Quarterly Review: Foehammer, Holy Serpent, Wicked Inquisition, AVER, Galley Beggar, Demon Lung, Spirit Division, Space Mushroom Fuzz, Mountain Tamer, Ohhms

Posted in Reviews on June 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk summer quarterly review

I said back in March that I was going to try to make the Quarterly Review a regular feature around here, and once it was put out there, the only thing to do was to live up to it. Over the last several — like, five — weeks, I’ve been compiling lists of albums to be included, and throughout the next five days, we’re going to make our way through that list. From bigger names to first demos and across a wide swath of heavy styles, there’s a lot of stuff to come, and I hope within all of it you’re able to find something that hits home or speaks to you in a special way.

No sense in delaying. Hold nose, dive in.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Foehammer, Foehammer

foehammer foehammer

Relatively newcomer trio Foehammer specialize in grueling, slow-motion punishment. Their self-titled debut EP follows a well-received 2014 demo and is three tracks/34 minutes released by Grimoire and Australopithecus Records of doomed extremity, the Virginian three-piece of guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius), bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Gradius, ex-Durga Temple) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-Vog, also of The Oracle) not new to the Doom Capitol-area underground by any stretch and seeming to pool all their experience to maximize the impact of this extended material. Neither “Final Grail,” “Stormcrow” nor 14-minute closer “Jotnar” is without a sense of looming atmosphere, but Foehammer at this point are light only on drama, and the lower, sludgier and more crushing they go, the more righteous the EP is for it. Stunningly heavy and landing with a suitable shockwave, it is hopefully the beginning of a long, feedback-drenched tenure in death-doom, and if the EP is over half an hour, the prospect of a follow-up debut full-length seems overwhelming. Easily one of the year’s best short releases.

Foehammer on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Australopithecus Records

Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent

holy serpent holy serpent

It’s not like they were lying when they decided to call a song “Shroom Doom.” Melbourne double-guitar four-piece made their self-titled debut as Holy Serpent last year, and the five-track full-length was picked up for release on RidingEasy Records no doubt for its two-front worship of Uncle Acid’s slither and jangle – especially prevalent on the eponymous opener and closer “The Wind” – and the now-classic stonerism of Sleep. That blend comes together best of all on the aforementioned finale, but neither will I take away from the north-of-10-minute righteousness of “The Plague” preceding, with its slow roll and malevolent vibe that, somehow, still sounds like a party. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Keith Ratnan, the real test for Holy Serpent will be their second or third album – i.e., how they develop the psychedelic nodes of centerpiece “Fools Gold” along with the rest of their sound – but listening to these tracks, it’s easy to let the future worry about itself.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records

Wicked Inquisition, Wicked Inquisition

wicked inquisition wicked inquisition

There are a variety of influences at work across Wicked Inquisition’s self-titled debut long-player, from the Sabbath references of its eponymous closer to the earlier thrashery of “In Shackles” and “Sun Flight,” but the core of the Minneapolis four-piece resides in a guitar-led brand of metal, whatever else they decide to build around it. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey align tightly around the riffs of “M.A.D.” in all-business fashion. Shades of Candlemass show up in some of the slower material, “M.A.D.” included as well as with “Crimson Odyssey,” but the start-stops of “Tomorrow Always Knows” ensure the audience is clued in that there’s more going on than just classic doom, though a Trouble influence seems to hover over the proceedings as well, waiting to be more fully explored as the band moves forward.

Wicked Inquisition on Thee Facebooks

Wicked Inquisition on Bandcamp

AVER, Nadir

aver nadir

Clocking in at an hour flat, Sydney all-caps riffers AVER construct their second album, Nadir, largely out of familiar elements, but wind up with a blend of their own. Fuzz is prevalent in the extended nod of opener “The Devil’s Medicine” (9:46) which bookends with the longest track, finisher “Waves” (9:48), though it’s not exactly like the four-piece are shy about writing longer songs in between. The production, while clear enough, lends its focus more toward the low end, which could be pulling in another direction from the impact of some of Nadir’s psychedelia on “Rising Sun” second half solo, but neither will I take anything away from Jed’s bass tone, which could carry this hour of material were it asked. The vocals of guitarist Burdt have a distinct Acid Bathian feel, post-grunge, and that contrasts a more laid back vibe even on the acoustic-centered “Promised Lands,” but neither he, Jed, guitarist Luke or drummer Chris feel out of place here, and I’m not inclined to complain.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

AVER on Bandcamp

Galley Beggar, Silence and Tears

galley-beggar-silence-and-tears

Sweet, classic and very, very British folk pervades the gorgeously melodic and meticulously arranged Silence and Tears by London six-piece Galley Beggar, released on Rise Above. The eight-track/40-minute album packs neatly onto a vinyl release and has near-immediate psychedelic underpinnings in the wah of opener “Adam and Eve,” and side B’s “Geordie” has some heavier-derived groove, but it’s the beauty and lushness of the harmonies throughout (finding satisfying culmination in closer “Deliver Him”) that stand Galley Beggar’s third offering out from worshipers of a ‘60s and ‘70s era aesthetic. The highlight of Silence and Tears arrives early in nine-minute second cut “Pay My Body,” a wonderfully swaying, patient excursion that gives equal time to instrumental exploration and vocal accomplishment, but to a select few who let themselves be truly hypnotized and carried along its winding course, the album’s entire span will prove a treasure to be revisited for years to come and whose sunshiny imprint will remain vivid.

Galley Beggar on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Demon Lung, A Dracula

demon-lung-a-dracula

With inspiration reportedly from the 1977 demon-possession horror flick Alucarda, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung return with A Dracula, their second offering via Candlelight Records after 2013’s The Hundredth Name, and as the movie begins with a birth, so too do we get “Behold, the Daughter” following the intro “Rursumque Alucarda,” later mirrored by a penultimate interlude of the same name. Billy Anderson produced, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the slow, undulating riffs and the periodic bouts of more upbeat chug, as on “Gypsy Curse,” come through nice and viscous, but vocalist Shanda brings an ethereal melodic sensibility, not quite cult rock, but on “Mark of Jubilee” presenting momentarily some similarly bleak atmospherics to those of the UK’s Undersmile, her voice seeming to command the guitars to solidify from their initial airiness and churn out an eerie apex, which closer “Raped by the Serpent” pushes further for a raging finale.

Demon Lung on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight USA’s Bandcamp

Spirit Division, Spirit Division

spirit division spirit division

Spirit Division’s self-titled debut full-length follows a 2014 demo that also hosted three of the tracks – opener “Spirit Division,” “Through the Rounds” and “Mountain of Lies” – but is fuller-sounding in its post-grunge tonality and doomly chug than the earlier offering, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Hoffman, bassist/vocalist Chris Latta and drummer/vocalist David Glass finding a straightforward route through moody metallurgy and weighted riffage. Some Wino-style swing shows up on “Bloodletting,” and “Cloud of Souls” has a decidedly militaristic march to its progression, while the later “Red Sky” revels in classic doom that seems to want to be just a touch slower than it is, but what ultimately unites the material is the strong sense of purpose across the album’s span and Spirit Division’s care in the vocal arrangements. The production is somewhat dry, but Spirit Division walk the line between sludge rock and doom and seem comfortable in that sphere while also sparking a creative progression that seems well worth further pursuit.

Spirit Division on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Division on Bandcamp

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Until Next Time

space mushroom fuzz until next time

I was all set to include a different Space Mushroom Fuzz album in this roundup, but then I saw that the project was coming to an end and Until Next Time was issued as the band’s final release. The deal all along with the band headed by guitarist/vocalist Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) has been that you never really know what he’s going to do next. Fair enough. Abrams brings it down in suitably bizarre fashion, a keyboard and guitar line backing “Class Onion” in direct mockery of Beatlesian bounce, where “The DeLorean Takes Off!” before compiles five-plus minutes of experimental noise and “Follow that DeLorean” answers with another round after. Elsewhere, opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Here Comes Trouble” resonates with its central guitar line and unfolds to further oddity with a quiet but gruff vocal, while “The Rescue” vibes like something Ween would’ve conjured after huffing roach spray (or whatever was handy) and closer “Back in ‘55” moves from progressive soloing to froggy singing and weirdo jangle. All in all a strange and fitting end to the band.

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

Mountain Tamer, MTN TMR DEMO

mountain tamer mtn tmr demo

Santa Cruz trio Mountain Tamer have been kicking around the West Coast for the last several years, and since they released a full-length, Liquid Metal, in 2013, and a prior EP in 2012’s The Glad, it’s tempting to try to read some larger shift sonically into their MTN TMR Demo, as though having completely revamped their sound, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia trying out new ideas as they redirect their approach. That may well be the case, with “Satan’s Waitin’,” “Sum People” and “Dunes of the Mind” each standing at over five-minutes of neo-stoner roll, more psychedelic than some in the growing fuck-it-let’s-skate oeuvre, but still plainly born after, or at least during, grunge. The finisher comes to a thrilling, noisy head as it rounds out the short release, and if Mountain Tamer are taking on a new path, it’s one well set to meander and I hope they continue to follow those impulses.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

OHHMS, Cold

ohhms cold

Like their late-2014 debut, Bloom, OHHMS’ sophomore outing, Cold, is comprised of two extended tracks. Here the Canterbury five-piece bring “The Anchor” (18:30) and “Dawn of the Swarm” (14:27), blending modern prog, sludge and post-metallic vibes to suit a melodic, ambitious purpose. Atmosphere is central from the quiet drone starting “The Anchor” and remains so as they lumber through a linear build and into an apex at about 13 minutes in, dropping out to quiet only to build back up to a striking melodic push that ends on a long fade. Side B, “Dawn of the Swarm” is more immediately post-rock in the guitar, the lineup of vocalist Paul Waller, guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George, bassist Chainy Chainy and drummer Max Newton moving through hypnotic sprawl into angular Isis-ism before finding their own way, the second cut pushing structurally against the first with loud/quiet tradeoffs in a well-timed back half. Clearly a band who arrived knowing their purpose, but not so cerebral as to detract from the heavy landing of the material itself.

OHHMS on Thee Facebooks

OHHMS on Bandcamp

 

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Mammoth Mammoth Euro Tour Starts July 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

mammoth mammoth

Aussie heavy rockers/drinkers Mammoth Mammoth are slated to hit Europe for a round of dates next month built on slots at Stoned from the Underground and the Sky High festival. Most of the shows are in Germany, but still, says something that the band are getting to the Euro circuit at all. Rumor has it — and by “rumor,” I mean what they said on Thee Facebooks — the four-piece are trying to put together a stint in the States for 2016. Having dug earlier 2015’s Volume IV: Hammered Again (video premiere here), it seems like if they were going to go all out and make the trip, the least one might do is show up. Of course, they’ll probably be on the other side of the country, since that’s how it goes, but sometimes it’s just nice to be on the same continent.

Alright then. Tour dates follow, presented by Sound of Liberation, yoinked and rezonked off the wire of PR:

mammoth mammoth tour dates

MAMMOTH MAMMOTH – On Tour In Germany In July 2015!

These Australian Rockers mix the finest dirty hard rock with a healthy dose of stoner vibes! Their latest album Volume IV – Hammered Again was released earlier this year on Napalm Records!

All European fans can get stoked now, as MAMMOTH MAMMOTH are coming on an extensive tour this July all over Germany! Find all upcoming tour dates below & make sure to see them live on the road:

Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland.

Armed with only a stolen wheelie-bin full of Melbourne Bitter cans, a shopping bag full of water damaged pornos found near the railway line, and a shit-tonne of songs from their face-melting new album, ‘Hammered Again’, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH are skipping bail and blazing trail straight to Europe for another round of church-burning, skull-crushing, unicorn-thumping mayhem.

So call your dealer, buy a Flashlight and put your lawyer on speed dial, because you have been warned friends. This will be more awesome than God’s tits!

WED, JUL 08 GERMANY BERLIN, CASSIOPEIA
THU, JUL 09 GERMANY KIEL, SCHAUBUDE
FRI, JUL 10 GERMANY ERFURT, Stoned from the Underground
SAT, JUL 11 GERMANY DUESSELDORF, PITCHER
SUN, JUL 12 NETHERLANDS UTRECHT, DB’s
MON, JUL 13 T.B.A.
TUE, JUL 14 GERMANY WUERZBURG, IMMERHIN
WED, JUL 15 GERMANY MUENCHEN, FEIERWERK
THU, JUL 16 SWITZERLAND OLTEN, COQ D OR
FRI, JUL 17 GERMANY SIEGEN, VORTEX
SAT, JUL 18 GERMANY HAMBURG, ROCK CAFÈ
SUN, JUL 19 T.B.A.
MON, JUL 20 GERMANY BREMEN, RÖMER
TUE, JUL 21 T.B.A.
WED, JUL 22 GERMANY GIEßEN, ON THE ROCKS / UNDER THE ROCKS
THU, JUL 23 GERMANY DRESDEN, OSTPOL
FRI, JUL 24 AUSTRIA VIENNA, ARENA
SAT, JUL 25 GERMANY FRANKFURT, SKY HIGH

For More Info Visit:
www.mammothmammoth.com
www.facebook.com/mammothmammothband
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Mammoth Mammoth, “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” official video

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River of Snakes Release New EP I Wanna be Your Baby

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

river of snakes

The first sign that all is not as it seems comes toward the end of the opening title-track of Melbourne fuzz-rock trio River of Snakes‘ new EP, I Wanna be Your Baby. The punk-infused three-piece launch the release with about as poppy a movement as one can get, taking cues from the unabashed sunshine of post-grunge ’60s revivalism, but right at the end there’s a moment where another sound kicks in and you wonder if another song just started playing at the same time. Then, of course, they shift into the droned-out “Lightning Rod,” with builds waves of guitar over its 15-minute course that culminate in Earthless-style grandstanding before a cave-in brings silence and a return to noise, the theme seeming to continue into closer “Spill,” even as that song returns to verse/chorus structures in a grittier take than “I Wanna be Your Baby” itself.

Worth the asking price — which is whatever you want it to be — alone for the turn from the first track to the second and then into the third, the breadth of sound River of Snakes show in such a short time without sounding like the material is disconnected, the I Wanna be Your Baby EP is available now to download from the band’s Bandcamp. Announcement of its arrival follows, along with some more bio background:

river of snakes i wanna be your baby

Good Morning freaks!! Here is a free give away EP with two previously unreleased tracks, one is 15 minute epic noise freak out with Ben Wrecker on drums, Recorded at RMIT, the other is a track that we did for “Black Noise” that well, got left aside for this give-away! We will be playing some shows soon, stay tuned. Thanks!!

Two cranked up Fender Bassman amps, two Big-muff pedals on full and aggressive powerhouse drums make up River of Snakes sonic core. This fuzz-demented three piece have been tearing apart stages and splintering ears for over two years now in their hometown of Melbourne, as well as trekking thousands of kilometres to play any (and every) interstate city and regional centre in Australia that will have them. This is a band that thrives on raw spirit and DIY attitude.

The band is made up of Raul Sanchez, best known for his role as guitarist in Magic Dirt and Midnight Woolf, Elissa Rose from the powerful and grungy The Loveless and Ben Wrecker from Hotel Wrecking City Traders. The result is a three-pronged attack of wild punk-rock laced with feedback, noise and pop-hooks.

https://www.facebook.com/riverofsnakes/
www.riverofsnakes.tumblr.com
www.riverofsnakes.bandcamp.com
www.youtube.com/riverofsnakes
http://www.brofidelity.bigcartel.com/

River of Snakes, I Wanna be Your Baby EP (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Motherslug, Worshipper, Ape Machine, Churchburn, OMSQ, Unhold, The Heave-Ho, Crypt, Oceanwake, Lunar Electric

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

quarterly review

When I finished yesterday’s reviews, I felt suitably beat, but as ever, there was a bit of catharsis to it too. Today’s pile takes us all the way to the other end of the world and back again to my (relative) back yard, and then loops around one more time for good measure with a few stops in between. While I’m coherent enough to form sentences, you’ll pardon me if I get right to it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Motherslug, Motherslug

motherslug motherslug

If the name Motherslug or the cover art look familiar, it’s because the Melbourne double-guitar five-piece initially released their self-titled EP late in 2012 (review here). This NoSlip Records release, however, takes the tracks from that, couples them with cuts from Motherslug’s subsequent outing, a 2014 two-tracker called Three Kings in Darkness, and remasters both for vinyl as one 39-minute full-length. There’s a bit of progression evident in the newer cuts, “Trippin’ on Evil” and “Three Kings in Darkness,” but the LP smartly arranges them so that each ends its respective side, led into by two songs from the self-titled, so the impression is more that Motherslug are expanding their riffy, Southern-style sludge rock sound – which is still true, it just initially happened over two releases – rather than they’re mixing and matching different recordings. By the time you get to either, however, Motherslug will have already bowled over you with rolling, thick sludge riffs that could just as easily have come from Maryland or Virginia as Australia.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

NoSlip Records

Worshipper, Black Corridor/High Above the Clouds

worshipper black corridor high above the clouds

Allston(e) newcomers Worshipper make an accomplished-sounding debut with Black Corridor/High above the Clouds, two self-released tracks that mark their first release as a band. The two-guitar four-piece balance classic metal riffs and doom tendencies with soaring-style clean vocals and fast-moving grooves, as much Candlemass as High on Fire. “Black Corridor” wows with its solo but more with its hook, guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney sharing vocals while Alejandro Necochea adds guitar and Dave Jarvis draws it all together on drums, and “High above the Clouds” adds some choice early-Dio “Egypt”-ology to the mix. It’s a sense of grandeur that’s neither overblown nor mishandled by the winding track, which coupled with its predecessor demonstrates Worshipper’s firm grip on a style melding heavy rock and metal into a take of their own, and a progression beginning that seems to have a definite idea of where it wants to end up. One can’t help but look forward to finding out.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Worshipper on Bandcamp

Ape Machine, Live at Freak Valley

ape machine live at freak valley

Hard to think of a band from Portland, Oregon, these days as being underrated, but Ape Machine fit the bill all the same. The four-piece of vocalist Caleb Heinze, guitarist Ian Watts, bassist Brian True and drummer Damon de la Paz played Germany’s Freak Valley festival as part of a 2013 European tour in support of the then-recently-released Mangled by the Machine (review here), their third album and Ripple Music debut, and accordingly, most of what shows up on the 48-minute Live at Freak Valley comes from that record, later album cuts like the swaying “Strange are the People” and stomp-slide-fueled “Ruling with Intent” leading to a run through Mangled by the Machine’s first five tracks, in order, to close the set. With a cover of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” (something they also did on their second record) in tow with others from their first two records, Live at Freak Valley makes a solid intro to a group more people should know.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Churchburn, The Awaiting Coffins

churchburn the awaiting coffins

A compilation that draws from Churchburn’s 2013 self-titled and two tracks recorded late in 2013/early in 2014 – opener “Embers of Human Ash” and the subsequent “V” – The Awaiting Coffins revels in its extremity of doom and no-light-shall-pass atmospherics. The duo of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Suzuki (ex-Vital Remains, among others) and Ray McCaffrey (ex-Sin of Angels) issue the CD/LP via Armageddon Shop, and while there are plenty of droning moments, acoustic interludes and stretches of depressive noise, the Rhode Island outfit is primarily brutal. Suzuki, joined on vocals for the first two cuts by guitarist Kevin Curley and bassist Mike Cardoso, leads a pummeling charge in “V” that’s more death than death-doom, but far be it from me to quibble. For “Come Forth the Swarm,” the Sin of Angels cover “Crown of Fallen Kings” and “Kneel upon Charred Remnants,” it’s just McCaffrey and Suzuki, and the dynamic is different and the recording rawer, but the bleak territory being explored has a similar root. Add on an unlisted cover of Celtic Frost’s “Return to the Eve,” and The Awaiting Coffins is even more of a sure thing.

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Armageddon Shop

OMSQ, Thrust/Parry

omsq thrust parry

Instrumental save for some samples, spoken proclamations and field recordings, Thrust/Parry was released by Belgian outfit OMSQ in limited numbers via Navalorama Records on CD to mark the occasion of a late-2014 UK tour, and it showcases an outfit of rare sonic adventurousness. Progressive, heavy structures unfold across three overarching movements in the 68-minute whole of the album, which at any moment makes shifts between dense riffs and crashing drums and exploratory washes of noise sound not only smooth but fitting, culminations like “North Sea” and 16-minute closer “4:48” as much about finishing a story as providing a sonic payoff, each cut serving not only the movement of which it’s component, but also the overarching flow of the record as whole. Stylistically wide open an unhindered by genre constraints, Thrust/Parry is a challenging listen that satisfies in proportion to how much one is willing to shift along with its changes in mood and style. Evocative throughout, it proves more than worth the effort.

OMSQ on Thee Facebooks

Navalorama Records

Unhold, Towering

unhold towering

Swiss five-piece Unhold trace their lineage back to an early-‘90s demo, but Towering (on Czar of Crickets) is their fourth album since their 2001 full-length debut, Walking Blackwards, and their first offering in seven years since Gold Cut in 2008. Something of an unexpected return from the Bern troupe, then, but not unwelcome, their Neurosis-influenced post-hardcore/post-metal finding renewed expression in the moody unfolding of “I Belong” or the tense bellow of the later, keyboard-infused “Hydra,” moments of triumph in ambient/crushing tradeoffs of “Voice Within” as guitarists Thomas Tschuor and Philipp Thöni step back and pianist Miriam Wolf takes lead vocals for a movement almost Alcest-like in its melodic course. Drummer Daniel Fischer and bassist Leo Matkovic are less a foundation than part of Towering’s nodding, modern-proggy whole, and it probably works better that way in smoothing out the various turns in extended pieces like the title-track or “Dawn,” which provides the apex of the album with the calmer “Ascending” and “Death Dying” as an epilogue.

Unhold on Thee Facebooks

Czar of Crickets

The Heave-Ho, Dead Reckoning

the heave-ho dead reckoning

Three words: Rock and roll. With Boston four-piece The Heave-Ho, it’s less about subgenre and more about paying homage to a classic ideal of straightforward expression. Dead Reckoning, the debut full-length from the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Pete Valle (ex-Quintaine Americana), bassist Keith “Barry” Schleicher (ex-Infernal Overdrive), drummer Dylan Wilson and lead guitarist Lawrence O’Toole, is eight songs (plus a closing radio edit, presumably for WEMF) of unpretentious rendition, steady in its delivery of grown-up-punker hooks and barroom rock such that, when Valle calls for “guitar!” prior to the solo in “Buffalo,” it’s entirely without irony or cynicism. Would be hard for “Thirsty Jesus” not to be a highlight on its title alone, but the lyrics also hold up. With a clean production style, centerpiece moment of clarity in “Afraid to Die,” and particularly riotous finish in “The Line,” Dead Reckoning has little use for stylistic nuance and a confident delivery across the board. Drunk as it is, it does not stumble.

The Heave-Ho on Thee Facebooks

The Heave-Ho at CDBaby

Crypt, Kvlt MMXIV

crypt kvlt mmxiv

Though Adelaide three-guitar six-piece Crypt title their debut release Kvlt MMXIV, it’s actually a Jan. 2015 release, a half-hour’s worth of stoner chicanery pressed up in a recycled-material digipak with a fold-out liner poster – the lyrics, yes, are written in a rune font – and the disc held in place by a piece of cork. The presentation of the songs themselves is no less off the wall, the lumbering “Green Butter” taking hold from the crust-raw opener “Siberian Exile” with unhinged low-end, drum stomp and some deceptively subtle airy guitar, and the weirdo blues howl of the following “These Last Days” only broadens the scope. Seems fair to say “expect the unexpected” since so much effort has been put into throwing off the frame of reference, but as the fuzz of “Idle Minds” and ambience into righteous groove of closer “Dead River” show, Crypt have more working in their favor than variety for its own sake, namely a fire in their delivery that burns away any slim chance this material had of sounding stale.

Crypt on Thee Facebooks

Crypt on Bandcamp

Oceanwake, Sunless

oceanwake sunless

Ferocious death-doom meets with melodic atmospheres on Oceanwake’s second album, Sunless – a title that’s not quite a full summary of what the Finnish five-piece have on offer throughout the four tracks/44 minutes. Opener “The Lay of an Oncoming Storm,” also the longest cut at 15:35 (immediate points), shifts back and forth between lumbering brutality and sparse guitar atmospherics, and while one waits for the inevitable clean vocals that would put Oceanwake in league with countrymen Swallow the Sun, they don’t come yet. Instead, the track explodes into crashes and screams. Ten-minute closer “Ephemeral” holds the most satisfying build, but between the two, “Parhelion” (9:09) and “Avanturine” (8:03) manage to remind of the particular melancholic beauty of death-doom – including some of those melodic vocals – and how resonant its contrast of light and dark can be when held together by an emotional core as resonant as that of Oceanwake. Sunless is gorgeous and devastating, and not necessarily alternating between the two.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Productions on Bandcamp

Lunar Electric, Lunar Electric

lunar-electric-lunar-electric

While one struggles not to be skeptical of any release in this day and age that opens with a “Radio Edit,” I won’t discount the quality of songwriting L.A.-based Lunar Electric display throughout their self-titled EP. Now a duo driven by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura, the band is highly-stylized but brims with a classic heavy rock swagger in “Bread and Circuses” (the aforementioned radio edit) and the subsequent “Moonlight,” a steady swing emerging in layers of heavy riffing and DiMura’s own croon, pushed ahead by the straightforward drumming of Kaleen Reading and the low-end heft of bassist Geena Spigarelli. They make a solid trio across “Moonlight” and “Sleepwaker,” which follows with its chugging break foreshadowing closer “Crossfire Child” (video premiere here) while building a tension of its own, though it seems unlikely that whatever Lunar Electric do next will have the same lineup because of geographic spread. Too bad. While young, and somewhat brooding, Lunar Electric nonetheless offer up a work of marked potential in their EP’s quick 17-minute span.

Dre DiMura’s website

Dre DiMura on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: King Hitter, Desert Storm, Sendelica, Drifter, Sula Bassana, Strange Here, Once-Ler, Waingro, Motorgoat, The Seduction

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

quarterly review

I must be out of my damned mind. After wrapping up last year with a special feature comprising 50 reviews spread over five days, I’ve somehow decided that it’s not a bad way to do things. So here we are. It’s been three months, that’s a quarter of a year, so it seems only fair to have a Quarterly Review to catch up on some things that might otherwise have gone missed.

And that’s precisely what we’ll do. Between now and Friday, it’ll be 10 reviews per day, rounding up releases from the last couple months. Some are out now, some aren’t out yet, but it’s all recent one way or another. Like with the Last Licks 2014, I’ll be checking in each day as well. Should be fun to see how my mental status deteriorates over the course of the next few days, until my brains are little more than a stinky jelly dripping from out my ears on Friday. At least that’s how I remember it going last time.

So let’s go:

King Hitter, King Hitter

king hitter king hitter

A North Carolina five-piece fronted by vocalist Karl Agell, best known as the frontman of Corrosion of Conformity for their 1991 Blind album – he’s also currently reviving that album live on stage with drummer Reed Mullin in C.O.C. Blind – the new outfit King Hitter reunites the singer with his former Leadfoot bandmate, guitarist Scott Little, and they test the waters with a five-track self-titled EP delivered via Candlelight Records. Crisply-produced, songs like “King Hitter” and “Feel No Pain” hit hard and gruff with just a touch of Southern heavy rock flair. The power of Agell’s voice is undiminished, but production is maybe too evident at times, and when they get down to the chugging “Suicide (Is the Retirement Plan,” politics meet personal perspective in a way that strikes deeper than might’ve been intended. Little and fellow guitarist Mike Brown, bassist Chuck Manning and drummer Jon Chambliss turn in worthy performances, but Agell’s command captures a good deal of the attention on this satisfying showcase of a songwriting process getting underway.

King Hitter on Thee Facebooks

King Hitter at Candlelight’s Bandcamp

Desert Storm, Omniscient

desert storm omniscient

Because one invariably measures British anything in “waves,” we’ll put Oxford double-guitar five-some at the crest of the New Wave of British Burl. Omniscient is their third full-length behind 2013’s Horizontal Life and their 2010 debut, Forked Tongues (review here), and it arrives through Blindsight Records with all the brash Southern metal riffing and dudely bellow one might expect. Orange Goblin are an immediate name to drop in comparison to opener “Outlander,” but “Queen Reefer”’s quiet solo section adds breadth and the acoustic “Home,” the Clutchy “Night Bus Blues” and the stomping, subtle djentery of closer “Collapse of the Bison Lung” continue to reveal an extended palette. A richer listen than it might appear the first time through, Omniscient still revels in its heaviness on “Blue Snake Moan” and “Sway of the Tides,” etc., but changes like the tempo downshift in “Horizon” give fodder for repeat visits to Desert Storm’s howling third offering.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Desert Storm at Blindsight Records’ Bandcamp

Sendelica, Anima Mundi

sendelica anima mundi

Welsh space rockers Sendelica feel out some pretty peaceful vibes on songs like “The Pillar of Delhi,” “Azoic” or the sweet-washing closer “The Hedge Witch” from their self-released cosmos-tripper Anima Mundi, but there’s no shortage of spaced-out push either in songs like the 12-minute jam “Master Benjamin Warned Young Albert Not to Step on the Uninsulated Air” and electronic-pulsing “Baalbek Stones.” An experimental spirit underlies each of the eight included instrumental cuts, elements like sax, synth, keyboards, theremin, flute and various effects intertwining throughout Anima Muni’s 54-minute sprawl. Quiet moments like “Azoic” work well, but I won’t take away from the buzzsaw tone or swing behind “The Breyr, the Taeogion and the Caethion” either. The truly fortunate aspect of Sendelica’s latest is that it flows between its individual pieces, putting the listener in a position of open-minded experience while working around and through various psychedelic impulses, carefully woven and balanced in the mix, but vibrant and exciting and loose-feeling just the same.

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Sendeica on Bandcamp

Drifter, Violent at Altitude

drifter violent at altitude

Of the 13 songs on Melbourne trio Drifter’s Desert Highways debut LP, Violent at Altitude, only four reach past the three-minute mark, and even most of those play off a fuzz-punk intensity, shades of Melvins weirdness and Nick Oliveri heavy punker charge showing up in cuts like “Cool Breeze” or the raw, open “Another Life.” Closer “So Long” is given another look from Drifter’s 2013 debut EP, Head (review here), which it also capped, but the feel across Violent at Altitude is that guitarist/vocalist Dan King, bassist/vocalist Troy Dawson and drummer/vocalist Dave Payne is exploring the place where grunge and punk met on pieces like “Bi Polar,” the relatively spacey “Devil Digger” and quick-blasting 1:45 rush of “Russian Roulette,” their tones mean and their attack primal in its overall affect in a way that belies the stylistic nuance at work throughout. You can listen on an analytical level or you can be steamrolled by “Drugs.” Your call. Either way, Drifter are gonna tear it up in accordance with the altitude they’ve apparently hit.

Drifter on Thee Facebooks

Drifter at Desert Highways’ Bandcamp

Sula Bassana, Live at Roadburn 2014

sula bassana live at roadburn 2014

Sula Bassana’s performance at Roadburn 2014 was their first as a full band. The experimental psychedelic project of guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (see also Electric Moon, Krautzone, Zone Six, Weltraumstaunen, etc.) came to life with his Electric Moon bandmates Komet Lulu on bass and Marcus Schnitzler on drums, as well as Zone Six’s Rainer Neeff on guitar, and the four jams of the live recording Live at Roadburn 2014 tell the tale brilliantly. Schmidt, who is quite simply among the foremost heavy psych jammers in the world, leads the four-piece through cascading movements, immersive and clear on record as they were in person, rich with a sense of improvised creation even if based on prior parts. Anything went, as the 18-minute “Dark Days” showcases here, with synth and guitar and heavy bass intertwining to a brilliant cosmic whole, Schnitzler’s drums holding the proceedings together wonderfully. Short at 50 minutes, it’s every bit as switched on as one might expect in a studio album from these players, blurring yet another line as they expand psych-rock consciousness.

Sula Bassana on Thee Facebooks

Live at Roadburn 2014 at Sulatron Records

Strange Here, II

strange here ii

To listen to opener “Still Alone” from Strange Here’s Minotauro Records raw second LP, II, one might expect that Alexander Scardavian (ex-Paul Chain) and Domenico “Dom” Lotito (ex-Hand of God) are presenting some loosely-swung classic doom, shades of Candlemass and Death SS filtered through heavy riffing and Scardavian’s gruff vocals, but that’s barely half the story. More is told by putting eight-minute tracks “Born to Lose” and “Black, Grey and White” next to each other, as they appear here. Following the opening duo of “Still Alone” and the echoing “Kiss of Worms,” the two longer cuts unveil a sound alternately diving into morose doomed march and spacious psychedelic flourish. That blend continues as the marching “Acid Rain” gives way to the acoustic/drone interplay of “Only If…”and comes to a head on closer “Shiftless,” a contrast of back-and-forth impulses played off each other throughout the 47-minute offering. There’s work to do bringing the sides together should Strange Here choose to go that route, though the lines drawn between make it that much easier to catch the listener off guard, which II just might.

Strange Here on Thee Facebooks

Strange Here at Minotauro Records’ Bandcamp

Once-Ler, Once-Ler

once-ler once-ler

Marked out by the jazzy noodling of “The Douche Bag Guru” and the funky bassline on “Drift,” the new self-titled EP from Dayton, Ohio, four-piece Once-Ler dates back a decade in some of its material, the track “Law Dog” having appeared on the band’s 2005 full-length, Entropy. It’s an unassuming rumble, sort of humbly produced for a garage-heavy feel, but the clarity of purpose in centerpiece “Swing the Leg”’s crashing progression is plain enough to hear, and opener “The Victim” is the longest cut at 6:43, earning immediate points. A prog-metal undertone in that track sets up some expectation that the EP veers quickly away from with “Drift,” but guitarist Burns, bassist Deininger, vocalist Reif and drummer Minarcek make a solid case despite the rough sonic edges in the recording. At 25 minutes, Once-Ler’s Once-Ler is enough to give an impression of where the band is headed and a demo-style look at what their progressive heavy rock has to offer.

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Once-Ler on Bandcamp

Waingro, Waingro

waingro waingro

Pummel, pummel, pummel. Vancouver trio Waingro debut at full-sprint with their 11-track/31-minute self-titled, which wastes little time shaking hands and goes immediately for the jugular on “Firebird.” About 10 seconds in, and the ride is underway with little letup to come as Waingro shove heavy tones along at breakneck speed on cuts like “Tailwind,” “Force Fed” and “Bathed in Tongues.” A remarkable sense of control lies beneath, the trio blending hardcore punk, heavy tones and modern metal twists fluidly as interludes like “Matador,” “St. Regis” and “Arboria” add complexity of method and “Rekall,” “Ride” and most especially side B cappers “Black Dawn” and “True North” brazenly craft something of Waingro’s own from familiar components. This album is self-released, but particularly if Waingro are able to tour at any length, it’s hard to imagine some imprint wouldn’t want to stand behind their brash but engaging thrust, professional already in its assured sensibility and rhythmic impact. The real question is whether they’ll wait around for anyone to notice or push ahead with the momentum they build here.

Waingro on Thee Facebooks

Waingro on Bandcamp

Motorgoat, The Iron Hoof of Oppression

motorgoat the iron hoof of oppression

There’s little room left for frills amid the sludge-punk sneer of Motorgoat’s The Iron Hoof of Oppression, which makes no bones about its affinity for booze, metal and fuckall on songs like “Satanic Slacker,” which boasts the lines, “Trippin’ balls is total bliss/He don’t know what day it is,” and so on. Obviously there’s a humor element to “Revenge of the Towndrunk” and “No Pants – No Problems,” but the German four-piece have a sincere vibe as well as they recount loser tales in a viciously-toned punk-metal spirit, less tune-in-drop-out than tune-out-drop-tune, but it turns out heavy either way. Cohesive in spite of its stated penchant for chaos, The Iron Hoof of Oppression offers partytime disaffection that’s so prevalent it might as well be post-modern. After the world has ended, there’s nothing left to do but dance, and Motorgoat seem (mal)content to let their own hooves stomp the floor. An album that gets better when you read the lyrics. Don’t be fooled by how dumb they seem to be calling themselves.

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Motor Goat on Bandcamp

The Seduction, You Catch Fire

the seduction you catch fire

The tell? The tell is the scream just before North Carolina foursome The Seduction move into the bouncing bridge on “Volga,” which launches their Mechanical Pig Records debut, You Catch Fire. From there, it’s pretty easy to hear the metallic vibe beneath their stoner-punk aesthetic. It comes up again in the breakdown for the later “Hell on Two Wheels,” but it’s there anyway, adding an aggressive edge to the record, which at 53 minutes has plenty of room for the breadth of the rocking highlight centerpiece “Flavor of the Weak” or the depth-charge of the penultimate “Starmageddon” – a few more screams there amid spit-out hardcore shouts – but it’s the meld of these with the party-pit vibe of “Daughter of a Holy Man” and “Irish Flu” that makes You Catch Fire effective in taking cues from some of the West Coast’s heavy methods – some Red Fang, some Queens of the Stone Age — and presenting them with a definitively East Coast punch.

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The Seduction on Bandcamp

 

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Holy Serpent Sign to RidingEasy Records; Self-Titled LP Due May 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

holy serpent

Another day, another band from Melbourne, Australia, kicking ass. Wouldn’t it be strange if, say, someone was to put together some kind of list of the killer and varyingly destructive embodiments of heavy currently emanating from the city? But what kind of ambitious madman on the other side of the planet would have the arrogance to attempt such a thing? Yeah, I might. We’ll see how next week pans out. Certainly plenty of material to work with these days, between bands like Holy SerpentHorsehunterWatchtowerSeedy Jeezus, and so on.

As regards Holy Serpent, the PR wire brings news that the four-piece have signed with venerable West Coast outlet RidingEasy Records and will release their self-titled LP through the label in May. Details and audio for the aptly-titled “Shroom Doom” follow:

holy serpent self-titled

Psychedelic doom band Holy Serpent to release new album via RidingEasy Records | Stream new song ‘Shroom Doom’

Holy Serpent will be released on 12th May 2015 via RidingEasy Records

RidingEasy Records is psyched to announce that this May they will be releasing the eagerly anticipated debut album from Melbourne’s impressive doom quartet Holy Serpent.

Already touted by some as one of 2015’s “Most Wanted”, the band and their majestic, self-titled record have been making sizable waves across the web this past year. Despite their relative youth, the band – made up of guitar player/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Richard Orr – has become remarkably adept at turning out some of the heaviest, most offhand and authentic sounds around; as one listen to ‘Shroom Doom’ will testify,

New to the fold but possessed with wisdom beyond their years, through a hazy swagger and onslaught of distorted guitars they turn in a rawness reminiscent of Uncle Acid, Kyuss and fellow RidingEasy label mates Monolord. Snaking melancholia into swirling hypnotic psychedelia and crushing stoner rock and roll, Holy Serpent oozes sweet leafed grooves and tones from first to final riff.

Holy Serpent by Holy Serpent will will be released worldwide on RidingEasy Records on 12th May 2015.

www.holyserpentband.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/HolySerpentBand
www.easyriderrecords.com
www.facebook.com/easyriderrecords
www.youtube.com/user/easyriderrecords
www.soundcloud.com/easyriderrecords

Holy Serpent, “Shroom Doom”

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Watchtower Sign to Magnetic Eye Records; New EP out March 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

watchtower

Australian megasludgers Watchtower have inked a deal to align with New York’s Magnetic Eye Records for the release of their new EP, Radiant Moon. It will be out digitally on March 10 and preorders are up now from the label and the band, who follow on the heels of fellow Melbourne natives Horsehunter in signing with Magnetic Eye but whose release will actually be out first — Horsehunter‘s Caged in Flesh LP is due in April — therefore changing the timeline to who-knows-what future-historical consequences.

The heavy rock boom in Melbourne continues unabated, and for WatchtowerRadiant Moon follows the 2014 live-recorded single Absinthism, which you can hear on the player below as a demonstration of their riffy wares. But first, the announcement of the signing from Magnetic Eye and the band’s comment on the situation.

Have at you:

watchtower radiant moon

Magnetic Eye Records and Watchtower are very pleased to announce that the band have signed to NY based record label Magnetic Eye Records.

Watchtower’s new EP Radiant Moon will be available for D/D purchase and steaming at store.merhq.com and/or direct from the band at https://watchtowerwatchtower.bandcamp.com on Tuesday 10th of March from 7pm AEST.

As the band put it:
“A little early, but we are extremely happy to announce that we have signed to NY based label Magnetic Eye Records. Our new EP, Radiant Moon is available for digital preorder now at both https://watchtowerwatchtower.bandcamp.com and https://magneticeyerecords.bandcamp.com/album/radiant-moon and will be available for digital download and streaming from Tuesday 10/03/2015!!”

Special that k’s to Henry Bennett for the album art.

Tracklisting:
1. Radiant Moon
2. Living Heads

Watchtower: Radiant Moon was recorded and mixed by Jason Fuller at Goatsound Studios Melbourne in November 2014. Mastering handled by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Engineering.

Watchtower is:
Robbie Ingram (guitars)
Ben Robertson (bass guitar)
Joel McGann (drums)
Nico Guijt (vocals)

More details soon. MER/ Watchtower

http://store.merhq.com
https://watchtowerwatchtower.bandcamp.com
https://magneticeyerecords.bandcamp.com/album/radiant-moon
https://www.facebook.com/watchtoweroz
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Watchtower, “Absinthism” (2014)

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Mammoth Mammoth Premiere Video for “Lookin’ Down the Barrel”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

mammoth mammoth

Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris‘ 1988 documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, was among the first genuine cinematic looks at heavy metal subculture that carried little-to-no element of condescension. While the 1986 short Heavy Metal Parking Lot was all spectacle and gags, mocking a group of people by letting them hang themselves with the noose of their own words, Spheeris‘ work chronicling ’80s metal and particularly the Sunset Strip was less judgmental, and for anyone who’s seen it — if you haven’t, consider it recommended viewing — one of its most memorable scenes involved then-WASP guitarist Chris Holmes, who, flanked by his mother and sitting fully clothed on a floating recliner in a backyard pool while downing a bottle of vodka, showcased the loneliness underlying the ultra-masculine braggadocio of metal at that time in slurred, miserable poetry.

For a movie centering around “glam,” it was a particularly human moment once you looked past the surface, and Melbourne four-piece Mammoth Mammoth recreate that scene and parody the excess of the day in their new clip for “Lookin’ Down the Barrel,” complete with back yard pool, floating bottles and mom in a lawnchair beside. It’s tongue-in-cheek,mammoth mammoth lookin' down the barrel video to be sure, and the band — whose new album, Volume IV: Hammered Again, is due out in April on Napalm Records — are no strangers to a boozy reputation themselves. They made their Napalm debut in late 2012 with Volume III: Hell’s Likely, and as “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” proves, the sound of vocalist Mikey Tucker, guitarist Ben Couzens, bassist Pete Bell and drummer Frank Trobbiani has only gotten more raucous. They not only recreate the pool scene from The Decline of Western Civilization Part II, quoting Holmes at the beginning of the clip as Couzens wears a WASP t-shirt just to drive the point home, but right down to the jiggling dancers, they tap into the recklessness that fueled that age and that still holds an appeal some 30 years later.

Of course, the difference is those bouncing ladies end up inflating water-wings for the band, maybe to remind us of the childishness of that kind of fantasy/objectification, but the song’s a hook-laden, heavy-riffed party one way or another, and far be it from me to stand in the way of such a thing. Volume IV: Hammered Again arrives April 7 in North America, and you can find other release dates and the preorder link following the video itself below.

Enjoy:

Mammoth Mammoth, “Lookin’ Down the Barrel” official video

Pre-order “Volume IV – Hammered Again” now at http://shop.napalmrecords.com/mammothmammoth

A naked, pot-smoking beauty on the cover and song titles like ‘Hammered again’ or ‘High as a kite’ – Mammoth Mammoth definitely won`t turn a good party down! The scruffy Australians deliver the soundtrack mixing dirty hard rock with a healthy dose of stoner: Volume IV – Hammered Again comes roaring down the highway with lotsa fuzz, a raw production and pure force! That`s why this fourpiece is called Mammoth Mammoth – one mammoth ain`t enough for this massive orgy…

Street Date:
G/A/S/Europe/AUS 27.03.2015
UK/NO/FR/DK/IT 30.03.2015
SE/ESP 01.04.2015
USA/CAN 07.04.2015

Mammoth Mammoth on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Mammoth website

Mammoth Mammoth on Twitter

Mammoth Mammoth at Napalm Records

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