Buried Treasure and the Walking Ghosts

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 7th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Time was limited. It was Monday morning and I was supposed to go to work after all, but as I was in New England anyway, a quick run to Armageddon Shop in Providence didn’t seem all that unreasonable. I’ve never come out of there feeling less than satisfied, and even back in December at the Boston store, I was able to pick up a few winners. Plus, Armageddon‘s been on my mind lately with their handling the repress of Elder‘s Spires Burn EP and the release of Magic Circle‘s self-titled, for which I have a review pending. All that, coupled with my general desire to crane my neck before a CD rack, made the stop a necessity. Turned out work was still there when I finally showed up anyway. Go figure.

On the wall of my office is a post-it with albums I’ve been meaning to pick up — mostly review stuff that labels won’t send out physical copies of anymore that I’ll grudgingly buy and devalue the effort I put into writing about them while also diminishing my appreciation for the record out of the pervasive annoyance. It’s a vicious cycle. Anyway, most of what’s on it I couldn’t remember, but it was fine. I managed to find enough and then some, as you can see in the stack above. The new Bedemon (track stream here) and Seremonia (track stream here) records were a must, and I hadn’t actually gotten a CD of the last Enslaved (review here), so I figured if I was going to give someone the cash for it, at least I could feel good about it going to Armageddon. The rest was gravy.

The first Hooded Menace full-length, Fulfill the Curse, Orodruin‘s Claw Tower and Other Tales of Terror and the repress of Life Beyond‘s Ancient Worlds were cool finds, but I was even more stoked on the 2003 Cream Abdul Babar/Kylesa split on At a Loss. I think they came by their progression honestly and I think Spiral Shadow (review here) bears that out, but it’s easy to forget how blisteringly heavy that band was at one point, all noise and fury and potential. With the unbridled weirdness of Cream Abdul Babar to complement, that split was a killer. The punkish War and Wine by the UK’s The Dukes of Nothing was something I had my eye on for a while, with Orange Goblin‘s Chris Turner on drums, bassist Doug Dalziel (ex-Iron Monkey) and Stuart O’Hara (ex-Acrimony, current Sigiriya) as one of two guitars, and more on the hardcore end, the self-titled collection from Hard to Swallow was a pleasant surprise, spanning the short tenure of the outfit that featured Jim Rushby (Iron Monkey) on guitar and Justin Greaves (Iron Monkey and even later of Crippled Black Phoenix) on drums and a host of others from that sphere ripping out primitive, violent bursts in rapid succession.

With 13 tracks in 27 minutes, there’s little room for screwing around, so Hard to Swallow get right to it, blending raw riffage with extreme punk fuckall. The compilation was released on Armageddon‘s own label, and though it’s more hardcore than what I’ll generally grab, it’s a solid, intense listen. A secret track incorporating Sabbath‘s “Under the Sun” into a grind medley made a decent, meaner answer to The Dukes of Nothing‘s album on Tortuga, and the metallic outing from Enslaved and Seremonia‘s distinctly Finnish weirdness. More local to home, I grabbed Halfway to Gone‘s split with Alabama Thunderpussy, which I already own but figured for six bucks I’d take a double, and the 1997 debut from underrated Jersey-based psychedelic rockers, Lord Sterling.

Your Ghost Will Walk was one of those albums I figured I’d probably never happen upon, perhaps even less so in Rhode Island. I haven’t been chasing it down for years and years or anything like that — a preliminary search can find copies out there — but neither was I going to pass up the chance to get a new one. The pressing is on Chainsaw Safety Records, may or may not be original, and for anyone who heard Lord Sterling‘s Weapon of Truth (2002, Rubric) or Today’s Song for Tomorrow (2004, Small Stone), the first one is a little more jagged, a little more post-hardcore, somewhat less psychedelic, though the ethereal garage via The Doors vibes of the later albums are definitely present in some nascent form. I always dug those guys, so it was cool to hear where they came from a little bit.

Because I can’t resist a CD on Man’s Ruin and because I’m forever a sucker for NYC noise, I impulse grabbed The Cuttroats 9‘s self-titled. The band had Chris Spencer and Dave Curran from Unsane in it, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong and I was right. It was a last-minute thing as I was looking through, but I’ve done way worse. All told, the haul was well-rounded and with a cup of coffee from the bakery down the street, I felt like the win was even more complete. About five hours later, I strolled into my office like I owned the place.

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Buried Treasure and the Patterns in the Stars

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 17th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

A bit of personal trivia: Alabama Thunderpussy‘s Constellation was the first Man’s Ruin Records album I ever bought. It was released in 2000 and I made my purchase directly from the band on their website — it might also have been the first time I did that — sometime after the release of 2001’s also-excellent Staring at the Divine, which was their Relapse debut. I didn’t know much about the label or the band at that point, other than (as per the poster above) they stomped ass and it was worth $10 of my money.

I’ve chronicled my Man’s Ruin buying adventures here pretty extensively, but Constellation has always had a soft spot in my heart, for being the first and for its fearless blend of sentimentality and burly heavy Southern rock. It’s not just any band that would put “Six Shooter” and “15 Minute Drive” on the same record. Still, I probably hadn’t listened to it in a few years even before ATP broke up after releasing the more metallic Open Fire in 2007 with Kyle Thomas from Exhorder on vocals, and as has happened a couple times by now (see here, here, here and here, for starters), finding the promo for sale on the relative cheap provided a good chance to reintroduce myself to the album.

The first thing that sticks out about it — especially in the context of what’s come since from Virginia and the surrounding area — is how forward thinking it is. A lot of the distinct guitar crunch from Erik Larson and Asechaih Bogdan and the sans-reverb vocals of Johnny Throckmorton you can hear in the sludge coming out of that area now from the likes of Lord and a few like-minded acts also not shy about bringing melody into the mix.

As much as cuts like “Ambition,” “Burden” and the organ-infused “Foul Play” rock as straightforwardly as possible, the acoustics of “Obsari” and the more airy feel of “1271-3106” do more than just change things up. There’s a direct effect on mood and the overall tone of the album that lasts right into the intro of “Keepsake” and the extended weird-out jam of “Country Song.” I guess it’s not necessarily that I didn’t realize these things were happening on the record before, although I’d believe that too, but with the additional time since its release — it’ll be 12 years come March — there’s been a real chance for the record to ferment. Constellation goes down like fine aged moonshine, and proves no less blinding.

If you’re interested, click the picture on the left above to enlarge it and read the bio. Believe it.

 

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Frydee Alabama Thunderpussy

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 11th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

We end this week on a high note with the Earth interview and some Alabama Thunderpussy covering Jethro Tull off the first Sucking the ’70s compilation on Small Stone. I’ve always kind of thought Alabama Thunderpussy never got their due. They were excellent on Man’s Ruin, and then they were excellent on Relapse. Their more metal last album wasn’t really my thing, but they had some really killer songs and I don’t think Relapse at the time knew what to do with them. Pretty sure if the Johnny Weils or the Johnny Throckmorton-fronted lineups were putting out records now, they’d be gods to the new breed of Southern rockers. Who the hell knows.

The moral of the story is listen to The Might Could, and I think it might be time for Small Stone to do a third Sucking the ’70s. Would be cool to hear Gozu take on Blue Öyster Cult or some crazy harmonized arena rock, Iota, Lo-Pan, Backwoods Payback and the rest of the new crop chime in.

Bonus argument for the above clip: I’ve had “Hymn 43” stuck in my head forever because the Aqualung cassette pretty much never leaves my car anymore. It’s become a permanent fixture, just one of my listening options. AM/FM radio, CD, Tull. Not a bad way to go.

Tomorrow is The Patient Mrs.‘s birthday. Out of courtesy to her, I won’t say which one, but it’s a biggie, and we’ll be celebrating tomorrow night out to dinner in NYC, then over to the Mercury Lounge to catch Wino, Scott Kelly and Man’s Gin. If you see us there, be sure to wish her a happy birthday. And if you don’t know what she looks like, she’ll be the one looking patient. Rock.

I’m on deadline next week to both do and transcribe a Clutch interview and also to transcribe a Weedeater interview that’s already in the can, so we might have a double-feature week rather than the average one-per. We’ll see how that goes and if I can muster the time to actually get it done. I’m backlogged on interviews at this point and they just keep coming. Wo Fat, Suplecs. The other night I had a brief but very pleasant conversation with Jeannie Saiz of Shroud Eater — just kind of getting an introduction to/general idea about the band — so that’ll be posted sooner than later as well. Lots to come.

But yeah, tomorrow, the patient birthday, Sunday, homework, Monday, back at it. Hope to see you on the forum over the weekend. It’s that big orange link in the sidebar. Can’t miss.

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Pre-Thanksgiving Media Blitz

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 25th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

It is hour three of a football game about which you couldn’t care less if they paid you. Your family is just approaching the line of intoxicated where the passive aggression is activated. Your little cousin has just asked you where he or she can score some pot. You were hopeful this Turkeyyear would be different. You need an escape.

Suddenly, you remember The Obelisk posted a buttload of videos for just such an occasion, called it a “Pre-Thanksgiving Media Blitz,” figuring that maybe on this most familial of holidays, heads might need a break from everything, if only for a couple minutes. And is there a better way to spend that break than watching high quality live videos from Kyuss, Dozer, Colour Haze, Alabama Thunderpussy, Dixie Witch, Black Pyramid and — for those whose day is even a little more stressful — Acid Bath? You’ve already hid out in the bathroom long enough to do all the crossword puzzles in that book. Relax and enjoy the entertainment. At least catch your breath.

Truth be told, this is as much for me as it is for any of you who might see the benefit of it. Being the pajama-clad social misfit I am, even the thought of bringing my family together with that of The Patient Mrs. is enough to make me want to crawl into a hole. I fully anticipate excusing myself from the before-dinner goings on to come upstairs and watch at least one of these clips. And to make it holiday-special, I tried to find the best quality stuff I could. The Colour Haze video from DunaJam alone gives me a sense of inner peace, which I anticipate needing on Thanksgiving as much as another glass of wine.

If you’re like me (and if not, congratulations on your well-adjustedness), please enjoy the videos after the jump and remember, no matter what the tv tells you, you don’t actually have to get up at five in the morning to go shopping at Target.

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Six Songs to Help You Get through the Day

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been giving some thought the last week or so to doing an Obelisk podcast. Only thing is it would take a shitload of time and I don’t know if anyone would bother listening. Let me know what you think in the comments thread, and in the meantime, enjoy these six songs.

It was originally only going to be five, but then I figured in the fine spirit of old school C.O.C., I’d add one more. Feel free to minimize and listen that way as you go about work or whatever.

Lowrider – Dust Settlin’Lowrider – Dust Settlin’
Natas – AdolescentesNatas – Adolescentes
Alabama Thunderpussy – Three StarsAlabama Thunderpussy – Three Stars
Nebula – Anything from YouNebula – Anything from You
Sasquatch – Rattlesnake FlakeSasquatch – Rattlesnake Flake
Kyuss – Supa Scoopa and Mighty ScoopKyuss – Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop

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EXCLUSIVE: Ben Hogg on Making the New Birds of Prey Record

Posted in Features on February 24th, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Ben Hogg. Hard to argue with this man.A couple days ago, I sent Birds of Prey vocalist Ben Hogg (also of Beaten Back to Pure and the even more extreme Plague the Suffering) an email, asking him if he would kindly write up a feature on his experience making The Hellpreacher, the third BOP album, due out in April via Relapse. His response was a reassuring, “I’m down. Gimme a few days,” and I knew then the right choice had been made.

True to his word, a couple days later, Ben sent the following report on the origins of the band and the coming together of The Hellpreacher. After the jump, bear witness to the one and only Ben Hogg.

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