Om Touring in February / March with Wovenhand

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

om

I cannot stress enough how much you should own Om‘s BBC Radio 1 (review here). Yes, it’s a double 10-inch vinyl, and I’m perfectly willing to admit that that’s kind of a silly thing when it would’ve fit on a single 12-inch platter, but face it, you’re going to listen to the download anyway, so quitcherbitchin and get on board. I’m only trying to make your life better by telling you this.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that Om have announced tour dates the same week that bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros‘ other band — they’re called Sleep, you know — have announced a hiatus? I don’t know. Probably? They’ll have Wovenhand out with them though, as they did on a tour leading to Monolith on the Mesa earlier this year, so if you want to think of this as a fuller leg of that run, go for it. Om have toured pretty steadily over the time that Cisneros has been/was involved in Sleep again, so it’s not like it’s some sudden resurgence or anything.

Of course, the big question is when/if/whether there will be a new album out next year, and if this tour might preface or accompany or otherwise somehow relate to that possibility. I have no insight on the matter other than to say, “golly, that sure would be nice,” so yeah, no insight at all basically. Shrug.

Go see Om. And buy that goddamn live record.

Dates:

om tour poster

OM Live:
12/14/19 Pioneer Works Brooklyn NY
2/21/20 Mohawk Austin TX w/ Wovenhand
2/22/20 Gas Monkey Bar & Grill Dallas TX w/ Wovenhand
2/24/20 George’s Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR w/ Wovenhand
2/25/20 Growlers Memphis TN w/ Wovenhand
2/26/20 Saturn Birmingham AL w/ Wovenhand
2/27/20 Terminal West Atlanta GA w/ Wovenhand
2/28/20 Grey Eagle Asheville NC w/ Wovenhand
2/29/20 Motorco Chapel Hill NC w/ Wovenhand
3/2/20 Black Cat Washington DC w/ Wovenhand
3/3/20 Underground Arts Philadelphia PA w/ Wovenhand
3/5/20 The Sinclair Cambridge MA w/ Wovenhand
3/6/20 Columbus Theatre Providence RI w/ Wovenhand
3/8/20 Spirit Hall w/ Wovenhand
3/9/20 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights OH w/ Wovenhand
3/11/20 Headliners Music Hall Louisville KY w/ Wovenhand
3/12/20 The Pyramid Scheme Grand Rapids MI w/ Wovenhand
3/13/20 Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago IL w/ Wovenhand
3/16/20 Fine Line Minneapolis MN w/ Wovenhand
3/17/20 Wooly’s Des Moines IA w/ Wovenhand
3/18/20 Slowdown Omaha NE w/ Wovenhand
3/19/20 The Bottleneck Lawrence ks w/ Wovenhand
3/20/20 89th Street Oklahoma City OK w/ Wovenhand
3/21/20 Sister Albuquerque NM w/ Wovenhand

OM lineup:
Al Cisneros
Emil Amos
Tyler Trotter

https://www.facebook.com/om.band
https://omband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.omvibratory.com/
https://www.dragcity.com/

Om, Live in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 31, 2019

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Om, BBC Radio 1: Sing the Advaitic

Posted in Reviews on October 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Om BBC Radio 1

Some seven years ago, in 2012, Om issued their fifth full-length, Advaitic Songs (review here), through Drag City and thereby secured a place high among the decade’s best releases. Though founding bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros has split time in the years since between Om and the ongoing reunion of landmark stoner metallers Sleep, the album has continued to hold its audience, and its influence continues to spread to other acts on multiple continents. It was the kind of offering upon which legacies are made, and the new live recording BBC Radio 1 (also Drag City) is a reminder of that, even if only half its inclusions are actually from Advaitic Songs itself. Those songs, “Gethsemane” and “State of Non-Return,” are enough to get the point across on the limited gatefold double-10″ vinyl outing, and paired with “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II” from 2009’s God is Good (review here) it is stirring and hypnotic in kind, the kind of release that makes you wish it was longer than its all-too-brief 29-minute run.

Om‘s lineup has shifted since Advaitic Songs. While that record marked the introduction of LichensRobert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (who had also appeared on God is Good) as a full member handling keys, percussion, vocals, etc., earlier in 2019, Cisneros and longtime drummer Emil Amos (also Grails, Holy Sons, and so on) brought in Tyler Trotter as the third member, and it was this incarnation of the band that recorded BBC Radio 1 at the British Broadcasting Company‘s studio in London’s upscale Maida Vale neighborhood, with its quietly old-money residences, tree-lined city streets and small but welcoming coffee/tea shops. The tracking was done on May 3, which was just a couple weeks before Om toured the Southwest ahead of playing Monolith on the Mesa, and about two months ahead of their Summer 2019 European tour, which included stops at Lake on Fire in Austria and SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal, but if hitting the BBC studio was the only reason Om made the trip abroad, one can hardly fault their logic in doing so. The results are little short of immaculate.

That sounds like hyperbole, and maybe it is, but you have to believe me when I say that this recording of “State of Non-Return” features if not the best then certainly one of the top three bass tones I’ve ever heard. I’m a sucker for bass tone anyway, and Cisneros is a master of low-end warmth, but for the tidal surge kick-in of distortion on the second track here alone, BBC Radio 1 is worth whatever Drag City want to charge for it. I’m dead serious. This isn’t a live release like something captured on someone’s phone at a random show. This is a professionally-recorded, in-studio offering of a band performing their work. It is a true documentation of their sound with album-quality fidelity and live performance. And I’m not going to take away from the dream-state sway beginnings of “Gethsemane” or Amos‘ drumming on “Cremation Ghat I” or the texture Trotter seamlessly weaves into the songs via keyboard throughout, but even on Om‘s earlier albums, when it was just bass/drums/vocals and so each of those elements was all the more showcased, I don’t know if the bass ever sounded so rich. If they put it out as an isolated track on its own — a bonus download or “dubplate” or whatever — I’d buy it happily. I mean it.

om

Opening with “Gethsemane” leads the way down the path. Its beginning is like a guided breathing exercise to clear the mind, and what unfolds from there in the wash of crash cymbals, the ping of ride, the pop of snare, the softly flowing bassline and the chant-like keyboard ahead of the first verse is duly immersive. Cisneros‘ voice arrives like a pilgrim one might meet in the wilderness, some kind of spiritual seeker who knows the place, can show the way toward safe passage while telling you stories that happen in dimensions most people can’t perceive. So you set off. Amos‘ drums are the footsteps, Trotter‘s keys the ground, and “Gethsemane” is both journey and destination. At 11 minutes, it’s both opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) on BBC Radio 1, and its sense of grace isn’t to be understated, nor the fluidity with which it feeds into “State of Non-Return,” which at 8:22 is two minutes longer than on Advaitic Songs, but still unfurls the aforementioned distortion about 45 seconds into the proceedings. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if they wanted to make the song last another 10 minutes, that’d be welcome as well. If it’s two, okay. I’ll take that.

Though it’s shorter than “Gethsemane” and backed up by “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II,” “State of Non-Return” is an obvious focal point on BBC Radio 1 for its shift in tone and relative rhythmic push. Even putting aside the glorious rumble of Cisneros‘ making, it radiates energy as delivered here and presents a subtle momentum leading out of the first 10″ and en route to the second, which houses the final two tracks, one per side. “Cremation Ghat I” holds some of the momentum forth in Amos‘ drumming and the winding bassline that accompanies, but its run is brief at 3:51 and mostly instrumental, so the vibe has shifted accordingly, as, one supposes, it would have to. This leads to the drone-backed “Cremation Ghat II,” longer at 5:37, which closes out in perhaps giving some sense of arrival at the place to which the beginning of “Gethsemane” was setting off. Maybe (definitely) that’s putting too simplistic a narrative to it, and maybe the journey and destination are the same thing. I wouldn’t know. Maybe the sense of “going somewhere” is wrong altogether and the point is to be still.

But take from it either way that especially for a live recording, BBC Radio 1 is evocative in a way that allows for these kinds of varying interpretations. Certainly one would expect that the BBC knows what it’s doing in capturing a band playing, but it’s worth emphasizing this isn’t just performance-to-tape. It’s museum-quality. It’s a document of Om in 2019 and, for anyone who may have needed it, an underscore to the effect the band have had on the course of heavy over this decade which, one assumes, will only continue to spread into the next. Advaitic Songs is long since due for a follow-up, but BBC Radio 1 earns its place in Om‘s pantheon through its methodical, patient and serene atmosphere, showcasing Om as a band of singular, unmatched resonance. Recommended.

Om on Thee Facebooks

Om on Bandcamp

Om website

Drag City website

Drag City on Thee Facebooks

Drag City on Bandcamp

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When the Deadbolt Breaks & Red Mesa Touring Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You’re probably doing something right when your tour starts at the SX Stoner Jam, which has something like 150 bands on the lineup and will no doubt be the kind of thing that 10 years from now people who were fortunate enough to be there will still be talking about. I mean that. But for Red Mesa and When the Deadbolt Breaks, both supporting releases on Desert Records, it’s just the beginning. They’ll go from Austin to Houston and then kick around the Southwest and the mountains for a 10-day run that unless I’m mistaken marks the Connecticut-based Deadbolt‘s first time out toward West Coast. I could be wrong about that — they’ve got some history at this point — but I’m reasonably certain.

Either way, a lot of the difference between the two bands can be seen in the photos below. Red Mesa are the dudes in the desert, sunglasses on, having a good time. When the Deadbolt Breaks are framed by eerie light in the woods, hands in pockets, staring downhill at whatever it is they might be threatening. Those should be some good shows.

Dates came down the PR wire:

red mesa

when the deadbolt breaks

When The Deadbolt Breaks and Red Mesa announce ‘Path of the Heavy’ tour!

When The Deadbolt Breaks (Psychedelic Doom) and Red Mesa (Desert Rock) have announced a tour together centered around their appearances at Austin’s STONER JAM ’19 on March 14th.

WTDB will be touring in support of their sixth studio album, “Angels are weeping…God has abandoned”. Red Mesa will be touring in support of their second studio album, “The Devil and The Desert”. Both band’s albums were released on the new Albuquerque based record label, Desert Records.

Tour Dates:
March 14th – Austin, TX Stoner Jam ’19 Festival @ Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
March 15th – Houston, TX @ Rudyards British Pub
March 16th – OKC @ Your Mom’s Place
March 17th – Wichita, KS @ Elbow Room
March 18th – OFF
March 19th – Colorado Springs, CO @ Bar-K
March 20th – Denver, CO @ TBA
March 21st – Albuquerque, NM
March 22nd – Phoenix, AZ @ Time Out Lounge
March 23rd – TBA

https://www.facebook.com/WhentheDeadboltBreaks/
https://whenthedeadboltbreaks.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

When the Deadbolt Breaks, Angels are Weeping… God Has Abandoned… (2018)

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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Red Mesa Announce First-Ever Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Despite a recent back injury to drummer Roman Barham — who I think I might’ve half-met earlier this year someplace; was it Maryland Doom Fest? — Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Red Mesa will head out on tour next month in support of their 2018 album, The Devil and the Desert (review here). This will be the band’s first-ever tour, and they’ll be out for 10 days beginning Nov. 8 suitably enough at the Launchpad in their hometown before covering a good swath of the sprawling and sandy Southwest, as well as into Los Angeles and San Diego, Las Vegas and so on. It’s a good run and they’re playing with good bands along the way — you can bet that Sierra Vista show is with Fuzz Evil — and there is a date still TBA in Tucson, so if you’re there and can help out, do that. Because it’s the right god damned thing to do, and you know it.

I’ve said as much before, but a first tour is a special time for a band that, like a first album, only comes once. Kudos to Red Mesa on getting out. I hope the shows are a blast.

Dates follow:

RED MESA TOUR POSTER

Red Mesa – First Tour

November 8th-November 17th.

Red Mesa will be heading out on the road this November for their first tour!

“The Devil In the Desert” tour will kick off in the band’s hometown of Albuquerque, NM on November 8th. From there, the band will do a SW/West Coast circuit.
This will tour will promote the band’s June 2018 release of “The Devil and The Desert” album.

The band’s ringleader, Brad Frye, will be doing vocals and playing guitar. Roman Barham, Albuquerque’s local favorite promoter, drummer, and music store owner will be playing drums. This tour will feature the band’s new bass player, Josh Vigil, an accomplished musician who plays bass and flamenco guitar.

The band has booked the tour themselves using the network of bands and venues they have worked with and hosted through the years. Salem’s Bend, King Chiefs, Nebula Drag, Big Mean, Fuzz Evil and many others will be hosting Red Mesa along the way.

“THE DEVIL IN THE DESERT TOUR 2018”
Thurs 11/8: Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
Friday 11/9: El Paso, TX – Neon Rose
Sat 11/10: Sierra Vista, AZ – The Horned Toad
Sun 11/11: Los Angeles, CA – Characters Pomona
Mon 11/12: San Diego, CA – Space Bar
Tues 11/13: Los Angeles, CA – The BLVD
Wed 11/14: Las Vegas, NV – Sahara Events Center
Thurs 11/15: Flagstaff, AZ – House Party
Fri 11/16: Tempe, AZ – Cornish Pasty Co.
Sat 11/17: Tucson, AZ – TBA

Big News! This tour will coincide with the release of Red Mesa’s cover song of “Breathe” for Magnetic Eye’s The Best of Pink Floyd compilation on November 9th.

https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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The Horned God Sign to Desert Records; Debut Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

THE HORNED GOD

Based on the comics of olde — from a time before the medium became a dominant driving force of American popular culture; when they were still for weirdos and nerds — The Horned God are set to make their debut this Fall through Desert Records. They’re the first act signed to the new label helmed by Brad Frye, also the guitarist and vocalist of Red Mesa, but apparently not the last. In addition to announcing the pickup of fellow Albuquerquians The Horned God, Frye teased that he’d be working with, “a veteran psychedelic doom band from New England.” Intrigue!

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what’s in store for The Horned God‘s first album, which has been given the title The Horned God I, since as you can see above and in the freshly-unveiled artwork immediately below, they’re not exactly going light on the concept.

From the social medias:

the horned god cover

THE HORNED GOD – BAND SIGNING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Desert Records is proud to introduce you to THE HORNED GOD!

Hailing from Albuquerque, NM but playing a very unique style of Ancient Celtic stoner and desert rock inspired by the 1983 comic book classic Slaine: The Horned God.

Debut album coming this Fall!

Vinyl and digital formats.

The Horned God says: “Let the commencement begin! The Horned God is officially the first band signed to Desert Records Label! Epic things on the horizon… and we are so honored to be a part of this music community. Thank you, Brad Frye and Desert Records!”

The Horned God is a Cosplay band, based on the comic book masterpiece by Pat Mills, and Simon Bisley, Slaine: The Horned God.

Comic book writer Pat Mills brought the character of Slaine mac Roth, a Celtic barbarian warrior king who along with his axe Brainbiter and his ability to warp spasm in order to defend his people against the dark druid Slough Feg, to life in 1983 in his graphic novel series titled Slaine. In 1989 Pat Mills collaborated with illustrator Simon Bisley and published the three book series Slaine: The Horned God. In this series Slaine goes on a quest to collect four artifacts that once united will enable him to become high king and lead his people into battle in the hopes of saving them from Slough Feg and his army.

In 2012 the next adaptation of the story began in Albuquerque New Mexico when three friends took their love of the story and combined it with their passion of music and created the three piece cosplay stoner rock or as they call it, “Ancient Celtic inspired stoner rock, legends and lore, of love and war!!!”, musical interruption appropriately named, The Horned God.

The Horned God consist of three members, Dominic on vocals and guitar, Robson on bass and Tim on drums. This one of a kind dynamic three piece bring the story of Slaine to life with lyrical dialog and narratives ripped from the pages of the book accompanied by full costume and projected comic book cells throughout the entire performance.

https://www.facebook.com/HornedGodBand/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

The Horned God, Live at the Launchpad, 2012

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Red Mesa Premiere “Sacred Datura” from The Devil and the Desert

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based heavy desert rockers Red Mesa release their second album, The Devil and the Desert via their own Desert Records imprint on June 1. The follow-up to the trio’s 2014 self-titled debut and their 2016 appearance alongside Blue Snaggletooth on Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Four (review here), it’s a seven-track/38-minute outing the urgency of which seems to be affirmed through the sheer act of its creation.

To wit: Split into two vinyl sides and released on that format with money garnered via crowdfunding, the beginning of the recording process found guitarist/vocalist Bradley Frye without a band. Both bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper split after a gig last August (that must have been some show), and rather than call it a day and go home, Frye decided to hit the somewhat ironically named Empty House Studio with producer/engineer Matthew Tobias and press forward with making the record.

That decision in itself was pretty bold, and it pays dividends throughout The Devil and the Desert, the title of which refers to its dual themes. From front to back there would seem to be a narrative of hallucinogens, the arrival of the devil, the desert itself, and so on, and musically, the material becomes more severe the deeper into the record one goes, Frye starting out with a semi-acoustic swamp blues that touches on psychedelia in “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” — which has a few heavy riffs of its own, like a Southwestern fuzz-proffering Monster Magnet with Frye cast in the Wyndorf role — and the ethereal sandy grunge of centerpiece “Desert Sol,” before tipping the balance to more weighted fare with “Sacred Datura,” the motor-chugging “Route 666” and the trippy desert heft and spaciousness of the 10-minute closing title-track.

red mesa the devil and the desertBy the time Frye gets around to “The Devil and the Desert,” he’s traveled a significant distance even from “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” and other early cuts like opener “Devil Come out to Play” and the instrumental “Springtime in the Desert,” which opens psychedelic and fades out only to return with more grounded acoustics. That play between the real and unreal becomes central to The Devil and the Desert, and in order to better evoke it, Frye put Tobias to work on drums/percussion and brought in studio players Jon Mcmillian (bass) and lap steel/baritone guitarist Alex McMahon in order to better evoke the sense of a full-band playing. To be blunt, it works.

The danger with using session musicians especially on an independent release is that, while generally ultra-talented, they have little investment in the project at hand. They’ll play well, but won’t share the passion of those who hired them or who composed the material they’re playing. Frye and Tobias found the right people. To listen to the fleshed out arrangement of “Desert Sol” at the album’s center, McMahon‘s baritone and lead guitar melds easily with what Frye does on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals and with Tobias‘ percussion. And since the second, more generally weighted half of the record was made with the clearly self-aware Frye and Tobias working as a duo playing the parts of a full band — Frye taking up bass as well as guitars and vocals — there’s a shift in presentation as well as general mindset just where one is intended.

So again, it works. I don’t know if Frye — whose since brought on bassist Randy Martinez and drummer Roman Barham to play in the live incarnation of Red Mesa — would say losing two-thirds of his band prior to recording was an asset, but listening to the channels switch in the bouncing verse of “Sacred Datura,” or hearing the fuzzy rhythm part back the soaring lead, one would have a hard time arguing he didn’t make the most of it, and that The Devil and the Desert didn’t turn out as broad in sound as it is cohesive in its themes. It’s a mindful outing that rather than simply working within genre confines, uses the elements of desert rock, lost country and psychedelia in carefully set balances to suit its own needs and purposes. It is an album commanding aesthetic, rather than being led by the rules of it.

Below, you can hear the premiere of “Sacred Datura” and read more about the song specifically from Brad Frye. Once again, The Devil and the Desert is out June 1 via Desert Records. Preorders are up now through Red Mesa‘s Bandcamp page.

Please enjoy:

Brad Frye on “Sacred Datura”:

The song “Sacred Datura” was initially conceived from Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Life. In the book Don Juan explains that Sacred Datura is also known as Devil’s Weed. Sacred Datura is meant to give human beings remarkable powers, such as being able to fly, uproot big trees, go into heat to become pregnant, very powerful stuff. In regards to the song, it’s more about having the power to confront your demons (or the Devil) head-on and be able to survive the encounter.

Most all the titles to songs on this record include the word ‘desert’ or ‘devil.’ I was originally going to name the song “Devil’s Weed” but I figured some hallucinogenic drug fans or plants geeks may appreciate the reference.

The other book that inspired the song was Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. There’s a chapter in the book where a boy accidentally eats Sacred Datura and has quite a trip before he eventually dies from dehydration in the canyon lands of Utah. Although I’ve never taken Sacred Datura, I used my own experiences with psychedelic mushrooms to write the song.

It’s the first track I’ve ever recorded with me playing bass. The tracking session mostly consisted of Matthew Tobias telling me to “do it again.” The whirling sound that you hear at the very beginning of the song and continues throughout the first half of the song is from a homemade Leslie rotating speaker cabinet made from some hippie dude that I bought from in the trippy little New Mexico town of Madrid.

The riff in the second half of the song is most certainly an ode to Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” riff. Seems like the kind of riff that would appear out of the cosmos on such a journey.
Plus, it being the devil’s triad (root note, with a octave up, and a flatted fifth), which was banned from the churches in Europe in centuries past, seemed fitting to have in this album.

The album was recorded at Empty House Studio in Albuquerque, NM. Matthew Tobias engineered, produced, and mixed the entire album. Doug Van Sloan Mastered the album. Side A was recorded in September and October of 2017. Side B was recorded in January and February of 2018.

Release date: 250 colored vinyl LP’s will be available for sale in early June 2018. Limited edition. Brad Frye’s new record label, DESERT RECORDS, will release the album. Look for more
releases in 2018 by DESERT RECORDS.

Red Mesa has a new rhythm section for 2018 for live shows.
Roman Barhan (Rezin Tree, Black Maria, Jagged Mouth,) will play drums.
Randy Martinez (Hounds Low, Jagged Mouth) will play bass.

Red Mesa is currently booking its first tour to play and promote the album.

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

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Review & Full Stream: Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bible of the devil still on top

[Click play above to stream the new split single from Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore. Copies are available now from the bands.]

“Got no time to lose” is one of the lines tossed out in the call and response hook to Bible of the Devil‘s “Still on Top,” which is their contribution to a new split 7″ single with Albuquerque’s Leeches of Lore. It might be true in the case of both bands, but for the Chicago outfit it seems especially so. After years of road-dogging, the antic-prone two-guitar four-piece have played it decidedly lower key since the release of their most recent album, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), via Cruz del Sur in 2012. They’ve done periodic tours in the Midwest and hit local fests like Alehorn of Power, but where the aughts and early ’10s found them belting out album after album, tour after tour, and a succession of splits with the likes of ValkyrieSlough Feg and Winterhawk, the half-decade since the last full-length has been comparatively quiet.

One single, of course, isn’t going to make up for lost time, but “Still on Top” comes across very much as a song with a message, taking a workingman’s rocker perspective and assuring both the listener and the band that yes, they’ve still got it. Interestingly, it comes accompanied by Leeches of Lore‘s “Mountain of Mom,” which may or may not be the final recorded output from a group who recently and willingly gave that same “it” up. Following their to-date pinnacle work in 2015’s Toshi Kasai-produced Motel of Infinity (review here), the avant rockers led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Hammond played what was to be their last shows in May 2017, making this, at least technically, a posthumous offering. For what it’s worth, they hardly sound dead at all.

So in terms of communication, what Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore present in “Still on Top” and “Mountain of Mom” is — at least potentially — hello and a goodbye. One hesitates to speculate on the future of either group, particularly since the latter have said they’re done and since it’s been so long since the former had any other output, but that’s how it looks on the surface, and for a release that runs neatly under the nine-minute mark and comprises just two tracks, it’s a pretty efficient check-in. Accordingly, both groups play solidly to their strengths.

For Bible of the Devil, that means a classic-sounding blend of rock and metal, with guitar work by Nathan Perry (also vocals) and Chris Grubbs in the spirit of the NWOBHM as most informed by Thin Lizzy-style good times, and an upbeat hook propelled by the rhythm section of drummer Greg Spalding and bassist/vocalist Darren Amaya. On the basic level of its approach, it could hardly be more their own if it was about “the night,” but while the method and structure may be familiar, a rawer production than one necessarily might expect from Bible of the Devil after For the Love of Thugs and Fools or the preceding 2008 triumph, Freedom Metal, gives a live feel to the proceedings such that there’s almost a garage sensibility to the initial chug and the verse, before the background vocals or harmonized guitar lead take hold.

This might make “Still on Top” an even more fitting complement to “Mountain of Mom,” as Leeches of Lore have always been (or “always were,” depending on the tense in which one wants to categorize them) a rawer band, even under the guidance of Kasai, taking cues from noise rock, punk, country, extreme metal and the great anti-genre beyond where few dare to tread. Their final lineup consisted of HammondKris KerbyNoah Wolters and Andy Lutz, but whether or not that’s who appears on the single I don’t actually know. In any case, like Bible of the Devil before them, Leeches of Lore are very much at home in the 4:09 “Mountain of Mom,” working quickly even with the title to make the listener ill-at-ease as only good art can in terms of just what the hell they’re talking about and whether or not it actually has anything to do with the song itself.

That’s a question that remains as Hammond moves vocally between cleaner singing, falsetto, and harsher shouts and the band around him between circuitous lumbering marked out by its transitional drum fills and sustained pulls of guitar and a last-minute delve into lead guitar and organ that comes close enough to punk rock cabaret to recall some of Leeches of Lore‘s more offbeat aesthetic aspects, even if the basic structure it keeps to is relatively straightforward. If indeed it is their final output — again, one never says never in rock and roll — it’s a suitable weirdo-metal farewell with early screams leading to talk of the end of the world and traffic jams and so on. One might call it “the usual,” but in the grander scheme, there’s hardly anything usual about it, and of course that’s a big part of the fun.

Like much of Leeches of Lore‘s work during their time together, “Mountain of Mom” benefits from longer-term digestion over multiple listens, but those repeat visits are well-enough earned by the quickened feel and the front-to-back linear transition the band undergoes. As was the case throughout their tenure, their reach remains underrated and underappreciated, and despite a more immediate take, the same could easily be said of Bible of the Devil, the quality of whose work has always made them something of a well-kept secret within the American Midwest. If there’s anything tying the two bands together, it’s probably that most of all, but neither should one discount the fact that throughout their careers — one maybe restarting, the other maybe over — neither of them has been willing to compromise who they are at their root or give up exploring outward from their sonic foundation. Their split may be short, but there’s no lack of substance whatsoever.

Bible of the Devil on Thee Facebooks

Bible of the Devil on Bandcamp

Bible of the Devil website

Leeches of Lore on Thee Facebooks

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Leeches of Lore Confirm Final Show for May 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

leeches of lore

Sorry to hear that Albuquerque weirdo heavy rockers Leeches of Lore are hanging up their collective spurs this month? You bet your ass I am. Really, really, really glad to have been able to see them live when I did? That’s also a huge yes. The band may be coming to an end as they also mark their 10th anniversary — and hey, never say never in rock and roll, right? — this month with a hometown gig at Sister Bar, but it’s also easy to argue they’re going out at the top of their game. They’ve got a new split en route with Chicago’s Bible of the Devilinfo here (), and their last album, 2015’s Toshi Kasai-helmed Motel of Infinity (review here), was unquestionably their greatest accomplishment to-date. I guess guitarist/vocalist/band-spearhead Steve Hammond decided it would also make a hell of a swansong, and I can’t argue.

The May 20 show is actually the second of two farewell gigs Leeches of Lore had slated for this month — the other was this past weekend — so if you want to see them, time is fleeting. Should it be at all within the realm of the possible for you, I can only recommend it based on my personal experience.

Hammond sent this along the PR wire:

leeches-of-lore-last-show

Leeches of Lore’s Final Days

Hey folks,

It’s been a fun 10 years, but Leeches of Lore is calling it quits this month. I’m moving out of New Mexico and can’t keep the band running at a distance.

Final Show and 10 Year Anniversary Saturday May 20 at Sister in Albuquerque NM with SuperGiant and Black Maria. This show will be a long one, encompassing our entire career. I never recommend people come from out of town to see one of our shows, but this might be the exception!

It’s hard to believe that what started as a one-off solo album turned into over 50 original songs from 5 full length albums and 3 EPs and lasted ten years!

I want to thank all of our fans from all over the world and especially our friends and family here in Albuquerque. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

Cheers!
Steve Hammond

https://www.facebook.com/events/523268441395460/
https://leechesoflore.bandcamp.com/
http://lorchestralrecordingcompany.com/
http://facebook.com/leechesoflore
http://leechesoflore.com/

Leeches of Lore, Motel of Infinity (2015)

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