The Well to Release New Album Monomyth on EasyRider Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last I heard of Austin trio The Well was their 2012 single, Seven (review here), which apparently means I have some catching up to do on their 2013 First Trip EP, already in its third pressing. While I ponder whether or not that means it’s actually the third trip, the three-piece have inked a deal to release their full-length, Monomyth, through ascendant imprint EasyRider Records. They join an impressive and growing roster of acts, from Hornss and Salem’s Pot to Electric Citizen and Sons of Huns. Solid company to keep.

Here’s looking forward to the arrival of Monomyth (perhaps the band Monomyth can name their next album The Well). If you happen to be in Texas this week for SXSW, they’re playing several showcases. Details on that, the announcement of the signing, background on the band and the stream of First Trip follow, should you like to familiarize:

THE WELL signs with EasyRider Records

The Well Signs with EasyRider Records, Catch them at SXSW this week!

EasyRider records is very excited to welcome Austin’s Hottest Export The Well to the EasyRider family. Their upcoming full length “MONOMYTH” will release in late summer of 2014! The Well is a 3 piece out of Austin TX, that captured my attention a few months ago. The sound is raw and big and extremely catchy. The are a hard working band from Austin that have come a long way and are excited to hit the road and support this beast of a record. They will be ALL over SXSW this week here are the dates and shows….

SXSW
3/12- RoadHouse Management/Nuclear Blast Official Showcase @ Red 7
3/13 – Unofficial Showcase Sons of Huns Orchid, Scorpion Child and Mothership. @ Wonderland.
3/14 – Texas Rock ‘n Roll Massacre – Sons of Huns Orchid, Scorpion Child and Mothership. @ Spider House Ballroom.

More About The Well -
Austin based Power trio The Well formed in early 2011 lead by Guitarist/vocalist Ian Graham. Seeking a sound that grew from his own nostalgic desire, Ian sought a return to the musical memory of his youth. He began crafting songs that emulated the classical heaviness of his childhood heroes. Riffs the size of mountains, distorted and cuttingly sharp—slow, patient, dominating and heavy. The kind of sound that smashed open the doors and let loose the darkness. To help him capture the tonality of the sound inside his head, he enlisted the talents of bassist Lisa Alley and drummer Jason Sullivan.

In the Spring of 2012 The Well began working with Tia Carrera’s Jason Morales and recorded their debut 7? at the Barbeque Shack. By the fall, the band was back in the studio, this time at Ohm Recording Facility with Producer Mark Deutrom (The Melvins and Sun O)))) and Engineer Chico Jone working on a full length LP. The Well recorded with Converse Rubber Tracks during SXSW 2013, and put the resulting track, “Eternal Well” with a handful from the Ohm sessions together to form their EP entitled, “First Trip”.

The end of that year would see The Well performing alongside such acts as NAAM, Orange Goblin, Holy Grail, Lazerwulf and Dead Meadow. Sonic Vault Austin named The Well their 2013 Metal Band of the Year and the Austin Chronicle invited the band to be their showcased artist in their PaperCuts Series for February of 2014.

With ever growing press both locally and nationally, a 2014 SXSW Nuclear Blast showcase alongside the likes of Orchid and Kadavar, the band is ready for a busy year of touring and promoting their upcoming release.

http://thewellaustin.bandcamp.com/
www.instagram.com/thewellband
https://www.facebook.com/thewellband

The Well, First Trip EP (2013)

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audiObelisk: I am the Albatross Premiere “Strugglin’” from Debut EP

Posted in audiObelisk on February 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

You could call “Strugglin’” from I am the Albatross‘ forthcoming self-titled EP efficient not necessarily because it sounds so clean or its structure comes across so clearly. Certainly the hook is right there and plenty sharp, but even more than that, “Strugglin’” shows its down-to-business mentality in conveying such a wide swath of influence, moving in under five minutes’ time from Hank Williams-style country melancholy to all-out gypsy punk, resulting in a kind of spaghetti western speed rock that winds up held together even as it seems intent on tearing itself apart by an underlying quality of songwriting from the Austin-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Jesse Berkowitz, bassist/vocalist Giuseppe Ponti and drummer Marc Henry.

It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day around here, or anywhere else for that matter, and that ultimately was what appealed to me about the track, which as the title would indicate takes on hard times, drinking in motel rooms and the hope of their actually being another side. And not only does the song establish this wide stylistic range, but it builds smoothly from one end to the other, and when it’s at its tensest and most unbridled, the band shift into a waltz before cutting back to a solo and the last verses and chorus, even then keeping hold of the song which by then is full throttle with its fire and brimstone. I am the Albatross will self-release their debut EP on March 4.

Please find “Strugglin’” on the player below, followed by more info on the release, and enjoy:

I Am The Albatross – “Strugglin’”

“Strugglin’“ is the first single from the debut EP by the trio of Austin-based musical veterans that collectively form I Am The Albatross. The song begins as a stumbling, lost soul’s barroom lament before exploding into a blistering barn-burner, with a protagonist who dejectedly sneers at the hopelessness of the apocalyptic times he has found himself in. “Strugglin’“ propels itself forward on a high-speed, borderline polka, gypsy groove and eventually bursts into full on punk-rock fury.

“The song is an exaggerated expression of the feelings of imprisonment and tension that we all experience in times of financial and emotional insecurity. Everyone at some point in their life may find themselves trapped in a dark, windowless room (figuratively, hopefully), just searching for a crack in the wall where a tiny bit of light might be shining through,” explains band leader, Jesse Berkowitz. The debut self-titled EP from I Am The Albatross arrives on March 4th, 2014.

I am the Albatross on Thee Facebooks

I am the Albatross on Bandcamp

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On Wax: Tia Carrera, Cosmic Priestess

Posted in On Wax on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Austin jammers Tia Carrera were probably a little ahead of their time when they got going and started playing happy hours and pressing CDRs in the middle of the last decade, but certainly by the time they got around to releasing Cosmic Priestess (review here) in 2011, an improv-based heavy psych jam unit wasn’t unheard of. Yet their name is rarely in the conversation when it comes to this kind of psychedelia. That might be in part because they don’t really tour, but I think it has something to do with how much of a standout they are even in their hometown, which boasts plenty of heavy rock and plenty of jamming, but very little crossover. Veterans of course of SXSW, the trio has also jammed out at Roadburn and everything they recorded for Cosmic Priestess – which was their second offering through Small Stone after 2009′s The Quintessential (review here) — was improvised and recorded live to 1″ tape in 2010 with the lineup of guitarist Jason Morales, bassist Jamey Simms and drummer Erik Conn.

The sum total of the four tracks on the CD version of the album stood at 64 minutes, and to this day, the CD version of Cosmic Priestess is a considerable undertaking. Even if you’re just going to put it on to trip out to the echo and wah and lose yourself in whichever of the four extended jams, it’s a commitment in time and attention. They could’ve probably released the 33-minute “Saturn Missile Battery,” which was mixed by the band with Mark Deutrom (ex-the Melvins), on its own as a full-length and no one would’ve blinked, but the ambition in Tia Carrera‘s improvisational project finds its mirror in the amount of output they have to show for it, which of course is more than a single 12″ LP can hold.

Small Stone has pressed Cosmic Priestess to a 12″ platter, however — 250 copies on black wax and 250 in a yellow record with black and red swirl, both on 180 gram vinyl in a gatefold package that highlights the oh-hell-yessery of Alexander von Wieding‘s turn-it-sideways cover art — and the solution for making it fit has been to edit the songs. CD closer “A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing” is out entirely, while opener “Slave Cylinder” remains untouched at 7:32. The real difference comes in middle pieces “Sand, Stone and Pearl,” which is 15:10 on disc and 11:40 on vinyl, and “Saturn Missile Battery,” taken from 33:40 to 20:48. Both still give plenty of time for Tia Carrera to make their point, of course, but it’s a change in how the album itself is presented, with “Saturn Missile Battery” occupying all of side B while side A has two relatively neat jams that run roughly the same amount of time. It changes the structure of the album, and I don’t think it’s for the worse.

It’s a hard thing to say you’re in favor of editing a band’s output, and I’m not going to say I am, only that Cosmic Priestess sounds really fucking good on vinyl, and if trimming off some of the material was how that happened, then it’s a fair enough trade from a listening standpoint. I put headphones on and was immediately sucked into the unfolding course of “Slave Cylinder,” and Conn‘s drumming on “Saturn Missile Battery” came across as all the more righteous, the subtle hiss of my record player adding complement to the band’s analog worship and classic heavy sensibilities. They’re still jamming the living hell out of the tracks, and while the LP edition of the album is shorter, the trade there is it’s also more accessible. By the time side B comes to its finish, I want Tia Carrera to keep going, and that’s just how it should be.

To the best of my knowledge, the three-piece hasn’t done anything in the studio since Cosmic Priestess, and members have other projects going, but they’ll still play shows in and around Austin every now and again. In light of the emergence of a more jam-minded heavy psychedelia over the last couple years, both in the US and in Europe, it would be interesting to see how a new Tia Carrera album fared upon release. Whether or not that’ll happen, I don’t know, but Cosmic Priestess has easily proved worth a vinyl revisit.

Tia Carrera, Cosmic Priestess (2011)

Tia Carrera on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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audiObelisk: Lions of Tsavo Stream New Album Traverser in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on November 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Homebrewing a genre blend that’s no more indebted to Georgia than to Norway or to the Bay Area, the Austin, Texas, trio Lions of Tsavo concoct a vicious complexity with their third full-length outing, Traverser. Varied in spirit, complex in mood and capable at a moment’s notice of unleashing cathartic blasts that even at their most brutal hold firm to a sense of atmosphere, the album is released this week on Toxic Assets and was recorded by the band as the follow-up to 2009′s Swarm of all the Unholy and 2008′s Firelung LPs. They’re on tour to support it now.

That’s simple enough to say, but it becomes a more difficult concept with a record as diverse as Traverser actually is. Though it maintains a cohesiveness of sound and Lions of Tsavo carve an identity out of their sundry changes and violent churn, Traverser hardly seems like it’s waiting for easy summation. Whether it’s the Remission-style tension twisting of “Berlahars” that later get a blackened revisit on the semi-title-track “Traverser of Guriin” or the post-metallic chugging and smooth shift to ambience of “Chemotrophs,” Lions of Tsavo‘s third outing is less about picking out individual hits than about the overarching 52-minute whole journey, bookended by the brooding intro “Circuitous” — which also finds a heftier mid-album companion in the short instrumental “Circuital” — and outro “Negentropy,” named for a measure of bringing chaos to order.

If that’s the intent behind the bookend, it’s a noble enough aim, and the semblance of structure adds to the feeling of consciousness at work across the 11 songs of Traverser – the band would also seem to be aware of the “album as journey” factor, given the title — but as always, the crux is in the trip itself more than the destination. From the progressive heaviness of “Permafrost” to the nonetheless melodic raging apex of “Sea of Crises” that serves as fitting payoff for the record in its entirety, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Chamberlain rasping out some of his most charred screams over top of the swirl created by his own layers of riffs, the bass of Daine Vineyard and Josh Dawkins‘ drums, it may require a few listens to sink in just how much Traverser is Lions of Tsavo‘s own sonically, but the brazen individuality is one of its most satisfying and lasting impressions.

In honor of the official release, I have the pleasure of hosting the entirety of Traverser for streaming. Please find it on the player below, followed by the remainder of Lions of Tsavo‘s current tour dates, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

LIONS OF TSAVO Traverser Tour:
11/08/2013 Blue Nile – Harrisonburg, VA w/ Valkyrie
11/09/2013 TBA – Charleston, WV w/ Hericide
11/10/2013 Tree Bar – Columbus, OH w/ Dark Twin, Earthburner
11/11/2013 Butt Temple – Bloomington, IN w/ Torturess, Boddicker, Agakus
11/12/2013 New Vintage – Louisville, KY w/ Coliseum
11/13/2013 The Boro – Murfreesboro, TN w/ Black Thai, Black Tar Prophet, Behold The Slaughter
11/14/2013 Buccaneer Lounge – Memphis, TN w/ Shards of Humanity, Treeburner, Thetan
11/15/2013 Fatty Arbuckle’s – Shreveport, LA w/ Wartrodden, Cloudbreather
11/16/2013 606 Congress – Denton, TX w/ Baring Teeth

Lions of Tsavo on Thee Facebooks

Lions of Tsavo on Bandcamp

Toxic Assets Records

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audiObelisk: Mark Deutrom Premieres “A Shaky Rabbit” from Brief Sensuality and Western Violence

Posted in audiObelisk on September 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week marks the digital release of Mark Deutrom‘s fifth solo album, Brief Sensuality and Western Violence. Its title is a self-aware warning — one almost imagines the former Melvins bassist got it from a movie rating — that hints at some of what the full-length has on offer, as Deutrom embarks on wandering progressions of spaciously concocted jazzy, minimalist guitar and complements with a soft vocal delivery only to hit striking contrast with bouts of fuller distorted buzz or tonal crush, whether it’s the 20-minute opener (immediate points) “Dick Cheney,” which unfolds in movements of varied spirit, or “Venerate the Relic,” which seems to encapsulate the somewhat bipolar feel in its two evenly split halves. Elsewhere, Deutrom, who’s joined on drums and a variety of other noisemaking apparatuses by Arron Lack and who recorded Brief Sensuality and Western Violence in Austin, Texas, with Chico Jones at Ohm Recording Facility, is more driven not to separate, but bring the two seemingly at odds ideas together.

“Sky Full of Witches” has fuzz enough to make the Tee Pee Records roster blush, while the two-part “Temple Smasher/Other Gods” recalls some of the weirdo crunch of records like Stoner Witch and Stag — both of which Deutrom played on — before moving into one of the album’s most open and gleefully bizarre ambient stretches, the vocals keeping it somewhat grounded amid subtle oompah and amplified construction. Where the earlier “Winter Haystacks at Twilight” backed straightforward singer-songwriter peacefulness with progressively echoing leads (you can think Damnation-era Opeth for a frame of reference, but I doubt they’re an influence here), and closer “Turn Toward the Sun” provides fittingly hopeful canyon-icana, it’s ultimately “A Shaky Rabbit” that most coalesces the demon jazz and creeping intricacy that Deutrom has on offer. Like several of the other pieces, it’s split in half, but there’s a cohesion in theme and a steadiness of atmosphere that speaks to Deutrom‘s mastery of the form.

Cryptically, he describes the track thusly:

The world is really really scary for a scared rabbit, and then a wizard makes it even more more scary
with a funk swamp.

Fair enough. Brief Sensuality and Western Violence is available to download now ahead of a vinyl release early next year. There are a couple tracks streaming on Deutrom‘s Bandcamp page, but the chance to highlight “A Shaky Rabbit” wasn’t something I was going to pass up.

Check it out on the player below and please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Mark Deutrom‘s Brief Sensuality and Western Violence is available now on CD Baby, Bandcamp and iTunes.

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Ancient VVisdom Announce Summer Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Truth be told, I go back and forth on Austin acoustic metallers Ancient VVisdom. They’re very good at what they do, and when I saw them earlier this year in NYC out supporting their new album, Deathlike, they surprised me in how effectively they were able to carry across a sense of atmosphere and maintain a presence on stage, not being wholly lost to ambience or making their unplugged, semi-pagan aesthetic seem entirely like schtick.

On the other hand, they’ve never managed to grab with the same kind of authority as a band like Anathema could in what’s now their mid-period. But I’m not sure that’s a fair standard or comparison. Like I said, I go back and forth. Maybe I’ll go hit up their show on this freshly-announced headlining tour and make up my damn mind.

Here they are, lookin’ spooky:

ANCIENT VVISDOM ANNOUNCE HEADLINING TOUR DATES

Austin-based heavy occult rock group ANCIENT VVISDOM have just revealed plans for a upcoming U.S. headlining trek, the “Pagan Summer Tour,” which will also feature psychedelic rockers The Saint James Society with select appearances from fellow occult rockers Bloody Hammers. A trailer for the tour can be viewed below.

“PAGAN SUMMER TOUR” rituals:
8/4 Houston, TX – Fitzgeralds #
8/5 New Orleans,LA – Siberia #
8/6 Atlanta, GA – Purgatory ^
8/7 Nashville, TN – Exit In ^
8/8 Richmond, VA – Strange Matter ^
8/9 Baltimore, MD – Side Bar ^
8/10 New York, NY – Saint Vitus ^
8/12 Burlington, VT – Metal Mondays @ Nectar’s #
8/13 Montreal, QC – Divan Orange #
8/14 Boston, MA – Great Scott #
8/15 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
8/16 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class #
8/17 Columbus, OH – Double Happiness #
# with The Saint James Society
^ with The Saint James Society & Bloody Hammer

For tickets & more information, please visit: www.facebook.com/AVVFB

Ancient VVisdom, 2013 Summer Tour Promo

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: The Unmothered, The Unmothered

Posted in Radio on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A few years back, Prosthetic Records seemed to get an itch for extreme metal that took some of the tropes of black metal and added elements of hardcore, doom and thrash. The result was a slew of albums from the likes of Book of Black Earth, Withered and The Funeral Pyre, each of which seemed bent on taking on black metal from a different angle. Austin trio The Unmothered appear to be on a similar kind of trip with their 2012 self-titled debut EP, but the conviction and thickness with which they carry across their ideas puts them in line as well with the newer class of post-His Hero is Gone “dark hardcore” — the main difference being The Unmothered come off as better at actually bridging the gap between that sound and doom than most others, who like to pretend they’re bridging it while playing redundant metalcore riffs in a Venom t-shirt.

It’s not in every song, but take a listen to “Leviathan,” which is tense to the point of breaking open even as it rolls out the groove of its verse. Unmothered drummer Matt Moulis sat in with The Hidden Hand on their last tour, and there’s some swing in the earlier “The Awakening” to show for it, but together with Matt Walker and Joseph Barnes, the three-piece draws more on later, rocking Carcass than anything so definitively fuzzed. Even the later post-black metal soloing of “Spectre” takes a vehement position rather than give itself up to psychedelic posturing for the sake of including one more genre in the mix, and with the Godflesh-y tone of “Solstice” and the gallop late into opener and longest cut “Gravitons,” it’s not exactly like The Unmothered have skimped on the variety anyhow.

Having just shared the stage with the likes of Venomous Maximus and Mala Suerte at SXSW in their native burg, and caught a fair amount of attention there, The Unmothered have a solid first showing to fall back on in their self-titled and a foundation to expand on in any number of directions. You can listen to the self-titled now as part of the playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and check it out via the stream below, hoisted from the Unmothered Bandcamp:

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Scorpion Child Sign to Nuclear Blast; Self-Titled Debut Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Interested to get some thoughts on this one, if you’ve got a minute. Austin, Texas, natives Scorpion Child have signed to Nuclear Blast for the release of their first album, about which you can find the details below. Record’s due in May, like the headline says.

Below that, you can see a lyric/performance video of the cut “Polygon of Eyes,” from the record. The band certainly seems to fit with Nuclear Blast‘s recent splurge of ’70s-worship worship, with a vintage metal sound, rightly compared to Rainbow, Zeppelin, etc. I guess I’m on the fence after just hearing the one track and will have to hear the full LP to make up my mind, but if you’ve got an opinion, please feel free to share.

Here’s the info and clip:

SCORPION CHILD SIGNS TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT; ANNOUNCES DEBUT ALBUM DETAILS

Attributes in music are known to be cyclical. Every few years, a band comes along who borrows just enough from the revered past to bring a new infusion of vitality to the musical present. SCORPION CHILD’s sound invokes a time when guitar-driven rock ruled radio’s airwaves, when being hypnotized by a frontman and his bandmates in a concert arena was one of life’s ultimate main events. A five-piece from Austin, Texas, SCORPION CHILD have spent the last few years perfecting both their songwriting and stage show. Guitarists Chris Cowart and David Finner deliver their finessed twin guitar attack with experience older than their years; bassist Shaun Avants and drummer Shawn Alvear are steadfast sentinels of their driving rhythm section; and lead singer Aryn Jonathan Black fronts the psychedelic rock cavalry with a passion & voice reminiscent of the early eras of Robert Plant and Ronnie James Dio.

“I’ve always wanted to hear new musical ingredients within a classic heavy sound,” states vocalist AJB. “It’s great to witness captivating performances where both the live show and the band’s recorded material can complement one another. The heavy-prog sounds of Uriah Heep, Hairy Chapter, and the epic delivery of early Rainbow showcases these crossovers brilliantly and gave us all honest – yet relentless – sonics to aspire to.  That’s why it’s important for us as a band to maintain spontaneity while putting a special emphasis into integral hooks.”

This May, Nuclear Blast Entertainment will release SCORPION CHILD’s self-titled, full-length debut. Produced and arranged by Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Answer, Jet, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Toadies, Dax Riggs), the album uses analog recording technology to organically capture a hybrid of nine, hook-filled chapters of heavy psych rock.  The goal?  To breathe new life into a neglected yet still important musical heritage.

Dangerous guitar riffs, soul-ridden bass lines, and thunderous drums with powerful rock vocals as lead conductor convey the on-stage swagger of SCORPION CHILD and will prepare you for the live experience awaiting you when the band tours the U.S. and Europe throughout 2013.

To watch the lyric video for “Polygon Of Eyes” or to stream the song, visit SCORPION CHILD at www.facebook.com/scorpionchild

Scorpion Child track listing is:

1. Kings Highway
2. Polygon Of Eyes
3. The Secret Spot
4. Salvation Slave
5. Liquor
6. Antioch
7. In The Arms Of Ecstasy
8. Lover’s Leap
9. Red Blood (The River Flows)

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Small Stone Finalizes SXSW Showcase Lineup; Poster Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Truth be told, they’ve been putting on shows during SXSW since 1997, but 2013 makes it a full decade that Small Stone has been doing an official SXSW showcase, and the venerable Detroit imprint are celebrating in style. I always get a little wistful thinking about my days in Austin at these parties — I went four years from 2003-’07 — and from seeing Suplecs touring on the strength of a post-Man’s Ruin demo to watching Sasquatch and The Brought Low lay waste to the room. Good friends, cheap beer, occasionally Mexican food. Some of the best times I’ve had at shows were at those things, and not just for the refried beans.

I won’t be making the trip this year, but consider it highly recommended nonetheless if you can get down that way. Brian Mercer has once again provided the poster for the shindig, which is below, followed by the lineup and set times:

Also available in purple.

Marking 10 years of official SXSW showcases, Detroit’s Small Stone Records returns to Headhunters (720 Red River) on March 14 with some of the finest in heavy rock. This year’s Small Stone showcase is headlined by New Orleans veterans Suplecs and Connecticut upstarts Lord Fowl, and features Virginia’s Freedom Hawk and Texan natives Wo Fat along with Luder, Supermachine and Mellow Bravo. For lovers of classic guitar and motor-ready grooves, it gets no better than Small Stone, and with a decade under their belts, they still throw a party like none other. Expect the epic.

Date: Thursday March, 14th, 2013
Venue: Headhunters – 720 Red River – Austin, TX – 78701
1 am: Suplecs (New Orleans, LA)
12 mid: Lord Fowl (New Haven, CT)
11pm: Freedom Hawk (Virginia Beach, VA)
10pm: Wo Fat (Dallas, TX)
9pm: Luder (Ferndale, MI)
8pm: Supermachine (Dover, NH)
7pm: Mellow Bravo (Boston, MA)

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The Well, Seven 7″: First Act of Trespass

Posted in Reviews on November 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s hard to know where to start with Seven, the debut 7” single by Austin, Texas-based trio The Well. The band self-released the two-track outing, featuring the songs “Act II” and “Trespass,” at the end of September in a limited marble-vinyl edition of 300, and coupled the record with a variety of artworks in what they called a “rip-off series,” with hand-drawn sketches from Casey Cork and bassist/vocalist Lisa Alley reinterpreting album art from Electric Wizard, Wicked Lady (the one I got, hence the flapper above), Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer to suit their own purposes, as well as some with an original design. Musically, I suppose The Well do pretty much the same thing. Having formed in 2010, the band are pretty clearly getting their bearings in terms of their development, but they already have a firm grip on their aesthetic, taking new (nouveau?) American laidbackitude and melding it with simple grooving riffs, obscure but catchy lyrics and an echoing sense of open space. Seven doesn’t really find The Well coming out of the gate with anything that’s never been done before, but it works no less well for them in 2012 than it did for Lords of the North in 2008, and the oft-concurrent dual vocals of Alley and guitarist Ian Graham are an immediate distinguishing factor on “Act II,” which rolls in casual-like on a stonerly bounce from drummer Jason Sullivan and nod-ready bassline from Alley. Graham offers crunch in his rhythm tone and classic fuzz for the bluesy lead he takes near the halfway point, and when the song breaks following the next verse into a post-Vitus noisefest, the effect is jarring in probably the best way it could be. Alley’s bass and Sullivan’s drums keep going while the guitar drops out and Graham and Alley – whose voices already prove impeccably matched – take the fore and make a viable hook out of the lines “Twisting ropes and needle pokes can’t harm me/Pious minds can’t understand what charms me,” and lock into wah-driven shuffle for what seems like it will be the instrumental outro until they pull back for one last run through the chorus, well timed and crisply executed on the live-sounding recording, helmed by Jason Morales of Austin heavy psych improvisators Tia Carrera.

Such moves make it easy to get into both songs on Seven, accessible in a totally non-commercialized but still traditional sense of pop songwriting. “Trespass,” which is more explicitly led by Graham’s guitar, shorter by just over a full minute and overall thicker in its chug, is no less catchy. Graham opens with a wash of Hendrix wah and is joined in time by Alley and Sullivan for another solid mid-paced groover, Sullivan’s fills telegraphing the transitions but not detracting from them. After the intro, which takes up 50 seconds of the total 4:43, “Trespass” follows a much simpler structure than did “Act II,” but the vocals tap into that same lysergic drawl that made the first Witch album so irresistible and a double-layered solo from Sullivan provides a point of interest leading into the build of the bridge, even if the song is clearly a B-side. As they did with “Act II,” they pull back to the central groove just when it seems like they’ve gone too far out to recover, and they end Seven with a return to the chorus, giving a final nod to the potential in their craft before the guitar clicks off and the release is over. The Well have reportedly already returned to the studio to record a full-length, this time with Mark Deutrom (who played bass in the Melvins during their Atlantic years), and their commitment to aligning themselves to producers with experience in heavy rock speaks to a professional mindset as much as any last chorus speaks to a quality of craft, so while Seven is the first time The Well have made their presence known, it seems unlikely it will be the last. All the better. Both “Act II” and “Trespass” give an impression of a trio taking off on a creative trip. Their efficiency on a musical level and their penchant for strong hooks can only serve them well as they continue to develop, and whatever they do next, I’ll be interested to hear what other tricks they might have up their collective sleeve in terms of changing up their approach or adding diversity to their sound or even just establishing a flow over the course of a debut LP. For now, though, Seven makes a welcome introduction.

The Well on Thee Facebooks

The Well on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk: Stream Uzala & Mala Suerte’s New Split 7″ in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on November 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

In mid-November, King of the Monsters Records will release a new split 7″ between Uzala and Mala Suerte. Now, if like me you’ve lost all sense of time and space, that sounds like a really long way away, but you’ll pardon if I blow your mind and say that mid-November is next week. So yeah, it’s sooner than you might think.

This isn’t the first time I’ve streamed material from Uzala. The Boise, Idaho/Portland, Oregon, psychedowner four-piece premiered the cassette-only “Cataract” from their self-titled debut here late last year, and it was awesome. Their album was unremittingly atmospheric, biting fuzz off Electric Wizard and adding a touch of newer West Coast fuckall, Darcy Nutt‘s vocals keeping a mystique in the croon while bassist Nick Phit (ex-Graves at Sea) thickened the tonal lurch into a fine oozing mess.

Their new track for this split, dubbed “Burned,” follows a similar but developed course, and pairs well with the more stripped down riffing of Austin, Texas-based doomers Mala Suerte. The cut they contribute, “The Veil of Secrecy,” takes a conspiracy-minded political bent, calling for — among other things — an end to the Federal Reserve, vocalist Gary Rosas noting in its opening lines that, “The road to Utopia is paved/With the bones and blood of the common man.” I guess that settles that.

When I posted the news that this split 7″ was coming, the response cool enough that I asked permission to host the release in its entirety for streaming, and I was lucky enough that said permission was granted. You’ll find “Burned” and “The Veil of Secrecy” on the player below, followed by info from the PR wire and a preorder link. Dig it:

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

 

King of the Monsters has announced the upcoming release of one of the heaviest splits of 2012 – a 7″ collaboration between Boise fuzz-doom shamans UZALA and Austin, TX’s own psych-minded doom fiends MALA SUERTEPreorders are now up on the label website, and orders will ship in early November. The split features a brand-new track from each band, as well as mind-blowing cover art, courtesy of UZALA chanteuse, axe-slinger, and celebrated tattoo artist Darcy Nutt and MALA SUERTE vocalist Gary Rosas.

The release is limited to 500 copies, with the first 100 available on black/white split vinyl and the remaining 400 entombed in obsidian black.

MALA SUERTE’S ”The Veil of Secrecy” is an older fan favorite, recorded in winter 2012. The UZALA song was recorded at Type Foundry in Portland, OR in August 2011 with Alex Yusimov at the helm, mixed by Blake Green at WOLVSERPENT STUDIOS, and mastered by Mell Dettmer. 

Preorder here: http://kingofthemonstersrecords.bigcartel.com/product/uzala-mala-suerte-split-7-preorder

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Uzala and Mala Suerte Team up for Split 7″ Due Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a while since we heard anything from the camp of Austin, Texas-based doomers Mala Suerte, whose 2009 offering, The Shadow Tradition (review here), still gets broken out for periodic plays. But the PR wire brings the latest! It seems as though they’ve teamed up with Boise cult wizards Uzala (track stream here) for a split 7″ that’ll be out on King of the Monsters Records next month.

Behold the story, preorder link and whathaveyou:

Doom Sorcerers UZALA Announce Split w/ Sludge Destroyers MALA SUERTE via King of the Monsters

King of the Monsters has just announced the upcoming release of one of the heaviest splits of 2012 – a 7″ collaboration between Boise fuzz-doom shamans UZALA and Austin, TX’s own psych-minded doom fiends MALA SUERTE. Preorders are now up on the label website, and orders will ship in early November. The split features a brand-new track from each band, as well as mind-blowing cover art, courtesy of UZALA chanteuse, axe-slinger, and celebrated tattoo artist Darcy Nutt and MALA SUERTE vocalist Gary Rosas.

The release is limited to 500 copies, with the first 100 available on black/white split vinyl and the remaining 400 entombed in obsidian black.

MALA SUERTE’S “The Veil of Secrecy” is an older fan favorite, recorded in winter 2010. The UZALA song was recorded at Type Foundry in Portland, OR in August 2011 with Alex Yusimov at the helm, mixed by Blake Green at WOLVSERPENT STUDIOS, and mastered by Mell Dettmer.

TRACKLISTING
Uzala – Burned
Mala Suerte – The Veil of Secrecy

Preorder here: http://kingofthemonstersrecords.bigcartel.com/product/uzala-mala-suerte-split-7-preorder

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On the Radar: Old and Ill

Posted in On the Radar on October 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Not everybody likes extreme sludge. Well I fucking do, so when a band like Old and Ill comes along with a demo like Live Slow Die Old, I want to take a little time out and mark the occasion. Taking cues alternately from High on Fire, Electric Wizard and croaking, lurching black metal, the three-piece got started in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2008 but relocated (as I’m told people do sometimes) to Austin, Texas, from which their abrasive, malevolent dirges now emanate.

The demo was released Sept. 27, and it’s a wash of bleary-eyed distortion, frustrated sway and molasses-thick doom. The 10-minute “House of Wax” lurches even when the pace “picks up,” and it’s not so much in any kind of witchy/culty way, but how Jamus Reichelt, Jason Joachim and Garrett T. Capps earn their Electric Wizard comparison is through the efficiency of their material and how much they squeeze out of classic grooves and — in the case of “House of Wax” particularly — a well-mixed lead that seems to scream out from the surrounding tonal murk. At about 35 minutes, Live Slow Die Old is vinyl-ready and loaded with stomp enough for two vinyl sides, its meatiness resonant through “House of Wax” and its fellow extended cut, the viscous 12:16 “Stag Hunt.”

Sandwiched on either side by the faster “Throat Feast” and “Public Universal Fiend,” the two longer tracks are a big part of the overall impression Live Slow Die Old makes, with doomed groove and growling vocals — something few bands do and even fewer do as well as Old and Ill — hitting home on “Stag Hunt” while the post-Chris Hakius drumming in the midsection only underscores the band’s righteous lineage and “let’s take this and do something else with it” ethic — admirable. It’s probably easy to point to other acts working in a similar vein (Cough come to mind, most immediately), since after a certain point if you play slow and scream, someone’s gonna come along and compare you to Eyehategod, but if this is Old and Ill‘s first outing, they’ve put the four years leading up to it to good use in finding individuality within established genre tropes.

It may not set them up for the most prolific career, but even the roughness in these tracks feeds the nastiness of the atmosphere and the production lets more than enough low end through to give a genuine sense of rumble. Misanthropic cave echoes only enhance the dismal tonal thickness, and I wouldn’t put it on at my next family BBQ, but Old and Ill‘s Live Slow Die Old demo serves its purpose in serving notice: These guys are fucking serious. I dig it.

And in that spirit, I share. Check out Old and Ill‘s Thee Facebooks page here for more info on them, or dive right into the stream below, courtesy of their Bandcamp:

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On the Radar: Destroyer of Light

Posted in On the Radar on June 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Everything seems to be going as you might expect with the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, doomly foursome Destroyer of Light, then all of a sudden a background in extreme metal becomes very, very apparent. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca keeps an inflection in his clean singing that’s more than a little kin to Karl Simon from The Gates of Slumber and that has its roots in the likes of CandlemassMessiah Marcolin — who did it best even if he didn’t do it first — but then Colca shifts into a vicious growl that’s right out of death metal. He doesn’t use it on every track of the self-released six-song album, but it’s striking when it comes up and if you’re not ready, half the fun (which I’ve just spoiled, I guess) is being caught off guard.

Destroyer of Light formed earlier this year in Austin, and as such, I’d imagine that one single member — be in Colca, guitarist Keegan Kjeldsen, bassist Mark Mars or drummer Penny Turner — is responsible for the songwriting. I’d guess that’s Colca, but I’ve been wrong about that kind of thing before and don’t want to assume. Whichever player it is, they’re obviously schooled in the modern interpretations of the doom of old, and the added element of extremity sits well alongside the riffy groove they craft. There are a few rough patches in the recording, but no doubt it all came together pretty quick, and as a basic demo, the down and dirty, sludgier riff of “Coffin Hunter” still gives a basic impression of what they’re going for stylistically.

And to put a name on it, what they’re going for is doom. Destroyer of Light also have a live recording up on their Bandcamp that’s worth checking out, but the album itself leaves a stronger impression. I might want more effects on the vocals next time out — something about lyrics about virgin sacrifices and all the rest just beg to be drenched in echo — but it seems from the sampling they’ve made available that the band are on the right path. They’re on Thee Facebooks here, and here’s the record if you want to check it out:

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Danny G., Leap of Faith: Pressure and Time

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Leap of Faith is the second full-length from Austin, Texas-based multi-instrumentalist Danny Grochow – aka Danny G. His first outing was 2010’s Ocean of Stars. Like its follow-up, Ocean of Stars was recorded over the course of February’s 28 days with Grochow as a participant in the RPM Challenge to create an album from scratch in a month’s time. No word on whether the extra day he got from 2012 being a leap year gave him a leg up on Leap of Faith, or whether the title is a reference to that, but the fact remains that for being put down on a digital eight-track in a month and for Grochow having played guitar, bass and drums as well as recorded himself and done the full art layout on his own, it’s an impressive feat. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but I don’t think perfection is the idea in the first place, and for what Grochow is playing on Leap of Faith’s six tracks, the kind of self-contained, humble production actually fits really well. Something too overblown wouldn’t work, but the atmosphere on even more active material like “Rare Earth Metals” is intimate, and while the flirtations with psychedelia on opener “Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard” don’t really come across with the swirl reaching as far into space as it otherwise might, Grochow is more than able to get his point across, his effectively layered guitar leading the way there and almost at every other point on the entirely instrumental album.

It’s a better headphone listen, as proximity of volume seems to push the songs more to the forefront of consciousness, but part of what makes Leap of Faith work through speakers is the chill factor, that you can put it on and let it zone you out while you listen. That may not be the most in-your-face approach, but the Brant Bjork-style grooves on “Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard” or the later “Give us the Key” make it seem like laid back was Grochow’s intent all along, and it’s something these songs have in common with Ocean of Stars. It’s not that the music doesn’t get heavy – “Rare Earth Metals” has more dynamic range on both ends than it might immediately seem following the skillfully played nylon acoustics of “Luna en Sombra” – but that even when it does, the production allows for a consistency of atmosphere. There’s only so far it’s going to go, and indeed, only so far it wants to go. Grochow, whose main gig is playing bass with the blues rocking Eric Tessmer Band, shows a clear love of guitar. Maybe that’s a way for him to shake up his routine, but he’s obviously capable of using the instrument, electrically or acoustic, to set and build ambience. Leap of Faith is solo without being self-indulgent and engaging without losing its underlying lonely sensibility – a surprising balance that deepens the listen. It’s not definitively rock, or heavy rock, but vaguely progressive and an honest-sounding exploration. Somewhere else, some other context, a drumless song like “Krim: The Sound of Kali” might be bedroom-type neo folk.

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