Posted in On the Radar on June 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Metal’s a curious proposition these days. Too many bands, too many subgenres to keep track of — half of it’s emo in disguise and the rest is up its own ass with pseudo-progressive noodling. I’m old, I guess is what I’m trying to say. Nonetheless, when a band like Tenderizor comes along, there’s nothing else I can really call them but a metal band. The triple-guitar (also bass, drums, vocals, noise) Albuquerque five-piece released their debut LP, Touch the Sword, in March via Sick!Sick!Sick!, and there’s some thrash, some quirk, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, and even some Top Ramen chicanery, but as its heart, it’s metal all the way.
And it’s not usually the kind of thing I’d cover here — well, maybe; the title track is kind of riffy in its verses — but they share vocalist/bassist/noisemaker Steve Hammond with fellow New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore, and if, like me, you dug the heavier elements that showed up on their recent Attack the Future full-length, then the Slayer-meets-Metallica thrashing nonsense of “The Gilded Knight” should be just the thing to kick your Monday afternoon in the ass. The vinyl is limited to 500 copies, and they’re selling it at their Bandcamp page, along with a download.
In the meantime, they’ve made four of the total eight tracks available for streaming, and here they are:
Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
The second album from sun-baked New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore – named for what it sounds like in being called Attack the Future – first came into my hands last year on a limited-to-100 cassette via Sick!Sick!Sick! Distribution. There are apparently some of those left for anyone who’d have them, but the Albuquerque duo-turned-trio, who released their self-titled full-length on MeteorCity in 2009, have done a pressing of Attack the Future on CD, and since I felt so bad for never reviewing the tape – it was basically an issue of not having access to a tape player near my desktop and/or not being in my car for more than an hour when not driving it – I bought the disc and figured I’d write it up instead.
It’s a different listening experience, of course. On tape, Attack the Future’s primitive production and condensed crunch reminded me of rehearsal demos, that kind of raw and somehow classically metal immediacy that no other recorded form seems to be able to capture. Also on tape, since most of the songs flow into each other and parts early in the record are revisited later, it was nearly impossible to tell where one song ended and the next at times and there was a general feeling of disorientation that being able to go track by track on a CD clears up. I liked not really knowing what Leeches of Lore were doing, not being able to figure it out. That worked well with the music on Attack the Future, which genre-bends at a moment’s notice between the likes of the Melvins, Slayer, Ennio Morricone and Deep Purple. The trio of Steve Hammond (vocals/guitar; also of Tenderizor), drummer Andy Lutz and keyboardist/vocalist Noah Wolters have a bizarre and unique fluidity to their approach in that these otherwise obnoxious or abrasive turns work for them. On Attack the Future, Hammond, Wolters and Lutz tap into the same kind of charming musical strangeness that made Ween’s early-to-mid-‘90s albums so essential. And they do it heavy.
Whatever format you might choose to experience Attack the Future, be it cassette, CD or digital, understand that it’s not an album to be taken piece by piece. As though Leeches of Lore were cluing listeners to listen to the whole record in one sitting, the first three tracks all start similarly, setting themes. Opener “The Zarn,” “The Worms” and “The Spider” set the tone for Attack the Future both stylistically and in terms of content. Not being privy to a lyric sheet (none included with either the cassette or CD), I don’t know if there’s a narrative at work, but at least through “Night of the Llama” – track seven of the total 10 and boasting a short but killer solo from Wolters in the Jon Lord tradition – the songs move immediately one to the next and sound like a singular work. That works greatly to Leeches of Lore’s favor, as it lends Attack the Future an element of cohesion that makes their oddness not just a fluke or the result of the band’s being out of control in terms of their sound. Leeches of Lore know precisely what they’re doing as the semi-acoustic build of “The Worms,” its memorable falsetto vocals from Hammond and all, crashes headfirst into the cacophony of “The Spider,” and that in turn gives way to the mid-paced Melvins traditionalism of “When the Sky Falls.” Because of that, listening, you’re more willing to follow and see where they’re headed.
They make their home in the New Mexican sands, but Sandia Man‘s sound is heavier than the airy fuzz rock that usually evokes cactus-laden landscapes. They call it “caveman rock,” and rightfully so. The thickened guitars and bass seem to lumber and drag their knuckles tonally on Sandia Man‘s self-titled full-length debut, a song like “The Crows” showing some traditional doom influence put in the desert context.
Whatever you want to call it, Sandia Man do it well, and the tracks on the LP have a kind of rough-hewn edge to them that seems to be born more of drunken nights at the bar than sunburn on the face. Opener “Skins of the Fathers” finds guitarist/vocalist Alan Edmonds reading from a Clive Barker story as an introduction, and it proves to be the perfect entree to the song, album and band as a whole. It’s a little over-the-top, a little quirky, and darker than you’d think.
Given that, it made sense to get in touch with Edmonds with six dumb questions about the origins, inner workings and habitat of his band. He was forthcoming — especially about the songwriting, as you’ll see — which is just further proof of the passion he brings to the development of Sandia Man. If they’re the cavemen, then the walls are covered in buffalo pictures and hieroglyphs waiting to be ciphered.
Sandia Man is Edmonds, bassist Steven “Sven” Esterly and drummer Jon Knutson. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:
How did Sandia Man form after Devil Riding Shotgun ended in New Mexico? How soon after that did you start writing for the album?
Neb [Fixico, Devil Riding Shotgun vocalist/bassist] moved to Portland in ’08. He was the main songwriter, and he continued DRS up there with new personnel and our blessings. Jon and I kept on playing together and almost immediately came up with some cool ideas, so we started looking for a bassist when we had a few songs written.
Our quest was fruitless for what seemed like forever. We had just about given up on finding a bassist and were seriously considering going forward as a two-piece when Sven answered our ad on the local music boards, and he totally clicked, so we started working. He does double duty with his other band, Hate Planet, who he was already playing with when we met him.
Take me through the songwriting process for the album. How did the pieces come together and where did that brilliant bass part on “Plaguewind/Endtime Endgame” come from?
Generally, I write the lyrics and the guitar part, then Jon and Steve write their respective parts. We went into the studio with everything written and arranged except “Trog Stomp” and “Plaguewind.”
The last song, “Volcan,” was actually the first Sandia Man song written. I’d watched a show about super-volcanoes and wrote the lyrics to that one and combined them with some riffs Jon and I had been playing around with. The song “Sandia Man” was next, and it’s about our local caveman whose relics were found in a cave in the Sandia Mountains. It’s Sandia Man‘s life as I imagine it might have been, accompanied by some caveman riffs.
“Skins of the Fathers” was next, and the lyrics were inspired by the story of the same name by Clive Barker. I first read it years ago when I read The Books of Blood. It scared the piss out of me, so I never really forgot it. The music is older; I had come up with it for DRS, but it didn’t really fit with the other material, so it was just waiting for lyrics. I’d recently reread the story and thought it fit well with the musical idea, so I wrote some lyrics based on the story.
“Endtime Endgame” is based on the biblical legend of Behemoth and Leviathan, and “The Crows” was an old poem I had written edited to fit into a verse/chorus song format. Jon came up with the rough idea for “Trog Stomp” and put it together in the studio. Then he and two local percussionists added some caveman-style drum circle vibe.
As to “Plaguewind,” Steve wrote that bass solo pretty much on the spot. All the other bass tracks were finished, and it was the end of the day’s session. Basically, he didn’t want to have to break down his whole rig and bring it back just for that, so he did it on the fly — I think it only took him two takes, but it came out great. Later, I dubbed some slide guitar over that, and we added the wind sounds to it.
Thematically, the first four album tracks are prehistoric, and the last two are apocalyptic. If we do a vinyl release, which we might, those will be the two sides of the LP.
Who is reading the spoken word piece in the intro to “Skins of the Fathers?” How was that song inspired by the Clive Barker story?
That’s me. I guess I already answered the second part of the question, but we’re lucky (and very thankful) he allowed us to use his idea. It’s a great story.
How much of what you do is inspired by the desert? Do you consider yourselves desert rock? Maybe desert doom?
The vastness and scale of the desert and the mountains definitely get the creative juices flowing, but I really don’t think we sound much like any of the bands associated with the desert rock label. We’re less jammy, more structured and have more of a doom groove, so I guess desert doom is closer to the mark, but we just call it “caveman rock.”
What’s the scene like in Albuquerque? Anyone you’ve played shows with that outsiders need to know about?
There are a lot of bands here, but not a lot of venues, so you gotta move fast to get bookings. There are quite a few talented bands, but not really a “scene” where bands have similar musical styles.
On the other hand, heavy music always goes over well in Albuquerque. Some bands to check out are Leeches of Lore, BlackMaria, SuperGiant, and Ghost Circles, and they’re all local bands we’ve played shows with. Each has a completely different take on the Heavy.
Sandia Man has also been lucky enough to score opening slots for national acts such as Fu Manchu, Weedeater, and The Gates of Slumber, among others.
What’s next for the band? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?
We’ll keep gigging locally and probably record our second album in the spring.
This first album was delayed for almost a year, so most of the next album’s already written. The lyrics are less cinematic and more introspective, and the music is a natural evolution from the earlier stuff. Some of it uses a different tuning than we used for this album.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess it’s old news if you’re a regular visitor to the forums, but the press release just came in, so I figured I’d post the news that this year’s installment of the Doom in June festival has been announced for June 4 (appropriately enough) at The Cheyenne Saloon in scenic Las Vegas, Nevada. Also helping the “post it” cause is the fact that New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore are playing, and I’ve been meaning to review their Attack the Future cassette for months now. I suck.
Here’s the announcement, sent along by MeteorCity, followed by the poster, which is awesome:
As promised, the celebrated Doom in June fest returns for the second annual homage to some of the coolest names in doom and stoner rock Saturday, June 4, 2011. Last year’s inaugural show was a fun-filled day of some great music that saw people congregating to Las Vegas from around the world. This year Salem Rose Music gives you another dose.
Following a similar format Doom in JuneII kicks off the summer the first weekend of June (Sat. June 4) with 15 confirmed bands — some longtime established names and an opportunity to catch some of the brightest young talents — in a carefree, good time environment at the infamous longtime rock club The Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Blvd.).
Set to perform are Solitude Aeturnus, Hooded Menance (from Finland), Stone Axe, Wo Fat, Dusted Angel, Leeches of Lore, White Witch Canyon, Hallowed Engine, Stonehelm, Meth Leppard, Psilocybin, Of the Horizon, Crowned by Fire, The Swamp Donkey and locals Dead Neon.
Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
On their first, self-titled, self-released full-length, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, trio Sandia Man skirt the line between desert rock and doom metal — they call it “caveman rock” — following the riff across six heavy tracks that owe equal allegiance to Clutch and The Obsessed. There isn’t much in terms of flair to the overall style, but Sandia Man nail down some surprisingly memorable songs, starting with a lengthy spoken word intro to “Skins of the Fathers” based on a Clive Barker short story of the same name. For first-time listeners, the first 1:40 of Sandia Man’s Sandia Man are probably going to be a stumbling block, but after a couple times through you get used to it. Guitarist/vocalist Alan Edmonds (he’s the skeleton with the cool hat and the guitar on the cover above) forces his voice caveman low for nearly the entirety of the album, so once you hear that, that he does it in the beginning too is going to seem like much less of a surprise.
As a trio, Sandia Man have a classic riff-heavy chemistry between them. Edmonds takes a few done-right solos throughout, but his playing isn’t showy, and bassist Steven “Sven” Esterly and drummer Jon Knutson have no trouble following his trail of smoke to the proverbial riff-filled land. Knutson and Edmonds formerly played together in the New Mexican incarnation of Devil Riding Shotgun (now based out of Portland, Oregon), so their ability to march lockstep should come as no surprise. The start-stop progression of “Skins of the Fathers” is just the first of several distinctly Clutch-esque elements, Edmonds’ vocals being a key contributor to that as well, but the chorus moves in a different direction and is catchy in a doomier way. Likewise, “The Crows” follows a similar pattern, the Wino influence showing through in the guitar. Esterly’s bass comes on thick throughout, but perhaps most so on second cut “The Crows,” which seems to be led more by its vibrating low end than even by the riff. When Edmonds takes his multi-layered soloespecially, Esterly makes sure the song doesn’t lose its ground, and when the riff kicks back in for the faster closing movement, the change is all the more effective for the bass work.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Good news for fans of MeteorCity bashers Leeches of Lore, whose self-titled debut came out last year, as the band has announced they’ll be headed east in August. The album was so gleefully weird I hope to get the chance to catch them in-person, and with a TBA date right between North Carolina and Massachusetts — my geographic locale on a normal day — I might be lucky enough to do so. Here’s the latest on the dates from the PR wire:
Leeches of Lore will be touring in August. The dates are as follows:
8/7 LittleRock, AR @ Downtown Records w/ Shitfire
8/9 Greenbrier, TN @ Loudhouse Coffee
8/10 Asheville, NC @ Broadway’s
8/11 ChapelHill, NC @ Nightlight w/ Spermcount, Bitter Resolve
8/13 Northampton, MA @ TheElevens w/ BlackPyramid, Elder
8/14 Keene, NH @ Knightsof Columbus w/ BlackPyramid, BlackNorse
8/15 Portland, ME @ FLASK
8/16 Buffalo, NY @ The Funeral Home w/ Sonorous Gale, HAITI
8/17 Erie, PA @ Cooked I w/ Sound City Saints, With Signs Following, Mala Sangre
8/18 Chicago, IL @ Quencher’s w/ Bible of the Devil
8/19 Lawrence, KS @ The Replay Lounge w/ Horse Mountain, Meatflower
8/20 Omaha, NE @ O’leaver’s Pub w/ Dim Light
8/21 Denver, CO @ Lion’sLair w/ meaTBikini
Please check out their MySpace page for city and venue as the TBA dates get filled in.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know them personally, but New Mexican duo (sometimes trio) Leeches of Lore seem like decent enough fellows. Certainly if they were looking to play in my area, I might try my best to get them a show somewheres. You maybe ought to consider doing the same. They apparently could use the assistance…
MeteorCity recording artists Leeches of Lore need your help to fill out their tour this fall. If anyone lives in or near the following areas and has a venue for us to play, a house party for us to rock, or a couch to crash on, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
October 18: Phoenix/San Diego October 19: LA/Southern California October 22: Northern California/Southern Oregon/Portland October 23: Portland Area October 24: Seattle Area October 25: Spokane, WA October 26: Missoula, MT October 27: Livingston/Bozeman, MT