Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
I consider anything over three weeks a long tour. 1000mods will nearly double that standard beginning on Thursday, March 23, as they head out on a massive round of European tour dates supporting last year’s Repeated Exposure To… (review here). Their third album, it was a watershed moment for them as well as for Greece’s heavy rock scene, which has become among the most vibrant in the Euro underground, with 1000mods very much at the fore as a lead for other groups to follow. The band spent much of last fall bouncing between fests, and they’ll do likewise this time around, hitting Desertfest London 2017, Desertfest Berlin 2017, Under the Black Moon and Riff Ritual along their way, as you can see in the update below.
One really hopes these guys enjoy spending time together, because they’re going to be doing a lot of it. Too bad they already put out an album called Super Van Vacation (it was in 2011; review here), because a tour like this seems like a prime opportunity to make a live record and that’s the perfect title for one.
Shows are presented by Sound of Liberation. Dig:
1000mods – Repeated and Exposed Tour 2017
As promised: We are getting back on the European roads for a headline tour this time, in order to promote our latest album “Repeated exposure to…”.
We are really happy to visit a lot of cities for the first time and some cities that we haven’t visited since 2014. We are also proud to include a lot of amazing festivals like Desertfest London, DesertFest Berlin, Under The Black Moon 2017 in Munich and Riff Ritual Festival in Barcelona.
Dates: 23.03 – Sofia, BG 24.03 – Bucharest, RO 25.03 – Cluj, RO 26.03 – Timisoara, RO 28.03 – Beograd, RS 29.03 – Novisad, RS 01.04 – Munich, DE 02.04 – Leipzig, DE 03.04 – Prague, CZ 04.04 – Budapest, HU 05.04 – Zagreb, HR 06.04 – Innsbruck, AT 07.04 – Nuremberg, DE 08.04 – Chemnitz, DE 09.04 – Osnabruck, DE 10.04 – TBA 11.04 – Amsterdam, NL 12.04 – Karlsruhe, DE 13.04 – Freiburg, DE 14.04 – Olten, CH 15.04 – Winterthur, CH 17.04 – San Sebastian, ES 18.04 – Gijon, ES 19.04 – Porto, PT 20.04 – Lisbon, PT 21.04 – Madrid, ES 22.04 – Barcelona, ES 23.04 – TBA 24.04 – Geneve, CH 25.04 – Cojmar, FR 26.04 – TBA 27.04 – Paris, FR 28.04 – London, UK 29.04 – Deventer, NL 30.04 – Berlin, DE 03.05 – Trieste,IT 04.05 – Torino, IT 05.05 – Pisa, IT 06.05 – Pescara, IT 07.05 – Bari, IT
Some more dates to be announced soon! Powered by Sound of Liberation UG and Ouga Booga & the Mighty Oug
100mods is: Dani G. / Bass & Vox Giannis S. / Guitars George T. / Guitars Labros G. / Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
I have no problem admitting to feeling overwhelmed looking at the full lineup and individual day splits for Desertfest London 2017. I mean, seriously. Look at that poster. What a way to spend a weekend.
Likewise, I have few grand reflections to offer in light of that overwhelming feeling, except perhaps to take a step back and be massively impressed at how much this event has grown in just six incarnations. Along with Desertfest Berlin, the London edition has become an anchor not only for the UK heavy rock underground — which is well represented here as ever in Elephant Tree, Black Spiders, Stubb, Vodun, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Terminal Cheesecake, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and so on — but for bands from abroad as well. You’ll note the three headliners: two American, one Norwegian, and the next line down on the poster is two Swedish, one American. Desertfest London 2017’s reach feels wider than ever. Staring at the final lineup, it’s clear just how much of a big fucking deal this festival has become.
Wish I could be there to see it.
Here’s the announcement of the individual day lineups from their website:
DESERTFEST 2017 DAY SPLITS AND DAY TICKETS ARE HERE!
Finally, the Desertfest 2017 day and stage splits are here, along with individual day tickets. It’s the point of the year where you can start planning the weekend, you can imagine the sets in your head and you can curse those god damned clashes.
Last things first, let’s get straight to that insane Sunday main-stage. To celebrate The Roundhouse joining the Desertfest family, we made their debut appearance something special. Not only will stoner doom icons Sleep be topping the bill, but the Roundhouse hosts a full bill of huge acts. Candlemass, with over three decades of underground acclaim to their name, bring the epic doom metal. USA’s Wolves in the Throne Room bring the atmospheric black metal. Traditional doom metal stalwarts Saint Vitus bring the classic riffs. And how about this for a ‘curtain jerker’? Bongzilla bring the raw weed metal for their second show of the weekend; more on the first later.
It’s not just about the Sunday though. Friday’s stage at the Electric Ballroom is headlined by returning heroes Slo Burn whose short run in the mid 90s furthered the then fledgling stoner rock scene. One band they surely had an impact on is Lowrider, who play Europe’s finest stoner rock alongside them. Ukraine’s Stoned Jesus celebrate their resonant album Seven Thunders Roar, and 1000Mods and Pontiak round up the main stage on the Friday.
The Electric Ballroom on Saturday will be swarming with Turbojugends as death-punk grandmasters Turbonegro turn Camden into party central. John Garcia sticks around for a solo show, sure to feature classics from his years of nonstop mastery in the stoner rock scene. Sheffield’s rock and roll five piece Black Spiders visit London for one last time on their farewell tour, with Satan’s Satyrs and Avon rounding up the main stage.
As ever though, it doesn’t stop at the main stages. Our regular partners have delivered three stages with diverse lineups. Human_Disease_Promo and When Planets Collide take over The Underworld on Saturday in a bill headlined by Bongzilla with a special set celebrating the band’s early work. The Quietus stage is led by synth wavers Zombi, and Nightshift Promotions bring an eclectic mix led by Hungary’s Apey & the Pea. To be honest, just stick a pin in the lineup poster and you’re guaranteed a good time.
For those who can’t make the full weekend, we have a limited number of individual day tickets. Priced at £40 for Friday tickets, £40 for Saturday tickets and £45 for Sunday tickets, links are below.
So there we have it. Our final lineup for Desertfest 2017. We hope you’re as excited as we are to get back to Camden this April and riff London to the ground.
DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 Final Lineup: SLEEP SLO BURN TURBONEGRO CANDLEMASS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM SAINT VITUS JOHN GARCIA BAND BONGZILLA LOWRIDER SCISSORFIGHT BLACK SPIDERS SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT THE PICTUREBOOKS STONED JESUS SATAN’S SATYRS INTER ARMA WEAR YOUR WOUNDS 1000MODS STEAK AVON DEATH ALLEY DEAD LORD BOSS KELOID PONTIAK YURI GAGARIN HARK VODUN CHRON GOBLIN PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS THE WELL MAMMOTH STORM CELESTE STUBB MONOLITHIAN WUCAN VENOMOUS MAXIMUS BRUME APEY & THE PEA ELEPHANT TREE GRAVE LINES IRON WITCH EARTH SHIP BACKWOODS PAYBACK WIZARD FIGHT BRULE CLOSET DISCO QUEEN GRAND MAMMOTH CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD SAMAVAYO WELCOME BACK DELTA DEAD LETTUCE MONSTERTONE LEDFOOT ZOMBI TERMINAL CHEESECAKE KHÜNNT BASK BRUXA MARIA
Consider this your usual disclaimer that, like any of this site’s coverage of year-end whatnottery, this podcast is by no means attempting to capture all of 2016’s best tracks. It is, however, over four hours long, and frankly that seems like enough to ask. If you decide to take it on and sample what I found to be some of the best material to come down the line over the last 12 months, please know you have my thanks in advance. For what it’s worth, it was a lot of fun to put together, and that’s not always the case with these.
But about the length. I’ve done double-sized year-end specials for a while now. It’s always just seemed a fair way to go. And the last few at least have been posted the week of the Xmas holiday as well, which for me is of dual significance since it just so happens four hours is right about what it takes to drive from where I live to where my family lives, so when I look at this massive slew of 34 acts, from the riff-led righteousness of Wo Fat and Curse the Son to the crush of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and SubRosa to the psychedelic reaches of Zun and Øresund Space Collective (who probably show up in podcasts more than anyone, oddly enough), I also think of going to see my family, which has become my favorite part of the holidays.
Whatever associations you might draw with it, I very much hope you enjoy listening. Thanks for taking the time.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Wo Fat, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” from Midnight Cometh
0:09:35 Greenleaf, “Howl” from Rise Above the Meadow
0:14:57 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
0:20:49 Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” from Tao of the Devil
0:26:27 Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” from Aurora
0:29:44 Child, “Blue Side of the Collar” from Blueside
0:35:31 Geezer, “Bi-Polar Vortex” from Geezer
0:43:59 Zun, “Come Through the Water” from Burial Sunrise
0:49:27 Baby Woodrose, “Mind Control Machine” from Freedom
0:54:11 Curse the Son, “Hull Crush Depth” from Isolator
0:59:31 Borracho, “Shot down, Banged up, Fade Away” from Atacama
1:05:50 Scissorfight, “Nature’s Cruelest Mistake” from Chaos County
1:09:19 Truckfighters, “The Contract” from V
1:16:30 Spidergawd, “El Corazon del Sol” from III
1:21:24 Fatso Jetson, “Royal Family” from Idle Hands
1:26:13 Worshipper, “Step Behind” from Shadow Hymns
1:30:57 Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” from Y Proffwyd Dwyll
1:39:42 Druglord, “Regret to Dismember” from Deepest Regrets
1:46:34 Moon Coven, “New Season” from Moon Coven
1:52:03 Gozu, “Tin Chicken” from Revival
1:59:49 Year of the Cobra, “Vision of Three” from …In the Shadows Below
2:06:53 The Munsens, “Abbey Rose” from Abbey Rose
2:14:56 Lamp of the Universe, “Mu” from Hidden Knowledge
2:21:26 1000mods, “On a Stone” from Repeated Exposure To…
2:26:45 Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow” from Is Satan Real?
2:30:43 Vokonis, “Acid Pilgrim” from Olde One Ascending
2:37:35 Slomatics, “Electric Breath” from Future Echo Returns
2:43:02 Droids Attack, “Sci-Fi or Die” from Sci-Fi or Die
2:47:20 King Buffalo, “Drinking from the River Rising” from Orion
2:56:51 Comet Control, “Artificial Light” from Center of the Maze
3:06:37 Øresund Space Collective, “Above the Corner” from Visions Of…
3:22:51 Naxatras, “Garden of the Senses” from II
3:33:14 SubRosa, “Black Majesty” from For this We Fought the Battle of Ages
3:48:23 Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, “Escape Through the Rift” from Tranquonauts
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Once the reunited Slo Burn had been announced for London, I had been wondering how Desertfest Berlin 2017 might manage to work them into the lineup despite what had been revealed previously as a German-exclusive show at Freak Valley 2017 just weeks later. We have our answer in the latest update that frontman John Garcia and his solo band will do a set spanning material from the Kyuss and Slo Burn catalogs for the Berlin-based festival, thereby avoiding conflict with the Freak Valley slot and giving Desertfesters something special in their own right. I recall seeing Garcia Plays Kyuss at Roadburn in 2010 and they did Slo Burn‘s “Pilot the Dune.” Sat pretty well next to the Kyuss material if I do say so myself.
As Garcia will be performing with Slo Burn the same weekend in London, I’d be very interested to know the lineup for this incarnation of his solo band, whether it’s the same players working under a different name or if anyone is swapping out from one show to the next. Everything’s politics, folks. Make no mistake.
In addition to this bit of intrigue, 1000mods, Suma, Pontiak and Riff Fist have been added to Desertfest Berlin 2017, who sent over this pre-holiday update:
JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing from SLO BURN to KYUSS) to HEADLINE Desertfest Berlin 2017
DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 – APRIL 28-29-30
Christmas is approaching, and before you all go away for the Holidays, we wanted to give you 5 more names confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2017, including our second headliner. So we are proud to have for this sixth edition of the festival:
JOHN GARCIA (USA) The original and legendary voice of the desert pays us a visit with a suitcase packed with everything from Kyuss to Slo Burn.
SUMA (SWE) Doomy, sludgy and so heavy that the Berlin buildings will tremble for weeks after Malmös finest has destroyed all Desertfesters ears.
1000mods (GR) The Greek tornado will hit us with their energetic and fuzz loaded rock, it’s gonna be a show that will be remembered.
PONTIAK (USA) We’ve been able to lure them away from Virginia to perform their trippy and psychedelic tunes, then they’ll take us on a trip for a lifetime.
RIFF FIST (AUS) It’s always a pleasure to welcome back who defends the riff and Riff Fist are the true defenders.
Also confirmed for our 2017 edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, TSCHAIKA 21/16.
There are still many more acts to be unveiled, including our last headliner, so stay tuned! And do not miss your chance to be part of the amazing DESERTFEST BERLIN experience… Check out our Website to get your tickets, or the links below in this release! We were sold out last year in February, so better be quick! Let’s turn all together the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 into another milestone when it comes to Berlin and festivals!
Posted in Features on December 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.
I say this every year: These are my picks. If you’re unfamiliar with this site, or you don’t come here that often, or if you do and just normally don’t give a crap — all of which is cool — you should know it’s all run by one person. One human being. Me. My name is JJ, and this is a list of what I think are the best albums that were released in 2016.
Since before 2016 began, I’ve kept a running list of releases. My criteria for what gets included in this list is largely unchanged — it’s a balance between what I feel are important records on the level of what they achieve, what I listened to most, what held some other personal appeal, and what I think did the best job of meeting the goals it set for itself. Pretty vague, right? That’s the idea.
The nature of worldwide heavy has become so broad that to encompass it all under some universal standard is laughable. Judging psychedelia, garage rock, heavy psych, doom, sludge and so on by the same measure makes no sense, and as genres continue to splinter and remake themselves as we’ve seen them doing all year and over the last several years, one must be malleable in one’s own taste. We’ve seen a new generation of heavy rock bands emerge in the last three-plus years. It’s been amazing, and there are a few pivotal second and third records that came out in 2016 to affirm that movement underway. Look for it to continue into 2017 and beyond.
This year more than any other seemed to want to bring the different sides together. A laudable goal. Thick riffing marked with flourish of psychedelia. Spacious doom bred against folk impulses. There’s been experimentation around melds that have led to considerable triumphs, and it just doesn’t seem to me that rigid standards can apply. It’s why I don’t grade reviews and never did.
Sound is evolving now as it always has been and as it will keep doing, but like any year, 2016 had a full share of landmarks to offer as a part of that process. As universal development hopefully remains ongoing, it’s only right that we celebrate the accomplishments helping to push it along its winding and sometimes divergent-seeming paths.
I have no doubt you know what I mean. Let’s get to the list:
Seems only fair to start with a record I couldn’t put down. Finnish trio Talmud Beach‘s second album and Svart debut, Chief, hit on just the right blend of laid back, semi-acoustic groove-blues, psychedelia and classic progressive folk rock, but with the exception of its sprawling dreamscape title-track (a welcome arrival at the finale), it also kept the songwriting simple, resulting in a natural, pastoral feel that only highlighted their melodic range in songs like “Mountain Man” and “Snow Snow Snow.” I think it flew under a lot of people’s radar, but I’ve kept going back to it over the course of the year and I see no reason to stop.
Space is still the place. I’ve already highlighted closer “Artificial Light” from Comet Control‘s sophomore LP, Center of the Maze as my favorite song of 2016, so I’ll spare you the longwinded treatise on its languid cosmic glories — this time — but consider this a reminder that that song was by no means the limit of what the eight-track release had to offer in terms of breadth. From the opening push of “Dig out Your Head” to the dream-drift of “Sick in Space,” it unfolded tonal presence and a melodic depth that engaged a gorgeous, multifaceted sonic wash as it moved onward toward that landmark conclusion.
There was not a level on which Madison, Wisconsin’s Droids Attack didn’t make it clear they were going all-out, all-in on Sci-Fi or Die. Even the title speaks to the stakes involved. And sure enough, the trio executed their fourth album with a sense of urgency and professionalism in songcraft, production, artwork (discussed here) and nuance of presentation that managed to make even a song called “Clawhammer Suicide” a classy affair. As guitarist/vocalist Brad Van said on the hidden title-track, “Death to false stoner thrash.” Droids Attack brought that ethic and more to life across the entire record.
A winding road brought Beelzefuzz around to following up their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and as The Righteous Bloom brought guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt and drummer Darin McCloskey together with bassist Bert Hall and lead guitarist Greg Diener, it found their songwriting more expansive, more progressive and dug further into their own particular oddball sense of grandeur. I’ve said on multiple occasions that no one out there is doing what Beelzefuzz are doing and that continues to be true. Even as a first offering from a new lineup of the band, The Righteous Bloom took bold and exciting forward steps.
Down to business. Immediately. Not a moment to spare. Taking part in what can only be considered a landmark year for Ripple Music, Baltimore’s Foghound issued The World Unseen as an answer to their 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), and upped their game across the board. From the intensity in the hooks of “Message in the Sky” and Rockin’ and Rollin'” to the quiet interlude of “Bridge of Stonebows” and the mid-paced heavy rock nod of “Never Return,” they made a strong case for themselves among their label’s foremost acts and found individualism in the growth of their songwriting. It was a kick in the ass you weren’t going to forget.
Put out by the band digitally in Dec. 2015 and issued on vinyl in 2016, Egypt‘s second LP, Endless Flight may be somewhat debatable in terms of when it actually landed (hence “25a.,” above), but the quality of the six-tracker more than warrants inclusion anyway. Rolling dense, massively-fuzzed groove, its nine-minute opening title-track set the course for the Fargo, North Dakota, three-piece, and they only grew the heavy revelry from there, as heard on the penultimate “Black Words,” which seemed to be chewing on rocks even as it played back and forth in tempo, build and push. The converted never had it so good.
There seems to be no stopping the Chiliomodi-based 1000mods, who with their third album have stepped to the forefront of Greece’s populous and vibrant heavy rock underground. Progressed well beyond where even 2014’s impressive Vultures (review here) found them, they seemed to hit a stride with Repeated Exposure To… thanks in part to road time and the ability to bring that energy directly into songs like the eight-minute roller “Loose” and the sizable crashes of “Groundhog Day.” Momentum working in their favor could be heard front-to-back from “Above 179” to “Into the Spell,” moving them toward something ever-more crucial and marking a considerable achievement along that path. 2017 might be a good time for them to test the waters with initial US shows.
Quick turnaround from Roman heavy psych magnate Gabriele Fiori (guitar/vocals) and company, but though it hit just about 13 months after their fourth full-length, Hawkdope (review here), Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy wholly succeeded in making an impact of its own, cuts like the oozing, organ-laced “Woman” and 11-minute jam-out triumph “Golden Widow” showcasing an approach in a continuous state of refinement that seems to get rawer as it goes, shifting like a rogue planetoid toward some maddening cosmic realization. How something can seem both so frenetic and so blissful is still a mystery, and perhaps that’s part of what makes Stellar Prophecy resonate as it does, but either way, Black Rainbows brought together some of the year’s most efficient psychedelic immersion.
Borracho don’t seem to release an album until they have something to say. That was to their credit on Atacama, their third LP and label debut for Kozmik Artifactz debut. Also their second collection issued as a trio behind 2013’s Oculus (review here), it distinguished itself from its predecessor in its sense of overarching flow, shifting between the ahead-thrust of “Gold from Sand” into the 10-minute sample-laden jam “Overload” to start out with such ease that the listener had little choice but to follow along. With an expanded scope on “Drifted away from the Sun” and the lightly-strummed memento mori “Flower,” Borracho found new avenues of expression to complement their well established dense, heavy riffing, and took obvious care in crafting their most realized LP yet.
Nothing Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass does feels like happenstance, and though their classic-styled boogie is imbued with a vibrant, friendly positive energy, there’s an underlying meticulousness in their arrangements and in their songwriting that came further into focus on Coming Back Again, their sophomore release 2014’s self-titled debut (review here). A more progressive take showed itself in “Reflections” and “Down the Line,” and taken in combination with the bookends “Get it Together” and “See it Through,” the three-piece stood on ground that was even more their own than on the first record, striking a careful balance between the willful exploration of new elements and the outright need for tracks to directly engage their listeners with catchy hooks and upbeat vibes. They did it. Expect continued growth.
For something so awash in fuzz, so nodding in its rhythms, so let’s-push-the-vocals-back-under-this-huge-awesome-fucking-riff, Curse the Son‘s Isolator was also remarkably clearheaded in its purposes. With the added vocal harmonies of “Callous Unemotional Traits,” the far-off spaces of “Hull Crush Depth” and the stoner metal despair of “Aislamiento,” the Connecticut three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore, capital-‘d’ Drummer Michael Petrucci and newcomer bassist Brendan Keefe drew a direct, intentional line to sometimes-grueling (hello, “Sleepwalker Wakes”) weighted tonality and found justification for their largesse in its own being. Like 2012’s Psychache (review here), I expect to be returning to Isolator over a longer term than this single year of release.
I feel like I need to explain myself here. Make no mistake, Neurosis‘ Fires Within Fires is among the year’s most accomplished offerings. There’s just about no way it wouldn’t be. So why not top 10? Top five? It’s a question of timing. With the long-running post-metal progenitors, it’s always a longer digestion period. It was about two years before 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) really sunk in, and I expect Fires Within Fires will work similarly over the greater term. Maybe a little guilt on my part for the disparity between its quality and its placement, but rest assured, Neurosis remain among the most imperative bands walking the earth, and as they took on the full brunt of 30 years of unmitigated progression through Fires Within Fires, they were no less brazen in pushing themselves creatively than they’ve ever been.
Though the narrative of Conan has remained largely unchanged since their inception — hack, slash, kill, riff — and they still bask in nigh-on-unmatched tonal slaughter, their third full-length brings a few key developments. Perhaps most notable from opener “Throne of Fire” onward is the vocal interplay between guitarist/founder Jon Davis and bassist/longtime-engineer Chris Fielding, who joined after 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here). Adding Fielding‘s deeper growls allowed Davis to subtly move into a cleaner shout, and the emergent dynamic between them made Revengeance a decidedly expanded affair compared to Conan‘s past work. Adding drummer Rich Lewis to the mix was no minor shift either, and as much as Conan had already established their sheer dominance, they also sounded refreshed and set themselves up to keep growing.
Some records just feel like gifts, and though many of its lyrical positions were cynical — “Reality,” “21st Century Slave,” “Mind Control Machine,” “Red the Sign Post,” etc. — Freedom marked the 15th anniversary of Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose with dripping lysergic aplomb, reminding some four years after their last LP, 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here), that bandleader Lorenzo Woodrose is unparalleled when it comes to manifesting his take on the psychedelic victories of 13th Floor Elevators and classic-era Hawkwind — firmly at home levitating on the edge of time. Its swirl and underlying foundation of songwriting, its Richie Havens cover title-track, and its sprawling interstellar “Termination” were like a welcome check-in from another dimension, and I only hope it’s not four years before Woodrose sends the next signal. Earth needs this band.
I’m not going to discount the shuffle of “Sunday Speed Demon” or sleeze of “Sunday Speed Demon,” but where Geezer‘s self-titled third full-length really showed how far the New York heavy blues-psych trio have come was in its extended midsection jams, “Sun Gods,” “Bi-Polar Vortex” and “Dust,” each of which showed a distinct approach while feeding into an engaging flow between them, offering a blend of trailmarker hooks as they drifted into realms of organic chemistry previously uncharted by the band. The slow-motion swing of “Hangnail Crisis,” raucous push of “Superjam Maximus” and concluding bounce of “Stoney Pony” brought them back down to earth to finish out with a symmetry to the album’s opening, but Geezer kept a collective hand on the controls the whole voyage and when they landed, it was an arrival indeed, and very much what their two previous records were building toward.
Beautifully experimental with its 27-minute finisher “As Sure as the Sun,” EYE‘s Vision and the Ageless Light seemed throughout its whole 46-minute run to be executing a cohesive vision in its synth-soaked progressive textures. Between the intro “Book of the Dead” and the subsequent “Kill the Slavemaster,” “Searching,” “Dweller of the Twilight Void” and the already-noted closer, each piece had something different to offer that added to the full impact of the whole, and with guitarist Jon Finely and bassist Michael Sliclen joining founding drummer/vocalist Brandon Smith and synth/Mellotron/Moog-ist Lisa Bella Donna (also vocals and acoustic guitar), EYE added to the scope of 2013’s Second Sight (review here) and found a place for themselves where prog complexity didn’t need to come at the expense of memorable songwriting and spaced-out vibes. An absolute joy, front to back.
Even Fatso Jetson themselves would probably have to admit that six years — even a six years that saw several splits, singles, etc. — was too long between albums. Fortunately, Idle Hands saw the desert rock forebears in top form as regards their quirk-fueled songwriting, angular approach to punk and inimitable groove. Following 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here) was no easy task, but with additional depth to the material from the contributions of guitarist Dino von Lalli — son of founding guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli and nephew of founding bassist Larry Lalli — guest spots from his sister Olive Lalli as well as Sean Wheeler (the latter moves second cut “Portuguese Dream” into high-echelon strangeness) and the ever-propulsive drumming of Tony Tornay, Fatso Jetson were both all over the place and right at the core of where they most ought to be sonically. At 56 minutes, it hardly seemed long enough.
Each song was like a different persona the band adopted momentarily, whether it was the Bowie-goes-proto-goth-prog of organ-ic opener “Transparent Eyeball” or the grim pastoralia of “Mirror Boy” and the condemnations/proclamations of “Drugged up on the Universe,” but wherever Hexvessel went on their third full-length and Century Media debut, When We are Death, that unifying theme went with them. Death. It was everywhere in the Finland-based genre-benders’ deeply varied approach, though its presence made their material in no way off-putting, and in the case of cuts like “Cosmic Truth” or the later “Mushroom Spirit Doors,” not even dark, and as it drew the tracks together despite working in different sounds and style, it became apparent that When We are Death worked because of a universal quality in songwriting and presentation allowing for such drastic shifts without any risk of losing the audience.
Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce — a key figure in the development of desert rock and a player of unmatched tone, period — had quite a year, between Zun‘s Burial Sunrise, his main outfit and his collaboration with Fatso Jetson vs. HifiKlub, but it was the dreamscape drift of songs like “Come Through the Water” and “All that You Say I Am” as well as the subtle hooks of “Into the Wasteland” and “All for Nothing” that, for me, made this the highlight. Sure, bringing in vocalists Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini, Black Mare) and John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, Slo Burn, Vista Chino, etc.) and having them swap back and forth between the tracks didn’t hurt either, but the wash of ethereal presence in Arce‘s guitar was an excellent showcase for his patience and improvisational sensibilities, and the spaces Burial Sunrise covered seemed to have an infinite horizon all their own. Will hope for a follow-up, will hope Garcia and Timms return, and will hope for a duet.
One had reasonably high expectations for the debut full-length from London’s Elephant Tree after their 2014 EP Theia (review here) so deftly blended spacious, sitar-laced heavy psychedelic rock with more visceral sludge impulses — a difficult mix to pull off — but I think it would’ve been impossible to see the quality of this self-titled outing coming in any substantive way. Gone were the screams, in was a depth of tone and nigh-on-perfect tempo — see “Dawn” and “Aphotic Blues,” as well as the acoustic “Circles” between them — and where some first albums have a kind of tentative, feeling-it-out vibe, guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley (interview here), bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, drummer Sam Hart and sitarist/vocalist/engineer Riley MacIntyre took utter command of the proceedings. They won’t have the element of surprise working for them next time, but as Elephant Tree made perfectly clear in its biggest surprise of all, neither do they need it.
If you were to ask me to summarize in one word the last four-plus years of Mos Generator‘s tenure, since their reactivation with 2012’s Nomads (review here) and the subsequent lineup changes and hard-touring that followed 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), I’d say “go.” I might say it three times: Go-go-go. One of three LP-ish offerings out this year, the studio album Abyssinia embodied this ethic as it started with immediate momentum on “Strangest Times” and “You’ve Got a Right” and seemed to push itself into new ground as it went. Guitarist/vocalist/founder Tony Reed brought heavy boogie to bear at a frenetic clip, but Abyssinia offset its early mania with later progressive stylization on “There’s No Return from Nowhere,” “Time and Other Thieves” and harmonized closer “Outlander,” so that in addition to representing their furious creativity, it also brought them to places they’ve never been before in sound.
In some ways, Future Echo Returns was simply picking up where Belfast’s Slomatics left off with 2014’s Estron (review here), as heard on the riff of lead-in track “Estronomicon,” but as the third in a purported trilogy following that record and 2012’s A Hocht, it also brought the tonecrushing three-piece to Skyhammer Studio to work with producer Chris Fielding (Conan) and presented a linear storyline that, while rife with standout moments in cuts like “Electric Breath,” the ambient “Ritual Beginnings” and ultra-catchy “Supernothing,” found a genuine sense of resolution in the finale “Into the Eternal” that spoke to the scope the entire work was meant to represent — not just itself, but an entirety spanning three albums. Not a minor feat, but what also made Future Echo Returns so resonant was how well the material stood on its own, so that even without the narrative context, it was immersive, hypnotic and unbridled in its heft.
After two landmarks issued by Small Stone in 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here), Texas forerunners of riff Wo Fat gave a concise rundown of their appeal in the six-track Ripple debut and sixth LP overall, Midnight Cometh. Their ongoing development as found them bringing together a two-sided personality of memorable songs and open, fluid jams, and cuts like “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” emphasized the next stage of this process, while the shuffling “Riffborn” and swaggering blues rock of “La Dilleme de Detenu” gave listeners a chance to touch ground every now and again. Over the last two-plus years, Wo Fat have become a point of influence for other, particularly American, acts — see labelmates Geezer — and Midnight Cometh assured that will be the case going forward too; a status well-earned.
Offered up this summer as a limited self-release and picked up by no less than Stickman Records (Motorpsycho, Elder), Orion might be the most molten inclusion on this list. It’s also my pick for 2016 Debut of the Year, and to hear cuts like “She Sleeps on a Vine,” “Kerosene,” the sprawling closer “Drinking from the River Rising,” or even just to take the whole record front-to-back, which was clearly how the band intended it be experienced, there’s just about no competition in that regard that stands up. The Rochester, NY, three-piece showed marked promise on their 2013 demo (review here) and 2015 split with Lé Betre (review here), but the listenability of Orion — which earned every single one of its repeat visits — made it a triumph on a different level entirely, and distinguished King Buffalo as a formidable presence in the sphere of US heavy psychedelia, fostering a sound no less soulful for its outward cosmic reach and to-be-measured-in-lightyears scale of potential.
7. Wight, Love is Not Only What You Know
Released by Fat and Holy Records, Kozmik Artifactz, Import Export Music and SPV. Reviewed Sept. 7.
German outfit Wight answered significant anticipation on their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know, some four years after 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here) and undertook a significant evolution in sound. A transition from a trio to a four-piece and adding a strong current of funk to their heavy psych groove and boogie resulted in cuts like “The Muse and the Mule,” the jammed-out “Kelele” and “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation,” which were as danceable as they were nod-ready, and when complemented by shorter classic rockers like “Helicopter Mama” and “I Wanna Know What You Feel” (still plenty funky) and the Eastern-tinged interlude “Three Quarters,” gave Love is Not Only What You Know scope to match its ass-shaking encouragement. It was a spirit unto itself among 2016 releases, but ultimately, the key to understanding the record was right there in the title: It was all about love, and wherever Wight went in a given track, they never lost sight of that.
A decade and a half after 2001’s Revolution Rock (discussed here), Sweden’s Greenleaf most embodied that ethic with Rise Above the Meadow, their sixth long-player and Napalm Records debut. 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) represented the key step of founding guitarist Tommi Holappa (interview here) bringing vocalist Arvid Johnsson into the lineup, but Rise Above the Meadow built exponentially on what that album achieved, bolstered by work as a touring band and a revitalized songwriting process heard in “Howl,” “A Million Fireflies,” “You’re Gonna be My Ruin,” the stomping “Golden Throne” and “Tyrants Tongue,” among others. I refuse to discount the quality of Trails and Passes, 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) or 2007’s landmark Agents of Ahriman (review here), but as Greenleaf shifted toward a style more reminiscent of Holappa‘s later output with Dozer, they also seemed to stake their claim on the forefront of European heavy rock and roll, which was just waiting for them to do so.
Perhaps the most believable lyric of 2016 was the opening line of leadoff cut “The Gree Heen” from Brant Bjork‘s Tao of the Devil: “I got all that I need. I got the gree-heen.” From the prominent pot leaf on the cover to that single clause — which set the tone for that song’s mega-nod as much as everything that followed in the boogie of “Humble Pie” and “Stackt,” the so-laid-back-it’s-almost-unconscious title-track and the longer-form explorations of “Dave’s War” and the wah’ed-out “Evening Jam” — the inimitable Bjork seems to have embraced the role of stoner guru and the Godfather of Desert Rock. Tao of the Devil was his second release through Napalm behind 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), which introduced the Low Desert Punk Band, and far from hanging its hat on the man’s historical accomplishments from his days in Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Che, Vista Chino, etc., the 50-minute eight-tracker came fueled by the soul most typified in Bjork‘s solo catalog, which it’s increasingly easy to argue is his greatest contribution to the desert aesthetic. Definitely in his wheelhouse, but what a wheelhouse.
What a relief it was to have Asteroid back, and what a relief it was to have III arrive some six years after II (review here) and find the Örebro, Sweden, trio’s certified-organic chemistry undulled by that long stretch. The songs — “Pale Moon,” “Last Days,” “Til Dawn,” “Wolf and Snake,” “Silver and Gold,” “Them Calling,” “Mr. Strange” — there wasn’t a miss in the bunch, and in addition to the reignited craftsmanship, III made clear a progression as players and the intent to move forward from guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson and drummer Elvis Campbell (since replaced by Jimmi Kolscheen), so that the material didn’t just let listeners know Asteroid was a band again after having unceremoniously faded out for a half-decade, but gave a signal that perhaps they were just getting started. One can only hope that turns out to be the case, but either way, III felt like a reward dolled out to their fanbase after a long absent stretch, and one that, like II and their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) before it, will reverberate its echoes for years to come. Hands down 2016’s most welcome return.
Though it would carry the context of its scorching opener “Nature Boy” with it for the duration and, accordingly, hit with a more intense feel than its 2013 predecessor, The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), Gozu‘s fourth album overall and Ripple label debut was a kick in the ass on more than just that one level. It found the Boston foursome with the finally-solidified lineup of vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard, and while one could argue they still wound up under the banner of a heavy rock band, that became happenstance to the songs themselves. That is, even more than The Fury of a Patient Man or 2010’s Locust Season (review here), Gozu came across as writing not to style, but to their own impulses, as demonstrated in “Big Casino,” the echoing soul of “Tin Chicken” and shuffle-thrust of “Oldie,” and as they moved beyond their initial swath of influence into this individualized sonic persona, they reaped the benefits of the locked-in lineup and a process of craft that never sounded so purposeful. Revival was indeed typified by its vitality, but it was also the sound of a band maturing as a unit, becoming who they were meant to be, and there is almost nothing more exciting than that for a single album to represent. Plus, it had a song called “By Mennen,” and, you know, references.
2. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)
It was unreasonable to expect the third full-length from Bordeaux, France, trio Mars Red Sky to surpass 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here) and the progressive crux that album brought to the warm tones and sweet melodicism of their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) reinforced the elements that worked so well on previous outings while pushing inarguably onto what the band seemed to know was “Alien Ground” if the title of their intro was anything to go by. More over, it did so with a natural fluidity and poise that were as striking as they were encompassing in sound. Tying to earlier 2016’s Providence EP (review here) in concept and execution through that intro and the title-track following it, Apex III presented the to-date pinnacle of Mars Red Sky‘s growth in songs like “The Whinery,” “Mindreader,” the tear-inducing “Under the Hood,” the swing-happy “Friendly Fire,” the willful atmospheric crash of closer “Prodigal Sun” — each one a crucial advancing step from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and brilliantly fed them one into the other, so that in addition to the standout impressions of each, there developed a personality to the whole span of the album; a world of Mars Red Sky‘s own creation, where they dwelt for what seemed too short a time before returning to earth and on from here to who knows where next.
Most of all, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages was fearless. For their fourth album, Salt Lake City’s SubRosa adapted themes from 1924’s We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which laid out a futuristic dystopia wherein all identity is subsumed to the state and even love is outlawed when not properly sanctioned. This framework, obscure if influential, gave guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinist/vocalist Sarah Pendleton, violinist/backing vocalist Kim Pack, bassist/vocalist Levi Hanna, drummer/engineer Andy Patterson (formerly of Iota, among others), and a range of other contributors, a space in which to explore gender and LGBT issues across the six included tracks, and from the opening build and crush of the chorus to “Despair is a Siren” through the depiction of privilege in “Wound of the Warden,” the 97-second Italian-language ballad “Il Cappio” (translated: “the noose”) and into the gut-wrenching finale of “Troubled Cells,” their musical accomplishment was no less stunning than lyrics like, “Isn’t it good to be acquainted with darkness?/To caress it gently/To slit its throat,” from “Black Majesty.” Tense in its quiet stretches, harmonized vocally, given orchestral presence through its use of strings, flute, French horn, and so on, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages worked fluidly in what for most acts would be a contradictory modus of careful, meticulous arrangements and raw, emotional realism. No matter how deep it dove — and by the time identity was being erased and the state was taking control of the body on “Killing Rapture,” it was diving pretty deep — SubRosa never lost their sense of poise, so that the defiance in the last movement of “Troubled Cells” in which Heaven itself is rejected with the clearest of justifications, “Paradise is a lie if you’re not by my side,” the band seemed to stand as straight and tall as their multi-tiered righteousness would warrant. But even if one took For this We Fought the Battle of Ages with politics aside, its achievement in marrying post-metallic structures, gothic texture and progressive atmospherics was on a plane of its own making, operating under its own rules and in its own definitive space. Albums like it do not happen every year, and forward motion for genre as a whole is rarely so visible as it was in this special offering, which seems only fair to regard as a landmark for the band and anyone whose ears and hearts it touched.
The Next 20
Like any good Top 30, mine goes to 50. Here is the next batch:
31. Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors
32. Truckfighters, V
33. West, Space & Love, Vol. II
34. Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts
35. Yawning Man, Historical Graffiti
36. Causa Sui, Return to Sky
37. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
38. Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Phantomonium
39. The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
40. It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting
41. Beastwars, The Death of all Things
42. Naxatras, II
43. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
44. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
45. Wretch, Wretch
46. Colour Haze, Live Vol. I: Europa Tournee 2015
47. Zaum, Eidolon
48. Bellringer, Jettison
49. Young Hunter, Young Hunter
50. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Y Proffwyd Dwyll
From the kinetic desert artistry of Blaak Heat to Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s ethereal synth-laden doom, there are more than a few essentials here. I’ve never before done a year-end list that had so many releases on it, but my motivation in doing so this time around couldn’t have been simpler: They were simply too good and had too much to offer to leave out. It would’ve been an oversight to do so.
Even a Top 50 fails to grasp the full scope of what 2016 brought about musically, so here are even more, alphabetically:
Ancient Warlocks, II
Black Moon Circle, Sea of Clouds
Sergio Ch., Aurora
Lamp of the Universe, Hidden Knowledge
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light
Øresund Space Collective, Visions Of…
-(16)-, Lifespan of a Moth
The Well, Pagan Science
Wovenhand, Star Treatment
And if that’s still not enough, here are 60-plus more names who shouldn’t be left out of the discussion, also alphabetically:
Akris, Atala, Atomikylä, Backwoods Payback, Beastmaker, BigPig, Black Cobra, Black Lung, Blood Ceremony, Blues Pills, Bright Curse, Bus, Dee Calhoun, Captain Crimson, Child, La Chinga, Church of Misery, Conclave, Cough, Devil to Pay, Domkraft, Dot Legacy, Electric Citizen, Estoner, Eternal Elysium, Fatso Jetson & Gary Arce vs. Hifiklub, Fox 45, Goatess, Goblin Cock, Graves at Sea, Heavy Temple (they’ll be back on next year’s list), High Fighter, Holy Serpent, Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Inter Arma, Joy, Kaleidobolt, Khemmis, King Dead, Lord, Lord Vicar, Merchant, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Helen Money, Monkey3, Moon Coven, Mother Mooch, Necro, New Keepers of the Water Towers, T.G. Olson, Oranssi Pazuzu, Pooty Owldom, Russian Circles, Salem’s Pot, Samavayo, Seremonia, Skuggsjá, Sourvein, Spirit Adrift, Stone Machine Electric, Suma, Surya Kris Peters, Swans, Throttlerod, Virus, Wasted Theory, Wretch, and Zaum.
In case none of the above has made it clear, I’ll just say flat out that 2016 has been an amazing year for music, and that every time I feel like maybe underground heavy has hit a wall and there’s nowhere left for it to go, sure enough about three minutes later another record shows up that slaps me in the face with a reminder of just how wrong that notion is.
If you’re still reading — how could you be? — thank you so much for your incredible support throughout 2016 and all the years The Obelisk has been in progress. I already know that 2017 is going to bring some incredible music as well, but that’s another list for another time, so I’ll just say again how much I appreciate your being a part of this ongoing project, how much it means to me to have you here. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
And please, if there’s anything I forgot, got wrong, misspelled, or if you just think I used the word “breadth” too many times, please let me know about it in the comments.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
You were either there or you’re an imaginative sort, so I don’t need to tell you what a joy it was to see Lowrider when they played Desertfest London in 2013 (review here). They were also recently announced for Desertfest Berlin (info here), so to have them return to Camden Town for Desertfest London 2017 isn’t necessarily a huge surprise in the grand scheme, but I’m quite sure they’ll find fervent welcome when they get there, and rightly so. It’s been a long time speculating about whether or not they’ll do another record, and they may yet get there, but either way, the fact that they’re still actively playing out on choice gigs like this one is encouraging.
Also announced today? Oh, only Swedish doom legends Candlemass, Texans Venomous Maximus heading abroad for a trip that — and I’m not exaggerating — will likely triple their fanbase because that’s how good they are live, fellow Texans The Well, with whom I wouldn’t be surprised if Venomous Maximus were traveling, London heavy highlights Stubb, jammers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Greek forerunners 1000mods, plus Wucan, Black Spiders and Grave Lines. Kind of hard to believe Desertfest London 2017 is only two rounds into lineup announcements, but like I said, you’re imaginative, so I’m sure you can picture some of the awesomeness still to come as we get closer to April.
Here’s word from the fest:
CANDLEMASS, LOWRIDER AND MORE JOIN DESERTFEST 2017
DESERTFEST LONDON is pleased to announce the second batch of bands who will be joining the likes of Turbonegro, Samsara Blues Experiment, Yuri Gagarin and Vodun on April 28-29-30th, 2017 in Camden. Ever-growing diversity alongside a solid selection of grass-root acts, has helped cement Desertfest as the go-to festival for doom, stoner rock, psych and all its subsidiaries, with a sixth edition set to be the most eclectic and heavy to date.
First up, we are honoured to welcome a band that needs no introduction: legendary doom metallers CANDLEMASS. Encompassing the ethos of what Desertfest has meant since its inception, Candlemass are one of the most influential and celebrated doom bands in not only Sweden’s musical history, but in heavy music history as a whole. Pure, unapologetic, true doom metal that’ll never disappoint.
A second offering from the Swedes comes in the form of stoner rock stalwarts LOWRIDER. Back in 2013, their momentous reunion after a 10-year hiatus took place exclusively at Desertfest London. It’s a privilege to once again host the return of the riff-ready heroes, who have been bringing their desert-sound to revellers since the late 90s. Also on the bill are UK party boys BLACK SPIDERS, whose fast-paced, high voltage lunacy will rattle out the cobwebs. Despite having recently announced a hiatus, these rock’n’roll maniacs will come back at Desertfest for one last blowout.
1000MODS will too be bringing their psychedelic vibrations to 2017’s line-up. Their unique commitment to a vintage sound, held up by playing with classic instruments, undoubtedly makes them a must-see act on any bill. Underground heroes PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS also make a welcome addition, with their loud and exciting blend of psych, noise and post-rock. Austin based trio THE WELL are jumping over the pond to thrash out their progressive take on heavy rock, taking that classic nostalgia and twisting it with a hearty laden of adrenaline.
London’s very own STUBB will lay out their fuzzy blues at Desertfest – greatly influenced by the 60 & 70s trio’s of the same genre, they’ve gained respect as a sold live act. Germany’s WUCAN describe themselves as “Topsy-Turvy Higgledy-Piggledy Folk-Blues-Psych-Stoner-ProtoMetal-Soul, with a pinch of confusion” – which may sound like all-over chaos, but they have truly honed their style thanks to an expert fusion of 70’s drenched goodness.
Final acts to join Desertfest London 2017 are metal killers Austin’s VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, newcomers GRAVE LINES – one of the most exciting bands to come out of London – trust us, you’ll want to be there, as they are soon to become one of those acts everyone claims they heard first.
We are proud and excited for what next year has in store. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as there is much, much more to come. Stay tuned!
– DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 – 28th to 30th April in Camden, London Weekend passes are availableHERE
First bands announced: TURBONEGRO, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, THE PICTUREBOOKS, SATAN’S SATYRS, VODUN, YURI GAGARIN, MAMMOTH STORM, ELEPHANT TREE
Second bands announced: Candlemass, Lowrider, Black Spiders, Venomous Maximus, Wucan, Stubb, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000mods, The Well, Gravelines
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
The final addition to the lineup for Up in Smoke 2016, which starts this Friday at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland? Camping space. Namely the floor of the venue, which will be cleaned after the last band finishes each night so that fest goers can grab their sleeping bags and bed down for the night, only to find breakfast waiting when they roll back to consciousness the next morning. I’ve never slept on a venue floor before. That would be a new one. But provided they get the beer/other fluids up, which I’ve no doubt they’ll be able to do because it’s Switzerland and things like that increase the likelihood that anyone gives a shit about what they’re doing, it seems like a cool way to achieve total immersion in a festival atmosphere. I’ve never gone camping either, though, so don’t necessarily take my word as an expert or anything.
With the festival’s most massive lineup yet, Up in Smoke 2016 kicks off this Friday. A new trailer for the fest with some 1000mods in it has been posted and you can find that under the camping info and complete billing below:
SOUND OF LIBERATION and Z7 KONZERTFABRIK PRATTELN proudly present the 4th edition of UP IN SMOKE INDOOR FESTIVAL on September 30th and October 1st 2016! Musical Highlights include Electric Wizard, Yob, Truckfighters, Pentagram and many many more.
Many of you asked for the chance to sleep over in the venue, like we offered in the last editions. Here´s the procedure:
After the last band is done playing, we will go on partying with Dj music for another hour. Then afterwards, we will ask everybody to step out of the main hall for a few minutes. The floor will be cleaned and covered with a sheet so that the place gets clean for all our “in site – campers”. If you want to sleep over in the venue, you should bring your sleeping bag and camping mat. Upon your arrival on the festival site you can store your belongings in the wardrobe and get it back for the night.
In the morning, we will offer you a nice breakfast with coffee/tea, bread and breadrolls, meat and cheese and sweet stuff to get you in shape for the next festival day! The price for sleep over and breakfast is 15.- CHF per person/night. There´s no option of separate bookings like ” only sleep over and no breakfast” or “only breakfast”.
Up in Smoke 2016 Final Line Up Electric Wizard Pentagram Truckfighters YOB Elder Greenleaf Monkey 3 Cough Black Cobra 1000mods Yawning Man Fatso Jetson Dyse Wucan Desert Mountain Tribe Giobia High Fighter Mother’s Cake Ephedra
Also not to forget: No overlapping set times, sleep over/breakfast possibiity in the venue + some more specials to be announced soon to sweeten you the “TWO NOT TO BE MISSED DAYS OF VOLUME WORSHIP” !!! Grab your ticket (2-day passes) right now on our website, on www.z-7.ch and on our Facebook (tab ‘Buy Tickets’). If you prefer to buy an original, real hard-ticket, our partner Woolheads is selling them!
[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘Loose’ by 1000mods. Repeated Exposure To… is out on CD/DL Sept. 26 with vinyl Oct. 30 via Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings.]
With their third full-length, Repeated Exposure To…, Greece’s 1000mods affirm their place at the head of the pack of European heavy rock and roll. I mean that without qualification. Not just Greek heavy, but Europe as a whole. They were already leaders in their home country after their 2014 offering, Vultures (review here), which followed their 2012 Valley of Sand EP (discussed here), their 2011 debut LP, Super Van Vacation (review here), 2009’s Liquid Sleep EP (review here), and their first short release, Blank Reality, which came out in 2006, but a full decade later, the Chiliomodi four-piece have become bona fide masters of the form.
Released through their own Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings, Repeated Exposure To… derives its name from the photo on its cover, the warning on the tube amp that reads, “Warning! Repeated exposure to high sound levels (more than 80 decibels) may cause permanent impairing of hearing.” And so it might. Nonetheless, for 1000mods, one might take that as a credo under which they’re operating throughout the album as a whole.
Repeated Exposure To… runs at eight tracks/51 minutes and is easily the band’s most realized offering yet, produced and mixed by themselves with George Leodis and mastered by Brad Boatright with a crisp feel that demonstrates the professionalism they’ve hard won over the course of the last several years on the road throughout Europe, making their name internationally and coming to fully represent not only the vibrancy of Greece’s well-populated underground, but their own take on classic riff-driven songwriting, which finds its greatest accomplishments to-date here in cuts like “Above 179,” “Loose,” “The Son,” “A.W.,” “Groundhog Day” and “Into the Spell.”
A returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Dani G., guitarists Giannis S. and George T., and drummer Labros G. set the tone with the aforementioned opener “Above 179,” which declares its fuzzy roll outright and meets it head on with a galloping chug and the first of many resounding hooks. The tones are full, the drums sharp, the vocals cut through perfectly — it’s clear right from the start that it was a production with effort behind it; more an attempt to make an album with its own energy than represent a live show in raw form, and that works for the material as “Above 179” slows down and crashes into the riff that launches the subsequent “Loose.”
Tied with “The Son” as the longest tracks on Repeated Exposure To… at 8:41, “Loose” finds tension in the drums and builds toward its verse over the course of its first minute, a swing taking hold that finds interplay opening to its chorus, memorable almost immediately upon entering the ears. It’s only part of the impression “Loose” makes, however, as a thicker push kicks in to back a bridge and they move into a solo section at the halfway point that leads to a quiet section as part of a plotted instrumental jam that moves through the remainder of the track. Even as tight as they’ve shown themselves to be just a couple songs in, 1000mods let “Loose” live up to its name.
Its somewhat more hypnotic and long-faded finish is a smooth setup for the boot-to-the-ass that is “Electric Carve,” a 3:37 rush topped by more aggressive vocals in its chorus that’s the shortest inclusion at 3:37 and arguably the most intense — a barnburner, though one not quite willing to let go of the overarching groove 1000mods have built over the album’s early going. That turn of approach is all the more noteworthy as “Electric Carve” splits the difference between “Loose” and “The Son,” which holds to its swinging progression more than “Loose” but also has plenty of room for another extended instrumental section in its second half, changing the context in which it and both the tracks around it arrive. Again, 1000mods benefit from experience, from professionalism, and Repeated Exposure To… is a stronger record for it.
The play back and forth in thrust continues with the faster “A.W.,” though in this instance it’s the guitar doing the screaming following a quick intro line that seems to play directly off Monster Magnet‘s “Powertrip” prior to a chorus of “I know I’m living in a bottle,” that proves no less infectious. A slowdown at the halfway mark builds back up to full-throttle push and where both “Loose” and “The Son” left their hooks behind to go exploring, “A.W.” cuts the runtime by about 50 percent and reinforces the underlying notion of songcraft that’s been there all along by returning to what becomes its signature line near the finish.
Though it gets somewhat swallowed up by the closing duo that follows in “Groundhog Day” and “Into the Spell,” the subsequent “On a Stone” rolls out yet another showcase chorus and plays successfully off a mid-paced vibe that serves as a fluid transition into the ending section while satisfying in its structure and the ground it finds between the drive of cuts like “Electric Carve” and the more spacious material elsewhere on Repeated Exposure To… — a category in which it seems fair to include “Groundhog Day,” if only for the largesse of its central groove.
Both the penultimate track and the closer top seven minutes, and comprise between them an immersive finale for 1000mods, “Groundhog Day”‘s roll a standout moment for the album as a whole and put to effective use as a kind of instrumental chorus in the first half of the song until about three and a half minutes in when the drums signal a shift into the righteously half-timed solo section that will cap the remainder, a lone guitar line leading into “Into the Spell,” which announces itself with echoing guitar backed by bass and an emergent drum line over the course of its first minute-plus before the main riff makes its presence felt. If there’s anywhere on Repeated Exposure To… that 1000mods show their roots, it’s in “Into the Spell,” with a line drawn directly to Kyuss that still shifts back and forth into the more individualized jam while also keeping a forward motion overall.
Like the album overall, it’s not a minor accomplishment, and as they move from raucous, good-times heavy into the long fade that ends side B, it becomes increasingly clear what a special moment for the band Repeated Exposure To… has managed to capture. Like Dozer was once able to do in successfully transcending their early influences to create something individual from them, so too have 1000mods produced a work of such quality built from the strong foundation of their two prior full-lengths. I won’t attempt to conjecture as to future impact they or the band might have, but these songs hit with an effect that feels geared toward longer-term appreciation, and the immediate sense is that Repeated Exposure To… might just get even richer with time and, suitably enough, multiple return visits.