Posted in audiObelisk on September 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you didn’t know, this Saturday, Sept. 27, is Cassette Store Day, a tape-minded answer to the hugely successful Record Store Day initiative supporting independent music retailers. I’m sure you did know, because you’re on top of it like that, but more to the point, Allston’s Phantom Glue have a special release coming out to mark the occasion. Working with Negative Fun Records, they’ll release Angels of Meth, a four-track demo collection taken from their early going when they worked under that moniker.
A lot of what works today about Phantom Glue was present in their sound back then — their blend of raw punk, sludge and metal — but of course the demo material is less solidified than the band would become by the time they got around to releasing their 2009 self-titled debut (review here) or A War of Light Cones (review here) last year. Their aesthetic was plenty assured by the first album and refined as much as something so bruising can be called refined on the second. The Angels of Meth demo has the elements there, but it’s a nastier churn and a dirtier distortion lurching out of their amps. Of course, this has an appeal entirely of its own on a song like “Tazed,” which I’m happy to have the chance to host for streaming ahead of the demo’s release.
The track hasn’t been completely unavailable or anything. If you’re willing to dig through the morass that MySpace has become, you can find it hidden somewhere in Phantom Glue‘s profile. This, however, is much easier (and higher quality), so I’ll go ahead and encourage you to just press play below instead. Angels of Meth will be the first time this material has been physically pressed as well.
Track and release info follow, courtesy of Negative Fun. Enjoy:
For all intents and purposes, Phantom Glue is Angels of Meth. The band was birthed by Matt Oates and has existed in various states since the mid-2000s.
The band was known as Angels of Meth up through the recording of the Phantom Glue S/T’d record. It wasn’t until after the recording process was completed for the Phantom Glue’s s/t record that the band decided to change the name.
This is the 1st recorded output from the band, which has never existed in a physical format until now, and further illustrates the dramatic development and shift in sound from release to release.
Posted in Reviews on September 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There was one ticket left when I arrived at the Great Scott in Allston to see Earth on tour supporting their new album, Primitive and Deadly. Much to the venue’s credit, the show was sold out but not oversold, Plenty warm up front, but in back by the end of the night one could claim some semblance of personal space if desired and still see Seattle’s droniest on stage. Doors were at nine with just two bands on the bill — Earth and fellow Seattleites King Dude opening — and it would be over an hour before anyone went on. So, if you were looking to drink or, say, stare at inane bullshit on your phone, there was plenty of time to do it.
In the studio, King Dude is a solo-project of Book of Black Earth guitarist/vocalist TJ Cowgill, but live he led a trio dressed in a look that might appear in a catalog as “Heartland Gestapo,” matching black button-downs with collar pins, black pants, short hair calling to mind Baptist righteousness and fascist regimentation as was likely the intent as they played in front of a backdrop of a painted-black and tattered American flag. The songs were Americana-derived neofolk, tales of fire and brimstone and drinking out of some alternate universe USA, guitar, keys, cello, drums. I’m not sure where Cowgillgot his Southern accent, but he was enough of a charmer on stage to get two whiskys, one bought from the bar and a mini someone else had apparently snuck in. Well enough earned.
If you’ll permit me a minute to wax critical, one of the most respectable aspects of Earth‘s long tenure — their first demo surfaced in 1990 and but for a stretch between 1997-2003, they’ve been going since — is the relentlessness of their pursuit. Go see Earth for one album and then another and you’ll get two different shows. Guitarist Dylan Carlson, as the founder and driving force, has in the last decade built and continued to refine a legacy that seems no more solidified now than it was nine years ago when they released their landmark comeback full-length, Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method. It is a constant work in progress, shifting and remaking itself each time out. And perhaps because their music can be so raw — the repetition of riff cycles, steady drum plod of Adrienne Davies and the steadiness of their instrumental flow — that progression is all the more evocative and encompassing.
As they took the stage at the Great Scott, Carlson provided the news that Primitive and Deadly (review here), which came out Sept. 1 on Southern Lord, took only a week to become their highest-selling release to date. He thanked the crowd and then began the set with “Badger’s Bane” and “Even Hell has its Heroes” from that record, the album’s weightier production translating excellently live through Carlson‘s tone, Davies‘ swinging-arm march and the fills of bassist Don McGreevy, also of Master Musicians of Bukkake, who doesn’t play on the new full-length but took part in 2008’s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (discussed here) and had no trouble making the parts his own or fitting in alongside Davies as the rhythmic complement to Carlson‘s swaying guitar work.
Of course, a major distinguishing factor of Primitive and Deadly is the inclusion of vocals — Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi (Rose Windows) guest — and while he had a mic on stage for thanking the crowd, they kept “There is a Serpent Coming” instrumental, that song coming out of “Old Black” from 2011’s Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) and moving into “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull,” which Carlson noted was their prior highest-seller and especially popular with female fans. I wondered how or why that might be the case as Carlson, Davies and McGreevy continued their droneout, the groove of the older material hitting not quite as heavy as that of the newer, reminding that whatever weight might reside in their tones or evocations, Earth is still far from being a “metal” band.
The new album’s opener, “Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon” served as the first installment of a closing duo with “Ouroboros is Broken” as the finisher, Carlson noting that they were the band’s newest and oldest songs, respectively. They paired together well, with the latter being somewhere between the reinvented textures of its appearance on 2007’s Hibernaculum EP and the original from 1991’s Extra-Capsular Extraction. Whatever version it was, it made a rolling cap on a set that didn’t so much celebrate the entire scope of Earth‘s career — at some point, particularly as they’re hinging on their 25th year, one imagines a retrospective live set of one form or another will happen — but emphasized the vitality of the work they’re doing now, their continued relevance and expanding influence. Given the expanse of time they’ve covered and the years and decades their growth has encompassed, it’s even easier to appreciate the restlessness underlying their evolution and the irony that so much of their reputation is for the stillness in their material. Still maybe, but never stagnant.
I had no line of sight to Davies, but there are a couple more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Reviews on May 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
You would probably need a filing cabinet to keep track of the various players who’ve been in and out of Negative Reaction over the band’s 20-plus years. The lone mainstay is guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones, who to my experience is a singular figure in or out of music. He’s someone I’m glad to consider a personal friend, a former collaborator, and a player whose passion and dedication make many considered giants seem small by comparison. It had been a while since I last caught the band — SHoD XII in Connecticut, to be precise — so though I had family obligations to account for, I nonetheless popped into Allston to catch them at O’Brien’s sharing a bill with localsThe Lorde Humongous, Xatatax, Slow Mover and Automatic Death Pill. A very heavy evening, to be sure.
I happen to know Bones – who’s also embarked on a solo career over the last couple years playing outlaw country — is a Boston fan. A fan of the city, its hockey team, its people, and so on, so I expected he’d be in rare form and was pleased to find that was in fact the case. At one point in their set, he borrowed a Bruins hat from someone in front of the stage and wore it for a song, and the mood despite Negative Reaction‘s persistent downer sludge was light and positive. A good time, in other words. Since I last saw them, drummer Joe Wood (also Borgo Pass) departed and Dave Ash filled the role with what served as rarefied swing for someone whose roots seemed to be so firmly in metal. You wouldn’t know it because Negative Reaction‘s material is slower overall, but I’d be surprised if Ash wasn’t a Dave Lombardo fan, if not now then at some point in the past, but he carried the material over with personality that played well alongside Bones and bassist Jamie Jervis.
Jervis has been around for a while — at least since 2012 — and came in to replace Damon Limpy, who played on Negative Reaction‘s last full-length, 2011’s Frequencies from Montauk(review here). “Dopamine” from that record was a highlight, and demonstrated how well this trio played together, the chemistry set between Bones and Jervis and developing between the rhythm section of Jervis and Ash. The trio made short work of Negative Reaction mainstays like “Go Die” from 2008’s Tales from the Insomniacand “Sludge” from 2003’s Everything You Need for Galactic Battle Adventures, and while I’d been thinking maybe they’d have some new material to show off, Frequencies from Montaukopener “Day after Yesterday” and “Shattered Reflection” were welcome ways to spend their time and both “Sludge” and the lumbering riff of “Worthless Human,” which Bones announced as “another uplifting, feel-good song” or some such, got the crowd’s heads banging and fists pumping. Literally. I wouldn’t call O’Brien’s packed out or anything, but those who were there were up front and way into it. I’m pretty sure Bones could’ve kept that Bruins hat if he’d wanted.
Closing out was “Loathing” from 2006’s Under the Ancient Penalty, which the way I see it was the beginning point for a lot of Negative Reaction‘s direction on their two subsequent albums, introducing an interplay of cleaner vocals with Bones‘ trademark raspy scream and refining their focus from punked-up sludge abrasion to rolling-groove songwriting that’s not about to shy away from an unabashed hook. “Loathing” has one of the band’s best to-date, and after “Dopamine” — a spiritual successor and a song that makes sense as a subsequent development of similar ideas — and “Shattered Reflection,” it makes sense as a way to round out what had been a riotous and fun set. I’ve seen Bones jump through more than one drumkit in my time, but he was kinder to Ash‘s gear than that, though the noisy finish of “Loathing” did come with a bit of rolling around, guitar-meets-cranium bashing and feedback enough to fill the entirety of Boston’s quota for the evening, let alone that of the other bands on the bill.
Negative Reaction have been an underrated band for a long time. Part of that has to be their constant lineup shifts, but this latest incarnation of the three-piece reminded me of what’s always been most on their side, and that’s the unabashed passion of Bones and the absolute catharsis at the heart of their deep-toned sludgy grooves. I expect they’ll continue to be a well-kept secret — sludge for sludgers — but for a band that has existed for the better part of 24 years to come across as having potential says something about the continued vitality at work. Fingers crossed for new stuff soon.
A few more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Reviews on May 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Weird bill? Yeah, weird bill. If they wanted to, Floor probably could’ve picked two Floor-influenced stoner bands to go out with on their US tour supporting the release last week of their first album in 10 years, Oblation (review here), but it was clear from the start of Darsombra‘s half-hour of projection-backed good-karma hippie drone that they and Hot Victory would be up to much different kinds of mischief than the evening’s headliners at the Great Scott in Allston. I’d arrived at the venue early, as I’m apparently wont to do, and sat for a little bit watching the Red Sox on the tv toward the front of the house while Darsombra set up.
When the lights went down and projections of trees scrolled by on the while screen erected behind them, I wasn’t even sure it was the start of their set, but once Brian Daniloski and Ann Everton took the stage — also dressed in white and playing through painted-white amps so that they too became a screen for the projected videos– they sat in front of their pedal board and keyboard, respectively, picked up a mic and explained what was up, invited people to sit or otherwise get comfortable and, smiling wide all the while, dug into a wall of sound both brightly toned and sonically weighted. Loud enough to want earplugs, but warm in its consumption. Like a guru who also eats you.
They’ve been on tour since the end of February, are in the home stretch. Here’s a phrase you don’t hear all the time: “We’re into the ninth week of our tour.” It’s hard not to admire such a nomadic ethic, and the dynamic between Daniloski (formerly of underrated stone-grinders Meatjack) and Everton was plain to see. Standing to pick up a bass, then switching to guitar, Daniloski couldn’t resist injecting a little more heavy into the noise wash, again, smiling as he did, and Everton accordingly broke out a gong to accompany, resulting in a blend of natural and electronic/manipulated sounds that would somehow serve as a fitting precursor to Portland, Oregon’s Hot Victory when they came on next.
I noted a Stumpfest hat on Ben Stoller that was a dead giveaway of their origins. In my head, I’d somehow crossed them up with Tee Pee retro riffers Hot Lunch, but by the time Stoller and fellow percussionist/sampler Caitlin Love finished loading up their elaborate spread of gear — a double-drum kit with two bass drums, snare, electronic elements, full pre-amped mixing board, keyboard, sampler, etc. — it was clear who was who. It took a while for them to get going, and the dancier start kind of turned me off, but as they went into their second piece, I took a step back — figuratively, since it was starting to get crowded in there — and asked myself, “Wait a second, what part of this isn’t brilliant?”
Like Darsombra, Hot Victory were probably something better seen live than heard on record, where seeing how they’re made feeds into the perception of the songs — though “seeing” is relative since they basically played in the dark. Ultimately, Love and Stoller wound up crafting intricate rhythms across their drums and the electronics, and samples filled out what was some of the most satisfying prog I’ve seen live since the early days of Zombi. Next time Kylesa finds itself in need of two drummers, they might do well to absorb them the way the Melvins did to Big Business, but even on their own, Hot Victory delivered a heavy sonic experience that boasted the precision of electronic music with the element of danger that comes with an organic live performance. At any moment, the entire thing could’ve come undone, but it never did.
Between the new release, the recent interview with guitarist Anthony Vialon and my general nerdly glee at their moving beyond “reunion band” status, it’s safe to say Floor have been on my mind of late. In hitting the Great Scott show, my interest was to see how the Miami trio were approaching that prospect; going from being a band playing reunion shows to a working trio supporting a new record with a cycle of touring. Unquestionably, putting out a new full-length was the right call, and Oblationmaterial made a well-fitting complement to songs from Floor‘s 2002 landmark self-titled in the set, featuring heavily in trades back and forth between new songs and older ones while transitions between cuts like “The Key” and “New Man” came across as crisply live on stage as they do on the album.
The tour started April 30, so they were just a week into just over a month’s run, but it was clear they were getting settled into their process. The other times I’ve seen Floor over the last couple years have been one-offs, or short tours — all-out blasts with nothing kept in reserve. This was different. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, the aforementioned Vialon (who’s usually pretty meditative on stage anyway) and drummer Henry Wilson knew they’d be playing again the next night. Rest assured, they warmed up as they went on — bomb-string riffs dropped liberally all the while — and as “Oblation,” “Trick Scene” and “Find Away” from Oblation gave way to “Kallisti/Song for Eris” from the self-titled and “Dove,” they were on a roll that kept up for the remainder of their time. Wilson seemed particularly to catch fire, and while all three seemed to still be acclimating to the newer songs, the set was well constructed to have a flow between the familiar and the more recent.
Of the many things I’ll complain about on a given day, I don’t think I’ll ever bitch for hearing “Scimitar,” “Return to Zero” and “Downed Star” one into the next. The opening salvo from the self-titled was presented in album order and followed by “The Key,” “New Man” and “Sister Sophia,” likewise running in the set as they do on Oblation. “Iron Girl” fed into “Love Comes Crushing” well despite the decade-plus between when each was written, and “Tales of Lolita” was as infectiously catchy as ever. I had been hoping for “Homecomings and Transitions” from the new one, but “War Party,” the extended “Sign of Aeth” and the rush of “Raised to a Star” made suitable replacements, Oblation closer “Forever Still” preceding the ultra-heavy, feedback-drenched finish of “The Quill” and “Ein (Below and Beyond),” the two songs summing up Floor‘s “the more things change…” continuity between then and now.
I guess the answer I got to my initial question — how Floor would do in going from reunion act to working one — was the same answer I got from Oblationitself. They’ve taken their sound and progressed with it, and just as on the album there was nothing that sounded like they couldn’t just keep going with it, what they were doing on stage looked sustainable as well, and vital even with the inclusion of new material after years of playing the same songs. As a record, Flooris such a static presence — like a monument cut in marble to be idealized — but what the trio have proven with this album and what they proved again on stage last night is that actually these songs and this sound is meant to move, meant to go different places and explore different ideas. I keep they keep the development going, because it seems like as much as they’re getting adjusted now, there’s still ground for them to cover going forward.
It was pretty dark all night, but there are some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I have yet to see a show at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston and regret having shown up. At this point, that’s a pretty good track record, since I’ve far and away spent more time in that room than anywhere else since moving north last year. Last night was Holly Hunt and Hollow Leg on tour from Florida, joined by Newport, Rhode Island’s Balam and Boston’s own Ichabod for a persistently heavy but still varied four-band bill of doom and sludge. I’d had no coffee owing to a dentist appointment in the afternoon and have no problem admitting that I’m still reeling from being laid off last week from my last remaining income-providing job, but I was ready to see a show, and I got what I went for, Balam starting off with their well-honed take on doom.
Vocalist Alexander Carellas mentioned on stage that he and a couple others in the double-guitar five-piece were sick, but the band sounded no worse for the wear up to and including his own voice, which had also impressed when I saw them last summer with Olde Growth and Keefshovel (review here). They were starting off a week-long stint of shows around the Northeast — Boston, Providence, Portland, Burlington, Poughkeepsie, New Bedford, Providence again — and fresh from a gig at Dusk in Providence with Magic Circle, playing songs from an upcoming full-length for which the recording is reportedly in progress, so it wasn’t really a surprise they were tight, but it made for a solid start to the evening nonetheless, their riffs adding trad doom edge that the sludgier Hollow Leg would contradict almost immediately upon stepping on stage.
My desire to see Hollow Leg was twofold. First (spoiler alert) they’re good. Second, they seem to be in a state of transition. Their 2013 full-length, Abysmal(review here), followed in the muck-caked Southern sludgy footsteps of its predecessor, 2010’s Instinct, albeit with more of a focus on songwriting than the debut. Their 2014 single, “God-Eater,” on the other hand, came with word of seeking out a new direction “sonically, visually and lyrically,” so I was curious to find out how that played next to Hollow Leg‘s ultra-aggressive prior approach. Sure enough, “God-Eater” was pretty easy to pick out as the second song of their set, but it wasn’t necessarily incongruous with what surrounded.
Maybe hearing it once through in a set isn’t the best way to get a feel overall, but from what I heard, the new song worked well next to “8 Dead (in a Mobile Home)” from Abysmal, though I imagine the context of Hollow Leg‘s next studio output will make the shift more obvious. I look forward to finding out, and wasn’t sorry to hear their abusive crunch in the meantime, somewhat cleaner than Sourvein but definitely of that ilk. Last I saw them was before Abysmalwas released, and they had a commanding presence then, but they got on stage and clicked immediately, which was only fitting for being five shows deep into the tour. The duo Holly Hunt, also from Florida and whom I hadn’t seen previously, would soon follow suit.
Holly Hunt also had new material from an EP called Prometheusthat’s set to release next month as the follow-up to the Miami-based instrumental two-piece’s 2012 Year Onefull-length debut. They’re one of those bands that I’ve heard from several reliable sources that “you gotta see.” Sure enough, as heavy as their recorded stuff is, it does little justice to the volume emanating from guitarist Gavin Perry‘s dual Hiwatt heads or the distinct crash of Beatriz Monteavaro, who celebrated her birthday in lumbering style. Sound-wise, they are as elemental as you’re likely to hear — elephantine riffs cycled through in vicious nod, played very, very loud. On paper it’s a simple formula, standing in front it’s enough to shake your ribcage. At one point I heard a crackle and was convinced the O’Brien’s P.A. wasn’t long for this world, but fortunately it held out under the tonnage of tonal heft Holly Hunt supplied.
Given the unromantic duty of closing out a four-bander on a Tuesday night, two-guitar fivesome Ichabod answered Holly Hunt‘s demolition with their own brand thereof, frontman John Fadden shifting with intimidating ease between clean vocals and sit-tight-because-I-can-do-this-all-night screaming, lending the set a sense of drama to go with the alternately rocking and crushing riffs of Dave Iverson and Jason Adam, the steady and inventive bass of Greg Dallaria and the drums of Phil MacKay, which somehow prove to be the uniting force between the band’s space-rock push and their seething, malevolent sludge. Their psycho-delia was fluid through two new cuts from their upcoming LP, Merrimack, as well as favorites “Baba Yaga,” “Huckleberry” and “Hollow God” from 2012’s Dreamscapes from Dead Space, the latter of which closed out the evening on perhaps its angriest note — no small accomplishment considering the company Ichabod were keeping.
With the evening-long assault of volume as a comparison point, Allston seemed especially quiet on my way out of the venue. Holly Hunt and Hollow Leg roll into Brooklyn tonight, March 26, to share a bill at St. Vitus with The Scimitar, Kings Destroy and Clamfight as a benefit show for Aaron Edge of Lumbar to help with medical bills in his continued fight with MS. Info on that gig is here, and no doubt it’ll be one for the ages. Me, I’ll take what I can get, and was glad I got to see these acts at all, let alone on a show that was so dead on, front to back. No complaints.
Posted in Reviews on January 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had driven back from New Jersey during the day — most of it, anyway — with the knowledge that I wanted to see Queen Elephantine at O’Brien’s last night. I knew I’d be tired as crap, but figured it’d be worth it because somehow it had gotten to be like half a decade since I last saw the band, in Maryland at the first benefit for Evil Fanny. Hard to believe so much time had passed. Particularly in light of having missed their Boston show last fall with It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Olde Growth and Keefshovel and having very much dug 2013’s Scarab full-length (review here), it was long overdue.
Boston acts Glacier and Slow Mover opened the show. I didn’t get there in time to see Glacier, but Somerville’s Slow Mover were just about to get started when I walked in and established a pretty wide stylistic breadth once they got going, the dual-vocal/guitar four-piece (plus snare strobe!) culling elements from noise rock, post-hardcore and post-metal, stoner rock and even a bit of black metal and making it sound raw and cohesive without being overly thought out. They had their self-titled on vinyl at the merch table, but I was light on funds. Still, cool stuff, sounded like it was working on a multi-tier solidification process. Easy to hear where they could turn into something devastatingly heavy, though as a moniker, Slow Mover does little to describe the actual ethic of their playing, which was more varied in pace than they’d apparently have one believe.
Last year when Insect Ark, aka Dana Schecter of Bee and Flower, released the Long ArmsEP, I kind of dabbled in checking it out, but I was looking forward to seeing how her noisy experimentalism translated live. First of all I’ll say that any heavy band in Brooklyn would be lucky to have her as their bassist, but that was really just part of what she brought to the table — quite literally two tables, set up on the stage — at O’Brien’s. With a pedal steel in front of her, bass strapped on, a sampler, other noisemakers and mixing board on the side, a laptop further over and amps behind, Insect Ark was both stylistically complex and viscerally loud. For each piece she set an initial bed of noise, hit a programmed beat on the laptop and then added pedal steel and bass as dictated by the song, winding up with a heavy wash that only got more and more furious as the set went on, whether she was walking into the crowd with her bass or assaulting the strings of the pedal steel with a slide on the other end to get the most noise for each strum.
I won’t lie, I was dragging ass by then. It was a long day on I-95 and I was at the show by myself, but it had been the chance to see Queen Elephantine that had pulled me off the couch and away from the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the first place, so I wasn’t going to let it go. I took a minute, went outside, called The Patient Mrs. and got my head together to see the Providence, Rhode Island, experimental doom outfit, led by guitarist Indrayudh “Indy” Shome and featuring drummer Matt Couto of Elder and the aforementioned Keefshovel for the night alongside bassist Mat Becker, who shared a mic with Shome for the chanting vocals of the two extended pieces they played.
That’s right, two songs. When you’re Queen Elephantine and your songs run upwards of 20 minutes at a clip, you can do that kind of thing if you so choose, and I guess on a night where they stripped so far down from their usual current incarnation — I’ve seen recent pictures of a five-piece lineup and I don’t think there’s really a limit when people start showing up — you can do a set of two songs and have it work. Call it playing to their minimal side if you want, either way, Queen Elephantine wanted nothing for sonic presence or fullness save where they wanted to want for it, and were able to conjure vivid atmospherics even with the reduced personnel. Becker took a spoken word part in the middle of the first song — “The Search for the Deathless State” from 2008’s Kailash — and they settled into a fervent build across both that and “Chariot in Solemn Procession,” the latter taken from 2008’s YatraEP and rounding out with an undulating groove made all the more insistent through Couto‘s drumming.
You could see when he clicked with Becker and Shome in the pacing. Initially he seemed to be pulling fast, but they smoothed out over the course of their time and ultimately, whether it was droned to oblivion or crushingly doomed, Queen Elephantine satisfied vigorously. I thought it was cool as hell, and similar to hearing Scaraband thinking the band was coming into a sound of their own after years of directional experimentation, I got the same impression in their confidence on stage. A loop of tanpura drone behind further filled out the sound behind them, only to be swallowed up by louder parts and reemerge here and there, staying on for a while after they brought their last song to its crashing conclusion.
Thursday night in Allston seemed like a fun time for hip cats, but I’m never been fun or hip, so I darted surreptitiously back to my car and headed back to my little slice of the Commonwealth. Beat as I was, I was glad to have shown upand I resolved more or less immediately not to let it go so long until next time.
Posted in Reviews on January 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fun fact: I saw Gozu in Allston just about a year ago, down the street from Great Scott at O’Brien’s (review here). Oh, what a difference a year can make. For me, now I live here. For them, after the early 2013 release of The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), they spent much of the ensuing 12 months playing out in various Eastern Seaboard haunts while reaping international praise for their second Small Stone outing the likes of which landed them a slot at the impending Roadburn 2014 and Berlin Desertfest in April, between which they’ll presumably tour (unless they’re going for frequent flier miles, which is possible) their inaugural European run. Late last year, they also swapped out drummer Barry Spillberg (ex-Wargasm) for former Warhorse basher Mike Hubbard and added Jeff Fultz on third guitar alongside Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman. I guess their year was somewhat busier than mine. Fair enough.
That last move in particular I found puzzling. Fultz is an experienced, classy player — one might recall his tenure in Seemless last decade, and he currently holds a spot in Mellow Bravo in addition to having joined Gozu — but I wasn’t sure what a five-piece incarnation might add to Gozu‘s dynamic that wasn’t already there in the four-piece. And so curiosity was part of what got me out of the house; the other part was cabin fever. I’d been treating home more or less like a cocoon for the whole week while riding out what the Weather Channel’s website couldn’t seem to stop calling the “Polar Vortex” (which sounds like a stoner rock song if it isn’t one yet). A break in the blistering cold, though it was raining, didn’t hurt either. Seems the mettle of my Mid-Atlantic sensibilities is being tested by my first winter in New England. If I forfeit can it be May?
The night was a five-band bill with Gozu, Never Got Caught, Township, Await Rescue and Thunderbloods, and I won’t pretend to have seen the whole show. I understand that’s how it goes here and bills are stacked regularly and shows are dirt cheap (two bucks per band on this occasion), but with respect for the fertile creative ground that is the Boston scene, I had work still to do. Never Got Caught were on stage when I walked into the Great Scott – a room I dig a lot despite their apparent stance against lighting acts while they play — and though it was catching Gozu that got me out the door like the misshapen pupa I am, I was glad to run into the native four-piece, whose guitarist/vocalist Bryan “Uzi” Hinkley and his brother, drummer Bill Hinkley, trace their pedigree back to ’90s hardcore/heavy rockers Tree.
A double-guitar outfit with Bryan on lead vocals backed by fellow guitarist Dave Ward and bassist Jesse Sherman, they were somewhat moodier live than I recalled from their 2009 Creepshowfull-length, but still rich in tone with the guitars tapping at times into Wino-style fuzz without ever relinquishing their own identity to do so. Their songs were catchy and had character, but weren’t overly poppy, and when Bryan and Sherman and Ward all got on mic at the same time, the vocal interplay was clear, professional and made the songs all the more engaging. I’d never seen Never Got Caught before, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for a chance to do so again. They’ve reportedly got a new album in the works to release in Spring on Mad Oak Records.
Gozu followed immediately and played a set of eight songs evenly split between their two Small Stone records, 2010’s Locust Season(review here) and the aforementioned The Fury of a Patient Man, looking somewhat crowded on the Great Scott stage, but sounding tight although they’re clearly still smoothing out the presentation of the new lineup. Fultz seemed to have stage left to himself at first, while Gaffney was in the center, leaving bassist Joe Grotto and Sherman (Doug, as opposed to Jesse from Never Got Caught) packed on the right — neither of them has ever been wont to stand still while playing in my experience, but there were no collisions that I saw — and Hubbard behind. By the time they finished, they were more comfortable than they had been when they started. Fultz‘s amiable confidence meshed well with the rest of the band, Hubbard hit hard and slaughtered his way through the changes in “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” and “Ghost Wipe.” If nothing else, it was probably the loudest set I’ve seen from Gozu, and at this point I’ve seen a few.
And as they relaxed, sort of letting the songs do their work, the potential for Gozu as a five-piece really began to sink in. I had a forehead-slap moment of “holy shit, duh,” when Sherman and Fultz kicked into dueling solos for Locust Season highlight “Regal Beagle.” Gaffney held down the melody smoothly on vocals, and when the chorus was done and it was time for the guitars to take the lead, all of a sudden it was Gozu doing Thin Lizzy harmonies, adding a completely new twist on a familiar song, and whatever mental block I had to understanding why the band might want to add a third six-stringer evaporated. While Gaffney‘s a more than capable rhythm guitarist, before, it was clearly Sherman‘s role to handle the vast majority of the soling. With Fultz, not only is there a dynamic between lead and rhythm guitar, but between the lead guitars themselves as well. I don’t know why I didn’t get that before I actually stood there to see it — actually yes I do, it’s because I don’t play guitar — but being there made all the difference.
I was suddenly very glad to have left the house, and I felt like I also could relax from that point on in Gozu‘s set, which, as it stormed through “Meth Cowboy” and “Ghost Wipe” en route to closing out with “Mr. Riddle” only gained momentum. If it hadn’t been one before — and I think it had been — it was a party when Gozu were finished, but I beat a quick retreat like the misfit ogre I am and headed out into the moist but above-freezing air to slip on melting ice on the way back to my car. Served me right for not staying for the whole show.
Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Reviews on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Allston was busy on Friday night as one would imagine it being. I think one of the bars down the way from O’Brien’s was doing a fantasy sports draft or something — walking down the block, I passed two dudes muttering about someone in a tweed jacket cheating, or catching them cheating, whatever it was — but either way, the street was packed out. Still managed to find parking and get into the venue in time to catch most of Mollusk‘s set in support of Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay, who had swung north on the East Coast following an appearance at Stoner Hands of Doom XIII the weekend before. Having missed them there much to my dismay, catching the Boston stop was essential.
I’ve been to O’Brien’s a couple times at this point and I like the room. It’s small, sans bullshit, dive-ish but not like it’s trying to be a dive because that’s hip these days. A comfortable space, and one that was pretty packed with volume when Mollusk were on stage. In a fun bit of mistaken identity, I had thought the Mollusk in question was the duo from Ohio, whose 2013 album, Colony of Machines, is patiently awaiting review. I was excited to see them live, but the Mollusk playing O’Brien’s was in fact a different two-piece working under the moniker, this one local to Allston. Really, I should’ve been tipped off when drummer/backing vocalist Adam O’Day (also an accomplished painter) was wearing a Bruins jersey, but I thought maybe they were playing to the crowd. Steve Janiak of Devil to Pay would later take the stage in a Faces of Bayon (they’re based in MA) t-shirt, so it didn’t seem that strange in context. That Mollusk, which is O’Day and guitarist/vocalist Hank Rose, would actually be from the area makes much more sense.
Blind Tigers had opened and Gut would close, so with Mollusk as the second of four and Devil to Pay in the prime slot, it was a full bill. As I said, I didn’t catch all of Mollusk‘s set, but they were plenty heavy, if somewhat less post-sludge inspired than their Ohio counterparts, reminding of some of Napalm Death‘s brooding moments of groove in between all the brutality. They weren’t what I was expecting — I was quite literally expecting a different band — but for both the coincidence and their sonic assault, it was enjoyable. Devil to Pay, who work much more in a straightforward heavy rock context, had a hard act to follow, but having been on the road for a few nights already were as tight as one could ask. This show was the second to last on their tour, which had started Nov. 1 in Muncie, Indiana, and the band’s 2013 outing, Fate is Your Muse(review here) hasn’t been too far from my consciousness since its release, in part because of their excellent videos.
The four-piece were recording the O’Brien’s set as well, which began with the The Atomic Bitchwax-esque winding riffs of “Savonarola” from Fate is Your Muse. About half of what they played was from that album. Catchy cuts “Prepare to Die,” “This Train Won’t Stop” and “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” were welcome, and the rest was a mix from their other three records, with “Distemper” and “When all is Said and Done” providing the same one-two live as on 2009’s Heavily Ever Afterand the band dipping back to 2006’s Cash is Kingfor “Niflheim” and even further to their 2004 debut full-length, Thirty Pieces of Silverfor “Valley of the Dogs.” This made for a decent mix of new and old, some of their earlier C.O.C. influence providing a mix among the more recent and individualized material, their standouts well chosen even if I’d been hoping for “Tie One On” from the CD version of Fate is Your Museas well. Can’t have everything, I guess.
What struck me most in watching Devil to Pay this time around — I hadn’t had occasion to see them since last year’s SHoD in Connecticut, which was before the newest record was released — was how much like a metal band they seemed. With Janiak and Rob Hough on guitars, Matt Stokes on bass and Chad Profigle on drums, they were long-haired, black t-shirted, bearded nearly in uniform. Janiak spent most of the set singing with his hair in front of his face and between their headbanging, their relatively clean tonality and the one-the-road tightness of their set, they played heavy rock like metal dudes. That’s not something I’m about to hold against them, but one got much more of a sense of it live than on the album. They weren’t showy, though, which was all the more a fit with the songs, and if it was a different-seeming route they took to being an unpretentious good time, the destination was reached with no less efficiency than one would expect from their recorded output.
Local dirt-thrashers Gut finished out the night, with vocalist Brian pacing back and forth in front of the stage and drummer Scott Healey (brother of Black Thai‘s Jim Healey and a former bandmate in We’re all Gonna Die) so buried in the back behind the two guitars and bass as to be largely invisible from in front of the stage. Their sound was heavy, aggressive and drunk, which earned much hooting from the gathered masses left at the end of the show. I picked up the Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife(they’d played the B-side “Black Fog” as well) and This Train Won’t Stop 7″ singles from Devil to Pay‘s merch table and shot the shit for a while before heading out. Van trouble would keep them from making their final tour stop in Long Island, but between the O’Brien’s gig and their show the night before at Geno’s in Portland, Maine, with the hopefully-permanently-reactivated Eldemur Krimm — not to mention SHoD in Virginia and the other dates on the tour — they seemed to have made the most of their time anyhow.
Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.