Planet of Zeus European Tour on Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

planet of zeus

Athens-based burl-bringers Planet of Zeus issued their third full-length, Vigilante (review here), last Spring, and this past weekend, they headed out on another in a series of European tours to support the record. This time around, they’ll swing through Desertfest Belgium and the Keep it Low fests, as well as a ton of other spots, while next month, they meet up with Clutch to stand in the main support slot for the first eight gigs on that band’s headlining Euro stint. Not a bad gig, especially as Planet of Zeus have shown a pretty solid affinity for Maryland’s finest over the course of their tenure thus far. It’s the part they were born to play.

Dates and links follow:

planet of zeus tour poster

Planet of Zeus European Fall Tour 2015 + main support in Clutch’s Psychic Warfare UK/EU tour

Planet of Zeus European Fall Tour 2015:
03.10 Patra, GR, Aithousa Aigli
05.10 Rome, IT Sinister Noise Club
06.10 Milan, IT Lo-fi
08.10 Dresden, DE SABOTAGE
09.10 Antwerp, Deserfest Belgium, BE, TRIX
10.10 Koln, DE, Underground
11.10 Utrecht, NL, DB’s
13.10 London, UK, Nambucca
14.10 Nantes, FR La Scene Michelet
15.10 Geneva, CH, Kalvingrad
16.10 Bolzano , IT Point Egna Neumarkt
17.10 Munich, Keep It Low, DE,Freierwerk
19.10 Vienna, AT, Viper Room
20.10 Salzburg, AT, Shakespear
21.10 Innsbruck, AT, PMK
22.10 Olten, CH, C’oq D’or
23.10 Frankfurt, Sky High Festival, DE, Das BETT
24.10 Berlin, Dustown Festival, DE, Cassiopeia
25.10 Poznan, PL, Club Minoga
26.10 Katowice, PL Katofonia
27.10 Bratislava, SK, Uocka
28.10 Zagreb, HR Vintage Industrial Bar
30.10 Novi Sad, RS, Fabrika
31.10 Belgrade, RS Bozidarac
01.11 Sofia , BL, Club Terminal 1
2.11 Drama, GR, Cafe Noir
6.11 Larissa, GR, Stage Club
7.11 Volos, GR, Lab Art

Second Leg as main support for the first 8 dates in Clutch ‘s upcoming UK/EU tour for their new album “Psychic Warfare”.
November 20 Olympia Theater- Dublin, Ireland
November 21 Limelight- Belfast , Ireland (SOLD OUT)
November 23 O2 Academy- Glasgow, Scotland
November 24 Rock City- Nottingham, England
November 25 Academy- Bristol, England
November 27 Le Trabendo- Paris, France (SOLD OUT)
November 28 Essig Fabrik-Cologne, Germany
November 29 Markthalle- Hamburg, Germany

Planet of Zeus, Live at Iera Odos, Athens, GR, 2015

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Dark Buddha Rising, Red Mountains, Black Space Riders, Lamprey, Godsleep, Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, Monobrow, Denizen, Witchsorrow

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


We’re in the thick of it now. It’s hard sometimes putting these things together to remember that each band has worked incredibly hard to put out an album. I’ve been through that process (once), and so I know it can be harrowing at times between acts going back and forth about recording, what’s included, how to release, when, and so on. There’s a lot to cover this week — and we’re not out of the woods yet — but I hope that, just because each review is short, you don’t take that as a sign I don’t have the utmost respect for the effort that has gone into making each of these releases. It can be a tremendous pain in the ass, but of course it’s worth it when you get to the end product. We continue.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Departure Songs

we lost the sea departure songs

To be blunt, We Lost the Sea’s Departure Songs is the kind of album that immediately makes me want to own everything the band has done, in hard copy, for posterity. The Sydney outfit’s third full-length finds its crux in its two-part closing duo of “Challenger Part 1 – Flight” and “Challenger Part 2 – A Swan Song,” enacting a lush instrumental interpretation of the Space Shuttle Challenger flight and disaster that took place nearly 30 years ago in Jan. 1986. In its progression, patience, flow and discernable narrative thread it is nothing short of brilliant, a lush and sad beauty that serves as a genuinely affecting reminder of the hope for a better future that died with that shuttle’s civilian crew and the era of aspiration that tragedy brought to a close. I think the closing sample is the only time I’ve ever heard Ronald Reagan speak in my adult life and felt something other than anger, and that’s a testament to the ground Departure Songs covers – on the preceding three cuts as well as the final two – and the masterful execution on the part of We Lost the Sea.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

We Lost the Sea on Bandcamp

Dark Buddha Rising, Inversum

dark buddha rising inversum

There does not yet exist a name for what Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising bring to bear on the two side-consuming tracks of their Neurot Recordings debut and sixth album overall, Inversum. Self-recorded and presented following some shifts in lineup, the album swells to a massive head of bleak, noise-infused psychedelia, fully ritualized and self-aware but still vibrant as it makes its way further and further down into itself. It is bright black, based so much around contrasting ideas of form and tonality that to listen to it, one almost doesn’t believe that the band are accomplishing what they are on an aesthetic level, but the weight, chants, screams, cavernous feel and nod that “Eso” (24:05) and “Exo” (23:52) enact is ultimately real no matter how nightmarish and otherworldly the impression might be. A work that sounds as likely to digest as be digested, it constructs a temple of its own sound and then burns that temple and everything around it in a glorious final push into charred chaos.

Dark Buddha Rising on Thee Facebooks

Dark Buddha Rising at Neurot Recordings

Red Mountains, Down with the Sun

red mountains down with the sun

Few endorsements carry as much weight for me as that of Germany’s Nasoni Records, so when I see that venerable imprint is on board for the release of Red Mountains’ first album, Down with the Sun, expectations immediately rise. The Norwegian four-piece don’t disappoint, calling forth a heavy psychedelia weighted enough to be immersive without really falling into the trap of sounding too post-Colour Haze or Causa Sui, finding a balance right away on opener “Six Hands” between open-vibe and structured songcraft. They toy with one side or the other, getting crunchy on “Rodents” and tripping out into ambient echoing on the penultimate “Silver Grey Sky,” but that only makes the debut seem all the more promising. Particularly satisfying is the scope between “Sun” and “Sleepy Desert Blues,” which is enough to make the listener think that grunge and desert rock happened in the same place. An engaging and already-on-the-right-track start from a band who sound like they’re only going to continue to grow.

Red Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records

Black Space Riders, Refugeeum

black space riders refugeeum

It’s improper to think of Germany’s Black Space Riders as entirely psychedelic if only because that somehow implies a lack of clearheaded consciousness in their work, which as their fourth album, Refugeeum, demonstrates, is the very core tying all the expanses they cover together. As Europe comes to grip with its most dire refugee crisis since World War II, Black Space Riders take their thematic movement from such terrestrial issues (a first for them) and it makes a song like 11-minute centerpiece “Run to the Plains” all the more resonant. Of course, the big-chug groove of “Born a Lion (Homeless)” and the cosmic thrust of the penultimate “Walking Shades” still have a psychedelic resonance, but the balance between the earthly and the otherworldly do well to highlight the progressivism that’s been at work in the band’s sound all along. A considerable undertaking at 61 minutes, Refugeeum is an important step in an ongoing development that has just made another unexpected and welcome turn.

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders website

Lamprey, III

lamprey iii

And so, with their third and final outing, III, Portland, Oregon, trio Lamprey reserve their strongest point for their closing argument. The two-bass trio of bassist/vocalist Blaine Burnham (now drumming in Mane of the Cur), bassist Justin Brown (now bass-ing in Witch Mountain) and drummer Spencer Norman recorded the conclusive six-tracker with Adam Pike at Toadhouse (Red Fang, Mammoth Salmon, etc.) and even the slower shifts of “Harpies” and the decidedly Conan-esque “Lament of the Deathworm” breeze right by. Like their two prior releases, 2012’S The Burden of Beasts (review here) and 2011’s Ancient Secrets (review here), III is a showcase of songcraft as much as tone, and it seems to presage its own vinyl reissue, each of the two halves starting with a shorter piece, the opener “Iron Awake” a notably vicious stomp that sets a destructive vibe that the rumble and weirdo keys and leads that finish out “Gaea” seem to be answering, a quick fade bringing an end to an underrated act. They’ll be missed.

Lamprey on Thee Facebooks

Lamprey on Bandcamp

Godsleep, Thousand Sons of Sleep

godsleep thousand sons of sleep

If newcomer bruisers Godsleep seem to share some commonality of method with fellow Athenians 1000mods, it’s worth noting that on their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep, they also share a recording engineer in George Leodis. Fair enough. The big-toned riffing and shouty burl on which Godsleep cast their foundation makes its identity felt in the post-Kyussism of “Thirteen” and stonerly grit of centerpiece “This is Mine,” which follows the extended opening salvo of “The Call,” “Thirteen” and “Wrong Turn,” the latter of which is the longest cut at 9:09 and among its most satisfyingly fuzzed nods. They’re playing to style perhaps, but doing so well, and if you’ve gotta start somewhere, recording live and coming out with a heavy-as-hell groove like what emerges in the second half of “Home” is a good place to start. Godsleep are already a year past from when they recorded Thousand Sons of Sleep in Summer 2014, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a follow-up happened sooner than later.

Godsleep on Thee Facebooks

Rock Freaks Records

Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, We are Blues People

slow joe crow and the berserker blues band we are blues people

Kentucky-based, cumbersomely-named Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band may indeed live up to the We are Blues People title of their debut EP, but they’re definitely riff people as well. As such, the four-track sampling of their wares draws from both sides on a cut like opener “No One Else,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Austin P. Lunn, bassist Patrick Flanary and drummer Thom Hammerheart in the process of figuring out how much they want to lean to one or the other. They round out with a fuzzy take on the traditional “John the Revelator,” but the earlier “Muddy Water Rising” strikes a more effective and more authentic-feeling balance, leading to the slow jam of “Before I Go,” which adds a ‘70s rock vibe to push the bluesy feel even further and expand the palette in a manner one hopes they continue to pursue as they move forward.

Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band on Thee Facebooks

Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band on Bandcamp

Monobrow, A Handwritten Letter from the Moon

monobrow a handwritten letter from the moon

Canadian trio Monobrow follow their 2014 LP, Big Sky, Black Horse (review here) with what’s essentially a new single that finds them continuing to step forward in their approach. Dubbed A Handwritten Letter from the Moon and taking its name from the 8:33 title-track, the Ottawa group’s latest offering finds the instrumental outfit smoothing out the tones a bit, still hitting into raucous grooves, but closer to Truckfighters than their prior brashness. I don’t know if it’s a method they’ll stick to going into their fourth LP next year, but the result is dynamic and suits them well. “A Handwritten Letter from the Moon” comes coupled with “Dyatlov Station 3,” a seven-minute rehearsal-space jam from 2011 that fascinatingly (and I’m sure by no coincidence) showcases some similar classic heavy rock influence. The only real shame of the release is that both these tracks are probably too long to fit on a 7”, since a small platter of vinyl would be a perfect way to hold over listeners until the next album arrives. As it stands, the digital version is hardly roughing it.

Monobrow on Thee Facebooks

Monobrow on Bandcamp

Denizen, Troubled Waters

denizen troubled waters

French heavy rocking four-piece Denizen issued their decidedly Clutchian debut, Whispering Wild Stories (review here), in 2011, and follow it through Argonauta Records with Troubled Waters, a more individualized 10-track outing that alternates between punkish rawness and classic upbeat grooves. Four years after their first album, their progression hasn’t come at the cost of songwriting, and while they still have work to do in distinguishing themselves in a crowded, varied European market, they deliver the material with an energy and vitality that makes even its familiar parts easy enough to get down with, be it the Southern heavy solo of “Jocelyne” or the meaner bite of “Enter Truckman.” I’ll take the pair of “King of Horses” and “Heavy Rider” as highlights, and remain interested to find out where Denizen head from here, as well as how long it might take them to get there. Four years between records gives Troubled Waters the feel of a second debut as much as a sophomore effort.

Denizen on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records

Witchsorrow, No Light, Only Fire

witchsorrow no light only fire

Releasing through Candlelight in their native UK, doom metal trio Witchsorrow mark a decade with their third album, No Light, Only Fire. Opener “There is No Light There is Only Fire” seems to nod immediately at Cathedral, with a speedier, chuggier take, and the record proceeds to alternate between shorter and longer tracks en route to the 14-minute closer “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas,” cuts like “Negative Utopia” and “Disaster Reality” sailing a black ship past the 10-minute mark on a rumbling sea of riffs and slow motion nod. They break for a minute with the acoustic interlude “Four Candles” before embarking on the finale, and the respite is appreciated once the agonizing undulations of “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas” are underway, using nearly every second of their 14:25 to affirm Witchsorrow’s trad doom mastery and bleak, darkened heft. No light? Maybe a little light, but it’s still pretty damn dark, and indeed, it smells like smoke.

Witchsorrow on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records

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Buried Treasure: Sound Effect Records in Athens, Greece

Posted in Buried Treasure on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple weeks ago, when The Patient Mrs. was in Athens, Greece, on one of her I’m-brilliant-so-I-get-to-do-awesome-things field trips, she mentioned over Skype that she has passed by a record store. If there’s one thing I like, it’s record shopping on foreign soil, even vicariously, so I got the name from her — Sound Effect Records — and proceeded to look them up. The second I saw that owner Yiannis Andriopoulos had the nickname “Kaleidosmoker” I knew she had stumbled onto the right place.

Turns out Andriopoulos was a former ‘zine head with a long history in Greece’s heavy rock scene. Sound Effect also runs a label out of the store and has distributed cool stuff from Montibus Communitas and others, so I immersed myself in the thousands of selections on the Discogs page and started putting together a wishlist. I kept it to CDs — traveling with vinyl yourself is bad enough, let alone asking your wife to do it — and passed it on to her, with links, and told her when she went to the shop to ask for Yiannis, figuring that he’d be able to help her out with the stuff if she couldn’t find it.

Had to get a few Greek acts in there, and Planet of Zeus were on my mind for having recently checked out their Vigilante album (review here), so their first album, 2008’s Eleven the Hard Way, made the cut, as did Brotherhood of Sleep‘s 2009 self-titled debut. Both bands are native to Athens, and since I already had a copy of the new 1000mods, I was glad to dip back to some older, less available releases. There was also a ready stock of Nasoni Records stuff — not the first Weltramstaunen, unfortunately — but I asked her to grab Baby Woodrose‘s Dropout! collection of covers and a reissue of The Rising Sun‘s 1969 LP, Born to be Wild, as well as the 2CD Entering into the Space Country/Phaze Your Fears collection from Øresund Space Collective.

When she got home this weekend, she surprised me by bringing not only those, but the 2LP version of Los Natas‘ El Universo Perdido de Los Natas, filling both the Nasoni and the vinyl quotas in one fell I’m-the-luckiest-dude-ever swoop. I have the corresponding CD version that Oui Oui/MeteorCity released in 2007, but both the thought and the gatefold were beautiful, and if it’s another excuse to spend some time listening to Los Natas, I’m not going to lose. Apparently at some point in her trip to Sound EffectThe Patient Mrs. also let it slip that she was buying for her husband, explained who I was, and Andriopoulos gave her a copy of one of Sound Effect Records‘ releases, a joint issue with Nowhere Street Music from the band Drug Free Youth called A Message from Now.

And I’m glad he did, because apart from the Los Natas vinyl, the Drug Free Youth CD might be the find of the trip. A modded-out late-’60s-style psych rocker, it’s got plenty of garage organ and guitar jangle. It’s actually a message from eight years ago, having been released in 2006, but the sound and production date back way further than that. It’s got 15 tracks in about 45 minutes, and they keep things pretty simple structurally, otherwise, but the 7:47 closer “Visions of a Gypsy Queen” — Eastern European influence in the organ and all — the buzzsaw leads in “Time is Iced in an Instant,” and the steady wash of effects and echo overall provide plenty of nuance for those who’d dig below the raw retro veneer. It’s a cool vibe and I’m glad I got to hear it.

I probably won’t get to Athens anytime soon, but I hugely appreciated The Patient Mrs. keeping an eye out for some records on my behalf, and thanks to Yiannis from Sound Effect for steering her in the right direction on the stuff I’d checked out on his Discogs. There’s a ton of vinyl as well, and between that and the store’s website itself, plenty of fodder for perusal. Obviously no complaints from my end.

Drug Free Youth, Selections from A Message from Now (2006)

Sound Effect Records website

Sound Effect Records on Discogs

Sound Effect Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Dive Release Second Album Zo’e on Spinalonga Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There hasn’t been much word out of the camp of Athens rockers The Dive since they released their impressive self-titled debut in 2011 (review here), but it seems the band, which formed all the way back in 2000, have been active all the same. This weekend, they sent over notice of a limited vinyl issue of their first album through The Lab Records and nonprofit Greek collective Spinalonga Records and a mini-tour supporting the concurrent release of their sophomore outing, Zo’e, on the latter label. I guess sometimes a band can be busier than they appear.

News came down the PR wire, and you can find it and their current dates below, as well as the self-titled in full, in case anyone needs a refresher:

THE DIVE – ZO’E (new album out now!! + mini tour!!)

Primal, organic, instinctive playing. The Dive release their second full length album named Zo’e. Detecting the flow rather than defining it. Roaming rather than wandering.
Out now on spinalonga records!

At the end of May the band is hitting the road for a mini tour including stops in Germany, Netherlands Turkey and Greece.

Dates booked so far:
1/6 @ Rotormania Fest, Germany
6/6 @ Mukkes, Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
8/6 @ Kastanienkeller, Berlin, Germany
14/6 @ Peyote, Istanbul, Turkey
18/6 @ K44, Athens, Greece
..more info soon..

* Also, The Dive’s debut s/t album out now on limited edition of 275 copies in 180gr black vinyl. By The Lab records and Spinalonga records.

The Dive, The Dive (2011)

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Nightstalker Get Abducted in New Video for “Dead Rock Commandos”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The only thing I don’t get about the new video for the title-track of Dead Rock Commandos — the 2012 Small Stone debut from long-running Greek rockers Nightstalker — is the kidnapping. Okay, so Nightstalker are getting chased through the woods by mysterious gasmasked paramilitary forces. I got that. But then they get kidnapped, the hoods over their heads and the whole bit, and marched single-file to an also-mysterious white room with instruments… and they start rocking out.

So the part I don’t get is, weren’t Nightstalker going to rock out anyway? Why would these commandos need to bring them into this room? And what is the room? Could it be that the volume from their heavy riffing output is being harvested to power some kind of sinister death ray? Or worse, that Nightstalker are being set up as some kind of exhibit in a terrible post-apocalyptic rock and roll zoo? Truly, there are many questions still to be answered.

What’s way clearer in watching “Dead Rock Commandos” is that Nightstalker have the stoner thing on lockdown. The video premiered today, and Nightstalker will bring the rock directly to the people starting May 31 with Ape Machine supporting. Dates follow the clip below:

Nightstalker, “Dead Rock Commandos” official video

Including an appearance at the 2013 Freak Valley Festival, Nightstalker will be heading out on a European tour in support of 2012’s Dead Rock Commandos. The ultra-catchy riff-fest was released by Small Stone last year and found the long-running Athens outfit right at home in classic heavy fuzz ‘n’ roll.

Nightstalker tour dates:
May 31 Munster, DE Rare Guitar
Jun 1 Netphen, DE Freak Valley Festival
Jun 2 Antwerpen, BE Antwerpen Music City
Jun 4 Paris, FR Les Combustibles
Jun 5 Leuven, BE Rockbar
Jun 6 Wild Rover Aachen, DE
Jun 7 Hasselt, BE Carpe Diem
Jun 8 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin
Jun 9 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse
Jun 11 St. Gallen, CH Rumpeltum
Jun 12 Feldkirch, AT Graf Hugo
Jun 13 Erfurt, DE Stadtgarten
Jun 14 Berlin, DE White Trash

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Bazooka Self-Titled Album Due out May 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ah, crusty youth. Like the riff itself, the crusty youth are everywhere you could look. Bazooka hail from Athens as part of Greece’s fertile heavy underground and will release their full-length debut on Slovenly Recordings next week. If you find yourself so inclined, the album is available for streaming courtesy of the label’s Bandcamp, and you can hear it below, following the info, taken fresh off the PR wire.

If it says anything, I’d never heard Bazooka before, but checked out the album on a whim and dug the ultra-fuzzy looseness enough to post about them, so there you go. Here’s the news:



It is with the filthiest of pleasures that Slovenly Recordings discharges the much anticipated full-length, self-titled LP from Greece’s BAZOOKA. A severely crusty unit from Volos, and now relocated to Athens, Bazooka, who is perhaps the most savage crew of an incredibly corrosive rock ‘n’ roll scene that includes Acid Baby Jesus and Gay Anniversary, has concocted an evil, grungy stomper of an album that Slovenly deems worthy of the grossly overused title of “epic”.

With just enough pop sensibility to keep it from being heavier than a death in the family, this surly, riff-heavy opus has been formulated for maximum distorto-crumble factor from a twin-guitar / double-drum onslaught with searing vocals as righteously delivered on their now classic “I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School” single. But let it be known that the humor is null this time around – being the victims of a massive Greek financial crisis, there is no room for it.

From the fully pissed off screamer “Mr. George” to the smashing ‘”Koritsi Stin Akti” (sung entirely in Greek), “Bazooka” also resurrects the out-of-print and sought after single on France’s Inch Allah label, including the mentally tortured anthem “Shame Take My Brain”. Saturated with fuzzed out rumblers from a dark place we dare not glance at, this record somehow yields perfect melodies trying to claw their way out of Bazooka’s decimated destinies!

Bazooka, Bazooka (2013)

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Planet of Zeus Hit the Road Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s promospeak and then there’s promospeak, and short of saying their lineup features James Brown, Greek burl-bringers Planet of Zeus are getting the job done. Fortunately they’re putting in road time to match. As they say in the PR wire-type update below, Planet of Zeus will begin a European tour next Friday night, April 19 at White Trash in Berlin that will see them stomp their way around the Continent, including a stopoff in the UK for a slot at Desertfest in London on April 28. Right on.

Here’s the info and vigorous self-promotion:

Greece. A country internationally known for its ancient history, democracy, sun, beaches, mustaches, olive oil, mousaka, tzatziki, bouzouki, souvlaki… Well, forget that. Open your arms and welcome the new heavy rock empire and its ambassadors, Planet of Zeus.

The hardest working rock band in the entire universe, who’ll fear nothing and overcome every obstacle emerging on their way to heavy, sincere and loud rock ‘n roll. Rumors about members of the band selling some of their parents’ vital organs to finance their career have not yet been confirmed.

Having the re-issue of “Eleven the Hard Way” in vinyl format, as well as “Macho Libre” re-issue in digipack cd on their luggage, they once again hit the European roads.

“Tonight We Hit The Road” Tour 2013
19.4 White Trash , Berlin, DE,
20.4 KB18 kødboderne, Copenhagen, DK
21.4 Logo Hamburg, Hamburg, DE,
23.4 Sonic Ballroom, Koln, DE
24.4 ACU, Utrecht, NL
25.4 Magasin 4, Brussels, BE
26.4 JUZ, Mannheim, DE
27.4 Litlle Devil, Tilburg, NL
28.4 Desertfest, London, UK
30.4 Pitcher, Düsseldorf, DE
1.5 Blue Devils officiel, Arras, FR,
2.5 Les Combustibles, Paris, FR,
3.5 Infrared, Orleans, FR,
4.5 Brin de Zinc, Chambery, FR
5.5 Rumpelthum, St Gallen, CH
7.5 Rote Frabrik, Zurich, CH
8.5 Rockhouse, Salzburg, AT
9.5 Metro Music Bar, Brno, CZ
10.5 Madness Club, Wroclaw, PL,
11.5 Vortex, Siegen, DE
12.5 Rockpool, Halle, DE
14.5 Spatif, Sopot, PL
16.5 Politeia, Patra, GR
17.5 Boxx, Ioannina, GR
18.5 8ball Club, Thessaloniki, GR
19.5 Vox Club, Volos, GR

Planet of Zeus, Macho Libre (2011)

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The Dive, The Dive: Ryefield Ends to a Cliff

Posted in Reviews on October 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

They formed in 2000 and released their self-titled debut full-length earlier this year through Spinalonga Records, but if you told me that Athens four-piece The Dive spent the whole of those 11 years working on the cover art for their album, I’d believe it. The 11-plus-track CD comes in a gorgeous fold-out digi-sleeve, six panels on each side, to unveil the full picture of which the running wildebeest cover art turns out to be only one-twelfth. The artwork is a narrative in itself, and with it, the band immediately sets a high bar for creativity. It’s not every album that has to live up to its cover, but The Dive’s The Dive is clearly working to attain a standard, and for the most part it does. The band specializes in a kind of progressive desert rock, at times inflected with a grown-up punk feel, as on the perhaps misplaced Social Distortion-esque opener “Fresh Blue Coffee,” and rounded out through the fuzz tones and interplay between guitarists Titos and Monkey J. – the latter also vocals – and the sometimes Toolish rhythmic churn of bassist Livy and drummer Taz. If it’s taken The Dive 11 years to put a record together, they’ve got a complex creative range to show for it. I don’t know the disparity in how old some of these songs are versus others, but despite a few missteps here and there, they by and large remain consistent atmospherically and in terms of quality.

The reason I say “Fresh Blue Coffee” is potentially misplaced because it works outside the tone of much of the rest of the album, which is more rock-driven than punk-based. Certainly those elements show up again later on “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” but even there, the effect is more like Totimoshi taking on Fatso Jetson than trying to shirk off the desert aesthetic as much as the opener does. Right from “Lockjaw,” The Dive takes a different turn, Monkey J. adopting a different hue for his melodic vocals – he stays clean for the most, though a few choice screams in “Fabio, Fabio…” to well to play up the dynamics – to better match the darker and more cerebral overall vibe of the music. His and Titos’ guitars complement each other well, and rarely get locked into the same riff or break when they don’t want to be. Noodling abounds on “Lockjaw” and continues through “Billie Jean” (not a Michael Jackson cover) and most of the record, adding to the prog feel. At times, they come off like a sped up Kyuss, and “Lockjaw” definitely has a ‘90s atmosphere, but particularly after “Fresh Blue Coffee,” it’s hard to get a handle on where The Dive are headed next stylistically. Maybe that’s the point. Either way, “Lydia and the Pigheads” finds Livy stepping to the fore as the guitars drop out, and his Justin Chancellor-style runs prove a solid foundation for the song, Taz filling the space creatively on his toms. The earthy tones of The Dive’s artwork suit well the deep atmosphere and the dark but by no means bleak vibes of the music, and though “Desden” is one of the more forgettable tracks on the album, that might be due in part to its being situated next to the standout “Fabio, Fabio…”

Read more »

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