Review & Full Album Premiere: Arrowhead, Coven of the Snake

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

[Click play above to stream Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

Now on their 11th year and releasing their third album, Coven of the Snake, Sydney, Australia’s Arrowhead continue to deliver on the promise of their earliest days, proliferating straightforward heavy rock with a meaner underpinning here and there but keeping the songwriting first, always. This has been their wont since their 2009 self-titled EP (review here), and across their 2012 debut, Atomsmasher (review here) and 2015/2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, initially released by the band and subsequently picked up by Ripple Music. One can only call that alliance correct on some grand cosmic scale — the band and label would seem to have been made for each other. Though the band came first, both embrace a traditionalist heavy rock sound that doesn’t necessarily eschew frills, but makes its point with riff-led fare, memorable choruses and an underlying appreciation for the classics of the style. One thinks of Ripple bands like Roadsaw, Devil to Pay, Freedom Hawk, Ape Machine, Fire Down Below, etc.

Arrowhead acquit themselves well in this company across their latest work, Coven of the Snake, having gone through the change of bringing in bassist Arron Fletcher to replace original member Dave Lopez alongside guitarist/vocalist Brett Pearl and drummer Matt Cramp, whose dynamic proves to be the core of the band’s craft. Granted they’ve had a couple years with Lopez at this point, so he’s not brand new to the band or anything, but listening to the clean, LP-ready eight tracks/40 minutes of Coven of the Snake, Arrowhead don’t seem to have missed a beat for the shift in personnel. Since recording, they’ve also brought in Thumlock‘s Raff Iacurto on second guitar, but he doesn’t actually play on the record. Timing is everything. More intrigue for next time, I suppose. Arrowhead give plenty to dig into in the meantime, as Coven of the Snake stands itself out as their most realized offering to-date in the old fashioned way: with songs. Depending on how deep you want to go, it can be as simple as that.

There’s nothing overly showy about what Arrowhead do. They’re technically proficient, sure enough, but not out to put on any kind of clinic in scale work or anything like that. Their music is conversational. It engages the listener and digs itself into the consciousness, and more over, it makes that process easy. It is accessible in the truest, not at all condescending definition of the word. They open with the title-track, and the lines in the chorus go, “Welcome to the coven of the snake/So why don’t you join?,” and I believe Pearl means it when he asks the question. It summarizes the central invitation that the entire album goes on to send. They are communicating directly with their audience, and while one would be remiss not to point out the phallic nature of the coven itself, but between the opener and “All Seeing Eye” and “Ceremony of the Skull,” which follow, they make it pretty plain that the suggestion to join is universal.


Apart from the 6:56 closer “Golden Thunder Hawk,” songs run between four and five and a half minutes, and PearlCramp and Fletcher spend that time making it easy to get on board. As they have all along, they get into some rougher terrain, calling to mind the dug-in low end of later Dozer on cuts like “Ceremony of the Skull” and the penultimate “March of the Reptiles,” the central riff of which feels specifically drawn from Through the Eyes of Heathens launchpoint “Drawing Dead.” Whatever similarities there might be, Arrowhead have never failed to add their own personality, and Coven of the Snake is no different, even as Pearl‘s vocals remind on that same penultimate track of Arc of Ascent, the context in which that line is drawn is obviously different. Likewise, the prior “Dopanaught” takes a more specifically winding approach, marked out by being the most “stoner” inclusion in terms of basic lyrical foundation — flirting with conspiracy theories and whatnot elsewhere suits the rest of the material as well as anything — and the accompanying lead guitar in its second half. Arrowhead add enough detail to each track so that it stands out from the rest while feeding into the straight-ahead overarching impression of the album.

This is more or less the ideal for this kind of heavy rock and roll songwriting — something that takes its influences and brings new elements to the mix in a style that is unpretentious about where it’s coming from and built to serve memorable, engaging songs. Somewhat understated on the whole, Arrowhead reserve any kind of grandiosity for “Golden Thunder Hawk,” which rolls out much of its extra runtime in a patient introduction to the gently-shuffling main progression, a laid back vocal helping set the mood before opening to a wider chorus. Soon enough they’re halfway through and from there it’s a matter of letting the build play out, which by then the band have well earned with their level of execution on the previous seven tracks. These are the kinds of songs where you read the titles and hear them delivered in your head as they are in the hooks, and that extends even to the finale, which takes a slightly different route to get there but still most certainly does, thereby summarizing much of the appeal of Coven of the Snake while also bringing new ideas to it.

Arrowhead are clearly past the stage where they might otherwise be discovering who they are as a band, and given the work they’ve done since starting out, I’d argue they’ve known all along. Nonetheless, the efforts they’ve made to refine their craft are audible throughout Coven of the Snake, and as they continue to move forward, as a live four-piece and as a creative unit, one hopes the dynamic they showcase here continues with them. This is heavy rock for a longer term; a quality that seeps in not through some novelty but through Arrowhead‘s ability to realize their intentions in impeccably constructed form. Its appeal will last that much longer for it.

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

Arrowhead on Thee Facebooks

Arrowhead on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Arrowhead Announce Coven of the Snake Due July 12; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan


A four-piece where their last full-length was released as a trio, Sydney’s Arrowhead will offer up Coven of the Snake as their third album next month. Set to deliver through Ripple Music, the record is preceded by a video for the title-track that’s streaming below and tells the story in its straightforward riffing meeting head on with kaleidoscopic visuals, the band doing much the same in terms of style, taking a solid structural foundation and making it more colorful along the way. July 12 is the release date, and it marks a decade for Arrowhead, who got their start in 2009 before releasing their debut EP (review here) the next year.

Rock and roll follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

ARROWHEAD Summon Spirits with the Release of COVEN OF THE SNAKE on RIPPLE MUSIC | Stream the video for new single and title track now!

Coven of the Snake is released worldwide on 12th July 2019

Rising from the underground of Sydney’s stoner rock scene, the Arrowhead brotherhood fire an explosive, all killer/no filler triptych of volume, attitude and down-tuned grooves.

Hitting you harder than a Frank Frazetta-airbrushed panel van travelling at 100mph, Arrowhead is very much a band defined by the riffs that raised them. Fronted by guitar player, vocalist and chief songwriter Brett Pearl, Brett was brought up on a staple diet of classic rock with Hendrix, Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath rarely leaving the turntable. Joined by fellow purveyor of low-end grind is bass player/Viking Arron Fletcher, guitarist Raff Iacurto and living backbone of the band, Matt Cramp on drums.

With each member feeding into the Arrowhead-approved vision of hard rock reverie via Hollywood monsters and science fiction cinema, having paid their dues as a band since late 2009, following on from 2010’s Atomsmasher EP, their self-titled debut and 2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, the latest addition to the quartet’s quiver is new album, Coven of the Snake. An album that is equal parts venom and mysticism, and 100% blood-bound to steal your soul in the name of rock and roll.

Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake is released on 12th July 2019 through Ripple Music.

1. Coven Of The Snake
2. All Seeing Eye
3. Ceremony of the Skull
4. Ghost Ship
5. Root Of Evil
6. Dopanaught
7. March Of The Reptiles
8. Golden Thunder Hawk

Brett Pearl – Guitar/Vocals
Matt Cramp – Drums
Arron Fletcher – Bass Guitar
Raff Iacurto – Guitar

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

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Arrowhead to Release Desert Cult Ritual Nov. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Aussie heavy rockers Arrowhead will issue their second LP, Desert Cult Ritual, via Ripple Music on Nov. 4. They made their debut in 2012 with Atomsmasher (review here) and offered up Desert Cult Ritual early last year. They join a string of others in similar reissue circumstances in working with Ripple, who continue to have their collective ear to the ground in terms of picking up acts who’ve met with a decent digital response in order to translate that into physical sales. As far as sustainable business models go for the modern music industry, one could do way worse. Like trying money on Pandora. That would be worse.

So yeah, it’s kind of a reissue, but to my knowledge it’s actually also the first physical pressing. If you didn’t hear Desert Cult Ritual when it first came out, you can get a listen via the Bandcamp player below.

From the PR wire:


ARROWHEAD: Oz trio summon spirits with the release of Desert Cult Ritual

Desert Cult Ritual is released worldwide on vinyl/digital on 21st October and on CD on 4th November

Rising from the underground of Sydney’s stoner rock scene, the brotherhood of Arrowhead fire an explosive, all killer/no filler triptych of volume, attitude and down-tuned grooves.

Having paid their dues as a band since late 2009, the iniquitously titled Desert Cult Ritual is the latest addition to the power trio’s quiver and first for the Californian label Ripple Music, following the release of their self-titled EP in 2010 and Atomsmasher, their storming full-length debut from 2013.

Hitting you harder than a Frank Frazetta-airbrushed panel van travelling at 100mph, Arrowhead is very much a band defined by the riffs that raised them. Fronted by guitar player, vocalist and chief songwriter Brett Pearl – the son of a self-confessed “hippy-dippy mom” with a record collection to die for – Brett was brought up on a staple diet of classic rock with Hendrix, Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath rarely leaving the turntable. Joined by fellow purveyor of low-end grind in bass player/Viking Dave Lopez and steel backbone, Matt Cramp on drums, all three feed into the Arrowhead-approved vision of hard rock reverie via Hollywood monsters and science fiction cinema.

Arrowhead’s Desert Cult Ritual is released on vinyl/digital on 21st October and worldwide on CD on 4th November through Ripple Music.

Brett Pearl – Guitar/Vocals
Matt Cramp – Drums
Arron Fletcher – Bass Guitar

Track Listing:
1. Desert Cult Ritual
2. Hypnotiser
3. Hell Fire
4. Bone Mountain
5. Maneater Blues
6. Weed Lord
7. Rogue Asteroid
8. Dragon Whips Its Tail

Arrowhead, Desert Cult Ritual (2015/2016)

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Arrowhead, Atomsmasher: Flying Like an Eagle Death Machine

Posted in Reviews on May 25th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The same lineup that brought forth Aussie trio Arrowhead’s self-titled demo in 2009 returns for the self-released full-length Atomsmasher, a 10-track collection of straightforward fuzz jams that keeps holy a sort of stoner rock traditionalism. Nods to mid-period Fu Manchu abound both in sonics and the laid back atmosphere that pervades despite the tonal heaviness, the vocals of guitarist Brett Pearl having more in common here with Scott Hill’s delivery than there seemed to be on the introductory offering. Atomsmasher stays to verse/chorus delivery and presents itself as a collection of songs – that is, no discernible narrative thread running through or tracks bleeding directly into each other – typified by driving riffs, the warm, complementary bass work of Dave Lopez and strong choruses anchored by Matt Cramp’s groove-heavy drumming. It’s a record that establishes its ideas quickly but grows in appeal on subsequent listens, and whereas some of these songs seem at first to be acting as anchors for the tracks surrounding – take opener “Cobra DeVille,” “Blood from a Stone,” “Eagle Death Machine” and closer “Mayflower” as examples of the songwriting at its strongest – further investigation shows “Horse Called Doom,” “Stampede,” and “Holdfast” standing up in terms of quality, even if they’re not as immediate in doing so.

Looking at how Atomsmasher is structured, the aforementioned highlights come spaced apart with two songs between each (the exception being “Mayflower,” which ends the album), and whether that’s on purpose on the part of Arrowhead or just how the tracklisting felt right when they started to put it together, it shows an intriguing drive toward symmetry that the songs mirror in their own individual constructions. Make no mistake: Arrowhead have made a rock record, but it’s never that simple, and there are nuances of tone and phrasing on Atomsmasher, musically and vocally, that remind of just that point. Not that they’d tell you that. Or at least not that they’d tell you that while making the memorable hook of “Cobra DeVille” sound like something that just happened, anyway. Cramp fills out the drum lines while start-stop riffing lays a bed for leads for Pearl in the bridge, and then they unleash one of Atomsmasher’s best choruses in a fashion that’s pure The Action is Go. I’m not about to begrudge Arrowhead digging on some Fu Manchu, and they throw in some Kyuss/Slo Burn-type desert rocking for “Cobra DeVille” – which takes its title from the original name of the band – and the following title-track, which is a little more insistent in its drumming and freewheeling in transitional guitar leads from Pearl, despite keeping the Hill-esque vocal.

If it’s possible, “Horse Called Doom” is even more fuzzed out, the rhythm reminding some of the tension Dozer created on their first album, but solidly working in its own sphere to set up “Blood from a Stone” as the second of Atomsmasher’s four trail-marker choruses. Pearl takes an opportunity to recount a workingman’s blues lyrically while the guitars trip out a little more on effects during the verse, leaving Lopez and Cramp to keep the groove going, which of course they do with no trouble whatsoever. It’s the first of several tracks to top five minutes, but they put that time to good use with riffs and a decently-balanced instrumental break in which lead guitar permeates but doesn’t dominate any more than it should, defying expectation just a bit in extending another couple measures before kicking back into the chorus one last time. Just when you think they might solo themselves into oblivion, they pull it back, ending firm on two quickly-faded hits following the last chorus, setting up “Diamonds to Dust” as the end of the first side.

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Right to the Point of Arrowhead

Posted in Reviews on February 18th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I like newbie bands. I like bands who come out of nowhere, release their own stuff and play music because they love to do it. That’s how the genre grows. I don’t get nearly as psyched about some band putting out their eighth record in 12 years, who haven’t done anything to change their sound for half their career and are just pumping out formulaic songs, as I do about getting a hold of a new demo from a group I’ve never heard before, whose approach is still growing, who maybe haven’t even figured out how they want to sound yet. That’s exciting, because you don’t know what’s going to happen. A song could go anywhere, and even if it doesn’t most of the time, giving it a shot is usually worth the gamble.

In the case of Sydney, Australia’s Arrowhead, who are a novelty right off the bat because of their locale, a self-titled, self-released demo EP is their first excursion into recording. The band formed in 2008, and the four tracks on the CD are over in just under 16 minutes (and all streaming on the Arrowhead MySpace), with few extra frills or niceties. To cap their sound in a word, I’d probably choose “Dozer,” but it’s clear from listening to “Mayflower,” “Edge of the Earth,” “Sorceress” and “Liquid in Motion” that the trio are still finding their way. The closer takes Kyuss’ “One Inch Man” guitar rhythm to a spacier, semi-psych space, while “Mayflower” and “Sorceress” provide straight-ahead riff and roll for those who can’t get enough of it. On “Edge of the Earth,” they get a little heavier (a little more new Dozer than old Dozer, if you catch my meaning), and that track proves to be the highlight of Arrowhead, even if the vocals are a bit high in the mix and cut through probably more than they should.

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