Watching through the eyes of a crow/I let it guide me/I let it guide me/I let it in/The end is endless/And washing [or watching] over me.”

The rhythmic repetition there is important, and comes up again shortly with the same line, “I let it guide me,” before Kelly and Von Till come together to deliver and repeat the lyric, “Peeling the skin away reveals the heart,” which could easily be read as a declaration of intent for the album itself (though again, probably not), their insistence as they belt it out four times in a row punkish in its intensity. Following a slowdown, Von Till takes the fore vocally and the track lumbers and undulates to its finish and into the airier start of “A Shadow Memory,” the shortest cut on Fires Within Fires at 6:50.

Within the first minute, its forward motion is underway, the guitars and keys accenting each other as Roeder, as ever, gives fluidity to what for most drummers would be impossible to interpret (without his blueprint). Von Till and Kelly work through a call and response on vocals and drop out for a moment of ambience before a section of drawn guitar line reminiscent of “Water is Not Enough” from Given to the Rising hits and carries through the halfway point, after which they stop and then shift again into a more direct thrust. That will serve as the capstone movement, and the guitar line returns to tie it together, behind another effective dual vocal that only adds to the manic feel before swirling noise ends cold and cuts into the immediate impact of “Fire is the End Lesson.”

neurosis-photo-by-john-sturdy

Also on the shorter end (6:54), it reverses the structure thus far of subdued intros into bursts forward, though it does build with much credit to Edwardson at the low end until they move through the two-minute mark, cutting out some of the wall-of-noise push to air out keys and what sounds like strings but could just as easily be a sample or other manipulation from Landis — it can be tricky sometimes to tell — but the thrust revives with a rising, consuming wash of noise and guitar, all seeming to come to a head and then only growing more abrasive, finally cutting out just past five minutes in to the same progression that answered the first payoff, which by this time has an almost soothing presence.

They finish with repeated lines before dropping to feedback to set up the gorgeous wash of keys that begin “Broken Ground.” One might be reminded of “A Sun that Never Sets” from the album of the same name by Roeder‘s drumming and the vocal that emerges, and as “Broken Ground” moves into its apex, it might seem to be speaking to the genre-foundational “Stones from the Sky” off that same record, but Neurosis today is a different beast than they were 15 years ago, and they shove what might be Fires Within Fires‘ standout riff into a chorus that holds its volume and opens into lines of what sounds like (but likely isn’t actually) flute behind the vocals, dipping back right away into the verse before a return to the quiet guitar, keys and drums of the intro just past the halfway point brings Von Till back for a more subdued delivery.

At 5:39, they kick back into that riff and take it through another chorus, and though it seems fair to expect them to ride that through the remaining three minutes, they instead cut back again and end quiet, watery effects on a few final lines on a long drift with just a current of noise remaining. The closer and longest track, “Reach” (10:37) begins almost like its predecessor, but the mood is immediately different, the drums accenting a march that Von Till meets with melodic singing in a voice usually reserved for his solo work.

Not only that, but soon enough Kelly joins in and the two duet in a way that I’m not sure has ever happened on a Neurosis record. A build has begun, however, and carries through the next verse and joint-vocal chorus, and at 4:30, they shift into what will be the ground level for Fires Within Fires‘ last push, a long section of melancholy guitar lead over patient and quiet, but tense, guitar, bass and drums.

You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when, but at 7:59, “Reach” lunges forth its crescendo, a vicious and somewhat angular rhythm very much the band’s own that moves back and forth between the guitars at the fore, brings in Edwardson on backing vocals — he’s a weapon not often but effectively used — and teases its finish with words that rhyme with the title before the guitar, bass, drums, keys and everything else drops away and the final call — “reach” — is delivered, the band basically living up to that promise in manifesting the undulled searching that has been their core for the last three decades. In the end, it only takes them one word to say it all.

The visual side of Neurosis‘ output — from the artwork to their years spent accompanied by Josh Graham‘s video presentations during live sets — has always been a major element in conveying theme. With Honor Found in Decay, there was a strong sense of ritual, and the open gray space of 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm was no less appropriate than the charred and fossilized flesh of 1993’s Enemy of the Sun.

With the Fires Within Fires cover by Thomas Hooper, we see several elements that factor into the story surrounding the album, from the burning world representing passion to the key that might very well be just that — the key — in saying passion is central to the band and what has sustained them. Also important and thematic through the package are circles, in both the world on the cover surrounded by ethereal lines that could well be taken as spirit, as well as on back and inside, and this too plays into the notion of Neurosis taking a rare moment to examine themselves and what their time together has wrought for them as artists and people.

I’ve made a lot of comparisons to their past work, and I think those hold up to scrutiny (or I wouldn’t have made them), but at no point do I believe Neurosis sat down and said, “Okay, now we’re gonna reference ‘Through Silver in Blood.'” Instead, it’s more likely these connections emerged naturally as the songs came together, and while at some point they had to consciously acknowledge they were doing something different than before — if only in realizing Fires Within Fires is 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor — I’m not convinced that’s anything so far removed from their usual method of making a record.

Still, the circles. One thinks of ouroboros, of ends as beginnings. It may well be that Neurosis have come full circle and they’ll draw that circle to a close, a completion, but just as likely, the turn in approach they present here may signify a new beginning for the band as much as punctuation for their first 30 years. What can be said for certain is Neurosis will keep moving forward, as it’s all they’ve ever done, and even as they may or may not be looking back, they refuse to stop changing on Fires Within Fires as well. Recommended.

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires album teaser

Neurosis website

Neurosis on Thee Facebooks

Neurosis on Twitter

Neurot Recordings website

Neurot Recordings store

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Keep it Low 2016 Finalizes Lineup; John Garcia European Tour Canceled

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

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With the news that former Kyuss vocalist John Garcia has pulled the plug on his Fall 2016 European tour plans, Munich-based Keep it Low festival has had to accordingly update its already-completed festival lineup. I’m not sure if they’ll add someone to replace Garcia — also not sure how the tour cancellation coincides with the planned late-2016 release of a new solo record from him; as there’s been no word from Napalm Records on it, I wouldn’t necessarily count on it arriving before 2017 — but the fest is exactly one month away, so it seemed only fair to post the new lineup, which remains strong with the likes of Colour Haze, Elder, Greenleaf, Karma to Burn, and so on.

The following comes direct from Keep it Low 2016. Dig it:

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Keep It Low Festival 2016

Keep it Low is a cozy 2 days Indoor Festival with family character and loads of good vibes.Fans of Heavy Rock, Psychedelic, Doom, Stoner and Rock´n Roll should mark 21 & 22 October 2016 in their calendar.The first three editions were sold out and the upcoming 4 th edition will also see an excellent line up. The “Feierwerk”-Areal is only 2 subway stations away from the centre of Munich. KIL 2016 greets with 3 stages and around 20 bands, cozy and rain protected outside beergarden, next to a skatepark. For the ones keeping it really low, we decided to end both festival nights with an aftershow party (+DJ) in one of the concert rooms.

LINE UP 2016:
FRIDAY Oct 21:
COLOUR HAZE – KARMA TO BURN – ELECTRIC CITIZEN – SALEM´S POT – MOTHER´S CAKE – SWAN VALLEY HEIGHTS – COJONES

SATURDAY Oct 22:
ELDER – GREENLEAF – MONKEY 3 – THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX – DOPETHRONE – 1000 MODS – TONER LOW – FATSO JETSON – BLACK RAINBOWS – MOANING CITIES – DEADSMOKE – GRUSOM – BRIGHT CURSE – SAMAVAYO – DUEL

KEEP IT LOW 2016 will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich) and will greet with 3 stages and outside beergarden & skatepark. On this upcoming edition we are setting up a cozy and rain protected outside area with food and drink station. We also decided to play already on 2 stages on the Friday night and ending both KIL nights with aftershow parties and Dj Sets (Friday until 3 am and Saturday until 5 am).

Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 65 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!

You can purchase tickets on http://woolheads.com/ but be quick! E-Tickets are also available on http://www.eventim.de/

https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
http://www.keepitlow.de/

Elder, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, Aug. 23, 2016

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