Last Licks 2014: Nate Hall, Nocturnal Poisoning, Snailking, Godmaker, Void Generator, The Mound Builders, Mother Kasabian, Deep Space Destructors, Underdogs and Human Services

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy to report that I survived the first day of this project. Spirits are good and I look at the stack of discs (plus one book; we’ll get there) in front of me and feel relatively confident that by the time I’m through it, my cerebral cortex will still manage to function in the limited way it usually does. If yesterday’s installment is anything to go by, however, I’ll be well out of adjectives by then. What’s another word for “heavy?”

There’s only one way to find out. These will be reviews 11-20 of the total 50. I don’t know if they say the first 10 are the hardest or the last, but I’ll be in the thick of it when this is posted and while I’m sure I probably could turn back and catch minimal if any flack for it — one “Hey wha happen?” on Thee Facebooks seems likely penance — better to just keep going. Another stack awaits tomorrow, after all.

Thanks in advance to anyone reading:

Nate Hall, Electric Vacuum Roar

nate hall electric vacuum roar

Electric Vacuum Roar is one of two Nate Hall physical releases from this fall. The U.S. Christmas frontman and solo performer also has a few digital odds and ends and Fear of Falling, on which he partners with a rhythm section. Released by Heart and Crossbone Records and Domestic Genocide, Electric Vacuum Roar is closer to a solo affair. Hall is joined by Caustic Resin’s Brett Netson on guitar/bass on two extended tracks: “Dance of the Prophet” (16:46) and “Long Howling Decline/People Fall Down” (11:57). The second part of the latter is a reinterpretation of a Caustic Resin song, though here it is droned out and put through a portal of drumless and inward-looking psychedelia, turned into the finale of a communicative and intimate affair. Amp noise and effects swirl around “Dance of the Prophet,” and it’s easy to get lost in it, but Hall maintains a steady presence of obscure vocals and the result is what tribal might be if tribes were comprised of one person.

Nate Hall on Thee Facebooks

Heart and Crossbone Records

Nocturnal Poisoning, Doomgrass

nocturnal poisoning doomgrass

I’ve never tried to break up a one-man band, but I can’t imagine Scott Conner – who helped pave the way for US black metal under the moniker Malefic in Xasthur – has had an easy time of it since he put that band to bed in 2010. Nocturnal Poisoning, whose Doomgass arrives via The End Records, is an entirely different beast. Centered around layers folkish acoustic guitar, cleanly produced backed by occasional bass and tambourine, Doomgrass is still depressive at its core – Robert N. contributes guest vocals, almost gothic in style, to songs like “Starstruck by Garbage” and “Illusion of Worth” – but if the name is a portmanteau of doom and bluegrass, it fits the style. If anything ties Nocturnal Poisoning to Xasthur aside from Conner’s involvement, it’s a focus on atmosphere, but the two ultimately have little in common otherwise, and Nocturnal Poisoning’s exploratory feel is refreshingly individualized and leaves one wondering if Conner will be able to resist the full-band-sound impulse going forward.

Nocturnal Poisoning on Thee Facebooks

Doomgrass at The End Records

Snailking, Storm

snailking storm

Though they’re decidedly post-metal in their influences – Neurosis, YOB, obviously Ufomammut for whose record they are named – Sweden’s Snailking keep to heavy rock tones on their Consouling Sounds debut full-length, Storm, and that greatly bolsters the album’s personality. Even as they lumber, the riffs of 11-minute opener “To Wander” are fuzzed-out, and that remains true throughout the five mostly-extended cuts the trio of drummer Olle Svahn, bassist Frans Levin and guitarist/vocalist Pontus Ottosson present on their first record, which follows the 2012 demo, Samsara (review here). Centerpiece “Slithering” is the shortest and most churning of the bunch at 6:32, but the particularly YOBian “Requiem” underscores another value greatly working in Storm’s favor – the patience with which Snailking present the ambience of their pieces. That will serve them well as they continue to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but for now, Storm makes a welcome opening salvo from the three-piece highlighting both their potential and how far they’ve come already since the release of their demo.

Snailking on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Godmaker, Godmaker

godmaker godmaker

The self-titled debut from thoroughly-bearded Brooklynite four-piece Godmaker arrives via Aqualamb as an art-book and download, a full 96 pages of designs, lyrics to the four included tracks of the vinyl-ready 32-minute long-player, live shots from a variety of sources, bizarre geometry and odd etchings feeding the atmosphere of the songs themselves, somewhere between sludge, thrash and aggressive noise with scream-topped moments of doom like “Shallow Points.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross and Chris Strait, bassist Andrew Archey and drummer Jon Lane, Godmaker fluidly shifts between the various styles at work in their sound, whether it’s the explosion at the end of “Shallow Points” or that beginning the rush of opener “Megalith,” and while their self-titled is a dense listen, with the surprising post-hardcore take of “Desk Murder” and the check-out-this-badass-riff-now-we’re-going-to-smash-your-face-with-it 11-minute metallic closer “Faded Glory,” it efficiently satisfies. More so after a couple listens front to back. If Godmaker were breaking your bones, it would be a clean break, and yes, that’s a compliment to their attack.

Godmaker on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb

Void Generator, Supersound

void generator supersound

Supersound is the first full-length from Italian heavy psych rockers Void Generator since 2010’s Phantom Hell and Soar Angelic (review here), and where that album held three extended pieces, the latest and third overall breaks into smaller pieces. Some of those are extended – opener “Behind My Door” is 8:09 and “Master of the Skies” tops nine minutes – but the bulk of Supersound’s seven tracks is shorter works somewhere between desert rock and classic psych, guitarist Gianmarco Iantaffi leading the four-piece with a  more subdued vocal approach than last time out, compressed even in the rowdier verses of “What are You Doin’” (written by Sandro Chiesa), on which the keys of Enrico Cosimi feature heavily and add to the sound too crisp to be totally retro but still vehemently organic. Bassist Sonia Caporossi (also acoustic guitar on penultimate interlude “Universal Winter”) and drummer Marco Cenci hold together the fluid grooves as Void Generator follows these varied impulses, and Supersound proves cohesive and no less broadly scoped than its predecessor.

Void Generator on Thee Facebooks

Phonosphera Records

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine

the mound builders wabash war machine

There’s a version of The Mound Builders’ 17-minute Wabash War Machine EP from Failure Records and Tapes that includes a comic book, but even the regular sleeve CD edition gives a glimpse at the Lafayette, Indiana, five-piece’s heavy Southern metal push. The middle two of the four inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Bar Room Queen,” surfaced earlier this year on a split tape with Bo Jackson 5 (review here), but opener “Wabash War Machine” and the sludged-up closer “The Mound” on which the guitars of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher phase between channels and vocalist Jim Voelz delivers his harshest performance to date, are brand new, albeit recorded at the same sessions in July 2013. “Wabash War Machine” highlights the band’s blend of southern metal and heavy groove, guitar intricacy and a gang-shout chorus meeting thick rollout from bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma and drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart, but it’s the finale that’s the EP’s most lasting impression, as pummeling as The Mound Builders have gotten to date.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

Mother Kasabian, Mother Kasabian

mother kasabian mother kasabian

In Olof’s buzzsaw guitar tone, the thud of Karl’s drums and Gidon’s abiding vocal menace, “Strike of the Emperor” gives notice of some Celtic Frost influence, but that’s hardly the whole tale when it comes Stockholm trio Mother Kasabian’s self-titled, self-released debut EP, as “The Black Satanic Witch of Saturn” immediately calls to mind The Doors in its minimal, spacious verse and offsets this with a soulful classic heavy rock chorus en route to the seven-minute “Close of Kaddish,” which works in a similar pattern – hitting notes of Trouble-style doom in its crescendos – and offers Mother Kasabian’s widest ranging moment ahead of the swaggering closer “The Return of the Mighty King and His Cosmic Elephants.” Swinging drums and variety in Gidon’s The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-style approach give the EP a distinguished feel despite raw production and it being Mother Kasabian’s first outing, and with the psych touches in the finale and a generally unhinged vibe throughout, the trio showcase considerable potential at work.

Mother Kasabian on Thee Facebooks

Mother Kasabian on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors, III

deep space destructors iii

Active since 2011 and with two prior full-lengths – 2012’s I (review here) and 2013’s II (review here) – under their belt, Oulu, Finland, heavy psych trio Deep Space Destructors offer their definitive stylistic statement in the wash of III, a five-song/45-minute cosmic excursion with progressive krautrock edge (see “Spaceship Earth”) driven into heavier territory through dense fuzz in guitarist Petri Lassila’s tone and the chemistry between he, vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen and drummer Markus Pitkänen. Their extended but plotted jammy course finds culmination in the 15-minute penultimate cut “An Ode to Indifferent Universe,” – King Crimson and Floyd laced together by synth sounds – but the space-rock thrust of closer “Ikuinen Alku” highlights the multifaceted approach Deep Space Destructors have developed since their inception, consistently psychedelic but expansive. The sides gel effectively on “Cosmic Burial,” lending modern crash and tonal heft to classic ideals to craft something new from them in admirable form. As far out as they’ve gone, Deep Space Destructors still seem to be exploring new ground.

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Underdogs, Underdogs

underdogs underdogs

Released as a cooperative production between Garage Records and Go Down Records, Italian trio Underdogs’ second, self-titled LP pushes further along the straight-lined course of heavy rock their 2007 debut, Ready to Burn, and 2011’s Revolution Love (review here) charted. Songs like “Nothing but the Best” strip away the Queens of the Stone Age-style fuzz of past outings in favor of a cleaner tone and overall feel, and while that spirit shows up later on side B’s “Called Play” and the rumbling grunge of “My Favourite Game” (a cover of The Cardigans), the prevailing vibe speaks to European commercial viability with clear hooks and straightforward structures. Acoustic finale “The Closing Song” offers a last-minute shift in style, calling to mind UnderdogsDogs without Plugs digital release, but even in more barebones form, the songwriting remains the focus on this mature third offering from a three-piece who’ve clearly figured out the direction in which they want to head and have set about developing an audience-friendly sound.

Underdogs on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records

Human Services, Animal Fires

human services animal fires

Since they issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2012, Virginia’s Human Services have brought aboard Steve Kerchner of Lord, and he brings as much a sense of chaos to Animal Fires as one might expect in teaming with Jeff Liscombe, Sean Sanford, Don Piffalo and Billy Kurilko, though the 59-minute full-length isn’t without its structure. Longer songs pair with concise noise experiments throughout the first 10 of the total 13 tracks, and each is different, so that even as the gap between songs is bridged, the stylistic basis for Animal Fires is branched out. The result is that by the time “Onyedinci Yil Sürüsü” closes out the album proper before the 17-minute live inclusion “No Structures in the Eye of the Jungle” hits, Human Services have reimagined the modus of Godflesh as an extremity of organic noisemaking, Southern heavy and eerie progressivism. Shades of Neurosis show up in centerpiece “Rats of a Feather,” but they too are twisted to suit the band’s creative purposes, threatening and engagingly bleak.

Human Services on Thee Facebooks

Human Services on Bandcamp

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Black Black Black Interview with Jason Alexander Byers: Acquiring Targets

Posted in Features on May 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The self-titled debut from Brooklyn’s Black Black Black arrived with minimal fanfare. There was no hype machine at work to herald its coming or viral video campaign to tease song snippets. First there wasn’t an album and then there was.

By the account of vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, this follows suit with the general ethic at the heart of the band to be as bullshit-free as possible at all times. His telling of how Black Black Black got together — he moved to Brooklyn from Ohio, knew guitarist Jacob Cox from their shared tenure in Disengage and they started the band with bassist Johnathan Swafford and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher — and his recollections of the three-month songwriting process for the album’s 12 tracks and the two-week recording with Andrew Schneider are the epitome of sans drama. They wanted to make these things happen, and they happened.

For that being the case, however, Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black — you’ll never guess what color the cover is — charts a surprisingly diverse course across its span, from the vaguely ritualized overtones of the “Seance for a Sucker” intro and the noise rock boogie of “Pentagram On,” to which Unsane‘s Dave Curran contributes guest screams, on through the blistering punk intensity of “Redeath” and the dreamy ’90s-style alt melodies of “Lexipro Devil.” Through all this runs a thread of heavy tones captured at their most crisp by Schneider‘s production and a still-lighthearted attitude that comes through in clever titles like “Light Light Light” and “Drum 0))))” even as Byers‘ graphic contributions to the album — a 40-page artbook released with the vinyl through Aqualamb Records, detailed here — leave grim, lasting impressions.

Byers‘ explanation? “You don’t want to do a steady 4/4 all the time. It gets boring.”

Fair enough. Black Black Black will be joining the likes of Lo-Pan, Gozu, Borracho and Supermachine at the Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 fest at The Acheron in Brooklyn on July 27 (more info here) and a follow-up to the self-titled is already in the works. In the interview that follows, Byers gives the background on the band’s origins and some of his theories on how the visual and aural sides tie together.

Complete interview is after the jump. Please enjoy:

Read more »

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Black Black Black Come to Life with “Redeath” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The day’s wearing on and I was just starting to drag a bit ago when along came this brand new video from Brooklyn’s own Black Black Black for the song “Redeath” from their self-titled album (sort of reviewed here and also here) to wake my ass up and get me through the rest of the day. Black Black Black (which boasts ex-members of Disengage) will release the aptly-named Black Black Black on Aqualamb Records, and just as soon as I stop hemming and hawing over every single fucking letter of every single fucking question, I promise I’ll get a Six Dumb Questions email interview going with them because the album kicks ass. Also hope to see them live at some point in the near future, so keep an eye out for much more to come either way.

In the meantime, here’s the clip for “Redeath,” which will probably take you less time to watch than it took to read the paragraph above:

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Nice Package: Black Black Black’s Black Black Black Artbook

Posted in Visual Evidence on January 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ahead of the Aqualamb Records release of Black Black Black‘s self-titled debut on Feb. 5 (details here), the label was kind enough to send a promo of the NYC-based heavy/noise rock band’s album. Included as well in said promo was a copy of the limited 40-page artbook designed by vocalist Jason Alexander Byers (ex-Disengage), also a visual artist who’s had gallery showings in Miami, his native Ohio, and current residence in Brooklyn as well.

One of the most impressive aspects of Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black (review here) is how widely the band’s personality varies between tracks, whether it’s the strong hooks of “Wisdom, Knowledge and Fucked,” or the raging NY-style noise of “Pentagram ON,” on which Dave Curran from Unsane contributes guest vocals, or the later despondency of “Lexipro Devil,” memorable for its melody even as it feels detached from reality in a manner befitting its chemical allusion. Elsewhere, chugging riffs like that of “Night Moves” and the even-more-plodding “Light Light Light” give a modern heavy sensibility offset by touches of ’90s alt rock, but no matter which angle you try to approach it from, Black Black Black shows little interest in easy categorization.

So it goes as well with Byers‘ work in the artbook, which ranges from horror schlock to the target-minded interpretations that form the basis of a lot of his style and indeed, the band’s logo above, which draws the eye toward the center and the heart of the work. Also including the liner notes credits, a table of contents and thanks, pages are broken up by each song, with lyrics handwritten over culled and distorted images:

“Pentagram ON”

“Mishandled Cult Funds”

“Soar Like a Spider”

You can see in the sample shots above that the mood is pretty dark across the board, but that the images themselves vary, and I’d say that’s true of the album as well. If nothing else, the book makes an excellent companion to the tracks on the record — which aren’t exactly lacking atmosphere on their own but are made even more vivid all the same. This being Black Black Black‘s first full-length, I hope the blend of aural and visual is something Byers and his bandmates, Jacob Cox (guitar), Johnathan Swafford (bass) and Jeff Ottenbacher (drums) continue to experiment with, since it offers a level of engagement with the material rarely seen in these days of digital minimalism.

Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black is due out Feb. 5 on Aqualamb Records. For more on the band, check out their Thee Facebooks or the label’s site, and for more of Byers‘ art, his website is here.

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Black Black Black Self-Titled Debut Due Feb. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Previously On the Radar-ized Brooklyn noisemakers Black Black Black will release their self-titled full-length on Feb. 5, 2013 — the future! — on Aqualamb Records. Strictly speaking it’s somewhere between a reissue and an official pressing, but good for the band either way.

The band features Jason Alexander Byers, formerly of Disengage, on vocals and Black Black Black was recorded by Andrew Schneider, whose studio took a hit from Hurricane Sandy and could use your support here.

As always, the PR wire informs:

BROOKLYN DEATH ROCK BAND BLACK BLACK BLACK’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT OUT FEBRUARY 5 ON AQUALAMB RECORDS

FEATURES MEMBERS OF DISENGAGE

The self-titled debut from Brooklyn-based death rock group Black Black Black is due February 5 via Aqualamb Records. Produced by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Converge, Pelican, Cave In), the album will be available digitally on iTunes as well as via www.aqualamb.org alongside a vinyl LP and limited-edition 40-page art booklet designed by Black Black Black frontman and former Disengage vocalist Jason Alexander Byers. The record also features a guest vocal performance by Unsane’s Dave Curran on the track Pentagram On. Please see below for full tracklist, album art is attached.

Black Black Black consists of Cleveland ex-pats Jason Alexander Byers (vocals), Jacob Cox (guitar), Jeff Ottenbacher (drums) and Johnathan Swafford (bass).

Black Black Black, the new clan of Brooklyn-by-way-of-Ohio doomsters offer up a big, nasty salute to gas tanks and goat hooves on their self-titled debut that’s ridiculously fun and gritty.

BLACK BLACK BLACK

1. Séance for a Sucker
2. Pentagram On
3. Wisdom, Knowledge & Fucked
4. Light Light Light
5. Mishandled Cult Funds
6. Night Moves
7. Redeath
8. Fever Is Law
9. Soar Like a Spider
10. Lexipro Devil
11. Drum 0)))))))
12. Son of Bad

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